Month: January 2020

RIGHT RESPONSE

“A healing tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful one crushes the spirit”—Proverbs 15:4

Our words can either comfort or sting like a furious hornet. Stinging words are often aimed at soliciting either a similar response or to cause the recipient to shrink back in fear—they can either start a war or subdue a nation. Even the most “perfect” of us believers may fail to tame our tongue at some point, more so when we are the frequent target of another person’s cruelty.

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RIGHT PERSPECTIVE

“Yes, you yourselves planned evil against me. God planned it for good, in order to bring about what it is this day—to preserve the lives of many people”—Genesis 50:20

You’ve probably heard the statement, “It’s all about perspective”! We often say this when we are trying to console ourselves and/or others. Our situation may not seem so bad if we compare it to others in far worse situations that our own. Some may go so far to call it a “reality check” and a sort of “down-to-earth moment”. How often does this make you feel better about your situation, and if it does, how often does that feeling last?

There’s truth to the statement that perspective matters but there’s another perspective that we should consider more often—God’s perspective.

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FOCUS ON GOD

“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith”—Hebrews 12:1-2a

The nation, and other nations of the world today seem to be in a constant state of chaos. One may say the world is a jumbled mess which is getting messier each day. The advent of “fake news” has undermined decency and truth. We have thrown truth to the ground and trampled upon it for our own selfish gain. We read and listen with cautious skepticism because what we once hold to be true is under assault from those who seek power and influence. One could go on talking about the atrocities people are committing against truth, decency, and justice but that would take too much time and energy.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who have spent any amount of time reading Scripture. Neither is the encouragement to keep our eyes on Yeshua as we go about this life, looking to and learning from the Patriarchs. God’s promise to us is that “Because he has devoted his love to Me, I will deliver him. I will set him securely on high, because he knows My Name” (Psalm 91:14).

In other words, no matter the chaos that is raging about is we must never take our eyes off the Lord. He must be the focus of our attention in all things and at all time. It doesn’t matter what man is doing, it only matters what God is doing. The nations may plot and conspire together, but they are instruments for God to use as He so chooses. God told us about these days long ago when He said, “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples mutter vanity? The kings of earth set themselves up and rulers conspire together against Adonai and against His Anointed One. He who sits in heaven laughs! Adonai mocks them” (Psalm 2:1-2,4).

Keep your eyes on the Lord and seek His purposes. He will fulfill every word of prophecy and nothing that He said will fall to the grown or return to Him empty. The storms will rage and people will plot to gain power and wealth but God will be glorified. Keep your eyes on the Lord! Do not be too concerned with the actions of the world. Everything we need is in Him and through Him and everything that sets itself up against Adonai will fall away. Keep your eyes on Him, and He will deliver you!

NEW GROWTH

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day”—2 Corinthians 4:16

Our life in Messiah is one of constant and of putting off the behaviors, attitudes, and thoughts that are not proper reflections of the glory of God. Yeshua promises to remove the dead branches—those that produce no fruit for the kingdom and may well work in a manner that is threatening to the kingdom. These dead branches are sometimes manipulated by the enemy to make us shrink back from our purpose. Yet, we have no need to cower in their shadows. Yeshua tells us that these dead “branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:6).

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DIVINE CULTIVATION

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims so that it may bear more fruit.”—John 15:2

Isn’t it interesting that cutting back a vine makes it more fruitful? Soil type and climate are some of the more important factors to consider when planting crops. Lest we think that rapid growth means a bountiful crop, we would be wise to consider why pruning is often so necessary.

Humans share these elements in common with plants. This is why Yeshua said that he trims even the branch that bears fruit so that it may bear more fruit. A rapid spiritual growth may not allow us to develop the spiritual resilience necessary to withstand the warfare that may come our way when we are called to a ministry of increased responsibility. God prunes us to harden our resolve—to develop our spiritual muscles, endurance, and faith so that we will be more effective for the kingdom.

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FULFILLING YOUR PURPOSE

“So you must take care to do as Adonai your God has commanded you—do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 30 You are to walk in all the way that Adonai your God has commanded you.” —Deuteronomy 5:29-30a

God chose the nation of Israel for a specific purpose and to fulfill that purpose they needed to follow a specific path—to do all that God commanded them. This is re-emphasized in the warning not “to turn aside to the right of to the left.” In other words, God was saying follow the path exactly as I have laid it out to you and you will fulfill your purpose.

The same is true for us. God has blessed us with spiritual gifts for a particular purpose and put us on this journey. The first and most important part of our purpose is to glorify God. The second depends on what our particular gift and purpose is. This is not the same for you as it’s for me. I love to write, encourage, and advocate on behalf of others but you may not have that same set of gifts. We must all pray and ask the Lord to help us discern how to use our gifts to fulfill our purpose in this life.

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ADONAI ROPHECHA

“Bless Adonai, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: He forgives all your iniquity. He heals all your diseases.” – Psalm 103:3

Sickness is the outworking of sin. Not necessarily our own sin, but the sinful condition of this fallen world. We are often wise to seek medical care for our physical ailments but the same is not always true for our spiritual condition. The Psalmist recognized the importance of first treating our spiritual condition and then our physical. This also points to who or what is most important to us! God must always be our primary focus, for He is the one who provides for our every need—”forget not all His benefits.” this is also why scripture says, “Delight yourself in Adonai, and He will give you the requests of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

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GENERATIONAL CURSE

“Messiah liberated us from Torah’s curse, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)”—Galations 3:13

You have probably heard the stories, or saw for yourself, generations of families experiencing the same illnesses, tragedies, and sorrows. These can be like chains anchoring us to what we desperately need to leave behind and may be due to what is called a generational curse. According to scripture, God shows “mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7). In 2 Samuel 1:1, God tells David that the reason they were having a severe drought was “because of Saul and his bloody house, for he put the Gibeonites to death.”

Biblical scholars continue to debate whether generational curses still exist and whether or not believers are susceptible to such curses. We are human and prone to repeating the mistakes of those who have had the most influence on us. This doesn’t mean that we will, but we tend to take on the traits and attitudes of the community within which we develop. Parents tend to pass on certain attitudes and behaviors to their children that may cause them to act in the same manner as the parents did. We must always guard against repeating the mistakes of our parents, mentors, and others who have had any form of influence over us.

Those outside the body of Yeshua (Jesus) may be susceptible to “generational curses” but we who are in Messiah Yeshua have been made free. He has broken the chains that bound us and taken upon Himself our curse.

We still live in a sinful world that is rampant with all kinds of sickness and chaos. Rejoice in your freedom from the curse but remember, if “anyone among you [is] sick? Let him call for the elders of Messiah’s community, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14) and “keep seeking the things above—where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

THE FATHER’S HEART

“For what man among you, when his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or when he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

Loving parents do not give their sons and daughters stones to eat when they ask for bread. Nor do they hand them a snake when they ask for fish. The point is that if we, who are sinful creatures can show such love and compassion, how much more the author of love. There are people who ask the cynical question, “If God is so loving why do we have so much chaos, death, etc.” These are sometimes the same people who often say there’s no God, so we won’t waste any more time focusing on them.

Adonai promises us many things in scripture, and He is faithful and true to His promises. Long before Yeshua referred to God as his Father, Isaiah declared, “For You are our Father— even if Abraham would not know us or Israel not recognize us. You, Adonai, are our Father, our Redeemer— from everlasting is Your Name” (Isaiah 63:16).

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UPROOTING BITTERNESS

“Beware in case there is among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from Adonai our God to go serve the gods of those nations. Beware in case there is among you a root producing poison and bitter fruit” (Deuteronomy 29:17).

The Apostle Paul warned the Church in Ephesus to, “Get rid of all bitterness and rage and anger and quarreling and slander, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Why is it important that we uproot bitterness from our hearts? Paul gives us one of the answers above—it produces poison and bitter fruit. We can trace the effects of bitterness back to Cain and Abel. Scripture does not go into great detail about the relationship between the two brothers, but one can imagine that Cain didn’t kill Abel because of the one incident where God did not accept his offering. Though, that rejection could have either triggered or exacerbated bitterness within Cain. This may be why God said to him, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, it will lift. But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the doorway. Its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:6-7).

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