God

Faith Is Not Irresponsible

“I am Adonai—there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known Me, so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things.”

Isaiah 45:5-7

T​here is a teaching/opinion out there that God does not bring calamity and does not bring judgment because of Yeshua’s (Jesus) sacrifice and the ushering in of a new covenant. Some faith leaders are using this to urge us to continue to meet in mass to worship because we are protected from the Corona Virus.

I am still learning and have not yet come to a complete understanding of Scripture but I can confidently say that faith is not irresponsible. To say that God does not bring calamity or judgment is an irresponsible betrayal of scripture. God says He does something but man find a way to dispute His word—or, so they think. No amount of reading between the lines can justify saying God does not bring judgment or that God will not bring about what is already prophesied. Tell that to Ananias and Sapphira who fell dead after deceiving the Apostles about how much they profited from selling their land (Acts 5:1-11) or Herod who an angel of the Lord killed for not giving God glory (Acts 12:23). Both of these incidents happened after Yeshua ascended to heaven.

God does promise to protect us—”the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one ” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Still, Scripture makes it clear that we experience the same difficulties as everyone else in the world—”We are hard pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). 

W​e still live in a fallen world and are still susceptible to pain, sickness, despair, and death. It would be irresponsible to walk into oncoming traffic and it is irresponsible to disregard the safeguards put in place to protect ourselves and others from contracting the Corona Virus. 

I may be stubborn but I know that I am not impervious to this virus. Furthermore, Scripture tells us not to put God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7). Yes, God is faithful to fulfill His promise to protect us, but unnecessarily exposing ourselves to danger is irresponsible and amounts to testing God!

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1Thessalonians 5:23-24).

New Beginning

I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4

W​e are often an anxious generation! We become anxious at new beginnings, transitions, and when something comes to an end. Why is that? I believe that the main reason for our anxiety is that we do not know the future. Moreover, our negative past encounters have lasting effects our how we approach future endeavors. Our excitement about new opportunities are often sprinkled with some anxiety for the same reason—we do not know how it will turn out.

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TROUBLED SOUL

Show me favor, Adonai, for I am in trouble. My eyes grow dim with anger, my soul and body as well.

PSALM 32:10

We are all susceptible to anger that darkens our soul and body; anger that clouds our thinking. The decisions we make when we are angry and when we have no peace may create more problems for us than we want, much like shopping for food when we are hungry; we tend to buy more than we need. Anger is poison to the body that affect our thought, words, and our actions. We don’t see clear enough to truly assess a situation and make a wise decision. Our body responds in a way that can cause physical sickness — much like stress — and not much can console us. Like the Psalmist said, this is trouble!

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No Other Name

This Yeshua is ‘the stone—rejected by you, the builders—that has become the chief cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved!” (Acts 4:11-12)

About two thousand years ago, God came to His own so that He might deliver us from the tyranny of sin and death. He did not appear as the people expected and did not live according to the limits they had set in place for themselves and the people of Israel. 

The mission was a complete success! Yeshua died on the execution stake for your sins, and mine. Crowds of people greeted Yeshua shouting “Hosanna” the day he entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey (Matthew 21:9). Today we sing hallelujah because He overcame the cross and death and is advocating on our behalf before the Father.

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God’s Favor

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us. Establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17).

What does it mean to you to have God’s favor? The Psalmist prayed that God’s favor would be upon them and immediately followed up with a prayer that God would establish the work of their hands for them. God said, “Whoever find me find life, and obtains favor from Adonai” (Proverbs 8:35) and Solomon wrote, “Let kindness and truth never leave you—bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will gain favor and a good name in the eyes of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3-4).

Seek God’s favor continuously and ceaselessly, and He will guide you in righteousness. God will guide your steps and direct the work of your hands to make you successful. Yes, we begin with prayer, but we must put our prayer into action as God guides us. This is why the Psalmist asked God to establish the work of his hands. God created us and commanded us to work the land (Genesis 2:15). We are created to be participants in his kingdom in every way and while we depend upon Him to guide us in righteousness we should take part in the plan He has put in place for us.

In all that you do, do it with kindness and truth for in this we gain favor with God. Seek the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength and you will find Him. In Him is life and this life is the favor of Adonai.

May the favor of Adonai be upon you. “For [Adonai] bless the righteous and “surround him with favor as a shield” (Psalm 5:13).

Spiritual Examination

Psalm 26A Psalm of David. Image result for spiritual examination

Vindicate me, O LordFor I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, Nor will I go in with hypocrites. I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LordThat I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells. Do not gather my soul with sinners, Nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. 12 My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations I will bless the Lord.

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The Shrewd God

Image result for shrewd“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks.” (Psalm 18:25-27)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes shrewd “as having or showing a practical cleverness or [sharp powers of] judgment.” Did you notice how David constructed these words? The merciful, the blameless, and the pure receive an equal reaction from God but the devious is treated very differently.  (more…)

Faith in Prayer

” I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill” (Psalm 3:4).

Do you pray knowing that God hears your prayer and has already given a response? One of David’s many gifts was his ability to pray with confidence that the Lord had already answered him. The Psalms can appear to contradict itself but what we see as contradictions are the writers’ confidence that God hears and has answered their prayers.

A number of years ago, Psalm 3 brought me much comfort during a time when it felt like the whole world was against me. I prayed this Psalm with great desperation and anguish as I sought the Lord and his deliverance from life’s piercing arrows. There are times when the troubles of this life seem to have no end; time when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.  (more…)

The Usurper

Even The Land Obeys

“Because of the transgressions of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged” (Proverbs 28:2).

If you are like me, you probably had to read over this passage a number of times before it becomes clear what message it conveys. In Leviticus 18, after warning the Israelites not to commit the sins of the inhabitants of the land before them, the Lord warned;  “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.  You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you”.

Solomon, in Proverbs 28, draws on this warning when he said that because of the transgressions of the [nation] many will come to rule over it. History has made clear the truth of this Proverb, which America has thus far been spared from, thanks to the constitution limiting the terms of those elected to political offices but even the constitution has limits. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the word of God everything is limited.

Leaders can lead a whole nation away from God; we have seen this throughout the ages and ancient Israel is the prime example we Christians often draw on. Europe has gone spiritually bankrupt because they have been led by those who are spiritually bankrupt and America is hastily following in their footsteps. In a democracy where those in power are elected to office, they either represent or mislead the people who vote for them. In the end, their spiritual health or poverty will be the driving force behind their ventures and accomplishments.

A democratic nation that votes for a spiritually bankrupt leader has either been deceived or that leader’s character and traits represent that which the citizens embellish.  The church, in a democratic nation, has to be concerned when the elected leader was and continues to be antithetic to biblically Christian values.

A known liar has either lied his/her way to the top office or they have successfully deceived the people.

A known cheater has either cheated his/her way to the top office or the people turn a blind eye to such a character flaw.

Someone known to have “an evil eye [for riches]” (Proverbs 28:22) who is elected to the top office has either deceived the people or is the personification of a set of national values.

Someone known to “increase possession by usury and extortion” (Proverbs 28:8) who is elected to the top office has either succeeded in doing just that or the people care little for the poor and the honest laborer.

Someone “who turns away [his/her] ear from hearing the law” (Proverbs 28:9) will neglect the rule of law even when he/she has the power to enact them.

A democratic nation that enables and emboldens the sins of those who continue to act in such a way may in fact have sunk to such level itself. A Christian nation that enables and embolden such behavior must keep in mind the very template we often draw on; Israel.

We should never forget that “the wicked will flee when no one pursues”; “because of the transgressions of a land, may are its princes”; “Those who forsake the law, praise the wicked”; Evil men do not understand justice”; “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity that one perverse in his ways, though he be rich”; “One who turns away from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination”; “He who covers his sins will not prosper”; “A ruler who lack understanding is a great oppressor”; “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife”.

Take heart you who read this, for when the wicked flee “the righteous are embolden”; “By a man of understanding and knowledge, right will be prolonged”; “those who seek the Lord has understanding”; “Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son”; “The blameless will inherit the good”; “Whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will have mercy”; “Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved”; “He who trusts in the Lord will be prospered” and “whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”

Let us, as a nation, adhere to the latter and not the former actions. (more…)