Saturday, October 25, 2008

26 October 2008

Deuteronomy 7:1-24

On this first Sunday of Kingdomtide, we are given God's absolutes. The nations are to be expelled before the Israelites, and the Israelites are to destroy everthing reflecting the religion of these peoples. We are told that nothing is to be left, there is to be no intermarriage.

Likewise, St. Paul tells us, not to be unequally yoked, that is a Christian should not marry a non-Christian, and truth be known, a Christian should not become business partners with non-Christians. This is in part because we serve a holy God who wants us to be holy too. He does not want us mixing up Christianity with other religions, which all too easily happens today. The Israelites were to practice a pure religion, not confounded with the religion of the Cananites which included child sacrifice and temple prostitution.

Syncretism is all too easy to allow in. Many will be celebrating All Hallows Eve, not as a celebration of sainst, but as a celebration of evil in the world. This celebration was originally a Celtic celebration when it was believed that the spirits of the dead walked the earth, and jack 'o lanterns made of turnips were used to scare them away. Instead of celelebrating witches etc., we should celebrate the saints who were heroes of the church and who show us that we can follow God in truth.

We must always beware of syncretism. It is all too easy to sneek into our faith, especially when their are other faiths masquerading as being Christian. Christ is Lord and Saviour and him alone. We are to worship him, and him alone, and follow him with all our heart and mind and strength.

Shalom b’Yeshua haMoshiach

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL
Pastor, Congregation Benim Avraham
Bishop of La Porte, Texas


Sunday, October 19, 2008

19 October 2008: 24 Gracetide

Deuteronomy 5:1-25

In today’s lesson from Deuteronomy, we start our with the Sh’ma or Shema:

“Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one; love him with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Record in your minds all that I have told you today, and teach them continually to your children. Tell them in the house or on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Carry them on your hand and on your forehead, write them on your doorposts and gateposts.”

The Sh’ma is one of the key verses of the Old Testament. It begins with our duty to God, and continues showing that we are to raise up our children in the same duty. If we truly love God, then other things will follow. Yeshua tells us that loving God means to obey him. When we as parents tell our kids to listen, it usually means we want them to obey what we are saying. Thus with the Sh’ma.

First we are to love God. How much do we love him? With all our heart (feelings) soul and strength. That pretty much covers everything. God is to come first, nothing else comes before him. How do we show this love, by obeying, in this instance, by teaching our children the marvels God has done for us. We begin of course with the Bible, but if we truly want our children to catch faith from us, we need to tell them what God has done for us as a people, and what he has done for us as individuals. I let my kids know. I was healed of alcoholism, and several other problems. I was at National Institutes of Health for major surgery, and when the doctor did my pre-op exam, he could find nothing wrong with me. The house I am in is a blessing from God, in that we were able to get it, the lack of damage from the hurricane, and having a good spot for a chapel. Even Friday, I dropped a bottle of vitamins that I am taking and couldn’t reach it because it had fallen under the car. A gentle wind blew them almost right into my hand. I was very thankful, and I shared it with the kids at dinner. We are to share our faith with our children, the kerygma. “Jesus came to Earth to save sinners. As fortold by the prophets, he preached to the people, he healed the sick and other miracles, was crucified, died buried, and rose again. AndI know this to be true because he has worked great miracles in my life.

We ourselves keep scrolls on our doors. The ones in Hebrew have the Sh’ma much as I have quoted it above. The ones in English have the Sh’ma and the 10 Commandments. They are to there to remind us when we go out and when we come in, that we are to obey God, and that God has given us specific guidelines in this obedience.

Many of the commands, like this in the Tanach are in order to remember, or to teach our children. If it was not important, it would not be in the Bible. God wants us to share what he has done for us. This was what the first apostles literally did, they told people how God had changed their lives and changed them. We are to do the same.

As we approach kingdomtide, let us remember that today, we are to proclaim the kingdom.

Shalom b’Yeshua haMoshiach,

+Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sukkoth 2008

Lev. 23:33-43

October 13, at Sundown, marks the feast of Sukkoth, or Tabernacles. During this feast the Jewish people build tabernacles or huts, and have all their meals in them and sleep in them as well. Sukkoth was the autumn harvest time and was a type of Jewish thanksgiving. As well, it commemorates the forty years in the desert, and God’s provision. We note in passing, according to Nehemiah, during the forty years in the desert, their clothes did not wear out, in other words, along with manna and water, God provided for all the rest of the people’s needs.

Many Jews today see the Succoth or hut as a sign of God’s protection as well, because God protected the people in the desert as well.

We too, see that Yeshua completes this feast as he does all the others. He provides for us, if we seek the kingdom, and he will protect us. He will not let us be tempted past what we can bear.

As Christians, we too can keep the feast, setting up a tent or dining fly, and having our meals in it. We also set up tents and sleep in them as well, as well as cooking at least lunch and dinner outside. Good time for brisket and smoked turkey as well. We do this in remembrance of the forty years in the desert, and remind ourselves that it took forty years for the children of Israel to become true people of God. Even Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, and St. Paul spent three years in the wilderness.

During Sukkoth, we remember that becoming a Christian is not an overnight thing, but a process: a process in which for some is quicker, for some is slower, but nevertheless a process in which we learn to apply God’s work to our lives; a process in which we learn to overcome temptation; a process in which we learn to be Yeshua’s hands, and feet and eyes, and mouth; a process in which we learn to trust God; a process in which God builds us into better Christians. As the tent surrounds us, so does God’s provision and protection surround us. We have talked about this process before. The Eastern Orthodox Church refers to it as theosis, that is becoming more God like. As Christ is in God, so we are in Christ. As we become more Christ-like, we become more like the father, for Jesus was his perfect reflection. As Yeshua told Phillip, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

It is also a time of thinking. Of the six hundred three thousand plus men to cross the Red Sea and were delivered from slavery in Egypt, only two, Yehoshua (Joshua) and Kalev (Caleb) actually made it to the promised land. Yeshua tells us, many are called, but few are chosen. St. Paul tells us to run to win the race, and that the bones of the Israelites littering the ground were given as an example for us to learn. Let us look at this and tremble.

God has called us. Will we follow? Will we trust him to provide for us? Will we speak out for him when it is not popular? Will we call others to follow the Lord Yeshua? The entire Exodus process is something that every Christian must go through, from being baptized to learning in the desert. There will be trials and temptations. God will test and prove us in order to make us strong. After all, God wants people of good character to reside with him forever.

Let us as we celebrate this holiday, analyse where we are in our relationship with Yeshua. Are we crying for meat and melons, or are we advancing for the Kingdom of God? Are we wondering where Moses went, or are we preparing for the battle? Let us pray for all Christians, that they would grow in love, knowledge and obedience to the Lord Yeshua haMoshiach (Jesus the Christ), and let us pray for all Yehudim (Jews) that they would see how Yeshua completes the feast and recognise him as Messiah, and may we trusting in his protection, guidance, power, and providence go to war against Satin and those forces which attempt to enslave us.

Shalom b’Yeshua haMoshiach

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL
Pastor, Congregation Benim Avraham
Bishop of La Porte, Texas


Monday, October 6, 2008

5 October 2008

Leviticus 16:1-34

October 9 is Yom Kippur, one of the Holiest of the High Holy Days of the Jews which we remember. Our Lesson from Leviticus explains the preparations which the high priest had to make in order to offer the offering for the sins of the people. First he had to wash, a symbol of purity. Then he had to put on the special clothes reserved to the high priest (clothing indicates our deeds). Afterwards, he had to have a sacrifice to pay for his own sins. Then and only then could he enter into the Holy of Holies and sacrifice for the sins of the peoples, which he did by sprinkling blood on the cover of the ark of the covenant. Note even then, he had a rope tied to his foot just in case. The hem of his robe had bells. If the bells stopped ringing, they knew the High Priest had been struck dead for his sins and was pulled out.

Jesus, by his death on the cross finished this sacrifice for ever. Jesus was without sin, so no need to wash, or even sacrifice. He was perfect man, without sin, so he needed no magnificent clothing to symbolize his good deeds, all his deeds were good. Through his goodness and perfection, he was able to enter into that Holy Place, of which the Holy of Holies was only the palest of shadows. Instead of offering the blood of a lamb, he offered his own blood to cover the mercy seat, once and for all, to cover our sins for ever.

The Jews wore white on this day, so symbolize they were clean of sin. The same in days gone past, Christians would don a white garment after their baptism, and wear it for fifty days to remind them that Jesus had paid for their sins and they were cleansed indeed. Another custom that the Jews and my family practice, we go to the river and through breadcrumbs on the water, and watch the river carry them away, as Jesus carried our sins and the punishment for them away from us.

The ninth of this year, and every Friday is good to remember that Jesus, through his life and his death on the cross, provided for us a way to enter into God’s presence. Join with me fasting on this day, so that we may join Jesus in his sufferings so as to remember the wonders he did for us.

Shalom b’Yeshua haMoshiach
+Mar Michael Abportus
Pastor Congregation Benim Avraham

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rosh Hashanah

What Does the Shofar Say

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
Letting the wolf in the door, to destroy, corrupt and more.
He’s in the music, promoting drugs,
He’s on TV promoting sex and rebellion,
He’s in the school teaching one to be a hellion.
Parents, do you love your children,
Then teach them, teach them.
At their rising, at their sitting,
Going out, coming in, at their eating,
Jesus Christ is Lord, He died for you, and many more,
And expects to be your Lord.

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
False shepherds abound misleading the sheep,
Saying science, psychology is King.
If it feels good do it, if it hurts no-one, ‘tis not a sin, or so they sing.
Jesus is not Lord, he’s just one way, of which there are many more.
Stand up O sheep, flee from such shepherds, For at that last day, they shall flee, or
Be astounded, upon finding resurrection is true,
But alas they are blue,
For never having known Jesus, they have condemned themselves,
And those who followed them to a future so bleak,
That to think upon makes me weak

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Ti ra! Ti ra! Arise, charge, ‘tis time to fight the good fight,
‘tis time to show the adversary our might.
Put on the Gospel Armour, refrain from retreating,
It is time to gain souls, it is time to gain kings,
It is time to show the world our Lord and King.
We have been asleep, allowing Satan his will
And we have had to pay the bill.
The time is over, Satin take cover,
For the church is called to be on the move.
Blow the shofar, blow the trumpet, Good Christians, ATTACK!
You are the mighty hosts of the Lord, armed with his Spirit and Word,
The battle is yours, the war is the Lord’s.