Wednesday, December 26, 2012

23 December 2012

Interestingly enough, the proto gospel shows up in this weeks Tanakh.  All the consequences of sin are laid out here clear to see.  First, as we read the lesson, we discover that Adam was there.  Why on earth didn't he keep Havah from eating the fruit.  When YHWH God comes to the garden, he calls out to Adam, where are you?  When God asks this question, he doesn't mean  literally where are you, but where are you in relationship to me, an excellent question for Advent.

Then comes the sad part.   YHWH asks Adam if he has been eating the forbidden fruit, and Adam, instead of confessing his sin, lays it at YHWH's door, "the women you gave me..."  When he gets to Havah, she is not much better, as she blames the serpent.  I suspect if anyone took the blame willingly, this world would have been very different, but Adam and Havah lead the way, which we all follow of blaming others, including God for our faults.  The sin breaks the relationship between man and God (God's Holy Spirit no longer resides in man bringing Adam and Havah to spiritual death.  The relationship between Adam and Havah goes down hill, and even his relationship with nature, as he  now works by the sweat of his brown, and they are kicked out of Gan Eden, and a Cherub is set to keep them out. 

The good news is given to Havah.  Her descendent (singular) will stomp the servant, which we recognise a being the first prediction of Messiah's birth and ministry.  And of course we are celebrating this grand miracle now.  Messiah Yeshua has come into the world to save sinners, and to show us the way. 

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

4 October 2012: Zechariah 14: 1-21

14:1 Behold, the days of the Lord come, and thy spoils shall be divided in thee. 2 And I will gather all the Gentiles to Jerusalem to war, and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, but the rest of my people shall not be utterly cut off from the city.
3 And the Lord shall go forth, and fight with those Gentiles as when he fought in the day of war. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave asunder, half of it toward the east and the west, a very great division; and half the mountain shall lean to the north, and half of it to the south. 5 And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and the valley of the mountains shall be joined on to Jasod, and shall be blocked up as it was blocked up in the days of the earthquake, in the days of Ozias king of Juda; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with him. 6 And it shall come to pass in that day that there shall be no light, 7 and there shall be for one day cold and frost, and that day shall be known to the Lord, and it shall not be day nor night: but towards evening it shall be light.
8 And in that day living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem; half of it toward the former sea, and half of it toward the latter sea: and so shall it be in summer and spring. 9 And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one, 10 compassing all the earth, and the wilderness from Gabe unto Remmon south of Jerusalem. And Rama shall remain in its place. From the gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate, to the gate of the corners, and to the tower of Anameel, as far as the king’s winepresses, 11 they shall dwell in the city; and there shall be no more any curse, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely.
12 And this shall be the overthrow with which the Lord will smite all the nations, as many as have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they are standing upon their feet, and their eyes shall melt out of their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. 13 And there shall be in that day a great panic from the Lord upon them; and they shall lay hold every man of the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall be clasped with the hand of his neighbour. 14 Juda also shall fight in Jerusalem; and God shall gather the strength of all the nations round about, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. 15 And this shall be the overthrow of the horses, and mules, and camels, and asses, and all the beasts that are in those camps, according to this overthrow.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall be left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem, shall even come up every year to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others. 18 And if the family of Egypt shall not go up, nor come; then upon them shall be the overthrow with which the Lord shall smite all the nations, whichever of them shall not come up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the sin of Egypt, and the sin of all the nations, whosoever shall not come up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
20 In that day there shall be upon the bridle of every horse Holiness to the Lord Almighty; and the caldrons in the house of the Lord shall be as bowls before the altar. 21 And every pot in Jerusalem and in Juda shall be holy to the Lord Almighty: and all that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and shall seethe meat in them: and in that day there shall be no more the Chananite in the house of the Lord Almighty.

This is one of those lessons that make Christians and others uncomfortable, or that causes churches to pick and choose what part of scriptures to use.  But we cannot do that.  We are told in I or II Timothy that "...all scripture   is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; 17 thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good we cannot ignore this scripture.  One of the things we note here is that to our way of thinking, this scripture is very carnal, not at all very spiritual.  Now this is important for Christians.  Christianity is not a religion where we obtain salvation by contemplating God.   Salvation comes to us by very carnal acts.  Yeshua died on the cross for us.  We in turn must "trust and be immersed to be saved; for whoever does not trust will be condemned. (Mark 16:16).  So Christianity, by the world's definition is not very spiritual, but a religion that serves us for life in this world.  We are told, that at some point in the future, all the enemies of the Jews will be wiped out.  Jews will be restored to Israel and Jerusalem.  While this passage does not bring this up, we believe these to be Messianic Jews who have come to know Yeshua as their Lord and Messiah.  All the nations will come to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the feast of tabernacles (Sukkoth), and that everything in Jerusalem will be holy, and the city will be a holy place to be.  

Why tabernacles.  Tabernacles represents God's protection.  The lessons from Sunday and during these days of Sukkoth remind us that Yah provided manna, water, and that the peoples clothing and shoes did not wear. out.  By celebrating tabernacles, we are celebrating that we have learned to completely depend on God, which is a mark of a true Christian.  The new Heaven and Earth, while different, will still be places where we have a body.  We won't be ghosts wandering around, nor will we be angels with wings, but new creatures living a new life.  But that new life must begin here on the old Earth.  We do this by allowing he who "tabernacled" among us to tabernacle in our heart.  We are to depend on him 100% and to obey him 100%.  Baptism, or going to church guarantees nothing, unless there is complete faith in the Messiah.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

24 September 2012

This week, several of the lessons point us to Yom Kipper, the great day of Atonement which prefigures the death of Yeshua on the cross.  The lesson from Isaiah is perhaps most relevant to us as Christians today:
Isaiah 57:14-58:14:
 And they shall say, Clear the ways before him, and take up the stumbling-blocks out of the way of my people.
15 Thus saith El Shaddai, who dwells on high for ever, Holy in the holies, is his name, El Shaddai resting in the holies, and giving patience to the faint-hearted, and giving life to the broken-hearted: 16 I will not take vengeance on you for ever, neither will I be always angry with you: for my Spirit shall go forth from me, and I have created all breath. 17 On account of sin for a little while I grieved him, and smote him, and turned away my face from him; and he was grieved, and he went on sorrowful in his ways. 18 I have seen his ways, and healed him, and comforted him, and given him true comfort; 19 peace upon peace to them that are far off, and to them that are nigh: and Yahweh has said, I will heal them.
20 But the unrighteous shall be tossed as troubled waves, and shall not be able to rest. 21 There is no joy to the ungodly, said God.
Listen to Esaias Chapter 58Chapter 58
58:1 Cry aloud, and spare not; lift up thy voice as with a trumpet, and declare to my people their sins, and to the house of Jacob their iniquities. 2 They seek me day by day, and desire to know my ways, as a people that had done righteousness, and had not forsaken the judgement of their God: they now ask of me righteous judgement, and desire to draw nigh to God, 3 saying, Why have we fasted, and thou regardest not? why have we afflicted our souls, and thou didst not know it?
Nay, in the days of your fasts ye find your pleasures, and all them that are under your power ye wound. 4 If ye fast for quarrels and strifes, and smite the lowly with your fists, wherefore do ye fast to me as ye do this day, so that your voice may be heard in crying? 5 I have not chosen this fast, nor such a day for a man to afflict his soul; neither though thou shouldest bend down thy neck as a ring, and spread under thee sackcloth and ashes, neither thus shall ye call a fast acceptable. 6 I have not chosen such a fast, saith Yahweh; but do thou loose every burden of iniquity, do thou untie the knots of hard bargains, set the bruised free, and cancel every unjust account. 7 Break thy bread to the hungry, and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: if thou seest one naked, clothe him, and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed.
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily spring forth: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall compass thee. 9 Then shalt thou cry, and God shall hearken to thee; while thou art yet speaking he will say, Behold, I am here. If thou remove from thee the band, and the stretching forth of the hands, and murmuring speech; 10 and if thou give bread to the hungry from thy heart, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light spring up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as noon-day: 11 and thy God shall be with thee continually, and thou shalt be satisfied according as thy soul desires; and thy bones shall be made fat, and shall be as a well-watered garden, and as a fountain from which the water has not failed. 12 And thy old waste desert places shall be built up, and thy foundations shall last through all generations; and thou shalt be called a repairer of breaches, and thou shalt cause thy paths between to be in peace.
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, so as not to do thy pleasure on the holy days, and shalt call the sabbaths delightful, holy to God; if thou shalt not lift up thy foot to work, nor speak a word in anger out of thy mouth, 14 then shalt thou trust on the Lord; and he shall bring thee up to the good places of the land, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken this.

The lesson begins by telling us that the nation of Israel will be restored, but that they had been punished for their sin, but they shall be healed.  Then Yahweh takes on the fast (Yom Kippur, or the day of Atonement, the only Jewish Holy Day mandated by the Bible as a fast day.)  The people are fasting and sad, most especially because there is no blessing, and Isaiah explains why.  What is a real fast, loosing the chords of iniquity (repentance), feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing shelter to the homeless, and doing all of this from our hearts, not just because we have to.  When we do all these things, we shall have the blessing, and a powerful blessing at that.  That blessing will be even more, if we learn to keep the Sabbath (both Yom Kippur and the weekly Sabbath as a day of joy.  

Many of us here  in the United States of America believe that this nation was begun as  a Christian nation, but are we still?  Do we worry about repentance, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, or do we just worry about ourselves.  I myself see the hand of God against this once great nation.  We have become a land of divorce, more than 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, a nation promoting sexual iniquity, and yet we wonder why God does not bless us.  The CEO is rewarded, yet the workers have to collect food stamps and Medicare to survive.  Do we worry about them.  Unless we fight against iniquity, divorce, gay marriage, abortion and neglecting the poor, God will judge this nation.  Some Christians think God is too nice to punish us.  I say, look at Israel.  Cast off the land three times.  The third time for close to two millennia.  Will we really keep rejecting God and his commandments?  Will people continue to stay away from church, because they are forced to work on Sunday?

I would ask you to join me and many others, on Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow at sunset.  Fast, pray.  Ask God to help you repent.  Ask God to help us as a nation to repent, to put a slow down on divorce, to end extramarital sex, to quit sacrificing our children on the altar of convenience, to help the less fortunate, to repent in spirit and truth.  If you can, take off work.  Pray, fast, tell your neighbours, for if we don't get serious, God will.  Read the lesson above again.  God is a loving father.  He will do what is necessary to put us back on the right track. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

16 September 2012

10 Have ye not all one father? Did not one God create you? why have ye forsaken every man his brother, to profane the covenant of your fathers?
11 Juda has been forsaken, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Juda has profaned the holy things of the Lord, which he delighted in, and has gone after other gods. 12 The Lord will utterly destroy the man that does these things, until he be even cast down from out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and from among them that offer sacrifice to the Lord Almighty. 13 And these things which I hated, ye did: ye covered with tears the altar of the Lord, and with weeping and groaning because of troubles: is it meet for me to have respect to your sacrifice, or to receive anything from your hands as welcome?
14 Yet ye said, Wherefore? Because the Lord has borne witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, whom thou has forsaken, and yet she was thy partner, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did he not do well? and there was the residue of his spirit. But ye said, What does God seek but a seed? But take ye heed to your spirit, and forsake not the wife of thy youth. 16 But if thou shouldest hate thy wife and put her away, saith the Lord God of Israel, then ungodliness shall cover thy thoughts, saith the Lord Almighty: therefore take ye heed to your spirit, and forsake them not, 17 ye that have provoked God with your words. But ye said, Wherein have we provoked him? In that ye say, Every one that does evil is a pleasing object in the sight of the Lord, and he takes pleasure in such; and where is the God of justice?
Listen to Malachias Chapter 3Chapter 3
3:1 Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 And who will abide the day of his coming? or who will withstand at his appearing? for he is coming in as the fire of a furnace and as the herb of fullers. 3 He shall sit to melt and purify as it were silver, and as it were gold: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver, and they shall offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.
4 And the sacrifice of Juda and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to the Lord, according to the former days, and according to the former years. 5 And I will draw near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the witches, and against the adulteresses, and against them that swear falsely by my name, and against them that keep back the hireling’s wages, and them that oppress the widow, and afflict orphans, and that wrest the judgment of the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 2:10-3:5, LXX)

At first glance one wonders if the writers of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence were familiar with Malachi.  Do we indeed all have one father and God who created us, so indeed we are equal in God's eyes.  But from here we go downhill.  Yehudah has rejected God by going after false Gods.  Do we not have the same problem today.  We abandon the one true God to worship the gods of sex, sports, alchohol and drugs, and occasionally wonder into church to profane God's temple, just as Yehudah did.  Some do worst.  How many Christians convert to Buddhism, not because they think the religion is better, but because they don't believe it condemns our behaviour.  I once had someone tell me they wanted to be a Buddhist, because they would only have to go to the temple once a year!!!  And then we come crying back to god, because we have found out that our false gods are truly that, false.

But more powerfully, this lesson talks about marriage, and God lets us know what he thinks.  First he condemns unfaithfulness.  He hates divorce.  He wants us to be faithful to our wives and to have children.  And implied of course, he wants wives to be faithful to their husbands.  As we look at the divorce rate in the US, and the abortion rate, is it not amazing that he does not judge us now?  Why is it that God hates divorce?  It is because marriage is an icon of the relationship between Christ and his church. 

And Yah condemns us for calling evil good.  Does this not describe the world today?  Bishops divorce their wives to marry another man, and call this good.  We affirm the right of a woman to murder her own child, and call it good.  Sunday has become the most important shopping day of the week and we call it good, even though our "need" to buy stuff on Sundays keeps people out of church and keeps families from spending time together.  People no longer have children because they are inconvenient, and we call it good.  Yah warns us that we cannot continue on this path.  Just as he warns the Jews that John the Baptist is coming to prepare Yeshua's way, so he warns us that the Lord is  coming, and he is coming to judge the Earth and set things right.  There will be judgement against witches, adulteresses (and adulterers as well), those who swear falsely by Yahweh's name, against those who hold back wages, who oppress the widow and orphan, and against those who pervert justice.  For many, when the Lord returns to judge the earth, it will be a day of tears. 

We need to learn to truly be God's servants.  God does not want us to continues in the same old lifestyle. God expects us to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, but he is not going to force that change upon us.  He allows us to do it at the rate we want, but he does expect us to go forward.  Is God transforming your life?  If not, why not.  This day as we proclaim with trumpets that God is king, we need to consider that in truth.  If God is truly our king, then it is time to put him in charge of our lives.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Ones to Him Belong

Often, in a tragedy, young kids or young people die, and I am often asked, "why did they have to die so young?" Well, if you use the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, there is actually an answer provided: 7 But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest. 8 For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years. 9 But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age. 10 He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated. 11 Yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul. 12 For the bewitching of naughtiness doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind. 13 He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time: 14 For his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked. 15 This the people saw, and understood it not, neither laid they up this in their minds, That his grace and mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect unto his chosen. 16 Thus the righteous that is dead shall condemn the ungodly which are living; and youth that is soon perfected the many years and old age of the unrighteous. 17 For they shall see the end of the wise, and shall not understand what God in his counsel hath decreed of him, and to what end the Lord hath set him in safety. 18 They shall see him, and despise him; but God shall laugh them to scorn: and they shall hereafter be a vile carcase, and a reproach among the dead for evermore. 19 For he shall rend them, and cast them down headlong, that they shall be speechless; and he shall shake them from the foundation; and they shall be utterly laid waste, and be in sorrow; and their memorial shall perish. 20 And when they cast up the accounts of their sins, they shall come with fear: and their own iniquities shall convince them to their face. (Wisdom of Solomon, 4:7-19) Note, God takes us those who are good to protect them from the corruption of this world. For you western Christians, not familiar with the Septuagint, it is the source of almost all quotes of the Old Testament found in the New Testament. Matthew is the only New Testament book that does not quote mainly from the Septuagint. But Matthew also does not quote from the Massoritic Text (that used by the west today), but form some other version lost to us. Mar Michael Abportus

Sunday, June 10, 2012

9 June 2012

This post should really have happened last weeks as the readings we will be looking at come from last Sunday, Trinity Sunday. Exodus 3:1-16. Moshe and the burning bush. Often times we are too busy watching sheep, working, or playing on the internet for God to get our attention. In Moshe's case, while tending the sheep, he sees a bush burning, but not being consumed, and he draws near to see what is happening. Immediately, God tells him to remove his sandals, because he is on Holy ground. God identifies himself, as the God of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yakob, and tells Moshe he has seen the suffering of the Hebrew people. Moshe's reaction is fear, he turns away his face because he knows he is unworthy to look upon God, and he knows he is not worthy to do the things that God is going to send him to do. "Who am I" says Moshe, but when God gives us something to do, he will give us the way to do it as well. Let us bear in mind that at this point in time Moshe is 80 years of age. Moshe also desires to know God's name, and God tells him, "I am" has sent you, and gives his name as Yahweh, that is "He is." In other words, God is the source of all other things that have existence. He is not part of creation, nor a product of creation, but above and beyond all things. He is a Holy God, totally different and set apart, but a person as well, who can and desires to communicate with us and have a relationship with us. Isaiah 6:1-8 Isaiah has a vision in the temple. The Lord is enthroned, his train fills the temple and the seraphim and cherubim worship him. Isaiah's reaction, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips from a country of men with unclean lips." Several things are addressed here. First, the king had leprosy of the lips. More importantly, the worship of the people of Israel was false. That is they were worshipping not with their lives, but their lips alone. They had forgotten that to worship God is something done with ones entire life, not merely what might happen in a church or a temple, but that we would do justice, practice mercy and follow the Lord's precepts. More importantly, Isaiah himself can do nothing about his sinful position. Yahweh must send an angel who touches Isaiah's lips to purify them. In other words, we cannot help ourselves. There is nothing that we can do to make our selves pure in God's sight, except recognise our position as sinners. When we see how evil we are, then God can send the angle with the coal to purify us (that is wash us in the blood of the lamb), so that we can go out to serve God. Proverbs 8:22-31 This is basically a bridge. Yeshua and the Holy Spirit are not something new. They have been with the Father since creation. The Holy Spirit gives life and the ability to obey. Romans 8:12-17 How is it then that we achieve this. We are told, we cannot live according to the flesh (that is we cannot be of this world, but it is the Holy Spirit living within us which gives us the power to do good things. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to call God our Father, because when the Holy Spirit directs our lives, and we are in obedience to the Father, then we are truly his children. We are now heirs with Christ, ready to suffer with him. John 3:16 Nicodemus comes by night (for fear of the Sanhedrin to see Yeshua. Nicodemus recognises that Yeshua is indeed sent by God, for only through God could Yeshua do these miracles. But he doesn't really understand. Yeshua explains to him, that he came down from heaven, that the Spirit does as he pleases, and that man cannot have eternal life unless he (or she) is born of water and the Holy Spirit. In other words, only through baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit can one be saved. The passage ends with the famous verse, “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." In other words, when we truly beleive, we will get baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, when allowed transforms our lives into something new. He takes us out of the world and puts us in the kingdom. We still live in the world, but instead of worrying about the things of this world (money, parties, booze, friends, big houses, etc) we will worry about justice, righteousness, caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. We will proclaim the Gospel. So in essence. God created us. We are not worthy to talk to him because of our sins. We need to recognise that we are sinners, and we need to accept that Yeshua died on the cross for our sins. We need to be baptised and allow him to fill us with his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not only helps us see that we need a saviour, but when we allow him in our heart, he will transform our lives from worldly lives to kingdom lives. Do you want to be of the kindom or of the world. Harden not your hearts and seek Yeshua now. Tomorrow may be too late. Come visit us for worship. 204 Sylvan, La Porte, TX 77571 @ 10:00 AM on Sunday.