Monthly Archives: June 2015

Inside Out

fruit of the Spirit 2

The account of the fig tree that Yeshua cursed (Matt 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14) provides many lessons such as the power we have through Yeshua over our environment or the power of faith and trust. It also shows that we must bear good fruit. Since humans are sometimes referred to as trees in Scripture (Ps 1:3 52:8; Is 44:4) this fig tree may very well represent what can happen to us.

We usually do not think of a fig tree as having free will, yet because this fig tree did not perform in compliance with the way it was created, Yeshua cursed it. The fig tree withered and died. Whatever was wrong with the fig tree seems to have been happening “behind the scenes”. The tree was able to produce leaves to provide for its own sustenance, but it did not produce fruit for the sustenance of others. The fig tree had been provided with all that it needed in its creation to produce the expected fruit. It failed in its assigned task.

What lessons does this story hold for us? Yeshua has equipped us mightily so that we might bear good fruit. He has provided a way for us to reconcile with our Creator (Rom 5:10) so that we might learn wisdom (1 Cor 1: 28-31) from Him and have His protection (2 Thess 3:3). Yeshua Himself became our perfect example of how to produce excellent fruit (Luke 6:40). Before He returned to His Father, Yeshua further equipped us with the Holy Spirit so that we might bear the fruit of His Spirit (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit guides and equips us with spiritual gifts for the purpose of making us fruitful.

In addition to being our Comforter and personal Guide, the Holy Spirit works within our hearts and minds, refashioning us so that we might produce optimum fruit. It is our responsibility to yield ourselves to the work of the Spirit and to cooperate with Him. It is easy to let things slide and to drift along thinking everything is alright. On the outside, we may appear to be doing fine, but inside we may be in trouble.

The failure of trees to produce fruit may stem from one or more pests such as borers or fungi or a variety of diseases. The more one knows how a healthy tree is supposed to function and how to identify the culprit(s), the better the chances for correctly addressing the problem. It Is important to determine exactly what is causing the problem, so that the correct remedy may be applied.

The same is true for us. It is our responsibility to understand how we are expected to function and how to identify the culprit(s) that are eating away at our growth and effectiveness. It is also important for us to be on the lookout for any evil or weakness that may be hindering us.

In order to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we must understand the spiritual realm. We are not as familiar with this realm as with the physical realm, so it takes more effort (Gal 3:1-3) to operate in the spirit realm. This is perhaps one of our biggest battles.

If we are not paying attention, spiritual diseases and pests may begin to eat away at us from the inside. We may not notice it until it is too late, until we are withering up and dying. We must make sure that it is the Holy Spirit who works in us and not the enemy. Let us be vigilant, so that when our Master approaches us expecting good fruit, He may delight in our yield.

Will the True Messiah Please Stand Up?

Gemini

Many passages in scripture talk about the dual nature of Messiah Yeshua, that He is both God and man. So how do we know that Yeshua the Messiah is both divine (YHVH Elohim) and human? Scripture makes very clear this dual nature of Yeshua, and we know that we can believe the testimony of Scripture because all Scripture is inspired by God and is true and good for doctrine, teaching, etc. (2 Tim 3:16).

Galatians 4:4 shows the humanity of Yeshua: “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Torah..”. Luke 1:35 provides clear evidence of the divine nature of Yeshua – the angel said to Miriam: “…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

God did not just manifest Himself in flesh as a human being, but rather “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father..” (John 1:14) God the Father took Yeshua who was already His Son from the beginning, and made Him to be born through a human woman by the power of the Holy Spirit. So why did Messiah need to be fully human as well as fully divine? Because we had to have a High Priest [our Messiah Yeshua] who could understand our weaknesses – One who had been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. (from Heb 4:15) Even more specifically, Hebrews 2:17 says: “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of all people. Scripture confirms this in Philippians 2:7-8, where it says that Yeshua took on the “form of a bondservant, and [came] in the likeness of a human being. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

We can see clearly from these scriptures that Yeshua could not have taken away our sins unless He was both fully human (so He could identify with us in our human weakness) and fully divine (so that He had the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the enemy, HaSatan). It is true that we now have the power of the Holy Spirit within us, when we have been baptized into that power. However, Yeshua has a special relationship with the Holy Spirit and Abba Father, in that He is One (Echad) with them as persons of the triune God, Yehovah Elohim.

To put this into a context that might be easier for us mortal beings to understand, YHVH has painted the entire Gospel message into His star-pictures in the sky. We have looked at some of these in depth in previous blogs, but here I just want to give you a brief snapshot of one of them to help clarify Yeshua’s duality as God and man. Most people have heard of Gemini as one of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. However, as with the others, its meaning has been corrupted over the ages through pagan mythology and astrology. The original Hebrew name for this sign was Thaumim, which means united, or twinned, as in Exodus 26:24.

In most of the myths about Gemini, twin brothers are represented; they are sometimes seen as heads of armies or great pirates on the seas (sons of Jupiter), which is why they were looked on as “patron saints” of marine navigation. The ancient star-names paint a very different picture, though, of a single person with a twofold nature–God and Man. They tell the story of His twofold work of suffering and glory, and His twofold coming in humiliation and in triumph. Two of the 85 stars in this sign point this out very clearly; the star Apollo in the head of one means ruler or judge, while the star Hercules in the other’s head means “the One who comes to suffer”. The best translation of the Hebrew name of the sign (Thaumim) is “united into one”, in the same sense that Yeshua is one person of the Godhead, but has two distinct natures united together in His one essence.

There are not two separate persons, but rather two natures joined together in one Person, “God and man in one Messiah.” We can’t have one without the other – if we accept Yeshua as a man, suffering for our redemption, then we must also accept Him as our God (Yehovah), coming to judge all people and reign as King of kings for eternity. When we remember what Yeshua said to His disciples before He left the earth, it helps us understand what it means to be a part of His Kingdom: “If you love me, you will keep My commandments”. (John 14:15) In verse 21, He goes on to say: “If anyone loves Me, they will keep My word; and My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.”

This sounds like the greatest thing that could ever happen to us, that Abba Father and Yeshua His Son would come make their home with us! Do you want this? It means sacrifice and commitment for someone to keep His commandments (His word) day-by-day. As Yeshua promised, Abba sent the Ruach HaKodesh to help us every moment of our lives – do you think the Holy Spirit can also help you to stay faithful to Yehovah’s Word? Is it worth trying?

Kings or Servants?

if we endure

As children of YHVH, are we servants or kings? Actually, we are both.

We are servants of YHVH (Acts 16:17; 1 Cor. 4:1). Before we were born again, we were servants to the enemy (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Sometimes we still are, when we stray from YHVH’s way (Rom 6:16). YHVH cares for us and serves us, even though He is our Father and King. Therefore, because we are His servants, we serve others, as He guides us (1 John 5:3).

As children of YHVH, we are also kings (Rev 3:21, 5:10). We have been given authority over our environment (Gen 1:26; Ps 8:6). Our homes, possessions and the atmosphere around us are subject to our authority. Our authority comes from Yeshua, Who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Sometimes, we forget that our authority does not originate with us. Do we use our authority solely for our own pleasure or do we use our authority to advance the kingdom of YHVH?

Yeshua provides the perfect example for us. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet He came to earth the first time as a servant. He did not forget His identity as King, but He also did not let that identity sidetrack Him from His mission, even when He was tempted by the enemy. While He was on earth, He followed only the will of His Father, not His own will (John 6;38). He served others, even when it wasn’t convenient (Matt. 14:13-14). He made it clear that He was a king and explained how His kingdom operates (Matt 5-7).

Why didn’t Yeshua assume the throne here on earth the first time? Right now, there is another king on the throne over this earth who has many followers and servants (John 18:36). Yeshua was not given all authority in heaven and on earth until He completed His first earthly mission (Matt 28:18). As His followers and subjects, we will not come fully into our glory until we have completed our earthly missions.

For now we are mostly servants, but there must be a balance, just as there was with Yeshua. He came to serve others, but He remained aware of His kingly identity. He understood and used His authority, yet remained always subject to His Father’s commands. It is the same for us.

Some believers are excellent servants, but have lost or confused their identity as children of YHVH. We seem unaware of our value and worth and we often assume false modesty. Sometimes we use our false modesty as an excuse to avoid taking on accountability or responsibility. We cannot do the great work that YHVH assigns us because we mistakenly believe we are too unworthy or inadequate. On our own, this may be true, but we are not on our own. We operate under and with the authority of Yeshua. With Yeshua’s authority, we are quite powerful and can be very effective in YHVH’s kingdom.

On the other hand, some of us live like kings, but with self-serving demands. We live for ourselves and our own pleasure, paying mere lip service at best to our Father’s directions and commands. We are not interested in participating in His harvest or kingdom work.

If we do lower ourselves to servant mode, it is to serve those whom we approve or accept. Yeshua served many disagreeable characters while He was on the earth. If Yeshua reached out to sinful, undesirable people, then we who are also sinful have no valid reason to turn up our noses. Our righteousness, dignity and worth come from Yeshua’s redemptive work on our behalf. We must forsake self interest. If we are well-balanced servants, willing to work effectively in building His kingdom, then we will be prepared to reign with King Yeshua when He returns in glory.

Will You Inherit YHVH God’s Kingdom?

I was hungry and you gave me food“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matt 25:34

So wait a minute – what is Yeshua (Jesus) saying to his disciples in this passage? Who are the people He speaks of who are blessed by His Father (and ours)? And what did He mean two verses earlier when King Messiah Yeshua said that He will “…separate the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32)? In verses 35-36, Yeshua goes on to say: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”.

If we go back to the Tanach (Old Testament) we can see prophecies of the warnings and future judgment Yeshua was speaking of in Matthew 25:

  • Ps 37:22 – For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off.
  • Isa 58:7 – Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover them, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
  • Eze 18:7 – …but have given their bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing.
  • Eze 34:17 – And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats”

These verses seem disjointed and not directly related to Yeshua’s words in His Olivet discourse, until you look at the full context surrounding these verses. You might wonder, for instance, why YHVH would be judging between sheep and sheep. Let’s look at the passage in Ezekiel 34 preceding Verse 17. YHVH had just been speaking (through Isaiah) about how He would judge the false shepherds who were mistreating the flock and leading them into pagan practices (vv. 7-10). Then in Verses 11-16 He speaks of seeking out His sheep and bringing them back from all the nations of the world where they have been scattered, so that He can bring them to a place of comfort and peace: “they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture” (Eze 34:15).

Then in Verse 16 He says: “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” Abba is promising here to take care of His obedient sheep; those who were led astray by the false shepherds but now desire to follow the true Shepherd. But He will judge those sheep who are continuing to follow the way of the false shepherds and are not willing to trust in YHVH and follow His way.

So how do we recognize someone who is following YHVH’s path and trusting Him with their whole heart? According to Isaiah 58, Matthew 7 and other passages, we will know them by their fruit (see Matt 7:20). It is clear that in Matthew 25:35-36, Yeshua is referring back to the words YHVH was speaking to His people through Yeshayahu (Isaiah) In Isaiah 58:7. In the Isaiah passage, YHVH was instructing His children that it was far more important to Him that they care for the poor and needy, than that they follow their religious rituals.

As we have said many times before, our spiritual journey is all about relationship with YHVH. If you truly want to be pleasing to YHVH and walk in His path, then you need to learn what pleases Him. More to the point, you need to get to know Him personally, not just learn about Him. As you draw closer to Abba Father and His Son Yeshua, you will get to know what is at the core of their heart. When you dig down deep, you will find love, compassion, understanding and empathy for the oppressed and downtrodden among their people. So you might say to this: “how do I help all the poor and hungry, oppressed and abandoned people; how do I visit all the prisoners, take in all the homeless, and clothe the naked; how do I care for all the orphans and widows if the earth? This is much too daunting a task and far too overwhelming for one person.”

If you have a true relationship with YHVH, though, as your closest friend and trusted counselor, then He will show you where He wants you to help His children. Most likely He will start you off with something small, for example, working at a local soup kitchen, visiting shut-ins or elderly people in nursing homes, helping needy widows with small tasks around their homes, or a host of other things. Abba will not only point you to the places He wants you to help, but He will give you all the gifts you need for the task, however great or small. Go to Abba and ask Him what is on His heart; when you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find what is in His heart.