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Friday, June 24, 2016

What is the root of most of the ills of the world today? Take a quick look with me...

…Lessons from the Wilderness… [1] [2] [3] [4]
Volume  Six
Alone …
Psalm 102 (KJV)
A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. 4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skina. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. 13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. 14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. 15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. 16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. 17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. 18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. 19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; 22 When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
23 He weakenedb my strength in the way; he shortened my days. 24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. 25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. 26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endurec: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: 27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. 28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee. [5]


It is 3:28 am. I should be asleep, but here I am, writing my epistle to you, beloved reader. No, I haven’t forgotten the series that I had started, but this message is more urgent, for it is this message the Father has woken me with. Let me begin…

It is eight years now since I was taken from the wilderness, eight years plus a couple of months. I should be rejoicing – yet I am weary, groaning if I may. If I was a practioneer of a twelve step program, I would find it hard to describe what I feel today – a wariness of sin creeping into my soul. I would stand before a group and they would want me to say the words:

“Hi, I’m Dave, and I’m an addict.”

Now, these words are true in this sense: I am an addict, only an addict for G-d. As far as a drug – of that I am free. In one group I used to teach at, I would tell those that if a man or woman says in their journey to becoming clean and sober “I’ve got 90 days being clean and sober!” I’d tell them that’s all they have – 90 days clean and sober. But if the same person could declare “I’ve got 90 days with the Lord!” – ahh – then they have something, a good start on becoming free. Of course, I’d also have to tell them the truth – that they have just enough G-d in them to make themselves dangerous – I learned the hard way that a little time with G-d is good, but you start to feel better, you start to think a little clearer, and you are prone to think that hey, you can make it, when in truth, you cannot – not without G-d and Messiah in your life full time. This lesson comes home, even to someone as myself – eight years with the Lord – but groaning now in my spirit because – I’m not spending enough time with 
G-d.

Why? The old man I was is just skin deep away – one eighth of an inch of skin holding him back from rearing his ugly stupid head up again. Anyone who has suffered under the cruel task-master of sin and addiction that cannot or will not admit this fact is only fooling themselves. We, those of an addictive personality, must hold on and maintain that which freed us with the tenacity of a bull dog – we must never let go. For me, that which saved me is G-d, and I can only speak for myself – what has freed you – I hope and pray it was also G-d. So why do I sit here talking about a turmoil in my soul? Because I’ve let things get in my way, things of the world, the cares, the snares, the distractions that scream at us all non-stop from all sides. I've tried to handle it alone.

The world. Face it; it is our greatest enemy, our biggest challenge. We have to live in it – right now, not much choice in that. Till Yeshua ha’Machiach returns, this is all we got. But the shrill voices out there, they threaten our peace, our sanity even, and distract us from the truth of G-d – which is exactly what the enemy of our soul counts on.

What is at the root of this distraction? Sin? I wish it was that easy – but there is a deeper more insidious reason.
We feel alone.

Let me tell you something. Take a look around you. What is the one emotion you see or feel the most in the people around you, or even within yourself?

Anger? Fear? Hate? Love? Something else?

I’m going to give you my observation – you can disagree, that’s okay – what I see is loneliness. I see people who struggle, who go through the day locked within themselves, alone. In a world of seven to eight billion people, most feel alone. Now the list below is not to justify evil - but to serve as illustration:

The Islamic jihadist does his unspeakable crimes against his fellow man not only because he is evil or cruel – he is alone.
The murderer, the criminal in all shapes and forms do what they do because they are alone.
The pedophile, the deviant, they are alone.
The child is alone.
The widow or widower is alone.
The outcast is alone.
The wounded warrior is alone.
The soldier on the battlefield is alone.
The homeless and hopeless are alone.
Those sick are alone.
The elderly are alone.
The prisoner is alone.
The poor are alone.
The rich are alone.
The abuser and the abused are alone.
The black, the white, the yellow, the red, the brown: each is alone.

The list is endless – but one truth remains.

We are all alone.

Locked within our own minds, even in a crowd, we struggle alone with our fears, our cares, our worries, our sicknesses, our proclivities, our sins… We brawl within our souls over every detail of our lives, looking for just one way to get ahead of the curve, to find enough to eat, enough to cover the bills, enough to satisfy our wants and needs. Again, being alone does not justify doing wrong or doing evil – but it is the root of most the evil in the world, the worst being the love of mammon, but being alone brings out all the rest.

We do unfathomable horror upon each other because there is no quiet in our souls – just a gnawing that eats at our psyche, because we are alone.

Now you may not agree – but from this darkness has sprung all the horror that is unleashed upon the world today. Let me ask you this – if a person felt the presence of a Holy G-d – and I mean the One, True, Merciful, Blessed G-d of heaven – would they do evil, or would they suffer the fears that this world brings forth?

If a man or woman knows – I mean really knows that they are not alone in this world – that a presence outside of themselves if watching closely at all they do – that they are accountable – how does that affect their behavior? Is justice then sought? Is kindness, is mercy pursued? Would those that have, truly reach out to those who have not? Would fairness, repentance, hope be the norm, and not just bywords? Ask yourself – what defines the character of a person? What they do in public, or what they do in private? Because there are those who do not feel the weight of judgment of a Holy G-d upon themselves for their actions, the acts both public and private are usually acts of vengeance, hate, intolerance and:

Romans 1:18-32 (HCSB)

18 For God’s wrath v is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, w 19 since what can be known x about God is evident among them, y because God has shown it to them. 20 From the creation of the world z His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. a As a result, people b are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds c were darkened. d 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools e 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. f
24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts g to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, h and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. i Amen.
26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. j For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse k for what is unnatural. 27 The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse l with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males m and received in their own persons n the appropriate penalty for their perversion. o
28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, p evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, q 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, r inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, s 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, t u and unmerciful. 32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die v w—they not only do them, but even applaud x y others who practice them. [6]

And:

1 Timothy 6:1-11 (NET)
6:1 Those who are under the yoke as slaves1 must regard their own masters as deserving of full respect. This will prevent2 the name of God and Christian teaching3 from being discredited.4 6:2 But those who have believing masters must not show them less respect5 because they are brothers. Instead they are to serve all the more, because those who benefit from their service are believers and dearly loved.6 Teach them and exhort them about these things.7 
6:3 If someone spreads false teachings8 and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, 6:4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, 6:5 and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness9 is a way of making a profit. 
6:6 Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. 6:7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so10 we cannot take a single thing out either. 6:8 But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that.11 
6:9 Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 6:10 For the love of money is the root12 of all evils.13 Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.
6:11 But you, as a person dedicated to God,14 keep away from all that.15 Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. [7]

If your offended by the passages I just quoted, let me say this: take it up with Paul and G-d. As for me, what and how a person lives, are up to them – just be sure you’re right, it’s your eternal destiny at stake not mine. But the point is the same – without the presence of G-d in one’s life – they will do what they feel or think is right, because they have no fear of a holy G-d – they are alone.

Being alone led me to 40 years in the wilderness. Before you yell at me, I was the person in the above passages. Everything spoken of in them? I was guilty of. Evil happened to me at the age of thirteen - as most of you know from my testimony, I was raped – thus I became alone. I lived that evil over and over in my mind – alone. I dealt with it alone. Because of what I felt, what I had endured, my actions became those of a person who cared not about the things of a G-d and I embraced violence, drugs, and immorality. I was alone. I know of what I am speaking today.

So then, what is my point? What turned me around and why do I write this today? What turned me around was the supernatural encounter with a risen Messiah. As I was struggling to overcome my addictions, in 2004 I had a physical manifestation of the risen Savior. As I lay prostrate in an empty church, more alone than I had ever been, Yeshua came to me. I never saw him – but He took me in His arms – lash scarred arms and rough nail prints pulled at the fabric of my shirt as He picked me up and drew my head to His chest, and I felt and heard the beat of His heart. At that minute – I knew I was not alone. It took another four years for me to process all that He was doing in my life – but in 2008, the Son of Man set me free indeed; but it was the manifestation of the Father that sealed the deal. I learned that day that Yahveh was real, that His judgment is real, and that I either served Him or I would be lost and alone forever.

Since then, my behavior changed. I know that I am accountable. I also know I have fallen so short of the grace I was offered, but His Torah leads me in His ways, and I am getting better.

But then, what are we doing in this world? What do I see believers doing? We argue, we endlessly debate each other on so called “social media” on the way to pronounce the name of G-d, of Law versus Grace, of Grace versus Law, of Law and Grace; of Torah being done away with, of Torah still being valid; of accusing Christians of following pagan rituals, of Torah believers being legalistic. We shout at one another, hurl insults and get offended – and the world is alone, we that should know better spend our time in controversies instead of weeping for those that are alone. Instead of reaching out to those alone and unlovable. We do in public and in private what we accuse others of – and the world dies, and the lost are alone.

Then we engage in the tactics and things of this world – left versus right, conservative versus liberal; Democrats are the KKK and Republicans are Nazis; everybody’s wrong, nobody’s right. The poor are oppressed by the rich, the rich take and take, ad nausea, ad nausea. Everyone gets offended, young adults need “safe spaces”, only this type of life “matters” when all lives matter, the unborn are sacrificed to Moloch and the world demands more – blood upon blood.

And we are alone.

All retreat into their own minds, withdraw common sense and curl up our souls because we are alone.

What will it take to stop this madness before there is no hope or chance of return? There are a few that hear the cry of the lost, that weep before their G-d, but it is few indeed. There are those that try to help, but they are empty, they are alone in their souls also – few have experienced the true G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and fewer still His Messiah. Some say they have and use the Holy as a club – to these I can only say they are alone, and for them I weep.

Yes, I weep. For myself first – for I have fallen short of the Glory of G-d. For the lost I weep – for my heart is they know they are not alone. For my nation I weep – for it has lost its way. For the world I weep, for it knows not what it does.

Alas, I have no answer. Only G-d. And in my soul – He is the only answer.

Please, please brethren – stop what you are doing, seek His presence, seek Him.

We cannot do this alone, weep for the lonely.

And that is my point.

There is only One Alone who can take away our loneliness, and make us whole again.

May we all soon return to Him and reach out to those alone in His Name Amein.



















[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and  the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©)  used in translating the New Testament. Please go to  https://bible.org/netbible/ and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
a  skin: or, flesh
b  weakened: Heb. afflicted
c  endure: Heb. stand
[5]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

v  1:18 Rm 5:9; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6
w  1:18 2Th 2:6-10
x  1:19 Or what is known
y  1:19 Ac 14:17; 17:24-27
z  1:20 Mk 10:6
a  1:20 Jb 12:7-9; Ps 19:1-6; Jr 5:21-22
b  1:20 Lit they
c  1:21 Lit hearts
d  1:21 2Kg 17:15; Jr 2:5; Eph 4:17-20
e  1:22 Jr 10:14; 1Co 1:20
f  1:23 Ps 106:20; Jr 2:11; Ac 17:29
g  1:24 Eph 2:3; 4:19
h  1:25 Is 44:20; Jr 10:14; 13:25; 16:19
i  1:25 Rm 9:5; 2Co 11:31
  The transliteration of a Hebrew word signifying that something is certain, valid, truthful, or faithful; it is often used at the end of biblical songs, hymns, and prayers.
j  1:26 1Th 4:5
k  1:26 Lit natural use
l  1:27 Lit natural use
m  1:27 Lv 18:22; 20:13; 1Co 6:9
n  1:27 Or in themselves
o  1:27 Or error
p  1:29 Other mss add sexual immorality
q  1:29 2Co 12:20
r  1:30 Ps 5:5
s  1:30 2Tm 3:2
t  1:31 2Tm 3:3
u  1:31 Other mss add unforgiving
v  1:32 Rm 6:21
w  1:32 Lit things are worthy of death
x  1:32 Lk 11:48; Ac 8:1; 22:20
y  1:32 Lit even take pleasure in
[6]  The Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2003. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
·         [The following notes are taken from the NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from www.bible.org, n.d. Numbering system is unique to NET® Notes.  For more information, see footnote #2and 3.]
1 tn Traditionally, “servants.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
2 tn Grk “that the name…may not be slandered” (a continuation of the preceding sentence).
3 tn Grk “the teaching.”
4 tn Or “slandered.”
5 tn Or “think the less of them”; Grk “despise them,” “look down on them.”
6 tn Or “those who devote themselves to service are faithful and dearly loved” (referring to slaves who serve them).
7 tn Grk “these things teach and exhort.”
8 tn Grk “teaches other doctrines,” (different from apostolic teaching, cf. 1 Tim 1:3).
9 tc Although most witnesses, including some early versions and fathers (D2 Ψ M sy Cyp Lcf Ambst), have ἀφίστασο ἀπὸ τῶν τοιούτων (aphistaso apo tōn toioutōn, “stay away from such things!”) after εὐσεβείαν (eusebeian, “godliness”; thus, “who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit; stay away from such things!”), there seems to be little good reason for this clause’s omission in some of the oldest and best witnesses (א A D* F G 048 6 33 81 1175 1739 1881 lat co). It is likely that it crept into the text early, perhaps as a marginal comment, but it should not be considered authentic in light of the strong external evidence against it.
10 tc The Greek conjunction ὅτι usually means “because,” but here it takes the sense “so that” (see BDAG 732 s.v. 5.c). This unusual sense led to textual variation as scribes attempted to correct what appeared to be an error: D* and a few versional witnesses read ἀληθές ὅτι (“it is true that”), and א2 D2 Ψ M read δῆλον ὅτι (“it is clear that”). Thus the simple conjunction is preferred on internal as well as external grounds, supported by א* A F G 33 81 1739 1881 pc.
11 tn Grk “with these.”
12 tn This could be taken to mean “a root,” but the phrase “of all evils” clearly makes it definite. This seems to be not entirely true to life (some evils are unrelated to love of money), but it should be read as a case of hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point more strongly).
13 tn Many translations render this “of all kinds of evil,” especially to allow for the translation “a root” along with it. But there is no parallel for taking a construction like this to mean “all kinds of” or “every kind of.” The normal sense is “all evils.”
14 tn Grk “O man of God.”
15 tn Grk “flee these things.”
·         End NET® Bible Notes
[7]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Avinu shebashamayim: Is He your Father in heaven? Have you accepted this as fact? We begin a multi-part look at Our Father: join me will you?

…Lessons from the Wilderness… [1] [2] [3] [4]
Volume Six
Avinu shebashamayim …
Part ONE

Avinu shebashamayim,
yitkadash shemekha.
Tavo malkhutekha ye’aseh r’tsonekha
ba’arets ka’asher na’asah vashamayim.
Ten-lanu haiyom lechem chukeinu.
u’selach-lanu et-ashmateinu
ka’asher solechim anachnu la’asher ashmulanu.
Ve’al-tevieinu lidei massah,
ki im-hatsileinu min-hara.
Ke lakha, hamamlakha, vehageverah, veha tiferet l’olemei ‘olamim.
Amein.


Matthew 6:9–13 (NASB95)

 “aPray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
                10 ‘aYour kingdom come.
bYour will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
                11 ‘aGive us this day 1our daily bread.
                12 ‘And aforgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
                13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but adeliver us from 1bevil. 2[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’[5]

Luke 11:1–4 (NASB95)

1 It happened that while 1Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
2 And He said to them, aWhen you pray, say:
1Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 ‘Give us aeach day our 1daily bread.
4 ‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who ais indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’ ”[6]


I am writing this today, for I am saddened and taken aback by what I see happening in the Messianic communities. Truly it is reaching such a level of discord that we need to refer to ourselves as “Messy-anics”, or just admit – we are not a community anymore. On social media, there is this internecine warfare that goes on in group after group – this one declares a sacred name, that one spells the name different, one house theology, two house theology, one-law, Noachide law, Torah for Jews, Torah for Gentiles, Torah for nobody… this list can run on forever. Admins block this person, people block the admins; this post is allowed, that one is not – all in an effort to “promote harmony” but in reality it just continues to highlight the divide within the body.

Let me put it this way. In Christianity, you have Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox Greek, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Presbyterians and on and on. What distinguishes these groups are their approach to Scripture, their basic doctrines and theology. Since they cannot agree on the basic points, they separate, form their house of worship, and stay within those walls. Like-minded people gather together and yet, the conflict is not over – you show me a church anywhere that does not have internal conflict, whether it be between congregants, pastors, deacons, the board, or a combination of all, and I’m heading there. What a breath of fresh air that would be. Now, I suppose, that such a place does exist – I just have not seen it yet. This isn’t me putting down any denomination, congregation or movement – it is just a cold hard fact that sadly exists also within the Messianic community.

This problem also exists within Judaism. Basically, there is the orthodox, the reform, and the conservative movements of Judaism (for different looks at these movements, see footnote #7 below). [7]  Movements are sects or denominations of Judaism, the oldest movements being Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots.  Medieval movements included Karaites and Rabbinical Judaism; Rabbinical Judaism split into Chasidic, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative in the US today, and other countries have similar movements differently named. While there are many websites on the various branches of Christianity and Messianic movements, I include the following for any who want to know about the various movements in the Jewish community. These are:

·                                                         Orthodox Union www.ou.org
·                                                         Union for Reform Judaism www.urj.org
·                                                         United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism www.uscj.org
·                                                         Jewish Reconstructionist Federation www.jrf.org
·                                                         Society for Humanistic Judaism www.shj.org
·                                                         ALEPH - Alliance for Jewish Renewal www.aleph.org

Each movement has its own set of beliefs, with or without Mesorah or traditions, and each meet in their own respective enclaves.

Within the Hebraic Perspective community, most do the same thing – rally the troops that agree with “the cause” and build walls to defend the various congregations against those interlopers that don’t think as they do. Unity? Forget it. But I have just one question for everyone to ponder:

Who is Messiah coming for – what group will He chose from?
What bride is Yeshua going to find when He returns
 – a pure, spotless bride, free of spots, wrinkles and blemishes –
 or Frankenstein’s bride – cobbled together with bits and pieces of dead men’s bones?


Matthew 7:13-24 (NET)
7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7:14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.


7:15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.20 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered21 from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?22 7:17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad23 tree bears bad fruit. 7:18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 7:20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’24 will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

7:22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do25 many powerful deeds?’

7:23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’26

7:24 “Everyone27 who hears these words of mine and does them is like28 a wise man29 who built his house on rock. [8]

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven
– only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Here is one of the most sobering statements given by Yeshua, nay, more than a statement, a warning. All believers, and I include myself especially, need to heed these words, let them sink in and take them to heart and start the process of soul searching – their own, not somebody else’s. I address this to not only my Christian brethren, but those in the Messianic movement as well as Jewish brethren, whether or not you believe in Yeshua as Messiah or not.

For no matter who we are, are we doing the will of Avinu shebashamayim?

To ascertain whether or not we are doing the will of the Father, we must first make the decision that We hold Elohim to be our Father. As in the days of old, there were those who professed G-d, yet their hearts were far from Him:

Isaiah 29:13 (HCSB)
13 The Lord said:

          Because these people approach Me with their mouths t
          to honor Me with lip-service u
          yet their hearts are far from Me,
          and their worship consists of man-made rules
          learned by rote [9]



 Jeremiah 2:5-6 (NET)
2:5 This is what the Lord says:

“What fault could your ancestors7 have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me?8
They paid allegiance to9 worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.10
2:6 They did not ask:
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of desert sands and rift valleys,
through a land of drought and deep darkness,11
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’12 ([10])

Yeshua repeated Isaiah in Mark 7, verse 6:

Yeshua answered them, “Yesha‘yahu was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites—as it is written,
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far away from me.
Their worship of me is useless,
because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines.’d[11]

There is a point to all this: where is one’s heart in relation to the Father? What is a believer’s intent, their kavanah?

In case you haven’t had a chance to read it, let me give a quick description of kavanah from an earlier blog of mine:

“…the word “KaVaNah”. In Hebrew it looks like this:




Loosely translated in a variety of ways, it can mean “intent, focus, direction or understanding”. But KaVaNah is not merely a word that can be defined – it is, as I have stated before, exactly what Hebrew truly is – a concept. We stand before One who sees us – all the time.  Nothing is secret from Him, nothing is hidden.  Yet, consider this: how many of us, in the hopes of landing a job, will spend hours crafting our resume, practice our “spiel” if you will, to sell ourselves at the job interview with this potential employer? We’ll be willing to spend countless moments thinking of just the right words to say to someone we want to impress; there will even be rehearsed speeches, teachings, the list goes on and on… but, we’ll just drop in any time we feel like it before the King of Glory, with no preparation, no plan, no conscious thought of Who it is we stand before, and we’ll graciously give Him 2 minutes, 5, maybe 15 minutes of our time. Some may be able to stretch it out to 30 minutes or an hour, but truthfully? The most important Presence you or I could ever hope to stand before is neglected or worse, assigned to our minds as an after-thought. We go about our lives, doing our own thing then off the cuff or on the spur of the moment we’ll go “Oh, by the way, did You want me to do this God? I sure hope so, because it’s really what I wanted to do…” [12]

Kavanah, best thought of in the terms of prayer or maybe worship, should be looked upon as, well, our focus – where our heart and to a degree, where our head should be at. Maybe it is a good way to describe it as asking yourself “Why am I praying today?” or maybe as “What am I praying today?” In Judaism, kavanah is supposed to be at the heart of the liturgy, a conscious effort to be made in reciting the prayer and the reason for the prayer. Here in sometimes lies the issue:

“…There is a specific difficulty of Jewish prayer. There are laws: how to pray, when to pray, what to pray. There are fixed times, fixed ways, fixed texts. On the other hand, prayer is worship of the heart, the outpouring of the soul, a matter of kavanah (inner devotion). Thus, Jewish prayer is guided by two opposite principles: order and outburst, regularity and spontaneity, uniformity and individuality, law and freedom, a duty and a prerogative, empathy and self-expression, insight and sensitivity, creed and faith, the word and that which is beyond words. These principles are two poles about which Jewish prayer revolves…” [13]

Keva is the opposite bookend to Kavanah. Keva is for the most part, the structure or the framework and the details of Jewish worship. [14] This structure, in a formalized service, has an advantage of aiding a congregation to render their acts of prayer and worship within a backdrop of unity, but can also be a hindrance to kavanah – to capturing the intent of prayer and worship. Prayer can be reduced to the mere act of duty, or ritual, with no real emotion or connection with the spiritual. This is then the condition that I believe Isaiah and Yeshua were referring too, the act of worship, the mere ritual replacing the kavanah, the intent of the heart of the worshipper.

Emotion alone though is as fickle as ritual. There are those today that can be caught up in the “emotion” of prayer, the elation of worship, which they then trade this emotional experience for what should be a spiritual connection with Elohim. Prayer or worship without intention is nothing at all, just as unfocused emotion leads to an equally empty encounter.

So how does this then relate to the matter at hand – a true encounter with Avinu shebashamayim? Does the heart come before Him with kavanah, with the intent to truly understand what it means that he is “Our Father in heaven”, the Creator, the one who gives us life and sustains that life? Or does the heart approach Him out of a sense of obligation, duty – a duty that says one has to be before Him this day, going through the motions with no real connection?

I tie this into the Ten Devarim – the 10 Words or Aseret haDibrot that Moshe brought down from the mountain. If we as believers cannot wrap ourselves around the very first commandment, then nothing about the Scriptures will ever make any sense at all to us – Keva (ritual) will replace Kavanah and our worship will always be stale and our hearts far from G-d.


“I am the LORD your God.”


It is here that we first begin – if we cannot accept and truthfully believe in this fundamental foundation that there is a G-d and He is our G-d, then we are unlikely to ever come to the place of obedience and the place where our heart and our mind comes to acknowledge 
Avinu shebashamayim.

We will pick this up again in the next post and begin to connect the dots.

Till then, may Elohi Richly bless you all, my beloved

Amein.



[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and  the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©)  used in translating the New Testament. Please go to  https://bible.org/netbible/ and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
a  Matt 6:9–13: Luke 11:2–4
a  Matt 3:2; 4:17
b  Matt 26:42; Luke 22:42; Acts 21:14
a  Prov 30:8; Is 33:16; Luke 11:3
1  Or our bread for tomorrow
a  Ex 34:7; Ps 32:1; 130:4; Matt 9:2; 26:28; Eph 1:7; 1 John 1:7–9
a  John 17:15; 1 Cor 10:13; 2 Thess 3:3; 2 Tim 4:18; 2 Pet 2:9; 1 John 5:18
1  Or the evil one
b  Matt 5:37
2  This clause not found in early mss
[5]  New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 6:9–13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
1  Lit He
a  Luke 11:2–4: Matt 6:9–13
1  Later mss add phrases from Matt 6:9–13 to make the two passages closely similar
a  Acts 17:11
1  Or bread for the coming day or needful bread
a  Luke 13:4 mg
[6]  New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Lk 11:1–4). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 20 sn Sheeps clothing…voracious wolves. Jesus uses a metaphor here to point out that these false prophets appear to be one thing, but in reality they are something quite different and dangerous.
21 tn Grk “They do not gather.” This has been simplified to the passive voice in the translation since the subject “they” is not specified further in the context.
22 sn The statement illustrates the principle: That which cannot produce fruit does not produce fruit.
23 tn Grk “rotten.” The word σαπρός, modifying “tree” in both v. 17 and 18, can also mean “diseased” (L&N 65.28).
24 sn The double use of the vocative is normally used in situations of high emotion or emphasis. Even an emphatic confession without action means little.
25 tn Grk “and in your name do.” This phrase was not repeated here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
26 tn Grk “workers of lawlessness.”
27 tn Grk “Therefore everyone.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated.
28 tn Grk “will be like.” The same phrase occurs in v. 26.
29 tn Here and in v. 26 the Greek text reads ἀνήρ (anēr), while the parallel account in Luke 6:47–49 uses ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) in vv. 48 and 49.
·         End “NET®” notes
[8]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
t  29:13 Ezk 33:31; Mt 15:8-9; Mk 7:6-7
u  29:13 Lit their mouth and honor Me with its lips
[9]  The Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2003. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

8 tn Or “I did not wrong your ancestors in any way. Yet they went far astray from me.” Both translations are an attempt to render the rhetorical question which demands a negative answer.
9 tn Heb “They went/followed after.” This idiom is found most often in Deuteronomy or covenant contexts. It refers to loyalty to God and to his covenant or his commandments (e.g., 1 Kgs 14:8; 2 Chr 34:31) with the metaphor of a path or way underlying it (e.g., Deut 11:28; 28:14). To “follow other gods” was to abandon this way and this loyalty (i.e., to “abandon” or “forget” God, Judg 2:12; Hos 2:13) and to follow the customs or religious traditions of the pagan nations (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:15). The classic text on “following” God or another god is 1 Kgs 18:18, 21 where Elijah taunts the people with “halting between two opinions” whether the Lord was the true God or Baal was. The idiom is often found followed by “to serve and to worship” or “they served and worshiped” such and such a god or entity (see, e.g., Jer 8:2; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 35:15).
10 tn The words “to me” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit from the context: Heb “they followed after the worthless thing/things and became worthless.” There is an obvious wordplay on the verb “became worthless” and the noun “worthless thing,” which is probably to be understood collectively and to refer to idols as it does in Jer 8:19; 10:8; 14:22; Jonah 2:8.
11 tn This word is erroneously rendered “shadow of death” in most older English versions; that translation is based on a faulty etymology. Contextual studies and comparative Semitic linguistics have demonstrated that the word is merely another word for darkness. It is confined to poetic texts and often carries connotations of danger and distress. It is associated in poetic texts with the darkness of a prison (Ps 107:10, 14), a mine (Job 28:3), and a ravine (Ps 23:4). Here it is associated with the darkness of the wasteland and ravines of the Sinai desert.
12 sn The context suggests that the question is related to a lament where the people turn to God in their troubles, asking him for help and reminding him of his past benefactions. See for example Isa 63:11–19 and Ps 44. It is an implicit prayer for his intervention, cf. 2 Kgs 2:14.
·         End “NET®” notes
[10]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
d Isaiah 29:13
[11] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Mk 7:6–7). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[14] …Ibid…