Look out for One Another

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

These are fairly well known words from the apostle Paul.  But what does this look like in reality, especially in the western culture’s motto of ‘me first’?

I’ll illustrate with an example.  My last post mentioned that I had to move.  I was so busy with all the moving that I wasn’t paying much attention to the upcoming “appointed times” of Yehovah (God’s feasts).  I knew they were approaching and looked forward to them, but I forgot some of the preparation, specifically some for the time of Tabernacles (which, according to the Jewish Calendar, is going on this very week).

One of the commands of Yah (short for of Yehovah – the LORD), is that we wave some particular tree branches before Him during this holiday.  One can, in most places, go out and find the required items.  I like to purchase them as a set, called a “lulav” in Judaism.  However, the evening before Tabernacles started I realized I had forgotten.

The next day a brother stopped by as he and his family where on their way to the synagogue.  He had a spare lulav that he wanted to give me.  He couldn’t stay as they were on their way to synagogue (I can’t get out much, so I wasn’t going), but he took the time and effort to bring me the lulav.  I must admit I don’t remember telling him that I forgot to get mine (not even sure I did).  All I can say is that this was a huge blessing that touched me deeply.  He put my interests before his at that time.

That is what God wants of us, and what Paul meant with the words he penned in Philippians.  It may cost a bit of time.  It may cost us a bit of money.  But when we notice a brother or sister that needs or can use something, and we can fill that need – do so!  I didn’t ‘need’ the lulav but that was an act of love I’ll probably never forget.

So, whether the act be large or small, expensive or free, meaningful or not in your eyes, bless a brother or sister with a ‘random act of kindness‘ to put Paul’s words in today’s lingo.  Not to be seen by others, but by your Father in heaven, and possibly by the recipient of the act.

Shalom,

  • Yosef

 

 

God’s Calendar: Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)

Well, the Feast of Trumpets (or Feast of Shouting) is over according the Jewish calendar and the next appointed time is quickly approaching.  It is yom Kippur (the day of atonement).  According to the Jewish calendar, the day of Atonement is from this coming Tuesday, Sept. 18th, after sundown, to Wednesday, Sept. 19th, after sundown.

The day of atonement is a very solemn day in the yearly cycle of God’s appointed times.  It is the day where we reflect on the past year and repent of sins that have crept in, both in our personal lives and our corporate lives (our family, our church or synagogue, and our country).  Yes, I said our ‘corporate’ lives.  Much of what God has to say to us is directed at the whole body of believers, not just individuals.  That concept can be seen throughout the scriptures.

God gives us a couple commands for this day.  And actually, those commands are rather forceful in their presentation compared to the commands for the other feasts.  Two of the commands stand out.  One is that the day is to be treated as a very strict sabbath – no work whatsoever.  Second is that we are to ‘afflict ourselves.’  So no work of any kind – a strict sabbath of rest, and ‘afflict’ ourselves.  The only definition for ‘afflict’ in this context is that which has been understood by the Jews for millennia.  And that is to fast.  All those that can should fast.

I’m looking forward to the day.  It is a chance to really look at oneself, and one’s country, honestly.  I like reading through the traditional Jewish prayer (the ‘al Chet’ prayer) for the day as it lists all manner of sin – both physical and thought related – and really gets me to think.  There exists such ‘lists’ also in Christianity (the catechism of Westminster – the 10 commandments section – comes to mind).  If you can, find such a prayer / list / sermon and read through it thoughtfully and prayerfully.

I think that the practice of deeply reflecting once a year is quite important and of great benefit, especially as God set it up for us to follow.  He made us and knows what we need.

So, take a day (or as much as you can – not as much as you are comfortable with, but as much as you can, up to the full 24 hours) and reflect.  And repent.  And pray.  And think about any changes that you need to make in your life, or how you can affect our culture for good.  And remember what Yeshua (Jesus) has done for us!

Shalom,

  • Yosef

 

God’s Calendar and the Feast of Trumpets!

Did you know that God has a calendar?  Did you know that He is still following it?  It really saddens me, though, that most of Christianity has thrown out His calendar, and in doing so, they miss out on some of the beauty and richness and grace of God and His word.

What is this calendar?  Well, it isn’t a secret.  It is written about quite a bit in both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ testaments.  The calendar is marked by special occasions throughout the year.   They are often called the “Jewish Feasts” but that isn’t what God calls them.  He calls them His “appointed times” (this is the clear meaning of the Hebrew word used in the “old testament” when the ‘feasts’ are referred to.)

I know that many in Christianity will say that the feasts no longer apply as Jesus fulfilled them, but even the “new testament” proves that statement false.  Yeshua (Jesus) himself said,

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away until all is accomplished.”  Matthew 5:18 (ESV)

“Do this in in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV) – in context of celebrating the Passover.

There are many more verses showing Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles (even Paul) celebrating the feasts.  However, this article isn’t about that.  It’s about the next feast in the yearly cycle, the ‘Feast of Trumpets’!

God’s year begins with Passover in early spring.  Then there are a couple more, then a couple months pause.  The feasts start up again near fall time, with the first in a short series being the ‘feast of trumpets’!  For this feast we are told, among a couple other things, to blow trumpets (or shout)!

Now, considering the fact that Yeshua (Jesus) did something appropriate on each of the earlier feasts (died on Passover; gave the holy spirit on Pentecost; – are two examples), it easily follows that this is the next feast where something should happen.  I wonder, if Paul wasn’t thinking of this when he wrote,

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”  1 Thessalonians 4:16 (ESV)

The feasts are the markers of God’s calendar, and give God’s timeline for things He has done and is yet to do!

And I must say that I am really looking forward to this coming Sunday night to Monday night (Sept. 9 to 10, 2018), which is the feast of Trumpets!  I get to take the day off work and celebrate!   In Judaism, the day is celebrated as the “Jewish New Year” and, being Jewish, I’ll celebrate that also, but that is just tradition.

I look forward to meeting God at his next ‘appointed time’, the ‘feast of trumpets,’ and hearing the shofar (ram’s horn).  And I look forward to hearing that heavenly shofar calling, announcing the end of all things!

Shalom!   – Yosef

New Article in the ‘Jailhouse’ Miracles Series

Jail ministry is, along with other ministries, a great way to serve brothers or sisters and share the gospel.  Yes, I said ‘serve brothers or sisters’ as there are many of those who follow Yeshua (Jesus) that make mistakes and end up in jail, and they need visits also.  However, the guest article is not about jail ministry per se, but about the author’s experiences of God while in jail!  He is slowly sharing his many stories about how God showed His love and care even while he was in jail, and that there is nothing that can snatch one out of His hand.

So far, he has shared two stories, but there are more to come.  The stories are a wonderful testimony to both God’s care and that He can use anyone anywhere at anytime.  He is not bound by any man-made boundaries!  Not even the theological boundaries that we so willingly and quickly put up.

I hope the stories challenge any boxes you may have put God in, as well as encouraging you in your faith.  Have a look at them and let the author know what you think of them.   The second story has a sobering message for those in jailhouse ministry or thinking about doing so (and the story isn’t about anything you would expect!)  Here are links to the two stories so far:

Jailhouse Miracles

Jailhouse Miracles 2 – the Bible Study and visiting Pastors

Shalom!

  • Yosef

What’s Your Life Goal?

What is your life goal?  I realized just recently that somewhere along the line of life, my life goal moved over to this:  I want a comfortable, quiet life where I can learn of God and follow Yeshua.

When did Yeshua (Jesus) ever promise us a comfortable or quiet life when we followed him?  He didn’t.  I strayed away from the greatest commandment,

Hear O Israel!  The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart; with all your soul; and with all your might.

God calls us to give completely of ourselves to Him.  Yeshua (Jesus) told us to ‘take up our cross and follow him.’  That certainly isn’t a description of a comfortable, quiet life.

The effects of not having my goal correct were becoming apparent in many aspects of my life.   Anxiety, stress, and even depression.   And yet I would tell myself that I was trusting God for all things.

What does my life look like when I have one or the other goals first in my life?  When comfort was my life goal, I’d be often thinking about material needs, entertainment, and stress reduction.  When Yeshua is my life goal, then I would be spending much more time doing what the word of God says: “speak of His law when I sit in my house and when I walk on my way and when I lie down and when I rise up” (paraphrase of Deuteronomy 6:7).  We see in the Psalms that King David did this.  Yeshua also tells us to not be anxious about our life (Matthew 6:25-34).  “Anxious” doesn’t have to mean worrying about something, but simply thinking about it and going after something.  Wanting it.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV).

There is nothing wrong with having material things.  But for me, I was thinking of such things more often then God’s word.

What we spend our time thinking about and going after shows us what our life goal is.

So, measure your own life by God’s word and check what your life goal is.  Follow the words that are part of the verse that Jesus (Yeshua) called the ‘greatest commandment’ and transform your life (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  If you’re like me, it is best to start with small steps and increase as you go.  When our goal is correct our lives will be peaceful (which does not mean uneventful).  It is what God promised.  We can trust Him.

  • Yosef