The Commands of Yeshua ~ Part 3

“If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love – just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love. I have said this to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (Yochanan 15:10-11)

In this post I want to begin digging into the actual commands of Yeshua.  I’ve elected to use a similar categorization as presented in Tom Blackaby’s “The Commands of Yeshua: What It Really Means to Follow Yeshua.”

Approaching God ~ A

 “Eternal life is this: to know You, the one true God, and Him whom You sent, Yeshua the Messiah.” ~ Yochanan 17:3

Looking at Yeshua’s life, we see that nothing was more important than His relationship to His Father.  Yeshua wants us to have a healthy and vibrant relationship with His Father more than anything else.  In fact, He wants us to have the same type of relationship with God that He has enjoyed with His Father from the beginning.  If you read through chapters 15-17 of Yochanan’s Besorah, you will see just how important this relationship between the Father, the Son, and you and me is to Yeshua.  (See Yochanan 15:9; 16:27; 17:11, 18, 21-23, 26.)

The relationship we see Yeshua modeling for us with His Father is the same kind of relationship Yeshua wants to have with us and what Yeshua wants us to have with His Father.  Of course, this is because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one with each other.  As we relate to one, we relate to all.  So as Yeshua, in human form, reveals to us the Father, who is Spirit, His commands regarding worship, relationship with God, and knowing God emanate from His passion for us to know God in all His glory.

In order for us to experience the fullness of who God is, however, we must meet certain requirements.  It is important for us to remember that we are the creation; He is the Creator.  We follow His expectations, meet His standards, and obey His instructions in order to know Him, serve Him, worship Him, and demonstrate our love for Him.

How does one approach God?  Let’s take a look at what Yeshua said about approaching God. Continue reading

The Commands of Yeshua ~ Part 2

‘“You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (command). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot (commandments).” (Matthew 22:37-40)

 “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other.” (John 13:34)

“If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love – just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love. I have said this to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (John 15:10-11)

In this post I want to clarify my understanding of the impact of the commands in the Tanakh on the teachings and commands of Yeshua found in the Brit Hadashah before digging into the actual commands of Yeshua.

Respect for the Tanakh

As I stated in the first post in this series, I firmly believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)  Too many Believers think that the Tanakh is no longer applicable to us and fail to even read it.

A friend of mine recently sent me an email in which he stated:  “The Law of God is not ‘done away’.  If it were there would be no sin in the world because the existence of God’s Law is the only platform from which sin is defined and exposed.”   I certainly agree with his sentiment.

I categorize the commands of the Tanakh as they apply to a moral code, civil or social code, and commands regulating Temple worship and sacrifices. Continue reading

YOM HASHOAH

Tomorrow,  Thursday, April 16th we will be observing Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.   Although this is not an Appointed Time scripturally, it certainly is a time when we need to pause and remember the deliverance of our Jewish (and gentile) brothers and sisters from the atrocities of our ancestors.

A little more than one generation ago one-third of the world’s Jewish population was butchered by humanity gone mad.  This unthinkable historical fact occurred in 20th century Europe; in a civilization shaped by western religious values, moral and intellectual traditions.   For the Nazis, mass murder and the exploitation of human corpses became a civic duty and obliterated society’s moral, religious and intellectual traditions.  Humanity became irreparably stained with guilt, for the persecutor, no longer considering his victim human, ceased to be recognizably human.  And the world, so deaf and so indifferent to the atrocity, ultimately became an accomplice.

The German mind followed the path of the philosophy of moral nihilism to its logical end point where nothing was of value.  God was dead.  Humanity, created in the image of God, and specifically the Jew whose very presence pointed to God, became to the Nazi, an intolerable reminder.  In the insanity of their revolt against God, a revolt against reason was born and a journey toward limitless pursuit of the irrational was tragically launched.  For the sad truth is, that the same Beast, which was unleashed by the Nazi’s, lives even today somewhere in each one of us.  And it is true that if the world will not learn from history, then sadly, it is doomed to repeat it.

Click here for a PDF version of a Yom Hashoah Service.

 

The Commands of Yeshua ~ Part 1

‘“You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (command). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot (commandments).” (Matthew 22:37-40)

“I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other.” (John 13:34)

“If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love – just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love. I have said this to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (John 15:10-11)

Introduction

In this new series, we are going to discover just what Yeshua meant by “If you keep my commands.” We will be looking at how the commands of both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah are the same and/or different.  In preparing for this series, I am indebted to the Ruach for giving me the courage to even attempt to provide some clarity to the body of Believers on this subject and to the work of Tom Blackaby in his book, “The Commands of Christ: What It Really Means to Follow Jesus.”

Clearly, identifying and clarifying all the commands in the Bible is way beyond the scope of this series.  The Rabbis indicate that there are 613 commands (both positive and negative) in the Tanakh alone.  According to the Believer Assemblies International there are 1,050 commands just in the Brit Hadashah.  (Click here for a PDF list.)  Many of these are similar to those in the Tanakh.  I firmly believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)  I also believe that this applies to ALL Scripture as currently canonized in both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah. Continue reading

Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 28

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post in this series, we looked at the issue of holiness and faith.  In this post, we will wrap-up this series by exploring the joy of holiness.

The Joy of Holiness

“For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, shalom and joy in the Ruach HaKodesh.” ~ Romans 14:17

God intends the Messianic life to be a life of joy – not drudgery.  The idea that holiness is associated with a dour disposition is a terrible caricature.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  Only those who walk in holiness experience true joy.

Yeshua said, “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love – just as I have kept my Father’s commands and stay in his love. I have said this to you so that my joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (John 15:10-11)  In this statement Yeshua links obedience and joy in a cause and effect manner; that is, joy results from obedience.  Only those who are obedient – who are pursuing holiness as a way of life – will know the joy that comes from God.  [In my next series, we will take an in-depth look at the commands of Yeshua.] Continue reading

Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 27

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post in this series, we looked at the issue of holiness and faith.  In this post, we are going to explore the concept of holiness in an unholy world.

Holiness in an Unholy World

“I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the Evil One.” ~ John 17:15

All Believers must live their lives in the context of an unholy world.  Some face extraordinary temptation as they live in the midst of a flagrantly sinful atmosphere.  Ever where we turn in our day-to-day life, we are bombarded with the assaults of the enemy.  Unless the Believer is prepared for such evil assaults on his mind and heart, he will have great difficulty maintaining personal holiness.

James said that part of true religion consists in keeping ourselves from being contaminated by the world” (James 1:27), and Sha’ul urged us to “go out from their midst, separate yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)  How should we respond when we find ourselves surrounded on every hand by the unrelenting pressures of a sinful world? Continue reading

God’s Appointed Times – Part 5

Pesach and Hag HaMatzah

(Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread)

Passover Lamb

 

We return to God’s Appointed Times from the Tanakh.  Both Pesach (Passover) and Hag HaMatzah are tied to the remembrance of the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.  The principle Scriptural reference for Pesach is in B’midbar (Exodus) 12:1-13 and Hag HaMatzah in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:5-8.  In 2015, Pesach starts on the eve of April 3rd and Hag HaMatzah on the eve of April 4th.  This eight-day remembrance ends at sundown on April 11th.

For Believers in Yeshua, this time can be a great time to reflect not only on the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage and death of the first-born by the shedding of the lamb’s blood on the doorpost; but also on the shed blood of Yeshua on the cross.  His death and resurrection paid for our sins and purchased for us eternal salvation.

I have attached a PDF version of an explanation of the traditional Pesach Seder provided by Chosen People Ministries.  Click here.

However, for those of you who want to have a Scriptural-based observation of Pesach, I highly recommend Kevin Geoffrey’s “Behold the Lamb and Preparation Guide.”  Click here to order.

Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 26

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post, we focused on some practical habits to develop in our pursuit of holiness.  In this post, we will look at the issue of holiness and faith.

Holiness and Faith

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8 HCSB)

In the pursuit of holiness Believers are often called on to perform duties that appear unreasonable and even absurd to an unbelieving world.  We often think of holiness in a narrow sense of separation from impurity and moral evil; however, in its broader sense holiness is obedience to the will of God in whatever God directs.  It is saying with Yeshua, “I have come to do Your will.” (Hebrews 10:7)  No one can pursue holiness who is not prepared to obey God in every area of his life.  The holiness described in the Bible calls us to do more than separate ourselves from the moral pollution of the world around us.  It calls us to obey God even when that obedience is costly, when it requires deliberate sacrifice and even exposure to danger.

Obedience to the revealed will of God is often just as much a step of faith as claiming a promise from God.  In fact, one of the more intriguing thoughts from the book of Hebrews is the way the writer appears to use obedience and faith interchangeably.  For example, He speaks of the wandering Israeli who would never enter God’s rest because they were “disobedient” (Hebrews 3:18).  Yet they were not able to enter because of their “lack of trust (faith)” (Hebrews 3:19).  This interchange of lack of trust and disobedience also occurs later in the book (see Hebrews 4:2, 6).

Continue reading

Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 25

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post, we focused on holiness in our wills.  In this post we will look at some practical habits to develop in our pursuit of holiness.

Practical Habits in Pursuit of Holiness

Every sin we commit reinforces the habit of sinning and makes it easier to sin.  In the previous post we examined the importance of guarding our minds and emotions, since these faculties are the channels through which the various compelling forces reach our wills.  But it is also important that we understand how our habits influence our wills.  Sha’ul wrote, “For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.” (Romans 6:19 HCSB)

Habit is defined as the “prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings.”  Habits are the thought and emotional patterns engraved on our minds.  These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences on our actions – in fact, perhaps more so.

Continue reading

Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 24

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post, we focused on holiness in our spirit.  In this post we will look at holiness in our wills.

Holiness in Our Wills

In our pursuit of holiness it is the will that ultimately makes each individual choice of whether we sin or obey.  It is the will that chooses to yield to temptation or to say no.  Our wills, then, ultimately determine our moral destiny, whether we are holy or unholy in our character and conduct.

Continue reading