Torah Commentary – Va’era (I appeared) – His Promise – SCRIPTURES FOR January 13, 2017

Torah Commentary
Va’era (I appeared)

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Exodus 6:2-9:35
Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Romans 9:14-17
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
His Promise
It is too easy for us to scan through Torah portions that have become familiar to us. I challenge you to slow down and consider the people who are living these recorded days then bring the words forward to our day and our lives. Take for instance the four “I Wills” of Exodus 6:6-8. These are words we speak of every Passover, but have we really considered them?

Here are the four promises. “I will free you, I will take you as my people, I will bring you into the Land and I will give you your inheritance”. For the Hebrews, they did not listen to those words because they were discouraged due to slavery. Are we not listening to them because we are prosperous? Ouch!

Let’s look at the promises one by one for ourselves. I am going to ask some questions regarding the promises. Pray about what they mean to you and how you might answer them.
“I will free you.” – Free us from what? We are free, aren’t we? Are we?
“I will take you as my people.” – We are already His people, right? Can we truly be His people while living in exile?
“I will bring you into the Land”- How do we define “the Land”? Interesting that for some this is actually a question.
“I will give you your inheritance.” – Do we know what our inheritance is? Hint. Look at Deuteronomy 33:4 for one. Look at “I will” number three for the other.
How is our longing to walk in the “I Wills” or are these words only spoken at Passover with no meaning. Is it similar to saying “Next Year in Jerusalem”?
The balance of this Torah portion will be devoted to the dialogue of Moshe and Aaron with Pharaoh as well as the plagues. What are these plagues about? Are they really judgments on the Egyptians for making the Hebrews into slaves? At one level the answer is yes, but let’s look at it from a different angle. Are the plagues more about the Hebrews seeing what life in Egypt really was? Is the fall of Egypt as the world power more about ripping their love of Egypt away so they could realize Egypt as exile and not home? How does that speak to us? Just how many plagues would it take for you to pack your bags and not “Move to Beverly” or “Head west young man”, but to leave everything behind and head east to home?
One more thing, in Exodus 9:16 Moshe is told to tell Pharaoh that the only reason he has been kept alive is to show forth the power of the Almighty and make His name resound through the earth. As Moshe was heading to the palace to deliver the message, did he stop and think that these words were not only for the Pharaoh, but were for him? Moshe’s parents could have followed the orders of the Pharaoh and put him to death. He could have been eaten by a croc in the Nile River. He could have been put into slavery instead of raised in the palace. He could have been put to death after he killed an Egyptian. He could have died of thirst, starvation or a rattlesnake bite in the desert. Moshe was alive. His life had been spared and protected. Why? For the same reason as Pharaoh, to show forth the power of Yah and make His name resound on the earth.
Any idea where I am going next? Think about it. What about you and me? Through the years I have had the honor of sitting down and getting to know many of you. You have told me about some of your past and I have shared with you some of mine. A theme has arisen many times in conversations when we look back and see how many times our lives were protected and spared by the Almighty. I wonder how many times He spared us and we did not know it? Why were we kept alive? Why were we called to the walk we are on? Is it not for the same reason Pharaoh was kept alive, the same reason Moshe was kept alive? Humbling isn’t it. Guess it just proves one more time that life really is not about us, but it is truly about Him.  (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – Sh’mot (Names) – His Ways – January 6, 2017

Torah Commentary
Sh’mot (Names)
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Exodus 1:1-6:1
Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
Matthew 22:23-33; 41-46
Acts 3:12-15
Hebrew 11:23-26

His Ways

Just a few days ago we entered into the Gregorian year of 2018. The thought of that seems a bit strange. You may even be one who would say you never imagined how this world system could possibly have lasted this long. I can relate.
Truth is, we are here and with the new year a verse keeps being brought to my mind. Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” That verse makes more sense to me with each passing day.
The Hebrews in Egypt must have had thoughts concerning this not yet recorded concept. For those who had been keeping up with history, they must have been shaking their heads with unbelief. How could they have gone from the great honor of their recent ancestors to slavery in exile? What happened through these short years?
Maybe a clue to this question is found in Exodus 1:23. In the verse it is recorded that the Hebrews cried out, but it does not say they cried out to HaShem. It just says they were crying. Is it possible they had given up on the promises they had been given through their ancestor Abraham so many years earlier? Is it in the forgetting of the promises they had forgotten who they were and Whom they belonged to? Had they been so long in exile they had given up? Are those words mirroring some of our thoughts today?
Truth is, whether His family is in Egypt or anywhere else called exile His thoughts and ways are not going to line up with ours. His thoughts and ways are to bring forth a greater work than ours would ever accomplish.
Now they may think they are forgotten, but we know they are not, because we have the benefit of being able to read the rest of the story and we know the outcome. With this we can sit back and be experts at telling them what they should have done while all the while dealing with the same faith failures they went through. Think of it this way. What if a book is being written about our exile which others will one day be able to read. They could be experts to!
Now they may have thought they were forgotten, but truth is there were great works being done which were way beyond their thoughts. The first work was being done in them. In Egypt Yah was growing His family to numbers Abraham would probably never imagined. In the growing of the family numerically, it does appear that they forgot to grow spiritually. Not pointing fingers, just a floating thought to ponder. The other work being done was about a shepherd being prepared to lead them. Without that shepherd they would not have even made it to the sea much less into the wilderness and for some the Promise Land.
In the past years there has been much talk and teaching about what is referred to as the Greater Exodus. Verses used for this teaching are in Jeremiah 23. Why have these verses not happened? Why are we still in exile? Why are we not in Israel? Is it possible that not only are we not ready, but the shepherds spoken of in the first of the chapter are still on their own backsides of deserts being prepared for the day.
What should we take away from this Torah portion? Let us not forget who we are. Not forgetting Whom we belong to. We need to remember the verse in Habakkuk 2:3 used to explain that every promise He has made will come to pass and though from our vantage point it may seem the promises are delayed, from His vantage point, they are right on time.
In the end, just as a remnant of Hebrews were able to grasp that His thoughts and ways would bring forth a greater work than their thoughts and ways could ever do, let us pray for and wait patiently in our day.  (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Vayechi (He Lived) – Enjoying the Fruit – SCRIPTURES FOR December 30, 2017

Living Torah Commentary

Vayechi (He Lived)

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Genesis 47:28-50:26
1Kings 2:1-12
Hebrews 11:21-22
1Peter 1:3-9; 2:11-17
Enjoying the Fruit
Ya’akov is 130 years old when he arrives in Egypt. The following 17 years will be a gift in which he will be able to enjoy the fruit of his life, his family. During this time he will watch his boys mature, marry and bring forth children. Possibly the most joy he will have is spending time with the sons of Yosef. His appreciation and thanksgiving for them had to be very special.
Ya’akov knows his days are numbered and begins one of the greatest honors a father can give, blessing his children. He begins not with his sons, but rather his two grandsons, Efrayim and M’nasheh. It makes me wonder if these two, now young adults, were concerned about what would become of them after Ya’akov died. Had they been told the story of how Yosef was treated and wondered if they would be fully accepted after his death? Any doubts as to their place in the family were laid to rest as Ya’akov changed their family status from grandsons to sons. Efrayim and M’nasheh were not to feel like second class citizens in the family of Israel. May we receive this message in our day.
The teaching of the blessings is so rich, not only for them, but for us as the first words of the blessings tell us he was speaking more to a family living at the end of time than in their time. For those who would like to dig further into these blessings there are four messages I recorded some years ago called “The Twelve Tribes.” The mp3 downloads are available at http://www.joinedtohashem.org/audio-series.html.
When Ya’akov finishes the blessings the verse says he breathed his last and was gathered to his people. I find these words rich. For Ya’akov, death was as natural as life. In fact, most of his life had been a struggle; his death was one of the easiest steps he took. What a contrast to most people’s lives today. Ya’akov may have taught his family as much in his death as he did in his life. This is a great lesson to ponder.
The last request of Ya’akov was regarding his burial. He did not leave his wishes to chance or for his family to discuss. He made sure his wishes were known. This is another good lesson to ponder. For Ya’akov, his last words proved that for him, you may take the man of covenant out of Israel, but you can never take Israel out of the man of covenant.
A couple more points. First is concerning the sons and their suspicion of Yosef. Though the 17 years Yaakov was alive, the sons of Yaakov never really accepted that Yosef had fully forgiven them, it is evident through their last recorded words prior to the death of Yosef that this had been a topic of conversation.  Just how many sons were still alive to bring forth these words? Yosef was one of the youngest. Had the suspicions of possible retribution been passed to their sons? We do not know the details, but there is something for us to consider.
Yosef is again a type and shadow of Messiah son of Yosef. Let me ask you this, “When it comes to your life and trusting our sins to be forgiven, do we fully trust or have doubts?” Is there a haunting thought in the back of your mind that there was that one thing you are just not sure has been forgiven?  Take a look at Psalm 103:12. Notice the verse does not say north and south. Why? For if he removed sins from north to south they could be found again. Think of it regarding the sphere of the earth. From south you can only go so far north till you find it and vice versa. East and west never meet. Allowing His forgiveness of ALL THINGS is a very freeing day. The story of Yosef allows us to walk in that forgiveness.
The end of the days of Yosef approach as we come to the end of Genesis. What are his last instructions? Don’t leave my bones in Egypt! Though his life has been one of great honor and prosperity in Egypt, he learned and walked in the example of his father, “You can take the man of covenant out of Israel, but you can’t take Israel out of the man of covenant”.
Let us live that lesson well! (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – Vayigash (He approached) – The Day! – SCRIPTURES FOR December 23, 2017

Living Torah Commentary

Vayigash (He approached) 
Genesis 44:18-47:27
Ezekiel 37:15-28
Acts 7:9-16
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The Day!
This Torah portion may well be my favorite of all! To consider the prophetic shadows within these words is overwhelming to me. I have no idea how many times I have tried to imagine the scene we are reading. Yosef is standing in front of his brothers. They have no idea who this man is standing in front of them. Yosef has an Egyptian name; he looks like an Egyptian, dresses like an Egyptian. Not in their wildest of dreams would they have thought of Yosef.
Now consider the Egyptians in the room. Who do they think Yosef is? Some may remember being told he was a Hebrew, but does it really matter to them? They see him as now being one of their own culture.
Then there is Yosef, the only person in the room that knows who he really is. The desire to reveal himself not only to his brothers, but to all present is burning inside of him, but he can’t. Not yet. The testing of the sons of Israel is not quite finished.
Last week, Binyamin is brought to the forefront of the story. He is the one used by Yosef to look deep into the inward souls of his ten brothers. Yosef does not know how this will turn out. As far as he knows they are going to leave Binyamin the same way they left him. He rolled the dice and has not seen how they land.
In the end it will be Y’hudah who will step up to defend his half-brother. Just imagine how difficult it is for Yosef to stand and hear his half-brother come to the rescue of his full brother. It is more than Yosef can bear. Can you imagine what began to go through the boys minds when Yosef cleared the room of all the Egyptians? The brothers are not seeing this turn out very well!
Yosef turns back to his brothers with tears and a huge lump in his throat to utter some of the most beautiful words in Scripture, “Ani Yoseph” (I am Joseph).
Why do I refer to “Ani Yosef” as beautiful words? These words are the shadow of a future event in which Messiah stands before His family to reveal Himself. That day we all may be a bit undone when His true nature is revealed before us. I pray that my whole being will scream with desire for that day to be soon and in my lifetime.
Here is a twist though. Have you ever thought about how much He desires to be revealed?
Think again about Yosef. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him to speak the words of revelation, but he had to remain silent. Would the boys sell out Binyamin like they had done him so many years earlier or would they stand for each other no matter the personal consequences?
So what is holding Messiah back from being revealed in our day? Is it because His desire is not there? I think not. Is it possibly because world events are not quite in place? After all, Yah can make world events happen transpire quickly if needed. What if the answer is that we have not yet passed the test whether we will sell each other out or defend each other no matter the cost?
 At some point in time the shadows of this story will be the substance of reality. If there really is a part we can do to bring it to pass sooner rather than later, how about we get with it. Let’s start today to treat others like the family which will one day be changed from the most dysfunctional to ever live to the one which will be the model of righteousness and love for the entire world to see.  (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – Mikketz (At the End) – Though It Lingers, Never Give Up – SCRIPTURES FOR December 16, 2017

Torah Commentary
Mikketz (At the End)jesus-in-the-synagogue
Genesis 41:1-44:17
1 Kings 3:15-4:1
Acts 7:9-16
Though It Lingers, Never Give Up  
I often consider the life of Yosef as I feel it has much to say to my own life. His life was one of twists and turns that no one could have foreseen. His was also a life of promises which seemed to be out of his grasp. Can you relate?
Our Torah portion begins with the words, “At the end of two years.” It does not say anything about these two years, just states they happened. Think back over your last two years since the first part of December 2015! Have you had anything happen since then? How much has happened? Have you experienced successes, failures or should we say “learning experiences”? What about betrayals or the twists and turns of life?
Consider Yosef’s two years. He was in a prison cell. Probably not much was happening outside of staring at walls. How might his life relate to ours? Glad you asked. Yosef was waiting; waiting for the promise of a dream to be fulfilled. I believe it was the dream that kept him going on a daily basis. He had to ask himself many times if the dream was real or not. When he did, something deep within answered with a resounding “yes”. The dream remained alive and in fact may have kept him alive to the end of those long two years.
The prophet Habakkuk may have thought of Yosef when he received a prophecy now recorded as a book of Scripture for us. Habakkuk was given a promise and wondered when it would happen. In chapter two of his book he is told that though the promise may seem to linger from his standpoint, from the view of the Heavenly realm, it will come to pass right on time. Too bad Yosef did not have the book of Habakkak to read.
Where am I going with this?
Do you have promises you believe Father has given you? Are there dreams in your life becoming pretty distant in your memories? Do you wonder if those things were truly promises or the result of too much pizza the night before? Here in the midst of the Feast of Hanukah would be a good time to bring those things to mind again. Submit them to the Father and listen for a renewal of those promises. Allow Him to sort out what was from Him and what was not.
I wonder if it was a day like I am asking of you which Yosef was going through in his prison cell. Could it have been a day which he was at the end of his rope so to say? He had thought about the dreams over and over and was just about to give up, for the “Linger Time” was just more than he could stand. Could he have been thinking “If nothing happens tomorrow, I am done with those dreams?” Little did he know while he was staring toward the heavens, Pharaoh was having dreams which would bring his promise to pass.
Here is a question for you. What if Yosef had given up just one day earlier? Was the fulfillment of the promise tied to him remaining faithful to it? We cannot say, but what if?
What if the fulfillment of the promises given to us is tied to our remaining faithful to them? Are you willing to chance the answer on this?
Let’s look at it from a different angle. After Yosef is summoned to Pharaoh he interprets his dreams. He then makes a great statement of faith in Genesis 41:32 which states, “The matter has been established by Elohim.” Did those words resound in Yosef as he realized all he had been through in his own life had also been established by Elohim? Did he now see his own faithfulness had been a gift to keep him from giving up?
I am asking many questions this week. The purpose is to cause each of us to think back over promises to possibly cause us to renew our grasp on them. It would be a shame to think if our faithfulness does play a part in His work that we gave up just before a knock on the door. That knock by the way may have sounded like the knock of a prison guard to Yosef, but what was it really? It was the knock of Elohim summoning Yosef into a promise given years earlier.
A last thought concerning Yosef. As the events of his life are happening, Yah is causing a famine in the land of his family, a famine which would cause his brothers to seek food, but find Yosef. What an interesting turn of events as what put him in prison to begin with was him seeking for his brothers. What a great twist!
My ending words are adapted from Churchill, Never, Never, Never give up on the promises He has spoken to you! (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Vayeshev (He Continued Living) – Now That is Dysfunction – SCRIPTURES FOR December 9, 2017

Torah Commentary

jesus-synagogue

Vayeshev (He Continued Living)
Genesis 37:1-40:23
Amos 2:6-3:8
Acts 7:9-16
Now That is Dysfunction
The trials of Esau, Laban and the ordeal at Sh’khem and the death of Rachel are now behind Jacob. He even has a new name. I’m sure he thought it would be time to take life easy to enjoy his family, right? Not so fast. Now the trials take on a whole new level. The star at center stage of these new trails is Yosef, the favored son. With Yosef, the fruit of the dysfunction of this family will ripen to full maturity.
Many of us would say we come from families that were or are dysfunctional at some level. Some may be minor dysfunction; others would be over the top. The family of the one now called the “Prince of El” will live like anything but their name. Consider your family. Most of us may have thought about selling a family member, but really going through with it, probably not. We also see the constant underlying attitude of jealousy. It almost comes to the harshest consequence, murder. This family gets the trophy for dysfunctional family of all times.
As we are a part of this family called Israel now, here is a question in the midst of this Torah portion. “Are we doing any better than they were a few thousand years ago?” I don’t really think I even need to offer an answer on that one as it is way too obvious.
Over the next few weeks we will read of the life of Yosef. It is interesting that almost 25 percent of the book of Genesis is devoted to this man’s life. We will read of how he rose to power to only to be thrown in a prison. He will then be betrayed by new friends and left to stare once again at prison walls. Life will take a real turn and he will rise to a position of power which will in the end provide for the uniting of his family. This relocation and unification should give harmony and peace for generations of the family of Israel. Well, maybe not. The sad truth is that though the family of Israel was brought together, the idea of living happily ever after is still something that is out of our grasp.
It is true that the family of Israel is just as dysfunctional as it has ever been. We have taken dysfunction to a new level in many ways. Today we have people who are part of the family that don’t even know they are part of the family. There are those who believe the family is done away with and replaced by a new family. Regarding the rules of the family, well that is another matter all together. Today, the family of Israel is full of realms, backbiting, anger and a host of other things. What is the answer? What can we do to affect change? Can we affect change? I believe so. In fact if I did not believe that I sure would not be doing what I am doing.
How can we affect change in this family of Israel? Here are some ideas.
First of all, quit arguing! Yes, it is that simple. I know people who thrive on Facebook arguments. What a waste of time. Think about it. In the end, how many people have you won over to your way of thinking through these arguments? If this is your purpose you are arguing for your own self satisfaction and worth anyway. Wrong motivation! It is true that it takes two to tango. Want to affect change? Quit the tango.
Next idea would be to celebrate blessings within the family instead of being jealous when someone is blessed. This idea alone would have made a difference in the life of Yosef and his brothers.
How about actually seeking to esteem others in the family better than ourselves instead of just reading those words of Paul? Being a servant to the family will change the atmosphere positively. There is a novel idea.
Of course, my list could go on and on. It would be my list though, not yours. What each of us needs to do as we read, especially this Torah portion is to look at our own lives, compile our own lists of attitudes, habits, beliefs and other things that are adding to the dysfunction instead of unity in Him.
In the end, this family known as Israel, the most dysfunctional family to ever live will be the world’s model for what a family of Yah is to look like. This family will walk in unity and blessing like no other family has ever walked. We are not there yet. May we not be satisfied to just continue like we are, waiting for Messiah’s return, thinking that at that time He is just going to zap us into perfection! Are we willing to learn from those we read about this week and make a decision to quit walking in their footsteps and begin to walk in His? In the end it really is our choice. Let us choose life! (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – Vayishlach (He Sent) – The Journey Continues – SCRIPTURES FOR December 2, 2017

Torah Commentary

jesus-jew-2

Vayishlach (He Sent)
Genesis 32:4-36:43
Obadiah 1:1-21
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Revelation 7:1-12
 
The Journey Continues     
 
Ya’akov is now free of Lavan after twenty years of working for him. The time was not wasted by any means as he is returning with a growing family and the riches needed to take care of them. It appears Yah was up to the challenge of guarding Ya’akov giving him bread to eat and clothing to wear. Though Lavan is behind him there is still a matter he has to face, his brother. 
 
Word comes to Ya’akov that Esav is heading his way with 400 of his men. Twenty years may be a long time, but Ya’akov figures those years have not softened the heart of Esav, but more than likely made it harder. The response Ya’akov has to the meeting is one we need to consider, not only for him, but for ourselves. In Genesis 32:21 the Complete Jewish Bible says Ya’akov sought to “appease” Esav. The Hebrew word here is kaphar. It is only used four times in Torah, two of those times in Genesis. The word means “To cover or coat with pitch.” Yes, you guessed it, the other time the word is used is in Genesis when Noah covers the Ark with pitch. Where do we go with this one? There are two directions.
 
First, we can take the standard commentary and say Ya’akov was trying to compromise with Esav and protect his own hide at the possible expense of part of his family being killed. Let’s take a different look.
 
When Noah covered the Ark with pitch what was he doing? Was he not seeking to protect that which was inside? Could this same thought not be applied to Ya’akov? Is it that Ya’akov thought he could not win the battle over Esav so he set the whole plan in motion to by time, protect his family for the moment and live to fight another day? You be the judge.
 
One more thought before moving on. Either way we look at this, in the end the conflict between the two brothers was not resolved, but rather pushed on to a different time, a different generation. Was this the plan and timing of Yah? I don’t know. What I do know is that one day the fight between the two seeds will have to be brought to a head and decided. When is that time? Again, I do not know. If it is to be in our lifetime, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to no longer kaphar, but fight, no matter our personal cost?”
 
 After the meeting, Ya’akov again breathes a sigh of relief and continues his journey to Sh’khem. Wait, stop the bus, he goes where? Sh’khem. What about the oath he took to return to Beit-El? Maybe it was a stop on the way, but it would be a stop of disaster. It is in Sh’khem that Dinah is found with the “local girls.” Why was this allowed? Who forgot to protect their daughter, their sister? Dinah is raped and the family begins a downward spiral bringing tension within that I would argue is yet to be repaired. A sad note to me is the question of the boys which was asked to their father in Genesis 34:31. This question was never answered. You consider that one for a while. 
 
What is the lesson to us from the disaster of Sh’khem? There are many. On top of the list to me is concerning our oaths or promises we make to HaShem. Ya’akov stood at a mountaintop experience of seeing angels, ladders and Yah Himself. He speaks words of promise and then twenty years later, does he think Yah has forgotten those words? Did he consider Sh’khem a place to rest for a bit before he fulfilled his promise? It is my belief that as soon as he figured out he had survived the meeting with Esav he should have asked a question, WWAD. What Would Abraham DO? His grandfather, who when asked to sacrifice his Yitzchak, got up early and made a beeline to the mountain. If he had followed that example maybe the eventual wedding of Dinah would have been a happier event.
 
But who am I to point fingers at Ya’akov? Who are you to do the same? Truth is we have all made promises we at best, delay in keeping. Maybe the lesson of this Torah portion and the uncovering of Ya’akov’s life is for our benefit to teach us to not be quick to offer a vow or promise. When we do make a vow, let us be quick to fulfill those words at the earliest possible opportunity. I think that is something someone else spoke about somewhere, like maybe Yeshua in the Gospels! (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Tol’dot (History) – The Battle Still Rages – SCRIPTURES FOR November 18, 2017

Torah Commentary
Tol’dot (History)
Genesis 25:19-28:9
Malachi 1:1-2:7
Romans 9:6-16
Hebrews 11:20; 12:14-17

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The Battle Still Rages
There are two areas of this Torah portion I would like to expound on this week. In the end the two will tie together as a theme.
The first area to cover is the words of Rivkah (Rebecca). She is found to be barren. Yitzchak prayed for her and she became pregnant. It was not long into her pregnancy that the two boys in her womb began to fight. Let’s stop right here and consider, what these boys were fighting about? Was it because they were uncomfortable in their cramped living quarters and trying to find a bit of room? Absolutely not! It was not a physical fight, but rather a spiritual fight for the position of the Malki-Tzedek priesthood of the first born. This is, by the way a theme which runs from cover to cover in Scripture. Ya’akov and Esav’s fight was so fierce that Rivkah desired to die instead of continuing as the womb of this battle.
Here is a point for each of us to consider. We too are like Rivkah in that two seeds are battling within us. Paul called these two natures. This is the same principal and is one which we all deal with on a daily basis. It is evident to me by my own life and talking with many elders through the years that we are not going to, in this lifetime, reach some magical day in which the fight inside us ceases. The option many people take is hinted in the words of Rivkah, words of surrender to the battle instead of continuing to fight.
Herein lays a place of soul searching we must do. Is there a place, a time, an event in our future in which we will say the fight is too much for us and quit? Consider it this way. What would it take for you to throw in the towel and quit the fight? Be careful in the answer and within the answer consider 1Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore, let anyone who thinks he is standing up be careful not to fall!” Let us keep in mind that winning the battle is not about our strength, but rather His strength in us. As for Rivkah, she found HaShem’s strength and in the end has the testimony to prove it. May the same be true for each of us.
The second area to look at happens after the two boys are adults. The account is very familiar to all of us. It is about the red stew. That is not really true. It is not about stew, but rather the birthright. Esav had won the race from the womb and the birth right was his. He never cared about it. He never walked in it. To him it was just a trophy on the wall which no longer had meaning. To Ya’akov it meant everything and he was determined to do whatever necessary to have the birthright as well as the blessings and responsibilities that went along with it. In the end, Ya’akov would not steal the birthright as he has been accused of, but rather he would barter for it, fair and square.
Here is our second point to consider. Just what does it mean for us today to walk in the birthright? Is it about relationship with our Creator, walking in the redemption offered to us? Is it about our being a priest in service unto Him and an example of Him unto others? The answer is “yes” to all the above and so much more. So what is that birthright worth to you? Is it something worth fighting for and protecting at all costs? I can only answer for myself.
Here is the theme of this week’s Torah portion, fight for what is being offered to us. Fight and never be willing to compromise the inheritance which has been afforded us. I’ll state it this way. In this life we must always remember that we are not on a playground, but rather on a battleground. The battle being fought is for your very soul. Not something to play games with! (Click to Source)
An final end to drug & alcohol recovery is as close as this website: VictoryRetreatMontana.com

 

Torah Commentary – Vayera (He Appeared) – The Rewards and Challenges of Listening – SCRIPTURES FOR November 4, 2017

Torah Commentary
Vayera (He Appeared)

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Gen 18:1-22:24
2Kings 4:1-37
Luke 17:26-37
Romans 9:6-9
Hebrews 6:13-20
Ya’akov 2:14-24
 
The Rewards and Challenges of Listening
 
The journey to Canaan taught Abram and Sara much about listening. They have learned so much that their names have been changed. What has been added to each of their names? It is the Hebrew letter hey, which is a picture of breath and authority. HaShem’s voice has now become a part of them. Is it all just fun and games from here? Absolutely not, though the rewards will definitely overcome the challenges.
Imagine Abraham there in front of his tent by the oaks of Mamre. Maybe he was engaging in a bit of afternoon daydreaming about where he had come from. He is suddenly startled out of his daydream by three men standing in front of him. As they greeted one another Abraham caught something. The voice of one of these men was a voice he had heard before. It was the voice of the Creator, but now it was coming from a man standing in front of him. No wonder he was hurried in the dinner plans. Can you imagine his face when he ran into the tent and told Sarah, “You won’t believe who is coming to dinner tonight!”
Abraham has come a long way from listening to the inaudible voice become audible. That growth of listening will now put him in line to listen and act on greater instructions. You know, things like “I need someone to intercede for their nephew who has made all the wrong decisions.”
The listening will come with wonders and miracles like, “You just thought you were too old to have children!” The listening would also cause him to hear something he never dreamed of when he was told to sacrifice his son on an altar on Mt. Moriah. It was not the listening that day that would determine his future, but rather his trained response to the words he heard.
Stop for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of Abraham. When he hears HaShem call his name his response is, “Here I am.” In Hebrew it is the word “hineni.” Before we go further, consider how we respond to the sound of our name from a spouse, child, parent or friend. We normally say something like “What do you want” or another conditional response. Abraham’s response, the word “hineni,” is much different. It is more like, “I am here and whatever you need or ask the answer is already yes.”
Abraham did not think to question what he heard, because hineni is never linked to questioning, just yes and obedience. Let’s pull this week and last together. I would imagine we are all in agreement that our desire is for and to listen to HaShem’s voice better. We desire the inaudible to become audible at times. We may even go so far as to say we would like to hear that voice as clear as if it were manifested in front of us. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to listen with the attitude of hineni?” Have we grown past putting conditions to the voice? Abraham gives us a great example and footsteps to follow. Since it is revealed to us that he was just a man with issues and failures it kind of takes our excuses away for not trying. (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Lech Lecha (Get Yourself Out) – One Man Was Listening – SCRIPTURES FOR October 28, 2017

Torah Commentary
Lech Lecha (Get Yourself Out)

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Gen 12:1-17:27
Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Acts 7:1-8
Romans 3:19-5:6
Hebrews 7:1-19; 11:8-12
 
One Man Was Listening
I was talking to a Jewish friend with a number of other people in the room a few of years ago. During the conversation someone said, “God spoke to me” and went on to state what they thought they had heard. After the crowd left my Jewish friend looked at me with a facial expression I have seen many times. A look which normally means I am about to learn something very important. He brought up the “God told me” statement and proceeded to explain why he would not make a statement like that. It was not that he believes HaShem does not speak to people, but rather his explanation brought a greater meaning to the dialogue between the Creator and His creation. My friend’s explanation went like this. God is always speaking, so to say “God told me” is to say He only speaks on occasion. A better way for this person to have explained their encounter would be to say, “In a moment that I was listening…”
Allow me to expound a bit. Is there ever a time in which HaShem is not speaking? I would say “no”. His voice is in world events, creation itself and even conversations we are having with others around us. The question is, “Are we listening for His voice in those things and at those times?”
In Genesis 12 we read of a dialogue between HaShem and a man named Abram. It appears from the text that he hears an audible voice, but was his hearing the audible voice due to his learning to hear an inaudible one? Let me explain. As Abram grew up in Ur and later in Haran, did he witness the sin and depravity of the culture and wonder if there had to be a better way of living? If so, he heard His voice. If ancient writings are true and his father was a seller of idols, did he look at them and consider they were just carvings of wood and stone? If so, he heard His voice. Did he look up to the stars at night and wonder just who it was that created the heavens and the earth? If so, he heard His voice.
My point is that Abram had made a lifestyle out of listening to the ever speaking voice of HaShem. On that now infamous day when the inaudible became the audible it was as natural to follow that voice as it was for Abram to breathe.
There is another person in the story though that does not get much credit until later. Her name is Sara. Scripture does not record her hearing a voice. That is not until Abram came home and told her to pack her bags as they were moving to a new place. From the text it appears that Sara did not question Abram’s decision, but started packing. How could she do this? I believe it was because she had been listening for the voice of HaShem as Abram had.
When Abram came home with the news, Sara did not need to get alone and pray, because the inaudible voice she had been hearing had now become audible through her husband’s voice. On that day, her husband’s voice and the Creator’s voice matched exactly. No questions were needed.
Through the next few weeks we will see the journey of Abram and Sara continuing to follow HaShem’s voice. We will read of the times their hearing was good and the times it was not so good. I am so thankful Father did not just give us the successes of this couple. If he had, the standard would have been too high to reach. I am also grateful He did not only record their failures as it would cause us to not even try. The successes and failures give me hope; for it tells me Abram and Sara were human, flesh and blood like you and me.
In Genesis chapter 17 HaShem tells Abram to “Walk before me and be perfect.” Thankfully the word translated perfect is not the best meaning for the word. In Hebrew it is tamiym and means entire, complete and whole. In the Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern translates it as pure-hearted. Other translations use whole-hearted. The Hebrew spelling is tav, mem, yod, mem. It is a picture of waters coming together and merging into covenant as one. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen two rivers come together? They don’t struggle to become one river, they just do. Flowing in covenant with our Creator should be no more difficult than two rivers combining into one. That is, if we have learned to “listen” to the direction we are supposed to flow.
Shalom and Be Strong,
Mike Clayton