Shalom, – New Moon

New Moon

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The New Moon has been sighted in Israel! We enter into the Biblical Fifth month. This is known as the month of Av, one filled with tragedy through the centuries. Let us pray protection for His Land and people during this crucial time.
Look toward the western sky at sundowntonight and celebrate the goodness of HaShem in our lives.

Celebration Tips
Lighting of the Menorah
Reading Psalms
Sounding of the shofar
Celebration dinner
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
(EZ 37)

May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem
 
Disclaimer: This email is not intended to set a calendar or appointed time. It is only to announce the sighting of the New Moon in Israel. It is to be a reminder to those in exile that Jerusalem should be the focus and center of all we do.

Torah Commentary – Mattot/Massei “Tribes” / “Journeys” – On The Edge of Destiny – SCRIPTURES FOR July 22, 2017

Torah Commentary
Mattot/Massei “Tribes” / “Journeys”
Numbers 30:2-36:13
Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4
Hebrews 1-6

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On The Edge of Destiny
We come to the end of the Book of Numbers this week. Forty years have passed since Israel stood on the bank of the Red Sea. All that stands between the Hebrews and their destiny is another river, a war with the Midyanim, a few instructions to get to the end of Numbers and a pretty long sermon by Pastor Moshe. Oh yea, and Pastor Moshe has to die.
Imagine the thoughts running through the minds of the Hebrews here. They are on the edge of their future. Yet there is one major requirement given by Yah before crossing; a battle. Destroy the Midyanim! Why not just enter the Land then deal with these wicked people? Of course the answer, I am sure has many levels of meaning. Let us examine the base level. It was the women of Midyanim who caused 24,000 Hebrew men to die in a plague. We ask, “Who sent those Midyanim women into the camp in the first place?” Sadly, it was the Midyanim men, their spiritual leaders. Men, whose responsibility is to guard and protect them, instead sent them off to insight grievous sin. This battle was a test to see if the men of Israel would step up to the standard Pinchas set for them or would they sit back and watch as the next sin tried to enter the camp.
Last week, it appears, I touched a few nerves in my written commentary. If you missed it, the archive is posted on my website. I received feedback from some men who shared that my words brought conviction in their walk. They took a good look in their own mirrors, pulled up their big boy training pants and took action on areas Holy Spirit revealed to them were out of order. The overwhelming response I received was more from women who said they were yearning and praying for men to take their place in the Biblical roles mandated in Scripture. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Balak – Dwelling Alone – SCRIPTURES FOR July 8, 2017

Torah Commentary

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Balak
Numbers 22:2-25:9
Micah 5:6-6:8
John 13-14
Dwelling Alone
Word of the defeat of Sichon, king of Emori must have traveled to Balak quickly, even without TV and the Internet. Balak most likely saw himself next in line for defeat. Immediate action and strategic planning were needed to defeat Israel and avoid catastrophe. Their reputation for having great strength preceded them. We can read in Joshua that the exploits of Israel leaving Egypt were still being talked about. Balak needed to get the upper hand of this situation so he sought a weapon far greater than human strength. As an interesting side note, I wonder what the outcome of this Torah portion would have been if instead of trying to defeat Israel, Balak had sought to bless Israel. We will never know.
Balak’s strategy was to utilize Balaam, a priest known for his power to curse people. The curses he had spoken over armies powerfully defeated them. Balaam’s destructive words were successful numerous times. Could they bring Balak victory?
We all know well the account of Balaam and his apparent struggle to do good.  How many of us who grew up in Sunday school will ever forget the day they heard the story of the talking donkey? We were instructed in school on the sin of cursing Yah’s people. The important lesson of being sensitive to hear Yah’s guidance, before He had to use our favorite pet to give us the message was also etched in our hearts.
There is more to the story of Balaam’s greediness for us to glean. In Numbers 23:9 Balaam says, “yes, a people that will dwell alone and not think itself one of the nations.” This verse is very rich in its meaning to us today.
A number of years ago, then prime minister of Israel, Yitzchak Rabin made an infamous speech in Jerusalem. In that speech he stated that the people of Israel were only interested in being like all other nations. How do we interpret this statement? He was saying that although the State of Israel was founded by a miracle of Elohim Himself and they were called by Elohim to live by His commandments, they just wanted to look like, act like and be like all the other nations of the world. They did not want to be different; they did not desire to dwell alone as a nation clearly devoted to the One who had brought them out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Although Yitzchak Rabin was a citizen of the State of Israel, his words in that speech, before his assassination, proved he had not learned what it was to be part of the Nation of Israel, a nation called to be unique from others, even if it meant living alone. (Click to Article)

 

Torah Commentary – Chukat “Statute” – Give or It Shall Be Taken From You – SCRIPTURES FOR July 1, 2017

The Hebrews have been in the wilderness for 38 years. There are still trials to go through and people who must die before they can move on. Let us not miss the personal nature and just read over the deaths of Moshe’s brother and sister. Their deaths will bring many changes in the camp.  

Torah Commentary

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Chukat “Statute”
Numbers 19:1-22:1
Judges 11:1-33
John 11-12
Give or It Shall Be Taken From You
A common thread we have seen the past few weeks with grumbling, murmuring and complaining continues this week. I pray we have learned the importance of having an “attitude of gratitude” to help us overcome these unwelcome sins. Sadly, in this portion Israel’s grumbling not only affected them, but their leader. Their sin permeated the camp. Moshe had enough of the people and entered into their spirit of frustration. This mistake cost him a price higher than he desired to pay. Because he disobeyed a direct command from Yah by striking the rock the second time, instead of speaking to it, he was judged. His consequence was painful; the inability to enter the Promise Land with Israel. Although he would not enter the Land, he still had the job of taking the people to their destination.
There was an obstacle in the way between Israel’s current location and the Land they were to enter – the land controlled by Sichon, king of the Emori. Moshe sent word to Sichon explaining he wanted to lead Israel through the land Sichon occupied. After all, they have been in the desert for a long time and a shortcut is a shortcut. Moshe made sure Sichon understood he did not desire to take the land, eat from its fields and vineyards or even drink the water of the land. Israel did not need any of those things. They had the land HaShem promised them, they had all the manna a person could ever want; manna burgers, manna pancakes, manna upside down cake. (You know the rest.) Moshe had one interest the shortcut through the land of the Emori.
It seems Sichon was never told about the wonders of giving to Yah or Genesis 12:3. I am sure if he understood who these people were and Whom they served and that by giving Israel access to the King’s Highway, he would have been blessed beyond measure, Sichon’s decision would have been different. Instead of giving to Yah, self service thinking provoked him to take from Yah. In this case he greedily desired to take the lives and possessions of HaShem’s people. What he failed to recognize was the Creator of the universe owned the people and their possessions. We read as expected Sichon was defeated. Not only defeated, but what he controlled was taken from him and given to Israel as a temporary dwelling place until they moved on to their inheritance. Don’t mess with what belongs to HaShem!
What can we learn from the account of Sichon, king of the Emori? Here are a few suggestions.  (Click to Article)

 

New Moon seen in Israel

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Shalom,
New Moon
The New Moon has been sighted in Israel! We begin the Biblical Forth month. 
Look toward the western sky at sundowntonight and celebrate the goodness of HaShem in our lives.

Celebration Tips
Lighting of the Menorah
Reading Psalms
Sounding of the shofar
Celebration dinner
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
(EZ 37)

May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem

Torah Commentary – Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf) – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 17, 2017

Torah Commentary
Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf)
Numbers 13:1-15:41
Joshua 2:1-24
Hebrews 3:7-19

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The Tourists Connection
If a list were made of the top ten stories the Hebrews are known for during their sojourn in the wilderness, the account of the twelve spies would certainly be found. Many fingers have been pointed at the faithless reports given by the ten spies. Is there a deeper level of understanding regarding the reason behind the difference in the statements shared by the ten versus the two? Could we find another lesson from their experience that can give instruction to us today? Let’s see.
The Hebrew word translated as spies is “tuwr.” It is interesting that the word sounds like our English word “tour”, though it is not the actual root of the word. We can use the comparison to draw a lesson. We can look at these men, not as it describes as “in the Land”, but rather as tourists? At the time, they were travelers, not dwellers. Consider, after all, when they returned to camp they brought back souvenirs of fruit of the land to show off. The fruitful bounty could have been inspiration to take the Land as Yah directed. Yet, it is not what they brought back on their shoulders which truly mattered, instead, it was what was in their hearts.
It is hard to envision the immense feast of produce these men saw or the terror of the massive size of its inhabitants during their “tour.” A few years back a section of the wall of Hevron was found that dates back to the time of Scripture. On one of my trips in Israel I was able to visit that section of unearthed wall. I remember just staring at it. I have always had a connection to Joshua. The haftorah readings for the Torah portion related to my birthday are verses in the first section of Joshua. That day at the wall I just stood and stared as I considered that ancient stone and pondered whether it may have been a spot Joshua had fixed his own eyes upon.
All twelve of the men saw the same sites, ate the same food and walked the same soil, so why the different accounts given upon their return? Most would say it was based on their level of faith which to some measure, I agree with. Going back to our original question whether we have another lesson from the spies experience, let us consider this point of view. I believe we can also reflect on the word “connect”. Joshua and Caleb connected with the Land. They were able to see past the giants inhabiting the area, even the bountiful harvest. It was their King’s Land. He was calling them to possess His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Their heart connection to Yah instilled a deep passionate connection for His Land, their inheritance. It appears the other ten did not make this connection.
My friend and brother Hanoch Young says it best, if you connect with the Land, the Land will connect with you. For Joshua and Caleb, the Land became a part of their very hearts. Sadly it seems for the others it was just another random handful of dirt.
As with Joshua and Caleb, you and I will fight for our heart’s desires and what and who we are connected to. That connection will manifest itself in actions which may in the end be termed faith, but faith begins with the relationship established in our heart.
What did Joshua and Caleb connect to? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 11:12 which reveals to us that the eyes of Yah are continually on that Land. Eyes do not lead your heart, they follow your heart. What your eyes gaze upon is an outward manifestation of where your heart is.
The eyes and hearts of Joshua and Caleb connected with the eyes and heart of the Father Himself. This is why they were allowed to enter the Land and would later give their very lives to possess it. (Click to Article)

 

Torah Commentary – B’ha’alotcha (When you set up) – Moving With the Cloud – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 10, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’ha’alotcha (When you set up)
Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14-4:7
John 19:31-37
Hebrews 3:1-6

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Moving With the Cloud
I have heard it said so many times that the Hebrews “Wandered” in the wilderness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In Chapter Nine of this Torah portion it speaks of the Cloud which covered the Tabernacle. We read that as long as the Cloud stayed over the Tabernacle the peoples were to remain camped and as the Cloud moved, they were to move.  I would not call being guided by a Cloud of His Glory simply ‘wandering’.  I would refer to it as being “guided by His hand.” But what about us today? Are our lives guided at that same level?  My answer is yes. The only difference between  them and us is in their day they could see the Cloud with physical eyes. Today? For those who desire, we see the Cloud with spiritual eyes. He is still in the guiding business.
Of course, there are times in our lives in which we wonder if we are seeing very well, times we are looking for the cloud, but it seems more like a fog. What are we to do in those times? The answer is maybe too simple; trust and keep walking.
Go back to the first verses of the Torah portion. It speaks about the Menorah and a concept I have taught on many times. The Menorah was to be placed in the Tabernacle in such a way that the light would shine forward.  Message here; one I lived out recently.
This past weekend I went to Amarillo, TX to teach on the Tabernacle. Due to the fact I take the representation of the Tabernacle with me, I could not fly, but had to drive. 2508 miles in 5 days! It was a great time in Amarillo, but the last miles of the drive were a bit brutal. It had been lightly raining off and on most of the day so I had to keep a real watch for all the crazies on the road. I finally made it to the last leg of the trip, which is over a mountain pass. That is where the clouds I had seen in the distance now became a fog, which enveloped me. What was I to do? Pull over and stop? Absolutely not! My destination was too close. I slowed down a bit, made sure my lights were on and kept going. A few miles later I broke out of the fog and into some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I had ever seen.
What is my point? Many people I speak to believe themselves to be in a fog today. What is fog? It is a cloud which has come to our level. Maybe what you think is a fog today is really His Cloud, which has come to your level. Keep walking and see where it takes you.
One of the major points of this portion is found at the beginning of Chapter 11. It says they were complaining about their hardships. Really now? They are free people who have been given the Torah, Yah’s presence in their midst, an unlimited supply of fresh water to drink and bread which appears ever morning for their enjoyment. Besides that, they are walking in total health and their clothing and shoes are not wearing out. I am just not feeling the hardship going on here and apparently neither is The Almighty! To add further insult to injury they turn their minds back to the fish, cucumbers, melons, etc they ate in Egypt and say, “It cost us nothing!” Hold the bus here! Now how much are they paying for the free medical care, extended wear clothing, water and manna? I don’t read anywhere that they were being charged.
We could of course point our fingers at them all day on this one. Especially since none of us have ever uttered a word of unmerited complaint in our lives…?

(Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Naso (Take) – He Will Kneel Before – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 3, 2017

Torah Commentary
Naso (Take)
Numbers 4:21-7:89
Judges 13:2-25
John 7:53-8:11
Acts 21:17-32

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He Will Kneel Before
This Torah portion continues the theme of  “Nasa,” or the lifting up of the head of one who was once in slavery. It further reveals that the lifting up of the head is not only to see a destiny, but to realize that you have a responsibility to help others in reaching theirs. When we are all working within this concept it is called community, or in this case, a nation called Israel.
Located in the center of this Torah portion are the words of what is termed the Aaronic Blessing. The stated purpose in 6:27 of these words is to place His name upon His people. Question before we go on: will He only place His name on those who have lifted their heads, looked to their destiny and begun to walk in community? The answer is one for you to consider.
So what are these words of blessing all about? My personal understanding has grown much over the years. It began with the placing of this blessing within a small booklet of a sample New Moon service. (Working on an update to this soon.) A friend of mine was helping with this booklet and inserted a translation of the Aaronic Blessing by Jeff Benner of  http://ancient-hebrew.org/. Here is the translation:
“He who exists will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection; He who exists will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will beautify you; He who exists will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.”  Num 6:24-26
I remember the first time I read this translation. “He who exists will kneel before you.” I had a tough time with those words, until I thought of how I also would give gifts to my then small son. I would kneel to his level. Our Father does the same with us. Ponder that one for a bit.
The words of this blessing went to a new level not too long ago. I was considering the meaning of the word “barak,” which is translated as “bless”. Its literal meaning is to kneel before. As I was pondering this word a picture came to my mind. It is an experience I have told on few occasions, but never written about.
It happened on my first trip to Israel. At the end of the short tour, part of our group went to a Messianic congregation in Jerusalem. In a crazy turn of events for me, I was asked to speak. I looked out at the people and my heart melted. I wanted to do something to show someone my appreciation for my experience in Israel. Father’s timing was about to be played out in a way I could never have orchestrated on my own. I said to the congregation that if I had water I would wash the feet of the leaders. Looking back, it was not about the leaders, but about all I had come in contact with during my tour. I continued speaking about something and then I saw the front door of the building open. There was a lady with a basin of water, soap and a towel. She walked up right in front of me and said, “Were you serious?” What was I to do? One by one that night I “barak,” knelt before the leaders and washed their feet. Words can not express what happened in me that night or what life has been since.
Consider now the words of Gen 12:3, “I will barak, (kneel before) those who barak, (kneel before) you.”  (Click to Article)

 

The New Moon has been sighted in Israel!

Shalom,

New Moon

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The New Moon has been sighted in Israel! We begin the Biblical Third month. 
Look toward the western sky at sundowntonight and celebrate the goodness of HaShem in our lives.

Celebration Tips
Lighting of the Menorah
Reading Psalms
Sounding of the shofar
Celebration dinner
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
(EZ 37)

May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem

Torah Commentary – Bamidbar “In the Wilderness” – From Trials to Trails – SCRIPTURES FOR May 27, 2017

Torah Commentary
Bamidbar “In the Wilderness”
Numbers 1:1-4:20
Hosea 2:1-22
Luke 2:1-7; 1Cor 12:12-31
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From Trials to Trails
There is an interesting word to be found as we begin the Book of Numbers. It is translated “take a census.” The word in Hebrew is “Nasa.” The word has been used in Scripture almost 100 times in the first three books of Torah and will also be the title of our next Torah portion. One of the meanings of this word is “to look up,” or “raise up your head.” The secondary meaning is an interesting tie-in as it means to “bear up” or “support.” A search on this word is fascinating. Cain used it when saying his punishment was too much for him to bear (nasa). It is used to describe how the waters of the flood would bare up (nasa), the Ark. Abram would lift up (nasa), his eyes to look upon The Land.
How are the two definitions of this words tied together? The answer is found in Psalm 121: “If I raise my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?  My help comes from ADONAI, the maker of heaven and earth.” The verse ties the two definitions together and tells us that if we will lift up (nasa) our eyes, we will find the One who can bear our burdens, lift us up above trouble, and help in time of need.
At this point in the journey of the Hebrews, they have been through quite a few trials. Plagues came upon the land they once called home. A sea stood before them as an angry and motivated army pursued them. Physical, and perhaps even spiritual in a way, thirst and hunger drove them to faithlessness including a Golden Calf most would desire to forget. Each place life would bring them to was designed by Yah to have them look up to their Creator, their Deliverer, the One who desired to carry them as on eagles wings to their destiny. This could not be accomplished by looking down at circumstances.
Looking up was not a position the Hebrews were accustomed to. They had been slaves in Egypt for many years. If you put a person into slavery, you will notice over time that their very posture will change. As a people, slaves will no longer look to the horizon, but rather to the ground. It is not lack of possessions which makes a person a slave, but a lack of hope of a good future. Before the Hebrews could go on in their journey, they had to start looking up.
This is a concept also being taught in Luke 21. After a discourse of what the Day of Yah will be, the writer does not tell us to dissect every disaster and news article which comes out, but rather to Nasa, for our redemption is getting closer.
Somewhere between the Hebrews in the wilderness being told to nasa and the end of this age, (beginning of real life) is where you and I live on a daily basis. As I talk with and interact with people today, I find we all have something in common: trials! From changes in relationships to health and financial issues to whatever you want to fill in the blank with, life is full of “Stuff” for most everyone I know. What is the purpose of it all? It’s very simple, really. To get us looking up toward Him. (Click to Article)