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

Shalom, New Moon

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Shalom,
New Moon
The New Moon has been sighted in Israel! We enter into the Biblical Eighth 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
 
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 – B’resheet (In the beginning) – Noach (Noah) – The End Justified the Beginning – SCRIPTURES FOR October 21, 2017

Torah Commentary

B’resheet (In the beginning)

Noach (Noah)

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Genesis 1:1-11:32
Isaiah 42:5-43:10
John 1:1-18
Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5
Note: To catch up with the Torah cycle this is two portions combined
The End Justified the Beginning
We begin another Torah cycle! I express this with anticipation. Many “new to Torah” folks may question why we read through and study the same five books year after year. Allow me to answer the question by asking the seasoned Torah pursuers, “Was anything new revealed to you as you read through the Torah last year that you had not seen in previous years?” I imagine there is not a single “no” out there, so a shout of exuberance, “Here we go again”!
It is in this section of our readings that makes me wish I was on the three year Torah cycle. Actually, that is not completely true. Skip the three year cycle and let’s jump to the thousand year millennial cycle with Messiah teaching it from Jerusalem. This portion carries so much meaning that I desire to camp out at each sentence.
Honestly, I am having a very difficult time getting through the first verse this year. This is not uncommon, although this year seems to have more meaning. I have been meditating on this verse in light of Isaiah 46:10, “At the beginning I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done; and I say that my plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do.” A more literal translation of the verse would be “HaShem declared the end out of the beginning.” I recognize we understand that He knows all things, but have we considered He declared that all things would happen even before they happened. This means HaShem knew Eve would listen to the serpent instead of Him. Cain killing Abel was no surprise. He knew man would become so corrupt He would have to kill all but eight people and start over. HaShem knew that for six-thousand years man would repeatedly turn his back on his Creator. In fact, the Hebrew word “nagad”, which is translated “declared” is a picture of a man walking away from the teachings and instructions of Yah.
On a personal level we recognize HaShem knew my sins and yours. All of our days are numbered and no surprise to Him. He even knew that after you and I turned back to His ways that we would fail. Yet, His grace is sufficient. His love is endless. We have the gift of repentance and Yeshua’s Blood to atone for us. Father’s Love is great. His desire for a relationship with us in spite of our shortcomings is humbling.
Now here is a challenging question for you. Had you been HaShem knowing all man would do against you for six-thousand years. If you knew in advance the pain for man’s rebellion and had a choice to go forth with Genesis 1:1, what would you have done? Consider that for a moment. Truth is He made a choice I am not sure I would have made. Why did He?
The answer lies in a single word of the verse in Isaiah which is “end.” Yah did not focus on the process, but rather the end result. What is the end result? Take a moment and read Revelation 21:1-4. Therein lays the answer to why Father made the choice to go forth with Genesis 1:1. It’s all about relationship to have a people that would be His and He would be theirs.
Where is our vision as we read these first words of Genesis 1:1? What do we plan to focus on during this next Torah cycle? I would challenge you to focus, not on what has been or what is, but rather on what will be. When you read again the words, “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth”, allow your mind to consider the love, mercy, grace and desire our Heavenly Father has to look past the process of redemption and see the destination called redemption. This truth in itself will continue to help us put one foot in front of the other in our journey.
One more challenge as we begin this Torah cycle. Many of us have read through the Torah several times. With that comes the hazard of just glancing through the verses. Consider this a good time to think about reading in a different translation. This may help notice messages in Scripture we have never seen before. Remember that even the people’s names and genealogies have great meaning. Take time to pull out your concordance to do some research. An example that many of us know is located in Beresheet Chapter 5. Genealogy can make you glassy eyed, right? In this particular case the meanings of the names form a sentence and witness to Messiah, which is “Man is appointed to mortal sorrow, but the blessed Elohim shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort.” How is that for declaring the end out of the beginning?
May our year be filled with Yah’s Spirit of revelation. Not revelation for our intellect, but rather to prepare us to be a people He is proud to call His. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Vezot ha’Bracha – “And this is the blessing” – SCRIPTURES FOR October 14, 2017

Vezot ha’Bracha
“And this is the blessing”
Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

Joshua 1:1-18

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The Baton Passes On
This Shabbat’s readings mark the end of the Torah cycle. The scriptures we will read are maybe the most bittersweet of all the Torah. Moses finishes his message of Deuteronomy by speaking a blessing over the people he has led for the past forty years. I would imagine that as the words are coming to a close, each one becomes harder to speak than the last. He knows that in a very short time his life will end. Moses has run his race, but has been stopped just short of what he thought his finish line would be. He stands looking into a land he will never enter.
On the surface nothing seems fair. Moses deserves to go in. He made one mistake and it cost him dearly. The Hebrews made many mistakes, but they would soon be enjoying a land they did not deserve. Nothing seems to make sense here. Is there possibly something else to the message of Moses that makes it clearer? Let’s consider it.
When we think of Moses, we think of Torah. In fact, it is called the Torah of Moses. Moses would pass the baton of Torah to a man whose name is Joshua. At least that is his English name. In Hebrew, his name would be very close to the name of Messiah, Yeshua. After the death of Moses, Joshua would receive orders to never allow the Torah of Moses to depart from him. He was to meditate on it day and night. He would also meet a man who was referred to as the Captain of The Army of Yah.   I believe the scripture is very clear through the actions of Joshua that this man was indeed the Messiah, Yeshua. It would be after Joshua’s acceptance of the challenge and revelation of this man that he indeed would enter into the Promised Land with the Hebrews. It would be as he continued in the orders and revelation that he would lead the Hebrews to possess what had been promised to them many years earlier.
So what is the message to us today? Could it be that Yah is telling us that Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of Yah’s promises? Could it be that simply going through Torah year after year will only bring us to the shore of our own Jordan, but never allow us to cross over? Could it be that we are being told through this account to, with a firm grasp of Torah in our heart, move on? We are to look for a person whose name is similar to the successor of Moses, who will lead us on? A man who not only is the Captain of the army of Yah, but in fact is the embodiment of the Torah?
The message that I see as I look at the complete account is this; Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of His promises, nor will we ever be allowed to enter in without Torah. It will be as we firmly grasp the Living and the Written Torah, never allowing ourselves to lose focus of the two as one, that we will enter in.
As a final thought leading into our new Torah Cycle I would like to share a quote from Barry Phillips. Please read Psalm 40:7 first for the full meaning. “Torah reveals the Redeemer while in itself offering no redemption.” You may need some time to let that one soak in. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Let’s Not Miss the Point – SCRIPTURES FOR September 30, 2017

Torah Commentary
Leviticus 16:1 – 34; 18:1 – 30
Numbers 29:7 – 11
Hebrews 10

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Note: As we come to the conclusion of this Torah cycle you may find yourselves using a different set of verses than me due to different methods of reading. This is a great opportunity for a lesson in not always being in complete agreement of walk, but rather complete agreement of destination.
Let’s Not Miss the Point
Here we are, in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Yom Teruah is behind us. Depending on which calendar you follow as to the day you observe Yom Kippur, we will all, in our own personal way between us and our Father, seek to “deny ourselves”. Days later our Sukkot adventure will begin. Our methods of observance during Sukkot will be as varied as we are. There will be a variety of everything from fancy “Rolling Sukkoth” in a campground with hundreds of people to a single individual eating a meal on their back deck by themselves. This lone worshiper may be wondering when they will have the opportunity to share their celebration with one or many more likeminded followers of Yeshua. The defining factor to bring all of us together around the globe will be the purpose of our Sukkot Feast.
In Leviticus we read of two goats. The first innocent animal was slaughtered and its blood placed upon the ark. The Azazel, scapegoat, was sent out of the camp never to return. These two goats represent an awesome picture of our redemption in Messiah as He has taken our sin upon Himself as well as cast it away to never return. This picture of the revealed work of Messiah is what is meant to set us apart and call us into the Fall Feasts. They are a symbol to give us a picture of our destiny.
What do the appointed times of Yom Kippur and Sukkot imply for us? The vision and attitude we walk into these appointed times with will in the end determine what we receive from them.
Let’s first look at Yom Kippur. We read and understand this set apart time as a day to “deny ourselves.” For what purpose does this sacrifice bring? Many have taught this is to be a day of fasting due to us mourning over our sins against our Creator. Consider the scapegoat. On Yom Kippur our sins are taken away forgotten as far as the east from the west, never to be remembered again. Could the reason we deny ourselves the basic necessities of our being is because on that future Yom Kippur our physical needs will not even enter our minds as we gaze into the face of the One who has taken away our sins? On the other hand there will no doubt be regret on that day as we see how in light of His work in our lives, we could have done much more for His Glory.
Let us move on to Sukkot. Whether you will be with hundreds of your very best friends or just camped out on your deck by yourself, what is the significance of your celebration?
I have mentioned a couple of times now about a person observing Sukkot alone. If you are the lone worshipper, have you sometimes struggled with envy over those who have the opportunity to rejoice in the fellowship of plenty? Ironically, it may be you the rest of us should be envious of. How could this be? You will celebrate without distraction of other people’s agendas. For you there will be no game night, talent night, movie night, water sports day, hay ride, horseback riding, thrift store day, antique store day, card games and the list goes on. The lone worshipper will just be you and our Blessed King, alone, dwelling together. And you were thinking you were going to miss what?
Here is the point. The easiest place to miss the true meaning of Sukkot is in a crowd of people who have just gathered for a weeklong vacation get away. Anyone who has been to a large Sukkot understands what I am referring to.
There are those who participate in the spiritual activities yet still they are mentally somewhere else, not fully entering into His Presence. They listen to the afternoon speaker session to hear what was shared the previous year. Attendance at the evening worship is solely to be entertained by the dance before departing to the late night fireside chatter with s’mores.
Do I sound cynical or truthful? You be the judge.
Why have I taken this train of thought just prior to Yom Kippur? I mention these things not to be critical, but rather to help each of us slow down and seek Holy Spirit to evaluate our heart motives to be cleansed of any selfish ways. Yom Kippur is about standing before our King and being awestruck over what He has accomplished for us so we may one day have the blessing of dwelling with Him. We have the opportunity to repent and enter into the remaining Feasts with clean hands and pure hearts to fully focus in joyful worship of our King. As we prepare to gather on Sukkot, let us do so with the commanded joy. Let it not be with the frivolous joy of a Disney vacation, but rather the awesome joy of the redemption that has been bought for each of us with a very high price. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Nitsavim (Standing) / Vayelekh (He Went) – Are We There Yet? – SCRIPTURES FOR September 16, 2017

Torah Commentary
Nitsavim (Standing) / Vayelekh (He Went)
Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30
Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Romans 9:30-10:13
Hebrews 12:14-15

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Are We There Yet?
Last week we looked at a “Today” which would happen sometime in our future. It would be a day of bringing our offerings in a basket to Jerusalem. We will set our basket down in the presence of Messiah and give thanks for the good land and blessings He has brought us to. Before that “Today” can happen, there has to be an event called the end of exile. We read of this promise in Deuteronomy 30.
To set the stage for these words, let’s consider the setting. First of all, we are reading words first spoken around 1400BCE or over 3600 years ago. Moshe is telling a people who have never stepped foot in the land that their time in the land will not be very long and because of disobedience they will be exiled from the land and driven to the four corners of the earth. Side note, these are four corners yet to be discovered by man.
Stop and consider this. You are Nitzavim (Standing) in front of Moshe with great anticipation, considering just how long this last sermon of his is going to take. Your mind has been wandering just a bit because just over his shoulder you can see your destiny. Suddenly your mind kicks in as you hear him say you will be driven out. “What, he must be kidding. We haven’t set foot in the land yet.” Right on the heals of those words is a promise of return and re-gathering from exile. You decide to just dismiss the last words and focus again on where you are soon heading. Focus as you may, generations to come will live the words of exile, a time and place you and I find ourselves today.
So here is the question, are we there yet?
I seldom use stories of my own children for their privacy, but today I am going to break the rule. It was family vacation, Kathy and myself with two children are heading to Disney World. Our oldest son Steven was pretty small but old enough to have a good grasp on where we were going. We had been telling him for months that we were going and his excitement was off the scale by the time we finally got in the car for the journey. His “Are we there yet” statements were too many too keep track of and even though each “Are we there yet” brought a firmer and more impatient “No”, he never lost sight of his dream. We would stop at gas stations and restaurants and he would engage anyone who would listen with the dream of his destination. Some people would become so caught up in his excitement they would ask if they could come with him. I think a couple of them may have gone home and planned their own trip based on his enthusiasm.
The time finally came when his “Are we there yet?” was answered by “Almost.” Shoes on, poised in position to bound out of the car, he was ready and yes, it was a time he would not forget.
Do I need to ask if you know where I am going with this? Just in case, I will continue.
I read these words of return and I can just feel the words “Are we there yet” bubbling up from down deep inside of me. As I write, it dawns on me that my daily reciting of the Shema is turning into my own “Are we there yet?’ Watching wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, interaction with my Jewish brothers and sisters; it is all causing those words to form more rapidly in my spirit.
What saddens me in the midst of my own excitement is how much easier it was for Steven to get people excited about going to Disney than it is for me to get people excited about going “Home.” I am not talking about people outside of covenant, but rather those who profess to be within it. Yes, there are a few who are excited, but it is a small remnant today. As I speak of “Home” and ask forms of the question of are we there yet, I am still met with so many glassy eyed stares. This causes me to wonder and consider if the excitement I am portraying is more surface than I want to admit. Is my excitement proved in my actions or is it merely words people are seeing through to be phony?
This past week I attended a small congregation in our area. It was my first Shabbat home in over a month. The group will normally study the Torah, but leave the other writings for personal study. As we came to the end of the portion our daughter-in-law asked if we could read the Haftarah of Isaiah 60. When I saw the first few words, a lump formed in my throat. It is hard to explain the feeling of hearing her read the words. She read as a person who has not only walked The Land, but as someone whose heart and life are connected to The Land and her people. She read with gentle passion of a time when our exile is over, the tribulation is behind us and Messiah has set up His Kingdom. It is a day Torah is going forth from Jerusalem and the nations are streaming to her to learn to walk in His ways. As she read I was looking at their son, my grandson, and wondering, could these verses be of a day he will grow up seeing with his own eyes?
I held back the tears as she read. As she completed the last words, I simply said, “May it be soon and in our day.” By the way, that is now my Hebrew idiom for “Are we there yet?”
May we, in Him, be found worthy to be the generation which sees the end of exile. May our children and grandchildren be part of the first generation raised in His Kingdom. May our Heavenly Father grant to each of us the longing and excitement which will pierce through the glassy eyed stares of those still without a vision of where “Home” truly is.
May it all come to pass soon and in our day, or as we used to say, “Are we there yet?” (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Ki Tavo (When You Come) – Until “Today” – SCRIPTURES FOR September 9, 2017

Torah Commentary
Ki Tavo  (When You Come)
Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Isaiah 60:1-22
Matthew 13:1-23
Acts 28:17-31
Romans 11:1-15

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Until “Today”
As I have shared, there are many themes in the book of Deuteronomy. We see the importance of taking responsibility for our actions, treating others with respect, walking in blessings and walking in curses through our disobedience. All of these instructions give us rich teachings to abide in during our life of exile. But there is an underlying theme that brings focus to our walk that is inherent to grasp. It brings greater joy and purpose to this life in exile. The theme I am referring to is Israel!
My heart for Israel overflows in my teachings which is why you will often hear me express concern for the apparent disconnect I see in the Hebraic and church communities. I have attended conferences where Israel isn’t mentioned! When I do talk about Israel, I am often met with glassy, clueless stares. It appears many people are more concerned about building their lives here in Egypt than allowing Father to turn their hearts to our true Home. For those people, I pray that as they read Scripture, Father will open their eyes and change their hearts. There are those who say that we really have nothing to do with Israel today until Messiah sets up His Kingdom. For them I will share modified words of Dietrich Bonheoffer, “I have no right to participate in the reconstruction of life in Israel in His Kingdom unless I participate in the trials of this time with my people.” We need to identify with Israel our people, Israel our home in this day, not tomorrow!
What about the rest of us? In the first chapter of this Torah portion it speaks of a time in which we will bring an offering in a basket and place it before His appointed priests. Read the words from Deuteronomy 26:3-11. Don’t those words give you a longing for that day? For me the word “Today” in verse 3 jumps off the page and grabs my heart. My soul cries out for “Today” to be today. For now we are left longing for “Today” but have to live in today. What can we do with our today’s as we long for “Today?”
In just a couple of weeks we will be into the Fall Feasts. Many will celebrate Yom Teruah with apples and honey. Now I understand it is a tradition, but it is a “sweet” one! I like apples and honey and really appreciate the meaning of entering into the Fall Feasts with a sense of sweetness. What if that delicious jar of honey was not from bees in your neighbor’s backyard, but from bees in our Father’s backyard, Israel? It is easier than you may think. Go online and type in Israel Honey. It can be shipped right to your door. We also look forward to Sukkot. Eight days of finding out things about people you are not sure you wanted to know! In Leviticus 23 we are told to bring the four species and worship before Him. My tradition is to order my lulav and etrog (can be spelled etrog or esrog) from Israel. It is fun to see the expressions on people’s faces when I tell them my bumpy, bright yellow fruit is from Israel. Ordering is easy. Go to myesrog.com and order your own citrus fruit from the Land! If you do so by Sept 20 you can use the code myesrog2017 for a discount. Imagine standing in the midst of the community waving a lulav and etrog that has just days before been in the place your heart is longing to be.
There is another issue to prayerfully consider. Today there are needs all over the world. In America we do not have to look farther than southern Texas. I urge people to do whatever they can to help whoever they can in that area. Even in the midst of this, please remember Israel? Are the verses in Deuteronomy not telling us that our first offering should be there? Take a look at Romans 15:25-27. It is absolutely a good thing to help those in Houston, but it is also our Scriptural duty to help those in need in Israel.
In mid October I will be leading our annual tour to Israel. As has been the case now for over 15 years, I will be taking funds to help those in need. If you would like to be a part of this, a Sukkot offering to our home, you can go to our web site and put “Israel” in the note section of your donation. Or if it is easier, you can send a check or call with a credit card. Every dollar will go to Israel to help those in need.
For today, Messiah has not returned, the Temple of His home has not been built, Torah is not flowing into the nations from Jerusalem, but that does not mean we cannot be involved in what may be hastening our today’s to become “Today.” May your longing for Home bring forth joy in your life, purpose and preparation! (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Ki Tetze (When you go out) – Protecting the Back of the Pack – SCRIPTURES FOR September 2, 2017

Torah Commentary
Ki Tetze (When you go out)
Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
Isaiah 54:1-10
Mark 10:2-12
Luke 20:27-38
1Tim 5:17-18

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Protecting the Back of the Pack
As I read through these middle chapters of Deuteronomy I sometimes want to put my head back and say, “Well duh!” For me, I find many of the instructions here are common sense. I really cannot think of a time in my life that I needed to be reminded to not wear a dress or makeup! Then I recall something simple, yet profound, a friend said, “If common sense is supposed to be so common, then why isn’t it?” While watching the news it is rather evident that there are many folks across this world in need of reading these verses and putting them into practice in their lives.
Why are these instructions difficult for so many people? The very simple answer is no relationship with Yeshua, no Torah, no life!! Torah teaches us about taking responsibility for our actions. Consider it this way. Let’s say your ox walks through a hole in your fence and falls in a ditch. You ponder the issue. The blame goes to the ox for walking through the hole in the fence and falling into the ditch. Then you consider maybe a demon spooked the ox which made him run through the hole and into the ditch. The obvious issue is not what the ox did wrong, but the fact you needed to fix the fence. Had responsibility been taken the ox would not be in the ditch!
For the prepper at heart think about the verse that asks you to include a trowel in your pack. How do feel when you realize what the trowel is needed for? Wait, you want me to use that trowel? Do you shutter at the idea that you might get it dirty requiring you to clean it? Are you wondering why someone else can’t clean up the mess you made in the camp? Do you avoid taking responsibility?
The Torah also teaches us what is referred to as the “Golden Rule.” It is amazing how many people actually think the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is really a verse in Scripture. No, it is not a verse of Scripture, but it is a principle derived from It. Things like not charging a brother or sister interest, respecting others physical and spiritual boundaries are all instructions taught in these Torah portions. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Shof’tim (Judges) – Giving Yah Our Best – SCRIPTURES FOR August 26, 2017

Torah Commentary
Shof’tim (Judges)
Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Isaiah 51:12-52:13
Matthew 5:38-42; 18:15-20
Acts 3:13-26; 7:35-53

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Giving Yah Our Best
The deeper I read into the book of Deuteronomy I find such richness in its Truths.  Each week I am challenged to single out only one or two points to reflect on. It is important to me to help set the stage for your own focus in seeking Father within these words. Seeking Him first and honoring Him with our best is the focus of this weekly commentary.
This week we are told to seek righteousness, by making sure Torah is being written upon our hearts not simply a quick read. With passion we are to be like Moses in upholding Torah. We read about preparing ourselves to live in cities and houses we did not build. There is a message revealed within this Torah portion that is inherent to understanding so as to comprehend the rest of its meaning.
In Deuteronomy 17:1 we are told not to bring a sacrifice with a defect or anything wrong with it. This is to not only be a starting point for this Torah portion, but a necessary instruction to understand more of our relationship with our Father.
You might be saying to yourself, “We don’t have sacrifices to bring today.” Rethink this thought and consider these actions as sacrifices for today. Our time spent in prayer, especially in the busyness of today’s society. Adding a 9:00am and 3:00pm alarm on your phone as a reminder to recite the Shema requires a commitment. What about the dedication to honor and observe Shabbat? Include the time set aside for Bible study. Even consider preparation and observance of Father’s Appointed Times. Along with preparation, what about setting aside ten percent of our income, as well as the additional funds for the Feasts, the widow, orphan and restoration of the Land and people of Israel? All of these actions require a sacrificial commitment of time, thought and energy to carry out for the glory of our King! Are we setting aside the best of our “flock” that is without spot or blemish or just whatever feels good to us?
There are many events and people that stand out in my childhood. Probably the most influential was my grandmother. She taught me many things about God through her actions. I recall one specific act that stood out to me regarding her giving unto the Father. Granny was not a rich woman and yet she never went without. Her life of faith impacted many people. This memory is especially important to me and reflected my thoughts in this commentary regarding giving your best.
At probably the age of eight or nine I would go with granny to the bank so she could deposit her social security check. I especially enjoyed the trip because the teller had a sucker for me! Granny would hand the check to the teller to be deposited and receive some cash back. The cash back was her preset tithe. Sure, this is normal procedure for many people. The point that stuck out to me was that Granny always asked for the withdrawal to be in new bills. The following Sunday when the offering plate was passed through the pews granny would sometimes give me the envelope with those crisp new bills to put in the plate. She did not have to explain to me her reasoning. I understood the lesson lived before my eyes. Granny wanted new bills; she saw it as a way of giving her best. That story may sound a bit silly to some, but even as I am writing, the memory brings tears to my eyes. The lesson I learned from that small action as a young child was to bring your best to the King in respect and reverence. (Click to Site)