Thousands march against same-sex marriage bill

Thousands of people rallied in Paris and across France on Saturday to protest a government bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. March organisers said marriage required “one dad and one mom for every child.”

Opponents of a bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”.

Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organized by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties.

Their stated goal was to persuade French lawmakers to abandonplans to pass the new law called “Marriage and Adoption for All”, which is being championed by France’s ruling Socialist Party.

In Paris thousands of people gathered in the Denfert-Rochereau square, many brandishing signs that read “one mom and one dad for one child”. The crowds largely respected requests by organisers to wear blue, white and pink clothes and abstain from brandishing the names or colours of their own organizations or political parties.

Organisers said there was between 15,000 and 20,000 people at the protest in the French capital.

Marc, a 60-year-old Parisian who said he was a fervent Catholic, called the government hypocritical. “They all have wives and children. So they understand perfectly well what kind of deviations would result from the approval of gay marriages.”

He was holding a sign that read “No to genitally modified marriage”.

Despite an overcast sky and heckles from pro-gay marriage activists, there was a lively atmosphere throughout the march, with many young people present.

Students Victoria, Dauphine, Eléonore, Flore and Marie were five friends volunteering at the event together. “We defend our vision of what society should be like. Our first concern is the child’s well being and balance,” said Flora. “If the law passes, it would be z deep injustice to the child, who is not given a choice.”

Gay rights activists and supporters of the government’s initiative also staged counter-rallies in the French capital. Around 100 people in favour of gay marriage met the rally at its starting point in southern Paris.

Mathias, a student from Paris in favour of gay marriage, debated the issue with anti-gay marriage participants on the sidelines of the march. Making little progress in convincing protesters, Mathias and a friend provocatively proceeded to lock lips.

Alice Coffin, a 34-year-old gay rights activist, greeted protesters with a sign that read “Homophobes, we are not interested in your opinion, only the same rights as you.” She and a group of around 50 people threw confetti and rice –used for its link to weddings– when the march passed near the Montparnasse train station.

“I think the government is firm on this law,” Coffin said, adding she did not think the anti-gay marriage march would change the government’s course. “But the fight is not over yet and it’s important to be out here today.”

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Giant Sun Eruption Captured in NASA Video

The sun unleashed a monster eruption of super-hot plasma Friday (Nov. 16) in back-to-back solar storms captured on camera by a NASA spacecraft.

The giant sun eruption, called a solar prominence, occurred at 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), with another event flaring up four hours later. The prominences was so large, it expanded beyond the camera view of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which captured high-definition video of the solar eruption.

In the video, a colossal loop of glowing red plasma erupts from the lower left of the sun, arcing up and out of frame as it blasts away from the star.

“The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas made of electrically charged hydrogen and helium,” officials with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversees the SDO mission, explained in a description. “The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.”

Friday’s solar eruption does not appear to be aimed at Earth, so will likely have little effect on our planet. But that was not the case earlier this week when a powerful solar flare erupted on Monday (Nov. 12). That flare registered as an M6-class eruption, a moderate but still intense solar event.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 13 and 14), space weather conditions sparked a geomagnetic storm that supercharged the Earth’s auroras, creating spectacular northern lights displays for observers at high latitudes.

When aimed directly at Earth, the most powerful solar flares and eruptions can pose a threat to satellites and astronauts in orbit, and also interfere with communication, navigation and power systems on the ground.

The sun is currently in the middle of an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle is called Solar Cycle 24 and is expected to peak in 2013.

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Israel ready to ‘significantly expand’ Gaza offensive

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning to Hamas on Sunday, declaring that the Israeli army was prepared to significantly widen its Gaza offensive. Netanyahu’s threat came as Hamas launched a fresh rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

The Israeli army is ready to “significantly expand” its operation in Gaza, the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday as Hamas launched fresh rocket attacks on Tel Aviv.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said “The soldiers are ready for any activity that could take place”.
Netanyahu issued the warning as Israel’s “Iron Dome” system intercepted two rockets aimed at Tel Aviv. Hamas militants admitted responsibility for the latest rocket attack on Israel’s commercial capital.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry told FRANCE24 that a ground offensive into Gaza was likely if the rocket attacks continued.
“Our sole aim of this offensive is to make Hamas stop firing rockets. We have used air strikes but if that’s not enough then we may contemplate ground operations as well,” Ygal Palmor from the Israeli foreign ministry told FRANCE 24 on Sunday.
“If rockets are being fired then that will bring the ground operation forward,” he added.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said on Sunday that Israel would not negotiate a truce with the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers as long as rocket fire continues from the Palestinian enclave.
Israel’s operation has drawn Western support for what US and European leaders have called Israel’s right to self-defence, but there have also been a growing number of calls from world leaders to seek an end to the violence.On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip “would lose Israel a lot of the international support and sympathy that they have in this situation.”

Hague told Sky News television it was much more difficult to limit civilian casualties in a ground assault and said it would threaten to prolong the conflict.

Air and sea raids continue

Fifty Palestinians, about half of them civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began, Palestinian officials said. More than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three civilians.

Since Israel unleashed its massive air campaign on Wednesday, the Jewish state has launched more than 950 air strikes on the coastal Palestinian territory, targeting weaponry and flattening militant homes and headquarters.
The raids continued past midnight on Sunday, with warships bombarding targets from the sea. An air raid targeted a building in Gaza City housing the offices of local Arab media, wounding three journalists from al Quds television, a station Israel sees as pro-Hamas, witnesses said.
The TV building also housed journalists from Britain’s ITN news and Sky News networks.
Three other attacks killed three children and wounded 14 other people, medical officials said.
Violence ‘shatters’ hopes of peace
The night of violence represents a blow to peace efforts, which have been lead by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, who on Saturday said there were indications a truce could “soon” be reached.
FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gallagher Fenwick, reporting from Gaza, witnessed the latest night of violence.
“Throughout the night we heard very heavy shelling, most of it coming from Israeli warships stationed off the coast. The sound of Apache helicopters and drones flying low overhead could also be heard,” Fenwick said on Sunday.
“The Israeli Air Force has published a statement saying it had hit what it called ‘terrorist targets’ across the Gaza Strip, including rocket-launching facilities and other Hamas infrastructure. For their part, the Palestinian factions are claiming responsibility for rockets being fired towards Israel,” said Fenwick.
“It has really shattered the hopes that were raised on Saturday night when rumours came out of Cairo that a truce might be brokered between the two sides,” he continued. “Considering the night we have just had, it appears we are heading in the opposite direction.”
On Sunday, France also became involved in attempts to bring peace to the region with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius travelling to Israel to try and broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
During his one-day visit Fabius is due to meet with Israeli leaders as well as with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, diplomatic sources told AFP.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will head to Cairo on Monday for talks with the president and other officials on the crisis in Gaza.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News on Sunday he welcomed efforts by his Egyptian counterpart to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict but accused Hamas of rejecting the proposals.
A delegation of ministers from the Arab League are due to visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in what a league official described as a “show of support for the territory”.
Israel said it would keep schools in its southern region shut on Sunday as a precaution to avoid casualties from rockets.
On Saturday, in the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod, a rocket ripped into several balconies. Police said five people were hurt.

EU in fresh trouble as budget summit faces collapse

The European Union looks set for fresh trouble this week as an extraordinary summit called to agree a long-term trillion-euro budget heads for an ugly showdown, possibly even failure.

Already weakened by three years of economic crisis, the 27-nation bloc of half a billion people faces new trauma at the two-day summit starting Thursday after weeks of talks that have exposed stark divisions between pro- and anti-austerity nations, as well as between the haves and have-nots.

“It’s a lose-lose summit,” said a senior EU diplomat. “Absolutely no one will leave this summit content if by chance we reach a solution.”

“We don’t exclude a breakdown,” another diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Europe’s leaders begin the talks on the EU’s next seven-year budget at 1900 GMT Thursday, with Britain’s premier David Cameron in the role of leading spoiler though most governments are putting national interest well above shared concerns.

“Cameron will come with a big knife to get spending cuts and to defend the British rebate,” said an EU diplomat.

In the face of Britain’s austerity-minded determination to secure a cut of up to 200 billion euros in the 2014-2020 budget, EU president Herman Van Rompuy, who will broker the talks, last week suggested a 75-billion-euro cut to the proposed 1.047 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) budget.

But that made no one happy.

Spain said it would lose 20 billion euros of EU aid, Italy complained of losing 10 billion euros.

And a group of Nobel laureates flew to Brussels waving a petition signed by dozens of Nobel winners urging Van Rompuy and other EU officials not to strip funds for research and innovation.

“Fortunately, we only have these summits every seven years,” Van Rompuy said Friday after coming under fire from all sides.

His plan left Britain having to pay in part for its cherished yearly rebate of 3.6 billion euros, while diminishing Sweden’s rebate, and failing to address Denmark’s demand to have a discount too.

The three are among the 11 net contributors to the EU budget who in times of economic strain and domestic cutbacks are tired of bearing the brunt of the financial burden.

Eight of the net contributors — Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden — have banded together to demand spending cuts, though they are far from being on the same page on what should go or by how much.

France for instance, along with Italy, is refusing any decrease whatsoever in the budget’s biggest item, the subsidies paid to farmers, big and small.

“There can be no question of withdrawing even one euro from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),” said French Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government is pushing for the EU to raise new revenues through new taxes, such as one on financial transactions.

In the other corner are 15 nations from Europe’s east and southern fringe who are net recipients, most often of the so-called “cohesion funds” used to help poor regions catch up economically and socially with the rest. This is the second biggest budget item after the CAP.

Chaired by Poland and Portugal, the group includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia — and most recently, once mighty Spain.

Cameron, who is under intense euro-sceptic pressure to wrest an agreement in Brussels, has been shuttling back and forth to raise support, travelling to the Netherlands, Italy and Germany in search of allies.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which is the biggest contributor to the EU budget, has promised to do her utmost to ensure the summit would not end in collapse.

“Even if we are net contributors and people could perhaps think that we can live with a non-agreement, that is not our goal,” Merkel said. “We want an agreement and we will talk exactly in this spirit with all countries.”

Meanwhile, there is a growing exasperation with France, whose recently elected Socialist President Francois Hollande has urged Brussels to push for growth, rather than austerity, but whose obsession with maintaining the CAP will lead to cuts in programmes to help growth.

“He wanted to re-orient Europe towards employment and growth. It’s a political choice. He must be consistent,” said an EU official who asked not to be named.

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Toldot (History) – “Moored to the Rock”

Toldot (History)

Genesis 25:19-28:9
Malachi 1:1-2:7

Moored to the Rock

Our parashah for this week begins with the word, “Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac” (Genesis 25:19). Just consider a few of the thoughts in your mind when you hear the names “Isaac” and “Abraham,” and what these two figures of our faith are commonly known for. Do you at all consider some of the trials that they endured, or when presented with difficult situations, how they had no choice but to place their complete trust in the Holy One?

Sometimes the Father gives us personal challenges and trials to test us, forcing us to remember where our anchor must be secured: in Him. Born again Believers have been firmly moored to the Rock of Salvation, Messiah Yeshua, and what He has accomplished for us via His sacrificial atonement. And, since He is the Word made flesh, I believe that it is quite beneficial that we strive to see what we can learn about the Messiah from the weekly Torah and Haftarah readings (cf. Luke 24:44), parts of the Bible that too often get overlooked by many people.

Consider the possibility that our Heavenly Father is like a huge transmitter in the universe, broadcasting His blessings that can be gleaned through a consistent study of the Torah portions on a weekly basis. I have certainly experienced the blessing of committing myself to a discipline of reading the weekly parashah for many years, meditating upon these passages of the Bible and integrating their distinct messages into my heart. With the added discipline of actually putting words to paper—with my TorahScope reflection commentaries—the process of delving into where He has my heart as Shabbatapproaches becomes an exciting process. Of course, I do not want to be the only person blessed by examining the weekly parashah, and so one of my distinct prayers is that someone who might read these thoughts would be ministered to in a special way.

Perhaps some of the circumstances in which you presently find yourself—even some testing you might be enduring at this moment in time—needs clarity and understanding. Hopefully, you will be inspired to turn to Yeshua, the Living Word, for the answers to all of life’s circumstances. We know that when we can rely upon the Lord and Him alone, because His answers to our prayers and supplications will be the perfect anecdote for seasons of consternation and affliction. James the Just sums up the trials and tribulations of life very succinctly:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have itsperfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-12).

The life of faith is indeed one that includes many tests, trials, and tribulations. We know from our reading of Scripture that we should endure through whatever we face. One thing that is clear, from reading through Toldot this week, is that we have an intimate record of the details of a very traumatic time in the history of Abraham’s descendents. In this Torah portion we see the struggle between Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:19-34; 27:1-46), and how Isaac and Rebekah acted and reacted to their two sons (Genesis 28:1-9).

Great lessons about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility can be weighed in our meditations. Why did the Holy One select Jacob for His blessings? Why is Esau hated? Considerable theological debates have emerged from the accounts recorded in our portion. These, and many other questions, should simply drive us to our knees when we recognize that God is ultimately in control of His Creation. He chooses whom He will choose, to do whatever He has predestined them to do. And while I do not believe we are necessarily robots or mindless pawns, because personal human responsibility does have a role in this incredibly complex dichotomy of actions, we are eventually subject to the will of our Creator. We are often reduced to the dirt from whence we came, when we realize that the finite cannot even begin to comprehend the Infinite. But we must try, because He clearly states that if we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us and we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Isaiah 51:1; 55:6; Jeremiah 29:13; Psalm 9:10; Hebrews 11:6).

I would submit that Paul adds a little clarity to this complex question about Divine sovereignty versus human responsibility. In his letter to the Romans he explains his pain over the unbelief of his fellow Jewish brethren, appealing to the account of Jacob and Esau:

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘Through Isaac your descendants will be named’ [Genesis 21:12]. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son’ [Genesis 18:10, 14]. And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger’ [Genesis 25:23]. Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’ [Malachi 1:2-3]. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’ [Exodus 33:19]. So then it doesnot depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth’ [Exodus 9:16]. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, ‘I will call those who were not My people, “My people,” and her who was not beloved, “Beloved.”’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” there they shall be called sons of the living God’ [Isaiah 10:22-23; Hosea 1:10]” (Romans 9:6-26).

This passage should humble us with the understanding that the Holy One of Israel is in total control of His Creation, and those He has chosen to be a part of His family. Whether one thinks that God has predestined the events of every second from eternity past, or thinks that God knows the decisions people are going to make given His Divine foreknowledge—or you simply throw your hands up in the air and consider yourself a small mortal and do not really know what to think about this passage—further study into the Tanakh passages Paul alludes to is probably in order.

The Apostle Paul lamented over the fact that in his day, there was a widescale Jewish rejection of Messiah Yeshua, using some foundational accounts seen in the Torah to teach the Romans. How this intertexuality actually plays into Paul’s argument is something that has to be taken very seriously, and may require you to not only read Romans a little closer, but also each of the series of verses he quotes from. Romans chs. 9-11 are undeniably one of the most important sections of the Bible for today’s Messianic movement.

As this passage continues, Paul not only describes how those of the nations have the opportunity to come to grace through their trust in the Messiah of Israel, but are those who are largely going to benefit from it, given how the Jewish people have largely decided to reject Him:

“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed’ [Isaiah 28:16]” (Romans 9:30-33).

The Apostle Paul summarizes his thoughts about his fellow Jewish brethren and their zeal, without knowledge of Yeshua as the Savior. This passage clearly speaks to the need to demonstrate the gospel of Israel’s Messiah to the people from whom He came:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for theirsalvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Messiah is the [or goal; culmination, TNIV] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Messiah down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Messiah up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ [vs. 6-8: Deuteronomy 9:4; 30:12-14]—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Yeshua as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed’ [Isaiah 28:16]. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved’ [Joel 2:32]. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ [Nahum 1:15] However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ [Isaiah 53:1] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Messiah” (Romans 10:1-17).

A few of you might be asking, what does this specifically have to do with the Torah portion Toldot? Well, as stated earlier, the intention of these writings is to reflect upon our weekly readings in the Torah and Haftarah, and a principal part of the modern Messianic movement is to connect these texts with the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), and let the Holy Spirit minister to the personal needs of individuals. Sometimes my writings might take tangents into areas that need deeper meditation for personal repentance and reflection, and to probe where our understanding of some passages needs improvement or more investigation. May His words have their perfect work in all of our hearts!

This week, I would also encourage you to take a look at what the Sages for centuries have seen as an appropriate parallel passage to Toldot. This week’s Haftarah selection is Malachi 1:1-2:7, and details some of God’s dealings with the descendants of Jacob and Esau:

“The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have You loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.’ Though Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins’; thus says theLord of hosts, ‘They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.’ Your eyes will see this and you will say, ‘The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel! A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ ‘You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of theLord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘nor will I accept an offering from you. For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will begreat among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts. But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,’ says theLord of hosts, ‘and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?’ says theLord. But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,’ says the Lordof hosts, ‘and My name is feared among the nations. And now this commandment is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,’ says theLord of hosts. ‘My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts’” (Malachi 1:1-2:7).

This section of Scripture, from the last of the Prophets, no doubt left many Jews in quite a quandary. They knew that the Holy One of Israel loved them unconditionally, but they also knew that there were obvious consequences should they sin and disobey. How many people simply go through religious motions without their hearts being in the right place? How easy was it for the ancients to promise a choice lamb to God, but bring a blemished one instead? After all, who was really going to know or care as long as the appearance of godliness was evident to one’s neighbors and family?

Considering these questions from Malachi, how easy is it for modern-day followers of the Messiah to do just the same with their offerings? How many do not give what they should to those who minister to them? How many Believers do not strive for spiritual maturity? Should we be examining our heart intentions? Just how are we guarding the utterances from our lips? As an assemblage of those who serve God, our actions, words, and the mediations of our hearts should be pure and holy. Remember that the Lord is looking at our hearts and He is not impressed with our outward appearances. King David understood these challenges intimately:

“Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:13-14).

Now imagine this reality: Do you remember that there are books which record the history of humanity in Heaven? These are recordings that go into much greater detail than this week’s Torah portion of Toldot about the lives of Isaac, Rebekah, and their twin sons Esau and Jacob. Here is a glimpse as to some of what transpires at the final judgment, when those records are considered at the Great White Throne judgment presided over by Yeshua Himself:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every oneof them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

For 3,300 years, we have had the testimony of the Torah to be used as an instructional tool for life. The Lord has used the lives of the Patriarchs to reveal to each of us the reality of our human condition. If we do not learn from the previous examples of those recorded for us in the Scriptures, will we face condemning judgment from the King of Kings? Or will we learn, and not have to face the damnation of the Great White Throne?

Esau made choices that he regretted years later. Jacob also made some choices that he probably questioned over time, but for some reason, the Most High made a choice and He decided to love Jacob more than Esau. To the carnal mind this does not seem fair and equitable. And logically speaking, it is not impartial. Paul states the following in Romans 9:18-23:

“So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”

The bottom line to this saint with clay feet, after the whirlwinds of trial and testing, is a simple plea:

Please, Heavenly Father, do not discard this lump on the trash heap of worthless clay. Instead, mold me into a vessel that has usefulness in Your Kingdom’s work. You are the Potter and I am the clay. Let me be more moldable in your hands. Please, let me persevere so that I will receive the crown of life. Please, let my name be found in the Book of Life. Please have mercy upon me! And for those who choose to follow the inclinations of sinful flesh—have mercy on them too—and may they see the light of Your salvation.

I Bless You O Lord, my King of Kings, my Protector and my Shield! For You alone are worthy to be praised! Amein!

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Being Prepared For Another Nor’easter – Are You Ready For A Possible Storm This Week – November 19 – 22, 2012?

It has been predicted that a possible Nor’easter might hit the storm ravaged Northeast this week, Nov 19th – 22nd.  As we know about weather forcasts, they are not always accurate;  but, one thing for sure, being prepared for any disaster – man made or natural – is a certain means of survival for oneself, their loved ones and their pets.   Should a severe storm strike the area that you reside in, store enough water, food, blankets, batteries, flashlights, light sources, a battery or crank operated radio, back-up generator, pet food & supplies and other essentials, to get you through the disaster.  If you live near flood prone areas, evacuate to higher ground or to an emergency shelter in your area.  You life, the lives of your loved ones and your pets are important.

Remember:  Prepare today for what might happen tomorrow.

“LIVING TORAH” – Live Where I Tell You

Genesis 25:19-28:9

Malachi 1:1-2:7

Romans 9:6-16

Hebrews 11:20; 12:14-17

 

Live Where I Tell You

 

I said recently that the only thing that has been constant in my life through the past years has been change. However it has not been the kind of change that we were told last year to simply hope for. The change I have seen has been one which I am confident has come from One who states to me that if I follow Him, He will direct my every step along the way. Many of you can relate to these statements as well. Your lives have and in fact continue to be filled with change.

 

In the midst of what can seem on the surface to us turmoil and even confusion regarding these changes, we can all take the words of Genesis 26:2 to heart. The setting for these words is that the world around Isaac was in famine. There was uncertainty of where he would get enough food to feed his family. He began to look to the horizon and to the natural in order to provide for his growing family. Before he began his first step though, he was stopped in his tracks by words which told him to live right where he had been told to live. He was not to look to the horizon for his provision, but rather to look up for his provision. He was being told that if he would look to the Elohim of his father Abraham instead of his own strength, he would never go without. We see in the verses that follow that though he also pulled the same stunt regarding his wife that his father had, he did in fact follow the words spoken to him and was richly blessed because of it.

 

So what is the message to us within these words? Do they mean that we are to stay within the situation both naturally and spiritually that we are in right now? I think not. Look at the words again. They say “Live where I tell you.” The question that we should all be asking Him then is, “Where is He telling us to live?” Of course our minds will immediately think of our natural surroundings first, but this is the wrong place to begin.

 

To answer the question, we should look at the spiritual side first. Where is He asking us to live spiritually? Is it not within the guidelines the Torah gives us? This is a very easy principle to put into practice considering the season we are approaching. It may surprise many of you, but there are those who are reading this commentary today that are still considering what to do for Christmas. They are making plans to live in the practices of this pagan holiday. To those who are doing so, I must ask you the question posed to Isaac, “Where are you told to live?” Have you been told to live in pagan practices or have you been called out to live a life separate and unto Him? Of course, we could spend all day picking on Christmas and make most of us feel really good about ourselves, but what about other areas of life? How are we doing regarding living within the guidelines of Torah which He has told us to live? Are we continually looking to the horizon of man- made solutions to problems and turmoil in life, or are we looking to Torah? Do we have one spiritual eye on Torah, but the other eye on something else, just in case He does not come through in time?

 

In the natural there is so much upheaval in the world around us today. Yah is in the midst of positioning His family, I believe. Many people are being told to uproot everything they have ever known and take a walk of faith similar to that which Isaac’s father Abraham had told him about so many times. When the famine came in the place Isaac was living in, he did just what his father had done during his life. He wanted to move somewhere else. But the message to Isaac was very clear. He was told to not follow the life of another man, but rather to follow the Elohim of that man. He was taught not to duplicate the life of his father, but rather to trust the One who directed that life. He was told to live where He was telling Isaac to live, not to look to where his father had lived.

 

Isaac was on a new walk. It was one that no one had ever walked before. In order for him to live in the provision of Yah, he had to learn to trust in the voice of Yah. He had to learn to not follow the path that looked good or sounded good. He had to learn to walk by faith, not concerned about how it looked.

 

Today, we too are on a walk similar to Isaac. No one has ever done this before. We must each learn to live where He tells us. We must understand however that it is the spiritual living that has to come first. That spiritual life is found within the pages of His voice called Torah. If we will learn this, then where He tells us to live in the natural and how He tells us to get there will be a piece of cake, or maybe we should say a piece of matza.

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DELIVERANCE FROM SODOM

DELIVERANCE FROM SODOM
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

Most of us think of Sodom as a type of modern-day wicked city such as San
Francisco, New York or New Orleans. But the truth is, we need only to look at
our own hearts to find Sodom. We are all born with a Sodomite nature—a heart
that is exceedingly wicked, full of every evil thing. “Yea, in your heart ye
work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm
58:2)

I believe the following passage reveals how God delivers us out of Sodom:

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory
and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

God comes to us in our deluded, bound condition with powerful promises of full
and complete deliverance. He says, “I pledge to deliver you and keep you from
iniquity. I will give you a heart to obey Me, so now let My promises lay hold
of you.”

What a wonderful, freeing truth. We are led out of our sin as we lay hold of
God’s promises. Think about it for a moment. Peter says the believers he was
addressing in this epistle had “escaped the corruption that is in the world
through lust” (verse 4). How did these Christians escape sin? They were given
divine power—life and godliness—through their faith in God’s promises.

Beloved, your Father wants you to know fullness of joy in Christ. That joy will
break out only as you are freed from the power of sin. So, allow the Holy Spirit
to go into the womb of your lusts and remove everything that is unlike Christ.
Pray to the Lord right now:

“Oh, Father, I agree with You about my sin. The stench of my compromise has
reached into heaven and I know it has to go immediately. Lord, I receive Your
loving, divine ultimatum and I lay everything down before You. Set fire to
everything wicked in me and let Your promises take hold of my heart. Lead me to
the mountain of Your holiness.”

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Are We Ready For The Next Middle East War?

 

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,  and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Matthew 24: 3-8

As the Middle East match box gets hotter, the prophesies we read from Jesus in Matthew 24 are being fulfilled before our eyes. The enemies of Israel are planning for the destruction of the Jewish people and her allies. Various nations of the world are rising up against each other and peace is elusive as ever.

The U.S. has seen it’s share of drought, pestilences, crop failures, and natural disasters which put us in a position of wondering if we are prepared for the next disaster which may befall us. Are we also ready for higher gasoline and food prices should the Middle East erupt in war?

Now is the time to prepare for any disaster which might befall you by stocking up with food, water, and other items to get you through the next disaster

P.S. Receiving salvation and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the best thing that could happen to you now and in the time of disaster.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3: 16-17

Prepare Today For What Might Happen Tomorrow!

 

 

Israel hits Hamas buildings, shoots down Tel Aviv-bound rocket

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas government buildings in Gaza, and the “Iron Dome” defense system shot down a Tel Aviv-bound rocket on Saturday as Israel geared up for a possible ground invasion.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, said Israeli missiles wrecked the office building of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh – where he had met on Friday with the Egyptian prime minister – and struck a police headquarters.

Along the Tel Aviv beachfront, volleyball games came to an abrupt halt and people crouched as sirens sounded. Two interceptor rockets streaked into the sky. A flash and an explosion followed as Iron Dome, deployed only hours earlier near the city, destroyed the incoming projectile in mid-air.

With Israeli tanks and artillery positioned along the Gaza border and no end in sight to hostilities now in their fourth day, Tunisia’s foreign minister travelled to the enclave in a show of Arab solidarity.

In Cairo, a presidential source said Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi would hold four-way talks with the Qatari emir, the prime minister of Turkeyand Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in the Egyptian capital on Saturday to discuss the Gaza crisis.

Egypt has been working to reinstate calm between Israel and Hamas after an informal ceasefire brokered by Cairo unraveled over the past few weeks. Meshaal, who lives in exile, has already held a round of talks with Egyptian security officials.

Officials in Gaza said 43 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians including eight children, had been killed since Israel began its air strikes. Three Israeli civilians were killed by a rocket on Thursday.

Israel unleashed its massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.

The Israeli army said it had zeroed in on a number of government buildings during the night, including Haniyeh’s office, the Hamas Interior Ministry and a police compound.

Taher al-Nono, a spokesman for the Hamas government, held a news conference near the rubble of the prime minister’s office and pledged: “We will declare victory from here.”

Hamas’s armed wing claimed responsibility for Saturday’s rocket attack on Tel Aviv, the third against the city since Wednesday. It said it fired an Iranian-designed Fajr-5 at the coastal metropolis, some 70 km (43 miles) north of Gaza.

“Well that wasn’t such a big deal,” said one woman, who had watched the interception while clinging for protection to the trunk of a baby palm tree on a traffic island.

In the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod, a rocket ripped into several balconies. Police said five people were hurt.

Among those killed in airstrikes on Gaza on Saturday were at least four suspected militants riding on motorcycles.

Israel’s operation has drawn Western support for what U.S. and European leaders have called Israel’s right to self-defense, along with appeals to avoid civilian casualties.

Hamas, shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, says its cross-border attacks have come in response to Israeli strikes against Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

RESERVIST CALL-UP

At a late night session on Friday, Israeli cabinet ministers decided to more than double the current reserve troop quota set for the Gaza offensive to 75,000, political sources said, in a signal Israel was edging closer to an invasion.

Around 16,000 reservists have already been called up.

Asked by reporters whether a ground operation was possible, Major-General Tal Russo, commander of the Israeli forces on the Gaza frontier, said: “Definitely.”

“We have a plan … it will take time. We need to have patience. It won’t be a day or two,” he added.

A possible move into the densely populated Gaza Strip and the risk of major casualties it brings would be a significant gamble for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, favorite to win a January national election.

Hamas fighters are no match for the Israeli military. The last Gaza war, involving a three-week long Israeli air blitz and ground invasion over the New Year period of 2008-09, killed over 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Thirteen Israelis died.

But the Gaza conflagration has stirred the pot of a Middle East already boiling from two years of Arab revolution and a civil war in Syria that threatens to spread beyond its borders.

“Israel should understand that many things have changed and that lots of water has run in the Arab river,” Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem said as he surveyed the wreckage from a bomb-blast site in central Gaza.

One major change has been the election of an Islamist government in Cairo that is allied with Hamas, potentially narrowing Israel’s manoeuvering room in confronting the Palestinian group. Israel and Egypt made peace in 1979.

“DE-ESCALATION”

Netanyahu spoke late on Friday with U.S. President Barack Obama for the second time since the offensive began, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

“(Netanyahu) expressed his deep appreciation for the U.S. position that Israel has a right to defend itself and thanked him for American aid in purchasing Iron Dome batteries,” the statement added.

The two leaders have had a testy relationship and have been at odds over how to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

A White House official said on Saturday Obama called Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to discuss how the two countries could help bring an end to the Gaza conflict.

Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told reporters that Washington “wants the same thing as the Israelis want”, an end to rocket attacks from Gaza. He said the United States is emphasizing diplomacy and “de-escalation”.

In Berlin, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had spoken to Netanyahu and Egypt’s Mursi, stressing to the Israeli leader that Israel had a right to self-defense and that a ceasefire must be agreed as soon as possible to avoid more bloodshed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Israel and Egypt next week to push for an end to the fighting in Gaza, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.

The Israeli military said 492 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since the operation began. Iron Dome intercepted another 245.

In Jerusalem, targeted by a Palestinian rocket on Friday for the first time in 42 years, there was little outward sign on the Jewish Sabbath that the attack had any impact on the usually placid pace of life in the holy city.

Some families in Gaza have abandoned their homes – some of them damaged and others situated near potential Israeli targets – and packed into the houses of friends and relatives.

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