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

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

Torah Commentary – B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai – The Heart of the Matter – SCRIPTURES FOR May 20, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai
Leviticus 25:1-26:2; 26:3-27:34
Jeremiah 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14
2Corinthians 7-13
 The Heart of the Matter
For our culture, many of the instructions of Leviticus seem quite foreign to us. There is even a debate whether most of these Scriptures pertain only to the time when we have entered the Land. “Buying and selling of crops, allowing the land to rest on the seventh year and redeeming our poor relative from slavery”, you have to admit, are not things most of us spend our waking thoughts pondering today. When it comes to food storage many people consider storing food for the winter. Wrap your head around storing supplies for three years to take your family through the Jubilee. Due to the difference in culture, we can get lost in the relevance of these verses for our day and read through them way to fast. A quick glance may cause us to miss the heart of the Scriptures.
Torah is about relationship with HaShem, family and the people we are called to interact with on a daily basis. The mysteries and wonders of Torah are awesome, but if we miss the theme of relationship, we miss the heart of the matter. Torah is teaching us through practical day-to-day life instructions how to love our Creator and how to treat one another. This principle is brought out again in Leviticus 25:14-17. Here Scripture speaks of selling property to a neighbor while considering the amount of how many years remaining until the Jubilee and the return of said property.  On the surface we do not see the point of the instruction, because in our society when we sell an item to someone, we do not expect him or her to bring it back in seven years. All transactions are typically final.  What can we learn in this instruction? The heart of the instruction is in verse 17, which tells us not to take advantage of one another in our transactions.
Let us put some flesh on this principal. Back in the days when I sold real estate, I did not like to sell property to or for friends. Sadly, more often than not, it turned out to be a disaster. I found that no matter how hard I tried, the “friend” was much harder to work with than a stranger off the street. They usually wanted special favors and in the end could not believe why I did not turn my entire commission over to them and call the transaction a favor based on friendship. This was an example of taking advantage of a friendship, which is what Leviticus warns us against. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary B’resheet (In the beginning) – His Story

Torah Commentary
B’resheet (In the beginning)
Genesis 1:1-6:8
Isaiah 42:5-43:10
John 1:1-18
Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5

Jesus scriptures temple2

Day 25, Month 7, 5775; 27 October 2016   

His Story

We are all familiar with the English word history. It is defined as the study of man’s past. It is a word which takes many of us back in our minds to days of school and memorizing names, dates and events so we could pass a test. For some, the word became a nightmare we endured through. For others, a lifelong hobby or even a career. For me, it was a bother through much of life until I came to understand that the word history is not merely about man’s past, but also about The Creator’s work in man’s past. We see this if we break the word history into the two English words which make it up, His and Story.

His story begins in a physical sense in Genesis 1, but the idea and ‘why’ of it all can be found in Revelation 21:1-8. Take a moment to read those verses. In them you will find the purpose of Genesis 1, to bring forth a people who, when the dust of history settled, would be called His and He called theirs. Creation began with a vision of a people who would choose to enter into eternal covenant with One who would be referred to as I AM, YHVH, The Almighty, The Creator, Yah, El Shaddai, and many other terms so man could begin to grasp and stand in awe of Him who was, is, and will ever be.

In the first verse of Genesis we are introduced to letters which only appear in Hebrew, Aleph and Tav. English translators did not understand these letters of Hebrew so they did not bring them into their translations. Hebrew scholars would see things a bit different and ask the question, “Who or what is this Aleph Tav?” Discussions would take place and volumes would be written trying to answer this question. The answer came forth in Revelation 1 when Yeshua came to John on the Isle of Patmos and introduced Himself as none other than Aleph Tav. I wonder if, when John heard those words from Yeshua, his jaw dropped as all of a sudden history, His Story, made sense. It had all been about Him from the beginning of time.

John had earlier, in chapter 5 of the book which bears his name, quoted Yeshua who challenged the leaders of that day to take another look at Torah, the books of Moshe and find, “ was all about me that he wrote.” Stop and listen quietly for a moment. Do you hear those words of Yeshua’s resounding again? Maybe we would hear it this way: “Torah is all about Me, make sure you do not miss Me as you study it. Don’t miss that it is My Story within The Story.”

So, with that said, we begin a new cycle of studying Torah. It is my desire to bring forth the person of Yeshua from its pages. I encourage you to not only see Him where I see Him, but to search for yourself. One resource you may want to have for this is a translation which reveals the Aleph and Tav such as “The Messianic Aleph Tav Scriptures.” There are many others resources online which can help you with this. What can we find without even going to the level of Aleph Tav? Let’s take a look.

Who is The Creator? The word used in Gen 1 is Elohim, which is a plurality of a singular. I see it as this; Yeshua came forth out of YHVH to become the Him of history. Colossians 1:16 tells us it was Yeshua. This verse goes on to tell us it was created not for us, but for Him. We were created for His pleasure, not He for ours.

It was Yeshua who came forth as light. In verse 4 we read “Elohim saw ‘The light’.” In Hebrew the words were ‘et ha’ or ‘Aleph Tav the light’. A system called gematria is used to put a number value to each Hebrew letter. Using this method, we see the words ‘Aleph Tav the light’ equal 613, the number of instructions in Torah. John 1 speaks of the Torah being light and being manifested among us.

Who walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve? Yeshua, the physical manifestation of Yah.

Who gave Adam and Eve instructions of righteous living, watched as they failed, then came looking for them to provide restoration, Yeshua, the physical manifestation of Yah.

Who was prophesied of in Gen 3:15

Whose blood was prophesied through righteous blood calling from the ground for redemption?

Who was prophesied of in the names of the genealogy in Gen 5 which could read, “Man is appointed to mortal sorrow, but the blessed Elohim shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort.”
Who was prophesied in Noah as a righteous man who you could look to in evil days?
In Whose eyes did Noah find grace?

The answer to me is obvious.

These questions begin a journey this year of finding Yeshua in Torah, His grace, His mercy, His life and His Story. Let us look to Torah and see through the eyes of another imperfect man whose heart was fully toward Yah, who wrote in Psalm 40:8 that the scroll truly was and still is His Story. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Va’era (I appeared) – “I Didn’t ‘See’ That Coming”

Torah Commentary
Va’era (I appeared)
Exodus 6:2-9:35
Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Romans 9:14-17
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

“I Didn’t ‘See’ That Coming”

Moshe traveling back to Egypt was not just a trip to the corner convenience store. It was quite a journey, and during this time the words spoken to him at the Burning Bush and his conversation with YH VH was probably played over and over in his mind. He probably came up with a hundred ways this could go. As the imaginations became reality, at some point he probably thought to himself, “I didn’t see that coming!”

With every plague the Pharaoh is becoming a bit more ticked off, and to make matters worse, Moshe is again living with the fact that his own family, the Hebrews, are not too happy with him either. The difference between his current situation and the one forty years earlier is he is able to “see” the hand of Elohim working in his midst. This is what gives him strength.

To fully understand where Moshe is at, we must take a look at the word I used: see. In English the word “see” is to look upon something with our eyes. This limits us to our natural vision. In Hebrew the word for see is “ra’ah,” which means to not only see with our eyes, but to perceive and consider with our spirit. Let’s look at it this way; When a situation arises in life, whether good or bad from our perspective, we have a choice. We can either “see” it through our eyes, or we can ask to “see” it through His.

For Moshe and the Hebrews, a greater work had to be done than simply leaving Egypt. Egypt was going to have to leave them.

Many years had passed since Yaakov and his family had entered Egypt. When they arrived, the Hebrews were abhorrent to the Egyptians and the Egyptians were abhorrent to the Hebrews. As time had passed, the Hebrews had settled into the life of Egypt. To many of them the land and ways of Egypt had become who they were. It was home. The act of delivering the Hebrews from Egypt meant Egypt had to once again become abhorrent to them. The purpose of the plagues was not only to judge the pride and arrogance of Egypt, but to destroy Egypt in the hearts of the Hebrews. We will see in later readings that this would be more difficult than even Moshe could have ever thought.

With all this said, let’s bring it to our day. It appears the whole world has entered into a time of plagues. From ebola in Africa to killings in Paris, the world is being set on fire. I, for one, believe it is just the beginning. There are going to be events in the near future which will make us stand with Moshe and say, “I didn’t see that coming.” The choice each of us face is the decision to not “see” these events with our eyes, but to pray for discernment to “ra’ah” through His eyes, for there is a greater purpose going on in our midst than just those “lousy old politicians” being judged for the way they are treating us.

The plagues in Egypt were not only to take the Hebrews out of Egypt, but to take Egypt out of the Hebrews. With each plague Egypt was being chipped from their hearts and a greater work was being done. In the end, many would not let Egypt go and would die in the wilderness. Let us not make the same mistake. When we “see” things coming and they are not the way we expected, let us pray that we may “ra’ah” the greater work, which by the way, may be a work within us.

Torah Commentary – Vayechi (He lived) – He Lived? He Sure Did.

Torah Commentary
Vayechi (He lived)
Genesis 47:28-50:26
1Kings 2:1-12
Hebrews 11:21-22
1Peter 1:3-9; 2:11-17

He Lived? He Sure Did.

The Torah portion begins with the words “He lived in the land of Egypt.” I see these words revealing to us that in Egypt the life of Jacob finally made sense to Jacob. During his seventeen years he could look back over the trials and tribulations he had experienced and see that with every step he took the Elohim of his father and his grandfather had been right there with him. Though Psalm 121 had not been written yet, Jacob had lived it’s words.
The final task of Jacob’s life is to speak into his son’s lives. Some have said he was blessing his sons, but some of these words are not blessings. It would be better said that Jacob was speaking prophecy into each of them. We see this in 49:1 when he tells them the words he speaks will come upon them in the Last Days. That being said, it should make us desire to take a long hard look at his words.
What I would like to key into this week is in 49:2. Jacob, now Israel, uses both his names here. He calls his sons ‘sons of Jacob,’ but refers to himself as ‘Israel.’ Why? Simply put, they are not living like Israel yet. Though by all outward appearance they are united as a family they are far from the true meaning of being echad (one.)

To understand this thought fully, lets look at an idea concerning the word Israel. The name Israel means ‘Elohim prevails.’ We could look at it as Elohim has become the center of Israel’s life. Lets go a step further. The first three letters of the word Israel are, in Hebrew, yod, shin, and resh. In ancient Hebrew, the letter yod was a picture of a hand. Now if we take the yod from the front of the word and place it in the center of the word, we now have shin, yod, and resh, which makes the word shiyr (pronounced ‘sheer’) and means ‘song.’ So when the hand of Elohim is in the center of the life of Israel, he becomes the song of Elohim.

What did it take to make a Jacob into an Israel who could become the song of Elohim? Trials and tribulation. In the life of Jacob these trials and tribulations had names like Esau and Laban, not to mention what he went through with his own family. Now he was in Egypt, but the last days of his life would be his song unto the One who had become the center of his life.

As a new Gregorian year is upon us, I make no predictions of what this year may bring. It does however appear that a few trials and tribulations may be in store. No matter what happens, the principles of the life that turned a Jacob into an Israel can once again be played out. This time it will not be for a single man, but rather for a people called The House of Jacob, The House of Israel. So as we begin this year may we always be conscious of where the ‘Yod’ is in our lives. For the same yod which leads Israel is the yod which desires to be in the center of Israel. Maybe this is the idea David was bringing forth when in Psalm 22:3 he said, “Elohim is enthroned on the praises of Israel.” When Israel makes Elohim the center of its life, He makes Israel the center of His life. And it is only when that happens that the House of Jacob is transformed into the House of Israel. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary- Vayetze (He went out)- His God Too

Torah Commentary
Vayetze (He went out)
Genesis 28:10-32:3
Hosea 12:13-14:9
John 1:43-51

His God Too

Yaakov’s life has been one of testing from before he could remember. He did not choose this war, but from his mother’s womb, he has been thrust into it. He now breaks free of his brother’s grasp and heads out on his own to make a life for himself. Life from now on is going to be a bed of roses. Well, maybe not. The trials are only beginning.

Yaakov leaves the house of his father and mother and begins to walk. We are not told why he walked in the direction he did and the truth is, he probably did not know why himself. Yaakov is no doubt exhausted mentally and physically from the events of the preceding days and finds a comfortable rock to lay his head on. It is there he will see the Heavens opened and begin to understand his true calling in life. He is to be the one whom the covenant given to his father and grandfather will continue through.

Yaakov is not unfamiliar with the word covenant. He has heard this word from his earliest memories sitting on his Grandfather Abraham’s lap. His Father Isaac also made sure the story was forever ingrained in his memory. Now this God of Abraham and Isaac is wanting to enter into covenant with him. Yaakov decides it is time to put this God of his fathers to the test. Sure, he knows He can take care of his fathers, but can He take care of Yaakov? That is still a question.

Now, for most of us, seeing a ladder to Heaven with angels going up and down, we probably would have given in right away. Yaakov, on the other hand, decides to put this God to the test.  Yaakov names the place Beit-El, (House of God) then does something really gutsy.  Yaakov looks to the heavens and ushers a challenge to this God of his fathers. He tells Him that if He will go with him on on his journey, provide him bread, water and a safe return, He will be able to be known not only as the God of Abraham and Isaac, but will then be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Yaakov. By the way, I just love this guy for this one!

As a side note. Notice there is no record of Yah getting nervous here. It is not even recorded that he says a word. I personally feel He sat back in His throne a bit and gave a bit of a smile to the angels around Him.

Yaakov heads out onto a journey which I call his “Crisis of Faith.” He will begin his trial with a relative named Laban. Through Laban he will learn some lessons about faith in Yah. He will deal with trickery, deception, a barren wife and even some speckled goats. All the while, Elohim is showing Himself as faithful to Yaakov.

We end this Torah portion with Yaakov leaving Laban behind and heading back to Beit-El. He will still have a trial awaiting him just over the horizon, but at this point it appears Elohim is going to pass the challenge.

So what can we learn from this Torah portion which will help us in our own walk?

Each of us, just like Yaakov, come into this world and are at some time challenged with what god we will serve in life. We read the stories of covenants given to people who lived thousands of years ago. We can look to the heavens and see His glorious work.  At some time we must come face to face with a decision of whether we will also enter into that covenant. He must go from the God of our fore-fathers and fore-mothers to being our God. Many of us who have entered this covenant understand this. Many of us can recount our own version of a “Crisis of Faith” just the same as Yaakov was be able to do.

What about our children though? Are we sheltering them from their own “Crisis of Faith?” Are we, in an attempt to protect them from the “Evil of the World” also sheltering them from making HaShem their God?

Yah was up the the challenge regarding Yaakov. I believe His desire is to prove Himself mighty to each of us. To do this there are times He needs to take us to places we are not comfortable with. All the while though he is working all things together for good, because He is able to see past our challenge and to a love that is just waiting to break forth toward Him. A love which will make our desire to walk in the covenant of our forefathers. (Click to Site)

On a weekly basis we hear the term unity in our churches and congregations. It is a subject spoken of, but is it truly lived out?
Going back to the time before Yeshua walked this earth, the Hebrews established a weekly Torah portion reading. Today this schedule goes from Genesis to Deuteronomy in one year. No matter where you travel in the world the same scriptures are being read and taught from. We understand the spiritual power of unity, which is why we join our faith with synagogues, congregations and churches that are choosing to follow this schedule. Our weekly readings include a reading from the prophets as well as the Renewed Covenant, (New Testament). Each week as you read, imagine that the same scriptures are being declared in most every country and time zone around the world.

Torah Commentary – Ki Tisa “When you take” – Joined To HaShem – February 14, 2014

Torah Commentary
Ki Tisa “When you take”

Exodus 30:11-34:35 , 1 Kings 18:1-39, 1 Samuel 16-18, Luke 11:14-20;  Acts 7:35-8:1

 Only If You Go Too!

 Any parent should be able to understand this Torah portion well.  We have all experienced those times that our children disobey, but once in a while they do something that makes us look at them and say, “Just get out of my sight for a while!”

 It is one thing when our children do this to us, but this week we read how the Hebrews crossed the line to the point that Abba told Moses he was to take the people from there, but He really did not want them in His presence anymore.

 When we think back to what they had done, one can hardly blame Yah for not wanting to be with these folks anymore.  Just think for a moment about this golden calf episode and you will have to admit this one is really over the top bad.  To give the jewelry Yah has given you to make a tent for Him and use it to make a golden calf to worship is pretty bad.  Place on top of this that as they were worshipping the calf the people were saying that it was the calf that brought them out of Egypt.  Adding the lies of how the calf was formed just adds insult to injury.  And by the way, did Aaron really think his brother was going to buy that one of throwing the gold in the fire and a calf popping out the other side?  Now really, Aaron?  It is no wonder HaShem said he did not want to go any further with these folks.

 Moses finds himself in a real dilemma here though.  Yah tells Moses to take the people from there, but He is not going with them.  Now think about it, if Yah does not go with them then the cloud does not go with them.  If the cloud does not go with them, how do they know which way to go?  And what about if the cloud leaves, will the manna leave with it?  And if the manna stops, what will happen to the rock that is giving them water?  This calf thing is really starting to cost them, and Moses knows full well that if His presence does not go with these people they will soon be bones scattered through the desert.  It is coming down to this Presence thing being a life and death situation.  In the midst of it all Moses makes maybe the best decision of his lifetime when he looks to the heavens and says point blank, “If your presence does not go with us, don’t make us go from here.”  Moses understands very well that the first step he takes without the presence of Yah will be the step that marks the end to him and to the people he is leading.

 How much can we learn from Moses this week?  Even asking that question seems a bit silly to me, but it is one we all should consider.  Well maybe we should ask ourselves another question first, something like, “Just how much of life are we living without His presence already?”  Stop and think about that for a moment.  How many decisions do we make on a daily basis that do not involve Him?  How many days do we begin without any time in His Word or without even a thought of what His plans may be for us that day?

 Maybe we should not be making the same statement that Moses made, that he was not going on if Abba withdrew His presence.  Maybe what we should be asking is for us to not be allowed to go one more step without His presence being restored unto us.  Maybe the best thing we could do is repent for going as far as we have without His presence, doing things based not on His direction, but rather based on our own golden calf of self-reliance.

 At this point in our Torah journey maybe we should not look down our noses at the Hebrews and how bad they behaved toward Abba.  A more effective approach is to begin grinding up our own golden calves, and ask that not one more day be lived without His presence being restored unto us.  Either way though, may we come into full agreement with Moses that if His presence does not go with us from this day forward, we should not be thinking about going anywhere!  Greater exodus?  Not without Him we don’t!

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Our Daily Bread — An Important Command – February 4, 2014

When asked by a lawyer to identify the most important rule in life, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In those words, Jesus summed up what God most desires from us.

I wonder how I can possibly learn to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Neal Plantinga remarks on a subtle change in this commandment as recorded in the New Testament. Deuteronomy charges us to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (6:5). Jesus added the word mind. Plantinga explains, “You shall love God with everything you have and everything you are. Everything.”

That helps us change our perspective. As we learn to love God with everything, we begin to see our difficulties as “our light and momentary troubles”—just as the apostle Paul described his grueling ordeals. He had in mind a “far more exceeding and eternal . . . glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).

In the advanced school of prayer, where one loves God with the entire soul, doubts and struggles do not disappear, but their effect on us diminishes. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), and our urgent questions recede as we learn to trust His ultimate goodness.

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek; give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee. —Prentiss
The most treasured gift we can give to God is one that He can never force us to give—our love.

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At least one Grammy winner made a decisive choice not to attend Sunday night’s award show. In a post on her official Facebook page, gospel singer Mandisa offered some “brutal honesty” in explaining why she decided to stay home rather than accept the awards in person — and much of her choice centered upon her faith.

“At 4 p.m. yesterday, I was not glammed up in a fancy gown, sitting in my seat at the Grammy Award Pre-Telecast, listening to the man reading the nominee list for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Performance, Best CCM Song, and Best CCM Album,” she wrote Monday. “I was rockin’ some purple sweats, sitting in front of my computer, watching the live stream online.”

Mandisa went on to express her surprise at finding out she won two awards — a reaction that was characterized by “utter shock and [an] immediate flood of tears.”

While she was grateful and honored to be nominated in the first place, Mandisa explained that she didn’t feel that the Grammys provided a positive environment for her at this time in her life.

Among her reasons for not attending, the singer admitted that she has struggled lately as a Christian living in a world filled with temptation.

“Yes, both times I have gone to the Grammys I have witnessed performances I wish I could erase from my memory, and yes, I fast forwarded through several performances this year; but my reason is not because of them, it’s because of me,” Mandisa wrote. “I have been struggling with being in the world, not of it lately. I have fallen prey to the alluring pull of flesh, pride, and selfish desires quite a bit recently.”

She said that putting herself in an environment that celebrates some of the elements she’s trying to avoid was “risky,” so she decided to stay home, as she is trying to renew her mind “to become the Heavenly Father-centered, completely satisfied with Jesus, and Holy Spirit-led woman” she once was.

While she didn’t get specific about the issues she’s struggling with, Mandisa fully admitted that she’s been hitting some spiritual road bumps.

“Perhaps being alone with Him as my name was announced was protecting myself from where my flesh would have tried to drag me had I been up on that stage,” she added. “It gave me time to focus. With what I do for a living, and the doors that have opened for me to sing about Jesus on mainstream platforms, I take the phrase from John 15:19, ‘be in the world, not of it’ seriously.”

Though she believes God doesn’t want believers to separate themselves from the rest of the world and to avoid sharing their faith, Mandisa highlighted that it is important for Christians to speak differently so that they “shine” and stand apart from others.

The singer also cited that she will be on the road for much of the next 100 days, that she doesn’t enjoy the scrutiny surrounding what she’s wearing and how she looks and that she assumed she might not be victorious in the categories she was nominated in as her reasons for staying home.

But Mandisa isn’t entirely closed off to attending the award show sometime in the future.

“So yeah, should I ever be nominated again, and I’m feeling up to it, I’ll go,” she added. “I recognize that I may feel a bit like an alien in a strange land, but Jesus, friend of sinners, felt that way and still managed to shine…by His Holy Spirit, so can I!”

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They Saw God – Torah Commentary – Mishpatim – “Judgments” – January 24, 2014

Torah Commentary

Mishpatim “Judgments”

Exodus 21:1-24:18

Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

Matthew 5:38-42;Acts 23:1-11
Hebrews 9:15-22; 10:28-39

They Saw God

Waters parting, pillars of fire, water from rocks and food from the heavens.  It doesn’t seem that it could get any better than this!  Try to imagine just one more time what it must have been like to be one of the Hebrews.  Imagine the excitement in your spirit and the conversations around the campfires at night as folks recall all they have experienced over the past year or so.  I am sure that at times it all seemed like a dream to them, one they could not believe they were honored to live out.

As the Hebrews continue their journey a mountain comes to view in the distance.  Though it may look like all the other mountains around, there is something special about this one.  Little did they know just how special it would be and how the experiences of the next stop of the journey would define their lives, not only in their generation, but also for centuries to come.  It would be on this mountain that their lives and the lives of all who would come into the family of the Hebrews would be defined as different from all other peoples.  They never imagined the events of this mountain would cause them to be hated, shunned and even put to death in generations to come.

Mount Sinai would become a mountain of covenant, a mountain of marriage for the Hebrews.  It would be on this mountain that the God of their forefathers would take them to be His for all eternity.

The ceremony would begin with the killing of an animal.  Its blood would be poured upon the altar of marriage.  This blood would look back to the sin of their father Adam and forward to their full redemption in Messiah.  The terms of the marriage, the Torah, would be read to the people as an invitation to individually and as a community accept the wonders of this event.  We read the words of the Hebrews as they accept by saying, “We will do and obey.”  I wonder just how many boxes of Kleenex it took to get through that wedding?

With the setting painted before you; read slowly and carefully the words of Exodus 24:9-11.  No, that was too fast.  Read it again.  Moses, the elders and the leaders were invited to the reception which followed the ceremony.  We are not told why all the people were not invited.  That is a mystery I have yet to discover.  The scripture states that these men were called to go up the mountain and there they saw God.  Try for a moment to wrap your mind around the last three words of the last sentence, “they saw God.”  They saw through the floor of the throne room of heaven, and there they saw their Creator.

In the Renewed Covenant it states that no man has seen God and lived.  Is there a contradiction between the words of Torah and the words of the Renewed Covenant?  I think not.  These men on Mount Sinai did not see the fullness of YHVH on that day, but rather they saw the person of Yeshua, the Manifested One.  They saw the same Yeshua the disciples would see centuries in the future.  They saw the same One you and I call upon today, the same One we long to see return.

I am asked often just how these men and women of old were “saved” in the “Old Testament.”  The words of this Torah portion explain it very well.  They were redeemed on that day the same as you and I are today.  They, as we, are called out of our lives of bondage and slavery.  They, as we, are brought to a place of the blood sacrifice.  They, as we, are brought to a place of covenant, of Ketuba, of a wedding invitation.  They, as we, are then given the choice to say we do and we will obey.  They, as we, are invited to a reception, a feast where we will see Him face to face, and have a meal at a marriage supper to celebrate the event.  They, as we, long for the day when the house is ready, the bride complete and an eternity with Him begins.

For hundreds of years Christianity has taught that the Hebrews in the wilderness just did not have the fullness that we have today.  Did you notice in the readings that the elders were invited to a pre marriage supper of the lamb?  Did you notice that they have already seen Him, talked with Him and have eaten the covenant meal with Him?  Did you notice that these are events you and I are still longing to experience?

Maybe the Hebrews did not miss out.  Maybe in their history, which is recorded in Torah for all to read, we see the wonders of this unspeakable relationship between a people and their God.  We, through them, can begin to understand more clearly the love that burns deep within us for One we know, but have never seen.

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