A Blessed Thanksgiving to All of my Readers & Followers

il_340x270-1396499221_gzgfI didn’t want to let this day go by without thanking you, all of my readers and followers, for your faithfulness.  In addition to my gratitude, I pray that the peace of God, which passes all understanding, rest on each of you and your loved ones.

Set a chair at your table for our soon coming King Jesus!

Thank you all!   ~TheBloggingHounds.com

 

A Dog for Jesus

dog_heaven

A Dog for Jesus
(Where dogs go when they die)

I wish someone had given Jesus a dog.
As loyal and loving as mine.
To sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
And adore Him for being divine.

As our Lord grew to manhood His faithful dog,
Would have followed Him all through the day.
While He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
And knelt in the garden to pray.
It is sad to remember that Christ went away.
To face death alone and apart.

With no tender dog following close behind,
To comfort its Master’s Heart.
And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn,
How happy He would have been,
As His dog kissed His hand and barked it’s delight,
For The One who died for all men.

Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine,
The old pal so dear to me.
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
Knowing they’re in eternity.
Day after day, the whole day through,
Wherever my road inclined,
Four feet said, “Wait, I’m coming with you!”
And trotted along behind. (Click to Source)

by: Rudyard Kipling

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Satan’s Favorite Christians Are The Ones Who Deny That He Exists

WALSH: Satan’s Favorite Christians Are The Ones Who Deny That He Exists

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There is no better evidence of Satan’s existence than the fact that so many Christians in this country deny it. We are a culture where even those who believe in the saving power of Christ do not necessarily believe that we actually need to be saved from anything. This is the Devil’s handiwork. By pretending he isn’t real, we show his fruits.

Surveys show that 30% of American Christians reject the idea of Hell. For Catholics, the number is almost 40%. It’s a smaller figure — 25% — for Protestants, but that’s deceptive because 40% of Protestants say they don’t believe in demonic possession. They may affirm “Hell” as some kind of abstract concept, but they clearly don’t accept that evil spirits are actively at work in our world.

This is not just a problem among average Christians. Plenty of pastors and church leaders have fostered this heresy either by refusing to ever acknowledge Hell or Satan in their preaching, or by outright denying them. Here’s one article from an apostate pastor named Timothy Tutt who labels the Devil “make believe.” Incredibly, in his defense of this position, he never so much as attempts to address the numerous New Testament passages which depict the Devil explicitly. He never even mentions them.

This form of heresy — easily the most damning heresy in the church today — is one that I noticed over and over again in the reaction to my infamous yoga column from yesterday. I don’t wish to reignite that debate, but I was troubled that so many of the responses I received were based not on a defense of yoga per se, but on an outright denial of the demonic. This email is pretty well representative of so many others I read:

Matt, I couldn’t care less about yoga one way or another but your talk about “evil spirits” and “demonic forces” is what drives people away from Christianity. I’m a Christian but I don’t live my life in fear of “Satan.” The only thing you have to believe in to be a Christian is Jesus Christ. The obsession that some of you fundies have with Hell and demons just makes us all look silly. Do you really think God would make Hell or allow people to be possessed by demons? Give me a break. Focus on telling people the Good News, not superstitions.

Whether you agree or disagree with me about yoga is not the point here. Argue against my opinion about the nature of the practice all you want, but a Christian simply must not argue against my position on the existence of evil and the fact that we can do things that may open us up to their influence. What troubled me is not that some Christians denied that yoga could have that effect; it’s that some denied that anything could have that effect. “Focus on the Good News instead,” they say.

But what Good News? You mean the Good News that Christ conquered evil and redeemed mankind? Well how can I proclaim Christ’s conquering if I don’t talk about the thing He conquered? That’s like trying to tell someone about WW2 without mentioning the Nazis. Not only do you demean the achievement of the Allied Forces, but you make the whole history of the war incomprehensible. You turn Normandy into a holiday in France and Dunkirk into a nice day at the beach.

We expect secular types to laugh at any discussion of demonic spirits. That’s what shallow people do when confronted with a concept they don’t understand. But the really terrifying thing is that millions of Christians will join them in their mockery. I’ve encountered this same attitude when discussing Tarot cards and psychics and Ouija Boards, etc. The problem is not simply that professed Believers will make some argument as to why Ouija Boards or whatever could be fine, but that they’ll scoff at the entire discussion as utter silliness.

“Pffft. You think there are actual demons who might possess you because you played a board game?”

Yes, I do. But you aren’t laughing about the board game. You’re laughing about the demons. If you took the threat of demons seriously, you would never be so flippant about it. One can only imagine these sorts of Christians rolling their eyes and snickering at Jesus as He tells them about His experiences with Satan in the wilderness.

“Pffft. You think you spoke to Satan who tempted you to turn stones into bread? Hilarious!”

In Scripture, the story is recounted just a chapter before the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ makes numerous references to “Gehenna” and “the evil one,” and warns that we may be “cut down and thrown into the fire.” The question of the Devil and Hell is not an ambiguous one in Scripture. We are given no room to question it. Read 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 2:4; Luke 8:2; Luke 11:14; Leviticus 17:7; Genesis 3:1-7; Matthew 10:1, Matthew 12:22; Matthew 25:41; Mark 3:11; Mark 9:38; 1 Corinthians 10:20; James 2:19, Revelation 20:10.

Demons are discussed 63 times in the New Testament. Satan is cited over 30 times. Evil spirits are depicted operating within the world and, yes, entering into human beings and taking possession of them. One of the most terrible passages in the whole text is Christ’s interaction with the possessed man in Mark 5:

He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”

Second runner up for most nightmarish Biblical verse is this warning from the First Letter of Peter: “The Devil prowls through the world like a lion, seeking someone to devour.”

We are cautioned not to be “participants with demons” (1 Cor 10:20), not to “drink the cup of demons” (1 Cor 10:21), and to be watchful for the “disguises” of Satan (2 Cor 11:14). And on and on. The Bible leaves absolutely no room for debate on this subject.

We have, in the end, only two honest options:

1) We can come to the conclusion that the Apostles, the Prophets, and Christ Himself were all a bunch of superstitious, hallucinating fools and liars. But if that is our opinion, then it makes no sense to continue calling ourselves Christians. The atheists are right and the entire thing is just a collection of ancient fables told by ignorant savages who didn’t understand that all human evil is really the result of mental illness.

2) We can accept that demons are real; they are legion; they are prowling through the world seeking to devour our souls, and our struggle truly is not against any Earthly force but against the “cosmic powers of darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). We can believe, and tremble at the thought, that actual supernatural beings are hovering around us and working around the clock to guide us away from the light and into destruction. We can feel helpless against these beings, who are stronger and smarter than we’ll ever be, and we can cling ever closer to God, who is our protection against the armies of Hell. We can take this threat seriously, and stop laughing about it like idiots and children, and we can take our faith seriously, because our faith is the only weapon we have and the only one we need.

Padre Pio once said that if all the devils took bodily form, they’d be so numerous as to blot out the Sun. This is a horrific thought. But the true Christian does not deny it just because it is scary. Instead he takes shelter in Christ, and he marches on forward.

Those are our two choices. Or we can settle on the comfortable and cowardly and irrational option which lies between the two. We can continue claiming Christianity, wearing it around like a fashion statement, while taking to heart only the bits and pieces that make us feel warm and snuggly inside. We can proclaim a Good that triumphed over a non-existent Evil, and a Christ who delivered us from the clutches of a make believe Devil. We can make a mockery of our faith in front of the entire world, and give a false sense of security to the very souls who are most in danger of eternal damnation.

Satan would be okay with option one, but he much prefers we choose this in-between route. Those who do become agents of Hell on Earth even as they deny the reality of Hell. They are dupes of Satan. His favorite Christians. And he hopes they never repent so that he can make their acquaintance in the afterlife. (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Joined To HaShem – Yitro (Jethro) – Words To Live By – SCRIPTURES FOR February 3, 2017

Torah Commentary
Yitro (Jethro)

jesus-in-the-synagogue

Exodus 18:1-20:23
Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6
Matthew 5:21-30; 15:1-11
Hebrews 12:18-29
James 2:8-13
Words To Live By
The Hebrews are free from life in Egypt. Pharaoh is among the dead on the sea shore. It is time for their journey to continue. In their minds, it is time to move on and make a bee line for the Promise Land. Not so fast though. There is a very important stop they have to make, and that is Mount Sinai. What is the purpose of this stop?
In Egypt, the Hebrews had for the most part forgotten who they were and lost their identity as Israel. Though they could have recited their lineage back to Abraham, they had forgotten what that lineage was all about. They had forgotten the responsibilities associated with their lineage. For this reason, they needed a stop to get their foundation set.
At Mount Sinai it is not that the Hebrews will be given the words of Torah, but rather these words will be reinstated into their lives.  The words of Torah go all the way back to the beginning, it is not just a new thing that Father makes up on the spot and gives to them. No, these words were alive and ingrained into the world already, but the people certainly needed to be reminded of them in a powerful way. It is these words which set them apart from all peoples of the earth. And guess what? They do the same to this day!
What are these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments, all about? Are they the “end all,” as some would think? Should they be looked at more as suggestions for life? Is Father really serious about these words? A look at these words from the angle of marriage may give us more insight.
The Ten Words are like the day a bride and groom stand before one another, share their vows and sign a document of marriage. The vows and document contain a foundation for their marriage, but does it spell out every response to every situation which will arise in their years of marriage? Of course not! When situations arise, the couple has to figure out how to walk out the marriage based upon the foundation that was agreed upon on the wedding day. Let’s try an example:
In most traditional marriages, a bride takes on the name of her husband. She states in her vows she will honor him. If, after her honeymoon, she goes to her friends and tells them how stupid he is because he does not know how to squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom or put a roll of toilet paper on the holder the right way, what has she done? She has brought dishonor to his name in the eyes of her friends. What about if he decides to contact some of his old girlfriends? Could he say he thought “faithfulness” was just a suggestion?
The Ten Words provide a foundation for the covenant we enter into. The balance of Torah, the words of the prophets, apostles and even Yeshua Himself build upon this foundation.
Here is an interesting exercise you may want to try one day. There are 613 commandments in the Torah and over 1050 in the Renewed Covenant. Lists of these can be found on a web search. Print those lists and begin to read through them. You will find that every commandment can be linked to one of the 10. One example is the kosher diet.
Many will say they do not see a commandment in the Ten Words concerning what we eat. If you were asked the question of where kosher eating is in the Ten Words, what would you say? Give up? The answer is number 2, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” When a person says, “I don’t care what HaShem says, I will eat whatever I want,” food has become a god before Him. How about, “I can worship on whatever day I please?” Go back and read Ex 20:8-11. The word is Shabbat which can only be translated into one day of the week, the seventh. Is that just a suggestion or did He mean it?
I could go on and on with this, but to put it in the way of an old board game, “Now it is your turn to move your Monopoly piece.” Remember, you don’t pass “go” to get to the Promise Land and you don’t get to “collect” milk and honey until you once and for all settle the fact in your own heart that the word “commandment” does not mean “suggestion.” (Click to Source)

 

Torah Reading – V’yechi – He lived – “Blessing Israel” – 25 December, 2017

V’yechi

He lived

jesus-in-the-synagogue

Genesis 47:28-50:26
1 Kings 2:1-12

“Blessing Israel”


by Mark Huey

This week, the final parashah for the Book of Genesis is studied, as the period of the Patriarchs and details about the unique family chosen by God to receive His faithful blessings, finally comes to a dramatic close. Here in Genesis’ last three chapters, the similar dying requests of both Jacob/Israel and Joseph, to be buried in the Promised Land, may be said to simply “bookend” the specific blessings that Jacob bestowed upon his immediate progeny. Apparently, belief in the promises of God for the descendants of Abraham and Isaac, for them to multiply and reside in Canaan, was genuine for Jacob and Joseph—or the preferences to be buried among their relatives would not have been a priority. Additionally, the desire to pass on to future generations, some of the blessings received, was of paramount importance to Jacob/Israel. So as we study V’yechi, it is important to consider how we can individually follow the practices and examples of our forebearers in faith—by not only believing in God’s promises, but also in passing God’s blessings down to our own future generations.

V’yechi begins after Jacob and his entourage had relocated to Egypt, to avoid the ravages of the regional famine. His family was well received by the ruling Pharaoh, and they were living in the choice land of Goshen, tending to their herds. The name of our Torah reading comes from its opening verse, where it is recorded that Jacob lived in the land of Egypt. In V’yechi, Jacob/Israel’s time to die was drawing near. He called upon his favored son Joseph, to faithfully return him to the land of his fathers, knowing that Joseph had the authority to make this happen:

“Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ He said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed” (Genesis 47:28-31).

Blessing Manasseh and Ephraim

While being returned to the burial grounds of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah was important to Jacob, the desire of Joseph to have his own sons receive the blessing of their grandfather was most crucial to him. Joseph knew the power of blessings from his ancestors. After all, there is an indication that he attempted to retain some connectivity to his forebearers when he significantly named his sons Manasseh and Ephraim, despite their mother being an Egyptian:

“Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’ He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction’” (Genesis 41:51-52).

Consequently, upon learning that his father Jacob/Israel was sick and about to die, Joseph took his two sons to his father, to seek his blessing upon his sons. But more than receive just a blessing, Jacob/Israel literally adopted them into his family, giving them equal status with their uncles and Joseph. However, another interesting thing occurred when the nearly blind Jacob/Israel went to place his hands upon the heads of Manasseh and Ephraim. He actually crossed his arms, and placed his right hand of blessing upon the head of the younger Ephraim, and his left hand upon the elder Manasseh. This did not go unnoticed by Joseph, who pointed it out to his father. Yet, the Lord ordained these blessings, as Jacob/Israel was simply following the leading of His Holy Spirit:

“Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, ‘Behold, your father is sick.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When it was told to Jacob, ‘Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.” Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).’ When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, ‘Who are these?’ Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me here.’ So he said, ‘Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.’ Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.’ Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.’ He blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!”’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow’” (Genesis 48:1-22).

There is something extremely powerful about acknowledging the blessings of any of our predecessors, which was something certainly true for Jacob/Israel and Joseph in ancient times. However, the irony that the younger would be greater than the older must have taken Jacob back to the time when he was in a similar predicament with his older twin brother Esau. He probably recalled the blessings of Isaac, and the fact that once the blessing was uttered and bestowed upon him, it could not be rescinded (Genesis 27:33). Ephraim received the more powerful blessing of his grandfather. Despite a momentary startlement with the disposition of the blessings, Joseph did not protest but simply accepted and embraced the blessings as they were uttered.

Israel Blesses His Sons

In Genesis 49, we see a selection of text that is devoted to relating all of Jacob/Israel’s blessings, to his natural born sons. The prophetic picture of this aged patriarch, proclaiming the blessings and/or prophecies over his sons, is a majestic scene for each of us to contemplate. Imagine your own father or mother, speaking insightful words such as these. Or, perhaps imagine yourself—at sometime in the distant future—declaring words like these to your own children. After decades of watching his sons mature, Israel’s ability to speak prophetically into their lives was set. Without going into the specific statements about each of the sons, note the greater amount of explicit details regarding the future of Judah and Joseph, the two sons who rose to prominence in their generation:

“Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; And listen to Israel your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch. Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk. Zebulun will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon. Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor. Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward. For Your salvation I wait, O LORD. As for Gad, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels. As for Asher, his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties. Naphtali is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words. Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; Its branches run over a wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.’ All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him” (Genesis 49:1-28).

Much speculation has been compiled, which has been devoted to analyzing these final words of Jacob/Israel directed toward his sons. In fact, when one couples the blessings of Israel found in Genesis 49, with the blessings of Moses to the tribes of Israel found in Deuteronomy 33, one can discern that these great servants of God were given a glimpse of the future—regarding some destiny of the descendants of Israel. Particular attention to the blessings or prophecies uttered toward Judah and Joseph, indicate that these tribes which bear their names would surely have prominence, as can certainly be seen in the Historical Books of the Tanakh.

In the case of Judah, a definite ancestor of Yeshua the Messiah, there appears a statement that the tribe Judah and/or his descendants was going to be in a position of leadership or prominence, at least somehow until His arrival (Genesis 49:10). Yeshua, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, after all, is the quintessential Jew (Revelation 5:5). For Believers in Him, that there is Messianic expectation interwoven into Jacob/Israel’s blessings in Genesis 49, means that we have to exhibit much confidence that all of his pronouncements have been coming to pass over the centuries.

Joseph’s Insight

After the death of Jacob/Israel, the sons of Israel had a genuine fear that Joseph might then take revenge on them, for their heinous acts toward Joseph years earlier. It is here, where we witness a definite contrast between the faith of Joseph and his brothers. Despite seventeen years of living in Goshen, the brothers were still concerned that Joseph might be harboring a grudge toward them. But, Joseph was not only sincere in his actions toward his family, but most critically, he truly understood the circumstances of his extraordinary life from God’s perspective:

“Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’ So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:18-26).

Joseph was not only used by the Almighty to save his family during the regional famine, but he was also able to see the hand of God upon the incidents that led him to be in the position to save his family. This is a great lesson for each of us to consider when we are disappointed with some of life’s inevitable challenges. When things do not necessarily go as we hoped or expected—but they inadvertently take a turn for what might have seemed the worse at the time—are we able to recognize that God is still sovereign? Can we have enough trust in the Lord to understand that what happens in our lives is a part of His will for each of us? Joseph certainly did, and perhaps, his own brothers might have learned the same life lesson.

Faith and Blessing

So what can we glean from the concluding Torah portion from the Book of Genesis, regarding faith and the power of blessings? We need to each recognize that the Holy One is truly faithful to His chosen vessels. Despite the circumstances of life that might seem difficult, God is faithfully accomplishing His will. If we, as limited mortal humans, could better understand things from His perspective—then we would have the wisdom and discernment to see His fingerprints on all that occurs in life, whether good or bad.

For a reflection back on much of Genesis, we can look and compare the lives of Jacob/Israel and Joseph, and note how each one learned to be faithful to God in very different ways. We can recall how at relatively young ages, they each had encounters with the Almighty through dreams or visions. Yet, we can also see from their personalities that the level of faith was not the same throughout their lives. Still, when the end of their lives came, their faith was quite strong, and they each wanted the blessing of burial in the Promise Land along with their relatives. They each wanted God’s blessings to be passed on to their progeny.

Jacob/Israel and Joseph knew the power of blessings. They not only desired the blessings of their elders, but they also gladly participated in extending blessings to their descendants. For modern-day followers of the Messiah, these examples are something to emulate. However, in order to even want to extend blessings, we each must have faith in the ultimate Provider of blessings. The two go together hand in hand. After all, the Almighty chooses human vessels to extend His blessings to others, but He requires faith as one of the critical ingredients to not only give blessings but also receive them. So, let each of us seek more faith—so that in being blessed with it, we will in turn be able to pass on the blessings we have received from the Lord! (Click to Source)

Salvation Has Appeared To All Men

angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Click to Source)

 

 

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

Torah Commentary

jesus-jew-2

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

Benny Hinn’s Nephew: Hinn Clan Like ‘Royal Family’ and ‘Mafia,’ Prosperity Teaching Is ‘Twisted’

I’d like to preface this article in saying that we are not to judge, but to warn when we see a brother in sin.  Please decide for yourself; we are not taking sides… just reporting the news.

Costi Hinn, nephew of Benny Hinn, speaks with Carol Costello on HLN about rejecting prosperity theology on October 23, 2017.

The nephew of Benny Hinn, who is a pastor in Southern California, is criticizing his uncle’s prosperity theology and teaching, explaining how it cost him personally as a member of the Hinn family. The theology his uncle espouses is “twisted,” he said.

In an HLN exclusive interview with Carol Costello, Costi Hinn described growing up in the Hinn family as a hybrid of being a “royal family” (lavish riches) and the “mafia” (strict enforcement of the mafia).

“You keep to your own, you defend your own. You never, ever, regardless of what the truth might be, do anything to harm or expose at the expense of family. It’s just a tight-knit, tight-lipped community,” Hinn explained.

He recounted that the first time he ever said anything publicly about his family — as people had been asking — he got a phone call from a family member who told him “you need to pipe down, don’t talk about family.”

Hinn further explained that the luxurious way of life that he had was “living the dream,” with flights on a G4 or G5 private gulfstream airliners, layovers in Monte Carlo, and stays in a fancy hotel suites that cost $25,000 per night.

Costello asked Hinn how they justified preaching the message of Jesus, who was not a wealthy man, with such a lavish lifestyle.

The theology they used was “twisted,” he replied.

“If you take the Bible and you take what Jesus taught and you take some of the promises of heaven and the riches of heaven and the wonderful glories of heaven and you make them a now thing, then you really have a model for your best life now.”

“That’s really not the heartbeat of Christianity,” he continued, “the heartbeat of Christianity is, if you have wealth, you want to be generous and rich in good works. If God has blessed you with a lot, you have a great responsibility.”

Conversely, if one is poor, he added, God still loves you and has a purpose for your life, and in your poverty He is still with you; and the hope of Heaven is much greater than worldly riches and temporary earthly pleasures.

The heart of prosperity preaching is a formulaic prescription, that if you do certain things you will become wealthy and that is what God wants, he explained. This approach to Christianity fails poor people in impoverished nations who are doing all the steps to become rich and show up and give the last of their money to prosperity preachers in hopes that they will receive material blessings.

“You put a guy on a platform in a real nice suit in a very beautiful auditorium and he’ll tell a whole bunch of Americans, ‘if you do this, and do this, and do this, you’ll get this.’ And God is like your magic genie,” Hinn said.

“If you rub Him right and do all the right things, your bank’s going to grow, you’re going to get that promotion, you’re going to get that woman that you want to marry, that perfect man, your life is going to be perfect, because that’s what God wants for you.”

But when that does not happen for people, people get hurt, he said.

“Real pastors and real churches have to stand up and say ‘No, that is not Christianity. That’s not what the Bible teaches.'”

Hinn told Costello he is “disgusted” with his former self, but thankfully the power of the Gospel became real, and the Gospel includes the good news of hope and the bad news of the reality of sin.

“Our job as preachers and pastors is to give the whole story,” Hinn said.

“It’s bad news. I was greedy. I was very ambitious for all the wrong things. We were teaching things that were wrong. We were taking advantage of [people], exploiting the poor, using our greed, squeezing every last dollar out of people so we could live the way they could never,” while using Jesus to do that, he explained.

But the Gospel is also good news, he would come to find out.

“Jesus died to forgive my sins. He loves me just the way I am in all my mess and all my greed. And if I commit to a change He’ll meet me right where I am. And He did. He changed my heart and I just had no taste for it anymore. I did not want that life.”

Benny Hinn is reportedly not happy with him, and their relationship is limited, he said. But he hopes that he gets a call from his uncle one day and will spend the next 10 years of his life showing people what the grace of God really is.

Costi Hinn is now an executive pastor at The Mission Bible Church in Orange County, California.

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THIS IS WAR

We spend so much time focusing on ourselves and our shortcomings and wallowing in our self-doubt that we effectively remove ourselves from the fight.  That is exactly what the enemy wants.  Once you realize that Christ has completely eliminated the penalty for your sin

then you are freed and empowered to help others.  Those stuck in works-righteousness can never see the forest for the trees because they still don’t understand that the Gospel has decisively solved the sin problem.  We are free.  And now that we are free we can engage in the broader war and help our brothers and sisters in this bloody fight while we try to snatch more from the fire.

The Scenario

1. The world has collectively chosen to reject God and His rightful rule.

2. The world is presently controlled by the devil and his servants.

3. Those who have rejected God are suppressing the truth and bringing the whole world to annihilation.

4. Mankind is in a spiritual, zombie-like state and headed towards destruction because of sin.

5. When we were completely hopeless and powerless God made the first move by springing a trap that caused the penalty of mankind’s sin to fall on Himself (Acts 20:28) thus setting free those who were enslaved to the devil.  From an individual perspective, men and women break free from the devil’s invisible spiritual prison once they accept Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and believe in Christ.

6. Mankind is closer than ever to complete physical and spiritual self-destruction and Jesus is returning very soon to put a decisive end to man’s self-rule and the devil’s tyrannical reign, yet He won’t do it until the Church is complete and the Body of Christ is joined to the Head

For this reason we have a very short intervening time to win a more decisive victory over the enemy and to rescue a few more off the battlefield.

The Objectives

1. Hold faithfully to the truth of the Gospel

until we are removed from the battlefield by physical death or the trumpet of God.  That means rejecting all forms of heresy that are creeping into the Church, which twist the Gospel.  Some heresies stem from infiltrators who push liberalized doctrines like universalism, moral deism, New Age syncretism, and the like.  Equally deadly heresies come from those who purport to be the most faithful and religious – those who to their own doom claim that the Cross was not enough (Gal. 5:4).  These modern Pharisees push works-righteousness, a standard that they themselves never meet.  No two Pharisees ever agree on what the list of requirements is, but they demand that you meet their list.  Woe to them!

2. Snatch as many from the fire as possible before the fight is over.  The time we have left to fight is exceedingly short.  This means finding meaningful ways to share your faith and testimony.  Evangelism is often intimidating, but always easier than it seems.  The intimidation is an incessant satanic illusion.  Evangelism is easy.  If in person, just ask a question… “do you have a faith?”  People love questions and will usually open up.  That gives you an instant, non-awkward “in”.  There are even easier ways to evangelize: 1. Write letters to prisoners.  They are a captive audience and love to receive mail.  2. Share Christian and Gospel material on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.  All it takes is a click or two and you don’t even have to face anyone directly if you tend toward timidity.  3. Start a website or blog and share your faith.  If God has given you more courage then be winsomely vocal.  Hand out tracts.  Give out Bibles.  Find some way to share publicly.  Give big tips to your servers and write “God loves you… John 3:16“.  Strike up conversations.  Let’s go!

3. Hold down your own fort.  That means to do everything in your God-given power to teach your own children and family the truth of God and His Word.  Make faith a normal subject of discussion.  In a family that doesn’t often discuss spiritual things, talking about God can be awkward, but push through.  It might take time, but the goal should be to get to a place where your spouse and children feel loved and comfortable with making God a normal part of discourse.  If you want your family to live out their faith and stay faithful then you can’t relegate Christianity to Sunday at 10:00 AM.  It should be a normal part of life.  Endure all hardships and beatings with grace.  Be kind, forgiving, and authentic with your children and spouse.  Pray for them daily.

4. Fight the political battles, too.  Most people perceive silence as acquiescence, and Christians have become woefully silent.  Political power is often given to the most active and vocal.  We have to speak out on the issues and present a biblical worldview.  Don’t be silent on current events because God has given you so much to say.  Just remember to be kind and winsome – you’re not trying to win an argument, you’re trying to lovingly persuade and plant seeds.  Everyone is yelling, but let’s be those who stand on the side kindly saying, “look, there’s a better way.”  Try to find ways to be physically active in the fight, too.  Hardly a day goes by without a mass prayer, walk for life, or local mission opportunity.  Search on Google or Facebook for local groups and opportunities and participate.

The Obstacles

1. The Church appears to be overwhelmingly outnumbered on this earthly battlefield and this causes many to lose heart, give in, or give up.  Yet this obstacle is only an illusion, because the truth is that more are with us than are with the enemy (2 Kings 6:16-17, Matt. 26:53, Rev. 12:7-9).  When we choose to fight and engage in the battle we usually win, but we have to fight.

2. The devil has infiltrated our ranks with his own.  They often claim to follow Christ, but they try to steer you away from the Gospel in one way or the other.  Realize that they are usually just confused and ignorant and have simply never known Christ.  They don’t understand the message of the Gospel, which proclaims Christ is the only way and simultaneously that our sin is completely, 100% atoned for.  Whether the ultra-conservative Pharisees or the liberal Sadducees

, if you listen to them they will steal your faith or at the very least, cause you to become unproductive in the fight.

3. Self-doubt.  We’ve been forgiven, freed, and promised eternal life, but so often we remain in our chains, fretting over our past regrets and the seemingly impossible obstacles ahead.  Yet so often the obstacles are purely illusions and the ones that do exist God will trample over if you just step forward in faith.  Regarding your sin and your past, just remember that the darkness is dark.  If you spend all of your time focusing on the darkness then your life will be darkness.  Acknowledge that you are a wretched sinner in need of the Great Savior, but then put the darkness behind you and march forward.  Fix and amend what you can, but accept that Christ’s blood covers you completely and meets your every moral need and then enter the battle so you can help others.

We need not compare ourselves to those we perceive to be more successful in the spiritual fight – the Luthers, Spurgeons, and Grahams.  God gave each of them the opportunities, abilities, and courage to achieve what they achieved and the truth of the matter is that it wasn’t them achieving anything, but the God who they allowed to dwell inside them.  For every Luther or Graham there is a less famous Believer, unknown in the annals of history, who was faithful with what God gave them and because of their faithfulness the Luthers and Grahams came to know the Lord.  They may not be famous on earth, but they are very famous in Heaven.

Some are called to be Pauls who seem to reap a great harvest on earth and others are called to be Stephens who seem unsuccessful in the world’s eyes, but in a single moment of faithfulness achieve a spiritual harvest of equal worth that isn’t revealed until the story further unfolds.  Yet we are all called to fight faithfully, courageously, and with unrelenting fervor.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

– Ephesians 6:12

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

– John 14:12

Allow me the liberty to apply Winston Churchill’s most famous speech to the Church:
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend the Gospel, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.  At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do.  That is the resolve of Our Lord’s Government-every man of His.  That is the will of Christ and Heaven.  The Church and the Host of Heaven, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their heavenly land, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.  Even though large tracts of earth and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of Beelzebub and all the odious apparatus of satanic rule, we shall not flag or fail.  We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in our homes, we shall fight on the streets and in our schools, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength against the prince of the air, we shall defend the Gospel, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the culture, we shall fight in our churches, we shall fight on land and at sea, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, the Church or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our brotherhood beyond the seas, armed and guarded by divine power, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, Heaven’s armies, with all their power and might, step forth to the rescue and the liberation of us all.

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