Monthly Archives: October 2010

Confident in Hope and Convinced of the Invisible

The message given by elder and guest speaker Barry Bruff at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue www.baruchhashem.com this past Shabbat got me thinking deeper about the explanations of faith found in Hebrews C11 and James C2. It’s been a while since I really just sat back and soaked in the messages from those two amazing chapters of Scripture. One could make a case for Hebrews 11 and James 2 as being two of the greatest expositions and summaries of Biblical faith in the Scriptures.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Last week’s Torah portion was Lekh L’kha (Go forth) from Genesis 12:1-17:27. This portion of Scripture  told of Abram’s (later Abraham) being called out by God and Abraham trusting in God’s revelation of the Gospel (Gen 12:3,Gal 3:8), promised child (Gen 15:4-5), promised land (Gen 15:18-20) and eternal covenant sign of circumcision (Gen 17:9-13). It is in this portion of Scripture that we are told that Abraham believed in God and God credited Abraham’s belief as righteousness (Gen 15:6). 

Why was Abraham’s faith counted as righteousness? Hebrews 11 states that Abraham regarded the One who made the promises as trustworthy…….looking forward…….and welcoming them from a distance. Abraham had hope and confidence that the promises of God would be realized in due time.

It is also in this portion that Paul forms the basis of his theology in respect to being saved by Grace through Faith in Messiah Yeshua’s atoning work on the cross that has secured our salvation and position in God’s family. Abraham is Paul’s prime example of  how God declares people righteous which is on the basis of real faith. Abraham had real faith which then led to faith’s natural by-product which is real action.

James 2:20-23   Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Hebrews 11 states that by trust both Abraham (11:8) and Moses (11:28) obeyed God. For by faith, comes true obedience.

These two things cannot be confused or separated out from each other or we get an incomplete picture of faith. Abraham trusted in God’s word and believed in His promises which led to him acting on those beliefs as evidenced in the text. Abraham’s example shows that true faith is not just something you say or consent to but it’s also something you do according to God’s will being led by the Holy Spirit.

As disciples of Yeshua, our actions are a reflection of the faith we have in our Master. I pray for a greater hope and conviction in His promises for my life and the greater body of Messiah.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the matchless name of Yeshua the Messiah!

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Sukkot Summary

7 days + 1 = 8 days right? But can eight days constitute a week? Not conventionally speaking in our day or by the plain meaning of the Biblical creation account and further narrative of Scripture. Although in a bit of a mystical sense that pertains to God’s redemptive calendar perhaps it does. It has been proposed that history as we know it might consist of 8 days that correspond to roughly seven 1,000 year periods + one that never ends: 6 Days of Creation = 6,000 Years of Mankind, 7th Day Sabbath = 1,000 Year reign of Christ (Messianic Kingdom) + The 8th Day = The World to Come (Eternity). So again the question; can a week equal eight days? Note the lyrics to this Beatles song “Eight days a week, I love you. Eight days a week, Is not enough to show I care.” While by no means authoritative or theological in insight, the parallels are interesting. I can’t help it, I’m a music fan:-)!

My wife, two kids, sister-in-law and a best friend of mine spent Sukkot at The Lake of the Ozarks, Mo with a few hundred other Sukkot keeping believers from across the country at the Windermere Baptist Camp. This was our second year to spend at the Windermere camp and it is absolutely one of the most beautiful camping/retreat facilities I have ever been to. The Windermere staff is always top-notch in their service. We arrived midafternoon on Weds September 22nd after a quick 10 hour drive from DFW, TX and barely got our campsite set up before the festival Shabbat. We made the opening of the festival and welcome message by the festival organizers Season of Our Joy (SOOJ) www.season-of-our-joy.com. I immediately took note of the tone and expectations that were given by the director Tim Kelly. Tim’s opening message and prayer was for unity in diversity and love for your neighbor at this festival and in the broader Messianic and Christian communities. Unfortunately this has been a problem for God’s people through-out our history and more specifically threatens the progress and opportunity the Messianic community has to be a bridge of healing, education and reconciliation between Judaism and the Church. There were some highlights in regards to exhortation for understanding and unity within the greater Body of Messiah and the Jewish people at this particular feast; Dean Wheelock of Hebrew Roots Ministries www.hebrewroots.net gave a presentation on Repairing the Breach that was intended primarily for the Messianic Community within to strive for more synergistic efforts and to seek understanding with prayer and conversation no matter what view or background one is coming from in the movement. Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion www.ffoz.org gave two presentations that dealt with having a broader and mature view of The Church by creating dialogue and seeking change from within (dare I say – reformation:-). Boaz also gave a review on further defining FFOZ’s Divine Invitation Theology in respect primarily to Gentile Believer’s freedom in vs obligation to God’s Torah. Other highlights included our fellowship with some diverse Messianic believers from across the country and listening to their stories and testimonies and being encouraged by multiple ministries that they are involved with which ranged from ministries dealing with the blind, prisons and armed forces. There were some things that I was saddened by and discomforted in during the feast. These things were not done by all but a significant portion of those speaking and attending seemed from my perspective to espouse these views: 1. Torah is emphasized more than Yeshua (His person, nature and work). 2. Torah is primarily about Sabbath, Holiday’s, Dietary Laws and Tzitzit (This is a very, very narrow view of Torah that puts too much emphasis on expressive commandments rather than ethical ones and does a great disservice to the beauty and depth of God’s commandments). 3. Believer’s in the Church and those in broader Judaism need to wake up to the truth that we have a monopoly on and convert over to our almost infallible views of Scripture interpretation and practice (How arrogant to think that we have it all right and that all other forms of expression of faith in Messiah Yeshua and the God of Israel are wrong. Both Judaism and Christianity have had commentators and practitioners for thousands of years. We don’t have to accept carte blanche everything they have to say but we would do well to slow down and consider their wide array of studies and perspectives on our shared faith). To cap off our festival, my friend and I got the opportunity to visit the FFOZ headquarters in Marshfield, MO on our way back home. Boaz Michael was gracious to give us a tour of their facilities and sit and talk with us candidly and answer any ?’s we had in their Beit Midrash. We also got to spend some time browsing their library collection and marveling at the High Holiday’s crown topped and breastplate wearing Torah Scroll. All in all our time was indeed joyous and refreshing (at least mentally, I slept without an air mattress for 9 days so I was pretty exhausted physically). I have come back with a fresh vision and a greater scope for being all I can be for Christ and His Kingdom! Here are some pictures from our feast:

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the matchless name of Yeshua the Messiah!