The Greatest Honor

It is an honor to be the leader of an organization, a Corporation, or even a Team. Perhaps the greatest leader in the world is the President of the United States. There are great honors in every field of endeavor, upon top of those are the various Nobel prizes. In America sporting competition produces celebrities who win championships and the “most valuable player” is singled out for particular honor. In boxing there is a world champion. In other sports the Olympics produces the best athlete in the world with a Gold metal. The academy awards for actors are famous and just one Oscar can make an entire career. Music awards abound with Gold and Platinum albums, but certain performers eclipse the awards simply by the popularity of their music. In the military the medal of honor is perhaps the highest honor given for valor. I’ve probably left out several awards and titles that people earn and every nation has their own particular awards. The Israeli nation has given high honors to certain “Righteous among the Nations”, at Yad Vashem, such as Corrie Ten Boom and Oskar Schindler for saving Jewish lives from the Nazis.

There is one honor that exceeds all the rest and it makes these I’ve mentioned look like a blue star on a child’s kindergarten drawing. This honor is presented by the Supreme King and Lord of heaven and earth. He will say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” (Matthew 25:21) Moreover, Yeshua Messiah will honor those who hold fast to Him, saying, “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21) There is no greater honor than being called a friend of Yeshua. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) This honor is not like those of this world where competition among the biggest, fastest and strongest win the prize. The greatest is the one who became the least in surrender and submission to the Lord and in service to others. The honor in heaven will go to people who had great faith, some so great Yeshua marvelled. (Matt. 8:10-11)

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Things Lost

As I thought about writing, art, creativity, it seemed too little, wasted with little to show for it. I had spent thirty years pouring out my creativity in the search for truth, only to see it cast away in the final analysis. It was considered as nothing and often treated as a joke, an absurdity. But now that I have time to spend in true creative pursuit, is still seems too little, a candle light in the darkness blown out in a gentle breeze.

Yeshua, (Jesus’ Hebrew name) came into this world perfect and filled with the Spirit of Almighty God. He was tempted in everyway and perhaps to a degree and extent as no man ever. (Heb. 4:15) As God’s Son He was endowed with divine wisdom, prophetic and miraculous power, but none for himself. He emptied himself and took upon himself the form of a servant.(Phil. 2:7) Scripture says about Him, “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:2-4) “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

Modern man views Yeshua as a pauper, who owned nothing, but the clothes on his back; an ancient uneducated carpenter, and eloquent speaker from the lower classes who fell victim to a messiah delusion. In worldly thinking He was poor and accumulated nothing prized such as fame, power, or wealth. However, He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God Almighty. (Mark 16:19) Moreover, He will return to earth as King of Kings and Ruler of the nations. (Rev. 1:4-5)

Nothing given to us in this life is lost if we surrender it in service to God and others. Yeshua said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) He spoke of a deeper truth that applies to our complete life. “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) The gifts given to us by God in this natural life, will be fully realized in Heaven, like a treasure kept in heaven secure and safe.

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Road Side Park on a Sunday Drive

In the days before completion of the interstate highway system things were very different and no one foresaw the changes that would result from its creation. I don’t want to argue the pros and cons of the super highway system, its here and we will not abandon it until it becomes useless. Before, most people stayed near their homes; to take a long trip was a long arduous process, going through small towns stop lights, speed traps, and curvy narrow roads. Many people nevertheless made these long journeys to the coasts and deadly accidents were not infrequent. Moreover, at that time a family generally had only one car. Husbands and fathers went to work while wives and mothers worked in the home raising children. The middle class was deep and wide. On Sundays when stores and factories were closed, people rested, they often went for a drive and the “Sunday drive” got its name. These drives were often on country lanes or near water ways where tranquil scenery revived the soul.

My Father had an old Model A ford that he was restoring and we went for a Sunday drive in it. The rain started to pour very heavily and a flash flood caused streams to overflow into the road, such that it came up to the “running boards”. My mother was frightened, just then the engine quit. My father got out in the rain, standing on the running boards and jump started the starter and off we went again. It was a great adventure although we all got a little wet.

On another Sunday drive we traveled along a US numbered highway, which was still just a two lane road, but which ran continuously through several states. The speed limit was 50 miles per hour, but no one could maintain that speed very long due to curves, hills and intersections. This was a true limit, people were expected to use their judgment traveling at a safe speed, unlike today, where the speed limit is generally the minimum speed. On these roads it was not uncommon to encounter a road side park in a scenic area. It was usually little more than a place to pull off the road under shade trees, perhaps with a concrete picnic table. However, these road side parks were used by travelers to stop, rest, have a picnic or just enjoy the day. This was before fast food was invented and when most things were on a slower pace. Some of these road side parks still exist along various highways that are less traveled and replaced by interstate highways. If you ever stopped there, it was probably a memorable time and place. You see, the faster we travel through life, the less we experience along our way.

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Spiritual Work

I have previously stated my indignation at leaders who are primarily fund raisers. As great as they say their ministry is and give God credit, their actions reveal trust in money. Most of these people are Believers and God is merciful and compassionate, working in spite of weak faith. Is this what Paul described saying, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) I believe following Yeshua’s example and the leading of the Holy Spirit are building with gold, silver, and gem stones, while using worldly wisdom, ways and fund raising may be worthless hay and straw.

I asked God to show me an example of His work. A few days later, I got a message from the coordinator of an online prayer group with which I participate regarding prayer needs. This online prayer network is outstanding in its effectiveness by God’s hands and I’m grateful to be a part of it. God is healing and moving in mighty ways in response to simple faith. Things that money cannot buy, but only God can do are realized out of His great compassion. This was my answer. Just as scripture teaches that God is the provider for our needs and His work, it teaches that He answers believing prayer.

All glory belongs to God and in the end what remains will be the work of the Spirit among men committed to His ways and means. All the grand edifice of human effort, organization of men and worldly wisdom will burn up and fall like a house built upon the sand. The famous people who performed in the light of the stage will be on the back row of heaven while the humble servants of great faith and love will be brought close to Yeshua. (Luke 14:10; Mark 9:35). Its really a matter of faith, which comes from God. Every Believer is loved and accepted, I have no rebuke or judgment of these leaders, only the worldly ways that are brought into the congregation. Lord, help us to join in your work and surrender to your ways. “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:20-23)

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Natural and Spiritual

The physical work we do may or may not bring a profit. Our labors directed by the Spirit will most certainly yield a benefit. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

There is an important scripture that explains our natural physical body and subsequent spiritual body. We are born in this natural world, then are raised with Spiritual bodies in the afterlife. Moreover, Adam was the first man created in the natural, then Yeshua Messiah (Hebrew for Jesus Christ) came as the first Spiritual man. “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-50)

What ramifications are there in the spiritual realm as a result of the initial natural transaction? How does the natural coming first impact the subsequent spiritual reality? Is the principal of sowing and reaping also relevant between the physical and spiritual? “The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:41-44)

We know that our earthly work will pass away as we pass away, but the spiritual seeds that we sow in this life yield a spiritual harvest in the next life. The greatest buildings and civilizations can not stand against time and the natural elements. However, Spiritual structures are made with spiritual labor which endure eternally? What are these spiritual fabrications, but love, hope, and faith, the evidence of things not seen. “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matt.10:42) Lasting treasure is stored in heaven and gained in this life by following the Lord Yeshua. (Luke 12:31-34) Lord Yeshua, give us wisdom to distinguish between the temporal and eternal; giving ourselves away in this life to gain an eternal place in your Kingdom.

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Deaths End

We are surrounded with decay, decline and death. Our entire world is in a process of dying, we even recognize that death is a part of life – the end part. Some insects live a few weeks, we live eighty years if we are fortunate. Dogs and cats live ten years or so. A few trees have been living for thousands of years. Decay even effects our work, such that our garden plants die, our buildings fall down and rot; the pages in our books dry out and crumble to dust. The law of nature in this world provide that everything is moving from complexity to simplicity, from growing life to death; from intelligent design to random decay. It is sad, not just because of the loss of family and friends, but there is no permanence or lasting product of our work, achievement, or existence.

We can accept it as natural, focus on new emerging life, be grateful for all the good we have experienced and maintain hope in the afterlife. Believers understand that for us this life and world is not our home, but we have a true enduring home with Father God and Yeshua our first born brother. God designed the world and destined that it would be subjected to decay and destruction. His plan from the beginning was to bring forth eternal life from the natural temporal dying creation. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23)

The world will be destroyed by fire and even the elements will melt. (2 Peter 3:10,12) I believe this will not be some ridiculous global warming idea, nor nuclear self destruction, but a solar nova or flare triggered at God’s command. It would take 1.3 million earths to equal the sun, the earth is tiny in the solar system, galaxy and universe. The enemy, satan, will be destroyed along with his demons.(Rev. 20:10) Then, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) After that a new earth will be created, a permanent one and there will be no end to goodness, no sadness from death or decay. This is a short summary of a long history and bright future, but there is another single fact upon which all human destiny turns. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

Yeshua Messiah is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Rev. 22:13) “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:16-18)

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Recieved Through

In prayer we ask for many good things for ourselves and others. God’s ways of answering our prayers range over a broad spectrum of circumstances. We see this in Yeshua’s gifts of miraculous healing, where He told one blind man to go wash in a certain pool, He told the lepers to go present themselves to the priest; He instructed one to stand up and take His mat. Is it possible that sometimes we need to take some small action or go through some event before we receive that which we need? Much of life involves learning or maturing through experience, if we ask for things but avoid the aspects that are part of the experience, we may miss the whole point. There are more aspects than we are able to consider, perhaps the greatest is timing, e.g. the virtue of waiting.

Similarly, our discernment of good and bad is generally sound, most of us understand that murder, stealing, and lying are bad, but in complex lesser acts things can get flipped around entirely. Moreover, the deceiver and enemy of mankind together with others cause problems. “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14) This is not making an excuse for God or scripture, but for our failure to trust that God does all things for our good. In fact, we see in scripture that on certain occasions God granted petitions that were not His best will and much suffering resulted. (1 Sam. 8:9-22; 2 King 20:1-18)

We are instructed to ask and believe and not give up. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust….But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” (Psalm 103:13-14,17-18)
The Holy Spirit guides us into God’s perfect will, warns of the enemy’s snares, and exposes the lie. He pulls us through to victory and to Him belongs all glory and praise. Lord, we have seen your light and tasted of your lovingkindness, yet we still need you, our Savior, to lead us through to victory. We are thankful for your grace that pulls us through when we are weak. How great is your faithfulness and love!

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Ask Anything

Just recently, I had a dream where the Lord came near and I was surrounded in His love. He communicated that He would give me whatever I asked. It was my impression that this is a special opportunity and I could be confident of the answer. Scripture says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) However, this was the Lord Yeshua approaching me and telling me to choose something He will definitely grant. It seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I began to think of people and issues I had been praying for: my son, his daughter, my wife, friends and their various needs. I couldn’t really pick just one as it would seem insufficient or unworthy of such a wonderful opportunity. As I continued to think and experience the awe and glory of His love I woke up. I thought that was really good, I should write that down, but I didn’t and couldn’t remember until now, two weeks later.

Should I have selected something, anything and said, “Grant this Lord.” What would you have done if you were made such an offer.? What request is greatest on your heart and how quick did it come to mind? One impression of this dream was the importance of giving things away, having purses that do not wear out because they are regularly emptied when filled. This is what Yeshua taught and demonstrated through His life, giving to others as we receive. The healing, restoring, resurrection power that Yeshua received was given to others, reflecting the nature of His Father God. (John 5:19) It is true that we don’t know how to pray as we ought. (Rom. 8:26) We often receive healing by going to doctors, we work diligently, wait, and overcome many challenges through God’s grace. What I should have sought, rather than a demonstration of His kindness, was more faith to see and believe in His love for me and others. That was the overall impression of the dream, including His offer, and it was overwhelming – Yeshua loves me. Out of His great love He gives me whatever I ask. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Yeshua Messiah has redeemed a people for God to make His own. He did this at the cost of His life on earth and through great suffering, injustice and pain. He knows thoroughly everything we face in life and has made a way for us to overcome. “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:17)

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Believers Hope

Is your God indifferent to things that are happening in the world at large? Is your God indifferent to whatever befalls you? Does He tell you to pray and ask for whatever is needed, but can not be expected to help? Is your God reliable and trustworthy, such that He keeps His word and promises, or is He so distant and aloof you can never really be sure of anything as pertaining to Him? What does God’s word say? Does it contradict itself, with high ideals that never seem to pan out in real world situations? These are not trick or facetious questions. Conflict and tension exists because we live in a fallen evil world, but serve an all powerful God of love. Modern man is lost in this media infused farce of reality.

Scripture says that we live by faith, rather than sight. Which means we believe God irrespective of the rationalization our physical senses suggest. Each of us have different degrees of faith; some believe that Jesus will save us in the afterlife, but leaves us to our free will in this earthly existence. Others believe that God is so loving and intimate that He cares about everything as pertains to us. Somewhere in the middle, are those who are torn between what scripture says and the fact that bad things happen to good people. Joseph could have given in to despair when betrayed by his brothers and sold ito slavery, but he kept faith in God. Ultimately, he told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

Self centered, worldly focused, prosperity teaching is unsupported in scripture, but “there is nothing impossible with God.” (Matt. 19:26; Mark 9:23) The God of the Bible is all powerful, infinitely loving, righteous and just. In this world we will experience tribulation, just as the Lord Yeshua did, but I know of no scripture where Yeshua limited God. Even though He knew His purpose in life was to become a sacrifice for the sins of the world, He earnestly prayed that the Father would find another way. (Matt. 26:39,42) If we hold a grudge against God for what we wanted, expected or thought was right, but did not receive, we are wrong and unjust to accuse our perfect loving God falsely. There is every reason to have Hope in God, even when things are not going our way. Our reasoning and rationalization is compounded by our limited understanding and weak faith. As Peter responded to Yeshua, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68-69)

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Never Alone

Looking back with faith, I see that I was never alone, without God. Through the watches of the night, in dangers, in solitude and confusion, He was there. I sensed Him when my soul was quieted within me. His care and lovingkindness was always watching over me. He encouraged me through tough times and was never so near as when tears of sorrow poured from my eyes. His angels watched over me. He was there and ahead in Heaven when we are united, when all things are summed up in Him. His love never failed.

Things were still hard, fears, loneliness, worries and difficulty brought heaviness, but these were from weakness or the enemy, but I was never overcome and I can not recount all the times when His grace and compassion comforted me. A sweetness, often with tears of joy or contrition, would envelope me in an awareness of His love and mercy. Sometimes this involved actions of His saints at the leading of His Spirit. I can only thank and praise Him and seek to be obedient to His prompting. My future is secure in Him and I have no cause to fear, worry, or be anxious.

Love compels us to seek and please God with faith and obedience. Faith comes from Him to initiate something new, yet unfulfilled or waiting in the future. Faith is unbound by time, crossing over to where God is and His will effected in Spirit and truth. Obedience is faith in action, ignited and exercised. (Rom. 1:5) Obedience is not the work of good intentions, human effort, or good ideas, but a proper response to the leading of the Spirit, submission and surrender. There is no pride in either faith or obedience. Yeshua, (Jesus’ Hebrew name) learned obedience from what He suffered. (Heb. 5:8) Obedience through faith is the acceptable offering made to God. (Isa. 58: 6-7; Hosea 6:6) So, though the law was given by Moses, it was never intended to be a substitute for relationship, but to highlight the separation caused by sin. (Gal. 3:24; Rom. 8:3-4) Thanks be to Yeshua Mesiah who has given us righteous and made us acceptable to the Father.

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