Thursday, December 6, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - December 6, 2018

Today's Reading:

Ephesians 4:1-16

Ezekiel 10-11

Isaiah 42

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

The two things the Body of Messiah seems to most lack are unity and love for one another. These two things, I believe, are actually related. But because the Body is lacking in these areas, we have division among us, weakening the Body of Christ. There is this faction of believers which is at odds with that faction. We have this person speaking things that undermine the reputation of that person...  We have one group who believes one way, and others may have similar beliefs - but there always seem to be dividing differences. 
It is a discouraging picture, to say the least. 

But in today's reading from Ephesians we find some powerful encouragement. Yahweh promises that His perfecting work is edifying His Body, perfecting our characters, bringing us into unity in the faith, and growing us into the full stature of the lovely Character of Christ! Praise Yahweh for this Work!
Ephesians 4:11-15 "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."

Ephesians 4 is a powerful promise. But we need to remember that Yahweh's Promises involve us in order to come to fruition. In other words, there are conditions which need to be met in order for us to be blessed with the spiritual growth promised in Ephesians 4:11-15. Bearing this in mind, let's look at the current condition of the Body of Messiah, and see what part we play in becoming the recipients of the promise of Ephesians 4. What is the condition of the believers today? Jim and Sally Hohnberger summarized it quite well in their latest Empowered Living Ministries update. Their article read as follows (sacred Names added by me):
Hosea 10:1 "Israel (the professed people of Yahweh) is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself..."  
I'm alarmed! In the text above, the prophet declares that Israel is an EMPTY vine! Israel, in this context, means the religion of that day. It was only bringing people to itself. It didn't care for the people.It cared for itself; all it did it did for itself. In fact, when the Savior did appear, it crucified Him for fear of losing influence and control over the people.
The churches of today are in just such a state. It is rare if I find a church that actually establishes its membership IN (Yahshua Messiah). By this, I mean every individual will find life in and through (Yahshua Messiah)! That's where they become so sensitive to Christ's presence with them they are willing to filter all their thoughts, words, as well as their actions through their (Sovereign) and Savior (Yahshua Messiah) before they respond. This is a rare Christian.
It also means,regardless of how long you have been married, you truly reflect a couple that is authentically in love. You are willing to sacrifice for each other - not just coexist. When you look at each other, the sparkle is still in your eyes. All around you know you are in love.
In addition, your children are a reflection of Christ's life in the family. Your family is connected to the Source, and all that view your family recognize you are one family under God. It is evident you are a well-ordered, well-disciplined, Christ-centered family. These people love all the brethren in the church; not just a certain little clique they are comfortable in. They are as concerned for the one who does not fit into their clique as they are for all those who are in it. I think we can stop there. If I could find a church where a good percentage of the people live out, by the grace of (Yahshua Messiah), just such a life, I would support it with my whole heart, mind, and soul.

But instead, I find that Satan has done his job well. He has swindled many Christians from the empowering life of (Yahshua) and replaced authentic religion with a creed, lifestyle, culture, and a certain logo over a building. Professed Christians today are made to feel comfortable because they attend a church, are involved in a church, belong to the right group in the church, and generally live out the culture of that church and its religion, while daily the life of Christ is not seen in and through them by those whom they are closest to.

How do you know if your religion has become a substitute for you? Perhaps the following will help you determine if your religion has become a substitute for the true life of Christ working in and through you.

-      Have you plateaued? In other words, you are the same person you were 1, 2, or even 3 years ago. That means you are in charge and are not allowing the Holy Spirit to further transform your life according to His will.

-      On the way to church or in the house before you leave for church, you find yourself arguing and bickering - yet upon arrival, you put on a happy face. Ouch! Maybe you are a front and a fraud and are only using religion to convince yourself and others you're okay because you attend the right church.

-      When you step on the scale, you see you are 30, 40, 50, or 60 pounds overweight. This is not the result of a poor thyroid or health problem, but rather a lack of self-control, giving evidence that you override the empowering influence of God in this area of your life. You still attend church and hold to your religion as proof that you've given your life to (Yahshua), yet the scales tell a different tale of a lack of self-control in not allowing (Yahshua Messiah) to be the One in charge. He has the power to enable each and every one of us to overcome any deficiency or imbalance.

-      Smearing or demeaning another person's reputation is direct evidence that God does not possess your tongue. This problem is rampant in the churches of today. It is clear evidence that "our religion" is vain and has become a substitute for the saving grace of (Yahshua Messiah) in the life. Just read James 1:26 and allow that to be an acid test of whether you possess religion or (Yahshua) possesses you.

-      The Christian churches today have become a confusing array of squabbling denominations all claiming they are the Ones - the One True Visible Church - yet they flunk the test (Yahshua) laid down in John 13:35: "By THIS shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." If we cannot love all men equally, then we have not Christ abiding in the heart and only have a form of religion as a substitute for the real life of Christ in the heart. We must all realize the logo over our church door does not make us superior to anybody else.

-      In your Bible class, you participate and seem to have good theological understanding. But when it comes to the application of it behind closed doors with your spouse, your children, or a member of the church that differs from you, you fall flat on your face. An out-of-control Temper. That's a sure sign you possess religion, but the God of your religion does not possess you.
-      You have become so busy with ministry that you have left your first love, or haven't had time to find your first love in (Yahshua). Meetings, baptisms, buildings, programs, doctrines, Bible studies, finances, or other things that concern the church system have consumed your time but dried up the real heart of the Christian life of Christ in you.

-      Dogmatism - seeking to be true to doctrines without a real encounter with Christ in the daily life - becomes the foundation of your faith. This intellectual acceptance of facts without a faith experience in the person of (Yahshua Messiah) only makes us foolish virgins at best.

-      You exploit God's people for your own interests. You use them to advance your agenda rather than lay down your life for their benefit. You know little of cultivating the culture of caring for others.
How sad it is that many, if not most, are going to have to leave "ordinary religion" in order to find a "Real Walk With God". They are in a stalled Christianity. They are engaging in a form without the substance and are discovering that in a time of universal departing, finding the real becomes a revolutionary act.
The disciple John said it so well: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not." John 1:4, 5. In (Yahshua), we can all find the life that everyone of us need to live - the life that we are called to. This is the life of empowerment - a life that can change and allow us to be like Christ in our daily lives and in our interactions with others. If your religion isn't taking you there, then it has become a substitute for God and God alone! May authentic Christianity become your goal.
Find the Real! This is what Yahweh promises to help the true seeker to accomplish. He promises to help us to "find the Real" in Ephesians 4:11-15. That is what I want! Don't you? 

Daily Bible Reading - December 5, 2018

Today's Reading:

Ephesians 3

Ezekiel 8-9

Isaiah 41

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

One of the many things I love about Yahweh is how deeply caring and personal He is with His children. If there is a matter, which concerns you, your loving Heavenly Father is tenderly attentive to that situation and need. Today our reading takes us over some very personal ground for my family. And since I can't read Isaiah 41 without thinking of a miracle story that happened to my father, I thought you might be encouraged by it, as I have been. First, let me point out the special verse in Isaiah 41, which God used to encourage my father:
Isaiah 41:15 "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff."
God gives us special messages through His Word. Reading the Word of Yahweh is like no other Book. The Bible is a Living Book. And Yahweh uses it to give His people special messages, which sometimes have personal application that may not even have been intended in the original writing.

To show how this works, God used Isaiah 41:15 to encourage my father, Lou Davis, when his truck broke down back when I was a teenager. 

Having lived in North Pole, Alaska (which is near Fairbanks on the map), for a time, my parents (and I) were in the process of leaving Alaska and moving back to California. My mother and I had gone on ahead earlier in the week. But my father had a few loose ends of projects to finish off before he could drive the moving truck and follow us down to California.

Mid-week, my father finished up his projects and started his trip down. He was driving a medium-sized, International truck which contained our family furniture and belongings. It was his plan to drive the whole distance to California before Sabbath, which should be easy to accomplish as he'd started his journey on Wednesday. But, then came a wrinkle in the plan. My dad had just reached Prince Rupert, in British Columbia, when the truck’s clutch plate broke. 

My Dad found himself stranded on the side of a hill. But by the mercy of Yahweh, he had broken down near town and was only about two blocks from a truck repair place. My father easily walked the distance and informed the shop manager of his breakdown.

The manager of the repair shop immediately responded by trying to find the needed parts to repair my father's truck. After trying all of his connections, the manager of the repair shop informed my dad that it would be impossible to get the parts quickly. It looked like there was no way for Lou to reach California by that coming Friday, as planned.

Due to the situation at home, my father's presence was urgently needed-on time. Knowing this, my father cried out to God in prayer. During his prayer, he held his well-used Bible in his hands. As he said "Amen" and opened his eyes, God impressed my father to read in Isaiah Chapter 41. No verse was indicated. But my father was certain the Spirit of Yah was leading him to read this particular chapter.

My father read the chapter, trusting Yahweh that there must be something relevant to the situation in Isaiah 41. As he read through the first several verses, he came to verse 15. As his eyes fell upon it, his heart leaped with joy! It was just the assurance he needed to know that the Heavenly Father was going to fix the truck in time. (Parenthetical notes are added in italics to the verse to show the personal meaning God gave to my father):

Isaiah 41:15: 

“Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument (The truck my father was driving was an International. The International company was first developed making harvesting equipment!)

...having teeth (the working parts needed for the clutch assembly):

thou shalt thresh the mountains (remember that he was stuck on the side of a hill), and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff (you'll be flying over those hills very soon! And you'll make it in time).”

Overjoyed, my dad shared the Father’s message with the skeptical auto-repair manager. The manager shook his head and told my dad that in an out-of-the-way town like they were in, it would take several days to get the parts needed - as they would have to be shipped. The man was certain that no one in that small town would have the parts.

My dad smiled and assured the man that, although he didn't know how God was going to accomplish it, somehow God was going to provide the needed parts that very day. He was certain of this because of God's promise in Isaiah. The repair manager again shook his head in amazement at my father's faith. 

Again bowing his head in prayer, my father was impressed to go to the bus depot, which wasn't far across town. The bus depot had International buses. The man there told him where to go and the parts my father needed were found in a place about 20 miles away. The manager of the auto repair shop was able to get the parts and fix the truck that day, just as God had promised. 

Bright and early the next morning, my father was “threshing” the mountains with his fully-functioning truck. And, just as God had promised through a unique and personal application of Isaiah 41:15, he did reach California on time!

What about you? Have you noticed how relevant the Word of God is to you personally? As you've been following this blog and reading through the Bible this year have you experienced times when the Words of Scripture were especially meant for your situation? Yahweh is a relevant, personal God! And I'm so very glad that He is. Be encouraged, as He truly does care for you.

Daily Bible Reading - December 4, 2018

Today's Reading:

Ephesians 2

Ezekiel 6-7

Isaiah 40

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Today, our reading plan takes us out of the Psalms and into Isaiah. Having read part of Isaiah before, earlier this year, we will re-enter this book at chapter 40. Isaiah 40 contains the Elijah Message - the message of the one who prepares the way for Messiah. This was the Message of John the Baptist, who was Messiah's forerunner in the past (Matthew 3:1-4). And it is the message and work of the final Elijah team (which is all of Yahweh's people) preparing for His Second Coming as well.

Bearing this in mind, let's look at the Elijah Message and Ministry, found in Isaiah 40:
Isaiah 40:3-5 - "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the Mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it."

Point-by-point, we will examine the meaning in this important Passage. For it contains the Work and Calling which Yahweh has for His people in the Last Days.

1. Prepare the Way of Yahweh
Isaiah 40:3-5 - "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the Mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it."
Prepare = Strong's Concordance #6437 – it is translated from the Hebrew word panah – which means: “prepare, to turn, dawning, turn back…”
The work of John was like Elijah. The people had left the pure truth of Torah. They were apostatizing. The prophets’ work was to turn the people back to the ways of God – Torah – to bring on a dawning of a new day of godly worship. 
2. Make Straight in the Desert a Highway for our God.
Isaiah 40:3-5 - "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our GodEvery valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the Mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it."

The desert, in this Scripture, isn't a place, it's a spiritual condition. To be in a "desert" is to be spiritually dry and void of the blessings of Yahweh, as it says in Psalms 28:4-5:
Psalm 28:4-5 “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors… render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of Yahweh… He shall destroy them, and not build them up.”
When people are in apostasy, they cannot experience the rich blessings which make them like trees planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:1-3). 

The Elijah Message work is to prayerfully bring the people to repentance, preparing them to receive Yahweh's blessings upon their lives. In a spiritual sense, this turns their soul-desert into a "well-watered garden".

3. Every Valley shall be Exalted... Every Mountain... made Low... Crooked... Straight... and the Rough Places Plain
Isaiah 40:3-5 - "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plainAnd the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the Mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it."

To understand the meaning of this highlighted portion, we need to look up the keywords in the Strong's Concordance. Having done this, keywords and their meanings are shown below:

Valley = "a split", or "a breach"
In Psalm 106:23, we find that Moses stood "in the breach" for the rebellious Children of Israel. Through His intercession, Yah's righteous Wrath was turned away from destroying Israel. From this context, we may plainly see that the "breach" which Isaiah called a "valley" is the separation between sinful, rebellious mankind and our righteous and holy Yahweh. While the breach remains, we face certain destruction.
Exalted = "magnified, yielded, lifted away, forgiven, pardoned"
Mountain = "promotion" (what was exalted) 
Low = "humiliated, abased, humbled"
Crooked = “fraudulent, deceitful, polluted”
To be fraudulent – “breaking a 
contract/covenant by immoral and deceptive means”
Straight = “made plain, proclaim justice/uprightness”
Rough = “ties, bindings”
Plain = “broken, split, rend, cleave, make a breach, cut 

Taking all these meanings and combining them in order, 
yields the following message:

The separation from a 

holy God (the breach) caused by willful

sin was to be pardoned and lifted away


All the apostasy and spiritual pollution 

that had been exonerated (promoted mountain)

would be revealed in its true ugly nature 

(made low).

Where our covenant to be holy had been

broken (crooked), this wickedness

would be clearly proclaimed (made straight).

Every demonic stronghold and tie upon the soul

(rough place)

was to be unmasked and broken

and utterly cut down! (made plain)

In the deepest sense, Christians need not wonder what 

their Calling is in Him. The Elijah Message and Work, 

describe in Isaiah 40 and explained above, is our Calling. 

It's quite a job description! It is one which none of us can

accomplish - on our own. But in Him it is possible to 

fulfill our Calling and Purpose - just as John the Baptist

did as the forerunner of Messiah the first time around.