Be anxious for nothing, but in everything—by prayer and by asking for help, with thanksgiving—let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which is surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Messiah יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua. (Philippians 4:6-7, mjlt)

In today’s uneasy and tumultuous world, there are plenty of things to worry about. Unfortunately, for many believers in Messiah—far too many of us—we find ourselves struggling with worry and anxiety right along with everybody else. This, of course, is not unexpected, as evidenced by the numerous sayings of the Master Yeshua Himself instructing us to not be anxious for tomorrow (Mt. 6:34), or for our life (Mt. 6:25, Lk. 12:22, 21:34), or even for the anxiety of the day and age in which we live (Mt. 13:22, Mk. 4:19, Lk. 8:14). But sadly, the admonition to “be anxious for nothing,” as Paul puts it, goes widely unheeded among the faithful. Instead, anxiety and worry choke us and weigh us down, and—in addition to being absolutely destructive to our physical and mental health—they keep us from being fully effective and useful in the service of our Master. So while worry and anxiety may come naturally, they must be refused—and not allowed to build up and overwhelm us, or to hold sway over our hearts and minds. Read more

I love the Scriptures. I love God’s Word. Every chapter, paragraph, sentence, phrase, word and letter of the Book is life to me. If I could, I would spend each waking moment completely immersed in it. Truly, the Scriptures are perfection.

So, because I love the Word and hold it in such high esteem, I handle it with great care. I don’t take anything about it for granted—I want to clearly hear and obey. I disdain obstacles to understanding, and desire to remove any hindrances that would keep me from the purest possible knowledge of what the Book says and what the Book means. Read more

A Special Yom Kipur Message

Having, then, a great כֹּהֵן גּ‬ָדוֹל‬, Kohen Gadol passed through the heavens—יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua, the Son of God—let us hold fast to the profession of faith. For we have a כֹּהֵן גּ‬ָדוֹל‬, Kohen Gadol not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one tempted in all things likewise as we are, yet remaining apart from sin. Let us come near, then—unhindered—to the throne of unmerited favor, so that we may receive loving-kindness and find unmerited favor—for timely help. (עִבְרִים Iv’riym 4:14-16, mjlt)

Each year on Yom Kipur—the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on Israel’s annual calendar—it is the responsibility of the lone Kohen Gadol (high priest) to take the lives of innocent animals and, with their shed blood, make atonement for himself and all the people of Israel. And for that brief moment, he and the people for whom he stands as mediator before God, are clean—their sins covered by the blood. Read more

Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 7

Therefore, having put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil, in humility be receiving the ingrafted word that is able to save your souls, and become doers of the word, and not hearers only, thereby deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one has been likened to a man viewing his natural face in a mirror, for he viewed himself, and went away, and immediately forgot what kind of man he was. But he who looked into the perfect תּוֹרָה, Torah—that of liberty—and continued there, was not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of action. This one will be happy in his doing. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:21-25, mjlt)

The word of truth—that sweet, sweet, powerful sound—lies dormant and useless before us. We sit. And listen. And hear. We revel in the sound it makes, and it stirs us up… inside. Though we invite it in and absorb its perfection, it ultimately does nothing but serve as fodder for our minds’ feeble and fruitless activities. The word is rendered wholly weak and inert… unless and until the time we begin to put the word into action.

With the best of intentions and the humility of hope, many of us start our walk toward obedience by making room for the word in our lives. At great displeasure to our selves, we “put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil”—turning our backs on sin and the ongoing corruption of our souls—and in its place, receive the word. But then, the ingrafting having taken hold, too many of us mistakenly believe that the work is over. Sadly, the saving word, now firmly set in place where it may begin its eternal work, remains unactivated. Read more

Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 6

Know this, my beloved brothers, and let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:19-20, mjlt)

Have you ever had that feeling during an intensely heated argument or disagreement when your vision starts to narrow, and you begin to actually feel the inside of your ears start to close up, and you start getting super hot in your face and body, and you have this sensation of being surrounded—closed-in, trapped—while the pressure inside of you keeps mounting and swelling and building and magnifying until you feel like your head is about to implode?

Yeah. Me neither.

For those of us fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with this experience, that lovely feeling is what’s known in certain circles as anger—that strong, volatile emotion some of us get when we feel that we’ve been seriously wronged. Read more

Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 5

Every good act of giving, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with whom is no variation or turning shadows. Having so intended, He brought us forth with a word of truth, for us to be a certain kind of first-fruit of His created things. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:17-18, mjlt)

Far too many of today’s followers of Messiah are plagued by a tendency toward self. In many quarters, what currently passes for a gathering of sincere believers is, in actuality, just a biblically-laced, motivational-speaker-led self-help seminar. Whether the auditorium seats fifty, five hundred, or five thousand, too many of us continue seeking and coming back for these existential encounters because they shroud our own self-oriented motives under a spiritual-ish garment—and we believe we are benefitting and growing from what we are being fed. No one can fault a disciple of Messiah who desperately desires to find spiritual health and wholeness, but—believe it or not—a sense of well-being or self-worth, while important, is not the goal of our faith in Messiah. No, the purpose of your life in Yeshua is far greater than you realize. Read more

Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 4

Let no one being tempted say, “I am tempted from God,” for God is not tempted by evil, and so He Himself tempts no one. Rather, each one is tempted, being led away and enticed by his own desires. Afterward, the desire (having conceived) gives birth to sin, and the sin (having become fully-grown) brings forth death. Be not led astray, my beloved brothers! (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:13-16, mjlt)

Bad things happen all the time. They happen to “bad” people as much as they happen to “good” ones. So when bad things happen, it’s natural for us to wonder, “Why, God? Why did you allow this bad thing to happen to me?” It’s not a rebellious thought—it’s a question. It’s seeking to know what is quite often unknowable. Yet questioning this way has the potential to become extremely problematic, as it can lead to accusation. “I thought you were a loving God! A loving God would never allow a bad thing to happen, so this bad thing is your fault, God! Or, maybe, you don’t even exist at all!” And down the slippery slope we go. When we reach this point, though, it’s not because we don’t understand God—it’s because we don’t understand the consequences of sin, and how sin works. Read more

Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 3

And let the brother who is humble take pride in his exaltation, and the one who is rich, in his humiliation, because, as a flower of grass, he will pass away. For as the sun rises with the burning heat, and THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER OF IT FALLS, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed, so also the rich man in his pursuits will fade away! Happy is the man who perseveres through the ways of testing, because, becoming proven in his faith, he will receive the crown of the Life, which the Master promised to those loving Him. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:9-12, mjlt)

From the moment that mankind became capable of accumulating wealth, there have existed the extremes of those who have abounded in material riches, and those who have had little to none. While this outward inequality may seem to some an immoral injustice, to others it is no more than natural economic reality. Many, in the hopes of doing good, may seek to relieve the plight of the poor—some through voluntary charity, others by forceful rule of law. But in Messiah, all who are wealthy and all who go without will become equalized—not in the things we have, but in the character of who we are. Read more

A Special Passover Message

Every year the Passover season brings with it a sense of renewal and hope. It is our annual reminder of the power and sovereignty of God, His unending zeal for His people, and His uncompromising willingness and ability to save. Passover-time is known as the Season of Freedom because it commemorates an event in Israel’s ancient history which God continues to repeat spiritually for all followers of His Son. But even with the freedom that we now have through our Savior Yeshua, many believers in Messiah still struggle to walk daily in that freedom. It is, in fact, Mosheh (Moses)—Passover’s first hero—who shows us how to be truly free.

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Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 2

And if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask from God—who is giving to all, generously and not denouncing—and it will be given to him; and let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For he who is doubting has been like a wave of the sea, driven by wind and tossed about. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Master—a two-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
(יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:5-8, mjlt)

When we find ourselves facing difficult and trying times, it’s easy to lose our heads. The brain shuts off, the fear ramps up, and calm, rational decision-making is replaced by emotional, knee-jerk reactions to people and circumstances. Without even realizing it, we are consumed with every negative thought and event, oblivious to the storm inside our minds that we ourselves created through our own poor choices and wrong actions. Not only are we unable to find a way out, but we are past the point of remembering even to look for one. We’re stranded, lost, and hopeless—caught inside our own instability. Read more