Sharpened Focus

imageThis is Herodian, the tomb of Herod the Great (Israel’s king in Jesus’ day) and the beginning of the end of our Jewish brothers’ association with Judaism. There were 23 different parts/sects within Judaism in the first century. One of those was the Nazerenes who consisted of Jewish believers in Jesus as their Messiah. These believers lived according to a Jewish lifestyle (see Acts 5, 15, 21, 24).
With that backdrop, Jesus told His disciples that the Temple of His day would be completely destroyed. This prophecy was fulfilled 37 years later in the first Jewish revolt against Rome that ended in 70AD when the Roman 10th Legion left nothing of the Temple or Temple Mount in place.
Jesus also told His disciples that false messiahs would rise up after He returned home. This came true almost a100 years later with the second and final Jewish uprising against Rome in the Bar Chova revolt of 135 AD. It was this teaching from the Word of God Himself that became a moment of the truth for our Jewish brothers in Christ.
They loved their country, they believed in her future and destiny; thus, they were willing to lay down their lives as part of the Israeli army of the day. The challenge came when Rabbi Akiva pronounced that the Jewish General Bar Chova was the promised Messiah, who they should follow.
Would the believers place their love of country above their love for Jesus, the biblically promised Messiah – the one who died and rose again as Isaiah 53 predicted?
No, they couldn’t; and no, they didn’t. They knew who the Messiah was and He was living inside them. This Bar Chova was a false messiah, who they ignored. Instead, they listened to Jesus, who said false messiahs would come, and followed Jesus by walking away from the fight.
Please understand, it wasn’t about what they were fighting for. There were and are Jewish believers who have fought for and died in Israel’s various wars. No, it was about who they were fighting for. They couldn’t fight for a false messiah. Their choice to walk away from the fight back then is still being felt by believing Jews today. Rabbi Akiva called them traitors and changed the name of Yeshua to Yeshu, an acronym for “may the memory of his memory be blotted out.” Up to this point Jewish believers were a part of Judaism. With their choice to follow Jesus, they were kicked out of Judaism and Jewish believers are still facing Jewish ostracism to this day.
They preferred to be called followers of Jesus more than anything else. Only by following Jesus could they or we experience lasting life change. Who or what is important to you: your country, your nationality, your political party, your brand of Christianity, your doctrinal camp, your career, your reputation or Jesus, the Word of God? Only Jesus makes us secure children of God. Make sure to focus only on Him.
S“et a Free Nowww

Harder, is Not Easier, Only Better

imageIf this picture was taken any where other than where it was, it would be quite interesting. Yet, it really made my blood boil, much like Jesus’ did when He cleared the Temple.
Solomon built the Temple with a sacrificial altar in Jerusalem and one small replica of that Temple pictured here in Arad, in the southern Negev. Aaronic priests oversaw sacrifices in both places. Yet, God told the Israelites to have only one sacrificial altar and it was to be only where He told them to put it, which eventually was Jerusalem. It was Jerusalem only, not Arad nor any where else for that matter.
The Father was setting the stage for the day Jesus would show up for every Jewish male to see. He was to be the last and final sacrifice for sin and to rise from the dead to give eternal life, now and forever. You see, every Jewish man had to go to Jerusalem three times a year – Passover/Firstfruits being one of them. Yet if they had an altar in their home town, why make the long (it took weeks for some) round trip journey to Jerusalem?
They would have missed seeing Jesus die on Passover and rise again on Firstfruits if they were sacrificing in Arad and not Jerusalem. Think about it. If a person was sacrificing here in Arad, what if Jesus had come during Solomon’s time in Jerusalem? They would have missed the biggest event in human history!
Jesus was ticked when He cleared the Temple because it kept non-Jewish people from connecting with God. If you sacrificed in Arad, you would have missed seeing Jesus connecting you with the Father in Jerusalem!
My friends, to miss Jesus is to miss everything, no matter how religious you are. Jesus said He is The way, The Truth and The life. Satan, the great counterfeiter, will get within a razor’s edge of the original to destroy those who want religion, but still have it their way.
One must seek to know the real deal and there is only one way to know Him – His! “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” You can’t see Jesus your way. You can’t see your life changed your way either. The only way to know Jesus and His way is to hear Jesus in His Word and to follow Him throughout your day to stay on The path, especially when it seems harder.
You’ve got to know the Word of God, Jesus, by knowing the Word of God. As you do, you’ll see and experience Jesus for yourself.
S”E“t Free Nowww

Faith Leads to Freedom

imageThis is a wonderful view from the city of Kefar Nachum (Capernaum) of the Sea of Galilee. This city is on the border of two tribes, Naphtali and Zebulun, west of the Jordan River. The significance of this is that Isaiah 9 says this is exactly where Jesus would call home.
And, even though it was in the land of Israel, Isaiah said it would be called the Galilee of the Gentiles. How was that possible? When Jesus came to live in Kephar Nachum, a major East-West trade route ran through this city, from which the Romans collected taxes. This meant the Romans would spill much blood to keep control of this area, which often made the Jewish residents feel like slaves. Again, Isaiah 9 said it would happen just like it happened.
It was during this dark time that a great light shone bright as Jesus did a large portion of His miracles not only in this city, but region as well. Jesus brought light and comfort to a hurting people (Kephar Nachum means village of comfort by the way).
Because the people of this area shut out the light, rejected the freedom and closed off the comfort He brought, Jesus put a curse on this town along with two others in the area.
Twelve men, who fished these waters, did just the opposite though. They left to listen to and follow Jesus where the vast majority, who shut out that light, did not.
It isn’t miracles that produces faith. It’s faith in the Word of God Himself, Jesus, which begins the miracle of a transformed life. The Twelve knew the Scriptures – the who, where, when and the how of the Messiah. They recognized Jesus was the Messiah when He called them to leave their families, their way of life and their careers to follow Him to become fishers of men. They not only saw their own lives changed when they took that faith step, but they also saw generations of lives changed as well.
Faith steps of actions transform lives. What faith based action steps is Jesus, the Word of God, asking you to take today? Do them and your life will begin to change forever for generations to come!
Set Fre”E” Nowww

Fruit Is Meant to Be Eaten…by Others!

imageThis is a picture of the tombs at Korsi where Jesus set free two naked, chained and demon filled men, who had produced such fear in the town’s people that they wouldn’t walk by this place (Matthew 8).
When you read the story in Luke 8, however, only one man is mentioned. What’s up, is the Bible contradictory? No, way! One simply has to look at the greater context in order to understand what’s happening. The context of this guy’s Jesus story is the parable of the seed, the Word of God – Jesus, and four types of soil (Luke 8:1-15). We see the seed planted in one man’s life, with no results or hard soil, as he is no where to be found. We see the seed planted in the town’s people who literally told Jesus to hit the road, again bad soil.
Then we see Luke’s guy at the feet of Jesus wanting to stay with and travel with Jesus. His life was obviously changed. Before he was naked, chained and out of his mind. Now he was dressed, sitting calmly at Jesus’ feet and in his right mind. Seed went into good soil and produced good fruit.
This guy obviously wanted to hang out with Jesus. Instead, he was told to go share his Jesus story with his family. Fruit is produced when Jesus, the seed, is planted in good soil. Yet, fruit is never eaten by the tree! It’s picked and eaten by someone else. Fruit rots and falls uselessly to the ground if it fruit stays on tree.
As we let Jesus change our life, the fruit that is produced is to be used in other people’s lives, not just our own. Jesus told this guy he couldn’t hang with Him. Instead, he was told to go share what Jesus had done for him; thus, multiplying the seed!
Healthy believers in Jesus experience Him change their lives and than ask, “Lord, who do want me to share it with?” Are you healthy?
Se”T” Free Nowww

Rock Solid Security

imageThis is Atilt, a detention center for Jews caught trying to enter Palestine, as it was called between 135 and 1948, illegally. How could it be illegal for Jews to enter their God given homeland?
Let’s take a step back. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be destroyed. He also said the Jewish people would be scattered to the four winds of the earth. Both took place in 70 and 135 AD when Rome changed Israel’s name to Palestine.
Now, fast forward to the late 1800’s. Theodore Herzl, an Austrian Jew, started the Zionist movement – the desire to restart a Jewish homeland in Israel. Did the Jewish people answer this call? No. Palestine at that time was a swamp filled backwater piece of real estate. Jews at that time found their security in their home countries, comforts and cultures rather than listening to and following the God of their fathers.
Move the clock forward to 1917. World War I ends with Palestine’s then rulers, the Ottoman Empire, losing control to Britain, who declared that all Jews could return home to form the new state of Israel. Did they? No. Again, the Jews found their security in country, comfort and culture rather than in listening to their God.
Seventeen years later, the Jew’s worst nightmare rose to power, Hitler; but it was too late. They couldn’t get out of Eastern Europe! Western Europe, North and South America, as well as British controlled Palestine had strict immigration polices that allowed very few Jews to enter their countries. Thus, millions were stuck with eventually six million dying in the Holocaust. Why? This is the controversial part – they found security in their home country, their culture and the comforts of both, rather than doing what God told them to do, which was to return home.
After the war, with even stricter immigration policies in place, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, with literally no place to go, tried to enter Palestine, were caught and detained in this camp.
The lesson for us all is: on what are you basing your security? Do you think you’ll be safe by having the “right” government and polices? As long as you stay within your comfort zone, you’ll be okay? If only you could have the finer things in life, you’d feel good about yourself? Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.
Faith in Jesus alone gives us the right to become secure children of God (Jn. 1:12). As a secure children of God, where are you turning for security? Your drugs of choice will only leave you in life’s detention center. Only by acting upon the truths from the Word of God, Jesus, can you enter the promised land of freedom and security.
Governments change. Culture shifts. Comfort zones shrink. Jesus is the rock, the only One who can bring security in an ever changing insecure world. Listen to and follow Him every day through out your day and you’ll all find the security you’re looking for this side of home.
S“et Free Nowww