Sound Bites - 3 minutes or less
Recently while listening to a teacher we enjoy, he stated that modern followers of Yahweh are too impatient. You see, because we are so used to instant gratification with TV, cell phones, internet, and other forms of technology, many people feel that what they need to learn or know should be given to them in 3 minutes or less. I am impatient, too, at times, but there is also that other side of me that enjoys taking more time to study things out. I learned how to do this and also how important this is many years ago as a young mom.
When the kids were younger, I got used to sitting and waiting while they went to sports practices, music lessons, and even doctor appointments. Before I had a cell phone with social media and all the games and APPS that come with it, I had to check things out from the library and do it the old fashioned way. There were even times I would bring an art project I was working on at the time, and listen to scriptures or talks on CD or cassette tape while I worked on it. This gave me the extra time I was seeking to put into studying and even into my relationship with Yahweh through prayer, which I very much appreciated. I knew at these appointments there was often a large amount of uninterrupted time scheduled in that I could use for building my own spirituality. So, although I can be impatient, I also very much appreciate putting time into studying and learning as much as possible about something, especially if I have to teach it to others.
There are things that I am inspired to share with Torah for Women, yet it takes days, weeks or even months to discover and assemble everything that can be found on the topic. I may want to sit and write a post right away but there are things that need to be confirmed through The Word so that when we are challenged we can provide resources and scriptural evidence to back up what we have taught. We just can’t get away with “Because it sounds right” or “but it feels right” when it comes to teaching others. The warnings are very clear in scripture what the responsibility is upon the heads of those who take on the role of teaching others. (James 3:1)
Often times we need more time to explain properly, doing all we can to avoid error, and 3 minutes or less will not work. There have been many times we have seen others jump up with memes they grabbed from someone else, or one little verse taken out of context that was used to develop an entire doctrine around. These unverified teachings can end up being spiritually dangerous if others are lead away from Yahweh’s truth, or His truth is distorted. Even worse is if these sound bites people teach bring someone to sin.
Having come out from another religious system, you may find that there are teachings you need to un-learn, doctrines you need to prove or disprove to yourself, new teachings that you need to discover that were never taught. The desire to learn everything instantly can sometimes be very strong, and this can encourage us to desire “sound bites" of information. Yet it is very important to take your time and study things out to prove them with Scripture. This will take more time than just a few minute sound bites.
Busy women may find fault with what I am saying, by stating that they only have a few minutes here or there to read and we understand this, very much. What we are saying is, don’t let that be the ONLY time you spend studying a topic. Expand, stretch, dig, study, all while using the scriptures, reliable resources, and even the good old fashioned library if you need to. You will likely find, as we introduce more and more teachings online for you to build your faith, that many of our teachings may be short messages, yet each one will be a jumping off point to encourage or guide you into a much longer study to strengthen your walk with Yahweh.
Having a strong foundation in the scriptures, and following Yahweh’s teachings will help write the word on our hearts and in our minds, which will help us when the temptation arises to avoid using our words idly. We will have access to great wisdom and knowledge that will be embedded in our memory for us to recall as needed.
The scriptures teach, Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This same exact counsel is mentioned at least 3 times in the Tanakh and one thing is certain, it must be important. I find it interesting that this is used to get a point across, as is done many times in scripture. One topic is covered repeatedly so that we can grasp the concept. You see, it is an interesting tidbit to find that it was common practice for ancient Hebrews to not raise their voice in making a point as we often do these days - in other words, no CAPS LOCK. Instead, they would keep repeating the teaching so that it was clear and its importance was made known.
The question is, what is meant by “fear of Yahweh?” The fear mentioned is not a frightful fear as one might be afraid of a bear in the wilderness, but a respect or reverence. Restating this verse would mean that respect of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. We can get a very basic level of respect and wisdom by grabbing those sound bites I mentioned above. Yet how much more wisdom and knowledge would we all grab and hold onto if we spent more time listening to and studying teachings that we need to have written on our hearts and in our minds? Maybe even hearing them over and over again until we glean all we can from that teaching.
Let me use an example that might help make it more clear. You buy a new cell phone. Besides the phone, you get a cord and a couple of other accessories with it, and then you find that great piece of paper that everyone looks for, that's almost always right on top called “The Quick Start Guide”. It is one page long, and with it you can immediately figure out how to charge and use your phone. BANG! YOU'RE Done. . . .Right? Then your 10 year old says, “Hey, mom, did you know that with your phone you can...?” What is your response? Mine might actually be, “What???” Or worse, “No, it doesn’t!” as someone much younger than me proceeds to show me that my phone not only does that one thing, but also will do a thousand other things that I never knew a phone was capable of doing.
Now, how could I have found this information out? One, I could utilize this new teacher that has agreed to show me every little tiny thing that my phone can do; or number two, I could just read the other book inside that has 200 tiny little pages called the "Owners Manual". Either way, it is definitely going to take me more than that 3 minute sound bite, aka: " The Quick Start Guide" to get the full potential out of my phone.
Personally, I would do both simply because I have had a couple of young people show me things to do with my electronics that in the end would have actually voided the warranty on my product! So, I needed to be careful to look up and verify what these young teachers are teaching me about my phone - a great example of how it is YOUR responsibility also to test every word that springs forth from teachers, or meme's, videos, "revelations,” and especially from sound bites.
It's your responsibility to take more than 3 minutes of your time to understand fully and search out the full truth before you adopt it and follow it in your life. Don't be lazy when it comes to things that may have eternal consequences.
I hope this will help you see more clearly that if you cannot learn all the ins-and-outs of your new cell phone in a few minutes or less, how can you expect to learn all the ins-and-outs of your faith, His love, His teachings in sound bites?
Will you take the time to study and reverence (fear) the lord so that you will be filled with the wisdom and knowledge that Yahweh has freely given you in His word? Read it, search it, study it, confirm it and adopt the truth.
Our prayer is that some how, some way, you will find the time and have that reverence for His word so that you will not be amongst those who only feed on 3 minutes or less of the word.
"It is written, people shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God". Matthew 4:4
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If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. Mark 3:24-25
In these words of wisdom, Yeshua can easily demonstrate to us what we are capable of doing in a body of believers and in Yahweh’s house.
Torah for Women gets a lot of negative feedback from certain people because of some of the blog posts or comments that are written on TorahForWomen.com and the social media profile page. Sadly, every single one of those conflicts comes from someone who has left a Christian church in the past 5-8 years and has now vowed that all Christians are heathens that are lost in their “pagan, fake church,” as they label it.
Often times, these people who proclaim they follow Yeshua, will also imply that all Christians are beyond saving because of their unwillingness to see "the evil ways" of the denomination they continue follow.
Seriously. . .is that what you believe? Have you taken a moment to think to yourself, “Where did I just come out from and how long has it been since I crossed over to the Torah Movement?” I would also encourage you to ask, why did you decide to leave what you once thought was "the truth", and now here you are following a Torah observant life? Why? What made you decide?
Take a few minutes and seriously look at your reasons. I have seen countless people declare they have been called out to help repair the breech, build up the kingdom of Yahweh, but how can you go around claiming that is your calling when you continue to have such lack of compassion and kindness toward your fellow believers? And YES, they are believers. They believe in Abba (the father), in Messiah (Yeshua, as their Savior or as many call him, Jesus), and they believe in the Ruach HaChodesh (The Holy Spirit). Is there more for them to learn? Yes, of course, but there is also more for you to learn. I can testify to this because I have not yet learned all that Yahweh has to teach me, either.
You cannot Condemn Christians, Messianics, Jews, or any faithful follower of Yeshua by saying that there is no teaching them, no hope for them, that they will never be saved, and you are giving up on them. What of Paul? Look at his life - participating in the murder of a disciple, tormenting Yeshua’s followers, lost in his pharisaic traditions, yet HE was able to be saved. Yes, it took a vision on the road to Damascus. Yet, he was reachable, wasn’t he? Now ask yourself, have you become the OLD Paul, the persecutor, or the RENEWED Apostle Paul who taught the truth to the churches??? Which do you want to be?
Most will say that the reason they started to question their previous denomination was because something felt wrong, doctrines seemed skewed, and they may have recognized that some traditions seemed against the bible’s teachings, such as ignoring His feast days. How long were you there in that denomination, though? Were you raised in it? Was it an adult decision to join that church? Did you enter it through marriage, or maybe some other reason. Were you in your denomination for years, or were you a church jumper, jumping from church to church searching for truth. What I would like for you to recognize is that Yahweh was able to touch YOUR heart regardless of your circumstance, so why can’t he touch the hearts of those you left behind? If Yahweh afforded you understanding, grace and forgiveness, isn’t it likely that he could afford your former friends, former church members or relatives that same love?
Please do not mistake my conversation for condemnation - that is not what I am expressing. I am concerned that as we go through this journey there will continue to be some that will make the divide bigger by the unwillingness to change their stern thinking & closed minds. Too many may continue in their unwillingness to allow Yahweh to soften their own hearts, so that they can be used to lovingly reach out to those who are stuck in vague or false traditions.
The condemnation, and persecution needs to stop - it is like an earthquake that is shaking the foundation of a great and powerful building, and that shaking is making the fault line open and the DIVIDE grow bigger. At some point you run the risk of making that divide becoming so wide that people who want to cross over will be blocked by the gap you created.
A person who believes they were called to bridge the gap, in order to help people, the person who proclaims they are a Torah Observant follower, needs to examine their heart, their motive and how they approach and treat people.
Instead of going down that road of persecution, of hate, and condemnation, why not ask yourself, honestly, “How can I best touch the hearts of others and how can I reach them, or teach them?
If I continue to yell condemnation at them and accuse them of not knowing who the real Messiah is, will I touch their hearts or build up a wall of bitterness?
Then also ask Yahweh, “Please, Abba, guide me and direct me how to teach others so that you may soften their hearts and fill their minds with your great truths.” Pray this while remembering that you, too, were once in that “heathen” place you now so loudly condemn.
Blessings and Shalom. . . .
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Division in the Body of Christ
Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice.”
The other day on Facebook, we talked about the root of bitterness and the small fibers or side roots that can trigger new growth of the old root. Someone asked, what exactly is the bitterness spoken of in the scriptures and how do you pluck it out?
The word in both verses we used, Hebrews 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31, is the word “pikrias πικρίας" Strong's 4088, which means an "embittered spirit”. What does it mean to be embittered? It means to be “soured, envenomed; to make pungent (flavor)”. This would mean, putting it into perspective, your spirit would be filled with venom, sourness, acidity, and be pungent or putrid. These are not the only references, either, to bitterness inside us. In Deuteronomy 29:18, Moses refers to “lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;” The gall mentioned is like venom, and is a bitter, poisonous herb, while the wormwood is a plant that can cause seizures and death by kidney failure. None of these examples sound in any way like being filled with the Holy Spirit, do they?
So to purge ourselves of the root of bitterness, we need to replace that venomous, sour, putrid spirit with HIS Spirit! How do we do that for ourselves? Let's Explore this:
After reading Part 1 of this teaching, you may have recognized by now that I enjoy my garden and all the natural creations of Yahweh’s. I find so many lessons in his creations. So returning to the garden example, you can choke out those little left behind roots by planting the RIGHT seeds! If you plant low-growing seeds, they will create a “carpet” that can blanket the ground which may prevent the root from getting the right amount of sunshine. You can plant another layer of plants that grow a bit taller than that ground cover, and these will grow deeper roots than the low growing plant. Then plant a third layer, that grows bigger and taller than the mid-range plant. NOW, you have plenty of good roots, taking up the nutrients from the soil and the new plants will need the water the weed-root used to thrive. You have ground cover that is shading the weed roots from the warmth of the sun. All of these will deprive the bad weed of what it needs to survive and grow.
What are these good seeds and plants we are planting that will deprive the weeds bitter root?
- READ READ READ! And Study, Study, Study!!! Get that word of Yahweh in you, so that you can call upon verses for strength when you need them. Luke 8:11 “. . .The seed is the word of God.” The Parable explains how some seed fell on the road, the rock, amongst thorns, and some on good ground. We want our hearts to be the GOOD ground. So we want that seed, that word in us. When it is in us, we can call upon his counsel and promises anytime we need it for strength and even for correction.
- Do good for those who persecute you - the toughest “good” is often those good works for the person “attached” to that bitter root. Galatians 6:9 says, though, “Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.”
I once volunteered to take a meal to someone who had hurt me and my children horribly with rumors, gossip, and back-biting. Their family was very ill with various stages of flu and bronchitis. No one was helping them, so I volunteered - and I made the kids go with me to deliver the food. It was one of the most difficult things for me to do, but it helped me realize that I CAN be kind to someone and still love them as well as forgive them, yet not let them back into my life for further hurt. We did not become friends, nothing I did stopped what was going on, but I changed inside, my children changed inside. Over time we lost touch and who knows what seeds we planted in them, but I DO KNOW the seeds that were planted in me.
A word of caution here: There are some people for whom you just cannot do some physical act for, and this Yahweh understands. Either the conflict between you two will put you or someone else in harms way, or could cause legal problems. Maybe it would harm your family or children. For those rare, extreme situations, the only thing you can do for them is the next thing on the list: PRAYER.
- Pray - for them and yourself. For them - there have been those times when the other person is unwilling to accept your efforts of kindness and it has become difficult or even volatile. Open your own heart in prayer to Yahweh. Ask forgiveness for anything that you may have contributed to the situation. Then pray for all good changes to take place in that person's heart. Pray for shalom, softening, even direction for yourself. Communicate with Yahweh, but whatever you do, don’t pour fertilizer on that bitter root by believing that you are justified for holding a grudge or wishing vengeance. That will not help the bitter root to be plucked, only to be fed and grow stronger.
- Allow the Spirit to change your heart. Give in to the rebuke, correction, and influence of the Ruach, so that your heart will be opened to what it needs. True forgiveness of another will allow this change to take place in your heart. John 16:8 “When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;” Allow this in you, and let it go.
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:29-30 warns us, “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” It is very plain to see that the root of bitterness and the speech which comes out of our mouth can “grieve” the holy spirit. Guard your tongue and protect yourself from gossiping or fueling the situation with negativity so that you do not grieve the Holy Spirit. This grief mentioned is one that is deeply felt, a sorrow, distress, heaviness that can be brought to the Holy Spirit by our unwillingness to cleanse ourselves through the processes mentioned.
Galatians 6:8-10 "For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith."
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work."
Remember that you can only change what is in YOUR heart, BUT Yahweh can change what is in their heart. Don’t make yourself a doormat, but don’t hold onto the anger, vengeful feelings, don’t rehash over and over what they did to you - in your mind or in gossip. Be extra careful not to talk about them. This may be very difficult, but you need to purge those behaviours and feelings from you through Yahweh and the Holy Spirit so that your heart is soft and pure.
One more word of advice is to avoid conversations with people who are negative and want to bring up your past hurt, anger and bitterness. They stoke the fire within you and make you recall all the feelings you're trying to remove out of your heart. Tell the person that you're trying to get over what happened and get all the bad feelings out of you. Ask them to respect what your're trying to do. This may be a witness and example for them. If they refuse to respect what your're wishes, then you may have to cut back or cut off the time you spend with them.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”
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The Bitter Root Part 2
Not long ago on Shabbat we listened to an amazing lesson taught on faith and the things that stand in the way of building our faith. During the teaching something truly struck me as being a major stumbling block for some, and I felt it important to share with Torah for Women.
Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest there be any man who falls short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled by it;
“Any root of bitterness”. This reminded me of that horrible weed in your garden. You know the one - you think you got all the root, but all it takes is the tiniest little piece left behind, a little rain, some sunshine and POP! There it is - another brand new weed trying to take over the garden by choking out all the good plants. Just a little root and the right conditions and it becomes invasive, toxic, strangling. The sad thing, too, is that it seems to grow much hardier and much faster than anything else in the garden does. If we don’t pull it out quickly, when it is first noticeable, then it will have the time to grow too many side roots to get them all. Then more roots will sprout new weeds, creating a vicious cycle. Better to pluck it up quickly when it is small, before it has time to develop a bigger root system.
Now apply that to the feeling of bitterness:
Everyone at some point in life has a conflict with another person and sometimes we believe that we have fully forgiven them. Yet there can be a twinge of bitterness leftover, hidden deep inside, like those small roots. It lurks there until something happens to create the right conditions and then it creeps into our hearts. This often happens when we either have contact with that person again or when a similar situation to the one that hurt us pops up in our lives. It is that last little piece of leftover root just waiting for the right fertilizer and amount of rain to come along so that it can spring up and grow again. This is the root of bitterness.
If we aren’t careful to pluck it out immediately, too, just like the new weed in the garden, it will grow quickly and very hardy, making it difficult to move forward in forgiveness, in developing faith, or in other spiritual matters that we have been working on. It is important that we learn to recognize these roots quickly so that as warned in Hebrews, “many” are not defiled by our bitterness.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 WEB
Blessings and Shalom!
(This post was originally published on Torah For Women Facebook page, December 9, 2016)
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Bitter Root Part One
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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