I have been thinking and praying these last few days about how the world is reacting to this Covid-19 virus, and the announcements of various governments around the world. I have been listening and watching the reactions of people, both online and in the public as we have ventured out. I have been weighing these behaviours against The Word of Yahweh written for us to bring us through these days.
This is what occurs to me.
At one point I read a story of an elderly man, someone who has been through the Great Depression. Someone who knows what it is like to do without - bread shortages, flour and sugar rations, and other things which greatly affected their lives during that time. This man has “seen it all,” you could say. He went to the store and, with everyone else in line with overflowing carts of toilet paper, just wanted 4-6 rolls to get him through the month. That was all. Just to get through the month. He asked the “owner” of cart upon over-flowing cart if they would sacrifice just ONE package for him. Not one would give up a single pack of toilet paper for an elderly man. Not one. I wanted to throw up. Literally – my stomach got so knotted that I felt like throwing up.
Is this what we have come to in America? If so, then it is time for people to check their heart!!! Do you know what hurt the most? Watching people who under normal circumstances call themselves believers, but under THESE LAST FEW DAYS, threw all that, shall we say, three sheets to the wind??? Yes, I went there and made a toilet paper reference!
If anyone would have, even for a brief second, questioned or hesitated about giving toilet tissue to that man, you need to check your heart. But I will go even better on this topic, if you think that saying one thing here on social media or when talking with friends, but act differently in public - Check your heart!
And remember these words and use them as your check list:
When you have hoarded things to yourself or prevented another less fortunate than you go without, what you just did was as if we have done it to Yeshua!!! Literally.
In Matthew 25:40 WEB it pointedly states: "The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU DID IT TO ME.” (CAPS added for emphasis)
I know, I repeated myself. I did that in hopes that it drives the point home. Sometimes, in front of others, we may behave or speak one way, yet act or react completely different in another setting. Because of that, NOW is the time to truly examine Yahweh’s truth, the words recorded from Genesis to Revelation. THIS is the time to find out, discover, and examine how well are we witnessing of Him in each aspect of life.
Remember those verses in the New Testament that say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” We hear them often as believers, don’t we? Well, let’s look a bit more closely at the words in Matthew 7:12 WEB “Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
I love this version because it is very direct: whatever it is that you want people to do to you, go out and do it to them!!! As you venture out to the grocery store or bulk store, can you say that you did to others as you wish to be treated? Another way of saying this is: Didn’t you just express to others by your actions that you want to be treated a certain way? What way was that? Were YOU a good example of Yeshua? Of His teachings? Did YOU exemplify Christ?
Or how about Luke 6:31 WEB “As you would like people to do to you, DO EXACTLY SO TO THEM.” (CAPS added for emphasis). Ouch. We often use these words to scold others for how they treat us, but is that what it truly says? I see things a bit differently – I see that we’re being told to treat others EXACTLY how we would like them to “do so” unto us. So, when you are rude, are you expecting to be treated rudely? Angry – angrily? Lacking compassion and denying basic needs to others – you want others to deny basic needs then to you.
I know believers who have taken pride in screaming in the faces of clerks, cussing at store workers, cursing at family members! Using this teaching, we should ask them when they brag about it or demonstrate this in front of us, “Did you just give permission for that person to scream and cuss in YOUR face?” Of course, they will say no, and likely claim the person deserved it or “had what was coming to them.” But if you show or recite either of those verses to that “believer,” I pray you can show them how they actually ARE giving that person a certain level of permission to do the same to them.
Reversing the attention in those verses should be an attention getter for every believer. How YOU ACT TODAY, TOMORROW, NEXT WEEK during this entire man-made crisis is a statement of HOW YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO TREAT YOU.
If you hoard all the toilet paper to yourself, then that means you want people to withhold basic needs from you in an emergency. If you ensure you buy all the meat or milk, cereals or pasta, and do not share with the neighbor who didn’t make it to the store before the panic, then you are stating out loud that is how YOU want them to treat you in your time of lack! Have you ever thought of it that way? I have – many times. It is one of the “exercises” I use regularly to try and keep myself in check.
I have used this throughout my life. If I want others to backbite or gossip, lie, cheat, steal, and covet from me, then I will do the same to them. Yet I don’t want people to lie to or about me, covet, cheat or steal from me. And so, I try my best to not do those things to them.
That is what those words are there for in the scriptures – to help remind us of what NOT to be. Yet many don’t look at them from the other side. Most often we try to use those words to put OTHERS in check for how they are treating us or those around us. Take the time, please, during this trial in our nations. And think about how you are treating others. Remember that old saying about walking a mile in their shoes? Now is the good time to try that. Some days it is as simple as asking yourself, if I were the store clerk, cashier or manager, or even the other customer: would I want those words coming out of someone’s mouth aimed at me? Would I want them to behave that way toward me?
This is what will get us through the next weeks.
I am always grateful for the blessed people Yahweh places in my life to reinforce scriptural lessons. This spring was another one of those humble moments.
It was a lovely morning in spring-time where I had every intention of just taking time for myself to re-focus - outside in the warm sunshine & fresh mountain air. After so many days of clouds and rain, the sun was a welcome change. I fixed my coffee, grabbed both my nature journal and my prayer journal then sat out on the front steps. I had a few days that week where I wasn’t feeling quite so connected to Yahweh as I normally feel, and all my personal plans were to just sit and listen for His impressions to rain down on me.
The neighbor down the way was out mowing his lawn, but other than that, the world was miraculously quiet. Even his mower sounded oddly softer that morning than most mornings. And that was okay with me. I couldn’t seem to concentrate much on prayer time, but finally a wonderful relaxing song came on my tablet, and I closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, there was that mower sound, getting closer and closer and closer. I opened my eyes, and don’t you know it!!! There was the neighbor, mowing OUR lawn for us! He has done this several times for us since we moved in, and in fact, he had mowed our lawn all last summer and into the fall last year. He knew we were waiting on mower parts to arrive, which they did - finally - right before the snow hit late last fall! A little late, but we tucked them away and just had not taken the time in the spring yet to put the mower together.
Our lawn is not a small 1/4 acre city lot, but is over 3/4 an acre, with probably about 2/3 of that all out front. And the grass grows very quickly and thick here. This was no small feat he was undertaking as it had been over two weeks since his last service to us because of all the rain we have had. Knowing that we had not had time yet to repair our own mower, I was actually quite grateful for the sound of his during prayer time.
I watched as he mowed right across the front of the lawn, up the side, then pulled up right out front of the porch to stop and talk with me a bit. He surprised me when the first thing he said was the most heartfelt apology for disturbing my devotional time! I was so taken aback - first, because he recognized why I am often out front sitting in the sunshine, and second, because here he was doing us a service yet he was apologizing to ME! I could not thank him enough for the mowing, and he remarked how he was pleased with just a simple thank you. We got to talking for a bit, and he asked several questions just to catch up on things: if we had found a church or assembly to attend, where we were going if we had, how the ministry is doing, etc. All topics we had not been able to discuss over the cold winter months.
I had the opportunity to explain that we hadn’t found a church here yet, and I felt impressed to share with him how difficult it is for us to “fit in” with a particular denomination. I told him we are Torah observant, and he asked me to explain that. I talked about the Feast days, the Sabbath, the Torah. He asked what exactly the “Torah” was, so I explained the first five books of the Old Testament, and then about how we seem to fit along the lines of Torah Observant, Pentecostal, Word of Faith believers in Yahweh. He laughed then said, “Yup - ya’ll won’t fit in anywhere ‘round here!!! Not at all!” I laughed. He understood completely as we are in an area heavy with religions that are set in their ways, and who wouldn’t quite understand our Torah observance. They are lovely, kind and beautiful people, but a very heavy “The law is dead” community.
He did say, though, that he didn’t realize how much he and his wife seem to share similar beliefs as what my husband and I have. Things like the Old Testament is the foundation and the rest is built upon that; that the modern holidays have gotten away from what God would have us honor, as well as several other basic beliefs. He brought up again how they are still looking for a new place to worship because they just haven’t found where they feel ‘right’ either. This was something he had also mentioned when we first moved in almost 2 years ago.
We then talked about some of the blessings Yahweh has been working in his life. He talked of things he has been led to do, dreams that helped their family get through different challenges, impressions he gets while he prays and even answers to prayers he has gotten while riding his mower! He said how much he appreciates having the extra lawn to mow because it gives him extra quiet time to spend with God. I asked him if he writes any of those dreams and impressions down, along with the results that happen. Does he make a record for himself and family. He mentioned he used to, so I took the chance to share with him about my prayer journals. I encouraged him to write them down - record every one he can because one day they may come in handy for him, his wife, or the children.
After he started mowing again, I couldn’t help but think of how Yahweh blessed us both that day. How I needed to be encouraged by his visit and to see that there ARE people here who are seeking a more biblically centered life, and how our neighbor needed to be encouraged by the same things. I absolutely love when Abba moves in our lives like that. Some days it’s the littlest things that show how much He loves us.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Love your neighbor
Do I honestly know that this is lesson number 757,243? No, of course not, but some days I honestly feel that Yahweh has truly had to work hard at showing me certain things - and patience in trial is one that I struggle with sometimes - or rather impatience in trials!
I have noticed that when things are going great it is easy to point out to myself and to others that Yahweh is good, He is with us, he is guiding everything. When things are a struggle, or someone comes along and tries to throw an obstacle up, that is when He has told me I am whining!!! He has also warned me of my demanding nature in trials, and my why, why, why. . . .
I don’t find myself asking “Why don’t you do this for me?” Or “Why did you do that to me??” I don’t find myself blaming Him at all, but what I DO find myself doing if a challenge is going a little bit longer than what I think it should be going, I can find myself asking “Yahweh, I know you have got this but why aren’t I seeing the end result already? Seems to me this struggle has been long enough. It sure looks like everything is in place for it to work right, so where is my end result??? HMMM????”
But if I would just stop - for five minutes or maybe ten, just long enough to listen to Him I might actually HEAR Him. When I do that, when I pay attention to the Spirit telling me to “Be still! And know that He is the great I Am!” If I relax, I find the truth - there are often instructions that He has been giving me that I didn’t do, or people I needed to talk to that I had forgotten to talk to. Each of these little details may be something that needs to be in place before the end result produces what He wants it to produce. That end result is always much more than I anticipated or expected. It gives me the opportunity to realize and learn that I need to remember to do my part, too, all of my part as He instructed.
It is a wonderful feeling when you help Him put all the pieces in place by doing your part, by being obedient, and then, after the end result, you can look back and say, ‘WOW!” His hand was literally in every single detail, including me. I have seen this happen so many times in our lives and in the ministry. Yahweh will reveal to us a choice that we need to make, but to accomplish that choice, it is going to take a lot of little pieces to be put in place. I have watched Yahweh change a hardened heart in another person and turn a situation completely around for our benefit. I have witnessed a difficult person pulled from our lives because they were standing in the way of what Yahweh wanted to happen for us, and a new person filled with his love and Spirit placed right at our door.
When we sit back, and listen, when we are quiet, there is so much more that can be done and accomplished, so many more lives touched, so much in our own hearts changed for the better when we cooperate with leading and yield to the work of the Master.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. . .”
It seems that at times we are so used to hearing the same interpretations of certain scriptures and principles preached from the pulpit over and over that we believe that they are 100% accurate. Yet, if we could and WOULD take the time to read and study His Torah, we might find something new, different, and even contrary to what we have been taught our whole lives. It is especially important to take the verses in context.
Take for example something we often hear when things go awry in life, “Don’t worry, dear, God would not give you more than you can handle (bear or take).” This teaching is based on the verse in 1 Corinthians 10 that people believe tells them that God has given them all the negative happenings in their lives in an effort to teach them something important, either about a situation, about others or about themselves. Is this truly what Paul is saying in these verses?
Let’s take a quick look at what 1 Corinthians 10:
Verses 1-4 talks briefly about the Children of Israel and the Exodus, then the time in the wilderness. Paul is summarizing what happened to those who did not follow Moses’ teachings from Yahweh. He briefly talks of how they ALL were under the cloud of the Lord, ALL passed through the sea together, and they ALL experienced the same “spiritual meat” and “drink”, yet in spite of the fact that they ALL went through the same experiences, some did not choose the same path of righteousness.
Verse 5 says that Yahweh was not pleased with many of them and because of this, they were “overthrown”, or struck down in the desert. He is speaking of people like Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their followers who, in the wilderness, spoke against Moses and Aaron, but especially against the Lord. They were swallowed by the earth and killed, then 14,700 were sickened with plague and died before Aaron could get to them and make atonement to Yahweh for their sins. (Numbers 16)
Verse 6-11 describes how the people of Corinth could use these examples to learn from, and that they shouldn’t lust after evil as the children of Israel did. Paul goes into detail about things not to do: don’t be idolaters, don’t commit sexual sins, do not grumble or murmur. As Paul uses the example of Korah and his followers, it appears you could safely include the additional sins they committed as part of that evil as well, which are: pride, arrogance, covetousness, envy and jealousy, just to name a few.
Then finally in Verse 13 (WEB version), we read: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” To help get the clearest picture, the word translated as “temptation” from Greek to English can also mean test, trial, or calamity. What is Paul actually saying in this verse? Does he truly say, “God has not GIVEN you more than you can handle?”
He explains to the people that what has happened to tempt them or whatever tried them, is nothing new and is common to mankind. It has happened before and will tempt people again, remembering that there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
Paul also says that Yahweh is true to us and will not allow us to be tried above what we are δύνασθε. This Greek word translated into English is often translated as “able”, but it has another translation, which means power, and when inserted, would make the verse mean “above which we have POWER.”
The Greek word δύνασθε, transliterated as “dunamai”, means: I am powerful, to be empowered. This gives a completely different view of the wording and the scripture. Previously it stated you were merely “able” - capable, ready, competent, adequate. With the additional clarification you are now - impressive, forceful, influential, potent, robust, vigorous as well as able and capable. Does this give a different picture in your mind of what will happen in our lives when we are tried or tempted? We will not just be “able” but we will be empowered and forceful in overcoming.
In addition, we need to see clearly that Paul does not say Yahweh will GIVE us trials, he says Yahweh ALLOWS it, but it will not be above what we have the power within us to push through. Let me ask you for a moment, what power do you have?
John 14:12 WEB Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.
We are told to be like Elijah, who performed great wonders and miracles (James 5:17-18). Elisha was given the mantle of Elijah, and asked for double the portion of Elijah’s spirit, then did greater than he (2 Kings 2:9). The scriptures prophecy of the Messiah coming and performing miracles, and Yeshua performed many miracles similar to those of Elijah and Elisha. If we are to be able to do more than Yeshua accomplished, then using all these miracles as a testimony to us of our ability, do you now see what Paul was describing of us? There is nothing that comes our way that we cannot power through.
When you carry on through the verse to the final sentence, Paul says that when the temptations happen, when they are allowed to move through our lives, Yahweh will also “make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” What is this way of escape? It is an exit, a way out. It is the final outcome and result. When things happen, whether brought on by our own actions, those of others, or just by the nature of things on this planet due to the fall of Adam, Yahweh will point to the exit, and prepare a way so that we will be able to carry on and bring forth the outcome.
One description explained the Greek word to mean “carry under”, like a powerful river undercurrent. How does an undercurrent work? An undercurrent of a river or stream goes unnoticed, flowing silently underneath the surface of the river. It is often much stronger than the surface current, moving boulders, rocks and other bottom material in its way. While the surface current will mosey along, the undercurrent uses its power to accomplish it’s task of pushing objects out of its path and faster, farther, and away from the immediate area. The undercurrent may cause some erosion or redefining landscape, and it is often credited for cleaning up toxic sediments or moving debris that is causing problems. Down the line, that sand, stone, and silt will create new shorelines, deltas, and islands adding to the landscape and habitat, making things better in the long run. Can you see how that may be likened to what Yahweh does to us as he makes the exit visible, and carries us along to the way out of the trial or temptation?
The next time you see or hear someone, even yourself, trying to say that Yahweh has given this trial as a challenge to better them, that He has thrust some negative circumstance upon them on purpose, it is hoped that you would instead help them to understand that Yahweh is a loving father who has fortified them with the power to follow the current that leads to the exit that He has prepared. Yahweh does not give us problems, he gives us power to overcome problems. He does not give us sickness, he gives us the power to be healed and to heal the sick.
Blessings and Shalom
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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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