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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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sermon on the mount

What, Me Worry?

It’s Monday night and time to continue Don’s great study of the Sermon on the Mount. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

 This blog is longer than normal.  You may want to click here for PDF version.

In this post, we will conclude our study of Matthew 6.  In my last post, Yeshua was discussing material possessions.  I closed that teaching by asking, “where is your wealth?  Have you put your faith and trust in your material possessions?  Or, have you laid up your wealth in heaven?  Do you sow your seeds in fertile ground that will lead to a harvest of souls?  Or, have you squandered what God has given you for your own pleasures?  We will not go wrong; if we use our possessions to see how much happiness we can bring to others.”

In this post, Yeshua continues to teach on material possessions, but His emphasis is no longer on where our wealth is; He now tells us not to worry about where our material possessions will come from.

How many of you remember Alfred E. Newman and MAD Magazine?  I used to love to read that as a teen.  In honor of Alfred E., I’ve entitled my message this post, “What, Me Worry?”…..read the rest of the post here: What, Me Worry?What, Me Worry?

Fasting and Wealth

Don at My Heart Is For Israel has finished his study on The Disciple’s Prayer and moves onward in his study of the Sermon on the Mount. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue exploring the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 6.  Yeshua has just finished teaching His talmidim how to pray and now continues with instructions on fasting and dealing with material possessions.

Before getting into the subject of material possessions, Yeshua shares His thoughts on fasting.  “Now when you fast, don’t go around looking miserable, like the hypocrites. They make sour faces so that people will know they are fasting. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already! But you, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself, so that no one will know you are fasting – except your Father, who is with you in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6:16-18)

The only fast that God actually required of the Jewish people was on Yom Kippur (see Vayikra 23:27).  However, the P’rushim fasted every Monday and Thursday (see Luke 18:12) and did so in such a way that people knew they were fasting.  Their purpose, of course, was to win the praise of men.  Not good – wrong motive!

It is not wrong to fast, if we do it in the right way and with the right motive.  Matthew records that Yeshua fasted (see Matthew 4:3); so did the members of the early Messianic community (see Acts 13:2).  Fasting helps to discipline the appetites of the body (see Luke 5:34) and keep our spiritual priorities straight.  But fasting must never become an opportunity for temptation (see 1 Corinthians 7:7).

Simply to deprive ourselves of a natural benefit (such as food or sleep) is not of itself fasting.  We must devote ourselves to God and worship Him.  Unless there is the devotion of the heart (see Zechariah 7) there is no lasting spiritual benefit.  In other words, while you are fasting you should be using that time to mediate on the Word of God……read the rest of the post here: Fasting and Wealth

 

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 6

Tonight, Don wraps up his study on the Disciple’s Prayer. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

In this post, we wrap up our examination of the Disciple’s Prayer.  In His final petition, Yeshua instructs us to pray: “And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.” (Matthew 6:13)

I’m extremely gratified that Stern’s uses the word ‘testing’ and not ‘temptation.’  We know that God does not lead us into temptation, but he does allow us to be tempted and tested.

When we read the story of the temptations of Yeshua, it begins: “Then the Spirit led Yeshua up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Adversary” (Matthew 4:1).  If we take the word ‘tempt’ here in the sense of ‘to seduce into sin’, it makes the Ruach HaKodesh a partner in an attempt to compel Yeshua to sin.  That’s a ridiculous interpretation!  Time and again, we find that the word tempt has the idea of testing in it, at least as much as the idea of seeking to lead into sin.

Here, then, is one of the great and precious truths about temptation.  Temptation is not designed to make us fall. Temptation is designed to make us stronger and better men and women. Temptation is not designed to make us sinners.  It is designed to make us good.  We may fail in the test, but we are not meant to.  We are meant to emerge stronger and better for having gone through the process.  In one sense, temptation is not so much the penalty of being human; it is the glory of being human.  A person has to be tested before God can be used greatly in His service…..read the rest of the post here: The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 6

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 5

It’s Monday night and onward we go with Don’s great study on the Sermon on the Mount with Part 5 of The Disciple’s Prayer. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue in our exploration of the Disciple’s prayer, but we will take the petitions out of order to concentrate on the issue of forgiveness.

“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.” Yeshua goes on to say, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.”  (Matthew 6:12,14-15) [We’ll come back to verse 13 in my next post.]

God wants us to have a forgiving attitude toward others.  Yeshua often emphasized the importance of forgiveness in His parables (see Matthew 18:21-35).  Verse 12 is a petition for the needs of our souls.

Before we can honestly pray this petition of the Disciple’s Prayer, we must realize that we need to pray it.  Before we can pray this petition, we must have a sense of our own sin.

When we see the reality of sin, we come to see that it is a universal disease in which every person is involved.  This is a petition of the Disciple’s Prayer, which every one of us needs to pray.

Not only do we need to realize that we need to pray this petition of the Disciple’s Prayer; we also need to realize what we are doing when we pray it.  Of all petitions of the Disciple’s Prayer, this is the most frightening.

“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.” The literal meaning is: “Forgive us our sins in proportion to those sins we have forgiven that were committed against us.”  In Matthew 6:14-15, Yeshua says in the plainest possible language that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us.  It’s quite clear that if we pray this petition with an unhealed heart or an unsettled quarrel in our lives, we are asking God not to forgive us…….Read the rest of the post here: The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 5

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 4

It’s Monday night, and time for Don’s next installment of this great study. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We have been studying the Disciple’s Prayer found in Matthew 6.  We learned that the first three petitions have to do with God and His Glory.  We learned that when we pray, we are to worship Father God for who He is and exalt His name.  We learned to pray for His will to saturate our life, our family, our congregation, our community, our region, our state, our nation, and the world.

The second part of the prayer, which deals with our needs and our necessities, is a marvelous unity.  In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past, and the future before the footstool of the grace of God.

Not only is this a prayer, which brings the whole of life to the presence of God; it is also a prayer, which brings the whole of God to our lives.  When we ask for bread to sustain our earthly lives, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator and the Sustainer of all life.  When we ask for forgiveness, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Son, Yeshua our Savior and Redeemer.  When we ask for help for future times of testing, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Ruach HaKodesh, the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way…..read the rest of the post here: The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 4

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 3

It’s Monday night, and we continue this great study of the Disciple’s Prayer my Don at My Heart is for Israel.

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

We continue our exploration of the Disciple’s Prayer by unpacking Matthew 6:10.

May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven ~ Matthew 6:10

The phrase ‘the Kingdom of God’ is replete throughout the whole Brit Hadashah.  No phrase is used more often in prayer, in preaching and in Messianic literature.  It is, therefore, of primary importance that we should be clear as to what it means.

It is evident that the Kingdom of God was central to the message of Yeshua.  Mark describes Yeshua’s ministry beginning when He came into Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.  After Yochanan had been arrested, Yeshua came into the Galil proclaiming the Good News from God: ‘The time has come, God’s Kingdom is near! Turn to God from your sins and believe the Good News!’”  (Mark 1:14-15).  Yeshua himself described the preaching of the kingdom as an obligation laid upon him: I must announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns too – that is why I was sent (Luke 4:43; Mark 1:38).  Luke’s description of Yeshua’ activity is that He went through every city and village preaching and showing the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1).  Clearly, the meaning of the Kingdom of God is something that we should try to understand…….read the rest of the post here: The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 3

The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 1

As we resume following Don’s great study of the Sermon on the Mount, we pick up with what many call The Lord’s Prayer. Don calls it the Disciple’s Prayer, which is really closer to what is truly is. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

In this post, we continue with our study of the Sermon on the Mount by learning more about how Yeshua taught us to pray.  We have been sitting at His feet for some time now as we learn directly from Him what it means to be true talmidim and how we should pray.

We have already learned that Yeshua tells us not to be a hypocrite when we pray; that we should pray in our secret place; and, that we should not babble on and on with endless words in our prayers.

Recently, a priest, a minister and a rabbi sat discussing the best posture for prayer while a telephone line worker made repairs nearby.

“Lying prostrate on the ground is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.

“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results kneeling with my hands outstretched to Heaven.”

“You’re both wrong,” the Rabbi said. “The most effective prayer position is standing in the synagogue facing Jerusalem.”

The line worker couldn’t help but interject. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.”

Read the rest of the post here: The Disciple’s Prayer ~ Part 1

Prayer Preliminaries

Some very practical advice on prayer from Don at My Heart Is For Israel, as part of his study on The Sermon on the Mount. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

In this post, we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount by turning to Matthew Chapter 6 by exploring the preparations for prayer.

Don’t Be A Hypocrite

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already” (Matthew 6:5)

The word translated from the Greek for hypocrite means an actor.  This word, which is frequently used in Scripture, denotes one who either pretends to be what he is not (as here), or masquerades what he really is. People like that put on an act, which is designed only to glorify them.

Yeshua warns about the danger of hypocrisy, the sin of using religion to cover up sin. A hypocrite is not a person who falls short of his high ideals, or who occasionally sins, because all of us experience these failures. A hypocrite deliberately uses religion to cover up his sins and promote his own gains.

In verse 5, Yeshua says, “When you pray” not “If you pray.” He expects us to pray. Yeshua emphasizes that it is a sin to pray to be seen and heard by others. Nobody should pray in public who does not pray in private; for that would be hypocrisy.

The standing posture in prayer was an ancient practice. The Amidah recited in Jewish synagogues is the “standing prayers.” Yeshua was warning that a conspicuous posture could open the way for hypocrisy. Again, it’s an issue of the heart. What is our true motivation?

Pray In Your Secret Place

But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

We must pray in secret before we pray in public. I will always have the movie, “War Room”, etched in my mind when I recall this verse. It is obviously not wrong to pray in public (1 Timothy 2:1ff), or when blessing our food (John 6:11) or when seeking God’s help (John 11:41-42; Acts 27:35). But it is wrong to pray in public if we are not in the habit of praying in private. Observers may think that we are practicing prayer when we are not. Again, this is hypocrisy

Yeshua had a secret place where He went to talk with God.  It is important that we find a quiet place so we will not be distracted from listening to God.  We shut the door on the noise outside, and we shut ourselves in with God.

There was a tendency to connect prayer with certain places, and especially in the synagogue.  It is undeniably true that there are certain places where God seems very near, but there were certain Rabbis who went so far as to say that prayer was effective only if it was offered in the Temple or in the synagogue.  So there grew up the custom of going to the Temple at the hours of prayer.

There is the danger that we might come to think of God as being confined to certain holy places and that we might forget that the whole earth is the temple of God.  The wisest of the Rabbis saw this danger.  They had this to say:  “God says to Israel, pray in the synagogue of your city; if you cannot, pray in the field; if you cannot, pray in your house; if you cannot, pray on your bed; if you cannot, commune with your own heart and be still.”

Don’t Babble On and On

And when you pray, don’t babble on and on like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  (Matthew 6:7-8)

We must pray sincerely. The prophet Isaiah tells us: Before they call, I [God] will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).

Many people think that the purpose of prayer is to get our will done and to persuade God to give us what we want.  We rattle on and on about our wants and desires, but the true purpose of prayer is to get God’s will done. (1 John 5:14)  We need to seek after His will.  Yeshua said that He did nothing except what He saw His Father doing.

We need to avoid repeating phrases or words, because it makes our minds wander during prayer.  God wants our full attention when we converse with Him.  We don’t need to use a certain tone of voice for prayer nor do we need to use formal King James English.   A normal conversational tone and plain language are fine.  Although God knows our thoughts, speaking out loud helps us to keep our minds on what we are saying.  It also helps us to verbalize our feelings.

When we pray we’re coming into the presence of the Creator of the universe.  We should be conscious of His power to do anything that we might ask.  Faith is vital for effective prayer.  We can make our requests to God boldly, for we are His beloved children, and He delights in giving to us.  One of the keys to Abraham’s faith was that he believed that God could do what He had promised to do (Romans 4:21).  We need to remind ourselves of who God is when we approach Him with our requests, so that we ask in faith (Ephesians 3:20).

No nation ever had a higher ideal of prayer than Israel; and no religion ever ranked prayer higher in the scale of priorities than Judaism.  One of the loveliest things that was ever said about family worship is the Rabbinic saying, “He who prays within his house surrounds it with a wall that is stronger than iron.”  The only regret of the Rabbis was that it was not possible to pray all day long.

But certain faults had crept into the Jewish habits of prayer.  Prayer tended to become formalized.  There were two specific prayers that were to be repeated daily: the Sh’ma and the Amidah.

The Sh’ma (D’varim 6: 4-9) had to be recited by every Jew every morning and every evening.  It had to be said as early as possible.  It had to be said before the third hour, that is, 9 a.m.; and in the evening it had to be said before 9 p.m.  If the last possible moment for the saying of the Sh’ma had come, no matter where a man found himself, at home, in the street, at work, in the synagogue, he must stop and say it.

There were many who loved the Sh’ma and who repeated it with reverence and adoration and love; but inevitably there were still more who rushed their way through it, and went their way. The Sh’ma had every chance of becoming a vain repetition, which men mumbled through like some spell or incantation.

The Amidah was also required to be repeated daily.  At the time of Yeshua, it consisted of eighteen prayers.  Later the Amidah consisted of nineteen prayers, although we generally only use seven in Messianic services today.  Most of these prayers are quite short, and nearly all of them are very lovely.

The rule was that the Amidah must be recited three times a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening.  The same thing happened again. The devout Jew prayed it with loving devotion; but there were many to whom this series of lovely prayers became a rote formula.  The repetition of the Amidah could become nothing more than the superstitious incantation of a spell.

As you may know, the Jewish liturgy has specific prayers for almost any occasion.  There is hardly an event in life, which doesn’t have a specific prayer.  There is prayer before and after each meal; there are prayers in connection with the light, the fire, the lightning, on seeing the new moon, comets, rain, tempest, at the sight of the sea, lakes, rivers, on receiving good news, on using new furniture, on entering or leaving a city.  Everything has its prayer.  Clearly there is something infinitely lovely here.  It is the intention that every occurrence in life should be brought into the presence of God.

But because the prayers are so meticulously prescribed and stated, the whole system lends itself to formalism.  The danger is that our prayers may slip off the tongue with very little meaning.  The Rabbis knew that and tried to guard against it. “If a man,” they said, “says his prayers, as if to get through a set task, that is no prayer.” 

The devout Jew also had set times for prayer.  The hours were the third, the sixth and the ninth hours, that is, 9 a.m., 12 Noon and 3 p.m.  In whatever place a man found himself he was bound to pray.  Clearly, he might be genuinely remembering God, or he might be carrying out a habitual formality.  It is a great discipline that three times a day we should remember God; but there is a very real danger that it may become no more than three times a day we babble our prayers without even a thought of God.

There was – and still is – a kind of subconscious idea that if we harangue long enough at God’s door, He will answer; that God can be talked, and even pestered, into condescension.  The Rabbis were well aware of this danger.  One of them said, “Let a man’s words before God always be few, as it is said by Shlomo in Ecclesiastes, Don’t speak impulsively – don’t be in a hurry to give voice to your words before God. For God is in heaven, and you are on earth; so let your words be few.’” (Ecclesiastes 5:1).  “The best adoration consists in keeping silence.”

The final fault, which Yeshua found was that the P’rushim prayed to be seen of men.  The Jewish system of prayer made ostentation very easy.  It had to be said wherever a man might be and it was easy for them to make sure that at the appointed time they were at a busy street corner, or in a crowded city square, so that all the world might see with what devotion they prayed.  It was easy for a person to halt on the top step of the entrance to the synagogue, and there pray long and demonstratively, so that all might admire his exceptional piety.  It was easy to put on an act of prayer, which the entire world might see.

In effect, Yeshua lays down two great rules for prayer.

(i) He insists that all true prayer must be offered to God.  The real fault of the people whom Yeshua was criticizing was that they were praying to men and not to God.

(ii) He insists that we must always remember that the God to whom we pray is a God of love who is more ready to answer than we are to pray.  His gifts and his grace are not to be unwillingly extracted from Him.  We do not come to a god who has to be coaxed, pestered, or battered into answering our prayers.  We come to the One whose one wish is to give.  When we remember that, it is surely sufficient to go to God with the deep sighs and desires of our hearts, and on our lips the words, “Our will be done.”

In my next post, we will start a new series exploring the form of prayer that Yeshua taught to His talmidim.

Click here for PDF version.

Read more posts on My Heart Is For Israel here

Doing Right Things Right

This week, Don continues his study on the Sermon on the Mount into Matthew Chapter 6. Blessings and enjoy!

Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua

In this post, we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount by turning to Matthew Chapter 6.

As a quick reminder, in Chapter 5 we learned about the characteristics of a blessed Believer.  We learned how blessed are those who wait upon the Lord; who passionately pursue God; who truly live out the Golden Rule; and, who make peace even when confronted with persecution.  We also learned that by our character and deeds, we are to make our influencing faith a force for good in the lives of our neighbors by being salt and light.

We also concentrated on what I called the Eternal Torah.  In the Torah, God reveals His standards for holy living.  Yeshua completed the Torah; He did NOT abolish the Torah.  He came to bring us back to God’s original intent of His instructions to Israel, so that by grace we may learn to live a Torah-observant lifestyle.  We also looked at Yeshua’s teaching on murder, adultery, divorce, taking of vows, retaliation and loving our enemies.  In this post, we will concentrate on Yeshua’s teaching regarding acts of righteousness………read the rest of the post here: Doing Right Things Right

 

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