2014 June – Shema Newsletter

///2014 June – Shema Newsletter

SHEMA!

Sivan/Tamuz  5774    June 2014

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MA CHADASH?
WHAT’S NEW?

Shavuot (the Holiday of Weeks, Pentecost) starts Tuesday night, June 3. Join us on Wednesday evening, June 4, at 6:30 p.m. to focus on this holiday.

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TODAH RABAH!
THANKS VERY MUCH!

In ancient times, on Shavuot the High Priest waved two loaves of leavened bread (yeast or leaven can be a symbol for sin). We understand the two loaves to represent the two groups that comprise Messiah’s Holy Community – the Jewish people and the peoples from the other nations. It was fitting that on the Shavuot following Messiah’s atoning death, God sent the Holy Spirit to Yeshua’s followers, which empowered them for evangelism. That day, 3,000 Jewish people were added to Messiah’s Community! Our prayer is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we may powerfully proclaim the Good News about Yeshua and many more will be added to His Holy Community! Thank you for your prayers and support as we try to do this, especially during the summer months when we have some good evangelistic opportunities. Todah Rabah! Thank you very much!

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HOPE

Hope is the expectation or belief that something good will happen in the future. Faith deals with the past, the present or the future. Hope deals with the future. Hope is very important. Paul includes it, along with faith and love, among the greatest virtues. Hope is so important that it forms part of two of God’s names: The “Hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 14:8) and “the God of Hope” (Romans 15:13). We need hope because of the reality of our situation: Apart from the salvation made possible by the Three-In-One God of Israel, humanity is utterly and completely hopeless. Rabbi Paul put it this way: Remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2). Before the coming of the Messiah, the peoples of the nations of the world were without God and without hope. And it’s still that way. Apart from the salvation made possible by the Three-In-One God, Jews and Gentiles are godless – without God – and hopeless – without hope. No human being should have any expectation of living forever with God in the World To Come.

Here’s why: When Adam and Eve joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, they became alienated from God, who is the Source of eternal life and eternal happiness. Because of the Fall, Adam and Eve were no longer headed toward the eternal God and eternal life and eternal happiness. Instead, they and their descendants were headed away from the eternal God and eternal life and eternal happiness. But the Hope of Israel is merciful and gracious and didn’t leave Adam and Eve and their descendants in their godless, hopeless condition. The God of Hope loved us so much that He took radical action to help hopeless humanity. First, He created the Chosen People, who were given the task of getting the world ready for the Redeemer. Then, in the fullness of time, God the Father sent Messiah the Son into this world to become a human being. Yeshua lived a perfect life then died an atoning death that overcame the very real and ruinous forces of Satan, sin, the sin nature and death. Messiah’s life and death and resurrection and ascension and the sending of His Spirit made it possible for hopeless humanity to have hope.

Apart from knowing the Three-In-One God, and transferring his loyalty to the Three-In-One God, no human being should expect to live forever in the New Heavens, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem. But in 1 Thessalonians 5, the Lord’s divinely inspired representative teaches us that our hope is salvation – that when a human being understands the truth about God and transfers his loyalties to the Father, Son and Spirit, he can be sure he will be rescued from the forces of Satan, sin, the sin nature and death! He has the hope of living forever with God in His blessed and everlasting kingdom! Salvation is our hope – and not a temporary or partial salvation, but a full and perfect and everlasting salvation! No more danger of any kind! No more enemies that can harm us! No more losses! No more need of deliverance because we will be perfectly and forever rescued, never in need of being rescued again! Safe. Secure. At peace. Saved. What an amazing hope – the hope of salvation! Do you have that hope – that sure expectation of salvation?

And we have other tremendous things we can look forward to enjoying in the future. The Word of God teaches us that God Himself is our hope. That means that if we come to God on His terms, we can expect to live forever with the eternal and infinite God, who is self-existent; who has life within Himself; who is without beginning and without end; who is all-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, infinitely wise, perfect, and complete; the God who is love; the God who is gracious and merciful, holy, righteous and just, faithful and true; the God who never changes! He will be our God and we will be His people – forever and ever! No longer godless! What a great expectation – God is our hope! Is God your hope?

In Ephesians 1, Paul reveals that Messiah is our hope – that if we know who Yeshua is, and believe that He died and rose from the dead and is alive now, and if we commit ourselves to Him, Messiah will be ours, and we will be His. And who is this Anointed One? According to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Yeshua is the Son of God. He is Before All Things and worthy of honor and respect from all who come after Him. He is the Creator of all things, for whom all things have been created. He is the Sustainer Of All Things, holding together everything that exists. He is the Firstborn Over All Creation, preeminent over all created things and the special heir among the sons and daughters of God. He is the Reconciler Of All Things, who brings peace to all relationships – especially our most important relationship, the Creator-creature relationship. He is the One Who Overcame Death and who enables those of us who know who He is and become loyal to Him to overcome death. He is the One In Whom The Fullness Of God Lives, who is able to fill our need for God. He is the image of the invisible God, who perfectly reveals God to us. He is the Living Leader of all Christians and Messianic Jews everywhere, who gives us life and strength and direction. He is the King of a very great and real and wonderful and eternal kingdom. What an amazing thing – that Messiah is our hope – that we will belong to the Son of God, and He will belong to us! That we can expect to receive from Him all of the good things that come from Him and His eternal life and ministry. Is Messiah your hope?

In Thessalonians 2:19, Rabbi Paul tells us that our hope is in our fellow believers – that we will enjoy the other children of God and live forever with them. No more conflict with other human beings. No more damaged relationships. No more envy, jealously, hatred. Only good and enjoyable and beneficial relationships with the glorious sons and daughters of God!

In Galatians 5, we are promised that our hope is righteousness. Even though we come into this world alienated from the Creator; even though we are not in a right relationship with Him; even though we are dead in our trespasses and sins; even though we are unrighteous creatures who must be rejected by the infinitely righteous God – a time is coming when we will be completely righteous! Instead of a broken relationship, we will enjoy a right relationship with God. Instead of not doing the right things, we will always and only be able do the right things. No more unrighteous actions. No more injustice. No more harm done to anyone, or harm done to us. No more sins – and the sadness and sorrows and remorse and loss and other awful consequences that come from doing wrong. Our great future expectation is righteousness – being in a perfectly right relationship with the eternal God, and always and forever doing the right things.

In Colossians 1, we are told that Messiah in us gives us the hope of glory. Right now, humanity is not glorious. People are like grass, and all their beauty is like the flowers of the field … and the grass withers and the flowers fall. Mankind is in rebellion against the King of kings. We are fallen, depraved, ruined, marred, deformed, twisted, ugly, perishing – anything but honorable. But, a time is coming when our guilt and depravity, our shame and weakness and poverty, our foolishness and corruption will be replaced by glory and honor and praise, power and strength and riches and wisdom! Why? Because Messiah is in us! Because the glorious Son of God joined Himself to humanity and made our salvation possible! Because some of us were given the grace to understand who He is and what He has done, and the grace to respond and say yes to Yeshua; and because the Spirit of Messiah has taken up residence in us and will transform us completely into the image of the glorious and honorable Messiah! What an amazing thing – Messiah in us, the hope of glory!

In Titus 1:2, the Lord’s inspired emissary assures us that our hope is eternal life. Because of the Fall, human beings are not headed to life; they are headed to the First Death – physical death – followed by the even worse Second Death – spiritual death, eternal death in Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire. But our sure expectation is that we will not die, but live forever; and not just any kind of life, but perfect life, meaningful life, happy life, a life of blessedness and bliss!

Our hope, or better yet, our hopes, the things that we are assured will take place in the future, are that all of the amazing promises made by God to us will be fulfilled – that we will live forever with the eternal God! That we will be righteous, that we will receive everlasting praise and honor and glory, that we will live forever in unending happiness in the New Heavens and New Earth and the amazing New Jerusalem with the God who loves! That we will live forever with the holy ones of all the ages, with the glorified children of God, with our loved ones who have faithfully served the Lord, with the good angels and the cherubeem and serafeem and the living beings and the other creatures who will be there. That we will enjoy all the wonders of that very real and blessed kingdom; drinking the water from the river of life, which runs through the center of that beautiful city; eating from the Tree of Life, which produces a different fruit each month and gives healing and life. That we will have meaningful things to do, like help God rule the new universe!

Some hopes can disappoint because they don’t happen; or if they do happen, they don’t turn out to be as good as we expected – but not these hopes! These hopes will not disappoint because they are real. They are good. They have the firmest of foundations! They are based on the perfect work of the Three-In-One God. They are found in the pages of the divinely inspired Word of the faithful God who promises and always keeps His promises!

Hope Helps Us In The Present
Even though hope deals with the future, hope can have a beneficial impact on us in the present. The human soul is sick. The author of the letter to the Messianic Jews informs us that hope is like medicine for our sin-sickened souls. Our souls are confused and lost. Hope is like an anchor for our wandering, lost souls (Hebrews 6:19). Life in a fallen world is often hard and sad. Human beings can be miserable if they don’t have an anticipation of something better in the future. Our hope helps us be happy – even in spite of what may be difficult circumstances. That’s why we can rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12). Hope helps us to persevere through our trials. Rabbi Paul wrote: If we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:25). Even when we are facing the most difficult circumstances, like death, we can have hope. Job had that kind of hope, even in the midst of the most difficult challenges. Though God kills me, he confessed, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15). Hope enables us to be courageous. Having such a hope, Rabbi Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we use great boldness in our speech (2 Corinthians 3:12). If God is for us, who can be against us! What can mere humans do to us? We are going to live forever! Knowing this hope makes us confident, bold, courageous! It’s so beneficial to have hope like ours!
Strengthening Our Hope
There are things that we can do to strengthen our hope. We nurture our hope by reading and studying the Bible, and hearing the Word of God being taught (Romans 15:4). The encouragement that the Bible creates, nurtures hope. Suffering produces perseverance; patiently enduring our trials produces good character; and good character solidifies hope (Romans 5:3-4, Hebrews 3:6). In other words, if we endure our trials with a good attitude, it improves our character and reinforces our hope. We nurture our hope by being diligent to serve the Lord (Hebrews 6:11), by doing something to build up Messiah’s Community from within and by bringing the Message of the Messiah to those without.
Making Sure Our Hope Is Genuine
We need to make sure that we have the right hope. We are to fix our hope, not on the American Dream, but on Yeshua (1 Peter 1:13); not on a long and enjoyable life on Earth, but on the hope reserved for us in Heaven (Colossians 1:4-6). John gives us a test, a way to determine if our hope is genuine or if our religion is phony and we are fooling ourselves. If our hope of salvation is real, we will purify ourselves morally and spiritually. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as God is pure (1 John 3:3). Are you removing the wrong thinking, the bad attitudes and the sins from your life? Can others tell? Do you have hope? Do you have the right hope? Are you doing the things to make sure your hope is well founded? May the Hope of Israel, may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Shalom!

Rabbi Loren

By | 2017-01-30T21:43:00+00:00 June 1st, 2014|Categories: Newsletter|Comments Off on 2014 June – Shema Newsletter

About the Author:

Rabbi Loren Jacobs is the senior rabbi and founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael” (which means “Hear O Israel”). Congregation Shema Yisrael is a Messianic synagogue which was started in 1986 when Rabbi Loren and his wife Martha moved to Michigan to proclaim the Good News about the Messiah to the Jewish people living in the metro Detroit area. Rabbi Loren was raised in a Jewish home in the Chicago area, and became a Messianic Jew in 1975. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute’s Jewish Studies program in 1979 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey in 1986. His wife Martha is a fifth generation Messianic Jew, which is quite unusual. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.