Adar/Nisan 5773 March 2013
MA CHADASH? WHAT’S NEW?
February 23: Purim and Oneg: We will observe Purim (the holiday celebrating the salvation of the Jewish people in the time of Mordecai and Esther), followed by an Oneg. Please bring food to share, especially Hamentashen to compete for the coveted Golden Hamentashen Award. Children are encouraged to dress up in costumes related to the story of Esther.
Passover: March 25 and 28: Shema will host two Passover Seders this year, the first on Monday, March 25, and the second on Maundy Thursday, March 28: Seating for each will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Farmington Hills Manor, 23666 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills. Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under. You can make a reservation and pay using Paypal on the Shema website, www.shema.com. Or, you can pay by check. Along with your reservation, please indicate which night or nights you want to attend and how many adults and children for whom you are reserving places. Please include your phone number and email address with your reservation. We will send you a confirmation email or letter. You need to make your reservation by March 20. Keep in mind that the evening is too long for young children.
THANKS VERY MUCH!
Messiah’s Community in Philippi had a close relationship with Rabbi Paul, that great representative of the Lord who brought the Good News to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles. The Philippians supported him so he could bring the Message about Messiah to those outside the community of salvation and build up new Messianic communities. They might not be able to go where Paul went, and do what Paul did, but through their prayers, financial support and encouragement, the Philippians could assist him. Over the years, the Lord has raised up a group of “Philippians” for Shema. As we build up Messiah’s Community from within and bring the Message that saves fallen human beings to those without, know that we are thankful to the God of Israel for your support. We pray that He will richly bless and reward you!
SEVEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT GOD THE FATHER
The first thing I like about God the Father is His self-existence. God The Father has life within Himself. The Son of God declared: The Father has life in Himself. All other beings, and even the universe itself, had a time when did not exist. There was a time when they came into existence. But there was never a time when God the Father didn’t exist. He was, He is and He is to come. He is eternal. The Father has no beginning and no end. As a finite creature, I have a very difficult time understanding God’s self-existence. Why should He always exist? How could He always exist? How is that possible? When I think about it, it makes more sense to me that nothing should exist. But, obviously things do exist, and God does exist, and He is self-existent. He has life in Himself. I am awe-stuck when I consider the Father’s self-existence. And, He is willing to give ongoing, eternal life to human beings who end their rebellion and become loyal to Him and to His Son!
The second thing I like about God the Father is His greatness. Psalm 145 proclaims: Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. Let’s try to understand something about the greatness of God by considering the size of the universe. Everything that humans have built – all the ships, cars, trains, houses, buildings and cities would not fill up a cube 500 miles by 500 miles by 500 miles. But our beautiful planet, with a diameter of 8,000 miles, fills 2,000 times more space – 260 billion cubic miles. That’s a lot of cubic miles of material! And yet the Earth is tiny compared to the Sun. Our Sun has a diameter of 780,000 miles compared to the Earth’s 8,000. There is room for over 1,300,000 of our Earths inside the Sun! And the Sun is not the largest of the stars. Some 427 light years away is the red star known as Betelgeuse. It’s in the constellation of Orion, which is mentioned in the book of Job (Job 9:9). The diameter of Betelgeuse may be 800 times greater than that of the Sun. If Betelgeuse were placed in the center of our solar system, its surface would go beyond Mars, and part way to the orbit of Jupiter. It is as much as 300 million times greater in volume than our Sun. Our huge Sun is like a little speck of dust compared to Betelgeuse! The closest star outside of our solar system is Alpha Centauri. It takes light, going 186,000 miles per second, over four years to go to Alpha Centauri. If you could drive there, it would take you about 30 million years to get there going at highway speed. And yet in comparison with the vast expanses of space, Alpha Centauri is extraordinarily close! The farthest light in the sky that is visible to the naked eye is the Andromeda galaxy. This cluster of stars is approximately 2.5 million light years from us – about 625 thousand times farther than Alpha Centauri! Beyond the Andromeda galaxy are many other galaxies. We think there are a hundred billion galaxies in the universe and the largest galaxies can have more than a trillion stars. We think that powerful quasars that we’ve been able to detect are 15 to 20 billion light years away. The universe is so huge that it’s impossible for the human mind to fully comprehend it. (I am indebted to this section on astronomy to someone whose name I can’t remember.) Yet God the Father is greater than the universe! The Lord asked: Do I not fill the Heavens and the Earth?(Jeremiah 23:24). The answer is yes. God’s presence fills this entire immense universe! King Solomon asked this question in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple: Will God indeed dwell on the Earth? He answered his own question with: Behold, Heaven and the Highest Heavens cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! (1 Kings 8:27). And, even though God is greater than the universe, He is concerned about us. He loves us! King David expressed his appreciation for this great God who loves small, fallen human beings: When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. I love that this great God cares so much about us!
The third thing I like about God the Father is the way He uses His power.It’s good to have power. With power we can do things. Human beings have power – some more and some less. The various angels have varying degrees of power. But God the Father has unlimited power! He is all-powerful, all-mighty. We see a glimpse of the Lord’s power in creation. Think of the equation, E=MC(2) – energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. One of the things that means is that matter is convertible into energy, and vice-versa. Think of the power contained in an atomic bomb, which converts a small amount of the mass of uranium or plutonium into energy. Think of the power needed to make a much larger mass, like a mountain, or a continent or this huge planet! That’s a lot of power. Think of the power it takes to heat your home in the winter. Now think of the power of the sun, which heats the entire Earth from more than 90 million miles away. God the Father, who made the sun, has vastly more power than the sun! Power, if not used wisely, can be destructive. That’s why we don’t trust the immature, fools or criminals with power. But the Father uses His infinite power for the benefit of His Chosen Ones, His redeemed son and daughters, whom He loves, who will live with Him forever!
The fourth thing I like about God the Father is His wisdom. God is vastly intelligent. A.W. Tozer observed that God has given an amount of wisdom to each of His creatures. The wisdom of an ant is not the same as the wisdom of an angel. But the wisdom of any creature, or of all creatures put together, is infinitesimally small when compared to the wisdom of God. For this reason Paul refers to God as the “only wise God” (Romans 16:27). God’s wisdom is displayed throughout this great, complex, organized, beautiful universe. Jeremiah understood this when he wrote: It is He who made the Earth by His power, who established the universe by His wisdom, and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens (Jeremiah 51:15). The universe is full of information, order, design, purpose, numerical relationships and laws. The “laws of nature” operate by precise mathematical formulas. Scientists have discovered that we live in a Goldilocks kind of universe – not too much of this, and not too much of that, but “just right”. They have found more than 20 fine-tuned parameters that make it possible for the universe and life in the universe to exist, parameters like constants in equations for gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces, and even the ratio of proton to electron mass. If any of these parameters were just a little different, the universe as we know it wouldn’t exist! God’s wisdom is also revealed at the very small level. With advances in science and technology we have the ability to peer into the cell and are able to glimpse the incredible amount of complexity at the cellular level. Each cell is a world of miniature machines and factories and transportation systems and amazingly complex DNA information systems. The more we learn about the universe, from the largest galaxies to the smallest sub-atomic particles, the more we can agree with the author of Psalm 104 who wrote: O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all! His wisdom extends over each created thing, and how each thing interacts with everything else, so that He can rule all wisely and according to His will. God uses His great wisdom to create, then redeem and provide for the physical and spiritual, earthly and eternal needs of Christians and Messianic Jews! Out of His wisdom He can turn human foolishness to good. He is so wise that what we mean for evil, He can turn to good. He is so wise that He can make all things, good and bad, work together for our ultimate benefit.
The fifth thing I like about God the Father is His artistry. There have been many great artists, but as you look at a golden sunrise or the red, orange and violet hues of the sunset; the planets and stars in the night sky; the rainbow after a storm; a panoramic landscape; the way light dances on waters; a beautiful crabapple or magnolia tree blossoming in the spring; or the amazing colors of the leaves in the fall; the limitless varieties of trees, flowers, animals, jewels and precious metals, each with their own beauty; the work of the Greatest Artist of all is revealed, whose artistry surpasses that of any human being. And, God the Father has created us with the ability to see and appreciate beauty. The human eye can detect very subtle differences in color. Researchers estimate we can see millions of shades of color. The human mind discerns size and shape and color and symmetry that form beauty. God the Father is not only an artist, but He Himself is beautiful and surrounded by great beauty. John had a vision of the Father seated on His throne in Heaven, and He had the appearance of beautiful precious stones – jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shines like an emerald circled His throne, adding to His beauty. And in front of His throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. Beautiful! Good art enriches us intellectually, morally and spiritually. Good art can move us to become better human beings! I love that God is the Greatest Artist of all, whose beauty and artistry enriches us most of all!
The sixth think I like about God the Father is His moral perfection. He is not only great in power and size and intelligence, but He is great in righteousness. The gods of the Greeks and Romans had human-like faults. They were jealous, vindictive and capricious. Human beings are a mixture of good and evil. But God is moral perfection. Ascribe greatness to our God! the Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He. We can rely on Him to do what is right, to always be just, faithful, true, upright. That’s the kind of God who is worthy to be served.
The seventh thing I like about God the Father is His grace and mercy.Grace is doing something good to someone that is not deserved. Mercy is not punishing someone when it is deserved. Human beings rarely show grace and mercy. Important and powerful people in this world don’t always take an interest in those they consider to be less important than they are. They don’t always help the weak and the powerless. Even though God the Father is self-existent, great in size, awesome in power, supremely wise, and a great artist, and morally perfect, He relates to His small, fallen, damaged creatures with tremendous grace and mercy! Consider these thoughts about His grace and mercy from Psalm 113: The Lord is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the Earth? In spite of His greatness and glory and power, the Lord is concerned about and committed to helping even the weakest and most disadvantaged fallen human beings. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of His people. I love that about God – that He wants to give us grace and mercy – because I am a small, fallen, damaged creature, overpowered by the forces of Satan, sin and death! I am prone to sin, prone to forget God, so much in need of His grace and mercy – which He is so willing to give me!
How should we respond to a being who has life in Himself; who is wise, artistic and beautiful; who is great in size yet loves us small, damaged creatures; infinite in power and uses His power for our benefit; who is who is morally perfect yet full of grace and mercy? The following thoughts come to mind: Thankfulness. Be grateful to God the Father. Get into a right relationship with God the Father – right away. He wants to become your Heavenly Father. Make absolutely sure He is your Father. Loyalty. Come to God on His terms, which include honoring His Son, the Messiah. Be totally committed to this God who created, redeemed, loves, sustains and enriches us. Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Obedience. Live by the wise and beneficial laws and principles He gave us. Serve Him. Be your Father’s servant. Tell others about Him and His Son. Remember, the most important thing about any human being is what, deep in his heart, he thinks about God. Why? Because our relationship with Him is the most important thing about us, and because our salvation, a successful life in this world, and eternal life in the World To Come depends on us knowing who God really is, and then relating to Him as He deserves!