Bible App Verse Of The Day Series: July 3, 2018

[I have decided that I will occasionally write about the You Version Bible app’s “Verse of the Day”. Sometimes just reading or hearing a particular passage of scripture can be a nonchalant activity that we do daily. I humbly admit I am guilty of this. As believers in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, we have an obligation, not only to ourselves, but also to each other, to discuss and meditate on the Word of the living God. This is so that we can all cultivate the soil of our hearts and encourage healthy growth of the seed that is planted.]

“You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you into His eternal glory in union with Messiah, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you and make you firm.”

1 Peter 5:10

Suffer…

Man, if this is not a despised word I have no clue what is. Especially in modern Christendom. Before we continue, let’s get one thing straight; other than a few current sects of Christians in select regions of the earth, I’ll say with upmost confidence that the majority of us modern-day believers can’t legitimately compare our sufferings to those of the members of the first century church. If you are not familiar with their sufferings, please do some research and count your blessings.

The suffering Peter is writing about spans a couple chapters. In chapter four he is quick to point out the physical suffering of Yeshua the Messiah, and how we are to conduct our attitude towards suffering because of His example. Let’s not be confused; though He suffered tremendous physical pain during the process of His death, the physical suffering being emphasized throughout chapter four is more geared towards denying our fleshly lust and desires, and enduring criticism from nonbelievers, as well as our fellow believers.

If you have ever had the displeasure of enduring the snake bite of hearing one of your brothers or sisters in Messiah bashing you behind your back, make no mistake, it can cause physical pain.

We’re not going to leave out any type suffering at all, though. I firmly believe suffering in general is subjective to the individual enduring it. What may cause one person suffering might not cause another suffering. This goes for all types– physical, mental, or spiritual.

Suffering is a part of life whether we want it or not. We can sometimes see it coming as clear as day, yet other times it blindsides us from out of nowhere. It can be caused by anything.

You’ll be hard pressed to find in scripture where suffering is just denied like it’s a man trying to get a girl’s number. But dare I say it’s somewhat welcomed as a revered friend in scripture? Hmmm…

If our relationship with Messiah is that of upmost trust and faith, why should we have a reason to fear suffering? Especially if we know that The Father is perfecting us on the other side of it! So the real questions arise; do you trust Messiah to deliver you from your suffering no matter what, even if the result is death? Furthermore, in death, would you trust Him to deliver you? How can you trust Him in death if you barely trust Him in life?

This all may be hard to digest, but the essence of it all is where is your faith in Messiah in ALL circumstances, good and bad? In suffering, our faith is truly established. It is by design. Your fight isn’t against suffering, it’s in the contention for your most holy faith. It’s for the God kind of faith. The faith that knows beyond any doubt that He will never leave me nor forsake me no matter in death or life! Suffering is just a catalyst that produces this kind of faith. Do not despise it! Selah.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses that have endured long before us. Look to them and the Holy Spirit for strength. You will never be alone in your suffering. Messiah and all that are in Him are with you! Amen!

-From Death To Life

Could Judas Have Been Forgiven?

Anyone who is familiar with the Christian Gospels should be highly acquainted with the story of Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus. It is a horrific tale with a morbid end. There is graphic detail regarding the consequences Judas endured physically, but furthermore, spiritually. Jesus himself said, “It would have been better for him that he were never born.”Matthew 26:24. That seems incomprehensible when coming from the lips of mercy Himself. I can’t see how that would’ve been easy for him to say, though it was the truth.

Personally, I have somewhat struggled reflectively with Judas’ story. The title of this article is a question that had frequented my mind almost every time Judas was even mentioned, let alone when reading the gospels. The question became synonymous with his story for me. If there were a poll asking this question conducted among believers, or really anyone familiar with the story, I would bet money that the outcome would most likely be 50/50. Many would claim yes, because the rest of the gospel is about repentance and forgiveness; many would say no, because what he did was beyond heinous and worthy of hellfire.

Truthfully, I can’t say with any certainty that Judas could or couldn’t have been forgiven. However, as I have meditated on this question, I have come to believe that the answer to the question may not be what is expected. Apropos, between forgiveness or un-forgiveness.

God sees and judges the heart

There is a difference between a one time murderer and a serial killer. Motive is an irreplaceable puzzle piece that can place someone in the respective aforementioned classifications. A murder suspect may have truly had a brief bout of insanity caused by an onset of uncontrollable circumstances. Sequentially producing a loss of the faculties of self-control, spawning a severe lapse in judgment, and finally, birthing the crime of murder. Ergo, if this ultimately is the verdict for this convict, sentencing usually won’t be as harsh as it would be for someone who evidently had premeditated motive. Why is this important though? Isn’t all sin the same in God’s eyes? Eh.. yes and no. Brass tax, sin is sin and it displeases God… no getting around that. However, let’s look at what our beloved spiritual ancestor, Paul, states in First Corinthians,

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”

This scripture has an undeniable connotation that reveals inequality in sin– i.e., the seven deadly sins are more consequential than lesser sins, such as a personal conviction of whether or not to drink alcohol.

Now, regarding the case of Judas, I didn’t mention the things above to compare to his sinful betrayal. I am only attempting to set up a foundation for my explanation.

John 6:64-70 is an imperative passage of scripture when it comes to understanding Judas’ heart.

“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.”

‭‭John‬ ‭6:64-71‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We see that many of the other disciples that are not of the original twelve had departed, never to follow Jesus again. Furthermore, in this passage, Judas was indirectly called out by Jesus. Jesus knew Judas’ heart was far from him because Judas’ heart was of the same corruption as those who departed.

In pondering this, the phoniness of Judas becomes very transparent. At this point, Judas must know Jesus is referring to him, yet he is sticking around like a leech trying to absorb whatever fame might be produced in being a follower of the Messiah. Or maybe it was just part of his plan all along in conspiring with the Priests.

Judas’ betrayal wasn’t singularly committed in his final, recorded actions; that was just the end result of where his heart concluded during the tenure of his discipleship. It was the eventual summation of his belief, or lack thereof, that drove him to betrayal. Did Jesus know this? Of course He did. Again, as we see above, Jesus called him out indirectly on multiple occasions.

Further down the rabbit hole, a subconscious question arises within all this…

Why did Jesus choose Judas as a disciple if He foresaw the betrayal?

I haven’t studied Calvinism, and never intend to. But there is no doubt in my mind that somewhere in that doctrine this is a question that has been answered incorrectly. Predestination is not where this is going.

Yes— God knows the heart of a man, knows the end from the beginning, and knows every decision we will make. But does that mean we are just a bunch of dispensable pawns in His game? Absolutely not. That completely negates the grace of the living God, and the purpose thereof. Also, if this were the truth, it puts God on the same field as tyrants, oppressors, and slave drivers, and vice versa. God’s divinity gifts us with choice. Also, as beings created in His image and likeness, we are created with that divine ability to choose.

Jesus chose Judas. Judas chose to betray Jesus.

There is a scripture that resonates within me regarding this situation. II Peter 3:9–

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

This is coming from the heart of a man that knows The Father deeply and walked hand in hand with the Messiah. He was well acquainted with grace. He uses definite words such as any and all. Anyone who knows God and walks steadily with Him, breathes Him, worships Him, trusts Him wholeheartedly, knows that God purposefully creating someone just to condemn them is erroneous.

“Well, what about Romans chapter 9?!”… What about it? Be careful, because basing a belief on a small set of scriptures and letting them dictate how you understand the rest of the Word of God is how bad doctrine is born. Is Romans chapter 9 wrong? No. Is it misunderstood? Yes. Paul’s underlying point in this passage is to prove that God has a choice, and whatever His choice may be, who are we to consider Him evil for the choice He made? Let’s analogize this. If a man’s family was murdered in cold blood, and whether that man decided to vengefully kill the murderer or spare his life, who are we to judge his decision? As a man with a family, I can tell you it would be effortless to sympathize with him if he chose to kill his family’s murderer. Truthfully, I wouldn’t disagree with either of his decisions. Paul’s theme in Romans 9 is this– God, who is perfect and wholly righteous, and we, who are the ones who have failed and sinned against Him; where do we stand on being able to judge His decisions as good or evil? The answer is nowhere. We have no place. It doesn’t exist. Furthermore, Paul gives us insight in Romans 9 that God’s choice is absolutely not predicated on the works of a person. Please read Romans 9:11-13. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot to misinterpret with this passage. But if we let the whole Word of God interpret itself we will not be deceived. The main point is, God has the ability to choose and we have no grounds to judge His choice as good or evil. With that said, Jesus deliberately chose Judas despite knowing the outcome of their relationship.

Ladies and gentlemen, our God is hope. I propose— why wouldn’t He choose Judas? He also chose Peter, whom He foresaw denying Him three times. Regardless of knowing the definite outcome, God extends His hand to sinners constantly in hope that they will come to Him and repent. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!”, said Jesus in John 5:32. It is innate for Him to do so. It is who He is. Knowing the outcome of how far off someone’s heart ends up is not going to stop Him from offering His goodness to those who need to repent.

Judas is no different from you or me in the degree that we previously did not know The Lord, but eventually were chosen by Him, and we answered the call. However, what occurred within Judas is what diverted him from the truth and eventually is what spawned his demise. I’m fairly confident that Judas, in the beginning of his walk with Messiah, trusted Him and have even walked wholeheartedly with Him. I am also confident in my assumption that something rattled him deeply, and a seed of doubt was planted in his heart. I can’t say when this happened, but if you have an understanding of how sin works, the death it produces doesn’t happen in a day. It takes time. It poisoned him to the core, and Jesus could see it happening. He made mention of it on more than one instance. Judas may have not verbally denied his doubt (at least it’s not recorded that he did), but it was there like scales on a fish. Could Judas have approached Jesus and asked for help; begged for mercy to have the doubt and unbelief erased from the depths of his heart? Yes and yes. Would Jesus have helped him and strengthened him with grace and the tender mercy that exudes from His being? Beyond a shadow of a doubt— Yes. But did Judas do that? Obviously not. He must have been so convinced in his heart that Jesus was a lawbreaker and worthy of betrayal, long before he ever accepted the silver.

What’s the difference between Judas and Peter?

Peter had struggled with doubt and unbelief as he walked with Messiah before the crucifixion. Like Judas, Peter was called out by Jesus about how he will sin against Him. We all know he denied having association with The Savior three times as Jesus stood trial. This, of course, is very heinous and worthy of condemnation. But what’s the difference? Why did Judas’ life seem so unredeemable and Peter’s the opposite? Were the motives of their hearts equal? Resoundingly no! Thank God He sees the heart! God knew Peter truly believed before Peter even knew he truly believed. God knew Peter would have penitence and would seek forgiveness from The Messiah at the first given opportunity. God saw the love for Messiah in Peter’s heart. This Love eventually was nowhere to be found in Judas, and much like Esau when he sold his birthright, there was a point of no repentance for him. The fault was all on him.

Judas’ life is a warning to us all. The same spirit that entered Judas has entered thousands of professed believers. The writer of Hebrews gives us detail of the consequences for recanting faith in Messiah. Even the closest followers of Jesus are susceptible to betrayal and corruption. The corruption of the heart is the culprit for un-forgiveness, not the acts committed. It’s not the sin committed that condemns, it’s the lack of repentance afterward that is damning. Judas believed there was no repentance for what he did, which ultimately proves he lacked the faith for forgiveness. God didn’t condemn Judas. Judas condemned himself.

As you can see, the eternal salvation of a person can not be determined with a simple yes or no answer. The heart can be very complex, only to be truly known by The Father. The position of our heart reflects the level of dependence we have in Jesus for our salvation.

It’s been awhile…

Unfortunately, I can’t blame my lack of a blog post in several months on a planet-sized case of writer’s block.  I’ve just been slightly … well ok… extremely lazy.  What good is confessing my laziness without backing it up with excuses, huh? None whatsoever. I started a new job (again) at the beginning of October; the holidays came (we added one this year and fulfilled celebrating all eight days of Hanukkah); I rejoined my church’s worship team; lastly, we recently began furniture shopping. In all reality, each of those endeavors provides plenty of raw material to build a good blog post or two. So shame on me and my laziness.

The Worship Team

Two years ago I felt a “release”, if you will, by the Holy Spirit to step down from my position in the worship team at our church.  It was much needed.  I had served faithfully for about ten years up to that point, almost every single Sunday.  Needless to say, it took a toll. Also, in all candidness, my heart was not in it anymore. I was frustrated and felt I was nowhere near where I believe God intended me to be.  Ministry left a stench in my nose and soul, and I wanted no part of it.

Not long after, in February of 2016, my wife and I attended a Bethel worship night in Conway, Arkansas.  At the time it was a big step for me.  I wasn’t far removed from my worship ministry departure, and it did not appease me as much as I may have let on; nonetheless, I kept an open mind and heart in hopes that The Lord would speak to me.  I remember sitting in the auditorium before the music started feeling reminiscent of my adolescent days of depression.  I hated to hear the jabbering young hipsters around me talk about what kind of guitars the band is probably going to be playing.  Heaven, help the person who needs me to stand up so they can get to their seat.  Much to my dismay, I couldn’t but feel like whale of raw emotion was billowing towards the surface about to breach.  Thankfully the band finally started and was loud enough to deafen my inner confliction.  A song or two in, I finally felt the familiar caress of the Holy Spirit.  He sure proved the nature of the name “Comforter” to me that night; just as He had countless times past.  I worshipped.  I cried.  He spoke to me.

Upon previous “concerts” of the likeness of this one, I usually would focus on the guitarists. I enjoyed the tones they were able to emit, and the effects selections within certain songs fascinated me.  I noticed it was different with this worship night.  I was entranced with the worship leaders and vocalists to the point where I knew it was The Lord drawing my attention to them.  He spoke to me gently, inside my spirit and asked, “When did I ask you to focus on guitar playing?”.  This question was clearly rhetorical and by no means could be answered.  Looking back, I can’t find the point in time where He specified such a command.  (Please know I felt zero ounces of condemnation when this correction happened.  The rebuke of The Lord harbors infinitely more love than the loftiest of accolades from friends and family.) So I examined my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and it became clear again that my gift is in leading worship.  Not long after that night I set out to sell ALL of my electric guitar equipment and remarry the acoustic guitar.

So the past two years, being on a hiatus from a “formal” worship team setting, really allowed me to get reacquainted with my gift as a worship leader.  Back in September of this year (2017), I was singing and worshipping in my car on the way home from work and suddenly I felt the unction to rejoin the worship team at my church.  It felt identical to two years earlier when I was “released” from the team, except reversed.

Hanukkah

“Oh, you’re Jewish?”, I was asked several times this year. I get it though. Our westernized “Christian” culture is very non-Jewish, so being asked that question was never surprising.

I would like to elaborate our position on holidays though…

The past few years have been very enlightening in regards to the depths of my professed faith. I always had an understanding that Christianity “derived”, so to speak, from Judaism, but never really had the revelation on the matter until maybe the last three years. We’re systematically taught growing up that Christianity and Judaism somewhat are two separate yet intermingled faiths. Even if that may not be what is directly taught from the American pulpit, it is most definitely, massively assumed by the majority of American Christians, and potentially Christians from the majority of other countries.

This is no longer my current, nor future orthodox. It has been abolished in my mind and spirit to believe that way. Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah was not sent to create a new religion or way of belief. He was Jewish; lived a Jewish life, and fulfilled Jewish prophecy and law.

So to bring this back around to the subject of holidays…

Hanukkah actually has a true story to back up the festivities. If you have never heard the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabean revolt it is a must. It’s miraculous. Christmas, on the other hand, is quite… well… pagan. Please investigate the details for yourself. I will not elaborate them here. Yes, it is the designated day/timeframe in which we celebrate the birth of The Savior, which I am on board with. However, it has lost all other appeal to me other than that. I obviously also enjoy the family time it produces. Christmas for a lot of people is very mystical, and comes with it a sense of wonderment that somewhat removes a little reality for them. I’m all for wonderment and creativity and celebrations, but to me, it is a ship that has been sailing the wrong direction for centuries.

Don’t get me started on the intentional lying parents do to their kids regarding a fat guy wearing a blood red suit who can break into people’s homes. And even worse, a possessed elf character that likes to sit on shelves. “But it’s just a bit of fun! It’s tradition.” Eh.. keep telling yourself that. Take it down to brass tax, you’re just setting your kids up for disappointment when they find out it’s all claptrap. Not to mention the potential doubt they’ll have about all the other stories you’ve told them throughout their childhood. Including the gospel.

We did put up our Christmas tree, but before you call me a hypocrite because of my aforementioned words, I want to say that I’m indifferent on it. It holds no meaning to me other than it’s really pretty.

Hanukkah was a blessing for me to share with my family this year, because more than likely, Yeshua Himself celebrated the Festival of Lights with His family and disciples.

Does this make us converts to Judaism. No. It’s just hard not to give it the attention it deserves once we’ve learned about it. “Converting” is misunderstood anyways, in light of “The One New Man” elaborated on by Paul in Ephesians 2.

If you’ve gotten this far with reading my post, know that I am no Scrooge. I’m just sharing my heart.

In conclusion

I am aware this is more of a personal blog entry. I don’t intend to do a lot of these. This is the route this one went because it’s the first one I’ve done in several months and I really just wanted to spill my heart about a few things. I hope all of you had a wonderful 2017 and pray you’re 2018 is at least twice as wonderful.

Much love.

שלום

-Daniel Kent

Are we all called to ministry?

In the summer between the ninth and tenth grades I had a strong experience of the presence of God at a youth camp in Oklahoma City. I grew up in church, but by far this was the most fun and most real experience I had as a believer up to that point. The struggles I had as a violent and depressed teenager, paled significantly in comparison to the love of The Father that was revealed to me that week. It was like meeting someone famous for the first time, but I already knew Him and He knew me, and He exceeded every expectation I accumulated of Him throughout my young years. I’m sure for anyone who has truly been blessed enough to experience the presence of the Living God can attest to my words.

This was a time of purity in my relationship with The Lord. I mean that in the sense of motive of the heart. I didn’t feel pressured to do anything or promise to accomplish great ministerial feats and become a great and mighty warrior for God. All I had a desire for was to know Him more intimately and to become more like Him.

Over the course of a few years and intermittently obtaining words from The Lord, I began to learn obedience is crucial in this relationship. As Samuel said to Saul when he allowed some of the Amalekites and their king to live, “obedience is better than sacrifice.”(1 Samuel 15:22). Understanding this only seemed feasible to me in the times of when my heart was in good standing with The Lord. However, over time, when I was focusing on my “calling” more than my relationship, things took a turn down a road of confusion and doubt.

This, I’m sure, is a common condition for a lot of believers. We somehow always come back to a fleshly nature of works and forget to focus on our first love. After all, is He not our reward? As I traveled this path, a slew of issues began to happen. I began to believe my relationship with God was based on what I was called to do for Him. I felt that if I didn’t do “Kingdom business” He would surely not bless me. I pursued worship ministry as I believed it was my purpose. Sin was easier to commit because my heart drifted further from my relationship with The Father. It was a cycle that was spiraling out of control and it led to a rotten heart wanting nothing to do with ministry…

… right where He wanted me.

What is any action worth to God if our hearts aren’t right in doing them? God, being the same yesterday, today, and forever, will always see our heart. The willingness to obey in our hearts is greater to God than doing something that looks righteous, but isn’t something God commanded us to do. By having a willing and pure heart alone qualifies us for the work of God. This means that when He instructs us to do something, we act upon it out of our love for The Father. Nothing more, nothing less. We even see Jesus keeping to this standard while He walked this earth. John 5:19 says, “Therefore Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself. He can do only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”, and also later in the same chapter, verse 30, ““I can do nothing on My own. Just as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, for I do not seek My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me.”” The implementation of this is imperative! The Son of God Himself showed us the proper order of heart, obedience, and action.

Very recently, after I consequently obtained the position of throwing my hands in the air and basically saying, “Screw it! I’m done trying!”, The Lord started to show me my error. What grace my God has to show me where I messed up so that I may repent and turn from my faithlessness! To be specific in one instance, my wife and I were attending a much needed worship night. I normally will pay some attention to the electric guitar players because that’s what I played and loved watching their precision. During this night though, I really felt drawn to the heart of worship from the worship leaders. I began to remember that’s where I started and that’s what I was gifted to do. The Lord then spoke to me and said, “Look back and find the time I instructed you to focus more on lead guitar playing.”. Of course, as I did just that, the time of which He spoke of was nowhere to be found. That’s all He had to say. It’s not that I was doing anything wrong in the eyes of the people around me, or even myself for that matter, but nonetheless, I was in disobedience to God. I have since sold the majority of my electric guitar equipment and went back to focusing on being a worship leader.  I believe this has allowed The Lord to infiltrate my heart again and correct my course.

So, as time has gone by since these events, I have set my face like flint and resolved that I will not lose the focus that my relationship with Him goes before anything else. Who I am is above what I do… But I still wonder what specifically I am called to do. Along with music ministry I have also felt the desire to teach and preach. So one night laying in bed, I was having thoughts about becoming a preacher, or pastor, or whatever else pertains to that kind of position. As I thought these things I got a sharp and quick word in my spirit from The Lord. He said, “I don’t need another man behind a pulpit.”…  “hmm… ooook… well that was awkward.”, I thought to myself. This was obviously something that I would need to meditate on and digest for awhile. As I did, my heart started to find a peace that I once felt before. These words, as they settled, began to comfort me in a way that can be difficult to explain. For once I felt like I was able to allow myself to not desire a position in ministry. Not because I don’t feel called to ministry, but because I had a misunderstanding of what true ministry is. It isn’t a position in a church. It isn’t yelling verses from the Bible from a stage. It isn’t singing into a mic and strumming a guitar. It is living a life of seeking the face of God and desiring an intimate relationship with Him. That is above ALL things! What good is a preacher who doesn’t know God? He can spit every verse of the Bible if he wants, but in the end, Jesus Himself will say, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity! I never knew you!”

If you have struggled with whether or not you are called to ministry I will assure you this… YOU ARE! But please understand, ministry has nothing to do with what you are supposed to do for the rest of your life! It has everything to do with who you are supposed to walk the rest of your life out with! That person is Yeshua The Messiah! Having the revelation that Yeshua is to be your one and only desire will show you true contentment, true faith, and mostly, true love! Nothing else comes fractionally close!

It is my hope and prayer that sharing my testimony regarding this matter helps at least one person truly overcome a heart of works and grasp the blessing of resting in Yeshua.

Please feel free to leave a comment if this helped you in anyway!

With love and shalom

– From Death To Life