Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 5, 2020

Shabbat Shalom,

I want to give you a personal health update.  I wish I had more to report.  My COVID recovery has been much slower than I would like.  That does’t give you much information.  I’ve been improving, and here’s how I know… Last Monday it took me 4 hours to brush my teeth.  Each day since it has taken half as long as the day before (Mon. – 4hrs., Tue. – 2hrs., Wed. – 1hr., Thu. – 30 min., Fri. – 15 min.).  This means on Shabbat I should be back to normal.  

I wish everything else were back to normal.  I have a message written for tomorrow.  That should be interesting.  I certainly look forward to being with you all.  Jan and I miss being in community and I miss writing every day.

Sorry I don’t have a more miraculous recovery to report, but come to think of it, this may be a miraculous report in itself.  I certainly have nothing to complain about.  Here is the next installment by David Harwood.  And thank you David for writing.  As I read it, I came under conviction.  I expect everyone else will be blessed as well.  

Developing a Godly Inner Narrative (Part 7) By David Harwood

This is the seventh entry about developing a godly inner narrative. Since this is the seventh I thought that, along the lines of the days of the week, we would review what we’ve covered and introduce our next entries. 


We shared that the ways we think about ourselves often reflect our formerly fully fallen nature, our culture, the way we were raised, and the influence of demonic powers. God wants us to think about ourselves in a manner that pleases Him, relying upon the Scriptures and His wonderfully holy Spirit.

Our earlier entries concentrated on this verse:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV)

This verse points to an interpersonal reality. “Before You” could also be translated as “In Your sight.”  From the Hebrew, it literally means “before Your face” (לְפָנֶ֑יךָ). This pertains to a personal relationship that includes the reality of spiritual proximity. The Scriptures teach that God indwells each believer as He once did the temple in Jerusalem. Our innermost thoughts are voiced in His presence. 

Sound biblical theology bears witness to this relational dynamic. Our innermost words and silent meditations can please or displease God in whose presence they are voiced. 

Some patterns of thought have been forbidden by the Messiah. In other words, Yeshua commands us to control our thoughts as well as our actions.  (Matthew 5:27, 28) These include judging others, illicit sexual attraction that goes beyond temptation, anger, etc. 

Such prohibitions did not begin with Yeshua. The last of the Ten Commandments addressed an attitude, not an action, not words. Here is an encapsulation of the tenth command: Don’t covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. 

Obviously, sinful meditations do not give the Holy One pleasure. However, we who are justified-ones have an opportunity to bless Him with our thoughts including our thoughts about ourselves. Our meditations can delight Him. They can give Him pleasure. We can humble our hearts and get trained by God to think of ourselves in a way He enjoys.

Some  patterns of thought are encouraged. For instance, we are encouraged to love God and others with our thoughts. The Great Command includes loving God with our minds (Matthew 22:37-38). 

And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37–38 TLV)

Paul encouraged his disciples to believe the best of one another.

(Love) bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things… (1 Corinthians 13:7a TLV)

Such exhortations from Paul can be multiplied.

These verses exemplify meditations that please God. 

In addition, I shared that the biblical view of God’s manifest nearness includes the concept of His increased awareness. I know that may seem irrational to those who have been classically theologically trained. However, it is the way the Prophets revealed that God wants us to view Him. Furthermore, it is backed up by holy enscriptured narratives. 

By the way, within the realities He constructed, the Creator can relate to His creation any way He wants. If He desires to be especially aware of that which is near His manifest presence, He can.

Here is an example of this reality: the God of Israel being worshiped in the synagogues was of a different quality of holiness than His worship in the Temple. His manifest presence resided in the Holy of Holies. Both kohanim and people responded accordingly.

Consider this: a statue of Asherah within the Temple precincts was a different level of abomination than the sex-goddess being worshipped in the hinterlands of the holy land. The Temple was special. You are special, too. 

How you think about yourself, in proximity to His presence in your inner being, is not observed from afar. We are instructed to believe that our inner-narrative is played out right in front of His face. God is especially present within you and your meditations about yourself can give God pleasure.

Moving On

Let’s get practical in our instruction. 

Our innermost meditations are often filled with talking to ourselves. How might we speak to ourselves in a way that gives God’s presence pleasure? We can please God when we speak to ourselves in the same manner we might please God when we speak to others. This is also true when we speak about ourselves to our own souls in the way we speak well about others. 

The reverse is also true.

Here’s an example of some guidance in this regard. Paul exhorted:

Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it. (Ephesians 4:29 TLV)

When we speak to others we are to aim towards building them up. The maturing disciple is called to communicate in a way that encourages their brethren. The Spirit of the Lord will give us wisdom as to what to say. We can rely upon God’s guidance to offer loving wisdom. As we do we can please Father in what we say and how we say it. God hears the way we speak to them.

Do you agree?

If you do, then here’s some follow-up truth: we are to speak to ourselves the same way we would speak to someone we love and want to comfort or encourage. If someone we loved was discouraged about life would we gang up on them and help them beat themselves up? If that beloved one deeply disappointed us and was sincerely grieved about what they did, or failed to do, would we harshly judge them and offer no mercy?

If we did, would God be pleased? He is certainly aware of this type of thing. Here’s a significant verse that reinforces this:

Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge is standing at the doors. (Jacob-James 5:9 TLV)

We’re called to encourage and offer wholesome counsel to others. We can speak to ourselves in the same way. If we do it will give God’s presence pleasure.

On the negative side of things, we are not permitted to insult people. Please revisit this instruction from the Sermon on the Mount:

But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca’ shall be subject to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be subject to fiery Gehenna. (Matthew 5:22 TLV)

You’ve just re-read the record of Yeshua the Messiah’s instruction. He said a) we’re not to nurse anger towards others; b) we are not to speak to people in a way that robs them of their self-worth; c) we are not to mock and demean others. That type of speech is unacceptable. It does not give Him pleasure.

There are people out there who have mercilessly called themselves, “idiots.” That is one example of a self-demeaning narrative that does not give God’s presence pleasure. There are others who have expressed angry thoughts to themselves, about themselves, due to deep regret about choices they’ve made. 

You may know someone like this.

It might even be you.

For the sake of pleasing God’s indwelling presence consider what you might say to your own soul that would be in accord with Ephesians 4:29. Let’s make it personal.

Let no unwholesome word be heard within your heart about yourself as you speak to your own soul. 

Instead, cultivate an inner narrative that is good for your own edification, according to your immediate need, so that your meditations will give you grace.

Please pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV)