Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, February 20, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,


We are celebrating Purim as a congregation a little early this year.  Our Purim Party will take place at the synagogue this Sunday night beginning at 4:00PM.  We will read the whole Magilla.  FYI: The Book of Esther is written on a single scroll called a Magilla.  Therefore; the Book of Esther is the original magilla.   Please come at 4PM and bring something to share for dinner.  Also, if you bake, please make some hamentashen (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/27201/easy-hamantaschen/). Dress up like Esther or Mordechai, bring your noise makers and let’s have some fun.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 20-Feb-2020 8th of Adar, 5781 

Parashat Terumah Shabbat Zachor

By David Harwood

We have all experienced pain. The location of pain in our bodies tends to capture our attention more than the rest of us which may feel fine.

As with physical pain, emotional pain tends to attract the attention of our souls. Negative criticism goes deeper than praise. We tend to internalize shame. It is easier to maintain a rotten attitude towards ourselves than to stop, turn around, and determine to edify ourselves.

It is difficult to reorient our meditations and how we view ourselves. To begin to accomplish this requires a strong motivation. I suggest that you choose this one: Develop your inner-narrative in a way that gives God pleasure. 

Do you agree with the following?  “Nobody wants to live in a house where there is constant quarreling, accusations, and conflict.”  That’s what we call a “no brainer.” 

A sacred proverb states:  Better is dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. (Proverbs 17:1 TLV) 

God lives within our house (body) together with us (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22). We dwell within our bodies and our bodies are a significant part of us (2 Corinthians 5:1–3). How significant? Please note the emphasis in Scripture on the resurrection Philippians 3:21). God has united Himself to us within our bodies. He and we are both in residence. 

Since we love God, don’t we want Him to enjoy living in us? Sometimes our inner-narrative can be quite contentious. We can learn to make peace with ourselves and give God’s indwelling presence pleasure.

We may be those who argue with God about ourselves. He calls us worthwhile and sees us as worthy of great love. We need to yield to His evaluation. Actually, we need to cooperate.

If we do not yield to His evaluation, we are yielding to a civil war within ourselves.  As Abraham Lincoln quoted from the Bible in Mark 3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Why should our Father be forced by us to experience this?  It is better to live on a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (member of our household). (Proverbs 21:9 TLV)   Let’s learn from God about who we are in His sight. We can learn to come into harmony with what we understand to be His perspective. 

To underscore our goal, let me ask, what type of inner-attitude should we cultivate? Our last entry included this thought: Your inner demeanor is to be deliberately kind, helpful, compassionate, and favorable towards yourself.   This was derived from Ephesians 4:32. That verse contains relational instructions to a community of believers. It is a good summary of holy, wholesome attitudes towards each another. Become kind toward one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as also God in [the Messiah] has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 Lexham English Bible)

These same principles can be righteously applied to our inner-narrative. They should be.  Part of this process begins as we make progress in apprehending and holding fast to our true identities. 

Identity Matters Because Identity Matters

In Ephesians 4:28 the thief is not told to stop stealing. He’s told to stop stealing, start working, and give to those in need. In the same way, having identified patterns of rotten inner-speech, we might do well to embrace elementary truths about our identities. It’s not enough to banish bad beliefs and rotten attitudes. We need to be refilled with loving-truth. Please read the following familiar warning, it is certainly applicable.

“Now when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places looking for rest and doesn’t find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I’ll go back home where I came from.’ And when it comes, it finds the house vacant, swept clean, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there. And that man’s last condition becomes worse than the first. So also will it be for this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43–45 TLV) 

The devil is an accusing liar (John 8:44). Therefore, treat insights that are weaponized to wound your soul as if they were unclean spirits. Then be refilled with true truths… 

Listen, truths can be used to deceive others. There are half-truths, twisted truths, truths out of context, truth exaggerated… Truths are not always true. Yeshua was tempted by the devil with truth.  Each of us must rightly divide the word of truth.  (2 Timothy 2:15b). As much as possible we need to be filled with true truths. We need truth mediated by loving-wisdom. 

We need wisdom from above to discern, from God’s perspective, that which is true (James 3:17). 

To do that we shall spend time concentrating on identity matters because our true identity matters. Here’s our plan:

The first way we are going to approach identity matters is through the Scriptures. 

After that, within Biblical parameters, you will be encouraged to examine your unique sense of calling and destiny. 

Finally, we shall offer encouragement to check out your personal understanding of your identity through the confirmation and cautions of fellow believers.

Eat From the Tree of Life.

As we begin to examine aspects of our biblical identity, let’s address our capacity to exercise our ability to choose. To develop an inner-narrative that is consistently pleasing to God we must begin with a decision. In D’varim (Deuteronomy), Moshe is quoted as exhorting Israel, “Choose life…” 

I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, (Deuteronomy 30:19 TLV) 

This is important.

The context is obedience and blessing as opposed to rebellion and destruction. However, there is a principle employed here that is foundational: we can choose to experience life within our inner-narrative. In fact, we should desire this.

Here is a fundamental principle found in Psalm 34:12-14.

Who is the one who delights in life, and loves to see good days? 14Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking treachery. 15Depart from evil and do good. Seek shalom and pursue it. (Psalm 34:13–15 TLV) 

Desiring a good life and a lot of it is godly, not carnal. Some may think this verse is a spiritually inferior “Old Testament” emphasis upon the bounty of the material creation. Yet, Peter quoted this psalm (1 Peter 3:10–12). 

We are creatures that desire life. We desire the type of life we would love to live. This is not talking about something ethereal. The material realm – especially in the way we relate to other humans – is infused with spiritual reality. God created it. He said it was good. Creation really was affected by humanity’s fall. We dragged it down.  Despite that, it is still good.  And we have a choice to make.  We can choose life, symbolized by the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life was present in the beginning (Genesis 2:9). The Tree of Life is a representation of the goal of our existence at the end (Revelation 2:7). In the right order, God wants us to eat from this tree. He wants us to live. In Proverbs the Tree of Life is identified with Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13,18). Wisdom chooses life. Those who hate wisdom love death (Proverbs 8:36).

There is such a thing as a wisdom guided inner-narrative.  Please read Proverbs 8:36. 

But whoever fails to find me (Wisdom) harms his life— all who hate me (Wisdom) love death.” (Proverbs 8:36 TLV) 

In that verse we find that an aspect of the Biblical worldview is that people can injure themselves. It’s true, and we may have a tendency to do that in the way we relate to ourselves. But God is willing to help us choose life.

The results of a wisdom guided inner-narrative will be fruitful relationships that communicate and impart the nature of its source.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30 TLV) 

Although the following verse is found in the midst of a prophetic lament and denunciation, the identification of God as our Father and friend is really edifying.

Did you not just now call to Me: ‘Avi! You are a friend of my youth. (Jeremiah 3:4 TLV) 

Father is our friend who will guide us. He will lead us into wisdom concerning our true identities (Psalm 25:4–5).

One last thought before we pray… The way we speak to others can bring life. The way we speak to ourselves can also bring life.

A healing tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful one crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4 TLV) 

God wants you to have an inner dialogue that is akin to a tree of life.

Pray to be taught by God:

4 Show me Your ways, Adonai. Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth, and teach me, for You are God, my salvation, for You I wait all day. (Psalm 25:4–5 TLV) 

Avi (my Father) and my Guide, I choose life. Teach me how to view myself so that the words of my mouth and my hearts deepest thoughts would give Your presence pleasure.

Cause my inner demeanor to be deliberately kind, helpful, compassionate, and favorable towards myself. 

In Your presence, I choose life.

Verses Cited

What agreement does God’s Temple have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God—just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (2 Corinthians 6:16 TLV) 

In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Ruach. (Ephesians 2:22 TLV) 

For we know that if the tent, our earthly home, is torn down, we have a building from God—a home not made with human hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3if indeed, after we have put it on, we will not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:1–3 TLV) 

21He will transform this humble body of ours into the likeness of His glorious body, through the power that enables Him even to put all things in subjection to Himself. (Philippians 3:21 TLV) 

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself—for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 TLV) 

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical. (James 3:17 TLV) 

10For, “The one who loves life, wanting to see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11He must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek shalom and pursue it. 12For the eyes of Adonai are on the righteous and His ears open to their prayer, but the face of Adonai is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10–12 TLV) 

Then Adonai Elohim caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was desirable to look at and good for food. Now the Tree of Life was in the middle of the garden, and also the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:9 TLV) 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities. To the one who overcomes, I will grant the right to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7 TLV) 

Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. … She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and blessed will be all who hold firmly to her. (Proverbs 3:13,18 TLV)