Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, February 26, 2023
Shavuah Tov,

Is There Proof That You Love God and Neighbors?
Your Divine Judge Will Determine How Well You Have Done – Part 3
by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: In two preceding RRs, I discussed Scriptures that show we all will die and appear at one of two judgments– either the Judgment Seat of the Messiah, also called the Bema Judgment, or the Great White Throne Judgment. Persons appearing at the Bema Judgment are Heaven-bound; persons appearing at the Great White Throne Judgment are Hell-bound.

Being charitable, I will assume every reader of this RR is scheduled to enter Heaven and will, therefore, only appear at the Bema Judgment. Yeshua is not as charitable, though, clearly warning that “many” will have deluded themselves in life and will be cast into Hell in afterlife, rather than enter Heaven (Matthew 7:21-23): [Yeshua said] “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’”

At the Bema Judgment, rewards will be awarded or withheld, depending upon service to God during each person’s lifetime. Rewards do not affect eligibility to enter Heaven. Such entry is limited to those persons who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and such privilege is secured by receiving Yeshua as Savior and overcoming sins.

In today’s RR, I will suggest a few of very many ways you might work for God’s Kingdom, serving God and neighbors and earning judgment rewards.

A FEW GROUND RULES: When a person takes a job with a private employer, he/ she is most likely presented with a list or orientation of rules expected of employees. When a person works for eternal rewards, there are commonsense rules that should be followed. You may think of other Scripture-based rules, but  let me suggest a few rules. Certainly, God may have other requirements.

● Let your performance of good deeds for others serve as your being a minister of the Gospel. When you minister to a person, you are Yeshua’s surrogate. As Yeshua’s representative, you may be the only Believer this person knows. When you minister, two things happen: (1) As you minster to “the least of these, Yeshua’s brother or sister,” it is as though you are ministering to Yeshua Himself, and (2) the person to whom you minister may see Yeshua’s love coming through you. Francis of Assisi is credited with a popular quote which applies here, but which most historians doubt he ever said. Well, whoever said it, the quote goes: “’Preach the gospel at all times. And if necessary, use words.” You can preach a powerful “sermon” of love, without saying a word. This quotation is another way of stating an anonymous proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” Jacob (James) drew the distinction between lip service and actions (Jacob [James] 2:14-18): What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in shalom, keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is that? So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.

● We are told to do good works for others out of love. Yeshua summed up the entire message of the Bible in three simple commandments– love God above all else, love neighbors as self, and love fellow Believers as we are loved by Yeshua. If you hate someone, you cannot love God (1 John 4:20): If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. If you have not forgiven someone who has wronged you, your work is tainted by your being an unforgiven sinner (Matthew 6:14-15): [Yeshua said] “For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” 

● Work (perform deeds) for others as anonymously as possible The good deeds should be performed out of love for God and neighbors, not to draw attention to yourself and seek the acclaim of others (Matthew 6:1-5): [Yeshua said] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before others to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you do tzedakah, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full! But when you do tzedakah, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your tzedakah may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!” [tzedakah = “righteousness,” commonly translated “charity”] I have been in worship services, during the taking of an offering, when someone has arisen and has loudly proclaimed, “I am giving XXX dollars to the work of the Lord.” That braggadocious act was probably the only reward he will receive (temporary acclaim from fellow congregants) because the Lord will likely not receive his gift as worthy. What does God, who owns the Universe, need this person’s XXX dollars? Although money is required to operate worship centers, God looks for and values attitude and expression of love, not the money itself.

● Be sensitive to commonsense rules of society. Because of the times in which we live, people must remain vigilant for safety reasons. For example, a man should be careful in ministering to a woman in a private setting. Ideally, he should be accompanied by a woman (wife, sister, etc.) in order that there is no question of his motive or actions. Or, a person or couple should not expect to take a child for an outing to give a parent some “down time,” because motives will (and should) be questioned. The parent, even though needing help, should wonder whether he/ she is being approached by a pedophile, kidnapper, child rapist, etc. My children are now grown, but if a stranger had approached me years ago, as I was watching my young children play in a park, and offered to keep them, say, next Saturday, I would have unhesitatingly told him/ her to get lost. As a young medical student, I was taught never, never examine a woman (regardless of age) without a female chaperone unrelated to the patient being present in the room at all times. I knew my intentions and behavior were always respectful and appropriate, but, a patient’s behavior may not be appropriate. One adamant (even though fictitious) claim of attempted rape would have finished my career in medicine and harmed my marriage. Rabbi Weiner will not want to receive a call some day from a News Sentinel reporter, asking for comments on a male congregant, acting on the “love of Yeshua,” who has been charged with inappropriate sexual activity with a widow in the community. That would be a front page, headline story!

● Good deeds can be performed at no monetary cost. You may do something nice for someone in need which costs nothing other than your time. The deed is priceless for the person to whom you minister. For example, learn from the way God received the widow’s mites (Luke 21:1-4). Yeshua stood in the Temple, watching rich men giving huge sums to God, as their friends applauded their generosity. A poor widow silently entered the Temple and gave her two mites (worth only a few cents today) to the treasury. The rich men gave to God for the acclaim of their friends, but the poor widow gave to God only because she loved Him. Yeshua told His disciples that God valued the widow’s gift the most because her motive was pure. Another teaching is that even a simple gift, given in kindness, may be meaningful (Matthew 10:42): [Yeshua said] “And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, amen I tell you, he shall never lose his reward.”

● You can work for God through your good deeds only while you live. There is no Purgatory (as taught by some denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church). After death, you cannot work for God and you cannot right wrongs. What you did or did not do in life is sealed. Several of Yeshua’s parables centered around the importance of working for the Master, while the Master is away (not after the Master returns). Credit for good deeds is settled at death or the Rapture, as told in The Revelation (Revelation 22:12): [Yeshua said] “Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to pay back each one according to his deeds.” [The Greek word here translated “soon” – ταχύ, transliterated, tachy, pronounced, takh-OO– may also be translated “suddenly, without warning,” and is consistent with the Rapture.]

● In this one instance, be as “greedy” as possible. Yeshua was clearly against greed, and taught us to share and not hoard. Yeshua taught His disciples a principle that surely extends to us (Matthew 10:8b): [Yeshua said] “… Freely you received, freely give.God’s grace is given to us freely, and we should extend God’s love to others freely. For example, I practiced medicine for several decades. I truly believe I helped people. However, I do not regard my help as worthy of a Bema Judgment award because I charged fees for my services. Since I did not work freely (although I think I often did, due to the mess Medicare and other  healthcare payers are in), I consider my practice as a business activity, rather than charity. The Apostle Paul reiterated Yeshua’s teaching (Acts 20:35):In all things I have shown you an object lesson– that by hard work one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Yeshua, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’Yeshua advised us to hoard up treasures in Heaven, not Earth, because such treasures (gained only by service to God and neighbors) prove where our heart is (Matthew 6:19-21): [Yeshua said] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. You cannot be too “greedy,” when it involves treasures of the heart gained by serving God and neighbors. Blessed is any person who has great “wealth” stored in the “Bank of Heaven” through deposits earned by service to God and neighbors.

● There are other teachings about proper ways to return your love to God through performance of good deeds, but I will now close further discussion.

EXAMPLES OF WAYS OF MINISTERING TO OTHERS (WHILE LAYING UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN): There are many ways a person may serve God and neighbors, while qualifying for Bema Judgment rewards.

Please note: You may take this RR the wrong way. I am not patronizing you by the following suggestions. You certainly know ways to serve the Lord and quite possibly are doing so at the present time. I merely want to jog some readers’ memories to start all of us thinking about some of our neighbors’ needs and how we may ease those needs.

Donate to existing charitable programs: Numerous charitable programs exist, including activities of Shomair Yisrael Messianic Synagogue. By generously supporting such programs with your time, talents, usable/ reusable items (food, clothing, furniture, etc.), or money, you may become an active partner with these organizations in easing your neighbors’ needs and serving God.

Love your family: Unfortunately, people may mistreat family members in ways they would not treat unrelated people in the community or on social media. There are numerous Scripture verses about properly, respectfully treating family members, including one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12): [God spoke] “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which Adonai your God is giving you. Tell your spouse, parents, siblings, children, and others how much they mean to you. Do nice things for them.

Support and express appreciation for the men and women who protect you and your family: We live in a free nation because of the men and women who wear America’s military uniforms. Too many Americans treat these men and women contemptuously. Our community is reasonably safe because of the men and women in uniform who form the “thin blue line” between us and evil persons. Too many Americans disrespect these officers by name-calling, and more extreme persons want to cancel (defund, disband) the police force (what could go wrong with that plan?). Some even assassinate police officers (234 officers killed in line of duty in 2022). When you see a man or woman in the military (on active duty or a veteran), a simple, “Thank you for your service,” will be appreciated. When you see a police officer, a simple, “Thank you for making me and my family safe,” will be appreciated.

Shop for others, as a gesture of love: Because of advancing age or disability, some persons in our community find it difficult to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other vendors. If you pick up needed items for such a person, this seemingly small act of kindness will be greatly appreciated. If your neighbor is  struggling financially (retirement or disability is a time many Americans find challenging), is it possible to buy “too much” ground beef, peaches, or other groceries and see if your neighbor can “do you a favor” by taking some of your “excess groceries off your hand before spoilage occurs?” If you have a garden, “surplus” vegetables will always be appreciated.

Cook a meal for a neighbor: If you have a homebound, frail, elderly neighbor, or, perhaps, a lonely widow/ widower who has recently lost his/ her spouse, cook a meal for him/ her. Is it that much trouble to make a larger salad or a larger meat loaf or pasta dish? Better yet, can you and your well-behaved children eat a meal in your neighbor’s home (if your self invitation is enthusiastically accepted by the neighbor)? Better yet, invite the neighbor to your home. Is setting an extra plate at the table that much trouble? Some old folks have interesting stories to tell. For example: Even though World War II veterans (America’s Greatest Generation) are becoming harder to find, I remember one Blount County veteran who was a leader in the Boy Scout troop in which one of my sons was a member. Fathers were “volunteered” to go on camping trips. My son’s troop only apparently camped in freezing weather, so that my son could earn a wooden bead as a reward for my freezing to death. (Grumble, grumble, grumble.) This veteran survived the Bataan Death March after the fall of the Philippines in 1942. His account of his captivity, march, and survival was the most interesting story I have ever heard. We are being deprived of interesting history of America’s past because no one takes the time to listen to older Americans who lived that history day-to-day.

Recycle infant clothes: Excited, proud grandparents and other relatives often give a newborn infant more clothes than he/ she can ever use. A growing infant has only a short period of time when a given article of clothing will fit. What is a parent to do with the wonderful, unused or seldom used clothing? There are young parents struggling to make ends meet who would love to have that clothing. There are many ways to recycle extra clothing, but I will make a plug for one way in which my wife and I have been active– a crisis pregnancy center. I do not know about your county’s crisis pregnancy center, but in Blount County, the Pregnancy Resource Center offers a number of services, including free distribution of clothing, diapers, infant formula, and so forth. Babies’ lives are being saved from abortion, and you can be part of this Godly effort.

Clothing, coats, furniture, and so forth: Several organizations accept usable items you might discard with the purpose of giving the items to persons in need. I add coats to clothing because Jacob (James) used this example of giving to the needy to provide warmth (Jacob [James] 2:14-17).

Mini-sacrifices for others: We Americans are far more blessed than we may realize. With God’s blessings come responsibilities. The more we are blessed, the greater debt we owe others (Luke 12:48b): [Yeshua said] “… From everyone given much, much will be required; and from the one for whom more is provided, all the more they will ask of him.Curtail a few luxuries and give the amount “saved” to the needy. If you eat out, can you skip an appetizer or dessert, or drink water rather than another beverage, or choose a less-expensive meal or restaurant? (Please do not skip the gratuity. Although this custom demeans both the diner and the server, many hard-working servers depend on gratuities for their living wages.) Deny yourself some luxury, and spend that amount on the needy. Can you and your spouse agree not to exchange gifts (or, exchange cost-limited gifts) on certain holidays. My wife and I agreed some years ago that we had accumulated enough “stuff,” and we no longer exchange gifts. If living together harmoniously and faithfully as husband and wife for more than sixty-one years has not proven our love for each other, a shopping trip to the mall will not establish our love. And there are other ways you can spend less on self and more on the “least of these,” Yeshua’s brothers and sisters. Believers do not need to engage in some of the archaic Church Medieval practices (self-flagellation, for example), but Yeshua said we must be willing to suffer for Him to be one of His followers (Matthew 16:24-27): Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then ‘He will repay everyone according to his deeds.’

Sacrifice of life’s activities for God andhoose some day  neighbors: Being a true Believer is difficult. All of us can probably agree with the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:15-16): For I do not understand what I am doing– for what I do not want, this I practice; but what I hate, this I do. But if I do what I do not want to do, then I agree with the Torah– that it is good. The world cannot see Yeshua now, but your part of the world can see you. You are Yeshua’s representative (ambassador) in the world. You my be the only Believer an unsaved person knows. Does that person wish to follow you and, in so doing, someday   follow Yeshua? Many Jews steadfastly refuse to follow a fellow Jew who is said to be their long-awaited Messiah. Why? Centuries of antisemitism, Replacement Theology, and persecution by supposedly Christian nations (the Crusades, Inquisitions, and the Holocaust) have taught them that the Christ must be their enemy. The religious elite may have denied entry of Jews into Heaven because of their Church’s interpretation of God’s Word.

Are you a person whose character is worthy of being a follower of Yeshua and one to be followed by non-Believers?

… Do you speak in vulgar, cursing language at work or around friends? Do you tell dirty jokes? Do you curse in God’s name? Would Yeshua use such language? Would Yeshua repeat the jokes you tell? Would Yeshua curse in the Father’s name? Is Yeshua pleased, when you speak in this manner? Does such language encourage non-Believers to come to salvation in Yeshua?

… Do you visit bars to drink? Would Yeshua accompany you to the bars, enter the bars, and have a few drinks with you?

… Do you watch pornography? Would Yeshua sit next to you, ogling the naked women on your television screen?

… Are you unfaithful to your spouse? Would Yeshua approve of your infidelity?

… Are you dishonest in dealing with others? Would Yeshua approve of your crooked, underhanded tactics? (“It’s just business,” must have been coined by Satan.) Your children and others may observe your dishonesty. Even if no one sees your dishonesty, God does. Consider a statement of H. Jackson Brown, Jr.: “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” Quietly returning excess money given to you in change by a tired cashier speaks much louder than saying, “God loves you.” You may have proven God’s love by your honesty.

□ Treat every person with dignity. Yeshua taught this concept in the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31): [Yeshua said] ““Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Adonai commanded we love each other (Leviticus 19:18b): [Adonai said] “… love your neighbor as yourself.” James D. Miles said: “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” Kindness can be a ministry. In dealing with others, let your speech and actions be a testimony to others that you are a Believer. Are you kind to all persons you meet? Yeshua tried to befriend every person He met. If you follow Yeshua’s example, you give testimony that Someone special lives in your heart. A true Believer can be recognized from his/ her actions, and he/ she will not have to boast his/ her faith. An old question asks: ”If you are arrested and charged with being a Believer in Yeshua, can enough evidence be found to convict you?”

Night out for a young family: If you find a family barely making living expenses, a family night out is an impossibility. Purchase a gift card to a local fast food restaurant (McDonald’s, for example). Treat the family to a restaurant meal. If possible, throw in enough cash to let the family play some miniature golf, bowl, or attend a movie. The family will greatly cherish this rare treat, and you will vicariously enjoy their evening even more.

Restaurant meal for a senior person or couple: If you find a senior citizen or couple who cannot afford to eat at a restaurant, purchase a gift card to a restaurant they might like (Cracker Barrel, for example). Encourage this couple to “go on a date,” and eat a good meal in a restaurant.

Chores, home repairs: If you find an elderly or handicapped person, offer to do some chores for that person– leaf raking, yard mowing, weed trimming, housework, etc. You may be able to make simple home repairs that exceed that person’s capability. Two or three hours of your time will greatly lighten the burdens of someone less agile than you are.

Visitation: Your community is filled with lonely people. “Adopt” a lonely person, especially a shut-in person, and visit him/ her periodically. Let him/ her choose the conversation topic, even if rambling or repetitious. You may be the only human to whom that person has spoken that week. An older person can remember fascinating history, and your children may be fascinated by this oral history account. Take a big plate of home-baked cookies and a box of tea bags, and you both can enjoy cookies and hot tea, as you talk. Find out the person’s birthday (month and day, not year). On his/ her birthday, surprise him/ her with a birthday cake. (Even a cupcake with one candle will be appreciated.)

Respite care: [respite definition = “short period of relief or rest”] Many people in your community are home caregivers. They provide for the needs of a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or a disabled relative. They must be present in the home “24-7.” If you can stay with the relative needing care, the caregiver can have a few hours of relief to shop, visit the beauty parlor, visit the library, see a movie, eat a restaurant meal, or do something else to relieve the tedium and stress that build up from their non-stop home duties. Remember that a man should take a woman with him, if staying with a woman in the home. Your substitute duties will probably be light, but your presence will mean much to an exhausted caregiver. You follow Yeshua’s example, when you share someone else’s burden (Matthew 11:28-30): [Yeshua said] “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’ For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 

Assistance for a family in need:  Many families are verging on the brink of insolvency. If you find a family in need, you “and Yeshua” can help with some outstanding bills (utilities, mortgage, etc.). Making a past-due payment or two may help immensely a floundering family’s finances.

Share the Gospel: If the opportunities arise, share the Good News (the Gospel) of Yeshua HaMashiach with persons to whom you minister. A forty-five minute “fire and brimstone” sermon may not be welcome. A few gentle words about what your Savior has done in your life– and can do in the lives of the persons to whom you minister– may be well received and effective. Actions  speak louder than words. If you plant the seed of God’s love, demonstrated by the actions of your love, you have done well. Have faith that the Ruach HaKodesh is fully capable of building on the foundation you have laid.

Other: There are so very many opportunities to serve others, ministering in Yeshua’s name. You are limited only by your imagination, observation of others’ needs, and sensitivity to the Ruach HaKodesh‘s gentle voice. Pray that God’s Ruach will open up doors for you to serve God and neighbors.

THE BEMA GUARANTEE: If you follow Biblical guidelines and serve God and others, you may be blessed in the following ways:

● You will ease burdens of your neighbors.

● You will feel better about yourself.

● You may well feel happier and more blessed than the person you help.

● You will grow spiritually as a Believer.

● You will lay up treasures in Heaven, and you may be awarded crowns and other recognition at your Bema Judgment.

Not bad for a little effort on Earth, right? Are you ready to lay up even greater  incorruptible treasures in Heaven? The “Bank of Heaven” is always open to record your deposits. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 26 Feb-2023 5th of Adar, 5783
Ex 27:20-28:12 2 Ki 21-22 Ps 146 Jn 18 (Heb 3)