Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, April 3, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

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

Sat 3 April-2021 21st of Nisan, 5781 Parashat Pesach 

Ex 14:1-15:26 Nu 28:19-25 2 Sam 22:1-51 Song of Songs 1-8 Eph 5:25-33

Day 24 – Speak To Your Soul, by David Harwood

We’ve been concentrating on two of your primary Scriptural identities. First, you are a child of God. Secondly, Yeshua is your brother. God sees you this way. You are called to honor Him and deeply internalize His perspective. 

Our minds must determinedly meditate upon these Scriptural truths. Herein is a call to diligence:

But the seed in the good soil are those with a praiseworthy and good heart, who have heard the word and hold it fast and bear fruit with patient endurance. (Luke 8:15 TLV)

Your speaking to yourself, and about yourself, while keeping these identity-matters in mind, provide a good foundation for the Ruach ha-Kodesh’s activity. His merciful work is necessary to bring these truths to bear upon the seat of your emotions. He will transform you as He unfolds layer after layer of these realities to your awareness. 

How HE Sees You can influence How YOU See You

Paul described aspects of our relationship with God. It is written:

Once you were alienated from God and hostile in your attitude by wicked deeds. (Colossians 1:21 TLV)

We can be alienated from, and harbor hostility towards, ourselves. Instead, we are to be favorably disposed towards ourselves.

Concerning “self-condemnation”… Before I became associated with Bible believers I don’t think I ever heard the term. I knew the feeling, but not the phrase.

Scriptures speak of the lusts of our flesh being like a spiritual disease and of the unregenerate desires of our minds being symptoms of that malady.

We too all lived among them in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. (Ephesians 2:3a TLV)

Part of the lusts of the mind is a perverse yearning for a religion flavored with a mistrust of God and self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is like a soulish form of self-flagellation. (Some call it “worm theology.”) Whipping, or cutting oneself, is practiced by a couple of religions, most notably by some Roman Catholics (especially in the Philippines during Lent) and by many adherents to Shi’a Islam (during the Day of Ashura).  For non-religious people this can be seen in a current dysfunctional fad of self-harm by unhappy adolescents. Self-flagellation can be a metaphor describing disproportionate self-criticism. 

Excessive criticism of oneself rarely produces positive change and is definitely not pleasing to our King. We want to please Him. Recall our prayer:

Abba, let the words I speak and my heart’s deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure. (paraphrase of Psalm 19:14a)

We’re certainly not to ignore the conviction of sin. We’re not to self-justify.

Acquitting the wicked and condemning the righteous: both are an abomination to Adonai. (Proverbs 17:15 TLV)

At the same time we need to ally ourselves with our advocate.

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33 TLV) 

It was revealed that the verdict has been determined.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. (Romans 8:1 TLV)

Pardon has been procured. Righteousness has been proclaimed. It is possible to keep our consciences clear as we maintain a dialog with the One who loves us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 TLV)   

Part of your inner-narrative needs to be that you are a justified child of God and Yeshua is your Brother. 

I believe that most people know they need to change in some areas of their lives. To be aware of that, and not self-flagellate, is a mark of growing spiritual maturity. In other words, don’t beat yourself up.

Relax… Really?

My perspective is that we are best transformed from a position of rest.

Let’s think about a troubled relationship. If there is pressure to change with a sense of, “Or else…”, it is akin to social extortion. Also, how would one know if any subsequent change was sincere? 

A mentor told me a story about a child who was taken to services by his parents. He kept standing on his seat. After being corrected a few times he was threatened with a spanking. Remembering prior experiences, he sat down. Then, he defiantly looked up at his dad and said, “I’m still standing on the inside.” 

Heartfelt change is not generally the result of being threatened.

On the other hand, there’s an expression, “Don’t ever change.” When someone says that they are trying to say, “I love you the way you are.” Here’s an open secret, we can love a person as they are and, at the same time, see a need for improvement. We can be kind to ourselves and still see a need for change. We can cooperate with God who is changing us from glory to glory. This is best accomplished by going to Yeshua and being transformed. He said:

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’ 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30 TLV)

These words are appropriate to our topic. We need help to change our inner-narrative. I especially love the invitation to go to the Lord, Himself. After all, who wants to change apart from a relational interchange with ADONAI? I mean, would it be enough to change and not be in relationship with Yeshua? I hope you agree that such an option is not optimal. The Messiah described eternal life as not mere immortality but as a vital connection with His Father and with Himself (John 17:3).

Reality: The Favor Zone

Let’s get lined up with the Messiah’s point of view. 

How does He see us?

How God sees us is how we really are. 

Here are a couple of questions that may be worthy of your attention: 1) Does He only see Yeshua’s righteousness?; 2) Does He see your flaws and areas where you need to grow? 

How about a one word answer? It’s easy to remember. Here it is: Yes. 

We have been catapulted into the sphere of God’s favor. I call it the Favor Zone. Those who have received the gift of righteousness have been transferred into the Favor Zone. It is within the Favor Zone that we work out, with great respect towards God, our salvation.

One ingredient of our identities is that we are in process. It is like being on the Potter’s Wheel. You are being formed. Embrace the process. You can draw near to God in the middle of every internal and external circumstance. The transformation will continue while you’re alive. You are being changed. Don’t give up and throw up your hands in frustration. Lift up your hands in awe and be patient. It is Adonai that is working in you.

Philippians 2:13 For the One working in you is God—both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

A Renewed Identity-Matter: Yeshua is Your Friend

This is the identity-matter I’d like you to review and adopt: Yeshua and you are friends.

Incredulous? Don’t be. Look how He was described. 

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. (Matthew 11:19 TLV) 

I believe this feature of their report: Yeshua IS the friend of sinners. You and I qualify. Yeshua is our friend, but can we say that we are His friends? There are degrees of friendship with Yeshua described in the Apostolic Testimony. 

He was friends to people who were not part of the Apostolic company.

… He tells them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m going there to wake him up.” (John 11:11 TLV) 

Yeshua dignified His Emissaries with this description.

I say to you, My friends, you should not be afraid of those who kill the body, since after this they have nothing more they can do. (Luke 12:4 TLV) 

Please note that when He spoke this to them they were spiritually immature. They definitely did not fulfill this category of friendship:

You are My friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14 TLV) 

So, where does this leave us in this identity-matter? How should we build our inner-narratives?

At the least we can say to the One who indwells us, “I am glad you’re my Friend. I appreciate You. I appreciate Your friendship.” Someone who sincerely says that to the Savior is His friend.

Do you see yourself as Yeshua’s friend? 

Break the mold of self-disqualification. You are qualified for mutual friendship as a sinner. If you recognize that you’re on the Potter’s Wheel and are a developing disciple, He calls you friend. Perhaps you think of yourself as someone who always does whatever Yeshua commands you to do (probably not) and qualify for the highest form of friendship with the King. No matter what your spiritual state, Yeshua is your friend, and you are His.

Speak to your soul. Rehearse this reality.