Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Look Back to the Present

This week I was looking through my photo files and found this shot from the Dec 21, 2008 as then-candidate Netanyahu examined damage in Sderot done by Hamas rockets from Gaza.

This week it has been reported that the Obama administration has ordered a halt to a construction project in eastern Jerusalem at the Shepherd Hotel. Isn’t the name ironic? The man who is Israel’s elected “shepherd” will make decisions based on what is in Israel’s best interests which is why the Prime Minister came out in response to Obama’s demand by saying, “I would like to re-emphasize that the united Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel. Our sovereignty over it is cannot be challenged; this means that residents of Jerusalem may purchase apartments in all parts of the city.” Pray for both men to bow only to the Heavenly Shepherd’s desire for Jerusalem.

The morning I received an email from an Israeli leader that I have the highest respect for the consistent purity of his testimony and witness, Howard Bass in Beer Sheva. He too was looking in past files and came across a defense he had written in 1983 for how the Lord guided his decision as a ministry leader whether or not to take up arms in military service. He and his wife, Randi, had been in Israel about two years. I believe it is a living, spiritual parable that speaks to similar issues that many of us are facing in this day. I urge you to read it and receive from the godly wisdom.

A Foreword to A Look Back to the Present
by Howard Bass, Yeshua's Inheritance Beersheva, Israel

While looking through some files, I came across one which was written in 1983. We had been in Israel a little over two years at the time of the writing. Since then, Randi and I have had four wonderful children, three of whom so far have finished or are still serving military duty.

One of the things which distinguishes our faith from religion is that we have a personal relationship with God our Father and the Lord Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ. There are some things which God has said, and inspired to be written for our instruction and learning, which are binding upon all believers, whatever stream of the faith we may be in. Departing from iniquity is an example. There are other issues, where there is more room for 'different strokes for different folks'. Our choices must, nonetheless, still be in accord with God's Word, whether for liberty or whether for personal convictions and/or taste. Food is one example of that.

Below is a 'defense' I presented in 1983 regarding what I believe I had received from the Lord for me regarding my military service in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Honestly, I had to learn a few things about the wise ways of our Father, and of the Lord of Hosts/Armies. I thought, and still do, that the issue of taking up arms in the military should be more open than it is as a possible option for believers. The Holy Spirit had to teach me that not all believers needed to lay down their weapons or refuse to take them. Unless someone KNOWS the Word of the Lord to him in such a situation, he will not be able to stand successfully against the opposition, whether from within, or whether from the authority of the State.

The New Testament leaves room for believers to, or not to, carry arms for military service to their nation. In Israel today, there is the accepted norm that when boys(and girls) finish high school, they immediately go into the military, without much thoughtfulness or teaching within the Messianic Body on the subject to allow our children to consider before the Lord as to His will for him or her.

As I said, we have three children who have already been involved in active duty, one of whom is an officer and who taught soldiers how to shoot! Another is in an elite combat unit and served in Gaza in January in the war against Hamas.

Nations have a right to wage war; they should have the objective to win sufficiently enough to deter future war with that nation. Believers attitudes and conduct, even in war, need to be shaped by our being of another Kingdom not of this world, even while in it. Countries are not Christian. Believers can or can not carry arms while still serving their nation in military service. The question remains: What is the will of God for me? when dealing with major issues such as this.

Each of our children has his or her own relationship with Yeshua, and I am certainly glad for that! It is also a lesson for me about God's ways not being ours, and His thoughts not ours. A 'religion' or a cult will impose rules across the board on certain issues, like to young children or to slaves. The faith which was once for all delivered to the saints is lived out in a relationship as sons and daughters to our great God and Savior, who is bringing us to maturity. God is good, and knows each of His children personally.

A Look Back to the Present
Standing in Faith…According to Righteousness 16 Dec 1983

As many here know I have made an important decision concerning my service in the Israeli Defense Forces. I want to share some of the principles which have come out as a result of my decision, for we all fare trials of our faith in Messiah. We have a responsibility to stand in faith in order to bear witness of God in Christ, and not of ourselves or others.

From the very beginning--nearly eight months ago--that I took action by writing to the IDF explaining my position, according to what the Holy Spirit had made known to me, almost immediately I encountered opposing viewpoints from believers and others, who were unaware of my attitude or action. Yet I rested in my peace with God because I felt certain about what He had shown me.

Over the months, the Lord confirmed His Word to me, which strengthened and encouraged me, and for this I gave (give) Him thanks and praise. Looking back I can see His preparing me for stronger and direct opposition from the IDF itself, and more subtle testing of my obedience to faith from those nearer to me. All acted or spoke out of a genuine concern and with good intentions, and some even used the Scriptures. (I appreciated that the most actually.)

Let me emphasize that I appreciate very much the prayer support and encouragement I have received from all of you even though there is not complete agreement or understanding. God in His infinite wisdom will use us as goads for one another to challenge and to prove our faith and resolve, and to enable us to stand the greater trials to come in our sojourn towards the Promised Land.

It is not that we have exactly attained resurrection life or are already able to be perfect, but we are to follow after these in Messiah Yeshua. So I hope that by His mercy I have obtained grace to answer those who have challenged me with love in the assurance of the victory I have in Christ.

In Romans 14 it is written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that anything not of faith is sin. Just last week as I was reading the Bible, one verse spoke out which could allow someone to take a different stand than I have and justify themselves. A seed of doubt entered my mind despite all that the Lord had spoken and shown to me through the whole of Scripture. This seed, if left unchecked, threatened to weaken my resolve to stand firm upon the truth God had given me, and to be lukewarm is most distasteful to our Lord.

So I asked Him to help me out
, even to the point of providing me a proper way of changing or modifying my position. This time He used another brother, not aware of my doubt, to encourage and strengthen me, as well as ministering to me through His word and through other believers who have taken a similar view. Our perfect Teacher and Father was preparing me to stand by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony.

Our faith must operate along the distinct path which the Lord has for each of His elect, and which therefore we must accept as from Him. He has His mind for each one of us, and it is our individual responsibility to use the mind of Christ we have received both to know and to do His will. I cannot have faith for another, nor can another for me, insofar as our personal walk by faith in the Spirit is concerned.

Without faith, we cannot please God. And except there be works of faith to test it and give evidence of it, our faith is dead and not living, But what must our faith be subject to or based upon in order for it to build up the inner man and be pleasing to God? The Scriptures say that the righteous shall live by his faith-- his own personal faith. And we see that our faith must be subject to righteousness--our right relationships with God and with man--distinguishing between believers and unbelievers, between family and others, etc.

We are instructed in righteousness by the Scriptures--the inspired word of God--the truth. Except our walk of faith be grounded in truth, it cannot be a walk in the righteousness of Christ , and it will not be confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Anything we do in our life that is not anointed--no matter our intentions or opinions or our own ideas as to how to win souls for salvation; no matter how we allow ourselves to be deceived to justify or rationalize our actions-- can best be described as a filthy rag and will burn in the day of judgment of our works. Only that which is in and of Christ is able to be resurrected-- is able to live eternally and minister life to others. For God is a Spirit and must be worshipped in Spirit; and in fact, the Father is even now seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Faith is the reality of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen. Abraham believed in YHVH--the invisible, self-existent, eternal God--and it was accounted to him as righteousness. We are born again into a new life of righteousness. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. God’s Kingdom is not of this world-- is not of that which is temporal or tangible or in opposition to His sovereign grace-- but of that which is above, unseen, spiritual, eternal.

Our faith must be based upon God’s word and brought to life in us and through us by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit, for the word of truth alone can also kill and minister death. Truth must pass through the cross in order to glorify God in Christ Jesus.

If we are certain of what God has shown us-- and He cannot contradict His word or else there is no sure foundation-- then we can stand against the schemes of the enemy and overcome the trials of our faith and obedience towards God. Our most difficult trials often come through others whose God is also the LORD.

In 1 Kings 13 it is written of a man of God sent to prophesy against the ungodly ways of the king and the priests. The LORD also instructed the prophet not to eat or drink, nor to return by the same way by which he went. When he had finished his mission, he began to return according to God’s word to him. An old prophet heard of what the man of God had done and went looking for him. Finding him, he invited him to his house. The man of God repeated the word of God spoken to him, and the old prophet lied to him, saying that an angel spoke the word of the LORD to him also, that the man should return with him to his house. So he did so.

Perhaps the old prophet’s heart was with good intent. Maybe he wanted to know more about the man of God and what he had accomplished on his mission. But it was not what the LORD had spoken to the man of God himself. In his disobedience to the living Word of God, he wound up being eaten by a lion on his deterred way home.

We know who the roaring lion is, and he is not usually the Lion of Judah! If we do things leaning on our own understanding or according to our own will contrary to God’s revealed will for us, we too will meet the lion in the form of unrest, lack of inner peace, irritation, or anger when challenged, and our further usefulness will be impaired.

Jesus died for our sins. His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is risen from the dead in glory. Let us not make the cross of no account in our lives or testimony, or dishonor the price paid for our redemption and salvation. Let us believe the Word of God in faith, and seek the faith to believe when we lack it. Works of Christian faith are not works born of fear or uncertainty. Let us not strive to please men (for man is never satisfied), but rather live to please God. For even He has placed all of His faith in His Word and in the power of the blood of His Son to accomplish His eternal purpose. Surely we can trust Him to take care of us.

amen, brother! DD

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