2020-12-26 Care of the Soul, Chesed
The Hebrew word Chesed has no true English equivalent. It is translated using compound words like 'lovingkindness' or 'steadfast love'. It is one of the primary words used of God in Scripture. For us, it is love that sustains another physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
2020-12-19 Winds of Change
Over time, all human institutions tend to become corrupt and self serving. We see this in Scripture where even structures ordained by God, such as the Temple, lose their way and have to be overthrown. In the United States the past four years have seen the rot in our institutions exposed and public trust eroded. People are angry and fearful as they try and find something solid to trust. This presents believers with a great opportunity to speak of God's love and provision to the lost and afraid.
When we read the Bible, we tend to interpret words according to our own language and culture. This often leads to a misunderstanding of what Scripture is trying to convey. In English the meaning of 'love' is very much context dependent. To love ice cream means something different that loving your spouse. So what is being said when Moses or Y'shua says to love God and your neighbor?
2020-11-28 Care of the Soul, Gratitude
Gratitude is the antidote to envy, self pity, malice and covetousness. When cultivated, this soul trait can become a stream of living water that makes the field of life blossom.
2020-11-21 God's Fabric of Freedom
Looking in Exodus at the sequence of events by which God took Israel away from Egypt and brought them to Mt Sinai, it becomes clear that, having once freed them, He did not want them again to descend into slavery. Thus we can regard Shabbat and the Torah as His prescription for their continued liberty and prosperity.
2020-11-14 Care of the Soul, Patience
The Bible urges us to become more like Christ in our character. Like His Father, Christ was patient. Like all disciplines, developing patience is unpleasant, but the fruits are sweet.
2020-11-07 The Samson Option
The president resembles the biblical Samson to an uncanny degree. Several times in his tenure the Philistines believe that they have him cornered only to find that that is not quite the case. Even when they finally do shave and mock him it is to their ultimate defeat. The speaker is Matt Behrens.
2020-10-31 The Gospel in Genesis
The Gospel is not a New Testament concept. Rather is it fundamental to God's plan for humanity. As an example, Genesis 5 contains a clear statement of the Gospel. It is laid out in the names of the descendants of Adam.
2010-10-24 The Anatomy of Evil
In a sense, the earth is one battleground in a much larger war that rages in heaven. As such, evil is very much a part of our world. We, as believers, have an advantage in that the sources and methods of evil can be understood, they can be defended against and they can be defeated. The readings mentioned are Genesis 3, Ezekiel 28 and Luke 2.
2010-10-10 Tribes in America
People naturally divide into tribes, either by birth or by culture. In America, we have both, but the most divisive is over culture. In trying to reach people for God, it is important that we speak to them in terms their culture regards as important.
The speaker is Matt Behrens
2020-10-17 The Fear of Freedom
One of the things Y'shua came to do was to set the captives free. Two thousand years later, there are still captives who need to be freed. The problem is that, although He has opened the prison doors, they either don't see it or they are afraid to leave their cells.
2020-10-03 How To Act While in Exile
The Bible gives us four case studies on how God's people conduct themselves in Exile: Joseph in Egypt, Moses in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon and Mordecai in Persia. From these examples we can learn how effectively to serve God and protect our people when the surrounding culture becomes hostile.
2020/09/19 Days of Awe
The time between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe. It is a time for reflection and repentance. Considering the events of 2020, it seems that God is calling us, both individually and nationally, to stop our wickedness and seek forgiveness. He who has an ear should listen.
2020-09-12 Finding Your Way
The time between birth and natural death is a journey with a purpose. It is a path leading toward a goal. For the believer, both the path and the goal are life. Because the way is difficult, it is tempting to focus on the path and neglect the goal, or on the goal at the expense of the path. Either of these strategies is a mistake. A successful journey requires keeping both in focus.
2020-09-05 Yom Kippur, Year End Review
In every human enterprise it is good periodically to pause and take stock of where you are, what you did poorly, what you did well and what you could improve. God provides such a pause in the Fall Feasts and specifically on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur all work ceases and the day is devoted to prayer, fasting and seeking God's forgiveness and guidance. The speaker is Matt Behrens.
2020-08-29 Proper Speech
During the 40 days before Yom Kippur, it would be wise to review Biblical wisdom on proper speech. Words are the basis for all creation and our ability to speak sets us apart from God's other creatures. If we use our voices well we become what He desires us to be; if not, we become agents of destruction. The talk refers to a book by Chofetz Chaim on the laws of proper speech. During the early part of the recording, we were having some tech problems, so there is some extraneous noise.
2020-08-22 Yet 40 Days
The month of Elul begins the 40 day count down to Yom Kippur. It is a time to take stock of ourselves and prepare for a meeting with the King. What have we accomplished during the past year? What are our hopes and plans for the coming year?
2020-08-15 Slavery and the Gospel
The whole Bible is concerned with slavery. The Torah is the account of God's redeeming Israel from slavery. The New Testament is the story of Christ's redeeming the world from slavery to sin. That being the case, why does the Bible allow slavery to continue?
The cumulative effect of the news about the world situation is to throw a heavy, wet blanket over believers. The antidote for depression is hope. In this we have examples in Scripture written to communities undergoing severe trials. The advice given there is often practical, immediate and useful to us today.
2020-08-01 On the Offensive
History repeatedly shows that defense, no matter how stout, eventually loses. So it is with the Kingdom of God. If its citizens cease to press forward and take new territory, it will contract and wither under pressure from the enemy. That is what has been happening over the past 50 years in the United States. Speaker is Matt Behrens
2020-07-18 Idolatrous Institutions
Paul writes that covetousness is idolatry. In other words, we create idols to satisfy our greed. Historically, this happens when the stewards of an institution begin to run it for their benefit instead of for the reason it was created. In Israel, the priests turned the Temple into an idol by using it to enrich themselves. When this happened, God destroyed His own temple. Today, government has been turned into an idol operated to enrich those who are supposed to be its stewards.
2020-07-25 Principles of War
Studying war in church may seem odd, but it is Biblical. God is called 'A Man of War' as is David. Victory requires skill as well as bravery, training as well as resources. We can see in the life of Christ how he used each of the principles of war to achieve His victory. So too we must study war to become effective in His army.
With the exile of Christianity from our culture, we are seeing the death of forgiveness and the rise of ritual shaming. Forgiveness is seen as letting our enemies 'get away with it.' This is wrong. Biblical forgiveness is how we are able to heal, both as individuals and as a nation.
2020-06-27 Faith and Trust
The world is a difficult and dangerous place, especially now. It is easy to be overcome by fear and doubt, wondering where God is in all of this. Scripture assures us that times like these will come and that He is with His people through the trials. In the worldly sense, God is not safe, but He is good. In that we can trust and take comfort.
The Fear of God
The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, commands that we fear God. The Hebrew word. yirah, is ambiguous. It may be translated as either 'fear' or 'awe' depending on the context. Many come to know God out of a fear of punishment; the natural fear of damnation. But, if one's relationship with God never progresses beyond terror and into awe, he will miss the rich relationship that God desires to have with us.
2020-06-13 Faith Fails Without Joy
Over and over the Bible tells Israel (and us) to rejoice in their relationship with God. This is because a lack of joy leads to fear, self focus and loss of faith. This progression is especially clear in the failure of the spies in Numbers 13. It is equally clear in today's response by the church to the panic induced by the spread of the Wuhan Flu.
The Church is God's Weapon
In John 14-16 Y'shua gives final instructions to His disciples and promises them that His departure would allow them to receive the Holy Spirit. He says that He is sending them into an enemy controlled world and that there will be casualties, but He loves them and assures them of a place in the world to come. In doing this, He sets the church up as His weapons system to hold and take the fight to the enemy until the end when He personally returns. In this mission, the Holy Spirit is their power source.
2020-05-23 Prayer in Troubled Times
Prayer may be thought of in two forms, relational and functional. In functional prayer you want something to happen: someone healed, a demon cast out, a peril averted, etc. In relational prayer you want to spend time in God's presence getting to know His heart. Successful functional prayer depends on consistent relational prayer.
The Scripture referred to is Mark 9:14-29.
When God does a massive shaking, His first purpose is to draw those who know His word to repentance and away from sin. In this, Lev 26 clearly describes that process whereby God attempts to get His people's attention so they will turn and be healed. Daniel 9 provides us with a model prayer for the nation that God has chastened.
2020-05-09 Biblical Patterns
The Bible is written using a number of different textual patterns. Once a pattern is established, it may be embellished over the years, but the structure remains consistent. The pattern of three defines the structure of the universe. The pattern of seven, God's division of time. The pattern of power, how God interacts with His creation. Recognizing these and other patterns opens up the Scriptures and gives us an idea of where we are in His plan.
2020/05/02 Biblical Quarantine
Quarantine or separation from the community is, short of death, the most severe punishment that can be inflicted on a person. Biblically, quarantine is only prescribed for leprosy and must be ordered by a priest. In all things God is righteous and just, so what could His reasons be for atomizing US society. In effect quarantining everyone from all others? The speaker is Matthew Behrens.
2020-04-25 Hardness of Heart
In Mark the disciples do not understand the feeding of the multitude or the calming of a storm because of their hard hearts. A hard heart causes one to see what he expects to see instead of what God wants him to see. A hard heart makes one vulnerable to a spirit of fear.
2020-04-18 From Slavery to Freedom - Counting the Omer
The Torah tells us to count for ourselves a Sabbath of Sabbaths plus one day starting with the first of the barley harvest after Passover. During this period Israel traveled from Egyptian slavery to freedom at Mt Sinai. Simple emancipation does not turn slaves into free men. Rather an adjustment period is required to change people's attitudes and thoughts. We today have allowed ourselves to become slaves to bureaucratic government, accepting its direction over every aspect of our lives. As we remember Israel's journey to Sinai, let us begin our own journey to freedom.
2020-04-11 Passover in Time of Plague
Psalms 22, 23 and 24 are a triptych describing the Crucifixion, our walk with Y'shua and the Second Coming. They start at Mt Calvary and walk through the valley of the shadow of death to Mt Zion. They go from Passover through Pentecost and end at the Feast of Trumpets. These three Psalms give us insight into God's appointed times. They encourage us to endure and triumph even during the current time of plague.
2020-03-28 A Time of Shaking
Today the entire world is focused on a virus that has emerged from China and is sweeping the world. The panic caused by this virus has crashed financial markets and disrupted daily life in unprecedented ways. In Hebrews, God has promised times of great shaking that will reveal that which cannot be shaken. This time presents great opportunity for the advancement of His Kingdom.
2020-02-29 Persecution Within the Church
In the Parable of the Weeds, Y'shua warns that false believers will enter the church and will persecute the faithful. He says that those 'weeds' will not be plucked up until the final harvest and that His people are called to endure in the face of that persecution - even to the point of death.
2020-02-22 A Farmer Went Out to Sow
The Parable of the Sower is the first of the Kingdom Parables. It correlates with Paul's letter to the Ephesians and the Revelation letter to the church at Ephesus. The parable describes the human heart's ability to accept the Word of God and be fruitful. The causes of an infertile heart are Satan, society and self. Each works differently, but the result is the same - a lack of fruit.
2020-02-15 The Ten Commandments
Some 3500 years ago, Israel encountered God at Mt Sinai. There He spoke to them, giving them a covenant and His laws. Are those laws still binding? If so, upon whom? What do they mean in the Christian context?
2020-01-25 Care of the Soul, Truth
Scripture is greatly concerned with helping us discern what is true. The world is concerned with tempting us to accept any number of lies. The soul knows, at some level, when it is being forced to participate in an untruth. Such participation damages and deadens the soul, preventing the closeness to God that we desire.
2019-12-28 Care of the Soul, Simplicity, Patience
The human soul is given by God and returns to Him at death. It may either be enhanced or harmed by the way we live our lives. It is tempting to involve ourselves with clutter and the press of the immediate; both of which may interfere with the care of the soul.
God has designed us with the capacity for violence. As with all things God has built into us, the capacity for violence can be misdirected which leads to murder. The tendency to murder is so prevalent that it is the second story in the Bible - Cain, jealous of the favor of God, killed his brother. Brother killing brother is woven throughout the Scriptures, culminating with the murder of the Messiah Himself.
2019-12-07 Care of the Soul, Generosity
Proverbs says, "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts." The soul or the spirit belongs both to us and to God. Our thoughts and actions can either build up the soul or damage it. How then should we care for this precious faculty?
Moses, Peter, Paul and James each tells us to be joyful in all of our circumstances. Further, Moses says that a lack of joy will cause Israel to go into exile. How is it possible for joy to be a commandment? Why does a lack of joy lead to curses and exile? What does that say for us today?
2019-11-16 Galatians, Law and Grace
The relationship between Torah (law) and grace goes clear back to the apostolic age. Denominations have been born and died over this question. In truth, there is no conflict at all. Both are attributes of God.
2019-11-09 Plastic Jesus
There is an old country song about misplaced trust. A driver takes foolish risks believing that the plastic Jesus on his dashboard will keep him safe. Everything needed to form an accurate understanding of the character and promises of God is in the Bible - the whole Bible, not just our favorite parts. Neglecting the difficult parts of Scripture can cause one to set up a 'plastic Jesus' and behave foolishly, trusting promises that He never made.
2019-10-26 Genesis - Context, Relationship, Place
People, in order to be healthy, need orientation. They need a context for their existence, they need relationships and they need to know their place within their society. God, having made us, understands these needs and has given us the means to fulfill them in the first three chapters of Genesis.
2019-09-28, By What Authority?
The Talmudic story of Yavneh and the broken oven helps us to understand Y'shua's giving us the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16. In the oven story, the rabbis reject supernatural interference in discussing whether a broken oven can confer uncleanness. In Matthew, Y'shua tells his disciples that their decisions about what is or is not permitted on earth will be binding. This is simply a restoration of the authority given to mankind at the creation; authority that we tried to give up when we ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
2019-09-21, Annual Review, The High Holy Days
The month leading up to the high holy days should be one of reflection and preparation. It is a time to take stock of your successes and failures during the past year and to formulate your goals for the next. If you need to forgive or repent, this is the time to take care of that. Failure to do so will weigh you down during the coming year. This is the first of a two part series.
2019-08-24 Dangerous Abundance
Moses in his final instructions to Israel before they enter the land, warns them about the perils inherent in material blessing. The heart's temptation is to forget God and get puffed up with the pride of wealth. Looking at the US today, we can see the pathologies of wealth everywhere.
2019-08-17 Idolatry Today
The mechanics of idol worship have changed, the impulse has not. A covetous heart still seeks external justification to satisfy its desires. Whatever it finds, or invents, that provides that justification, the heart will worship.
2019-07-20, Why Worship Idols?
From the early books of the Bible to the later ones, the concept of idolatry changes. Early, it involves graven images and statues. later idolatry becomes more subtle but is still clearly identified by Y'shua in the Gospels. What does that mean for us today? How do we recognize idolatry in our society and how do we avoid it?
2019-07-06, Weeding the Garden
Weeds are used in Scripture as a metaphor for sin. While pulling the weeds out of a garden gives a sense of satisfaction, there is no permanent victory. A new crop of weeds will appear within a week and the process must be done all over again. So it is with sin.
Matthew Behrens is the speaker.
2019-06-22 The Gospel in Context
Hebrews 4 says that the generation that perished in the wilderness heard the same Gospel as was given to believers by the Apostles. Since the sin of the spies in the wilderness was over a thousand years prior to the Crucifixion, just what is that Gospel? What should that understanding mean to the church today?
2019-06-14 Holy Spirit, Supernatural Guidance
On Shavuot, God gave his people instructions on how to live. At Sinai, it was a book, the Torah. At Pentecost it was a person, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit and the Scriptures are intended to work together yet large numbers of God's people neglect one or the other. The Jews neglect the Spirit and the Sunday Church neglects the Torah. This causes God's people to be less effective than they could be.
Messianic believers are often suspected of being Judaizers or legalists by their Sunday Church brethren. This comes from a misunderstanding of the NT passages where Y'shua calls out the Pharisees for their strict observance of parts of the Torah while neglecting others. It is more useful to describe legalism as twisting the words of Scripture to justify following the evil desires of the heart.
2019-04-27 Two Goats
In Genesis the Bible uses contrasting pairs to make a number of subtle points about humanity. Beginning with Adam and Eve and ending with Jacob and Esau, each vignette tells us something different about the spirit, the flesh and responsibility. In the Leviticus 16 Yom Kippur instructions the two goats represent the summation of those lessons and provide insight into today's victim culture.
Inspired by Rabbi Sacks https://www.aish.com/tp/i/sacks/149807985.html
2019-03-30 Law and Grace
The movie 'Unplanned' tells the story of how a Planed Parenthood clinic director became pro-life. In so doing, the movie opens a window into contemporary American Christianity. The view through that window is quite disturbing and provides insight into why Planned Parenthood and other such organizations enjoy so much success.
2019-03-16 The Narrow Gate
In the Sermon on the Mount Y'shua defines doing the right things for the right reasons as entering by the narrow gate. In Romans 8 Paul calls it walking in the spirit. The point of both Scriptures is that the world presents us with choices that are superficially attractive but ultimately lead to destruction. In God's economy 'almost right' is not good enough.
2019-02-23 Socialism Never Fails
Socialism is surging in the US, with politicians promising that this time they'll do it right. Sadly, socialism always works exactly as designed leading to poverty, misery and death. That is because it is a demonic counterfeit of God's instructions for a thriving society.
2019-02-16 A Place for the Beloved
Before the Beginning, all that was was God. When He made the world as a place for people, He had to provide a space that was not Himself. When He decided to dwell with Israel, they made the Tabernacle as a place that was not 'human space.' The Cherubim in the Mishkan show how this was done.
2019-01-26 Confidence, Knowing Who You Are
The world is intent on marginalizing and silencing believers using every technique from intimidation to legal action. Simply put, those who are perishing do not want to be told that there is a better way. Knowing who you are and who you serve allows you to face the world with confidence and do the things you are called to do.
Sermons given at Restoration Messianic Fellowship during secular years 2019 and 2020