Saturday, May 6, 2017

Counting the Cost

What has your faith cost you? 


Have you ever stopped to think about it? Have you ever looked back and counted the cost of following Yeshua?  

More and more followers of Yeshua have begun to make drastic changes in their lives in order to be more like Him and walk according to The Way (see Acts 24:14). Any time a person does that, it costs them something.  Yeshua Himself talked about what it would cost to truly follow Him: 

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life too, he is unable to be My taught one.
And whoever does not bear his stake and come after Me is unable to be My taught one.
For who of you, wishing to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation, and is unable to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him,saying, ‘This man began to build and was unable to finish.’
Or what sovereign, going to fight against another sovereign, does not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
And if not, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
So, then, everyone of you who does not give up all that he has, is unable to be My taught one.
The salt is good, but if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be seasoned?
It is not fit for land, nor for manure, they throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Luke 14:26-35 (ISR) 

Then Yeshua said to His taught ones, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he gains all the world, and loses his own life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Adam is going to come in the esteem of His Father with His messengers, and then He shall reward each according to his works."
Matthew 16:24-27 (ISR) 

And you shall be hated by all because of My Name. 
But he who shall have endured to the end, he shall be saved. 
Mark 12:13 (ISR) 
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Jobs
  • Popularity 
  • Possessions 
  • Time
  • Comfort 
  • Safety 
 If a believer in Messiah is truly walking as He walked and living as He lived, then most of those things listed (and sometimes all of those things listed) are things that a person will likely lose to some extent at some point in time.  

As I look back on my spiritual life, I notice that for the most part I did not lose anything. Generally speaking, most people who call themselves "Christians" today (at least in the United States) haven't lost anything, either. After all, we who live in the U.S. live in a country that was founded on Christian principles.  Even though much of the country today looks vastly different than it did even 20 years ago, again - generally speaking - most Christians can live out their faith without much persecution.  Why is that?  

The more I learn about history (especially church history) and the more I learn about the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), the more I understand why I never really suffered much loss before.  Much of what I did simply did not look any different from the world!  

For instance: 

Christmas.The vast majority of the world celebrates Christmas.  Even those who do not claim to know and follow the Christ that is supposedly the "reason for the season" celebrate this day.  Yes, I know that there has been a supposed "war on Christmas",  but if the majority of the world was really offended by this holiday - it wouldn't be a major money maker for the retail industry or the entertainment industry.  

Christmas is not a Biblical holiday! There is no cost in keeping Christmas (except, of course, financially speaking).  

Easter.  Even though Easter is largely considered a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, look around at that time of the year and see just how much of the world is celebrating!  Again - retail and entertainment industries bring in big bucks around Easter! Easter eggs, candy, and rabbits - things that have nothing to do with Messiah Yeshua  - are the main symbols used to mark the occasion. 

 Easter is not a Biblical holiday! There is no cost in keeping Easter. 

Sunday.  It can be said that Sunday is nationally (if not globally) recognized as the Christian's Sabbath.  I have already written in detail about how Sunday came to be considered the Sabbath, even though Biblically speaking this is just not so. Many businesses close on Sundays and the world goes along with it.

Sunday is not the Biblical Sabbath.  There is no cost in keeping a Sunday sabbath. 

Food. The world's definition of what is considered food is vastly different from what the Father calls food.  Today there are many food allergies that people deal with, and many businesses go to great lengths to accommodate those people with allergies, which is a great thing!  But when it comes to what people generally consider acceptable to eat, the menu is vast! Of course menus differ a great deal from region to region, but over all it is widely acceptable for people to eat pork, shellfish, snails, even dogs in some places!  Unfortunately due to false theology interjected into the Bible throughout the years, most Christians today believe that it is OK for them to eat anything.  However, contrary to that belief, Yeshua did not change the dietary laws given by the Father. If He had, according to Deuteronomy 13 He would be a false teacher and should not be listened to!  Deuteronomy 12:32 says, "All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it."   

Pork, shellfish, etc. is not part of the Biblical diet.  There is no cost in eating those things.

Now, when I say that there is "no cost" in doing those things, I am referring to a cost from a worldly perspective.  People who participate in worldly things do not get persecuted by the world for doing worldly things.  

 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, for that reason the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you too. If they have guarded My Word, they would guard yours too. But all this they shall do to you because of My Name, because they do not know Him who sent Me.  
John 15:18-21 (ISR) 

Like I said, for most of my life I did not really suffer much of anything.  However, when I made life changes after the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the holidays I celebrated, the day I kept as Sabbath, and the things I ate did not line up with the Father's word, my life did become a bit more - uncomfortable.  Friends and family did not understand and our relationships changed.  Several people who I thought were friends pushed me away and then they walked away. 

Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I say to you, no, but rather division. For from now on five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three - father shall be divided against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Luke 12:51-53 

What I am trying to address is the overall inconsistency that is prevalent in the Church today.  Believers are living in ways that do not line up with the Word of God.  This is mainly due to erroneous theology, man-made traditions and doctrines, and even agendas that stem from antisemitism.  If you don't believe me, read the writings of supposed "Church Fathers" and research church history.  Many Believers are researching things, testing their beliefs against the whole counsel of YHVH's Word, and as a result they are realizing that much of what they have been taught is not true! 

The prophet Jeremiah prophesied of this: 

 O YHVH, my strength and my stronghold and my refuge, in the day of distress the gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited only falsehood, futility, and there is no value in them." 
Jeremiah 16:19 (ISR)

According to the Bible, living for YHVH, living like Yeshua looks and is vastly different than how the world lives.  YHVH has given us His instructions for living in the Torah.  He has told us what holidays to celebrate, when to celebrate them, and for the most part even how to celebrate. He has told us when the Sabbath is, what He considers food for us to eat, and overall how to love Him and our neighbors. Yeshua said, "You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and great command. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40 (ISR)
 For thousands of years, the Jewish people have continued to live according to the Torah. And for thousands of  years the Jewish people have been hated!  So what is it about the Jewish people that causes the world to hate them?  Most of them (not all) live according to the Torah! Am I trying to be Jewish by keeping the Torah? No. But I am trying to be like Yeshua, who was Jewish! Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly. He showed us how to live it perfectly.

As I write this post, it is day 23 in the counting of days/week towards Shavuot (aka Pentecost). The counting began after Passover/Unleavened Bread, and we are to count up to 50 days, with the 50th day being Shavuot (or Pentecost, which means 50 in Greek).  Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Shavuot are three of the seven Biblical Feasts the Father has commanded His people to keep. All of the Feasts are talked about in Leviticus 23 (and other places as well). I mention the counting of days/weeks only to let you know why the whole "counting the cost" thing is on my mind.  As I literally count the days up to Shavuot, I have been trying to think about the ways I need to change my life in order to be more like Yeshua.  

Shavuot is the holiday that is observed in order to remember the giving of the Torah in writing at Mt. Sinai (see Exodus 19) and the giving of the Holy Spirit after Yeshua ascended to the Father (see Acts 2).  Both of those events are extremely significant, which is why the Father has commanded His people to observe that day.  Learning about and doing my best to observe the Father's holy days has literally been life changing for me and my family. And to be perfectly honest, keeping Christmas and Easter was not life changing for us!  At the time it was meaningful to a degree, but not life changing.  Christmas had become extremely stressful and lost it's meaning for me years ago, but looking back I think the main reason it lost any meaning to me is simply because it isn't what the Father wanted me to do. 

Changing our day of rest was both easy and challenging.  It was easy because that commandment is so clear and straightforward we had no doubt that we're supposed to do it.  It was challenging because we were so accustomed to Sunday. My family and I were very involved in a local congregation, and so we were there usually at 8:00 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m. We typically returned around 3:00 p.m. to rehearse for the praise team, and then we just stayed until after the evening service.  Sunday was most definitely not a day of rest for us!  

The diet change was challenging.  Reading food labels and checking the ingredient lists in restaurants is very time consuming at first.  My family and I were shocked at how many food items contain pork or other unclean things (for example, breads, candy, gum)!  It was a rude awakening for us, but also a reminder of just how much influence the enemy has on the world.  Satan wants nothing more than to contaminate the people of YHVH! Now that we are more informed and aware, it is much easier to eat according to the Father's diet. 
What I hope you will take away from this is the exhortation to stop and think about your current faith walk.  Is it costing you anything to live the way you live?  If not, then why is that?  When we choose to follow Yeshua, we must choose to let go of our way of doing things. And once we choose to follow Him, there should be no looking back.

 And it came to be, as they journeyed on the way, that someone said to Him, “Master, I shall follow You wherever You go.” And Yeshua said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the heaven nests, but the Son of Aḏam has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me,” but he said, “Master, let me first go and bury my father.” And Yeshua said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and announce the reign of Elohim.” And another also said, “Master, I shall follow You, but let me first say good-bye to those in my house.” But Yeshua said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the reign of Elohim.
Luke 9:57-62 (ISR)