Halloween?

Above is a photo of my son when he was just a wee little pumpkin. Now that he’s three, he remembers Halloween from last year. Every time we see decorations in a store or at a neighbor’s house, he asks to go Trick-or-Treating. It’s mostly the insane amounts of free candy that he’s after, I’m sure.

Well, I know that Halloween is a dark and satanic day….

But what if we take the demons, witches, and all the scariness out of it? What if we dress as superheroes and carve crosses and smiles in our pumpkins? What if we invite the neighbors to our church harvest party?

Have no fellowship with darkness (Ephesians 5:11)

There just is no way around what this day is supposed to be. There is no way to polish and pretty it up to be glorifying to the Lord. Christians claim that God can use anything to bring Himself glory, but the Bible specifically tells us to have nothing to do with pagan traditions!

God gives us specific commands on how we are to worship Him. No where does Scripture say that we can take something God hates and clean it up ourselves and use it to worship Him.

(Deut. 18:9-13, 1 Cor. 6:17-18)

The heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9)

Do you remember when God led the Israelited out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai? Moses had given the people the Ten Commandments and then went back up the mountain. The people were getting so worried that he wasnt returning that they made a plan to worship the Lord in their own way. They made a golden calf and even said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord [YHWH].”

God explicitly told them how they were to worship. It didnt matter their intentions or sincerity, they were wrong to not follow His commands.

Our good intentions mean nothing when we’re going against God’s Word.

(Eph. 6:12, Psalm 139:23-24)

Train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6)

My kids are not “missing out” by not celebrating Halloween. There are plenty of other days they can eat candy or play dress-up.

Instead, they’re learning a valuable lesson to not conform to the world, but to be set-apart.

(1 Peter 2:9, Deut. 6:6-7)

“…what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

-I Corinthians 10:20-22

I urge you to pray and study for yourself to see if this is something the Lord is calling you to remove from your life. (Eph. 5:15-16, 3 John 1:4)

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Purim

Pastor Vinny will be preaching on Purim this Sunday at Love and Mercy Fellowship in Bayshore, NY at 10am. Stay tuned for the live Facebook feed at approximately 11am Sunday.

Sukkot and Thanksgiving

We are coming into the season of fall harvest time and Thanksgiving. It has been said that this American holiday has some roots in the Biblical holiday known as Sukkot, which is the last of the three Pilgrimage festivals spoken of in Leviticus 23.Some historians believe that the 17th century Pilgrims got the idea for Thanksgiving from Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. You may remember from your elementary school days that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom. After learning about the Children of Israel’s deliverance from persecution, the Pilgrims settled in their “Promised Land” and they took on the festival of Sukkot as their own.Now this festival is both historical and argricultural. Historically, it commenmorates how God brought forth the Children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Also, it is a time to remember how the Lord provided for his disobedient children by giving them food, water and temporary houses called Sukkahs as they wandered the desert. Now agriculturally this feast is all about the harvest. In Israel they harvest grapes, figs, cauliflower, pumpkins, apples, and even gourds; all kinds of produce, these are just a few of them.This feast is all about their crops, giving thanks to God for their produce and praying for winter rain for new crops next year.For Christians, Sukkot is a kind of Thanksgiving for it is a season of great joy and time of just being thankful. Just as the Jews were thankful for their deliverance from Egypt, we are thankful for our deliverance from sin and death through Jesus Messiah, who tabernacledamongst His people.

Shavout, the Feast of Weeks

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Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is the fourth spring holiday in the Jewish calendar. The first holiday is Passover, where we celebrate the time when the Israelites were redeemed by the blood of the lamb from slavery in Egypt.  The second spring holiday is the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is their flight from Egypt.  Third is the Feast of Firstfruits, where the Israelites brought their offering before the Lord to bless their crops.  And now we come to Shavuot, which is the giving of the Torah.

The feast of weeks commemorates when Moses had come down from Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments, and the children of Israel were given the Torah. Exodus 34:22 says, “And shalt observe the Feast of weeks, even of the Feast of first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the turn of the year.” Even today Jews celebrate by remembering that God had given the Torah to Moses and the children of Israel.

In Exodus chapter 24:3, there was a sort of marriage vow that took place between God and His people where Moses told the people what the Lord had said and they responded with one voice: “All the words the Lord said we will do”

In modern times, the Jewish people take out their finest china, their best silverware and linens.  The house is decorated with fresh greenery. They make food with dairy in it, like cheesecake and blintzes, because milk symbolizes the Word of God. They stay up all night to study the Torah, but in their Torah it tells them not to afflict themselves on a holiday, so they study only until they are tired.

During Shavuot the book of Ruth is traditionally read. This is because it takes place between the Feast of Firstfruits and the the Feast of Weeks, when they were gleaning the fields. Ruth was a widow and returned with Naomi to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. Ruth went to the field to glean it and it was at that field that Boaz saw here and took favor on her. Boaz was her kinsman redeemer, and he takes Ruth as his wife and redeems the land and the inheritance.

At the Feast of Weeks, two loaves are to offered up along with a meal offering. These loaves were to be baked with leaven, or yeast. This was the only time leaven was to be used as part of an offering.


The Feast of Weeks is also mentioned in the New Testament. Fifty days after Christ ascended, Shavout got a new name, “Pentecost,” the Greek word for “fifty.” In Acts 2:4 we read, “They were filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them to speak out, and there were tongues of fire over each of their heads.” People passing by questioned whether or not they were drunk, but that wasn’t so at all; they were filled with the Spirit. These men who were watching all this happen asked this question: “what shall we do?” Peter responds Repent and each one of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So three thousand came to faith that day. For they believed and were baptized.

The day is coming when the Jewish people will come to understand what Pentecost is truly all about. This holiday in which we celebrate has much more importance than Moses receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai and giving the law to the Jewish people.  For us believers in Jesus Christ it is the day that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit fifty days after He rose on the Feast of First Fruits, and 3000 people believed and were baptized .

To us Christians, Boaz and Ruth represent Christ and His Bride, the Church.  Just as Boaz was the kinsman redeemer because he had the ability to redeem all of it and pay Ruth’s debt, so Jesus has the ability to redeem us through His blood. When we receive Him, we also receive the inheritance of the kingdom of God.  In return, we become part of the royal priesthood.  If there was no blood payment, then we are all stuck in our sins, however, Romans 6:23 tells us that sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life through Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

In Messianic teachings, one of the two loaves is considered to represent the Jew and the other to represent the Gentile. The Old Testament high priest would take in the two loaves with the yeast signifying sin, just as Jesus Messiah takes us in while we are still sinners. In Ephesians 2:14 we read “He is our shalom, the one who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation”.  For there is no more need for the Jews to be separate from the Gentiles, seeing how we are brought together to serve the one true God. Jesus died upon the cross at Calvary and the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom signifying that man now has access to God, both Jew and Gentile.


I mentioned before that Shavuot is known as the wedding day between God and the Jewish people. They made a vow to worship and serve the Lord and to follow in His ways. We as Christians were once walking in darkness, but we stood before Almighty God, received Jesus into our life as our Salvation, and were baptized into God’s royal family. For He is our King and Redeemer and we are His children.

God chose you and I as “first fruits” for salvation through sanctification by the the Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). Revelation 19:6 tells us, “Rejoice and be glad and give the glory to him! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” Jesus shall come back and return for his bride. We are to never forget our first love for God has never forgotten us.

 

 

 

The Bride

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We all know June is wedding season, so now is a good time to look at the customs and traditions of a Jewish wedding in the Old Testament and see how it is an analogy for the Bride of Christ. As you will see, there are many similarities.

There are seven components of an Old Testament Jewish wedding feast. The first component is the covenant, taken from Genesis 1:26-27, 2:18, 21-24. Back in the day, a young man would spot a beautiful young lady he wanted as a wife, or the young lady that his father said he wanted for him. He would approach her with a marriage contract in hand, called the ketubbah. He would then present it to the girl’s father and ask her father, “What is the price?” This fee the second component, the dowry. For the bridegroom would be the one to pay the price, if he is to marry her. He would hold onto it as a nest egg for his daughter. The groom would be displaying his love for her, and showing respect to her father, by paying her debt or price. Once the contract has been signed, they are married in the eyes of God, but the marriage will not be consummated yet. (As a side note, for Mary and Joseph, this is the point of their relationship when the angel told her she would conceive a son.)

The future bride and groom would then go have a glass of wine together to seal the agreement, the third component, known as the cup. She was to remain a virgin until the wedding or the whole thing would be called off and she would be considered unholy.

The fourth component is the departure. Before the young man was getting ready to depart from his future bride and go back to his father’s house, he would would tell her “I go and prepare a place for you.” The bride will be waiting for him and him alone.  He would then return home to his father’s house and he will build for her the bridal chamber, a little mansion, in which they’ll have their future honeymoon.

Now this project should take about a year. The father’s job is to be the judge, you know, make sure the son doesn’t do a “half job”, as my father would say. Let’s face it folks, young man wants to be done as fast as possible for one reason only, and we all know what it is. Now when the bridal chamber was completely done and decorated, and the father approved it, the bridegroom would go and get his bride. If someone would have asked the young man when is the big day he would respond, “Only my Father knows”.

Now while all this is happening the bride was told to be ready for she didn’t know what time the bridegroom was going to show up and snatch her up and take her away. Now if she had to go somewhere, she would have to wear her veil so all the young men would know she was not available. Otherwise they might see her and offer her a contract, she was not to be touched. 

Before the Bridegroom was to leave to go get her, he would assemble all his young friends and they would leave to go get his bride in the middle of the night and surprise the bride. This is the fifth component, stealing the bride.

As the bridegroom and all of his friends would be close to the house, one of the groom’s men would shout, she would hear the shouting from outside the house and rush to put herself together. She only had enough time to grab some honeymoon clothes, couple of things and put oil in her lamp in order to meet him. Anyone who wanted to be part of the entourage would have to trim their wicks and make sure they had enough oil in their lamp.

As the bridegroom would run into the house the father would look and make sure it was the son in law who had the contract, then he would look away as this man stole his daughter. Meanwhile, the wedding party would be waiting in full excitement.  Everyone would be out in the streets with their lamps. The bride and groom would walk the streets with the entire wedding party shouting and celebrating.

When they all would get back to the groom’s father’s house, the father would assemble all the guests, which were the father’s friends, and they would be ready to celebrate the new marriage.  

Everything had to be ready quickly for the wedding feast was to take place over the next seven days.

In the sixth component, the consummation, the bride and groom would go in and close the door of the bridal chamber, and the best man would stand outside the door and listen for the groom to tell him that the marriage was consummated.

Finally, when the bride and groom came out then and only then would the celebration and feasting begin. This is the seventh component, the marriage supper.

Once the bride and groom appeared before all the guests at the end of seven days, they would enjoy the marriage supper known as the reception. In honor of this joyous occasion the bride would take off her veil and throw it, for the two have become one.

 

 

As Christians, we can look at the relationship of the components of the wedding feast to our lives as the Bride of Christ. All believers in Christ Jesus are the Bride, and he is our Bridegroom. Ephesians 5:21-26 says 

21Also submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Messiah— 22 wives to your own husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as Messiah also is head of His community—Himself the Savior of the body. 24 But as Messiah’s community is submitted to Messiah, so also the wives to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives just as Messiah also loved His community and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, having cleansed her by immersion[d] in the word. (TLV)

 

 If you are a believer in Christ Jesus and have received his Son Jesus into your life and are living for Him, you are considered to be the Bride of Christ. The Church is made up of the body of Believers in Christ Jesus. The Church is the Bride of Christ as the Jews are the Wife of Jehovah.

So just as the groom approached the bride with a contract, we as believers are also contracted to Christ. God set it up to where God the Father, much like the father of the groom, made the arrangement to go and pay the price for his Bride. He wouldn’t pay in shekels or gold, or silver. He would pay a much more costly price, He would pay with blood. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son up as a living sacrifice. It is through His sacrifice and shedding of His blood that the arrangement was sealed by the blood of Jesus. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. He paid the debt for us. This is the cup, the new covenant of His blood. We remember this every time we take part in the Lord’s Supper or Communion.

The same way the bridegroom goes to his father’s house and prepares a room for his bride, Christ is preparing a place for us. (John 14:1-6).

We as the bride are still in fact being prepared for our bride groom. We must always be ready, just like the bride and her friends were to be ready with oil in their lamps (Matthew 25). This is sanctification, being set apart and holy. As we wait for our long awaited Bridegroom let us continue to be transformed by the Word of God. Let us continue to seek the Lord in prayer, never losing hope for he is coming back. We too must go through a spiritual cleansing in the waters of baptism. We will one day present ourselves to the Lord, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 11:2, 

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, For i have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you a pure virgin to Christ.

The fetching of the bride is the Rapture of the Church as talked about in 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17. When the Lord comes back to fetch his Bride, he will rapture the church and we will be taken home to be with him.

Matthew 24:36 tells us that no one knows the time or the hour, not the angels, not even the Son, but the Father Only. We don’t know when Jesus is returning for his bride but rest assured he is coming. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night, to “steal” his bride.

Just like the bride stands on her wedding day wearing white, we too are given white to wear. It says in Revelation 19:8,

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

There will be a ceremony in Heaven but not all will be invited, only the ones who have been resurrected. All believers in Christ Jesus who have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Jesus has called you out of darkness and into light. For you were once God’s enemy now you are a friend of God. You have been added to God’s family, you are Royalty.

 

There will be a banquet set before you as nothing like you or I have ever seen. The only way to be invited to the wedding of the Lamb is to be washed clean in His blood.

Matthew 11:28 says,

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.

Come lay your burdens down, Cry out to him, for he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Purim: Esther Saves Her People

Purim, also known as the feast of lots, is a festival remembering the day that Queen Esther had learned about Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews.

If you’re familiar with this passage, Queen Esther had called Haman and her husband, the king, to a banquet. King Xerxes was pleased with his Queen, for Esther had found favor in the eyes of the king. While they were eating, Queen Esther told the king what Haman was up to.

You see, Esther herself was a Jew. Haman was looking to rid the kingdom of Mordecai and all the Jews. But what about the Queen?

Up to this point Haman had tried to trick the king and he even went as far as to build the gallows to hang Mordecai on. In the end, King Xerxes ordered Haman be hung on the very gallows that were meant for Mordecai.

God used Queen Esther to be so bold to speak at the proper time. Queen Esther became a redeemer of the Jews, for God used her to deliver the Jews. The Jews experienced deliverance from death which was brought upon from Haman. Each year the Jews celebrate Purim remembering what God had done through Queen Esther.

Even though God’s name is nowhere to be found in the book of Esther we can still see Jesus in it.Jesus delivered us from our sin by dying on the cross. He redeemed us through His blood shed upon the cross. For we all are set free from the punishment of sin because of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

There’s another holiday called Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur can also be known as Yom Ke Purim, “a day like Purim,” the holiday we just learned about based on the story of Esther. On this day the high priest would go make atonement in the holy of holies with blood that was not of his own.

You could say Esther was like a type of Christ in that God used her boldness to speak up and deliver the Jews out from death and into safety.

Just like Esther was the deliverer of her people, Jesus is our deliverer from our sins. He gave up his life as a living sacrifice upon the cross. He became our atonement for sin. Through his death upon the cross we all may be delivered from our sins and be given eternal life. For through the body broken and blood shed of Jesus and through the Forgiveness of sins we stand Holy and blameless as if we never sinned. God sent his Son Jesus to become our Redeemer, our Savior, our Deliverer. All we have to do is ask the Lord into your life.

May we all be bold like Esther. She was very bold and spoke when she had to. We all will come across the Haman’s of the world. We live in a world that is full of hate, and evil surrounds us at every corner. Will you be so bold to speak out for God and take a stand for Jesus? God will be there to give you the words and as a very dear friend of mine said recently to me, “God’s got it;” you have to believe that.

Esther didn’t know the outcome but she stood tall and trusted God and spoke. God is not done with the Jewish people nor is he done with you. He has great plans for your life. Go speak boldly about your relationship with Jesus. The world needs to hear the truth. Go and be the light in this cold, dark, evil world.

Communion Meditation: November 2016

In Exodus 16:4 we read, “Then the Lord said unto Moses: Behold , I will cause it to rain bread from heaven for you and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion.”

For all 40 years in the desert God was with Moses, Aaron, and the Children of Israel. Even though the Children of Israel were disobedient at times, God still took care of his people. Even though Aaron made a graven idol before the people and Almighty God himself, God still caused him to be the first High Priest. Even though Moses had fits of anger at times God still used him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. In the same way, even though we are imperfect sinners, God still cares for us.

In John 6:35 Yeshua says to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

He continues in verse 47, “Amen amen. I tell you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. This is the one that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat and not die.”

John 6:27,29 Tells us that we are not to labor for food that spoils but for the food that endures to eternal life. “Yeshua answered them saying ‘This is the work of God, to trust in the one who sent him.'”

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” but Romans 5:8 tells us “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.”

God loved us so much that he gave up his only son to be a sin offering upon a cross. For He who knew no sin, Jesus Christ, became sin, that through Him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we take communion this morning, let us examine our hearts. We are an imperfect church, full of sinners, saved by the Grace of God.  We too at times have turned to our own way, yet God laid the iniquity of us all upon the One who is sinless and blameless.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

We would like to thank everyone who helped make our Passover demonstration a success! Thank you to Pastor Michael Cassara of the Nesconset Christian Church, my brothers Shelove Tilus and Jeff McLary for serving alongside me in the haggadah readings. Jeff also provided some wonderful and inspiring songs for us that evening. Thank you Rosalind Hyatt for taking pictures!

Thank you to Paator Ron Cusano and the members of Beth Yeshua in Plainview for joining us. We also enjoyed fellowshipping with Pastor Michael Miano and members of Blue Point Bible Church, and some of our friends from Nesconset Christian Church.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by our good friend Jerry at Butera’s of Sayville. It was a pleasure to prepare this event with my wife and children and we look forward to seeing even more faces next year.

Check our website for upcoming events or to schedule a holiday presentation or teaching engagement at your church.

What is chametz?

As i was preparing for this year’s Passover Seder, I came across a Scripture in Exodus 12:15 that reminds the children of Israel to have a spring cleaning of sorts, removing all leavened products from their houses: It says, “Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread, how be it the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses; for whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul must be cut off”.

Looking at this passage I think to myself, If we had lived in this time period and Mallomars existed, my soul would be cut off. No bread, no rolls, no cake…what would one eat?

But humor aside, this is an important passage. Leaven in the Bible means sin; the Hebrew word chametz. Chametz is a corrupting influence that must be cut out and burned. The Orthodox Jews go to the extreme with the removing of the Chametz in their homes. They will scrub down the entire house, throwing out anything that has leaven or even came in contact with it. They go above and beyond until every corner of the house has been checked.

Please remember folks, that the Jews are under the law so they feel that they must do this. We believers are not under the law but under Grace. Yet we should be examining ourselves regularly. For if there is any Sin in our lives we ought to ask the Lord to remove it. I John
1:9 says this: “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Ask God to help you remove any chametz you might be hiding in the corner of your house.

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