Month 8:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:214 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 27 October 2017
What are You Waiting For?
Shabbat shalom chaverim. May you be blessed by this short message which is given in place of the sermon I was unable to give today.
The Denominational Problem
The Body of Messiah has never been so fragmented in all of its long history. Today I am led to ask you a simple question: What are you waiting for? About ten years ago I wrote an article sympathising with new believers baffled and confused by all the denominations that were around. Back in 2008 I estimated there to be about 34,000 and were you to investigate one of these every day it would take you a lifetime. And I don't doubt that number is even higher now, and climbing. Either Yahweh isn't interested in denominations at all or He expects you to ask Him to guide you as to which one you should be a part of.
Knowing Which to Choose
We have a new problem today, especially in places where Chrisianity is weak. It's hard to find like-minded souls. When I was searching for the emet (truth) in Oxford, England, as a student, there were literally dozens of denominations in such a cosmopolitan city to choose from. It was in despair of my ever knowing which one I should be a part of that I locked myself in my room at College and fasted and prayed got a revelation. That was 40 years ago.
Finding a Congregation
40 years on and I notice a new problem - new believers, in many instances, aren't even bothering to find churches or messianic assemblies to be a part of, and for a variety of reasons. For one, there is so much spiritual deadness, so much false doctrine and tradition, that seekers are setting such high standards that they never can find what they want. They want something tailor-made for where they are today and what they personally want. Finding a congregation nowadays a bit like finding a brand and model of car you particularly fancy. And, of course, we all want the best - Rolls Royces, Mercedes-Benz's, etc. - and we vainly believe we are of such a pedigree ourselves.
Finding a Perfect Assembly?
You never will find a 'perfect' congregation, or one with which you are 100 per cent agreed with doctrinally, assuming you even much care about such things. I have attended many churches I had disagreements with because that is where Yahweh led me. Either I had something to give to them, or they had something to give to me, or I was supposed to be tried and tested therein, or more usually a mixture of all three.
I can honestly say that before being led to start my own ministry I was fully convicted that Yahweh had called me to be a part of the first church I joined. Only later, because I was a naïve, immature believer, did I find things wrong and Yahweh moved me on. I hated changing congregations because we all want stability and permanence ... or ought to. There are, to be sure, gypsy believers who like 'moving around' but I suggest that this is not the way Yahweh works. Why? Because the essence of true fellowship, like a marriage, is commitment. So unless you are sure you are attending the congregation of Yahweh's choice for you, it's hard to be committed. You do need heavenly assurance.
The Necessity of Commitment
If you are to achieve any goal or purpose in your life - if you are to grow and mature - you cannot forego commitment. Such commitment may either be for good or evil, but commitment is vitally important. Of course, Scripture talks about commitment in both negative and positive ways. You can "commit sin" (Dt.22:22) and you can "commit your way to Yahweh" (Ps.37:5). Each decision involves making a decision. Each decision involves turning oneself over to something or someone. Each decision requires a focussed and sometimes costly perseverance and then you either reap the consequences or rewards of that commitment. Understanding commitment and learning to commit our hearts, minds, and bodies is central to a life of authentic emunah (faith). To put it bluntly, a faith devoid of commitment is dead.
The Camp Followers
In this work we have had many camp followers. These are people who are barely willing to get their feet wet, let alone be fully immersed in the work. Then there are those who are hedging their bets, joining but constantly looking out for something better. Imagine if you approached a relationship or a marriage like that. How would you feel if your partner was constantly looking out for someone 'better'? We've had people join us because they thought we were the 'best' only to dump us like yesterday's leftovers as soon as they thought something better had come along.
Sacrifice for Conviction
You cannot live life this way. In fact there is no chayim (life) in such an attitude. Yah'shua (Jesus) demanded 100 per cent commitment, and He had every right to, as He was willing to lay down His life for His Bride, the Messianic Community (Church). People nowadays talk glibly about how they are, or have found, the 'Remnant' - the Bride of Messiah. But Yah'shua's (Jesus') Bride is faithful to the end, warts and all. She does not chop and change. Her worth can only be guaged by her readiness to sacrifice her life for her convictions.
Where are You Called?
Many of you who follow my writings and sermons are wondering whether they are called to be a part of us. I cannot, of course, answer that for you. Only Yahweh can. I guarantee you are called somewhere even if He has told you to wait for the right moment. We do not want to make rash commitments but neither must we procrastinate. I remember one family we evangelised who were convicted by the calling Yahweh had given us but because we were microscopically small, and they belonged to a huge international church, they said they would wait until we were bigger. But when we met their 'requirements' in terms of numbers years later they balked and stayed where they were. The truth is, they never really believed or had a calling from Yahweh - they only saw us as 'better' but we were not 'good enough' as far as their other expectations were concerned. Such is a carnal approach.
Consistent Application of Will
Commitment is never easy. Its fruits are exceedingly attractive but all good things cost something. Nothing of any worth is free in this life. Commitment requires courageous perseverance (Neh.5:16). It is more than intellectual agreement - it involves sacrificial giving of the whole self (Rom.12:1-12). Commitment is being willing to suffer the consequences of obedience (Dan.3:14-18). Commitment to Yah'shua (Jesus) especially is costly because to follow Him is to leave lesser, but very attractive, things behind (Lk.14:26). Commitment manifests as obedient trust (Prov.3:5-6). Commitment involves more than a decision of the mind - it requires an act of the will (Mt.4:19-20). More, it requires consistent exercise of the will, to stick with it and be true.
My First Two Churches
The first church I was a member of I gave all my spare time to, especially in evangelism. I was the senior Elder under the Bishopric. I was single then so I had plenty of time. When I married and had my first two children in my second church, I had more family commitments and was earning a living, so time was not so freely available. Yet I served to the best of my ability as an adult Sabbath School teacher. To the first church I gave my all because I passionately believed in its mission. It was only as I began to find untruths - fundamental untruths - in it did my enthusiasm begin to wane. But I was true and faithful until I could remain no longer. In fact, they kicked me out for holding different doctrinal views. Betrayal was Yahweh's way of making sure I did not try to return. I couldn't anyway because I knew by then it was teaching so many falesehoods.
A Little NCAY History
The second was a compromise choice, for the sake of the family, which needed stability. I was faithful there too, serving as best I could, even though I was unhappy about some of the increasingly liberal and ecumenical doctrines there too. This time Yahweh called me out by His own voice and told me to start a ministry of my own. That was in 1984 though I did not actually organise it until 1987. That was 30 years ago. Since this was a clear revelation to me, I have stuck with this calling through thick and thin, through the good and bad times, when we had thousands of members and when we only had a handful. I'll admit the responsibility has been unbearably heavy at times. I would much rather have had someone else carry the load! My fickle heart wanted to go one way but covenant ahavah (love) constrained me to fulfil my commission. And so here we are today, down to a handful of committed souls again with many hundreds wanting to be a part of us but few wanting to commit. I guess this is what Noah must have felt like. So many wanted to force their way on the ark but only after their faithlessness was revealed for what it really was. Not a chance.
Yahweh Keeps His Promises to the Committed
Commitment to my calling has been key and Yahweh has kept His promise to me to renew my strength when at times I have staggered under its burden (Is.40:31). Those who are committed to Yahweh and to His Kingdom are, furthermore, promised a share in all His riches (Heb.3:14). Not that that should be our driving force, obviously. It is enough to know that what Yahweh calls us to do is right and to throw our whole weight into it, whether we are a dozen or a hundred thousand. Basically, anything else would be insane.
What are You Waiting For?
So if you are waiting in the wings to throw your whole weight into Kingdom labour, my question remains: What are you waiting for? If it's for a revelation as to which group or conregation you are to commit yourself to, all well and good. Wait on Him and don't jump unto anything you're not sure about - you might regret it. In the meantime, don't just sit and do nothing. You can still be serving - living your life for Yah'shua (Jesus) and witnessing for Yah'shua (Jesus) in all kinds of ways. Start there. Once you're doing that - and are doing that successfuly and are learning to hear Yahweh's voice - you'll soon know where you are supposed to be. The doors will open and you will be restless until you have gone through them....unless you choose to kill off your heart-receiver altogether by refusing to listen. So, now is a time of choosing!
The grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with you. Amen.
Comments From Readers
 "This is very true and a 'big question' for many. Thank you for sharing your journey and revelation on this topic. Very helpful" (LG, Hungary, 27 October 2017)