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Rags to Riches (Darkness to Light)

     We live in a rich country compared to the poverty we see elsewhere in the world, but it didn't start out this way. It can be a comparison of sorts in our own life. The spiritual poverty and richness which contrasts it is something we'll want to consider.
     For all of us in Messiah, it is a rags to riches story, spiritually speaking. There are seven specific things we can consider in coming out of the darkness and into the light. It's our story and it's one you can include in your own life, if you are willing to submit to our Creator:

                         1. Darkness
                         2. Called and Chosen
                         3. Reaching for the Prize
                         4. Truth or Consequences
                         5. Standing Firm
                         6. Vision of the Future
                         7. Arrival of Paradise


Darkness is the first place we find ourselves before coming to the Father through His Son, Yahshua. Do most people understand where they are spiritually? Did we, before we were called? When do people start paying attention to Yahweh?
     Yahweh Himself gives insight and a warning by saying,
When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your Elohim so as to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed, Deuteronomy 4:25–26 (NASB used throughout).
     When doing studies like this, you can’t help but notice that Yahweh is still working with Israel, as we'll soon see, even though they forsook Him and were banished from their land.
     Many of us were doing our own thing and not paying attention to Yahweh’s Word, let alone living it. He knows, however, how to get our attention.
     We read in Deuteronomy 4:27–31,
Yahweh will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where Yahweh drives you. There you will serve deities, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek Yahweh your Elohim, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to Yahweh your Elohim and listen to His voice. For Yahweh your Elohim is a compassionate El; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
     It’s interesting that many today don’t think that they’re worshipping any idols, but you see people spending all their time with their car or with their homes or other material things.
     In verse 30 it says,
When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to Yahweh your Elohim and listen to His voice.
     It is our hope that people will earnestly start to return to Yahweh and listen to His voice.
     Today, it seems we are a voice crying in the wilderness full of idols. Yet, it appears that when people start to see their idols destroyed in front of their eyes they will be more open to hearing what Yahweh has to say. What is He telling us today?
Come out of her, My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and Yahweh has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning. For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for Yahweh Elohim Who judges her is strong, Revelation 18:4b–8.
     This is speaking to those exposed to the Babylonian system of the world, and all are exposed to it. Some say, "this is speaking of America, because it has open borders to every nation and every nation wants to come here, making it like Babylon."
     Yahweh also speaks of the sensuality of Babylon, and how the merchants become rich. America appears to be the number one producer of pornography in the world, and it is an industry that thrives and makes itself known in just about every corner of society today. Today, in fact, you cannot watch just any new movie that is produced in America, because many are filled with sensuality designed to arouse the viewer.
     Many in poor countries view America as rich, but morally it is poor and blind. It seems many churches in America are just as blind, due to tradition and false ways of worship which include those things Yahweh calls an abomination. Yet, there is hope that the blinders will come off.
Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so thatyou may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent, Revelation 3:17–19.
     It’s been said that the Assemblies in Revelation can be looked upon as eras. Some point to the last one being the Philadelphian era, even though the Laodicea Assembly appears to be the last in line spoken of.
     Both are Yahweh’s people, but the Philadelphian Assembly is the one that gets its act together, and worships Yahweh the way He wants to be worshipped; in His Spirit and in His Truth. And, the truth of the matter is, we may be seeing a parallel of these assemblies today. Some are certainly farther away from true worship than others.

Called and Chosen
     It could be said "this is actually the first step that one takes when coming to Yahweh," but it's also true that we've all seen and have been in darkness. What spiritual state were we called from? Isn’t it easier to reach out for help when you’re in need? How high was your hand the first time you asked Yahweh for help? Didn't we truly have filthy rags, spiritually speaking?
     Were we not lacking spiritual and moral wealth? It is a very true statement to say, "No one is without sin."
For all of us become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your Name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities, Isaiah 64:6–7.
     When we were called, our righteousness was as filthy rags. We had to be cleansed in the blood of Messiah. The process continues as we work to keep our garments unstained from the world and the Babylonian system and false ways of doing things.
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but Yahweh has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and Yahweh has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised Yahweh has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before Yahweh, 1 Corinthians 1:26–29.
     Can we boast about anything? Certainly, we can boast about what Yahweh has done and is doing for His people who come out of the world into His marvelous light.
     After all, it is said,
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR YAHWEH’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF YAHWEH; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY, 1 Peter 2:9–10.
     The Apostle Peter is quoting Hosea and speaking of Israel, all 12 tribes that make up the entire nation of Israel. We’re not talking about the land, we’re talking about the people and any who will join with them through the Messiah, Who was Himself of the tribe of Judah.

Reaching for the Prize
     What are we striving for now? What's the next step for us? What’s important? Isn't eternal life, but the wealth of this world can choke a believer. What did Yahshua the Messiah tell us about worrying about such things?
Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:31–34.
     What are we to be seeking? It is indeed a priority to seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness in our lives. To live according to the coming Kingdom and the righteousness that will be found in it. Such as Yahweh’s commandments, along with the weightier matters, all done in love.
     What did the Apostle Paul instruct? In 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 he affirms his own question by saying,
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
     Disciplining his body, making it a slave? What is he talking about? Isn’t he talking about overcoming the world by not committing deeds of the flesh? In other words, isn't he speaking of having the type of self-control which helps us to win the race and the battle we're in? Committing sins are defined in Scripture as breaking Yahweh's instructions, and they are committed when we don't have self-control. We must train by studying Yahweh's Word and being submissive to the promptings of Yahweh's Spirit which gives us the inward determination and stamina to overcome, rather than being overcome.

Truth Or Consequences
     There are consequences of taking a wrong turn after coming into the light. This is why we must have the self-control by the Spirit within us to take the appropriate steps. We must consciously apply Yahweh's Word in our life. Otherwise, we may end up searing our own conscience after it has been cleansed and blessed through Messiah's blood at baptism.
     Let's talk about WHAT NOT TO DO when regular life seems to be getting you down. What happened to ancient Israel after they were blessed?
But Jeshurun (Israel) grew fat and kicked (became unruly)— you are grown fat, thick, and sleek— then he forsook Elohim Who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation. They made Him jealous with strange deities; with abominations they provoked Him to anger, Deuteronomy 32:15–16.
     They made Him jealous with strange deities. When someone is really trying to obtain wealth, what are they doing? They are focused on material things, right? What can money buy? Everything, anything, and all things in general. Isn't this true, at least, when speaking of the physical?
     Yet, we are to deny ourselves for the better of others and to focus on Yahweh. By doing so we focus on Life. What did Yahshua say and do?
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve [both] Yahweh and wealth, Matthew 6:24.
     Speaking of those who’ve become rich, their character can become corrupt because of their greed. No wonder the warning is put forth and the end is already secured for those who persist in sin.
Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of Yahweh of Hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter, James 5:4–5.
     Riches are deceitful and they corrupt those that focus on having them. It’s the nature of the Beast. What is the end for those who lose their focus on the Kingdom and His righteousness?
And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.
     Loving things of this world and the money in it can play havoc with your heart and your head if you are trying to also serve Yahweh. Focusing on making wealth takes one away from the importance of the spiritual matters of life itself.
     To satisfy the flesh is to blind one of the heavenly life that is to come and the responsibilities we have now to be fruitful and helpful to others who are being called out of the world. Remember the parable of the sower and seed sown.
     Can we comprehend the spiritual richness bestowed upon us?
 I will rejoice greatly in Yahweh, my soul will exult in my Elohim; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels, Isaiah 61:10.
     Though physical jewels are mentioned, it’s the spiritual being emphasized. How much greater is the spiritual, which will last forever, versus those things which waste away and are therefore temporary?

Standing Firm
     Growing in understanding and knowledge is our goal. We have to continue walking in the right direction, taking the right steps and making the right decisions.
     Baptism and the receiving of the Spirit through the laying on of the hands of the eldership will help us to change our character so that it will conform to the Messiah’s. With new perspectives, which is life changing, and mind and heart altering, the Spirit within gives true life and riches.
For the love of Messiah controls us, having concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Messiah according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come, 2 Corinthians 5:14–17.
     Paul is speaking from firsthand knowledge of the Spirit of Yahweh working within himself. He says the “love of Messiah controls us.” In other words, it gives us “selfcontrol.” But, it is the fact he is experiencing Messiah within himself, that he says it.
     We are to look at the world with spiritual eyes and recognize the difference of how we used to live compared to how we live now. In a very real sense, we are spiritually rich in Messiah. Whereas, before, we were spiritually poor. We are to stand firm in Messiah.
Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of Yahweh is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man,” Luke 21:29–36.
     Escape what things that are about to take place? Read Matthew chapter 24 when you have time.
     We are to pray that we’re able to stand at Yahshua’s return. That means more than just physically standing. It means spiritually; we need to be able to stand firm in the Spirit of Yahweh in Messiah Yahshua.
     If we are led by the Spirit, the same that led the Messiah, then we are sons and daughters in Messiah. If we overcome to the end, then we will stand firm in the end, and be established forevermore.

Vision Of The Future
     What will this world be without Satan’s influence? Imagine 1000 years without evil and murder and pain. Of course, this will occur gradually. People will have to learn to do right versus wrong. A kingdom ruled no longer by man, but by Yahshua the King, the Righteous King, Who will rule with a new Name: Yahweh Zidkenu, which, quite fittingly, means, Yahweh our Righteousness.
Behold, the days are coming, declares Yahweh, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as King and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His Name by which He will be called, “Yahweh our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:5–6.
     If we overcome to the end, we’ll be there having eternal life with joy, energy, vitality and power to help rule with Him. We'll rule by the standard of righteousness.
Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of Yahweh will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the El of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the Word of Yahweh from Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:2–3.
     Isn’t this part of the Good News? Things are going to be corrected and that is Good News.
     One of the greatest joys for us as a people will be to see all others on earth sincerely wanting to know and accept the truth of Yahweh’s Word, Jer. 16: 14, 19.
     However, it’s going to take some tribulation first to get their attention, Deut. 4:30; 30:1-8; Jer. 50:4-5.

Arrival Of Paradise
     Our Arrival of the New Jerusalem, a spiritual paradise on a new earth, is prophesied to come. This will be after the 1,000-year reign, with newness of all things. With eternal life with joy, energy, vitality and power, the future hope is hope indeed.
And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of Yahweh is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and Yahweh Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away,” Revelation 21:2–4.
     What is passing away? All darkness and evil, of course.
 But the day of Yahweh will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and righteousness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of Yahweh, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 2 Peter 3:10–14.
     We really are without excuse, having been called out of the world and out of our filthy rags. We’ve been given clean clothes and are to be keeping them clean and are preparing for Yahshua’s return.
     While we are not perfect, we’re told to be perfect. It means conforming to Yahshua and allowing Him to have dominion in our lives. It means following the lead of Yahweh’s Spirit. As Yahshua did, and is doing the Father’s will, we are to do the same.
     In doing so, we will be able to see the paradise in which Yahweh dwells.
     Remember, if you are having troubles, there is a reward for those that overcome. We need to be like the Apostle Paul and think as he and others no doubt did, in the richness of the Messiah.
 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us, Romans 8:18.
     Let’s not forget where we came from and where we are wanting to go. It is worth taking the steps forward into the straight and narrow gate, which the Messiah directs us into:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it, Matthew 7:13.

                                                                                                         -Elder David Brett

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