Chipping Away:
A Sin-chipping and Burning Service

Ash Wednesday

Job 23:8-10 "But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.  When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

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Invitation to Observe the Lenten Discipline (A Prayer) 
Thanksgiving Over the Ashes

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One of the Greatest Biblical Stories of Them All 

TEVIT AND TEVYAH
(The Book of Tobit)
 

Tobit and Tobias - Tevit and Tevyah

New True Name Translation with Characterized Voicings, Sound Effects and Special Music by Sweden's
Vrat-Na-Vrat.

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Preview “Psychic Friends or Spiritual Gifts?”:  There is another strong influence for the occult that seems very innocent and in which many people are involved: occult holidays: I’m primarily speaking of Halloween and Mardi Gras.  believers who participate in these holidays must not be aware of the quantity of prayer Satanists devote to them during these seasons, else they would give them up.  Mardi Gras has become more and more popular through the south.  Some think that Fat Tuesday is a believer holiday because it precedes Ash Wednesday, but it always has been a voodoo festival.  The object of voodoo worship is to open one’s self up to evil spirits so that worshipers can appropriate their power to get what they want, no matter whom they hurt.  Traditionally during Mardi Gras, worshipers of evil spirits drink, take drugs, have wild parties, dance and do unmentionable things in order to open themselves up.  They have parades with ‘floats’ to attract the evil spirits connected with what the float represents.  Individuals wear beads to attract the demons from the floats.  During the Mardi Gras season, while believers are having fun at parades, catching beads and moon pies from drunken men and women in “mystic societies,” Satanists the world over are praying for our downfall.’

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

 

Job in Satanic Delusion

   The book of Job is believed to be the earliest of the Bible books to be written.  Job's ancient but timeless story is universal; almost every culture has an equivalent.  Job is a righteous and blameless man.  Job fears Yahweh.  He keeps the commandments from his youth.  Job is near to being perfect.

   And Yahweh has a special place of protection for Job: a security fence around all belonging to him, so that Satan might not have the opportunity to test him.  But Satan comes up from the earth to test Yahweh instead.  Satan says, "If you would only strike against everything Job has, he will curse you to your face."  Satan passes the buck to the Almighty.  Though Yahweh is not the author of evil, he allows Satan to strike at Job and thus test him.

   Satan destroys Job's property and family, then strikes at his health.  We find Job through most of the book's 42 chapters sitting before his campfire, scratching his boils with a potsherd, and trying to find reasons why he, a righteous man who fears the Almighty, must suffer so at his hands.

   Several "friends," to whom Job may owe money, come to collect.  They advise the miserable Job why he’s facing the destruction of his wealth, and how he might reacquire all he lost.  In the chapter before our text, one of Job's "friends," Eliphaz, tries to convince Job that if he will just do thus-and-so, Yahweh will restore to him gold, silver and other riches.  But Job is not interested in reacquisition; he’s interested instead in ascending to the throne room to state his case before Yahweh.

   But at this point in his trouble, he can't find the One he seeks.  He cries out, "If I go forward, Yahweh is not there, if backward, I can't find him, when I turn left, I do not perceive him, if I face to the right, I can't see him."  Job is now hedged about by the concrete walls of a Satanic delusion.  And he feels absolutely powerless to break through.

Blame and Restoration

   Throughout his book, Job blames Yahweh for his troubles.  You’ll notice: 1) Job never acknowledges that Satan is testing him, and 2) Job doesn’t consider mistrust to be the root of his testing.  Although Job fears Yahweh, Job trusts only himself.

   Of course, when we get to the last chapter, Job breaks out of the fortress of Satan and regains all his blessings and more - he learns to trust Yahweh as well as fear Him.  Did you also notice, when you studied his book, Job had to do about four things to be restored?  He had to

·        acknowledge his sin of mistrust,

·        put aside his fear and open himself up to Yahweh,

·        repent of that sin of unbelief fervently,

·        then take responsibility for chiseling away at Satan's prison cell.            

   We’ve talked about some definitions of sin.  Maxie Dunham, the author of believers Under Construction, defines sin as "the universal tendency to oppose Yahweh's will, to order life on our own self-centered, self-directed terms, rather than on Yahweh's terms."  I might add that we understand this "tendency" of sin to be universal as well as inherent: all humans are born in a state of sin – or disaffection – with the Creator.  This fact is the great curse of humanity; but the flip-side of sin is that all human beings have free will to choose Yahweh's path or their own.  What Job said in chapter three is true, "The very thing that I feared has come upon me."  Choosing to live our lives on our own terms leads to destruction, no matter how much favor we might have with Yahweh.

 

Our Ever-evolving Society

   Humanism and secularism have made great strides in these days to free humanity from the concept of inherent sin, but humanism will never have the power to free the human heart of sin's effects - which are guilt, shame, and spiritual death.  Only through acknowledging our sin, confessing it, repenting of it, accepting forgiveness from Yahweh, then acting responsibly afterward, can we be free from sin's devastating effects, and the sinner's final destination, eternal death.

   On the other hand, as Bishop Goodpaster has recently observed,

...our ever-evolving society has turned confession into an art form that is little more than an act of publicity. Almost daily someone is admitting to something without actually confessing. Without naming names here, we could very quickly put together an endless list of such well-known personalities. I wonder if part of our problem is that we have lost not only the capacity, but also the vocabulary for confession, for repentance, and for experiencing the grace of forgiveness, healing, and wholeness.  (“A Word from the Bishop,” 2/23/2004)

Indeed, confession is easy.  But repentance, defined as, “the turning of ones mind from sin to obedience,” is not.  And confession and repentance are not the same thing.  Confession may be good for the soul, but repentance saves it.

 

A Modern Job

   I know a Man of Yahweh who’s much like a modern-day Job.  Although he served the Almighty all his life, one problem dogged him every step of the way – lack of money to fulfill what he thought was Yahweh's will.  He’d built his ministry on ready credit; it became as shaky as a house of cards.  After several years, he found himself always having to chase down Peter to pay Paul, always being one step ahead of the finance company, or the judge, or the creditor.  One day his house of cards collapsed.  Taking its place was a prison of concrete – default, collection, garnishment, embarrassment – his ministry was nearly destroyed, but he tenaciously continued in trying to serve Yahweh his own way despite overwhelming pressures.

   Unlike Job, this man knew that the devil had a hand in his financial ruin.  For years after his financial collapse, he blamed Satan for putting up the stone walls of his prison.  He rebuked Satan almost daily, but that didn't work; the debts and embarrassment didn't just melt away.  He prayed fervently that an anonymous donor or an unexpected gift might materialize, but that didn't happen.  He was so stubborn that he was resolved that Yahweh should get him out of his “bondage to Satan” his way only.  He didn’t grant the Almighty the free will that he himself had been granted, and he never saw his own fault in the matter!

 

The First Prophetic Word

   Finally, in desperation, this Man of Yahweh implored Yahweh to give him a prophetic word.  The Almighty was faithful, and the Man of Yahweh had a dream.  He saw his ministry in a building that was under construction.  It was obvious that it wasn’t being constructed to code, because the materials were inferior, parts were nailed in the wrong places, the building shook in the wind, and the rain came right through the ceiling. 

   As the man went through the rickety corridors on his way to preach, he found the construction crew playing cards.  In the dream, he berated the foreman for the poor quality of the building, and the laziness of his men.  The foreman replied, " My men are on strike.  See to it yourself."  The Man of Yahweh disagreed, "No, it's your job to see to the building.  You’re to blame!  You build, I preach!"  But the foreman protested, "You may consider it my responsibility, sir, but, after all, this is your building."  Then the dreamer awoke.

   Yahweh was trying to tell him that his was a sin of omission.  He had neglected the essentials of ministry in favor of doing what he wanted – to preach and teach.  Although he was blessed in these endeavors, Yahweh wouldn’t bless his organization, for its financial foundation had been neglected.  Preaching a platitude is of small value when the ministry is self-destructing.

   The Man of Yahweh finally recognized his sin of stubbornness, and painstakingly confessed and repented of it.  In doing so, he took the first chip out of his prison.  But what could he do now that his finances were in shambles?  He asked Yahweh again for a prophetic word, and again Yahweh was faithful.

 

The Second Prophetic Word

   The Man of Yahweh was watching a documentary on the great cathedrals of Europe.  About a dozen were built during the 10th through 13th centuries, financed through the sale of indulgences.  (Indulgences are purchased from the Pope to pay someone's way out of hell or purgatory.)  The cathedrals are massive, expensive, and beautiful buildings.  At the time, it was thought that the higher the cathedral, the closer to Yahweh were its worshipers.  So each successive cathedral was built higher than the last.

   A famous architect developed a standard formula for building high: as long as the height didn’t exceed the width, the cathedral's foundation wouldn’t crumble.  During the building of one great cathedral, the architect took sick and was replaced by a youth.  This youth discovered a new formula by which the height of a cathedral could greatly exceed the width of its foundation.  The new architect immediately changed the plan in favor of his calculations, in hopes that this cathedral would be the highest of all.

   But long before completion, the huge building crumbled, bringing the massive stones down, killing the masons working below.  Because the established formula wasn’t followed, the cathedral’s foundation couldn’t endure it’s weight, and crumbled.

   Yahweh showed the Man of Yahweh that the weak point of anything is its foundation.  The minister prayed, “What does this mean to me?”  Yahweh showed him that his morgue of debt was like this cathedral.  If he wanted to get out, there was only one way: start chipping away at the foundation.  He’d already taken the first chip out with his heart-felt repentance.  Yet many more strokes of good stewardship had to be struck before that mountain of stone would tumble.  The Man of Yahweh needed to make it his first priority to get his financial affairs in order before teaching another lesson or preaching another sermon.

 

Trust and Burning

   Fortunately, this minister was honest in his seeking, as Job was.  And like Job, he repented of his omissions in sackcloth and ashes.  He ordered his priorities aright, and even now he’s effectively chipping away at the foundation of his stone prison daily.  Since he’s being faithful to Yahweh’s will for his ministry, and allowing Yahweh to prescribe the way, Yahweh will also be faithful in supernatural ways to help him remove his burden in due time.  This interaction is called trust.

   All Job lost was eventually restored and more after he realized that his testing was, in great measure, a result of a small root of sin.  He had feared Yahweh, but trusted himself.  It was the same for the Man of God in the true story I just told.  How many of us find ourselves trapped in a stone cold prison cell, a cell we’ve dragged before The Throne a thousand times, but never received the answer that we planned.  We’ve blamed it on the devil, on Yahweh, or on others, when it really has sprung from a root of sin in our own lives.  What’s your prison?  Think!  Think!  Do I have to give you some suggestions?  I know you, and I know your cathedrals – and I know mine, too.

   This evening, let us take the first step in chipping away at the foundation of our cathedral-prison.  Let us take a few moments in silence to reflect on our personal burdens.  Let us ask Yahweh to reveal the sin-root of our despair.  And then let us repent of our sin and commit to taking responsibility for rebuilding our own ministries and lives.  When Yahweh or your own heart has showed you your sin in the matter, please write it down on the papers you have.  When you have done so, please bring your paper forward and deposit it in the furnace for burning.  As a sacramental act, we will burn the written record of our sins as a token and representation of our repentance and need for deliverance.

 

Prayer of revelation: “O Word of Yahweh, be living and active for us now, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.  Let no thing be hidden, but let us be open and laid bare to your eyes.”   

 

Opening Prayer / Invitation Options

     1.  Dear brothers and sisters in Messiah:  The early believers observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Assembly that before the Resurrection celebration there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation.  Traditionally, converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism during this season.  It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Assembly.  In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Yahshua Messiah and the need we all have to renew our faith.

   I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Messiah, to observe a holy Lent: by self–examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word.  To make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel (bow) before our Creator and Redeemer. 

 

   2.  Friends in Yahshua, Every year at this time we celebrate our redemption through the death and resurrection of our Sovereign Yahshua Messiah.   Lent is a time to prepare for this celebration and to renew our life in the Passion mystery.  We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance, and for the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Yahshua Messiah.

   In Florida, we are aware of the harsh reality of brushfires, reducing all before them to ash; reminding us that, like the great trees when they are burned, we too are dust.  Brushfires also have a cleansing and purifying action, stripping and breaking open the land so that new life may emerge.

   The sign of the ash signifies our need for self-examination and penitence during this holy season of Lent that we may be broken open and prepared for new life as the baptized people, members in the Covenant of Yahweh through Yahshua’s blood.   {Hold up the ashes up for all to see} 

   We begin our journey to Resurrection with the sign of ashes.  This ancient sign speaks of the frailty and uncertainty of human life, and is a sign of hope for a repentant community.  I therefore invite you in the name of Yahshua, to observe a holy Lent by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word.  Let us bow before God, our Creator and Redeemer, and confess our sin.

 

Thanksgiving Over the Ashes

   Yahweh Almighty, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.  Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, so that we may remember that only by your gracious gift are we given everlasting life; through Yahshua Messiah our Savior. Amen.

Ash Wednesday March 1, 1995, updated February 25, 2004