(Dedicated to Pastor Ed Picker)
A couple of weeks ago, my family experienced a great loss. My brother-in-law, Ed, passed away. He lived his life sold-out for our Savior Yeshua, the Messiah. He was an ordained Assembly of God Pastor for over 50 years of his life. The last three years of his ministry were spent with Harlon and me at Beth Yachad. He told one of his sons that these were the best years because he learned all about his Jewish roots and heritage…something he, in turn, passed along to his sons. We hope this rich heritage will be passed on to their future families for generations to come.
While we mourn him and miss him so much, we have the assurance that Ed is with our Lord. We believe that the Bible is literal when it says that there is only ONE WAY to the Father and that’s through the Son!
Yeshua died for us while we were yet sinners so that He could prepare an everlasting place for us with Him. True, only God knows for sure who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. But we do believe that professing Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah and staying true to Him gives us the promise of eternal life.
While Ed was sick and still breathing, I kept hearing the voice of the Lord saying, "RISE UP!" This statement can mean many different things to each of us. One meaning for it is literally—to rise from the dead—like Lazarus.
And when He had said this, Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” —John 11:43
Yeshua spoke the command and rose Lazarus from the grave after being dead for four days. (Do we have enough faith to believe this for our loved ones? That is a tall order!) The Word tells us Yeshua purposely stayed in Galilee and did not rush to see Lazarus when he heard he was sick. The disciples could not understand why there was no hurry to get to Lazarus. Yeshua made the point that this healing would be for the glory of God, and in the process, it would bring many people to faith in Him.
There are many things we just can't grasp when it comes to God's plan. He plainly tells us that His Ways are not our ways, yet, we do have the assurance that "all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (from Romans 8:28)
Yeshua rose from the dead! And when He did, He defeated the enemy on our behalf. Satan thought he had won! Not so. Yeshua not only conquered that battle, but He also won the war and those of us who believe are now able to rise up into eternal life WITH HIM!
Let’s explore other kinds of rising up.
For example: rising up to be ready for action.
Then Adonai said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. As he comes to the water say to him, This is what Adonai says: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. —Exodus 8:16
The Lord told Moses to rise up early in the morning, prepare for action, and be ready to go before Pharaoh to fight for the people of Israel. In other words, be ready for action and to take a stand. Another example with equal significance is when Deborah (the Judge) told Barak to rise up and get ready for the battle against Sisera.
Then Deborah said to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which Adonai will deliver Sisera into your hand. Has Adonai not gone out before you?” So Barak came down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. —Judges 4:14
Sisera was delivered into Barak's hands by a woman in the Bible who put a tent peg in his head!
All believers should arise daily, prepared for action and ready for whatever comes our way. How do we do this? We spend time in the Word and prayer daily, abiding with the Holy Spirit, primed for opportunities to serve the Lord and make a difference in someone’s life.
As for Ed, I know he was troubled by people who were hurting and did everything he could to make sure they were taken care of spiritually and physically. I remember one trip we took to Safford, Arizona, to preach at Ed’s church. The local radio station wanted to interview the two Jewish brothers, one who was called to see Jewish people saved (Harlon) and the one who was called to see non-Jewish people saved (Ed). That was an exceptional program — all for the glory of God!
Let’s talk a little more about rising up.
There are many ways we can impact the world when we are equipped. I think that we, as Believers, must take a stand. If we straddle the fence with one leg in and the other out, eventually, we’ll be torn in two. We weren’t meant to be tame. It’s time to rise up for Messiah and show the world who we are and why we are different. Be a testimony and leave a legacy for our Lord, as these scriptures will attest we should.
“God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.” — Galatians 5:22-23
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Messiah, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are.” —Philippians 1:27
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” — Colossians 4:5-6
This is the story of Peter and Cornelius. But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord! For never have I eaten anything unholy or unclean.”[a] 15 Again a voice came to him, a second time: “What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and the sheet was immediately taken up to heaven. 17 Now while Peter was puzzling about what the vision he had seen might mean, behold, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house and appeared before the gate. 18 They called out and began to ask whether Simon, also called Peter, was staying in this place as a guest. 19 Now while Peter was mulling over the vision, the Ruach said to him, “Look here, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitating, because I Myself have sent them.” 21 Going down to the men, Peter said, “Here, I’m the one you’re looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by all the Jewish people, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear a message from you.” 23 So Peter invited them in to be his guests. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up, saying, “Stand up! I too am just a man.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found many people gathered. 28 He said to them, “You yourselves know that it is not permitted for a Jewish man to associate with a non-Jew or to visit him. Yet God has shown me that I should call no one unholy or unclean. 29 So I came without objection when I was sent for. I ask, then, what is the reason why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius declared, “Four days ago at this hour, I was praying minchah [b] in my house. Suddenly, a man stood in front of me in shining clothes. 31 He says, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your tzedakah remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is also called Peter. He is staying in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism, [c] 35 but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. 36 You know the message He sent to Bnei-Yisrael, proclaiming shalom through Messiah Yeshua—He is Lord of all. 37 You know the message that has spread throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion that John proclaimed. 38 You know how God anointed Yeshua of Natzeret with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and power—how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses to all He did, both in the Judean countryside and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, 40 but God raised Him up on the third day and caused Him to be visible— 41 not to all the people, but to us, witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God. We ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that He is the One ordained by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about Him—that everyone who puts his trust in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Ruach ha-Kodesh fell on all those hearing the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and magnifying God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone refuse water for these to be immersed, who have received the Ruach ha-Kodesh just as we did?” 48 So he commanded them to be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua. Then they asked him to stay for a few days. —Acts 10:14-48
I love this story; a few verses before vs.10, Simon Peter sees a vision of all kinds of unclean, non-kosher animals coming down on a sheet, and he was encouraged by the Lord to eat. Still, Simon Peter said to the Lord that he could not eat because he would not eat anything unclean. But God said, “what God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.” At the same time, Cornelius, a non-Jew, a Centurion, saw a vision of an angel of God telling him that his prayers had been answered and was told about Simon Peter. God orchestrated this meeting for Simon Peter to share the Gospel with a non-Jewish man! The bottom line is that Cornelius and his family were saved. God was telling Simon Peter not to call unclean what he deems clean. In other words, take the Gospel to the Gentiles. God gave the Gentiles the same gift as the Jews once they put their trust in Him.
This story is not about FOOD; instead, the Lord chose to use this illustration because it was a familiar, traditional Jewish way of life to eat kosher foods. God spoke directly to something Simon Peter would seriously consider since it was a tradition he held in high esteem. I tell this story because this was the calling my brother-in-law Ed had on his life; to call unsaved people to the Lord—and he served the Lord and God's people well.
I can imagine the Lord saying to Ed, “Great job, good and faithful servant.”
He will be missed by all who know him, but his memory will live on in all the people he served and ministered to—forever.
We salute all those who have gone on to be with the Lord. We bless the families. We pray the impact they made and their legacy for the Kingdom of God will last forever.
Take a listen to this song by Cain. RISE UP!
On Youtube: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw8IgPHRBr4
In Yeshua's Love,
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The TLV Holy Scriptures: Tree of Life Version Author: Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society Publisher: Baker Print Publication Date: 2015