Light on the Rock Blogs

The blogs are short articles, almost like a “sermonette” compared to a sermon. They are on a variety of topics, please enjoy.

God’s Two Options

As YHVH, God Most High created man and woman, He realized at the outset that we would all sin and earn the death penalty for breaking his laws and his Way of life.  Yahweh is God and is love personified.  That’s what and who He is: love. But the living God also is a fair and just God. The penalty for sin is death by execution, called the “second death”, not the natural death we are all subject to (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14).  Sin incurs the wrath of God’s sense of righteousness and justice.  So in God’s heart of hearts, there was this balance that had to be achieved: the justice of God and the love and compassion of the Almighty.

God had a choice.

Option 1: He could spare all of us by sending his eternal companion the WORD, who became the Son of God, to live perfectly and then die for us.  As Creator of all things, his one life is worth more than all of humanity combined.  God the Father loved the Word profoundly. The Word became flesh and began to commonly be known as Jesus – or the Hebrew name I use, Yeshua.  
       

John 1:1-3

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him [the WORD], and without Him nothing was made that was made.

John 1:10-14

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 “Yeshua” was not an uncommon name.  But what is important is that his name means “Savior”.   Yeshua – the Word of YHVH and YHVH Most High were and are so united in thought and will -- that they act and live as one (John 10:30; John 17:22).  So because God loves all of us – you, me – so profoundly, God could put all our sins on his perfect Son to have his Son be savagely executed for all of us, for all of our sins. This paid the penalty of our sins and the wrath those sins incurred. His sacrifice satisfied the penalty and the wrath (Romans 5:5-10).  

            Lord and Master, how great thou art. Indeed.

That was option 1. 

Click on Continue reading to the right to read Option 2 and what and how God made his decision.

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Passover – high time for forgiving and accepting forgiveness

What a great time of year this is. Passover. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”.  It’s a time of receiving forgiveness – and of forgiving. 

As we remember what the Christ went through, we also marvel at the love of Abba to forgive all who accept His offer to reconcile Himself to a humanity that had so terribly abused His one and only.  You see, the Father was actually the One who offered His Lamb to pay for our sins.  Sure, the Jewish religious leaders demanded Yeshua be crucified.  And Gentile Romans made sure it happened in a most horrible way. But in the end, it was all of us – all of us who have ever sinned – who caused His death. That’s me, that’s you, that’s all of us.

In this season as we come near to Passover, it’s a time to ponder deeply on the topic of forgiveness.  On BEING forgiven, and … perhaps even more difficult, forgiving and releasing and being RECONCILED to all and any who have hurt us.  But not just claiming to have forgiven  -- but knowing so, from your heart. 

Be watching this website for a full NEW sermon soon on “forgiving others as Christ forgave – from the heart.”  And don't forget, Passover is the season that reminds us that He who was hurt the most by you and me, and by all of us humans – was God the Father Himself. And yet HE is the One extending His heart and his hand to you and me to be reconciled with Him.  He gave us His Son – born as a beautiful little baby. But look at how we returned him!  Remember? After his resurrection, Yeshua pointed to the hole in his side and the holes in his hands/wrists (the wrists were considered part of the “hand” back then).  John 20:27.

Our sins caused the indescribably painful death of Yeshua our Messiah (Jesus Christ).  Yes, Peter said in Acts 2:22-23 that we all killed Christ.

So if anyone could justifiably remain angry, bitter and unforgiving – and have a right to feel that way – it might be God himself. But in this season he reminds us: “When I look at you, if I see that you’re covered by the blood of the Lamb of God, I will pass over your sins.”  And He means it; from His heart.

And now Abba wants his children learning to be like him: forgiving even the most “unforgivable” monsters for their sins, actions, crimes and misdeeds, especially when they repent.  Don’t you just love it when people say “What he/she did is simply unforgivable”?  Have you ever done something so heinous that some have said it was “unforgivable”? In fact you did. And I did. We caused an innocent young man to be tortured and killed on the cross by our sins. Your sins.  My sins.  And that young man – while hanging on the cross – asked his Daddy – “Abba, forgive them Father, for they really don’t grasp what they’re doing” (Luke 23:32-34).   And HE said that before there was any repentance going on from those for whom he was asking forgiveness!   And his Abba heard that and agreed – and offered His own son to take upon himself all the wrath that should have gone to you and me for our sins. You see, forgiving the unforgivable is what Abba does so well. And then he reconciles and blesses the one He’s forgiven.  Amen. 

Click on “Continue reading” towards the right of this section to finish this vital blog.

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“The Church (ekklesia) in your house”

Philemon 1-2

 

Can you imagine a “church in your house”?   And yet anything else would actually have been unimaginable for the early believers.  

Most religious people who ever “go to church” (not realizing we are the church, the ekklesia, rather than go to church), go to a very elaborate church building or cathedral. The richer denominations have big cathedrals with prominent steeples (a very pagan relic), stained glass windows, rich and expensive marble floors and more.  I’ve been to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and there’s even gold on the ceiling and that basilica is so massive  you could put several typical churches inside it.  St Paul’s in London is patterned after it.  You may think of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the dozens of others that dot the land.

I’m not against worship of God being expensive, as nothing is too expensive if it is truly directed at worshiping the Great God who created all things. Remember he didn’t decry the expensive ointment that was poured on him and certainly the ancient Tabernacle and Temple were quite lavish.  But I will say this, the same Peter who was concerned that Paul be sure to consider the poor in his travels (Gal. 2:10) would be appalled that his name has been put on to lavish and massive buildings with pagan symbols (like the obelisk in the center of the courtyard at St Peter’s).  Can you see the fisherman Peter decked out like the modern-day popes?  I’m not meaning to pick on the Catholic church, but just point to the principle. This applies to just about all the denominations.  And Yeshua himself walked everywhere. He didn’t own expensive chariots.  John the Baptist was dressed roughly, as Yeshua himself implied in Luke 7:24-28, that John was NOT dressed lavishly. 

I’m making a point:  the early believers rarely if ever met in expensive buildings like that unless they visited the still-standing temple in Jerusalem (until 70 CE).  But remember that only priests could actually go inside the temple itself.  Circumcised Jews visited from the square outside or in the courts if they were offering a sacrifice with the priest.  Circumcised Gentiles were allowed only so far where they would come to a short wall with warnings that if they went beyond that point, they would be executed. 

Yeshua never,  ever meant it to be like that. Remember him saying, “My father’s house is supposed to be a place of worship for ALL NATIONS”?  (Mark 11:15-17;  Isaiah 56:6-7 the context was “foreigners”)

Early believers didn’t meet in huge basilicas and cathedrals, which were often built on false promises.  They met in homes of the brethren.  Yeshua himself preached outdoors, or on a hillside, or along the shores of the Sea of Galilee as he addressed them from a boat. Imagine that!  And there was discourse, there was feeding of multitudes, there was a family atmosphere.   My Kenyan brethren meet outdoors as well, rain or shine. Maybe our worship would be more meaningful if we could hear birds singing in the background (but don’t get distracted by bugs!). 

Some of the more established mega-churches like to put down the “home church” idea.  Well, those who do so are denigrating scripture itself.

Philemon 1-2
“To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:”

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Positive Pre-Passover preparation

Many of you understand that we are to avoid taking the Passover in an unworthy manner, or “unworthily” as KJV says (1 Cor. 11:27-29) but are to first examine ourselves.

What does that mean?  Over the years I’ve actually known people who decided not to take the Passover at all because they decided they weren’t worthy enough.  This is what is motivating this blog. 

What does it mean to take the Passover “worthily” or “unworthily”?  If we take it in an unworthy manner, which is apparently very serious – as we will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (v. 27).  But on the other hand, if we don't take Passover at all, we’re still guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, right?  For if God Most High does not see the blood  of the Lamb of God  - His Son -- covering us, do our sins get passed-over (where we get the term Passover from) – Exodus 12:12-13?  Remember? “When I see the blood, I will pass over…”

So let’s read it and understand it.

1 Corinthians 11:25-30

“In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so LET him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [Lord's] body.”

Click on “Continue reading” to learn more about taking the Passover in a worthy manner.

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What does Passover mean to you? What do you think of?

When you keep Passover this year, what will you be focusing on?  I’ve heard some sermons recently that have inspired this blog. Sometimes I wonder where some are putting their emphasis and focus.

When you hear a Pre-Passover sermon or read an article about it, is the focus on the events of the Old Covenant – or on the events of the New Covenant? 

Here’s my point:  we know the original Passover week in Exodus 12 -13 was all about “when I see the blood” of the sacrificial goat or lamb splashed on the doorpost and lintels, “I will pass over you” and that home’s firstborn sons would be spared.  We know this broke the back of Egypt’s hold on Israel and they let Israel go. We know they left Egypt by night with great jubilation at the end of the 14th and eve of the 15th of Abib. 

But as we come to Passover this year, and as we celebrate “the Night to be Much Observed” (the eve of the 15th of the first Hebrew month), are we going to spend most of our time recounting Israel’s coming out of Egypt – or will we be explaining how all believers are grafted into spiritual Israel (Romans 11) and we all become children of Abraham’s promises through faith in our Savior (Gal. 3:26-28)?  And then show what that means for believers today.

Click on “Continue reading” to the right so you’re sure to focus on the right thing this Passover.

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Do you have the faith to be healed?

Someone told someone near and dear to me that he obviously didn’t have the faith to be healed, as he has been suffering with severe neck and back plus nerve pain for many years. The “logic” went like this: “If you had real faith, you’d be healed.  The fact you’re not healed is proof you don’t have faith – or enough faith.” 

Hmm.  What would you say to that?  Haven’t many of us thought that about ourselves or others at some point in our lives?  After all, James 5:14-16 says we should be anointed and prayed over by the elders when we’re sick and the prayer of faith will heal the sick and if sins had been committed, they will be forgiven.  Then we’re admonished to pray for one another so that we may be healed.  We know there are people being healed, but it does seem like there are far more people who seek healing who aren’t being healed.  Are the ones not being healed simply obvious cases of people without faith, or without enough faith? 

We’re coming up to Passover soon and as we take of the unleavened bread and red wine we are reminded “by His stripes we are healed”.  But quite a few aren’t being healed. Too many even die, without being healed.  I’ve experienced significant healings in my own life, as well as times when I saw no change in the conditioned for which I prayed. 

I think the challenge comes when we make black-and-white dogmatic conclusions from a verse here or there.  It does seem to say that according to our faith, may it be done unto you. It does say that some in Nazareth were not healed because of their unbelief.  So where does that leave us when someone who is a man or woman or child of great faith – is not healed, after repeated requests and lots of prayers going up in their behalf? 

Click on “Continue reading” to find out if you will always be healed, in this life, here and now immediately, if you did/do have the faith to be healed.

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Is the covenant we’re under – a NEW covenant or RENEWED covenant?

We’re coming up soon to the Passover where Christ clearly stated that the cup of red wine they were drinking was “the NEW covenant in my blood.”  (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). 

There is much discussion in some circles whether the covenant Yeshua established is a “brand new” covenant or the same as the old covenant given at Mt. Sinai but simply “renewed”.  So you’ll hear many preachers of some (not all) of the Hebrew Roots groups and Messianic groups repeating the phrase “Renewed Covenant”. 

So, is there any difference?  I submit there is a massive difference in consequence of our doctrinal understanding, our behavior and the joy we can experience if we think we are essentially still under the old covenant just brushed up a bit – or if we are under a totally brand new covenant that didn’t exist before. 

            Please read that last sentence again.

And some of you feel it is not a big issue, and think it’s just a matter of semantics; a striving over words. One man said in my hearing, “New, renewed – so what? What’s the difference?  It’s no big deal. It’s just semantics.” 

I think it is a huge deal in the consequences of our understanding whether we feel we are under a renewed covenant or a brand new one. I will be giving a full-fledged sermon in the next 2-3 weeks about the covenants – Old and New – but let’s whet your appetite with this blog:  are you in a RENEWED covenant or a NEW covenant, and does it matter? 

Click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right to read the rest of this blog explaining why making the correct distinction between the former covenant and present covenant, as Scripture does, is so important to worshiping God in truth. In fact, you’ll miss much of the joy of the new covenant if you don't “see” that it’s a BRAND NEW covenant. 

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Gracious speech seasoned with salt

Colossians 4:6 (Apologetics)

“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”

I was heading into the mall the other day when I heard a bright female voice behind me say quite loudly, and clearly, that she had always wanted to go (F-bomb) eat at that (F-bomb) restaurant.  I couldn’t help but react and turn around to see a young and attractive woman pointing to the restaurant – and a pack of young kids running up behind her.  Then one of them said, “Wait up, mom….”

I could hardly believe that the words I had just heard were coming from a young mom saying it loudly – and especially right in front of her own young children.  I work from my home so I don’t hear this filth unless I go out.  I’m just amazed how that particular word is now used as just an ordinary expression.  It seems young and old alike see no harm in expressing thoughts and words of the vilest sort. I’m even seeing it crop up in Facebook, even among those who claim to be children of the Highest.  Or some are even spreading “humor” or words that are laced with uncouth thoughts and words from the toilet.

Children of God, that simply must never be the case among the Household of God.  We are all being called OUT of this world into HIS kingdom, His Way, HIS words, His manner – and that includes our Father’s graciousness and civility. We’re either a part of Him or we’re not. If we’re a part of Abba’s way, we ask for him to cleanse our hearts and minds and tongues of the lack of civility, crassness, crudeness and toilet humor we see ever more of.

I used a similar “bad word” once in my mama’s hearing, (oh how I wish I knew beforehand that she was in the general area!) when I was about 10 years old or so, and I will never forget my mom literally sticking a bar of soap in my mouth as she assured me she never ever wanted to hear her son use such awful language; language unbecoming to a child of Holy, Holy, Holy God.  I will never in all my life forget the talking to I got that day!

A little seasoning, a little salt, makes otherwise unattractive food taste better. Gracious speech is the same.  In this age of crude F-bombs spoken with impunity, we who are of the household of Abba must remember whose family we’re a part of:  be gracious, be clean, be uplifting.  Many of us, myself certainly included, have “lost it” at times and spoken hurtful words in anger or words we wish we could reach out and throw into the garbage, where they belong.  No doubt some of us have had times when we lost our temper, said mean things, spoken uncouth words or discussed and joked about issues that were not gracious, and were not reflective of the holy, holy, holy Father we have.  We represent His family, his kingdom.  We must wash out our mouths with the soap of God’s word and deep repentance – and grow ever more like him in thought, word and deed until people see more and more of Yeshua (Jesus) in our lives.

I’ve been mean-tongued at times in my life. There, I’ve said it. I’m committed to – for the rest of my life -- surrendering all that to my gracious Savior so He can give me His new heart first – and then my tongue will be clean, holy and gracious too.   I wish to surrender my tongue that once was quick to have the witty-but-painful come-backs and graciously accept the new tongue that will heal and encourage.  But first“cleanse the inside of the dish and then the outside will be clean also” (Matthew 23:26).  First ask for the new clean heart Yahweh has promised freely to the repentant – and from your new clean heart, clean and gracious words will flow, for from out of the heart flow all our words and actions (Matthew 15:18).  No more do we want words that break one’s hope and spirit – but words that rejuvenate those feeling weak, afraid, discouraged, despondent and faint.

Click on “Continue Reading” to read more of what Abba, our loving and HolyFather says about our words.

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Could Christ be returning any day now?

I was watching a preacher on TV the other day and he was going on and on about how – in his view – Christ could return this very evening, today!  Hmm.  Could that be?  What do you think? More importantly, what does Scripture say?

Well, let’s ask the question: could Christ be returning any day now? Of course the Almighty can or could do what God Most High wants to do, anytime He so chooses. But hasn’t he also given us certain parameters and “highway markers” that precede his return and alert us that his coming is imminent?  So maybe the correct question would be better phrased this way:  “WOULD Christ be returning any day now?”  

A very true answer for many would be this:  if you died before his actual return, you would be in what scripture terms “a deep sleep”.  Even Yeshua (Jesus) our Savior described dead people as “sleeping”. He said Lazarus was asleep (John 11:11-14).  He said Jairus’ daughter was just sleeping, moments before her spirit returned to her and she was resurrected from the dead (Luke 8:52-55).  Paul said, “we shall not all sleep…”, meaning we won't all die before the return of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51).

Click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right of this page to find out how for some people Christ’s coming will be immediate, very soon.   And how for others it will take longer, and also find out why.

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WHY are we going into battle without our sword?

I’m sure you would say – to the title – “of course I’m not doing that”.  It would be the dumbest thing we could do, wouldn’t it? But I contend most of us – at least some days – DO go into our spiritual battles without our sword.  Now I know we don’t use swords in most battles nowadays.  Today we’d say “without your rifle” or “your AR-15” or AK-47.  But when the Bible was written, they used swords and in Ephesians 6, Paul is inspired to urge us to put on the whole armor of God.  In there we have all the pieces of armor listed, including the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and many more.

We are physical – and so we understand the physical more.  The problem is, since we don’t see a real physical battle going on around us, we leave home without our weapons and armor. But in fact, there is an intense war going on for you – for your eternity, and as Peter says – “for your soul”. The “god of this world” – Satan and his evil spirits – are constantly broadcasting their moods, thoughts and temptations to try to bring us down; to do their best to cause us to sin or even to give up on our calling. 

Surely you can look back – even just perhaps a few hours or maybe even just a few minutes – and realize you were being bombarded by enemy missiles – but you didn’t recognize those moods and temptations as the spiritual warfare that was raging all around you.  But enough of me. Let’s let the Apostle Paul’s inspired words explain: 

Ephesians 6:10-13

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

The daily battles for our minds and eternity are more intense and more real than house-to-house combat in physical battles. We have to start to see it that way or we will continue to go into our very real battles without our sword. We are fighting against powers way beyond our puny physical strength – but in Christ we win.

Paul tries to open the eyes of believers in Corinth also. This is not a flesh-and-blood battle, he warns, but much more serious and ferocious. Are YOU aware of that? 

2 Corinthians10:3-6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

If we could have our eyes opened to see what’s really raging around us, we’d probably collapse in fright!  Besides the evil temptations, moods and thoughts being broadcast at you, we also have our fleshly, carnal human nature with its passions.  How well we know those passions, right? 

1 Peter 2:11

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul..”

So how could we possibly be going into spiritual battle each day without our sword?  Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to find out!  You want to win this war and find out what the sword is, and how to use it. 

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Where was the Messiah actually born?

How wonderful, though we know Christ was not born Dec 25th, how wonderful it is that he was born as our Savior.  We believe all the evidence points to a birth in the fall, probably either on the Feast of Trumpets or possibly even the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, since John 1 says he came to “tabernacle” with mankind.

But this blog is about WHERE exactly he was born. Could the exact spot in Bethlehem have been foretold 700 years earlier?   I’m not the first to write about this.  But most people seem to think he was born in a barn or stall, and might miss a more interesting explanation.  There are also those who believe he was born in a sukkah – a booth – since they believe this was during the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles.  Of course others believe he was born in a deep cave, the site of the present Church of the Nativity - - a site chosen by Emperor Constantine’s mother Helen, centuries after the birth of Christ.  I’ve seen that spot within the church and don’t believe he was born on that spot at all! 

There might be something more to the point. There might be a scripture in Micah that actually tells us where he would be found.  And remember, everything I write here is geared to a FALL-TIME birth, not December 25th.  So though we do not keep Christmas, we are delighted that God did send his Son to be our savior.  Now, where was he born? 

Everyone knows he was born in Bethlehem “in a manger” – which refers to a food crib for animals.  According to Luke 2, Caesar had ordered people to go to their home town to register (the KJV “tax” is more correctly referring to a registration, as most other translations have it, and as the Greek word more strongly implies).  Usually just the males would have had to go, but since Mary was also a royal descendant of the house of David in her own right, she would have had to register as well.

Luke 2:1-7

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Now compare this to a prophecy in Micah 4:8, written 700 years before the birth of our Savior.  It’s time to read about the Tower of the Flock, the Migdal Eder.  You’ll find this very fascinating! 

Click on “Continue reading” to find out the most likely spot where Yeshua (Jesus) was actually born! 

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Come to know the Author, and not just His Book

I’m sure if you’re a reader of our blogs, you are also one who loves to study the Scriptures.

The point of this blog is simple – but I hope also profound. Many people study to learn data and facts. They can quote scripture and verse on almost any topic. They spend hours looking into the Hebrew and Greek and trying to learn every nuance.  I do a fair amount of that too, so I’m not “knocking” that.

But it’s very possible to know a book inside out – including the Bible – and still miss ever coming to know its Author.  Yeshua (Jesus) is the Word. He wrote and inspired what we read when we do Bible study.  You’re growing in grace and knowledge – but the rest of the verse says we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge OF our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Come to know HIM, not just what he wrote.  Sure, knowing what He wrote helps us to come to know him better as well. I get that. But go deeper than just facts and data. 

Any book – whether fiction, scripture or history or whatever – becomes indescribably more interesting – once you come to meet or to know the author.  The book and the words in the book will come alive.  That’s why when authors come out with their latest book, they do personal book signings. They want their readers to meet them – the authors – and have a “feel” for what kind of human being this author is.  They know the book will be more interesting and come alive more if people have met them, the authors, first.  If you come to meet Yeshua in a personal way, you’ll also find His book to be much more interesting.

FEEL the “heart” of God and Yeshua as you read the words being expressed.  Remember Yeshua is the Word (John 1:1-3) and the Bible is Yeshua in print.  Come to really know your Maker and Savior through His word. The apostle Paul said one of his over-arching goals in his life was “that I may KNOW Him and the power of HIS resurrection….” (Philippians 3:10).  Do you and I wish to really come to personally know our Savior?  It’s a must. And you will get so much more out of His Book – if we come to know its Author intimately.

Click on “Continue reading” for some examples of HOW to come to know the Author – and not just the Author’s words.

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Aaron – and the lesson of Christmas celebrations

Aaron – and the lesson of Christmas celebrations

No true believer would knowingly worship the true God from a basis of paganism. But without realizing it, could many mainstream Christians be worshiping God with more bits and pieces from paganism than they might remotely realize?

In Exodus 32 is the story of the Gold Calf that Israel made in the wilderness. This was a most painful and repugnant sin to YHWH, the living true God. You know the story of the Gold Calf - - but is it possible you’ve missed a crucial verse in the story that makes my point? When Moses’ brother – Aaron – agreed to fashion the golden calf and let Israel worship it, he thought he could lessen the sin and appease his Creator by – by doing what? What do you think? Do you remember the story? My main point is to get us to evaluate where WE could be doing the same thing. Could we be justifying a horrible sin in our life –and even in our worship – by doing the same thing Aaron did?

So we know he made the horrible gold calf. But he did something else that made that horrible sin far worse! So what did Aaron do and say regarding the gold calf that was so detestable to the Creator? Be turning in your Bible to Exodus 32 so you can read it with your own eyes in your own Bible.

Click on “Continue reading” to the right, to find out what was that terrible thing Aaron did. It’s what millions and millions of professing Christians are doing in fact right now.

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Keeping the main thing -- the main thing.

Some time ago, someone wrote a book or something that popularized the title above, so I want to give credit to where credit is due. But the point was: life is about keeping the main thing, the one main thing.  Know what are those “main thing” points in your life.

Yeshua said “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these other things you worry about will be added to you.” (Paraphrased a bit from Matthew 6:33). 

We get into trouble when things that are not the “main thing” get in front of what’s most important.  ARE you and I seeking the Kingdom of God FIRST thing, each day?  Look for the sermon about Eating your Daily Manna. 

In the story of Mary and Martha, two wonderful faith-filled sisters who supported Christ’s ministry, we all have heard about “Martha, Martha.”  She was overly concerned with getting dinner ready for everyone and her sister Mary was stuck in the room with the guys listening to Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus). 

What did our Master say?  How does that apply to us today?  Are you and I keeping the main thing, the main thing – day after day? 

            Click on “continue reading” – to the right of this page – to read the rest of this blog.

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Will the Bible itself need to be “cleaned up”?

When Christ returns to rule the earth – soon, we all hope – will He sit back and let us continue to use the present versions of His Word --the Bible – as we know them today? Some think their KJV is practically as good as the original autograph Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Others prefer their NIV or NKJV. And if you’re outside America, you have your own Bible in your own language. 

Are the various translations, paraphrases and language versions of God’s word completely perfect – or do you think one of the first things Messiah will do will be to give us His perfect, cleaned up version of His word as originally written?  What do you think? 

When Yeshua (Jesus) returns, He will begin a process of restoring everything to the way it should be, before mankind was cast out of the Garden (Genesis 3). You may have heard of the “restoration” or “restitution” of all things.  Will Bibles that people read every day also need to also be restored?  And if so, why would that be necessary?

Acts 3:19-21
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

Notice it does say “ALL things” in verse 21. Don’t misunderstand.  I believe with all my being that the originally hand-written, God-breathed, God-inspired autograph manuscripts were perfect and had no error. I’m talking about the original manuscripts Moses and Ezra and the prophets wrote, and the original epistles of the New Testament.NO original autograph manuscript exists today. We do have carefully copied copies – and that’s what we use today as our authoritative source of what Scriptures says.  I trust those ancient manuscripts are also reliable copies. But from those old manuscripts – copied carefully as they were – we now have hundreds of versions of the Bible in scores of languages.  These versions are what people around the world are reading today as “the word of God”. 

Now add this to the equation:  it seems likely that one of the first things King Yeshua will do is to give us one worldwide language. Many believe that language will be Hebrew.Remember God is the one who scattered people from Babylon by instantly making the various groups (Genesis 11:1-9) speak in different languages.

Zephaniah 3:9  HOLMAN
“For I will then restore pure speech to the people so that all of them may call on the name of Yahweh and serve Him with a single purpose.”

How long Yeshua will take to have us all speaking one language again remains to be seen.  God confused the languages in an instant in Genesis 11.  He could work a miracle and once again, in an instant, have us all speaking one pure language with one another. I personally think that is likely.

Now especially if that happens, it seems very logical to me that one of the first orders of business will be for King Yeshua (Jesus) to purify His Word – the holy scriptures, the Bible --  from the many, many varying versions and translations that are “out there”.  And again, I believe strongly in the inerrancy and accuracy of the original scriptures and how they have traveled through time to us today.

My point is:  when the original gets translated into the various languages like English, French, Ilocano, Tagalog, Chinese or Russian and so on, and then add various versions within those languages, mistakes can and do happen.  By “versions” I’m referring to KJV vs the NIV, or RSV, Holman, and so on.  The reasons for the variations are myriad. There simply are differing ways that words and expressions can be translated. I spoke 2 languages fluently as a youth and learned the basics of two others.  It’s hard to even get a “word-for-word” translation and have it really make sense all the time.

Look at everyday signs posted in English and Spanish, for example. If you know Spanish well, you’ll realize many times they are giving the sense of the English notice. They are saying it the way it would be said in Spanish, but it’s not always a word-for-word translation, and neither should it always be. 

For example, in Ilocano, a Philippine dialect I grew up with, they have at least three words for “hair”.  The words are different for head hair, pubic hair and air on the arm.  The word of hair on the arm is “dot-dot”—literally meaning “feathers”, the same word they would use for the feathers on a chicken.  But if you were translating from Ilocano to English, would you translate “dot-dot” when referring to the arm hair on a man as “feathers” – or would you not say “arm hair”?  “Feathers” would be a literal word-for-word translation – but an English reader would be left very confused!

So translating is a very precise skill.  I personally am astonished at how many pastors –who are not expert in Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Greek --are willing to come out with their own translations of the Bible, which of course, will be in harmony with their own theology! 

MOST Bible translations – even the KJV—are NOT “word-for-word” translations, and neither should they be. In fact, the KJV often adds words and phrases in italics, so you know they are adding words to try to make the meaning clearer.  Sometimes they succeed with that -- and sometimes they don’t. 

So this is also why I like to study the original Hebrew or Greek words when trying to understand a passage of scripture and not just rely on what the translation says in English – or what it say sin your French or Swahili or Ilocano. 

There are some glaring mistakes. Yes, even in the KJV.  But the same can be said about the NIV, Holman, RSV and every other version out there – so I’m not picking on the KJV.

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to find out some of the corrections that will need to be made in the Bibles the everyday common man or woman reads in the Millennium. 

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I am “N”. Are you?

Just a quick thought for you to ponder, but a very important one.

If you’ve watched the news at all, you’ve heard some of the atrocities going on when ISIL Islamic terrorist butchers take over cities in Iraq and Syria.  I get daily reports of men and children being tortured and killed, beheaded, crucified and everything else imaginable. Teenage girls and young women are sold into slavery – yes, in 2014, human slavery is going on. And there are people buying girls for sex slaves.

In the recent past, residents of Mosul in Iraq,who were Christians, were given 4 choices: convert to their version of Islam, leave and forfeit everything they owned, or pay a huge tax – or be killed. Just so everyone knows which homes are housing Christians, an Arabic letter “N” (or the Arabic equivalent) is spray-painted on their house walls. The Arabic “N” looks like a 2/3 finished circle with a little dot at the top.  Sometimes they spray paint a complete circle around that – making it strangely look like a smiley face.  You may find it interesting to note that Mosul is the modern city where ancient Nineveh once stood.

Why “N”? 

n

 

Click on “Continue reading” to learn all about this and how it applies so profoundly to you.

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TATTOOS – Should God’s children go have tattoos?

I was at a Barnes & Noble bookstore not long ago and was surprised how many magazines are devoted to “body art” – or tattoos specifically.  I paged through a few of the magazines and some of the models were covered from the top of their heads to their feet with tattoos.

And when you go to the beach or a beachside resort, what do we see? Men and women and even teens with tattoos.  You’ve probably seen some people tattooed from head to toe! 

What does YHVH say about tattoos?  What does God’s holy word say about it?  Would Yeshua ever have had a tattoo?  Or does having a tattoo break God’s law? 

It has become a worldwide craze.  What was once the realm of navy sailors, gangs or certain ethnic groups or tribal custom, is now being practiced by a wide swath of humanity.  I’ve been in locker rooms where men have tattoos in very private parts. I hear the same is true for women. And of course once tattoo is done, it’s very difficult and painful to try to un-tattoo.  I’ve heard it can be done, but how painful it must be.

tattoo

I’m writing on this not because it’s the most important thing to talk about. It isn’t. But it IS important enough that GOD talks about it. Did you realize that? Anything HE says IS important just so we know His mind on a topic.  And I am concerned because I suspect more and more believers are also starting to get tattoos.

What does our Father in heaven say to his children?

Click on “Continue reading” to the right of this page, to find out what our Abba, our dear heavenly Daddy, who is also Almighty God, has to say to His children.

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Are you waiting for “a more convenient time”?

Many people know they are being called. They can understand the word of God, and we now spiritual things can only be seen by those whose understanding has been opened by Abba’s spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10, 14).  But then we begin to realize that learning the Way of our Father means changing our way of life.

The biggest thing is to repent of what we are and what we have done and still do, change direction and accept Yeshua (Jesus) as our Savior and Lord of our lives. But is He your Lord in all parts of your life?  Or are we waiting to make changes in some areas of our lives until it’s “more convenient”?

Let me get specific to something very current, for example. Right now we’re coming up to Halloween and then Christmas (but this blog is SO much more than just being about those 2 holidays).  If you’ve looked into the history of these two celebrated days, you will quickly find out both have their roots firmly in paganism.  Halloween is obviously so, on its face.  Why would the children of God be playing around with darkness, evil, ghosts, and death?  WHY?  Or is it not convenient enough yet to make the decision to stop being part of a very demonic holiday? 

There was a leader who used to listen to the Apostle Paul. He came close to committing to the true living God – but it was not a convenient time for him to do so. Let’s read it.

We are speaking of Felix, the Roman Procurator of Judea 2000 years ago, who was intrigued by the word of God but sought a more convenient time.  The text we’re about to read centers on the time when Paul was arrested and bound – and now having to give a defense for his beliefs and actions to the governor Felix.  You might do well to review the story in Acts 24, maybe even reading a chapter or two before and after so you get the flow and context.

Acts 24:24-27

“And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." 26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.”

Admittedly, it must have been particularly difficult for those in governmental positions to step out in faith. But Felix was showing some interest in the truth and in Yeshua – but then procrastinated. He wanted a “more convenient time”.  It even says he “was afraid”. Paul’s words spoke to his heart initially.  He decided he would act on what he had learned – but not right now. In his delay, his heart began to change and he even began hoping Paul would give him money, a bribe, in exchange for release (v. 26). Delay changes our hearts.

Click “Continue reading” to the right if you want to know how this story applies to you. Where is each of us waiting for a “more convenient time” to fully commit to the true God?

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The Night God wrestled with man

You may be very familiar with “the night Jacob wrestled with a Man”.  And you probably know the “Man” was the One who became Jesus Christ (Yeshua).  So we tell the story about how Jacob wrestled with God.  But are you familiar with the time when God wrestled with Jacob? 

We often think that Genesis 32:24 onwards is the story of when Jacob wrestled with God. I guess technically, if two men are going “at it”, they are both wrestling. But in the past, we put the emphasis on Jacob – how HE wrestled with God. But when we read the story carefully, it’s quite different.  Jacob didn’t start the wrestling match.  God did. GOD wrestled with Jacob! This was the One who became Yeshua – Jesus the Christ – who was wrestling with Jacob.  For years I heard it preached, and I myself may have preached this too – that Jacob was to be commended for fighting so hard, striving so hard, not giving in.

But who was he fighting? Jacob was fighting his own Savior!  WHY would we ever think we have to resist GOD?

So let’s read it carefully again:Genesis 32:24-26

“Then Jacob was left alone; and A MAN (GOD- the one who became Christ) wrestled WITH HIM (Jacob) until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks."

But he [Jacob] said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"

Wiersbe, a Bible commentator, has some good things to say on this in his commentary.  Italics are mine.

We often think that WE have to wrestle good things out of God.  That’s so backward from reality.  GOD is the one wrestling with US to get US to release OUR defenses against what He wants to do and will do in us IF we would but believe better.”

Read that again.  WE are the ones putting up the defense that HE has to crack.  He wants us to just rest in Him, trust in Him, believe Him, and LET the blessings flow.  It’s the hardest thing to do – is to let go and trust Him.  He wants us to know and believe He has best intentions for us and wants to prosper us, protect us, and shine on us. WE are the ones who put up defenses – and the worst barricades we put up are the barricades of doubting God’s heart and assuming the worst!

Here’s what Wiersbe said:

It is when we get alone with God that good things begin to happen. Christ came to wrestle with Jacob, and the struggle lasted all night. Keep in mind that Jacob was not wrestling to get a blessing from God; rather, he was defending himself and refusing to yield. The Lord wanted to break Jacob and bring him to the place where he would honestly say, "Not I, but Christ" (Galatians 2:20). All night long, Jacob defended himself and refused to surrender or even admit that he had sinned. Then God weakened Jacob, and now the wrestler could only cling! Now, this time instead of scheming for a blessing or bargaining for a blessing, he asked God for the blessing [as he clung to Him] --and he received it.”

Stop wrestling against God. ASK.  Believe.  Receive.  Stop praying that God will see things your way and start praying more that we see things HIS way.  Let’s stop resisting Him but be willing to cling to Him instead.  Clinging is great.  It’s not wrestling.  Start abiding in, resting in – your Savior. Let Him save you. Let Him bless you. Believe He wants to. Let Him carry your burdens.  Let Him feel – and take away – your pain. Let him give you His joy and pleasure instead.  Experience the JOY of His salvation that you feel in Psalms like Psalm 21. 

I “wrestle” with this topic too. But how much more peace we feel when we finally quit fighting, and just hang on and let him bless us. Something he wanted to do anyway - - before the fighting. 

Psalm 37:4

“Take delight in the LORD and He will give you your heart’s desire”

The majority of Psalm 21 is all about this.  I recommend you read it carefully.

Psalms 21:1-2

“The king shall have joy in Your strength, O YHVH;

And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

You have given him his heart's desire,

And have not withheld the request of his lips.”

Isaiah 58:14

Then you shall delight yourself in YHWH;

And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,

And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.

The mouth of YHWH has spoken."

Ahh, resting. Asking. Believing.  Trusting. Receiving.  It’s so hard to just rest in him and trust in Him and delight in what He’s doing—even when we can’t understand sometimes why it seems to hurt.  Trust Him.  He’s working out something good for you.  

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BANISH Satan from your Feast of Tabernacles!

Aah, if only we really could. But it’s an intriguing thought. While we’re at the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), we’re picturing the millennial reign of the King of kings Yeshua (Jesus). Satan will have been banished by then (Revelation 20:1-3), before that reign begins.  But for the time being, that Adversary is still spewing his hate, suspicion and temptations – perhaps even to us who are picturing the time when he’s gone!

But here’s how we can at least reduce Satan’s presence and influence at the Feast, if not outright banish him.

--- Let’s PRAY Yeshua our king orders Satan to stay away from His feast sites.  Wouldn’t that be a great prayer to have answered?  Well, “you have not, for you ask not”, Yeshua said.  So ask. Remember the lessons from Job chapter 1, when Satan sarcastically reminds God that He had put a hedge around Job and had limited what Satan was allowed to do to Job (Job 1:6-12). Maybe Yah will do it for us today, if we but ask!  So ask. While you’re at it, pray for divine protection against feast trials, illnesses and accidents and to stay Satan’s hand. 

Click “continue reading” to the right for more ways to banish Satan or reduce his impact at least, from your feast.

--- RECOGNIZE we are in a huge war, but it is unseen spiritual forces we fight.  Just be more aware of this fact. You’re in a war. Fight the good fight.

Ephesians 6:10-13

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, THAT you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

--- “Therefore submit to God. RESIST the Devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)  MONITOR your thoughts. Bring them into subjection to Yeshua. When you recognize un-Christ like thoughts, moods and attitudes starting – before you even resist those, submit yourself to the mind and heart of our Abba’s Way.  That comes first, before we fight Satan.  RESIST. Recognize the source of that evil. ALL evil starts from within, Yeshua said. So be aware, submit to God our Father and to Yeshua as your real Lord and Savior – and then resist Satan.  1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he MAY devour. Him RESIST, grounded in the faith…”

--- Be aware of, and USE, the tools and weapons we have at our disposal to combat Satan while at the Feast.  The Feast is the last place we want to be getting so busy we have no time to pray, study and muse on the things of God. Going to church services can never replace the one-on-one time we must maintain with our Savior. And put on the whole armor of God. Too many of us, even I, all too often still go into spiritual battle without our full armor of God on!  How foolish and how dangerous that is.

--- Be aware that fatigue or lack of sleep can make us all behave less admirably.  Then when we do, we’re “sitting ducks” for the Adversary’s thoughts and moods.  Get your sleep and keep up your health at this Feast.

Much more can be said about this topic. But my main purpose was to just be sure we are very aware of Satan’s ploys, especially while at this Feast of Tabernacles – and then use the weapons we have at our disposal.  Have a wonderful feast, picturing an amazing time on earth, for 1000 years without Satan around.  That time will be starting not many more years from now. 

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