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.

Praising and thanking our Father BEFORE we receive

I’ve been receiving some positive comments from a friend who heard the sermon about praising and thanking God before we receive what we’re asking, and I thought I should encourage you to hear that message as well. It was given in March 2014. 

We all know about Yeshua’s (Jesus) instructions about receiving from God and when we pray.  If not, this will be a good little scripture study for all of us to review on the topic of answered prayer:  

    • Diligently seek our Father, for He does reward those who do so (Heb.11:6)
    • Remember your own private prayer is to be private (Matthew 6:5-6). There ARE times for group prayer, such as we read in Acts 12:1-19 when the believers prayed for Peter and their prayer was answered.  It’s interesting that there’s no record of the group coming together in prayer to pray for James – and he was beheaded by King Herod.   
    • We must ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).
    • We will have more confidence of a positive answer when we are pleasing to our Creator (1 John 3:22).  2 Chronicles 7:14-15 “… if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 
    • We need to ask more. “You have not for you ask not” (Matthew 7:7-11). 
    • We should always ask in faith, believing.  (James 1:5-8; Mark 11:22-24). If your faith is weak, acknowledge it, and make that part of your prayer. Ask Him to strengthen your faith.  
    • We should pray in Yeshua’s name (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24).
    • We know we should ask unselfishly. (James 4:2-3)
    • We know we should be persistent and not give up when we don’t see an answer right away, like the persistent widow parable (Luke 18:1-8)

    • We know we should ask for similar things – like healing – for others, if we wish to be healed (James 5:16).  Notice it says to pray for others “that YOU may be healed”. 
    • The same verse in James 5:16 says the fervent prayer of the righteous man is the effective prayer.  “Fervent’ does not have to mean loud. It just means to put your heart into it. 
    •  
    • Mark 11:25-26—if we want God to hear our prayers, we need to be sure we are at peace with everyone.  We need to have forgiven those who have offended us and ask their forgiveness if we have offended them.
    • We pray from our hearts; not speaking just rote, repetitive prayers (Matthew 6:7).
    • We know sometimes God’s “answer” to our prayers can sometimes be “not yet”, or “no” or “OK, I’ll answer, but it will be somewhat different than what you asked.” Paul experienced this when our Father told him he would not remove the “thorn in the flesh” but would give him strength to bear it.
    •  

I could keep going with more points on “answered prayer”. But I hope this much has been helpful -- but it’s still not my main point today.

Have you made a conscious practice of applying the March 2014 sermon about praising our Father for having already answered your prayers BEFORE you even see any results?  And be sure you do so in Yeshua’s name, as if Yeshua is the very one asking our Father.  In that sermon I give many examples of Yeshua himself doing this, as well as many examples from the prophets.  Yeshua taught us this when he says when we pray, believe we have already received it (Mark 11:20-24, especially verse 24).  Hear the sermon, it will have much more.  I recommend you hear the sermons in audio while having the Notes printed out ahead of time.  My “Notes’ are not a complete “transcript”. Sometimes I have bonus points in the notes, sometimes there’s more in the audio, but either way you’ll get more out of the messages if you hear them AND have the notes in hand. 

Remember that faith is the evidence of things NOT YET seen (Hebrews 11:1).  So if we have faith we’re going to receive a wonderful answer from our so-loving Abba, why NOT start thanking him for having already done it, even when we don’t yet see His answer?  The sermon explains fully how and why this is such a hallmark of believers.  If you haven’t heard and read the sermon, I recommend you do. It can change your life.

I also hope you will enjoy the series I am starting on our loving Abba – and the next sermons, God willing, will be on what happens when we, as children of Abba, sin?  Does that put us outside his love?  We certainly must deeply repent and turn from the evil we got involved with – but does that put us outside Abba’s love?  It will be coming soon.  Then I’ll be talking about experiencing the real JOY of salvation, as King David described it in his very prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.  So a lot is coming, and I hope you will benefit from the messages. I enjoy hearing any feedback or suggestions or even questions.  May our loving Abba in heaven bless you and watch over you.  

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Because I Love you

The following essay is by a spirit-led brother in Christ I’ve known for many years. I was moved by this beautiful essay and I hope you will be too. Be sure to click on “continue reading” at the bottom right so you can read it all. It’s wonderful!    -- Philip Shields 

 

I looked and beheld that the Earth had become without any form and was void of all life. My spirit was moved to make it new and so I placed it upon its orbit and blessed it within its course.

 (Genesis 1:1-3)

Because I Love You

I called for the light to come forth and separated it from the darkness. I saw the beauty in both the light and dark and I named them day and night.

 (Genesis 1:3-5)

Because I Love You

I set the waters above the Earth and divided the firmament into its proper order. I placed this protective cover I called heaven, so that life could be sustained upon the earth’s surface.

(Genesis 1:6-8)

Because I Love You

I gathered all the waters to form the mighty seas and caused the dry land to appear. I planted it with a variety of herbs, grasses and trees to grow and yield its fruit for a covering.

(Genesis 1:9-13)

Because I Love You

I set a great light I called the Sun to provide light and warmth during the day. I set a lesser light I called the moon and dressed it with many twinklingstars to shine for you by night. These lights I created to also show you my holy appointments, my special times, with you.

(Genesis 1:14-19)

Because I Love You

I gave the vast seas its bounty of many varieties of wonderful life. I set the birds upon the air with the wings of flight and filled the land with creatures of many kinds to prosper and multiply.

 (Genesis 1:20-25)

Because I Love You

I looked upon the beauty that shimmered on the waters and across the vast new land; I saw my reflection within both and out of the ground I created and breathed life into the first Man.

(Genesis 1:26, 2:7)

Because I Love You

I saw how much a man needed a companion to share and enjoy the beauty of my creation. I caused a deep sleep to fall upon him and from his own body I created his helpmate called woman. Together their seed would begin to fill the earth with human life.

(Genesis 1:28, 2:18, 21-24)

Because I Love You

I fashioned both the man and woman in our image, after our likeness.  No other creature has that honor.

(Genesis 1:26-27)

Because I love You

On the seventh day I rested from all my works of creating. I sanctified it as my Sabbath day so that all that I had made could rest from their works, rejoice and reflect upon Me.

 (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11)

Because I Love You

I set the man and woman in a beautiful garden, a paradise I planted with my very own hands. I taught them my way of life and gave them my Laws and statutes that would bring forth fruit of my very own nature.

(Genesis 2:8-17)

Because I Love You

I gave you the honor to bear my glorious name and become a great nation. You were to be my witnesses upon this earth and live by every word that I would decree.

(Exodus 6:7, 19:3-6, Leviticus 26:12; Acts 1:8)

Because I Love You

I emptied myself of immortality and left my place of honor before my Father to live as one of my creations. I came for many reasons. I came to live a perfect life so I could be your Savior. I set the example of what Abba, our dear Father desires. And I came to proclaim the Way into His glorious kingdom.

(Philippians 2:5-8; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

Because I Love You 

Our Father personally chose you to be one of the first children in His family and asked me to lead you to Him. I love showing you what a loving Abba He is. He’s the greatest.

(John 6:44; Matthew 11:27; John 14:28)

Because I Love You 

I gave my body to be beaten so you could be healed. Then I gave you my life, my living blood to be spilled to justify you and pay for all the penalties for all your sins. By this act, and by my resurrection that followed, I conquered the last enemy – death.

(Isaiah 53:5-6; John 6:47-58, 10:11, 14-18; Hebrews 2:9, 14; Romans 5:20-21)

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Five Steps Toward Walking by the Spirit

Let me give a brief conclusion in mentioning five things that I think we must do so that it can be truly said that we are walking by the Spirit.  (These are just Omae’s summation points at the end of his excellent sermon – P Shields).

1. Acknowledge

First, we must acknowledge from our hearts that we are helpless to do good apart from the enablement of the Holy Spirit. As Paul says in Romans 7:18, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." What did Yeshua mean when he said in John 15:5, "Without me you can do nothing"? Of course we can do something without Yeshua: we can sin!

We cannot do anything pleasing to God without the constant enablement of the Spirit.

2. Pray

Second, since it is promised in Ezekiel 36:27 that Yahweh will put his Spirit within us and cause us to walk in his statutes, pray that he do it to you by his Almighty power. Many of you know the glorious, liberating experience of having an irresistible desire for sin overcome by a new and stronger desire for God and his way.

And now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight through Yeshua.

If it is God alone who works in us what is pleasing in His sight, then above all, we must pray. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

3. Trust

The third step involved in walking by the Spirit is faith. We must believe that since we have come under the gracious sway of God's Spirit, "sin will no longer have dominion over us" (Romans 6:14). This confidence is what Paul meant by "reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God" (Romans 6:11). We simply count on it that the Spirit who made us alive when we were dead in sin wills our holiness and has the power to achieve what God wills.

The reason we can is that we know that God will cause his obedient children to be led by the Spirit. We do have to follow that leading of the Spirit and walk with and in the spirit. We have to let God’s spirit lead us. And the way we know this is because of Romans 8:14, where Paul says you can't even be a child of God unless you are led by His Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." If you are a child of God, you have a solid and unshakable promise that God will give you victory over those powerful desires of the flesh.

One word of caution: do not prejudge the timing of the Holy Spirit's work. Why he liberates one person overnight but brings another to freedom through months or even years of struggle is a mystery concealed for now from our eyes.

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Attacks on Christians – but where’s the outrage?

Where’s YOUR voice?

 Believers in Jesus Christ or Yeshua the Messiah – unfortunately – still seem to like to be separated from one another. I realize there are true believers and false ones. There are nominal “Christians” and real practicing Christians. But that’s not the point of this blog.

 Whether others out there who call themselves “Christian” believe exactly the way you do, you need to be aware of this:  Christians around the world are being tortured, imprisoned and even killed for their belief in Jesus (you know I call him Yeshua). 

 The prophet Ezekiel was told in a vision in Ezekiel 9 that a mark was being placed on those who “sighed and cried” for the abominations in the land. Will God Almighty place a mark on your head?  You surely are praying about and sighing and crying for the atrocities going on all around you. 

A 27-year old Christian mother(MERIAM IBRAHIM),is imprisoned in a filthy overcrowded jail in Islamic Sudan, along with her 2 year old son and newborn Americandaughter – surely we can do or say something. She was shackled in a stinking fetid prison with hundreds of inmates in the jail, while giving birth to her newborn little girl recently. So now her 2 year old son and NEWBORN baby girl are all in a terrible jail with her, as she’s shackled in a Sudanese prison.

 Why is all this happening to her? Because she won’t give up her belief in Jesus Christ.  Surely we can pray for her. Some believe she is a US citizen. Though that’s not proven yet, my point is bigger. Why the silence when those who profess a belief in Christ are treated this way?  Now that she’s had her baby, the next step—if nothing stops the process-- is they are going to flog her with 100 excruciating lashes, and then they will hang her until she dies. Her child is to be given to Islamic “parents’ to raise in that great religion of peace – Islam. 

 All this in Sudan—which has received BILLIONS of U.S. dollars.  And our President has YET to say one word about this. Our Secretary of State has yet to say one word about this inhumane “treatment”.  How about you?  And would YOU be as faithful to your belief in Yeshua as she has been so far?  Would YOU agree to 100 lashes and then to be hanged, all because of your belief in the TRUE Son of God? 

Makes one think, doesn’t it?  Surely you can mention her and her babies in your prayers? Surely you can sigh and cry for her?

There’s also the Christian American pastor in Iran who has been in and out of jail for his beliefs – with threats to his life daily.  In the past couple weeks,American Pastor Saeed Abedini was beaten, removed from his hospital bed where he had been receiving much-needed medical care, and forced back to a deadly prison in Iran. Would you and I have recanted long ago, or would we be holding firm to our loud and clear claim that we are believers in Jesus Christ and we will never give that up?

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Who is “YAH”? 

Sometimes instead of saying “YHVH” or Yahweh or Yehowah, I simply write “Yah”.  Why do I do that?  Is there a Biblical basis for that?  Who is Yah?  Is it being disrespectful to call our great Creator “Yah”?  Is it like a nickname and therefore too casual?

 I have a couple sermons on “What is our Creator’s name?” – given in October 2011.  You may wish to follow-up this sermon with a study into those sermons.

 We all say “Yah” without even realizing it.  There is no “J” sound in Hebrew. What appears as a J in English is pronounced as a “Y” in Israel and even in much of Eastern Europe.  So even Jerusalem is “Yerushalayim” or variants of that, in Hebrew. 

Take the word “hallelujah”.  Notice the “Jah” at the end of the word.  We all pronounce it correctly in this case as “Yah”.  It means “PRAISE Yah.”

 Yes, Yah is an acceptable shortened form of YHVH, the most personal name of our Creator.

 Your English Bibles translate it as YAH, several times.  It is Strong’s word # 3050. You can look it up in Strong’s concordance under that number.  I’ll quote some, to verify that saying “Yah” is Biblical.  Where you see “YHVH” in my text, your English Bibles will have it as “the LORD”.  I preserve the name of God in the Hebrew.  The KJV only has it as “Jah” in Psalms 68:4 but NKJV and others list more. KJV usually translates Jah or Yah as “Lord”.   Here are a few of the many times where the original Hebrew actually mentions “YAH”.  You’ll miss it in most English Bibles though, where most simply translate the name “Yah” as “the Lord.”

 Isaiah 12:2
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;

'For Yah, YHVH, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.'"

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How to be greater than your enemy

I heard a thought today that made me think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty good. I hadn’t thought of it that way before”… and so I’ll share it.  Just a short blog today.

 How would you like to be greater than your enemy?  You know, the ones who gossip about you or make life difficult for you. (Or maybe you’re one of the blessed rare souls with no enemies.)

 Here’s how. 

The lesser is blessed by the greater.  Hebrews 7:7 says that.

 Yeshua taught us something he himself did. On the cross, as he was dying, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  In its own way, that prayer was a huge blessing.  He was forgiving them and asking his Father not to charge them with any wrong-doing. Now that’s a blessing!

 Matthew 5:43-48

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”.

 So He also taught us to “LOVE your enemies; BLESS those who curse you. Do GOOD to those who hate you.  PRAY for those who spitefully use you.”

 Scripture teaches us that generally speaking, the greater person is the one who is able to bless someone lesser, or poorer, or weaker.  See Hebrews 7:7.  There are many examples in Scripture of this.

 So, do you want to be greater than your enemy?  Here’s ONE simple way, of many:

Pray a blessing over your enemy.  The greater blesses the lesser

 When you pray blessings over your enemies, instead of curses, you become larger, stronger and more at peace. And yes, you become greater than your enemy, because you are becoming ever more like God himself. 

Now, don’t let even ten more minutes go by without praying a blessing on someone you know doesn’t like you very much. Watch your attitude towards that person change, and I’ll “bet” you, you’ll see their attitude change towards you as well over time.   

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Our Father’s GRACE – does it lead you to sin more?

I have been speaking and writing more recently about various aspects of our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and the WONDERFUL grace of God.  Without His grace, we would never be in the kingdom.  It’s that simple. I’ve spoken and written on faith in the Messiah; on being justified by faith, and on various aspects of the grace of God.  Some people become uncomfortable with anyone preaching faith in the living Son of God, instead of faith in what we ourselves have to do.

 Folks, my faith is not just blind belief, but a solid anchoring of my soul in believing on and in the Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth.  My confidence of being in the better resurrection rests in HIS life.  After all, we all know we’ve been forgiven and reconciled to our Father by his death for us, if we accept it.  But do we also remember that Romans 5:10 says we are saved by HIS life? Not by our own lives. No sir, no ma’am.  HIS life.  That’s what saves us.

 Now – does receiving God’s grace and relying on Him cause us to sin more? That’s the lie that Satan himself tries to put out there, so that we don’t receive God’s grace.  (Watch for an upcoming sermon soon on “How Well do you RECEIVE?)  If Satan can make us feel that the topic of “grace” is so poisoned, is so dangerous, then we tend to distance ourselves from this wonderful truth – and we refuse to receive it.  Then Satan has scored a victory.

Abba’s grace in me and over me won’t let Satan win if we keep looking to our Father’s love and in prayer asking Him to be our covering through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 Can the grace of our loving Father be perverted? Yes it can. Jude and Peter write of the misapplication of grace quite a bit in their epistles. But neither does it mean we should not speak of gracecorrectly. Even Jude ends his warning epistle with words of GRACE. In verse 21 he speaks of keeping yourselves in the love of God. Look how Jude ENDS his short epistle even after all his stern warnings:

 Jude 24-25

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise,Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”

 WHO is the One able to keep us from stumbling? Ourselves? NO!  WHO is able to present us FAULTLESS before Him with great JOY?  GOD OUR SAVIOR… to HIM BE THE GLORY and majesty. 

 THAT is how JUDE ends his treatise on false grace! Look to the TRUE GRACE of God.  In verse 21 he says to keep yourselves in the love of God looking to the MERCY of our Lord. 

 Peter, who also warns against becoming lax on sin, and on submitting to one another and to the authorities over us, and speaks so much about our conduct – also says a lot about GRACE in the first verses of his first epistle. He ends 1 Pet 1:2 with words of grace. Then verses 3—he blesses God for his abundant mercy and for the resurrection of Yeshua. Then in verse 5 he speaks of how are “kept by the power of GOD through FAITH for salvation…” In verse 10 he speaks of how the prophets foretold this GRACE that would come upon us.

 In the 2nd Epistle of Peter, he starts and ends his letter with words all about grace. Go read it.  Then in between he has stern warnings about continuing in sin. Then he ends the letter of 2nd Peter telling us all to “grow in the GRACE and knowledge OF OUR LORD Jesus Christ…”  The possibility of sin did not keep him from speaking of Grace. Oh, not this Peter, the one who denied his Master 3x then went on to preach on Pentecost with 3,000 being converted as a result!  God’s GRACE allowed Peter to go from self-condemnation to speaking about God’s grace for them in Acts 2, if they would repent and receive it. 

 John ENDS the whole New Covenant scriptures with words of grace in the last verses of Revelation, though he also has much to say about becoming spiritually sleepy or dying Christians In Revelation 2-3.  So we teach the balance. Let’s absolutely talk of Grace – while also talking about using that grace to be impetus to more change and growth (Romans 8:12-15).

 Paul gives his OWN experience to make the point that when we appreciate God’s grace, the last thing we really want to do is go sin again or to sin lightly. Read 1 Cor 15:9-10.  He was heartbroken by the fact that he had so persecuted the Body of Christ, the brethren,  that some of them even cursed God as Paul tortured them (1 Tim 1:        12-15; Acts 26:11).  So he calls himself the least of the apostles and even the “chief sinner”.  He received God’s grace while on the way to Damascus to arrest and torture more Christians (Acts 9).  One could hardly say he received Grace because he was a good man! No, he was a mean and cruel man before his conversion.  He thought torturing believers and making them recant was the right thing to do. 

So Paul received a lot of GRACE.  What did it lead him to do?


 1 Corinthians 15:9-12

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

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Two GREAT memory verses to understand  Romans 1:16-17 

Many of us have quoted Romans 1:16-17.  But this time, let’s read it slowly, pausing after each phrase, and let's ponder it.  This little 2-verse is packed with meaning.
Romans 1:16-17

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel OF CHRIST, for IT is the power of GOD to SALVATION for everyone who BELIEVES, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness OF GOD is revealed from FAITH to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

We must not be ashamed of the Good NEWS of Christ.  I know some interpret “of Christ” to mean the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached. It certainly includes that. But what Yeshua (Jesus) did for us and to us, is the WAY INTO that fabulous kingdom. There is no good news even possible without His role, His life, His death, His resurrection, His advocacy of His people, His grace, and more.  This gospel, it goes on to say in verse 16 leads to SALVATION.  Interestingly enough, that’s what Yeshua means: SALVATION. 

 It’s the POWER OF GOD to salvation. We are saved by God’s power.  We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. 

But we have to BELIEVE.  Sure, that belief evidences itself in godly actions as James 2 explains.  Remember Hebrews 11 – that because Noah believed, he built the ark.  Because Moses believed, he led Israel through the Red Sea. So of course, when we believe that true belief is proven by things we do later.  But first we believe – we TRUST – then we act because we believe and trust. That’s what Paul explains in Romans 4 and 5, that we first simply believe God.  We have to believe the gospel. 

The gospel:  I do have a sermon or two on this website about the full complete gospel. I need to give another one. Just do a word search on “gospel” in the search bar on this website.  The disciples were told to go to all the nations and preach the gospel.  And when we read what Peter, James, John and Paul preached, what did they focus on?  They focused on the life, death and resurrection and salvation of Yeshua (Jesus).  Peter’s whole first sermon in Acts 2 was almost entirely about Yeshua. The first sermon Paul preached after Yeshua confronted him as he went to torture more Christians, was what?  HE PREACHED Christ. 

 The message of and about Christ and His glory and His salvation is very much a part of the true gospel.  Without that message, how does one enter the kingdom of God?  2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says that Satan tries to blind people from “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is

the image of God, should shine on them”.   In fact, though I know most of you  reading this would agree that the gospel is about Christ AND the kingdom of God, just read 1 Cor. 15:1-8 and see what Paul clearly, clearly says was his gospel message. Its right there, plain as day – Christ and how he was crucified and raised the 3rd day, etc.  So the gospel has to include the good news about Jesus, and the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).  Paul said he was called to testify to the “gospel [good news] of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24). So it’s also called “the gospel [good news] of your salvation” – Eph 1:13, and the “Gospel [good news] of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11). 

So as Paul says, of course we can’t be ashamed of it.  And once we understand the gospel is about the way we can each experience and receive the good news of what the Son of God brought and did for us and continues to do for us, we share that good news every chance we get. The end result is that we are put into the kingdom of God, since we found and received the Door, the Way, The Truth and the Life – all of which is Jesus the Christ, or as I call him, Yeshua the Messiah. 

 Rom 1:           16 continues:It’s the Power of GOD to salvation for everyone who believes”.  All the power you can muster in the world will not save you.  Salvation is by GOD’S power, not yours. HE is your Savior, not you yourself.

HOW?  “For in it the righteousness OF GOD is revealed”.  Be sure to hear my upcoming sermon on “How well do you receive?”  We have to receive Yeshua personally and accept HIS holiness, HIS righteousness and HIS power to live a new life. It’s not about my righteousness.  It’s not about your righteousness either.  No, it’s about the “Righteousness of GOD”.   As Paul says clearly in Philippians 3:9 – he didn’t want his own righteousness which is by the Torah. He didn’t want that! Because that righteousness is not enough.  The Torah/the law cannot perfect anyone, because of our human weakness (Hebrews 7:19; Romans 8:2-4) we just keep failing.  So we have to do what Paul says in Philippians 3:9-11, after calling his own “blameless” keeping of the Torah inadequate and a bunch of rubbish (KJV “dung”):

 Philippians 3:9-11

“and be found in HIM, NOT having my OWN righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is FROM GOD by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of HIS resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. “

We work hard to stay attached to the Vine and let the vine’s power flow into the branches (John 15:4-5). We are the branches and we will DISPLAY the healthy fruit of the Vine (of Christ).LET HIM live in you.  His death paid the sin debt.  His resurrection is what saves us as HE demonstrates HIS power and HIS life in us. (I pray I can give a sermon soon on Bearing HIS Fruit… watch for it.)

Our changing LIVES should be evidence that Yeshua LIVES, that HE is resurrected! If He lives in us, He will walk and live the same way He did the first time – obediently, as HE changes us.  We will be living, walking testimonies of HIS resurrection.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. We overcome by the power of GOD, including the power from His Holy Spirit.  It’s a false righteousness or gospel to believe you can remain as you are. No you can’t. You and I have to change. We have to fight evil, but it’s the POWER OF GOD doing it, and we receive that by faith and let HIM WORK in us. Then HE gets all the credit and the glory. And it’s HIS perfect righteousness then.

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Did Samson look like a muscle man? 

And how this impacts each of us immensely…

 Don’t assume the answer is yes.  Why am I writing on this?  Because too many of us still look to ourselves instead of to our heavenly Abba, our dear Father or our Savior Yeshua (or Jesus Christ, if you prefer). 

 Though I’m writing about Samson, the principle of what I’m going to explain will carry across many concepts.  We’re coming up soon to the day of Pentecost when God empowers us all with His Spirit.  GOD is our strength.  The very word we use --  “God” --  comes from the Hebrew El  (singular) or Elohim (plural), which is translated “God” or gods, depending on the context, but it literally means “Strong one(s)” or “mighty one”. 

 Now back to Samson and why this is so important. If Samson looked like a Mr. Universe, a Charles Atlas, a Hercules-type figure, then people would attribute his strength to HIS muscles.  But something about Samson was very puzzling.  He had long hair due to his Nazarite vow, but aside from that, I’m convinced he looked like every regular guy.  SO how could a regular guy carry off the gates of a city or break fresh ropes like thin thread?  That’s what was so puzzling. 

 And for that matter, was Samson ALWAYS strong, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  I’m not sure we can say “yes” to that.  Notice this about Samson.  It was in the times he needed strength, when it says “then the spirit of YHVH (the Lord) came upon him” and then it describes some amazing feat of strength he did against the Philistines.  Was he only strong when he was moving in the strength of God’s spirit?  I tend to think so myself. 

 Judges 14:6

“And the Spirit of YHVH came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand….”

 Judges 15:14-15

When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of YHVH came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.

 Judges 14:19

“Then the Spirit of YHVH came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men….”

 So do you see why now that I think Samson looked ordinary but did powerful feats when God’s spirit came upon him?  If he had huge muscles, then he could boast of HIS great strength.  But if he was ordinary, then he and others would have to realize he was receiving supernatural strength.

 Paul said “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  Hmm. 

 So what if Samson looked just like you or me, but when he needed strength, he was given the strength from the Mighty Ones (Elohim) to do whatever Yah wanted him to do?

 And so here’s the main point of this blog:  what are you trying to do in your own strength?Sure, you know you have the spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9-10), but do you rely on the spirit, or on your own righteousness, and on your own efforts, on your own holiness, on your own ability to overcome and fight sin – or are you learning to form the relationship with Yeshua and rely on HIM?

 Yeshua said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).  NOTHING.  Get it?  Nothing spiritually.  But WITH him, Paul says we can do ALL things.

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“GOD” is not His NAME          

So many of us speak about and speak to – “God”. There’s nothing wrong with that.  But when you study it carefully, we’ll see that “God” is what He IS. It’s not His name. I recommend you listen to my two sermons recorded in October 2011 on “What is the Creator’s Name?”

 Just as you are a human, or man, or woman – that’s what you ARE. But “man” or “woman” or “human” is not your name.  You have a very personal name, and other names as well – a middle name, a last name, a nickname, and so on. But you have a very personal name. 

 Let me jump to this point immediately:  what you are called by close friends may be different from what you’re called by business associates. And something different again from what your beloved children call you. Your name, as far as your children are concerned, is “Daddy” or “Mommy” or their equivalents (Dad, Ma, Pa, etc).  And ONLY those in your family can call you “daddy”.  

What is our Creator’s name?  When we read of the powerful God we serve who created all things, He is described simply and powerfully by what He is – “ELOHIM” – GOD – in Genesis 1. The singular for Elohim is El – meaning “God” or “strong one”. But the word “elohim” – meaning technically “gods” (it’s in the plural) is the same word used for pagan deities. Did you realize that?

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Walking as He walked

This is one of the most important blogs I’ve written.  I’ve written a lot lately about the Unleavened Bread of our Master. Though we know His blood redeems us and it’s his LIFE that saves us, I urge you to also focus on saying it is HIS life that saves us. Still too many believers act as if they are their own savior, that it’s all up to them. We must focus on HIM as our Savior. HE is the captain of our salvation.  He is the One who is working in us to save us. If you read the oft quoted verse in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation”, be sure to read verse 13 also: “For it is GOD who works in you, both to will and to do according to HIS good pleasure.”

 We are saved by grace, HIS grace; not by our works.  And that salvation, that grace, are free gifts. But “free” in this case should never be read as “cheap”.  There was nothing cheap about what Yeshua, the son of God, went through for you and me, culminating in his tortured death on the cross.  But neither is it still grace, or a gift, if it’s of works. Romans 11:6 is clear on that.

 Read Eph 2:8-10 which gives the balance:

 Ephesians 2:8-10

For BY GRACE you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; IT istheGIFT OF GOD, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 Have you read that slowly several times? Do you earn salvation and eternal life? Is salvation by works, or is it God’s GIFT? Too many still speak of “making it” into God’s kingdom and miss that we are part of the body of Yeshua. As part of His body, as being ‘IN him”, if we remain in Him we will always be where He is.  Otherwise we’re not “in him”.  I think that’s so basic, and so clear, and yet too many still try to be their own Savior or beget themselves into their own new creation. We are a new creation. But I’m not the Creator of the first or new creation.  There’s but one Creator of all things, and it’s neither you nor I.  Are you getting it?  Nor is there more than one Savior. There’s only one name by which we may be saved, and that name is Jesus – or I use his Hebrew name “Yeshua”.

 So accept HIS life, His gift and His saving grace. If it were up to us, then we have something to boast about (Eph 2:9). Everything is supposed to be for HIS glory, not ours (1 Cor 1:30-31).

 Now I love the balance given in Ephesians 2:8-10. Once we are given a gift, we are to put it to good use, doing good works as verse 10 says. In the parable of the pounds and talents, the man who buried his gift or talent (an amount of money) ended up in trouble. He was supposed to use the gift given him.

 But remember: we are saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9), and rewarded by our works.  Too many are still confusing the two. Salvation is a free gift. Eternal life is God’s free gift (read Rom 6:23). But what rewards you will be given in the resurrection will depend on your works, for He will “reward each man according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).  I say again: the “reward” is not eternal life or salvation. The reward is what is given as an extra bonus for having used His gifts well. 

 Now back to the point that we are saved by HIS life. 

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He is RISEN! We are saved by His LIFE (Romans 5:10)

How deep and how cleansing was the Passover! And now as we get nearer the end of the days of Unleavened Bread, we have Wavesheaf Day – when the firstfruit of the barley harvest is lifted up to the true God so that the rest of the harvest could be accepted (Leviticus 23:9-11).  Remember this was all a picture of our amazing Yeshua, the Son of God.

YOU are accepted now, in Him!  In the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:5-6

“…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

On this day, almost two thousand years ago, he tells Mary Magdalene not to cling to him as he had to ascend to be accepted by the Father in behalf of all the rest of the spiritual harvest. “Tell the others”, he says, “I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17), 

Can you imagine the ceremony, the honor, the reunion with his Abba, his dear father?  What was it like?  As our older Brother Yeshua arrives in heaven, what was it like?  How do spirits celebrate? How do they recognize achievement?  What is an angelic “motorcade” to the royal palace like?  What was the reunion between Abba, our incredibly loving Father – and Yeshua the victorious son – like?  He was raised in glory. Father sent him to us as a perfect, innocent, unmarked baby – and we returned him with holes in his side, feet and hands and brutally tortured.  But now he shines once more brighter than ten thousand suns in his glory.  And all of this because Father and Son were willing that Christ should die so you wouldn’t have to.

And now He LIVES, that we might live by the power of HIS life. In us. With us. HIS life is our covering. HE is our righteousness, as God’s gift, which we get to receive by faith – the very righteousness of God himself.  If you doubt this, read these verses:  Philippians 3:9-11; Romans 5:15-19 (especially verses 17 and 19), 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:21.  It’s a gift we don’t hear much about:  the gift of HIS righteousness. It’s all there, in the verses I’ve just quoted.  Open up your Bible and read those verses again, slowly, prayerfully, and thankfully – and then RECEIVE the gift. (Be watching for a sermon soon on “How well do we receive?”   I also have sermons on the Righteousness of God by faith in Nov-Dec. 2010 on this website). 

So don’t miss this day. It’s about the risen Christ. Paul wanted to know the power of HIS resurrection (Phil 3:10-11).  Christ’s resurrection happened long ago, but you know what?  WE are also witnesses of that resurrection when we let HIS resurrection life shine through us. The greatest sermon we can preach is the sermon of a changing life, lived by the spirit of Yeshua in us, walking the same way He always walked – in holiness and obedience to the Way of His Father. When people see you and me, they should see less and less of you and me – and more and more of Yeshua the Messiah to HIS glory.  And we thankfully RECEIVE the gifts of His righteousness by the other HUGE free gift of His grace – his unmerited favor that God wishes to pour over us.   

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Focus on the unleavened Bread now

We’re coming to the end of the days of Unleavened Bread.  First the no-condemnation we receive from the cross/tree of our Savior—the Passover.  Then we can go forward happily knowing we are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1) – the days of Unleavened Bread. 

Some of us continue looking for leaven (sin) after Passover. I don’t think that is what it means when Paul teaches us after we have received Christ that “now there is no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” 

Think about it.  You’ve already put out the leaven, picturing your change of direction and repentance as you came to the bloodied cross of our Savior. Then at Passover you washed one another’s feet (John 13:1-10), picturing what Yeshua does for us too – washes us by and in the Word (HE is the word).  Then, in our freshly cleansed state, we eat of his bread from heaven, his perfect life (read John 6). We take him inside of us and we feed on Him by His word and the unleavened bread. We notice the matzah is pierced and has stripes, and it’s a reminder that by his stripes we are healed. What a beating he took FOR us… so I can be healed and so I don’t have to keep beating myself up anymore. And you don’t either. I don’t want to waste the terrible scourging and beating he went through for me and you by continuing to wallow in my regrets. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up! HE took all that FOR us.    

Then, still in our freshly washed and cleansed state, we drink from the Master’s cup. We accept his wedding proposal.  That’s what someone who was proposing would do:  pour wine into a cup and ask his sweetheart if she was willing to drink from it, expressing her desire to share whatever life has in store for them as a couple.  If she drank from it, that was a “Yes, I accept your offer to marry you.”  And we’re reminded of course, of the many, many awesome things the blood of Christ – what the wine pictures – does for us. It washes away our sins. It redeems us and we now belong to Christ. The blood of Messiah restores the relationship, pays the sin debt, erases our penalty, and gives us the victory over Satan! Hallelujah!  And all of this brings you and me close to our heavenly Father and His shekinah glory.

Then for seven days we focus NOT on leavening and sin – but the glorious leaven-free bread of the life of Christ for seven days. The house has been deleavened. There is no leavening available.  No, I’m enjoying all the delicious various unleavened breads, unleavened crackers and desserts my wife has made for us. I’m focusing on that now. And they all picture my Savior.  Some are crispy, some have various flavors, some are sweet.  And they all remind me of various ways my King watches over me. Trying to continue to find leaven/sin in the house is the wrong focus. It’s time to enjoy our Master now, and he is celebrating our renewed oneness with Him and our Father.

The point of this blog: during the days of unleavened bread, focus on THE unleavened Bread from heaven. Don’t be focused on yourself, or on sin, or on trying to keep finding more leavening in the house, but now focus on Him who took away your sin and has given you new unleavened life – in Him. And in him we have the victory and the peace that comes from that. 

We love you, older brother Yeshua. We sure love you too, dear Abba – our dear Father.  And thank you, thank you, for the beauty of everything you’ve done for us.  Amen. 

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“He shall bruise your head…” Genesis 3:15

We’re in the Passover season.  The earliest prophecy for the coming of the Savior was given right after Adam and Eve sinned, and spoken to the serpent – not to Eve, as many seem to believe.  

Genesis 3:14-15

14 So YHVH Elohim (the LORD God) said to the serpent:
"Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN,
And between your seed and her Seed;   [her Seed = Yeshua)
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."  

The Hebrew word for “bruise” here is “sup” – and can be translated “bruise, attack, crush” according to the “Complete Word Study of Old Testament Words”. 

At the Passover, though Satan struck a painful blow on Yeshua by means of the scourging and crucifixion He went through, Yeshua used that very same day – and the crucifixion – to deal a death blow to Satan’s power. 

Because of what happened at Calvary, all who look to and believe on Yeshua now have ALL their sins washed away, they can be reconciled with their living God Most High our Father and no longer ever have to feel condemned for any of their sins.  Yeshua took the penalty and condemnation for us, thus crushing sin’s power.  Satan uses our sins against us, but now our Advocate can stand in the heavenly courts for us and declare “there can be no charges brought, Father, because his/her slate has been wiped clean, there is nothing bad in his record, because all the penalties have been paid in full by my own blood. There is nothing here to condemn him or her for, Father.” 

Without sins to attack us with – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, as Romans 8:1 clearly teaches. 

Consider your head crushed, Satan.

 

And thank you, thank you, our Lord and Savior, our Yeshua!!  What a champion you are!  Hallelujah! 

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What about our “Past”?

One of the things I love about the Passover season is what it says about the Passover: “When I see the BLOOD, I will PASS OVER you and not allow the Destroyer to come into your homes”. Any household in ancient Israel who killed their innocent lamb and sprinkled its blood on the entrance of their house was spared having their firstborn males and livestock die that night. The innocent lamb took the death for the household.

You see, we’ve all earned the death penalty for our sins (Romans 6:33). No point in looking at someone else’s “past” – and thinking your “past” is not as bad as his or hers. If you or I fall one fraction of one point short of the perfection of Holy God, we have earned the death penalty. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4) and if we stumble even in just one point, we were guilty of all (James 2:10). ALL of us are in that same boat.

So why do people still talk about someone’s “past”? When I hear discussions like that, it tells me those people have not learned even the very basics of Bible Forgiveness 101 yet. When you and I repented of our sins and asked for the blood of the Lamb of God to apply to us -- ALL our past, ALL our sins, ALL our unrighteousness, ALL our spiritual failures – were washed away. There is no past now. It’s been washed clean in the crimson tide of the Lamb’s blood shed for you and for me. ALL of the sin. Not one sin was left. Not one. Not one of mine, not one of yours.

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God is not ashamed of us!

Praise Yah. Though I have often been ashamed of myself over the years for a wide variety of reasons, as I come to Passover I lift my Savior on high, and praise my Father in heaven – for God is not ashamed of me. In the end, that’s what matters.

Now humanly speaking, unless you’re God in the flesh yourself, we each have many things of which we can be ashamed. Or am I the only one?

Now God is not ashamed of you and me NOT because we’re so good. He is not ashamed of us because of the saving work of His firstborn son Yeshua. We are now part of HIS body, HIS life.   Paul says “Christ, who is our life…” – Colossians 3:4. In Col 3:3 he says our lives are hidden in Christ, in God. If you’ve heard my sermons on “Yeshua our High Priest”, you’ll see how HE is the one who presents us to the Holy of Holies in heaven, making us acceptable in him.

But all that’s technical stuff. Let’s get to the point of all this. I want you to revel, to rejoice, to be overwhelmed by the almost incredible notion that holy and perfectly righteous God Most High is NOT ashamed of you and me – after all we’ve done, after all we’ve failed in, after all our sins! And neither is Yeshua ashamed of me or you.

He is not ashamed of us NOT because of what we’ve done, but because of what my Passover Lamb of God has done for you and for me.

Hebrews 2:11-12

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He [Christ] is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 saying:

"I will declare Your name to My brethren;

In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

Wow, Yeshua. WOW, wow, wow! So many times I’ve been so ashamed of myself, and others have been ashamed -- but not you. Wow, my Savior. That’s amazing. You’re amazing. After everything I’ve done, you’re still willing to call me your kid brother, part of your family. That’s almost unbelievable, but nay – we believe. We believe you and believe in you, dear King, our Lord and God. You’re such an amazing big brother. You are the only Way, the only Door to Father’s Kingdom -- and you’ve opened your door to me and to so many of us who have come to know you.

As we come to Passover, help us sing of your glories and magnify you and your name, O Savior, our Master – Yeshua, our Salvation.

Because it’s not just me – but all the thousands and thousands and thousands of us who are coming to know you, dear King. You are not ashamed of any of us, as your precious blood is more than enough and covers all sins, of all of us, and cleanses us and brings us into the Holy of Holies. Yeshua, you are Savior of the world – not just of the Jews or Israel. Your father so loved the WORLD that He gave YOU, dear Master. God Most High had a choice: he could either spare you and condemn all of us – or condemn you to execution on the tree so all of us could be spared. He chose to spare all of us.

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It’s not what, when, where, why or how – but WHO

Abram is said to have had faith in God – for Abram went to an unknown final destination in faith, not knowing where he was going, when it would all settle down, or how everything would pan out – but he knew with WHOM he was traveling.

Hebrews 11:8-10

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

How about you and me?

If you’re like me, I like details. I want to know the plan of action and that we’re making progress in our plan of action. I don’t like the unknown. You probably don’t either.

We’ll see in the coming years more and more times when Abba, our dear heavenly Father, will ask us to step out in faith. Times when we won’t have details – just a statement of what He wants us to do. Father wants us trusting him implicitly – so He will give us opportunities to show Him we trust Him, implicitly.

We like to know HOW something will come about. We like to know WHEN and what and where but really all we really need to know is WHO. With whom are we walking? To whom are we listening? ON whom are we focused?

It doesn’t matter that we don’t know all the details of what, when, where, why and how. It only matters that we know WHO our life is. Colossians 3:3 says Christ is our life now. HE is in charge. HE is navigating this ship, your life.

Once we get that firmly in mind, nothing else should matter as much.

Easier said than done. Granted. But if we’re truly in him, if we’re truly focused on him, we’ll learn this more deeply with each passing day.

We believers will need to be reminding each other of this. When we’re told we have growths on our liver – the only detail we need is WHO our healer is. When we’re told we’re losing our job, all we need to focus on is who our Provider is. Who multiplied loaves and fish? Who provided manna in a wilderness? Who is the ALMIGHTY? Who has all the answers? Who has all the power? Who has perfect love for you? Who opens doors miraculously when we’re in various kinds of prisons – physical or emotional or otherwise?

When you find yourself fretting (yes, I still sometimes fret too), stop and just say: “I don’t need to know what, when, where, why and how. I just need to know WHO. And I know Him and love him and HE loves and cares for me more than I can even imagine. In him I have peace.” 

When the boat the 12 disciples were in was apparently in danger of being swamped by a Sea of Galilee storm, our Savior was sound asleep. Instead of looking at the storm, they should have looked at HIM and relaxed. OK, it’s easy to say that, but we would have done no better. But the stories are there so we read them and learn from them.

Do I practice this all the time? No. That’s why I have this website. It’s a way for me to share with you the meditations of my heart as I struggle to put off the “old man” and put on the new man in Christ. I’m learning these very things I’m being led to share with you. Together we can remind each other to not look to the worrisome things around us, but to Him who is unseen but who is absolutely there.

Also, as we come to Passover especially, we’re reminded once more to focus on WHO. For example, we focus on Him who knew no sin, but became sin for us so that we who knew no true righteousness could receive HIS righteousness by faith (Philippians 3:9-11; Romans 5:17-19; 2 Cor. 5:21)

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“When you hear the sound of marching in the top of the mulberry trees…”

Praise Yah. How often he must smile as he sees our look of bewilderment when He tells us to do something – but so often to us, what we think He’s saying to us makes no sense.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. What we must see is the presence of God Most High in our troubles. Oh, we clearly see the trouble. But are we learning to more clearly see our great and awesome God in us, around us, above us and with us? Are we? I know I sure have a lot to learn yet on this score.

Some of the things YHVH has told his people to do almost make one chuckle. But will we do what he says when push comes to shove?

The title of this blog comes from a story of David and his fighting men. David had inquired of YHVH as to the best next step, the battle plan for his men as they were about to fight the Philistines.

1 Chronicles 14:13-17

Then the Philistines once again made a raid on the valley. 14 Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.

15 And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines."

16 So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer. 17 Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.

Now imagine how David’s commanders felt and what they thought when David comes back with the battle plan: “Guys, we have to wait until we hear the angels marching at the top of those trees over there, and when we do, then we can attack. God wants to clear the way for us first”. Verse 16 is our lesson: “So David DID as God commanded him…”.  

Would we have? ARE you and I first of all inquiring of God, then waiting to hear his instructions – and for that matter ARE we even hearing God’s words or voice? I do have a 3-part sermon on “Hearing God’s Voice” that I recommend you listen to. It has changed my prayer life since I prepared and gave that series. Go to February 2009 and you’ll find the series there. There are many helpful sermons if you look at the timeless topics from years past.

In much the same way as David’s experience, Joshua told Israel the battle plan for conquering Jericho. “Hey everyone, we’re going to circle the city quietly once every day for 6 days, and then 7 times on the 7th day. Then, upon my command, we blow the shofar ram’s horn trumpets and all of us shout. And guess what? Those thick walls you see over there are going to fall flat and we’ll run in and catch them by surprise and quickly take the city.”

We know the story today – but imagine looking at the thick walls and the fighting men of valor along the tops of those walls looking down at you as you all circle the city. I wonder how many of those ancient Israelites really believed the battle plan. Well they did. They obeyed and trusted in faith – and the rest is now history!

Our Father so often asks us directly, or through Christ, or through His Word to do things that seem unearthly – because they are! He’s in heaven and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He has all power and wants us to believe, wants us to trust him, wants us to step out and obey in faith. In the rough times coming, we better get used to living and walking by faith, because that might very well be your life or death--whether we believe or not. From beginning to end, men and women of God were told “strange” things at times that ended in marvelous outcomes when they trusted – and obeyed what they were being told to do. (Of course don’t forget to test or check the source and be sure it’s God or His spirit giving you the directions or strong thoughts. See 1 John 4:1)

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What and where is our FOCUS?

On my website home page in February 2014, I highlighted 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 where it says we are to behold Jesus, look at him, look to him, and as we do – we are being transformed into his image by God’s spirit.

There is more to that verse than meets the eye. ARE we beholding the Christ in everything we do, every day? Are we focused on HIM, what’s He’s done and what He continues to do in and for us?

Our Adversary wants to do everything possible to get our eyes OFF our Master and off what our Master says – and on to anything or anyone else but Him. He will distract you with Facebook, games, busy-ness, worries – and self. In fact, what Satan tries to constantly do is to get you focused on YOURSELF – on how well you’re doing (or not) and how far you still are from the perfection that is Christ Jesus – or Yeshua our Messiah, as I often say.

The result of taking our focus off of Yeshua and focusing instead on what each of us is doing will always end in disaster, disappointment, depression, confusion, anxiety and a sense of not measuring up. In this website I’m trying to help folks grow closer to their Savior and focus on HIM.

Satan deceived Eve into thinking God didn’t mean what He said. Satan told them (Adam was with her – Genesis 3:6), that it would be alright if she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Maybe the serpent even demonstrated by taking a bite of the fruit himself – and he didn’t die. We don’t have every detail, but we know Satan succeeded. And once she took her eyes off what God said and began to listen to the Deceiver and look at the forbidden tree, she sinned. Then Adam, who was standing nearby but who was not deceived, ate of the fruit as well. (Genesis 3:1-11).

Turn to Matthew 14:25-32 for another example. There we have the story of Yeshua walking on the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee very early one dark morning.

29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

As long as Peter focused on Yeshua, even Peter walked on water! But what did he do? He took his eyes off Yeshua – looked at the wind and waves, used human reason that humans don’t walk on water. Faith requires believing what we can’t see – and oftentimes believing something that humanly makes little sense. So he sank like a petros, a stone. When we take our eyes off our Master, doubt takes over and we start to sink.

The book of John adds the detail that when Yeshua got into the boat, the boat immediately ended up at the seashore. Many miss this intriguing detail (John 6:21). When we’re with our Master and focus on HIM, we will experience many extraordinary and inexplicable things in our lives.

You and I have been called to come out of the boat of the mundane and what makes sense – to step out in faith as we walk on water. To go beyond the realm of the ordinary into the extraordinary with Christ. Where could Yeshua take you and me – if we would just fully believe and keep our focus on him? Imagine what we could be doing individually and as a group of believers – if we would just keep our fixed on Him and truly believe! Just imagine it! As Paul said, “I CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It’s through HIM, it’s by being IN Him, and it’s by focusing ON him.

Click on the bottom right where it says “READ MORE” to finish reading the rest of this blog that will change your life forever – if you will understand it and believe it.

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Which gets more of your time -- Facebook or God’s word?

Do I need say more?

First let me state: I’m on Facebook myself. I go on FB probably 2-3 times a week for about 20 minutes each time to stay in touch with friends and family. I’ve found it very, very easy to start spending hours on this media – even until 1-2 a.m. And I’ve had to check myself and remind myself that our lives have only so many minutes and hours that will be allotted to us. So many of my sermons and blogs are really a sharing from my heart of the same issues I struggle with. This is one I intend to stay on top of and not let FB eat up all my time. Is FB time the best use of my time – or your time? Sometimes it is for crucial comments or statements that can help encourage someone or put someone back on the right track. Sometimes WE need the positive comments we can sometimes receive.

So I understand FB. Facebook certainly has a lot of good that can be said about it. OK, there, I’ve said it. It allows family and friends to share pictures, ideas and thoughts – and to stay in touch. It’s fun. It allows us to share and reminisce the fun times. It helps us find long-lost friends and family. I hope you can see that I’m not against Facebook per se. I’m not.

But remember, even the forbidden tree had good stuff on it too. So – moderation in all things. IT was “the tree of the knowledge of GOOD and evil.” Not just evil. I also understand Facebook can become very addictive and time consuming.

We are to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all the things we worry about will take care of themselves (Matthew 6:33) – or “shall be added unto you”, to be more exact.

We are warned in the Parable of the Sower that our spiritual growth and fruit can be choked by concerns and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14) – so we end up not bearing any spiritual fruit, and end up rather empty. Nothing wrong with pleasure, per se. At God’s right hand (Yeshua) are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11). But now look at all the people who can find hours and hours and hours – did I say “hours” yet?—each day, to play games on Facebook, or to read everyone’s updates, or to mention that they’re about to bake some cookies or some banal and trite comment like that, but who say they have no time for real deep Bible study or prayer. They have time to touch base with their 418 friends, or a lot of them anyway, but comparatively little or no time for our Father or our coming King of kings. Don’t kid yourself. All this is not lost on God. He knows.

That surely can’t be right.

Here are some heart-check questions:

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