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.

Muslim refugees -- or?

The world has been shown some horrific pictures lately of a three year old child’s body being washed ashore after the child and his mother died, trying to escape the brutal reign of terror of Muslim ISIS terrorists.  There have been many others who have died trying to escape to a better land, a safer place. So now we see hundreds of thousands - - even millions – of mostly Muslim refugees trying to save their lives.  No doubt, many hundreds of thousands of them are genuine asylum seekers.  Please understand – I get that. 

I’m all for helping those who need protection and help from those brutal ISIS folks.  There are countless believers in Christ who are also being burned alive, crucified, tortured, raped and sold into slavery – and many are being beheaded. We need to be doing all we can to help those people.  And I do.

But something is troubling me about so many of the pictures I’m seeing of the majority of asylum seekers:  I see picture after picture of what is mostly young Muslim men! Sure, I see some women and children and old men and old women as well, but there’s an alarming percentage of what look like healthy young men in their prime.

ISIS told us weeks ago that we were about to see a huge wave of Muslim migrants coming into Europe and eventually to America.  Something is suspicious about this.  I can’t help but believe that more than a few of those coming in are trained Muslim jihadists intent on violence. 

And what are we doing?  Western nations are opening the doors wide.  I believe we are feeding, welcoming, and assisting many who will become thorns in our side and who will carry out violent terrorist acts. 

So I hope you will call your elected representatives and senators this coming week and tell them that we MUST have a rigorous “vetting” and pre-screening of anyone we bring into this country. And also tell them we need to bring more of the fleeing Christians from Syria and Iraq – and not just Muslims.  Please also tell them that it’s time that we tell foreigners who wish to come to our land that they must assimilate. They must learn English, live peacefully by our laws, and not demand their Sharia laws in our country!

I saw one report that says some refugees in Europe who were given large bags of food from the Red Cross refused the food and assistance. Why?  Because the food bags had a red cross emblazoned on the bags. This offended the Muslims who want nothing to do with emblems of Christianity. 

Anyway, those poor folks – especially the women and children -- who are coming as true refugees – so be it.  Let’s do it. Let’s help them. But we must be doing this with care, caution and with our eyes wide open.

Otherwise, we might be letting in a lot of young militarily trained men sent by ISIS to embed themselves in the hordes of true refugees -- to pursue Jihad in our lands. 

May Yahweh be merciful to us. 

One other thing: our national leadership and our high courts have been going down a track that goes directly against God’s word on so many issues.  This cannot bode well for our nation. As I write this, the Torah portion readings that happen each week is worth noting.  In the Torah portion this week, what is being read in Jewish synagogues around the world? It’s the part in Deuteronomy 31 and then 32, where Moses stands before Israel and challenges them to choose obedience and to obey God’s law – and to choose life. Then he warns them (and us) that wrong decisions on their part will be the equivalent to choosing death. Read it for yourself. How timely is all that, considering what we’re seeing in our land? 

The recent High Court rulings, the unbelievable Iran agreement to let them have nukes over time, the aggressive LGBT alliances now persecuting those who want to live by God’s word – all combine (and more) to not bode well for this nation.

Combine that with the 2nd year in a row of eerie blood red moons on Yahweh’s high holydays – and we may be in for a tough few years ahead of us. 

What can you do?  Seek a closer walk with our God and Savior as never before.  This is the most important action any of us can take. HE is our Rock, our Hiding Place, our place of safety and our Peace – no matter what we will see happening all around us.  

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PRAY for believers in Christ

Yes, even if they believe differently than you

Just yesterday ISIS put out graphic videos – which I couldn’t watch – of their captives being burned alive. Some are Christians, some just simply don’t believe like the ISIS butchers believe.  This is prophesied to get worse and worse until it can be said that we’re in the worst of times the world has ever seen.  Ever.  We’re not there yet.  But even now, children and young women are being sold into slavery and the sex trade because they aren’t Muslims.  Some are being crucified, tortured brutally, burned alive, beheaded and are having to give up everything they’ve known and owned - because they call on the name of Christ.

Our one true God tells us that He marks and takes note of those who “cry and sigh” for the abominations in the land (Ezekiel 9).  Are you even aware of the extent of the monstrous horrors happening to Christians and minorities in Iraq and Syria – as well as in Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, and other Muslim countries in particular?  Are you bringing these atrocities up to the great Throne of Grace and asking Abba in Heaven to watch over his people, to protect them as much as possible

Some of you won’t pray for those “Christians” because they don’t believe just like you do.  Please don’t react that way.  Christ himself said, “He who is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30). Another time he rebuked his disciples for rebuking people who were preaching in Christ’s name but who were not among his bona fide disciples.   Yeshua’s response: “He is not against us is on our side” (Mark 9:40).  Oh, that more of us would have our Master’s attitude. 

Instead we seem to want to constantly divide and split up those who follow Yeshua the Messiah – or as most know him - Jesus Christ.
 

Mark 9:38-41

Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us."

But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 

40 For he who is not against us is on our side.  41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Are you ready to listen to our Master and do what He says?  Click on “Continue reading” to the right to find out. 

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The Stage for the very last days is being set.

Each day brings us a day closer to seeing our Redeemer coming in the clouds and gathering his elect.  But we know before that brilliant time happens, there will be many dark days beforehand.  What’s coming ahead - in the next few MONTHS – in our country and around the world as a consequence of legal (or illegal) decisions by courts and our leaders? 

Look at our own country – the USA – or if you’re in another country, I’m sure you can see the “signs” in your country too:

***5 unelected black-robed jurists decided to redefine marriage (we DO appreciate the four who spoke out against it).  The five said “marriage” now includes people of same sex, going against God’s clear Bible teaching on this and millennia of experience.  What will be the consequences – intended or unintended – to this massage, illicit ruling?  I’ll discuss that briefly.

***Our president and his team have just handed the go-ahead for Iran – ancient Persia of Biblical times – to build a nuclear bomb.  What on earth were they thinking?  Their leaders incite large crowds to chant “Death to America”.  This regime has not been known to be truthful or trustworthy on its promises… and we negotiate with them on a nuclear bomb?  Just amazing.  This could cause the Sunni Muslim countries all around to seek their own bomb as well (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, etc.). This dangerous world just got a whole lot more dangerous. And now we find out that Iran is its own inspector in one of its most secretive bases.  What?

*** One of the more subtle but powerful things happening is that our president and his administration and elected leaders of our cities and states are often deciding to IGNORE certain laws they don’t like, or to not enforce the laws of the land.  SO – we are seeing the quality of life crash (people urinating in the streets of NY City, for example), we’re seeing 30,000 or more convicted felons being released back into the streets (especially if they had non-violent crimes on their record like selling heroin on the streets), and – all this emboldens the other side to push their agenda.  I really believe when our president refused to enforce DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), that the homosexual forces were emboldened by their ally in the White House.  This was the same president who instantly bathed the White House – the People’s House! – in LGBT colors upon hearing the Supreme Court’s decision. 

***Our Identification (I.D.) papers – passports, driver’s licenses, etc. are being produced today in such a way as to help keep track of you.  You may be surprised what’s in all of this. I’ll speak more of it in the sermon.  It’s mind-boggling. 

***The stock market is beginning to tank again with issues involving China right now. MANY predicted this.  This is, after all, the 7th year since the last drop – and could it be that we truly are in the 7th year of release again, the “Shemita year” that began with the Feast of Trumpets 2014 and ends this year in just a few weeks?  There have been many who have spoken on this and maybe I’ll add my voice to theirs, but many went before me.  

***I think we are also setting the stage for all and any of us to be easily tracked – by our Facebook, smart phones, the many apps we have on the “smart phones”  that follow you wherever you go.  Someday we will realize these “smart” phones were a dumb and dangerous thing for many of us. Mark my word. Because of our social networking, it will be an easy thing to round up anyone associated with you and me. 

***Congress has passed, and the president has signed, some very serious martial law orders for certain circumstances.  I think probably less than 2% of our population has any idea what the president and his forces have been empowered to do if “the situation warrants it.”  Say good bye to your constitutional freedoms if or when that time comes.  I’ll say more about that when I give the sermon on this blog’s topic.

What are some of the unforeseen and unintended consequences of all this?  What are some of the consequences of the ruling redefining marriage?  And why are so many of God’s people, perhaps even YOU – why are so many remaining silent, doing nothing, saying nothing about the trends we see going on?  Silence is often interpreted as going along with the topic at hand, or at least not being all that concerned about it.  This emboldens evil doers and ultra-liberals who want to foist their agenda on us all.  Can God’s children really be silent in the face of the slide going on?  I realize these were prophesied to happen, but there are still things expected of God’s children, as we shall see.

Click on “Continue reading” to the right, to find out. 

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Who have you invited into your home?

Would you invite someone to your home at all hours of the day or even overnight – whom you knew would repeatedly use God’s name in vain, spew profanity, slip out frequent “F” bombs and other filthy speech, even while repeatedly lying and openly committing fornication or adultery?  Would you invite people into your home who would routinely parade themselves in the nude and be committing vile acts of depravity, when measured by God’s word? 

You wouldn’t, you say.  But I suggest that you and I too may be inviting such people into our homes more often than we realize.  “How?”, you ask. Well, start thinking.  But let’s start with this verse in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:4b – “…and God divided the light from the darkness…”

God made a separation between light and dark.  He draws a line in the sand between the holy and the profane. He doesn’t want His children messing with filth, with the unholy, with things dirty. And let’s be frank: at various times in our lives, we all have done that.  I certainly have, and have had a ton of stuff to repent of.  Yahweh calls us to come out of Babylon and not be part of this world’s ways.  We are to love the people of the world -- as Yahweh himself does and sent His only Son to die for all everyone in the world.  We love the people but not their ways.  Remember, “God so LOVED the world…” John 3:16.

God put the light on one side and darkness on the other.  Gen 1:4b – he divided the light from the darkness.  We need to quit reading the Bible just physically – but more spiritually.  Don’t think of that just in terms of physical light and darkness at creation, but think of it spiritually, a guiding rule that directs the way we think and live and breathe and move.  Divide the light from the darkness.

Are you separating the light from darkness too?  Am I?  Children should be like their father, and walk and act and live like Him.  Where in our lives are we trying to mix light and darkness and pretend we are truly children of the light? Where?  If the living God divided the light from darkness, what right do we have to ever try to reunite light and darkness, good and bad, holy and profane? 

You can’t overcome darkness with more darkness. No, as children of the light, we have to bring in our Abba’s light.  With enough light, the room becomes bright with no darkness at all. God’s children should never try to reunite what Elohim has divided.  He divided the light from the darkness.  Think of this spiritually.

Click on “continue reading” to the bottom right area – to see how we may be casually inviting darkness into our lives and evil concepts and darkened people into our homes.

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This 4th July - - be wise and harmless

Especially with our insecure borders and now the homegrown threat of radicalized jihadists right here in our midst, a quick word to the wise: there’s apparently a lot of chatter out there about “something” that could happen at one or more of the various 4th of July celebrations.
Yeshua (Jesus) our Lord set the example. He removed himself from crowds and from dangerous circumstances until it was time to be crucified. Scriptures in a moment.
We should do the same. Warnings are everywhere this year if you watch the news at all. Though I hope we individually and the nation as a whole will not let terrorists win – neither should we be stupid. This is not the time to be purposely exposing yourself or your children to large crowds where Satan-led extremists can’t wait to cause a big headline.
You may say that we have nothing to fear since we have God’s protection. And yes, we do have that protection. But we are also told to follow Christ’s example. We are beginning to enter the time of the end of the end times – and it’s going to get very, very dangerous.
Though we must never be afraid to declare who we are, we must not put ourselves into dangerous crowds that are just an open invitation to the crazies out there who think their moon god wants them to kill people who don’t think like they do. So yes, speak up. Admit openly you are a follower of Yeshua. Speak up against abortion, and for protecting the life of unborn humans. And let's not hesitate to proclaim that we are all for maintaining the God-given definition of true marriage: one man, one woman. Silence will be seen as being complicit or in agreement with the “other side”.
So we must be bold – but not stupid. And I do believe true believers must be willing to speak out, as you’ll see in Yeshua’s examples in a minute, but at the same time to remove ourselves from dangerous situations, or avoid them altogether.
There is a coming persecution and martyrdom of the righteous. Yet we must speak up and not be afraid or ashamed to be identified as a true believer – though you’ll be labeled a nut, or outdated in your opinions and beliefs, and perhaps even be a labeled as a dangerous hate-monger who should be punished! Those days are coming. And some of us will have to go through some very trying and dangerous times. But having said that, let’s not go into dangerous situations with crowds of people – when we’re being warned that the danger threat is high right now.
Click on “Continue reading” to see what Yeshua and others did when faced with dangerous situations (before his crucifixion).

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How many “likes” would you get from Abba?

Facebook (FB) can be a blessing or a huge time user/waster, or if used wisely – can be an excellent way to stay connected.  But one thing that fascinates me is how one can begin to measure their worth by how many “likes” they get with their posts and pictures. I’ve even read various ones complaining about how few likes and comments they get and wonder if they have any real friends who actually ever look at their site.  I for one only go on FB maybe once a twice a week and I can’t possibly keep up with all the people on there. Nor do I expect them all to keep up with me.

My point is:  our lives are becoming more and more measured by how many “likes” we get on FB.  

If our heavenly Father, God Most High would comment on your FB, how many “likes” would He give you and me?  Have you ever thought of that?

And what does our Father “like” anyway? We know he loves humanity so much that he sacrificed the Word as His Passover Lamb to be slain in our stead, for all our sins, that we would not be judged or penalized for our sins.  But have you thought about how you can “love” something or someone, but not LIKE it (or him/her) very much? 

Love should be stable.  We love our children whether they are good or bad. God sends rain on the just and the unjust. And we love our puppy even when she leaves her land mines or calling tags here and there. But we don’t like her chewing up the furniture or my favorite still-new shoes.  Or they were still-new looking.

So God can love us but not “like” certain things we do.  He doesn’t like it when we love the ways of the world, for example (1 John 2:15-17). 

So what does Abba, our dear heavenly Daddy who also happens to be God Most High, really “like”?   Click on “Continue reading” to read a few of the scores of possible texts that tell us clearly what He likes – and doesn’t like.

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GROUP Prayer’s power

Acts 12:1-2 – but did they pray for James as a group?

Many of you who have been students of Yahweh’s word for many years know that our Savior, Yeshua our Messiah, taught us to pray in private. He said to find a private room – and there open our hearts to our heavenly Abba, our father in heaven.  Prayer, especially when it can be heard and seen by others, can sometimes become a show otherwise.

Matthew 6:5-6
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

We also have numerous examples of Yeshua himself rising early and praying in private. Sometimes he would go up a hill in the magnificent creation and there commune with the Almighty (Matthew 14:23).  Even in his most agonizing hours in Gethsemane, he moved some distance from his disciples while he went to pray alone (Matthew 26:36-39).  Peter prayed in private on a housetop! (Acts 10:14). 

Even in times of spectacular healings, though there are many examples of healings taking place in public, there are also examples of the man of God preferring to be private as he prays for the dead or sick person. Elisha closed the door behind him before praying for the lad whom God resurrected (2 Kings 4:33).  Peter, when doing the same with Dorcas (also called Tabitha), also put everyone out and then knelt and prayed (Acts 9:40). 

So I begin this blog about group prayer by being sure you, my readers, know that I understand that most of our praying time should be in private.  I love to pray outside in the beautiful gardens and park-like yard our Father has given us. Other times, I beseech God Most High beside my bed as I speak to – and listen to – dear Abba.

But there’s power when many of God’s people come together in special times of beseeching Him.  Scripture is clear on this also. 

I know many in the organizations I have been a part of who never come together to pray as a group for someone’s healing or for our dear Abba’s intervention in times of serious trial (with the exception of opening and closing prayer at church services or asking the blessing over the meal). They cling to those verses about praying in private and not to be seen – and so they would never be seen praying in a group.  And yet scripture is clear:  there are times we could be experiencing great blessings that come from group prayer… coming together as one body, and together beseeching our dear Abba and our Messiah. 

For example in Acts 12, we can read of how Herod – during the days of Unleavened Bread – arrested two top apostles, James and Peter, with the intent of gaining popularity with the majority Jews who hated the apostles, by executing them. 

Click on “Continue reading” to the right – to read about powerful answers to prayer when Yahweh’s children come together as one and pray with all their hearts, minds and soulsas one body.  I especially urge those of you who haven’t experienced group praying to be sure to finish reading this blog.

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God bless you, Moms, grandmas and women generally!

I just watched a series of videos of our young American soldiers coming home – surprising their moms, who didn’t know they were there.  I’ve seen a few of those, and they always make me cry.  Thank God for moms.  Thank God for women.  Thank God for wives.  The videos I just mentioned make it so clear how deeply moms feel for their children, especially when they’ve been in harm’s way for so long.  Happy Mother’s Day, moms. 

I lost my mom in 1993 and how I miss her. She was way too young, and I was way too young to not have a mom in my life. So I always delight to see people of all ages loving and respecting their mom.  My wife’s 86 year old mom and 91 year old dad were  here recently, and of course I call them Mom and dad too.   They are going through aging issues now but how blessed my wife and I are to still have them around.

Mothers, know your role is so huge in shaping humanity.  So many of you nowadays soldier on in “single-parent homes” due to an absent husband, the father of your children – but you keep doing what you have to do to provide for the children in your care. So many of you have to get up and go to work early in the morning, or late into the day, but you do it for the deep love you feel.  That’s not going unnoticed, moms.  And so many of you are the teachers of things Biblical to your sons and daughters (and I hope fathers are stepping up to that role too). 

I look at my own wife when she’s around our children.  She never seems to be thinking of her own needs. Never.  Or so it seems to me.  She’s always trying to be sure everything is ready and running smoothly for everyone else. She’s constantly trying to please the kids, to please me, to please guests.  I know she has her own issues, but you’d never know.  And as special as she is to me, I know this would be said by many of you of your moms or your wives out there.  God bless you moms, wives and women out there. 

Timothy of the Bible was raised to love and obey God and know his word due to the faith, example and diligence of his mom and grandma (2 Timothy 1:5), mentioned by name in scripture.  Grandma Lois and his mom – Eunice.  Yes, you grandmas can have a HUGE impact on the grandkids!  I see it all the time as I watch my wife’s impact on our grandsons here. 

Women were also made in the image of God and then Elohim gave both the man and the woman dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).  I’ve always personally believed that God divided his qualities equally into the male and into the female.  God is neither male or female – but is both, I believe. We call him Father, true. But if both male and female are in his image, I believe women will feel very, very comfortable around Yahweh when you women someday meet Him “in person”. 

Click on “Continue reading” to read what God says about moms and women generally – and to read of some women I feel were great moms in the Bible. 

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When God RESTORES

In my last sermon – April 2015—about becoming a forgiving person like Christ – I ended by saying that when God forgives, he adds a blessing to the forgiven person.  I gave a few quick examples but I was out of time and had to hurry. I hope you’ll hear that sermon.  Our Creator God loves restoring relationships and loves making things new.  Today’s blog is about “When God restores”.  I hope you find some little kernels of truth that encourage you.  

Think for just a second: when people restore something, we’re usually trying to get “it” back to its original condition – whether an old dresser, a house, a car.  Sometimes we make it even better than it ever was, but most of the time we think of a “restored” item as “being almost as good as new”. 

When God restores, He doesn’t just restore to the original condition – oh no.  That’s not the way God is.  He makes it better than it ever was!  When He restores a relationship and forgives someone, he blesses the person – as he did Job, and as he promises to do for Israel at the end of Joel 2.  God makes the quality and quantity bigger and better.  For example, the greater our offense was against God, the greater his grace abounds even way beyond the sin.  That’s certainly not the way humans would normally react to serious sins against us.  So for example:

Romans 5:20 KJV

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did MUCH MORE abound…”

The Greek words used here are interesting.  The Greek – in terms of grace – uses the term for SUPER-abounded.  There are two totally different words being used here, though in English the same word (abound) is used.  We offend God, and when forgiven and restored, his grace is greater than our sin.  Grace super-abounds.

Click on “Continue reading” – to the right – to read examples of how God’s laws of restoration are for much, much more than just making something the same as it was.  We’ll also discuss briefly what this means in our daily life as well.

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Our most important goal

The pastor I work with in Kenya recently gave a good sermon on a topic I wish to also cover in a future sermon.  Please be looking for it in the coming weeks.  I WILL have more new sermons in the coming weeks, God willing.  But this blog today is a very, very important topic. 

What would you say is your most important goal in life? 

Another question:  what would make you feel like you’re “really living”? 

Many of us have daily, weekly, yearly and lifetime goals.  Hopefully we’re submitting those goals to “the will of God” and try to submit to his will.  That’s another topic I’m working on:  coming to know God’s will. 

But what’s your biggest, most important goal?  How would you put it into words?  How did Yeshua (Jesus) put it into words? He actually tells us!  Some of what follows comes from the notes of my pastor friend in Kenya – and more importantly, from our Master—Yeshua our Savior.

Click on “Continue reading” – to the right side of this blog, to find out.

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Is God’s will always done in this world?

This question may sound almost crazy to many of you, at first glance, as probably 80% of people would react with “of course God’s will is always done!  He’s GOD!” 

But since YHVH has all power and since He truly is the Supreme Being, does it follow then that He always enforces his will, especially in this world right now?  This blog may surprise you.  But everything I say will be backed with scripture.

First of all, Yeshua (Jesus) himself says in his sample prayer, that we are to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth, just like His will IS always done in heaven.  “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”   Hmm.   Why would we be told to pray for something if that “something” is not an issue? Or maybe it is an issue?  Is God into us praying for the obvious?  Is God asking us to waste our time by asking for things that are already a given – that God’s will is always done on earth? 

Or could it be that God’s perfect will for every single person on this planet -- isn’t always done and it’s His will to allow that free moral choice?  Is that even possible?  But then again, if you believe it is, the wording in Yeshua’s sample prayer is intriguing, with implications of Yeshua’s statement as follows:  “Pray God’s will is done here on earth all the time with everyone – just like Father’s will is always done all the time with everyone in heaven.” 

So when will be the time when God’s will is done here on earth?  Notice the sentence in “the Lord’s Prayer” that comes before this statement about God’s will.  It is:  “Thy kingdom come.”  That is mentioned first.  For sure, when God’s kingdom is established on earth, where God’s rule is established, God’s will is going to be done.  That applies in our individual lives now too. If His rule is established in our lives, his will is being done.  When we are not in the will of God, it’s because we have moved out of his rule and governance. 

Surely, God clearly sets boundaries on what Satan is allowed to do or not do. Surely God’s will is going to be done as far as world-shaking events go.  Prophecy will happen according to His will.  He declares the end from the beginning.  Surely God also will, in specific instances, put thoughts and ideas into leaders and rulers - - so that His will is done.   But there’s so much more. 

And back to my question:  can we say everything that is happening in the life of every human being every minute of time – is God’s will? 

Click on “Continue reading” to see the scriptures that clearly show the answer to the blog’s question. It will probably intrigue you and lead you into a deeper study of this vital topic.

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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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