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

Beware of wolves in SHEEP’s clothing.

You all know this verse where Yeshua (Jesus) is speaking to his very own followers and disciples and says this: 

Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” 

“Beware of wolves IN SHEEP’s clothing”. We’ve all heard that verse, but many have missed it. Christ is NOT telling us to just beware of false ministers, false prophets, or false SHEPHERDS who come to us AS ministers, prophets, or shepherds. That applies too but notice what he actually says. But here at least, Messiah doesn’t say “beware of false prophets who come to you in Shepherd’s (ministers) clothing.” We have to be aware of that too. There are a lot of false teachers out there. We must be on guard against that too.

But who are the “sheep”? We brethren are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). Sheep are regular members of the congregation. That’s why Messiah told Peter to “Feed my lambs and my sheep” in John 21:15-17.

By saying “who come to you in SHEEP’S clothing”, Yeshua is saying “beware of false teachers who come to you like a regular brother or sister in the congregation. They look, act and speak like a regular church member.”

 Especially in these last days, deception can come from any direction – including from beloved Sheep of God – the brethren. In this passage Christ is urging to have our guard up because even regular brethren can actually be wolves or false teachers.

The Supreme Being, God Almighty, selects and appoints leaders - or shepherds -- over the flock to guide and lead the sheep. We know them as “watchmen, pastors” – which is related to being in the pasture with the sheep. Hence, we have “shepherds, teachers and ministers”. Many prophets and teachers were actual shepherds like David, Amos, Jacob, and his sons and many more.

There certainly are many warnings to teachers and shepherds. We teachers will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Read Ezekiel 34:1-10 on your own. And in Acts 20, we have Paul’s warnings to the leaders of Ephesus – and it really applies to any who are leaders in the congregation.

Acts 20:28-29   “Therefore take heed to yourselves AND to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”

We belong to Christ, as he purchased you and me with his own life blood. We do not belong to any other shepherd. Christ is our Chief Shepherd and you and I can follow pastors only as long as they follow Christ. As Paul said, “Follow or imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

So the ultimate shepherd over the flock of God is the Son of God, Yeshua. HE’S the head of the church. David said “YHVH, the LORD, is my shepherd”. God the Father is, by hierarchy, also our shepherd, but Yeshua was explicitly clear that HE is the good shepherd. John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd…” 

But now let’s get back to wolves/false teachers who talk to you as a brother or sister in the church. Your guard may be down, for he/she is – after all – someone you know so well. SO you talk, so you listen, so you get influenced.

ARE there wolves masquerading as shepherds and ministers? Of course.

But don’t miss what our Messiah is actually saying: You and I can just as easily be led astray by brethren we hold in high esteem who are not pastors or shepherds but like to share their new idea with others and lead them away from the flock. This could be anybody. It could be me. It could be you. It could be our friends. We must be vigilant even with those we thought we could trust as good friends in the congregation. This is why we must speak up more often than we do when someone is leading others astray.

How would YOU feel, if you had been one of the 12 disciples of Christ – and Jesus the son of God called you “Satan”?

Yeshua was being super aware not to let anyone near him be used by the Adversary (Satan).

Matthew 16:21-23   “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"

23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, SATAN! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

So never forget that Yeshua called even Peter – “SATAN” -- when he perceived that SATAN’S own wrong spirit had infected Peter’s answer when he was correcting Christ about his upcoming crucifixion. If Christ could call Peter “Satan” – it shows how we must be on guard even with our own best friends, our own family, or our own church members.

We often let our guard down when it’s family or friends speaking to us. We shouldn’t EVER let our guard down.

Some of you prefer to never “rock the boat” or look disagreeable. Had you been Yeshua that day, would YOU have corrected Peter so strongly – even calling him “Satan” – because that is whom Peter had listened to. Remember another time Yeshua warned Peter that Satan had asked God for permission to “sift him as wheat”. Don’t think that all stopped with Peter. I’m sure Satan is asking permission to use other brethren as well.

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

The good news is that once we belong to God, Satan cannot do anything to God’s children without the Almighty’s permission. Remember Job? Yes, God does give Satan permission at times. Even Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” – whatever that was – was, according to Paul, “a messenger of Satan” to harass him and keep him humble (2 Cor. 12:7).

Christ warned that our own family could turn against us in the very end as some will become wolves – in sheep’s clothing, not wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

How do we remain on guard to counter this? We’re given several points.

You will know the wolves in sheep clothing by their fruits.

Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Another point: Be like the Bereans. Compare whatever brethren are telling you -- to God’s word. Are all of us even IN the Bible absolutely every single day? It’s the BREAD from YHVH. We don’t miss food on any given day unless we’re purposely fasting. Neither should you miss time in God’s word one way or another, especially in 2021 when it’s so EASY to have the whole Bible in many formats in books, on our cell phones, tablets, computers, everywhere!

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you ABIDE in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Know God’s word SO WELL that when you hear something that just isn’t Biblical – you can challenge it. Instead of having the TV on constantly or having news or music on in the car when you drive – listen instead to the Bible in audio format. Or just turn everything off – and meditate in silence over what you studied that morning. DO the audio Bible in addition to deep study at your desk.

You and I are set FREE by the truth. But if we don’t KNOW the truth of scripture, how will you be set free? Yeshua says we have to ABIDE – stay closely in – HIS word!

And of course PRAY for God’s spirit to help you discern truth from error.

I personally think we should follow Jesus’ example too. SPEAK UP when heresy is being discussed. Our Savior didn’t let Peter get away with saying HE – Yeshua – would not be crucified. No, he roundly corrected him. Many of us are more comfortable saying nothing and “not causing a fuss”. But silence emboldens those propagating error. Silence is seen as agreement with their error.

There’s a great example of a married couple named Aquila and Priscilla who took an upcoming “leading man” named Apollos, mighty in scriptures, and took him aside to explain more correctly the way of God that Apollos didn’t understand. They didn’t just let him continue teaching what was error. Apollos went on to become a great leader in the church, by the way, and in Corinth some even claimed to be “of Apollos” (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4). 

Acts 18:24-26 “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Would you have done that? Apollos may have, at this point, been simply a regular brother/member of the church. But had Aquila and Priscilla not done that, he could have become a wolf in sheep’s (brethren’s) clothing deceiving the brethren. But it ended well – because Aquila and Priscilla were on guard.

Today, false teachers coming to you as regular members, can use so many avenues: Facebook, email, text messages. They can forward link after link of something new and titillating they think everyone needs to hear. Just be careful. Some of these forwarded links are fine. Some are not.

So –as Yeshua said: “Beware of wolves in SHEEP’S clothing;” FALSE teachers who come to us as a regular member of your church. So – we think “they’re just one of us; he’s a church member – so yes, I can listen to him”. And so our guard goes down. Let that not be your story. Let your story be that you keep your guard up, and you abide in the word of God, know it very well – and you recognize error and don’t let that wolf in sheep’s clothing continue sending you more and more material that is off based.

I certainly would not recommend you let false teachers TEACH in your congregation. If what they’re teaching is easily proven to be false – or causes division and arguments and discord – recognize their FRUIT. You shall know them by their fruit.

Let’s end with James’ admonition. When listening to other brethren around the dinner table or after church services, watch for the fruit of that discussion. Watch for it to be according to God’s word. Be sure it’s TRUTH. And be sure it is peaceable, gentle, willing to yield – and sown in peace.

James 3:13-18   “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”.

So there you have it: wolves who come to us looking like regular sheep. Beware.

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Are YOU a blessing to others? Genesis 12:2

We know God loves to bless people. He even sends rain on the just and unjust. He just loves blessing as much as he can. One blessing we receive, for example, is his patience and longsuffering – even giving mankind centuries sometimes to repent before he punishes, is well known. He loves doing things for people.  God loves to bless and BE a blessing. Now consider this: he says he also wants us to be like Him and he makes it possible via his spirit in us.

So how about you and me? Do we like to bless? ARE we a blessing to others? WHY does God bless you and me? Look at one of the reasons God gives for blessing Abraham.

Genesis 12:2 ESV – “I will make you a great nation; and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Other verses say that in Abraham, all nations of the earth will be blessed by blessings given to Abraham (Genesis 18:18-19). Of course much of those blessings (v.19) came because he and his family were obedient to God. Apostle Paul says that the blessings of Abraham even extends to all Gentiles in Christ (Galatians 3:14).

Back to Genesis 12:2. It says God blessed Abram so that he could be a blessing to so many all around him and ultimately to all nations.

When God blesses you and me, do we in turn consciously wonder how we can use God’s blessings to BE a blessing as Abraham was? I believe from all the principles in scripture, that when we use God’s blessings to bless others, God blesses us even more because of that.

I remember when my girls were very young, I had bought one of them a candy bar. She broke it in half, ate half the bar but kept the other half uneaten in its wrapper. I asked her what she was doing. Her reply: “This is so good that I want Heather [her sister] to have the other half.”

In that moment, I decided to bless her even more. The younger daughter has done similar things too, and we end up blessing our children and grandchildren more when we see them being a blessing to others.

How can you be a blessing? Well, do you have a gift or talent God has given you? By talent I don’t mean the type of money that “talent” in the New Testament means. I mean a special ability, the way we normally use the word. Well, USE your talents to BE a blessing to others. Bless others with your gift. Don’t just sit on it or bury it. I’m not just referring to money here.

I’m referring to gifts God’s given you either through heredity – or even more special, spiritual gifts you wouldn’t have except from God. Maybe you explain things well, or can sing well, or play piano. Maybe you communicate well with others. Maybe people tell you that you are a great writer. USE your gifts to bless others. Find ways to be a blessing.

Do you have some time to serve? We all have 24 hours a day. Be willing to use some of your precious time in service to others. Help elderly neighbors with yard work or errands. Do you know what? Just giving people a lovely smile can bless them! How about calling your neighbor’s spouse—after seeing her husband rushed to hospital with a heart attack. Show interest to ask how they are all doing, offer to help, take over some food – BE a blessing.

Use your voice to bless. Find kind words you can say to the person checking you out at the food store. Be profuse with thank you. Whenever I see someone mopping floors or sanitizing shopping carts – I make a point to get his or her attention and say, “I sure appreciate you doing all that for us. Thank you so much.” So many times they respond: “Aw, that means so much!”

I have a couple of people who contribute ideas to this website that I can sometimes use to serve others. It takes up some of their time, but it sure helps me and all of you. That’s being a blessing to me and others in that case.

One lady has helped with doing the transcripts of my sermons – which takes an unbelievable amount of my time to produce for each sermon and any help is much appreciated. Believe me, I’ve done it by myself for years as we have brethren who are deaf and rely on these notes. Others appreciate the notes too. Someone also helps make “Happy sabbath” cards and “shabbat shalom” cards for me to use. They’re beautiful and those cards bless people. It gives them a lift. Those are ways to bless.

When you recognize you are being blessed - - and again, I mean beyond just about physical blessings and money – BE a blessing with the blessings you have received.

And financially too. Be sure you tithe (10%) cheerfully. Be sure you obey God’s laws to give an offering on at least the three pilgrim holy day feasts – Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles, as we’re instructed (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). Help where you can financially too.

Four or five households help us support a pastor in western Kenya who has taken 30 orphan children who were trying to find food in garbage cans – and brought them to his home. These orphans had lost both parents to HIV AIDS in most cases. Many were just 4-5-6 years old; some were 10 or 11 when he first took them in – and we first started helping him. Most of them are in their teens or even late teens now. Had he not taken them in, many of them would have been raped or would have died by now. Their home is called “Cup of Water Home for Children”.

Our pastor over there fed and housed them. Several here from USA provided funds for wells for drinking water, bought land, paid to build a proper home, toilet facilities, bunk beds, clothing, schooling, uniforms, Bibles, medical needs and hospital fees, and much more. Many of those 30 would have surely died without support. Thank you who have helped. May God bless you all even more, for being a blessing. I certainly could not have done it without those 4 households helping me. Right now the Pastor has Covid19 and needs oxygen. He came close to dying but others who were being a blessing – paid the huge hospital bill and the oxygen he needs for a while at home.

Some of you have a way with words. Use those skills to write to those who have lost a child or husband or wife. Send them a note. Let them know there are people out there – like you – who care for them and are praying for them.

There are always things we each can do to be a blessing. And I promise you, God will bless YOU much more when you ARE a blessing to others as he blesses you.

One more thought: In the days of the Patriarchs, men would bless their children. I urge you fathers and grandfathers: US speak a blessing over your children too, in their hearing, like Jacob (Israel) did to his sons in Genesis 49. He also blessed the two sons of Joseph separately in Genesis 48. Don’t just wait for the “official” blessing of the children at the Feast. You do it for your own children and grandchildren. You know their strengths and weaknesses. Bless them! If there’s no father or grandfather, then you moms do it.

And don’t forget: we think of God blessing us. There are numerous psalms which speak of OUR ability to bless GOD! Have you ever thought of that?  “Bless the Lord Eternal, O my soul” – is one of the hymns sung often in Church of God congregations. Do you ever say in prayer “I bless and praise you, my God and Savior…”?   David sure did. Here are a few. Maybe I will write an entire blog simply on this matter of blessing God.

Psalms 34:1 “I will bless YHVH at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Psalms 63:3-4 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”

Psalms 145:1-2 “I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

While we’re at it, remember to bless Israel, for God says he will bless those who bless Abraham and his descendants, and curse those who curse Israel. Genesis 12:3 continues – speaking to Abram: “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Now another hard command and teaching of my Lord about this:

           “BLESS those who curse you…”    Matthew 5:44

Are you ready to obey that? A full sermon is coming on HOW to do that. I’ve found that when I started getting so angry at anyone for their persecution or gossip and lies, that my whole spirit changes when I ask God to forgive them, love them, bless them, heal their marriage, mend their broken financials and so on. And I also ask Him to fill me with his audacious love and help me to love my enemies, just as God loved all of us while we were enemies of God.

You can refuse to bless your enemies – and as a result have ulcers, depression, heart problems, abdominal issues and headaches. I’ll choose healing that comes from blessing others instead, thank you.

Watch my upcoming expanded sermon on this point of HOW we can love our enemies and bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully abuse us. Yeshua goes on to explain that we prove we are children of God when we act that way.

“THAT you may be the children of your father in heaven, for he sends rain and sun on the just and unjust”. And he loved the people of the world while we were his enemy; His godly Son dying for the ungodly. Asking God to bless even those hateful to you shows you have the mind of God, according to Matthew 5:44-48.

So if God gives YOU blessings – USE them to BE a blessing, and I suspect you’ll receive even more blessings from God as a result. Learn to bless, bless, bless.

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Have you misunderstood Unleavened Bread?

Let me get right to the point.  Over the many years in the Church of God and its subsequent branches, I was taught – and I even taught – this about unleavened bread:

** Leavening pictures sin and so that is why we put it out. (True, but leavening can also picture God’s kingdom that spreads! Matthew 13:33).

** Then when talking about eating UNLEAVENED bread, it is believed that this now pictures our new life committed to obedience and being free from sin.

All that can be true. But it’s not complete. It’s dangerously incomplete, in fact. 

When you deleavened your home, and men – I hope you helped a lot and led the family in this – you threw OUT and disposed of all leavened breads, crackers, cookies, etc. because there was no way to salvage any of it. You couldn’t pick the leaven out of the bread. You could only throw it out – and then we all had to start over with brand new unleavened bread that you either made at home or bought matzah from an outside store.

What did the leavened bread you threw out picture?

The right answer: Our old carnal selves. It pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, though it must not be a way of life any longer. So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out our old self. We must be totally surrendering to God in every facet of our lives so we can call Jesus our Lord. So the leavening we throw out pictures – US. Not just sin generally, but “US”.

When you were throwing out your leavened products, did you realize that all pictured – YOU? Your old self; what Paul calls “the old man”? It pictured you giving up the old ways of unrighteousness.

After throwing out the old sinful way pictured by leaven, we go out and buy or bake fresh UNLEAVENED bread that had not been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product.

So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US. It doesn’t even picture us as we try to keep sin out of our lives because as Paul admits in Romans 7, we all still stumble in sin. UNLEAVENED bread has to picture someone far greater than you and me. 

Unleavened Bread pictures the One, and the only One, who DID keep sin totally out of his life. HE is the Unleavened Bread of God. HE is the manna, the bread of heaven, from God (John 6:48-51 please read it). He and he alone. This is why Yeshua said, “this is MY body, broken for you.” (Matthew 26:26).  It’s HIS body, HIS life; not mine, not yours.

So far, are you with me? The leavened bread pictures us who still stumble in sin. Each year, we remind ourselves that there are still vestiges of sinful habits and ways of thinking we have to cast out as we cleanse the temple of God.

The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said, and what Paul echoed.

Yes, I know we are to grow to become in His image. We are to copy him. We are to follow him. (1 Cor. 11:1). I am to let HIS mind become my mind (Philippians 2:5). But the life I now live is not supposed to be mine, nor can it really be mine, just as Paul says in Gal. 2:20 and Col 3:1-4. Christ is now my life. HE is now my righteousness. He “became FOR us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).

So the UNLEAVENED BREAD we eat does NOT picture US primarily. It is NOT about our lives that are now free from the penalty of sin, but we still sometimes sin (leaven). Though you may not have eaten any leavened products so far this week, I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during the same last few days. Apostle Paul, as you know in Romans 7, still admitted to stumbles of sin that he hated.

Paul even goes on to make a differentiation between his old carnal sinful fleshly self – and the new creation Paul. In fact Paul says in Romans 7:16-20 that NOW when he sinned, it was not really him doing it. It wasn’t the new Paul—no, it was “Sin that dwells in me” that was doing the sinning.

Romans 7:15-17 “but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

That’s not me saying that, but Paul. He repeats it in verse 20. Paul makes a clear distinction between the carnal nature he still had (“For I am carnal”- v.14), and the new nature and the new life and new creation inside him -- which is Christ actively living in him. This only happens if we abide in him in constant prayer and frequent studying of his word.

How could Paul say that it was no longer him sinning but sin that dwelt in him? Because he understood that just as we throw out the old leaven, we have to get rid of, surrender, put to spiritual death – the OLD SELF. ALL of it. Did you get that? ALL of it.

But now we have 2 natures inside us: the old carnal self is still there, fighting the new spirit-led self, the new creation. See Gal. 5:16-17.  

Our entire life before Christ has been leavened, in other words. We can’t keep any of it. It all has to go – just like your bread, cookies and crackers. Once a life is leavened, you cannot deleaven it, any more than you can deleaven already leavened bread. A leavened LIFE – which is really what all this pictures – has to be cast out and rejected.

Even GOD has to start with a new creation in us. A once-leavened life cannot be deleavened. It has to be replaced. It is replaced by the life of Christ alive in each of us. So I need a new life pictured by new bread that is unleavened.

But my new self is NOT me, trying to qualify for God’s kingdom in my efforts to overcome and defeat sin. In fact, remember that the days of Unleavened Bread come BEFORE the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Imagine claiming you could have any victory over sin without the holy spirit! My old me failed. So did yours. We need something – or Someone – PERFECT, without ANY sin at any time, ever (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus Christ said the prince of this world (Satan) had NOTHING in him. Nothing (John 14:30). He was the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), totally without sin his entire life. Now THAT is what unleavened bread looks like. It looks like Christ.

Even just a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

Cast it all out, Paul says, for we are now unleavened. What does that mean? That you don’t sin anymore? Hardly. The Corinthian brethren were loaded with sin. Chapter after chapter is about another sinful behavior – party divisions, marital problems, terrible open sex sins going on, suing one another, getting drunk at Passover, teaching our resurrection is already past, and on and on.

The ONLY way the Corinthians could be said to be “truly unleavened” (v.9) is by the new life of Christ himself living in them.

            Who is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? Yeshua! He said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life.” (John 14:6). “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Who is the Word? John 1:1-3. It’s Yeshua! We strive to live more sincerely and truthfully, but the One it pictures is Yeshua.

Are you seeing the difference? It’s ALL about Yeshua. ALL about him and how he perfectly obeyed his Father, and our Father.

I eat unleavened bread to remind me that I have to take in Jesus Christ my Savior day after day. We become what we eat. In this season, let’s FEAST on our Messiah. I don’t eat matzah to remind me I no longer sin – because you and I still do. I eat matzah this week – and figuratively the rest of my life – because I need HIM living in me from now on. 

When our Savior handed out the pieces of matzah to the disciples, he does NOT say “Eat this, as this pictures the new you trying your best to ‘make it’ and to finally be good enough to be allowed into the kingdom”. No!           

Yeshua said, “Eat this bread, for this is MY LIFE broken for you. Drink of my cup, for this is MY BLOOD of the new covenant” that he SHED for us (Matt. 26:26-29). Life is in the blood. It’s all about him.

I know you know that, but I still keep hearing and reading an emphasis on the unleavened matzah picturing each of US successfully fighting sin. But even just ONE sin makes us a sinner, right? Even one lustful or overly angry thought makes you and me a sinner, right?

Yes, we have to fight sin. Yes, we have to be Christian soldiers fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12). Yes, we have to put on the whole armor of God. All of that is in context that we must “be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might” (Eph 6:10).

WE can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens us so we can fight – but it’s HIS might, HIS power (Phil 4:13) -- not through our own failing efforts. Even Jesus, remember, relied on his Father for everything! He said 3-4 times, “I can do NOTHING of myself” (John 5:19, 30; 8:28) and then reminded us WE can do nothing apart from HIM (John 15:5).

To this end, Paul repeatedly teaches that HE – and you and I – are supposed to have DIED to sin, to have been crucified with Christ, and our new life is not one of our own making, but is the life of the Son of God himself – it’s Yeshua (Jesus) himself! Any righteousness we have now is from and by Jesus Christ (please read Philippians 1:10; 1 Cor. 1:29-31; Phil 3:8-11). I’m finding many “church of God” friends resisting this; that God’s righteousness is only possible through faith in Christ and his life, and his righteousness gifted to us (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21). HE is our righteousness and our unleavened bread.

WE died. Christ was resurrected and his resurrection life becomes ours when we declare it with our mouths and believe it with our hearts (Romans 10:1-4, 9-10). Read these again. This is our unleavened bread that we eat.

Unleavened bread does not picture ourselves defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures Christ living in me and crushing sin. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Colossians 3:2-4 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For YOU died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When CHRIST WHO IS OUR LIFE appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

Unleavened Bread. It is Christ who is pictured. It is Christ, who is now our life, living victoriously in us. Be sure as you eat unleavened bread, you don’t leave Yeshua out. It’s all about him.

As you eat unleavened bread, think of it as you pursuing the Messiah, seeking to be with him, learning what it means to abide in him. As you eat unleavened bread, invite him to BE the new you. Invite him to cleanse the temple of your body of anything unpleasing to Father. Dwell in him. Invite him and Father to dwell in you. And this is why you and I must eat unleavened bread each and all 7 days of the Feast. We simply cannot live perfectly enough without it being HIM and HIS righteousness.

To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.

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Personalize God’s love for YOU

As we prepare for Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, and examine ourselves so we take the Passover in a worthy manner, I hope all of us are focusing on a few things I’ll hi-lite here. Please take time to personally review each scripture in your own Bible. As we gather and feast on Messiah, there’s a lot to ponder.

*** PERSONALIZE your Passover. It wasn’t done just for the whole world, though that’s true too. Look at the examples of scripture, like how Paul says Christ “died for ME” (Galatians 2:20). The Israelites were told to tell their children that Passover is about what God “did for ME” (Exodus 13:8-9). FEEL those verses. Know God chose YOU and died for YOU through Christ. In Exodus 12, being under the blood of the lamb saved their lives. Today, being under the blood of Messiah – saves us for eternity! Hallelujah.

Make this real. Make it about what God did for YOU, just you – and then we know of course that he did it for everyone else who will accept him as well.

** Look at the SPIRITUAL meaning of everything you are doing.

The blood of the lamb is the blood of the Lamb of God. Putting out leaven is more about focusing on surrendering and giving up our remaining life behavior and thought patterns that are contrary to God’s Way. Throwing out leaven is really pointing to repentance – and leaving the old way, getting all of it out of our lives. Repentance is proving you’re sorry for your sins by throwing out the old patterns – the point of deleavening.

It makes little difference if we found and removed every crumb of leaven – but we still sinned with hardly a fight. We got drunk this week, or we looked at porn - again, or lost our temper – again, or pigged out as a glutton would, or were lax on keeping the sabbath day holy and set-apart. It makes little difference if we emptied the cupboards of leavened products but continue to shack up instead of honoring your partner and GOD -- and coming into a covenant marital relationship instead of living in sin.

DO TRUE deleavening, in other words, and put out the sinful ways we each still have. And really ultimately, we have to come to Yeshua and ask him to wash us thoroughly in his blood and to keep washing us thoroughly. It’s an ongoing activity! (1 John 1:7 is in the ongoing present tense – “cleanses”).

So you looked into every crevice of your couch and chairs and under cabinets – so what, if you or I continue to wallow in self-pity, worry, anxiety or fear – instead of trusting in our King, who has offered to take all of that from you, if you would just surrender it to Him.

So personalize it. Verbally with your lips and even more so with your heart – recognize Yeshua as the object of everything we do at Passover season.

Don’t keep this Passover with “old leaven” – old sinful habits we hang on to.

1 Corinthians 5:8 -- “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

Sincerity and truth aren’t pieces of bread – but Paul is pointing us to the spiritual point of all that we’re doing. So he speaks of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It’s way beyond bread and wine and leavened bread or matzah or vacuuming our house.

Remember Yeshua said, “this is the NEW COVENANT in my blood which is shed for you” (1 Cor. 11:25). He also reminded us – that in the new covenant – our focus is “in remembrance of ME” – of Christ. The Exodus 12 Passover pointed to Yeshua. Remember HIM – much more than the symbols of Ex. 12.

LOOK TO Yeshua in all of us. Rejoice in his victorious resurrection. It is by his LIFE that we are saved. We’re forgiven by his Blood, but saved by his life, being lived anew in you (Romans 5:10-11).

Spiritual meaning, focus on that. When you drink of the wine, remember the Bible also focuses a lot on “the CUP”. Drinking of one’s cup meant willingly accepting what God has in store for each of us – whether it seems good or bad. Even Yeshua, in the garden of Gethsemane, asked if there was any other way than to drink of that cup – but always ended it with our perfect example of “not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-44).

So as you look for leaven, look for true leaven of hypocrisy, of malice and wickedness that remains in your life; items you haven’t surrendered yet. Where are we still hypocritical?

*** Passover is a memorial of God’s RECONCILIATION with you – even though he opened the way while you and I were still ungodly sinners. He died for the ungodly – including you and me (Rom 5:6-11 – please read it).

If we don’t forgive and reconcile with everyone who has issues against us, or we have issues against them – our prayers at Passover won’t mean much, frankly. Reconcile with anyone you’re not at peace with. Maybe your daughter, your son, your husband, your father, your mother – your neighbors, your work associates, anyone you are not at peace with.

Good scriptures to review: Romans 5:9-11; Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 6:11-14. I’ll have a sermon soon on Reconciliation with everyone possible and forgiving everyone with whom you’re at odds.

 

As you wash other’s feet this year – remember Yeshua already washed his/her feet – and yours too. You’re just acknowledging God has already cleaned them up, and you as well. It’s more than just being a humble servant.

*** Be SURE you EAT unleavened bread each day, focusing on what that pictures! FEAST ON MESSIAH! He’s what the bread pictures.

The Passover season and days of unleavened bread is not just about NOT eating leavened products – but EATING unleavened bread. That pictures the life of Yeshua, the bread from Heaven (John 6). Again, look at the spiritual meaning! This is much more than just eating matzah for a week.

We all want the resurrected Jesus living in us more and more. With every piece of unleavened bread, remember – and say in your heart, “Dear Savior, my beloved king, come and BE my new life. We are what we eat. I want to fully devour your way of life and I invite you as my Savior – not just one time but day by day! Yeshua, BE my life. I want to FEAST on you during this special time. I love what you’ve done for me, - yes for ME --, and I praise you Father in heaven for resurrecting your Son, my King! Now may I glory in his resurrection being lived out anew in me.”

As you eat the unleavened bread, remember the righteousness you seek is not what comes from your own obedient actions now – but the righteousness that is from God, by faith, as HIS GIFT (Rom 5:17) to you. That’s what the UNLEAVENED bread pictures. And of COURSE, as I’ve been saying, surrender and change and obey as well.

But in fact, we don’t want the righteousness that comes from our own efforts (read Philippians 3:8-11) but that which is from God by faith in Christ’s life. ALL our righteousness is Christ. Philippians 1:11 says “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness that are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” – not to your glory for all you have done.

Sure – unleavened bread also pictures – as we always hear – humility, and not being all puffed up. But in a nutshell, we’re really picturing a new life; Yeshua is now our life and our righteousness. See also Colossians 3:1-4 again.

I have several sermons on God’s righteousness you can find on this website. And please read these verses below, also.

** Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:1-4.

** Romans 3:19-26. Verse 20 – all the law-keeping you can do won’t make you righteous enough. Just ask Job. V. 25-26 – God wants us to see HIS righteousness at work in us, not our own attempts at it. Then read Romans 4:20-25 – Abraham’s faith resulted in God’s righteousness being imputed to him, but not to him only, but to us also.

***REMEMBER TO ALSO BE FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT of faith. I’ll give a full-fledged sermon on just this magnificent point: remember we’re in a WAR against evil spirits. We are to be AWARE of that and fight HARD.

This includes bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (please read 2 Cor. 10:3-6). TO do that, we have to be into God’s word enough that clear Biblical teaching comes to mind with every errant thought. We recognize the attack – often coming as something we’d carnally like to do – capture it, demolish it with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17-18), and then continue to dwell on what GOD says to you about that thought. Think on GOOD things. Let’s get off the negatives, the worries, the fears.

Paul’s not fooling around here. It’s a real war. And in the end, he declares he has “fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith”,   (2 Timothy 4:7-8). He goes on to say he was certain of receiving the crown of righteousness and that we all should look for that too.

So have a wonderful Passover season. Know God would do all of it, even just for you.

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The 9 month Birth Cycle and the Eternal’s Holydays

This blog is going to be sharing what Zola Levitt wrote in October 2008. Zola Levitt was from that wonderful species – the Jew who comes to Jesus Christ and accepts His Jewish Savior. Hallelujah. Yeshua, whose name means “Salvation”, their Maschiach  - their Messiah.  Zola wrote a piece tying the gestation and birth cycle to holydays.  I thought it was just fascinating, so here it is, with very little editing to keep it brief and to fit my blog limits.  Remember the correlations are based on the Hebrew calendar and months.  Their “seventh month” for example, usually fits in to our mid-September to mid-October.  I added some of my own comments in brackets:

Zola Levitt discovered an amazing correlation between the Seven Feasts of the LORD and the gestation of a human baby, from conception to birth. While preparing for writing a new book for new parents, Zola contacted a gynecologist for some help in understanding gestation. 

During that session, the gynecologist shows him a series of pictures, pointed to the first one (an egg and a sperm) and said:  “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the egg appears.” The statement struck a chord in his Jewish mind because that was the date of Passover….

The gynecologist continued: “The egg must be fertilized within 24 hours or it will pass on.”  This reminded Zola of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the seed or grain that “fell to the ground and died” in order to produce a harvest, the first fruits of which were presented to God.

Next, the gynecologist said, “Within two to six days, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb and begins to grow.”  And sure enough, the Jewish evangelist thought, “The Day of Firstfruits is observed anywhere from two to six days after Passover.”    [This was the day in John 20 where Messiah first went to heaven to be accepted by His Father, as the real first Fruits to be accepted in behalf of the spiritual harvest.]

Next, he was shown a photo of an embryo [first 8 weeks] showing arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, a head, eyes, etc.  The caption said “FIFTY days”.  The gynecologist continued, “Around the fiftieth day, the embryo takes on the form of a human being. Until then, we don’t know if we have a duck or a tadpole.”  Zola thought, “That’s Pentecost!”  [Some feel this is also when the first resurrection will take place, when we will be like Him – 1 John 3:2]

The next picture showed the fetus at seven months. The gynecologist said, “On the first day of the seventh month, the baby’s hearing is developed. For the first time it can hear and distinguish sounds outside of the womb.”  Zola knew that was the date for [Yahweh’s] festival of Trumpets.

The gynecologist continued, “On the tenth day of the 7th month, the hemoglobin of the blood changes from that of the mother to a self -sustaining baby”.  Zola thought, “That’s the Day of Atonement, when the blood was taken into the Holy of Holies”.

Next, the gynecologist said, “On the 15th of the 7th month, the lungs become fully developed.  If born before then, the baby would have had a very difficult time breathing.”  And Zola thought, “That’s the Festival of Tabernacles, a time of celebrating the Temple, home of the Shekinah glory or Spirit of God.”  In the New Testament, the Greek term ‘pneuma’ normally translated as “breath”, is applied to the Holy Spirit.”

Birth takes place on the 10th day of the ninth month. Eight days after birth in Jewish families, a baby boy is circumcised. Zola noted that the 8 days of Hanukkah are celebrated right on schedule, nine months and ten days after Passover.  [Jesus made it a point to be in Jerusalem for Hanukkah – called “the Feast of Dedication” John 10:22]

No human being could have understood the gestation period 3,500 years ago [when Yahweh revealed the seven Feasts of Yahweh to Moses and the nation of Israel].  The establishment of the seven Feasts of the LORD was given to Moses by the LORD Himself. Its correlation with the human gestation period is not only remarkable; it proves “Intelligent Design”.  It proves there is a Creator God who guides the affairs of man.

That was the blog or article by Zola Levitt. I thank Zola and his organization for posting this. Feel free to share this blog and this website with other believers, especially those who keep Yahweh’s feasts.

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Don’t be caught unprepared for Passover!

(This blog includes links to other topics on Deleavening and preparing for Passover so we’re ready for this wonderful evening.) 

Did you realize the Lord’s Passover is almost here? The night we do the footwashing service and eating the emblems of a piece of broken unleavened bread with a small vial of red wine – is almost upon us.

Some of you prefer to drink grape juice as your “fruit of the vine” but the Greek word “oinos” clearly refers to red wine, as in the wedding feast miracle of Cana in John 2.

So with Passover almost here, has each of us given it the proper attention it requires before participating? Arriving at the service at the last minute, all disheveled, roaring into the parking lot straight from work – without forethought – simply is not giving our God the respect he deserves.

Why is this topic so vital?

Read 1 Corinthians 11 carefully, especially verses 17-34.

Paul warns against taking the body and the blood of Yeshua in an unworthy manner has serious consequences. He even says that by not regarding the Body of Christ with deep honor, God is letting some believers die, and not be healed. 

But he also says clearly, that once we have done a proper self-examination, we absolutely SHOULD take of the body and blood of Christ (bread and wine), knowing we absolutely need to acknowledge we need His cleansing and covering of his life and death over us.

We must start looking for the Spiritual intent in everything we read, and not just the obvious physical illustration.

And surely, you’ll be deleavening your home before Passover, as we’re commanded to be unleavened. But let me give my annual caution: don’t be so focused on the physical act of deleavening that we give scant attention to spiritual deleavening and preparation!

Many of you are exhausted by the end of deleavening. But be sure to spend extra time in thanksgiving and repentance as you pour your heart and soul out to our Father and our Savior for giving you the first fruit calling to be part of his Family right now!

*** he warns against divisions in the body of Christ v.18.

*** he explains the way they were keeping this special evening could not be called the Lord’s Supper (verse 17-22).

Then in 1 Cor. 11:23-26 that we do what we do on Passover night to remember HIM. HE was what all the Passover sheep, all the unleavened bread all pointed to. We remember HIM as our focus on Passover night – not so much the Exodus 12 Passover. Interestingly enough, when we read all of Christ’s words at his Passover, his entire conversation is about the spiritual, with no reference to Exodus 12. Exodus pointed to HIM. He’s the point.

So as we prepare for Passover, remember that: Yeshua is the reason! He’s the point. He’s what the whole evening is all about. It’s fine to talk about “when I see the blood of the lamb” over your lintel – as in Ex 12 – but be sure to make the point that we’re talking about Yeshua’s blood, Yeshua’s life shed for each of us.

Though it is a sober and serious night of remembrance, Passover should not be a dirge! We know what happened after Passover. Our Savior was resurrected. He lives. There is victory in his blood – and so when we come together, there should be quiet celebration of victory over sin and honor to our majestic King, the son of God.

Paul goes on to explain that we must examine ourselves and then yes -- then eat of the bread and drink of the cup in a worthy manner, lest we bring judgment on ourselves. Be sure to read 1 Cor. 11:27-32. Paul also says it could even be a big reason why we’re not seeing more healings than we do nowadays, because we’re not loving and esteeming all those “in Christ” as we should – the body of Christ.

I’ve been healed of cancer, enlarged organs, and God has used me to pray for some who were instantly healed of serious strokes and severe back pain. Others have not been healed. But God has not stopped healing. If we’re not seeing as much healing nowadays – it’s more likely our fault. Yeshua has not retired or quit healing.

So get ready for the pre-Passover prep – and for Passover itself. There are numerous pre-Passover and Passover topics on this website you can check out:

Blogs or sermons on deleavening:

Don’t miss all your “hidden” leaven https://lightontherock.org/blogs/don-t-miss-all-your-hidden-leaven?highlight=WyJkZWxlYXZlbiJd

As we focus on physical leaven, be sure we don’t miss the real POINT of deleavening and what the UNLEAVENED bread pictures? Here’s another blog that might be useful to you:

https://lightontherock.org/blogs/what-s-your-focus-as-you-deleaven?highlight=WyJkZWxlYXZlbiJd

Without proper forethought and planning and time on the spiritual, our deleavening may fall far short of perfect. This is worth a read too: https://lightontherock.org/blogs/perfect-deleavening?highlight=WyJkZWxlYXZlbiJd

Are we trying to pick leaven OUT of our lives – instead of learning the lesson of the days of deleavening? What was it? That we CAN’T pick out leaven from a loaf of bread. We have to discard it and replace it with new, fresh unleavened bread. We can’t just pick this or that sin out of our lives either. That would be like trying to pick leaven out of a loaf of bread. We cannot do it. What do we have to do?

We have to throw out the whole loaf. We throw out ALL of our old way of life, our old desires, and all our secret sins. Our bodies, our lives, now become the habitation of God himself, so we do a special housecleaning and self-examination of what quality of abode we are providing as the House of God – ourselves!

This means total and complete surrender to our new King, Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. We have to give up our entire former carnal self in complete surrender now and ask HIM to BE the new unleavened (sinless) life inside us that we need to have. We ask Yeshua to reign in us. Ask Him to purge evil thoughts and lusts and ungodly ways from our minds as we pray more than ever and study the word of God more than ever. BY doing that, we experience the “washing of water BY the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

ARE you in God’s word daily? More so now than usual? We need that, to be spiritually washed and unleavened before holy God. And we need to be praying more than ever. Satan’s demons have stepped up their activity drastically. We must and will defeat them in Christ.

This is what true pre-Passover deleavening focus should be all about – even as, indeed, we put out the physical leaven. But remember, there are even leavening agents in the air. We’ll never get rid of it all ourselves. Our focus must be on Christ, who is the point of all this.

You may want to also review some of the full-length sermons I’ve given in the past on Passover. Here are a few of my favorites:

Are you Crucified with Christ? I promise this will touch your soul. Type in the search bar “Crucified with Christ.”

Fresh Look at the Passover Emblems (March 2010) Type in “Passover Emblems”. We do a deep dive into the bread, the wine, the foot washing and much more. The Afikomen.

When I see the Blood, parts 1 and 2just type in “see the blood” into the search box. IN Passover we see the Love of God and his severity as well. The “Crimson thread” of Passover through the Bible – like Isaac carrying the wood; the nuances of Exodus 12, which all pointed to Christ.

How Christ fulfilled the Passover in Intricate Detail (April 2010) – just type in “Intricate detail” into the search box.

Let’s be ready for Passover 2021 – spiritually, mentally, and physically. It’s a great evening, a great time, and we’re washed, clean, forgiven, justified, reconciled, restored, accepted, and delivered – by what this day means.  

Jesus came the first time to make the way possible as the Lamb of God for the family of God to come before him cleansed and forgiven as we come under his blood – AND to preach and tell us about the kingdom of God.

The next time he comes, it is to take over the reins of power and start to literally rule as King of kings. Let’s be sure we’re there with him, as we come roaring back from the wedding supper in Heaven with Christ our king. Those with him are the “called, chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14.

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Valentine’s Day – why I don’t participate

OK, I’m way too late posting this for this year to have any effect but hoping it will help more of you next year understand why many of God’s children do not get involved in most of the world’s holidays - - yes, including seemingly innocent Valentine’s Day. Some of you have kept it for years and may fear having to try to explain to loved ones why you won’t keep it any longer. If you come to that conclusion, do so well before Valentine’s Day next year at least.

Remember we are told to come out of Babylon, this world’s system led by the god of this world Satan (Revelation 18:4). “Coming out” will include no longer participating in its cherished holidays if they go against God’s ideals. So I don’t keep Valentines, and add to that – New Year’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

I saw a Facebook post from Maria Brown about Valentine’s Day. I’ll be the first to say, that like many of the other holidays rooted in paganism, I realize we don’t follow or keep the original ways the day was kept. But please also remember, that the practice of re-labeling pagan days, does not change its roots!

Most of the remainder is Maria Brown’s write-up on the day.

Is Valentine's Day God Blessed?

Valentine’s Day seems so innocent and beautiful! After all it is a time to show love and appreciation to that very special someone with flowers ,candy and small gifts. But is it what Jesus would do?

The history of Valentine’s goes back to pagan practices of the Roman sexual fertility festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was an ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral annual festival, observed in the city of Rome from the 13th to the 15th of February to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. This Roman festival was supervised by a corporation of priests called the Luperci.

The origins of the festival are obscure, although the likely derivation of its name from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) has variously suggested connection with an ancient deity who protected herds from wolves and with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. As a fertility rite, the festival is also associated with the god Faunus (Pan).

Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile.

In 494 CE the Christian church under Pope Gelasius 1 appropriated the form of the rite as the Feast of the Purification. ( Encyclopedia Britannica)

The wicked ruler Nimrod was the origin of the legend of Pan. A wolf hunter and strong man.

Genesis 10:19 “He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, ‘Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord”.

“My Valentine” comes from the practice of during the Lupercalia women would put their name in a box and which would be drawn out by the city’s bachelors to pair off for sexual immorality for the coming year. Sometimes (not usually) these ended in marriage later.

The early Catholics wanting to convert pagans adopted the pagan practice along with other pagan celebrations. But changed them to be more mellow giving them new names.

But Jesus ( Yeshua) would not celebrate this day because we are instructed in Jeremiah and other scriptures not to learn the ways of the heathens. God has His own holyday celebrations in Leviticus 23.

Jeremiah 10:2 “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.”

MARIA BROWN

Thank you, Maria, and History channel. Back to Philip writing now – so though these days may seem fun and innocent enough, I will not participate in them. God wants us having nothing to do with pagan holidays. It’s that simple. We are to come out of Babylon – the moniker for this world’s system.

You can Google what was written above and see it’s all there in the history channel. We didn’t make all this up.

https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2

And Cupid? The fat little naked cherub boy who shoots golden arrows of love. That’s all rooted in paganism and pagan gods as well. Here’s what this source says, underlines are mine for emphasis.

Cupid is often portrayed on Valentine’s Day cards as a naked cherub launching arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers. But the Roman God Cupid has his roots in Greek mythology as the Greek god of love, Eros. Accounts of his birth vary; some say he is the son of Nyx and Erebus; others, of Aphrodite and Ares; still others suggest he is the son of Iris and Zephyrus or even Aphrodite and Zeus (who would have been both his father and grandfather).

According to the Greek Archaic poets, Eros was a handsome immortal played with the emotions of Gods and men, using golden arrows to incite love and leaden ones to sow aversion. It wasn’t until the Hellenistic period that he began to be portrayed as the mischievous, chubby child he’d become on Valentine’s Day cards.”

So why should I participate in a day – as sweet as it seems – that goes back to the fanciful Greek god of love, Eros? Now you know why. Remember too, that Satan presents his ways to us as beautiful, for he comes as an angel of light, but he’s really all about darkness.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

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Who is truly God over all this earth? God – or Satan?

WHO is truly God over all the earth – God the Father, or Satan? So many of the people I grew up with use 2 Cor. 4:4 and say “that’s it – Satan’s the god of this world or age. He rules it, he decides everything and that’s just the way it is.”  

If they don’t go that far, they really do believe our Heavenly Father has kept His hands off this world until Christ returns.

Well, HAS God washed his hands completely of this age and this world and lets Satan do whatever he wants?  I think many don’t rightly understand this concept.

Satan is correctly and definitely called “the god of this age” 2 Cor. 4:3-4. 

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

But I wonder if some of us carry this too far and give Satan way more power than he really has? Can Satan do as he pleases, if this is his world, his age? Or does he have to submit to God’s will and God’s rulership over the earth?  What do you think? How would you explain it?

First let me assure you that I  know there are many scriptures that tell us Satan has a lot of power right now over the age and world in which we live.

*** He has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9)

*** He is called the “prince of the power of the air”  (Ephesians 2:2)

*** The whole world is under the sway of the wicked one -- (1 John 5:19). 

*** Satan gets involved in our issues and sometimes we forget that our real enemy is the one who is actually called “the Adversary” – as that is what “Satan” means (Ephesians 6:12). 

But I want to remind all of us that in spite of his power, Satan can go only so far.  Remember how Satan complains about the “hedge of protection” God had placed around Job and his family, and sometimes over whole nations, like Israel at various times?             

Job 1:9-12

So Satan answered YHVH and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"

12 And YHVH said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person."  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”

Most of you know the story of Job pretty well. Later on God let Satan affect Job’s person – his body, and Satan covered him with painful boils.  But notice that – especially when it comes to the people of God (you and me and others), Satan can go only so far. God keeps him restrained unless for God’s own purposes, he allows certain trials like he did Job, for Job’s sake. That should encourage you.

God also puts shields of protection around US and our family as well (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 5:12).  We’re told the Angel of YHVH encamps around God’s people (Psalm 34:7). We must not let the hedge or wall of protection get torn down – or we will be bitten by the serpent (Ecclesiastes10:8).  Satan had to ask for Peter (Luke 22:31-32), Yeshua said, but our Savior told Peter that he was praying for him. WOW.  The Son of God intercedes for us and keeps Satan at bay!

Luke 22:31-32  And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."  

I love that verse. What a great big brother we have in Yeshua.

So it’s clear, especially regarding God’s children, Satan cannot touch you or hurt you or do anything to you and me without God’s explicit permission for God’s purposes – like in Job’s case. So though he’s god of this age, his power is limited.

Now what about elections and all that? Is it Satan who is putting rulers and presidents in place? Not at all. God is the one who puts or ALLOWS certain ones to be put into office as Romans 13:1-2 clearly tells us. But that doesn’t mean He is always thrilled about it. He was very unhappy with Israel for rejecting him – God – as king and insisting on having a human be their king as  you can read in 1 Samuel 8. Neither does it mean that since God is the one who puts or allows world rulers to be in place – that they are good people. God chose Jeroboam to be the House of Israel’s first king when they split from Judah. But Jeroboam was a terrible king, but God had his own reasons for selecting him.

God also makes clear in Hosea that he allows rulers but doesn’t always approve of them or like them. So God decides who rule—and then they’re handed over to Satan as part of his kingdom (for now). That’s why we read of “the prince of Persia” for example in Daniel 10:12-13, 20. That was one of Satan’s high demons orchestrating what happened in Persia.

Hosea 8:2-4  Israel will cry to Me, 'My God, we know You!'  3 Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him.  4 "They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.  From their silver and gold They made idols for themselves — That they might be cut off.”

Notice how when we reject God and “the good” – the enemy, just another name for Satan, is allowed to pursue us.  Now verse 4—notice what he says about the leaders we want to choose.  And notice when we go after idols or anything we put ahead of God himself, we end up being cut off from God. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t claim to serve God while acting like one of Satan’s children.  We can’t mix the two!  It’s time for us all to turn 100% to our God. 

But notice too: God IS involved, especially with his family today and with the nations that made up Israel of old. 

So among those not yet called OUT of this world, yes – Satan is their god and leader. Yeshua even called Satan their FATHER (John 8:44). Yeshua clearly calls Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30) and he reigns in darkness. 

But Satan can only go so far. How do we square the verses that call Satan the ruler of the world and verses that say God is over all the earth?

God is STILL ultimate ruler over the kingdoms of the earth.

** Psalm 47:2 “For YHVH Most High is awesome;  HE is a great King over all the earth.”    GOD is the ultimate king over all the earth – not Satan!

** Psalm 83:18 – “…YHVH is Most High over all the earth.”

How about this one in the New Testament: Yeshua/Jesus is “ruler over the kings of the earth”  (Revelation 1:5). 

So you may have come to believe that Satan is the real ruler over all the kings of this age and this world, but that’s simply not what scripture says. God is MOST HIGH. Period. Once God FIRST selects or allows the world rulers, then those rulers and their people come under Satan’s sway after that, but God still picks or allows them first (Romans 13:1-2). But this also explains why Satan could offer the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, in one of the temptations in Matthew 4:8.

Yeshua told Pilate that he only had as much power as God allowed him to have.  John 19:11 – ‘Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."

Paul explains what happens and how God is calling his chosen family first fruits OUT of Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Read Colossians 1:13 several times please. 

Colossians 1:12-14   “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

So though we are in this world, we’re not “of it”. God is our head, our ruler, and we’re part of HIS kingdom – not the kingdom of Satan and his darkness. No, we’ve been called out of that. Our main focus has to be on heavenly things now. But those not yet called out of Satan’s kingdom – are indeed ruled by him, with certain limits, as I’ve explained.

So – though Satan has been ALLOWED a lot of power – let’s not think of him being more powerful than he is. And remember this, especially in these perilous times. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).   

But we must also remember, if we want to have God’s protection and God’s involvement, we must be rejecting any involvement with Satan’s way.

Let’s focus much more of our remaining time seeking our true wonderful Abba – who happens to be God Most High, king and ruler over all the earth and the universe. He’s elevated Christ to become “king of kings and Lord of lords”, but even then, always with God the Father himself as the exception. Our Father, and HIS Father, is God MOST High (1 Cor. 15:20-28).  

1 Corinthians 15:28 – “Now when all things are made subject to Him (God the Father), then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” 

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What really keeps us from praying as we should

I recorded an audio sermon that goes in many reasons people give why they just don’t get around to praying “as much as I should”. I hope you benefit from the full-length sermon on it. But in pondering it some more, I think one of the biggest reasons takes a 2nd look. 

In my new audio sermon, I mentioned many things that keep us from praying -- like putting other things first (we call it being “busy”). Or sometimes we feel unworthy to come before God due to some recent sins. Those can certainly keep our prayers to a minimum. Much more is mentioned also in the sermon. But one way or another, since there’s hardly anything more important than prayer, we have to find a way to pray more.

So I’m going to focus on one of the key reasons I mention in the sermon but will draw out a bit further in this blog.

Think back when you fell in love with your sweetheart. Did you find it hard to find time to be together? Of course not. You two were inseparable. You probably – if you were like most – spent a lot of time in person AND on the phone when you couldn’t be in person. You enjoyed the time together. You looked forward to the next one and it couldn’t come soon enough.

I believe this is a huge key in helping us pray more often than we do. We are supposed to be getting married soon – once more – but this time it’s with Yeshua/Jesus Christ. We love Yeshua. And we adore our father – God Most High, God the Father. So when you love and adore someone, you’re there, often, and it’s enjoyable.

I believe this is the bottom line of rapturous prayer: you’re in love with your fiancé Yeshua and adore our Father. Like when you were dating the one you would marry, you will find it easier to pray when you deeply love the one you’re praying to!

But all too often, being in love gets to be old hack. We take our “loved one” for granted. Do you remember the song “You’ve lost that loving feeling”? Some of the words say, “You don’t close your eyes anymore, when I kiss your lips…”… “you’ve lost that loving feeling, and it’s gone, gone, gone….”

We can lose that first excitement and that “first love”. I know, I know – to love Christ is also to obey him (John 14:15). To love Him is also to love his brethren, the poor of his flock – “I was naked, and you clothed me, hungry and you fed me” and so on in Matthew 25:34-40. So it’s much more than a “loving feeling”. I get that. But I still also feel that I want a wife who not only does the work of being a housewife, but also loves to be with me, loves to go for walks with me, loves to hug and hold me – and me to hold her – even while we both do the works for each other that prove our love. I still like having “that loving feeling”.

So we can lose that first love. That’s what happened to Ephesus church. They still did all the works – but they weren’t excited about the relationship anymore, or so it seems. That’s what happens to US when we don’t pray “as much as I know I should”.   We’ve lost that excitement. If we had it in the beginning, we have to find a way to re-ignite it, to rekindle that fire of that first amorous desire to be together always. Here’s what’s said to the church:

Revelation 2:3-6 --- “…and you have persevered and have patience and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.”

Pray to Yeshua and God our Father about this very situation. TELL God that you want to love Him deeply and always. Pray for that first love. We should ask for what we know God wants us to seek – and that certainly includes having a deep love for Yeshua and God. “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you” – Yeshua teaches in Matthew 7:7. We can ask and pray for restoration of the kind of love for God that He enjoys.

The Ephesians’ zeal was noted, but their love was waning. All gifts of God’s spirit without love ends up being nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-4). First love. “First” refers to the earliest, chief, best. So they continued working hard but lost their sense of PRIORITY. Other things were starting to crowd God out. That can happen to us as well.

We are to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness as Matthew 6:33 says.

Let’s make prayer a faithful habit. We wake up and can’t wait to talk to our hero and Savior Yeshua and his/our Father.

God’s given us a special hotline (called “Prayer”) to his presence – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere in the world, for as long as we wish to talk – and listen. Let’s take advantage of this great and awesome gift from God.

So let’s pray! Let’s pray a lot, lot more than many of us have been. And check out my new AUDIO sermon on it too about what to do when we’re not feeling motivated to pray, to talk with the greatest, most loving Being in the universe!

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Is Christmas OK if we keep Christ in the center? 

My wife and I commented on our daily walk around the neighborhood today how many homes had Christmas decorations – but a few did not have any. Our home was among the “did not have any” group.

Satan appears as an angel of light, especially perhaps at Christmas. Christmas songs are admittedly beautiful. The lights and mystique of the season are alluring. But any of you who have been coming to my website and reading my blogs and hearing my sermons know that we don’t, and we must not participate in Christmas.

I love, love, love the story of my Savior being born in a manger in Bethlehem. The shepherds and the angelic choir, and then some time later the visit from the magi, are details I just love. BUT… if you use the Search bar on the home page, then type in “Christmas”, a lot of my sermons and blogs will show up explaining why true believers will have no part of Christmas.

It's not about the true date of Christ’s birth. If the date was important, God would have told us. What was important is that God’s son was born and came to be our Savior.

In today’s short blog, I want to address just one point. Many concede that Christmas December 25th is a long-standing day that celebrates pagan gods. Just do your own Google, Bing, Edge or Duckduckgo search. Type in “Pagan origins of Christmas” and see what pops up.

Here's the one point: People might say to you – “If we all know the true pagan roots of Christmas, so what? I’m not worshiping pagan gods, Christmas trees or yule logs. I’ve put Christ back in the center. He’s the reason for the season. SO if I focus on Christ, how could there be a problem with that?”

Besides the many scriptures where Yehovah Elohim (The LORD God) says we are NOT to worship him the way pagan people around them were worshiping their gods, there’s another central point: God hates it even MORE when anyone puts HIS NAME on to the pagan worship that he says he detests. Putting God’s name on to a pagan worship does not make it OK with God.

Here's how I prove that. Remember the gold calf? That was one of the biggest sins Israel ever committed, especially in light of how soon it happened after the huge miracles of God delivering them out of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land, the daily manna, and much more. So in Exodus 32 the rabble wanted to build a gold calf and worship it. Let’s read what happened, and especially focus on verse 5’

Exodus 32:1-6 “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

2 And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"

5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD." 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Aaron tried the same ploy that Christians try to do who know better about Christmas. Aaron – Moses’ brother -- was going to let the Israelites have their pagan gold calf idol, but Aaron thought if he could just re-label it, and make it look like they were really worshiping the LORD (Yehovah) – as verse 5 above clearly says – that this would make it OK with God, and OK to have this pagan worship. Aaron made it a “hag” or “chag” – a festival to God.

            That’s the same as Christmas, folks. Think of Christmas as the gold calf. God wants to be worshipped in spirit and truth – and there’s not much true about Christmas festivities. Santa and the flying reindeer are a lie; not truth. And saying Yeshua/Jesus was born on Dec 25 is a lie, not truth.

So did God feel the gold calf was OK as long as they followed Aaron and said they were really worshiping the LORD, and in fact announced it as a “chag” – a feast day – to Yehovah. Did that make it alright, or did it in fact anger God even more? Remember Exodus 32:5as it shows us we can’t just re-label pagan worship and claim it’s OK now since we put God’s name on it. No, it made God even more angry. Let’s continue in Exodus 32 now to read what God said about Aaron’s strategy.

Exodus 32:7-10—“And YHVH said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'" 9 And YHVH said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."

Does that sound like God was pleased at putting his holy name on their orgiastic worship of a gold calf? Is it any different when people put his holy Son’s name smack dab in the middle of pagan Saturnalia festivities – and worse? Re-labeling makes it worse in God’s eyes, obviously – not better.

We cannot make a pagan-rooted season suddenly OK by putting God’s name on it. It doesn’t work that way. That just makes it worse. Those of you seeking to please our God will do what pleases him, not what angers him. As a result of Aaron’s relabeling, 3,000 Israelites died that day for that terrible sin.

If this helps you understand better, then I pray you all will have the desire to step out in faith and no longer participate at all in festivities that anger our God even more so – because they put his holy name on to what had been festivities to pagan gods, to Saturnalia parties and worse. We will be held accountable for what we know and understand. To whom much is given, much is required.

So let’s worship our God in spirit and in truth – and nothing less.

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“Peace, peace” in Middle East. Then what?

At a recent sabbath fellowship I was asked what I thought of the new “peace deals between Arab states and Israel: are these a good thing or a bad thing, from especially God’s point of view?”  I thought that would be a good topic to cover today.

Peace is usually better than being at war, right? There is a time for war too! (Like Dec 7, 1941;  Ecclesiastes 3:8). But what does God have to say about peace in the Middle East involving Israel especially? The question I was asked got me thinking and I hope this blog will get you thinking too.

We might be seeing a series of major prophecies happening before our very eyes that is setting up the final years before Christ’s return.  Today I want to focus on just one: “For when they say, ‘Peace, peace’ – then sudden destruction.” 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3  “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

 

In a sermon I gave recently about “as in the Days of Noah”, the one thing that Yeshua focused on about the days of Lot and Noah was this one thing: the “end” came suddenly. We always think of the evils of those times, but the FOCUS was on the suddenness of destruction that hit them all. 

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians that before the sudden destruction of the very end time, there will be a lot of people lauding peace … probably in several places, even while there continue to be wars and rumors of wars. So it’s a strange time.

So what am I talking about? The Middle East, a perennial powder keg for war.  Tiny Israel has been surrounded for many decades by Muslim nations many times its size, who are intent on Israel’s (and America’s) total destruction. We were told for years and years that no peace was possible between the Palestinians and Israel until Israel had agreed to give Palestinians what they considered their own land to have their own independent country – meaning the West Bank.

 

But now all of a sudden – 4, and soon 5, Arab countries have initiated free interaction with Israel, which many are likening to peace treaties. How important is this?

The old preconditions before any established relations could start, meant of course Israel giving up the “West Bank” – which frankly was the core of  the Israelite tribe of Manasseh and part of Ephraim and maybe part of Issachar.

And for years, the surrounding Arab and Muslim countries lived by that understanding: no peace with Israel until Israel gives the Palestinians the West Bank to have their own country.  And never forget that GOD, who decides all nations’ boundaries, gave the land of Canaan to Israel. God considers it HIS land, in fact, and gets very upset when anyone tries to “divide up” HIS land (Joel 3:2;  Jeremiah 12:14).  Please take time to read the scriptures.

So though active war and bullets aren’t being exchanged every day between Israel and its Muslim neighbors, there certainly hasn’t been much peace. In fact, over the past few years many, many thousands of rockets have been fired against Israel from Hamas in Gaza and by the Hezbollah in Lebanon. So when peace is ever mentioned or concluded, that sounds like a good thing.  And it’s better to live in peace than always being on the edge of all-out war.  I agree with that.

So just be aware = that before the final events leading to Christ’s return, yes, there’s going to be a lot of violence and war – BUT, that will all be preceded by a time when the middle east especially SEEMS to be in a state of PEACE. Soon after I write this in December 2020, we may well see more major Arab countries pursuing peace with Israel as well. I’d really take a lot of notice if I see Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq do this.

Peace is nice. But don’t let yourself be caught off guard because of “peace”.  The scripture I started with, in 1 Thessalonians 5, goes on to say in verses 4-6 that God’s children are children of light and we should not be among those caught off guard. No, we’re watching, we’re on our toes, we’re praying, we’re close to God, we seek Him, and we won’t be caught off guard by cries of “peace, peace.”  Peace is a good thing. But we must not let it cause us to start thinking “all is well in the world”.  It surely isn’t!  We need God’s kingdom to come and we stay on our toes.

So after warning about peace and safety (or security), Paul is inspired to tell us all this. And what he says is much more apropos to US even, than it was to his audience in the first century. Please read it carefully and thoughtfully. I’ll start with the verses we started this blog with, but please keep reading to what our true FOCUS should always be. 

1 Thessalonians 5:2-10  “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

4 “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”

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Hanukkah. Is it OK for believers in Yeshua to keep it?

Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah  - but pronounced with the H sound in  Hanukkah) – is here. What is it? Why are more and more Christians, even Sabbath keepers, recognizing and keeping Hanukkah?  Some feel it is merely a Jewish counterbalance to Christmas. Others believe it is a Jewish festivity not mentioned in Scripture. What’s true? Should you and I – believers in Yeshua - -keep Hanukkah?  What did Jesus do about Hanukkah? Yes, we’re actually told in Scripture!  Read the rest of this blog to learn what Hanukkah is about, what Yeshua did during Hanukkah, whether or not believers can participate in some way and what lessons we can learn from this holiday.

In Scripture, Hanukkah is called “the Feast of Dedication”, since the name “Hannukah” means “to dedicate” or “dedication”.  It is not one of Yehovah’s holy feasts listed in Leviticus 23, so let’s me make it plain from the start: Hanukkah does not rise to the level of Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). It is a national holiday celebrating the Jewish victory over the Greek conquerors and how the Jews cleansed the temple and witnessed the miracle of the lights. This “feast” is also called the Feast of Lights. But it is not a holyday. Only Yehovah can make a day sacred or proclaim a “holy convocation”.  But having said that, surely our God is NOT displeased with Hanukkah! Read on.

Hanukkah is also about the triumph of good over evil.  Against all odds, our great God brought victory to the Jews who had rededicated themselves to returning to God and cleansing the temple.  In the times in which we live today, there’s a great lesson here for us. God shows us that – especially when He’s involved – light will trump darkness every time. 

John 10:22-23
Now it was the Feast of Dedication [Hanukkah] in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus [Yeshua] walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch.

It was while in Jerusalem during Hanukkah that Yeshua proclaimed Himself divine (“I and my father are one” – John 10:30).

So Yeshua was in the midst of the festivities – in the temple mount area there would have been plenty of Hanukkah festivity going on . IF it were wrong to participate in Hanukkah, the temple would be the last place you would want to be during the 8 days of Hanukkah.  So my first observation is that it is OK to participate in Hanukkah and we could learn some things from it.  Neither would it be wrong to choose not to have anything to do with it. It’s not a pagan holiday. But neither is Hanukkah one of the commanded “moedim”, or divinely appointed festivals of our Creator.

Daniel 8:22-25 prophesied of the time when Alexander the Great’s generals, who divided up his empire, would conquer the Promised Land and desecrate the temple. Years after Alexander’s death, the area of Judea finally came under Antiochus IV “Epiphanes”.  The time period was approximately 165-163 BC when the events which led to “Hanukkah” took place.

Antiochus was intent on “Hellenizing” the Jews, making them accept Greek culture.  Many Jews did, to curry favor with the rulers.  Some quit circumcising their boys. They started dressing, speaking and acting like Greeks and began to drop their Jewish heritage. This is also part of the lesson of this feast: remaining faithful to Yah’s word. Nation states that resisted the Greek empire’s moves, were left out of commerce and deemed “backward”.  If you wanted to be successful, it was tempting to give in to Hellenism.  Many began to practice their faith in secret. Others outwardly in public behaved as Greeks, but in private as Jews. That is – until the Greeks imposed the death penalty for those secretly holding on to their faith.

Antiochus also defiled the temple and altar by sacrificing a pig on their altar. Then he erected a status of Zeus in the very Holy of Holies. Can you imagine the Jews’ consternation over this?  Some believe this was the first “abomination of desolation” prophesied by Daniel in Dan. 11:31-32.  So Jews revolted.  Finally Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, drove out the Greeks in 163 BC and took over Jerusalem and their temple once more. (You may have heard about the Maccabeans. This is what all that was about.)

When they went to light the menorah, they discovered they had only enough of the special oil to last one day. It would take eight more days to find or produce more of this oil. This didn’t stop them. They lit the menorah anyway and the little oil they had for one day somehow miraculously burned for the entire 8 days until more oil was ready.

Thus began the eight-day Feast of Dedication to celebrate this miracle, their great deliverance from oppressors and the dedication of the newly cleansed temple. This explains why it is also called the “Feast of Lights,” when celebrants bring their candles or 9-branched candelabras. Why 9?  
Eight of them recall the eight days they had light even when there should not have been enough oil. The 9th is the "Servant" candle used to light the others. [Many believers see Yeshua in the Servant candle.]. Apparently more and  more candles are lit as the feast progresses. Just one the first night, then two on the second, and so on, until all 8 lights plus "the Servant light" are burning in Jewish homes. Jews today also exchange gifts, have big parties, lots of food and special Hanukkah items.

Many Jews probably gloss over the real meaning of the day, much like Americans may refer to Thanksgiving Day as “turkey day”. Some have virtually turned it into a “Jewish Christmas” with their elaborate decorations and Christmas-like gift-giving. I can’t recommend anything that smacks of turning this holiday into a Christmas equivalent. Hanukkah should remind us that God delivers us from those who try to destroy His people or from those who keep us from worshiping Him in spirit and truth.

IF we understand the real history and background to the original Hanukkah, we could ponder: 
•    How much would we be willing to give up in our worship and service to Father in heaven?

•    Will we compromise when the end-time prophesied “Beast system” forces a false worship on all believers – or die—as Antiochus Epiphanes did to the Jews of 165 BC?

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Our Precious Citizenships

Do we all deeply understand that our primary citizenship is in heaven?  I certainly believe that, love that, acknowledge that, and teach that.  The KJV says “our conversation is in heaven” – but just about every other translation says “citizenship”.

Philippians 3:20“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,…”

And in the prior verse Paul reminds us not to overly focus on earthly things, for – as he teaches in Colossians 3:1-2, we should SET our minds on things above, and not on the earth. So my heavenly calling is my priority, but neither does that mean I ignore my duties and responsibilities here on earth!

We’re also reminded that we need to remember we are “pilgrims and sojourners” upon the earth, as Abraham and his descendants realized, awaiting a city whose builder and maker is God.  All that’s in Hebrews 11:13 as well as 1 Peter 2:11. So I’m very, very aware of these scriptures.

I get all that. But one thing I feel a lot of believers “don’t get” is that Paul, who said his citizenship is in heaven, was more than happy to USE his Roman citizenship when it benefited him. We should be of the same mind. We are actually – according to Paul’s EXAMPLE – DUAL citizens. 

I am a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem – AS WELL as a citizen of the United States. I was BORN a US citizen.  That is something that billions of people would love to be able to say. 

And so many pregnant women from other countries come to America just to have their baby born here in the USA so that baby – according to USA law – is automatically for life, a U.S. citizen. And you, dear believer, as a citizen of heaven if you have God’s holy spirit inside you – are also a citizen of your beloved country.

Just because we are now citizens of heaven does not mean we no longer prize our earthly citizenship as well.  

I’d like you all to read the whole section of scripture where Paul was arrested and was about to be flogged mercilessly by Roman lictors (where we get the expression “he got a lickin’”).  Read Acts 22:22-29.  But it was illegal to scourge a Roman citizen without him first having a chance in court to explain his side of things. Paul is a citizen of heaven – and is about to be whipped. So does he ignore his rights as a Roman citizen, or does he prize it? The answer to this is my point!

Acts 22:25-29 --- And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?"

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."

27 Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?"

He said, "Yes."

28 The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship."

And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen."

29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”

I am writing this up because some of you refuse to follow Paul’s example of USING his Roman citizenship rightseven while professing and claiming his heavenly Jerusalem citizenship to believers.  Paul used it here and it kept him from being flogged mercilessly – and he used it again when he appealed to Caesar.  That was basically the same as using his rights as a Roman citizen to appeal to what we nowadays would call appealing to the US Supreme Court.  You can read of it in Acts 25:10-12.

We shall all be JUDGED according to what we’ve been given. We’ve been given our earthly citizenship among other things. USE your citizenship rights. 

Having and being given US citizenship is extremely valuable. We will be judged on how we use and prize this gift from God – like any and all other gifts God gave us. 

So yes, I write and call my Representative and Senators on the issues that concern me. I vote in US elections – because, as I explained in my sermon on voting, though God is said to be the one who puts people into office (Romans 13:1-2), neither is God always approving of what we mankind do (Hosea 8:4 –“they set up kings, but NOT BY ME; they appointed princes, but I did not acknowledge them…”.)  Also see 1 Samuel 8:1-10, where God clearly was not in favor of them choosing human kings, but God ALLOWED IT.

If you won’t vote, how can you ever do or say anything about what is happening in our or your country? You would have no right to ever complain; that’s for certain.

God used men – and politics – to start our country, to frame our cherished Constitution, to establish our laws and freedoms.  Without their meetings and all they did, we would have no USA today.  So many in leadership are corrupt, but what’s new? God still used leaders all through time, whether they were part of Israel or not.

God gives us free choice, free moral agency. He allows us to have our wishes a lot of times, yes – even when it could be against his preferences or his will.   And when we don’t care enough to vote AGAINST those who are killing our babies in the womb and vote FOR those who are for stopping that slaughter – what is God to think of us? When we CAN do something about atrocities, God expects us to DO and SAY what we can. 

When one side is against law and order and is for defunding the police, is FOR open borders, is for higher taxes and on and on – should we not stand up, show up, and speak up by using our God-given citizenship? 

PAUL DID.  I do.  I value my citizenship too much to ignore it.  I will be judged by God if I value it and use it, or just ignore it. 

In the meantime, I praise and honor my King for my citizenship in heaven too. Like Paul, like Abraham, like Isaac and Jacob – I realize I’m a sojourner in a way, but in another way, God has allowed me to use my valuable USA citizenship too.

I thank God I have DUAL citizenship, with my primary citizenship being the one in heaven.  And like Paul, I don’t hesitate to claim US Citizenship as well – and to use it.  So I also Praise Elohim, our wonderful God in heaven, for the wonderful gift of US Citizenship as well. I will neither diminish it nor ignore it. I use it, value it, and praise Him for it – even as I KNOW that my primary citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

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Please feel free to forward this blog in its entirety to others if you feel it has been helpful to you. And please also let them know about our free website www.lightontherock.org.  Thank you.

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Praying “…on earth AS IT IS in heaven.” God’s will be done – this way!

Surely, we’d all agree God’s will is always done in heaven. There’s no resistance to him, no disobedience and no disregard for what the Almighty wants. It simply happens.

So it’s no wonder that Yeshua teaches us, when we pray, after we acknowledge the Almighty as our Father in heaven, to say:

Your will be done, on earth just as it is in heaven.”

Have you pondered that last phrase – “on earth as it is in heaven”. God’s son teaches us that God wants to hear from us, and to hear that we hope his will is as perfectly done here on earth as it is in heaven. The strong implication is that God’s will on earth is NOT always done, and certainly not like it is in heaven, unless God intervenes, and unless we ask for it. Otherwise why do we need to pray for it? And what does all that mean in practical terms?

For example, in the USA election this year, some of God’s children didn’t vote because they’re told by their pastors that it’s like voting against God’s will. They assume that God only puts people into office (Romans 13:1-2) who are always exactly the ones he wants. If only that could always absolutely be the case! In terms of the election, if that were always the case, why bother praying at all then for the election? Of course we could have been praying “may your will be done as to the US President will be; your will be done – not our will, but yours be done, here as it is in heaven.”

Why do I say it that way?

Because people who believe we have nothing to do in terms of politics don’t quote the other scriptures that clearly show God often gives mankind what we WANT – even when it’s not good for us. Even when it’s against God’s own will! Keep reading! You read that right!

An example of this is when the nation of Israel got tired of having judges and wanted a king like the nations around them. God let them have that king- - King Saul – but made it very clear through Samuel in 1 Samuel 8 (please read it) that he was disappointed. God said, “They have rejected ME, that I should rule over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). But then God goes on to tell Samuel to warn the nation of what a king will do, and that God will let them have THEIR will be done. God let them have a king.

And in Hosea 8:4a he says this: “THEY set up kings, but not by me; they made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.”

I have another blog where I show God’s will is NOT always done here on earth. Surprised? For example, Christ said HIS will was to protect Jerusalem like a mother hen does her chicks, “but YOU were not willing” (Matthew 23:37-38). Guess what? God let them have their will, instead of his – and they were not protected when the Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another time we read that God’s will for the Pharisees was that they be baptized by John the Baptizer. Luke 7:30—“But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.”

Wow! They rejected God’s will for them, and God allowed it.

So imagine that, we can reject God’s will – and God gives in to what we want so many times – to our own hurt, to teach us lessons – and to allow for free moral agency and free choice.

This is exactly WHY we have to pray “Thy will be done” and then make super clear and bold what we mean by adding “Your will be done here on earth, just like your will is done all the time in heaven.”

Another variation of this is found in Mark 6:1-6 where Yeshua himself COULD NOT do mighty works in Nazareth, except for a few, because of their unbelief. They weren’t willing to believe their own home-town boy could heal anyone, so their lack of faith prevented God’s will from being done. And they could say, “See, I told you so. He can’t heal.” What a shame.

So the point of this write-up is that God DOESN’T always do what HE really wants to do, as I’ve shown. Surprised? Well that’s WHY we have to pray “YOUR WILL BE DONE” – because his will ISN’T always done. How else could we also have free choice, free moral agency? Do you see?

But then we are to positively and bravely add, “Do it down here on earth the way you do it in heaven; your will be perfectly done” – and then we add the specific circumstances we mean by that.

So in heaven, is anyone sick? Is anyone in pain? Is anyone dirt poor and hungry in heaven? Is anyone killing anyone or robbing from anyone in heaven? Is anyone suffering? NO, 100% no.

So when I pray “as it is in heaven” – I apply that to prayers for healing and prayers for blessings. I ask God to take care of people we care for here on earth the way you’d take care of them up there in heaven – healed, blessed, pain-free, etc. I add, “If you feel these people need to learn lessons from the fear, pain, agony, disease, etc. they have, then your will be done, but Father – please – be merciful and help them learn those lessons quickly and then heal and bless.”

But I think more often than we want to admit, we don’t have the faith to declare healing, to declare blessing, so we say ‘your will be done” – as our cop-out (if we’re not careful) to avoid the brave, positive statements and definitive declarations of faith to cast out the illness, to command sickness to leave this body in Jesus’ name, or to command the hurricane in Yeshua’s name to immediately move away from the populated areas. Reminder: they don’t have hurricanes and tornadoes in heaven! “As it is in heaven”.

Oh believe me, I have to struggle with this too from time to time. But I hope this article helps you be bolder in your prayers. Some people didn’t ask for enough, remember, and God chastised them for that. Read the story about Joash striking the ground just 3 times and what happened (2 Kings 13:14-20). Please read it.

Let’s become bolder in our prayers and in our faith and declare we want God’s will to be done down here – just like it is up there in heaven.    

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NO MIDDLE GROUND

Are you a person who seeks God’s will and God’s mind 100% in everything you do?  Or do you find yourself sometimes looking for a middle ground that allows you to feel you’re a zealous child of God – while not being so hard and fast on what God says he wants from us? I admit – as a human – I can find myself slipping into that if I’m not alert.

I’m referring to situations that clearly involve sin or righteousness.

In today’s blog I’m NOT referring to situations that do not involve righteousness or sin. We all have to at times be willing to compromise and make accommodations so everyone can be best served. That’s wonderful, that’s good, where sin is not involved.

But where God’s word is clear about right and wrong, do we find ourselves even in those cases still trying to find middle ground, to compromise, to not “rock the boat” – and end up giving in to at least a little bit of sin? The Bible is clear about the sanctity of life from conception through life, marriage between a man and a woman, respect for law and order. The 10 Commandments are clear: we are to honor the true God, keep the 7th day sabbath, honor our parents, never lie, cheat, or steal or kill – and more, for example. The Bible is clear about same-sex unions. About which days are sacred.

So today we’re talking about how we must avoid compromising God’s word and principles just for the sake of “getting along” or finding middle ground that ends up compromising God’s word and what we do.

When we seek middle ground, in the end – who do we end up serving? Do we end up serving Holy God in heaven – or his/our Adversary, Satan? So where do God’s people – those led by his spirit (Romans 8:14) often try to find middle ground?

Well, for example, Halloween is coming up. Please check out my sermon I’ve recently posted (Oct 2020) titled “Should Christians participate in Halloween?” I believe I show conclusively in that teaching that God’s children who are led by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14) will not – in any way – participate in Halloween. Not even a little bit!

Too many Christians have settled on a “middle ground” where they feel they can participate – just a little bit – in Halloween and still be pleasing to God.

When it comes to God and his Way, he likes us to be definite. Consider how God warned Laodicea to be either “hot or cold” – but not be the middle ground between hot or cold, which is lukewarm (Revelation 3:14-16). Yeshua said that their middle ground of lukewarmness made him want to vomit! Finding middle ground on God’s word is about our apathy, our Laodiceanism.

God wants ALL our heart, soul, and mind, not just 80% of it. If we’re giving in to sin on some issues can we still say we love God with our whole heart? And again, I’m not talking about everyday compromises in areas NOT involving sin where we have to make compromises to accommodate our spouse’s needs, or to make everything work smoother.

To know when we can and when we can’t compromise at all, means we have to intimately know God’s word, so we recognize times when we must hold firm versus times that are inconsequential.

After I recorded my Halloween sermon, I found other ministers teaching that there IS a middle ground with Halloween involvement. Seeing that actually was the inspiration for this blog. I call it compromise. But again, that kind of middle ground makes our Savior want to vomit. We might not think participating a little in Halloween or other pagan holidays is all that bad, but we end up participating in celebrating what is dark, evil, and Satanic!

Let’s listen to our Master Yeshua on this concept:

Luke 16:10, 13 -- “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

This blog is asking us: WHERE do we find ourselves compromising and not being totally faithful to God? I preach to myself too.

Click on “continue reading” to finish this blog. You’re halfway through.

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Will you just go hungry on Atonement?

For most of you reading this, Sept 28 – 2nd day of the week – will be the Day of Atonement.  And one of the things we all do – is fast. Or go without food and water. Will our day of Atonement just be a super-hungry day – or will the fasting serve its intended purpose? 

I suggest again that we all re-read Isaiah 58 on this day. Read it in various translations. This chapter explains what should be happening when we fast: we are fasting for various reasons. What follows is how the Complete Jewish Bible translates the passage. Please read it thoughtfully and even prayerfully.

It seems God wants our fasting to result in some drastic changes in our lives. He wants us to use the day to seek him and ask him to show us where we must grow and change – and then do it. He wants us to be people “standing in the breach” – actually doing things to affect change in our communities. My wife and I are pondering our own best actions going forward to have more of a life-changing impact in people’s lives as Isaiah 58:6-7 show us.

Then in verse 8 and beyond, we read God’s response when he sees our fasting actually resulting in changes in our lives and in the lives of those around us. He promises healing and blessing! He promises more “answered prayer” and what a delight that would be! Verses 9-11 – God says things will start to go much better for us. But he wants us to quit slandering each other; to start actively helping people – and going beyond just stating a promise to keep them “in our thoughts and prayers”. God wants action! God wants us doing, working, being involved in the lives of others who need us.

Let’s read it. Much of it will be God’s own words to his people, to us!

Isaiah 58:2-12

“Oh yes, they seek me day after day and [claim to] delight in knowing my ways. As if they were an upright nation that had not abandoned the rulings of their God, they ask me for just rulings and [claim] to take pleasure in closeness to God, 3 [asking,] ‘Why should we fast, if you don’t see? Why mortify ourselves, if you don’t notice?’

“Here is my answer: when you fast, you go about doing whatever you like, while keeping your laborers hard at work. 4 Your fasts lead to quarreling and fighting, to lashing out with violent blows. On a day like today, fasting like yours will not make your voice heard on high.

5 “Is this the sort of fast I want, a day when a person mortifies himself? Is the object to hang your head like a reed and spread sackcloth and ashes under yourself? Is this what you call a fast, a day that pleases Adonai?

6 “Here is the sort of fast I want — releasing those unjustly bound, untying the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke, 7 sharing your food with the hungry, taking the homeless poor into your house, clothing the naked when you see them, fulfilling your duty to your kinsmen!”

8 Then your light will burst forth like the morning, your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and Adonai’s glory will follow you.

9 Then you will call, and Adonai will answer; you will cry, and he will say, “Here I am.” If you will remove the yoke from among you, stop false accusation and slander, 10 generously offer food to the hungry and meet the needs of the person in trouble; then your light will rise in the darkness, and your gloom become like noon.

11 Adonai will always guide you; he will satisfy your needs in the desert, he will renew the strength in your limbs; so that you will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. 12 You will rebuild the ancient ruins, raise foundations from ages past, and be called “Repairer of broken walls, Restorer of streets to live in.”

SO yes – let’s fast. But let’s fast to help us remember how much we rely on God for life. Fast to humble ourselves in his presence and mention to Him how we would love to have more healing in our bodies and relationships. Fast with lots of prayer of gratitude for God’s atoning work in our lives and what he’ll soon do for the whole world. Fast in joyful thanksgiving to the reconciliation He’s he will offer to the world after Christ returns – and you and I can be a part of that!

Fast to ask God to help us become ever more like him moment to moment.

But don’t just go hungry!

So this year, let’s not just go without food and water for one day. Use the day to pray in repentance and ask God to reveal our Laodicean lukewarmness and spiritual inactivity. Commit to this year being a time of real change and overcoming of real sins that have lingered too long in our lives. And yes, I’m preaching at myself too!

Have a WONDERFUL day of fasting, of humbling, of seeking – and of changing.

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But are you coming to know the AUTHOR?

Many of you study the Bible every day.  If we’re not, we should be.  But are you reaching the correct GOAL and OUTCOME for your Bible study? 

The Bereans were commended for studying the scriptures of what we now call the “Old Testament” to see if what they were being told was true.  And back then, it was much harder, with each book requiring a long scroll. They had no concordances, no various translations on their I-pads, no Holy Bible in one book you could carry in one hand.  Most of them couldn’t afford their own scrolls, so they had to go to the synagogues to study.   Their study took some time and work, compared to what we can do today.  But they did it.  See Acts 17:10-11. 

And what was the primary TOPIC of what Paul was discussing with them?  Go back and look at context.  He began in Thessalonica, and then moved to Berea – but the topic was the same:  that Yeshua was the Son of God and Messiah and died and rose again in 3 days (Acts 17:1-3, 7-8).  He was teaching them about Yeshua.

But WHY do we study the Word of God? Many of us frankly enjoy learning more “things” about scripture:  more data, a fascinating Hebrew word picture, the meaning in the original Greek or Hebrew, some historical tie-in to what we’re reading, and so on.  I do too. But here’s where I caution us as well. 

Yeshua warned us that if we just study God’s word to learn how to live – but don’t seek to come to HIM personally – we’re missing the point! See John 5:39-40

WHY did I write this blog? WHY is it important? Because we could be studying for all the wrong reasons and in the end, it could be for naught. 

Many of you love the scripture, as I do, that prompts us to “grow in grace and knowledge…” (2 Peter 3:18). Some use the verse that says, “Study to show yourselves approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15). Actually the word “study” in 2 Tim 2:15 is an old English word meaning “be diligent”. The Greek in 2 Timothy 2:15 actually has nothing to do with actual Bible Study directly.  

Our modern learning system comes from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - - the Academy, the academic system, where students are expected to just have new information funneled into their brains while one speaks and everyone else listens.  

But the learning system in Yeshua’s day was far different. Disciples didn’t just learn the concepts their rabbi was teaching –oh no – they wanted to also learn more about their teacher. They wanted to be just like him. So the rabbi’s disciples watched their actions and copied their reactions to everyday situations. They learned by doing and watching a life. It wasn’t enough to pore over the scrolls by themselves. Their teachers were like a parent running alongside a young child learning to ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. They were in the thick of learning by doing and watching – not just studying documents. The goal was to create a bond between teacher and student. The goal was a deep relationship and coming to KNOW their Teacher

As you read our God’s BOOK – are we coming to know HIM better? Are you coming to his SON, and coming to know that you know him? Paul said that was one of his major goals: “That I may KNOW HIM, and the power of HIS resurrection…” (Philippians 3:9-11). Paul wasn’t interested just in the words of the Bible but wanted those words to help him come to know the AUTHOR of the Book much more.  

Click on “CONTINUE READING” now to finish this thought-provoking blog.

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But are you coming to know the AUTHOR?

Many of you study the Bible every day.  If we’re not, we should be.  But are you reaching the correct GOAL and OUTCOME for your Bible study? 

The Bereans were commended for studying the scriptures of what we now call the “Old Testament” to see if what they were being told was true.  And back then, it was much harder, with each book requiring a long scroll. They had no concordances, no various translations on their I-pads, no Holy Bible in one book you could carry in one hand.  Most of them couldn’t afford their own scrolls, so they had to go to the synagogues to study.   Their study took some time and work, compared to what we can do today.  But they did it.  See Acts 17:10-11. 

And what was the primary TOPIC of what Paul was discussing with them?  Go back and look at context.  He began in Thessalonica, and then moved to Berea – but the topic was the same:  that Yeshua was the Son of God and Messiah, and died and rose again in 3 days (Acts 17:1-3, 7-8).  He was teaching them about Yeshua.

But WHY do we study the Word of God? Many of us frankly enjoy learning more “things” about scripture:  more data, a fascinating Hebrew word picture, the meaning in the original Greek or Hebrew, some historical tie-in to what we’re reading, and so on.  I do too. But here’s where I caution us as well.

WHY did I write this blog?  WHY is it important?  Because we could be studying for all the wrong reasons and in the end it could be for naught.

Many of you love the scripture, as I do, that prompts us to “grow in grace and knowledge…” (2 Peter 3:18).  Some use the verse that says “Study to show yourselves approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15).  Actually the word “study” in 2 Tim 2:15 is an old English word meaning “be diligent”.  The Greek in 2 Timothy 2:   15 actually has nothing to do with actual Bible Study directly. 

Our modern learning system comes from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - - the Academy, the academic system, where students are expected to just have new information funneled into their brains while one speaks and everyone else listens. 

But the learning system in Yeshua’s day was far different. Disciples didn’t just learn the concepts their rabbi was teaching –oh no – they wanted to also learn more about their teacher. They wanted to be just like him. So the rabbi’s disciples watched their actions and copied their reactions to everyday situations.  They learned by doing and watching a life.  It wasn’t enough to pore over the scrolls by themselves. Their teachers were like a parent running alongside a young child learning to ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. They were in the thick of learning by doing and watching – not just studying documents. The goal was to create a bond between teacher and student. The goal was a deep relationship and coming to KNOW their Teacher.

As you read our God’s BOOK – are we coming to know HIM better?  Are you coming to his SON, and coming to know that you know him?  Paul said that was one of his major goals: “That I may KNOW HIM, and the power of HIS resurrection…”  (Philippians 3:9-11).  Paul wasn’t interested just in the words of the Bible, but wanted those words to help him come to know the AUTHOR of the Book much more. 

Click on “CONTINUE READING” now to finish this thought-provoking blog.

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Should I vote in 2020?

2020 2

There has never been a time in the history of the United States where two political candidates for president represent the polar opposites of ideals, goals and a political agenda.

The surprise election of Donald Trump in 2016 has caused a major upheaval in the carefully laid plans of previous administrations. The veil has been pulled back to reveal hypocrisy, lies and lawlessness on a scale that is shocking. From the day President Trump was elected, the Democratic party started threatening impeachment and it seems for several career politicians this became their primary focus. There is a Deep State, men and women, committed to an agenda in defiance of the will of the American people and our elected President. Truly nothing is new under the sun, Jerimiah 11:9 speaks of a conspiracy in ancient Israel, much like today.

Media outlets have been exposed to their bias and fake news. The left-oriented news agencies now openly criticize and mock the President - and the Americans who voted for him. Trusted health organizations like the WHO have failed, their policies and recommendations influenced by their financial connections with China, the source of Covid-19. The result? America’s booming economy has come to a grinding halt in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Civil unrest, rioting, burning and looting in America’s major cities – for over 3 months now. The call to defund police, ICE and removal of correctional facilities from extreme Marxist groups like Antifa and BLM who practice and advocate lawlessness. Mayor DeBlasio sided with the radical extremists and he has shifted nearly 1 billion dollars away from the NYPD budget.

Fake News, Fake Politics, Fake Christianity and Fake Education have taken their toll. A shockingly high percentage of the rioters who are burning our cities are actually teachers!

We are living in ever increasing difficult times that will try all of us. This nation is wracked with fear, people even wearing masks inside a car or their homes when there is no evidence of any real protection. The healthy should never be quarantined, only the sick. Fear has corrupted common sense.

Looking at the Democratic controlled states and cities we see politicians capitalizing on Covid-19 fears forbidding church gatherings, however you are allowed to buy liquor, marijuana and protest in the streets – with or without masks.

There is a spirit of hate, divisiveness and racial tension moving across the land. We know where these spirits originate and who is behind it. Satan hates God, he hates us and he hates this country. The corrupt politicians, lying pastors, deceitful educational and health organizations, and violent rioters are being used by Satan and his demons to incite anxiety, hatred and fear.

The sins of this country have become progressively worse. New York has the highest rate of abortion in the country terminating 1 out of every 3 pregnancies. Yet this wasn’t enough for New York politicians and pro-choice activists who recently passed a law ensuring that even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, abortion would be available, even up to the point of live birth. The passing of this bill was celebrated with cheers while Governor Cuomo ordered New York landmarks to be lit up in pink to celebrate this horrifying “victory”.

Let’s briefly look at what the Republican and Democratic parties represent in 2020. Then let’s ask ourselves if God really wants us to remain silent on such vital issues when He has given us this country with the liberties we have enjoyed.

Republicans:

  1. Lower Taxes
  2. Stop illegal immigration, drugs and human trafficking
  3. Strong economy, encouraging all Americans to be employed
  4. Strong national defense
  5. Fair international trade laws
  6. Protection of our Amendment rights, especially Freedom of speech and religion and the right to peaceably assemble and the right to bear arms (Amendment #2)
  7. Support for the Police and ICE and law and order
  8. Support the lives of yet-unborn boys and girls.

Democrats:

  1. Democratic Socialism
  2. Open borders, which encourages more illicit drugs & human trafficking
  3. Higher taxes and more regulation of business
  4. Health care and free education for all illegal aliens
  5. Forfeiture of all guns, especially handguns and AR-15’s
  6. Military cutbacks
  7. Reduced police enforcement, ICE and correctional facilities
  8. Support Planned Parenthood and ending the lives of millions more innocent little unborn boys and girls.

Antifa is a left-wing militant organization committed to achieving their objectives using violence rather than policy reform. While they claim to be anti-fascists, they try to achieve their objectives through harassment, militancy, physical violence and property damage. President Trump has declared Antifa a domestic terrorist group. As of today, August 29, 2020 if you enter antifa.com into a browser you will be redirected to Joe Biden’s campaign website: joebiden.com. Antifa supports Joe Biden, think on that.

As Christians, what are we to do? There are two paths with very different results that will affect every single American. 2020 is a defining year for our country and we can have a part of the outcome – we can use our American right to vote. In most states, you have up until October 3 to register to vote in the upcoming general election.

The Bible never mentions whether we should or should not vote in political elections. However, we do see Paul appealing to Caesar when it appeared that justice would not be served. He used a political right he had. We see the example of Esther, violating the king’s law and risking her own life to appear before him to save the Jews of her day from annihilation. She made a stand, she spoke up, she did something. She could have just as easily reasoned that she could just dismiss any necessary action since surely God could have taken care of the problem without her.

We see through God’s intervention that Joseph, Daniel and his three friends, plus Mordecai and who knows how many others held very high positions in their governments right there in ancient Egypt, Babylon and Persia, the very symbols of sin and evil. They used their positions to further the cause of right and good.

What about the understanding that God has a plan for all mankind, lives in eternity, knows all things and will work them out to His good will? What about the prophecies that show the demise of modern Israel due to our rampant sins? That is indeed true. Yet we also see the pagan city-state of Nineveh repenting (Jonah 3) and God’s judgement delayed for several generations. We also know that in God’s mercy He wants repentance and does not delight in the death of the wicked.

God likes to work through men and women, and often through very difficult times requiring courage, faith and action. Yes, action.

So I ask myself this question, what would I tell God if He asked me why did I not cast a ballot in this election? Since I can clearly discern between what is best for our nation and what will lead to the further weakening our country, why did I not take action to try and prevent the destruction of our people and our land? We know who weakens the nations, Isaiah 14:12.

And remember God judges us largely based on what He has given us. Can we really remain silent and not vote – or does God want his children voicing their strong objection against abortion and taking a stand for the defenseless unborns? Does He not delight in seeing us speak up and using our opportunity to vote to say we wish to obey his command to come together on sabbath to worship him?

To whom much is given, much will be required. We’ve been placed here at this moment “for such a time as this.”

Ezekiel 22:30 talks about God looking for one man to stand in the breach before Him, so he would not destroy the land. Could it be that God is giving each and every one of us that opportunity now as never before to stand in the breach, to let God know his people care? We may never have this opportunity again.

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Nebuchadnezzar’s message for President Trump

For several years now – before the Corona virus -- President Trump aggressively sought to turn the USA’s economy around. And it did turn around. Jobs were plentiful at record numbers.  Employers in fact couldn’t find enough workers. That’s how much work there was. Unemployment rate dropped to all-time lows for every category – whites, blacks, Hispanics, women – they all had record low unemployment rates. Companies that had left the USA were coming back home.  The stock market certainly soared. In fact, the economy had never been so good. People’s incomes were going up, up, up. 

President Trump certainly was very pleased with the results of his work and openly said so and took credit for almost all of it.

But all that was before the China Wuhan virus hit the whole world. Then literally overnight, the economies of most of the world and certainly here in the USA – tanked – as nations spiraled down into lockdown, businesses were shut down, travel almost stopped, commerce went into a tailspin. And how the USA suffered started affecting the whole world.

What happened? Why did it happen?

Yes, certainly most would readily say that the Corona Covid19 virus was a chief cause of the worldwide meltdown. Then add to that the worldwide protests in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and the wanton destruction of property and attacks on the police forces of America that ensued. Anarchy has followed. Police Department budgets were slashed in numerous cities in one of the most stupid acts I’ve ever seen. More economic impact came from that as well. And now we also have to wonder how safe our country will be with hundreds of police officers retiring early, being laid off, quitting, or finding other work. Why put your life on the line for a city whose leaders don’t have your back?

But was it more than that? Certainly personally for President Trump, could it have been more than just being dealt a bad hand of cards and bad luck and killer virus from China?  

Click on “continue reading” right here to read the rest of this thought-provoking blog revealing the message Nebuchadnezzar would have for President Trump.

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