Blogs

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

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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“The Return” – JOIN the Day of national turning, Sept 26, 2020, on sabbath (Saturday)

We’ve all surely read 2 Chronicles 7:14 many times over the years that if God’s people – not the people at large – would humble themselves and pray and seek God, and TURN from THEIR evil ways (talking about US, not anyone else), then God would hear our prayers, forgive us OUR sins and heal our land. Verse 15 says he is attentive to prayers made in his temple. Today, the “temple” IS anyone filled with God’s spirit.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If MY people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.

It's easy for godly people to point judgmentally at the anarchists and ANTIFA and violent protestors – as we clearly see their wickedness. But our Creator God wants each of his children to see his/her OWN wickedness, their own areas that need to be changed, their own sins that need to be repented of and turned from –that’s why he says “If MY people…”

Our country is in a mess spiritually. The solution starts with God’s people seeking the true God as never before and turning back to him. We cannot claim to truly be worshiping our Maker while we continue to allow or even pursue selected areas of sin still in our lives. That’s what I’ve got to stop in my own life and what you’ve got to stop in yours.

So when the Almighty sends the Pestilence, also known as a plague (ever hear of Covid19? See 2 Chronicles 7:13), the remedy is for the Children of the Almighty to turn and seek him as never before and then he’ll heal the land.

Heaven knows our land needs healing. It’s evident we could use God’s blessings and to turn our land back in the direction it needs to be in.

So on September 26, 2020, on the sabbath, there is a planned meeting of people who believe in God who will come together to pray for God’s mercy and God’s forgiveness on ourselves. There will be hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, who will pray from their homes or meet at local church groups. But the main event will be held on the National Mall in Washington DC. This day is also being touted as a day when people all around the WORLD, who believe in the God of the Bible, will be seeking him and asking his forgiveness for OUR own sins. 

Check it out at www.thereturn.org   

Pray that this present Covid19 virus won’t derail this. Pray for protection of the group planning a peaceful, worshipful seeking after God. I sense in my spirit already that Satan is planning to muster his own people to cause trouble. Pray for God to intervene in ways only God can!

Some of you will waiver, thinking you can’t join in with a group of people composed no doubt of some who don’t believe as you do. Maybe they keep Sunday and Christmas. Many will be sabbath keepers, however. In fact this assembly is being called and organized by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic rabbi/minister who has written many best sellers (******).

But think about Nineveh in the short book of Jonah. You know what happened. I talked about this in my last sermon “Part 2, Understanding the Times, and what we must do”. God was going to annihilate Nineveh for all their sins and wickedness. But when enough of them hearkened to Jonah’s preaching and turned around, fasted, and prayed, and repented, and turned from their violent and evil ways, God relented from his own prophetic words that he was about to destroy them.

To you skeptics who wonder if you should join, consider this: I doubt very much if all those people of Nineveh instantly became sabbath keepers, or destroyed all their idols, or kept Torah all of a sudden. But many of them fasted and prayed in repentance. Enough of them changed enough of their lives, and turned from their violence, that God DID hear. And God cancelled his spoken threat of annihilation for their wickedness. But I truly doubt that overnight everyone in Nineveh became sabbath keepers and perfectly obeyed GOD in all aspects of God’s laws. How would they so quickly even know of all of God’s ways? But – GOD WAS MOVED by their heartfelt responsiveness.

Jonah 3:10 – “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it”.

Our country is at a major turning point if God doesn’t get it back on track. I see this Sept 26 meeting as a lovely thing that should please God. Personally, I’m pleased to see this. Please don’t mock it. Will you join me and join in and help spread the word? Find out all about it at www.thereturn.org  

At least pray for them and everyone doing it even from their homes, as I’m sure the Adversary will get his own children out as well to disrupt and harm people there as best he can. May the Living God watch over all. If the national meeting in DC is cancelled for Covid or any other reason, let’s the REST OF US continue to pray and even fast from our own homes. They can’t stop that. And pray they can’t and won’t stop the national meeting. But do pray for their safety.

This “Return” on Sept 26, 2020 is part of a 10-day searching for God’s forgiveness and benediction that starts with the Feast of Trumpets Sept 19, 2020 and ends on the Day of Atonement on Monday Sept 28, 2020. Imagine that.

God tells us in Malachi 3:7 after warning us that we as a nation have turned from God’s laws and ordinances and not kept them…he then says this – “Return to me and I will return to you.”  

Sept 26 is also 40 days – the number of trial and testing – before the national elections on November 3rd, 2020. It’s also the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Compact, when the early settlers pledged to build a community that was patterned after the Biblical standard and were blessed by YHVH.

Let’s do it. Please comment that you will be part of this. Or you can also email me directly at this email address:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

SPREAD THE WORD – PLEASE. Tell your friends, family, and church brethren about this. Tell your pastor. Tell everyone who loves God and reads the Bible about this.

Philip Shields

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Do we really want a “Cashless society”?

Ostensibly because “cash is dirty” and in the Wuhan plague from China (Covid19), it’s supposedly much safer to never have to handle cash – there’s a push lately to go for the cashless society.  And more and more stores are demanding credit card use only – no cash, for ostensibly the same reasons.  

On the surface this might seem like a good idea to many of you. Or maybe you haven’t even heard of it. Either way, this blog today is worth your reading of it to help you see the bigger picture of where this could be headed if fully adopted and applied.

We know a time is coming under the future “Beast” power of Revelation, when nobody will be able to buy or sell unless they conform to the government’s requirements – including the mysterious 666 number on their hand or forehead somehow (Revelation 13:17-18). But here in America, we certainly don’t want to promote that! A cashless society, in my mind at least, is a big step towards setting up the coming worldwide “beast power.”  

Before continuing on about the cashless society that surely is coming, and that’s not a good thing, let me recommend this: read “1984” by George Orwell some time in the coming days and weeks. I am re-reading it too. You can also listen to it audibly if you sign up with Audible.com. I first read “1984” in 1972. It’s so uncanny how he seems to be describing much of the world today, and even in the USA, UK, Canada, and Europe. Certainly, what he says we see happening already in Russia, China, and many dictatorial states.

Now back to Cashless Society: Dave Ramsey is a financial commentator on radio who has helped a lot of people get out of debt and get their financial lives in order. I have a couple of his books and listen to him when I can. Here’s what he has to say about the Cashless Society concept (this is on various Facebook posts too, I’m sure):

In the words of Dave Ramsey...

HERES WHAT NO CASH ACTUALLY MEANS: Remember that CHINA is a No cash society.

A cashless society means no cash. Zero. It doesn’t mean mostly cashless and you can still use a ‘bit of cash here and there’. Cashless means fully digital, fully traceable, fully controlled. I think those who support a cashless society aren’t fully aware of what they are asking for.

A cashless society means:

* If you are struggling with your mortgage on a particular month, you can’t do an odd job to get you through.

* Your child can’t go and help the local farmer to earn a bit of summer cash.

* No more cash slipped into the hands of a child or from their grandparent when going on holidays.

* No more money in birthday cards.

* No more piggy banks for your child to collect pocket money and to learn about the value of earning.

* No more cash for a rainy-day fund or for that something special you have been putting $20 a week away for.

* No more charity collections.

* No more selling bits and pieces from your home that you no longer want/need for a bit of cash in return. No more garage sales as we know it.

* No more cash gifts from relatives or loved ones.
 

What a cashless society does guarantee:

* Banks have full control of every single penny you own.

* Every transaction you make is recorded.

* All your movements and actions are traceable.

* Access to your money can be blocked at the click of a button when/if banks need ‘clarification’ from you which will take about 2 weeks, a thousand questions answered and many passwords.

* You will have no choice but to declare and be taxed on every dollar in your possession.

* If your transactions are deemed in any way questionable, by those who create the questions, your money will be frozen, ‘for your own good’.

Forget about cash being dirty. Stop being so easily misled. Cash has been around for a very, very long time and it gives you control over how you trade in the world. It gives you independence.

I heard a story where a man supposedly contracted Covid19 because of a $20 bill he had handled. But there is the same chance of Covid19 being on a credit card as being on cash. If you cannot see how utterly ridiculous this assumption is, then there is little hope.

If you are a customer, pay with cash. If you are a shop owner, remove those ridiculous signs that ask people to pay by card. Cash is a legal tender, and it is our right to pay with cash. Banks are making it increasingly difficult to lodge cash and that has nothing to do with a virus, nor has this ‘dirty money’ trend.

Please open your eyes. Please stop believing everything you are being told. Almost every single topic in today’s world is tainted with corruption and hidden agendas. Please stop telling me and others like me that we are what’s wrong with the world when you hail the most corrupt members of society as your heroes.

Politics and greed are what is wrong with the world; not those who are trying to alert you to the reality in which you are blindly floating along whilst being immobilized by irrational fear. Fear created to keep you doing and believing in exactly what you are complacently doing.

Pay with cash. Please say no to a cashless society while you still have the choice.

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What does the Bible say about RACE?

There’s a lot being said about racism and race right now. Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about race? Who is listed in the Bible as the first black man or woman?  I hope to have a full sermon on “Race” before too long, but this blog is a good starting point.

The surprising answer actually is that Scripture says amazingly little about our skin color. God is not so fascinated with the color of your skin as much as he is concerned that you and I repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ (or as I say, Yeshua) as our Savior and Redeemer. 

There are some possible indications of race in the Bible – but it’s simply not the Bible’s focus. Actually one of the best things Martin Luther King once said was that we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the condition of our heart, our CHARACTER. He was so right about that. That seems to be the focus of the Bible as well.

In any case, all the races came from God, through Adam and Eve, and so for them to produce white, brown, and black descendants, they were most likely a tanned or brown couple themselves. Ok white folks, does that surprise you?

I find it interesting that in his spirit form, the one we know as the Son of God is described as being in the color of “bronze” or “brass” as when refined in a furnace. That’s not white. That’s not black. Bronze is more of a brownish hue/a golden hue. “Brass” on the other hand, can range in color from almost a reddish color to yellowish golden color and everything in between, depending on how much zinc was added to the metal. But “brass” is generally usually thought of as a brownish or even golden color.

Here's the scripture describing Yeshua in his current spirit form (ask yourself if this is the way YOU picture Jesus. It doesn’t seem to describe the popular paintings of “Jesus”):

Revelation 1:12-15

“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters.”  

            NIV says “his feet were like bronze …”

            CJB “like burnished brass refined in a furnace…”

Now back to the human race. It’s been said many times before, we are all of one race – the human race. And Paul says we all have the same blood; we all bleed red. Notice where Paul focuses: not on race but on us finding God.

Acts 17:26-28 NKJV

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'

Some translations don’t say “from one blood” but “from one man”, but I do like my NKJV and KJV on this.

The first black person directly alluded to was probably Cush, the grandson of Noah. Cush was the son of Ham. The “Hamitic” people are generally seen as the black race – and includes the areas of Sudan and south, and what is called “Ethiopia” in the Bible. Sons of Ham included Cush, Canaan, Put and Mitzraim (Egypt). The ancient Egyptians were more black than modern Egyptians, whose blood lines have been mixed quite heavily with Muslim race from Ishmael and others.

There are notable righteous and notable evil men and women of all races in the Bible. The Bible mentions their name but does not make a big deal of their race. One of the notable evil black men was Nimrod, a descendant of Cush, who led the world into apostasy and mystery religion.

Some notable righteous black people in the Bible include the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized by Philip in Acts 8. This eunuch was a very high official in his courts. The Bible does not say he was “black” – but was Ethiopian, so very likely was of the black race. The Bible does not make a big deal of one’s color.

Another great example for us was Rahab, the woman of faith from Jericho who converted to the God of Israel and was spared (the story is in Joshua 2 and chapter 6). Being a Canaanite, she could have also been of the black race. What was notable: her powerful faith and how she turned to one true God. She is also included in the lineage of the Messiah Yeshua (Matthew 1:5)! So how’s that for showing God is not racist?

In several places in the Bible where we read “Ethiopia” – it really is “Cush”, the name of their forefather, and refers to Nubians, north Sudan, and the black race. So “Ethiopian” is usually actually “Cushite”. In Jeremiah 13:23 we’re asked, “Can the Ethiopian (Cushite) change his skin?”. To me that tells me the reference is to black skin.

Moses had also married a Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1 NIV), and so one of Moses’ wives was a black woman. Some believe she was a black princess, whom Moses married when he was a great general for Egypt in his younger years.

Numbers 12:1-2

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian (Cushite) woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.”

When this became an issue for Miriam especially, who is listed first here, God made clear to her that He had chosen Moses as his prophet and Miriam was struck with leprosy. Moses’ black-skinned wife was not an issue apparently with YHVH. This matter never came up again.

Today we know Ethiopians and other black runners are fast runners and win many Olympics, whether in sprints or long distance. Read Isaiah 18:1-2 where they are called “swift messengers” even back then.

It’s also possible that one of the early leaders of the church in Antioch could have been a black man – Simon (or Simeon), surnamed Niger. Acts 13:1-3. Many believe his surname was an indication of his skin color – but again, it’s not so clearly stated. Some think this may have been the same man called Simon of Cyrene who was ordered to carry Yeshua’s cross (Luke 23:26); but there’s no strong evidence for that. But it is interesting as you carefully read Acts 13:1-3 to see such a diverse group of leaders from all over the known world working together as they allowed themselves to be led by God’s spirit.

Having said all this, we should not be quick to accuse someone of being racist for calling out some inequities by some groups. For example, because I’m white, I’m being called – by some movements – a “racist” for simply being white. That accusation itself becomes a racist statement.

We should all be careful to avoid making monolithic judgments about groups of people or races where we funnel all people of a particular group or race into one bucket. I think many are doing that very thing as we make broad brush statements about parts of the country, or races, or national groups – whether Japanese, Chinese, Africans, or “whites” or whatever.

My brothers and sisters, let’s all repent of any racism we do discover in our lives. I’m doing my own introspection. Will you join me?

Bottom line: What does God’s word say about race? Actually very little. It’s not a big deal with God. God created us all. God created the races. God loves us all. God’s son died for us all. To God, ALL human life is valuable, and race and skin color just doesn’t come up as an issue for God.

Individuals do count to God – of whatever race – if we live righteously or in an evil way. That’s what counts – how we live. He wants each of us to come to repentance and receive God’s holy spirit – which He’ll supply to anyone he is calling who responds to his call.

If, when you’re honest with yourself, you find yourself disliking whole races of people or groups of people, then I call on you to repent of that racism and get more in harmony with God’s mind.

Our God simply does not want us making skin color an issue. Let’s get over it, if it is an issue – and move on as one family under God. We are to love and pray for all people – even our enemies, so certainly we can all pray for one another.

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What "I Can Do All Things..." Really Means

All

By GUEST WRITER R HERBERT (see more of his writings at www.TacticalChristianity.org)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)
 
It’s a verse we all know, a verse that quarterback Tim Tebow inscribed in his eye black, one that has been engraved on thousands of items of jewelry and printed on countless items of Christian merchandising.  But does it mean what most people presume it means? 

For many people this verse (and its slight variant “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” NKJV, etc.) has become a kind of Christian mantra, a spiritual guarantee that whatever we do will succeed if we act in faith. 

The truth is that Philippians 4:13 does not really say or mean anything of the kind. But what it really does say and mean can be infinitely more encouraging.

As with any biblical verse, “context is king.”  To understand what Paul had in mind with these words, we must look at the context in which he wrote them:

“for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).

The context shows us immediately that Paul was not talking about success in doing things, but about success in dealing with things –  the ability to accept and enjoy or endure (whichever is appropriate) whatever life may throw at us. 

The underlying Greek in which Paul wrote Philippians confirms this meaning. The Greek does not literally say “I can do all things” –  the word “do” does not appear in the verse at all. Rather, the words mean “I have strength for all things” –  in other words, “I can survive, deal with, handle, be content with, all things.”


The apostle tells us that he had fully experienced the positive and negative aspects of life –  “every circumstance” –  and he had learned that through the strength God gave him, he could successfully live through them all.
 
This is important.  Paul tells us he could not only survive the bad things with God’s help, but also the good things of life. Why would we need help in surviving the good things?  Simply put, the scriptures show us that both prosperity and poverty can be snares (Proverbs 30:8-9).  Although poverty can leave us bitter and even lead to stealing, prosperity can encourage complacency,  self-reliance and pride.  But Paul’s words show that with God’s help we can meet whatever circumstances we find ourselves in with a right attitude that does not distance us in some way from God.

As such, Philippians 4:13 has nothing to do with being able to accomplish goals or other things we may want to do in life. God certainly can help us with such things if it is his will, but Paul’s point does not relate to that fact.   Far more importantly,  Paul tells us that God can help us succeed in things that are far more vital than physical accomplishments - the things Paul was talking about. That is why the NIV translates this verse:  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (emphasis added).

Remember, too, that the apostle penned these words from a prison cell near the end of his life – hardly a position of success and accomplishment in physical terms. Nevertheless, Paul had learned that whether he  found himself in a palace or a prison cell, he could be content in the knowledge that God would help him to deal with it.

For Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” was not about performing well or fulfilling goals at the physical level,  but about achieving the things in life that matter the most. Philippians 4:13 is not about what we can accomplish with God’s help, but what God, through his help, can accomplish in us. 

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The Worst kind of Pride

pride

It is often said that pride –  in the sense of self-elevation rather than what we call being “proud” of other people, such as our children, team, or school, etc. –is the worst of sins because self-oriented pride inevitably leads us to set ourselves up in the place of God. As has been wryly said, we become “self-made men or women who worship their creator.”

Scripture is so clear. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things God especially hates. At the top of the list is “A proud look.”  And Peter tells us God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). God can’t endure him with a haughty look and proud heart (Psalm 101:5).

Pride of this self-elevating type can manifest itself in many ways, but it invariably involves comparison – the way in which prideful individuals compare themselves to others.  The Gospel of Luke gives a clear example of this problem in the parable of the self-righteous Pharisee and the socially despised tax collector:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

There are several not-so-obvious things that we should notice about this parable in relation to pride.  While most Jews only fasted on the yearly Day of Atonement, the Pharisees added to the law of God by fasting before and after every annual festival throughout the year – or even more frequently.  The Pharisee in the parable, however, claims to fast twice each week.  This shows us the level of his pride in that he proclaims that he is even more devout than most of the Pharisees themselves.

But there is another aspect of the Pharisee’s behavior that reflects the nature of comparative pride.  The parable tells us the actual words that the Pharisee prayed – indicating that he “said” these words out loud rather than “thought” them (compare, for example, Luke 12:17).   

Public prayers were made twice each day in the temple – at the times of the morning and afternoon sacrifices.  At those times Jewish temple-goers would assemble in the “Court of the Israelites” directly outside the inner temple.  First the priest would perform the sacrificial offering of the day and then he would enter the inner temple area to offer incense. It was at that point that the Israelites outside would pray, out loud, while the priest made the offering on their behalf (Luke 1:8-10). 

When we realize that the Pharisee’s prayer was not thought, but spoken out loud, we see the deprecating nature of pride at its worst.  By saying “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector…,” the Pharisee publicly shamed the tax collector in order to enhance his own self-exaltation.

The situation described in the parable is a classic example of the way pride, in its worst form, puts down others in order to elevate oneself. 

C.S. Lewis described the phenomenon perfectly: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”   As a result, the Pharisee prayed but did not see or really communicate with God. That is why, Luke tells us, Jesus taught this parable “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else” (Luke 18:9).

For most of us, pride is not expressed so blatantly or in such an obnoxious manner, but we must always be aware of the human tendency in this direction.   Pride can often be found in even seemingly innocent comparison.  That is why the apostle Paul wrote: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

There are a number of tactics we can utilize to avoid this trap, but Paul himself gives us two that we can all put into use.  First, as the apostle wrote to the Philippians: “in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), or, as the NKJV translates this verse: “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  This is the most fundamental deterrent to pride of any type, but especially comparative pride.

Paul gives us another basic principle in his letter to the Galatians. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).   In writing this, Paul shows us that it is not wrong to be happy and thankful to have accomplished something or to have made progress toward our goals, as long as that is not done by comparing ourselves to others.  

Ultimately, the worst kind of pride is avoided when our self-concept is based not on how we compare to others, but how we compare to what God calls us to.  That is always a humbling thought and one that leaves no room for the growth of pride at all.

** ***

For more from R. Herbert – his pen name – go to www.tacticalchristianity.org   

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Some favorite Pentecost sermons from this site

I thought it might be useful to many of you to have links posted to Pentecost-type messages.  Sermons that touch on our calling, God’s Holy Spirit, bearing fruit of the Spirit,  the Meaning of Pentecost and so on… so here they are. Just click on the links and they’ll take you right there.

“I GO Prepare a Place for you”

This one shows the sequence of events when Yeshua returns AND how it’s so intricately tied to Pentecost.  Where and when is the Wedding of the Lamb?  How Christ’s return is a 2-stage return.  How heavenly Jerusalem is our City. Enjoy.   Control-click on the link 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/i-go-prepare-a-place-for-you-john-14-1-3.html?highlight=WyJwcmVwYXJlIiwiYSIsInBsYWNlIiwicHJlcGFyZSBhIiwicHJlcGFyZSBhIHBsYWNlIiwiYSBwbGFjZSJd

Pentecost DRESS REHEARSAL for past and future events

This teaching goes into the counting of the omer to Pentecost and how this and all holydays of God are “dress rehearsals” for major earth-shattering events from the death and resurrection of the Son of God to the new heavens and new earth.  How is Pentecost a dress rehearsal?  Find out!  Control click ….

https://www.lightontherock.org/component/finder/search.html?q=Pentecost+dress+rehearsal&Search=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=

Pentecost -- Pinnacle of Joy (Jeff Niccum)  notes only

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/2012-06-15-10-12-00.html

Pentecost’s 5 fold meaning

Most associate – correctly—Pentecost with the giving of God’s Spirit in Acts 2.  That’s terrific, and yet is so much more to this holyday.  This sermon talks of at least 5 of the important meanings of this day.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/pentecost-s-exciting-5-fold-meaning.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

BEARING FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT Gal. 5:22-23

God loves fruit and he expects his Holy Spirit to be bearing fruit in us. Can you strive to bear the fruit of the spirit – or…? WHO produces the fruit? ARE we bearing fruit or remaining the same? 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/bearing-the-fruit-of-god-s-holy-spirit.html

6 reasons to Cherish your First fruits calling, pictured by Pentecost.

Do you often think of the high calling you and I have been given? Do we cherish it? Do we cherish our calling to be in the first resurrection?  WHY is it called the “better resurrection” in Heb 11:35?  Why are those who are part of it called “blessed and holy” (Rev. 20:6).  This message gives at least 6 strong reasons why your calling to the first resurrection is a better resurrection. 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/6-reasons-to-cherish-your-calling-as-firstfruits-pentecost-2019.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

22 Things Holy Spirit does for us

You will appreciate God and His Spirit in you much more when you study this message.  Imagine – 22 different jobs God’s spirit will do inside you and for you! 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/22-things-the-holy-spirit-is-doing.html?highlight=WzIyLCJ0aGluZ3MiLCIyMiB0aGluZ3MiXQ== 

Your WILDERNESS Time and it’s connection to Shavuot/Pentecost

We know that God brought Israel out of Egypt at Passover – and 50 days later he gave them his law at Mt Sinai. IN the end, that adult group of Israelites were consigned to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sometimes we feel like we have our own “wilderness times”.  Find out what God is doing with you and for you in those precious times when you feel “out there” – in a wilderness.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/your-wilderness-time-and-it-s-connection-to-shavuot-or-yahweh-s-pentecost.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

RUTH, Boaz AND PENTECOST

The book of Ruth is read on Pentecost.  WHY?  What’s the connection?  What does it have to do with you and me?  Learn about the “go-el” – Redeemer, threshing floors, gleanings, etc and their spiritual meaning. Learn the lessons of courage and faith.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/ruth-boaz-and-pentecost.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

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“I am a worm”

Psalm 22 is one of the profound Messianic prophecies, fulfilled by Yeshua (Jesus) in so many details, especially while he was being crucified. 

Embedded in this breath-taking psalm is verse 6, which is loaded with truth that most of us read right over. Or we misunderstand its true message.  A dear friend in WA state – Dean – reminded me of this verse and its deeper meaning -- when he remarked on it in a recent email.  What I’m about to write is not unique to me or us, as it has been known for centuries, but I hope it will be so meaningful to you who come to Light on the Rock.  Please pass this blog on to others if you find it rich in meaning.  And be sure to check our other blogs too.

Psalms 22:6-8 – “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.   All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, "He trusted in YHVH, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"  (NKJV; the KJV is almost identical).   

Compare with Matthew 27:42-43.

The last part of that passage is clearly seen in the gospel accounts, but we don’t have a record of Yeshua saying he was but a worm.  He must have FELT that way and in any case, we are to learn something from that prophetic statement.   But it’s far more than that. This “worm” -- based on the original language – was no ordinary worm. 

The typical word for “worm” in Hebrew was rimmah, meaning a maggot.  But that’s not the worm mentioned here. This worm was tola’at or tola in Hebrew (to-law’, phonetically), Strong’s# 8438.   It was translated 43 times usually as “worm, scarlet, crimson”.  Maybe you’re starting to think and realize this is no ordinary worm.  It was clearly associated with a bright red color.  In fact, the word is often translated simply as scarlet or crimson – yes, the same word that is translated “worm” in other verses.  So be sure to learn why.

You are about to be amazed when the fuller picture of this worm is revealed; the “worm” Yeshua said HE was while being crucified on the tree or stake (1 Peter 2:24; Acts 5:30;  Acts 10:39; 13:29). 

This worm was the Crimson Worm to which Psalm 22:6 refers – common to the area of old Israel.  These worms are about the size of a pea, and looked more like a grub than a worm. They were often mistaken to be a part of the plant or stick to which they were attached.

This worm -- Strong’s word #8438 – was the same one that destroyed stale manna in Exodus 16:20.  It was the same grub that ate the vine or gourd whose shade Jonah was enjoying for his covering shade (Jonah 4:7).  It was known as the crimson grub or worm. Why?

When the female crimson worm was ready to lay its eggs – which she does only once in her lifetime (keep that in mind) – she attaches itself to a tree trunk or large stick or fencepost.  Next, she makes a hard crimson shell over her body and strongly attaches herself to the tree.  This crimson worm – when seen attached on a tree – had thorn-like edges to it.  Think about that too.  You cannot remove this worm or the shell it made without ripping her body apart and killing her.  This crimson worm now lays its eggs under her body, and protects her future offspring by her firmly attached crimson shell.  But that is just half the story. It gets better.

When the larvae hatch, they stay right there – under the mama’s shell for protection and food!  The baby larvae feed on the living body of their mother!  Over the next few days the larvae grow to where they can independently fare for themselves.  The mother crimson worm dies, oozing a bright red or scarlet/crimson dye which permanently stains her baby worms and the tree spot to which it is attached.  The larvae are colored a bright scarlet the rest of their lives.  But – they lived because their “mother” gave her life for them, covering them in her protective shell and letting them feed on her.   

If the mother’s shell is left there, after three days the dead worm’s body loses its red color and now turns into a whitish color that falls to the ground like snow. 

Now we put it all together.  What did Yeshua mean when he said he was but a worm?  Was he just being humble?  Yes, but it was more than that. 

He was what the Crimson Worm pictured, attached firmly to the tree. We see that when Christ was crucified (1 Peter 2:24) on a tree.   How did he look up there?  Bright red –badly bleeding all over from the severe scourging beating he had just endured.  We’re told how he looked in the end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53.   And remember, the Romans were not limited to 39 lashes or just to lashing one’s back.  And like the mama crimson worm encasing her eggs, Christ is our protective shell, as it were. HE is our covering righteousness and sustaining life.  HE is in fact, what each of the pieces of the “armor of God’ ultimately picture – protecting and guarding the children of God. 

Blood is a bright red color, or scarlet or crimson.  This particular worm – and its shell – were often scraped off the wood and then crushed into powder to make the bright red dyes for clothing – and for the scarlet materials found in the Tabernacle and its furnishings (see Exodus 25:4; Numbers 4-8).  The word translated “crimson” or sometimes even “scarlet” is often the very same word as the one used for the crimson worm itself.   All of that came from this crimson worm, the specific worm Yeshua said HE was – as he was being crucified, firmly attached, on the tree.  

Crimson or scarlet is seen everywhere God is cleansing. A scarlet string is seen in the ritual required for cleansing a leper (Leviticus 14:4,6), or a house (Leviticus 14:49-52) and also in the laws of the red heifer – whose ashes were used in the purification rituals as well (Numbers 19:6).  It’s the same Hebrew word being translated “scarlet” or “red” – as it is for the worm! 

Just as the crimson worm gives its life for its offspring, Yeshua gave his life for us.  He died, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9). The larvae all fed on the mother before leaving its protective shell and covering.  We too, at least symbolically, eat of Him and if we don’t, we have no life in us (John 6:53-55).  Remember what Yeshua said at his Passover:  “This is my body, which is given for you…” (Luke 22:19).  “Take, eat; this is my body” (Mark 14:22). 

John 6:48-51—“I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

 The larvae are dyed a bright red the rest of their lives by the protecting scarlet worm soon after they hatch from their eggs.   We too are washed – bathed – covered – in the blood of the Lamb, our Savior – washing away ALL our sins.  And we are most happy to be seen as someone under the blood of Christ! 

“Come now, let us reason together, says YHVH:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). 

It’s the same Hebrew word there for crimson, as for the crimson worm.

So our Savior was telling us, as he was firmly attached to the tree at his vicious crucifixion: 

  • “I’m doing this for you – once, for all time, for all people who accept it” (just as the crimson worm did it only once – Hebrews 9:28; 10:10).
  • “I’ve been nailed to a tree – firmly attached – as I’m about to end my life, for you – just as the Crimson worm attached itself to a tree or wood at the end of its life. I have a crown of thorns around my head, just as this Crimson worm has a thorn-like perimeter around its shell.”
  • “I’m your covering and source of life” – just as the Crimson worm gave its life and body to the larvae that it brought into the world.
  • “My red blood is what forgives you, washes away every single sin you’ve ever committed, redeems you and reconciles us in the family of God to the Father – just as we’re reminded of that color when any sacrificial animal’s blood was spilled, or when you saw so much RED in the tabernacle, where God and mankind were reconciled.”

When you read Psalm 22:6 – “I am a worm”  -- The Word was pointing us to the scarlet worm, to the crucifixion, to the power of his crimson or scarlet blood.  God’s word never ceases to amaze.  And praise you Yeshua, our Redeemer.  

WORM

You might benefit from the full sermons

“When I see the Blood” -- Parts 1-2, April 2014   (enter “see the blood” in the search bar)

If you have found this helpful and instructive, please forward on to others and the website – www.LightontheRock.org  

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“Well Done, Our King and Savior, well done!”

We finished Passover -- washed each other’s feet, broke and ate the bread of Christ – and we drank of the Master’s cup of the new covenant. Now what? We know the day is coming when Jesus will say to faithful servants, “Well done…” (Matthew 25:21, 23)

 Have you ever wished YOU could say to the King – “Well done, Lord – well done, King!  Well done”? It struck me, as I read the chapters of John 13-17 at the end of the service, what an incredible “command performance” we see from our Master and Savior on that Passover at HIS last Passover day on earth—painful and horrifying as it was.  And now dear Lord, you have been raised from the dead, clothed in majesty and wrapped in light on the right hand of our heavenly Father and King of the Universe. We can’t wait for you to return, to be sent back, to fix the mess this planet is in, this planet you created by your words of your mouth.

As he listened with annoyance to his disciples’ bickering over who among them was the greatest, he rose even as he recalled he had come from GOD and was going back to God. He rose and took a towel and a basin and taught us a big lesson. He began to do a slave or servant’s task – kneeling before each of his students, one by one washing between their toes and cleaning their feet that had become dusty along the way. Here was the night when GOD (John 1:1-3) as a flesh and blood young man wasn’t above doing menial work and kneeling before each of his flabbergasted students. He taught us that when it comes to helping and serving, little or nothing should be beneath our willingness jump right in and serve humbly. The night God washed feet. 

But what’s so amazing is that he took the footwashing to the next level. It wasn’t just about being humble or having the attitude of a servant – which it surely showed as well. No, when he came to Peter and Peter balked, Yeshua told us the MEAT of what the footwashing was really all about: “Peter, if I don’t wash you, you have NO PART with me!” (John 13:8). 

He made the point that HE washed all of them, even Judas was still there. If you had been there, your feet would have felt the caring and manly hands of the carpenter from Nazareth. He wants us to see each other as washed by him, no matter what it is we think we know about a particular brother or sister in the ekklesia. We’ve been washed by Christ himself. He wants us to wash one another too, to verify with each other that we’re not holding on to any dirt about them. No, the Master has washed them, and so we do too. 

So before we can partake of his bread – picturing his body, his life, his presence in us – we must first come under his washing year by year as we stumble along the way and pick up dirt when we really wanted to stay clean… or else we have no part in him. 

By that last supper with his disciples, as He broke bread and blessed it, surely it meant a lot more to Him to realize that was depicting His very own body. He was thanking God for his broken body that he was about to share. I find that amazing. No doubt he had seen dozens of crucifixions. He understood his body would look like beaten hamburger by the time the Romans were done with him. But by his stripes we are healed, so we remain grateful. The bread pictures his life coming into us, giving us life. 

When you lift up the sheet of matzah, you’ll see baking stripes and holes in the flat bread. He was pierced for our transgressions. By his stripes we are healed. Then he asked me to eat of him and let him come into me as my new life. Hallelujah. 

Then we read how his cup of red wine is the new covenant in his blood. Jews drank of cups of wine in honor of the promises God made Israel in Egypt in Exodus 6. The one we read about was probably the 3rd cup of Redemption. Anyway, he invited us to drink from his cup too. Imagine that! I just drank of my Master’s cup, verifying I’m all in for him and whatever he has in store for me in this life – the good and the “bad” or difficult times.  

Then they left and walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along the way he spoke of growth, fruit and vineyards, and how important it is to obey him and our Father. He spoke of going to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house, and how he would come to get us and show us what he’s prepared for those who love him. He spoke of rough times ahead but that we were to have peace, for he had overcome the world and would strengthen us. He mentioned the Adversary, the ruler of this world coming – “But he has nothing in me” (John 14:30). 

Look at what Master did. As He prepared for the long ordeal, He took time to comfort His disciples. “Don’t fear, don’t worry. Ask anything in my name and I will do it”. Over and over, all during supper, He comforted, encouraged, reassured – and loved those disciples. He told each of them – and you and me – to love one another in the same way he loves us. He discussed the promised Helper, Comforter – the Holy Spirit. He spoke of the Father and Himself coming to live in them. Wow. Incredible. What a flawless example. “Because I live, you will live”. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.” Even though he predicted they would all leave him initially, he would continue to love them.

Our master prayed to the Holy Father (John 17) and prayed that all his followers could be as one, as Yeshua and his Father are as one. I remember reading John 17:23 where our King states that his Father loves us as much as he loves Yeshua. 

Then they reached the Garden of the Olive Press (Gethsemane). When Judas appeared with a troop of armed temple guards to betray him, Yeshua’s first word to his betrayer was amazing, “Friend”. But he went on to die for all of us, even while we were yet sinners. On the cross or tree – his pained voice pleaded “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Flawless.

No other religion (to my knowledge) has their God coming to live among humanity as a human and then sacrificing Himself for his creation. But Yeshua did just that! Wow! What an awesome living God we have; what an impeccable son of God we have!! Hallelujah!! 

It’s never our place to “grade” our Savior, and that’s not my intent here at all. But I think we’re long overdue for telling our Beloved King what we think of Him and His Passover. 

Yeshua’s Father – who is now also our Father – was spectacular too on that Passover day almost 2000 years ago. He had 2 choices when it came to sin:

   1 – Make us all pay our own death penalty for our sins and spare his perfect sinless son he loved so much

   2 – Put all our sins and penalties on to his flawless son, making him be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), and make his Son pay the penalty and be whipped and crucified while we are forgiven the death penalty. 

God the Father chose Option #2. This is how Yeshua could say in John 17 that our Father loves US as much as his own son Yeshua. He loved everyone in the world so much that he made the way of escape from eternal death possible by sending his only Son to live and die for us (John 3:16). His death reconciled us to Father, turned away his wrath due to our sins, and redeemed us from Satan. He paid the ultimate price for you and me and every human being who will accept him. 

How on earth, or in heaven, God the Father restrained himself from just wiping out all life on this planet as we humans did awful things to his son, is beyond me. He personifies love and mercy. 

So on Passover we focus on Jesus, on Yeshua – and rightly so, but it’s also a day that shows the indescribable love and patience of God the Father, God most High. Well done, Father, well done to you too, absolutely. 

And now Yeshua, please allow us to appreciatively tell you after Passover, even as our eyes well up with tears of gratitude: “Well done, our King. Well done. You totally vanquished Satan’s hold on us, you smashed his head at the Place of the Skull. You saved our lives. Yes, you saved our lives. You bring us hope and an indescribable future. You’ve given us eternal life. You’re simply amazing! You’re our Lion as well as our Lamb. We can’t wait to meet you face to face to tell you personally how pleased and grateful – and yes, even proud of you – we are! We’re delighted to be on your team, to drink of your cup and eat of your bread of life. Praise YHVH! We love you. Thank you for your Passover, King Yeshua. You were perfect. You’re simply amazing. Thank you, Master. Well done, our King, well done indeed.” 

After our Passover service, Carole and I played a dozen or more hymns that magnify God and Yeshua as I quietly lifted my hands in praise. Songs like Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, All Hail King Jesus, Crown him with many Crowns, Blessed Assurance, It is well with my soul, As the Deer, I love to Tell the Story and many more.

Then I stepped outside, looked up to the heavens and the bright full moon and once more thought, “The heavens declare the glory of God”. Next, I sat on God’s green grass in my back yard and meditated quietly about our awesome Savior. It was quiet, but my heart overflowed with love for what my Yeshua had just done. By his grace and his work I was able to come boldly before him and say, “thank you”.

Well done, Master, well done.

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Would you wash Judas’ feet?

In our fellowship group, we wash feet at Passover, as Yeshua washed his disciples’ feet. He said basically, “You’ve seen me, your lord and master wash your feet. Now you remember that – and be sure you are willing to wash each other’s feet too.”

So you arrive at your fellowship on Passover and are ready to wash feet (assuming you can even leave your house this year without being arrested). It’s a strange year, isn’t it? Anyway, you arrive there and find someone there before the meeting begins whom you don’t recognize. You sit next to him and introduce yourself. Now bear with me here:  he says he’s Judas Iscariot. 

OK, I know that can’t happen in 2020, but let’s just assume it could, and now the real Judas Iscariot has come to your fellowship and is ready for services to begin. You’ve been paired up with much-despised Judas, the one who sold our Lord for 30 pieces of silver and betrayed him. 

Will you humbly and even joyfully and willingly – wash his feet? Or would you refuse to do so? 

Let’s get this straight. I’ve heard some ministers say Judas had left but that’s not true. We read of the foot washing service in John 13:1-10.

John 13:2-4 “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself” 

It’s only after the foot washing is over that we read that Satan enters Judas again (first time was in Luke 22:3) and Yeshua tells him to leave and get his business done (John 13:27). But that was after the foot washing, so that means Yeshua washed Judas’ feet. 

The name “Judas” is actually a Hellenized (Greek form) name of the Hebrew same name “Yehudah”, which in English we translate as Judah

This is interesting. Yeshua came to his own – the Jews, -- but they did not receive him (John 1:11). They really couldn’t have because they did not recognize who he really was. So what I’m getting at, this disciple “Judas” or “Judah” – actually perfectly represented his tribe at that time who rejected the Messiah. But the good news is that we’re seeing more and more Jews have their eyes opened and who are seeing and accepting their Savior now. 

Right after the foot washing, Yeshua immediately speaks of his betrayer. He certainly knew whom that would be! See John 13:18-19, 21-22. Yeshua quotes from Psalm 41:9 “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.” This was a direct prophecy among many that pointed to Yeshua as the promised Messiah.

Peter had asked John to ask the Anointed Yeshua who the betrayer would be. Yeshua’s answer was John 13:26-30 --“Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."  28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.”

A couple things worth noting here. Note something else too:  the other disciples used the term “Lord” when asking Yeshua if they were going to be the betrayer (Matthew 26:22).  “Lord, is it I?”  But when Judas asked, he went with the lesser term “rabbi” (Teacher)—verse 25: “Then Judas, who was betraying him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”  He said to him, “You have said it.”  

But here’s my point: Judas is definitely present during all this time:  before and during the foot washing, and only after identifying who the betrayer would be, did he finally leave. 

Let’s pick up the story:

John 13:26-30 Yeshua was aware that Judas’ heart was already turned by Satan himself.  Satan was not going to let any other demon have this high-stakes job. If he could make Yeshua sin, what a coup that would have been. So Judas is being egged on – even eventually possessed (v. 27) – by none other than the Prince of Darkness, the god of this world himself: Satan the Devil, or translated – Adversary the Accuser. 

Even knowing Judas was being inspired by Satan himself, Yeshua still washed Judas’ feet. Now imagine the scene:  here’s the Son of GOD getting on his knees in front of Judas in order to wash his feet. And that’s exactly what our Savior did! How humble and how humbling is that?!!   Even to someone he KNEW was already being Satan-inspired, our beloved Yeshua, knowing he had come from God and was going back to God, knelt down below Judas and washed his feet anyway. 

Almost hard to believe, isn’t it? And yet that is what John 13 tells us. Already Yeshua is thinking of Psalms 41 where this betrayer is actually a friend in whom you trusted.  And what was the first word Yeshua said to Judas later that dark night when he led a group of armed men to arrest Jesus?  Let’s read it:

Matthew 26:48-50

“Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?"

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.”

To call Judas a “friend” but not mean it – would have been a lie. Yeshua was sinless. He meant it when he said “friend” to him.  Even knowing by this time Judas is actually Satan-possessed, our Savior calls Judas – “Friend”. 

So what does this mean to us today?

** Like Christ, we must be willing to serve even those who betray us, slander us, or falsely accuse us and work, as it were, for Satan himself.  What someone else does shouldn’t make us stop acting like Christ did: serving everyone. Satan is the Enemy, not any human beings ultimately.

That’s what “Satan” means:  Adversary.  And “Devil” means “accuser”.  Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  Even someone this bad received some SERVING done by the 2nd highest Being in the universe: Yeshua the Son of God, second only to God the Father. 

This was the night Jesus washed even Judas’ feet.  And shared a dinner with him and broke bread together.  This was the night when Yeshua called even Judas his “friend”.  Can you see yourself having dinner with someone you even call a “friend” – but who was about to betray you to the most brutal torture and death imaginable at that time?  Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

** Yeshua meant it when he taught us – “Love your enemies. Do GOOD to those who treat you badly. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who are unkind to you.”  (Compare with Matthew 5:43-48).  All this proves who is your father: God Almighty – or the god of this world.  After all, we have the fruit of God’s spirit, including goodness and kindness. 

Our Savior is more than impressive.  As I said in my Passover prayer after blessing the wine – “Well done, Master, well done.”  He is the absolute pinnacle of the way to handle things.  

Can you imagine George Washington washing Benedict Arnold’s feet – and calling him “friend” after what he did?  This is what’s going on here.

Are you still willing to serve those who have conspired against you?  Yeshua did.  If Yeshua is in us by His spirit, He will continue to do through you and me what He has always done:  serve and love people, even those who work against us.  Vengeance is not ours.  Don’t take something like vengeance that God says is HIS prerogative, lest you incur His ire.  It belongs to God. Our role is to let the fruit of the spirit shine through us – including kindness, goodness, longsuffering, and peace, regardless of what the other has done to us or our loved ones. 

Now, who can we call a “friend” – and mean it – to someone who has acted as our worst enemy for so long?  Who can we find ways to serve and humble ourselves in front of – though he/she may be less than spirit-led at this point?  That’s tough, isn’t it? 

The more I learn about Jesus, the more in awe I am of him and the more I want to talk about him.  What a great leader, Servant King, Savior, Big brother, and friend we have in him.

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Habakkuk 3 - Finding JOY in TOUGH times

Editor’s notes: I’m honored to introduce a new contributor to Light on the Rock blogs. Samantha Skiens is a graduate of Wheaton College with 2 degrees in Bible Theology and Ancient Languages with emphasis in Hebrew.  She currently teaches Bible Theology at a private Christian college in WA state. But what I like most about her is that this 22-year old obviously loves Yeshua and desires to be obedient to his commands. She brings some great and mature points from the often-overlooked short book of Habakkuk 3  – points which are so timely with the Coronavirus issues we’re all facing. Welcome Samantha.    

*** ********************    ****************************

Rarely do I write, and rarely do I post. But for some reason, inspiration has been striking me lately, and so I sit at my computer, typing away, when I should be grading the research papers my juniors just submitted this morning.

Some of you may be aware that this year has probably been the hardest year that I have had in a long time, if ever. I won’t go into all the details, but I want to share something the Lord has laid on my heart. Throughout this year, God has been high-centering me on a passage in Habakkuk—yes, one of those very small, rarely touched books of a collection called the Minor Prophets. Habakkuk was alive during the final years of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He saw the rising threat of Babylon approaching on the horizon and knew what it would mean for his community and the last of God’s people (since Assyria had already taken out the Northern Kingdom). I personally love Habakkuk because of this unique feature: the prophet does not accuse Israel of any sins or wrongdoings, as many of the other prophets did. Rather, Habakkuk openly and refreshingly wrestles through his personal journey about whether or not God is truly good amidst the evil and tragedy in the world. I say “refreshingly” because these are thoughts many of us often have. 

In Chapter 3, Habakkuk begins by describing the gloriously terrifying presence of the Almighty. I’ll quote from the NIV.

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.

God came from Teman,
    the Holy One from Mount Paran.[b]
His glory covered the heavens
    and his praise filled the earth.

His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from his hand,
    where his power was hidden.
Plague went before him;
    pestilence followed his steps.
He stood, and shook the earth;
    he looked, and made the nations tremble
.
The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed—
    but he marches on forever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
    the dwellings of Midian in anguish.

After this humble acknowledgement of the power and presence of God, the prophet then appeals to God’s faithfulness. You can read Habakkuk 3:8-15 on your own.  It shows the fury and ferocity of our God when He moves against or for nations. 

By pausing to remember God’s power and faithfulness, Habakkuk concludes his short book with a message of hope. However, Habakkuk does not immediately rush to that hope; he acknowledges that hope is truly fostered in the space of trial, and it must withstand the immediate challenges he is about to face with Babylon. This is a crucial point!

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.

Though the invasion and captivity are to come, that imminent trial does not have the final say. God is just and will bring his justice even to the invading nations.  Habakkuk leads into the darkest hour for Judah’s history with a final message of hope and praise, with vital lessons for us all (Habakkuk 3:17-19):


17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior
.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Those verses can sound so nice when our lives are functioning with relative peace. Now, is the time to lean into the history and the lives of those who have weathered great winters before us. I close my eyes and imagine the situation of those during centuries past -- people in many different countries facing a range of atrocities and fears. That isn’t meant to glorify what generations past survived or diminish what we are experiencing today. The reality is that ALL go through difficult times. Rather, these moments of the present and those of the past are bound together by something deep; there is an inexplicable solace and hope found in the darkest of hours and deepest of pains.

I want to finish with one final note: Habakkuk mentions a thing called “joy.” He says in verse 18 that he will REJOICE in the Lord and be JOYFUL in God His Savior.

Though society portrays the two as synonyms, joy and happiness are two vastly different things from the viewpoint of God’s word.

Etymologically, happiness is based on one’s “happenings,” or the circumstances in one’s life. You might be happy because a situation is positive, and you might not be happy because it is negative.

Joy, on the other hand, is completely independent from one’s circumstances. Joy is accessed through something deep inside of us. It is eternal, not temporary; a huge difference.

Happiness comes and goes like the tide, but joy is constant. We, being very fickle and finite people, can find this eternal joy in one place, and one place alone: God. This explains why Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:14, “I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction,” or in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” Happiness belongs to this earth. It can stem from the physical things of this world: food, drink, people, material items—maybe even toilet paper on the shelves at stores. Joy is of God’s Kingdom. Again, Paul draws this contrast in Romans 14:17, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Joy stems from a settled assurance that God is in control. Habakkuk was not happy during his present day, facing the invading Babylonians and questioning God’s goodness amidst the terror of it all. But Habakkuk shows us that we can truthfully be unhappy about what’s going on around us,  but still have rock-solid joy in our hearts. Habakkuk shows us it was and is good -- to even question God in times of struggle; it is how we all must grow in our personal relationships with the Lord. In fact, relationship is of the utmost importance during this time. Religion will not stand when crisis hits; it is an institution (man-made), and underneath that definition, institutions can break.

Solid relationships, however, can withstand the shattering of society. Families and friends can stand by one another’s side when the world turns upside down, although even with human relationships, these can fracture in severe stress.  However, a strong relationship based on a deep love for God can never be ripped, stolen, or removed from us. Never.

In this light, let’s read once more how nothing can and nothing will separate us from the love of God. Not personal problems, not anything in this world, not this Covid-19 virus – nothing can, when we have established that firm relationship with our Maker:

Romans 8:37-39 from the CJB: “No, in all these things we are super conquerors, through the one who has loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming, 39 neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord”.

My encouragement for us all today, and I am sure, for many days ahead, is to rest and find rest in our relationship with our Lord. Life is always ultimately about having the right relationships.  For it is only through that relationship with our God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord that we can tap into the eternal joy that Jesus offers.

Like Habakkuk, we might not always be happy, but we can most definitely be joyful.

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BUT I CAN’T FORGIVE ‘THAT’

(Host’s note:  This beautifully worded blog is from a new contributor and writer to Light on the Rock blogs.  We welcome this daughter of God, who will go by “Newfie”. I hope you get as much inspiration out of it as I did. – Philip Shields)

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.” Greek historian, Polybius (205 BC-118 BC)

Passover is almost upon us and when I saw this quote today it grabbed my instant attention.  How true!  Conscience can be a formidable thing when repenting and walking on a rocky road toward perfection.  ALL of us sin and have sinned and come short of God’s glory—eternal life. Romans 3:23 I think most of us know that even if we didn’t grow up Christian.

And the fact that we have a conscience shows, by itself, that God still considers us His “good” creation (Genesis 1:31) and has not hidden Himself from us (Yes He does separate Himself from sin but that is another topic) or taken all that is good from us..  (“If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me” (Deuteronomy 4:29/ Jeremiah 29:13)

“But my sin was SO HORRIBLE!  I JUST CAN’T FORGIVE MYSELF EVER!”  we might say.  “I am sitting in jail right this moment and will be here for the rest of my life!  How am I supposed to forgive myself for that?!”

Well, here is where the Power that you don’t automatically have by yourself comes in.  You have repented (promised the Eternal that you will not repeat that horrible action or those horrible thoughts), have turned from your previous way of life and recognized that your sins are UGLY in His sight. (Isaiah 64:6) but He still loves each of us enough that He gave up His one and only Son to die and pay for that ugliness. (John 3:16) With repentance He then promises to clean us.  (I John 1:9/ Psalms 51:2/ and my favorite, Psalms 51:10)


THEN He welcomes us into His House.  Psalms 23:6 says goodness and mercy will follow us and we will dwell in God’s house forever.  I will say “forever” means “forever’ so the time period would have to include now.  He welcomes us before His presence!

This would be hard to do if we were not also forgiving ourselves because His house is a house of rest.  (Hebrews 4::1-9) Although these verses contain many meanings with one of the main ones being a permanent fulfillment of ‘rest’ (eliminating all anxiety and self-incrimination while being filled with the fruits of the Spirit) they also refer to a rest that we can have in this life!

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and don’t keep judging herself.  He said he was certainly not going to judge her because her accusers were gone.  For her accusers to be gone, she could not accuse herself.  He instructed: “... go and sin no more”.  (John 8:11—read the whole story in this chapter).

My request for all of us is to take God up on is promises.  One day at a time ask Him to remove our bad thoughts. (Matthew 6:11)   They are certainly Satan inspired. (Matthew 6:13) And to go forward through Passover with humility and great thankfulness for being cleaned up and forgiven by our Savior.

So go with solemn joy to Passover with a joyful, forgiven and clean heart – and take of his bread of his life, and drink of his cup.  All of this is possible because of what HE has done for you and me. We praise you, our Father.  We praise you, our Savior. 

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BE READY for Passover

Are we getting ready for Passover – or will it be upon us before we realize it!?  Every year there are some of God’s children who say, “Wow, is it Passover time already?!” – and they’re caught off guard. They forgot! It’s nowhere on their MARCH calendar but when they look at April – wow, there it is! Yep, Passover is almost here! It seems like yesterday that we were at the Feast of Tabernacles, right? It’s true, the holy day cycle starts again in just a few weeks as I write this. 

DON’T be or remain among those people who haven’t spiritually or mentally prepared for Passover at all yet. You be ready and be sure you do a thorough SELF-examination (read 1 Cor. 11:27-29) as we’re told to do and then after that, take the Passover. You examine yourself; you repent of areas where you could fight sin more, start doing so – and then take the Passover. And sure, be thinking about deleavening your home, but more importantly – deleavening your LIFE. The hidden and secret sins of our lives, as well as the obvious sins, is what the leaven largely points to.

BUT I BELIEVE TOO many of God’s children have made Passover – and the foot washing, bread and wine service – just another ceremony. Passover must NOT become “just another ceremony” – when we meet with others, read some scriptures together, wash one another’s feet and take a piece of matzah and a thimble-full of red wine (or for some of you – juice) – and then we go home. It should mean more and be more than that.

Passover DAY in 2020 is April 8, Wednesday. For many of the Church of God brethren, they’ll be observing the foot washing and the bread and wine ceremony the eve before – evening of April 7, Tuesday evening after sundown. Then for them, the Night to be Much Observed will be the following evening, at the end of Passover day, on April 8 after sundown, starting the first day of Unleavened Bread, a “high day” holy day. Remember God’s days begin and end at sundown.

The days of Unleavened Bread are Thursday April 9 starting the evening before, through Wednesday April 15, ending at sundown.

April 9 – the first day of Unleavened Bread and April 15, the last day of Unleavened Bread, are both holy days of God, and annual sabbaths (Leviticus 23:1-4). much like the weekly sabbath except on the annual holy days, cooking is expressly allowed. On these annual holydays, we do not go to work but worship God together instead (Lev. 23:4-8).

But Jews and those who strictly follow the rabbinic calendar will be keeping the Seder/Passover on evening of April 8, Wednesday evening, 2020. And this will also start the Days of Unleavened Bread, when we all eat Matzah for 7 days. Jews often add an extra day on their holy days to “be sure” they are on the right day. They do not do this on the fasting day of Atonement however.

But either way, Passover season is almost upon us and we need to be prepared spiritually even more so than physically. Are you pondering how profound the Passover is – and how profound is the blood of Yeshua covering and cleansing us? You’ll read more about that today.

Have YOU given much thought to Passover this year? Are we ready to take the bread and the wine in a worthy manner? Have we examined ourselves to find where we are tolerating sin and weaknesses in our lives – and asked our Maker to truly make us a NEW CREATION in Christ?  

Passover and its entire season should be much more than a ceremony. We’re called to be personally involved ahead of time in preparation spiritually for it, even more than physically. And DO realize that the whole Passover and days of Unleavened Bread SEASON was eventually referred to – eventually – as “PASSOVER”. We new covenant believers tend to separate them as Leviticus 23 does, but they eventually were seen as the season of Passover.       

Ezekiel 45:21 calls the “Passover, a feast of seven days”.

Luke 22:1 – “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called ‘Passover’, drew near.”

Now back to preparation. If you’re not on your guard – ESPECIALLY if you’re not – this is the time Satan will do his best and his worst to have you and me commit terrible sins that will so discourage us that we might even conclude we can’t observe the Passover this year, for we conclude we are unworthy of being a part of it. Please read that again. OR, Satan will put so many distractions (Corona virus? Health issues, setbacks) in front of you that you spend little time thinking about God’s love – and once again, we come to Passover ill prepared spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Something “more pressing” grabbed our attention.

And if you’re feeling more spiritual attacks than ever, more temptations than usual, more crises and distractions popping up than normal …. Yep, Satan’s working overtime to get you to feel defeated and just want to give up spiritually! So often that is what happens prior to the spring and fall holydays especially. So read this blog carefully and let’s have the most meaningful Passover we’ve ever had. We children of God are called to be spiritual warriors against Satan and his ways.

Or are you feeling like Passover seems suddenly almost here – and you are unprepared? If that is what’s happened, resolve to make changes so it never happens again. Mark “preparation time” on your calendars a month before next year’s Passover season. It’s our own fault if we’re unprepared. But frankly it’s also a reflection on your ministers if that happened. Pastors should be discussing Passover-related topics for the next few sabbaths (as we are in this blog and upcoming sermons before Passover). Regardless, you decide each year when you mark up your calendars and E-calendars, to note 3 or more weeks before Passover each year, to start thinking heavily about God’s love for me and for you.

So here’s my point: If you’re among those keeping it in April, and you realize it has come up so quickly and you feel caught off guard, this blog is for you!

God’s people must NOT, must NOT, let the pivotal event in all human history since Adam and Eve were created, to “sneak up” on us or catch us off guard.

And men, husbands – LEAD your family in preparation and announce that “Passover is just x-number of days away, and so let’s all be spiritually thinking and preparing for it.” You’re the head of your family under Christ, so lead. Maybe you can ask for volunteers in your family to share something they’ve each studied about aspects of Passover with the whole family. Fathers - lead them. Protect them from being caught off guard.

Click on “Continue reading” for the remainder of this vital topic and what it pictures and how Christ’s blood continually cleanses us, all the time.

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Husband’s role or wife’s role – which is harder?

This article goes with the recent Part 3 sermon on “is God Sexist?” though I focused more on what God tells us the role of husband and wife is – and even more so, what they are supposed to be depicting: the union of Christ and his Bride, the Church. 

First of all, let me state that for 95-99% of us, a good marriage takes a lot of work 24/7, all the time. Maybe even for 100% of us. It takes a lot of self- sacrifice and dedication to bring joy to each other. I also believe there are many marriages in the Body of Christ who are just hanging on but are not enjoying the bliss and joy that a godly marriage should have.

How many really truly great and happily married couples (who are past their honeymoon first 2 years) can you think of? And even of those you think are happily married and truly delight in each other almost all the time – it might surprise you to learn when they’re by themselves, it’s not always so great. I can think of maybe 19-20 couples out of the hundreds or thousands I know whom I’m pretty sure are delightfully happy with and still madly adoring of each other most of the time. Even among those who’ve been married for 40+ years, I think a lot of them, at best – are “companions”, sticking it out, but they could sure be happier. And I wonder how often they express loving adoration for the other and exhibit that love by their kind and loving actions with each other.

Now to my question: Who’s got the harder role or function – the believer wife or the believer husband? Probably most of you would instinctively respond – “the wife, of course!”

Wives are basically told to submit themselves to their own husbands as they would if Christ himself was their husband (“as unto the Lord”) (Eph. 5:22). Verse 23 reminds wives that just as Christ is head of the church, that a husband is the head of his wife. It goes on to say, “Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything” (verse 24).

I don’t believe these verses are being preached much anymore. At least I’m unaware of it. Wives are told to be submissive and to respect their husband. 1 Corinthians 11:3 – where it speaks of woman and man, is translated as “wife” and “husband” in some translations, which to me makes sense: “the head of the wife is her husband”. Titus 2:4-5 adds that a wife is to love her husband and be obedient to him.

That last paragraph is taken as a synopsis of Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-6; Titus 2:4-5 and 1 Cor. 11:3. Yes, this is what God’s word says. It’s all there. It’s super, super tough to want to submit to someone, let alone someone you live with. Super tough.

Let’s also remember that Ephesians 5:21 starts the section by saying we are to submit to one another. So as I pointed out in the sermon, there are plenty of times we husbands should also submit to what our wives suggest and desire – as God himself told Abraham to do what Sarah wanted when it came to Ishmael. So we hope more husbands will remember this point too.

And also remember that our roles are for that spouse to fulfill. Husbands are nowhere told to make their wives submit. Wives are nowhere told to make their husbands more loving. Submitting is what a godly wife chooses to do – and men will at times too. Loving as Christ does is something a godly husband also chooses to do.

Husbands (see Eph. 5:25-30) are basically told to love their wives in the same way as Christ loves the church, giving himself for his wife. We are also to follow his example of presenting his Bride to himself and seeing her as being without spot or wrinkle – without fault in his eyes. Men are told to love their wives as themselves. In other words, we are NOT to nit-pick, we are NOT to constantly find where our wife has fallen short or not measured up. Yes, I’ve done that in the past, but am striving to make that a thing of the past.

Yeshua (Jesus) says those in charge are to serve, never lord it over those being led, nor make a point to prove or exert their authority (Matthew 20:25-28). We don’t see our Yeshua barking orders and demanding submission all the time. We just don’t. In 1 Pet 3:7 husbands are also admonished to learn to understand their wives and to honor them, as co-heirs together of the grace of life.

Husbands are also told to bring happiness to their wives and to be satisfied with their wives and rejoice with them (Proverbs 5:18-19; Deut. 24:5; Ecclesiastes 9:5). I brought all that out early in my recent sermon. (Ephesians 5:25-30; 1 Peter 3:7; Matthew 20:25-28). We are admonished to love our wives the way Christ loves the church! Super tough.

Hmm. How are we doing?

All of the above is covered in more detail in the recent Part 3 Sermon on “Is God sexist” – and how we are to depict the relationship of Christ and his church. I hope you will listen/watch the video.

One important point to make is that there is no caveat or exception given to these commands. They’re more than just suggestions. We’re not told we must do our part – but only if our spouse does his or her part. I don’t see that there.

Wives are NOT told to submit themselves but only if their husbands “earn” or “deserve” their submission. There’s no statement that this applies only to husbands who are gentle, kind, loving, respectful and patient. And many husbands ARE mean and tough.

IN the same way husbands are NOT told they have to love their wives but only if their wife is a submissive and wonderful wife; but no love is needed if their wife is a horrible and unsubmissive wife. It’s not there.

Nope, those caveats are simply not there. Nope, nopity, nope, nope, nope. Not there.

And yet, let’s face it: that’s how many of us live. But whose role is tougher.

Click here to finish reading this important topic.

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When does human life begin? Is Mayor Pete wrong?

Pete Buttigieg, a USA  presidential candidate in 2020, says life begins with one’s first breath to try to justify his stance that a woman can end her baby’s life in her womb all the way up to the point of being born through her birth canal – without it being murder.  Hmm, how convenient for pro-abortionists. By that definition, they’re not really ending or killing a human life if the fetus has not taken its own first breath. We will see God’s word on this. 

Somehow Mayor Pete even says his belief comes from the Bible.  How convenient for his sanctimonious preaching at the rest of us while he discards the many other scriptures he either doesn’t know about – or refuses to admit are there. That’s putting it kindly. 

Now, to be fair to Mayor Pete, the first man came to life when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). But Adam was a fully formed man at this point, and just needed to start breathing. That is not addressing the life in the womb.

And certainly once a person or mammal is breathing, there’s no question there’s a life there. So the Bible does indeed speak of “all who have breath” to poetically refer to all who are alive.  But does all life begin with the first breath?  I’ll show you that’s not the case. In the case of a fetus, it begins much earlier according to God’s own word.

Also keep in mind that just about all the Democrat presidential candidates are pro-abortion, or are pro women’s health care rights or reproductive rights. But when a human baby in development is terminated, where’s the health care or reproduction going on? Whose “health-care right” is being protected?  Certainly not the health care or reproductive right of the fetus!  The very label “reproductive rights” is so misleading. They should relabel it to what they really want to have:  “terminating rights”, the right to end or terminate a small unborn baby’s life. But even then – no human has a terminating right over a viable, living but yet-unborn human fetus.

So does the unborn baby’s mom, or her doctor, have the right to terminate the developing and growing human life inside its mom’s womb?  It’s certainly a lot easier to say “yes” if you believe, like apparently Pete Buttigieg believes, that human “life” does not even begin until the fetus – or child – takes its first breath.

The mother’s womb used to be just about the safest place in the world in which a tiny developing fetus could be! But not anymore. Not for the 61 million developing tiny boys and girls whose lives were sucked out, ripped apart and snuffed out in abortion clinics all over America alone!  That wasn’t a typo.  Sixty-one MILLION.  And our Democrat presidential candidates are OK with that!  In my view, that’s the modern-day human live sacrifices going on to accommodate the wishes of the mom who is not yet ready to be “with child” or to have a child.  So the unborn boy or girl is sacrificed alive to meet the needs of its mom.

I know that can sound harsh, but we need to make plain what is really going on here. 

If you have had an abortion and now know that decision was seriously wrong and have deeply repented of it, our loving God in heaven has forgiven you and you can move on.  You’re no worse than all sinners – all of us – who have had to be forgiven of our own horrible sins.  I’m including myself in that.  But the rest of society has to come to understand the truth about the painful brutality of abortion and need to understand when a human life really begins. 

The NY State Legislature basically codified in their state law that a fetus’ beating heart can now be legally stopped all the way to the birth canal, through the 9th month!  May God have mercy on them and on all of us.  How abominable!  How shameful!  How brutal!  Who’s standing up for that unborn little girl or boy? WHO? Well I am and I hope you’ll join me.

So when it comes to human life, let’s be clear. I could give a hoot what Mr. Buttigieg, you, or I have to say about when human life begins.  GOD – who creates all life – ALONE,  is the one who determines when life begins. I will go only by what he says.  

But as I’ll show you, God says it is murder. We who have received God’s spirit and are his children (Romans 8:14 defines a child of God), must speak up and stand up with our Father and what HE says against the concept that humans can determine when to end a fetus’ life.

So when does human life begin?  If it begins with the first breath, then “they” are saying that during all those nine months in the womb – there is still no human life going on and so there’s no human life being terminated – and in other words, there’s no “murder” being committed with abortions and so they say – that’s OK. 

That’s what their reasoning has to mean!  How convenient for them.  Don’t forget that in the early years of abortions, the pro-abortion gang referred to the developing human fetus as “tissue”.  That helped the mom of that developing baby not feel so guilty.  What they were pulling out of her was just “tissue” they said – not much different than phlegm perhaps.  But don’t kid yourself: when tiny arms and legs are being torn off or cut off, when scissors are being thrust into fetus’ skulls, that abortion being conducted is infanticide of the worst kind. God be merciful.

With the advent of ever clearer ultrasounds and being able to see and hear the beating hearts of these little ones, it has become very clear they are not just blobs of tissue.

And even if we forget for a moment all the ultrasounds, all the beating hearts, all the developing human hands, human feet, baby sex organs being developed, how can anyone say there’s no life yet.  Not human life at least.  But what is it then, which is clearly alive in the mother’s womb if not human life? It’s clearly alive.  Maybe it’s a baby cat, or dog, or armadillo?  When a human conceives, does it conceive anything else BUT a human? 

So when does the Bible say human life begins?  To get the answer from scripture, and to  finish reading this Blog, click on “Continue reading”.

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