Blogs

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

ENOCH and Elijah – are they in heaven?

This blog is really an addendum to a recent sermon in July 2019 I gave on the spirit in man, which is from God and goes back to God upon our death (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  I recommend you hear/read those 2 recent sermons.    

So many believe Enoch and Elijah were taken by God to heaven. Can that be true?

Yeshua (Jesus) said “NO ONE has ascended to heaven except the Son of Man from heaven” (himself ) – John 3:13. But many believe that active conscious beings are up there, and certainly Enoch and Elijah should be there, many say. But is that true.

If Elijah has ascended to heaven and is in heaven, or if Enoch went to heaven, then are we saying that Yeshua didn’t tell the truth? That can’t be! There must be a better explanation.

Let’s cover Elijah first. And remember again, Yeshua said NO ONE has ascended into heaven – and in context, I believe Yeshua had to be referring to the 3rd heaven where God lives. No man has ascended bodily to Paradise in the 3rd heaven, though we’ll see that Paul says he himself was taken there in a vision so real he could not discern if real or not. You can read his account in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 and beyond.

My point is that Paul calls where God is – the “3rd heaven”, where “Paradise” is. Yeshua said NO ONE has gone up bodily here, so Paul’s experience must have been a very realistic vision.

Saying “third heaven” tells us there are 2 other heavens. (I know many believe in 7 heavens, but scripture speaks of three.) The “third heaven” is God’s dwelling place.   Christ is seated at God’s right hand “in the heavens” (Heb 8:1), which is God’s dwelling place (Deut 26:15).

Scripture describes various “heavens”. There is a “heaven” in scriptures where birds fly and where clouds form. That “heaven” is what we call the sky that we can easily see. It’s what is called “inner space” (vs. “outer space”). The birds of heaven fly here (Job 35:11; Jeremiah 16:4). This is the FIRST heaven.

Then there’s a heaven where the moon, sun and stars are. Gen 26:4; Isa 13:10 – outer space. David speaks of “your heavens...” where the moon, and stars are (Psalm 8:3).   This “outer space” heaven is the 2nd heaven. And again the 3rd heaven is where God’s throne is.

So what happened to Elijah? It seems that a lot of people like to say he was taken to God’s 3rd heaven in a fiery chariot. I just Googled Elijah and chariot – and so much of the artwork is of Elijah being taken up in a chariot of fire! Children’s Bible stories often show him in a chariot of fire. Is that what scripture says though?

He was talking with Elisha, his successor in ministry, and suddenly a “chariot of fire” came at them, separating them, and then Elijah was picked up in a tornado or whirlwind “into heaven”. It was NOT a fiery chariot that took him up. The chariot was a sudden and scary way to separate the two so Elijah could be isolated and Elijah could be picked up by the tornado. We have many accounts over the years of people being picked up by tornadoes and dropped somewhere else, by the way. Yes, some live to tell the story. So let’s see what scripture actually says.

2 Kings 2:11   “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

He was NOT caught up by a chariot of fire driven by angels. It says a whirlwind caught him up. Which of the 3 heavens do whirlwinds operate in? The First heaven – where clouds are, where birds fly. 

Click on “Continue reading” to finish the account of Elijah and then Enoch, and whether they are in heaven or not.

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Yah’s (Our Holy Father’s) Children

Notes from the host, Philip Shields: From time to time I see an article or blog I’d like to include in our blogs here at Light on the Rock. This is one is from a retired sister in Messiah who lives in Florida, USA. Our God tells us through Paul that older women are to teach others and I feel our author today does just that. She pulls no punches in this very frank and hard-hitting article—again, written by a strong woman addressing one of the cardinal issues of our time: what we’re allowing as a country to happen to unborn children of God.  

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Yah’s (Our Holy Father’s) Children

 Are we Yah’s children?  Let us review where we are today two hundred years plus after the signing and the implementing of the Constitution of the United States of America.  This study will focus on one subject—babies, children made in the image of Yah – and what’s happening to too many in our country, the USA. 

Just to be clear, when I say “Yah” I’m referring to the shortened name used in the scriptures for YHVH (see Psalm 68.4; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4; 38:11), the personal name of the living God. I’ll be quoting primarily from the KJV.

So what was God doing when He created mankind?

Gen. 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”. 

So we see that man and woman were made in God’s own image and he gave them dominion over other living creatures. After Yah created man and woman in His image, He proceeded to give mankind a commandment to be fruitful and multiply; also, for humans to live his or her life in loving obedience, subjected to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God as recorded in Matt. 4:4 and also Luke 4:4. 

Matt. 4:4 But he answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. 

The Supreme Court of USA heads the judiciary branch of our government, set apart to give final rulings which includes “points in the Constitution” and/or federal law. The Constitution incorporates a system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribe the nature, function and limits of a government or other institutions. We have 9 justices, appointed for life, by the President who is in office at the time a vacancy is to be filled. The Justices should not be political; however, the President appointing the Justice will likely choose one whose values and principles are similar to his or hers. 

In 1973, a ruling came down from the Supreme Court of the United States taking away the rights of individual states in determining a woman’s prerogative to have an abortion; thus opening the door for the legalization of abortion. Seven Justices voted against states’ rights on abortion favoring a federal law which allowed abortion in the first trimester. Six of the seven Justices had been appointed by a Republican or conservative President.  

The baby being formed and growing in a woman’s body is referred to as an “embryo” for the first eight weeks and then referred to as a “fetus”, with the first twelve weeks considered the first trimester. 

Using statistics exclusive to the United States, two different parameters are used when seeking the number of abortions performed since 1973. Surgical abortions total approximately 54 million while the chemically induced number is said to be approximately 250 million. Chemical or medical abortions involve a woman taking of two medicines to end the pregnancy which takes three to four days until the fetal (baby) tissue has been expelled. This procedure generates a brutal list of side effects that cause extreme pain and cramps for the woman; all the while she of course is told the baby feels nothing. How can we believe no feeling is involved while this beginning of life is literally being poisoned and ripped apart? 

There are two different surgical procedures used to discard this unwanted life. A Manual Vacuum Aspiration where a doctor uses a handheld device to suction out the baby. The other procedure is a D&E, (Dilation and Evacuation), which uses forceps, scraping tool and suction. According to a prevalent, persistent viewpoint, the fetus is not a life and definitely has no feelings of pain. Incredibly how illogical in thinking that such a disastrous disturbance of a fetus inflicts no pain nor a break in the continuum in the development of a human life, especially since no human ever came down the birth canal without first having existed as a fetus! Famed pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has operated on fetuses, categorically said in a speech March 1, 2019, that they can definitely feel pain. “I’ve had the privilege of being able to operate on little babies that were 25, 26, 27, 28 weeks’ gestation. I can guarantee you, they can feel, they can react.”  

There is the case of a doctor in the Philadelphia area who has been tried and convicted for the murder of babies born after botched abortions. These were late term abortions where the baby was born alive; this fiend ended the life of the baby by snipping the neck with large scissors. 

Over 300 million of Yah’s children have never taken a breath, had anyone hold them, no one to sing to them, no one to kiss their boo-boos, no one to teach them about their loving Father in heaven who was about to breathe His breath of life into their small, tiny and frail bodies. 

Roe vs Wade originally allowed abortion during the first trimester. Since that time, there have been abortions performed in the second trimester which have led to late term or third trimester murders. In January of this year, the New York State Legislature passed the “Reproductive Health Act”, which legalized medical personnel to murder a fully formed baby up to the moment of birth! This fatal decision would be jointly made by the mother to be and medical personnel, not necessarily a doctor. This law would allow terminating a life based on the mental and emotional health of the mother. This loophole allows this heinous act to take place based on feelings, not on the physical health of the mother—and certainly without consideration for the life and well-being of the newly born baby. 

We have thus far presented man’s decisions and choices regarding abortion; let us now review Yah’s feelings and emotions about this topic. 

Gen. 9:6 “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man”. 

Many will argue this does not refer to a “fetus”, since this innocent unborn baby cannot yet live outside the womb of its mother in its early weeks. Let us continue to see when Yah considers this baby to be a viable, living human being. 

Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

The word fashion is Strong’s # 03559 and means confirm; perfect (make); establish; formed 

Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. 

Isa. 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. 

Jer. 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Other scripture references to use are Ps. 119:73; 127:3, 4; Isa. 44:2; 46:2, 3 

Exodus 21:22 "If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.23 "But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,25 "burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe

In referencing the New King James version, it is clearer as to what Yah is telling us. If a man harms a pregnant woman which results in a premature birth, how do Yah’s laws apply? The most glaring, overbearing or intense is a life for a life. This punishment of a life for a life is commanded by Yah when the incident appears to be accidental, with the woman and her child as collateral damage. How much more is Yah demanding when the taking of a life is deliberate

Psalm 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.17 ¶ How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. 

I will reword part of Psalm 139:13-16 into English we understand. I have carefully checked Strong’s to be sure the words I use are based on correct usage. 

139:13 For thou has redeemed my kidneys, my mind, all of my internal being, thou has protected, defended me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My power, my body, my strength, was not hid from thee, when I was made privately, and curiously embroidered (covered) in the depths of the womb.

16 Thine eyes did see my power, my body, and my strength, yet being an unformed mass or embryo, and in Thy book all my members were written, which in a space of time were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 

Throughout scripture we read of how precious we are to Yah, He created us; He formed us, He is present day in and day out to guide and direct us. These scriptures describe His forming us in the womb before there is any indication of life as we know it. Yet even with us in this most unformed and emerging condition, He tells us He knows us, knowing what we will be. It is a sin to take a life because that life is special and unique; a special and unique life that has not been allowed to take a living breath on its own.  

Presently it seems, most people don’t feel the need to read Yah’s word. After all it is far easier to allow one to be led astray by the media, the popular conjecture or beliefs on various topics in the secular world. Many believe a woman has a right to determine what she wants to do with her own body, never making an effort to find out when life begins. Why do we take man’s word without going to the only source -- God through His Word -- who could answer the question “when does life begin”? 

It is time to write down using Yah’s words, why we should no longer accept the manmade fiction that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body. 

Please read Matt. 18:1 through 18:11. Verses 6, 7 and 10 are emphasized for their relevance to this study. 

Matt. 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 

It is time to reveal some facts and to ask questions: 

The exact percentage of unborn babies’ lives ended by Planned Parenthood is not known. However, the percentage that has been attributed and accepted by many of our Congressional people is 94% of the total services they provide. They receive their funds or money from the following:

  • From the young teen or woman seeking an abortion
  • From the federal government (our tax dollars) purportedly for other women’s services other than abortion

A couple of questions to ask: Where does it stop? When is enough – enough? When do we decide it is now time to euthanize the elderly, the bed ridden, the lame, the mentally and physically handicapped, the autistic, etc. We can go on extending the list –by saying the babies are unwanted, the elderly are non-productive and the rest are a financial burden on a system that is already bankrupt. 

Concurrently we have National and Local Animal Rights Groups boycotting various firms because their products are perceived as being inhumane to animals. Some will boycott “Chapstick” and a children’s game called “Theft Auto” because it depicts cruelty to animals. Where is the outrage and boycotting of abortion for the defense of the totally innocent and helpless babies? 

Those of us who have been blessed with having our own children and grandchildren can relate to the overwhelming feeling of love and protection that is felt when we sweep that innocent beautiful creation of Yah’s into our arms. Yes, scripture says over and over again that God formed us and formed that special unique bundle of joy.  

In summary, please consider this undeniable, but admittedly harshly stated fact: When someone ends the life of her son or daughter, we have ended the life of who they were to be--the man or woman who may have helped to bring peace, love, or healing to the people of the world. This murderous act also – in a big way – stops the potential lives of all the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren that unborn fetus could have had, had he or she been allowed to be fully born—and to live a long and normal life! Who are any of us, to dare think we have a right to try to block what our heavenly Father had lovingly planned for each of them in His very creative will for each person made in his image? Ending the lives of such precious unborn boys and girls is murder and will bring God’s wrath upon those who do this. Many women who have had abortions go on to suffer terrible anguish and regret when they come to better comprehend what they’ve done. 

But there has to be HOPE. Yes, there’s hope, for every type of sinner, even those who have had abortions or any sin. God does not want any of us to have to live with painful regret for the rest of our lives. There’s a better way. 

This article and topic would be incomplete if we don’t remind everyone of this: We are all broken people who have committed various kinds of horrible sins. No matter what we’ve done, we can always bring our sins to the Mercy Seat of God, and to Calvary to confess what we’ve done in deep repentance. We have a loving Father in heaven who is known for both his justice and his mercy. Paul spoke of the “goodness and severity of God”. He made a way through the sacrifice of His own Son where any of us, and all of us, can bring the horrors of our own sins to him and repent in deep anguish of heart – and He WILL forgive us. Yes, He will forgive YOU of ALL SINS. ALL our sins can be washed away in the blood of our Messiah (1 John 1:7-9) the Lamb of God, who died so none of us who repent, and accept him and his sacrifice will ever have to die for our own sins. God tells us that when we repent, we never should look back at what we’ve done – but look up and ahead instead to our loving Father and to the Savior we have, the Son of God. 

We believe and tell others about God’s redemption. Our Messiah is our Redeemer. Nobody who has sinned – any sin, even abortion – needs to live with that awful regret. Bring your story to your Messiah and let him make you his “NEW Creation” and have a new start, in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). Hallelujah, Praise Yah!  

I do hope and pray that this article will help women who are carrying a baby but are contemplating abortion, to think otherwise. We hope you will choose LIFE and carry your baby to term. There are so many couples who cannot have babies who would love to give your baby a loving home and let him or her fulfill God’s plan for his or her life. Choose life – and reap God’s blessings for choosing life.  

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TATTOOS – Should God’s children go have tattoos?

I was at a Barnes & Noble bookstore recently and was surprised how many magazines are devoted to “body art” – or tattoos specifically.  I paged through a few of the magazines and some of the models were covered from the top of their heads to their feet with tattoos.

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

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

It has become a worldwide craze. What was once the realm of navy sailors, gangs or certain ethnic groups or tribal custom, is now being practiced by a wide swath of humanity. Now even teens and young adults everywhere seem to have tattoos. Some are of pretty butterflies. Others, from a distance, appear more like a bad bruise on one’s leg or arm! I’ve been in locker rooms where men have tattoos even on very private parts. I hear the same is true for women. And of course once a tattoo is done, it’s very difficult and painful to try to un-tattoo. I’ve heard it can be done, but how painful it must be. tattoo

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

What does our Father in heaven say to his children on this topic? 

First of all, we’re told in the beautiful passage in 1 Peter 3:3-4, directed more at wives, but there’s a principle there for us all: that our adorning should NOT be focused on outward adorning but inward. We should not be focused on things the world focuses on to get attention and to look beautiful to humanity such as having impossibly white teeth, or where we bought our dress or suit, or how much we paid for our shoes, or the gold rings we wear.

What is FAR more important to our God is that we have a beautiful HEART and an inward spirit that is gentle and quiet. That’s gorgeous to God. Remember when Samuel was to anoint the next king of Israel, YHVH says – “Samuel, don’t judge by what you see, by one’s outward appearance, or one’s height or physique, but look at the man’s HEART, like I do. That’s what I look for!” (I paraphrased it quite a bit--1 Samuel 16:7). Be sure to heed Christ’s words – “…For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) 

We are to come out of this Babylon, this world, and represent the values of God instead. Our Creator is not against beauty, or wearing jewelry or having nice clothes, but that should not be our FOCUS. There are lots and lots of examples of the people of God having and wearing jewelry, for example, but God is looking at our hearts. 

But is that your focus? Are you overly concerned about how you look? Where’s God’s focus? And where God Most High has made clear statements, we would be eager to listen to him.  

Is God really concerned about how pretty or striking your tattoo is? Of whether you are a B or a DD cup? Or whether you are 5 ft. tall or 6 ft. tall? Or if you’re “ripped” and your abs show lots of muscle? There is SO much emphasis on outward beauty that people are even becoming suicidal over it sometimes if they feel they don’t measure up. 

Believe it or not, your Maker does say something about tattoos. 

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

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Paul and Philemon – and you and I

In my last blog I wrote about helping a wandering brother or sister back to the bedrock of Truth, who is of course, Yeshua the Son of God.  I hope you will read that one. This one follows up on it in a way. 

When was the last time you read the short letter to Philemon? It’s a masterful and gentle—and yet a very strong teaching from Paul to a church leader named Philemon. Back in Paul’s day, it was not uncommon to have male and female slaves – yes, people you bought and sold and who lived and worked in your house. And yes, even in the household of God this was going on. This letter revolves around a runaway slave of one of the leaders in Colossae – yes, same as the group to whom “Colossians” was written.

Remember that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and many of the Israelites, and no doubt the Israelite and Jewish kings – including David and all the rest – also had slaves. Slavery is not my topic today. My topic is how Paul handled a runaway slave and the slave’s “owner” and how it ties in, in a way, to my last blog about helping someone wandering from the truth – but doing it with grace, gentle firmness and love.

And this book of Philemon was a clear signal to early Christians that we were to start to view one another as all children of God, whether we were slave or free -- and where possible, to start to change the social assumptions that everyone had back then.

Please open up in your own New Testament to the “book” of Philemon – very short – and follow along with me. It’s the letter just before the book of Hebrews.

Paul opens by calling Philemon a “fellow laborer” – a term that often could mean a fellow minister or helper in the work Paul was doing. So we can’t be sure Philemon was an ordained minister, though tradition says he was. No doubt he was a man of some standing in the congregation. Apphia was probably Philemon’s wife.

Paul mentions “and to the assembly (church) in your house” (verse 2). Perhaps this alludes to “a house church” where other believers came to worship and meet in Philemon’s house.

Paul begins by commending Philemon for being such a reliable and dependable leader and fellow-believer in Colossae. He speaks of Philemon’s love and faith in verses 4-7 and calls him a “brother”.

Now the short summarized story for the rest of his letter is this:

** Onesimus, though a slave of Philemon, had run away

** Prior to running away, he may not have been a very good servant or slave

** Runaways were often treated harshly when found

** Somehow and some way after he ran away – by God’s calling no doubt – Onesimus and Paul had met up in Rome.

** God uses Paul to bring Onesimus to conversion and into the body of Christ.

** Paul determines to send Onesimus back to Philemon in Colossae, but writes a letter so that Philemon just might start to view Onesimus in a different light. Philemon means “affectionate”. Onesimus means “profitable” or “useful”. Notice how the theme of being useful and profitable to Paul and one another is woven through this letter. It’s a masterpiece. Onesimus is mentioned in Colossians 4:9 as a “faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.”

Click on “Continue reading” to finish learning about Paul’s masterful use of his authority as an apostle – and yet his desire to help, as a brother. It’s masterful. We have much to learn from this short letter. Yes, me too!

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Turning people back from error (James 5:19-20)

James 5:19-20    “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

KJV says “If any of you ERR from the truth…”   The Greek there for “err” really does strongly imply “wanders” from the truth; a gradual movement away from God’s truth – and from Christ himself, since HE is the truth and the Way.

Do you practice this passage? Do you actively seek to turn people back to the truth when you see them wandering from it? How does one do that? Should you do that? Why should we bother?

A common expression is this:  “This is a free country. We are all entitled to our own opinion.”  And with that, we wander off ourselves, away from someone who is being led into error.  It is, we reason, none of our business.

But when we see someone wandering off the right path – shouldn’t we have more of an “I am my brother’s keeper” mentality?  God says we should.  I’m NOT talking about yanking someone out of their doldrums and loudly proclaiming their sin to them.  I AM talking about caring enough for a brother or sister to bring your loving concern to their attention, gently. 

Peter, Jude and Paul all speak about people straying. Paul says some stray due to overly seeking money (1 Timothy 6:10). Others stray from the faith by giving heed to “new truth” and idle babblings (1 Tim. 6:21).  In Paul’s day, there were brethren causing problems because they taught “the resurrection” is already past (2 Tim. 2:18). Peter warned that any of us could fall from our “own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17). 

How many people could be alive today if more of us acted and gently intervened in the lives of our spiritual family? Or if you had carefully talked with someone who was starting to drink too much?  I’ve talked to younger brothers in the faith about alcohol and other issues, and they listened and changed.

So we don't use a sledgehammer approach but a gentle and careful approach that is preceded by prayer for help and guidance. 

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.

Click on “Continue reading” here to finish this instructive piece.

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Happy Father’s Day: HONOR your Father and Mother

On June 16, 2019, the USA has a special day to honor Fathers.  Mothers’ Day is in May.  I don’t know if a lot of other countries do Father’s Day, though many do the same date we have for Mother’s Day.  In America, the origin of these days has no connection to ancient pagan days.  Grown children wanted to honor their Father and, earlier, the mothers – and Congress eventually passed those days.

Since the 5th commandment is to honor father and mother, (Exodus 20:12) it is fitting and appropriate to have this special day.  Since God the Father is the ultimate Father, there are several scriptures that compare our honoring a human father with honoring him.  I may do a fresh sermon on that later today. 

My father died in 1984 when I was only 31 yrs old, and my Mom died in 1993 when I was 40.  I wish like anything I could be with them and honor them on these days and I miss them so. So many times, some people don’t realize what a gem they have in their father and mother until … until they are gone. Don’t let that be your regret, if you have a living father and mother.  Be spending time with them now. Honoring them on a certain day each year will mean more if they know you honor them and spend time with them in person or on the phone all throughout the year.  

Exodus 20:12   “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you”.

Let’s notice a couple things:

** It’s the transition command between the commands on how to love God and how to love man.

** God is also our Father.

 ** It does not say, HONOR your parents IF they are worthy of your honor in your opinion.  It doesn’t say that.  It just says to honor them for being your dad and mom. Our God gives no qualifiers.  They qualify for honor simply by being your parents.  I know in most situations, honor has to be earned. But in this case, God gave no qualifying standards.  I realize that some few fathers may even be dangerous to be around, so perhaps you can’t be there with some fathers, but at least from a safe distance still honor the man. He’s your Father! 

Fathers, on the other hand, let’s do our very best to BE worthy of our children’s love and honor.  But “kids” – even if your dad lacks some virtues, our fathers are to be respected and honored. 

There are many scriptures about honoring mom and dad.

** If someone curses, strikes or hits their father or mother, God said that child shall “surely be put to death”.  That’s how seriously God considers such disrespect (Exodus 21:15, 17). Yeshua (Jesus) repeated that in Matthew 15:4-6.

Respect for parents is commanded (Leviticus 19:3), so much so that we are all to rise in the presence of the elderly and old people (Lev. 19:32).  Do we always do that?  That’s part of God’s instructions.  Let’s start doing it.  Solomon did for his mom Bathsheba – 1 Kings 2:19.

Instead of honoring dads, we see more and more commercials, movies and TV shows that mock “the old man” and portray him as stupid, ignorant, know-nothings. Don’t laugh along with such disrespect.  Don’t participate in disrespectful comments and stories about dads. Just don’t. 

** Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20).   And, at the same time, Fathers are told not to discourage or exasperate their children (Col 3:21). 

So are YOU going to honor your Dad on Father’s Day?  And really – honor him on every day? We believers certainly should.

There are certain minimal things – at least – that all children of any age should do for their father:  Click on “Continue reading” to finish reading the rest of this blog and to see what we can learn from John the Baptist and what God says about fathers. 

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Was Peter the ROCK of the Church?

It is often said that Peter was the Rock upon which the church was built, and it comes from Matthew 16:18. Here, Yeshua (Jesus) had just asked the disciples who people were saying he was. They replied in various ways, and then Yeshua asked Peter, the son (bar) of Jonah, and his reply was so inspired.

Let’s read it.

Matthew 16:16-20

Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ (Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

So on the basis of verse 18, many have taught and believed that Peter is the Rock upon which the church of God has been built. But is that so? Last time we looked into the “gates of hades (hell) shall not prevail against it”. Remember that? And how gates don’t attack? This time, let’s look at whether or not Peter was the rock undergirding the church.  

A little background is in order. Peter’s original name was Simon or – in Hebrew – Simeon, son of Jonah”. Yeshua actually renamed him Cephas, an Aramaic name which means “stone”, a pebble, or a small rock is what it refers to. When this was translated to Greek, Cephas becomes the Greek equivalent – “Petros”, where get the anglicized (English) name “Peter”. 

See Strong’s #4074 –for Petros/Peter -- “A piece of a rock, a detached stone or boulder. It always means a stone, never a rock… it is a large stone, a piece or fragment of a rock such as a man might throw” 

Folks, you don’t build a church or a fellowship on a fragment of rock. No, you need a “petra’- a massive rock.  

“Petra” – 4073 – A MASS of rock, a projecting rock, cliff.

Now please keep these distinctions clearly in your mind. 

But again, the name Yeshua actually gave Peter was originally an Aramaic name -- Cephas (stone). So his original name was Simon, changed by Yeshua to Cephas or Petros – so that’s where we get “Simon Peter”. Let’s read it. 

John 1:40-42

“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone). 

Click on “Continue reading” for the rest of this fascinating topic. 

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Understand “the gates of hell won’t prevail” - Matthew 16:18

One of the frequently quoted phrases about the resilience and toughness of God’s church – or even earthly church organizations – is that even if Satan’s forces attack them, “the gates of hell won’t prevail against the church.”  We’ll survive and weather Satan’s attacks – is the way it is often explained. It’s often put in the context of coming under Satan’s assaults against God’s ekklesia, the church.

That explanation comes from Matthew 16:18. Let’s read it. The word “hell” in our English KJV Bibles is from the Greek word “hades”, meaning the grave, death.

Matthew 16:18

“And I also say to you that you are Peter (petros, meaning ‘stone’), and on this Rock (Petra = large Rock or Cliff) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

But that is often misunderstood. Let’s review it. The English word for “hell” is translated from 3 Greek words: 

--- Gehenna – hell fire that burns up unrepentant wicked people until they are ashes (as in Malachi 4:3) under the soles of the righteous. See also Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:27; 23:15; James 3:6

--- Tartaro – in a netherworld “dungeon” reserved for fallen angels. Used only in 2 Peter 2:4.

--- Hades (or sheol in Hebrew) – meaning death and the grave (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; Acts 2:27, 31; 1 Cor. 15:55; Revelation 20:13-14). 

Just about all of the verses that are translated “hell” in the Old Testament all come from the one Hebrew word “sheol” – the grave – the Hebrew equivalent of “hades” in the Greek.

So the Greek word in Matthew 16:18 is “hades’ – death, the grave.

Now here’s Yeshua’s (Jesus’) statement again:

Matthew 16:18

“And I also say to you that you are Peter (petros, meaning ‘stone’), and on this Rock (Petra = large Rock or Cliff) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

So there would be a “church” – or assembly, a group of people meeting – and the gates of the grave won’t prevail against it. Keep in mind that a true “church” in the Biblical sense is not the building, but the people. It’s the assembly, the congregation of those called out for a special purpose. In Greek it is “ekklesia”. The ekklesia (or church) is the group of congregants.

You see, we don’t “GO to church” because that means you’re focusing on the building. No, we ARE the church. And Yeshua says where 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, He’ll be there (Matthew 18:20). I guess we could say, “I’m going to fellowship services, or worship services” – but we don’t go to “church”.

So a lot of times I use the Greek term “Ekklesia”. Some don’t even like the English word “church” because of its pagan roots to “circ” or “kirk” – referring to a circle, pointing to ancient pagan sun worship. Even today, in England and even in America, you can find churches or church buildings called Kirk, especially among Presbyterian groups.

“Kirk” is an old northern English or Scottish word for church. Do you see the tie to ‘circ” or circle? In Leeds, Yorkshire England, for example, there is “Kirkstall Abbey”. Anyway, so that’s why I prefer to use terms like “assembly” or “congregation” or the Greek word “ekklesia” instead of saying “church” all the time.

But what does it mean that “the gates of hell – the grave—won’t prevail against the ekklesia”?

Click on “Continue reading” for the remainder of this intriguing blog.

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“Yehovah Tsidkenu”-- “YHVH Our Righteousness”

One of my favorite titles for our Savior and for our God is “Yehovah (or YHVH if you prefer), OUR righteousness.”  In Hebrew it is “YHVH Tsidkenu”.  

Jeremiah 23:5-6
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord,
"That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (YHVH Tsidkenu)

Many read right over this title. Or so many don’t believe it. God – OUR righteousness? But it’s so full of meaning. I’ve spoken and written several times on this important topic: that in the end, it won’t be your goodness or measure of how well YOU did through your life, as it is God seeing you covered with the robes of God’s own righteousness.

Isaiah 61:10 says, “For HE has clothed me with the garments of salvation, HE has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Now combine that with the title in Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16 – “YHVH (the LORD) OUR Righteousness” and we begin to see what the robe of righteousness and garments of salvation is all about!

Do you remember the story of the wedding feast in Matthew 22? A king (God the Father) put on a wedding for his Son (Yeshua/Jesus). In those days, wealthy hosts wanted their guests to be properly dressed for the occasion – no ripped jeans in these weddings – so they provided the robes and garments. Everyone felt honored to wear the latest high couture. But one man slipped in thinking he felt more comfortable in his own faded blue jeans and T-shirt and must have rejected the garments provided for the occasion.

The king came in, saw him improperly dressed, and threw him out (Matthew 22:11-12). The man’s own garments were as filthy rags by comparison.

But did you get the point? The King – picturing God the Father – provided the robes, their covering. No one had to buy these garments or work for them. But someone trying to come in his own clothes, his own goodness, was rejected.

Neither you nor I will be at THE Wedding Supper of the Lamb of God and His Bride –IF we’re dressed in anything but the righteousness of God. We need HIS garments of salvation, his robes of righteousness, as Isaiah puts it.

When the prodigal son returned home repentantly, the Father says in Luke 15:22 – “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the BEST robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.” Again, it was provided for him upon his repentance. Please click on “continue reading” to finish the rest of this thought-provoking blog.

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Pope calls for one world government

You will find this link below to be an interesting read, which was sent to me by a fellow minister and friend in Washington state. 

https://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/item/32245-pope-francis-calls-for-end-of-sovereignty-and-establishment-of-global-government?vsmaid=4572&vcid=13158

In here, we find Pope Francis calling for an END to national sovereignty and establishing a global government instead. He says one world governing power is necessary to properly tackle global problems like climate change and the mass migration of entire ethnic groups (like the border crisis the USA is facing right now on the southern border).

His significant voice is just one more being added to the many others calling for one world government. Though many thought President Trump would be leading us toward that same goal, so far he has not. But the Pope claimed planetary problems are only exacerbated “by an excessive demand for sovereignty on the part of States.”

My comment is this: I’ve been to the Vatican many times. As you get close, the first thing you see is that the entire city-country is surrounded by high and massively thick WALLS! Sure, they have several gates of entry. But even in the USA, we have over 300 legal ports of entry, but no proper southern wall, except for some few miles of low walls or fencing. Anyone on our southern border can just walk across in many, many places. It’s open – even for terrorists, let alone those hoping to just walk into our country without the proper protocols.

So before the Pope starts to preach at other countries, maybe he should look at his own city-state. Maybe start by declaring all Muslims (or anyone who wants to) moving to Europe are free and welcome to come to the Vatican to live and they’ll be amply provided for by the papacy. But I doubt you’ll see that happen.

But even here in the USA, we have the Democrats’ presidential candidates, including Joe Biden now, claiming that all immigrants and residents – documented (legal) or undocumented (illegally here) – should have access to full health care. I myself, as a citizen, went many years when our children were younger, without ANY health insurance because I could not afford it back then while I was self-employed. In the past 4-5 years, even with “Obamacare”, my wife and I paid about $24,000 a year, for several years, for this “coverage” – including the $6000 co-pay each year for any procedures I would have. It’s called “Affordable Care Act”. But $24,000 a year for the two of us was not “affordable”.

But some want to give away “free” health care to those who walk across illegally – while our own citizens struggle with health insurance payments unless their place of employment covers it. This does have much to do with one world government. So already we have the Pope interfering with what’s happening in some countries. He even said recently that “anyone who builds walls”, (then he paused before continuing, for effect)  --“is not a Christian”.

Pope Francis calls for “international organizations” to develop into governing bodies that would override and supplant national governments’ interests with – instead – what the United Nations would deem appropriate.

And of course, remember that most of the expenses of the UN are met and paid for by – once again – the USA. Not to mention the many problems caused by and done under the auspices of the UN!! Certainly the U.N. has not decreased the number of wars or solved anything noteworthy that I can think of. But the Pope wants them to have MORE power, more authority.

Those who wish to listen to this Pope, I hope, will at least listen to his steadfast abhorrence of abortion. But they selectively listen. He certainly is a liberal on most things.

Click on “Continue reading” to see what scripture says about the calls for one-world government.

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Spiritually speaking…

You can tell and learn a lot about people by listening to what they talk about, to what excites them, to what they want to tell everyone.  That tells you what is overflowing inside them, what means a lot to them.  And they – and God – can tell a lot about you and me by what we want to share with others as we talk.

Our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) said this and more:

Matthew 12:33-37 --- "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

One would think that especially after sabbath services, we would all be filled with the message we just heard and can’t help but talk about it while we fill our cup of coffee afterwards. You’d think everyone would be talking about something exciting in the message – or, lacking that, that we would be hearing one another discuss spiritual topics, especially on the sabbath.

But Yeshua didn’t differentiate that we speak more spiritually on one day versus other days. He simply teaches that we talk about what fills our hearts.

So again, what do our words tell God and one another about ourselves?

After services, and when we get together, sure – I get this – we have to ask how we all are, ask about the children or any sick relatives. Sure, we have to talk about many other things as well, but sooner or later does our conversation then devolve to the playoffs, or the latest crazy things the Dems or Republicans are doing, or gossip, or NASCAR, or the latest TV shows or movies, or other topics that reveal what really fills our heart?

This blog is simply a gentle wakeup call. We don’t want to be lukewarm Laodiceans. The Son of the living God says their lack of fire and zeal for the things of our God makes him want to puke. Read it for yourselves in Revelation 3. And again, what we are talking about reveals what fills our hearts and minds.

Peter, who prior to the crucifixion had denied his Savior three times, changed after he met his risen Lord. When threatened with beatings and worse – if they continued preaching and talking about the Christ – what did Peter say? It’s our model, frankly.  

Acts 4:20 –“For we are UNABLE to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

And what was Peter’s sermon about on the Day of Pentecost? Read it in Acts 2. It was all about the risen Christ and what that means to all of us. That’s what filled Peter’s heart. That is what should fill OUR hearts.

Click on “Continue reading” to read encouragement to speak up more – day by day, at church services, at home, or with friends about the things of God.

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DON’T let the Passover sneak up on you!

Short but vital blog today. Passover. It’s already come and gone for many of you who observed it in March, in 2019. Most Jews and sabbath-keeping believers still hold to the traditional rabbinic calendar, and for you – the Passover season starts in a few days. For you, the first day of Unleavened bread will be April 20, 2019, with the Passover bread and wine and foot washing ceremony observed before that date.

Have you given much thought to Passover this year? Are you ready to take the bread and the wine? Or did you find Passover suddenly here – and you were unprepared? If that is what has happened, resolve to make changes so it never happens again. It’s our own fault if that happened. But frankly it’s also a reflection on your ministers if that happened. Pastors should have been discussing Passover-type topics for the past few sabbaths.

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 you, to catch you off guard.

When we get new calendars each year, I make a point to mark up the calendars with the Passover and the holy days of God, as well as our anniversaries or plans we have. Then I do the same in my cell phone calendar and even make a note 2-3 weeks before Passover, to start thinking heavily about God’s love for me and for you.

Click on “Continue reading” for the remainder of this vital topic.

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Are we asking for too little?

When you pray for or about something where you want and need God to intervene, are you being a bit timid or too “careful” about what you ask for?  I suggest most of us don’t think anywhere big enough when we come to our Father and Yeshua our Beloved Master.

There’s an old, lesser known story in the Scriptures about Elisha and one of the kings which has intrigued me for years. Elisha was old and about to die. Joash, one of the kings of the northern ten tribes of Israel, had come to pay his last respects apparently. Elisha asked King Joash to shoot an arrow out of an east window, and then explained that arrow symbolized victory over Syria at a future battle. Now let’s read what happened.

2 Kings 13:14-19

Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!"

15 And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. 17 And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the Lord's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."

   [So Elisha had explained what the arrow symbolized.]

18 Then he [Elisha] said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped. 19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times."

We can’t get into Joash’s head and see what he was thinking. Perhaps he didn’t understand what his action was depicting. Perhaps he lacked faith and wondered how he could crush Syria. We just don’t know. We do know this: instead of vanquishing Syria once and for all, he limited himself to three victories, pictured by the three times he struck the ground.

The point of this blog is simple: when Yehovah opens a door for us, let’s not be timid or small-minded in our thinking. Let’s not limit our true God who knows no limits. We can all fall into that trap at various times of our lives. We are His children, who are part of His HOUSE. My children are bold about claiming what I have, what I offer. So should we be.

Are we limiting the one Living God and what He wants to do in us, through us, with us? Remember even Yeshua could do virtually no mighty work in Nazareth, his home town, because of their unbelief (Mark 6:4-6).  God works through faith, trust and belief. He often holds Himself back if WE don’t believe mightily in His power (see Hebrews 4:2).

When you ask for something from Yehovah – especially when it’s for someone else and your request is being totally selfless – do we ask in a small way?  For example:

  • If we’re asking Father to open up a job for an unemployed brother or sister, do we just ask for a job, or do we ask for a fabulous career with wonderful benefits and a great group of people to work with?
  • If we’re asking God our Healer to deliver someone from the bonds of illness, are we just asking for that specific condition? Do we ask boldly, or fall back to “whatever your will is”—and keep ourselves from a bold request? Remember when Jesus spoke those words in Gethsemane, He knew the divine purpose and will was that He be the sacrifice for all sin. Why not ask Father to heal anything else that isn’t quite right in that person’s body, to imbue him/her with untiring energy, a bright spirit and powerful health that could bring glory to our Father? Be bold, ask big. Ask our God to make that person WHOLE – from head to toe (Matthew 12:13; 15:31)

I’m sure you can think of many more examples. Don’t limit God. He is limitless.

Click on “Continue reading” to finish with more examples of how we sometimes limit God unnecessarily. If we learn this, it can change the course of our lives!

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WHY do you love God and His Son?

Many, many, many millions of people probably would profess they love Jesus Christ (though I use the name his mama called him – Yeshua). You probably also profess you love your Savior, the Son of God. And I think that’s great.

My question is WHY would you say you love God and His son? But perhaps even a deeper question: what does your HEART say is the real reason you are building this relationship with your Master? Are you sure your motivation is what it should be?

I recently recorded a sermon titled “Will YOU be spared going through the coming Great Tribulation?” I hope you’ll all hear it.

Now what’s that got to do with loving God and his son?

It’s this: I point out in the sermon that some of God’s children in the very end time will be protected from going through the Great Tribulation. And I pointed out WHY they will be. Hear the sermon. But it includes points like God knows them and they know and love God. And God knows they’d never deny him, even at the point where they could lose their heads for proclaiming the Christ. Those he doesn’t know so well – they stand a much greater likelihood of having to go through the worst time of trouble the world will have ever seen!

So sometimes I’ve wondered if sometimes, some of us, want to know God and have God know us and love us – are you ready for it? – so we will be spared the Great Tribulation.

It’s fine to do what Christ said – to pray that we be counted worthy to escape all these things coming upon the earth (Luke 21:36) but I also think that we need to constantly be checking our hearts and our motivations.

We should love God – not just to protect our lives from what’s coming – but because we can’t help but love him for everything he has already done for us and the whole world.

Why do we love our God and Saviour? Let me list a few – and I’m sure many of you could list a bunch more. I welcome you to register on our website and plug in to the comments and share some reasons you love your Savior.

--- We love him because he saved us from eternal death and offered us eternal life instead. HOW did he save us from certain death? By offering to die FOR me, in my stead, and to die for you.

Sure, we know God the Father sent his one and only Son to die for us. But don’t forget Yeshua says HE also offered himself and had the right to go through with it – or not go through with it. Just read John 10:17-18, if you don’t believe me.

Folks, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), for forever, not eternal life in hell fire. And Yeshua offered up himself to come die for ME – and yes, for you too. But I like to personalize it like Apostle Paul does in Galatians 2:20 – “who died for ME…” Yes, sure, he died for the whole world that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). But I love him because he saved me. He died for me.

--- I love Yeshua because when so many people give up on those they see as “really bad people” (at least in their eyes), there is still One who says, “Hang on, I died for that chap. I’m not done working with him yet. I died and came back to life so HE can have a future and a life.” I love Him because he has not given up on me, even when or if people I thought were friends or family might give up on me. In fact, Paul says he’s made us “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 4:6) AND that Christ will complete what he started in me (Philippians 1:6).

--- I love my Saviour for the same reason Apostle John said: “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He loved me before I repented. He “died for the UNGODLY” (Romans 5:6 – and go ahead and read verses 7-11 too!) when there was not anything lovely about us spiritually. He loved me even after I sinned again after my baptism.  

It’s pretty impressive when Someone so perfect, so holy, so righteous wants to help out someone so bad, so dirty – as sinners. As me. As you. Paul was taken back by that too. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die…” (Again Romans 5:6-11).

Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

--- I love my Savior because all true believers are “in him”. We are parts of HIS body. So by loving my Savior, I’m reminded to also be sure I love all of you. We CANNOT claim to love God and hate our brother or sister (1 John 4:20-21).

--- We PROVE our love for our great Savior and God by keeping his commandments (1 John 5:2-3; John 14:15, 21-24; John 15:10-14), especially his commandment to love one another as HE has loved us (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:21; 1 John 3:22-24). We prove our love for him by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked or poor, serving even the “least” of these his brethren (Matthew 25:34-40).

---I can’t help but love my Beloved Master Yeshua because our Father has offered HIS perfect life, HIS righteousness, as my own, credited or imputed to me! We often speak of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, of forgiveness, of eternal life, and of course even the gift of God’s Son. But how many ever speak of the gift of God’s own perfect righteousness in Christ that is offered to us? I’m giving yet another sermon on that important topic soon. See Romans 5:15-19, especially verse 17. Plus Philippians 3:9-11, 1 Cor. 1:29-30, 2 Cor. 5:20 if you have any doubt about what I’ve just said. So our Messiah’s own life is now ours. He’s offered his life for us and so I also offer him my allegiance, obedience and my love. If Christ is truly dwelling in me, the proof of that is a changing life – to one that looks more and more like His own life. It takes time, but God’s given me that wonderful gift of his own righteousness and I love him for it.

--- I love Jesus Christ, my Salvation, my Redeemer, because he is beyond description. He is my Rock, my Fortress, my HOPE, my LIFE. He is my LION of Judah guarding me. He is my Shepherd, shepherding me into God’s kingdom. He is my DOOR into that wonderful place. He is the Word of God, and so he is the Lamp – the Light – to my feet guiding my life into His perfect Way. He is my Bread of Life, on whom I feed daily. He is my living waters that he shares with me by His spirit. HE is my life now. I don’t want to see my life; I want to see HIS life being lived in me now. I love him because in spite of all my imperfections – that he knows even better than any human knows – HE STILL loves me. Still. He is my Everything.

So I just want to be sure that we love our Savior and our heavenly Father for all the right reasons. Don’t love God out of fear of the great tribulation or something like that. Don’t feel forced to love God out of fear of the consequences if you don’t. Love God and Yeshua for all the RIGHT reasons, and there are so many good reasons to love our God.

Perfect love, in fact, casts out morbid fear (1 John 4:18). And verse 17 says “Herein IS OUR LOVE MADE PERFECT, that we may have BOLDNESS in the Day of Judgment; because as HE is, so are we in this world.”

--- I love Him and want to love him more and more and more – because of who he is. He is my Savior, He is my big brother, He is my King to whom I bend my knees and bow my head daily, and he is my coming Husband whom I hope to be blessed to be able to marry as part of the Bride of Christ. Because of this love, I strive to make as much time as I possibly can every day to be spent with him. Sure, you and I still have other things to do. We still have to work, we still have to sleep and eat and bathe and all of that. But I’m finding that even AS I do those things, on the days when I have my foundation set right, I’m touching base dozens of times with my Beloved on those wonderful days.

Alas, I do still give in too often to my old nature and on those days I may falter in my love and fail him. But my Big Brother, My King comes looking for me, yes – even for me when I’m feeling down and lost for having failed to live to His standards. So he comes to find me, and to find you, and then he carries us upon his shoulders and brings us back home -- to sanity and to his love.

So you see, I love him for that too.

So – I don’t love Yeshua my Beloved out of fear of what’s coming. Because even then, should his will be that you or I suffer intensely for him and then have to give our life for him, then so be it. The Apostle Paul said he HOPED he could suffer more and more for Christ (Philippians 1:29). Paul wanted to know “the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death…” When Paul was first called, Ananias was told to tell him what Yeshua had said: “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:16). After the 12 apostles were beaten with rods for preaching Christ – “they departed the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:40-41).

Yeshua tells us “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s own life for his friends” (John 15:13). It would also be an honor then, and great love, to lay down your life or my life, if called to do it, for our chief and best friend, Yeshua, if that becomes his will for any of us. Read how Peter felt about this – 1 Pet. 1:6-9.

So indeed, even as we pray – as we were told to do in Luke 21:36 – that we be counted worthy to escape ALL the horrible things that will hit this planet in the next decade or so, plus the Great Tribulation, let’s not make saving our own skin our focus. Let’s not love him because we’re afraid of the consequences if we don’t. We can love him for more superlative reasons than that.

We want to be zealous and close to God because he has called us to be close to Him. He loved us before we first loved him. He will do all in his power to be sure He finishes what He has started in us (Philippians 1:6). Malachi 3:16-18 makes it clear that those who love God deeply and love each other deeply are very special to God and he will protect many of those. Be sure to hear my sermon on “Will you Escape the Great Tribulation?” posted now, Feb 2019.  

I love him, I guess, because of SO many reasons. I just can’t help but love him and be in love with my Saviour, my Hero, my King and my Redeemer.

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“Am I a City set on a Hill?”

Note from host Philip Shields: This is a blog written by a dear friend of mine – Jason Cartwright in Florida. I’m encouraging more of you who come to this website to contribute messages in these blogs too. Here’s Jason.  


Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”, Yeshua says.

What would such a city look like? What would such a life look like?

Since this passage is in context of each of us being a light, and standing out, presumably in the dark, it only makes sense that we are to picture seeing the lights of a city at night; perhaps from a distance.

Also of note: cities during that time were commonly built atop hills.

        1) This made the cities easier to defend

        2) This made it easier to spot approaching enemies.

        3) This also made the city more visible, especially at night.

Picture such a city set on a hill at night. It would be very noticeable in the dark. Even from many miles off, its lights could be seen.

So how does this relate to us? Why would our Savior say we are, in effect, by our lights – a city set on a hill?

Consider what such a city, with all its light, would mean to travelers in the night.

1) A city on a hill might draw travelers in, even during the night.

  1.   i) Perhaps the city is a destination for them. A place to settle. 
        When we think about us, as a group, when people come visit our holy sabbath convocation, are our lights so present and welcoming that they might very well feel like they've found "home"?  (A place where they feel welcomed, loved, and desirable to worship in?)
  1.   ii) Perhaps it is a place to rest and be refreshed (from their journey through the dark lands outside) 

Ask yourself: “when people come to me, can they get a spiritual recharge? Again, do I make them feel welcome and accepted? I’m not looking at what they've done, but how God is working with them; Who they are as part of God's Family. Can they "rest" and be relaxed, with me? When they leave my presence, will they leave feeling encouraged and refreshed?

It is interesting to note that though they were in the presence of perfect holiness and righteousness, there was something about Yeshua that even the worst of society felt at ease in his presence. Go back and read Luke 15:1-2. It was in this context that we receive his greatest parables and teachings.

    iii) Maybe a place to get supplies for their continued journey.     

We can serve others, and thus allow them to continue on. There are many ways to serve: Giving of our time, money, expertise; listening to people and their issues; a sincere hug, cooking a meal, visiting the sick, and many, many more. Often even the smallest acts of kindness can make a world of difference in another's life, helping, or even inspiring them to keep going.

  1.   iv) A shining city on a hill (us) could means a job opportunity; a place for them to further their education and training. 

    Am I ready to teach (especially by example)? Am I ready to give answers and give sound, spiritual wisdom from the bible? And am I ready to do it in a loving and non-judgmental way? Can people come to me and learn by example or by word the ways of God?

  1.   v) Perhaps it is a place to take refuge; A safe place. (From enemies, or simply from life's bad weather/storms of life)  

Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe." 

Am I a place where one could come to in time of crisis? Am I reliable and ready to help someone who is under attack from the devil? (To do this, I too must be aware and vigil, and close to God, and also ready to be instant in prayer) Am I someone people can trust and depend upon for spiritual warfare?  This is a war that we live, daily. Am I ready to help others do battle? (I need to be putting on the Armor of God every day to do this) Can I help others put on their armor, and also be vigil?

  1.   vi) It could be a place they are bringing their burdens to.   

Am I someone who can actively listen and pay attention to others?

Maybe I cannot help take their burdens, but am I someone they could come and at least help lighten their load by being someone they could talk to, and to pray for them and with them?  Can I be a person trustworthy to confide in, and bring God into the picture to show them how He is working all things out for good, even when it seems/feels contrary?

    vii) People coming in from the darkness outside, are now in the light of the city, just like with Christ.

    John 8:12 "Then Jesus spoke to them saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life."

There was a noticeable difference between Yeshua and the world and yet most people felt comfortable in his presence. The only ones he really spoke against were the hypocritical religious leaders.

Do others see the difference between me and those in the world?  Even if they don't like it, are they aware that I am not like others? Are they aware that we live differently and behave differently and speak differently from the world? When they look at me...do the see Christ's example? Is my life glorifying God? 

    viii) Travelers passing by could make camp or safely travel by outside the city, within its light (a guide)  

I must always be a "safe" person; trustworthy and willing to protect others. People should be able to trust me with anything. Their money, their confidence, their family or their business. There should be nothing in my life that makes them question my integrity and therefore their safety with me (once they know me, the new creation in Christ).

2) The city on a hill, with this bright lights (and high placement) might be a warning

  1. For those with ill intent, it might be a warning to stay away. The brighter the light, the more lights there are, the more people (and things of value); the stronger (and larger) the city. Remember Yeshua said those with ill intent seek out the darkness and won’t come into the light.
  1. There is a cool quote that I really like (paraphrasing): 

The devil whispered in my ear, "You are not strong enough to withstand the storm." I yelled back, "I am a child of the ALMIGHTY Father God; I am a man of the faith, and a warrior of Christ the Conquering King! I am the storm with Christ!"     

It is a cool quote, but we know that the devil does not fear us. However, he does flee from us when we resist him. (James 4:7), as we call upon CHRIST'S strength (Philippians 4:13). This also applies to those who are of Satan’s mindset and who wish ill, or wish to instill doubt or cause divisions. They too, will flee.

When we put on the armor of God, and we wield the sword of Truth, we can wage spiritual warfare against evil, against the wiles of the devil.

  • Alternatively, an enemy might view the city as more of a threat to them, and therefore, seek to attack and destroy it.

    The devil doesn't like seeing strength and light from God's people. Being a light standing out in the dark, or a "city on a hill" often makes us a target. The devil HATES Godliness and its effects upon others. He will try to bring such a one exhibiting those characteristics down. But... if the city's walls are high, and it is well lit...the light will shine bright and expose what is in the darkness. The light will expose the enemy and his attacks and methods of attack. LIGHT REVEALS TRUTH.

    Also, such a city's watchmen would see the enemy coming because of the light pouring forth from the city. God is the city’s ultimate defense. Psalm 61:3 "For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy."

3) A city set on a hill might simply be a point of reference in a traveler's journey. (Remember, YOU are the city on the hill) 

  1. i) The city may show them where they are in life; perhaps even causing them to desire to alter their course or change their destination.

Perhaps the interaction with me will be brief, but in that moment, what will they see if given the opportunity to either show Christ or blend in? Will I stand out? Will I exhibit patience, kindness, mercy, love, giving, truthfulness, joy, peace, meekness, etc., and thus, merely by example, perhaps inspire them to look at their own life, and consider? (Maybe even make changes...) Even making a small change for good...is still good! But you never know... God can use us to call others to Him. Is my example noticeable enough to cause someone to want to make changes in their own life?

  1. ii) The city may simply be a "marker" or "landmark." 

 Our example, our light, may be something familiar, or just simply be one day remembered as a "marker" along their journey; Something they merely pass by...but that one day, they will recall that "city" (YOU, your life), and how bright and strong it was. Who knows how or when people might recall an interaction with you and your family or even your congregation – and that memory helps God to put them on the right path?

What do I need to be this city set on a hill?

Whatever the case, if we are to be a city set upon a hill, we need to have the following:

First and foremost, have a relationship with God, seeking first His Will, His Righteousness, and His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33)

Have our lights shining brightly for all to see. (Not blending in with the rest of the world (the dark surroundings)

Have our light of truth exposing the enemy outside.

Have high walls and watch towers (God and His Word)

Be a person that is also welcoming; a "place" where even sinners can find love (as an action, like Yeshua did)

Be ready to serve and provide as a good city would.

Be ever an example of Yeshua, the Savior of mankind, and His love and ways to live life righteously.

And never...Ever...hide or try to blend in to the surroundings....the world and its dark ways.

It doesn't matter if you (your life) are a great big city, or a small city. If you are a city set on a hill, obvious in the day, bright and shinning in the night... you cannot be hidden.

And that is something Christ is telling us we need to be: "For you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

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HOW are WE part of “a royal priesthood”?

No doubt you have read in 1 Peter 2:9 which says we are a part of a “royal priesthood”.  Why is that? How does that happen?  Which priesthood makes us royal?    

Frankly, I’ve heard a lot about the Aaronic Priesthood and even the Melchizedek priesthood, but I’m not sure I’ve heard others preach HOW you and I become ROYAL Priests – and of which priestly lineage that is! To be a priest, you have to be part of a priestly line. To be a royal, you must be the child of royalty. So how are you and I royal priests?

You and I cannot be a part of the Aaronic Priesthood, because we are not a descendant of Aaron. Only Aaron’s male descendants within the tribe of Levi were allowed to be bona fide priests of Israel. Even if you were a bona fide descendant of Aaron, there is no priesthood currently certified and working in Jerusalem. And Aaronic priests were never “royal” or royalty.

And besides, there’s a far greater and more glorious royal priesthood you are being called to be a part of.

Yeshua was born as a son or descendant of David of the tribe of Judah. Yeshua was a Jew, something a lot of Christians don’t realize. A Jew could not be a part of Aaron’s priestly line. Yeshua was also the son of God Most High and was resurrected to eternal life, and endless life. But those of the tribe of Judah could not be part of the Aaronic Priesthood.

Hebrews 7:14-17 “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

That is why Yeshua challenged the Jewish leaders of his day to explain Psalm 110:1 – how King David would call his descendant “My Lord”. The answer of course is that Yeshua was both a son of David – a man – as well as the Son of God. So on earth, as God-made-flesh (John 1:14), Yeshua was worshipped and never once did he attempt to stop it. Why would he? He was also God, while on earth, or else being worshipped would have been a terrible sin. But it wasn’t a sin to worship him.

He also demonstrated other powers restricted to being part of the Godhead – such as forgiving sin, knowing people’s thoughts and much more. Remember Yeshua was the Word of God, and the “Word was with God and was God” (John 1:1-3), and the Word – who was God -- “became flesh” (John 1:14).

Yeshua is also definitely called our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14, etc.) Hebrews 5:10 says GOD himself called Christ to be High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

So for Yeshua to be called our High Priest, he could not have been so under the Aaronic priesthood. No, there was a higher priesthood prior to Aaron’s priesthood from the tribe of Levi. That higher priesthood was the priesthood of Melchizedek, who was king of Salem (future Jerusalem), which means “King of Peace”. He was also the High Priest of the Most High God. So HE was both: royalty and the High Priest of God Most High. He was a Royal Priest, in other words.

Melchizedek posted no genealogy. He had no mother or father. Hmm, who could that be? The priests of the Aaronic line had to prove their lineage back to Aaron. Melchizedek was frankly one of those visual appearances of the Godhead – as we’ve been discussing in my recent sermons.

Click on “Continue reading” to finish learning which priesthood you are a part of that makes YOU a “royal priest”.

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A GREAT Way to honor God our Father

 I’ve been doing a series on how the very personal name “YHVH” applies certainly to God our Father, but also to the Word of God Yeshua, or by his Greek-English name Jesus Christ. 

I mentioned that there are teachings going out that – at least the way I see it – end up diminishing the glory and stature of my Savior Jesus Christ. Now in one way, nothing can diminish what glory and position he is being granted in heaven right now, but among ourselves, yes there are things we say, teach and do definitely diminish him in the eyes of other believers. 

So this blog is about a way to honor God our Father – BY the way we honor His Son.

John 5:19-23   Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

Read verse 23 again a couple times. We honor God our Father by honoring His Son, whom he loves and commends.

It was our Father who said, “This is my BELOVED Son, in whom I am WELL pleased” at Yeshua’s baptism and again on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter recalls that time.

2 Peter 1:17-18   “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

This is the same apostle Peter who started his epistle this way in 2 Peter 1:1:

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our GOD and SAVIOR Jesus Christ”

Certainly God the Father is also our Savior, but so is Jesus Christ.

Certainly God the Father is Supreme, but he does everything through His Son, Jesus Christ as I show in the sermon. So let’s honor the SON – and in so doing, we honor the Father also.

We certainly dishonor our God and Savior when we live a life of sin. By our LIVES we either honor or dishonor God. Our LIVES are our greatest sermons. Please read 1 John 2:3-6; 3:7-8, 10. We must not bring the name of Christ or our Father into disrepute by our wrongful actions and behavior. I have in the past and even from time to time - and so have you. We must be people who can see areas of our lives where we’re overcoming old ways. Now, washed by His blood, we move forward in a life of holiness as we place our faith in the righteousness of Christ living HIS life again in us.

Certainly when we take Yeshua’s name in vain and say as an exclamation “JEEZ! Jesus Christ!” – we’re taking his name frivolously. When we dishonor Christ’s name, surely we dishonor His Father also. I personally try to avoid even the substitute words, the euphemisms, for God and Christ. So I avoid words like “Gosh, O my gosh, Jimminy Cricket (letters of JC – Jesus Christ), Jeez” and so on.

And I also believe when we wrongly teach that the name “YHVH” never, ever, ever applies to the Son of God, that also dishonors Him – and therefore dishonors our Father. Some are erroneously teaching lately that in every instance, 100% of the time, that when we read in the Old Testament --“the LORD” (in all caps) -- that this always refers exclusively to God the Father and never to Christ.

That’s not just semantics. It diminishes the role of Yeshua in the eyes and ears of those who are being taught this.

Folks, let me remind you. You can hear my full sermon “Part 3, YHVH does sometimes apply to Yeshua the Word” for a full exposition. Let me just remind you though:

  • We’re not marrying our Bridegroom’s Dad. We’re not. We’re marrying Yeshua our Messiah (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:6-9). But someone calling himself “the LORD” also calls himself our Husband. That cannot be God the Father. In several verses he even calls himself the LORD of Hosts. Read Isaiah 54:5 – “For your MAKER is your Husband, the LORD of Hosts is his name”. There’s more on this in my latest sermon on “YHVH – Part 3”.
  • And Zechariah 14 says Someone called “the LORD”, and even “the LORD of Hosts”, will come to fight the armies gathered around Jerusalem. HIS feet will land on the Mount of Olives and HE will rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years and people from all over the world will come worship this LORD. That HAS to be Christ, when you compare it to Rev. 19-20.

SO I teach we need to give Yeshua his proper honored place too as He sits in majesty and honor on the right hand of God the Father Most High.

Remember John 5:23 – we either honor and glorify God our Father or we can dishonor God our Father – by how we treat and teach about Yeshua, our Savior.

2 Peter 3:18 – ‘but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.’

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Celebrating Christmas while focusing on Christ OK?

Many of you know that Christmas celebrations long pre-date the actual birth of Christ and that much of what is included in Christmas celebrations clearly go back to paganism. I mean things like yule logs, wreaths, Christmas trees, mistletoe customs, partying at winter solstice, and on and on.  Any quick Google search into the pagan roots of Christmas will confirm what I say.

On top of that, there’s no way Messiah was born on Dec 25, in the dead of winter, in the rainy season in Jerusalem-Bethlehem. If the DATE of his birth was so important, why are we not told what the date is? And why do 2 gospel accounts completely ignore the details of his birth? And why is there no mention in the book of Acts or any of the epistles telling us about the great Christmas celebrations of the early church? Because they didn’t have them.

And so I don’t celebrate Christmas, Easter and so on. I DO believe and am SO grateful for the birth of my Savior though. But I do not participate in the pagan history of Christmas!

So here’s the point of today’s blog: “But what if, in our home, we keep Jesus as the Reason for the Season? What if we sing praises to him, and worship HIM, and not put as much emphasis on the pagan symbols? Would that be alright then with God?”

The answer is – if you understand the truth, the truth will set you free – and the truth is God’s word. So let’s see what God’s word has to say about worshipping HIM in the way that pagans have worshipped their gods.

First of all, remember the gold calf story? What you might not have realized is that Aaron told the Israelites that as they worshipped that gold calf, they really were to do their worship to YHVH, to “the LORD”. Did you realize that? Here it is below. But did God accept that? Or did that not in fact make him even MORE furious that they put HIS Holy, Set-apart, hallowed name on to a golden calf?!!

READ EXODUS 32 FOR YOURSELF and tell me what God thinks!

Exodus 32:5-8 – “So when Aaron saw it [the gold calf], he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to YHVH (the LORD)." 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

7 And YHVH (the LORD) said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"

Now if much of Christmas tradition is rooted in paganism – and then given a Christian re-label, does it matter?

Here’s more of what GOD says:

Click on “Continue reading” to finish the other clear statements from God about how he feels about worshiping him through pagan customs.

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Where was the Messiah actually born?

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

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

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

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

 Luke 2:1-7

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

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

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

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

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The Parables of the Old Testament

When we think of parables it is usually the parables of Jesus that come to mind.  His parables were one of the most characteristic features of his ministry. Yet they are not the first parables to be found in the Bible – parables were an essential part of the religious teaching of ancient Israel.  The book of Hosea tells us, for example, that God: “... spoke to the prophets … and told parables through them” (Hosea 12:10).  If we learn to recognize them, we can actually find this form of teaching throughout many books of the Old Testament; and understanding its nature can help us better understand the parables that Jesus gave. 
 
The key to recognizing true biblical parables in the Old Testament (as opposed to figurative or metaphorical statements, short riddles, or stories with an obvious moral) is that a true biblical parable has two parts. In the first part – called the marshal in Hebrew – a simple story is told for the sake of conveying a deeper truth. But that truth is never obvious in the story itself; it has to be revealed in the second part of the parable – called the nimshal – which provides the “key” to unlocking the parable’s meaning. The two parts of content and intent are only brought together at the conclusion of the narrative – which is why, of course, we read in the New Testament that Jesus often taught in parables and later explained them by providing the nimshal or key to his disciples (Luke 8:9, Mark 4:33-34, etc.).
 
We see this two-part structure in one of the earliest parables of the Old Testament.  The book of Judges records that the young man Jotham told the people of Shechem a detailed story of how the trees of the forest made themselves a king (Judges 9:7-15). When the parable is finished, he explains it by showing how the parts of the story fit their own political circumstances (Judges 9:16-20).
 
We also see the two-part structure in the famous story that the prophet Nathan tells King David about a sinful rich man who took his poor neighbor’s only lamb when he had plenty of lambs himself. When David indignantly states that the evil man deserves death, Nathan provides the nimshal to the parable by simply saying “you are that man” – because David had taken the only wife of his general, Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-4). 
 
In these cases, the connection between the marshal/content of the parables and their nimshal/ntent is easy to grasp, but sometimes the Old Testament gives parables that would be very difficult to understand without the explaining “key” or the background we are given.  Such is the case with the story of the two fighting brothers that was told to David by the wise widow from Tekoa (2 Samuel 14:1-7). In this story David’s general Joab carefully constructs a parable with a meaning we would not guess unless it is explained – as it is by the wise widow (2 Samuel 14:13-14).
 
When we look for such stories that have to be explained in the course of the narrative in which they appear, we find many parables in the Old Testament.  Parables were especially favored by the Hebrew Prophets and the book of Ezekiel, for example, contains at least nine of them.  Isaiah also uses parables in his teaching, and some of these parables clearly influenced those given by Jesus.  In Isaiah chapter 5 the prophet tells a parable of a vineyard and its bad fruit (Isaiah 5:1-6) which he then explains as being relevant to the nation of Israel (vs. 7).   Although Jesus altered the details slightly in his parables found in Matthew 21:33–44 and Luke 13:6–9, the stories are recognizably similar, and their message is identical. 
 
Jesus often framed his own parables on both parable and non-parable stories found in the Old Testament.  His parable of the Good Samaritan is an example of this and appears to be based on a section of 2 Chronicles which tells of the kindness given to Judean captives by men of Samaria who:
“… clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria” (2 Chronicles 28:15).
 
In this simple narrative, Jesus found the basis for one of the most profound of his parables, the lessons of which are far-reaching and apply in every age. But the greatest reliance of Christ’s parables on the Old Testament is found not in their use of Old Testament story plots, but in their use of imagery applied to God.  Old Testament parables show God as a king, a father, a husband, and in other key ways.   Of the somewhat more than forty parables of Jesus recorded in the New Testament, at least twenty metaphorically refer to him by means of the same imagery used of God in Old Testament parables and stories.  This self-portrayal with imagery used of God is unique to the parables of Jesus and ties directly to his teachings of his own messianic role. 
 
So the parables of the Old Testament are important not only in their own right, in the stories in which they are found, but also in forming the basis for some of Jesus’ own parables, as well as providing images for his parables that Jewish hearers would associate with God when they understood the parables’ nimshal key or intent.  But although there are numerous well-crafted parables in the Old Testament, there is no doubt that Jesus perfected the art of parable-telling and brought to the form a subtlety and spiritual depth that had not been seen before.
 
R. Herbert (a pen name), Ph.D., was trained in biblical studies and Ancient Near Eastern languages and archaeology. He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org where you can also find his free e-books.  
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