Light on the Rock Blogs

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

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

I first posted this blog in December 2012 but felt it warranted being posted again.

Hanukkah is here. What is it? Why are more and more Christians, even Sabbath keepers, recognizing and keeping Hanukkah?  Some feel it is merely a Jewish counterbalance to Christmas. Others believe it is a Jewish festivity not mentioned in Scripture. What’s true? Should you and I – believers in Yeshua - -keep Hanukkah?  What did Jesus do about Hanukkah? Yes, we’re actually told in Scripture! 

Read the rest of this blog to learn what Hanukkah is about, what Yeshua did during Hanukkah, whether or not believers can participate in some way and what lessons we can learn from this holiday.

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Woe to those who call evil – good. Isaiah 5:20

I was listening to some young people talking the other day and someone was describing a great and fun and wonderful time they had had at such-and-such a place.  “Aw man, it was wicked.  It was so much fun.” 

I don’t think the young man speaking meant “It was evil” – but that it was great, it was fun in his eyes. Later on, I heard someone else say, “Ohh…you’re bad! But that’s what I like about you”.  He didn’t mean the guy was really bad, as in evil, but that he was good.

In Isaiah 5:20 the Everliving One warns us:   “WOE to those who call evil good, and good evil…”

So please don’t think of these as harmless expressions.  Our Creator specifically tells us to have no part in using expressions or language that perverts a word’s meaning! 

It’s happening so clearly in our society today. It’s literally happening.  What is truly righteous is being called evil hate speech or something equivalent. And what is truly pure evil is being called good. 

Click on “Continue reading” for more language twists we’re hearing today that we should be fully aware of – and not letting them in any way become a part of us.

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The DUMB “smart phone”

We call it a “smart phone” but in many ways, if we don’t control the use of it and who can have one– it can be one of the dumbest things we’re involved with. I mean this blog to be an alert and I might even develop this into a full sermon on this site. Should children and teens have “smart phones”?

Sure, it’s great having a little phone that is so great that most people have now cancelled their land line phones. These “Smart phone” we each have is:

*** Also is a portable powerful computer with computing power that used to take a room full of big machinery and spinning reels. Good news:  it allows us quick access to so many things.  Bad news:  it allows quick access to so many things – even for your children and teens when they use their smart phone.

***Sure it’s great that these phones that even children now have are also high quality cameras and movie cameras.

***It’s a flashlight. It’s a compass.  It can show us details of someone’s street anywhere in the world. It’s capable of games and videos. We can learn how to play chess better (as I learned when my grandson beat me for the first – and then a second time.  HE’S been practicing.)  We can look at the night sky and find and identify planets, stars and constellations. We can learn to cook, learn to paint, learn to – just about anything.  We can view just about anything as well.  We can access any song ever written and hear it blare out or blare into our ear pieces, and some play it so loudly into their ears that we now know many will go prematurely deaf or suffer tinnitus later.

***And we can communicate as never before – and send e-mails with it. And of course now we also get a lot of JUNK email, just like the old fashioned post office junk mail.  We can text people around the world with it. We can go on Facebook and see what our family and friends are up to and enjoy their latest photos. We can instantly export pictures of anything and anyone we want all over the world in a split second.  Stock trading and investment planning is easy with a smart phone. You can learn new languages more easily with it.  You all know I could go on for pages on what the Smart phone has done for us.   Young people today wonder how we ever survived without it! Wow, you had to put money into a “pay phone” to call someone? 

            So there’s a lot to like about smart phones, so don’t get me wrong. 

            But it also can ruin your present and future life.

So WHY would I call this piece of absolute marvel – a DUMB and even dangerous phone?

Please click on “Continue reading” to see the answer and I hope it will make us all think about the dangerous consequences of the smart phone too, if we don’t curtail how we use it.  I’m talking about dangers so great it can affect our future, our reward in the kingdom and much more. 

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Please, it’s not “Turkey Day”

One of my favorite traditions is the family get-together for Thanksgiving Day.

I know some will tie it to ancient pagan rituals, but the history of this day in the USA at least, is not one tied to pagans.  Not at all. It is a day when we remember how thankful the early Pilgrims to America were just to be alive, to have food, to have native America Indians show them how to plant corn and helped them survive in a new land.  And they certainly did express and show their deep thankfulness to God in heaven.

And – in that vein – it’s a day when we, as individuals and as a country pause as one, together, and look up to the Almighty and thank him for the wondrous blessings he’s poured out on us and on our country. 

I’m afraid much of the country no longer remembers to focus this day on thanking the great God we have above. Some don’t even call it “Thanksgiving Day” anymore.  They take away from expressions of thankfulness by calling it “Turkey Day”.  Many spend the day in shopping sprees.  I do commend the stores that close on this day and let their employees have a day with family.

So my family keeps this day and this tradition. We often start by everyone around the table discussing something, even any little thing, for which they are thankful. Even the three year olds and young children participate. We don’t just start eating when the meal is ready. Absolutely not. We thank our Father and Creator for providing us with food and a good land and for all his many blessings – then we can eat.

I hope you’ll remember Thanksgiving this year is a day of Thanksgiving. Don’t just make it a day of watching football and forgetting its real purpose.  Watch all the football you want – but first, praise and thank our dear Abba, YHVH the Great Almighty God we have.

And please – PEL-LEASE –PLEASE; don’t cheapen this beautiful tradition this year by just calling it “Turkey Day”.  Please don’t.  It’s so much richer and deeper in meaning than that.  I think we are taking away from the expression of great gratitude to Almighty God when we call it “Turkey Day”.

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Are we limiting God?

Are you and I limiting what the Great God of the universe could be doing in your life and mine?  I think the evidence is a resounding “Yes!”.  So what can we do about it?

In a recent sermon I gave, titled “One Voice” – within it is a quote from John 14 in the words of our Messiah. I’ve thought and thought: We surely must be limiting our Creator from what he can do and wants to do, because I sure don’t see happening today the things we read about in the book of Acts.

After Christ’s resurrection, we have several of the apostles raising the dead.  Peter’s shadow passing over someone was enough to heal that person (Acts 5:14-15).  Imagine that – without the person even asking Peter to lay hands on him and anoint him. Lots of people were brought to the apostles, and “they were all healed” (Acts 5:16).  Demons were cast out by Philip in Samaria in Acts 8.  Lame people – who were begging for money and not for healing – were leaping to their feet with a mere statement from Peter and John (Acts 3).  People had visions of angels and of the Lord himself.  Deadly snakes bit Paul, but he just shook them off.  Paul was left for dead after a vicious stoning, but rose again to continue preaching (Acts 14:19-20).

Now I realize that not everyone’s prayer was always answered with a healing or the response desired. Paul was left with his “thorn in the side” issue. Timothy had an issue of “frequent infirmities”.  Many early disciples were severely beaten, tortured, imprisoned and killed. So don’t think I’m saying nothing “bad” will ever happen to us if we apply the message in this blog.

But still – where are these powerful signs and wonders and works being seen today. I realize, we shouldn’t be personally seeking for a sign, per Yeshua’s own words  (Matthew 12:39), and yet Yeshua himself promised that if we believe, “these signs shall surely follow”, and then he enumerates healings and more.  See Mark 16:17-18 – including casting out demons, speak new tongues, not be hurt by deadly serpents or poison, and after laying hands on the sick, they will recover.

Click on “Continue reading” to finish this blog and to see more intervention by God in your life.

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When We Doubt

By R. Herbert

 

Sometimes, as Christians, we need to remind ourselves that it is human to doubt.  When we occasionally wonder if we are sure about some point of our faith – or even in extreme cases, about our faith itself – we may get caught up in concern about our doubts as much as in the doubt itself and effectively double our problems!

God’s word has something to say about this.  It is clear that “untreated” doubts can erode our relationship with God, but a doubt is essentially no different from any other human weakness to be faced and worked on.  We need to remind ourselves that the disciples often doubted (Luke 24:38) –  even after Jesus’ resurrection: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17).   The interesting thing is that in all these cases Christ gently asked his doubting disciples “Why do you doubt?”  but never condemned them for it. Rather he encouraged them to overcome their doubts.  

The fact is, we all have doubts about many things in life and do not usually feel badly about that – only when our doubts come within the realm of our faith do we tend to feel that we are failing because of them.  In his classic book Know Doubt John Ortberg  shows that doubt is actually a necessary part of growth. Our doubts are often based on lack of information and can prompt us to search for truth –  in the long run actually strengthening our convictions.

We can still trust despite our doubts, and God wants us to learn to trust him even when we may doubt the details. The Bible shows clearly that God can often continue to work with us despite our doubts. He did it with Peter  (Matthew 14:22-33) and He can do it with us.  God’s word expressly tells us to “Have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 1:22), and He does not deal with us any differently.

So how do we deal with the doubts that we get?  First, we ask God to help us in that specific area. One of the best examples of this is the way  in which the doubting father pleaded for help with his doubts and was rewarded by Christ.  The father’s cry of “Help my unbelief” can be ours, and we can ask for help in exactly the same way.   In times of doubt it’s easy to make things more complicated for ourselves, however. We can tell ourselves that the doubting father was unconverted and did not fully know the truth – that we who know more should do better.  Perhaps the best answer to this comes from the Bible itself, in the account of John the Baptist.

While John was imprisoned and facing execution, he sent to Jesus to ask him if he really was the promised Messiah  (Matthew 11).  Rather than chastise John for his doubt, Jesus pointed to the miracles and signs that he was doing and thus to the answer to John’s doubt.  But the important part of this story that we must not miss is that it was at that exact point in time – just as John had admitted his doubt – that Jesus told his disciples: “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).  It was at precisely the moment of John’s greatest doubt that Jesus called him the greatest among men. Clearly, God knows it is human to doubt and is willing and desirous to point us to the answers to our doubts.  But like John, we must ask Him.

R. Herbert (a pen name), 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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Why we won't honor Satan on Oct 31

Most of you who come to this website do not keep Halloween, I’m pretty sure.But others are new and are not sure if they should or not, or if there’s any harm in it.  It’s to you that I address this blog
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I’ve spoken and written about Halloween several times. Just write in the Search bar of this website – Halloween-- and you’ll see the other sermons and blogs on it.  This also applies to “All Saints Day” that many countries observe on Nov. 1.

We’re in the season now when most of the movies being shown on TV are of demons, vampires, chain saw massacres everything ungodly. To watch these, to participate in any way, is honoring Satan.  No thank you.  I hope you understand; there can be no ambiguity in this. I strongly urge you NOT to involve yourself in any Halloween decorating. Do not put up images of ghosts, demons, scary people or anything to do with this evil time.

Even adults now have Halloween parties, and usually dress up in ungodly and often immoral garb. God’s children have no part in this. Don’t do it. God’s children do not participate in the world’s pagan-originated holidays. We just don’t.

God’s TRUE children will have no part of HALLOWEEN (All Hallow’s Eve). 

Click on “Continue reading” for the rest of this very short, but to the point, blog and what God himself tells us.

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How 2 identical goats say a lot about our Savior

Throughout scripture we see how our Maker employs physical objects and animals to point to something spiritual. So we have different animals that were suitable for animal sacrifice – and each one pictured something different about the Messiah. The bull, goat, sheep and dove all represent different virtues. Our Creator didn’t just pick one animal – but different ones to more completely teach us about our Savior. 

On the Day of Atonement, we tend to think of the two perfect goats – without spot or broken bones or any blemish – that served different purposes on this solemn day of Coverings.  “Yom Kippur” means day of covering, and there were actually several coverings, so it’s often called Yom Kippurim by some. But besides the two goats, there was a bull, a ram, 7 sheep and so on. See Numbers 29:7-11.  Were you aware of that? We hardly talk about them.  Most sermons I’ve heard on Atonement don’t even say much about the goat which was killed and whose blood was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies. It seems all the attention goes to the azazel – the goat of removal. 

So the controversial sacrifices were the two goats. It’s been taught in some circles for decades that the 2 goats were critical to the day. One goat, we were told, pictures Christ, and one goat pictures Satan. That’s right, on the day of ATONEMENT of all days – somehow Satan worms his way in there! Over the years, the entire sermon about the Day of Atonement was often all about the goat of removal – from the Hebrew word “azazel”. And azazel was capitalized, like this – Azazel - like it was a name of someone important, rather than keep it as a simple word meaning “removal”.  The word “azazel” is a function, not a name.  

Why were there 2 goats? And is there an example in scripture of 2 other identical animals that were part of a ceremony to show what God was doing?

Click on “Continue reading” to hear the rest of this teaching.

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LUCKY – or Give God the glory?

As you recount perilous times in your life that you went through, how do you describe it to others?

Assuming we can look back and see times where we had such a “close call” – and can see God’s intervention, do we give God the glory He deserves for answering prayer – or do we say things like, “Boy, were we ever LUCKY!” Or, “We sure dodged a bullet on that one”. I

In 2016, we had Hurricane Matthew – a Cat 3 that hugged the east coast of FL – when suddenly and unexpectedly, after much prayer, it hopped off eastward into the Atlantic 50 miles. Suddenly in the early morning hours. God spared Orange County/Orlando and millions of people. It was supposed to have 95-135 mph SUSTAINED winds for 12-14 hours and gusts higher than that. Our roofs and trees would not have survived. It was one of the most dramatic answers to prayer I’ve ever witnessed.

But after it was over, people were saying, “Boy, were we lucky!” I couldn’t help but jump in with a comment like “Luck had nothing to do with it. We had some powerful answer to earnest prayers going up. God saved us.” I was gratified to see a few signs up in front of people’s homes which said, “Thank you, God, for saving us.”

Then again, we just went through Irma. I can’t stand it when I hear people speak of being lucky. It wasn’t luck! People were beseeching our great God in heaven for days before. And we all watched as the forecasts and paths Irma was supposed to take, didn’t happen. God degraded Irma from what could have been a Cat 5 hurricane to hit FL – down to mostly Cat 2 for most of the state. I realize, many suffered through a Cat 3 and 4, but even then, a Cat 3 hurricane doesn’t begin to pack the wallop of a Cat 5 like the islanders went through.

God was with us. Those who have studied it carefully see how often this monster changed course and changed predictions. It could have been 50x worse in damages or more, if our great God hadn’t intervened. And THANK YOU to the thousands of you who prayed for us. YOUR PRAYERS WERE HEARD.

Click on “Continue reading” for important scriptures and points on this topic

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Are we aligned with God?

My brother Loren sent me this today: He mentioned a teacher who had said about our daily activities and decisions we make: “God has a part and you have a part. We cannot do God's part and God will NOT do our part. But God will help us do our part."

Then he added:

 Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Loren added, “This does NOT mean He gives us what we want. It means He will align us to HIS will. He waits for us as He guides us until we are ready to yield ourselves to Him. Then His ways and thoughts eventually become ours in every matter as our desires become aligned with His desires for us. (See also Rom 8:28 - called for HIS purpose)

“He will align us to HIS will”. That’s a very deep statement, folks.  It’s full of meaning and rich in nuances to see what He is all about, and what our lives are truly all about.

I agree.  Click on “Continue reading” to finish this short blog.

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Do you LISTEN when you pray?

I assume most of you who read my blogs pray frequently.  Or maybe I shouldn’t assume that? A primary focus of this website is to help us all develop closeness with our Maker and to come to know Him, as Paul said also in Philippians 3.  I have a recent sermon on the power of even short, but frequent prayers. Plus another one on praying fervently. You see, we are the temple of the God’s Holy Spirit and the temple was called “the House of God” and the “House of Prayer for all nations”.  In “the old days”, people went to the temple to pray if they could. So if we’re the temple of the Spirit, our lives should be a living dwelling place for God via his spirit.  We should be His House of Prayer as well.

The temple was also where the Urim and the Thummin were, one method God used to communicate to his servants. Plus it was in the temple – or the Tabernacle before that – where God talked to Moses as a man does to his friend, or where God’s will was revealed.

What are your prayers like? The concept I want to convey in this article is this: Prayer is an interactive conversation with your Maker and Savior.  It’s not to be a recital of words someone else wrote a thousand or more years ago.  Nor should it be a monologue of words coming only from you as you monotonously run down your “Prayer List”. In my experience, conversations where one person does all the talking are not conversations at all -- but monologues – and frankly, these are often boring to the other party present.  The “other party present” in this case is your God, your King and your Maker.

So – this blog is about learning to let God speak to you as well, even as you have this conversation called “prayer” with YHVH.  This article is about learning to LISTEN when you pray. If you learn this well, your prayer life will be renewed and become so exciting as you start to “hear God’s voice”.  I’m convinced God wants to speak to his children, yes – to you – and does speak – but we are not tuned in to his “frequency” or even realize He is speaking, and so we miss his words to us.  How tragic. 

Please click on “Continue reading” to learn more about this vital tool in effective praying:

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Should We Pray to Jesus?

Jesus began the model prayer he gave his disciples (Matthew 6:9–13), with the words “Our Father…” and some Christians feel this is a clear teaching that we should pray only to God the Father.  This understanding does not doubt the divinity of Christ as the Son of God, but sees him as our intermediary or authority for prayer (Ephesians 2:18) which, it is presumed, should be addressed only to the Father himself. But the New Testament does not contain any prohibition against prayer to Jesus, and we should look carefully at what it does show.

The Teaching of Jesus

First, we should remember that the Lord’s Prayer is doubtless primarily a guide to prayer and not a prayer to be followed verbatim. For example, there is no thanksgiving mentioned within the prayer outline, though we know that giving thanks is an important part of prayer often stressed in the Bible (Ps. 100:4),  by Jesus (Matthew 11:25) and by his apostles (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18). In the same way, the Lord’s Prayer does not include the words “in Jesus’ Name,” though we know from other scriptures they are right and proper to include in prayer. So the prayer outline need not be seen as limiting or exclusive. It was natural that Jesus himself prayed to the Father, and taught his disciples to do so, but that fact does not tell us whether prayer to Jesus is, or is not, acceptable.

We must also remember that Jesus received and accepted divine prerogatives such as worship and prayer during his lifetime (Matthew 2:11, 8:2, 14:33, 28:9, etc.).  He specifically said we should honor him as we honor the Father (John 5:23), and he instructed his disciples not only to petition the Father in his name (John 15:16), but also said: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

The Example of Stephen

There are numerous apparent examples of prayers to Jesus in the words and writings of the apostles (Acts 1:24, James 1: 5-7,  etc.), and one of the clearest examples of such prayer is found in the words of  Stephen at his martyrdom. The Book of Acts tells us that “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).  This verse not only records the prayer Stephen made to Jesus, but makes it explicit that it was a prayer and not a “statement” or any other form of speech, as is sometimes claimed.  Stephen’s prayer is certainly not criticized by Luke – his direct prayer to Jesus as Lord is recorded as the final righteous act of a righteous servant of God.

The Writings of Paul

In writing to the church at Corinth the apostle Paul spoke of  “… those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:1–2), indicating that at least on occasion these Christians prayed directly to Christ.

Paul also gives us an example of his own prayers to Jesus in saying he “besought the Lord” to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8). Not only does the title “Lord” usually signify Jesus in Paul’s writings, but also he specifically tells us that it was Jesus who replied to this prayer: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In some of his epistles Paul offers prayers for those to whom he is writing which specifically ask the blessing of both the Father and the Son on his readers (1 Thessalonians 3:11–14, 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17, etc.), and we find other glimpses of this same approach of addressing Jesus as well as the Father.   To the Ephesians Paul wrote that believers should speak “… to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). It would surely be futile to suggest that we can sing praises to Jesus, but are not to address him in other ways. 

In 1 Corinthians 16:22 Paul ends the verse with two Aramaic words that are almost certainly a simple prayer to Jesus: “Come Lord.”  This is the wording followed by virtually all modern translations (NIV, ESV, HCSB, NKJ, NRSV, NAB, etc.).

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“TAKE AWAY the stone…” John 11:39

We’re all familiar with the story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. But have you given thought to the fact that before Yeshua says, “Lazarus, come forth”… Yeshua first gives another command?

 

Understanding this simple but profound lesson and its implications from our Master – can change the number of stunning miracles we get to personally experience. In fact, there are several dramatic lessons our Redeemer teaches us in this resurrection story.

What command did Yeshua issue prior to calling Lazarus back to life? Do you remember? 

Click on “continue reading” to finish the rest of the story and learn a profound lesson that can change your life.

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Sabbath day pow-wow

I gave a recent sermon about your weekly sabbath “date” with your Maker.  Imagine that? A personal, worshipful, refreshing, restful weekly appointment with your Creator.  In that sermon I give specific ideas of how to make that sacred time of the Sabbath – MORE.  More what?  More productive, more holy, more effective, more worshipful and happier –more of a great delight.

How about having a family or group discussion –or a “pow-wow” as we say here in America -- wherever you live on how you can make that sabbath date with your Maker more productive, more holy, more uplifting and more worthy of His name? 

On each 7th day Sabbath, we remember and memorialize who the Creator of everything in the universe really is.  This is especially important as we and our children are constantly bombarded with the false god of evolution. We are supposed to believe that all the intricate and sophisticated life we see around us all just evolved.  NONSENSE!   And professing to be wise, these professors who espouse this have become fools.  But not all. Albert Einstein, even as liberal as he was, when asked if he believed in God, said when he looked at the universe, it was just beyond believability that it could have all just happened without a Creator. 

So on sabbath day, on the right and only weekly sabbath day, we bow to and delight in the Creator, Life Giver, Universe Designer and Law Giver who brought this all into existence.  Worshiping the Creator and remembering HIM as the creator of all things is the sabbath’s original purpose.  Remember: We are to remember the sabbath – the day YHVH RESTED and STOPPED all his work and made the 7th day of each week HIS holy time. 

Frankly, I think many sabbath keepers – including me – have especially in recent  times become lax in keeping the sabbath holy, restful, worshipful and delightful --and to bring glory to our Maker. It has become to many more of a social club where we go to sabbath services more to meet up with people we haven’t seen for a week instead of focusing more on our Maker. 

The weekly sabbath is the appointment your Maker set with YOU and your family for his children to come and worship and be refreshed together.  It’s your “date” with your Beloved Messiah.  This appointment that HE set (Leviticus 23:3) and calls HIS feast day (moed – divine appointment) begins at sundown the end of the 6th day of the week and goes through sundown the 7th day.  Are you ready for your appointment, or are you still shopping somewhere, still have a long drive home after sundown, or are not ready to meet your Maker yet?  Remember the Sabbath – shabbat in Hebrew – means “rest”.  It’s our weekly stop sign.

Our God said that sabbath should also result in us feeling refreshed. 

Exodus 23:12  “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall REST, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.”

We know our Creator doesn’t need to rest, but he DID – perhaps as much as an example for us as well as the spiritual reminder that we must take time to rest from our work(s) and find refreshment in him.  I say again, be sure to read and hear the sermon posted recently about our weekly sabbath “date” with our Maker.  

Many teach the sabbath was given just to the Israelites or Jews.  But the first sabbath was given to Adam and Eve – ancestors of all mankind, at least 2000 years before Judah was even born! Yeshua himself said he made sabbath for MAN – all mankind – and not just the Jews.  Also remember in the new covenant we are all of Israel spiritually anyway. We who have His holy spirit are the “Israel of God” – a phrase especially applied to mostly-Gentile Galatians! 

In my sabbath series of sermons we’ve posted, I show numerous examples of Gentiles also being expected to keep the sabbath. BE sure to check those out. Strangers “within your gates”, residents of Israel – foreign or Israelite alike – were to keep the sabbath.

Sabbath was also to be one of the signs identifying the people of God.

Exodus 31:16-17  “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'"  (See also Genesis 2:1-3).

But back to my main point:  If you, your spouse or your children are not feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the end of each sabbath day, something is terribly wrong in the way you’re keeping sabbath. 

Frankly the way sabbath ends up, many remark how tired they feel.  It’s been a long day. Especially those who don’t get to sleep in and have to attend morning services.  And if they have a long drive – it’s even harder to be rested and refreshed.  I recommend afternoon services where possible, to allow people to sleep a bit longer, to rest and be refreshed and even have time for family and for prayer.  And even then, many would admit that going to services ends up being a mad rush to avoid being late. 

I’m just saying and asking: what must be done in your household to start having sabbath day be enlightening, refreshing, restful, worshipful, holy and wonderful? 

Click on continue reading to for tips and ideas that can change your sabbath experience and make it more of a delight for you and your Maker.  Some of these ideas can help make the Sabbath a day you can’t wait for! 

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Why God, Why?

 In a most recent new sermon I recorded about overcoming worry and fear and even disappointment with God we sometimes feel – I talked about how we so often wish we could sit down with YHVH our God and just ask, “WHY?”  

We want to ask why He didn’t intervene and stop a terrible event. Why did He allow your son or daughter to die – and why did he allow the suffering to go on for so long? “Father, why can’t I find a job? Why aren’t you healing my cancer” or “why was I born deaf, or blind, or mute, why?” … fill in the blank.  So many “why” questions.  I hope you will carefully read this blog. It can change your life, I promise.

In this blog I just want to say a couple more things and explain why dwelling on the “Why, God?” question and frame of mind can be devastating to our faith and joy.  I will also explain about what we should do instead. 

The “Why” question is certainly commonly found even in the Psalms and it’s stated or implied throughout the Bible. So it’s “common to man” to ask this question. 

We certainly see this in Psalms 22:1 – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me?”  and in verse 2 the psalmist implies “why” by asking why his God wasn’t hearing his pleas for help.   And as we continue in the Psalms, we read over and over implied statements of David feeling unheard.  Psalm 4:1 – he pleads with Almighty God to “hear my prayer”.  David at least gets it right when he has these questions – he usually later in that psalm of wondering where God is, states he has confidence God will hear his cry. 

Psalm 27 is another psalm where David strongly implies frustration with not hearing more directly from his Maker. “Do not hide your face from me …do not leave me or forsake me, O God of my salvation” (verse 9).  But throughout he goes back and forth between questioning and reassuring himself with God’s promises.

Watch for these as you read through David’s psalms and prayers. In Psalm 39:12 he says “Hear my prayer, Yehovah, …do not be silent at my tears; I’m a stranger with you…”  So we feel David’s frustration at times, and perhaps this is why so many people relate to the Psalms.  It’s as if David is expressing our own thoughts.

But focusing on the “Why, God?” question can also be fraught with danger. 

Click here on “Continue reading” to learn why I feel dwelling on this question is not productive – and potentially very dangerous. 

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Don’t forget Wavesheaf Day

On the day after the weekly sabbath that falls during the days of Unleavened Bread, after the Passover, is a SPECIAL day. It’s always on the 1st day of the week –commonly called “Sunday”.  This year, and sometimes other years, it happens to coincide with Easter.  But we do not keep Easter, but the days our Creator specified in Leviticus 23. We know the New Covenant brethren after the resurrection of Messiah also kept these days.  In fact, the new covenant church of believers was founded on a festival holy day – the day of Pentecost, when they received God’s Holy Spirit – and the spiritual harvest of souls got underway.

The Wavesheaf Day was not a holyday, but the harvest of the barley could not begin until a ceremony was first performed. The High Priest would raise a specified amount of fine barley flour to be accepted by God “in behalf of the rest of the harvest.”  I HOPE you will spend a few minutes on it.  I hope pastors everywhere gave a sermon on the sabbath about the Wavesheaf Day.

For full details on this day, I recommend you hear the re-posting of my sermon on the Wavesheaf, originally given in 2014. Be sure to listen carefully especially to the last 40 minutes of that message.

The first barley Wavesheaf represented our Savior, Yeshua of Nazareth, son of God, son of man, our beloved Master. He is the ultimate firstfruit and once our Father in heaven accepted him in heaven, the rest of the spiritual harvest of human lives could begin.  Remember he told Mary of Magdala that she had to let him go as he had to go to “my father and your father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). That was the Wavesheaf he was fulfilling! 

The rest of the barley harvest resembled the first fruit that was waved up high. We too, must be in Him, copy him, live like him, let him be in us, and let his mind be our mind. We must come to him daily and eat of him – take him inside us, consciously – and ask him to live obediently in us the way he lived the first time on earth. He will.  And with every passing day, every passing year, we are to look more and more like Jesus (Yeshua). 

Yeshua gave one sign that he was the genuine Messiah.  He said he would be 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb and then be resurrected (Matthew 12:39-40).  Our Messiah was placed in to the earth – in a tomb – just before sundown of Passover day (John 19:41-42).  Remember the “next day” always began at sundown. That next day was a “high day” – a holy day, an annual sabbath (John 19:31).  Exactly 3 days and 3 nights later, to the minute they had put him in the tomb, his Father in heaven resurrected him.  So by the next morning, even before sunrise, the tomb was already empty. He had risen! 

But he did not go up to heaven to be accepted for our behalf until the actual ceremony by the high priest, which I believe was at 9 a.m.  After that ceremony, the rest of the harvest (a work day) could proceed.

So it’s not a rest day. It’s not a sabbath or holy day. But indeed, as I cover in depth in my sermon on it – it’s a very, very special day. Let’s not forget it.

My wife and I at 9 am on Wavesheaf day will say a thankful prayer for all that the son of GOD did for us and you – and we will thank our Father  for letting him live again. Without his resurrection, we would have no future (1 Cor. 15:13-17). 

Don’t miss Wavesheaf day.  It’s a wondrous day. This year it’s April 16, 2017.  In it, the victory over sin and Satan is complete. And Father accepted Yeshua’s perfect life for all of us who believe in him. 

Be sure to hear the latest sermon posted – the one about the Wavesheaf.  Some good reading this time of year – perhaps even as you thank him in prayer on Wavesheaf day – would be:

            1 Cor. 15:13-17

            Hebrews 9:22-28

            Hebrews 10: 4-12

            1 Peter 1:3, 21

Praise you Abba.  Praise you Yeshua.  What a perfect life you lived, and a perfect job you did, that we might all also live.  Thank you Father. Thank you – Son of God. 

(Note:  pass the word. Tell others about this day and how we glorify our God and Yeshua in this website). 

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How are your days of Unleavened Bread going for you?

As I write this, we’re coming near the end of the 7 days of Unleavened Bread. In a previous blog, I asked “what’s your focus” as you deleaven? I hope you’ll read that one too. It’s amazing how many things have leaven in them – even Grape nuts cereal, and some flat breads that LOOK unleavened, often are not.  So often sins in our lives don’t seem all that bad, but are!

But our focus should not be so much on the leaven as much as on what we’re replacing it with represents – Yeshua!  Focus on his life, his sinless life, his perfection as we eat unleavened bread, as we eat of him these 7 days.

In this blog, I ask “How are you doing with not eating leaven” during these 7 days?  Probably most of you who keep it (few do any more it seems) have faithfully avoided breads, pastas, crackers, cakes, muffins and the like.  But again, let’s focus MORE on HIM. As we eat UNLEAVENED bread, remember Christ is the one who washed away all our sins (pictured by leaven) in his blood.  I can’t really deleaven my own life.  I can’t.  I need HIM to, and that’s why we are eating unleavened bread.  And now we eat of him, as John 6 says. Be sure to study that chapter if you haven’t in a while.  Remember that John 6 was spoken just before Passover (John 6:4). 

The only way we can have a 100% sinless “deleavened” life is by faith in his washing away of our sins. We cannot – I repeat, cannot – get all the leaven out of our lives ourselves.  Even physically -- in the end, there’s leaven somewhere that we’ve missed -- perhaps deep inside a couch, or behind the back car seats, or in our air ducts or even in the sink drain’s “elbow”! Leaven spores are even in the air. In the end, though we fight sin, in the end we have to trust Christ’s life over us and in us and for us – as the unleavened, sinless life we must have. 

Have you noticed also how leaven can sometimes be staring you in the face and somehow you’ve missed it?  Oh no, you forgot to replace and throw out the vacuum cleaner bag, or to clean the toaster.  So obvious, but sometimes we miss it.  As we live in a deleavened home these 7 days, remember there may be some huge sins we’re allowing in our lives.  

Some focus SO much on the physical leaven they forget the very POINT of this feast:  Don’t focus on the sin, but on the One who removes our sin!  Christ is our unleavened bread, HE is the one who deleavened us by washing away ALL our sins in his blood, and HE is the one who should be living obediently in us now, if we have surrendered to God and accepted Yeshua as our LORD and MASTER. 

So just as leaven can sometimes be staring us in the face – but it remains in our freezer or cupboard, so can obvious sin be lurking in our lives.

Click on “Continue reading” to find ways we may be allowing  obvious sins in our lives.

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WHAT’S your FOCUS as you deleaven?

I wonder what this is about?  Are you focused on proper deleavening? Well, many of you reading my blogs and hearing our sermons, know we keep the Passover instead of Easter, and we observe the 7 Days of Unleavens – or unleavened bread, and Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th day after the Feast of Tabernacles.

Right now many will be “deleavening” or will soon be starting to put out leavened products from our homes – our dwellings.  And you’ll feel good about that, maybe even smug. Why? Some of you started so early.  Some of you will keep 8-9-10 or more days of unleavened bread, because you want to be so sure all leaven is out DAYS before Passover.  But if so, have you missed the point?

And you do it because we’re told to by God himself to do so, and even the mostly Gentile Corinthians, from a pagan background, were obviously keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.  And they weren’t Jewish.  Paul clearly discusses the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5 and 11.  In chapter 11 he speaks of remembering the bread the and cup of wine that Yeshua offered at his Passover, saying the unleavened bread was his body and the cup and its contents represented “the new covenant in my blood”.  We keep the Passover because it was kept by Yeshua and Christians long after -- and because it was what inaugurated the new covenant! 

Let’s read it. Then we’ll get to the thought-provoking point of this blog.  And again, remember, if this was just for the Jews, then why were the mostly pagan Corinthians keeping these days as well.  Let’s read it – words spoken to a predominantly Gentile congregation. But I FEAR that many are missing the POINT of the deleavening process!

1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6-8   ---  “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. …

6 Your glorying -- not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  8 Therefore let us KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened sincerity and truth.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26  --  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,  "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."  25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of ME.”

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”

Exodus 12:14-16 --- 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to YHVH throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you.”

All these holydays are listed in Leviticus 23 – and in Lev 23:1-3, Almighty God calls them “the Feasts of YHVH” – not the feasts of the Jews, not the feasts of Israel, but Feasts of YHVH.

Leavened bread in the Bible was usually a picture of sin in most places, though not always.  (Even the Kingdom of God, for example, is pictured as leaven in the sense that once it began to do its work, it will spread and someday fill the whole earth—Matthew 13:33).  But usually, leavened bread is picturing the work of sin and how it can deceive one and spread.

So – like sin – as we deleaven, we think of how leaven can hide in so many products. Do all the cereals we have – like Cheerios --  have leaven?  How about those fruit/nut bars (yes)?  Hmm, Grape Nuts in the cereal bin – oh yes. Leavened.  So we begin to carefully go through the cupboards and fridge and freezer and look for anything – breads, ice cream bars and ice cream cones, and crackers, and frozen baked goods that we have to consume before the Unleavens begin.  We lay them out for all to see, so they’re used up.  What’s not used up is thrown away.   In the same way, we think about how sin can be hiding in our lives in areas we don’t even think about much – but should be!

We make to-do lists so we don’t forget to clean out the toaster, to empty or replace the vacuum cleaner bags.  Oh yes, the cars need to be carefully cleaned out and vacuumed out. We get way down between the seats. We pull the couches apart and vacuum way down and find old missing toys, a half-eaten piece of toast and - maybe – even some money.  But keep the money, it’s not leavened.

You get the point.

Now in deleavening, we humans love to see the fruit of our labor.  I said “OUR labor”.  We like to weed or mow the lawn because it feels so good to see that we accomplished something.  After painting a room, we can see what we’ve done, and it feels good.  Same thing with Deleavening.  We like spending oodles of time of deleavening – even 2-3-4 weeks – because it makes us feel good, like we’re being righteous or something. We can see the results of our work.  But IS THAT the real point of deleavening?  Beware, lest you miss the point of the exercise.

We love “Do it yourself” (DIY) projects, but we can’t do a DIY salvation, and we really can’t put sin totally out of our lives ourselves. We simply can’t.  Not as long as we are flesh and blood. The SPIRIT is willing, but the flesh is weak. Therefore we still sometimes do what we don’t want to do – as Paul explains in Romans 7 and Galatians 5.  But nonetheless, we do our best to put sin (leaven) out of our lives and homes.

Some of you start this process 3-4 weeks before Passover.  But is that what we should be doing?  Is it possible we end up trying to be more righteous than GOD?  If you read Exodus 12:15, God himself allotted the Israelites ONE DAY to deleaven. ONE DAY.  Let that sink in.  But we’ve turned it into a full-fledged spring cleaning and by the time Passover actually arrives, many of you are worn out! Surely you can admit that.  And yet it’s true, we’re told to have no leavened food in our homes for 7 days.

Exodus 13:6-8 -- “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to YHVH.  7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. 8 And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what YHVH did for ME when I came up from Egypt.'

Now we ourselves will take more than a day but not much more. We will carefully remove what leaven we have in our homes.  But THAT won’t be my focus. THAT is not where I will put my energy. What IS my focus? What is YOURS?

Click here on “Continue reading” to get the wakeup call we all need right now.

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Beware: Are we getting “jaded”?

So many of you come from countries where English is not your primary language so perhaps the word “jaded” may not mean a lot to some of you. It means things that used to excite you, alarm you, surprise you, anger you, or created strong feelings within you – no longer do.  When that happens, you are “jaded”.  At least that’s my definition of it.

This is an important topic for each of us to consider because one of Satan’s greatest tools is to get each of us jaded regarding things spiritual.  When we’re jaded, we lose a lot of our desire to fight against sin. We don’t care about rewards and blessings as much. We just get to where things don’t matter so much. And that’s exactly when Satan can make inroads into our lives. We must not let him have any advantages over us, so I hope you’ll consider this topic carefully.  As I look at my own life and across the ekklesia of our Father’s called-out-ones, frankly I see a lot of jaded people.  Not good. 

Getting jaded is caused by a lot of things, including too many disappointments when expectations and hopes are dashed.  Or our hopes and dreams seem to- - more often than not – get squashed into the mire of “forget it”.  Prayers we knew in our hearts would be answered positively - - meaning the way WE wanted them to work out – don’t happen that way.  Loved ones die too early, too soon. Maybe you’re in pain – and not getting healed. That can do it too.  Or we keep yearning for the Promised Messiah’s return – but it seems to keep getting pushed off a few more years.  The exciting prophecies and predictions of that preacher who seemed so confident of who, and how, and when everything will work out in the last days -- don’t materialize.  Or maybe for you it’s even more personal.  You’ve been dumped by friends, or not allowed into certain inner circles or groups or congregations – and you get to the point of not caring anyway.  And then we are in the midst of “the love of many (including maybe you and me!) shall wax cold….” (Matthew 24:12).  

So what happens?  We get jaded.  Our prayers lose their intensity and fervency– and some days we don’t even get around to praying at all.  (Be sure to tie this blog into the most recent sermon – Fervent Prayers).  Our passion for things of God, for life, for important things – is gone.  We still do our duties, but the passion’s gone.  We get into the gray land of “I don’t care” and “it doesn’t matter” or “it’s no use” and – in worse cases, I don’t matter”.  In the very worst cases, it crashes into the dangerous bottomless pit of “God doesn’t care”. 

Yes, it can happen.  Certainly it happens even more easily to those who are clinically depressed.  But it can happen to any of us –depressed or not.  Many of us get depressed, but if you remain depressed for a long time, get some help on it, because it certainly can lead you to an “I don’t care anymore” state of mind. 

This is being jaded, a very dangerous state to slip into.  A lot of people suffering from clinical depression can slip into this state perhaps more easily than others.  But many who don’t have clinical depression are also jaded.  Cynicism and being jaded are everywhere.  I think most of us – maybe all of us – slip into it from time to time.  It’s so widespread that our Master even warned against one aspect or another of this jaded condition in his message to the churches of Revelation 2 and 3.  And he tells us over and over to hear what he says to all the congregations.

To the Ephesians, he said:  “You’ve left your first love.  Go back, find your first love. You’re still working at things, but you’ve lost that fire, that first love, that passion you had at the start.”  As the song says, “You’ve lost that loving feeling”.   And another song from way back had words like “I don’t know where we went wrong, but the feeling’s gone, and I just can’t get it back…”   So song writers know about this.  Do you?  Does John 3:16 still excite you – as the last blog writer wrote – or do we hear crickets, as he so aptly asked?  

To the last church –Laodicea-- maybe to you and me:  “You’re neither hot nor cold.  I wish you were hot or hold – but you’re in that awful tepid jaded state of ‘lukewarm’, and it’s nauseating me. Repent.  Get your passion back!”   But remember his message is to all seven church groups.

To Sardis he says: “You’re practically dead, when you should be wide awake. WAKE UP.  Renew those things ready to die in your lives.”

To the church at Thyatira:  “You’re so jaded you think it’s OK to dabble with wrong teachings and have accept pagan religion and false teachers into your worship of Me”.

Folks, I want to state this: becoming jaded on things that truly matter can have a major impact on what God allows in our lives to wake us up, to get the sparkle back in our eyes, the leap back in our steps, and the excitement back in our voice when we speak of him.

Some examples of how we’re reacting in a jaded way today when we would never have accepted any of this way back:

**  Planned Parenthood every year, terminates via abortions over 250,000 -324,000 developing babies, and we yawn.  In 2014, they terminated – their words – 323,999 little unborn boys and girls in the making.  Read that again and let it sink in.  What do most of us do in the face of this ongoing genocide? In fact, how are you reacting right NOW as you read what I just wrote?  We sit back and do nothing, say nothing.  We’ve heard so much about abortion that we don’t want to upset anyone or lose any friends, so we let it continue without a ripple from us. In other words, we’re jaded about abortion. 

** Do you remember the first time you heard about ISIS crucifying children or their parents in the streets?  Or the many beheadings that were going on? You cringed at first.  But let’s admit it:  it’s turning into old news and we’re getting … jaded. 

** Do you remember when learning God’s truth was so exciting? You couldn’t study enough, prayer was real, your spouse had to beg you to quit studying and come to bed? Do you remember that first love? What’s it like now? 

** Do you remember how eager you were to drop the things we were doing that were not Biblical?  But now, some old sins and bad habits of sin . . . still linger. Are we jaded?

** Have you read this far and find this topic dull and boring?  Yes! You’re jaded! 

So how do we get out of this terrible state?

Click on “Continue reading” for ideas on how to revive your first love.

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The Footwashing equates to Eternal Life?

By Phinehas

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life" (John 3:16, Coulter Bible).

...crickets?

...oh, you're still here?  I have experienced a number of people actually offended by the use of that scripture because of its perceived over-use within mainstream Christianity.  Watch most any football game, NASCAR race, or any other major sports event on TV, and you are likely to see a "John 3:16" banner held by a fan within the stands. It is perhaps, the most used bible verse or most quoted bible verse, definitely the most publically displayed.

Does the frequency of its use, or of its public display, diminish its value and importance? Have you and I become jaded by that verse and so it’s lost its power with us?

In that one verse, do we recognize the power ("God so loved", "He gave", "His only begotten Son"), the hope ("everyone who believes in Him"), the promise ("not perish"), and the reward ("everlasting life")? It reveals the entire plan of God ... the begotten Son given as a sacrifice, after living a perfect human life, to pay a penalty of death to account for every sin committed by every human so that ultimately, every human has an opportunity to choose not to perish, but have eternal life. Wow! Incredible!

If we were to choose just one single verse to give us reason to live a life committed to following His example ("believes in Him"}, to keeping His commandments, His Holydays, His Passover, and receiving His promised reward, I would offer the opening verse:  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life" (John 3:16, Coulter Bible).

If I were to ask to name one verse within the entirety of the bible that addresses the plan of God, I am sure a number of suggestions would be named. But is there a single verse that can succinctly define the plan any better than John 3:16? Let's take a look at two more:

1 John 4:9-11  “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  NKJV

Romans 5:8-9   “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”  NKJV

Two more WOW verses that offer such hope from the death penalty that we have earned...but with, perhaps, not the distinct promise of eternal life we see stated in John 3:16.

 Suffice it to say that those reading this are dedicated to a lifestyle that would lead toward the reward, "everlasting life", commonly referred to as "eternal life".  In approximately five weeks, those dedicated will partake in THE MOST IMPORTANT OBSERVANCE of the entire year...every year...the Christian Passover. Observing the true Passover is not only commanded by Jesus Christ (Yeshua), but its participation is fundamental to salvation and eternal life.

John 14:6   "...I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." NKJV

John 6:53-54   Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. NKJV

Partakers of the Passover observance realize that the taking in of unleavened bread and a sip of wine are symbols of the New Covenant administered on the night of His (Yeshua's) last Passover. However, previous to the bread and wine, an event took place that is another important symbol to participate in during the Passover observance.

Click on “Continue Reading” to discover what else happened on that eventful Passover night and conclusions we might draw from all of this.

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