Blogs

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

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.


So back to the point of this blog:  I hope and pray this will be a wake-up call to many of us, to focus on the right things before Passover.

SO --are you and I as diligent and thorough and focused on putting out the spiritual leaven we have in our LIVES?  Are you taking the time to scrutinize your LIFE as carefully as you scrutinize your cupboards?  I want you to please think about that.   Paul – in discussing leavening – made a point to make this very point to the Corinthians! He said “you Corinthians have put out puffed up bread and yet YOU yourselves remain puffed up and almost proud about the tolerance you show to sin in your midst.”  Remember?  Go back and read 1 Corinthians 5. 

A little leaven leavens the whole lump – he said – as he put the focus on the congregation, not on some unleavened baking they had done. He focused not so much on flat bread – but the unleavened LIVES characterized by sincerity and truth. Paul’s focus wasn’t so much on the leavened bread, but on what leavened bread points to – such as hypocrisy. Christ pointed to the leaven of false doctrine that we allow to leaven our own beliefs and teachings (Matthew 16:6-12). 

In other words, do you and I focus as much energy and time – or even more – on the POINT of the leavened bread -- more than the leavened bread itself?

Do we remember, as we hold a sheet of matzah to the light, we can actually see many holes in it, and stripes across each sheet of matzah bread – clearly reminding us of our Lord and what he went through for us?  HE is our unleavened bread. 

So he clearly ate unleavened bread with that last Passover (the Greek word used –artos - can refer to both leavened and unleavened bread, including the showbread that David ate).  Since Yeshua himself said the bread was picturing HIMSELF – surely he would have used unleavened bread, for he was the only one who was ever truly, purely unleavened. Sinless.  

So my point, and my warning – is that I feel most of us who keep these days still focus your time, energy, thoughts and efforts on the physical – so there’s simply little time left to focus on YESHUA, and how HE is our unleavened bread, and how HE is the one who makes us pure. 

Be sure to hear the sermons I’ve given like “Do this in Remembrance of ME”, and “When I See the Blood”, “Crucified with Christ” and others I’ve given in previous years in the spring.

As diligent as you are in putting out leaven from your home, are you as diligent in putting out gossip from you’re your life?  Or keeping the sabbath holy or more sacredly than you do today?  Do you put as much effort in FIGHTING sin itself – as you do in getting every little crumb out from between the couch seats?  You know your weaknesses. Perhaps you drink too much, or eat too much, or gossip, or take God’s name in vain (Oh my G**), or go on porn sites on the web, or cheat on your tithes or taxes, or simply don’t pray very much.  Or maybe you worry – which is a lack of faith.  Are you putting as much diligence in fighting these sins – or whatever yours are -- and asking Christ to put sin out of your life and to cover you with HIS righteousness – as you do putting leaven out?  Or have you missed that point?  THIS is what we should be deleavening and scrubbing from our homes and lives: our SINS. Focus on THAT, much more than the physical leaven.

And therein is the rub: we run out of time! At some point we have to admit, “Master, I did my best to get rid of actual leaven – and I’ve got the point! I can’t get ALL the leaven. Even if I think I have, I know there’s more leaven– even in the air. Yeshua, son of God, I need YOUR life, I need YOU.  I need YOUR perfection to cover me and our home. I need YOU to come into my life. I need to follow YOU and your leading. I need faith in YOU, and your perfect work – and not faith in me and my own work of deleavening.  Please cover me now, Master, and now I will devote the majority of my time before Passover to prayer and even fasting and meditation on YOU.  YOU are my unleavened life.  YOU are the hidden matzah. YOU are the bread of Life, that if we eat of it, we shall live.”

Folks, otherwise you’ll be worn out by Passover and the Night to be observant -– and not have the energy left to focus on and deeply appreciate the true meaning of the spring holydays.  Focus on the POINT of the deleavening.  Christ did (Matthew 16:6-12).  Paul did 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.  Hear my sermon on what makes us truly unleavened and righteous – and it’s NOT our deleavening that does that!  It’s NOT.  You can’t put enough sin out of your life yourself to make you righteous enough to qualify for the kingdom. Salvation is a GIFT, not the result of work you do.  You are rewarded by your work, but not saved by your work. Rewards may have to do with how many cities you have, or what you will do for eternity. But Salvation is Christ’s work – gifted to us.

And again, CAN you or I even actually ever get all leaven out of our homes?  I would confidently say ‘No”.  There are even leaven spores in the AIR – and that’s how sourdough bread is made. And surely there will be a few leavened crumbs that even the most diligent will miss.  Sin in our lives is the same.  Paul himself admitted to still falling short and doing what he hated sometimes.   And in striving to be righteous by what WE do, we end up missing the point of the unleavened life. 

IT’S NOT our own righteousness; IT’S NOT the fruit of OUR labor of putting sin out that makes us righteous.  It’s not how hard WE worked that will produce the unleavened life – but it’s the work of something and Someone totally different from ourselves.

YESHUA is our unleavened Bread, the Bread from heaven. Passover comes before the Days of Unleavened Bread.  Passover – and the BLOOD of the lamb of the NEW Covenant – is what washes us from ALL sin. That’s what makes us unleavened.  Then AFTER that, we show God we will strive to follow him, but even then, we sometimes still eat a leavened sandwich – especially when we’re away from home.  But yes, we are called to live a transformed life as much as we can, as we follow the leading of the spirit, but in the end, it’s Christ’s righteousness that covers us.  Let’s read it in Romans 9. 

Romans 9:30-32—“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of FAITH; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has NOT attained to the law of righteousness.  32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.

Folks, did you get that?  This is repeated in Philippians 3:9-11, Romans 3-4-5-8 and so many places.  You and I cannot work our way into a righteousness good enough for the kingdom of God. We have to have the righteousness of GOD himself, given to us as a gift (Romans 5:17-18), that we receive by faith. 

SO --- the point of this blog is this:  Yes, deleaven. But as you do, recognize you can’t get it all and won’t get it all. There are even leaven spores in the air.  We are deleavened because HE is our unleavened bread.  We are righteous because HE is righteous, and we believe he bestows on us HIS righteousness by faith in Him.  

            AND REMEMBER:  days of unleavened bread come AFTER PASSOVER.  Passover is what cleanses us from all sin, as we’re washed in the blood of the Lamb. 

Our effort, our time, our focus, our energy – is all on HIM as we come to Passover.  Not on us, not on our work, not on our effort.  Please get that point, or you missing the point. 

Israel was told by God to take one day to deleaven. Let’s not be more righteous than God.  (Exodus 12:15).  Spend more time in prayer, deep meditation and reading of the gospel accounts and in deep appreciation of our dear Savior who – in His Passover – gave us the New Covenant, the better covenant, the covenant of eternal life and HIS righteousness, HIS law written on our hearts.  Praise you Yeshua. Praise you dear Abba, our wonderful God and Father. 

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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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A DIRECT PRIVATE LINE

R. Herbert

I was never in business, so the ways of the business world are often news to me. Take, for example, when I found out that some businesses have a direct private line to the CEO that is made available to the most important clients.

Not to the rest of us, of course. We have to go through the recording with a raft of choices only to hear “There are twelve people ahead of you” then perhaps eventually be transferred a couple of times and perhaps put on hold for several minutes before we finally get an answering machine. All this to call companies with only a few thousand callers. Can you imagine what it would be like if we had to reach our Heavenly Father by phone? “There are four million, three hundred and twenty-five thousand, seven hundred and fifty-six callers ahead of you.”

12866922 Private LineThe truth is we all have a direct private line that is always there. It’s humbling to think that we are each, individually, important enough to Him to have a direct line to the CEO of the universe. We don’t have to wait on hold in order to get through eventually – the line we are given is direct and instant. At any time. There isn’t even a weekend plan where we have to wait to call because we are low on minutes. It’s really a wonderful thing that we so often take for granted. No downed or bad lines, no poor satellite signal, no answering machine or dropped calls – ever. We can actually reach our heavenly CEO faster than we can get through to our doctor’s office or the manager of the local grocery store. Have you ever given thanks for that?

The fact that we have direct access to our Heavenly Father is truly a great gift – and it is sad that many do not understand that the access is there, but believe they can only call on God through various intercessors. Jesus’ words are clear on this, however, that although we ask in His name (John 16:23) and are only able to approach through His sacrifice (John 14:6), we do not need any intercessor, but may pray directly to the Father (John 16:26, Matthew 6:9).

Another thing to remember is that our calls are always answered. Although we talk about answered prayer and unanswered prayer, I find it helps to remember that prayer is like a phone call that’s always answered. God is always there and the “phone” is always on. He may not give us what we ask for, or as quickly as we ask for it, for our own good, but we should remember the sincerely made call is always answered (Psalms 86:7, Jeremiah 33:3). Something else for which we should be constantly thankful.

There’s only one catch to the direct private line package, and it’s a relatively small one. We have to use it regularly for maximum effectiveness. It’s not like that legendary “hotline” between the leaders of the US and the old Soviet Union – there to be used if circumstances become desperate enough that it is needed. Remember Paul shows we should pray in all things. But it’s not hard to do. In fact, we don’t even need a reason to call. God is always desirous to hear from us and happy to take our call. So if you haven’t done that recently, why not make the call and give thanks for your direct private line!

R. Herbert (a pen name) served as an ordained minister and church pastor for a number of years. He holds a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern and Biblical studies and writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org.

 

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HEALTHY INCOMPATIBILITY

R. Herbert

Recent statistics suggest that as many as 40% to 50% of marriages in some developed countries end in divorce. The divorce statistics for second and third marriages are even higher (practice evidently does not improve performance), and these sad statistics underline the even more unfortunate truth that many of these divorces were undoubtedly preventable.


While some marriage splits are, of course, the result of adultery, drugs, alcohol, spousal abuse and other problems, the great majority of divorces claim “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for dissolution of the marriage bond.  This is where the aspect of preventability enters into the picture. “Irreconcilable differences” is really just an expensive way of saying “incompatibility,” and at the heart of many divorces – and of problem marriages which somehow stay together – it is incompatibility that is so often cited as the underlying problem.

Now in most all cases where incompatibility is cited as an issue, it was not present at the beginning of the relationship (we doubt many couples who always considered themselves incompatible get married) – it is something the marriage partners feel “happened” as time progressed.  But the truth is, incompatibility between a man and a woman usually never just “happens” – it is present, under the surface, all the time.  It is simply that marriages begin to falter when couples begin to focus on their incompatibility.  A century ago, in his bookWhat’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

“I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”

These may be among the wisest words ever written on marriage problems.  They are based on the undeniable fact that most marriages occur because “opposites attract.”  But when  marriage begins we are focusing on the “attract.” As marriages progress, if we are not careful, the focus switches to looking at, and dwelling on, the “opposites.”  Our point of view shifts and we begin to see our relationship differently – and as we do, the problems develop.

Simple as it may sound, the quality of every marriage, and every day within every marriage,  depends on how we look at our partner. We must remember it is not that beneath the attraction there are differences we must somehow try to suppress, but that the differences between us are so often the root and cause of the attraction itself –  and we mean not just the sexual aspect, but the full range of psychological, spiritual and physical attraction.

A happy marriage is, then, always one of managed incompatibility. We can certainly do what we can to make it easier for our mates to deal with our differences where they are problematic (Romans 14:19 – “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”), but each mate must concentrate on how he or she sees the other – we must continue to look at the attractive things about him or her.  There is perhaps no more helpful scripture on this fact than the words of the apostle Paul:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

We render this wonderful advice useless by consigning it to nice thoughts about pleasant ethereal things.  But this approach is a potent marriage problem solver.  If we apply these words  in the sphere of our relationship with our mate  – in constantly looking for, affirming, complimenting the good things we appreciate about each other on every level – the matter of incompatibility usually becomes increasingly a non-issue.  

Incompatibility is not the destroyer of marriage; it is the healthy tension that forms the basis of meaningful marriage relationships. The more we begin to see each other in a positive way and keep our focus there, the more we see attraction and the less we see opposites.  In fact, we become more and more able to celebrate our incompatibility – and good things happen when we do.  In the words of Genesis: “He created them male and female and blessed them….” (Genesis 5:2). We see God blessed the marriage relationships not generically as unisex, unithought, uniform pairs of mankind, but blessed us as male and female – blessed us in our differences.  

COMMENT from Philip  Shields, host of this website:

I couldn’t agree more. Please allow me to comment.  My wife and I couldn’t be two more different people. I married my exact opposite. And so have many of you. This caused for many opportunities of seeing incompatibility, but it took us a long time to realize, as R Herbert explains, that this could be healthy.  I also realize there truly are cases where couples are in a dangerous and toxic relationship – and I don’t refer to those – but even then, see what the Spirit can do before bolting from the marriage.  

I have the highest respect for R. Herbert and have known him for decades. I believe too many marriages “give up” too soon when they hit the turbulent waters caused by two rivers (lives) coming together.  Work through those incompatible turbulent times and smooth waters lie ahead when the 2 rivers value what each brings to the flow. 

If my wife and I, married almost 42 years now, left every time we had a huge disagreement (OK – a fight) – of which there have been many – we’d have divorced long ago. But instead, we pray over our marriage, and we realize each brings qualities to the marriage the other does not have. If my wife was exactly like me in all perspectives and thoughts, why would I need her?  And if I was exactly like her, why would she need me? It’s when we both grew up enough to VALUE the other’s viewpoint and request it, and when we learned to apologize more quickly and express our undying commitment to the marriage – that we grew in our marriage.  I have given my wife cause to leave, but she felt she could trust the Holy Spirit to convict me and change me and that is what she saw happening, so we worked things out. Praise our King and God in heaven.  Healthy incompatibility.  I like it. It’s all in how you look at what you have in front of you.  Thank you, R Herbert, for letting the Spirit of God speak through your pen. It’s worth a second reading, and a third. 

R. Herbert (a pen name) served as an ordained minister and church pastor for a number of years. He holds a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern and Biblical studies and writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org.  

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“…They have also divided up MY land” (Joel 3:2)

Though I originally posted this in 2013, it is even more timely today. I’ve added a few relevant sentences as well.

How does our heavenly Father – who gave a large swath of land to Israel – view efforts by world leaders, including those from the USA, who seem to be siding with those who want Israel to give up “the West Bank” and the Golan Heights?  Israel already has given up the Sinai Peninsula, which they conquered. They’ve already given up the Gaza strip as well.  But in those “land for peace” deals, did they receive peace? Terrorists from Gaza, in particular, have rained down thousands of missiles into Israel since that time. So there was no peace that resulted from giving up land. America certainly would not put up with that if our neighbors were raining down thousands of missiles into our land.

Be sure to watch this short video about some strange linkage of disastrous events here in the USA every time we tried to prod Israel to give up more land in exchange for peace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe7JYHRWj64&feature=youtu.be  

But how do you negotiate land with people who have vowed you have no right to exist?  Iran’s recent missile tests included one with a warhead with a written message painted on it that went something like “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth”. Hamas and Hezbollah certainly have no regard for Israel. And now recently the UN – with USA under Obama abstaining, NOT supporting Israel - - basically condemned Israel for their activity on the West Bank, including Jerusalem – all land that GOD gave to Israel millennia ago! And prior to the 1967 war, the West Bank was not Palestinian – but belonged to Jordan. People forget that.

What’s next?  Israel is a tiny country, smaller than New Hampshire!  Let that sink in! There’s not much land to “give up” and still have any buffer zones for security.  Their tiny country is surrounded by much, much larger and much more populous Islamic countries. When rockets are fired from Gaza or Lebanon, Israeli citizens have 15 seconds from the time they hear the alarms, to when the rockets explode around them.  By contrast, when Israel strikes a civilian hiding terrorist leaders, Israel gives that area 15 minutes of notice that a strike is coming. Of course their intended target gets the message as well and flee. 

I’m not a prophet, so with that caveat, let me suggest:

  • Watch for efforts to grow to declare Jerusalem an international city owned by no one but “belonging to the world”, as a compromise move to “create peace”. Jerusalem does NOT belong to the world but to God, as you shall see.  International “peace” soldiers from the UN or Europe could then surround the city, providing the security. But read Luke 21:20.  The surrounding armies MAY initially come as peacekeepers. Imagine that!
  • There will be strong efforts to force Israel to halt any further construction in lands anciently given by God to Ephraim and Manasseh, around the area of ancient Samaria, now called The West Bank.  This area includes the Palestinian hotspots of Ramallah and Nablus. 
  • Then strong coercion will be placed against Israel to give up the West Bank altogether. Please don’t forget that the Hamas, Hezbollah and PLO have also sworn to fight until every Jew has been driven out or killed. That’s who Israel is dealing with!  And those terrorist groups are supported, trained and financed by Persia (Iran) and others. Secretary Kerry of the USA has publicly stated recently that his government under Obama does not agree with Israel’s right to build on the West Bank.  Well, Mr. Kerry, you’re wrong. God gave Israel that land, and God says they have a right to build there, live there, and own that land.

What man says means nothing if it goes against the stated wishes of Almighty God. Read the rest of this blog for what Almighty GOD says about dividing up the land He gave Israel. 

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Are you a “son of Korah”?

Are you “a son of Korah”?   Some of you instinctively might recoil at that thought if you know who Korah was.  However there is a singing group who sing psalms and other spiritual music who call themselves the Sons of Korah. They don’t seem to mind the moniker. How about you?  If someone referred to you as a “son of Korah” (or “daughter of Korah”), how would you feel about that? 

Who was Korah?  He was a Levite of the Kohath clan (Exodus 6:16+) and was a younger cousin of Moses and Aaron. Korah’s notoriety was based on the story of Numbers 16 where he apparently led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron.  He – along with Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben and 250 princes and leaders from other tribes – apparently were discontented with Aaron and his sons taking the role of priest to themselves. They felt all the nation was holy and other leaders should have equal access to God in the tabernacle holy place. In Korah’s mind, Aaron and Sons had separated and elevated themselves above the other Levites.  Moses saw right through all this and even confronted Korah by asking, “… and do you want the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:8-11).

It would be worth reading the account yourself in Numbers 16.  Korah and his followers ended up being swallowed up in a massive “sinkhole” – but this hole also closed over all those it had captured.  The 250 other leaders who had censers of incense, were executed by a fire from God for their insolence (Numbers 16:31-35).

Now to the point of this blog.  What happened to Korah’s family?

We’re told that the households of some of the other rebel leaders like Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben were all together – and that entire families were swallowed up by the earth opening up and swallowing them all up.  Yehovah actually told Moses to warn the congregants to “get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram”.  (Numbers 16:23-24).  So many of the neighboring families did obey and distance themselves but the immediate families of these men “stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children” (v. 27). 

Numbers 16:31-35  “Now it came to pass, as he (Moses) finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.  So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.  Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!" And a fire came out from YHVH and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.”

Before this story ends, 14,700 more rebels were killed by the plague sent by God (v. 49).

So who were the sons of Korah?  The awful story of Korah shows that descendants can choose a different path than their father or grandfathers. Click on ‘Continue reading’ to learn the inspiring story of how the sons of Korah ended up in the years after their father’s rebellion.

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UN Resolution 2334 and prophecy

In the last days, perilous times shall come – so wrote the inspired apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:1).  That’s especially true if you live in Israel, and especially now after Obama’s administration shamefully abstained from the vicious UN Security Council Resolution 2334. 

There are 5 nations that have veto power in the UN’s Security Council.  Any one of them who vetoes a resolution kills it from going forward.  USA has traditionally protected their little brother Israel from the hateful attacks of the UN by casting the supremely important veto vote for the past many decades.

But not this time.  USA abstained. That’s like being your little brother’s protector from the many neighborhood bullies that want him to cease to exist – and then in this most recent of attacks, we walk away and give our tacit blessing to the attack.  Sorry little brother.  Israel, we know there is a living God in heaven who is your true Protector, but still America, still President Obama, this was shameful.  And it was equally shameful for other members of the Council including New Zealand, UK and France to cast their votes against Israel as well.

When the entire Middle East is in flames, when Syria has killed over 600,000 of its own citizens in their war, when Iran is poised to own nuclear weapons of mass destruction, when ISIS is out there crucifying and burning Christians alive and beheading children and anyone they wish, when atrocities are happening in dozens of countries – including those on the Security Council – they pick on Israel.  More resolutions have been cast against Israel than all the rest of the nations combined.  Indeed Jerusalem has become a stumbling stone to the nations.

WHY was this vote so critical?  How does this set us up for prophecy being fulfilled especially in Jerusalem, which will be “ground zero” for the most climactic and intense future events (coming soon) the universe has ever seen? What does it mean for the coming administration?

Will it bode for peace – or more war?  Can 2017 be a year of terrible war against Israel?

It’s looking like 2017 may be a pivotal year.  The Balfour Declaration – which opened the door for there to be an Israel in the Middle East – was signed in 1917, exactly 100 years from 2017.  The Six Day War – which gave East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount back to Israel – was exactly 50 years ago from 2017.  And we’re coming up soon to 70 years since the official start of the new nation of Israel in Israel! 

Click on Continue reading to get a glimpse of what could be coming as a result of this shameful Resolution 2334.  

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Seeking HIM so you’re LED by the Spirit

I recently recorded a sermon on “Being Led by the Holy Spirit”.  I want to add a couple points for more clarity. I hope you will hear and read that sermon of course, but as you do, keep these points in mind too. 

As I pondered my own sermon, several things came clearly to mind. Many of you probably already know and “see” these points, but it will be a good reminder and may be a clarifying few points for others.

Being “led by the spirit” clearly means, in the contexts given in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, that we are fighting the works of the flesh and are seeking to live as a child of God.  The family or kingdom of God’s way is so different than the way of the world and their god.  So when we receive the Holy Spirit – an extension of God Himself – we become a child of God.

To those who believe in the name of the Son of God – Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah – and receive Him into their lives and hearts,  to them is given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  Then as a child of God, we cry out to our God – “Abba, Daddy! Father!” as we lift holy hands in prayer to Him and seek HIM.  We don’t flee in terror, for we “were not given the spirit of bondage to fear” (Romans 8:15) but of sonship into this awesome family!  The very family – the kingdom – of God.  Amen, hallelujah. 

Now as we understand this, we will want His way more and more – and will hate sin more and more. And even as we do stumble into sin, at least we’re at the point where we can say with Paul, that sometimes “that which I HATE, I do” (Romans 7:14).  We surely come to hate the sin that still tries to capture us. And we love being in tune with our dear Abba in heaven, our daddy, who loves us beyond description, as the story of the Prodigal Son and the parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 illustrate so well.

So we obey in love and adoration, not out of fear. But yes, we do obey. Yes, we now fight sin. 

What follows next in this important blog is what I wanted to add to make it even clearer, as we seek to be led by God’s Spirit. Click on Continue reading to get the important focus we need to have.

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LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS

In recent worship meetings I’ve been in, it has often struck me how different groups will practice this matter of raising your hands in prayer or worship – or NOT lifting hands in prayer and worship. I suspect in the groups that don’t practice it, if someone were to raise their hands in prayer and worship, it wouldn’t be long before someone in authority would be trying to discourage any repetition of this.  
In one recent group I attended, maybe 6-7 hands would go up out of 150 or so in attendance.  In another meeting, perhaps half the adult audience was raising their hands at one time or another.  I fear that it has become so ingrained in us to either raise our hands in prayer and worship --or not raise our hands-- that it will be hard for anyone to change, unless we are truly convicted to let Scripture guide and lead us.  Also, pray about it and ask God’s Spirit to lead you and me into all truth, as Yeshua promised.  So read on to learn what scripture says about this. 

Let’s start with the clear teaching and examples from YHVH’s word: 

1 Timothy 2:8
“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath…”

King David says in Psalm 41:2:
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, we read in Nehemiah 8:6, pertaining to ALL the people, including women and children present (v.2): 
6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.
Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

We know the story of how Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses’ arms during the battle with Amalek in Exodus 17:8-13.  When Moses’ arms were raised in petition to Yahweh, the Israelites prevailed. When he dropped his arms in fatigue, Amalek had the “upper arm”.  Thank Yah that there were men ready to support Moses when he was tired.  May we also be there for one another, raising each other up in prayer to our heavenly throne of grace.

Here’s one way I understand it:  We are Abba’s children, no matter how old we are. Have you ever watched a three-year old or even a six-year old rushing to their beloved father whom they haven’t seen for a while?  They run towards him with arms raised, as Daddy is bending down to pick them up.  That’s my picture.  I think of praise and worship like this.  We are his children, He is our Abba, our dear father.  We’re thrilled with Him, and so we reach up to Him, even as He is reaching down to us.

Another one:  I remember my own daughters – and later my son – when they were little. If they became afraid of something or someone, they would run to me (or their Mom) with their arms raised, wanting us to pick them up and assure them that everything was alright.

So here are a few more, using NKJV throughout.  However, I use the original Hebrew “YHVH” where they say “the LORD”.
Psalm 28:1-2
To You I will cry, O YHVH my Rock: Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 
2 Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

Psalm 134:1-2
Behold, bless YHVH, All you servants of YHVH, Who by night stand in the house of YHVH! 
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless YHVH.

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

When we worship with King David in the new kingdom coming, we WILL see him raising his hands in worship and prayer.  Will you and I follow his example at that time? If so, why not now?

Solomon must have often seen his dad doing this, so Solomon also raised HIS arms in prayer at the dedication of the temple: 
1 Kings 8:22
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of YHVH in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;

If you’re not used to this, it may take a while to feel comfortable. Do it in private, in your own room as you pray privately at first.  If you attend where others already are doing this in worship, it should be easy to try it at services. If this is not done where you worship, perhaps begin by lifting up your hands to your chest/shoulder level and see how that is perceived or if anyone says anything. Have the above scriptures ready, if you are questioned.  If it is forbidden, maybe it’s time to worship somewhere else.  Don’t cause offense; just move to a group that welcomes worshiping with raised arms.

I’m not saying everyone or anyone has to raise their hands in prayer. But I am saying neither should it be forbidden. This is a most personal choice, a personal decision -- and surely church authorities should let their brothers and sisters worship as each is led in his or her heart.  Try it. It adds a whole new dimension to your worship.  Remember, we are His Children.  Abba seems to enjoy seeing His children raise their arms up to Him as we come to Him in song, praise and worship.

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Trusting in Trump – or God?

I find it very interesting to see and read the various Facebook gloatings and woeings (if there’s such a word) since the Trump election.  Some are so glad that Trump is the next president. Others loathe him. Some are so glad Hillary didn’t make it – while others literally shed tears of despair for her.  And it’s not just people of the world doing this. Oh not at all.  We also see all this going on with believers, children of God-- the very citizens of heaven above! 

Children of God, what’s going on?  Have we forgotten what is most important about all of this?  What role does President-elect Trump play?  Should we trust in him?

Click on “Continue reading” to find some reminders from scripture of where our focus should be.

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Remember – we’re SOJOURNERS

I suspect too many of God’s children are getting too wrapped up in this world’s election.  Don’t forget: we’re sojourners on this planet.  This is not the world or country that is what our life is all about.  We await the perfect Leader, and a wonderful capital city in heavenly Jerusalem above.  All of creation groans as it waits for righteous leadership to rule the earth.  The hills and the trees of the earth will sing for joy and “clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12) when the children of God are revealed.  THIS is what we get excited about. 

Hebrews 11:13-17

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

The choices we have before us in the U.S. election are not good ones. One may appear to not be “as bad” as the other. One may appear to “be worse” than the other – at least in our minds. But this system has to come to an end, and great will be the fall thereof when it falls, before we can sing our hosannas  as we’re struck by the heavens unfurling above us and finally see our King of Kings, our Beloved Redeemer coming in the clouds.  Mighty angels will scatter out, collecting the saints and bringing us all to Him. 

THAT is the election we should be excited about. And WE must make our election SURE. 

This is what it’s all about.  The sooner the new world comes, the better. 

We’re pilgrims, strangers and sojourners (1 Peter 2:11; Psalm 39:12; Genesis 47:9). Our real citizenship is in heaven above. Let’s never forget it. 

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God’s children don’t do Halloween

If you put “Halloween” in the search bar of this website, you’ll find other articles or blogs on this same subject.  This coming Monday night will be Halloween – All Hallow’s night, or Hallowed Evening – but it’s anything but hallowed/holy. 

I hope you holy children of God will have nothing to do with this evil time.  We will not participate. We will not give out candy. We will probably stay home – with the lights out and won’t be answering the door. We never do on Halloween.

Just think about it:  it’s a day that features witches, demons, dead people, people who look like someone chopped their head with an ax, blood or appearances of blood.  You’ll see whole neighborhoods decorated in dark, scary and evil backdrops.  Children will dress up – and some won’t look so bad, but others will be dressed up in the most satanic, awful, ugly, ungodly costumes one could imagine.  And movies on TV for a day or two before this evil evening are all about demons, vampires, death, violence, murder and sin of all types. 

If you’re unclear about the origins of Halloween, just do your own research. It won’t take you long to discover the dark and demonic roots of this evening. Let’s not have anything to do with this. 

God says have no interaction with these ungodly days.  You may not agree with me when I also teach to keep God’s true holy days and not the pagan holidays of the world – but this one, Halloween, surely is plainly and obviously evil, isn’t it?  Please ask God to open your eyes to see this, if you’re struggling with this and want your children to have fun of dressing up and participating in this horrible night. 

I’ve found out that when we parents are strong for our God and His ways, our children “get it” real quickly.  Show them the real joy and fun that we can have in God and his ways. If you BE their parent and show them how Halloween goes so strongly against everything God stands for, they will follow your lead.  Don’t apologize for standing up for God. Be brave and strong. Pray about it first and God will lead and inspire you and put the right heart into your children.

Look at these:

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to see several scriptures that clearly tell us what our heavenly Father thinks of all this and what He wants us to do.

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Fasting – don’t just go without food

On this Day of Atonement, we fast. That’s what scripture says we must do.  But we must not just go without food on this day. Remember fasting has a purpose. 

On this day of fasting, read Isaiah 58 prayerfully and slowly.  Be sure you’re fasting in a way that draws you closer to God and results in real change.  Fast today – and repent deeply of any spiritual lethargy, sin that you or I are allowing in our lives, and for not living and applying the things we know from scripture.  And yes, I do preach first and foremost at myself.  I too, have been on my knees in deep repentance and asking God to change me by His spirit.

So don’t just go without food today.  Fast with purpose. Fast to change. Fast to repent.

Isaiah 58:3-14

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'

"In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness.  You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.

 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?  Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?  Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to YHVH?

            Note:  DON’T JUST GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS, God is saying to us.

            Now in the next verses he speaks of fasting that should bring results.

6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;  When you see the naked, that you cover him,  And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

            NOTE:  now watch what God will do in return as He sees us applying Godly ways to our life.

8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHVH shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and YHVH will answer; [Who wouldn’t want more answered prayer?]

You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

"IF you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul,

Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

11 YHVH will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

12 Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall rise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,  From doing your pleasure on My holy day,  And call the Sabbath a delight,  The holy day of YHVH  honorable,  And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,  Nor finding your own pleasure,  Nor speaking your own words,

14 THEN you shall delight yourself in YHVH; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.  The mouth of YHVH has spoken."

SO yes –fast. But let’s fast with lots of prayer and asking God to help us become ever more like him moment to moment.  

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WHO is the One who takes away our sin?

Day of Atonement special

 

The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is upon us (10th day of Tishri, Oct 12, 2016).  One of the prominent events of this day when sacrifices were offered before Christ came, was the story of the two kid goats.  Leviticus 16:5 actually says that the two goats together were to be seen as one sin offering.  They represented different aspects of the redemptive process.  One goat was offered and killed as a sin offering and its blood sprinkled in the Holy of holies and elsewhere. Everyone agrees on that one.

But also on the Day of Atonement, all the sins of the nation were declared and placed on to the head of the kid goat that was selected to be the azazel goat. Then a fit man led this little young goat – which had not really done anything wrong – out into an uninhabited part of the wilderness. You can read the whole story in Leviticus 16.   Really, how much wrong can a young kid goat do?  Many have tied this azazel goat (translated “scapegoat” in many Bibles) to Satan being bound, mentioned in Revelation 20:1-2.  And note that the kid goat was not bound but led out of the camp as it walked out, tied to a rope held by the man leading it out. 

But now the point of this blog.  For decades I believed what I was taught – that the azazel goat represented Satan! The story went like this:  that when it’s all said and done, Satan is bound (like Revelation 20:1-2 says) and that all our sins are put on Satan’s head where it belongs.  So Ellen G. White and the Seventh-Day Adventists began teaching that the day of Atonement with God actually features Satan in some of its aspects. Then leaders from Radio Church of God, later renamed Worldwide Church of God, also began to accept Ellen G. White’s original theory and to teach it. 

Many of you will wonder why this is even a question. But if you are part of, or have come out of, any of the Church of God groups that were associated in the past with Herbert Armstrong or even the Seventh Day Adventists, you probably have heard that one of the two goats represents Satan.  I do hope you’ll hear my full sermon on this topic.

But does Scripture say Satan has anything to do with this day? 

Click here on “Continue reading” to see what Scripture says. 

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Why Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) is called a “memorial”

This divine appointment day (festival) is interesting in many fronts.  Most have forgotten the Biblical name of Yom Teruah – Day of Shouts and blasts – and have replaced it with the non-Biblical name Rosh Hashanah.  ON this website, we still use the Bible name for this day – Yom Teruah, the Day of Blasts. 

Here are a few things that make this day so unique:

--- It’s the only festival that starts on the new moon. That’s why I want to be sure I’m keeping it starting on the day of the first visible new moon and not on a day moved by rabbis who did not acknowledge the Messiah with their 4 Rules of Postponement.  Remember that a “new moon” in Bible days was readily acknowledged in much of their written histories as being the time when the moon once more was giving visible light after 1-3 days of darkness.  

--- It’s the holyday with no reason given for its observance.  We’re just told to keep it, to rest, and to make it a day (Yom) of blasts/noise, blowing (Teruah).   We’re plainly told the reasons for keeping Passover, Days of unleavened Bread, Shavuot – Pentecost, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths for example – but nothing is said to explain the purpose of this festival. Mankind has come up with many conjectures and explanations, but I’m just saying, the Bible doesn’t anywhere say, “This is why I want you to keep Yom Teruah”.  We’re simply told to observe it with a holy meeting, keep it like a Sabbath rest and don’t work on it, and make it a memorial of blowing.  (Leviticus 23:23-25)

Leviticus 23:23-25

Then YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest,a memorial of blowing of trumpetsa holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to YHWH.'"

--- It’s also said to be a day of “a memorial of teruah (blasts)” – usually translated as “a memorial of blowing of trumpets”.  Keep in mind the word “trumpets” is nowhere in the original Hebrew about this day. We know 2 silver trumpets were blown on all the holydays but on this day they also blew the shofar, the ram’s horn, over and over. Today the Jews blow their shofar 100 times on this one day. 

But why is it called a memorial of blasts?  The scriptures don’t tell us.  The Hebrew work is Strong’s # 2146 – zikkaronor zichron– meaning memorial, remembrance, record, or reminder.  It was used to help people remember past significant events or to bring certain things to mind. Joshua’s stone monuments (Josh 4:7) were a zikkaron. Written records were a zikkaron (Ex 17:14; Esther 6:1).  Really it pointed to events that were pivotal points in God’s working with man.

Here are some points to consider.

(Click on “continue reading” to read the rest of the blog).


A shofar was the horn from a ram. The first time a ram’s horn was used for deliverance, and this is well known in Jewish circles, was when the Angel of YHWH stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.  There was to be a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, the future site of the temple, but God provided the offering, just as Abraham had said (Genesis 22:8).  They saw a ram struggling as its horns were stuck in a bush (Gen 22:13). 

The ram’s horn ever since has been seen in Hebrew circles as a symbol of how Yah keeps his promises and watches over His children. The ram’s horn is also a picture of the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua on our behalf: HE was the Father’s sacrifice – and it went all the way until he died.

It’s significant that the ram was tangled up in a thicket of thorns (Genesis 22:13)….as was Yeshua (Jesus) (John 19:2; Matthew 27:29).  Thorns were a symbol of the curse on sinful man when they were about to be cast out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:18). Yeshua took the cursed thorns upon his own head as he paid the price for the curses against humanity. All who accept Him are able to have the curses of sin removed and put upon his holy head.  Amen.

This is also a memorial – or reminder – of what is yet coming.It’s a “zikkaron of yom teruah” – to use part of the Hebrew – “a memorial of blasts and noise”.  It’s a reminder that amidst our joyful shouts of victory, we will be returning triumphantly with Christ to rid the world of terrorists and bullies and start the new way of governing under ben David – the Son of David, the Son of God. 

This is a day of shouts, of praising, of singing, of clapping, of blowing on shofars – of being JOYFUL in our Messiah – if you are a believer in Yeshua.  Remember the verb form of Teruah refers to clapping, shouting, making noise in praise.  All these verses and many more that are translated “shout” are from the verb form of Teruah.

Psalm 66:1 – Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth
Psalm 100:1 – Make a joyful shout to YHWH, all you lands.
Psalm 47:1 – Clap hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” 

Those on the other side will also be making a lot of noise – of despair and panic as they meet their new ruler, whom they haven’t come to know yet. We’re told in Zechariah 14 that a coalition of world rulers will agree to send their armies to Jerusalem to FIGHT this outside invader, as they will see Him.  Besides that, remember Satan will be angry and this will be the last chance for a thousand years for him and his demonic spirit hosts to fight the mother of all wars.  Yes, right there, around Jerusalem. 

But go back and read Nehemiah 8.  There the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were mourning as they heard the Torah read to them as they realized how little they had obeyed it. But still, on THIS holyday of Yom Teruah, they were told to REJOICE and celebrate it with joy. 

So this day looks back to God’s deliverance of his people – and is also a reminder, a memorial – of what is to come. 

Our God is great. SHOUT your joy to him. Clap your hands in joy. Blow on a trumpet and rejoice, for even though very dark days are coming first, we shall see the LIGHT of the coming of the King of Kings. 

Think of it, just as a Biblical “new moon” is the first visible light of the moon after a day or two of darkness in the sky – so after a time of darkness on earth as men’s evils get worse and worse, we shall see the LIGHT of our Savior coming to save the whole world from itself.

That’s one more reason why we must celebrate this day with the LIGHT of the moon, not the moved no-moon date given us by Yeshua-rejecting rabbis!  Amen.  

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Could you be “a little devil”?

The Fall holydays of God remind us the end of this world order as we know it is about to come about.  In the lifetimes of so many of you, we’re going to see Satan bound and a new ruler – Jesus the Christ, Yeshua the Messiah – will be on a throne in Jerusalem ruling the world. Yeshua will bring blessing and bring the best out of people.  Satan, the present ruler of this age, likes to fling dirt and dung and dig up the worst about each one. He’s the Accuser of the Brethren.

So why do I ask if you –or I – could at times be “a little devil”?  Sometimes we even use that term as a cute label for someone but when we understand it, we’ll want to be as far as possible from this label.

Why? Because “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” meaning “slanderer, accuser” (Strong’s 1228).  So “devil” means “accuser”.  Now combine that with the name “Satan” – which means “Adversary, Enemy”.  Put it all together and we get: Satan the Devil = our Enemy the Accuser and Slanderer.

So “a little devil” is an accuser, just like Satan is.  So of course we want nothing to do with being “a little devil” or in any way identifying with that.

By our actions and words we are either working as a tool of Satan – or we’re blessing people and praying for people and working for God.  Which is it for you?  For whom do you work? Whose child are you and I? Are we a child of God, or a child of the Devil (John 8:44)?  

Or maybe we’re like James 3:9-10 mentions that sometimes we bless with our mouth and sometimes we curse and slander.  Which is it? Which heart do we have – a loving and blessing heart, or a cruel gossipy and slandering heart that ruins reputations? 

Remember that Satan is the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10).   

Revelation 12:10 – “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come,’ for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”

Click on “Continue reading” to finish this pithy blog showing if you and I are “little devils” or do we bring blessing?

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Those annoying delays

How often we have delays and inconveniences that annoy us. It happens to us all  You have that dreaded flat tire – and you were already running late for that special engagement or appointment.  Or you forgot your cell phone and so you have to go back (how did we function in the old days without cell phones?!!).  Or your car won't start because someone left a car door open all night. Or why is that red light staying red so long; it appears to have been at least one whole minute now!  And of course you can’t keep going to your kids’ overnight party because one of your children just remembered he forgot that cuddly elephant he sleeps with every night and you just have to go back and get it.

Or maybe it’s more serious than any of these and you have to take several weeks off work due to a major operation you need.  Another delay. You need to work. You need to keep going – but you can’t.  Another delay. You fret.  Or do you?   

You know what I mean…you have an important meeting to make. Or this delay will make you late for church services or the family Thanksgiving dinner, etc. etc.  And so we put the fruit of the spirit called “longsuffering” or “patience” back into storage and we let ourselves fret and fume.

Or am I the only one?

And maybe a most stressful delay for all of us is “how long” it’s taking for our Messiah to return.  I mean even Peter, Paul, and John all thought it was imminent and spoke of it being “the last hour” – not just “the last days”.  But, Yeshua/Jesus still has not landed on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem.   This is especially rough on people getting up there in age (and now I’m in those ranks, I guess) or who have painful health issues and would love to have that new spirit body that true believers will be granted upon his return. 

More on that later, or maybe…maybe I’ll put it off and delay saying more about that for now.

But what should we be thinking when the light stays red so long, when we have to waste time because of something we or our spouse forgot?  Do we fume and fret?  What could be better thoughts that would help in these situations?

Click on “Continue reading” for some helpful reminders of what might really be happening in times of delay like I’ve just described.

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THE WAR PRIEST

Although many Christians have never heard of the biblical “War Priest,” a study of the concept is worthwhile as it can help us more fully understand the roles of the One who became the promised Messiah.  In the Bible, this role is only mentioned once specifically, and then only briefly, in Deuteronomy 20:1-3:

“When you go to war against your enemies … do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them.”

It is easy to assume, reading these verses, that “the priest” is the High Priest who officiated in the Tabernacle or Temple, but Jewish commentary and tradition as found recorded in the tractates of the Talmud unanimously state that this priest was, in fact, a “Second High Priest” who was called the “Priest Anointed for War”  (Tractate Sotah 8:1). Deuteronomy itself gives us little information, but it would appear that the priest was someone who would have been present with the army, as the text does not say the priest “shall come and address the army” but that he would “come forward” – the Hebrew signifying coming from among the army rather than to it.  This would perhaps indicate, as tradition affirms, that before battles the War Priest was responsible for preparing the warriors, making sure they were fit for battle and rejecting any he felt were unfit for the fight.

Bringing together what information we can from Jewish tradition, we find that this priest was apparently specially anointed for his position and role. According to the Talmud, the High Priest serving in the Temple was of the highest rank, but the role of the War Priest was of greater significance than that of the “Deputy High Priest” (Tractate Nazir 47b) – hence the naming of the War Priest as the “Second High Priest.”

The first War Priest mentioned in the Old Testament was apparently Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (Exodus 6:25), who personally executed an Israelite man and a Midianite woman for their immorality and so ended a plague sent to punish the Israelites for their sin in regard to prohibited relations with Midian (Numbers 25:1-9).  Phinehas served as War Priest according to the Talmud (Tractate Sotah 43a), as we see in Numbers 31:6:  “Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.” His role as War Priest is made even more explicit in the later Jewish commentary Midrash Rabbah which states of Elisheba the wife of Aaron (Exodus 6:23) that  “… her husband was High Priest, her two sons were both Deputy High Priests, Phinehas her grandson was a Priest Anointed for War.”

As an anointed priest, the War Priest was a type of “messiah” (anointed), and elsewhere in Midrash Rabbah the War Priest is called the “War Messiah.” In fact, the Midrash contains an interesting tradition that the “four craftsmen” of Zechariah 1:20 were to be equated with Elijah, the Messiah, Melchizedek, and the War Messiah (Midrash Rabbah - Song of Songs 2:8-13).   This is interesting because in the New Testament, Elijah and Melchizedek are both clearly linked to the Messiah, and the inclusion of the War Messiah in the same group leads us to consider that individual in terms of one of the messianic roles of Christ. 

For the most part, the New Testament stresses the priestly role of Christ as an atoning one parallel to the work of the Temple High Priest – as in the detailed analogy given in the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5, 7-10), of course.  But although it does not draw the comparison directly, the New Testament also shows Christ fulfilling a separate priestly role – more like that of the War Priest – at his return.  Usually we think of the Messiah’s return as being that of a king, which it is, of course, yet the language of the Book of Revelation:  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war” (Revelation 19:11) is largely reflective of scriptures such as Isaiah 59:17 where:  “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance, and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak” – in which the comparison is often not primarily one of kingship, but of judgment and war.

Ultimately, the concept of the War Priest and the symbolic linking of his role to the Messiah are post-biblical and speculative.  Yet some of the traditions seem to be ancient ones.  Judas Maccabaeus, who led the Jewish Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167–160 BCE), is said to have done what the War Priest was to do (1 Maccabees 3:56), and it is interesting that of all the priests, only the High Priest and the War Priest are said to have been personally anointed – and thus could be said to be parallels of the Anointed One, the promised Messiah.  

While every King, High Priest and “Priest Anointed for War" was individually anointed, according to Exodus the sons of Aaron, representing the whole group of regular priests, only received a semi-anointing or sprinkling (nazah) after the service of consecration (Exodus 29:21). This “sprinkling” was apparently not repeated and is said to have been for the group for posterity (Exodus 40:15 – where the forms of the word mashaḥ mean only that the priests received oil and do not confirm the manner in which it was applied).  Interestingly, this kind of situation was found in other nations of the ancient Near East and is seen in the Amarna Letters (51:4–9), where an individual proclaims his authority based on his grandfather's anointing.

But whether tradition is correct in claiming a distinct office for the “War Priest” or not,  it is clear that while the  Messiah fulfilled the role of the Temple High Priest at His first coming, at His second coming His preeminent role will be not one of atonement, but of war. In that sense, the second coming of the Messiah will certainly be parallel to the role understood to have been that of the priest called the “War Messiah,” the “Priest Anointed for War.”

R. Herbert (a pen name) holds a Ph.D. in biblical and ancient Near Eastern languages, archaeology, and culture.  He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org where you can find many of his other articles and free eBooks.

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