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, please enjoy.

Our focus has always been on the Rock (who is Christ) and on the Light of the world (who is Christ), and on our heavenly Abba, our Father.  So this site is not about us but the website software requires some kind of bio. We felt led in 2004 to share Bible studies with others and to help people whom God was calling to come to their Messiah, and...

Our focus has always been on the Rock (who is Christ) and on the Light of the world (who is Christ), and on our heavenly Abba, our Father.  So this site is not about us but the website software requires some kind of bio. We felt led in 2004 to share Bible studies with others and to help people whom God was calling to come to their Messiah, and this website was born.

Philip was ordained in 1976 and has served sabbath-keeping congregations in Canada and the USA. He runs his own long-term care insurance agency along with his wife, Carole. Philip and Carole met in 1971 and have been happily married since 1975.  God has blessed them with three children and a total of SEVEN grandchildren:  5 in FL and 2 in WA. 

Philip lives now in Leesburg, FL so they can be closer to their four grandsons and 1 granddaughter and his second daughter and her husband.  Philip and his website also support a group of 28 orphan children in Kenya.

More

Tithing magnified in the New Covenant

The New Covenant differs from the Old Covenant in many different ways, and I have sermons about the glorious New Covenant

I’ve also recorded sermons recently on tithing, as the Bible teaches it.  I believe in tithing and stated so several times in those lessons – but I explain tithing from the New Covenant point of view, after first examining the Old Covenant. Please check them out. I STILL hear a lot of sermons to new covenant believers that base all their statements from the Old covenant laws to Israel.

Usually, in the New Covenant, God’s Old Covenant laws are not discarded but magnified.  In the Old Covenant, you had to have actual sex with someone else’s spouse to be said to be committing adultery. In the New Covenant, if you merely lust after someone else, you’ve committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). Now hating someone becomes murder (Matthew 5:21-22). We could go on with more examples.

In terms of tithing, in the NEW COVENANT we are told to help the poor in practical terms and not just in good platitudes, “be warm, be filled” (James 2:14-17).  The Old Covenant spoke of a “tithes of the third year” given to the poor and strangers. Now we help every time we can, not just in the third years. 

In the Old Covenant, the only stated resource for tithing was from what the land produced in grain, fruit, wine, and oil plus every tenth of the herds flocks. You can find no scripture commanding Israelites to tithe of their income or other resources. None. Show me if you think I’m wrong. In the New Covenant, believers are instructed to provide for the needs of the ministers of God who are spreading the true gospel and feeding you spiritually from God’s word (1 Cor. 9:4-13; Philippians 4:15-19)

But in the Old Covenant, all tithes went exclusively to Levites, not to the church or church ministers (Hebrews 7:5). Those Levites (of the tribe of Levi) then gave a tithe of their tithe they received – to the priests. It’s all in the sermons I’ve just given. Nor can we read of Jesus ever receiving tithes, but was supported by well-wishing followers (Luke 8:1-3).  But now we have no practicing Levites, priests, or physical temple of God. We do have churches and ministers who need some help, for all the time and work they put into preaching the gospel and God’s word.

So Paul explains that now, God is searching our hearts to see what we will give, from what WE decide to give from our hearts willingly, instead of from what God commanded us to give. This means it’s magnified – not reduced. Most of us surely would say that scripture indicated 10% -- the very meaning of tithing – should be perhaps our minimum. Magnify God’s law now. But in the New Covenant, it is not called tithing anymore. Show me if you think it is.

Jesus spoke of tithing as NOT being one of the big tenets of the law, but something we should do, and remember he was still speaking from the Old Covenant point of view as he had not died and been resurrected yet. He was himself, still fulfilling the Law. And again, his example of tithing was on the produce of the land – mint, anise and cummin – and not on wages or salary (Matthew 23:23).

I hope you will hear both sermons before jumping to any conclusions. After Matthew 23:23, the word “tithing” or “tithes” – are not mentioned even ONCE in all of the New Testament, except Hebrews 7 when speaking of Abraham’s voluntary tithe of the spoils of war (Gen 14) to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:4), when the author was making the point that though Yeshua (Jesus) was not of the tribe of Levi, he is now our High Priest, of the order (kind, rank) of Melchizedek.

The LAW of tithing was not clearly instituted as a LAW until the time of Moses. Just because Abraham tithed on spoils of war does not prove it was already a law. It was likely voluntary, as God’s rules of how to handle spoils of war (see Numbers 31) never even mention tithing. It does mention giving 1 of every 500 captured virgin girls and animals to Priests and 1 of every 50 to the Levites – but that’s not a tithe. Tithe means one out of 10.

Also, there’s not a single scripture in the whole Bible that commands Gentiles living outside Israel to tithe, using that word – “tithe”.  Not one. Those living in Israel were bound by the same law that Israelites followed; one law for all. Today we are the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16) and we all follow what we’re told to do in the new covenant, so I know you’ll have a lot to think about in those 2 sermons I recorded on tithing.  

But -- now those who are of faith in Christ are considered sons of Abraham and heirs of the promises to Him (Gal. 3:7-9, 29) and we are ALL now the New covenant “Israel of God”, and “Jews spiritually”  (Gal 6:16; Romans 2:28-29). 

So Paul taught voluntary sharing to the ministry, not tithing,  in 1 Cor. 9:4-13 and 2 Cor. 9:6-14.  This would have been his golden opportunity to talk about tithing to Gentile Corinthians – but he did not; he never mentions the word.  To me, this magnifies tithing.  Hear the 2 sermons to get the full, deeper dive into this important topic.

And yes, I still tithe and share. And thank you for supporting where God’s ministers are taking a lot of time to share the truth of God’s word to you.

Continue reading
1
  25 Hits

WHICH MARK will be on your forehead? The mark of God, or the mark of the Beast?

(Note: you can see the whole verse by just hovering with your mouse over the scripture).

There’s a lot of interest about the “mark of the Beast” of Revelation. And so there should be!

EVERYONE in the whole world – at some point – will either have to take that mark or die according to the book of Revelation  – unless some are divinely protected by God from the consequences of not having that awful “mark”.  God WILL protect some of his children, but not all. Many of God’s people will die as witnesses and martyrs, as you’ll see.

If we get to someday die for believing in our Yeshua /Jesus our Savior, then so be it. Let’s do it with resolute honor for our Savior who died for us, as Stephen did. He was blessed to see Yeshua STANDING to honor him (Acts 7:54-56). Paul often said he wanted to suffer and die for Christ, as if “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). And eventually he had that honor to be a martyr for his Savior.

The original meaning of “martyr”, by the way, meant to “witness”, from the Greek “martus”. So many of Christ’s witnesses were killed, proving the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by their violent death, that “witness” became synonymous for dying for Christ – hence, a martyr. Hover over these verses:  Acts 22:20; Revelation 2:13; 17:6 in NKJV or KJV. Other translations just use the word “witness”. 

Revelation 17:6, about Babylon, mother of harlots:  “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.”

Let’s talk about it which mark we want to have.

So yes, if you refuse to take the mark of the Beast, you will likely die. And on the other hand, anyone who does accept the Mark of the Beast will have to face God’s own divine judgment and condemnation. So you must remember this: do NOT accept the Mark of the Beast. And DO accept whatever penalties and consequences you will incur for not accepting that dreadful mark. We’ll know what exactly the mark is, soon enough. Right now just be firm that we cannot participate in it.

But there’s also a different mark placed on people. This time it’s a mark placed by God or God’s angels on God’s people!  We want that mark. So there are 2 marks. One is the mark of the Beast, and the other is the mark of the one true living God.

You’ll be required to choose to accept or decline these two marks. You will live or die based on what you decide to do.

Let’s look at some scriptures.

We can read of a marking by God in Ezekiel 9:1-11. Again, please take the time to hover over the scripture and read it. There we see in a vision of Ezekiel where God puts a special mark on his people, so they are not among those He kills in his judgment on evil Jerusalem and Israel.  God wants to see and hear His people “sighing and crying” over the abominations in our lands – for all the crime, all the false religion and false prophets, all the murders and rapes, like all the bribery, abortions, and perversities. So God’s people receive His mark on their foreheads and are not killed like the rest will be.  

And now notice the 144,000 who are standing before Christ, the Lamb, in heavenly Mount Zion.  Note they have Christ’s father’s name written on their foreheads. That’s the “mark” or name we want on our foreheads! Nothing else.

Revelation 14:1   “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.

Now let’s look at the Mark of the Beast.  “The Beast” is what scripture calls the pagan kingdoms. Even in Daniel, we read of various kingdoms represented by beasts like a bear, leopard or Lion or goat.

In the very end time, probably in the lifetime of many of you reading this, this end time military-political power will demand everyone pledges their undying allegiance to their regime. Everyone wants to tell you what exactly the “mark of the Beast” is or what 666 means, but we’ll find out soon enough. 

This is important: I don’t think God’s people will accidentally take this mark. I think God’s children will know what it is when it comes. No, I do not believe it’s the MRNA vaccine. Millions of believers have already had the vax, so I sure hope it’s not that. But I don’t think God’s children will accidentally find out they have taken the dreaded mark of the Beast.

Let’s read what scripture says about the Mark of the Beast and how difficult it will be to refuse it – as you won’t be able to function in society (Can’t buy or sell) and you’ll face certain death if you refuse it.

CONSEQUENCES FROM MAN if you DON’T TAKE The Mark of the Beast – you’ll be killed. NOT everyone of God’s people will be spared death or martyrdom. That’s why we are to PRAY that we be counted worthy to escape these things which shall come to pass (Luke 21:36).  Maybe sometime in the next few months we’ll go into more depth into this mark of the Beast with a full sermon.  

Revelation 13:11-18 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

16 He causes ALL, both small and great, rich, and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

I’m told that when this was written, the pagan emperor was Nero Caesar – and his original name came to 666. Maybe that’s a foretaste of what will repeat at the end time.  Notice God’s condemnation though, on all who take that mark of this end-time world power called the Beast. REMEMBER THIS. We must not submit to that mark.

Revelation 14:8-13 And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,

10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'"

"Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."

Here is an accounting of more of God’s children who do not submit to the Mark of the Beast. And notice there are many, many believers who will NOT take the mark but have victory over that world-ruling kingdom. Obviously not all believers get a free ticket to having no great persecution by somehow being raptured to heaven!

Revelation 15:1-3 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the VICTORY over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. 3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:

We see God celebrating his people who will not submit to the false kingdom. It will be a time when you and I will have to stand up for God, speak up for God and let everyone know your king is Jesus the Christ. The carpenter from Nazareth, Yeshua the Messiah. But for that witness, many of God’s children will die by beheading. That’s OK, folks. HE died for us, so we can feel honored to die for him. Paul often said something like that.

Revelation 20:4-6 “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had NOT received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

And I  hope you noticed there isn’t just one resurrection. Verse 5 speaks of “the REST of the dead did not live again til the thousand years (millennial rule) were finished.”

Be sure you realize God is really upset at anyone who accepts the Mark of the Beast on his/her forehead or right hand. So we must not partake of it. Ever.

Revelation 16:1-2 “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."

First Bowl: Loathsome Sores

2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image”

Then in Revelation 19:20, the two false leaders – the political/military leader – the Beast, and the great end-time FALSE PROPHET who deceived the world into taking their mark, will be captured by Yeshua, and thrown in to the lake of fire.

Revelation 19:19-20 “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Jesus, the coming King of kings]  and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

So the time is coming when we ALL will have to make it very clear to the world and to God where we stand. Many of us may have to be martyred for standing with Messiah, but we’ll be resurrected and live forever as co-rulers with Christ in the coming millennial rule on the earth. And life won’t be so peachy either for those who do take the mark of the beast, as they experience the wrathful judgment of Almighty God.

Remember this blog. Your eternity could be largely affected by which mark you want, and which mark you accept.

Continue reading
0
  104 Hits

John 6:44 Too many misapply this verse

Jesus the Savior said in John 6:44 something well known to many of you who come to this website. But the reason I’m writing on it, is that this statement by Jesus is SO misunderstood and SO misapplied by so many. 

John 6:44  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

What does this verse mean to  you? Of course, I totally accept and believe this. Every single person who has a real relationship with Jesus Christ is in that relationship because Father in heaven opened the door and invited/called them in. No exceptions. If you go on to read the next verse John 6:45, these same people are described as being taught by God himself. Keep that in mind.

The reason for this blog: many believers, especially some who keep 7th-day sabbath, feel there is no basis for “evangelizing” or witnessing to people about the saving work of Christ or about God’s Kingdom – because, they believe, ONLY God the Father can open others’ minds to understand spiritual truth or to come to Jesus/Yeshua.  (Yeshua is the given Hebrew name for Jesus.) So since this is solely God’s work to call them, they say, therefore what’s the point in talking with people about the Word, or Christ, or the gospel?” 

That is so wrong and such a false conclusion, and has drastic consequences. Should we forget “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” (Romans 10:15). Should those hearing The Good News to be limited only to those you’re already certain God has already called? And is “preaching” to be limited to just ordained ministers? You’ll see shortly that some of the most effective talking about Jesus was by regular members!

I’m coming out in a couple of months with a full teaching or sermon on whether or not we confine the sharing of our joy just to those we somehow are certain God has called.  This blog is an introduction to get you thinking about this.

A tangential part of this discussion – which I’ll cover in my full sermon on it – is whether or not the “good news” is to be limited to strictly the “Ezekiel warning message” (Ezekiel 33:1-11) as too many believe. Others limit any witnessing to those times someone initiates the conversation and asks you why you believe the way you do (1 Peter. 3:15). That’s better than total silence, but there’s surely more.

Let me ask: Sure, God the Father has to call individuals before they can come to Christ. But how would you know WHICH ones God is calling?  

And doesn’t God use people to do his work in much of what He does? Does he just use preachers, prophets and teachers?

I believe those who believe the average church member has no calling to evangelize or witness to people because of John 6:44, have a serious misunderstanding. The result of this is that the good news doesn’t get shared as much as it could be.

I know a lady who came happily for the first time to seventh day sabbath services, which she learned from reading certain magazines. But when she entered the church hall, she spotted one of her best friends there. Short story: her best friend had never shared the truth of God’s word with this newcomer  because the member felt there was no point. That was God’s job to open her mind (she reasoned), or maybe it was up to the ministers. She felt that wasn’t her job. So she never ever shared the joy of the wondrous truth she knew.

The newcomer was so shocked, hurt and appalled that someone who had the Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), or had the message of the truth, did not think she should share it with her own best friend. The newcomer walked out of the building. I don’t know if she ever came back. The newcomer saw it as an act of profound selfishness. We have the Pearl of Great Price. Show it, share it, talk about it.

True, God IS the one who must first call people.  But please understand, God uses PEOPLE – people like you and me – to share the good news. He doesn’t use just ministers and preachers.

Let me show you a couple great examples of average church members sharing Christ and God’s kingdom with others. They didn’t wait for ordained ministers to do it. This blog may be a challenge for some of you who have grown comfortable not having to speak God’s word to anyone.

You surely know the story of the deacon Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7. Please read the end of the story here if you’re not familiar with it (Acts 7:51-60).

As a result of Stephen’s murder or martyrdom, a great persecution broke out and the enemy started rounding up believers in Christ everywhere and throwing them into jail.  Some were martyred. As a result, many of them fled Jerusalem. The apostles stayed, but the regular brethren left town.

Acts 8:1-5   “Now Saul [became known as Paul] was consenting to his death.

At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were ALL scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”

Please focus now on verses 1 and 4: the regular brethren – NOT the apostles – were scattered and went everywhere PREACHING the WORD (v. 4)!  They didn’t know which people God in heaven was calling or would call, so they preached the word to everyone they could, starting with the Jews.

Would you or your brethren where you attend right now have done that? Or would you have remained silent and played it safe? After all, believers in Christ were being imprisoned (v. 3). So just be quiet, right? And just let God call people, since preaching is not what the regular brethren do, right?  Wrong.

The scattered brethren started by sharing the Good News just to Jews and later to Hellenized Jews – Jews who adopted Greek culture.  

Again, remember those who were scattered were not the apostles but regular church members. They did not just sit back while claiming “there’s no point in sharing what we know because I don’t know if God has called them or not.” Got it?  So what happens next?

Acts 11:19-21  “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”-- BECAUSE OF The WORK of the brethren sharing the word. 

Read Acts 11:22-26 next and see how this witnessing resulted in having a solid congregation in Antioch.  Result of what? Of regular brethren sharing the Word, sharing the Lord Jesus with everyone they could. At this point they didn’t realize God would call Gentiles as well! But they didn’t wait for ministers to do the witnessing. They didn’t just remain quiet. There comes a point where you’re so full of the joy and love for Messiah in you that you can’t contain it anymore. You have to say something! (Acts 4:20)

Are you seeing the point? God calls, yes. But He uses you and me to speak to and share with those He’s calling. In my sermon I’ll show how.

After Stephen’s death, another deacon – PHILIP – not Philip the apostle but Philip the deacon, went to Samaria and shared the gospel there. Result: multitudes came to be believers! Again, this was not one of the apostles.

Acts 8:5-8  “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed, and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.”  Continue reading Acts 8:9-12.

After the preaching in Samaria, Philip again approached a man he had never met before, think of it! He shared with the Ethiopian Eunuch the redemptive story of Yeshua/Jesus. You can read the story by hovering over Acts 8:26-40, and see how Philip preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35-40), resulting in this eunuch being baptized right then and there.

I’ll say more in the full-fledged sermon on witnessing. We have a VITAL part in working with those God is calling and helping them become one of the chosen and who remains faithful to the end, so they come with Christ at his return (Revelation 17:14). I’ll describe HOW we do it in a tasteful way that results in people coming to Christ.

Some years back, while flying back to Portland from a conference in New Orleans, I shared my sabbath beliefs with one of my associates. We had not planned to sit together but that’s how it worked out. The short story is that he and his family became 7th day sabbath keepers some months later and now he in turn has taught ME a lot about sharing God’s word with others. They’ve been instrumental in bringing many neighbors to Christ and to the truth.

Read Philippians 1:12-14. There Paul makes it clear that while he was in chains, the brethren became bolder to speak out the word of God. Something similar is found in 1 Thess. 1:6-8. 

The seed of God’s word gets planted and it won’t come back empty (Isaiah 55:11).  How blessed we are to be able to help get the Seed out! 

Continue reading
1
  184 Hits

What's your FOCUS on God’s sabbath?

As you may know, I have recorded two sermons recently (Aug 2022) about keeping God’s holy sabbath holy, set-apart, special, and different from all the other days of the week. I hope you’ll watch those 2 video sermons. I really felt the body of Christ could use this tune up and get back to making Sabbath a well thought out day and give God the worship and attention He desires – and to STOP and REST on this special day each week for our own good too.

The weekly sabbath is called a “shabbat sabbaton” in scripture, meaning “stop and rest” (Leviticus 23:3).  We certainly should cut out any usual work! Even setting up for church services, if at all possible, should be done before sabbath starts – if possible.

I’ve even been urging pastors who do 2 services each sabbath and more  -- to let the brethren REST and have personal time for God and their families. I urged them to just have one service late morning, then let people have the rest of the day off for God and family.  Our children should grow up thinking sabbath is a delight, but if it’s spent all day in church, I doubt many will think that way when they’re old enough to decide whether to continue going to services or not. Have time to do extra personal Bible study, prayer, even a nap.

Anyway, I know you’ll find the sermons helpful and even thought provoking. Here’s more, this time from a member who just wrote me a note about sabbath and how she focuses her thoughts on sabbath. I felt it was worth sharing with you all so here it is, directly quoting:

“As I personally say about the Sabbath, it is my day each week to spend in eternity--to forget for a while this temporary physical life with all its problems, evils, difficulties, and work, and focus on the real life ahead--life eternal!  It's a 'rest' from the daily struggle we all have, from the cares and wickedness of this world, from all that is physical--all that will one day be gone!  What a beautiful thing to have a day to, as it were, 'wallow' in what is our future and the very reason God made us--to share eternity with Him!  The Sabbath is a glimpse into eternity!”

 

I thought that was beautifully said. As we remember our Creator after He rested from his creation, we also remember he’s preparing the kingdom for His family. And we’ll get to witness and maybe even participate in the new creation of the new heavens and new earth. How exciting.

Remember to be ready for sabbath. If you have to work on Fridays, then spread out during the week the other things you need to get done before sabbath – like having your clean, modest, ironed clothes ready before sabbath. Remember before whom we’re presenting ourselves and be ready and dressed accordingly. I’m not insisting that you must have a coat and tie, men – but dress as you would if you would actually meet in person, visibly, God Most High and Jesus your king. Levi’s and a T-shirt?  Not what I’d advise!

And please brethren – no more improper or immodest attire – well really anytime, but especially on sabbath. Ladies, please, no low-cut blouses or short shorts, hot pants, or super-tight pants or attire that could set up a stumbling block, or a temptation to sin in the minds of your brothers in Christ, our men. Please.

Now – what about tidiness and making the bed, rinsing off a few plates (or using paper plates)? When God says “no work” – when we look at Jesus’ example, he surely was referring mostly to our work of employment, doing business, lifting heavy burdens as Nehemiah 13 speaks of. I don’t see that the Lord of the sabbath would call making your bed “work”.  In fact, he was condemned for telling a man to pick up his bed and walk. His “bed” was whatever he was lying on – a mat or outward clothing. So we do make our bed for example, on sabbath. It takes less than a minute. It’s part of presenting to God a home and a background of being neat and tidy. We might put dishes in the dishwasher, but we wait til after sabbath to run it. That’s just us, maybe.

Here’s more from the lady who wrote to me:

“The things I do on the Sabbath day are only what is necessary.  Coming before God as we do in Church, we should be clean and our clothes clean and neat, our hair brushed and fixed, our bed made, room tidy, dishes done.  When I had kids, I made sure their 'Sabbath' bags were ready, clothes picked out and their bathing done before the Sabbath.  Then I just accomplished what needed to be done on that day and nothing extra.  I personally think the house should be tidy on the Sabbath- -beds made, dishes done, things put away as much as possible. God wants things to be done decently and in order.  We can only minimize what has to be done--we can't get rid of everything physical as long as we're human!  But again, that means we have prepared for the Sabbath by starting it with a clean house before sundown and our weekly work done.

“The principle is simple--Clear the day of physical--and mental--work as much as possible so you have time and energy for what is truly important!  The Sabbath is a time to absolutely focus on becoming part of the God family and our future in God's Kingdom.   We should even try to clear our minds of what normally occupies our thoughts--worries about money, house repairs, family arguments, meeting some deadline--i.e. the cares of this world!  Focusing on the Kingdom, God's ways, His people, His Word should also be a rest mentally from our daily struggles and difficulties.  We need to remember that these things won't matter when we are Spirit beings!”

Amen. Thank you, sister in Christ. You may or may not agree with every word of that. I thought her email to me was wonderfully stated and just wish I had had it before my Part 2.  But you’ve asked for help on understanding shabbat.

I know our webmaster Scott says that he and his wife Brandie – by sundown – have a home that is pristine. His word. Some of you, if you work Mon-Fri, may have to do some of that prep on Wednesday and Thursday if you’re arriving home late afternoon Friday.

The biggest thing about understanding sabbath is to SEE GOD’S BIG HEART for us. He wanted you, your spouse, your children, your animals, your guests – to all have a day off from work and just have a delightful day. Jesus showed us it’s right to untie animals and give them water, to do good on sabbath, and much more that I explain especially in part 2 of the Sabbath series. How about marital lovemaking on sabbath? You’ll have to watch the video.

We keep sabbath not just because we’re commanded to, or have to – but because it’s such a delightful day when done right. If it’s not a delightful day in your home, review this blog and the sermons again, as you’re probably missing something important.

Part of seeing God’s big heart is to grasp that he kept saying we need to see the big picture of being MERCIFUL and showing LOVE on his sabbath. When you grasp that, and focus on that, you won’t wonder about what to do and not do on sabbath – all while remembering we are to be prepared for sabbath, to keep it holy, to make it special for the kids and everyone, and make it a DELIGHT (Isaiah 58:13).  We don’t want to be discussing business or letting our minds wander off as this lady said – but to focus on our wonderful kingdom of God we’re a part of.

Enjoy the sabbath, and enjoy the teaching. Contact me, as she did, if you have any questions or comments. Thank you, Jesus – our Lord of the sabbath.

Continue reading
2
  220 Hits

The “new commandment”. What made it new?

During Jesus’ “last supper”, he gave a new commandment to his disciples as an identifying sign that they indeed were HIS disciples.

John 13:34-35  -- “A NEW commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

What made this “love one another” a “new commandment”?  This command is actually found in the Old Testament Torah. In fact in the Old Testament it says to love one another as you love yourself! So how can this be a NEW commandment? 

Leviticus 19:18   “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am YHVH (the LORD)”.

Leviticus 19:34  -- “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am YHVH your God.”

Our Savior made sure we got the message, so He repeats his command that we love one another. But be thinking – what made this a new command?

John 15:17  - “These things I command you, that you love one another”.

1 John 4:20-21  “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

The fact is, however – we don’t always love one another. Maybe we love many or even most, most of the time. We can ACT like we do for a limited time. We can claim that we do. But honestly there are people we don’t like very much. On top of that, we show we don’t love all our brethren when we don’t help brothers and sisters in need as much or as quickly as the Messiah would have. Or when we gossip to others about someone’s problems, their stupidity, or past sins, or weaknesses – that’s not loving one another.

When we gossip about others, we start actually working for Satan, the Adversary – whose description – “the Devil” actually means “Slanderer”.  ‘Devil” comes from the Greek word diabolos, meaning slanderer, accuser. You can verify this in just about any Bible Dictionary when you look up the word “Devil”. 

Let’s read the new commandment again to determine what makes it truly new and an amazing kind of love. What makes it a new command is in all caps below.

John 13:34-35  -- “A NEW commandment I give to you, that you love one another; AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Nobody up til this time had ever loved others consistently and 100% of the time, as Jesus/Yeshua had. So He repeats it again in John 15.

John 15:12-13  “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”

But Jesus, the son of God, did not lay down his life just for his friends, but he laid down his life for us even while we were still sinners, still his enemies. He was up there on his cross asking Father in heaven to forgive those who had just brutally savaged him and were in the process of slowly and painfully killing him. Remember? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34) 

Romans 5:6-8   “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The way the Christ loved us is he reconciles himself to us when we repent -- even when we denied him in our actions and words. We’re told He’s not ashamed of you and me, and calls us his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:10-11).  He reconciled beautifully with forlorn Peter after he had denied knowing the Messiah three times in one night. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He doesn’t gossip about us and our past sins. He covers us with his presence and holiness – and gifts us with his righteousness when we believe in him in faith (2 Cor. 5:21). He stands up to Satan’s accusations and defends us as our Advocate, our defense attorney in heaven (1 John 2:1-2).

And what does Romans 8 say at the end of the chapter? It says nothing can separate us from the love of God. NOTHING can. No one can separate us from God’s love for us. When we sin – and ask forgiveness and turn around – he forgives us. Sometimes, admit it, we have had to ask forgiveness for the very same sin – more than once, more than twice.

If we’re loving one another the way Christ loved us, it would be hard to separate brethren from your love. You see, again, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39).  There’s this “boundaries” teaching going on out there that encourages you to simply cut people out of your life when they bring nothing or little to YOU, or your life. People who follow this Satanic teaching then end up even dismissing their own mom or dad or siblings or former best friends. Is that the way Christ has loved us? NO!

Even when a person hurts us, sins against us, seven times in a day but then claims he’s repented each time, “You shall forgive him!”  Let’s read it.

Luke 17:3-4   “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."

Come on. Most of us would say “he can CLAIM he’s repenting, but look – seven times in one day he’s having to ask again for forgiveness?  Come on! That’s not repentance!” –we might say as we get on our high horse. But Yeshua commands us “You shall forgive him”! Yes, even after sinning against you, hurting you, seven times in one day.

This is the face of true conversion. We’re growing in the image of Christ more and more. We talk like him more. We act like him more. It’s not just about starting to keep the holydays and quitting Easter and Christmas celebrations. It’s much deeper than those things. Really changing goes to the heart of the matter. It means letting God change who and what we really are! Isn’t that what “conversion” means? It means to become something or someone different.

And this is the kind of love God wants to see all his children demonstrating to one another: love the way Christ loves us in spite of ourselves.  

Our Messiah upped the ante in Matthew 18 with Peter.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Seventy times seven. That’s an expression meaning keep doing it – as long as it takes.

Here Yeshua/Jesus is saying, “Folks, God has to forgive YOU way more than just seven times, and often for the very same things over and over, if you’re honest with yourself:  attitudes like envy, pride, covetousness, breaking the sabbath, adultery happening in your thoughts, unkindness, losing your temper, and on and on and on – and now I want you all to learn to love one another the way I have loved you. KEEP forgiving one another. Keep growing in MY kindness and MY patience with one another. Let my way of life become truly your way – loving, waiting for one another, keeping no record of the other’s wrong doing. Read 1 Cor. 13:4-8 for a great description of my true agape love. Follow the lead of God’s spirit in you urging you to be like your Savior! Don’t dismiss people so easily as you’ve been doing. I’m not ashamed to call YOU, my brother! So you go and be the same way with brothers and sisters I call to be in the Body and BE their brother or sister!”

So what makes the new commandment NEW?  Love one another AS, just like,  Christ has loved you. Love one another not just as yourself – but love one another the way Christ loved you. That’s the higher level. That’s what makes it new.

The apostle Paul got the message. Here’s how he puts it:

Colossians 3:12-14  “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Apostle John speaks of this higher love for fellow man throughout 1 John.

Love one another as I have loved you. He had pity on the people who were hungry and miserable. Many of his worst enemies – the Pharisees and priests – became strong believers in him in the early church (Acts 6:7). Wow! Talk about reconciling with people who had previously done you much harm. God even called one of them, Paul, to pen a third or more of the New Testament.

Here's some homework. You know yourself. You know Christ. How would he treat people in your world? How would he react to events and things that have happened to you by other brethren (both good and bad things)?  Where is He telling you and me to change and become more like him?

Let’s hear our beloved Messiah’s words:  “Love one another the way I have loved you”. 

Let’s seek his mind, his help, his strength to do it. Ask him to truly come into your heart (Ephesians 3:17) and live in you (John 14:23), guide you, correct you, love you, teach you – and then pass all that on and be that same way to others.

Love others AS Christ loved you. Love others in the same way Jesus would and did.

Continue reading
1
  226 Hits

Is Capital Punishment Biblical?

Does the Bible allow for and impose capital punishment in cases of murder? How about other crimes? By “capital punishment” I mean the act of the civil government ending the life of a criminal in certain cases.

The arguments pro-and con for capital punishment come up from time to time, so I thought it would be useful for brethren to have the scriptures on the subject so you can give a truly Biblical answer on this topic. You will read today of some of the many instances—even beyond murder -- when God prescribed capital punishment.

One reason people believe capital punishment is not Biblical is that they misunderstand the 6th commandment, usually rendered “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13)  But even a  quick study of that Hebrew word there will show us that it clearly means “murder” and is translated “murder” in many Bible versions. The KJV “kill” can leave a wrong impression. We are not to murder. If we were not to ever “kill” – then we could never even kill animals or mosquitoes, which was never God’s intent. Of course we can kill animals for food. See Leviticus 11 and Deut 14. And “manslaughter” – the unintentional killing of someone – did not earn the death penalty either.

Let’s read God’s clear instructions after the Flood to Noah in cases where someone has murdered someone else. 

Genesis 9:5b-6  “From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man.

6 "Whoever sheds man's blood,  By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”

This was told Noah by God himself. When a person murders and takes away someone else’s life, scripture is SO clear: the government of man has the right to end that murderer’s life. So many become repeat murderers, as we all know. Of course the executioner of the murderer, administering justice, is not guilty of murder himself.

The end of Gen 9:6 says one reason murder is so abhorrent to God is that we all are made in the image of God! So committing murder earns the death penalty for that person. As we’ll see there were many other sins that warranted the death penalty as well.

Scripture is also clear that accidentally killing someone, what we might call “manslaughter” – is not the same as premeditated murder.

Here’s a general principle too: when YHVH himself says to end someone’s life, then we’re being obedient to HIS command. We are NOT breaking the 6th command – “Don’t murder” – in those cases. For example, when God told Israel to eliminate the Canaanites in the land he was giving to Israel, that was God’s command. The level of sins being committed by the Canaanites by that time was so egregious that God was imposing his own death penalty, but this time, by the sword of Israel.

When Israel also dropped to such evil levels, they also were severely punished, many died by the enemy’s sword and then Israel and Judah were even sent into captivity. And many died for their evils. They lost that land for a time as well. So God was fair.

  • David clearly was not guilty of murder when he killed insolent Goliath, though I heard a Church of God minister say David did break the 6th commandment when he killed Goliath! But the Bible clearly celebrated David’s faith and courage! See. Hebrews 11:32-34. 
  • Samuel clearly was not guilty of murder when he chopped Agag into pieces, upon God’s command that all Amalekites were to be exterminated for their evils. Saul did not obey that command. HE was the one guilty of disobeying God. 1 Samuel 8:15-33.

Exodus 21:12-14  "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 14 "But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.

Leviticus 24:17  'Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.”

What about someone caught breaking into your home at night? Let’s say you strike him, and he dies. God says the home owner is not guilty of murder in that case. God says it’s different if the break-in happens in daytime though. Read Exodus 22:2-4. On that last one, the laws of the land we live in now make it difficult to protect yourself even in self-defense at home or anywhere else. So be careful to follow self-defense laws in your state or country carefully.

When YHVH himself lays down such clearly worded instructions on what the nation is to do to murderers, we should realize it’s the right thing to do! Of course, this must be left to the civil government, as Paul also explains in Romans 13:1-5.

So believers should accept that, according to God’s word itself, the civil government has the right to execute murderers. We should not fight it. Neither should we feel any joy in the death of anyone. Remember all of us incurred God’s death penalty for breaking HIS law (Romans 6:23). But thankfully God has given us a way to avoid the penalty when we accept what Jesus Christ did for us. But my point is: we can’t get up on our high horse in indignation against others who deserve the death penalty. God was merciful to you. We can hope for mercy to be extended to others who truly turn from their wicked ways too.

When Israel was ruled by God’s law as a nation, there were many other reasons for capital punishment. Are you ready?

Here are a few more: For striking your mom or dad (Exodus 21:15). If a pregnant woman is struck so she loses her child, the offender could be executed, life for life (Exodus 21:22-25). God also said people could be executed for getting involved in witchcraft, seances, being a medium who is contacting the dead (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-11; 1 Chronicles 10:13). People were executed for breaking most of the Ten Commandments, but not all. Idolaters, sabbath breakers, and all adulterers were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). Those engaged in bestiality – whether man or woman – were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:15-16). In fact, just read Leviticus 20  and see a wide range of sexual immorality that resulted in the death penalty, by God’s word – including incest and many more.

I know some of you may believe that anyone who broke any of the 10 Commandments earned the death penalty. That’s true, as far as the wages of sin goes, but as far as what the civil authorities were allowed to do, that wasn’t the case. For example, thieves were allowed to live, but they had to pay back 4x for sheep and 5x for stolen oxen. See Exodus 22:1. Neither do I see any command to execute someone who coveted. That was probably a good thing as hardly anyone would have been left alive!

A false witness – once discovered – earned the penalty that would have been given to the one he was lying against (Deuteronomy 19:16-20). Imagine if we practiced that law today!

God also pronounced the death penalty on prophets or ministers who claimed God had spoken to them, when God had not done so. (I hear that so often within Protestant churches –“God told me” or “God said…” as they preach.) Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

Ministers: be so careful not to do this! You think it makes your sermons more interesting, but if God really has not spoken to you about something, don’t claim you heard his voice or heard him tell you something if you did not. But if you have a strong urge to do or say something you feel is from the Almighty, then indeed do so, after testing “the spirits.” Someone who gives a very specific prophecy that does not come to pass is a false prophet.

Kidnappers were also to be executed (Deut. 24:7). There are many other listed reasons for incurring the death penalty. My point is: God himself declares the death penalty both in the Old Testament and New Testament (Romans 13:1-7).

The point should be getting very clear now: God tells us there are certain misdeeds, evils, crimes, etc., that deserve the death penalty by the proper authorities, according to God’s own command. 

There’s another Biblical principle: if we don’t execute justice speedily, it’s just a normal tendency for murderers and other lawbreakers, to keep doing evil.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 NKJV  “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

Ecclesiastes 8:11 NLT  “When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.”

Many states no longer even have the death penalty. Only 3 executions occurred in 2021 nationwide in the USA.

God is merciful. When there’s been admission of sin and contrition, we can be happy if some do not receive the death penalty. YOU will not receive the death penalty you earned. And God did not execute King David and Bathsheba for adultery, though it carried the death penalty, for example. See Leviticus 20:10 and 2 Samuel 12:12-13.

Continue reading
4
  279 Hits

Having friends “in the world”?

One topic that comes up from time to time is how much interaction and friendship we should have with people who are not believers like you. Let’s say they obviously are “part of this world” and its ways. Should you have friends among those people – or keep them at arm’s length? This comes up regularly among believers, partly because of various scriptures that seem to imply we should not be friends with unbelievers.

But can that possibly be true that we should not have friends among “worldly” unbelievers? For many of my “church friends,” this is the way it is: they just don’t ever hang out with people of the world. All their social activities are focused on just church brethren.

Let me ask the question another way: other than incidental contact you might have with unbelievers at work, or as you shop or go about your daily business, how many of the worldly acquaintances you have would you say are a good friend of yours? Do you invite work associates who are not part of your church fellowship to dinner from time to time, or go out to dinner with them?

Another question: would any of your friends “in the world” even know that you believe in Jesus/Yeshua and love him and your Father in heaven with everything you’ve got?

Besides outright atheists and unbelievers, let’s include now people who don’t believe exactly the same way you do, and don’t attend your church, though they may claim to be believers in Christ. Would some of those be close friends?

True, there’s a scripture that says whoever is a friend of this world is not a friend of God! Note it’s talking about being a friend of the world (it’s ways and philosophy)—not about having friends who are not part of God’s church. Let’s read it:

James 4:4  “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Being a “friend with the world” is when we are indulging in spiritual adultery – being too intimate and close to this world’s ways, recreation, movies, lifestyles, politics, and way of life way too much; like we’re a part of the world; like we’re immersed in Babylon instead of coming “out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4).

Based on that verse, many have decided over the years that they will severely limit any social contacts and friendships with people of this world. But is being friends “with” the world the same as having friends who are a part of this world and its ways?

There are several principles at play here. What was Yeshua/Jesus’ own example? If Jesus had limited his friendships only to spirit-filled believers, guess what? He’d have had NO friends at all, for the Holy Spirit had not been given yet. That happens in Acts 2.

** Jesus’ own example was striking! Remember, He IS to be our pattern. The most holy and sinless person on the earth often hung around known “sinners.” Terrible sinners. Over and over. And somehow by his own manner, even such horrible sinners were somehow able to feel comfortable around him.

Remember Yeshua did say of one particular woman in Luke 7, that “her sins, which are many…”  But these people were drawn to him, and he did not reject them. Tax collectors (publicans) were known cheats and thieves, and yet Jesus/Yeshua picked such a man –- Matthew, also called Levi --  to be one of the 12 apostles whose name will forever be emblazoned on the foundation stones of the walls around heavenly Jerusalem!  (Revelation 21:14).

He even called Judas “friend” on the very night Judas betrayed him. (Matthew 26:50), an actual fulfillment of Psalm 41:9.  Even his religious attackers --like the Pharisees – invited him to dinner and he had dinner with them as well (Luke 7:39; 11:37). Would you accept a dinner with a rabbi or catholic priest? I think Yeshua would. Yeshua DID – with the rabbis and religious leaders of his day.

It was this very criticism leveled at Yeshua  -- that he had horrible sinners as his friends – that actually was the backdrop to the wonderful parables of God’s love and joy when we repent in Luke 15. Stories like the lost coin, lost sheep, the prodigal son. Look at the backdrop:

Luke 15:1-3   Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them." 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying…”   and then the parable of the lost sheep and the others come.

Do people ever say that about us? They did about our Savior! His example says to us that it’s great to have unbelieving friends.

Why?

** We are the light and salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). If our light is confined to areas and to people who are already full of light (where there are a lot of true believers), what benefit is your light? Even a small match in a room full of darkness will always defeat the darkness. Light always wins. Always.

Si if we’re never around people of the world, how can we shine the light of the gospel and of our living God and Savior around them, to lighten up their path? We are supposed to be a comfortable and much-appreciated light – not a spotlight blinding their eyes! “LET your light so shine…”  Again, don’t hide your light.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “Your lives light up the world. For how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light! LET it shine brightly before others…”

When Matthew the tax collector was called to be a disciple, he threw a “Matthew party” inviting all his friends – who of course included many other cheating tax collectors. And Jesus was there. Please read Luke 5:27-32.

** Notice what Paul teaches us. He had told the Corinthian brethren in 1 Corinthians 5 to cast out the church brother who was openly and defiantly participating in ongoing sex sins. He explained we should not be close friends with someone called a brother or sister who is continuing in such sins. Paul later, by the way,  in 2 Corinthians 2, told them to bring that disfellowshipped sinner back in to fellowship, as he had since repented and turned from his evil ways. Paul said show him some love (2 Cor. 2:6-10) and let him be restored to their fellowship and love. Don’t leave repentant brethren out there by themselves!

So then the question came up, “but what about sinful people in the world? Can we be friends with them – or should we treat them like we would brethren who continue to live a life of sin, and have nothing to do with them?” 

Here is Paul’s response – and again, I remind you that Jesus had many friends in the world.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13  “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did NOT mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who IS sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person.

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside GOD  judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."

He says – yes, have friends  in the world, sinners or not.

And I add: how else could we shine our lights?

I’m not saying we go get drunk with them, or go to topless bars or Christmas parties. I’m not saying all that. But yes, be a friend to them. Sooner or later the opportunities come up where our conversations could lead them to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that part of our great commission? To make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

So yes, I have good friends “in the world” from work, or in our neighborhood or with unconverted family members. I stop and talk with my neighbors. We invite them over for tea/muffins or a full dinner. I’ve played darts with them once or twice a week, though I may curtail that just for time’s sake for a while now. We’ve attended shows with people of the world. We mingle with various ones for outings and dinners. Yes, I’m talking about people who keep Christmas, Easter and pagan holidays and don’t know Christ – but I do not attend Christmas parties! I’m hoping I’ll be able to be used by God to help bring some to a close relationship with their Savior, and to learn the truths of the Bible. I want to introduce them to the workings of God’s Holy Spirit  -- as our God loves to be worshiped in spirit and in truth.

I don’t use those times to pester them about the Bible  -- but Bible topics do come up. They know what I believe. I do mention my Savior and my God.

So I hope you understand: we are not to be friends of the world and its ways and its sins. Yeshua said his disciples, including us, “are not of the world” (John 15:19; 17:14-16). But like Jesus/Yeshua –we are friendly with the PEOPLE of the world. Even most Holy God himself loved the people so much that he let his own begotten son pay the penalty for all of our sins; for all who will accept his sacrifice. That’s a lot of love for some pretty awful people! He's our example. So we – like God -- love the people even while recognizing the evil many of them are involved in. So we pray for them, bless them, we even forgive them when they hurt us – and so yes, we have friends who are part of this world, just like Jesus/Yeshua did!

Continue reading
7
  278 Hits

Why Fathers are VITAL!

In America, this weekend is “Father’s Day.”  I’m surprised I’m not hearing more of an uproar than is out there in an era when the Left doesn’t know what a man or woman is, or what a father or mother is. Here at Light on the Rock we have not lost our bearings. A father is more than just a man. He is a man who is the leader of his family.

The very Hebrew word for “father” is Av or Ab.  The word picture means “strength of the house” or “leader of the home.”  And yes, I also realize too many men do not live up to that ideal and do not and cannot lead their homes. But let’s speak of the ideal.

We’re in a world where men and fathers are often being belittled or ridiculed. Commercial after commercial in the past few years seem designed to ridicule and make men and dads look stupid. Watch out for this and you’ll see. Children in commercials, teaching dad something he’s too stupid to know. Women, wives, and others showing the ignorant dad or husband a thing or too. The woman or child is almost always the smart one in these commercials. I’ll bet you start noticing that more now. I find them sickening.

Plus now, a lot of women think their children don’t really need their father, especially in cases of divorce. Most children will handle their parents’ divorce eventually. But the relationship between their mom and dad after their divorce will have a great impact and will also affect their goal to be traditionally married. j

A father, as explained in scripture, is more than just a man begetting children – but is responsible to those children he begat. He loves them, and loves the mother of those children and – ideally before begetting any child, this man has entered into the sacred bond called “marriage” and is committed to keeping his marriage vows to stay together in sickness or health and no matter what life throws at them.

That’s a short summary of the Biblical ideal. I realize that many men and women who are now believers in Messiah and children of our heavenly Father, did not – or felt they could not -- follow that ideal. Many brothers and sisters in Christ I know have divorced. Or have had abortions. I know there are people out there who brought children into the world but never in a family setting. So for those for whom it applies, we repent – and move on, this time walking with God as closely as we can and IN Christ, we CAN have a new life. A GOOD life. I have not been an ideal and perfect father either. But like everything else in life, we grow in our understanding and our repentance as we turn from our former ways and turn TO our heavenly Father.

Satan and those following his ways in his world, hate the family. So fatherhood, motherhood, family, marriage for life, being totally pro-life with any children begotten – are all under attack. We members of God’s family must be totally aware of that and stand up for Biblical standards.

ARE fathers really that important? We look to the heavenly pattern and God’s word for our instruction and standard.

The Supreme Being of the whole universe is called God Most High in many scriptures, and he may be better known to many of you as “God the Father.”  He is called that many times. I know him as “MY Father,” or OUR father, not just “the” Father. When Yeshua/Jesus was resurrected, the first thing he said to Mary Magdalene is to tell the others that he ascending to “my God and your God, to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).

Now Jesus was teaching a more personal relationship. Though God is referred to as the “Father” several times in the Old Testament, most people did not equate Him with a loving Daddy figure – but a terrifying figure, an awesome God, whom only the High Priest could approach and only once a year in the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). 

But Jesus came to show us – among other assignments – that God Most High is also our Abba, our dear daddy in heaven. He taught us to pray, “OUR Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  (Matthew 6:9).  If that had been recorded in Hebrew, he’d be saying “our Ab is heaven” (or Abba). Jesus taught us that our dear Father could be seen in everything we see in Christ – in fact Jesus Christ is described as the mirror image, the express image or exact replica of his Father (Hebrews 1:1-3). We tend to think of the Father as harsh, but Jesus as gentle. In fact, Jesus is exactly what Father above is like!

So the standard for having a FATHER over his family is GOD himself, over his family. You and I are the children. God the Father is always depicted primarily in the Male form, though God actually makes up all the qualities found both in man and woman. Remember, God said, “Let us make mankind in our image” – and “In the image of God created he THEM, male and female created he” (Genesis 1:26-27).  So you women reading this, you are in as much of God’s image as men are. But nonetheless, God Supreme is depicted as Father – not mother.

Having said that, there are definite hints at how the concept of “God” includes feminine traits too – how he has us inscribed in the palms of his hand, how he SINGS to us to comfort us (Zephaniah 3:16-17). Do you ever picture GOD that way – singing to you? He does! He loves doing it. Even the description El Shaddai – God Almighty – has hints of womanhood. Shad in Shaddai – can and does actually point to providing for us, as a mother’s breast provides for and gives comfort to her infant at her breast. Look it up! But I used to love to sing to my children especially when they were small.

IF anything, this should lead us men who are fathers to understand we also can be, must be, more like God – gentle, loving, joyful, patient, kind, loving, not easily angered, full of faith and faithfulness and self-controlled. At the same time, we live out the FRUIT of God’s presence, of his Spirit whether we are men or women. Please watch and listen to my sermons on The Fruit of God’s spirit and on John 15:2,6.

So if God Most High chooses to be known as our FATHER – I think HE thinks fatherhood must be important!

Ephesians 3:14-15  “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”

From the Passion translation Eph 3:14-15:  “So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the PERFECT FATHER of every Father and child in heaven and on earth”.

IF you are someone who grew up without a father in your home – as I did after age 12 – or if your father died while you were growing up (mine died when I was 30), or if your father was absent or was or is a terrible example, remember this:

Get on your knees, speak words confidently to God in Heaven and just say, “My Father in Heaven, I don’t have a father on earth (or whatever your case is). Will you, Father,  be my Father now and going forward. Your love for me is for forever. I accept you as my Father and thank you that you will accept me as your child, and all of this has been made possible by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

So you now have the perfect Father. Get to know him. He knows you. He knows everything about you – and loves you anyway. I have often felt like I shouldn’t even be here, but God had different plans for me by his favor and grace. He has a better and different plan for you too if you submit to him. 

Some of you have been great parents. Thank you. That’s wonderful. Some of you/us have been imperfect parents or had a non-existent or “bad” dad. Some of you had a horrible dad.  We can move on now and trust God our Father will work everything out for the good for those of us who love God and are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

TELL your father some of the profound impacts he’s had in your life, while you can. Don’t put it off. I wrote my dad in the Philippines such a letter. He responded by letter that it made a profound impact on him.  Then a few days later, my mom called to say my dad had died. I was SO glad I let him know how proud I was of him, and I listed many of the things that made me proud of him. Too often we wait til the eulogy to say positive things.

A father in a home should give his boys and girls a model of a man, a truly masculine and loving man. Not “toxic masculinity” – but a man who will have standards in the home and give a sense of protection. Children need security as well as love. I remember times as a child being afraid at night. Dad would sit with me on my bed and explain he was there, and I had nothing to be afraid of, and most of all, “God has his angels all around you and our whole family, and we’re in the best hands”.  Then he’d pray with me, and all would be well. 

My dad – in my hearing – would tell my older brother to be sure to look after me and my sister and be sure we were safe. I now do the same with the older grandsons – to always look out for and protect their younger siblings.

The Father in the home should set behavior standards for the household. Some things we positively do, because they’re the right thing to do. Some things we absolutely do not do, because they are wrong.  Give your kids the details of good and wrong – from the Bible, ideally. Moms teach this too, but when Mom and Dad do it together, those kids will more likely live a happy and productive life. Dad and mom are role models!

Dads should show the kids how to do things around the house like basic plumbing – how to fix a leaky faucet or replace light bulbs, or change the oil in the car. This goes for sons and daughter alike. Sons and daughters alike should also be taught to cook and do basic housework (run the dishwasher, washer and dryer) and how to iron a shirt or blouse, or sew on a button or plant a flower or plant correctly. If a dad doesn’t have those skills, he should encourage his sons specially to watch at a safe distance the plumber or carpenter or handyman who comes by to do things.

Dad and mom should be working in loving harmony together. If there has been a divorce, then when dad or mom has the children for a few days – teach them skills in an atmosphere of loving patience. Take them fishing. Show them how to hook a worm, or how to cast out the fishing line and clean a fish.

Tell your kids stories of when you were growing up. They can be funny stories. My grandkids like my “most embarrassing moments” stories and laugh so loud – but it builds a bond, that I did quirky things too at times as a child. But also pass on the family stories so they grow with a sense of belonging. Kunta Kinte – remember those shows? Even a black slave taught his children about the family lines.

Instill a love of reading and learning. Cut down or cut out cell phone use when they’re young. Our grandchildren here love to read! And they’re very smart, already doing college level work and they’re in middle teens. I personally would not let my children or teens have a cell phone or laptop in their bedrooms after bedtime. It’s just too dangerous  for them.

When there’s conflict, dads should show the way to how we resolve conflicts without fights or blood being spilled!  Imagine all the killings, shootings and fights going on now that never should be happening – if only those people had dads or good men in their lives.

You women who are alone, but have children at home with you, try to find a good man from church (not from a bar) who can be like a father to your children from time to time.  If you express your needs, maybe other families can include your family in their activities. I had men who stepped into my life and did manly things with me when I was a teenager. A man who can listen to the children or teens growing up without their real dad. Let the kids express themselves. I truly believe these men were Godsends into my life!  I called such a man on the phone many years later who was by then in his 80’s, just to tell him how much he meant to me when I was 15-16 years old.

This man who comes into your life, or any adult really, should seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood. Listen. Repeat what you think you heard them say, but using different words, so they know you understand. And mostly, just be there and doing fun things, when possible, too.

So many young people in gangs and who get in trouble – so often have grown up without a father or a father figure influencing them, or one who sets boundaries and limits in their behavior, and who imposes consequences for bad behavior. But make sure the child understands you still love and care for them even when they have to be corrected.

Fathers are important too because proper male affection is so needed for young boys and teens – and girls too! When proper Dad affection is present, the children are far more likely to grow into traditional roles for marriage and families. Dads, have appropriate contact with your sons as they grow older. A hug, a pat on the shoulder, an approving nod all mean something. I remember one man telling me the most significant memory he had of his dad was his dad tossing an orange peel to him. It made him feel noticed. I was amazed by this.

Girls having strong and loving fathers is very important too. A father can – with mom there too – teach the daughter as they grow older about boys, in a good way. How to sit properly. How their modesty helps the boys control their raging hormones better, for example. And how precious their virginity is. Have you noticed how many “teen movies” out there are all about losing one’s virginity? Nowadays, it seems virgins are mocked, especially if they’re 16 or older already!

Did I do any of that perfectly as a father? No. But we did some. It’s too bad that so many fathers have to work overtime or into the night, and not be there to read a book to their children. And time doesn’t wait for us. They get older and we miss opportunities.

But somewhere in all that, some things must have been good.

Most people tell me our kids – now in their 30’s and 40’s, are wonderful model citizens. And now that I’m a grandfather, I want to be a grandpa that has a positive impact on the grandchildren. The things I wish I had done, I can now do as a grandpa. So we’ll play games on Father’s day. Water fights in the back yard with our water soakers, go to the swimming pool in the community and have fun. Then we’ll talk, play more games, and let them know how much we love each of them.   

So yes, dads are important. If you’re a Dad reading this, recommit to being a loving and strong dad. If you’re a grandfather, try being and doing the things with grandkids this time around, that you missed doing as a dad. Give your children and grandchildren security and love – that they’re in a secure, protected home led by a loving dad. Be their role model. Pray with them. Repent with them. Confirm God’s love for them, even when they’ve “done bad” – THROUGH you, being forgiving and loving too and teaching about their Loving Father in heaven.

Let them see you be delighted in their mother when you come home. They see you – their dad – kiss his wife when he comes home. And their mom is beaming with joy too.

We need to get back to this. And yes, dads are important. Moms are so important too. Let’s not be listening to the dangerous words we’re hearing that we don’t need strong families, marriages that are full of love, and children who are happily obedient and on the right track for success and happiness.

Dads, you have a big part to play in this.

 

Have a happy Father’s Day, dads. Thank GOD we still have some dads who make a world of difference in millions of lives. Thank you, Dads.

Continue reading
5
  287 Hits

Are you ready?

I live in a 55+ Community and we just received our annual reminder to be ready for the hurricane season here in Florida. They had a lot of good points and reminders.

Reminders are good. Being ready is good. As believers, our first focus in being ready is spiritual readiness; to be intimately close to Jesus Christ/Yeshua and our Father. To trust in our God to watch over us and take care of his children. To be willing to go through whatever he has us go through, knowing it is all for our good in the end. 

But are God’s children to do nothing else but trust in God? Do God’s children prepare – or just claim to trust?  Please read on.

JP Morgan’s CEO – Dimon – just said today that we should be ready for a financial hurricane coming soon.  He said things look sunny now but out in the distance is a hurricane financial storm looming and heading our way. Are we headed for a massive recession or depression – but with high inflation and interest rates but with a crashing stock market? Be ready. Make sure your faith is in God and not just in your gold, silver, bitcoin or stocks.

The context of his words was severe recession. Then another economist followed him later and said, “this financial hurricane is a Category 5 storm on the way.”  Then the discussion moved to how gas/petrol prices will continue to skyrocket. And then they spoke of food shortages, a nicer word than “famine”, the word I use.  Then someone else piped in and said, “and all of this could have been avoided. It’s all man-made.”

These are things I’ve been saying in my sermons and discussions with people lately for the past year and a half. Have you heard my sermon “Prophecy Famine Update”?  You should. I believe strongly the 3rd seal of Revelation 6 has now been ripped open. Now we’re heading for seal #4 next, which is even worse.  Seal 3 is about worldwide food shortages combined with incredibly high inflation and food becoming unaffordable.

Light on the Rock supports a group of 68 people in Kenya, and others, including 28 orphans that we house, school, educate, feed, and provide health care, clean water, and much more.  Though their food prices are also skyrocketing, we sometimes cannot provide everything they need. I’m saying this you will all pray for especially God’s children who are desperately poor, that somehow our Father will give them health and all the provisions they all need.

But what about you? Are you taking time to apply the lessons of Joseph and store up some food, water, energy alternatives, medications, petrol/gas and more – while you can? Even if it’s just a little bit more that you buy each time.  Get ready now, so you’ll be ready. Hear that sermon.

But you see, there are many instances where men and women of faith also did certain things ahead of time themselves, besides sitting back while trusting in God.

Joseph advised Pharaoh to use the 7 years of plenty to stock up to help save his people and others. See Genesis 41.  Joseph could easily have said, “No worries, Pharaoh. My God will take care of us. Don’t be concerned at all.”  That’s our model. If you CAN do something to help be ready, then do it. . . yes, even AS you pray, trust in God and ask for his grace and mercy and protection.

And most of all, be drawing closer to your Savior and Father than ever before.

So are you ready spiritually?  Physically? Emotionally?  Many of you are counting on being raptured out of here at any time now. Call me in 2-3 years when you’re still here. Some of God’s children will be protected, but as I’ve explained in other sermons, many will not be totally protected but will die as martyrs – glorious witnesses for our Savior who died for us. Don’t overly seek to be saved physically. He who seeks to save his own life, shall lose it. And do you know the rest of that saying? Look it up. 

And at the same time, neither do we worry, fret or fear even if and when things just get worse and worse. In our closeness to Abba and our Savior, we have peace. We do what we can, and God will take care of his children. My faith is not in anything I’ve stored up – but faith in my King and Savior to do what He knows we must go through for eternity’s sake. Whatever it is, we say “amen” and accept it thankfully.

I believe we’re racing now to the final 8-15 years (in my view at least) before Christ returns. Let it be known, I’ve never ever said anything like that until about a year and a half ago. But now I am. I believe the 3rd seal is open and within a couple years we may be hit hard with Seal #4. Read it for yourself in Revelation 6.  After #4 is the fifth seal and the time of greatest trouble the world has ever seen, ever.

Be spending much more time now getting close to your Master and Father. Do it now. Turn off the TV and social media and Facebook and what not. Use your time instead to clean up our lives where we must. Use the time to pray more. Use the time to meditate and talk with God all through the day more. Use the time to really come to “know” Jesus and our Father.  And then have faith that He’s got this and will take care of us.

In the meantime – June 5, 2022 – is the holy day of Pentecost (which means “50”), or the Hebrew “Shavuot”, which means Weeks. This is one of the holydays of God. The Moed – the appointed times --  to meet with our Creator and come before him in solemn and peaceful joy, even as we praise and worship him. I hope you will watch or hear the messages we have on the website about Pentecost, as one of the firstfruits of God’s calling. Just type in “Pentecost” in the Search bar. Or “Holy Spirit”.  Or “wedding of the Lamb” and see what that has to do with Pentecost.  It’s a huge day! A special appointment with God.

Pentecost/Shavuot weekend actually is a LOT about the first fruits – you and me.  Don’t miss the focus. And let’s keep in touch and speak to one another often. Read Malachi 3:16-18. Hopefully that is describing you.

Malachi 3:16-18

Then those who feared YHVH spoke to one another, And YHVH listened and heard them;

So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear YHVH

And who meditate on His name.

17 "They shall be Mine," says YHVH of hosts,

"On the day that I make them My jewels.

And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."

18 Then you shall again discern  between the righteous and the wicked,

Between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”

One more thought:  what if you spend time and money in preparing for the seals to be opened in Revelation 6-7, and then just to find out that 5-6-7 more years pass and nothing of consequence seems to happen?

It’s still would have been wise to be ready for emergencies. It’s not going to hurt you to have taken steps.  But on the other hand, if conditions explode in the next 18 months – famines and other disasters – We will all be glad we took the time to be much closer to our God and that we prepared food, water, emergency supplies – as well as having prepared enough “oil in our lamps” (Matthew 25:1-10) to meet our Master when he returns.

So PREPARE now – spiritually, most of all, and then stock up a bit extra on food, energy, water, and for emergency situations.

All kinds of things can happen to cause a sudden collapse of our society.

Here’s one example:  Even a strong solar flare, like the one in the 1800’s before we had much electricity, could wipe out the entire energy grid of the whole world. All our satellites that guide our lives will be fried. Your electronics won’t work. Your smart phone and smart watch won’t work. Have a watch at least that doesn’t rely on computers, or daily chargings. Your computers won’t work. And the government computers and power grids won’t work either. We won’t be able to drive our cars after a while or get gas, as you can’t pump gas without electricity. Our fridges and freezers won’t work and we’ll lose our frozen foods. Our hospitals won’t have power. Our AC’s and heating systems will stop working.

That’s just from a powerful solar flare. I have learned that the earth’s magnetic field that is there to protect against solar flares, is getting much weaker. And our satellites are beyond all that anyway.

Add to that – severe droughts, typhoons, hurricanes, wars, earthquakes in the 7-8-9’s and above on the Richter Scale, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis --- all of which are prophesied to hit us before Christ returns.

In the end we will all have to totally trust God. Especially when you all see that the much-vaunted secret rapture out-of-here doesn’t happen. God will protect his own, at least a lot of them, but I don’t teach pre-Tribulation secret rapture to heaven at all.  But a lot of God’s children will also need to be purified in the fires of tribulation; people who are lukewarm now and too cozy with the ways of the world.

SO – pray and give it a lot of thought. Do what you can. Get close to God. Trust in God. Be so ready!!!  

Continue reading
6
  342 Hits

Can men also be the “helper”? Or is it just up to women?

This should be a simple blog, but I believe a very necessary one. Sometimes men, especially men over 50 or 60, rise up and decide they have to take charge of something because, they say, “that’s what men do. God made us to lead and be in charge, and he made women to follow and be our helpers. We men cannot be good helpers because we weren’t called for that, so women should stand aside and let men lead and make decisions while they help.” 

Any man who says that needs an hour of instruction from God’s word. I will start it with this blog.

Yes, God made the first woman to be the “ezer” to the man – a Hebrew word meaning his helpmeet or helper. Remember that word “ezer.” 

Genesis 2:18 NKJV  And YHVH God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper [ezer] comparable to him."  

CJB:  “…I will make him a companion suitable for helping him.”

NIV   “… I will make a helper suitable for him.”

So yes, woman was made to be man’s helper. But does it stop there? Are men to be helpers too?

The Hebrew word here for “help” or “helper” is “ezer.” It means helper. Strong’s word #5828. It refers to aid or assistance given.

Now here’s a wake-up call to the macho men who want to be helped by women but don’t see themselves as helpers.

Have you heard of the name “ELIEZER”? Do you know what it means? “GOD is my helper.”  Eli = my God. “Ezer” = helper. My God is my helper. My God says he sees himself in relation to us to be like Eve was to Adam: the helper.

Imagine that! The same God who created Eve to be Adam’s helper tells us that HE is also our helper! Same word. Ezer. Stop for a second and let that sink in. GOD, my ALMIGHTY GOD, is MY helper. That’s amazing! He’s not “above” being – like Eve – our helper. Let’s allow scripture confirm all this.

Read Exodus 18:2-4. Moses had named one of his sons “Eliezer.” Why?

Exodus 18:4  “and the name of the other was Eliezer (for he said, "The GOD of my father was my HELP, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh").

Deuteronomy 33:7 –in blessing Judah:  “… may You (GOD) be a HELP against his enemies.”

Psalms 33:20  “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our HELP [our “ezer”] and our shield.”

I have a sermon or teaching about how Yeshua/Jesus is our SERVANT KING. Just enter those 2 words – Servant King – into the Search bar on this site and you’ll find it.  Please listen to it if you know you need this topic, and frankly we all can learn to be better servants of God and of one another, including serving the women and serving our families – all while being like Christ, the servant KING. We can be the leader of our homes and church and still be a helper.

I also have another blog “Who is the Greatest Servant in your Family.” You might find that useful too.

You see Jesus said, those who serve the most will be considered by God to be greatest of all in his kingdom. The male disciples were vying for status and claiming to be the greatest among the disciples. Jesus called them together and firmly said, “STOP! You guys- aren’t getting it. The way you’re talking is NOT at all the Kingdom way. You want to be great? Go and become a great servant, an awesome helper wherever and to whomever help is needed. Then, maybe Father will consider you as a great person in his kingdom!”

A meeting of elders should never be referred to as a “minister summit.” A SUMMIT? The high place of high elders? That’s ridiculous. We’re not like the Catholics whose leaders are ARCH-bishops, or Cardinals (meaning “the main ones”) or Holy Father – a title that belongs to God our Father alone according to Jesus.

So we men need to be careful with titles. “Holy and reverend is HIS name” (Psalm 111:9 KJV), so I never ever go by the title “Reverend” though I’m an ordained minister. I realize in context of God, “reverend” can mean “awesome” or awe-inspiring”.  So men… let’s watch out for this. The word “minister” means “one who ministers to or serves others.” 

Luke 22:24-27   Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.'  26 But NOT SO among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

So in practical terms, help out. Pastors should be serving at times too and helping out. Help clean up after the church potluck or coffee. If chairs and tables have to be returned to a certain spot, jump in. Help out. Serve. Help. I mean all of you men too.

At home, who would the kids say is the greatest servant in the home? I hope there’s a good chance they might say “Dad is.”  Probably most would say “mom” and moms still do most of the cooking and clean up. We men should definitely be helping clean up afterwards, and sweeping floors, and preparing coffee, and serving the coffee. Come on men, let’s be like Christ who said, “Yet I am among you as the One who serves,” as we just read in Luke 22:27.

 

Yeshua also said, I am one among you who washes your feet. I come as one who serves. Nobody else offered to wash feet, but I – your Lord and Master – did it as an example for all you men and all of you: Serve, be a slave, be a servant. It’s not demeaning. In God’s eyes, it’s the very thing that will likely lead him to raising you up higher.

So men, women, children – all of you – let’s all be willing to help one another. If you’re not helping at home or at church or anywhere, it doesn’t mean you’re someone great. It means you don’t “get it” yet.

Now a note to the younger men under age 35 especially, maybe even under age 50. Though we are all called to serve, we men HAVE also been called to lead. And as we lead, we serve as well. But I say especially to you younger men because I’m seeing so many of you buy into the woke culture and are not fulfilling your God-given role as leaders. The husband is to lead the family.

But too many men, fathers and husbands are just simply disappearing and not fulfilling their role – without being a dictator. God fearing women will be encouraging their husbands to lead, even while they also help in any way they can. And men, we are to seek ways to help as well, even as we lead. Be sure you all read Ephesians 5:22-32 again and live by it. Read 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 and see how we all need one another. Here’s the part about men leading in a servant way:

1 Corinthians 11:3  “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Again, remember this leadership is all in context in this blog about how God himself, though He is Supreme over all, claims to be our HELPER. How wonderful a Father and leader we have. That’s our example.

Long ago women started “wearing the pants” at home and making all or most of the decisions, instead of talking things through together and then a final decision is made, ideally by the husband. But the man should be smart and realize his wife – who may be advising something different than he’s thinking – is often right and her insights should be respected and often followed.

Look at the Proverbs 31 woman, you guys. Her husband TRUSTS here to make all kinds of big decisions including buying land, a home, or a vineyard. In our 47 years of married life, when buying one home I made the decision to buy as Carole was many thousands of miles away. Then another time it was HER decision and we absolutely trusted each other, though we did discuss it all together.

So men, we ARE called to be heads of our household and head of our wife – but as Christ leads, loves, HELPS, and serves his Bride. He’s our pattern.

In fact, I’ve started saying in recent years to Carole, “what makes you so smart? How come I didn’t see that?”  -- and then we make the decision and sometimes it’s her suggestion and sometimes it’s mine.

God does say that a wife’s head is her husband. The husband’s head is Christ. And Christ’s head is God the father (1 Cor. 11:3) But again, though our wives are to submit to their husbands as the head of the family – and yes, we are and should be the head of the family, men – but we also must LOVE our wives the way Christ loves the Church. He’s not constantly picking on her. In fact he sees her “without spot or wrinkle.”  We’re the church, his future wife. ARE we without spot or wrinkle? DO we live perfectly? But that’s how he sees us, according to Ephesians 5:28.

And please – though you are the head under Christ and God in your family, remember that even God Almighty himself proclaims that HE is also our ezer – OUR helper. So we help one another while we fulfill our roles in the family.

Continue reading
6
  268 Hits

Infant and child baptism

As people from various backgrounds and religious former-affiliations come into contact with Light on the Rock, we receive a variety of comments and questions. Another recent inquiry is whether infants or children can be or should be baptized.  

True Biblical baptism of course means “to be immersed” or “immersion” – to be put under the water, not just sprinkled with water as is common on the Catholic and some other denominations. The original Greek word is “baptizo” meaning to completely “immerse, submerge, baptize” (Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament).

In a Biblical baptism your entire body goes under water and then back up again, to picture our burial spiritually into Christ and our resurrection spiritually in Christ as well (Romans 6:3-6).  Being sprinkled with water is not baptism. It’s not the same at all as being buried – in figurative death as we are totally immersed into and under the water.

So any of you reading this who believe you are baptized because as an infant you were sprinkled with water by a priest must understand: in fact, you were never immersed. You were never baptized even a first time. But you should be baptized upon your repentance and confession of sins and accepting Jesus as your master, king and savior. This time, your baptism should be by complete immersion under water.  For those of you baptized as infants, being baptized now will be your first true baptism. Remember – if you read Acts 19:1-9 – you’ll see that some who had been baptized by John the Baptist were re-baptized by Apostle Paul because they did not understand the Holy Spirit. And yet John baptized by immersion and taught repentance and was a true minister and prophet of God.  

Baptism points to us dying with Christ and being resurrected to newness of life in Christ. It all points to Jesus/Yeshua’s death and resurrection. On your own, please study Romans 6:3-14. Here’s the first part.

Romans 6:3-4  --"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. 

We know of John the Baptist – the baptizer. Notice where he baptized and why.

John 3:23  -- “Now John also was baptizing [immersing] in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized (immersed).”

John the baptizer baptized in the Jordan “for there was much water there.”  If sprinkling water was all that was required, he would not have needed to find a place where there “was much water”.

 John 1:9 says Yeshua/Jesus came to be baptized (immersed) by John “in the Jordan”.  So Yeshua was baptized in a river. He was not sprinkled with water.

When the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, it says Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he was baptized. Then they came back up out of the water (Acts 8:35-39).  Please be sure to read that in your Bible.

So sprinkling water on anyone of any age and calling it “baptism” is simply unscriptural. One’s whole body has to be immersed in water as it actually symbolizes our old self being buried as Romans 6:3-6 explains. 

Now how about the age when a person can be baptized?

Jesus/Yeshua was baptized at age 30. That should say plenty to us. He is our example. He was not baptized as an infant or even as a teenager. He was baptized at age 30. Those of you who believe in infant or even child baptism need to decide if you think Joseph and Mary (his parents) and Jesus himself were all wrong to have Jesus wait til he was 30 years old.  

Neither is there a single clear instance in the Bible that I am aware of, of infants or children ever being baptized.  

But there are other significant points to consider

** Baptism follows repentance and forming a promised, committed relationship with our Almighty Father and Jesus Christ.

After Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Shavuot – meaning ‘weeks”), people asked him what they could do. Here was his reply.

Acts 2:38 -- “Repent and let every one of you be baptized [immersed] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

God’s Holy Spirit usually came upon the laying on of hands first by the ministry (Acts 8:17; 19:6).  There was the exception of Cornelius and his household, who were given the Holy Spirit first, as a sign to Peter, that God had already “OK’d” uncircumcised Gentiles to come into the church and be baptized.  See Acts 10:44-48.  

How can we possibly say that an infant or even a child or teen has repented and committed himself/herself to God? We can’t. So children and infants should not be baptized. Nor should adults be baptized who have not repented or properly understood repentance yet.  

But neither should you wait, once you’re an adult who has fully and deeply repented. Having repented does not mean you never sin anymore. It means you are choosing to live God’s way now and accept Yeshua as your Savior. You will still sin. If you come to me or any ministers and claim you’re ready for baptism because you don’t sin anymore, I would try to open your eyes to see that we all still stumble in sin. But don’t delay your baptism once you have repented and accepted Christ as your Master and committed yourself to obey Him fully.

            I do have a sermon on “Baptisms”. It’s plural because there are various baptism – of water, of fire, of the Holy Spirit.  I know you’ll learn a lot more by listening to it. It would actually be a good review for anyone, even all those already baptized, as we come up to Pentecost and review what it was that we committed to.   

            https://lightontherock.org/videos/message/baptisms-the-exciting-meaning-of-immersion1.html?highlight=WyJiYXB0aXNtcyJd

Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, that newly baptized person is immersed into the body of Christ and becomes a member or part of the body of Christ, the church, by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13 says by one spirit we are baptized – immersed – into one Body, meaning the very body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13a  “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”

One purpose for us being baptized is to find and prepare a bride for Messiah. A baptized person is committing to happily marry Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul said he betrothed us to Christ, as a “chaste virgin”. Can an infant repent? Can an infant make the commitment to marry the son of God?

Just as you would not put an engagement ring on an infant or child, neither should we ever baptize a child or infant.  It makes no sense. Committing to marriage – especially to the Son of God – takes far more maturity and understanding.

So – no, an infant or child should not be baptized or immersed in the name of Jesus Christ.

If a teenager (let’s say 16-17-18 yrs old)  wishes to be baptized, there should be thorough counseling on the subject first. This should include a complete discussion of repentance, of accepting Christ and what it means to be totally committed to Christ and God’s Way.  I’d personally still advise them to wait until at least 18 or 19 years of age or even later. SO many who were baptized at 16-18 years of age quit later on.

I was present for the baptism of an approximately 16-year old girl who insisted on it. I refused to baptize her before this point.  But then a new pastor came in and baptized her. But now 25 or so years later, she lives in sin, uses profanity freely, openly condemns the minister who baptized her, and she does not display any of the fruit of God’s spirit. Ditto for countless other children and teens who were “baptized”. SO many have discarded all that water baptism was supposed to mean.

So if you’re a teenager and want me to baptize you, I will likely tell you to wait a few more years. I just haven’t seen good fruit from most teens who were baptized.

And again, let me remind you: Jesus was 30 when he was baptized. HE is our model. You’re not “more ready” than he was, if you’re still a teenager.  He waited til he was 30.  Infants and children should NOT be baptized. If you were “baptized” (sprinkled) as an infant, you should seek proper baptism now.

I recommend again you listen to my sermon on “baptisms”. 

https://lightontherock.org/videos/message/baptisms-the-exciting-meaning-of-immersion1.html?highlight=WyJiYXB0aXNtcyJd

I welcome your comments on this and any blog. You must register first, and then write your comments and opinions that are supported by the Bible.

Continue reading
6
  298 Hits

When the Bible is literal and or figurative

Some people read the Bible and it seems to them that everything is an allegory, figurative or metaphor and most things to them in the Bible are NOT “real” or literal. Others read the same verses and they take most scripture literally and almost nothing is a figure of speech or a picture of something deeper.

This short sharing is just to say – be so careful about forming beliefs and teachings based on everything being all literal or everything being mostly figures of speech or metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech where a word stands for something else. If I said to you—“You’re a peach,” I’m not saying you literally are a peach, but you are sweet and delightful. Metaphor.

Whole doctrines based on one or the other way of looking at each scripture can cause whole church groups to split up. I do sometimes wish that our God would have said, “OK children, this next series of verses are not to be taken literally” (or vice versa). But we don’t see that much in the Bible. We’re told about parables, but they’re not quite the same. Or are they?

Let’s look at some of the Bible language and see where YOU fit – do you take the words I’ll bring up more literally, or as more allegorical?

I know people who don’t believe there were literal people called Adam and Eve. I do believe they were there, in a literal garden of Eden. Yes, I believe there was a worldwide flood – and many don’t. Or they call it just a regional flood. I believe God blasted out of existence the cities of the Plain, including Sodom, Gomorrah and other surrounding cities of Admah and Ziboam. Zoar was spared as a potential destination for Lot and his two daughters. And yes, I believe Lot’s wife was turned to a real pillar of salt. Many people think all these things are figurative. Not me.

Many scriptures seem literal to me, but other ministers feel they’re symbolic or figurative. Many don’t believe in a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ and his firstfruits as Revelation 20 tells us. I do take that literally, but you’d be surprised how many don’t. We’ll have to see. But the thousand years are mentioned several times in that one chapter. I’d love to see some of you comment on this on our website. Register first, then leave your comment.

But then others take figurative language and make them all literal.

Here are some more examples of what must be, surely, figurative language:

** In our relationship with God, are we literally Sheep or goats? Or do they represent various kinds of people? Was Christ literally God’s “LAMB”? A literal lamb?

** Does a literal sharp two-edged sword come out of the mouth of Jesus? Some believe so. I do not believe a literal big two-edged sword sticks out of Messiah’s mouth, but I’ve heard preachers who declare it must be true.

** Is Jesus literally a LION – as in lion of Judah, or is God making a point? And is our Messiah a literal Door, or Bread of life? Of course not. Nor is he a literal Vine (nor are we literal stick branches on a literal vine – John 15:1-5). He was using word pictures that people could relate to and help them understand.

** Exodus 19:4 quotes God as saying He brought Israel out of Egypt “on eagles’ wings.” Clearly, they walked out. But many people take this hyper-literally. Others have even tried to find airlines with eagle logos to perhaps find a way that we might also flee to a wilderness in future – “on eagles’ wings.” This is just saying God brought them out supernaturally and with great energy. The first day of walking out could have been a 48-hour period, but no one was sick or infirm. To me, “eagles’ wings” is clearly a metaphor.

One thing we can learn from the words of Yeshua/Jesus is that he was constantly thinking on a higher plane than his disciples. So he used “spiritual” language or alliterative words.

For example Jesus said to “beware of the leaven of Pharisees”  (read Matthew 16:6-11). His disciples started concluding that it was because they had forgotten to buy or have bread on hand. It’s almost funny but we might have reacted and concluded the same as they did. Jesus/Yeshua said  -“no, no, I’m referring to their wrong teachings or doctrine, which can spread throughout the community like leaven.” So doctrine is important too. In another place, he compared the Pharisees’ “leaven” to hypocrisy – just like leavened bread is puffy, airy, and not as big or satiating as one might assume. He wants us to be exactly what people see – and not hypocritical.

So as we read the Bible, we have to ask ourselves if this passage is literal or figurative.

Also consider the source. I’m extremely cautious when reading the Book of Job, because God Himself told Job and his friends that his 3 main friends had NOT spoken correctly of God and his ways. In fact, one of them, Eliphaz – was hearing from a DEMON! Read it for yourself in the last half of Job 4.

So who is speaking? You need to know that when quoting the Bible. The one who said “You shall not surely die” – was Satan himself! So what’s the one thing people still believe today? It is that your soul cannot die. Straight from Satan! So now we have people believing the “immortal soul,” though Ezekiel 18:4, 20 both say, “the soul that sins shall DIE”! And Jesus himself said to fear him who is able to kill both body AND soul in his hell fire. Matthew 10:28 --  “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  So now people believe the wages of sin is NOT death, but is endless life being tormented by a God who claims to be the very essence of what LOVE is. But what happened to ‘death”? So “they” redefined it as “death is being separated from God as you are being tormented in hell fire forever and ever.”

I obviously cannot agree with that. Death is death. AFTER the thousand years reign by Christ is finished, “the rest of the dead” will be resurrected, and some to suffer the 2nd death as their punishment. Read Revelation 20:3-6, 12-14. They will be as ashes under the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3). Now THAT is “death.” Be sure to watch my upcoming sermons on death, God’s plan for us and more.

Here are more example of “is it literal – or figurative”?

**  BABYLON the Great of Rev. 17 and 18. Scripture calls it “that great city” on 7 hills, who rides The Beast – until the Beast casts her off and destroys her. OK, so who/what is Babylon in Rev. 18? Some say it has to be the literal city in Iraq that is slowly being rebuilt but has no consequence so far. Others are certain it’s not that – but perhaps Rome, or perhaps New York City. Many are certain it is Rome or Vatican City or the Roman Catholic Church. Others say it is Jerusalem when the Beast and False Prophet take it over for a few years and perhaps even make Jerusalem their world headquarters. What do you think?

** Will the final Two Witnesses really destroy their enemies with literal fire from their mouths? (Revelation 11). Elijah called down fire from heaven, not from his mouth, to burn the groups of 50 who came to arrest him (2 Kings chapter 1). I won’t test the 2 Witnesses on this – but it will be interesting to see if this is literal or figurative. (I think it’s figurative).

** We’re also called the temple of God’s spirit. But we’re not made up of literal big stones and precious stones of a temple – but allegorically yes, we’re the residence of God’s spirit and God does see his children as very precious in his eyes. But we are not literal stones but actually something far more precious.

** However, I personally do take literally that we are a Royal Priesthood. We’re children of God, and that makes me and you royalty of the highest order possible.

** Now this will challenge some of you: we are also called Children of God. Yes, I take that literally. MOST Christians do not. They think it’s allegorical. But God is my Abba – my wonderful Father. And I am literally called his child, and if you are led by His Holy Spirit, then so are you! You’re not just some sort of “angel” or something. No, you’re his daughter or son. Literally. Now ponder what all that could mean! I have teachings on “Your Breathtaking Destiny.”  When you grasp it, it will “blow your mind” as we used to say.

** The entire Flat Earth movement is based literally on taking scriptures about our planet  super-literally. So because the Bible speaks of the setting of the sun or rising of the sun, they say therefore the sun goes around the earth – and not the other way around. Because the KJV (and only the KJV it seems) mocks “science, so called” (1 Timothy 6:20), some of them say we should not believe science. The Greek word is “gnosis” – meaning knowledge!

So the Flat earthers – and there are millions of them now (for real) – believe the earth does not move at all, does not rotate, does not spin on its axis, does not revolve around sun. They believe the entire “universe” of sun, moon, stars, planets all fit inside a hard dome, the “firmament” that is above the flat earth. The sun is a small light – not a huge star—that is just 3000 miles above our flat earth.  Yep, people believe this. Then the religious Flat Earthers say God’s kingdom of heaven is just outside this dome, not that far from all of us.

The earth is not moving and cannot move at all? That’s one of their main beliefs in the Flat Earth movement. It comes from hyper-realism when reading scriptures, which say the earth cannot be moved. Check the original language too. “Moved” in Hebrew can also mean cannot be made to slip, or change, or fall. God was saying he made the earth correctly – and it’s not going to fall apart of skip – unless HE himself causes it to move! Isaiah 13:13 says “…the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord…”

Also please read Isaiah 24:18-20, where the earth is described as … reeling like a drunkard when God gets involved.

Though many Flat Earthers claim their movement is based on the Bible, it is not. Their most-used model of the flat earth has the North Pole in the middle. But G0d CLEARLY says that HE set JERUSALEM at the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). They believe the South pole – Antarctica – forms around the edge of their round, flat earth, keeping all the salt water in. They say that “edge” is a 150-foot wall of ice, though there’s no proof for any of this. Where are the photographs?

So that’s another point:  use ALL The Bible when setting doctrine so we’re not confused by figurative words. And when we check the original Hebrew or Greek, it often becomes clear. You can also see how other translations translate particular verses.

Get www.BibleHub.com  – it’s free and lets you do all kinds of cross-referencing. So does www.BibleGateway.com . Check them out. EVERY word of God is good, and we are to live by every word of God. There are other free Bible helps as well.

They also don’t believe any man has ever gone into space or the moon – or as they say it, outside our firmament dome. Flat Earthers also say all the photos of our beautiful round earth, as taken from the moon or far out in space, are all really just computer-generated imagery (CGI) and Photo Shop work.

Our world is a sphere, like a globe, folks. It’s not a Flat earth with a hard dome over it. All the provable evidence is there. Flat earthers have a tough time being able to convincingly demonstrate day/night, seasons, lunar eclipses, etc. Don’t fall for the hyper-literalism of Flat Earthers.

I’ll leave it at that and just remind you all to:

  • Check out who’s speaking. Is it God, or Satan? Is it a prophet or false teacher?
  • Check all the verses on a particular subject. Don’t force a doctrine from one verse. Have at least 2-3-4 scriptures which say the same thing.
  • Figure out by context if it’s a literal verse or figurative verse

Register with us and let us know what you think about this and other blogs and sermons.

 

Register with us and let us know what you think about this and other blogs and sermons.

Continue reading
5
  325 Hits

IS Circumcision of the flesh still required?

I’m writing and discussing this topic because it keeps coming up, sooner or later, as I work with various groups who want to be obedient to God and his word. I keep hearing that there are those who want to require only circumcised males to be able to keep the Passover. 

It is VERY true that in the Old Testament, in the first or “old covenant”, God’s followers from Abraham onwards had to be circumcised as the sign of them being in covenant with the true living God. But what about today? I want to show both the Old Testament and New Testament teaching on this topic.

I strongly recommend everyone studies this short teaching – whether you are male or female, so you can discuss it correctly and intelligently when the topic rears its head again AND as it also bears heavily on understanding how we’re in the NEW COVENANT now.

So we’ll read some of the Old Testament scriptures first and then see what we’re told in the New Covenant. ARE we required TODAY to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons? Many still circumcise for health and hygienic reasons today, but we’re discussing circumcision for spiritual requirement reasons or not.

Here’s God’ command to Abraham in Genesis 17 saying ANY male in his group – whether freeborn or a purchased slave – were all to be circumcised.

Genesis 17:9-14

And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 

12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

God chose the 8th day because 8 is the number of new beginnings. Like there were 8 in the ark; David was the 8th son of Jesse. But also on the 8th day is when Vitamin K in our blood, needed for strong blood clotting, is at its highest level it will ever be!

It is also true that in the first Passover service in Exodus 12, everyone partaking of the Passover had to first be circumcised. SO understand, before they left Egypt all the males had been circumcised. But we’ll find that in the next 40 years in the wilderness, they did not continue to circumcise any of the newborns. Not at all. Not even Moses enforced it, as we’ll see later on in Joshua 5.

Exodus 12:43-48

And YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to YHVH, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

So that’s clear enough as well! If you wanted to keep Passover back in the day, yes – you had to be circumcised. So all of Israelite males coming OUT of Egypt, had had the circumcision ceremony done on their bodies before they left Egypt. Keep that in mind.

But did you know that in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites were not circumcised and so probably did not keep Passover either! You can read that all very clearly in Joshua 5:1-9. Not even Moses had made them get circumcised during the 40 years wandering.

Moses and Jeremiah pointed out the real meaning of circumcision is to cut out anything between you and God. 

Deuteronomy 30:6  

“And YHVH your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Deuteronomy 10:16

“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer”.

Jeremiah 4:3-4 says to take away the foreskins of your hearts.

So please note: circumcision today – for spiritual reasons – points to exposing your HEART to God, in deep repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ, by FAITH, as your Savior . So even you WOMEN need THIS kind of circumcision, OK?  

Circumcision became an issue in the New Covenant when believers who had been PHARISEES saw uncircumcised Gentiles coming to conversion. Pharisees were super strict and orthodox about keeping the law.

Remember, they did not have any of the New Testament scriptures we have now for the first few DECADES after Christ’s death and resurrection. ALL they had were the scriptures I’ve just read you and if that’s all you had, you too would have said circumcision of the flesh was required.

So there was a ministerial conference in Jerusalem to address this topic of circumcision – AND, verse 5 – whether people had to keep all 613 laws of the entire law of Moses, meaning his 5 books, the Torah. It’s important to understand both questions were being addressed. People were saying one must be circumcised for salvation and keep all 613 laws (the Torah).

You may want to hear my teaching on “The NEW Covenant”.

Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 

Acts 15:5-12

“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, AND to command them to keep the law of Moses."

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, [before those Gentiles were circumcised] 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their HEARTS by faith.

10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ WE shall be saved in the same manner AS THEY" (meaning by faith). 

Peter was circumcised. So were all the other Jews present. What is this yoke on the neck that neither they nor their fathers could keep; weren’t “able to bear?” 

It was this: The Old Covenant was all about blessings and cursings. You were blessed if you obeyed and cursed if you did not (Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 28). The Old Covenant did not offer eternal life to Israel for being obedient. It offered a blessed life, but not eternal life. This is so key to understanding this.

So people like Joshua and others said they chose LIFE (Joshua 24:15), meaning they chose to be obedient and serve the LORD. But they were not offered eternal life except for a very few exceptions of prophets and leaders and some women who were being called to receive the Holy Spirit even way back then. Hear my “New Covenant” sermon please.

The NEW covenant that we and they in Acts 15 were now a part of – was a covenant of salvation, righteousness and eternal life by FAITH in Yeshua and our Father. But too many 21st century believers don’t understand this still. Too many are still trying to QUALIFY for eternal life, instead of receiving the GIFT of salvation. Peter is trying to explain that in Acts 15:9 and 11 especially. Read it again. Salvation by FAITH in Christ and in faith receiving the gift of God’s favor, God’s grace (verses 9, 11). Eternal life is God’s free GIFT (Rom. 6:23). 

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

Then for the rest of the chapter – they issued a decree that they wanted 4 points emphasized to the uncircumcised Gentiles: abstain from meat offered to idols, no sexual immorality, don’t eat meat strangled, and don’t be drinking blood (v. 20).

BUT WHAT WAS LEFT OUT of the 4 requirements? CIRCUMCISION.

 Timothy was half Jewish by his mom and half Gentile by his dad. So he was circumcised to keep from offending the Jews.

Acts 16:3

“Paul wanted to have him (Timothy) go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

But Titus, a Greek man, was not required to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3).

WHAT CIRCUMCISION IS REQUIRED – both of men and women of God 

The Apostle Paul, especially, clarifies that circumcision of the male parts is not required or even desired in the new covenant. We become spiritual Jews by faith and circumcision of the heart.

Romans 2:28-29

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;

29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

1 Cor. 7:18 is so clear. If a believing man is uncircumcised, “let him NOT be circumcised.” And verse 20 – stay the way you are! It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

1 Corinthians 7:18-20

“Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him NOT be circumcised.

19 Circumcision is NOTHING and uncircumcision is NOTHING, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”

This next passage in Galatians 5 is especially strong.

Galatians 5:1-6 especially   v 2, 4

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

3 “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails ANYTHING, but faith working through love.”

Paul goes on in Galatians 6:14-15 to say he did not want to boast in anything he did in the flesh – but just to glory to what Yeshua did on the cross. Paul really puts down those in the church who were advocating for circumcising the men and boys. 

So today, we do NOT seek to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons. If anyone wants to circumcise their 8-day old boys for health reasons, that’s fine; but please – not for spiritual reasons. We ARE all circumcised in the New Covenant if we have repented, opened up and exposed our soul and heart to God, and accepted Yeshua as our Savior. We had circumcision of the HEART, which is what physical circumcision pointed to.

Colossians 3:9-11

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

I want to end by reading again, the first 5-6 verses of Galatians 5:

Galatians 5:1-2, 6

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love”.

So, are we to be circumcised now, in the New Covenant?

Yes – but only by circumcision of our heart; being tender-hearted to God and baring our soul.

But if someone means physical circumcision of the male foreskin, then NO. Absolutely not.  

So to be clear: in the new covenant, NOBODY has to be physically circumcised today to keep the Passover, or to be baptized, or to be allowed to marry, or to attend church services. Nobody has to be circumcised today, except in our hearts. And we are in the New Covenant!

Continue reading
5
  341 Hits

DON’T Forget Wavesheaf Day today

Most of the Christian world is celebrating Easter Sunday today. But those of us who go by the Bible are remembering a very special day – Wavesheaf Day. Don’t let the day go by without you realizing this is such a special day.

For full details, be sure to hear/read the brand-new audio sermon about Jesus’ inspiring Wavesheaf Day.

At 9 am on this day, the day after the weekly sabbath that falls between the first and last day of Unleavened Bread, the High Priest would raise up to God an omer of fine flour beaten from the first barley sheaves. This was done before the rest of the barley harvest could begin. Then he would lower his hands and the flour back down again. Thus the rest of the harvest has been accepted, because of presenting the first fruit of barley first to God.

Leviticus 23:9-11

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be ACCEPTED on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

So on this day, Yeshua/Jesus had been resurrected just before sundown the evening before, exactly three days and three nights after being placed in the tomb, and then waited to fulfill what this ceremony pointed to: to HIM and his role in making the harvest accepted by God our Father. He did see Mary Magdalene in the garden and revealed himself to her but told her that he must go to his Father and his God, and to her God and Father first. (John 20:17)

Which he did. What a glorious reunion that must have been with cheering angels, with joy and wonder, with praise and glory to the victorious Son of God. How indescribably moving it must have been for Father and Son to finally reunite and hug and – what JOY! God had sent him to us as a perfect baby, and we returned him all battle-scarred. BUT, Yeshua was sinless, had won the perfect victory over Satan. Satan only had to make Jesus sin one time to win. But Satan lost, and lost badly, as Christ redeemed us all in his complete and total victory.

Yeshua came back down that same day, saw Peter first of all (1 Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:34) in what had to be a beautifully re-affirming meeting with the man who had denied him three times. Then He appeared to the 2 men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:23-35), who then returned to Jerusalem and joined up with the 10 gathered (minus Thomas) there along with others. Then once again our wonderful Savior appeared to them all – minus Thomas -- once more, confirming his resurrection (Luke 24:35-38).

Surely most of us feel so unworthy much of the time and feel rejected by people, even God’s people, and we often can feel rejected by God when we know we have failed. THIS day  affirms God’s acceptance of the rest of the harvest – of those He is calling now. Notice how all of this listed in Ephesians 1 is attributed to Jesus to make it all possible also for us. And notice how positively worded is the entire summary – blessed, the good pleasure of his will, and that wonderful grace and favor of God towards us.

Ephesians 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us ACCEPTED in the Beloved.”

So this day is not just about our Savior rising to his Father and being accepted as the first of the firstfruits – but in that act it also allows US to be accepted by Father. SO this day is also very much about you and me, in and through Christ.

Take time today to bow down and worship in profound gratitude for the meaning of this day. This is what my wife and I do. So today, Wavesheaf day, is not a holy day but a very, very special day that must not be forgotten.  I have more details in the sermon about this day that has been posted.

Please help spread the word to others to remember this vital and loving day.

Continue reading
4
  320 Hits

Correctly understand eating unleavened bread

(This article is an updated version of one I wrote a year ago).

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

**  Leavening pictures sin like malice and wickedness (1 Cor. 5:6-8) as well as false doctrine (Matthew 16:6-12) and so that is why we put it out. (True, but leavening can also picture God’s kingdom that spreads! Matthew 13:33).

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

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

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

What did the leavened bread you threw out picture? 

The right answer:  It pictures our old carnal selves, not just sin itself, but how we had sin in our lives and were sinners. Leavened bread pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, perhaps even daily, even during the days of Unleavened bread. Sinning is no longer our way of life, but we still stumble in sin, as even Paul says in Rom.7:15-20. Please read it carefully.

So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out, not just sins, but our sinful old self. We must be totally surrendering to God in every facet of our lives so we can call Jesus our Lord. So the leavening we throw out pictures – US. Not just sin generally, but “US”.  And this is why Paul would say in Galatians 2:20 that he is crucified with Christ. Paul wanted his old self tied down and killed – with Christ.

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

After throwing out the old sinful way pictured by leaven, we go out and buy or bake fresh UNLEAVENED bread that had never been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product that NEVER had any leavening in it. That’s key.

Sin is defined as breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4), for failing to do the good things we should have done (James 4:17), going against our conscience, doing things “not of faith” (Romans 14:23). All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). We repent of what we ARE – a sinner, as the tax collector did (Luke 18:12-14).

So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US because there’s still sin in our lives we need to repent of, daily. True unleavened bread has never had any leaven in it. It doesn’t even picture us as we try to keep sin out of our lives because as Paul admits in Romans 7, we all still stumble in sin. UNLEAVENED bread has to picture something more, and someone far greater than you and me. 

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

So far, are you with me? Leavened bread pictures us who still stumble in sin. Each year, we remind ourselves that there are still vestiges of sinful habits and ways of thinking we have to cast out as we cleanse the temple of God, which is our body (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said – “This is MY body…,” and what Paul echoes in 1 Cor. 11:23-25. It pictures us taking in Christ’s life. The old sinful self – pictured by leavened bread – we threw out. We eat of it, in remembrance of HIM. We focus on Christ now in the new covenant more than on coming out of Egypt. And we don’t focus on ourselves trying to get sin out of our lives by ourselves.

Let me say again: we don’t try to take the leavening out of already leavened products. We can’t. We throw them out. They are not able to be unleavened. They must be replaced. 

In the same way, we must die to this world and its way. We must be crucified with Christ. We cannot – we cannot ourselves make ourselves righteous enough to be acceptable to the “be ye therefore perfect/complete” standard Yeshua/Jesus laid out for us (Matthew 5:48).

We have to eat the unleavened bread that pictures the NEW life, the new bread of our Messiah Jesus Christ. We put out malice and wickedness, remember, and take on sincerity and truth. WHO is the Truth? It is Yeshua/Jesus!

1 Corinthians 5:6-8  “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore throw out the old leaven, that you may be a NEW lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and TRUTH”.

Corinthians – truly are unleavened? Each chapter is about another one of their corporate sins, one after the other. The only way they were unleavened was through Christ, sacrificed for them and who is sincerity and TRUTH. You cannot take leaven out of an already leavened product. Our old self is leavened. We can’t perfect it. It has to be thrown out and we have to accept the NEW UNLEAVENED, SINLESS life of Christ. And HE, by his one offering, we are told in Hebrews 10:14 – “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

So the Unleavened Bread does not picture our perfection by us taking each little and big sin out of our lives – but pictures us accepting the forever sinless perfection of Christ’s life now to replace our old life.

In 2 Cor. 5:17 that Paul tells us that in Christ we are A NEW CREATION – like the new unleavened bread you bake or buy that had never existed before in your life. We cannot make ourselves a new creation. The Creator of our NEW CREATION is – guess who? Is GOD through Christ, just like the original creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

Paul goes on after saying all of this is made possible by God. “Now all things are of God.” God’s perfection and righteousness is credited to us as his gift (Romans 5:17; as we accept the justification that is by faith – Romans 5:1)

2 Corinthians 5:21  “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that WE might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.”

And so now we can come boldly before the throne of God’s favor or grace. HOW? Is it because we have become so good now, though we still stumble in sin? No! We come boldly through the blood and pierced flesh of our Savior (Hebrews 10:19). God will remember our sins no more (Heb. 10:17)

Hebrews 10:19-23 –Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Don’t misunderstand me. Now once we have partaken of our Savior we must, of course, fight sin viciously and keep ourselves from intentional sin, willful sin, which is seen very seriously by our God.

Hebrews 10:26-27   “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries”.

As we focus on Christ, we become more and more in his image (2 Cor. 3:17-18). We copy Him, follow him (1 Cor. 11:1) and we let HIS mind become ours. Christ himself is now our new life – Colossians 3:1-4.

So the UNLEAVENED BREAD we eat does NOT picture US primarily. It is NOT about our lives that are now free from the penalty of sin, but we still sometimes sin (leaven) as Paul says in Romans 7:15-17. Though you may not consume any leavened products during the week of unleavened bread , I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during those seven days. Apostle Paul, as you know in Romans 7, still admitted to stumbles of sin that he hated.

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

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

Paul differentiates between the old carnal self that we still have – alongside the new creation of God in Christ, that we now have as well. These 2 fight each other and fight they must. But the UNLEAVENED bread is Yeshua, our Messiah. Each day we eat of it, we are asking God to let Christ BE our new life, and that we follow his guidance and look more and more like HIM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeshua said, “Eat this bread, for this is MY LIFE broken for you. Drink of my cup, for this is MY BLOOD of the new covenant” that he SHED for us (Matt. 26:26-29). Life is in the blood. It’s all about him. “Do this in remembrance of ME,” He said several times (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).

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

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

Unleavened bread does not picture us defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures CHRIST living in me and crushing sin and being my new life. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me. As you eat unleavened bread, don’t leave Christ out of your thoughts: you’re picturing HIM.

As you eat unleavened bread, think of it as you pursuing the Messiah, seeking to be with him, learning what it means to abide in him. As you eat unleavened bread, invite him to BE the new you, PERFECTLY at one with Him, prepared to be His Bride. Invite him to cleanse the temple of your body of anything unpleasing to Father. Dwell in him. Invite him and Father to dwell in you.

And this is why you and I must eat unleavened bread each and all 7 days of the Feast. We simply cannot live perfectly enough without it being HIM and HIS righteousness all the time, 7 days a week living as our new life.

To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.

*** ***

Feel free to share this article with others, but only in its entirety

Continue reading
8
  462 Hits

Children at Passover

The question came up recently about children being involved and participating in the Passover service in one’s home, so I thought we could address it. What follows is what we do at Passover, which we normally keep to 2-3 families in our home; keeping it intimate and family-like.

One’s children were definitely expected to be present at the Passover in the time of Moses.  Let’s read some scriptures and then I will cover what WE do in our home on Passover. In the scripture below, focus on verses 26-28:

Exodus 12:21-28 -- Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.  22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 For YHVH will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, YHVH will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. 

24 And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. 25 It will come to pass when you come to the land which YHVH will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.

26 And it shall be, when your CHILDREN say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of YHVH, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'"   So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as YHVH had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”

So children were obviously present, and still are present in the Jewish Pesach (Passover). There’s more in Exodus 13:7-10 and then again in verses 11-16, about redeeming the firstborn, going back to the Passover.

Exodus 13:7-10   “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.' 9 It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that YHVH's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand YHVH has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.”

So it’s clear that children were present at the Exodus 12 Passover and beyond.  In the Jewish celebrations of Pesach (Passover), children are also present. Jews take to heart the scripture – it’s a Mitzvah or law to them -- to be sure to explain to the children present what is going on. But keep in mind that Jews keep 2 Seders on what they call “the first 2 days of Passover”. In many sabbath-keeping Christian groups, children are not present and I think that is unfortunate and let me explain why in a minute. If you aren’t planning on your children being in the service, I hope you’ll reconsider after reading all of this article.

The Jewish Passover is more like what many of us would call the “night to be much observed”, at the end of Passover day and beginning the first day of Unleavened Bread -- where we have a big meal celebration of the freedom we now have after Christ’s death frees us from Satan’s grasp.

In a nutshell, we try to do what Jesus did, regardless of calendar issues. He kept his Passover meal plus the footwashing and bread/wine service the EVE of Passover day, then died on Passover day at 3 pm and was put into the tomb just before sundown, still Passover day. The next day, starting at sundown, was a “high day” (John 19:31-32) – not a regular sabbath but a holyday sabbath, one of the annual “feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:1-2), where God calls them “MY feasts”.   

But I want to stay on topic – children at Passover.

Our own practice is to personally always welcome well-behaved children to be present, as scripture says, as long as they have been prepared ahead of time to be respectful, quiet, observant and obedient. So at our Passover services, our grandchildren and any other children of other participants are welcome and present – and just quietly watch. Maybe 1-2 older teens can sit among them to be sure they aren’t talking and are respectful during the service. Rowdy and untrained children should be left at home with a babysitter.  

Why do we welcome children? Because as I’ve shown, children were present at the original Passover. And I want them to feel included in this deeply spiritual, meaningful, and solemn service. One of my most cherished photos in my old photo album is a picture that shows me at age 6 with my brother and sisters watching our mom during a Passover bread/wine service. So I hope this is going to be something our children also realize is part of their practice as they grow older too. We keep the bread and wine and footwashing on the eve of Passover day, then have a meal the following night, after sundown.

We personally do not keep an official Seder, as some of it is unscriptural and is wrapped in traditions that come out of Babylon (like the egg) and can tend to become too much of a ritual and focused on Judaism, which I won’t do. It also seems to take forever to go through!  I’m familiar with the Haggadah and Seder. Jews often don’t even eat a lamb anymore but chicken instead! Plus in the New Covenant – we copy what Yeshua did. He added the footwashing service and focused on the bread and wine, which pointed to him.

But let me hasten to add, that in the New Covenant, our answers to the children’s questions will include the story of the deliverance from Egypt of course – but then we need to pivot, and turn our focus to point to what the lambs depicted: the sacrifice of our Savior, Yeshua.

Yeshua made clear – Passover needs to be focused on HIM, the intent of all those lambs. In Yeshua’s last Passover supper with his disciples, he is never once recorded as talking about coming out of Egypt, the 10 plagues, etc. – but said this, and this is what we need to teach our children too: the OBJECT LESSON of the Passover Lamb dinner was the bread and body of our Lord Jesus Christ and the cup of wine, picturing his shed blood for us. Life is in the blood and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Luke 22:17-20   Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;  18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of ME.”

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

Notice how Passover is primarily in remembrance of the Messiah—and not in remembrance of coming out of Egypt. Once the POINT of the service is here (and that is Messiah!), we do not emphasize the “shadow” of the service as much now that we’re in the new covenant. I want children to know and learn about Yeshua too. I want them to see how we grownups love him and our heavenly Father. We are so thankful to be delivered from the enslavement of sin and Satan’s world.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25   “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."

So be sure to teach the children that Passover is really about Messiah and his sacrifice, even more then it is about those lambs sacrificed in Exodus 12, as they POINTED TO our Messiah and the liberty he gives us by his life’s blood shed for us as the Lamb of God.

I’m sometimes asked if children can wash feet and take part in the bread and wine service. I know some of you allow them to participate in the footwashing.

In our service and our home, we absolutely love having children watch the footwashing and the bread and wine service, but they do not partake of any of that portion. We explain the footwashing as the humble act of serving one another AND to remember, as we wash someone’s feet, that Yeshua already has washed them (John 13:12-17). We’re just acknowledging that fact and it’s saying to the one we’re serving as we wash his/her feet, that we see him or her as washed by Christ. It is saying that “we’re not going to see you in any way but washed by Christ, and so you’re cleansed, my brother/sister.”  All that in in context of course, of serving one another as well.

Whether you wish children, especially older children perhaps, to participate in footwashing is your call decision. We reserve all that to baptized members.

Partaking of the bread and wine of Christ is so deep, so special, so spiritual, and one we must be prepared for, so that we are ready to take it in a worthy manner, as Paul says.

So no, we absolutely do not risk this with children not old enough or mature enough to understand. We are severely warned by Paul not to take Passover unworthily, and so let’s let the children grow up more, come to repentance and baptism as adults –and  then by all means at that point let them partake of the bread and the wine.

1 Corinthians 11:27-31    “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

Don’t put that burden on yourself as the parent, and don’t put that burden on your children. Let them watch – but no more than that, is my advice. At least that seems to be the clear direction of scripture for me and my household. 

And I personally see no example of children participating in footwashing or partaking of the new covenant very deep symbols of the bread and wine. So at our Passover services, children are welcome to politely and quietly observe, without talking or playing, while baptized adults wash feet and partake of the bread and wine of the body of Christ. Of course the presiding host or minister should be explaining all aspects of footwashing, and the bread and wine – so the children hear all that as well. 

*** ***

Feel free to share this blog with others, but it must be shared in its entirety. You are also welcome to leave a comment on the blogs on this site. Thank you for coming.

Continue reading
5
  428 Hits

DON’T let the Passover sneak up on you!

Short but vital blog today. Passover.  For most of us it is coming in April 2022 this year. There are various calendars being used out there, so be sure you know when you’ll be keeping the footwashing and partaking of the bread and wine service. For most of you, the Passover service will be kept sometime between April 14-16, 2022, depending on your calendar you use.

For those keeping Jewish or rabbinic calendar, Passover day is April 15, 2022, and the bread and wine and footwashing kept the eve of the 15th – end of April 14. The first holyday of Unleavened Bread for many will be April 16, sabbath.  For those following the conjunction method and sighting of the new moon in Israel, it will be a day or so later.

Remember scripture is clear that Passover day is Nisan or Abib 14, the daytime portion when our Messiah was crucified. The first Hebrew month is called Abib or Nisan.

Leviticus 23:5-6   On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.”

Yeshua’s own example for us was that he did the footwashing and bread and wine service the eve of Abib 14, and then died in the daytime portion of Abib 14. Remember Biblical days start and end sundown to sundown. The 15th of Nisan/Abib starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread, again starting at sundown and ending at sundown.

Do also be aware though, that traditionally the whole time – Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread were sometimes all lumped together, and simply called “Passover”, just as we might today call the 7-day Feast of Tabernacles and 8th day Festival – “the Feast of Tabernacles”, though they are technically 2 separate festivals.  

Ezekiel 45:21  "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.”

But back to my topic: Have you given much thought to Passover this year?  Are you ready to take the bread and the wine?  Or did you find Passover rapidly coming up – and you haven’t given it much thought?  If that is what has happened, resolve to make changes so it never happens again. It’s our own fault if that’s happening. But frankly it’s also a reflection on your ministers if that happened. Pastors should have been discussing Passover-type topics for the past few sabbaths.

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

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

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

Remember that Passover pictures the Son of God, called “the Lamb of God”, who himself was God (John 1:1-3, 14), who gave his life to pay the penalty for your sins and mine and of the world (John 1:29) so that humanity would not all have to die for all of our sins. 

This event, this spilled holy blood of the Lamb, broke the back of Satan’s tyranny, pictured by the death of the first born in Egypt that broke Pharaoh’s hold on Israel. The Passover paid the ransom for sin, paid the penalty for sin, soothed God’s wrath over all our sins, and cleansed each of us of all of our sins. ALL of them, bar none.  ALL of them, no matter how horrendous they were (1 John 1:7, 9).  If you and I deeply repented of each of our sins and our failings and then came humbly before our Maker and confessed our sins and accepted Yeshua of Nazareth as the promised Messiah (Anointed One), then ALL of our sins are washed away in his blood.

Upon baptism we were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. 
“For by one spirit were all baptized into one body…and have all been made to drink into one spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). 

Whose body was that?  Of course, it’s HIS body.  “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).  So now we are seen as “members of HIS body, of his flesh and of his bones” (Eph 5:30).  “His body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24)—and us individually as members of that body. 

We are part of HIM, folks. The Bible speaks repeatedly of how we are IN HIM.  So if you think of your own body and your own blood, our blood is coursing through our whole body, giving nourishment, and cleansing the body from head to toe, literally.  

Well we are now part of His body and so His blood continues to cleanse us. Just like YOUR own blood cleanses YOUR body when you cut yourself and infection begins.  Your blood immediately sends out white blood cells and attacks the infection, protecting and cleansing your body.  God’s blood does the same for the parts or members of HIS own body – you and me.  His blood at Calvary forgave us of all our past sins.  Now as we live in him, He continues to cleanse us as long as we continue to stay attached to him, to abide in him as John 15 tells us.  Remember life is in the blood. He spilled his blood for me and for you.

When God looks down upon his children, does He see all of us coming under His son’s blood?  Remember what God said in Exodus 12 – “When I see the blood [splashed on the door posts and lintels of the houses], I will PASS OVER you” – and the people in that household were spared (Exodus 12:13). 

WE – when we repented and answered our Creator’s call – also came under the blood.  God must see us as people who take this all very seriously.

SO, are you ready for Passover?  You do NOT want to be taking it in an unworthy manner or unworthily.  We need to give it careful thought.  We need to be sure we especially in the days before Passover are not taking any ongoing sins in our lives lightly. 

You’re ready if you are very soberly thanking and praising Yeshua for his great work in your behalf. You’re ready if you’ve been giving thought to Passover the last so many days or even weeks.  You’re ready if you have examined yourself and realize – “Boy do I EVER need the washing and cleansing of his blood over me”.  We’re told that after we have examined ourselves, “so LET him drink of the cup” and eat of the broken bread. 

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and SO LET HIM EAT of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment on himself, no discerning the Lord’s body.”  (1 Cor. 11:27-29). 

We don’t examine and then decide we are unworthy.  No, no, no. Ultimately just the Lamb is worthy. But when we are IN him, as we are – by His Spirit – we too become worthy because we are a part of Him, his holiness, HIS perfection, HIS righteousness.   But we never, never take this lightly. 

We diligently put out leaven – but be sure you are even more diligent in fighting sin and temptations in your life.  The most effective way is NOT to focus on your sins and weaknesses, but keep your mind and eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, who conquers it all. We become what we think about. Focus on Messiah and become more and more like him in so doing.  

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 -- “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Be sure you are cleaning out the crevices of your heart.  Be sure your focus is on the spiritual elements of this season way more than the physical parts of it. 

We were washed at our repentant baptism, but we also still do the foot washing each Passover to remember to be humble and to serve one another, as well as to keep the spiritual dirt of sin off of us as we walk our walk of life day by day. And as you wash feet this year, don’t miss this:  recognize that Yeshua has ALREADY WASHED this person and we accept that person as a brother or sister in the body washed of any sins, of any gossip about his/her sins, and just love one another in the love of Christ.

So please – be sure to be taking time to focus on Passover and that means focusing on Messiah! I suggest you hear my sermon on “Do this in remembrance of ME!” (Christ speaking). 

I would also recommend this: if you can --before Passover, spend a day in fasting as you examine yourself, your life, your commitment to the Way to which you’ve been called.

But even if you don’t fast, at least spend some time in the days preceding Passover and even after Passover—to recommit to a life attached to Jesus Christ and to express your thanks and gratitude daily to our truly amazing Father in heaven and the Son of God who gave himself for you, because of his love for you.

Continue reading
5
  423 Hits

Be BOLD in your requests to God

Are you bold when you make requests to God? Is being bold with God -- a good thing, or a bad thing?  Remember our Father is all powerful, all knowing and loves to bless his children. But sometimes I wonder if we’re too “small” in our thinking? God enjoys going above and beyond anything we can hope for and ask for. So many verses tell us that. He won’t give us a rock if we ask for bread. He loves pouring out his holy spirit.

So let’s be bold when we ask Father for some blessings. For example, in terms of healing, sure – we can pray God guide the surgeon or speed up the healing. But why not be bolder?  Why not ask, “Father, when they examine my cancer tumor again before surgery, please – in Jesus’ mighty name, command the entire cancer to just be gone, totally healed. Leave them wondering what happened, but I’ll explain it to them to your glory, dear Father. And I thank you right now, in advance! May your will be done, Father, and I submit to your will.”   (I don’t have cancer right now, but I have been healed of cancer twice.)

Or, if you’re struggling with a chronic sin and temptation, be bold:  “Yeshua, my king and my Savior, I’m struggling with coveting [or whatever your issues are]. I hate it when I do. I know you want us to be content with whatsoever we have and not to covet anything out there. Yeshua, I’m repenting of this and I’m opening the door of my heart to you and I invite you to come into my life. BE my life, Lord. Please Lord, come live in me – obediently as you did 2000 years ago. Please BE my life, BE my thoughts and deeds… I want to say victoriously with Paul, that I no longer live, but the life I live is really Christ living in me, as Paul says in Gal. 2:20. Please show me how to blast this covetousness out of my heart and soul. I hate coveting, Lord, and please let me always be pleasing you. Thank you, Master.”

If you’re struggling with anything, you can ask God through Christ to create and live a new life in you, the very life of Jesus Christ, in complete victory over any sin. This applies to lacking God’s love in your life, asking for help in living your life in JOY and peace, no matter what.  It can apply to impatience, lust, porn, being too loose on sabbath observance, alcoholism, gluttony, being unkind and unloving – and the thousands of other sins people struggle with.  

Perhaps you struggle with forgiving someone from your heart. Talk to God humbly – but boldly – that you’re tired of this struggle and want to claim the victory. You realize if we don’t forgive others who have sinned against us, neither will Father forgive us of our sins against him (Matthew 6:12, 14 and many others). So this could be a very serious problem! Check out my sermon on it, coming out in March 2022.

Without God’s forgiveness, we have no future. On your knees, declare your problem with this, and how bitter and hurt you feel over someone’s sin against you.  Confess how hard it is for you to feel forgiveness and love for that person. Ask God’s forgiveness, ask God to change your heart to be like HIS. And then when you have forgiven, declare to God that you have forgiven this person whom you once claimed to surely be “unforgivable”. Or, if you haven’t and just can’t seem to be able to forgive him/her, boldly again ask Yeshua to come live in you and share with you his gentle and forgiving spirit. 

I remember doing that some time ago. Someone was a terrible thorn in my side, had gossiped badly about me and it was hard for me to like her or care about her. But when I had finally totally forgiven her while praying, the phone rang as I was ending my prayer. I can’t go into details, but it was about this very issue I had been praying about and God turned around my bitterness to a heart of compassion, forgiveness and asking God to bless her. But it wasn’t easy for me. I had to ask Yeshua to rule in my heart.  It took a while.

If you need financial help, remember we are to be content Paul says – if we have food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8)! But if you truly need a financial blessing, ask boldly – and declare you intend to share it with the needy as well. Have you heard of the Prayer of Jabez?  Be bold, ask God to bless your work, your employment, your income, and thank him in advance, as if you have already received it – and then be sure to share it with others.

Jabez had caused his mother much pain in childbirth, so she named him Jabez – “He will cause pain.”  Imagine that. You could feel cursed! But note what Jabez did and prayed.  This is called “the prayer of Jabez”. It’s a great model for us and God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 -- Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain." 10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested.

Read the scripture above several times. I call it a very bold prayer. Are we limiting what the living God would do in our lives – if we would but ask, and ask boldly?  Do we fall into the category of “you have not, for you ask not” (James 4:2b). So ask! And be sure to ask in a way that is not just selfish, as James tells us. Be sure to ask it be in God’s will.

Look how bold Jabez’ prayer was! And God granted him what he requested! God does not change. He wants to grant you powerful answers too

Matthew 7:7-8 --"ASK, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Even in the Lord’s Prayer – “give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Deliver us from evil (or the evil one)…”   Pretty bold. 

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

2 Kings 13:14-19

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

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

     [So Elisha had explained what the arrow symbolized.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go back and read the account of how bold Abraham’s servant’s prayer was when he was tasked to find a bride for Isaac. It’s a great example for us. Read Genesis 24:10-28.

In Psalm 78:12-16, we read of some of the most astounding miracles ever seen by mankind, such as the waters of the Red Sea standing in a heap on either side, providing water from a split rock, providing shade and light in the pillar overhead.  But Israel still questioned Almighty God’s ability to provide, and this angered God.  In Ps. 78:17-20, they got into the “yeah, buts”.  “Yeah, he parted the Red Sea, but can He provide food for this many people?”.  This was limiting the Eternal God. You can read all about it as you continue in Ps. 17:21-32. 

It came down to limiting God, not having faith in His power or in His desire to use His power in our behalf. Do we ever see a miracle and then go into the “yeah buts”?  We know He can work wonders and did do miracles here and there, but then doubt, limit and wonder if Our God would intervene in the same way for us? Doubting and limiting God go hand in hand.

Psalm 78:40-42 – “How often they provoked Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert!  41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy.”

That’s what I mean by limiting God.

When we have our open window of opportunity as King Joash had, don’t just strike the earth three times. Let’s not limit our request to three arrows or three strikes. Let’s use all our arrows. Let’s think large.  Let’s ask for big things. Believe Father really does want to do beyond what you can even imagine or conceive. Yes, even for you and me.

Can you imagine what God’s children could be involved in, if all of us would learn not to limit God – and watch Him work powerfully, to HIS glory? Ponder your prayer requests. Are they bold, and big – or timid and just going through the motions? Beware we’re not limiting our Maker, who knows no limits!

Why not even declare out loud in prayer – “Father, blast through my petty small-mindedness. Work your glory in your children’s lives – to your glory. Help me think big, and not limit you, and accept whatever you send as well. Thank you so much.”

Continue reading
8
  401 Hits

Don’t give up! God still has a plan for you.

Many of us have probably looked at ourselves and wondered how God could possibly work with “someone like me” when we look at our slip ups, sins and mess ups.  Check out the new AUDIO sermon “When you really MESS UP” to help you, if you feel this way at times.

I just wanted in this blog to add a couple more examples to the ones I have in the sermon, on how our Father has such a powerful and beautiful way of taking even our SINS, our serious life issues and failures, and if we commit it all to him, will work even all those out for good.

Romans 8:28 does say, after all, “ALL things work together for good, for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.”

I believe “ALL” means “all”.  Everything. Even our worst, horrible SINS. The lineage of the Messiah came through, after all, the prior adulterous couple we know as David and Bathsheba – where David murdered Bathsheba’s husband in an attempted cover up for getting her pregnant! But God chose them to produce the Messianic line to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem!  That’s astonishing to me. But that’s our loving Father for us! 

Father in heaven, God Most High, has a plan for every single human being ever conceived. I believe, somehow, even for those sacrificed in abortion. He has a plan for you. No matter what you’ve been and no matter what you’ve done, as long as you deeply repent and turn back to him – you will be amazed at his lovingkindness to you and ways he can still use you for His Kingdom’s sake. So DON’T give up on God! Or on yourself.

Here are some other examples:

**  The first person who ever saw the risen Messiah was a woman named Mary of Magdala who had SEVEN demons cast out of her sometime before all that.  She was the “crazy woman” in town. Women in that day could not be witnesses in court, as they were deemed “unreliable”. But this was the first person GOD chose to see the risen Son of God. So don’t decide for God that you are unusable because your past is simply too weird, and you had evil personified going on – as Mary Magdalene did. Mary witnessed anyway.  John 20:17-23.  And God gave her that honor and role anyway.

** the first person in Samaria to “see” that Yeshua (Jesus) was the promised Messiah was also a “bad” woman, who had had FIVE failed marriages and was once again shacking up. God selected HER to spread the good news that the Messiah had come. He stayed there a couple days  and many believed on him based on this “bad woman’s” heartfelt testimony and witness. The story is in John 4. So if your marriage failed, and the present one is atrocious – don’t give up on God being able to still have a plan for you.

**  Two super strong examples are of God still showing grace even to the 2 most wicked kings ever. God did not just cast them aside.

Ahab. And King Manasseh. In Ahab’s case, after God had declared Ahab would die a vicious death soon for killing the innocent Naboth, whose vineyard Ahab coveted – but God reversed himself when Ahab humbled himself. See 1 Kings 21, especially verses 25-29.

In King Manasseh’s case, he is called the worst king ever. Please read his story in 2 Chronicles 33, and his repentance in verses 10-17.  God sent him to Babylon – dragged by meat hooks it seems – but when Manasseh repented, God restored him to his throne, though probably as a vassal king. Believe me, you’ve never been down as low as Manasseh, and God still heard from heaven and delivered him. So don’t give up on God or yourself. He is perfectly aware of you and what you’re doing and what your concerns are.

** Paul, who wrote half or more of the New Testament, was initially a very mean, cruel, death-dealing persecutor of the Way he eventually embraced. (Acts 22:4 “I persecuted this Way to the death…”). 

Look at Paul’s own testimony of what he did and how God was still able to use him.

1 Timothy 1:12-16   “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”

Let’s humble ourselves as Paul did, admitting we are sinners, maybe even “chief sinner” as Paul said. Let God use your redeemed past to also be a pattern of hope for others who will come and see how you surrendered to God, and how he was able to use you too.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10   “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

YOU can also look back someday and say, when you see what God can and will do through Christ in youif you surrender to Christ fully – “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain…”

Acts 9:1-2  “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

In the sermon about really “messing up” I just gave, a big key is for us to truly turn to God now, abide in Christ and stick to him like glue! John 15:4-5. If we do, we are promised that God in us will bear much fruit. The fruit comes from the vine or tree (Christ) as we’re staying firmly attached. We don’t glue fruit on to the tree by our efforts. Fruit is the natural consequence of being part of the Vine, which produces fruit through the branches (us) in due season. We DISPLAY the fruit that the Vine (Christ) produces in us.

Philippians 1:11 – “be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

 But back to the point of this blog: don’t give up on yourself no matter what you’ve been, or what you’ve done, so far. Yes, repent! Of course.  And going forward, trust in God, don’t give up on your amazing Father in heaven or in Christ, in whom we belong now.

 

Failed marriage(s)? Failed childrearing, and kids who won't talk to you? Have you been “disgraced” by society?  Turn back to God and watch what He does.

And hear the new Audio sermon – “When we really, really mess up!” for further encouragement.

Continue reading
4
  433 Hits

NEW YEAR – in the dead of winter?

And Possible origin of “April Fools.”

Many go around this time of year proclaiming “Happy new year” to everyone they see whom they know. So in the dead of winter, we find people proclaiming the new year. You might be interested to learn that it wasn’t always that way.

First of all, our Creator specified when the “new year” would be – and it was to be in the spring – with new leaves bursting on to branches and bushes. Flowers like crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths popping up were always a welcome sight and delighted us.

The first of Abib, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, in the springtime of the year, was the first of the year. Not Rosh Hashanah in the 7th month of Hebrew months. New year may have originally been in the Fall of the year when God created Adam and Eve, but God changed it to the spring in the time of Moses -- typically late March or even as late as early April, in our Roman-named months.

Exodus 12:1-2   “Now YHVH (the LORD) spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

That first month was called ABIB (Exodus 13:4), when they came out of Egypt and kept Passover. During the Babylonian captivity, Jews accepted the name given while in Babylon – which was Nisan. See Esther 3:7.

My point is this: God’s “new year” is Abib 1 (or Nisan 1). I prefer the name Abib. Usually it falls at the end of March. Some years, like 2022, it can be later, in early April. So April 1 was the approximate date people used to keep in their heads as being around the time of the new year.

I looked up “April Fools” on a Google search and the History Channel came back with this. Here’s their link, but this quoted section below is the essential part.

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/april-fools-day  

“Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. 

 “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”  (emphasis mine) 

So a lot of early believers – who kept God’s holy days, were aware of the true new year being at the time of new spring growth. Since they kept it around April 1, they were often ridiculed and called “April Fools”.

So which makes more sense? Having new year begin in the spring exactly when our Maker says it begins – or the dead of winter, to confirm to a Pope Gregory XIII’s “Gregorian calendar” orchestrated through the Catholic church?

The Gregorian calendar did correct some calendar issues, such as instituting a leap year when necessary to keep the calendar on track. It also shortened the number of days in a year from 365.25 days (Julian) down a tad to 365.2425 days in the Gregorian calendar. It also changed the new year from the spring to January 1.

I personally don’t “keep”, participate in, or celebrate New Year’s day because it isn’t God’s new year’s. We don’t go banging pots and pans or lighting fireworks or go dancing and celebrating as others do. We just stay home. It’s just another night. We don’t watch the new year’s celebrations on TV either. Why should we? It’s not God’s new year, so that’s reason enough.

So if anyone wishes to call me “April Fools” – I’ll accept it with a smile. God our Father knows best.

Continue reading
4
  487 Hits

Search LOTR

Who is Online

We have 71 guests and no members online