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.

God’s plan revealed in patriarchs’ names

The more we dive into God’s word, the more surprises there are. Big stuff, little stuff, but always interesting. So many “hidden gems” within scripture.

You may or may not realize that the Ten Patriarchs from Adam to Noah  -- spanning a time period of about 1656 years – had within their names the plan of God’s salvation for mankind. How could that have been orchestrated by man? How could it have been mere coincidence?

Below you’ll see a list where I have each one’s “English” name and then to the right of each name, the meaning of each name. I didn’t come up with this. It’s possible Chuck Misler was the first to come up with this, but then again, perhaps he in turn got it from others. But nonetheless, it’s very interesting.

Methuselah was interesting too. It seems apparent to many that he died just before the great Flood of Noah’s day. And his name means “his death shall bring”. 

            Now just read the right side, top to bottom in an even pace and you’ll hear yourself saying God’s Plan of Salvation as a compilation of the ten patriarchs’ names.

Adam                           Man (is)
Seth                           appointed
Enosh                         mortal

Kenan                         sorrow; (but)
Mahalalel                   The Blessed God
Jared                          shall come down

Enoch                       teaching
Methuselah             his death shall bring
Lamech                     the despairing
Noah                         comfort, rest.           

This time, just let me put it into sentence form, so there’s no misunderstanding what I’m asking you to do.  Here’s how their 10 names would read as a sentence:

Man is appointed mortal sorrow, (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching his death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest.” 

I love it. How could this just be mere coincidence?

There are so many hidden gems like this in the Bible, and over time I’ll share more.

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God’s children don’t do Halloween – at all!

You’ll find several articles and even a sermon on this website from over the years, as to WHY God’s children must NOT participate in Halloween. For those of you who have not seen them or heard the sermon on it, you can just type “Halloween” in the search bar on the home page.

For the rest of you: Surely you know we cannot worship God and the devil at the same time.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18     “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 

17 Therefore, "Come OUT from among them and be separate”, says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."  18 'I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters’, says the Lord Almighty."’

There is no western holiday that bears all the signs of Satan’s presence as clearly as Halloween does. Come out of Satan’s world, people of God. It’s time, if you still dabble in Halloween, to stand up and teach your family that you no longer are able to participate in it. So many of God’s servants were commended for leading their families in to God’s righteousness.

Joshua said famously in Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my household, WE will serve the LORD.”

And YHVH himself said this to Abraham:

Genesis 18:17-19   And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that YHVH may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him."

I strongly encourage all of you reading this to do everything in your power to distance yourself and your family from anything to do with this evil, dark, and demonic evening.

Do not go to any Halloween parties. Do not watch any spooky movies in this time period that have everything to do with demonism, horror, fear, terror, murder, mayhem, torture, and everything against God. SHOW God where you stand.

1 Corinthians 10:21-22 – “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to be jealous? Are we stronger than He?”

So to be clear, we do NOT prepare candies to hand out and don’t hand out a single one. And if I had children today, I certainly would NOT want them going out there door to door with the present crime rate AND all that deadly FENTANYL that is getting into candies. It’s too dangerous.

We usually just turn the lights off and hunker down in a downstairs room. We don’t answer the door. We don’t get involved.

Will you join me? If you’ve made plans to have your children involved, cancel them, please cancel them. Give them something better. Be sure you’re keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, where you take your children to wondrous places around the country, lavish them with gifts and lots of fun – as long as you save up your festival tithe or an amount that would let you do what I’ve just said.

Romans 13:12    “The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Ephesians 5:8-13    “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the LordWalk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

1 Thessalonians 5:5    “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”

I hope this year that you and your family will have nothing to with the darkened celebration of a very dark and evil night – Halloween.

Let’s come out of this world together, my dear fellow household of God.

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WORSHIP during the Feast

WORSHIP during the Feast of Booths

Many of you who come to this site also keep the Feast of Booths (or Feast of Tabernacles), or Sukkot.  If you’re like many, you’ve traveled to a distant place after packing your bags and Bible. And you’ve also done some research into what is available to do and see while you’re there.  Of course you’re going to go to church services, but no doubt you’re looking forward also to the meals and outings and the things to do. 

You’ve probably also already planned some outings, socials, family get-togethers – on top of the group activities being planned.

That’s all fine and good. I just send this as a reminder. While we’re at Sukkot /Feast of Booths – remember WHY we’re there. There’s one place you don’t want to miss: the Holy of Holies of Heavenly Jerusalem. First and foremost, we are there to worship the King. That’s the prophesied reason the nations will send their people to Jerusalem after the King Yeshua sets up his reign:  to come and worship Him.

Zechariah 14:16

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, YHVH of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

            The theme of worshiping is repeated in verse 17.

Also in John 12:20, it mentions those who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the Feast. That was also true of the Ethiopian eunuch – he had come to worship.

I know from my own decades of experiences at the Feast: it can get hectic. So hectic, you’re scrambling for time to pray and study. That’s the point of this blog. Don’t be up so late each night that you can’t get up early enough to have intense and fervent personal prayer.  Some people make the Feast a time to party so hard they don’t get enough sleep, or they’re sleepy during services or prone to get sick. Remember why you’re there. Don’t rely just on the group worship. Make time for your own personal devoted worship, prayer and Bible study. Even if it’s just 15-20 minutes at the start of the day. Make time for it. 

We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), Abba won’t be content to just have us wish we had made time for him. Make time. Put him first. Love him with all your heart, mind and soul. And worship the King – and His Son Yeshua – while at the Feast. Visit that exciting place:  the heavenly throne room. Talk to that exciting Being – the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, Abba our daddy.  Spend time with Yeshua, our Beloved King. 

One tip that will help you do this:  If you have children, offer ahead of time to take another family’s kids one day and they take yours on another different day. Use that day without your children after services – somewhere near the middle of the feast – to be able to do more intensive prayer and study, or even catch up on a nap for that matter, so you can enjoy the remaining days even more so. 

Whenever we did this, and we did do it a lot, it was one of those “best ideas” ever.  But that should be arranged early so everyone’s in the loop and knows what’s going on. I’m talking about one afternoon out of the 8 days! But it makes a world of difference.

Have a wonderful Sukkot/Feast of Booths everyone. And put first things first: personally worship the King, every single day and the other things you do will be put in their proper context.  And yes, go have fun and enjoy and celebrate everything the Feast pictures for us.

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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DON’T GET ON THAT TRAIN

Several years ago, when we were living in Washington State, I was invited to my nephew’s wedding on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland.

Who could resist that? I took my younger daughter along and we planned to travel by train. I grew up in England and we had traveled by train all the time. I knew trains. No problem, right? Wrong!

The plan was to fly to Manchester, take the train to Leeds in Yorkshire, and spend a few days with my parents before heading off to Edinburgh, Scotland to do some sightseeing before taking the train on to Glasgow.

The day arrived for us to start our journey to Edinburgh. After dragging our suitcases up one stair and down another (no escalators, really?) we finally arrived on the platform. The train pulled in and we boarded. We had barely settled in for our lovely scenic ride through the English countryside when I heard over the loudspeaker: “Next stop, Doncaster.”  “Doncaster? Oh No!”  I thought to myself. “I think we’re going the wrong way.”  After consulting with a passenger and verifying that we were indeed bound for London, we grabbed our bags and got off the train - in Doncaster. Not exactly where I wanted to be.

In a much humbler attitude, I finally managed to get us to our preferred destination, and we spent several fun days in Edinburgh and then beautiful Loch Lomond. It was a memorable trip, in more ways than one.

A cute story, you might say with a chuckle, but I do have a point.  

Have you ever heard the expression, “I lost my train of thought”? Well, of course you have. I am sure you’ve even said it a time or two, or three or a hundred. 

Have you ever been thinking a thought, or even been in a conversation and you stopped and asked yourself how did we end up here? You know how it goes - you’re thinking about the weather, which reminds you of a time when you slid off the road in a snow storm, which reminds you of the Lasagna that slid onto the floor, which reminds you of a co-worker who made 20lbs of lasagna for her husband’s hunting trip, which reminds you of your boss, which reminds you of the doll house he was building for his granddaughter which reminds you of the doll house your Dad made for your children…..  and before you know it you have arrived at the land of pleasant memories, and feelings of joy and blessedness.

But a train of thought can also take you in the opposite direction to a place you really did not want to go.  You’re thinking about the weather, which reminds you of the flight that was delayed due to a thunderstorm, which reminded you of how you missed connecting with an old friend which leads you to thinking that nothing ever goes right for you and before you know it you are in the land of bitterness and regret.

Some people believe they cannot control their emotions. They assume emotions just appear out of nowhere, of their own accord. What they fail to understand is that their emotions are driven by their thoughts. Suppose you look out of the window and see that it is raining. You might think, “I’m so glad it’s raining, my garden certainly needs it, thank you God for the rain” which leads to a feeling of being blessed and happy. Or you might think: “It’s raining, now I can’t go out and weed my garden, which means I’ll have to do it tomorrow instead of going to visit my daughter. Why did it have to rain right now….?”  leading to feelings of frustration and resentment.

You can control your emotions by controlling your thoughts. Scripture tells us that controlling our thoughts is not only possible, but advisable.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

We can choose to think negative thoughts or positive thoughts.  Scripture tells us to choose the latter.

Philipians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

In Proverbs 23:7 it says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”.

Our thoughts are our life so it would be wise for us to make a more conscious effort to monitor what we allow ourselves to think about.

Back to the train. I have begun a practice (and I am by no means perfect at it yet) that when my thoughts are going in a negative downward spiral, I say to myself, “I am not getting on that train.”

However, as my experience in England showed me, it is not enough to just get off the train. You must get on a train that is going in the opposite direction. You cannot just stop thinking a negative thought. Try it. It is almost impossible. You must replace the negative thought with a positive one.

Sometimes it is just enough to start thinking about something else. Sometimes you need to flip the negative to a positive. But if you find that hard to do, try filling your mind with the words of God. Arm yourself with an arsenal of positive scriptures, or affirmations, that you can recall at a moment’s notice. Maybe have them written down and easily accessible to you. You could even try to whistle a happy tune or song of praise.

Many books have been written about positive thinking, and it is outside the scope of this little blog to do the subject justice, especially if you are going through a severe trial. But for those everyday little irritations, when you find yourself in a critical spirit or you simply just got out of bed on the wrong side, do not allow negative thoughts to take root. Just get off at Doncaster and get on a different train going in the right direction.

  

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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!

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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.

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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!!!  

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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Are We Crucified With Christ?

Most of us have not fully comprehended what a gruesome and disgraceful means of execution a Roman scourging and crucifixion was.

It is a wonder Jesus even made it to Golgotha considering the scourging he received. The Jews’ punishment of 39 cuts – or stripes - in the skin was limited for risk of killing the victim.

However the Romans - noted for their brutality and lust for blood carefully engineered scourges with a leather cord knotted with pieces of bone or metal to ensure that chunks of flesh were removed with each lash of the whip. And they were not limited by Jewish rules or traditions to only 39 lashes.

Jesus' physical appearance must have been nearly beyond recognition by the time he arrived at the place of crucifixion.

Isaiah 52:14 (NCV)

14            Many people were shocked when they saw him. His appearance was so changed he did not look like a man; his form was changed so much they could barely tell he was human.

(NLT) 14Many were amazed when they saw him - beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person.

Psalm 22:14-17 (NLT)

14         My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.

15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.

16         My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.

17         I can count every bone in my body. My enemies stare at me and gloat.

This is what Christ went through 1992 years ago.

Scripture says we were “bought for a price.”  There is no higher price that could be paid by both the Father and the Son. What kind of love is shown to us by this voluntary act? 

We have a duty to Christ in return. We must show our honor of what He did for us.

How do we do this? How did Paul do this?

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

(NCV) 20I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me.

 

We must show our honor and respect to our fallen Hero by crucifying ourselves along with Him as Paul did. Three points to this end:

  1. Have an attitude of honor.

2 Samuel 11:6-11 (NLT)

6So David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.”

7When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing.

8Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace.

9But Uriah wouldn’t go home. He stayed that night at the palace entrance with some of the king’s other servants.

10When David heard what Uriah had done, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter with you? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and his officers are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I will never be guilty of acting like that.”

Uriah had an attitude of the utmost honor for his fellow comrades. For his superior officer Joab. And he includes God by reference to the Ark. He denied himself out of honor for them.

We must adopt the attitude of Uriah.

  1. Be Prepared to Suffer

We ARE going to suffer. The cessation of sinning results in suffering! 

Romans 8:16-18 (NKJV)

16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

1 Peter 4:1 (NLT)

1So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.£ He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.

3Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.

4After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Do we see that by comparison, our crucifixion is nothing compared to Christ’s?

Let’s show our honor by suffering through the cessation of sin. Whatever it is.

  1. Have the attitude of battle

Paul exquisitely explains this in his letter to the Ephesian Church.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

10A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power.

11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.

12For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

13Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.

14Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.

15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.£

16In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.£

17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.

It is a constant war, and we must be up to the task. Let us remember

TWO IMPORTANT TRUTHS

(1). Your battle is always for a REASON.

(2). Your battle is always for a SEASON.

Let’s not ever forget this.

I coached youth basketball for 13 years.

Practices were hard. I got them into playing shape by making them suffer. The kids were taught that a floor burn received by diving for a ball was a “badge of honor.”

My job as a coach was more than just teaching the academic fundamentals of basketball.

My job was to have my players ready to play - ready to put forth the maximum effort. I had to inspire them to want to win, and to “leave it all out on the floor.”

Let’s arm ourselves with the attitude of Uriah. Let’s prepare ourselves for suffering. And let’s wage a valiant battle against sin, using the accouterments of war given to us by God as described by Paul.

Let’s get fired up to engage in our war against the Devil. Let us be prepared to suffer and get some badges of honor. Let’s leave it all out on the floor.

 Let’s make sure we crucify ourselves in honor of what Christ went through for us.

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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.

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The LAST GENERATION

Note from the host PShields: Much of this blog below comes from a writing I loved from Evelyn Ortiz Cabigting in the Philippines with just a few edits. I hope you enjoy it and that it makes you think as much as it did me. Here’s what she writes:

I believe we are in the last generation before the return of Christ. If so, it will be the most exciting time on earth and also the most volatile time on earth.

Six thousand years ago Adam and Eve walked the earth. They – and every human since then, have planted seeds of their actions and lives. With every human since then also planting seed, there’s like a multiplying effect. Can it be that every seed planted from then until now – both good seed and evil seed – will be reaped in abundance in this last generation?

Consider this: The evil that has been sown in mankind will reach its culmination in the “Man of Sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  But conversely, the good that has been sown will also reach its fullness in this generation in the form of Christ in us in all his fullness. [You may wish to check out the sermon on this website “God’s Perfection for us – God’s Way” – 2 part].

Colossians 1:25-28

“to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. “

Both good and evil are maturing together and are shaping up for the final clash. Satan will even attack God’s throne in heaven (Revelation 12). Satan will be cast back down to earth, but then he will empower the diabolic Beast power and False Prophet. But we’ve read the end of God’s book – and so we know how it ends: God wins. We know the children of God will possess the earth and we will experience the reign of Jesus Christ on this literal earth.

 

You have been born in this hour, this time and place, the greatest hour, the greatest climax of all world events in history! Be excited about it. Your children’s children will ask you someday what it was like in 2022 or 2030.  You’re living and making history.  It reminds me of what Mordecai said to Esther and really says to us in Esther 4:12b—“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

A time like this is NOT a time for God’s children to get distracted or lose heart. It’s the time to seek God more diligently than ever before, and he will be found of you. It’s the time to seek to come to know Jesus as never before. Spend your time on these things and cut out time wasters. We have no time to waste.

History is “HIS story” which will culminate in this world coming under the complete rule and control of our Lord Jesus Christ. We preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and the good news of Jesus Christ -- a gospel of peace, of salvation, the gospel of the grace of God. But in the end, it’s the good news of the complete rule and leadership of the Lord Jesus as he puts down all evil, all rebellion and Satan is put away and is no longer the god of this world.

All of this could happen in the lifetime of most of us, I believe – perhaps even in the coming years, within this next decade.

The good news of the kingdom is the good news of the TRUE new world order which Yeshua/Jesus will usher in – and the age of the literal kingdom of God on earth. It’s the gospel of hope and expectancy of a new world of peace with no more war, no more famine, no more bloodshed. It will be a world where nature and mankind will dwell together harmoniously.

It’s the good news about the KING of that new kingdom – Jesus the Son of God and everything he has done for us. He is the Lamb of God, our Passover Lamb. HE is the Door and the Way into Father’s kingdom, which Father in heaven grants and shares with Jesus and to us as co-heirs. Jesus – will come as King of kings, Lord of lords, the Lion of Judah, the Prince of Peace and you are being called to be His Bride with him! How exciting that is for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

It’s the gospel of being born again with our high calling and destiny to usher in Christ’s brand new world where evil, sickness and poverty are forever banished.

THIS is what we must be focused on and be getting very excited about! It will seem to you many times in the next few years that evil is winning, but don’t believe it. God – and good – will prevail. And you have been called to be a part of that winning family of God! We’ve been called to be zealous, to fix our gaze upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and to be holy for God’s use. Introduce more and more people to their Savior. Disciple the nations.

The fields are ripening for that massive harvest. Get ready for the greatest harvest of souls the world has ever seen. Revelation 7 speaks of a great innumerable multitude who will come to salvation out of the Great Tribulation. They are pictured as having washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. My point is – there are so many of them that they’re impossible to count or estimate. Yes, the greatest harvest of souls anyone has ever seen will happen relatively soon. Your personal life, your example, your sharing of the good news is undoubtedly planting seed in people’s lives that will spring up much later, though we don’t see all that growth yet.

This is not a time to be sidetracked, sidelined or to lose heart. Those who endure to the end will be saved. You will be tempted to lose interest and drop away from the select Body of Christ. DON’T listen to those temptations. Become more zealous for God than you ever have been before. Those with Christ are described as the “Called, chosen AND faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

Get ready for the greatest harvest of souls ever! 

BE there for the most exciting final generation years just ahead. Be sure you’re part of the right team and part of God’s family and Household and the Bride of Christ. Never ever forget who you are – and who Jesus Christ and our Father are.

Shalom and good day!!!  And praise God.

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