Blogs

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

“…I just can’t help but speak of Him”

Acts 4:20

Most of you probably know the story of Acts 3, how Yeshua (Jesus) healed the lame man – through Peter and John.  The man wasn’t even asking to be healed, but was apparently hoping for a handout.  When asked about this healing, here’s what Peter said, refusing to take any credit for the spectacular healing-- but instead it led him to praise the name of Jesus (Yeshua).

Acts 3:16  “And His (Yeshua/Jesus) name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

When asked “by what power and by what name (by whose authority) have you done this?” – Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, then proceeded to make it very clear that the healing took place by and through the resurrected Jesus Christ (Acts 4:7-12).  The Jewish leaders then threatened the apostles and warned them to never speak in that name again. 

We’re in a time when the whole nation of believers are being threatened and intimidated from even speaking the name of Jesus.  We’re told we can’t have the 10 Commandments outside our court buildings.  We can’t pray in schools or in the military without fear of retribution.  There are groups out there that are fighting this, and worthy of our support (like Liberty Counsel and the ACLJ) – but it’s a steady, tiresome drumbeat that says “Keep God out of our lives, out of our country”.  Our currency still says “In God we trust”.  Our national pledge of allegiance still includes the words “one nation under God…”  But for how long? 

And then we wonder “where is God?” when bad things happen in our nation.  Too many have told him they don’t want Him around – and then wonder where He is when things go badly.

Don’t be one of those. You and I – believers in the Messiah – must be like Peter.  Listen to what said when he was threatened if he continue to speak about Yeshua, our King, our Redeemer and our Saviour. 

Acts 4:18-34   “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

'Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?  The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.'  "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

Now the point of this blog:  what Peter said to the elders threatening him should be the same feeling and conviction that wells powerfully inside ALL of us – Acts 4:20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 

Question:  are you and I so filled with the joy of our Savior’s presence and how He has redeemed, reconciled us to the Father and saved us – that we can’t help but speak of him? 

Or do you ‘buy in” to the notion that your religion should be and should remain a private matter and that you never, as a rule, talk about religion, sex or politics -- as the saying goes? 

Click on “Continue reading” to help each of us become more like Peter and the early believers.

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Always watch the 9th of Av: Israel’s past and future

It can’t just be coincidence.

(I first posted this in July 2012, but since we’re coming up to the 9th of Ab again, I thought it was worth repeating.)

In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, the emperor is warned by an old soothsayer to “beware the ides of March.”  Soon after that, he’s assassinated by several senators including Brutus, his supposed friend. 

I’m actually not a big Shakespeare expert, but I’d like to say – be watching the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av this year but especially in the coming decade. Jews call it “Tisha B’Av” which means “9th of Av”. It’s a terrible date in Jewish history, and one we need to be aware of.  The 9th of Av usually falls in mid-to-late-summer. That’s the easy way to remember it.

This year the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar this year falls on this coming sabbath, August 13, 2016 of our Gregorian calendar. 

I am NOT saying anything will happen on this date this year, or next.  But I want my readers to know that it can’t be mere coincidence that so much has happened on the 9th of Av on the Hebrew Calendar. As I write this, we are in the period of time they call “the Dire Straits” – from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av.  Remember it as roughly our month of July most years. It was during this time that calamity after calamity has befallen Israel. 

For example, it was during this time that Moses dashed the two tablets of the 10 commandments to the ground during the gold calf incident.  It is a day of fasting among Orthodox Jews.  Maybe nothing will happen this year on the 9th of Ab but it wouldn’t surprise me if in a coming year something huge happens to Israel.

Could more calamities befall Israel around this period of time, on the 9th of Av in a soon coming future year?  See the history for yourself, then form your own conclusion if you think this date leaves a particularly loathsome aftertaste in our Creator’s mouth:

  • It was on the 9th of Av when ten of the 12 spies who returned from spying out the Promised Land caused Israel to lose faith, to lose heart, and to rebel. YHVH therefore announces all Israelites age 20 and over would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb were exempted.  You can read the full story in Numbers 14.  After everything YHVH had done for them – the 10 plagues on Egypt, the liberation from slavery, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven, the miraculous providence of water from the Rock, the giving of His covenant with them and the Law, after forgiving them of their terrible sin with the gold calf – after all that, they still lose faith and rebel once more. That was the last straw. The 9th of Av (mid-summer) has frequently since then been a terrible date for Israel and later, the Jews. (Yes, our God has deep seated feelings too.)
  • The first House of God, more commonly called “Solomon’s temple”, was destroyed on this date, the 9th of Av. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, and most of the remainder were hauled off into captivity to Babylon (where modern day Iraq is) and the area of Persia (modern day Iran).  Have you heard anything about Iraq and Iran lately in the news?
  • The 2nd temple was also burned and torn down on this exact date as well - 9th of Av in 70 AD by the Romans under General Titus.  It was gruesome.  So many Jews were crucified, the Romans despaired for lack of wood on which to impale their tortured victims.  It was from the pain of crucifixion that we get the word “excruciating” – as in indescribable pain.  Over 2,500,000 Jews die from war, famine and disease. Another million are exiled. Over 100,000 are sold as slaves. Many are killed in Roman coliseums for entertainment, in gladiatorial “games” and pagan celebrations.  What a dark, dark time it was for the Jews. But it continued.

Click here – on Continue reading – to see at least SEVEN more examples of tragic events that happened to Jews on the 9th of Av since the time of Christ on earth.

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IS a “warning message” enough?

There are certain sabbath-keeping groups that preach they have as a primary commission to preach “The Ezekiel warning message” of what is about to befall the world and the USA.  It’s based on a passage about being a Watchman in Ezekiel 33:1-9.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, I recommend you pull out your Bible and read it.

In its most conservative explanation, some believe that is their primary – maybe even only – commission: to warn everyone that the seals of Revelation are about to be opened, and then the Trumpet plagues, and then the 7 Last Plagues – and hundreds of millions will die in all of this.  Part of that approach is also to warn the USA and Britain and the modern descendants of The Lost 10 Tribes of Israel that they are going down soon and will be sold as captives around the world.  

And in focusing on this warning message, some of the adherents of this approach become very isolationist and protective of their “chosen people” status – and distance themselves from the people of the world. Please hear and read my latest sermon titled “God’s Greatest Miracle”.  I address what scripture says our relationship to the people of the world should really be.  While not becoming a part of the ways, culture and lifestyle of the world we are to be like God, loving the people of the world.  Remember John 3:16?  We’re supposed to “come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).  But hear the sermon and you’ll see what I mean.

There certainly are strong and frightening prophecies of the times of Great Tribulation – the worst times the world has ever seen.  Many of us feel we are certainly within a few years – and at most, less than a couple decades – of all this coming to pass.

So back to my question:  Is the “Ezekiel warning message” enough?  Or are those people and groups who subscribe to that message as being their primary goal and purpose – missing out on the much bigger and more important message we’re told to also preach? 

Click on “Continue Reading” to the right here to find out the answers.  It has everything to do with fulfilling our God-given true roles as Watchmen.

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Of Which Tree are we eating?

You might be surprised.

Two special trees in the Garden of Eden are mentioned in Genesis 2-3.  This is a very special blog that I hope will get you thinking about which tree is the one you and I are going to on a daily basis. This blog was inspired by some dialogue I’ve had recently by a dear brother in Oregon who is opening my mind to a deeper walk in the spirit than ever before. 

Adam could eat of all the trees of the garden except one – the Tree of Knowledge.  That tree was a tree that provided both good knowledge and bad knowledge, so it’s more commonly called “the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  It wasn’t all bad. It also had some good knowledge.  People often miss that.  But it was forbidden fruit.  And make no mistake about it: it was the tree of knowledge. I must give a whole sermon on this sometime this year!  This tree was beautiful to behold (not like so many children’s books depictions of a gnarled up dried up monstrosity).  The fruit seemed attractive to Eve but what was most attractive about it was all this “wisdom” you would have after eating of its forbidden fruit (read Genesis 3:6). 

There was another tree in the center of the Garden of Delights (what “Eden” means). Man and woman could eat of this tree anytime they wished.   It was called the Tree of Life.  Yah himself said that if mankind would eat of it, shudder – as sinners – they could live forever (see Genesis 3:22-23 and Gen 2:8-9).  So the “Life” part of this tree was about living forever, eternal life. There is the false teaching that we can live forever being tortured by a God who calls himself the God of love.  No, we either die because of our sins or we live forever if we take of the Tree of Life. 

Which tree would you have eaten of – first? Which one is most fascinating and compelling to you?

But before we get into the exciting two trees, a few points sometimes missed by casual readers of Genesis 1-3:

** Animals and trees were created by God’s command, out of the ground, by His word (Genesis 1:24-25; 2:9).  But mankind was hand-created by God personally, from the dust of the ground and mankind was the only creation into which God blew His breath of life and man became a living soul or being (Genesis 2:7). 

**Adam was created outside the Garden and then invited into God’s presence.  That’s the way it is.  Yehovah wants us near to Him and HE brings us to that position.  (Genesis 2:15)

**The instructions about the two trees were given originally only to the man AdamEve had not been created yet!  A lot of people miss this point and may explain why Eve was deceived by the Serpent and Adam was not. Adam was to be the teacher and leader and so he told Eve what God had said. Read Genesis 2 and the timing becomes clear.
Genesis 2:15-19

“Then Yehovah Elohim (the LORD God) took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And Yehovah Elohim  commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

18 And YHVH Elohim said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

**When the Serpent beguiled Eve, Adam was with her (Genesis 3:6). People think of Adam being elsewhere.  Not true.  But he said nothing, even though he had been put into the garden to tend and KEEP (guard) it.  That’s right, the word “keep” in Genesis 2:15 also means to guard and protect.  But when Adam saw and heard Satan questioning his Creator, Adam – who was not deceived – said and did nothing. Then they both ate of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and came immediately under God’s death penalty.  (Genesis 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). 

** This in turn resulted in Adam and Eve being ejected from the Garden – lest they eat of the Tree of Life under sin, and live forever (Genesis 3:22).  It had been there all along for the taking, but they hadn’t availed themselves of it.  Hmm, do we?

Now back to you and me.  What tree fascinates us more:  The Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life?  And how are they different?  It’s life and death at stake.

Click on “continue reading” to understand the 2 trees – especially the Tree of Life a bit clearer than ever.

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“Thy kingdom come, our King….”

Reacting to recent horrible news

 

Five officers were shot dead in Dallas recently.  There were more wounded, at least one critically.  It’s getting to be a real mess out there, isn’t it?  We can have several reactions to what we see going on.  But before I get into that, I pray and hope you will take time to compassionately remember the wives of these brave men who were senselessly gunned down because someone claimed cops were out there trying to kill people of color.  Also remember the moms, children and grandchildren of these brave men.  These police had nothing to do with the admittedly horrifying killings of recent days.  In fact they were out there protecting the very people who were protesting against them. 

We are indeed in the beginning of the “perilous times” of “the last days” (1 Timothy 3:1-3).

It is going to get much worse, until it can be said that there have never been worse times than what we will be experiencing at the very end of the end times.

Now to reactions I’ve heard and felt from a few others:

**”I have no reaction. No feeling. You’re not the least bit upset. All this is what’s supposed to happen, you think.”

This would be a very disappointing response.  We should be people filled with the compassion of Christ and we should always have some feeling for things – especially when innocent people are gunned down.  But there will be some who will attend church who think nothing of all these recent events and aren’t the least bit interested or concerned.   

I believe that is a pathetic response.  Is that the way Yeshua would respond or want us to respond?  I assure you – no.  In fact the prophet Ezekiel tells us in Ezekiel 9 that Yah commands his angels or servants to put a special marking on those “who sigh and cry” for the abominations they see happening in the land.  You want to be among those who sigh and cry.

** I’m depressed.  Things are getting really bad and I can’t take it anymore.”

This is more understandable, but this fear can also be taken to God and ask Him for the strength and peace to get through the coming years before Yeshua returns as our King of kings.  It’s going to get a lot, lot worse than this. But in Christ, we can face and do all things even as we present Him with our concerns (Philippians 4:6-7, 13).  We learn to cast all our cares upon Him. He can carry our burdens and give us peace.

** Thrilled. “I can’t wait for more of this to happen, because then we know we’re right there, real close to Christ’s return.  Bring it on!” 

            I actually find this reaction alarming.  Very alarming.  And yet it’s not all that uncommon.  I find some people seem to find excitement and joy in seeing all the woes being sent upon the earth – and they justify their excitement by saying it’s based on feeling this shows we’re getting really close to Christ return. 

            Fair enough perhaps, but be careful with this reaction. 

“Woe to those who desire the Day of the Lord…” – Amos 5:18.  In context it does give that warning to those who are not seeking God, to be fair, but still, I don’t see that Yah wants us to be excited to see people suffer or die, as billions will, leading up to the return of Christ.  We want Him to come but are not at all happy about the suffering that will occur first. I know that’s obvious to most of you.   

I also take you back once more to Ezekiel 9:3-7 and marking those who “sigh and cry” for the abominations going on in the land. I realize in context it’s specifically for those in Jerusalem, but the concept surely applies beyond that.

Click on “Continue reading” to see the response we are supposed to have, according to Scripture, as we see events speeding up to the climax of the return of Christ – whether in 3-5 years or 15-20 years more, we know we are getting awfully close.

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“But WHY, O Lord… WHY?”

Have you ever prayed those words after a severe trial that ends “badly” as far as human vision goes?  We’ve been agonizing with dear friends lately who demonstrated stellar faith in God during a very problematic pregnancy that “didn’t end well” as most might say.  The baby, beautifully named Mercy, who had some severe issues, was born by C-section a few days and then was held dearly in her parents’ arms and lovingly by her sisters and brother, only to die 2-3 hours later. 

Hundreds of spiritual family around the world prayed for that family and their precious child. But in the end, though Mercy graced them with her presence for 2-3 hours, she’s fallen asleep awaiting the Master’s call in the resurrection to come.  We know she will be healed. She will be made whole and will be in a better and perfect place.  And tears of joy will replace tears of anguish and pain at that time.  

The story I’ve told you was shared around the world for a couple months by the very open parents.  It’s not a unique story in some ways, though each story is like our fingerprints – very unique to us. I say it’s not a unique story because there are millions and millions of parents around the world who have had their children taken from them. Some from brutal ISIS. Some from merciless cancers and other diseases.   It’s a world of pain.

In all of this, we know we have a living God who could have healed Mercy.  But he didn’t.  So we cry out “Why Lord, why?” 

Some of the answers to the question “Why?” -- are in my recent sermons about “The Testing of our Faith, parts 1-2” and in other sermons on this site about why God allows so much suffering.  So I won’t go through all those points now. 

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to read my response to “But why, O Lord… why?”

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BREXIT – prophecy on the march?

By now you’ve all read and heard that England has voted to exit the European Union (EU).  I say “England” because though the name “Brexit” is about the “British exiting”, reality it was the English people who voted to leave. The Scots and northern Irish – which also make up the United Kingdom or Britain – voted to stay in.  In fact, now the Scottish movement to leave the United Kingdom has taken on new life once more, as they would like to leave the UK and rejoin with the EU!

What does all this have to do with Prophecy?  Does this signal the end of the end times, as some speakers seem to be saying?  This blog will be a good quick catch-up review for you if you haven’t been following it- and then I will launch into my own thoughts on prophecy. 

First of all, the Brits have so far just voted to exit. It doesn’t mean they’re out of the EU right now today. As I understand it, it can take two more years to negotiate all the terms and fully exit in fact.  Stock markets around the globe tumbled in panic- - since stock markets hate uncertainty and the unknown, but several, including the London market, rebounded substantially within the same day. The British pound sterling dropped to its lowest level in 31 years. The US Dollar gained strength amidst all this volatility. Gold prices soared as well, as people hedged their bets and invested in the precious metal. A stronger dollar will make foreign trips more affordable for Americans, but will make American manufactured goods more expensive abroad.  That could hurt us. 

But I also was amazed that the dollar got stronger under all this.  Our dollar is based on a house of cards and a continuously running government printing press of dollar bills. And our national debt is sky high – around 18 TRILLION dollars, isn’t it? 

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“I am a worm”

Psalm 22:6 – Its incredible word picture

Psalm 22 is one of the profound Messianic prophecies, fulfilled by Yeshua (Jesus) in so many details, especially while he was being crucified.  Embedded in this breath-taking psalm is verse 6, which is loaded with truth that most of us read right over.  Or we misunderstand its true message.  A dear friend in WA state – Dean – reminded me of this verse and its deeper meaning -- when he remarked on it in a recent email.  What I’m about to write is not unique to me or us, as it has been known for centuries, but I hope it will be so meaningful to you who come to Light on the Rock.  Please pass this blog on to others if you find it rich in meaning.  And be sure to check our other blogs too.

Psalms 22:6-8 -- But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.   All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  "He trusted in YHVH, let Him rescue Him;  Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"  (NKJV; the KJV is almost identical).   

            Compare with Matthew 27:42-43.

The last part of that passage is clearly seen in the gospel accounts, but we don’t have a record of Yeshua saying he was but a worm.  He must have FELT that way and in any case, we are to learn something from that prophetic statement.   But it’s far more than that. This “worm” -- based on the original language – was no ordinary worm. 

The typical word for “worm” in Hebrew  was rimmah, meaning a maggot.  But that’s not the worm mentioned here. This worm was tola’at or tola in Hebrew (to-law’, phonetically), Strong’s# 8438.   It was translated 43 times usually as “worm, scarlet, crimson”.  Maybe you’re starting to think and realize this is no ordinary worm.  It was clearly associated with a bright red.  In fact, the word is often translated simply as scarlet or crimson – yes, the same word that is translated “worm” in other verses.  So be sure to learn why.

You are about to be amazed when the fuller picture of this worm is revealed; the “worm” Yeshua said HE was while being crucified on the tree or stake (1 Peter 2:24; Acts 5:30;  Acts 10:39; 13:29). 

Please click on “Continue reading” to get the rest of this amazing story and how this unique worm depicts the central message of the cross and the blessings of the blood of Christ for all of us.

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“But it’s in the Bible”….

(A lesson from Job’s friends)

If it’s in the Bible, is it necessarily a statement from God?  Or should we be extra careful to first find out WHO is speaking and where their inspiration is coming from? Could we be simply reading a quote from someone who may or may not be speaking under divine inspiration?

In other words, is everything we read in the Bible something God says is right?

I ask this question because so often people will quote this or that verse without context – and sometimes the source of the words is not a source we really want. Those words may be in the Bible to make certain points – but the words themselves may not be God speaking. God is writing it. God is giving it to us in his book, but not every sentence is God speaking.

A clear example of this is when the Serpent says to Eve “You will NOT surely die if you eat of the fruit of that tree” (Genesis 3:4-5).   But that is a direct contradiction of what Elohim the Almighty had said to Adam:  “for in the day you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).  OK, we all know that statement from Satan the Serpent is not inspired of God and yet it is in the Bible.  Yahweh has it there to show us to be on guard against statements from Satan that come from seemingly harmless sources. 

OK, that example in Genesis is easy to discern.

Remember one time Yeshua even said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan, for you are an offense to me…” (Matthew 16:23).  Peter had just said that Yeshua would not have to die (verses 21-22). Yeshua understood that was a temptation from Satan and so addressed the source of that thought directly – and yet it had been voiced from a top disciple!  So we have to be on guard to realize who is speaking and what is being said.

Let’s step this up a notch now.   How many people quote all kinds of verses from the book of Job without giving much thought about who is the one speaking.  Remember what God himself said to Job’s friends:

Job 42:7-8 “And so it was, after YHVH had spoken these words to Job, that YHVH said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.  8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."

So God directly dismisses the words of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  Interestingly God does not disparage the words of the youngest friend Elihu. 

Click on “Continue reading” to see how a shadowy figure who appeared to Eliphaz was his inspiration!  And it wasn’t God.

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Can we pray to Yeshua (Jesus)?

Yeshua taught us to pray “Our FATHER in heaven…”.   Does that mean we should limit our prayers to just God the Father? Is it alright to pray to Yeshua (or Jesus) as well?  While we’re at it, let’s ask: how about praying to the spirits of the deceased?  So many pray to Mary, or the apostles, or to a dead pope.  Is that OK? 

Most of the sabbath-keeping COG (Church of God) groups I know pray almost exclusively to God the Father.  Ditto for many Hebraic Roots groups and Messianics – though more of them do also pray to Yeshua.  So the prayers almost always start with “Father in heaven” or “Dear God…”.  My impression is that many of these groups do not, or would not be comfortable addressing their prayers to Jesus or Yeshua. On the other hand, my impression is that most Protestants pray to Jesus most of the time, or so it seems to me – but they also pray to God the Father.  Most prayers in Protestant groups would begin with “Lord…” or “Lord Jesus” or they may say “God” or “Father” as well. Catholics seem to pray often to Mary, who died almost 2000 years ago—and of course they pray to “God” or “Lord” as well. 

So what is right and wrong in this picture? What is “allowed” by scripture, which should be our guiding light in all matters scriptural? 

Click on “Continue reading” to get the scriptural answers.

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Can God’s will for us change?

Understanding God’s will in our livesDoes God’s will for us ever change?  Can He definitely be showing it’s HIS will to be someplace, or do something, or live somewhere – and then change that on us some years later?  Some people say “no – God changes not.  He’s the same today, yesterday and forever” – another way of saying the “God who is, and was and is to come”.  I get that.

But does our great Creator ever change his will for each of us in our daily lives? 

Click on “Continue reading” for the answer.  It might give you a lot to think about.

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What makes the New Commandment “New”?

John 13:34-35

  

Yeshua gave his disciples – including all of us – a “new” commandment.  Many of you know it.  But what made it “new”? 

The answer has everything to do with the Passover season.

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."

OK, so what’s so new about that?  A very similar commandment is given in Leviticus, and in fact part of that verse is what Yeshua summarized as the “second greatest commandment.”  (The first and greatest came from Deuteronomy 6:4 – to love Yahweh with all our heart, soul and strength”.  And here is where Yeshua got the 2nd greatest commandment, and on these 2 commands hang the entire Law and Prophets! See Mark 12:28-31

Here is the 2nd greatest command, worded similarly to John 13:34.

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”.

Later on, Yah tells Israel they are not to have any difference in justice and service between Gentiles and Israelites; all are to be treated the same.  Imagine if we would really practice this.

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”.

Then throughout the book of John’s gospel, and even in John’s epistle, the command to love one another is repeated over and over – sometimes with other points added to it. 

Back to my question:  since Lev 19:18 says we are to love one another as ourselves – what made Yeshua’s statement “a new commandment”? 

Click on “Continue reading” to find out what made our Savior’s statement new. 

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Would you wash Judas Iscariot’s feet?

Imagine going to your Passover service where there is a foot washing – and imagine with me for a second that you’ve all been paired up with the person you’ll be washing feet with.  And … imagine now… to your surprise, you’ve been paired up with the infamous Judas Iscariot, who sold and betrayed the son of God.  You have to wash his feet. 

How are you feeling right now? Will you lovingly and humbly wash Judas’ feet?  If not, why not? 

At his last Passover until the kingdom of God, Yeshua (Jesus) washed even Judas’ feet.  I’ve actually heard ministers deny this. But why? It’s so clear in Scripture that He did! And what does that mean to us today?  It’s definitely worth thinking about and learning from.

We get so focused on who’s “in” or who’s “out” of our particular fellowship and who we think has no business in there, that we forget this point.  Judas was the Greek form of his name. His Hebrew name was Yehudah or we would say Judah in English.  Judas represented how the Word came to His own tribe, Judah – “He came to His own, and His own did not receive him” (John 1:11).  They couldn’t have, because they didn’t recognize him or know who He was.  Several scriptures make that clear, so don’t be too hard on the Jews for rejecting him. You might be interested in my sermon (May 16, 2015) about why Jews find it so hard to accept Yeshua as the promised Messiah. There are reasons – and it will help you be more understanding of them.  

http://www.lightontherock.org/index.php/message/why-jews-reject-yeshua-jesus

Anyway, did you realize the Son of God washed his betrayer’s feet?  Let’s pick it up in the only gospel account that details the foot washing – John 13.  Surely the Son of God would have “picked up” the spirit of Satan working in Judas before the foot washing and afterwards.

John 13:2-4

“And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself”

– And then the details are given about the foot washing ordinance.

Right after washing all twelve disciples’ feet, the next thing Yeshua had on his mind was the presence of His betrayer (verses 18-19, 21-22).  He even quotes directly from Psalm 41:9 – stating that He was fulfilling the topic of Psalm 41.

Psalms 41:9

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,

Who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.”

Of course we know Yeshua handed a piece of Passover bread to Judas to identify him as the betrayer to a select few of the apostles.  Peter had asked John to ask Christ who would betray him.   

Note something else too:  the other disciples used the term “Lord” when asking Yeshua if they were going to be the betrayer (Matthew 26:22).  “Lord, is it I?”  But when Judas asked, he went with the lesser term “rabbi” (Teacher)—verse 25:  “Then Judas, who was betraying him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”  He said to him, “You have said it.”  

Click on “Continue reading” to learn what happens next and how all this applies to us.

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A NEW HEART, coming alive – by DAY 18

Its significance to Passover, Wavesheaf and the resurrection

  

As you all know, I’m pro-life. So are our God and Father and our Savior.  Yeshua came that we might have LIFE.  There’s a culture of death in much of the world today, and that is not of God.  This sermon is designed for THOUGHT – whether you keep Passover in March as some are doing, or in April, as most will do this year (2016).  Your decision is between you and your Maker and the most important thing of all is that we know we have a Savior who died on Passover day – and then had an empty tomb by the “first of the weeks” as it should be, and it was also the first of the week (what society calls Sunday, unfortunately).

I’ve noticed billboards here in FL that are targeted at young pregnant moms-to-be by having a picture of a fetus and the billboard that kindly says: by day 18 I have a beating heart”.  SO this new life in the mom’s womb is a new life with its own heartbeat by day 18.

That got me thinking.  Could this day 18 have any significance to the Passover death and then the resurrection of our Savior?  As I drove along the interstate, I started counting the days when Christ died and was resurrected and it was astonishing. I think it’s worth repeating to you.

I’ve written a blog before about how the holydays seem to coincide with the development of a pregnancy, a new life, if you will.  As we come to Passover season, I hope this gives some pause for thought.  I admit I’m not sure if there is a strong correlation, but I couldn’t help but wonder when I saw the bill board.  Let me know what you think! Or am I all wet in this blog? 

Day 14 of the Hebrew first month Abib (or Aviv) is Passover day.  ON this day, at 3 pm, the Lamb of God -- Yeshua – shed his life blood for you and me.  He was buried at the end of that day. He was put into the tomb (or “heart of the earth”) at the very end of Passover day as the sun was setting.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were rushing to have the burial/entombment done before the sun set and before the holyday of Passover week would begin. The Preparation Day for the “HIGH day”, an “annual sabbath” or holyday (not the regular weekly sabbath) was about to start (John 19:31, 42). 

Remember Hebrew days begin at sundown.  

Yeshua himself said that the one proof or sign that he was whom he said he was: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  (Matthew 12:40).

Click on “Continue Reading” to discover how the thought-provoking billboard in Florida has a connection or similarity with Christ’s resurrection! 

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Handling 2016’s Passover calendar issues

“What should I do?  Which expert should I follow?”  I’m hearing this question a lot lately, especially THIS year. 

You may or may not have heard of the huge recent decision by many who do not follow the rabbinic calendar to keep the Passover and Days of Unleavens (or Unleavened Bread) a whole month earlyTherefore, this year, many are planning to keep Passover day on March 24, and most of those will keep the bread/wine Passover service the evening of March 23.  And the first holyday of Unleavened Bread for these folks will be Friday, March 25.  Those on the rabbinic calendar will be keeping those days near the end of April on the appointed days.

This year, this discussion about keeping it a month earlier than the rest has nothing to do with the Equinox.  So don’t jump to that conclusion. It’s a different issue this year.

You know perhaps already about the debate that has raged for decades between the rabbinic orthodox Jewish calendar that most Jews follow, and most Church of God groups follow – and the one that goes by visual sighting of the new moon in Jerusalem.  Usually the latter group ends up keeping the holydays one or two days later than the first group.  But this year, there’s a whole MONTH difference between some of these groups.

What happened? Why the change?  In this blog I hope to simplify what’s happening and what your role is and how to help you feel about your decision

It boils down to this.  The first month was originally called the month of Abib (or Aviv) by God himself.  Nisan was the new Babylonian name they accepted years later.  If you check the context and find that Yahweh is the one speaking, you’ll see that HE himself calls it “the month of Abib”  (on your own time read Exodus 23:14-15;  Ex. 34:17-18;  Deut 16:1 –and notice if you go back, that it is Yahweh who is speaking). 

 When they Jews came back from Babylon, they had renamed some of the months by the pagan Babylonian names including the first month – to Nisan. And there’s the great new name Tammuz (ever hear of that name?), and so on.  But it was originally called Abib in the Bible.  

Abib refers to a stage in the first grains to be harvested – the lowly barley.  The first of the firstfruits of barley pictured the Messiah who would be raised (waved) to heaven to be “accepted in our behalf” (just as Christ did for us), as Leviticus 23:9-11.  Then the real barley harvest could begin.

Those who are keeping the Passover a month early will also be remembering Wavesheaf day on March 27, which coincidentally is also Easter Sunday, for whatever that is worth.  The fact that the first month is called Abib points to that stage of barley harvest when the barley is green but at a certain stage of being able to be harvested, dried and then eventually milled into very fine flour. I’m keeping the discussion basic.  There are many websites that go into far more depth. 

MY point is to figure out what to do about it and how to deal with one another because of all these differences of viewpoint.

Now – why are some keeping the Passover in March instead of April?  Click on “Continue reading” to get the overview and what you need to do about it. 

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“Do this in remembrance of ME”

Luke 22:19

  

Passover will be here soon.  In my last blog I wrote about “What are you focusing on as we come to Passover and the self-examination prior to it.” I hope you’ve read that.  Today let’s kick it up a notch. I consider this blog one of the most important ones I’ve written.

I want to bring to the forefront a concept that seems to be lost on some.  It seems at Passover – uh, among those who keep it – that there’s a strong focus and recounting on how it pictured Israel coming out of Egypt. I’ve done that too and will continue to with some changes that make all the difference!   And indeed in the book of Exodus Israel is commanded to review what happened in Egypt at each year’s Passover season.

But where is our FOCUS in 2016?  Where should it be today?  On Egypt, the death of the firstborn, and coming out of Egypt?  Or is there more, much more now that we have that they didn’t have back then?  You won't hear this message in many circles today – sadly.

Let’s remember that all of what happened in the book of Exodus pointed to Someone and something!  The Passover Lamb pictured Someone.  The blood of the Passover lamb pictured Someone’s blood.  So did the death of the firstborn. The lintel and doorpost of the Israelite homes also depicted something.  And so did the Exodus and crossing the Red Sea.

We’re in the New Covenant now.  When we conduct a Passover nowadays, should the thrust of our conversation and the bulk of the time we spend in our sermons and our sermonettes all be on the Old Testament story of coming out of Egypt – or is there something and Someone far grander now?  Where should our TIME and our mental focus be spent today? 

Here’s what I’m getting at…. Please click on “Continue reading” to get the whole story of where our thrust should be today and to be sure your focus is right.

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Where’s your focus pre-Passover?

Passover will be here before we know it. Prior to Passover, we are told in 2 Cor. 13:5 to examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith.  This verse and teaching has led to much depression, frankly – as so many look inwardly at themselves, and then see all kinds of no-growth, or sin that still exists in their lives and then they feel so unworthy of taking the Passover.  And we know what it says in 1 Corinthians 11 – that we must beware lest we take the Passover unworthily or in an unworthy manner. 

So I have a question for us all this season, this year:  as you examine yourself, where do you focus? On yourself, or elsewhere? Is the examination intended to depress – or refocus our attention and focus?  So let’s read the context and the verse after 2 Cor. 13:5 and I think we’ll feel and see a different energy from this passage. I pray many of you will find encouragement and inspiration from this blog to see a positive outcome of growth and fruit at the end of all this.

But first, let me remind you that 1 Corinthians 11:27 – that says we must take the Passover in a worthy manner – also says this in the next verse:

1 Corinthians 11:27-28

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, AND SO LET HIM EAT of the bread and DRINK of the cup.”  

The thrust is – TAKE the Passover. But examine yourself first.  But as you examine yourself, you’re looking to Christ and realize HE is your salvation.  You don’t examine yourself and then decide NOT to take the Passover. That’s NOT the thrust of scripture. But of course neither are we to come to Passover all nonchalant and without a lot of forethought. 

He goes on to say in verses 29-32 that even if we are judged by the Lord, it’s for our good, it’s for chastening, “that we may not be condemned with the world.”  You see the point of all this?  It’s to get us to wake up but also to understand GOD has made a commitment to us to see us through to the end. He who began a good work in you will FINISH that work –Philippians 1:6.  No one will be lost from the Master’s hand.  Remember Christ is called the “Finisher” of our faith, not just the author or beginner of it (Hebrews 12:2). 

So what’s the key to having the right mindset for Passover?  ON what are you focusing?  Where is your focus?  Click on “Continue reading” to see the key. 

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Do it now – while you can

How suddenly our lives can be turned upside down.  We’re aware of the big stuff:  A fatal car accident. A heart attack out of nowhere.  A stroke.  Even suicide.  Our own lives were smashed hard this week with news of a death of a beloved young man in the expanded family.  Someone I knew  - but didn’t really know well, but his untimely death has left me feeling very numb.

Sometimes our lives can be turned around for good – or for disaster – sometimes simply because you, or someone, does something, or says something.  Our words and actions can heal or destroy. I’ve certainly done my share of both. No doubt we all have.

Think of the loved ones you have in your family.  Then broaden it out to your friends and neighbors.  Is there anything  you can say or do to each one that just might turn their day around?  We all know how words can make or break a day—or even a life.

The other day I took the time to tell one of the back-office ladies at our firm how much we all appreciated her behind-the-scenes work. My note was detailed.  She immediately emailed me back stating how touching that was.  My little off-the-cuff note made her day.  It brightened her week.  She had no idea so many of us felt that way, as I had stated.  That note, which took me probably three minutes to write, could have changed her life.

On the other hand, with my lips and tongue I have also wounded fragile hearts at times in my life. I don’t want to do that anymore.  “Let your words be seasoned with grace”, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write.

How many suicides might be averted if someone, anyone, would have taken the time to call and say, “Hey, I was just thinking about you and…” – take it from there.  When you’re down and depressed, to have a loving and friendly unexpected call from someone could save your life. “Wow, someone actually cares.  Someone actually thought of me”.

I really feel too many of us are getting away from the knack of just being there, being a friend. The hand on the shoulder when times are rough. Just listening – face to face.  And telling someone how nice they are, or how something they did or said has changed lives. It’s especially wonderful when we can trace the nice things someone has said or done to their relationship with Christ.

Click on “Continue reading” to learn about a little note I’m so glad I wrote to my dad.

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Are you “a member of your church” or…?

Are you instead “in Christ”?
 

When you talk with people, sooner or later they might mention the church they belong to. And others describe certain ones as being “a church member” or a “parishioner”.  So people say “I’m a church member of …” or “I’m an Anglican” or “I’m a Catholic” and “I belong to the (denomination) church”.   Some denominations even give you membership cards – and in one case I know, you even have to display that membership card to get into the building where they worship.  Of course you have to be a member of that denomination or you’re not getting in.  I find that appalling.

I gave a recent sermon about being a new creation in Christ, based on 2 Cor. 5:17

What’s the problem with saying you’re a “church member”? Are some groups focusing too much on church membership in their fellowship, their group, their church? 

Click on “Continue reading” to see a better and more Biblical way.

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Finding the topics you need on this site

I suspect many who visit this site have no idea of how many sermons and blogs we have available on this site. Be watching for much, much more new material and updated material we’ll be launching in the next 2-3 months especially. Passover is coming up and so use the helpful materials we do have. Certainly a lot is happening out there and we need to address some prophecy topics also.

Question: would any of you wish to volunteer to help me with research, scriptures, ideas, formulating topics? I could use the help. If you’re willing, I’d give you a topic I’m starting and just ask if you could piece together some thoughts of your own (hopefully led by God’s Spirit) that we could use in a full-fledged blog or sermon. Perhaps we’ll use portions of what you send in. Or – maybe not. I reserve the right as editor to edit, accept or reject submitted work – or use it later. Don’t be offended if I don’t publish yours right away – if ever. You know what? Most of what I myself write, for my own website, gets rejected or postponed. By me!   Seriously.

And I MUST mention how much we appreciate our webmaster and designer Scott Doucet and his wife, who have poured hundreds of hours into this website. Couldn’t do it without them!

But anyway, there’s a lot of material on here. You could be missing the topics and sermons you would love to hear but just didn’t know we had them on this site! Three MAIN ways to search for topics:

  • Use the “search by year” feature you’ll find on the home page in that gray bar that says “Filter media by”.   Go to the year option and just go back to 2004, 2005 and so on -- and read the titles of the sermons way back there. Pick one you wish to hear or read, and bingo – you’re there. Some of my favorite sermons were some of the first ones. Spiritual material is timeless. There’s no “use by” date on them, or shelf-life date! By searching by year, you will see topics you may not have even thought of looking into in the first place.
  • On the Home page, click on “Messages and Transcript Series”, click on one of general topics listed there and a whole host of sermons under that topic will flip down for your enjoyment and edification.   We do need to update this with sermons from last summer onwards, but there’s still a lot there.
  • Use the SEARCH bar

We have blogs on hundreds of topics, so just scroll through the blogs for a few minutes to digest some of the issues we have tackled.

Do you have topics you’d like us to cover? Let me know. I won’t bug you if you write, email or call me. Neither will I ask you for any money. (On the other hand, I sure have appreciated the handful of people who from time to time have donated to help us stay online and to help support 25 orphans and their adoptive pastor-father and adoptive mom in Kenya. I do share financial needs with those 4-5 special souls.)

So don’t be afraid to email or write me or call me with topics you’d like to see us address. Besides that, I’m human too, and appreciate hearing from those of you who occasionally share an encouraging word. I know people from over 50 countries come on this website each month, and we have thousands of “unique persons” who come, and many thousands and thousands of hits each month. We’re tiny – just really a 2 person work (Scott and myself) but we also know we’re impacting some lives here and there. Thank you for coming here and I’m glad we’ve been of some help to some of you. I’d love to hear from some of you around the world. So often when I’ve been tempted to quit working this website, I get an email from someone I’ve never heard of somewhere in the world –and they encourage me to keep going. Maybe its God’s way of telling me that most people will never say a word, but the work we’re doing is doing some good to a soul here and there.

With Passover coming up, start looking for sermons given from Feb-March-April in previous years and see what you find. We’ll have some more material coming soon. We’ll also re-do some of the sermons from 2004 to the present from time to time. I’m also going to TRY to shorten the messages to 45-50 minutes going forward. I realize people’s attention span is not so great anymore.

So thank you for visiting us. If you’re praying for me and our website and our work we do -- - thank you so much. Your prayers make a lot of difference.

Please tell your friends about our website if it has blessed you. And pray for Yahweh – our dear Abba Father in heaven and our Savior Yeshua – to inspire us and lead us. We need all the help he can give us! Thank you for your prayers.

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