Blogs

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

Some favorite Pentecost sermons from this site

I thought it might be useful to many of you to have links posted to Pentecost-type messages.  Sermons that touch on our calling, God’s Holy Spirit, bearing fruit of the Spirit,  the Meaning of Pentecost and so on… so here they are. Just click on the links and they’ll take you right there.

“I GO Prepare a Place for you”

This one shows the sequence of events when Yeshua returns AND how it’s so intricately tied to Pentecost.  Where and when is the Wedding of the Lamb?  How Christ’s return is a 2-stage return.  How heavenly Jerusalem is our City. Enjoy.   Control-click on the link 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/i-go-prepare-a-place-for-you-john-14-1-3.html?highlight=WyJwcmVwYXJlIiwiYSIsInBsYWNlIiwicHJlcGFyZSBhIiwicHJlcGFyZSBhIHBsYWNlIiwiYSBwbGFjZSJd

Pentecost DRESS REHEARSAL for past and future events

This teaching goes into the counting of the omer to Pentecost and how this and all holydays of God are “dress rehearsals” for major earth-shattering events from the death and resurrection of the Son of God to the new heavens and new earth.  How is Pentecost a dress rehearsal?  Find out!  Control click ….

https://www.lightontherock.org/component/finder/search.html?q=Pentecost+dress+rehearsal&Search=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=&t%5B%5D=

Pentecost -- Pinnacle of Joy (Jeff Niccum)  notes only

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/2012-06-15-10-12-00.html

Pentecost’s 5 fold meaning

Most associate – correctly—Pentecost with the giving of God’s Spirit in Acts 2.  That’s terrific, and yet is so much more to this holyday.  This sermon talks of at least 5 of the important meanings of this day.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/pentecost-s-exciting-5-fold-meaning.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

BEARING FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT Gal. 5:22-23

God loves fruit and he expects his Holy Spirit to be bearing fruit in us. Can you strive to bear the fruit of the spirit – or…? WHO produces the fruit? ARE we bearing fruit or remaining the same? 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/bearing-the-fruit-of-god-s-holy-spirit.html

6 reasons to Cherish your First fruits calling, pictured by Pentecost.

Do you often think of the high calling you and I have been given? Do we cherish it? Do we cherish our calling to be in the first resurrection?  WHY is it called the “better resurrection” in Heb 11:35?  Why are those who are part of it called “blessed and holy” (Rev. 20:6).  This message gives at least 6 strong reasons why your calling to the first resurrection is a better resurrection. 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/6-reasons-to-cherish-your-calling-as-firstfruits-pentecost-2019.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

22 Things Holy Spirit does for us

You will appreciate God and His Spirit in you much more when you study this message.  Imagine – 22 different jobs God’s spirit will do inside you and for you! 

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/22-things-the-holy-spirit-is-doing.html?highlight=WzIyLCJ0aGluZ3MiLCIyMiB0aGluZ3MiXQ== 

Your WILDERNESS Time and it’s connection to Shavuot/Pentecost

We know that God brought Israel out of Egypt at Passover – and 50 days later he gave them his law at Mt Sinai. IN the end, that adult group of Israelites were consigned to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sometimes we feel like we have our own “wilderness times”.  Find out what God is doing with you and for you in those precious times when you feel “out there” – in a wilderness.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/your-wilderness-time-and-it-s-connection-to-shavuot-or-yahweh-s-pentecost.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

RUTH, Boaz AND PENTECOST

The book of Ruth is read on Pentecost.  WHY?  What’s the connection?  What does it have to do with you and me?  Learn about the “go-el” – Redeemer, threshing floors, gleanings, etc and their spiritual meaning. Learn the lessons of courage and faith.

https://www.lightontherock.org/message/ruth-boaz-and-pentecost.html?highlight=WyJwZW50ZWNvc3QiLCJwZW50ZWNvc3QncyJd

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“I am a worm”

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 color.  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). 

This worm was the Crimson Worm to which Psalm 22:6 refers – common to the area of old Israel.  These worms are about the size of a pea, and looked more like a grub than a worm. They were often mistaken to be a part of the plant or stick to which they were attached.

This worm -- Strong’s word #8438 – was the same one that destroyed stale manna in Exodus 16:20.  It was the same grub that ate the vine or gourd whose shade Jonah was enjoying for his covering shade (Jonah 4:7).  It was known as the crimson grub or worm. Why?

When the female crimson worm was ready to lay its eggs – which she does only once in her lifetime (keep that in mind) – she attaches itself to a tree trunk or large stick or fencepost.  Next, she makes a hard crimson shell over her body and strongly attaches herself to the tree.  This crimson worm – when seen attached on a tree – had thorn-like edges to it.  Think about that too.  You cannot remove this worm or the shell it made without ripping her body apart and killing her.  This crimson worm now lays its eggs under her body, and protects her future offspring by her firmly attached crimson shell.  But that is just half the story. It gets better.

When the larvae hatch, they stay right there – under the mama’s shell for protection and food!  The baby larvae feed on the living body of their mother!  Over the next few days the larvae grow to where they can independently fare for themselves.  The mother crimson worm dies, oozing a bright red or scarlet/crimson dye which permanently stains her baby worms and the tree spot to which it is attached.  The larvae are colored a bright scarlet the rest of their lives.  But – they lived because their “mother” gave her life for them, covering them in her protective shell and letting them feed on her.   

If the mother’s shell is left there, after three days the dead worm’s body loses its red color and now turns into a whitish color that falls to the ground like snow. 

Now we put it all together.  What did Yeshua mean when he said he was but a worm?  Was he just being humble?  Yes, but it was more than that. 

He was what the Crimson Worm pictured, attached firmly to the tree. We see that when Christ was crucified (1 Peter 2:24) on a tree.   How did he look up there?  Bright red –badly bleeding all over from the severe scourging beating he had just endured.  We’re told how he looked in the end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53.   And remember, the Romans were not limited to 39 lashes or just to lashing one’s back.  And like the mama crimson worm encasing her eggs, Christ is our protective shell, as it were. HE is our covering righteousness and sustaining life.  HE is in fact, what each of the pieces of the “armor of God’ ultimately picture – protecting and guarding the children of God. 

Blood is a bright red color, or scarlet or crimson.  This particular worm – and its shell – were often scraped off the wood and then crushed into powder to make the bright red dyes for clothing – and for the scarlet materials found in the Tabernacle and its furnishings (see Exodus 25:4; Numbers 4-8).  The word translated “crimson” or sometimes even “scarlet” is often the very same word as the one used for the crimson worm itself.   All of that came from this crimson worm, the specific worm Yeshua said HE was – as he was being crucified, firmly attached, on the tree.  

Crimson or scarlet is seen everywhere God is cleansing. A scarlet string is seen in the ritual required for cleansing a leper (Leviticus 14:4,6), or a house (Leviticus 14:49-52) and also in the laws of the red heifer – whose ashes were used in the purification rituals as well (Numbers 19:6).  It’s the same Hebrew word being translated “scarlet” or “red” – as it is for the worm! 

Just as the crimson worm gives its life for its offspring, Yeshua gave his life for us.  He died, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9). The larvae all fed on the mother before leaving its protective shell and covering.  We too, at least symbolically, eat of Him and if we don’t, we have no life in us (John 6:53-55).  Remember what Yeshua said at his Passover:  “This is my body, which is given for you…” (Luke 22:19).  “Take, eat; this is my body” (Mark 14:22). 

John 6:48-51—“I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

 The larvae are dyed a bright red the rest of their lives by the protecting scarlet worm soon after they hatch from their eggs.   We too are washed – bathed – covered – in the blood of the Lamb, our Savior – washing away ALL our sins.  And we are most happy to be seen as someone under the blood of Christ! 

“Come now, let us reason together, says YHVH:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). 

It’s the same Hebrew word there for crimson, as for the crimson worm.

So our Savior was telling us, as he was firmly attached to the tree at his vicious crucifixion: 

  • “I’m doing this for you – once, for all time, for all people who accept it” (just as the crimson worm did it only once – Hebrews 9:28; 10:10).
  • “I’ve been nailed to a tree – firmly attached – as I’m about to end my life, for you – just as the Crimson worm attached itself to a tree or wood at the end of its life. I have a crown of thorns around my head, just as this Crimson worm has a thorn-like perimeter around its shell.”
  • “I’m your covering and source of life” – just as the Crimson worm gave its life and body to the larvae that it brought into the world.
  • “My red blood is what forgives you, washes away every single sin you’ve ever committed, redeems you and reconciles us in the family of God to the Father – just as we’re reminded of that color when any sacrificial animal’s blood was spilled, or when you saw so much RED in the tabernacle, where God and mankind were reconciled.”

When you read Psalm 22:6 – “I am a worm”  -- The Word was pointing us to the scarlet worm, to the crucifixion, to the power of his crimson or scarlet blood.  God’s word never ceases to amaze.  And praise you Yeshua, our Redeemer.  

WORM

You might benefit from the full sermons

“When I see the Blood” -- Parts 1-2, April 2014   (enter “see the blood” in the search bar)

If you have found this helpful and instructive, please forward on to others and the website – www.LightontheRock.org  

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“Well Done, Our King and Savior, well done!”

We finished Passover -- washed each other’s feet, broke and ate the bread of Christ – and we drank of the Master’s cup of the new covenant. Now what? We know the day is coming when Jesus will say to faithful servants, “Well done…” (Matthew 25:21, 23)

 Have you ever wished YOU could say to the King – “Well done, Lord – well done, King!  Well done”? It struck me, as I read the chapters of John 13-17 at the end of the service, what an incredible “command performance” we see from our Master and Savior on that Passover at HIS last Passover day on earth—painful and horrifying as it was.  And now dear Lord, you have been raised from the dead, clothed in majesty and wrapped in light on the right hand of our heavenly Father and King of the Universe. We can’t wait for you to return, to be sent back, to fix the mess this planet is in, this planet you created by your words of your mouth.

As he listened with annoyance to his disciples’ bickering over who among them was the greatest, he rose even as he recalled he had come from GOD and was going back to God. He rose and took a towel and a basin and taught us a big lesson. He began to do a slave or servant’s task – kneeling before each of his students, one by one washing between their toes and cleaning their feet that had become dusty along the way. Here was the night when GOD (John 1:1-3) as a flesh and blood young man wasn’t above doing menial work and kneeling before each of his flabbergasted students. He taught us that when it comes to helping and serving, little or nothing should be beneath our willingness jump right in and serve humbly. The night God washed feet. 

But what’s so amazing is that he took the footwashing to the next level. It wasn’t just about being humble or having the attitude of a servant – which it surely showed as well. No, when he came to Peter and Peter balked, Yeshua told us the MEAT of what the footwashing was really all about: “Peter, if I don’t wash you, you have NO PART with me!” (John 13:8). 

He made the point that HE washed all of them, even Judas was still there. If you had been there, your feet would have felt the caring and manly hands of the carpenter from Nazareth. He wants us to see each other as washed by him, no matter what it is we think we know about a particular brother or sister in the ekklesia. We’ve been washed by Christ himself. He wants us to wash one another too, to verify with each other that we’re not holding on to any dirt about them. No, the Master has washed them, and so we do too. 

So before we can partake of his bread – picturing his body, his life, his presence in us – we must first come under his washing year by year as we stumble along the way and pick up dirt when we really wanted to stay clean… or else we have no part in him. 

By that last supper with his disciples, as He broke bread and blessed it, surely it meant a lot more to Him to realize that was depicting His very own body. He was thanking God for his broken body that he was about to share. I find that amazing. No doubt he had seen dozens of crucifixions. He understood his body would look like beaten hamburger by the time the Romans were done with him. But by his stripes we are healed, so we remain grateful. The bread pictures his life coming into us, giving us life. 

When you lift up the sheet of matzah, you’ll see baking stripes and holes in the flat bread. He was pierced for our transgressions. By his stripes we are healed. Then he asked me to eat of him and let him come into me as my new life. Hallelujah. 

Then we read how his cup of red wine is the new covenant in his blood. Jews drank of cups of wine in honor of the promises God made Israel in Egypt in Exodus 6. The one we read about was probably the 3rd cup of Redemption. Anyway, he invited us to drink from his cup too. Imagine that! I just drank of my Master’s cup, verifying I’m all in for him and whatever he has in store for me in this life – the good and the “bad” or difficult times.  

Then they left and walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along the way he spoke of growth, fruit and vineyards, and how important it is to obey him and our Father. He spoke of going to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house, and how he would come to get us and show us what he’s prepared for those who love him. He spoke of rough times ahead but that we were to have peace, for he had overcome the world and would strengthen us. He mentioned the Adversary, the ruler of this world coming – “But he has nothing in me” (John 14:30). 

Look at what Master did. As He prepared for the long ordeal, He took time to comfort His disciples. “Don’t fear, don’t worry. Ask anything in my name and I will do it”. Over and over, all during supper, He comforted, encouraged, reassured – and loved those disciples. He told each of them – and you and me – to love one another in the same way he loves us. He discussed the promised Helper, Comforter – the Holy Spirit. He spoke of the Father and Himself coming to live in them. Wow. Incredible. What a flawless example. “Because I live, you will live”. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.” Even though he predicted they would all leave him initially, he would continue to love them.

Our master prayed to the Holy Father (John 17) and prayed that all his followers could be as one, as Yeshua and his Father are as one. I remember reading John 17:23 where our King states that his Father loves us as much as he loves Yeshua. 

Then they reached the Garden of the Olive Press (Gethsemane). When Judas appeared with a troop of armed temple guards to betray him, Yeshua’s first word to his betrayer was amazing, “Friend”. But he went on to die for all of us, even while we were yet sinners. On the cross or tree – his pained voice pleaded “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Flawless.

No other religion (to my knowledge) has their God coming to live among humanity as a human and then sacrificing Himself for his creation. But Yeshua did just that! Wow! What an awesome living God we have; what an impeccable son of God we have!! Hallelujah!! 

It’s never our place to “grade” our Savior, and that’s not my intent here at all. But I think we’re long overdue for telling our Beloved King what we think of Him and His Passover. 

Yeshua’s Father – who is now also our Father – was spectacular too on that Passover day almost 2000 years ago. He had 2 choices when it came to sin:

   1 – Make us all pay our own death penalty for our sins and spare his perfect sinless son he loved so much

   2 – Put all our sins and penalties on to his flawless son, making him be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), and make his Son pay the penalty and be whipped and crucified while we are forgiven the death penalty. 

God the Father chose Option #2. This is how Yeshua could say in John 17 that our Father loves US as much as his own son Yeshua. He loved everyone in the world so much that he made the way of escape from eternal death possible by sending his only Son to live and die for us (John 3:16). His death reconciled us to Father, turned away his wrath due to our sins, and redeemed us from Satan. He paid the ultimate price for you and me and every human being who will accept him. 

How on earth, or in heaven, God the Father restrained himself from just wiping out all life on this planet as we humans did awful things to his son, is beyond me. He personifies love and mercy. 

So on Passover we focus on Jesus, on Yeshua – and rightly so, but it’s also a day that shows the indescribable love and patience of God the Father, God most High. Well done, Father, well done to you too, absolutely. 

And now Yeshua, please allow us to appreciatively tell you after Passover, even as our eyes well up with tears of gratitude: “Well done, our King. Well done. You totally vanquished Satan’s hold on us, you smashed his head at the Place of the Skull. You saved our lives. Yes, you saved our lives. You bring us hope and an indescribable future. You’ve given us eternal life. You’re simply amazing! You’re our Lion as well as our Lamb. We can’t wait to meet you face to face to tell you personally how pleased and grateful – and yes, even proud of you – we are! We’re delighted to be on your team, to drink of your cup and eat of your bread of life. Praise YHVH! We love you. Thank you for your Passover, King Yeshua. You were perfect. You’re simply amazing. Thank you, Master. Well done, our King, well done indeed.” 

After our Passover service, Carole and I played a dozen or more hymns that magnify God and Yeshua as I quietly lifted my hands in praise. Songs like Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, All Hail King Jesus, Crown him with many Crowns, Blessed Assurance, It is well with my soul, As the Deer, I love to Tell the Story and many more.

Then I stepped outside, looked up to the heavens and the bright full moon and once more thought, “The heavens declare the glory of God”. Next, I sat on God’s green grass in my back yard and meditated quietly about our awesome Savior. It was quiet, but my heart overflowed with love for what my Yeshua had just done. By his grace and his work I was able to come boldly before him and say, “thank you”.

Well done, Master, well done.

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Would you wash Judas’ feet?

In our fellowship group, we wash feet at Passover, as Yeshua washed his disciples’ feet. He said basically, “You’ve seen me, your lord and master wash your feet. Now you remember that – and be sure you are willing to wash each other’s feet too.”

So you arrive at your fellowship on Passover and are ready to wash feet (assuming you can even leave your house this year without being arrested). It’s a strange year, isn’t it? Anyway, you arrive there and find someone there before the meeting begins whom you don’t recognize. You sit next to him and introduce yourself. Now bear with me here:  he says he’s Judas Iscariot. 

OK, I know that can’t happen in 2020, but let’s just assume it could, and now the real Judas Iscariot has come to your fellowship and is ready for services to begin. You’ve been paired up with much-despised Judas, the one who sold our Lord for 30 pieces of silver and betrayed him. 

Will you humbly and even joyfully and willingly – wash his feet? Or would you refuse to do so? 

Let’s get this straight. I’ve heard some ministers say Judas had left but that’s not true. We read of the foot washing service in John 13:1-10.

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” 

It’s only after the foot washing is over that we read that Satan enters Judas again (first time was in Luke 22:3) and Yeshua tells him to leave and get his business done (John 13:27). But that was after the foot washing, so that means Yeshua washed Judas’ feet. 

The name “Judas” is actually a Hellenized (Greek form) name of the Hebrew same name “Yehudah”, which in English we translate as Judah

This is interesting. Yeshua came to his own – the Jews, -- but they did not receive him (John 1:11). They really couldn’t have because they did not recognize who he really was. So what I’m getting at, this disciple “Judas” or “Judah” – actually perfectly represented his tribe at that time who rejected the Messiah. But the good news is that we’re seeing more and more Jews have their eyes opened and who are seeing and accepting their Savior now. 

Right after the foot washing, Yeshua immediately speaks of his betrayer. He certainly knew whom that would be! See John 13:18-19, 21-22. Yeshua quotes from Psalm 41:9 “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.” This was a direct prophecy among many that pointed to Yeshua as the promised Messiah.

Peter had asked John to ask the Anointed Yeshua who the betrayer would be. Yeshua’s answer was John 13:26-30 --“Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."  28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.”

A couple things worth noting here. 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.”  

But here’s my point: Judas is definitely present during all this time:  before and during the foot washing, and only after identifying who the betrayer would be, did he finally leave. 

Let’s pick up the story:

John 13:26-30 Yeshua was aware that Judas’ heart was already turned by Satan himself.  Satan was not going to let any other demon have this high-stakes job. If he could make Yeshua sin, what a coup that would have been. So Judas is being egged on – even eventually possessed (v. 27) – by none other than the Prince of Darkness, the god of this world himself: Satan the Devil, or translated – Adversary the Accuser. 

Even knowing Judas was being inspired by Satan himself, Yeshua still washed Judas’ feet. Now imagine the scene:  here’s the Son of GOD getting on his knees in front of Judas in order to wash his feet. And that’s exactly what our Savior did! How humble and how humbling is that?!!   Even to someone he KNEW was already being Satan-inspired, our beloved Yeshua, knowing he had come from God and was going back to God, knelt down below Judas and washed his feet anyway. 

Almost hard to believe, isn’t it? And yet that is what John 13 tells us. Already Yeshua is thinking of Psalms 41 where this betrayer is actually a friend in whom you trusted.  And what was the first word Yeshua said to Judas later that dark night when he led a group of armed men to arrest Jesus?  Let’s read it:

Matthew 26:48-50

“Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?"

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.”

To call Judas a “friend” but not mean it – would have been a lie. Yeshua was sinless. He meant it when he said “friend” to him.  Even knowing by this time Judas is actually Satan-possessed, our Savior calls Judas – “Friend”. 

So what does this mean to us today?

** Like Christ, we must be willing to serve even those who betray us, slander us, or falsely accuse us and work, as it were, for Satan himself.  What someone else does shouldn’t make us stop acting like Christ did: serving everyone. Satan is the Enemy, not any human beings ultimately.

That’s what “Satan” means:  Adversary.  And “Devil” means “accuser”.  Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  Even someone this bad received some SERVING done by the 2nd highest Being in the universe: Yeshua the Son of God, second only to God the Father. 

This was the night Jesus washed even Judas’ feet.  And shared a dinner with him and broke bread together.  This was the night when Yeshua called even Judas his “friend”.  Can you see yourself having dinner with someone you even call a “friend” – but who was about to betray you to the most brutal torture and death imaginable at that time?  Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

** Yeshua meant it when he taught us – “Love your enemies. Do GOOD to those who treat you badly. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who are unkind to you.”  (Compare with Matthew 5:43-48).  All this proves who is your father: God Almighty – or the god of this world.  After all, we have the fruit of God’s spirit, including goodness and kindness. 

Our Savior is more than impressive.  As I said in my Passover prayer after blessing the wine – “Well done, Master, well done.”  He is the absolute pinnacle of the way to handle things.  

Can you imagine George Washington washing Benedict Arnold’s feet – and calling him “friend” after what he did?  This is what’s going on here.

Are you still willing to serve those who have conspired against you?  Yeshua did.  If Yeshua is in us by His spirit, He will continue to do through you and me what He has always done:  serve and love people, even those who work against us.  Vengeance is not ours.  Don’t take something like vengeance that God says is HIS prerogative, lest you incur His ire.  It belongs to God. Our role is to let the fruit of the spirit shine through us – including kindness, goodness, longsuffering, and peace, regardless of what the other has done to us or our loved ones. 

Now, who can we call a “friend” – and mean it – to someone who has acted as our worst enemy for so long?  Who can we find ways to serve and humble ourselves in front of – though he/she may be less than spirit-led at this point?  That’s tough, isn’t it? 

The more I learn about Jesus, the more in awe I am of him and the more I want to talk about him.  What a great leader, Servant King, Savior, Big brother, and friend we have in him.

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Habakkuk 3 - Finding JOY in TOUGH times

Editor’s notes: I’m honored to introduce a new contributor to Light on the Rock blogs. Samantha Skiens is a graduate of Wheaton College with 2 degrees in Bible Theology and Ancient Languages with emphasis in Hebrew.  She currently teaches Bible Theology at a private Christian college in WA state. But what I like most about her is that this 22-year old obviously loves Yeshua and desires to be obedient to his commands. She brings some great and mature points from the often-overlooked short book of Habakkuk 3  – points which are so timely with the Coronavirus issues we’re all facing. Welcome Samantha.    

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Rarely do I write, and rarely do I post. But for some reason, inspiration has been striking me lately, and so I sit at my computer, typing away, when I should be grading the research papers my juniors just submitted this morning.

Some of you may be aware that this year has probably been the hardest year that I have had in a long time, if ever. I won’t go into all the details, but I want to share something the Lord has laid on my heart. Throughout this year, God has been high-centering me on a passage in Habakkuk—yes, one of those very small, rarely touched books of a collection called the Minor Prophets. Habakkuk was alive during the final years of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He saw the rising threat of Babylon approaching on the horizon and knew what it would mean for his community and the last of God’s people (since Assyria had already taken out the Northern Kingdom). I personally love Habakkuk because of this unique feature: the prophet does not accuse Israel of any sins or wrongdoings, as many of the other prophets did. Rather, Habakkuk openly and refreshingly wrestles through his personal journey about whether or not God is truly good amidst the evil and tragedy in the world. I say “refreshingly” because these are thoughts many of us often have. 

In Chapter 3, Habakkuk begins by describing the gloriously terrifying presence of the Almighty. I’ll quote from the NIV.

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.

God came from Teman,
    the Holy One from Mount Paran.[b]
His glory covered the heavens
    and his praise filled the earth.

His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from his hand,
    where his power was hidden.
Plague went before him;
    pestilence followed his steps.
He stood, and shook the earth;
    he looked, and made the nations tremble
.
The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed—
    but he marches on forever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
    the dwellings of Midian in anguish.

After this humble acknowledgement of the power and presence of God, the prophet then appeals to God’s faithfulness. You can read Habakkuk 3:8-15 on your own.  It shows the fury and ferocity of our God when He moves against or for nations. 

By pausing to remember God’s power and faithfulness, Habakkuk concludes his short book with a message of hope. However, Habakkuk does not immediately rush to that hope; he acknowledges that hope is truly fostered in the space of trial, and it must withstand the immediate challenges he is about to face with Babylon. This is a crucial point!

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.

Though the invasion and captivity are to come, that imminent trial does not have the final say. God is just and will bring his justice even to the invading nations.  Habakkuk leads into the darkest hour for Judah’s history with a final message of hope and praise, with vital lessons for us all (Habakkuk 3:17-19):


17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior
.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Those verses can sound so nice when our lives are functioning with relative peace. Now, is the time to lean into the history and the lives of those who have weathered great winters before us. I close my eyes and imagine the situation of those during centuries past -- people in many different countries facing a range of atrocities and fears. That isn’t meant to glorify what generations past survived or diminish what we are experiencing today. The reality is that ALL go through difficult times. Rather, these moments of the present and those of the past are bound together by something deep; there is an inexplicable solace and hope found in the darkest of hours and deepest of pains.

I want to finish with one final note: Habakkuk mentions a thing called “joy.” He says in verse 18 that he will REJOICE in the Lord and be JOYFUL in God His Savior.

Though society portrays the two as synonyms, joy and happiness are two vastly different things from the viewpoint of God’s word.

Etymologically, happiness is based on one’s “happenings,” or the circumstances in one’s life. You might be happy because a situation is positive, and you might not be happy because it is negative.

Joy, on the other hand, is completely independent from one’s circumstances. Joy is accessed through something deep inside of us. It is eternal, not temporary; a huge difference.

Happiness comes and goes like the tide, but joy is constant. We, being very fickle and finite people, can find this eternal joy in one place, and one place alone: God. This explains why Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:14, “I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction,” or in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” Happiness belongs to this earth. It can stem from the physical things of this world: food, drink, people, material items—maybe even toilet paper on the shelves at stores. Joy is of God’s Kingdom. Again, Paul draws this contrast in Romans 14:17, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Joy stems from a settled assurance that God is in control. Habakkuk was not happy during his present day, facing the invading Babylonians and questioning God’s goodness amidst the terror of it all. But Habakkuk shows us that we can truthfully be unhappy about what’s going on around us,  but still have rock-solid joy in our hearts. Habakkuk shows us it was and is good -- to even question God in times of struggle; it is how we all must grow in our personal relationships with the Lord. In fact, relationship is of the utmost importance during this time. Religion will not stand when crisis hits; it is an institution (man-made), and underneath that definition, institutions can break.

Solid relationships, however, can withstand the shattering of society. Families and friends can stand by one another’s side when the world turns upside down, although even with human relationships, these can fracture in severe stress.  However, a strong relationship based on a deep love for God can never be ripped, stolen, or removed from us. Never.

In this light, let’s read once more how nothing can and nothing will separate us from the love of God. Not personal problems, not anything in this world, not this Covid-19 virus – nothing can, when we have established that firm relationship with our Maker:

Romans 8:37-39 from the CJB: “No, in all these things we are super conquerors, through the one who has loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming, 39 neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord”.

My encouragement for us all today, and I am sure, for many days ahead, is to rest and find rest in our relationship with our Lord. Life is always ultimately about having the right relationships.  For it is only through that relationship with our God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord that we can tap into the eternal joy that Jesus offers.

Like Habakkuk, we might not always be happy, but we can most definitely be joyful.

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BUT I CAN’T FORGIVE ‘THAT’

(Host’s note:  This beautifully worded blog is from a new contributor and writer to Light on the Rock blogs.  We welcome this daughter of God, who will go by “Newfie”. I hope you get as much inspiration out of it as I did. – Philip Shields)

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.” Greek historian, Polybius (205 BC-118 BC)

Passover is almost upon us and when I saw this quote today it grabbed my instant attention.  How true!  Conscience can be a formidable thing when repenting and walking on a rocky road toward perfection.  ALL of us sin and have sinned and come short of God’s glory—eternal life. Romans 3:23 I think most of us know that even if we didn’t grow up Christian.

And the fact that we have a conscience shows, by itself, that God still considers us His “good” creation (Genesis 1:31) and has not hidden Himself from us (Yes He does separate Himself from sin but that is another topic) or taken all that is good from us..  (“If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me” (Deuteronomy 4:29/ Jeremiah 29:13)

“But my sin was SO HORRIBLE!  I JUST CAN’T FORGIVE MYSELF EVER!”  we might say.  “I am sitting in jail right this moment and will be here for the rest of my life!  How am I supposed to forgive myself for that?!”

Well, here is where the Power that you don’t automatically have by yourself comes in.  You have repented (promised the Eternal that you will not repeat that horrible action or those horrible thoughts), have turned from your previous way of life and recognized that your sins are UGLY in His sight. (Isaiah 64:6) but He still loves each of us enough that He gave up His one and only Son to die and pay for that ugliness. (John 3:16) With repentance He then promises to clean us.  (I John 1:9/ Psalms 51:2/ and my favorite, Psalms 51:10)


THEN He welcomes us into His House.  Psalms 23:6 says goodness and mercy will follow us and we will dwell in God’s house forever.  I will say “forever” means “forever’ so the time period would have to include now.  He welcomes us before His presence!

This would be hard to do if we were not also forgiving ourselves because His house is a house of rest.  (Hebrews 4::1-9) Although these verses contain many meanings with one of the main ones being a permanent fulfillment of ‘rest’ (eliminating all anxiety and self-incrimination while being filled with the fruits of the Spirit) they also refer to a rest that we can have in this life!

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and don’t keep judging herself.  He said he was certainly not going to judge her because her accusers were gone.  For her accusers to be gone, she could not accuse herself.  He instructed: “... go and sin no more”.  (John 8:11—read the whole story in this chapter).

My request for all of us is to take God up on is promises.  One day at a time ask Him to remove our bad thoughts. (Matthew 6:11)   They are certainly Satan inspired. (Matthew 6:13) And to go forward through Passover with humility and great thankfulness for being cleaned up and forgiven by our Savior.

So go with solemn joy to Passover with a joyful, forgiven and clean heart – and take of his bread of his life, and drink of his cup.  All of this is possible because of what HE has done for you and me. We praise you, our Father.  We praise you, our Savior. 

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BE READY for Passover

Are we getting ready for Passover – or will it be upon us before we realize it!?  Every year there are some of God’s children who say, “Wow, is it Passover time already?!” – and they’re caught off guard. They forgot! It’s nowhere on their MARCH calendar but when they look at April – wow, there it is! Yep, Passover is almost here! It seems like yesterday that we were at the Feast of Tabernacles, right? It’s true, the holy day cycle starts again in just a few weeks as I write this. 

DON’T be or remain among those people who haven’t spiritually or mentally prepared for Passover at all yet. You be ready and be sure you do a thorough SELF-examination (read 1 Cor. 11:27-29) as we’re told to do and then after that, take the Passover. You examine yourself; you repent of areas where you could fight sin more, start doing so – and then take the Passover. And sure, be thinking about deleavening your home, but more importantly – deleavening your LIFE. The hidden and secret sins of our lives, as well as the obvious sins, is what the leaven largely points to.

BUT I BELIEVE TOO many of God’s children have made Passover – and the foot washing, bread and wine service – just another ceremony. Passover must NOT become “just another ceremony” – when we meet with others, read some scriptures together, wash one another’s feet and take a piece of matzah and a thimble-full of red wine (or for some of you – juice) – and then we go home. It should mean more and be more than that.

Passover DAY in 2020 is April 8, Wednesday. For many of the Church of God brethren, they’ll be observing the foot washing and the bread and wine ceremony the eve before – evening of April 7, Tuesday evening after sundown. Then for them, the Night to be Much Observed will be the following evening, at the end of Passover day, on April 8 after sundown, starting the first day of Unleavened Bread, a “high day” holy day. Remember God’s days begin and end at sundown.

The days of Unleavened Bread are Thursday April 9 starting the evening before, through Wednesday April 15, ending at sundown.

April 9 – the first day of Unleavened Bread and April 15, the last day of Unleavened Bread, are both holy days of God, and annual sabbaths (Leviticus 23:1-4). much like the weekly sabbath except on the annual holy days, cooking is expressly allowed. On these annual holydays, we do not go to work but worship God together instead (Lev. 23:4-8).

But Jews and those who strictly follow the rabbinic calendar will be keeping the Seder/Passover on evening of April 8, Wednesday evening, 2020. And this will also start the Days of Unleavened Bread, when we all eat Matzah for 7 days. Jews often add an extra day on their holy days to “be sure” they are on the right day. They do not do this on the fasting day of Atonement however.

But either way, Passover season is almost upon us and we need to be prepared spiritually even more so than physically. Are you pondering how profound the Passover is – and how profound is the blood of Yeshua covering and cleansing us? You’ll read more about that today.

Have YOU given much thought to Passover this year? Are we ready to take the bread and the wine in a worthy manner? Have we examined ourselves to find where we are tolerating sin and weaknesses in our lives – and asked our Maker to truly make us a NEW CREATION in Christ?  

Passover and its entire season should be much more than a ceremony. We’re called to be personally involved ahead of time in preparation spiritually for it, even more than physically. And DO realize that the whole Passover and days of Unleavened Bread SEASON was eventually referred to – eventually – as “PASSOVER”. We new covenant believers tend to separate them as Leviticus 23 does, but they eventually were seen as the season of Passover.       

Ezekiel 45:21 calls the “Passover, a feast of seven days”.

Luke 22:1 – “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called ‘Passover’, drew near.”

Now back to preparation. If you’re not on your guard – ESPECIALLY if you’re not – this is the time Satan will do his best and his worst to have you and me commit terrible sins that will so discourage us that we might even conclude we can’t observe the Passover this year, for we conclude we are unworthy of being a part of it. Please read that again. OR, Satan will put so many distractions (Corona virus? Health issues, setbacks) in front of you that you spend little time thinking about God’s love – and once again, we come to Passover ill prepared spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Something “more pressing” grabbed our attention.

And if you’re feeling more spiritual attacks than ever, more temptations than usual, more crises and distractions popping up than normal …. Yep, Satan’s working overtime to get you to feel defeated and just want to give up spiritually! So often that is what happens prior to the spring and fall holydays especially. So read this blog carefully and let’s have the most meaningful Passover we’ve ever had. We children of God are called to be spiritual warriors against Satan and his ways.

Or are you feeling like Passover seems suddenly almost here – and you are unprepared? If that is what’s happened, resolve to make changes so it never happens again. Mark “preparation time” on your calendars a month before next year’s Passover season. It’s our own fault if we’re unprepared. But frankly it’s also a reflection on your ministers if that happened. Pastors should be discussing Passover-related topics for the next few sabbaths (as we are in this blog and upcoming sermons before Passover). Regardless, you decide each year when you mark up your calendars and E-calendars, to note 3 or more weeks before Passover each year, to start thinking heavily about God’s love for me and for you.

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

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

And men, husbands – LEAD your family in preparation and announce that “Passover is just x-number of days away, and so let’s all be spiritually thinking and preparing for it.” You’re the head of your family under Christ, so lead. Maybe you can ask for volunteers in your family to share something they’ve each studied about aspects of Passover with the whole family. Fathers - lead them. Protect them from being caught off guard.

Click on “Continue reading” for the remainder of this vital topic and what it pictures and how Christ’s blood continually cleanses us, all the time.

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Husband’s role or wife’s role – which is harder?

This article goes with the recent Part 3 sermon on “is God Sexist?” though I focused more on what God tells us the role of husband and wife is – and even more so, what they are supposed to be depicting: the union of Christ and his Bride, the Church. 

First of all, let me state that for 95-99% of us, a good marriage takes a lot of work 24/7, all the time. Maybe even for 100% of us. It takes a lot of self- sacrifice and dedication to bring joy to each other. I also believe there are many marriages in the Body of Christ who are just hanging on but are not enjoying the bliss and joy that a godly marriage should have.

How many really truly great and happily married couples (who are past their honeymoon first 2 years) can you think of? And even of those you think are happily married and truly delight in each other almost all the time – it might surprise you to learn when they’re by themselves, it’s not always so great. I can think of maybe 19-20 couples out of the hundreds or thousands I know whom I’m pretty sure are delightfully happy with and still madly adoring of each other most of the time. Even among those who’ve been married for 40+ years, I think a lot of them, at best – are “companions”, sticking it out, but they could sure be happier. And I wonder how often they express loving adoration for the other and exhibit that love by their kind and loving actions with each other.

Now to my question: Who’s got the harder role or function – the believer wife or the believer husband? Probably most of you would instinctively respond – “the wife, of course!”

Wives are basically told to submit themselves to their own husbands as they would if Christ himself was their husband (“as unto the Lord”) (Eph. 5:22). Verse 23 reminds wives that just as Christ is head of the church, that a husband is the head of his wife. It goes on to say, “Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything” (verse 24).

I don’t believe these verses are being preached much anymore. At least I’m unaware of it. Wives are told to be submissive and to respect their husband. 1 Corinthians 11:3 – where it speaks of woman and man, is translated as “wife” and “husband” in some translations, which to me makes sense: “the head of the wife is her husband”. Titus 2:4-5 adds that a wife is to love her husband and be obedient to him.

That last paragraph is taken as a synopsis of Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-6; Titus 2:4-5 and 1 Cor. 11:3. Yes, this is what God’s word says. It’s all there. It’s super, super tough to want to submit to someone, let alone someone you live with. Super tough.

Let’s also remember that Ephesians 5:21 starts the section by saying we are to submit to one another. So as I pointed out in the sermon, there are plenty of times we husbands should also submit to what our wives suggest and desire – as God himself told Abraham to do what Sarah wanted when it came to Ishmael. So we hope more husbands will remember this point too.

And also remember that our roles are for that spouse to fulfill. Husbands are nowhere told to make their wives submit. Wives are nowhere told to make their husbands more loving. Submitting is what a godly wife chooses to do – and men will at times too. Loving as Christ does is something a godly husband also chooses to do.

Husbands (see Eph. 5:25-30) are basically told to love their wives in the same way as Christ loves the church, giving himself for his wife. We are also to follow his example of presenting his Bride to himself and seeing her as being without spot or wrinkle – without fault in his eyes. Men are told to love their wives as themselves. In other words, we are NOT to nit-pick, we are NOT to constantly find where our wife has fallen short or not measured up. Yes, I’ve done that in the past, but am striving to make that a thing of the past.

Yeshua (Jesus) says those in charge are to serve, never lord it over those being led, nor make a point to prove or exert their authority (Matthew 20:25-28). We don’t see our Yeshua barking orders and demanding submission all the time. We just don’t. In 1 Pet 3:7 husbands are also admonished to learn to understand their wives and to honor them, as co-heirs together of the grace of life.

Husbands are also told to bring happiness to their wives and to be satisfied with their wives and rejoice with them (Proverbs 5:18-19; Deut. 24:5; Ecclesiastes 9:5). I brought all that out early in my recent sermon. (Ephesians 5:25-30; 1 Peter 3:7; Matthew 20:25-28). We are admonished to love our wives the way Christ loves the church! Super tough.

Hmm. How are we doing?

All of the above is covered in more detail in the recent Part 3 Sermon on “Is God sexist” – and how we are to depict the relationship of Christ and his church. I hope you will listen/watch the video.

One important point to make is that there is no caveat or exception given to these commands. They’re more than just suggestions. We’re not told we must do our part – but only if our spouse does his or her part. I don’t see that there.

Wives are NOT told to submit themselves but only if their husbands “earn” or “deserve” their submission. There’s no statement that this applies only to husbands who are gentle, kind, loving, respectful and patient. And many husbands ARE mean and tough.

IN the same way husbands are NOT told they have to love their wives but only if their wife is a submissive and wonderful wife; but no love is needed if their wife is a horrible and unsubmissive wife. It’s not there.

Nope, those caveats are simply not there. Nope, nopity, nope, nope, nope. Not there.

And yet, let’s face it: that’s how many of us live. But whose role is tougher.

Click here to finish reading this important topic.

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When does human life begin? Is Mayor Pete wrong?

Pete Buttigieg, a USA  presidential candidate in 2020, says life begins with one’s first breath to try to justify his stance that a woman can end her baby’s life in her womb all the way up to the point of being born through her birth canal – without it being murder.  Hmm, how convenient for pro-abortionists. By that definition, they’re not really ending or killing a human life if the fetus has not taken its own first breath. We will see God’s word on this. 

Somehow Mayor Pete even says his belief comes from the Bible.  How convenient for his sanctimonious preaching at the rest of us while he discards the many other scriptures he either doesn’t know about – or refuses to admit are there. That’s putting it kindly. 

Now, to be fair to Mayor Pete, the first man came to life when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). But Adam was a fully formed man at this point, and just needed to start breathing. That is not addressing the life in the womb.

And certainly once a person or mammal is breathing, there’s no question there’s a life there. So the Bible does indeed speak of “all who have breath” to poetically refer to all who are alive.  But does all life begin with the first breath?  I’ll show you that’s not the case. In the case of a fetus, it begins much earlier according to God’s own word.

Also keep in mind that just about all the Democrat presidential candidates are pro-abortion, or are pro women’s health care rights or reproductive rights. But when a human baby in development is terminated, where’s the health care or reproduction going on? Whose “health-care right” is being protected?  Certainly not the health care or reproductive right of the fetus!  The very label “reproductive rights” is so misleading. They should relabel it to what they really want to have:  “terminating rights”, the right to end or terminate a small unborn baby’s life. But even then – no human has a terminating right over a viable, living but yet-unborn human fetus.

So does the unborn baby’s mom, or her doctor, have the right to terminate the developing and growing human life inside its mom’s womb?  It’s certainly a lot easier to say “yes” if you believe, like apparently Pete Buttigieg believes, that human “life” does not even begin until the fetus – or child – takes its first breath.

The mother’s womb used to be just about the safest place in the world in which a tiny developing fetus could be! But not anymore. Not for the 61 million developing tiny boys and girls whose lives were sucked out, ripped apart and snuffed out in abortion clinics all over America alone!  That wasn’t a typo.  Sixty-one MILLION.  And our Democrat presidential candidates are OK with that!  In my view, that’s the modern-day human live sacrifices going on to accommodate the wishes of the mom who is not yet ready to be “with child” or to have a child.  So the unborn boy or girl is sacrificed alive to meet the needs of its mom.

I know that can sound harsh, but we need to make plain what is really going on here. 

If you have had an abortion and now know that decision was seriously wrong and have deeply repented of it, our loving God in heaven has forgiven you and you can move on.  You’re no worse than all sinners – all of us – who have had to be forgiven of our own horrible sins.  I’m including myself in that.  But the rest of society has to come to understand the truth about the painful brutality of abortion and need to understand when a human life really begins. 

The NY State Legislature basically codified in their state law that a fetus’ beating heart can now be legally stopped all the way to the birth canal, through the 9th month!  May God have mercy on them and on all of us.  How abominable!  How shameful!  How brutal!  Who’s standing up for that unborn little girl or boy? WHO? Well I am and I hope you’ll join me.

So when it comes to human life, let’s be clear. I could give a hoot what Mr. Buttigieg, you, or I have to say about when human life begins.  GOD – who creates all life – ALONE,  is the one who determines when life begins. I will go only by what he says.  

But as I’ll show you, God says it is murder. We who have received God’s spirit and are his children (Romans 8:14 defines a child of God), must speak up and stand up with our Father and what HE says against the concept that humans can determine when to end a fetus’ life.

So when does human life begin?  If it begins with the first breath, then “they” are saying that during all those nine months in the womb – there is still no human life going on and so there’s no human life being terminated – and in other words, there’s no “murder” being committed with abortions and so they say – that’s OK. 

That’s what their reasoning has to mean!  How convenient for them.  Don’t forget that in the early years of abortions, the pro-abortion gang referred to the developing human fetus as “tissue”.  That helped the mom of that developing baby not feel so guilty.  What they were pulling out of her was just “tissue” they said – not much different than phlegm perhaps.  But don’t kid yourself: when tiny arms and legs are being torn off or cut off, when scissors are being thrust into fetus’ skulls, that abortion being conducted is infanticide of the worst kind. God be merciful.

With the advent of ever clearer ultrasounds and being able to see and hear the beating hearts of these little ones, it has become very clear they are not just blobs of tissue.

And even if we forget for a moment all the ultrasounds, all the beating hearts, all the developing human hands, human feet, baby sex organs being developed, how can anyone say there’s no life yet.  Not human life at least.  But what is it then, which is clearly alive in the mother’s womb if not human life? It’s clearly alive.  Maybe it’s a baby cat, or dog, or armadillo?  When a human conceives, does it conceive anything else BUT a human? 

So when does the Bible say human life begins?  To get the answer from scripture, and to  finish reading this Blog, click on “Continue reading”.

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Appealing “to Caesar”

Have you ever used the rights you have as a US citizen – or citizen of your own country? I am aware that many countries don’t offer as many rights or freedoms as the USA does. But you who live in most of the western countries know you can call your House representative, Senator or your member of Parliament, etc. If there is an issue you’re concerned about.

Have you ever done so?   Why would we believers in our Savior, who look to the city whose builder and maker is God as Abraham did (Hebrews 11:9-10), ever call our elected officials or appeal to the civil liberties and rights we have been given by our earthly country?

Remember Paul says our citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20) from where we eagerly await our Lord and Savior. So why on earth would we use our earthly citizenship?

The reason for it is simple:

*** To whom much is given, much is required. Compared to much of humanity’s history, we have been given more than the vast majority of people have ever experienced down through time.

*** The Apostle Paul did this very thing. Though Paul clearly believed himself to be a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven, he also definitely claimed and used his Roman citizenship.

Paul was born in Tarsus as a Roman citizen of Jewish parents. So he had a Hebrew name (Saul) and a Roman name (Paul). Anyone born in certain designated cities, such as the city of Tarsus, were automatically given Roman citizenship and given Roman rights—as Paul says he was born a Roman (Acts 22:28). As he traveled around in Gentile and Roman areas, it was more beneficial to use his Roman name.

It was illegal for example, to whip or scourge a Roman citizen without him first having gone to court and presented his case in a trial. You can read that whole story in Acts 22:20-29.    The Roman military commander who was about to flog/scourge Paul was scared for a while, hoping Paul wouldn’t sue him. He admitted that he – unlike Paul – had to BUY his Roman citizenship at great cost. So by using and appealing to what was the law of the land at that time, Paul in that instance was able to keep from being flogged mercilessly.

Let’s read it:

Acts 22:23-29  “Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "IS IT LAWFUL for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?"

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."

27 Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?"

He said, "Yes."

28 The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship."

And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen."

29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him”

Another time, when Paul felt he wanted and needed more time and perhaps better justice – or just felt led by God -- he “appealed to Caesar” – and so he was sent to Rome for trial. That was like appealing to the US Supreme Court today.

Acts 25:10-12 So Paul said, "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."

12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!"

My point is that Paul USED his citizenship rights when he needed to. And he didn’t feel that in any way impeded his status as a “pilgrim” in this world (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). Some believers have used the “pilgrim” concept to advise against any use of this society at all. I think Paul teaches us otherwise, by his example. 

Others did so as well. A great example is Esther. She was a queen, a wife of the Emperor! But when her people – the Jews – were threatened with genocide by Haman the Agagite – what did she do? She DID seek God first! She and her retinue did pray and fast for 3 days and 3 nights (Esther 4:16). THEN she faced the problem head on, got Haman and the Emperor Ahasuerus (possibly Xerxes) involved – and the rest is history. Haman could have been of Amalekite royal blood, related to Agag who was condemned by God in the days of Saul and Samuel.

For that matter, Ether’s cousin Mordecai, earlier had decided to get involved with what seemed to be a plot to assassinate the emperor (Esther 2:21-23). Some believers might have thought – “Good riddance” and done nothing. But it was Mordecai’s very action, recorded in the annals, that God used to bring Mordecai to mind to the Emperor and it all played a major role in the eventual outcome of the preservation of the Jews.  

God used Esther and Mordecai – even as they got more than a little involved with their rights in that kingdom – to preserve the Jewish people and the line of succession to the eventual birth of the Messiah. I suggest you review the book of Esther.  

So yes, we ARE indeed pilgrims on this earth, just passing through – as we see the Kingdom of Heaven as our real citizenship, but we really have a “dual citizenship” while on this earth. Paul and Esther and Daniel and others show us that we indeed can and should use our earthly citizenship rights as long as they don’t contravene God’s laws. Our first priority is always to God and His kingdom.

So, for example, I just called the US Senate Switchboard for example – 202-224-3121 – same number you can use. I asked for Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida. My one voice by itself isn’t worth much, but added to the many other “one voices” out there could be powerful.

I left my 2 senators a message: “Please stop wasting all your time on a senseless ‘impeachment’ against the president where no crime has been charged and where the Dems did not present a viable case. Get back to work. Get the senate back to work. I want you to vote to acquit the President who is not even being charged with a high crime or misdemeanor – and get on with your work in the senate of approving judges, passing laws that benefit the country – like rebuilding infrastructure, improving our roads-bridges-airports, etc. and finding ways to have a more affordable health care plan for everyone. Now please… get to it.”

Now you may not agree with what I just said, but that’s not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is – USE the open doors God has given you while you can. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” We’ve been given some liberties so far. The day is coming that our present liberties will be curtailed and removed altogether. Believers will be persecuted terribly, according to prophecy. So use the liberties you still have while you can. Follow Paul’s example.

What are some of the ways – at least in America so far – that we believers can claim the laws of the land – including “appealing to Caesar”, in today’s world, going all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Many of you still work on the Sabbath of God (the 7th day of the week) even though you know you are breaking GOD’S law by doing that. Why? Because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job. Maybe so.   But the law says your company can’t discriminate for religious and other reasons. 

Feel free to call ACLJ – American Center for Law and Justice with Jay Seculow, etc. They have helped others in the past with this issue. Look up www.ACLJ.org for example. Take a few minutes reviewing their site. They plead the causes for religious freedom in particular. They mention the Christian pastor Lawan Andimi who just recently was beheaded in Nigeria, for example by Boko Haram Islamists. We need to be concerned and be praying and getting involved in these things! And ACLJ could probably help YOU. The pastor, by the way, was shown in a video telling us all “Don’t cry. Don’t worry. But thank God for everything.” Wow. That’s a true witness and martyr.

Christians – even children and teenagers -- in much of the world – particularly right now in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran and even in Hindu India – are being arrested, tortured and killed for being Christians. You can learn more about all this at www.ACLJ.org   And certainly pray for the Christians and Sabbath keepers in Kenya.

So you can “appeal to Caesar” for ---

*** Discrimination against you for keeping the 7th Day Sabbath; unable to work on Sabbath.

*** Ditto for God’s requirement to keep his holy feast days like Feast of Tabernacles

*** You can use any of the anti-discrimination laws when applicable.

*** speak up and PRAY for Christians who are being persecuted and killed around the world.

*** An obvious one to many of you: using your right to vote. Vote for a president who supports Right to Life and is the most anti-abortion president ever. He has his faults, but not voting for him means a greater chance the other side will win with their socialism, pro-abortion, anti-male, anti-white male, anti-Christian, anti- male/female marriage, pro transgender/LGBTQ stances, their open borders, soft on the law and justice, etc. etc. And if you don’t vote, please never complain about the state of the country or what’s going on.

So, though many of you may disagree with me, while I can, I vote for the side that seems closest to the ideals of the Bible. I know God decides ultimately who will govern – but maybe when he sees so many of his children not caring who governs, maybe he gives us the leaders he feels we deserve. And don’t forget, Daniel was a high official in even the pagan governments of Babylon and Persia. So was Mordecai. And so were Esther, and Joseph in Egypt. Nehemiah pleaded his case to Cyrus the emperor. GOD still works his will so often by working through PEOPLE – sometimes even pagan emperors.

Yes, we’re also told we are pilgrims and sojourners in this world. We’re told to come out of Babylon. Those are not contradictions to what I’ve just said. Just use the whole word of God, all the scriptures, and then it will be clear what to do. Daniel, Joseph, Mordecai, Esther and Nehemiah worked in and with pagan governments, but their hearts were not in this present system but in the Kingdom of God. And as I’ve shown, Paul certainly worked the system, while also calling himself a citizen of God’s kingdom. So let’s find that balance.

So – like Paul – while we can, use the civil liberties we can, while we can. Like Paul, use the justice system to your advantage if and when you can. He appealed to Caesar and as a result, even some of Caesar’s HOUSEHOLD were exposed to the truth and became saints –

Philippians 4:22 “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household”.

Wow, how God used that imprisonment of Paul in Rome is spectacular. Paul said it gave him the opportunity to spread the good news and to bring people to salvation.

Hallelujah.

***

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What fills your mind?

What fills your mind? What do you think about?  What do you hear, see and get involved in?  What do you spend your time on?  And how will that affect you? How will that affect your eternity?  How does that affect your relationship with God? 

I’m hoping this blog will go well with the recent video sermon I gave on not ever becoming desensitized by the world and by evil – or jaded, or as scripture even puts it, “past feeling”.   We see Satan’s world – not God’s world – changing so fast that I fear too many believers just don’t care anymore as much as we should. Please check out that sermon.

Plus, we may have been allowing ourselves to expose our minds and thoughts to movies, thoughts, discussions, arguments, debates and even news that don’t comport to what we’re told to be spending our time on. I’ve too often been guilty of that too, and that is why I did that study. And after a while, we start saying things like “there’s nothing I can do about it”, or “that’s just the way things are” or “we have to get used to these changes. They’re here to stay”. . . . as if we believers don’t have any power, or shouldn’t speak up or do or say anything. So we become desensitized. I hope you’ll watch/hear that sermon.

The end-time church is described as the church where Christ is “at the door, knocking” – trying to get more into our lives. He calls it Laodicean. They were a lukewarm church who thought they weren’t so bad. In fact they say they are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing – physically and spiritually. They definitely were becoming blinded to their true spiritual condition – and at times, that can describe you and me if we don’t keep our guard up.

What DO you put into your mind? Remember the old GIGO that I.T. and computer programmers used to talk about:   “Garbage in, garbage out”. Our minds are designed to absorb and be influenced by everything we allow into it. I am becoming much more discriminatory about what I decide to watch, see or hear – because we are, we become what we think about and what we absorb – probably way, way more than most of us realize.

So the reverse is true also. If we put inspiring, inspirational, clean thoughts, uplifting ideas and encouraging tidbits into our minds, guess what will most likely come out?  

Satan’s world (2 Cor. 4:4) likes to tell us that if you’re really “adult” or “mature” – you will be able to handle the violence and gore, the nudity and lewdness, the profanity and foul vulgarity, the lies, smears, insults and meanness that fills so many of our movies and shows.

Don’t buy into that. Don’t. I’ve been urging some of my relatives – nephews, etc. – to give up the violent video games for example.

It’s long been known that what one imagines in detail is imbedded on the brain as much as if you did that thing you were imagining and picturing in your mind, in detail.

Does that make a lot clearer then why Yeshua says that if we hate someone in our heart, we have just as well murdered that person? Have you ever thought, “I am SO FURIOUS at so-and-so that I could just kill him!”? That’s what Yeshua’s talking about. Matthew 521-26. Please open up your Bible and read it for yourself. He says to reconcile with someone we’re at odds with. He says don’t even finish praying until you’ve taken steps to be reconciled.

Or he also said if we lust after a woman as we mentally undress someone – and beyond – we have in our hearts already committed adultery. Satan’s world’s movies make it so easy to hate someone, kill someone, get in bed sexually with someone first in our hearts – and then the actual acts are much easier once we’ve had a few “mental run-throughs”. See Matthew 5:27-28.

Well, this time let’s read it: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

What are we to do when we see our minds and hearts sinning?

 

We are to take drastic measures. That’s the hard part. Keep reading Matthew 5:29-30. To apply this, that would mean completely changing our habits, the movies and shows we watch and all of that. He clearly states that if we don’t, we could end up in a lot of trouble. He says, “cast into hell”. Yep, that’s what Yeshua himself says. That’s how serious this is.

So guess what Satan does with his world? He makes it real easy to be jaded by evil because we start hearing, seeing, and participating through movies and shows as we let our minds wallow in all this garbage.

Do a quick check of what you like to watch and listen to. Am I talking about you too?

Didn’t Yeshua (Jesus) himself also tell us that out of our MINDS (he said “our hearts”) comes good and bad? So what we put in, does come out.

Mark 7:21-23 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

It’s what comes from within, he says. How do those things get within us? And does his list describe the shows, videos and movies we watch and participate in?

Remember too that Paul tells us God will destroy whoever defiles his temple, which temple we are!   (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We are to be God’s holy temple, for God and Christ actually reside inside us by their Spirit (John 14:23).

So what does scripture clearly tell us to think about?

Click Here to finish this brief but so vital article.

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The 80% Principle of Prayer

 

By R. Herbert

Not all prayer is asking for something, but a great deal of it obviously is.  When we do ask, do we pray mainly for our own physical and spiritual needs and concerns?   There is no doubt that it is acceptable to pray for these things – we have Christ’s encouragement to do so – but that is only part of the picture we find in the words of Jesus and in the New Testament as a whole.

Jesus certainly commanded us to pray about our own needs. “Give us this day our daily bread” lies at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:11), but we should never forget that all the petitions in that guide to prayer are for the needs of others – “us” – as well as our own.

Asking in Acts

If we continue in the New Testament and look at the Book of Acts, we find something very interesting. Acts continually speaks of prayer in the Church, but if we set aside the scriptures that simply tell us that the early church members prayed and we look only at verses telling us what the early believers were praying, in most translations we find only 2 verses in that book showing people praying for their own situations and 12 verses showing believers praying for the needs and welfare of others. This means that of the recorded prayers in Acts, some 83% are prayers on behalf of others rather than prayers for the individual who was offering the prayer.

If we have not thought about this topic before, the statistic may seem unexpected. Perhaps we would expect the ratio to be about 50/50 – prayer for others just as much as for ourselves. But the 83% prayer for others we find in Acts is a powerful statement of another way of looking at prayer – and the Book of Acts is not alone in taking this view.

Paul and Prayer

When we look at the writings of the apostle Paul, we find the principle corroborated.   Paul speaks of prayer some 50 times in his epistles. Apart from non-specific examples, when we look at the nature of the prayers Paul mentions we find only three instances of praying for one’s own needs. Seven times Paul speaks of praying generally; but in some 40 of the 50 instances (80%) where he mentions specific things being prayed about, we find him speaking of praying for others or urging people to do likewise. For example, Paul tells us that he and his fellow workers prayed constantly for the spiritual needs of others:

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

And he urged others to continually do the same:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20, etc.).

So the pattern we found in Acts where we are told what people were praying for is repeated in the epistles of Paul where he so frequently tells what we should be praying for. These facts should speak to us. It is not a matter of attempting to establish Christian practice through statistics. It is simply acknowledging that of the prayers recorded and commanded in the New Testament Church the great majority – somewhere around 80% – are prayers for others.  

Applying a Principle

That’s why we can think of this fact as the 80% principle of what we ask for in prayer. It’s an estimated number with no claim to being correct to the third decimal place, but it’s a rounded number with a clear message.   The 80% principle does not mean we should not pray for our own needs – and in some circumstances, of course, our own needs may be urgent and take full precedence in our thoughts. But the 80% principle opens a window for us to see how the early Church saw prayer, how Paul encouraged us to pray; and it gives added meaning to Jesus’ words that we pray for “us” in the plural.

We certainly don’t need to feel constrained to structure our prayers to a certain percentage in a certain way, but if we are growing more and more like the One to whom we are praying, the chances are that our prayers will become increasingly full of the needs of others and reflect our concern for them. If our prayers are growing in that direction and we begin to see the needs of others as usually greater than our own needs, we can trust that God will be pleased with our prayers – perhaps 100% pleased. 

R. Herbert, Ph.D., was trained in biblical studies and Ancient Near Eastern languages and archaeology. He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org, TacticalChristianity.org, and FreeChristianEBooks.org.

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Pagan origins of Christmas traditions

Much of the world is in the Christmas season; or “Christ’s mass”. We’re told this season is supposed to be about the birth of baby Jesus, the son of God as a human. But we’re surrounded by Christmas trees, bright lights, holly wreaths, images of a fat Santa Claus flying around with flying reindeer – and yule logs – both the wooden kind and the pastry kind made to look like a tasty log. Santa? Really? “I know when you are sleeping, I know when you’re awake…” – really?

What do all the traditions associated with Christmas have to do with the birth of Christ? And why is society celebrating the birth of God’s son in the season to honor the pagan god Saturn – and the Saturnalia orgies focused on Saturn and around the winter solstice? The solstice was a clear celebration of sun worship. The sun was coming back and days were getting longer. SUN worship: that’s the root of this holiday. How and why are pagan celebrations – re-christened with new so-called “Christian” labels, put alongside the birth of the Messiah?

In my upcoming video I will speak specifically about the TRUE story about the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) – and I ask, was it even anywhere near December 25th?

We’ll examine the way the story is told about 3 kings coming to a manger with the shepherds to worship the newborn king – and how much they’ve mangled the true story.  

But my blog today is about the trappings of Christmas. Does it matter – if we celebrate the true God in the way pagans celebrated their pagan non-existent gods? Is it OK to take something Almighty God says he detests – the worship of pagan gods – and just re-label it all now as dedicated to the true God? Is that OK?

Many who keep Christmas DO know its pagan origins but justify it by saying it’s all about Jesus now. IS that OK? Does that make it OK?

So many people who once believed as I do, that we can’t worship God from a pagan base, now keep Christmas with all the trimmings. They feel all this is harmless. IS it harmless? Is God rejoicing at all this glory going to him and his son?

This is such a serious question, such a serious offense to our God and I’ll show you – by scripture – so click on “continue reading” to see the rest of the story.

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God’s angelic protection for us

One of my favorite memories of my dad goes back to when I was just 5-6 years old. I had heard some fighting on the street in front of our house and someone had been stabbed -- so I lay there in bed, I cried out for my dad – Pastor Shields in the Philippines – and he came and sat with me in my bed. He assured me of his own presence, but also told me that GOD was with us and had protective powerful angels all around our home and in my bedroom too, even if I couldn’t see them. He prayed, we hugged, and I slept like a baby after that. I’m convinced we have our own guardian angel. Certainly scriptures hint of that, saying children have their own angel (Matthew 18:10).

Note: I see this “blog” as a study guide. I won’t write out all the scriptures but will refer to them and hope you will look them up in your own Bible. I think you’ll find yourself encouraged by this little study about angelic protection.

What and who are angels? Before mankind was created, God created angels – millions and millions of them – to serve him (Revelation 5:11). Remember all things, including the angels, were created by God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9), fulfilling God the Father’s plans. This is also evident in other well-known scriptures like John 1:1-3; Col 1:15-18; Hebrews 1:1-4 and many more. Angels are neither male nor female and do not marry (Luke 20:34-36) but are powerful, intelligent and awesome spirit beings (Hebrews 1:7).

Yes, there definitely, absolutely, is a spirit world made up of very holy spirit beings and very evil demonic spirit beings. The Bible is full of examples of angelic appearances and protection. No doubt MOST of the time we’re not even aware of angelic protection. Other times it is obvious.

Click on “Continue reading” to learn what angels are, are there good and bad angels, what do they look like in their spirit form, who was “the Angel of the LORD”, and do we have our own “guardian angel”?

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Halloween. Believers won’t participate!

This blog is on a perennial topic of the worst time of the year, as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve just given several sermons about Satan and demons and how we will demolish them in Christ.  Halloween is all about the dark forces of evil - and a time when witches and Satanists the world over have a hey-day.  Children of God:  do NOT participate in it. Do NOT let your children participate. You the adult parents or guardians will be the ones held responsible. 

You can do your own quick search on this site. Just go to the Search bar on the top right, click on it, and then when the larger search bar comes up, write “Halloween”. I have several blogs or even parts of sermons on this.

Or you can Google “Halloween’s origins” and see for yourself how this time has nothing to do with God or godliness. Halloween is not good. It’s not of God. Certainly anything to do with witchcraft, symbols of black and dark evil (bats, black cats, witches, sorcerers, demons, demonic symbolisms, murder, bloodshed, axes in people’s heads, etc. etc.) are outright condemned by God Almighty.  

And what do we find on TV now for weeks before Halloween? Non-stop horror films, scary films, bloodshed, demonism and everything UNGODLY is mostly what’s on.

Halloween is not among God’s holy days, of course. It can’t be pleasing to God. It can’t be pleasing to God’s children. It’s a night of darkness mostly. Maybe this blog is too late for some of you, but I hope you will not participate next year and onwards, after that. 

Does Halloween lead your children to delight in God and to praise and serve Him? Of course not. Does Halloween lead you and your children to love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and being and to love one another as your own self?   Of course not. Then why on earth would you participate in it? Don’t. Please don’t.

Here are some quick scriptures to get you grounded again if you were going to participate. Click on “continue reading” to see some scriptures on this.

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LIVING IN “BIBLE days”

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have lived in Bible days? Have you ever thought that? 

** To be in the Valley of Elah and watch David confront the giant Goliath?

** To be there when Yeshua walked the earth; to be part of his audience during his sermons and teachings?

** Or to hear the preaching of Jonah or Isaiah or Peter and Paul?

** To have watched Elijah and his simple prayer of faith and call down fire from heaven?

** How awesome it would have been to watch the Red Sea part in two and walk across.

** Or to have been in the Ark that Noah built.

Or better yet, how wonderful it would have been to have seen and conversed with the risen Christ and to have been among the 500 or so who watched him rise back up to heaven?

Of course I doubt we would have liked to have been among the early believers who were stoned, thrown to the lions or burned at the stake by the thousands for their professed belief in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

But still, “If only I could have lived in Bible days” we muse.

I’ve got news for you. When it is all said and done, all those people will be saying all that about you and me! All who came before us will be thinking WE are the ones who got the best of “Bible times”.

We ARE living in the very days that the prophets prophesied about! We are watching the collapse of governments as they cave to the ungodly demands of the ungodly. We will watch the formation of the Beast power and the anti-Christ great False prophet that probably is alive and active even now. Let me rephrase: we ARE already watching the formation of all the building blocks necessary to have the worldwide Beast power appear before us. Perhaps some of us just need to open our eyes to this.

Click on “Continue reading” to get more of this perspective.

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When did you last feed Yeshua?

In the parable of the sheep and goats, you know the passage (Matthew 24:31-46), Yeshua tells the sheep – his people – that he was rewarding them because they saw him – Yeshua – hungry and they fed him; thirsty and gave him drink; a stranger and took him in.  “I was naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me; in PRISON and you came to me” (verses 33-36). 

Tell me, when did you last feed Yeshua? When did you last invite Christ himself in or spend time with him in prison? In fact, have you ever been to a prison, ever, to speak to the souls inside?

So Matthew 25 is a nice story, but are we doing any of it? Can you and I actually point to a time and place and people who needed clothes and shoes and we clothed them, or people in prison and we visited? Or strangers who needed a place to stay and we brought them in? Have you ever given a thirsty believer an actual clean cup of water? Have you ever knelt beside someone (other than immediate family) who was sick and prayed for him or her for as long as it took?

When we love and take care of the body of Christ – the believers especially – our Savior considers it being done to him. In the same way, if we disregard or attack his Body of believers, that too, he takes personally. Remember to Saul (Paul) he said, “Why are you persecuting ME”.

God reminds us through James what a cop-out it is to just say, “Be warm, be filled, my thoughts and prayers are with you” when we hear of people needing real tangible help – but besides claiming to think about them, we do nothing tangible?  That’s a cop-out and NOT what we’re being called to be a part of!

We all, including me, we all speak of love and faith, but are our deeds proving our faith and obedience?

James 2:14-17 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Click on “continue reading” to discover ways and ideas on how you can start to fulfill these words of Yeshua and James, his brother.

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Seven Biblical “Firsts”

In this post, we are not talking about historical first events such as the first sacrifice or the first building of a city that is mentioned in the biblical narrative, but the first appearance of terms that play vitally important roles in conveying the teachings of the Bible – words such as faith, hope, love, etc.  We have selected seven of these key concepts; seeing their first occurrences can be instructive as well as interesting. 

FAITH – Finding the first instance of the word “faith” in the Bible is not as simple as it may seem. This is because the Hebrew of the Old Testament has at least six words that can reflect different aspects of the idea.  But many of these words carry meanings such as “faithful” which really means some aspect of loyalty (Genesis 5:22, 24, etc.). When it comes to the concept of faith as “trust,” the first clear instance is found in Genesis 15:6 which tells us “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (emphasis added). Paul quotes this verse in the New Testament and translates it with the Greek word pistis – the same word he uses throughout his writings on faith.

HOPE – The first mention of hope is found in the book of Ruth. In Ruth 1:12 we find Naomi telling her daughters-in-law: “Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me – even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons…”  Here, in hope’s first appearance in scripture we see the very real difference between faith and hope.

LOVE – Arguably the most important single concept in the Bible, the first mention of love in the Bible occurs in Genesis 22 when God tells Abraham: “… Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:3).  Once again, a key biblical concept first appears in the stories about Abraham, in this case a particularly important one. This is not only the first occurrence of the word love in the Bible, it is also the love of a father for his son – a foreshadowing or pre-enactment of the greatest act of sacrificial love the world has known.

JUDGMENT – Although judgment is a quality often associated with the Old Testament in the minds of many, the word “judgment” itself does not appear till relatively late in the biblical narrative. It is only when we get to Exodus 6:6 that we read: “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”   Judgment here in its first mention, as in so many cases in the Old Testament, is associated with an equal stress on salvation – in this case the physical saving of Israel.

TRUTH – This is one of several key biblical concepts first mentioned specifically in the story of Joseph. Genesis 42:16 records Joseph telling his brothers: “Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!”

MERCY – Like truth, we first find this vital spiritual principle in the story of Joseph. Genesis 43:14 records his father Jacob telling Joseph’s brothers: “And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you ...”  This is the original biblical story in which mercy and truth are juxtaposed.

FORGIVENESS – Yet another important biblical term – the last one on our list – is first specifically mentioned in the Joseph story. In Genesis 50:17 we read: “‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father…” The key qualities of mercy and forgiveness were obviously at the core of this story.

Looking at these “first occurrences” of key terms in the biblical narrative, it is especially interesting to notice that two of them – faith and love – first appear in the story of Abraham and three others – truth, mercy and forgiveness – occur in the story of Joseph.  That accounts for five of the seven spiritual qualities that we look at here, and noticing these key “firsts” helps us to realize the importance of these two stories in the development of the Bible’s teachings.  In these two stories alone we find direct examples of spiritual concepts that lie at the very heart of all the Bible contains.  It is not surprising then that the stories of Abraham and Joseph are recognized as perhaps the greatest foreshadowings by individuals in the Old Testament of Jesus Christ –  in whom these qualities would all be perfected. 

R. Herbert (a pen name), Ph.D., was trained in biblical studies and Ancient Near Eastern languages and archaeology. He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org.

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“LUCIFER” was not Satan’s real name!

I’m going through a 3-part sermon about shutting the door to Satan and his demons. Within this series, to which I hope you will listen, you will learn a lot about the origin of the bad angels called demons, and their leader The Adversary (that’s what “Satan” means). You’ll learn of our power over them granted to us by Yeshua who totally defeated Satan. You’ll learn HOW we overpower and defeat them. 

Jews call their evil leader “HaSatan”. “Ha” in Hebrew simply means “the”. So they call him what he is – The Adversary, the Enemy.

One of the most common errors taught in the name of the Bible is this: “Satan’s original name was ‘Lucifer’.” You’ve heard that before, right?

Well, actually “Lucifer” never ever was Satan’s name before he rebelled. It’s very important you understand this. That name is not in the original Hebrew inspired version of Scripture. Did you realize that?

“But wait”, you say, “doesn’t Isaiah 14:12 call him ‘Lucifer?”

In our English Bibles, yes it does call him either Lucifer or “morning star” – which is what LUCIFER means. I used to be taught it meant “Light Bringer” – but that has more to do with his given Hebrew name. As I’ll show you, being called “Lucifer” is one of the greatest robberies Satan has pulled off: he’s taken a description that belongs to Yeshua, the TRUE Morning Star, and has inspired translators to use the LATIN word Lucifer that means “morning star” (or planet Venus) as his name in Isaiah 14:12.

Follow this carefully now. It’s very important. Names are very crucial to God.

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew with a smattering of Aramaic. We call the “Old Testament” -- “the Hebrew Scriptures” as they were written in Hebrew and were originally written for and by the Hebrew people – though it’s clear the Bible really is for all peoples.

In our English Bibles Isaiah 14:12 does say this:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

But the name LUCIFER comes straight as a borrowed word from Jerome’s LATIN Vulgate translation of the Bible. Jerome used the Latin word “Lucifer” instead of the original Hebrew word “Heylel”. And Latin speaking people called the planet we know as “Venus” – LUCIFER. It was their name for the Morning Star.

Here’s how Young’s Literal Translation more correctly puts it as we read about the former arch-angel, a 4-winged covering cherub who sinned:

Isaiah 14:12 –“How hast thou fallen from the heavens, O shining one (Heylel in Hebrew), son of the dawn!”

The name given there in Hebrew is “Heylel” meaning “shining one” or “brightness”. I used to be taught that it meant “Light Bringer” but “Shining one” is more accurate.

Click here on “continue reading” to learn more about this monstrous theft and to find out who was robbed! (It will only be temporary though).

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The Tax Collector and the High Cost of Love

In his book The Cost of Discipleship, the theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously distinguishes between what he called “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” While Bonhoeffer defined cheap grace as requiring nothing from us and being ultimately meaningless, he characterized costly grace, on the other hand, as something that takes something from us, something that hurts, something that costs:  “the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.”

Exactly the same can be said of Christian love.  Love that does not cost us anything ultimately accomplishes little and has little depth.  It is so often only costly love that makes a real difference in the lives of others. There is a wonderful example of this principle in the Gospel of Luke – though it is one that we often read over – in the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham (Luke 19:1-9).

By way of back-story to this account, Luke tells us that as Jesus approached Jericho he healed a blind man at which the people praised God (Luke 18:35-42).  As he entered Jericho then, Jesus was a hero – beloved of the city’s inhabitants who had gone out to meet him as he approached.  But in Chapter 19 Luke tells us that Jesus was only passing through the town and that he declined to stay overnight. This doubtless disappointed many citizens, especially as Middle Eastern culture meant that as a teacher of God’s word (to say nothing of the fact that he was regarded as a famous prophet who healed by the power of God), Jesus doubtless would have been offered hospitality and would normally have accepted it. 

But as Jesus left Jericho, a strange scene unfolds.  Zacchaeus, the chief regional tax collector for the Roman occupation, desired to see Jesus and so he ran down the road a little way and climbed up a sycamore tree to get a better view.  The fact that it is mentioned that it was a sycamore tree is interesting as those trees usually have a profuse covering of large leaves and it is very possible that Zacchaeus chose the tree as one from which he could see Jesus as he passed by, but not be seen by crowds that thronged around the Teacher.

As the local tax collector and thus a “collaborator” in the eyes of many, Zacchaeus may well have been the most disliked individual in the city.  Tax collectors often charged far more than the actual Roman tax rates and pocketed the extra cash – as Luke tells us was true in this case (Luke 19:8). So positioning himself in the leafy tree might well have been a conscious and prudent decision on the part of Zacchaeus.  A hated tax collector caught in the swirl of a large crowd could easily come to harm.

Yet Luke tells us that when Jesus drew near to where the collaborator was, he called out and not only greeted the man, but openly stated that he would like to spend the night in his home.  We have to concentrate on this situation to really understand the effect of this behavior on the inhabitants of Jericho.  Not only had the teacher declined the hospitality of "decent" citizens, but now, after indicating he would not stay the night, he changed his mind in order to stay in the home of the most hated man in town. Not only was Zacchaeus hated, but as a tax collector he was “unclean” and anyone who entered his home, ate there, or stayed the night, would automatically also be made unclean.

The reaction of the crowd as recorded by Luke is understandable in these circumstances: “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner’” (Luke 19:7).  Because of his reaching out to Zacchaeus in love Jesus incurred the total displeasure of not just a few, but of “All the people.” The famous prophet and teacher, the beloved healer of one of their own citizens, instantly became an object of local displeasure and perhaps even anger and scorn.

Nevertheless, as Luke shows, the love that Jesus extended to the hated individual was repaid in the man’s true and thorough repentance and his promise to more than restore all of the excess money he had taken from his neighbors (Luke 19:8).  We must remember that Zacchaeus already knew the law of Moses, already knew that it was wrong to cheat and steal.  It was not hearing an exposition of the law that changed the tax collector, but seeing the demonstration of love that Jesus made to him.  Zacchaeus was moved and transformed by that love, but it was not free.  Jesus immediately paid a price for the expression of his love, but he did so knowing full well that the cost of real love is often high.  

R. Herbert (a pen name), Ph.D., was trained in biblical studies and Ancient Near Eastern languages and archaeology. He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at LivingWithFaith.org and TacticalChristianity.org.

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