Light on the Rock Blogs

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

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

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

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

The Second Passover

“The Second Passover” – 30 days after the first Passover on the 14th of Abib, which is usually in late March or early April.  I was amazed that I had not addressed this or written a blog on this topic earlier. So here it is!  In fact, I think the “2nd Passover” should be included in the cards some groups hand out listing the dates of the various key dates and holydays for the coming years.

Passover remembers the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus the Messiah – and let me add, the sacrifice of God the father also – which makes forgiveness possible. I say “the Father also”, because any loving father would gladly take a bullet for his beloved son. God CERTAINLY sacrificed so much for us in the Passover. And it was GOD’s idea. GOD who so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son to come die for us, for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to die and bear our own sins and their penalty. And of course His one life as the Son of God was more valuable than all of humanity put together, hence his one life could cover as many repentant sinners as would accept his sacrifice.

But now what happens when unavoidable circumstances force you to miss the Passover? God considers the Passover to be so important, that he allows for those who can’t keep the first date to have a second shot, 30 days later. It comes up in Numbers 9:6-12, a year after Israel left Egypt. Touching a dead body made Israelites ceremonially unclean and unable to keep the Passover.

Several Israelites could not keep Passover the year after the exodus from Egypt, because they had touched a dead body (Numbers 9:6-8; Leviticus 7:20-21). That rendered them ceremonially unclean. This deeply concerned them so they asked Moses what to do and he in turn asked God (Num. 9:8). God’s answer shows his tender love and his willingness to accept that sometimes events occur that make it impossible to do what God commands – like keeping the Passover on a certain time and date. So God allows – in this case – for an exception to the rule. (It reminds us of the “ox in the ditch” ruling that even on the weekly sabbath, some real emergencies can arise.)

So if you just cannot make the Passover because you’re away on a big, long trip, or there’s been death in the family, read the scripture below and understand: you can keep Passover, but a month after the first one. The fact that God allows us to have a second chance at Passover, shows how important it is to him.

Hallelujah and praise to our God. This second Passover is truly for those in unavoidable circumstances. Examples of this could certainly apply to those in the hospital or other clear emergencies. If a new pandemic hits us that is sweeping the globe lightning-fast, that may also be a reason to postpone for a month, if you need to meet with a group.

But remember, worshiping God in a “group” could be smaller than you might think. In the case of a pandemic,  I believe I’d just stay home with my beloved wife and the two of us would have Passover together, by ourselves. Don’t forget “Where TWO or THREE are gathered together in my name, I AM THERE in the midst of them”  (Matthew 18:20). 

So if at least two believers can keep Passover – with footwashing and eating of the Bread from heaven and sipping of his cup and all that means, by all means do it, even if it is just 2 or three of you. No, you do NOT have to have an ordained minister leading the service. In the original Passover of Exodus 12, they were family meetings led by the father of the household. They weren’t led by Levites or priests (in fact there were no priests yet at that time) 

Notice too that Christ and Paul focused on the cup as much as what was in the cup.

Drinking of his cup says you are willing to accept whatever God has in store for you as a believer and you will be true to your Savior no matter what. Of course the red wine pictures everything the Son’s blood does for us: cleanses us from our sins, forgives our sins, reconciles us to God, removes the wrath of God that is on us due to our sins, and restores our right relationship with Most Holy God.  I have a sermon that goes in depth into what the Blood of Christ does for us.

Now here’s the account of how the Second Passover came to be.

Numbers 9:1-13

Now YHVH spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 "Let the children of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it." 4 So Moses told the children of Israel that they should keep the Passover. 5 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, in the Wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did.

6 Now there were certain men who were defiled by a human corpse, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day; and they came before Moses and Aaron that day. 7 And those men said to him, "We became defiled by a human corpse. Why are we kept from presenting the offering of the Lord at its appointed time among the children of Israel?"

8 And Moses said to them, "Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you."

9 Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord's Passover.

11 On the fourteenth day of the SECOND month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.

13 But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the LORD at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin.”

Interesting that we either let Christ bear our sin – or we bear it ourselves (verse 13).

Are there any other examples of Second Passover besides Numbers 9?  Absolutely.

Read 2 Chronicles 30 for yourself. In King Hezekiah’s day, he invited the remnants of the House of Israel who had survived the Assyrian wars and captivity, to come down to Jerusalem and turn back to God. Most of the northern Tribes laughed at the messengers, but quite a few DID respond. But time was passing and they missed the first Passover. Nonetheless, they remembered the SECOND Passover, in the second month. It was a time of jubilation and reform in Judah and for many from Ephraim and Manasseh and Zebulon from up north as well.

So they kept Passover a month later, in the second month of God’s calendar. I’ll pick up at 2 Chronicles 30:10.

2 Chronicles 30:10-22

So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them. 11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.

13 Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the SECOND MONTH.

14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron. 15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the Lord. 16 They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites.

17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the Lord. 18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary." 20 And YHVH listened to Hezekiah and healed the people. 

21 So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing to YHVH, accompanied by loud instruments. 22 And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of YHVH; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.”

What a wonderful God we have.

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Are we FAITHFUL in LITTLE things too?

This is a very important topic, as we get ready for the kingdom of God to be set up on earth relatively soon. Will you be there? And if so, in what capacity?

As we come to Christ, and let him live in us, and face and tackle our sinful flesh, realize the change has to be total. Jesus teaches that one way He and Father look at our reliability is that we are reliable, faithful, trusted even in what we might consider to be just little things.

But the way people treat so-called “little things” shows their character.

What things are “no big deal” to you? Or we also say, “not a biggie”, to use a couple of expressions. There certainly are some things that truly are not a big deal but a surprising number of things we say or feel are no big deal might be a big deal to God. Why? Because it shows our heart.

If we’re faithful in little, God will reward us. If you’re not, you won’t be rewarded. I’m not necessarily talking about being saved – but being rewarded. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, and as we read in Eph 2:8-9 we have already been saved, and it is finalized if we endure to the very end. But though we’re not saved by our deeds, big and small, we ARE rewarded by our deeds, big and small.

Read these carefully:

Luke 16:10

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” 

Luke 19:17-19

And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.'  18 And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.'  19 Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.'   [These are definitely rewards]

Matthew 25:20-21

"So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' 

21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

What are “little things” to you?

  • We might always be kind and respectful to people outside our home but maybe not so kind and respectful to our wife or husband or children. “They’re just kids. It’s not a big deal” – we might falsely reason. But that’s an example of a “little thing” that God is watching.
  • How well do you keep sabbath? Or is it not a big deal to not be ready for sabbath properly? Or to be vacuuming your home still a few minutes into the sabbath… but you’re almost done. What do you do on sabbath because those things are not a big deal, are just a little thing to you?
  • Truthfulness little white lies. We even call them “little”, not a big thing… but a lie is a lie. There’s so much lying that goes on so we never know if we’re being told 100% the truth – or a lie. In turning in reports, are your reports 100% the truth? Watch this one. It’s so easy to lie but hardly notice it.
  • Are we considerate of the needs of others? It’s polite when calling someone to first ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time? Or can you talk for a little while?” That’s a little thing that shows a deeply loving heart.
  • One I have to do better at: being on time for appointments and meetings. Certainly for church services or conference calls, don’t be late. Don’t make others wait for you to arrive. Don’t make GOD wait for you to arrive. Yes, I have to be better at this too. Being on time – meaning you arrive a few minutes earlier – means a lot to everyone. Habitually being late means you don’t care how your late arrival is impacting others. It’s inconsiderate. It’s not being like God. Being late for a dinner or meal being put on for you can spoil the host’s dinner! Don’t do it. It’s more than just a “little thing”. 
  • Those of you in Kenya and Tanzania who submit sabbath reports: that’s not a little thing. Submitting those reports on time, not late, shows God you’ll also be faithful in much. We have to chase down some of you to get your reports in at all, let alone on time! I personally read every word, check your sermonettes and sermons and prayer requests, etc. Your reports often lead me to bow my head in prayer for you for specific requests. So send those in, as I ask God to bless those of you needing blessings. In fact, this very article would be a good sermonette for you guys to use as well.
  • Have you ever taken the time to learn the name of a custodian cleaning out the bathroom in a store or work place, and tell her how much you appreciate how she keeps the place so sparkling clean. Last time I said that, the lady was amazed, and may have even been a bit emotional as she said, “No one has ever said such a nice thing to me. Thank you. It means so much to me.”

Doing such a thing shows your converted spirit-filled heart.  That “little thing” action – showed God a lot. He notes that.  

At the same token, when we’re not being served well, or have to wait in line or online for a long time before we get any service, how are we with the person on the other end when they’re finally talking again?  Oh, I’ve blown this one too many times in the past but am praying for a new godly way of not taking out my frustrations on the man or woman on the other end. Be kind. Be patient. Be sweet. Be faithful in little – so God can trust us with much.

  • Trash. Do you EVER throw your trash out your car window? If you’re a baptized child of God, shame on you. Do you see trash on your street as you walk around your block? Pick it up, throw it away. Or pick up stuff lying on the floor where you work. Pick it up. These are little things that show a big heart.
  • How well do you follow rules? Government rules, speed limits, stopping fully at stop signs, following your pastor’s instructions at church. Not cheating on your income tax – not even one dollar.
  • Gossip. That’s not a little thing. Too many of God’s children still talk about others in negative ways. Sing the praises of God’s children instead.
  • We know better – I hope – than to commit adultery for example… but do we push the limit by staring too long where our eyes should not be on an immodestly undressed woman? Or is that just a little thing to you? And ladies, a little thing to you perhaps, but are you showing cleavage or thigh that can cause lusts to rise up in your brothers in God’s family - - who see you in that blouse or those hot pants or short skirt? Would you dress immodestly like that if you knew Jesus was coming to see you? Would you? Well, Jesus IS seeing you! He’s IN your brothers.

So it’s not just a little thing. Immodest dress can cause a serious lust and sin in the men around you. At the beach – are you following the latest trends, ladies, and exposing your entire bottom and most of your skin? Don’t. That’s not even just a little thing.  But even in God’s church services, dressing immodestly is happening more and more. Let’s wake up and be faithful in little things!

  • One thing I really want to zero in on much more in my own life: my body and my health. Our body is the residence, the dwelling of God’s HOLY SPIRIT. In fact Father and Yeshua/Jesus are IN me and IN you (John 14:23). What kind of temple are we providing for their dwelling? Are we clean, modest, eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough sleep?

I’m NOT referring to those of you who have been in bad accidents  

or who are getting old and infirm or are paralyzed and can’t do much for their bodies or health. I’m talking to those of us who can exercise, can move, can decide what we put into our mouths.

  • WORRYING. Jesus commands us not to worry. It means we think we are facing a problem too big for God. Worrying is not a little problem. Worrying has to stop. Instead, learn to thank God IN all our concerns (Phil 4:6-7) and FOR all our trials and all things (Eph 5:20).

ARE you getting the point? Examples of “just a little thing” -- can be endless. 

Be faithful in little things and God will be able to know how well you’ll handle the big things He has in mind for you.

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Brothers don’t use titles

If you were the actual flesh and blood half-brother of Jesus Christ (same mother, different father), and you were introducing yourself to others, how would you introduce yourself? James – who wrote the epistle of James, was such a brother. The other James – the brother of John, was martyred remember (Acts 12:1-3).

Here’s what he said. Unlike the epistles written by Paul and Peter – he doesn’t even bother mentioning that he also is an apostle.

James 1:1   “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” 

WOW! “I’m just a bondservant of my Lord Jesus the Messiah!” Several translations take the word “bondservant’ and simply say “SLAVE of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” – as in the LEGACY translation, Holman and New Living Translation.

Here’s someone who was born from the same mother as Jesus was, and who is an apostle and leader of the Jerusalem Headquarters church – but all he says about himself is – “I am a SLAVE of God and of our Master Jesus the Messiah.” 

He didn’t focus on his titles or “qualifications” at all, except being a slave of his half-brother. 

James had another brother who was also half-brother to Jesus (they had a different father). That brother was JUDE. Notice how Jude also starts HIS letter. 

Jude 1  “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ…”

I love this. He also is the SLAVE or servant of Jesus Christ. He also doesn’t add “and brother of Jesus.” No, he only mentions he is the brother of James. He also became an apostle like his brother. But no mention even of their titles from either one of them.

In your church, perhaps you all call your pastor by some title like “Pastor,” or “Elder.” Or if they were to write an email to someone, they’d feel they must sign off as Elder so-and-so, or Pastor so-and-so. 

I bring all this up because we have decided in Light on the Rock that we shouldn’t call members of our own family – including leaders in the church, our spiritual family -- by big titles.

My physical brother is Loren. I don’t call him by some big title. Just simply Loren. He simply calls me Philip. And when I sign off on an email or note to anyone in our fellowship, I’m simply Philip. When I write to our pastors in Kenya, I simply use their first name. I’ve instructed them that even in Church services, all the brethren are simply to refer to them also by just their first name. That’s what Jesus taught. That’s the example we have throughout the New Testament as we’ll see.

But somehow, it’s become the norm in many congregations and churches to call the church pastor by some title – Elder so-and-so, or Pastor so-and-so or Bishop, Overseer, Apostle, Coordinator, or people will at least refer to their leader, regardless of his age, as “Mr. so-and so” – ostensibly to show respect.

When Paul spoke of the other leaders in the church – Peter, James and John and other apostles, he simply referred to them as Peter, James, John, Barnabas, Apollos. He usually used no titles when referring to them. So why do we? When Luke wrote the Book of Acts, he simply used their first names also, not big titles. So why do we think we have to have even our older brethren refer to even a young church pastor as Mr. so-and-so when he’s hardly 30 or 35 years old, or even younger? Where are the scriptures to support that?

If anything, Jesus tells us NOT to be called “rabbi” or “father” in a religious way. So why do Catholics refer to their priest as “Father” this or that. Let’s read what our Savior said. The context is warning his disciples about the way the religious leaders of their day – the Scribes and Pharisees liked to be treated and addressed.

Matthew 23:6-12   “They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' 

8 But you, do NOT be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all BRETHREN.

9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

10 And do not be called Teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

Read and re-read that please until you have resolved to obey Jesus. DO NOT call someone “Teacher, Father, or Rabbi” – because you’re all brothers! I hope you Catholics and Jews are reading this too. You’re all family members. And we don’t call family members by titles – titles that belong frankly, HE says, either to him (Jesus/Yeshua) or to our Father in heaven. And so I tell our ministers I work with: “cut out the use of titles when you send emails. Don’t let yourselves be addressed by religious titles. Just use your first name. We’re all brothers and sisters. Speak as if that is what you are.”

Titles tend to elevate someone’s opinion of themselves. So he concludes that section by reminding his disciples to stay low – like a servant or slave, just like James and Jude did. I’ve seen those trying to exalt themselves just end up demoted or outright removed. Jesus was a perfect Servant Leader. He did lead. He did show the way, but he also constantly found ways to serve others – he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and encouraged the downtrodden. That’s our example.

Father” – of course we can call our earthly fathers our father. And symbolically, Paul even called himself the father of some congregations, but he didn’t tell anyone to call him “father,’ like Catholic priests do. The priests in Catholicism wield extraordinary power. As one Catholic told me, “they can consign you to hell, if they wish.”  True or not, it conveys the power they wield. The ONLY One we should call “Holy Father” is God Most High, Father of Jesus Christ and our father. NO MAN should ever be called “holy father.”

This also applies to the many other titles we find in churches, especially the Catholic Church. Vicar of Christ. Cardinal (meaning the main one).

Rabbi” – means “teacher.”  Jesus also tells us to call no one “rabbi” except himself (Matt.23:8). The “rabbis” loved being called the teacher. Many of us ministers can fall into that way of thinking. ALL our teaching must come from THE Teacher, Yeshua. HE is the ONE Teacher overall (v. 10).

What about respect for their office? Shouldn’t we exalt them with titles like “elder,” “Pastor” or even “Mr.”? 

Using a title is not what grants respect. Respect for someone comes from the way they live, interact with people, run their ministry, with loving kindness and patience and being led by the Holy spirit. 

I first wrote a blog on this topic in 2011. IN there I also remind readers that there are in fact elders, teachers and shepherds in the church. They were put into the Body of Christ for the perfecting of the saints and for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) Positions in the Body of Christ are functions, they’re there for a reason. We all have different functions (Romans 12:4-5), and yet we are all part of the body of Christ. He’s the Head, the Chief Shepherd, the Leader.

We respect and honor them – but not any more than we would a widow or orphan. All with God’s spirit are members of the body of Christ and deserve respect – without needing a fancy title. We all are the holy sanctuary of God’s spirit. 

In the end, it’s vital we simply obey Jesus’ commands. He said to cut out the

titles and focus instead on serving one another. Read Luke 22:26-30.

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

He goes on to explain  in verses 28-30, that when we learn this in this life, he can trust us with truly great positions he will give us in his kingdom. 

Luke 22:28-30  "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,  30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

We remember Jesus’ words: you are brethren, all part of God’s family. Brothers and sisters just call each other by first name, nothing more. We don’t focus on title but on serving and loving one another. So if you see me as your brother, I’m simply Philip. Nothing more.

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WHY we must understand Wave Sheaf Day 

Wavesheaf day is not a holyday but is explained in Leviticus 23. I have many sermons and blogs which go into far more detail about Wavesheaf Day, always in between the two regular weekly sabbath days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

Most church groups I know omit or barely mention Wavesheaf day. In 2024, it is on April 28. It always falls on the first day of the week, or “Sunday”. This blog is to simply give you a very broad view of this day. It’s not a holy day. There is no appointed church time, there’s no church services, no church assembly. It’s not a “moed” – or a divine appointment with God. 

So what is it? In its most simple form, it’s the day when Messiah rose from the tomb and on the first day of the week, as He told Mary Magdalene, “I must go to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God” (John 20:17). So He did. But WHY did Yeshua/Jesus have to go to his Father on this day? 

The very firstfruits of the barley harvest was ready to be presented to God for approval, so the barley harvest could proceed. But first the harvest had to be shown to God so he could approve it. The firstfruits barley pictured Jesus. Once he went to heaven after his resurrection, and was accepted and approved by God the Father, He was ALSO being accepted on behalf of the rest of the harvest. ON behalf of the rest of us! We are also called firstfruits (James 1:18), but Christ is the first of the first fruits of barley. 

We are firstfruits in the sense of the first harvests of the land of Israel. The rest of the harvest continues all year long – but the early harvest of barley and even the spring/Summer wheat was considered first fruits. God will harvest the rest of his crops later, BUT each in his own order, starting with Christ the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23, 20-25). Right now God is entirely focused on those He is calling now. NOT everyone is being called now to have that special intimate relationship with God the Father right now. And we can’t just decide all that ourselves. 

Jesus said no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). And no one could come to Christ even, unless the Father first calls him/her first (John 6:44). 

Jesus as the first of the firstfruits had to be presented to God, be accepted on behalf of the REST of the harvest [those being called now], and then the harvest continues. 

Leviticus 23:9-11 And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.” 

All the details are in the sermon and in the notes in the link below here. It wasn’t stalks of grain that the high Priest was “waving” – but a bowl of fine flour from the early barley. Read it all in the notes below. 

https://www.lightontherock.org/index.php/sermons/message/wavesheaf-is-acceptance-day?highlight=WyJ3YXZlc2hlYWYiXQ== 

You’ll notice it’s also on the “day after the sabbath” – so it’s always on a Sunday. 

SO how do I observe Wavesheaf Day? 

At 9 a.m., when that ceremony was taking place 2,000 years ago, Christ rose to heaven to be accepted and to return the same day. So at 9 a.m. on the Sunday between the two weekly sabbaths, my wife and I have a short but very thankful prayer of thanksgiving to our heavenly father and to Yeshua/Jesus. Why? 

Because – due to their profound love for you and for me, I – yes, even I with my past faults and sins, can be found to be ACCEPTED. HOW? By that special first sheaf – who was Christ. HE is now our life as Paul teaches over and over – especially in Col 3:3-4, Gal. 2:20. 

I can now know that in spite of my human weaknesses, shortcomings and stumbles into sin, God has accepted me IN Christ. You can be assured joyfully of this too! Quit the depression caused by constantly wondering if you’re able to be accepted or not. God has accepted you. You’ve been qualified, because of the perfect life of Jesus, GIFTED to us by faith. Start experiencing the JOY of salvation, knowing you’re being saved and have been saved – by God’s favor and grace (Eph 2:8-9). Here are the scriptures: 

Ephesians 2:5-9 

“even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is The GIFT OF GOD, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 

The Messiah Jesus, the Anointed One, is now my life and yours by faith. 

Colossians 3:3-4 

“For YOU died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God

4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” 

We are human flesh and we still fail spiritually ourselves. But IN Christ, who is our life, we now have been ACCEPTED. Read verse 6 below over and over until you believe and know that means even you. 

Ephesians 1:4-6 

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 

6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which HE made US ACCEPTED in the Beloved.” 

God has also qualified us for the kingdom of His dear son: 

Colossians 1:12-14 

“giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” 

We’re accepted – in the Beloved! 

If you struggle with this concept of being accepted by God it’s because you keep trying to focus on what you’re doing, instead of on what Jesus did already and has done for you … AND continues to do IN you. It’s HIS work in you. He lives in you again, as He lived the first time: perfectly in the spirit. But we keep looking to our flesh and see failure. God is looking at our spirit, where Christ is. HIS spirit merges with our spirit to make ONE NEW SPIRIT (1 Cor. 16:17). 

So get this -- because God Most High accepted Christ as the firstfruits, we are also now accepted through Christ. Read these verses below in your own Bible. God’s view of your righteousness is NOT going to be because of how righteous YOU are, but because of how righteous Jesus is, and because of the faith we have in HIM. You came under his blood, s0 He paid the highest possible price for YOU. That price? His very own life as the perfect Son of God. He bought you, and you are now a part of HIS body. 

Romans 3:21-26 The Righteousness of God is revealed through faith in Jesus on all and to all who believe – to demonstrate HIS righteousness. 

Romans 5:15-19 – shows us the GIFT of God’s righteousness. We can’t earn a gift. Therefore there can be no condemnation on us, because we are in Christ and he certainly can’t be condemned (Rom 8:1-4). 

2 Cor. 5:21 – we become the righteousness of God in Christ. 

Phil. 3:9 – we want to “be found in Him, NOT having our OWN righteousness from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” 

You will never feel settled but always wondering if you’re going to “make it” into the kingdom or not, until you learn this topic strongly. When you really learn it deeply, you will experience the deep, deep JOY of knowing you are saved, the JOY of salvation in Christ, for us, in us, and on our behalf. 

Wavesheaf Day is all about us being accepted because God had already accepted Jesus on our behalf (Lev 23:10-11). 

Hallelujah. Praise Yah! 

Again, if you wish to learn more details, check the full sermon link I gave you earlier. 

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Correctly understand eating unleavened bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did the leavened bread you threw out picture? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.

*** ***

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Who REALLY killed Christ? (NOT who you think)

Reposted April 2024 from Thursday, March 2, 2023

Almost nobody to whom I ask this question – “who really ultimately was responsible for killing Jesus?” – almost no one ever gets it completely right. Do you think you would get it right? You might be surprised. For almost everyone, it’s not who anyone thinks. Be ready to be surprised. This is not a trick question. But it’s amazing how few people get it right. If you think I’m going to say we all killed Christ by our sins – please read on, because the full answer is much, much deeper and more meaningful even than that.

(Remember you can just control-click on the scriptures in our blogs and the whole passage will pop up).

Many say the Jews did.  Certainly they’re right.  They did. Paul and others attest to that (see 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15).  Many say the Romans did. They’re right too – for it was the Roman government that had him nailed to the cross and who thrust the spear into His side. Still others say – and I’ve said in the past too – that we ALL killed Yeshua of Nazareth. Peter seems to say this to his sorrowful Pentecost audience (Acts 2:36-37), and later to a group in Acts 3:12-17, see especially verse 15.  How did we ALL kill the Christ?  By our sins, which required his atoning death. But there’s more. MUCH more. We haven’t hit on the full answer yet. Please look up those verses and read them in your own Bible or by control-clicking on to the scripture in this blog.

But all of those answers miss the biggest answer of all! As I’ve said, all the answers traditionally given are also correct, but there’s one more who really killed the Christ. 

WHAT was the Messiah? One answer is what John the Baptizer said: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Later, the apostle Paul referred to Christ as “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7), so the Passover and days of Unleavened Bread of Exodus 12 pointed to, prophesied about, the REAL Lamb, the One all those little Passover lambs were pointing to – the Lamb of God. Of course you remember that in Exodus 12, God told Israel they could present a lamb or a goat kid that had no blemish or defect (Exodus 12:5).

Who was responsible in Exodus 12 to select a lamb without blemish and to have a lamb ready on Passover and to kill that lamb for their family in that original Passover service? It was the FATHER of the household who presented the selected lamb (Exodus 12:3) and who killed the family’s Passover lamb in Exodus 12. This was happening among all the Israelites (Exodus 12:6-7). Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.”

So when we read that Yeshua/Jesus was called “the Lamb of GOD”, what was John referring to? Well, we know Jesus was crucified on Passover day, to die in our stead. He was blameless and without sin.

GOD the Father had pre-selected the Word, who became flesh and became the SON of God (John 1:14) to be His Lamb. In fact, Jesus was as good as already slain from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:18-20). So ALL the Passover lambs of Exodus 12 and afterwards, all pointed to the future fulfillment of Messiah, the Lamb of God.

God the Father had to present a lamb for His household just as the fathers had to present one lamb or kid goat per household, remember? (Exodus 12:1-3).  The Lamb being offered had to be enough for the household. ALL who wish to be part of the Household of God will partake of Father’s lamb, in Father’s house.  On Passover day, the Israelite heads of households took their chosen lamb and killed it, spilling its blood, and establishing a blood covenant between them and God. Hyssop branches were used to splatter the blood of the lamb on the lintel and door posts of each home. When God saw the blood, this protected the household from the Destroyer – but it was really God Himself who was making the decision who lived and who died. Yehovah Himself inspected and passed over each house – where we get the word “Passover” from, when He saw the blood.

Exodus 12:23
“For YHVH (the LORD) will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when HE sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD (YHVH) will PASS OVER the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”

So who really and ultimately had to kill the Lamb of God? Who alone truly could do it? Yeshua gives another clue during his final Passover.  He is quoting from Zechariah 13:7.

Matthew 26:31
Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:  'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

Who is the “I” in “I will strike the Shepherd?”  WHO is going to strike the Shepherd? Remember that Yeshua was the Word who was God and WITH God (John 1:1-2).  So let’s see what the original source – Zech 13:7 – says, and notice how God calls that Shepherd “the Man who is my COMPANION”.  If you take the time to read it, it is YHVH who is speaking. Yeshua is quoted in Matthew 26:31 as saying “I will strike the Shepherd” – but He is quoting GOD speaking in Zechariah 13:7. So GOD will strike the Shepherd. Who is the Shepherd? Jesus himself says HE is the good shepherd (John 10:11); the Shepherd who was struck by God.

Many of you know that the end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53 is a prophecy about the crucifixion and sacrifice of Yeshua of Nazareth.  (Remember I use the name His mama called Him – the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means “salvation”.)

Let’s see who did the striking and sacrificing here. Isaiah 53 explains John 3:16 – that GOD so loved the world that HE gave his one and only Son. Why? So that those who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. God the Father saw that by sacrificing His only Son for a time, that in his love he’d be opening the door to potentially millions or even billions more sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18). And Jesus was perfectly OK with that too (John 10:17-18).

Isaiah 53:4,6
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him STRICKEN, SMITTEN BY GOD, and afflicted….
6 All we like sheep have gone astray, We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And Yehovah (the Lord) has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:10-11
10 “Yet it PLEASED YHVH (the Lord) to bruise Him;
HE has put Him to grief.
When YOU make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of Yehovah (the Lord) shall prosper in His hand. 
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many; For He shall bear their iniquities.”

Did you catch that?  HE – YHVH – has put Him to grief.  WHY would God put His own innocent Son to death?  I know, I know; it’s easier to blame the Jews or the Romans.  But that misses the point of the entire Passover!  Isaiah 53:10 says GOD made His soul an offering for sin in His love for all of us!

So really the One who killed Christ was the Head of the Father’s House – Yehovah Most High, God our Father, for all those in His House who would accept this blood. The blood that covers and cleanses us from ALL our sins, no matter how bad they were. The blood of the Lamb of God, whom FATHER slew for His household, protects us from the Destroyer, saves us from the penalty of death that we earned, and covers us by His grace. Yeshua becomes the Covering for His people, for His Bride.

Still not convinced? Then what does John 3:16 say?  GOD gave His only begotten son as His LAMB for all and any who believe in the whole WORLD.  The Head of the House had to be the one to slay HIS own lamb at Passover. Perhaps this will make John 3:16 and 1 John 4:9-11 mean more now. 
What an incredible HEAD of the household of God that we have.  He offered His OWN innocent Son for all of us who will accept Him as our Savior. Paul certainly understood this in Romans 8.

Romans 8:31-34
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 HE WHO DID NOT SPARE HIS OWN SON, BUT DELIVERED HIM UP FOR US ALL, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

John 1:11-13

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

What an incredible duo. Father and Son. Yeshua adds another fold to this incredible story.  Father offers His innocent Son in order to save all who would repent and accept Him. The Son – Yeshua - -ALSO offers HIMSELF willingly and agrees to step up to Father’s Plan.  This just gets more and more amazing. Show me another religion whose God offers HIMSELF for His people!

Of course that too was pictured by Abraham offering up his grown son Isaac until God stopped it at the last minute (Genesis 22). Isaac was big and old enough to refuse it, but he obviously agreed to be sacrificed, just as Jesus did. And Isaac carried the wood, picturing the stake/cross of Christ.

John 10:17-18
"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."  

Yeshua, can I speak to you on behalf of all who are reading this: “Well done, our Master, well done. You’re simply amazing. We are not worthy of your grace and love but you offer it anyway. Thank you, our Beloved, thank you, and yes, we accept you and your covering blood again this year. You’ve washed us in your blood, you’ve wiped away our sins, and you’ve washed our feet of any of the dust/sins we’ve picked up in the last 12 months. And yes, Master, we are slowly learning to forgive and love one another as you have loved and forgiven.  You have set such an awesome example for all of us to follow. You’re amazing, holy Brother -- our Lord and Master, our Friend, our Savior, our King, our Husband-to-be, our JOY, our Love – and yes, our God. Thank you. We sure love you.”

“And Father, all of us fathers wish we could be a father like you. You are so kind, so patient, so loving, so giving, so forgiving – over and over. Thank you for that. Thank you for offering up your eternal Companion the Word so that ultimately in your plan, he becomes the Firstborn among many brethren. But what an example you are and please help me and all of us fathers be a better father.  Help all of us fathers to more perfectly turn our hearts to our children and please, please Father, turn our children’s hearts to us also, back to their fathers, and especially to you, as the ultimate Father. Please. Please teach us how, please make us all one, as you and Yeshua are one. We love you so much, holy Father. In Jesus/Yeshua’s holy name, Amen.”

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This coming full solar eclipse April 8, 2024

eclipse

comet
We all know in America that a full solar eclipse is due April 8, 2024.
It will cross from Eagle Pass, Texas heading northwest through Dallas, Cleveland, Erie, Burlington VT – and through Maine. The full eclipse will last almost four minutes, longer than most eclipses. If you are planning to watch it, if you’re in the path, be sure to use true eclipse glasses, not just sunglasses.

As an aside, the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion was not, and could not have been, an eclipse, as that darkness was very thick and lasted for three hours. It had to be something other than an eclipse, which usually lasts 2-3 minutes.

An eclipse happens when the sun, moon and earth align and the moon blocks the sun. During a full eclipse, it makes it seem twilight, or even darker for those few minutes. At full eclipse, you may be able to see the sun’s corona and flares. Some solar changes are expected and may also affect us here on earth.

Is this April 8 eclipse of any importance? This one has a lot going on: longer than usual, comes with the Devil Comet and the planets align.

There are many eclipses, but the next full solar eclipse over America won’t come until 2044. But since 2017 on the other hand, counting April 8’s eclipse, there will have been now THREE full solar eclipses that will have crossed America in the past seven years. Seven is God’s number of perfect completion.

Why do I write about this April 8 eclipse happening over America?

Because I have always taught that “Israel” in the Middle East is really just the end-time nation of Judah of the Bible, plus Levi (for the Levites and priests) and others mixed in. But we believe the MAIN and TRUE end-time “Israel” is UK and USA, as Ephraim of the Bible. Jacob – whose changed name was Israel – actually put HIS name (Israel) on to the sons of Joseph, especially Ephraim (Gen 48:16). The name “Israel,” in other words, was not put on to Judah, but on Ephraim, Joseph’s stronger younger son (USA today).

When the 12 tribes split into 2 separate nations during the reign of David’s grandson Rehoboam, the northern 10 tribes became known as the House of Israel – headed by Ephraim, the extra-blessed son of Joseph. The Southern tribes then became the House of Judah.

So there are numerous prophecies in the books of the prophets about “Israel” and even about Ephraim. I believe these apply more to UK and USA.

So when God sends significant things to America in these last days, He’s trying to get our attention, as He did before. And of course Jerusalem and Judah in the Middle East are also extremely crucial to keep watching.

There are many links to this total eclipse. Here’s one that’s interesting. https://www.sapphirethroneministries.com/post/alef-tav-eclipses-the-ring-of-fire

When you place the three eclipses over America from Aug 2017 to April 8, 2024, their paths show up as the ancient Hebrew letter Alef and the letter Tav – the equivalent of the Greek Alpha and Omega, which refer to God. Study the links to understand better. Could God be trying to get America’s attention. Alef and Tav the beginning letter and last letter – the beginning and the end?

The last letter Tav looks like a slanted cross.

Yeshua/Jesus is the prince of Peace. The 2017 eclipse started in Salem (peace) Oregon and end up at Salem, South Carolina in the far southeast. But it crossed SEVEN towns named Salem. Is the Prince of Peace trying to get our attention? We won’t panic. But maybe God is trying to get our attention.

Pray we be accounted worth to escape the terrifying end times (Luke 21:36).

The eclipse coming on April 8 will cross seven towns named Nineveh, where God sent a warning through Jonah and they repented. Could this just be coincidence? Maybe. That April 8 eclipse also apparently follows the track exactly of the New Madrid fault line, where in winter of 1811-12 they had three very large earthquakes – including an earthquake of 8.4. Today, such an earthquake in that location would be devastating.

If strange and mysterious events occur with this eclipse, perhaps it’s more than just a routine eclipse. If not, just keep your eyes open. There is a strange comet that may be visible during the full eclipse and it’s called the Devil Comet, of all things. Its official name – Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. Maybe learn more about it. https://www.digitaltrends.com/space/devil-comet-april/

Plus the planets all align at about the same time as the eclipse. To me, there just seem to be too many “coincidences” lining up with this eclipse to make all of it just be a matter of chance. Is God warning us?

Here’s another link by a friend Linda Watson. I don’t concur with everything she says, but she makes some interesting points. So be alert and watch.

https://youtu.be/alRkm0TjZn4

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Which would you choose? Gold bar or severe trial?

gold bar I remember a sermon in church from when I was maybe 15-16 years old. That’s going back 55 years or more. Some sermons just stick in your memory forever and this was one of them.

The preacher asked us all – “If I could give you your choice, which would you pick? A solid gold bar weighing 1 kilo (2.4 pounds) – or a serious trial God will put you through. Which would you pick?”

The gold bar of course would have been worth many thousands of dollars when the price of gold was already very high for just an ounce of gold. The price today for just one ounce of gold is $2,233. Imagine what a 1 kilo bar of pure gold would cost! That would be about $77,000 for a .999% pure gold bar. Maybe I should go out and buy a truck load, right? In my dreams.

So you’re being offered a $77,000 gold bar – OR you could have – from God - a serious trial He has hand-selected for you, just you -- like a terrible bone cancer or pancreatic cancer or multiple sclerosis that goes on and on and on – which would you pick? The pure gold bar you can keep – or God’s trial He would give you?

If you would pick the gold bar, you made a terrible decision. But this should show us the real VALUE of going through a serious trial from God, with God’s help – a value that would last forever.

1 Peter 1:6-9

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various TRIALS,

7 that the genuineness of your FAITH, being much more precious than GOLD that perishes, though it is TESTED by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love.

Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

9 receiving the end of your faith—The SALVATION of your souls.

Listen to my recent sermon on “When God doesn’t heal the faithful” for much more on this. God has wonderful reasons for letting us suffer. God’s own Son was PERFECTED by the things which He suffered. Suffering does that. Should it be any different for us?

Hebrews 2:10

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation PERFECT through SUFFERINGS.

Even in Hebrews 11 we read of our spiritual forefathers who were chased out of their homes, had to live in caves, or like Isaiah – were SAWN in two! God certainly wants his people perfected and refined and tested – and suffering builds all those for us.

It’s the same for us. We must have our faith tested and perfected and strengthened. It puts qualities in us for God’s use for eternity.

1 Peter 5:10

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, AFTER you have suffered a while, PERFECT, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

James 1:2-4

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

So there are definite and strong reasons for the sufferings, for pain, illness and tests and trials we each are going through – all of it worth far, far more than a gold bar that perishes.

I think most of us know that it would be terribly hard to choose being bedridden for year after year in pain and suffering – or paralysis – over the chance to be given a gold bar. And yet, look at what apostle Peter told us. As we read this, think about the trials you’ve had, or know others have, and maybe this can put those trials into perspective. Also, be sure to hear my recent audio sermon “When God doesn’t always heal the faithful.”

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Positive Pre-Passover preparation

Many of you understand that we are to avoid taking the Passover in an unworthy manner, or “unworthily” as KJV says (1 Cor. 11:27-29) but are to first examine ourselves.

What does that mean?  Over the years I’ve actually known people who decided not to take the Passover at all because they decided they weren’t worthy enough.  This is what is motivating this blog. 

What does it mean to take the Passover “worthily” or “unworthily”?  If we take it in an unworthy manner, which is apparently very serious – as we will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (v. 27).  But on the other hand, if we don't take Passover at all, we’re still guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, right?  For if God Most High does not see the blood  of the Lamb of God  - His Son -- covering us, do our sins get passed-over (where we get the term Passover from) – Exodus 12:12-13?  Remember? “When I see the blood, I will pass over…”

So let’s read it and understand it.

1 Corinthians 11:25-30

“In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so LET him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the [Lord's] body.”

Click on “Continue reading” to learn more about taking the Passover in a worthy manner.

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Do you have the faith to be healed?

Someone told someone near and dear to me that he obviously didn’t have the faith to be healed, as he has been suffering with severe neck and back plus nerve pain for many years. The “logic” went like this: “If you had real faith, you’d be healed.  The fact you’re not healed is proof you don’t have faith – or enough faith.” 

Hmm.  What would you say to that?  Haven’t many of us thought that about ourselves or others at some point in our lives?  After all, James 5:14-16 says we should be anointed and prayed over by the elders when we’re sick and the prayer of faith will heal the sick and if sins had been committed, they will be forgiven.  Then we’re admonished to pray for one another so that we may be healed.  We know there are people being healed, but it does seem like there are far more people who seek healing who aren’t being healed.  Are the ones not being healed simply obvious cases of people without faith, or without enough faith? 

We’re coming up to Passover soon and as we take of the unleavened bread and red wine we are reminded “by His stripes we are healed”.  But quite a few aren’t being healed. Too many even die, without being healed.  I’ve experienced significant healings in my own life, as well as times when I saw no change in the conditioned for which I prayed. 

I think the challenge comes when we make black-and-white dogmatic conclusions from a verse here or there.  It does seem to say that according to our faith, may it be done unto you. It does say that some in Nazareth were not healed because of their unbelief.  So where does that leave us when someone who is a man or woman or child of great faith – is not healed, after repeated requests and lots of prayers going up in their behalf?  

It breaks my heart especially to watch people suffering who apparently did nothing themselves to “bring on” a particular disease or condition.  Maybe it’s a baby or young boy suffering from ongoing issues.  I watched a show about a young boy whose skin, from the time of birth onwards, constantly blistered and looked like he was a constant burn victim. 

On the other hand, I prayed for a man and his wife at one of the recent Feasts of God. The man had had a stroke, was weak, spoke haltingly and often lost his train of thought.  His wife suffered from serious back pain.  Both of them were healed instantly that day. The man’s stroke symptoms disappeared immediately, his mental clarity returned, his voice was strong and clear – all within minutes of our prayer.   And then I found out his wife was healed of all her pain instantly as well.  Instantly.  That was very, very encouraging and inspiring and the glory goes completely to YHVH our Healer. 

So that was very encouraging, but we also had prayed for 5 others at that same time – but they were not healed instantly. Some of them still await healing.  Did those 5 lack faith necessarily?  Were they less righteous?  You know what?  It’s easy for the unhealed folks to assume that and get discouraged.  It’s also easy for onlookers to assume all that.  But is that necessarily the case? 

Let’s go back to a few basics about faith:

YHVH God does promise healing to those who look to him in faith and ask for his healing. God is the one with the power to heal. Exodus 15:26 says “…I am YHVH who heals you.”  And Psalm 103:3 says YHVH is the one “…who heals ALL your diseases.”  It is not the minister who heals. Our heavenly Abba may give the gift of healing to certain ones, but it is always God who heals.  When I pray for people I often even end the prayer by saying something like, “Father, I have no power to heal. We ask you to send the command to heal.  We ask Yeshua (Jesus) to place HIS hands on this person, rebuke the illness and bring healing and restoration and wholeness back to this person, from head to toe. In Yeshua’s name, Amen.”  

So God claims to be the Healer, and so He is. But then why are so many people of faith, who ask for healing, who are prayed over – why are so many not being healed? Is it necessarily a lack of faith on their part, or on the minister’s part?  In some cases, it could be! Even Yeshua himself could not heal like he wanted to in Nazareth, and he marveled at their unbelief” (Mark 6:4-6).  Another time he told his own disciples they could not cast out certain demons “due to your unbelief” (Mark 17:19-21). 

So obviously lack of faith can and does play a part.  But then should we always jump to that conclusion when we see no healing going on?  Could there be more?

God does promise healing, though He does not promise WHEN. But I caution also: do not assume in your heart that you have to wait a long time.  It is in the resurrection when this corruptible flesh will put on incorruption.  WE have to remain faithful whether we are healed now, or in a few weeks, or have to wait until the resurrection.  In any case, true faith keeps looking to Abba and to our Yeshua for healing in their time and in their way, no matter what is going on inside of us.  Here are a few examples:

  • ALL the faithful patriarchs, all the holy men and holy women of God DIED without having received God’s promises yet!  ALL of them.  Read the last 10 verses or so of Hebrews 11 and see how men and women of God were sawn in two, tortured, afflicted – and how they all died not having received the promises (Hebrews 11:35-40).

    Many of the early fathers of faith died with unhealed physical issues.  Isaac was blind.  David could not keep warm (1 Kings 1:1) and then he died at a relatively young age of 70, compared to today’s life expectancies.  David’s sick baby also died, in spite of David fasting, repenting and praying for a week (2 Samuel 12:14-23).
  • The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that God refused to remove and heal, because it was in his weakness caused by that “thorn” that God’s power was evident.  Could it be that your faith, confidence in God and faithfulness in your trial could be the very blessing God is using to inspire others from the way you handle your pain and trial?  Read 2 Cor. 12:7-10.  Neither is there any statement that Paul somehow miraculously never felt the pain or suffered the consequences of the beatings, stonings and many things he went through for Christ.
  • Elisha, who was used by God to heal and even resurrect so many, himself died of an illness from which he was not healed!  2 Kings 13:14.

    Timothy, a great evangelist, had “often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23).  Why didn’t Paul just heal him?  Because GOD decided not yet.  Remember, it wasn’t Paul, Peter or anyone else who healed. It was God or his Son Yeshua the Messiah who heals. 

So any of you who would be so quick to injure someone’s faith and heart by telling them they must not have enough faith and that is why they remain unhealed – would you have said that to the Apostle Paul, or to Elisha or to Isaac or to King David?  So don’t say that to your brother or sister either!  Who are we to judge our brother or sister in Christ? 

Faith is the evidence of things NOT SEEN (yet) (Hebrews 11:1).  Our faith is measured the most by when we don’t yet see what we hope for. It’s easy to proclaim your faith when everything you asked for materializes instantly.  But it requires true solid faith to remain undoubting when we don’t yet see any changes after the prayers.  Otherwise, if we already see it, why would we need faith? For example:  if we have faith in the life and resurrection and righteousness of God which is by FAITH – as scripture says over and over – we may not yet always see that righteousness evident in our own lives all the time – yet.  If we pray and someone is not healed, FAITH must remain strong, even when we do not YET see the healing or any change going on.  Our faith must remain strong even if in fact, our condition and pain worsens!  For our faith is based on what we don’t see, not on what we see.  Our faith is based on GOD, on Jesus Christ (Yeshua), who WILL do everything God has promised.  But in their way, in their time.  Please take the time to read, on your knees as you pray about it, 2 Cor. 4:7-12

True faith is evidenced especially when God doesn’t move according to our hoped-for timetable or plan.

Paul was such a great example of this. In prison chains, with bleeding stripes on his back, what do we see Paul and Silas doing?  Praising God in song and prayer (Acts 16:22-26). The other prisoners heard it and received strength.  Paul says he was beaten, he was shipwrecked, he was stoned – and in all of this, never gave up faith or hope (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Isn’t that the model for us, for anyone who is looking to our wonderful God even as He allows us to go through pain and suffering for HIS purposes? 

WHY would a loving God allow us to go through pain and suffering day after day?  And I’m including emotional and mental pain as well in this.  Maybe you’re estranged from one or two in your own family. The pain from that is unbearable, and it’s a real pain.  Maybe you have abusive “friends” who denounce your faith in God.  Or maybe you have real physical pain that is just unbearable.

I do have a sermon on this website on this specific point:  WHY does YHVH allow so much suffering?  Look for it on this website in June 2013. 

 It is through suffering that we grow, that we become perfected, that we grow in wisdom.  So many scriptures say so.  Even Christ learned obedience and was perfected by that which he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-9).  Can we expect anything less?   As we receive comfort and answers in our suffering, we are supposed to use that experience to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-5).  And that becomes another one of the reasons for suffering:  so we can comfort others with the comfort we received from the God of all comfort. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

So as the suffering continues, it is normal and natural to, at times, just want to give up and walk away from our dear Father and Savior, but then we pause, listen to Yeshua’s heart in us – and instead, lift up our eyes and cry out “We TRUST you, Abba Father. WE TRUST you, and we love you even in all of this.  We know You know what you’re doing, even when WE don’t understand all the reasons why you won’t take away my pain and illness and suffering, when you have the power to do so.”  And then we go turn on an inspirational hymn or two and sing our praises to Him, even in our own emotional prison and even as we feel our own bleeding stripes, as Paul and Silas did in that jail so long ago. 

Start thanking God for having already healed you, even if you do not yet see the immediate healing.  Please read that again.  I have a whole sermon on thanking God before we see his answers.  Please hear it. (March 5, 2014—“Praising YHVH before we see His answers”.)  I believe it was a very inspired message. Daniel’s three friends knew God could deliver them from the fire, but then they said those words that still ring through the ages, “BUT IF HE DOES NOT, we still will not bow down to that idol” (see Daniel 3:16-18).  But since we know God sees the end from the beginning, and because he is already working behind the scenes, and because we know he definitely will heal all diseases at least by and in the resurrection – start thanking him now. Don't wait.

I also recommend you hear the three sermons given in 2004 on “Faith”, available on this website.

As we learn all the lessons from this life, we come to the point of growth where – even IN our pain – we praise Him, we thank him IN the pain (1 Thess 5:18 – IN all things”) and even FOR the pain and trials we’re going through (“FOR all things” - Ephesians 5:20), knowing He’s working His perfect work in us. 

I titled this blog: Do you have the faith to be healed?  I hope you understand.  Your healing can be instantly, or in the resurrection.  But it is coming.  Stay in faith. Stay faithful. HE is faithful to do all that he has promised. And please don’t tell someone who is struggling in their pain that they aren’t being healed because they lack faith.  That’s for God to say, if it applies.  Otherwise, our job is to encourage, love, support and pray for them. 

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Time for a Phinehas to appear?

All scriptures are NKJV unless noted otherwise. 

Whose belief or action was said to be so strong that it was accounted to him for righteousness? If you instinctively answered, “Abraham, of course” (Genesis 15:6), you’d be correct -- but not complete. 

That statement was also made of a strong young leader in Israel of Moses’ day who stood up for the right, took decisive action, and stopped a plague continuing from God. 

Psalms 106:28-31 

“They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, 

And ate sacrifices made to the dead. 

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, 

And the plague broke out among them. 

30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, 

And the plague was stopped

31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness 

To all generations forevermore.” 

One of the priests at the coming third temple we believe will be built in Jerusalem in our lifetime, will be a descendant of Phinehas, due to the action of Phinehas that really moved God. When Phinehas acted, God was in the middle of exacting a plague in which 24,000 Israelites died. Phinehas’ action stopped the plague and saved thousands of more lives. 

In times of crisis in the Church – the Body of Christ today – do we have a modern-day Phinehas willing to stand up, take action and speak up for what’s right? I pray we do. YOU and I may be called upon to be a Phinehas at some point, maybe sooner than you think. Let’s read the story in Numbers 25. 

In the Exodus wilderness wanderings, Israel had been seduced into religious sex by Moabite and Midianite women. Israel started worshiping their pagan gods and committing harlotry with the foreign women. God was furious. Many of those involved were hanged. This takes us through the first five verses of Numbers 25. Now verse 6. What a Simeonite leader did was so “in-your-face” that even Moses seemed stunned. But here’s where our hero Phinehas gets involved. 

Numbers 25:6:15 

And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 

7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 

8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 

9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 

10 Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'" 

14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father's house in Midian.” 

Phinehas “was zealous for his God” and stood up against a LEADER of a tribe who was leading in a sin. Verse 11 quotes GOD himself saying Phinehas’ action may have stopped God from wiping out most of Israel in God’s zeal. 

The sin wasn’t just adultery – but was rebellion against God’s laws, against Moses as their leader, and that rebel – Zimri by name – was intent on doing what he felt he wanted to do. 

Numbers 25:6 says he did this in the sight of all the brethren. This was a taunt, an “In your face’ moment. He basically dared the brethren. “Nobody can stop me from doing what I want to do” – as he blatantly paraded the Midianite woman for all to see – right into his tent. 

Phinehas didn’t worry if what he was about to do was polite or not. He didn’t ask for any permission to go into the man’s private tent or “knocked on the door” first.] No, he grabbed a javelin and thrust it through both their bodies right in the midst of their act of sexual sin. 

A bit extreme? GOD didn’t think so. God commended him. I think it’s very possible that most of Israel would have been killed by God had Phinehas not stepped in. As it was – 24,000 died from God’s plague. 

YOU may be called upon to take decisive action and lead the way back to God in various times and places. 

Critical point: to be an effective Phinehas, know your God really well. Know his Word, His scriptures. Be studying and meditating on them night and day. Pray for courage and decisiveness – but also pray for wisdom so you do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Know when to do it boldly in front of everybody – and when to do it privately with just the one or two involved. But either way, don’t just sit back and do nothing. And remember there was a plague going on when Phinehas stood up. Twenty-four thousand had already died. He had no time to waste in that case. 

There are crises happening in the world and in the church right now. If you see a problem in the church, speak up. Do something. Say something. Talk to the ministers. Talk to others who need to hear you speak up. Voice your concerns. Take action. Realize you yourself may not have all the facts straight, so be sure of your facts before your Phinehas moment. But the couple’s actions in Numbers 25 were for all to see, done in the “sight of all the congregation.” 

If someone is openly causing division and slandering other pastors or sowing discord in your church body, speak up. It’s not a time to quietly sit back and do nothing. Remember that the name “Devil” means “Slanderer”. A slanderer has literally become a “devil” himself. Paul said “there must be no divisions among you” – 1 Cor. 1:10-11. Tell the divider – no, he’s not welcome to speak to your group. And be willing to tell him he needs to repent and seek God’s mercy. Be a Phinehas to him. 

If there’s drunkenness at church parties, speak up. If there’s womanizing going on or even just inappropriate comments, looks and flirting, speak up. In many cases you should speak privately first. Not every situation is a “grab your javelin and do a Phinehas” occasion. SO wisdom is also required. 

Older ladies, if there’s rampant immodesty (1 Tim. 2:9-10) at church services or anywhere our church ladies are, speak up. You older women, first set the right example – then speak and teach the younger women as Titus 2:3-5 clearly says. We all have a role to play in our church services and among the brethren, but that’s for another day, another topic. But today I’m talking about taking decisive action when it’s called for. 

Titus 2:3-5 

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed”. 

I believe our church members are much too placid in times when leadership and action are required. 

Take a few minutes to ponder if you would have done what Phinehas did – if you could be transported in a time machine to that moment in time. Ponder further to consider times coming in the future when we might have to stand up for what’s right and speak up, or say something. I’ll write a blog or have a sermon before long, with God’s help and blessing, on when we should stand up and speak up – and when we it might be best to remain quiet. Too many of God’s people, though, are real good at the “remain quiet” kind of inaction – and never seem to be a real Phinehas. 

How about being willing to be a Phinehas when the circumstances and time are right? Be a zealous man or woman of action when the time warrants it. Be a Phinehas. 

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Did Yeshua (Jesus) really say these?

I believe there are a lot of misconceptions on what the Son of God – Yeshua, or in English we say Jesus – was really like, what he would say, or how he would react in some circumstances. This blog may surprise you. I posted it first a few years ago, but as we will be looking into prophecies, the book of Revelation of Jesus Christ and upcoming world events – it’s critical we drop misconceptions and come to really know our Lord and Master completely. Apostle Paul said that was his main goal: “That I may know him and the power of HIS resurrection” (Philippians 3:9).  

Yeshua could be amazingly tough, direct, even rough – as well as the oft depicted “sweet Jesus” by many in religion. Let’s come to know the complete, true, living Messiah. He’s not the weak-looking, long-haired depiction we are always shown. 

Some of the most often cited scriptures in the entire Bible are His words about being our perfect, caring Shepherd. And that His Father so loved all of us that he sent his one and only son – Yeshua – to die for us so that any who believe in him would be saved, and not perish. You know many more verses about him being the Way, the truth and the life. He was the perfect son of God. He is our Lord. He’s great, he’s love, he’s terrific, he’s kind and he’s forgiving. ALL of that is absolutely true.  

But how often does your pastor ever preach these other verses that are also words spoken by the son of God? Paul and Peter and others certainly did. Paul spoke of the “severity of God” (Romans 11:22), as well as his goodness. God is love. But God is also just. Sometimes his justice frankly can be severe, especially at people who don’t believe, won’t budge or won’t obey. Faith, true belief, and obedience go hand in hand. 

Paul didn’t mince his words. In talking to the Romans – and you can go back and get the entire context about the Olive tree analogy – look what Apostle Paul says: 

Romans 11:21-22 – “For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness AND severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, IF you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” 

Ministers love the gentle verses about forgiveness, patience, grace, and God’s patience and so on. And so do I. I love to preach of God’s grace and his imputed righteousness we receive by faith, as so many scriptures teach. But I also want to be sure to give you, what Paul calls “the WHOLE counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). So this blog – which could develop into an even more exhaustive sermon on the topic – will do just that: talk about other words of Yeshua that are just as true and pertinent as the ones which are most often quoted.  

Brace yourself. You may be surprised these words came from Yeshua. But remember: he is a loving king and Savior to those who seek Him and submit to him as Lord of lords, king of kings. But to those who carelessly believe they don’t need to change, don’t need to overcome, don't need to be prepared and ready for his coming, and don’t need to seek him with all their might – they WILL be in for a big surprise. So here we go; remember these are Yeshua’s OWN words! Check them out!

Luke 12:45-48 -- “But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  47 And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” 

Have I made my point? “Jesus said that?”  I can hear people thinking that already. Yes, he did. Yeshua spoke of beating ineffective servants with stripes? Yes. This should help you understand that our king is not just a “baby Jesus” or always a “sweet Jesus”. If we don’t obey him or prepare for him, his coming will be a very sharp wake-up call for us – including many who call themselves his followers, as you shall see. 

It’s NOT enough to claim he is your “Lord” or “Master”. Our actions and way of life have to prove our words. Listen to your Lord on this. Remember HE is speaking here:           

Matthew 7:21-23   "NOT everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 MANY will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, you who practice lawlessness!

Notice these are people who claim to be believers. They claim to have had power to even cast out demons in Christ’s name and perform miracles, perhaps healings, in his name – and yet they hear him shout at them -- “GET OUT of my sight! I never knew you!” They apparently were not people who were seeking and doing God’s will in their lives (v. 21). When I read that passage, it drives me to deep repentance!  

I hope these verses are making you and me realize being a believer in Christ is very serious business! The “goodness and severity of God” – remember that? It’s for real. 

If we have sins and after repentance, remain in a lifestyle of sin as a way of life – well, let’s let Yeshua say it. After healing the blind man who was now worshiping his Healer…

 John 9:40-41 “Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.” 

Ouch! When we sin when we know better, that’s far more serious than sin done in ignorance. I preach to myself. I believe many of us know better when we’re doing wrong. It’s gotta stop – for if we see what we’re doing and do it anyway, “your sin remains.” Not my words. HIS words. I hope some of you are waking up from a false sense of security in the soft preaching of some. Don’t harbor sins. Don’t cuddle up to temptations. It’s time to wipe them out of your life. After repentance, prove your repentance with real changes happening in your life. 

Do you know Yeshua - speaking directly to Peter – called him “Satan” – because he was repeating a thought Satan had put into Peter’s head, that Christ would not have to die! Yes, Christ is really talking to the source of Peter’s words that time. Read it for yourself: 

Mark 8:32-33 -- “He spoke this word [of his impending death] openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He [Yeshua] had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked PETER, saying, "Get behind Me, SATAN! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." 

One time a Gentile woman pleaded to him to heal her daughter. Gentiles were often called “dogs” by Jews. I’m sure Yeshua had a reason for saying what he said, and the way he said it, and to whom he said it, but it’s still shocking. Read it in Matthew 15:21-28. It wasn’t a gentle response. And yet her story is still told, as she didn’t take offense. I’ll quote part of it:

Matthew 15:25-28 “Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” 

How about this one? Someone’s dad had just died. The man wanted to be a follower of Yeshua and asked if he could first bury his dad. Here are Yeshua’s tough words: 

Matthew 8:21-22   Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." 

In the messages to the 7 churches of Revelation 2-3 we find once more some very tough talk from Yeshua to especially five of the seven churches. Study Revelation 2 and 3 on your own and you’ll see what I mean. Remember we are told to hear and heed the words to each of the seven churches. We all like to think we are Philadelphian, but quit being so easy on yourself. He calls Sardis spiritually dead in Revelation 3. Laodicea – he says if they don’t repent, he’ll vomit them out! And so on. He’s very, very tough on most of the churches. What would he say about your congregation?  

Are you ready for more? 

Matthew 10:32-33 -- "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” 

Titus 1:16 says we can be denying our Savior by our actions. Read it for yourself.   So, are you hearing THESE verses where you attend church? Pastors, we should be preaching the entire Bible, and not just the soft and easy parts. 

We all like to think Jesus came to send peace on earth. Surely that was mentioned at his birth – “peace on earth” – but it’s going to take a while to get to that point. 

Luke 12:49-53 -- I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." 

If you want to understand “send fire on the earth” – just read the book of Revelation again. Have you ever met an angry lamb? Believe it or not, the Lamb of God (Jesus) can be fearsome to meet. In Revelation 6, men are hiding in caves and behind rocks in total terror of the Lamb. When the Messiah returns will be a very scary time to face the angry Lamb if you’re not one of his. 

Revelation 6:14-17 – “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" 

And I haven’t even begun to talk about what he said to the religious leaders of his day – especially in Matthew 23. He called them sons of snakes and whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones. And you know who “THE snake” is, right? Or how about when he overturned the cheating money changers’ tables and drove them out with a whip from the temple area? (John 2:13-17 – worth re-reading!).  

My intentions are several with this blog:

  • Come to know the real and total Jesus of the Bible. Yes, he certainly was kind, and gentle – but he also could be, at times, very, very tough.
  • Take your high calling very seriously. You and I will be called to account to how well we have used our calling and the opportunities and gifts given us.
  • Put your whole energy into preparing for his calling. Be a good servant, helping others, carrying their burdens and thus fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

** ***

If this blog or sermons on this site have helped you, don’t keep us a secret. Let others know about this free and Bible-based website. And do give us suggestions for topics you would like me to address. This is also your website. We’re here to serve YOU, even as we serve first and foremost our great Father and our Saviour. The Son of God.

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Who is “Messiah”?

Who is “Messiah”? Are you sure you know for sure? Did you realize the Bible speaks of MANY messiahs? Many messiahs but only 1 who is “THE Messiah” to come. How can there be many Messiahs? What does the word from Hebrew even mean? 

There’s often a debate - especially involving Jews – if Jesus/Yeshua is the long awaited Messiah mentioned in scripture, especially by the prophet Daniel. Many Jews have long waited for the coming of their messiah and expect him soon. This is one reason why there’s been a lot of talk – much more than usual – for construction of the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem. 

We Christians see in our view of Messiah not just a ruler, but our Savior. The one who takes sin upon himself and becomes our Redeemer and Savior – and not just king. But for Jews, the predominant view was that the true messiah would not have died but would have set up the kingdom with Israel at its center. 

So let’s look into this very word “messiah.” 

Let me get right to the main points: 
The Hebrew word “Mashiach” is where we get the English word “Messiah.” It means anointed one. The equivalent from the Greek language is “Christos– where we get “Christ,” also meaning “anointed one.” 

So “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing: anointed one. I find Messianics and Hebrew Roots brethren prefer “Messiah” and regular Christians prefer “Christ,” but both mean the same. I use both since I’m addressing everyone. 

The Septuagint (LXX) Greek version of the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”) invariably used the Greek form “Christos” in their verses about an anointed one. So it became natural for the New Testament writers to also choose that designation – Christ – over Messiah. So in the New Testament, we don’t much of “Messiah” except in John 1:41 and 4:25 - but we read of “Christ” – and both mean Anointed One. Messiah does not mean “moral one” – as many anointed priests and kings were anything but moral. But “Messiah” does point to someone who was called to be set apart for holy use by God, though no man was ever perfect except THE Messiah. 

  • We have come to identify this term “Messiah” with Jesus Christ – meaning “Savior Anointed one,” so sometimes we read of “the Christ” – the anointed one. Of course you know that “Christ” was not his name or surname. It seems people feel compelled to avoid saying just “Jesus,” his NAME, which in Hebrew is Yeshua. The name Jesus is used many, many times by itself in New Testament scripture. And 56 times it comes with the descriptor “Christ” – as “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus THE Christ” – Jesus or Yeshua, the Anointed one. 
  • But in its first usages, did you realize the word “Messiah” applied to a lot more people than just the Savior. In fact, the idea that the Messiah was also our Savior did not really fully develop until the new covenant times. That concept is not as clear in the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures, commonly called “the Old Testament” by Christians. 
  • So Messiah means “anointed one.” But if Yeshua is the Messiah, who anointed Him? King David was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel, but when and where do we read of Jesus being anointed with oil? We don’t. So how is he “the anointed one,” the Messiah, the Christ? 

GOD anointed Him, but not with oil, but with what OIL REPRESENTED. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit from HIM, from God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the power, presence, DNA from either God the Father OR Jesus Christ. So it was the Holy Spirit from God the Father that anointed Jesus the Messiah at his water baptism by John. So Jesus/Yeshua was baptized/immersed both in water and by God’s Holy Spirit, all at the same time. 

Acts 10:38 (after speaking of the beginning of his ministry, Peter says this: 
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” 

Acts 4:27-28 also clearly says GOD anointed Yeshua. 

  • In John 4, to the woman at the well in Samaria, Yeshua identified himself for the first time ever as the coming promised Messiah. Look to whom he chose to reveal himself: a disgraced Samaritan woman, married and divorced four times, now living with someone (the 5th), and so disgraced that she went for water at the hottest time of the day so other women wouldn’t be there. The story is in John 4. When she mentioned the coming Messiah, Yeshua basically told her that HE was THE promised Messiah (John 4:25-26). 

John 4:25-26
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."  Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." 

In the Scriptures, there were MANY genuine Messiahs – meaning “anointed ones” who were “A messiah” – but only ONE who was to be “THE Messiah.” All priests were anointed ones (Leviticus 4:3; 8:12; Psalm 105:15). Kings also were anointed ones (1 Samuel 24:7-11; 2 Samuel 23). This made Kings and Priests “messiahs” – anointed ones. It’s the same word. 

Someone anointed with oil by a prophet was considered a very special set-apart person chosen by God himself. This is the very reason David, when fleeing from King Saul, could not strike or kill Saul when given the opportunity. He said he could not strike the LORD’s anointed (1 Samuel 16:6; 24:6-10; 26:9-11, 16, 23). 

When an Amalekite came to David after Saul’s death, claiming to have been the one who killed Saul, David had them executed! It would be well worth your time to read the account in 2 Samuel 1:13-21.

Who else was anointed with oil? God told Elijah to anoint ELISHA to be the prophet to replace Elijah (1 Kings 19:15-16). Many do not commonly realize this. So prophets were also anointed ones, “Messiahs” in the meaning of “anointed one.” 

Jesus Christ was whom all these priests, kings and even prophets depicted. HE was indeed THE Prophet and Royal Priest of God Most High. I’ve been talking about Isaiah 53 recently. We’ll read Daniel 9 soon. If Yeshua was not the promised Messiah, who else fulfilled all those prophecies by the dozens, like HE did? 

  • One more point: Messiahs, anointed ones, included especially Israelite kings and priests, but not just Israelites and Jews

God himself referred to one special Gentile king, CYRUS, as HIS OWN anointed (see Isaiah 45), over 100 years before Cyrus was born. God calls him His own Anointed one! Or we can say, God’s own Messiah. In Isaiah 45:1, the word for “anointed” in Hebrew is “mashiach” or Messiah. 

Isaiah 45:1-4 
"Thus says YHVH to His anointed [“messiah’], 
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held — 
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings, 
To open before him the double doors, 
So that the gates will not be shut: 
2 'I will go before you 
And make the crooked places straight; 
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze 
And cut the bars of iron. 
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness 
And hidden riches of secret places, 
That you may know that I, YHVH, 
Who call you by your name, 
Am the God of Israel. 
4 For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect, 
I have even called you by your name; 
I have named you, though you have not known Me.” 

God called this messiah – by name – over one hundred years before he was even born. The great living God had purposed this Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the second temple, and that is exactly what happened. Here are more amazing words from God: 

Isaiah 44:28
“Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure, 
Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," 
And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."' 

And this may be a surprise: being a messiah or an anointed one does not mean you are righteous or moral, as Cyrus worshipped pagan gods like Marduk. It just means you have been set apart for special designated purpose, like being a king or priest. 4 

But the majority of kings and priests ended up NOT being righteous. So kings and priests were “messiahs” (anointed ones) but NOT Saviors. 

Let’s end with a few scriptures about anointed one Jesus of Nazareth, or by his Jewish name Yeshua. I explain it this way: yes, there are many who were called “messiahs” in the Bible, but only one who will ever be THE Messiah, and that one is our Savior. 

The CLEAREST scripture that pointed to THE MESSIAH specifically is in Daniel 9 in the famous 70 weeks prophecy. It’s also in this prophecy where the TIE IN TO SIN AND FORGIVENESS is clearly shown – showing the connection THE Messiah was to have with saving his people. Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled in Yeshua. 

Daniel 9:24-27 NASB 

"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. 25 "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 

26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 

27 "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." 

Habakkuk 3:12-13 
12 You marched through the land in indignation; |
ou trampled the nations in anger. 
13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, 
For salvation with Your Anointed (Messiah) 
You struck the head from the house of the wicked, 
By laying bare from foundation to neck.” 

There’s another prophecy in Daniel 2:34-39, 44-45 you should carefully read. THIs shows Someone is coming who will topple all world governments and set up His kingdom on this earth and rule the earth. A Stone strikes the image depicted here and the stone “became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35). 

More can be found in Daniel’s prophecies (Daniel 2:21-27) about THE Messiah saving His saints, his holy ones, in the last days and giving dominion and rulership to them. When scripture speaks of “God’s anointed” – this is speaking of THE Messiah, God’s anointed, anointed by God himself, as Yeshua was. God Most High is with this Anointed one in a singularly unique way. We worship him. He was seen by many hundreds after his death, as God had resurrected Him and He still lives today, just waiting for the command to return to save Israel. His resurrection was so convincing that thousands of believers were willing to die for him, for they either SAW him directly after his resurrection or the evidence was so powerfully demonstrated to them. They also saw that the prophecies of the virgin conceiving and their Son being a descendant of King David, were all fulfilled in him (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:10-11). The prophecies of the peaceful kingdom (Isa 11:6-9) will be fulfilled at his second coming – which is close. 

Habakkuk 3:13 – Holman – “You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed. You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck.” 

I pray any of you Jews reading this, just pray to the One you call “Hashem” – the Name. Ask him to reveal to you who The Messiah was, or is, or will be. I recommend you read the New Testament on your own. You’ll see that this anointed one by God, THE Messiah, was a Jew, born in Bethlehem, raised and preached in Galilee of the nations and gentiles and was crucified. Then over 500 saw him elevated to heaven after his resurrection. All the apostles were Jews. ALL of the early believers were Jews. Many priests and orthodox Jews (Pharisees) joined with them in worshiping this Yeshua Messiah – Jesus the Christ. Don’t MISS your Messiah! 

My Jewish brothers, we long for you to see this Messiah and see how He can transform your life. He LIVES. He’s coming again. Give Him a chance to show you who He is. 

In Judaism there’s an acronym -- YESHU – that unfortunately means “May his name and memory be obliterated.” The holy man Yeshua has been so maligned in Judaism that it will take a miracle to remove centuries of bile against him and for many to open their hearts to Him. His full name as the mashiach (Messiah) was Yeshua, meaning “Savior, salvation.” And yes, He came once already to die for us all - -and is coming again. This Messiah Yeshua is coming again to finally rule all the nations from Jerusalem. Amen. Zech 14:16-18. Isaiah 60:6-9; 66:18-23. 

NO one should want the full beautiful Jewish name Yeshua to ever be blotted out. It’s by that precious and powerful name that we’re saved from our sins and through Him and his perfect life, we can stand righteous before God. He clothes us with HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). This same Yeshua is coming back to fight for Israel as you can read in Zechariah 14. HE is “the LORD” who is coming to fight as a man does in the day of battle (Zech 14:3-4). Yes, Yeshua is the Word of the Old Testament and is also YHWH. Don’t miss your Messiah! 

Yeshua fulfilled all the prophecies of Messiah regarding the first coming. All the prophecies not yet fulfilled, of a worldwide kingdom, will be fulfilled when he comes again. Amen. If Yeshua is not the promised Messiah, then who is? Don’t miss him! 

Honor him. Love him. Worship him. HE is THE Messiah – the Anointed One of God. He said he will return in glory with all the angels and all the nations will be gathered before him (Matthew 25:31-32). THIS is the ruling Messiah to whom all nations will eventually come to Jerusalem to worship Him, the LORD, as Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-4 so clearly say to us. 

Praise the Holy Name of the One we worship and of his glorious Anointed One. 

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God’s promises to you, Israel

In this blog or article, I just want to post some scriptures of God’s word to Israel, promising to bring them back to their own land He gave to their forefathers. They’re in a tough time right now. But I believe God is with them still, especially if you Israelis will turn to your Maker with all your heart and being. Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-15. I am heartened to have watched many short videos of IDF Israeli soldiers praying and praising God before each battle. As long as they and we put our true GOD first, all will be well. Turn, Israel, turn.

Another VERY exciting thing about you our brothers in Israel:

More and more of you are discovering that “forbidden chapter,” Isaiah 53 – about the Suffering Servant – who gave his life for you. Yes, though it’s never read to you, YOU can read it yourself in your own Tanakh, your Hebrew Scriptures. Don’t let anyone keep a single word of God’s word from you! In fact, I’ll record a video soon where I read it in two translations.

Many in Israel are finding Yeshua and realize the Messiah came as one of you – and he’s coming again. And God promises that He is bringing every Israeli back to the land HE promised them, no matter where they are in the world. Enjoy God’s word on this, from the New King James Version.

Whether you’re Jew or Gentile, I recommend you read these verses of God’s promises of returning Israelis to the land He gave their forefathers.

Jeremiah 23:7-8

"Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 8 but, 'As the Lord (YHVH) lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil."

Ezekiel 34:11-13

11 'For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.

13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

Jeremiah 31:16-17

Thus says YHVH:
"Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says YHVH,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.”

Deuteronomy 30:2-6

“If you return to YHVH your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you were driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.

Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants,
to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Isaiah 43:5-6

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth —"

Isaiah 56:6 NIV

“The Sovereign Lord declares — he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered."

Ezekiel 39:27-29

“When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord God."

Jeremiah 32:37-39

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.”

Isaiah 27:13

“So it shall be in that day:
The great trumpet will be blown;
t
hey will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria,
And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”

Certainly in the past 70 years, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, even millions, have been airlifted to Israel – from Russia, Argentina, Egypt, Yemen, India, Iraq, Morocco, South Africa, Germany, Ukraine, France, the United States and really from all over the world. They went HOME. Praise God. Today we see the nation state of Israel, ancient Judea, thriving and blossoming though surrounded by hostile neighbors and outnumbered 50 to 1 or even greater. Many Arab and Muslim states call for the elimination of Jews and Israel and shout “Death to Israel, death to America.” God is bigger than all that.

God be with you, Israel. God IS with you, and so are so many of us.

Please read your “forbidden chapter” – Isaiah 53 – and discover your Yeshua. Please feel free to copy this to any others you wish, without edits.

Philip W. Shields

www.Lightontherock.org  

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But DO you also pray TO Jesus/Yeshua?

You may believe you can pray to Jesus, but DO you? Have you listened to a recent sermon I gave on praying to Jesus? SO many of us have been taught that Christ’s teaching “when you pray, say ‘Our Father in heaven…” – to be an absolute that we can only pray to our Father. I urge you to study my short sermon on it, because scripturally we must not sideline Jesus as we pray.

Here's the link: https://lightontherock.org/index.php/sermons/message/is-praying-to-jesus-ok   Is Praying to Jesus OK? 41 minutes.

And many of you would probably agree also that you see nothing wrong with prayers to Jesus – but my question is: DO you ever pray to your Savior?

I address especially seventh day sabbath-keeping groups. Most Protestant groups already pray a lot to “the Lord,” to Jesus. On this issue, I have to agree with them, that not only can we pray to Jesus but we should pray often to him.

Don’t misunderstand me. My prayers almost always start by addressing God Most High as my dear Father, my Abba. This way I am acknowledging I am His son, a part of his family and that he looks after us in intricate and intimate detail as a loving Father. So I start by praying to God my Father, but within that prayer I usually include a section of praying directly to the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, who is also God, who is my Savior and to whom I am betrothed (2 Cor. 11:2). How can I not include talking to the One I will marry, God willing? Surely our prayers must include speaking to Yeshua, the Messiah, though most of you use the name “Jesus.” Be sure you hear my audio sermon explaining why we must be talking to Jesus and not sideline him. Then add this blog for more details.

WHY do I feel compelled to say more? Because as my wife Carole said to me: “For too many people, Jesus is just a concept, a doctrine, and not a real person, a real being we need to know well, and talk often to, and to love praising, as the one we’re going to marry!”

She’s so right. Jesus must be totally REAL to us as never before. That won’t happen if we’re not talking with him every day.

So DO you pray to Jesus as well as the Father? I urge you to study my sermon so you start doing it. DON’T sideline your Master!

Many of us were taught NOT to pray to Jesus. That is so strange. One minister called it “strange fire” as in Leviticus 10. So we can’t talk to the One we’re betrothed to marry? Really? (See 2 Cor. 11:2). We’re allowed only to talk to the father of our betrothed? What kind of a betrothal is that?

Who did the prophets and forefathers in the Old Covenant pray to? The evidence is that they prayed to God Most High AND to the Word of God, who was also God. See my sermon.

            ** Abraham was certainly talking to/praying to the One who became Jesus, as he saw him, ate with him and physically interacted with him (Genesis 18). So Abraham prayed to Jesus, but we can't?

            ** Moses pleaded with God – who showed Moses his glorified back – to please not eradicate Israel after the gold calf sin. (Exodus 34:1-9). So Moses many, many times prayed to Jesus but we can’t? He and God – the Word – spoke face to face as a man does to his friend – but we can’t talk to Jesus?

** David and the prophets all prayed to Jesus – the YHVH who appeared or spoke to them. David called “The LORD is my Shepherd.”

Are there any New Covenant scriptures that show the apostles and others praying to Jesus directly? I have several examples in my sermon, that indeed they did! ONE of several was the prayer of Stephen the deacon just as he was dying “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). If praying to Jesus is wrong, this verse should not be in the Bible. So Stephen was not wrong.

So now let’s add a few more.

My friend and a fellow minister reminded me of John 5:23 that we must honor the SON even as we honor our Father. This was a great comment from him and I wish I had included it in my sermon, but then again, I have many things that make the point in my sermon too. Let me start a few verses before:

John 5:19-23

Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,

23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

 

Yeshua/Jesus must become so much more REAL to us. We HONOR him by speaking OFTEN to him throughout the day. I urge you to study the sermon also on “Constant Contact.”

 

ALL of Paul’s epistles, my friend added, “Begin with a salutation from the Father AND the Son.”

 

Let’s take Philippians for example. Notice how many times Jesus is mentioned in just two verses:

Philippians 1:1-2 “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So many of my friends just say “God” a lot, or “Father” a lot – but rarely do I hear them speak glowingly and lovingly about Jesus, as someone they know intimately. I’m urging you all to grow in this.

My friend also pointed out Rev 15 and how we know this chapter as “the Song of Moses” that is being sung. But scripture actually says it’s also “the SONG of the LAMB.” Yes, Yeshua has a SONG for his Father. How lovely is that? How inspiring!

Revelation 15:1-3

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

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, AND the song of the Lamb, saying:

"Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!

Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!”

The Song of the Lamb. Jesus has a SONG for his Father. But notice his prominence. And certainly we surely know that God our Father has elevated Jesus to having a name higher than any other name under heaven except the Father himself.

Also read Revelation 5 and how the angels certainly praise and pray to the Lamb! Somehow they can pray to Jesus but his very betrothed can't? Notice the bowls of incense they present are YOUR PRAYERS – “the prayers of the saints”! Being presented to Yeshua/Jesus.

Revelation 5:8

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: [clearly directed at Jesus the Lamb]

"You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals;

For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth."

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

To receive power and riches and wisdom,

And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

"Blessing and honor and glory and power

Be to Him who sits on the throne,

AND to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”

We should be thanking our betrothed – Jesus -- directly every single day for being our Savior. For dying for us, for living for us, for being the new creation in us what we are supposed to be. Indeed, everyone extended honor and glory as they exclaimed, “worthy is the Lamb!”

Make this your PRACTICE. Make talking with Jesus more than just a doctrine but an intimate relationship.

Please, all of you, as we pray to Father, let’s pause and always include a prayer of worship, praise, gratitude and amazement for and to our wonderful Yeshua, our Savior Jesus, Son of God, worthy of all honor and praise.

Do everything you can to grow in your relationship with Jesus, even as you start your prayers to our Abba, our wonderful heavenly Father. Relationship. It’s all about having a real relationship with a real Being inside of us and who is leading us. Amen.

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Don’t DO it! Have NO part in Halloween.

Light on the Rock

The evening of 31st of October each year is one of my most hated evenings. In 2023, it’s this coming Tuesday night, Oct 31, 2023. Halloween. A night that clearly openly celebrates fear, darkness, evil, Satan, ghosts, goblins, violence, blood. Clearly something not for the children of God, right?

Obviously not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that even some of you who come to this site will participate in it one way or another, maybe low-keying it. Even a well known televangelist was recently saying “Halloween’s not all that bad. In fact it could be a time we could witness to others”. NOPE.

I have a full-length detailed SERMON about Halloween and why it is SO wrong for any professing Christian or believer to participate in it, in any way. And I mean not letting even your children be involved either, even if they dress in less evil outfits like maybe as a prince, princess, fireman, or something harmless. If it’s for Halloween, they’re still getting involved. And so are you. Don’t do it!

Someone near us has gone all-out to participate in this dark night.

Here's the full sermon on it and how and why our God warns us not to be involved in it at all, in ANY way. Just be aware it’s always 31st of October.

https://lightontherock.org/images/Should_Christians_participate_in_Halloween.pdf

If you’re not 100% clear in your mind why we should not be involved, then check out the sermon.

** If you’ve heard the arguments against participating in Halloween, but are still unconvinced, study my detailed sermon.

** If you’re going to hand out treats at your door, hear my sermon.

** If you’re going to let your children get all dressed up in non-gory safe costumes (and sure, it’s fun for them) and just be mildly involved somehow, hear the sermon.

** If you feel I’m going overboard and I should “lighten up” and let kids have a little fun, study my sermon. Please.

Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Study and focus on these kinds of thoughts and activities. Are any of these what you’d find in Halloween?

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

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Let’s come out of this world, children of God. I imagine that on this subject, 95% of you reading this, already no longer participate in it. Thank God! The rest of you – study that sermon.

https://lightontherock.org/images/Should_Christians_participate_in_Halloween.pdf

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Is Hamas mentioned in Scripture? Joel 3:19; Obadiah 10.

When I first wrote this in 2012 with 2,901 readers, the militant arm of the Islamic Brotherhood was Hamas and they were shooting rockets all over Israel at that time. Well, Oct 7, 2023 – on the 8th Day High day of God’s calendar, almost on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Hamas is at it again: they’ve shot thousands of rockets, killed over 700 Israelis as of this writing, and taken scores of people captive, including Israeli soldiers. Israel, is once again, at war, defending the land GOD gave to Israel. We need to be concerned and praying.

In today’s blog, I can’t resist pointing out what might simply be a coincidence – or maybe not. There are many examples of “plays on words” in Scripture. To the Arab, the word “Hamas” is taken to mean someone acting bravely in the cause of Allah. In Arabic it means “zeal” and it’s an acronym in Arabic for “Islamic Armed Movement”. ‘

However, in Hebrew, there might also be an interesting play on words. In Hebrew the word “Hamas” means “violence.”  It can also be spelled “chamac” but the “ch” is like an “h” and the c at the end is like an “s”. Is it possible that we were warned thousands of years ago in Scripture that Hamas would become a violent thorn in Jacob’s (Israel’s) side? That word in Hebrew – Hamas- - is used at least 60 times, and sometimes in direct correlation to Israel. Let’s examine a few.

Joel 3:19-21

19 "Egypt shall be a desolation, And Edom [Esau’s descendants] a desolate wilderness,

Because of violence [Hebrew: hamas] against the people of Judah,

For they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 But Judah shall abide forever, And Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted;

For YHVH dwells in Zion."

Edom – or Esau – always felt that his twin brother Jacob had stolen what was rightfully his. He made sure his children were firmly indoctrinated from their early childhood to hate their uncle Jacob, renamed Israel. The descendants of Esau included the Amalekites, the most hateful of Israel among Esau’s descendants. I suspect the Palestinians are from the ancient line of Amalek. This hatred for Israel is as intense as ever among the descendants of Israel’s brother Esau/Edom.

Today we find his descendants in much of the Arab and Muslim populations of the middle east. It is ironic that Palestinians and Jews are really from the same overall family. Both are children of Abraham and Isaac. Esau and Jacob were brothers. Palestinians and many Arabs are really brothers or cousins to the Jew. But the bad blood between these brothers has been roiling for millennia.

And it doesn’t help that the Hebrew or Jewish word for “darkness” or “nighttime” is “erev” – which can sound very much like “Arab” when it is spoken, though it doesn’t mean “Arab”.

Next, you simply must read the one-chapter book of Obadiah. It starts out as a prophecy, a vision, concerning Esau/Edom (Obadiah 1:1). We jump ahead to verse 10, but be sure to read all of it:

Obadiah 1:10

10 "For violence (hamas) against your brother Jacob [Israel],

Shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.

Yehovah does not like it when brothers don’t support or love each other. He hates it when a brother stands back and lets things happen without doing anything to stop it. When we read the first chapter of Obadiah, it is clear that some calamities are going to hit Israel very, very hard and the Jews’ Arab brothers are going to do nothing to stop the cataclysm. For their inaction, Yehovah will strike them very, very hard.

If any of my readers are Jews or Arab, please my brothers: in our Messiah we can come out of the ways of this world. Those of us led by the Holy Spirit can become friends, be brothers and sisters in Messiah, be heirs of the promises given to Abraham through Christ – whether you are Jew or Arab. But first, we each have to come to Him and surrender our lives to Him. Only then can we be one. John 17:20-23 tells us how we become one: IN and THROUGH our Savior, who also happens to be our Creator. Jesus – Yeshua – was the God-being who spoke the words “Let there be light” and HE was the one who created man out of the dust and then built a woman from Adam’s side.

Right now as I write this October 7, 2023 AND as well on Nov 16, 2012, Hamas is firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel. These are not aimed at military targets, nor are they precision strikes but much improved from before. The rockets could kill Jew or Arab, the aged woman or a baby, man or woman. Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense has kept most of the rockets from landing. It’s like firing a bullet to stop a bullet that has already been fired at you. It is amazing technology but not foolproof. The rockets are landing even around Tel Aviv at this point.

Israel is about the size of New Jersey. Imagine if thousands of rockets every day were being fired from Mexico and hitting Dallas or around Dallas. How would we react? So Israel is striking hundreds of military targets in Gaza, many of which are around population centers, so innocent civilians are also being killed. It’s a terrible scene all around. We must be fervently praying “thy kingdom come” as never before. Let’s also pray for Jerusalem and for Israel. I also pray that our God Most High, our Father, will be merciful on all people -- Arab, Palestinian or Jew-- especially when people turn and come to Him in repentant surrender of their lives.

The Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament has this to say about Strong’s word # 2555 – Hamas:

“A masculine noun meaning violence, wrong. It implies cruelty, damage, and injustice…..In relation to physical violence, cruelty is implied (Judges 9:24). When coupled with the term instrument or weapon, it becomes an attributive noun describing weapons or instruments of violence (Psalms 58:2 (or verse 3 in Jewish scriptures). When it describes a person, it can mean an oppressor or a violent man (Proverbs 3:31).”

I suggest you read the one chapter of the book of Obadiah, which is a prophecy against the descendants of Edom. Edom was another name for Esau. I suspect many of the Palestinians are descendants of Edom and even Amalek, Esau’s/Edom’s grandson from a concubine.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the return of our King Jesus!

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Power of Group Prayer - Acts 12:1-5, 7-12

Many of you who have been students of God’s word for many years know that our Savior, Jesus the Christ, taught us to pray in private (Matthew 6:5-6). He said to find a private room – and there open our hearts to our heavenly Abba, our father in heaven. Prayer, especially when it can be heard and seen by others, can sometimes become a show otherwise. Or we can become self-conscious.

We also have numerous examples of Yeshua himself rising early and praying in private. Sometimes he would go up a hill in the magnificent creation and there commune with the Almighty (Matthew 14:23). Even in his most agonizing hours in Gethsemane, he moved some distance from his disciples while he went to pray alone (Matthew 26:36-39). Peter prayed in private on a housetop! (Acts 10:14).

Even in times of spectacular healings, though there are many examples of healings taking place in public, there are also examples of the man of God preferring to be private as he prays for the dead or sick person. Elisha closed the door behind him before praying for the lad whom God resurrected (2 Kings 4:33). Peter, when doing the same with Dorcas (also called Tabitha), also put everyone out and then knelt and prayed (Acts 9:40).

So I begin this blog about group prayer by being sure you, my readers, know that I understand that most of our praying time should be in private. I love to pray outside in the beautiful gardens and park-like yard our Father has given us. Other times, I beseech God Most High beside my bed as I speak to – and listen to – dear Abba.

But there’s power when many of God’s people come together in special times of beseeching Him. Scripture is clear on this also. Especially in times of deep trial and pain that affect the whole group.

I know many in the organizations I have been a part of who never come together to pray as a group for someone’s healing or for our dear Abba’s intervention in times of serious trial (with the exception of opening and closing prayer at church services or asking the blessing over the meal). They cling to those verses about praying in private and not to be seen – and so they would never be seen praying in a group, with a group. And yet scripture is clear: there are times we could be experiencing great blessings that come from group prayer… coming together as one body, and together beseeching our dear Abba and our Messiah.

For example in Acts 12, we can read of how Herod – during the days of Unleavened Bread – arrested two top apostles, James and Peter, with the intent of gaining popularity with the majority Jews who hated the apostles, by executing them. Look what’s said:

Acts 12:1-5   “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”

As we’ll find out shortly, in this case, constant prayer wasn’t just offered individually in everyone’s own private room in their own homes. Oh no. The believers came together in someone’s home and prayed together for hours and hours. Verse 12 says “MANY were gathered together praying.” Many! In Mary’s house, the mother of Mark. Read all of Acts 12 yourself. My question: would you and I have been there with them?

Now we don't know if the execution of James was quick and sudden – without warning, or was there prior imprisonment like Peter’s case? We just don’t know. But I’ve often wondered: IF James had also been imprisoned first, there is no statement that the church made constant intercessory prayer for him. Maybe they had no chance to, for its suddenness. I grant that possibility. But IF he had been imprisoned first, could it be that the brethren could have assumed that God surely would protect James, with or without their prayers? I hope I’m wrong in even wondering about that.

But you know the rest of the story, and how Peter was miraculously delivered after the church kept up their praying around-the-clock for Peter. They gathered together, several together in one place, to pray. You know Mark of the gospels? It was in his mom’s home – Mary the mother of John Mark the gospel writer, assistant to Peter – where they gathered.

I have to wonder: would we be reading the inspiring story of Acts 12 if they had not prayed together, as one body? I don’t know. But it’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? Maybe our Abba would have done exactly the same thing if they had all decided to just pray privately, individually, at home. But the story we have is that God stepped in as they prayed together, as a group!  

If you’re uncomfortable with the notion, stretch a bit. Start small. Sometimes, if not all the time, have one prayer with your spouse perhaps at bedtime or when you both get up. Add a child, if available. Now you have a group of three. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I AM THERE in the midst of them”, Jesus taught (Matthew 18:20).

Certainly there are many examples of the power of brethren coming together to pray as on together.

I know, I know, our Master tells us to go into our “closet” or private area when we pray and that we are to avoid praying in a way where we could be seen by others and therefore have them all feel we are a “man or woman of prayer”. Certainly that’s all true for our daily, personal prayer time. But there are just too many examples of awesome deliverance when God’s people got together to pray together, as one.

My wife and I normally pray by ourselves, apart from one another. But when someone is very ill or needs a miracle or answer from heaven, we will bow and kneel before Yahweh our Healer and together raise that person in prayer to the throne of grace and mercy and petition Abba for him or her.

The early believers were terrific about group prayer. There’s another example in Acts 4:23-32. The apostles had been threatened by the council for preaching in the name of Yeshua (Jesus), so they went to their spiritual brothers and sisters and shared their plight.

Acts 4:23-24   “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…..”

Now keep reading. After their group prayer as one voice and one accord:

Acts 4:31-32 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul….”

Our Almighty God clearly gave his blessing on that assembly praying together. Please ponder that. Be willing to follow their example! Be willing to stretch when you need to, to try things in the Bible that you maybe never have. Like praying in a group once in a while. Now I don’t believe in daily group prayers either. But in times of trial and stress, yes, come together and together beseech God in earnest prayer. Stretch a bit. Do it. Try it. Another stretch for you to try new things might be to raise holy hands in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8).

Another case of group prayer so pleasing to God – of many – is found in 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat of Judah prayed with a large crowd of people for God Most High’s intervention and protection. Jerusalem was surrounded by innumerable enemy soldiers.

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek YHVH, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from YHVH; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek YHVH. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of YHVH, before the new court…” and prayed with the group. Notice it clearly was a group.

Verse 13 – “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before YHVH.”

Can you imagine what it must have been like? Have you ever been a part of something like this? And wow! Did their God ever answer! You can read it for yourself in verses 14-19. And the people all bowed their heads as they worshiped Almighty. The next day YHVH worked a great miracle in their behalf.

The power of the group acting as one, together. Putting differences aside. Loving one another and loving the living God as we pray and trust him – together.

There are more examples. Read Esther 4. When Esther heard of Haman’s plans to ethnic-cleanse the Jews, here’s what this great woman said:

Esther 4:15-17 Then Esther told them to tell Mordecai: “Go gather ALL the Jews present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

They may or may not have come together in one place during those 3 days of fasting, but it is certain they prayed and fasted at least at the same time, for the same purpose. It does say they were to “GATHER” together and fast.   And did God ever hear that praying and fasting? Indeed!   (And by the way, when was the last time we each fasted?) I believe your brethren in southwest Kenya in Isebania fast monthly for prayer needs and requests. May our God bless them and provide answers. 

Why not try praying together as a group for some urgent requests and also for praise and thanksgiving? For those of you who have been doing this already, terrific. For some of you, this may be a new experience. We can all come together decently and in order, and then one after another can take turns leading in prayer as all the others assent in prayer and their “amen”. We can also come together to someone’s home as they did in Acts 12, perhaps some of the time spent in private prayer in the various rooms of the house—and at times come together as a body of one. Hold hands, bow your heads and pray as one soul, as one body led by His One Spirit. You will sense the anointing of God’s spirit as you do this when you do it to seek HIM – and not for any human show. I know this kind of group praying is not commonplace in some circles, but so what!? It’s Biblical. SO do it! 

It’s exciting when you feel the presence of Holy Spirit in your midst. There IS power when many of God’s children come together to pray to Him as one. Many – as one. Together, unitedly, harmoniously, humbly. Experience this powerful way of coming before God: as a group coming to him as one body.

Yes, most of the time – pray in secret, in private, just you and Abba as His Spirit Jesus Christ intercedes with and for you (Romans 8:26-27, 33-34). But be open to the power of the group prayer too!

I’d love to hear from some of you who will stretch and try this. Please share your stories and experiences with me. May our wonderful Abba and His Son bless each of you mightily.

 

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Are you burying your talent?

We read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and perhaps wonder why would someone just bury his talent?  But then I believe many believers are doing the same thing: burying their talent.

A “talent” in the Parable of Matthew 25 was actually a sum of money or possibly a weight, as in “a talent of gold” or “a talent of silver”.  It does not mean what our English word “talent” means.  A talent of either gold or silver would be worth millions today. We can assume the ruler or master who bestowed these “talents” for growth and development was a powerful and wealthy man – picturing Yeshua, the coming King of kings, actually.

In any case, our Master bestowed money – or talents – to various ones. Since our God is the King of the Universe, and owns all things ultimately, everything you and I have been given, or have access to, is ultimately something that came from our Creator. Besides money and abilities (as in the English word “talent”), our very lives, our families, our home, our opportunities, our abilities, and of course receiving the very spirit of God – and much more – are all “talents” we’ve been given. 

Luke 16:10 says “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”  There are many scriptures that say we all will have to stand and give account of what we did with what we’ve been given. We’ve each been given a lot. Each of us will also have to account for a lot then as well.

Frankly at times I fear for times in my life when I wasn’t protecting, developing, investing and growing the opportunities and stewardship I had been given. I hope through Christ in me, I hope I’m doing better now. But that got me thinking:  are we like the one servant who just buried his talent?

There comes a day of reckoning when we each must stand before our Maker and explain what we did with what he gave us.  See Romans 14:10-12 and Hebrews 4:13.

So each of the servants in Matthew 25 gave account.  Those who doubled what they were given were commended and invited to enter the joy of Lord and were given more responsibilities.  But then he came to the final servant who claimed he was afraid to use – and maybe lose – the sum of money he had been given, so he buried it “for safe keeping”.  That man’s talent was given to someone else, because Yeshua makes it clear that those who use and grow what they’ve been given, will be given more.  And those who do not will have what they had been given, taken away.

How’s it looking for you?  Are YOU and I burying the talents, opportunities, gifts of God’s spirit and all the things we have been given?  Or are we putting them to work and growing our opportunities? 

I dare say most of us are doing a mix:  profitably using and growing some of what we’ve been given, and disregarding the rest.

In a recent sermon or teaching, I spoke on the topic of “Are you doing your part in the Body of Christ”.  We each have a part or role to play.  We’re called parts of His body, and therefore also we’re part of each other.  In a human body, if one part is not doing its role, the body can get sick and even die. If one part gets hurt, the rest of the body feels the pain. Other parts come to its aid – to stop the bleeding and pain or to fight germs or anything bad that has entered our body. We are parts of one another. Are you doing your part – or burying your talent? 

But my point is this: every part of the body has a part to play to keep the body “happy” and healthy. Some believers seem to feel their only part is to come to church, sit and listen, participate in the hymn singing, and then go home. Oh – and they’ll pray for those on the prayer list.  All of that is great, but is it enough?  I say we have been given so much, and much will be expected of us. 

One example: the Bible itself. I have many, many Bibles plus many more on my smart phone and more yet on my computer. I have access to Greek and Hebrew lexicons, concordances, word studies plus various translations by the dozen.  In the apostles’ day, one had to be wealthy to be able to afford to have even just one scroll of one book of the Bible!  Many were illiterate back then. But today we can read and we can carry dozens of Bibles and Bible tools in our smart phones. To whom much is given, much will be expected.  Do you even read the Bible every day?  Do you?

How are we using our time, our money or our health?

Paul tells us that one reason we work is to earn money to help the needy (Ephesians 4:28).  Do you do that?  To whom much is given, much will be required.

So I hope you hear the full sermon on doing our part. So many in the Body don’t seem to even know they have a part in the body, or know what their part is. And yet it’s very clearly stated in the scriptures –as you’ll hear in the sermon – that we each have been given gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Developing the Body of Christ is not just the function of ordained ministers. It includes you. Every single one of you.  If you’re not burying your talents, it’s because you’re finding ways to use them. You’ll be using your time better so we get more accomplished. This will mean less TV, less Facebook and less Instagram and more efficient use of our time so we can glorify God in all we do.

If you can read – perhaps you can ask God for the talent to research and study – and then share what you’ve learned with those who preach and write.  Perhaps they won’t accept your first efforts. Don’t get discouraged. If you can write – use it. Write blogs. Ask website hosts if they’d be willing to review your blog and perhaps even use it.  I could use some help for blogs. I still work for a living 50 hours a week and then do this website in my “spare” time. 

I’m seeking to post more and more from other writers. I’ve had 2-3 write 1-2 blogs each, but please – this is your website too, and I want to use more writers. If 12 of you wrote just ONE blog that we can use, that would be one new blog from each of you in a year. Anyone want to take me up on that offer?  I just ask for ONE blog from some of you.  Just ONE. 

Some of you may wish to just submit ideas you think could be interesting blogs or sermons.  Submit them! Let me review them and some of your ideas may soon be on this website.  I’m always looking for sermon ideas too. Send in your thoughts!  Let’s work together on this.  If any of you will take me up on this, I will send you a sheet of “things to keep in mind” about writing for this website.

I’d ESPECIALLY like to hear from those of you outside the USA. And of course, I’d love blogs from those IN the USA as well.  I’d love to have articles, blogs, sermon ideas and more from Kenya, China, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, UK, Israel, Poland, Russia, Moldova, Philippines – from everywhere.  Think how RICH our content, our blogs and our sermons could be if you out there would believe what I’m saying and help be a part of this website, your website!  And then do the same at your local congregation.

So don’t ever tell Christ that you had no opportunity to write. I’m asking for you to write.

Don’t be discouraged if your initial efforts are not accepted. Thomas Edison, after all, had his well-known 10,000 experiments before he could get his electric lightbulb to work. Think of all those failures – but he just saw those as opportunities to learn even more and get it right “the next time”.  So he eventually found the solution. Imagine where we’d all be today if he had given up so soon. So don’t remain discouraged if it takes longer than you thought to develop your talent.

Some of you have been gifted with wonderful singing voices.  Are you using it to glorify God? We’re told “in everything you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Someday I’d like to have these sermons and blogs written in other languages – like German, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Italian and more.  Any ideas? 

Romans 5:5 says God’s love has been poured out on all of us by his spirit. ALL of us have that gift. And guess what?  The greatest of all gifts is love (1 Cor 13 is all about this, and see 1 Cor. 13:13 and 12:31).  We need to invest this love, develop it, grow it, ask for more of it – and let it flow in kindness, in joy, in patience and in all the things that 1 Cor. 13 says about it.

Having God’s love poured out into your heart is such a huge, huge gift.  Don’t bury it.

SO FIND OUT what you’ve been gifted with – what your equivalent of the “talent’ is for you.  You can find out in different ways:

--- ask God to reveal it to you (and he might do that in many different ways).  PRAY for him to open your eyes what is right there in front of you and inside you.

---ask a believer who knows you well what he/she feels are your gifts. Don’t be surprised if you don’t believe them.  I’ve told people “you have such a great gift of …” – but it often fell on deaf ears. Maybe people were trying to act humble. Just say “thank you”, then thank God for showing you through your friend – and then…

---step out in faith and start developing those talents and gifts. To whom much is given, much will be required.

But whatever you do, don’t just let your gift and talent lay idle and please don’t bury them.  USE them! You probably have more than just 1-2-3 talents and gifts.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the words that Yeshua wants to say to you and me when we stand before him?

Matthew 25:21

'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'  

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Gehazi, God’s mercy and you

We all know the story of Naaman the Syrian commander who was told to dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River and his leprosy would be healed. He finally did that, and was healed indeed. See the story in 2 Kings 5.

But do you know the rest of the story? Don’t assume you know or can guess the encouraging end of the story.

Naaman, upon being healed, offered Elisha a lot of silver and expensive garments, but Elisha declined. But Elisha’s assistant – Gehazi – ran off after Naaman and asked and received expensive garments and a lot of precious silver for himself – enough apparently to buy vineyards, more garments and lots of servants or slaves. Elisha was aware of it, and we start now in scripture reading. But don’t assume you know already how it all ends. I hope this will inspire and encourage you. We pick up at the point where the happily healed Naaman has just left Elisha’s home to go back to Syria.

2 Kings 5:20-27   But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him." 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, "Is all well?"

(BUT NOW ELISHA LIES in his covetousness for silver and garments, which were very expensive)

22 And he (Gehazi) said, "All is well. My master has sent me, saying, 'Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.'" (No such thing had happened.)

23 So Naaman said, "Please, take two talents." (That’s 150 pounds of silver! Sixty eight kilos! That would be worth over $53,000 in today’s silver, 2023)

And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. 24 When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed.

25 Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" And he said, "Your servant did not go anywhere."  [Another total LIE]

26 Then he said to him, "Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.

Gehazi had coveted, and had lied and God was not pleased. But leprosy clinging to all his offspring for forever and ever? That’s a very serious and severe punishment. In fact in reading it recently I pleaded with God to be merciful today if there are still any descendants of Gehazi who are leprous because of Gehazi’s sin of so long ago.

It was very shortly after that when I learned of God’s mercy on Gehazi that I somehow had missed before. Maybe you had missed it as well. It was like God was telling me, “ Hey, let me show you something about my mercy that you obviously have missed before.”

I don’t believe there are any children or descendants of Gehazi suffering today because of his sin. But how could that be? That was the curse placed on him. But our God is so merciful, as he was even to Ahab, even to Nineveh, even to king Manasseh and so many others.

In 2 Kings 8, we read this, starting with the widow whom Elisha had been blessed by and he asked God to bless her with a son. She had moved away from Israel for seven years during a famine and now wanted to return and have her land back. Let’s read how Gehazi figures into this:

2 Kings 8:1-6   Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, "Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years." 2 So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.

3 It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.

4 Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done." 5 Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, "My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life." 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him.

So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now."

Here’s what’s easy to miss. Sure, the story goes on to show how the widow received her land and lost income back that she would have had from the land.

But here’s what I hadn’t seen before:

GEHAZI is seen here serving in the King’s court. But I thought he was a leper! He surely had been. And it was totally against the law for a leper in Israel or Judah to come anywhere near other people. They had to stay outside the camp and shout “unclean, unclean” as they walked. You can read this strict law in Leviticus 13:45-46 and Numbers 5:1-4.

There is NO WAY, that a leper in Israel or Judah at least, would be serving in their king’s court!

God’s mercy is perhaps being revealed here. God must have forgiven Gehazi and healed him, or we would not be reading what we do in 2 Kings 8. He would not have been serving openly in the king’s court.

And indeed, I’m confident there are no descendants of Gehazi suffering from leprosy today because of God’s mercy. SO many speak of the harsh “God of the Old Testament”. I see instead in this story and so many others, such kindness, gentleness, mercy and a very forgiving God.  

 

I found this very encouraging that even in my faults and sins, I can count on God’s mercy and forgiveness if I seek him, repent, and turn back to God. So can you. I hope this encourages you, as I know we all still slip up in sin too often. God loves to give his children another chance to live right and be a blessing to others upon forgiving their sin. Praise God our Father and Jesus/Yeshua our Savior/Redeemer for that!

As Paul Harvey used to say on radio, “And that’s the rest of the story.”

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