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.

6th Month

The deep meaning of the Hebrew 6th month of Elul that we’re in right now.


We are currently well into the month of Elul, the 6th month of the Hebrew calendar.  Why do I bring this up?

Most of you who read our blogs and hear our sermons realize we also practice what Yeshua (Jesus) and Paul and the early believers practiced:  they kept God’s 7th day Sabbath and God’s holydays. So even in the New Testament we read of the Passover (Pesach), of Pentecost (Shavuot) – the birthday of the new covenant ekklesia and we know that the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will be kept during Christ’s millennial reign (Zechariah 14:16-19). 

The 7th month of the Hebrew month is called Tishri. It often begins around our mid-late September (which has whispers of “7th” in its very name).  The Hebrew 7th month is the month when the final 4 Biblical holydays or festivals are all kept in rapid succession.  It’s a time of union and worship to our great God and Savior.

Traditionally, the month before all that -- the 6th Hebrew month Elul -- is a time of deep repentance and for preparing ourselves for these coming holy days. If you wish to read WHY it is the time of repentance and turning, BE SURE to hear my short sermon on this very topic given in August 2013Just type “ELUL” into the search bar and the audio sermon and notes will pop up for you.  Or control-click on this link:

It would be a great topic to review this sabbath or next, and be sure you’re ready for the Fall holydays and for all they represent. Learn what happened in the past that made this 6th month period of time so important for seeking fervently after God.  Learn of its connection to preparing for the “Day of the Lord”. Learn about Haggai 1, written during the 6th month. Hear the connection between this month we’re in now with the temple past and future; with Moses’ 2nd trip up Mt Sinai and what happened when he came down the 2nd time—at around the time of the 6th month.  And there’s much more!

The Hebrews call it a time of “Teshuvah” – or repentance.  In Hebrew, teshuvah has the meaning of turning; both turning from sin but also turning TO our Master. It’s a time to forgive others. Now is the time more than ever to confess our sins to our Maker and ask forgiveness and power to overcome, even as we accept the sacrifice of our Master who took all our sins on himself. 

Don’t MISS this meaningful 6th month – the month of Elul in the Hebrew calendar. 

Then in a few short weeks, we’ll be into the 7th month – starting with the new moon (no moon visible in Biblical definitions of “new moon”).  And before you know it, we’re keeping the Day of Atonement and then the Feast of Tabernacles and then the 8th Day feast. 

This website has many sermons about the Fall holydays. On the Home page – see “Messages and Transcripts SERIES”, then click on “Annual Holydays and Feasts of YHVH”.  I hope you’ll avail yourself of the many sermons we have archived in here ready for you to feed on and enjoy. 

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Does Scripture require women to wear a VEIL or other head covering? 1 Cor. 11:2-16

In many Christian and Hebraic Roots and Messianic groups, women worship in church services with their heads veiled or covered. Certainly we know Islamic women veil themselves, and in some cases all you can see are the eyes of the woman. What does scripture say about women wearing a veil for spiritual times? The Bible does discuss having a “covering”, but is a veil, hat, or some other form of man-made covering required?  And if so, for what purpose? If not, then why is a covering mentioned?

Always first pray for understanding and light whenever you look to God’s Word for guidance.  Guidance should always be from God’s word - not just someone’s opinion.

Here’s the main text used by both sides to shore up their teaching.  Key: the context of the early verses of 1 Cor. 11 is about submission to God and to one another. The head covering, whatever that is, is to show you are obediently under submission to God and to those He has placed over us. We are ALL under God and we are all to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).Wives are told in Eph 5:22-24 to submit to their own husband as to Christ.Husbands are to give of themselves and love their wife as Christ does the church (Eph 5:25-28).  As you’ll see, this matter of submission has everything to do with a woman’s head covering.

The head of the wife/woman is the man/husband (v.3). The Greek word translated “woman” and “man” here are the same Greek words translated elsewhere as “wife” and “husband”. 

Let’s look at the text of scripture and we’ll comment a bit on it later.

1 Corinthians 11:2-12

“Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.

7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

Let me talk about submission for a minute, then back to the point of head covering.  Even in marriage, two separate individuals are to become one – to work as a perfect team, as partners.  Paul makes very clear in verses 11-12 that men need women and vice versa. We’re not independent of each other.  Pastors are not to lord it over the flock but serve as overseers (1 Peter 5:2-4).  The younger are to submit to the older (1 Peter 5:5), and Peter goes on to say, “in fact, all of you be submissive to one another, in all humility”. So anything I say after this must be with the understanding that we are all to be humble to each other and submit to one another.

So the man isnot to “lord it over” his wife, though in times past I used to. My wife is part of me and I am part of her. I listen to her and many times I change the direction I was going in because of her wise counsel.  I’d be stupid not to, when a wiser view at times is shown.  She likewise submits to my lead many times in a week. Two minds are better than one.  If I never listened to my wife, why would she be needed? Only a stupid man would insist his wife say nothing and always just “submit”. But having said that, scripture is also clear that the husband is the head of the home, under Christ, who is under God the Father (verse 3). And of course Christ is really the head of all of us – men or women. And all of us also bow the knee to God the Father as Supreme Head of all.  It’s just that women also have their husband as another head besides Christ.

More on this in a minute. It will come to bear on this topic.

Click Continue Reading to the right here – to finish this blog and to learn what is clearly stated is the head covering for women. Also whether men should wear a prayer shawl or head covering.

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True Worship

Worship God.  But do you and I really “worship”? 


There are a lot of concepts about what “worship” is. Check out the newest sermon on “Worship” to see what the actual Hebrew and Greek words usually translated as “worship” in our English Bibles actually mean!  You’re in for a surprise.  In that sermon I also discuss what Yeshua said, that God seeks worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in truth.

But to go along with that sermon, here are some important additional points I wanted to say but ran out of time.  I hope you’ll read this and then hear the full sermon. 


--- Billions of people “worship”, but probably in vainThat’s not me saying that. Yeshua (Jesus) said that (Matthew 15:7-9).  If any worships on “auto-pilot”, on rote saying of words and prayers, and bowing when they are supposed to, and singing when told to – but their hearts aren’t in it, then it’s all in vain. Our heavenly Father, the Supreme Being of the universe, wants our hearts more than anything as we worship before Him. He wants us very cognizant, aware, of whom it is we come before.

--- Some of the best worshipers of YHVH, the Living God, were formerly men and women of disrepute.  The Almighty has to whittle us down to size before He can use us. John the Baptizer said “He must increase; I must decrease”.  He got it! We can’t and won’t see our lowliness until we experience and “see” Yah’s majesty and greatness.  Sometimes it takes someone to know how much he/she’s been forgiven before they “see God” and His Way clearly. If you know you’re a chief sinner, there’s probably more hope for you than 99 others who feel they need no forgiveness or repentance.  (See Luke 15:7).

Moses was a felon on the run when after his meeting with Yah in the burning bush, became one of the spiritual giants of history.  The great apostle Paul was a persecutor of Christians. He did all the rituals of worship perfectly, but until he had his one-on-one with Yeshua on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), he was worshiping in vain. Job clearly said that he knew about the Living God, but now that I see you – “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). After that, God healed him and blessed him tremendously.  Peter, the great apostle, had been with Yeshua for a while but only when he grasped that Yeshua was someone beyond just a normal, regular human, did he deeply repent and realize in whose presence he was. Read the account in  

 ---Having a true one-on-one encounter with Yeshua (Jesus), WILL lead us to genuinely change and become a new person, a “new creation”, by God’s Holy Spirit and by Yeshua’s righteousness in us. Worship without genuine change, without obedience to our Maker, is also worship that is in vain.

Read Isaiah chapter 1 where Yah makes that so clear. He doesn’t want us coming to worship Him while we continue a life of unrighteousness.  Yes, this applies to us all, including me. Neither does He want us thinking that “going to church” once a week “to worship” makes what we do the other 6 days a week alright. 

Matthew 7:21-23 –it’s not enough to cry out “Lord, Lord” and not be doing His will or obeying Him. He’ll say, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to finish this blog and learn more about true worship.

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“They’re just like their dad.”

Years ago I remember someone in our congregation who had a bad club foot and so walked with a particular gait, almost a limp. I was talking to the man about it and he mentioned something interesting. He said one day he noticed his 9-year old boy walking just like him – as if the boy had a club foot as well. So he had to explain to his son that his feet were normal and he didn’t need to favor one foot as he walked. But the son wanted to be like his Dad and just started walking likehis dad without even realizing it.

Are we looking more and more like our spiritual Daddy – our Abba, the Most High God, and walking with Him and walking like Him?

Kids tend to do that. We tend to sound like our mom or dad, walk and stand like our dad, respond and act like our mom or dad. It’s not long after a baby is born that people are saying “she’s got her mama’s eyes” or “he’s got his daddy’s nose.”  As we get older, there are other things that look more and more like mama or daddy. 

But what if we were never around our Dad or got to hear him or see him? I suppose genetics would still influence us in the physical realm to a large degree, but it’s in the day-to-day interactions with our Dad that we absorb his values, his voice, his way and his walk. 

Are you and I becoming more and more like our heavenly Abba?  Yeshua (Jesus) called him “Abba” (Aramaic for “Daddy”).  Scripture is clear that the Son of God was an exact replica (KJV – “express image”) of his heavenly Father (Hebrews 1:3). So much so, in fact, that Yeshua often said that the words he spoke were his father’s words. The things he did were His father’s works. He even said “I can do nothing of myself” – see John 5:19, 30. He even said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:8-11).

How about you and me? Yeshua said without him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), and that includes looking more and more like Abba. It takes Yeshua in us to do that.

And all of us who have children will delight – and sometimes cringe – as we see our toddlers and children saying the same things we say, doing the same things we do – and walking more and more like us.

This morning as I awoke, I had this thought in my head: “Abba delights in seeing His children grow to be more like Him”. And how I love my Abba, my God Most High who is also my heavenly Daddy.  He has been so patient with me, in spite of my many failures to always walk his walk. I want to be just like Him. And I want to be just like Yeshua, for that matter. What’s so great about it is that Yeshua has committed to finishing in us the work he started in us (Philippians 1:6). That’s why he’s called “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). And though God Most High is the Supreme being in the universe, he is also our dear Father, Provider and each of us is also His friend. And he delights to see hints of himself developing in us as he looks at us, just like a parent does with their toddler.

How does that happen?

Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right to learn how we look more and more like our Father.

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BE TRANSFORMED. In a moment – or over a lifetime?

The Scriptures tell us we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Romans 12:1-2

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Are we being transformed?  Are you partially transformed or totally new? 

You’ve no doubt heard stories of people who, upon coming to accept Christ as their Savior, were immediately transformed.  The acidic … became a genuinely gentle soul, a gracious speaker – instantly. Yes, I believe that can happen, like instant total healings do happen. You may even actually know people yourself who have experienced this instant transformation. 

Isaiah seems to have been such a person. He says he was a man with a dirty mouth (unclean lips) and yet in his one-on-one meeting with God, an angel touched his lips and he was cleansed (Isaiah 6:1-9). Isaiah ended up writing one of the most beautiful books in the Hebrew scriptures.

Some people, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, change dramatically – almost instantly. Peter, who had denied His Messiah three times just weeks earlier, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, preaches a most inspired testimony to His Messiah in Acts 2. He accepted beatings and threats and came close to being beheaded – but was so at peace that he was actually asleep when the saving angel appeared to deliver him (see Acts 12).

Frankly, many of us when seeing or hearing of these quick transformations – and then looking at ourselves – can get discouraged. We know certain sins, habits and ways we had in the past are now gone – but there’s still a lot left of our old nature we don’t want any longer.  We’ve overcome some things, but not everything - - yet. And when we see the old nature rising up in us, we can get very discouraged indeed. 

Or is that just me?

For most of us, transformation is not something that happens all at once, in an instant.

I have a little partially completed tiny statue on my desk that I look at once in a while. The inscription says, “Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.”  And that’s the point of this blog: Yes, we are being transformed over time – “until Christ is formed” in us (Galatians 4:19). Paul seems to be making it clear that we should expect this transformation of what we are, to take some time, at least for most of us. Maybe it’s a little bit like a caterpillar being transformed, over time, into a butterfly.  It doesn’t happen in an instant.

Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right here to read the rest of the encouragement from scripture that Yeshua takes his job of preparing the Bride very seriously. 

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Do you know “the great I AM”?

A while back I wrote a blog titled “God is not His name”.  God is what He IS, but his name is YHVH, sometimes in the Hebrew Bible shortened to “Yah”.  You say that name every time you say “hallelujah” – as the “j” is pronounced as a “y” in Hebrew.  So it’s “hallelu YAH” – “Praise Yah” is what it means. YHVH is His most personal name. He wants us to know His name.  Those of us who are the children of the Highest have been privileged to call HIM – Abba. Our Dear Father. 

But do you realize that YHVH literally can also be shortened in its definition to “I am”.  So sometimes you hear people reading “the LORD” as “the Eternal”.  God always IS, He is the “I am”.  He is Eternal. But “I am” is actually even stronger than just saying “Eternal”.

You may be familiar with songs, verses and statements that say something when referring to the Eternal One as the one “who was, and is and is to come.”  Did you realize that’s not the way the Bible has it?  Yah’s focus is that He IS right now. 

We don’t refer to the Creator as “the great he was”, or the “the great he will be” – we call him the Great I AM.  This is why the phrase correctly starts with “WHO IS, and was, and is to come.”  Let me say it again:  It starts with “WHO IS, and was, and is to come”.  Abba – and Yeshua too for that matter—want you to realize He is our PRESENT help and Savior; He’s not “a has been”. 

My point is this:  be aware when singing hymns and songs which start with “who WAS” – and then add “and who IS and who is to come” ---that they have the sequence all wrong. That’s not what scripture says. Yeshua STARTS by saying he is the One “who IS, and was and is to come”.

Revelation 1:4

“Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come…”

Revelation 1:8

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "WHO IS and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Revelation 11:17

"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,

The One WHO IS and who was and who is to come,”

Saying “the One who IS…” is just another way of saying “I AM” – and that carries the authority of eternity with it. 


            Be sure to click on “Continue Reading” to the right to read how our English Bibles missed a great point in their translation in some cases.

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UPDATE: The worldwide assault on Christianity

UPDATE:   The worldwide assault on Christianity


On June 2nd, I wrote a blog mentioning Meriam Ibrahim and others who were being persecuted and threatened with for their stand for Christianity and their professed belief in Jesus Christ.  I may not be of their doctrinal beliefs, but the principle is important.  I want to update the news on that in today’s blog – AND give suggestions on things we can do to speak up against the assault on Christians going on today, while we have a voice to be able to do so.  The time is coming we won’t have a voice. America was largely silent in the 1930’s while the Nazis were clearly bent on evil. We did nothing, we said nothing. The rest is history. Can we learn from mistakes?

The assault on Christianity is really starting to take off. People professing belief in Jesus Christ are being raped, kidnapped, beheaded, tortured and executed – while most Western believers are either totally unaware of what’s going on, or remain silent or do nothing.

Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council, as well as other people and groups like Liberty Counsel, along with the prayers of many thousands around the world, were very influential in securing Meriam’s freedom. She is now out of Sudan with her two children and has the papers to be a true and authentic refugee to the USA.  Most of all, she’s freed thanks to our heavenly Father who hears our prayers. If any of you feel God doesn’t hear people outside your fellowship, think again. Hear my last few sermons and read my recent blogs for proof He does. He loves the people of the world and is longsuffering and merciful. 

And folks, if any of you feel you couldn’t or shouldn’t pray for Meriam of Sudan – or those in similar trials because she’s somehow not a “true” believer in your eyes, please read my previous blog. I would challenge ANY of us to have the courage and faith that woman showed – to refuse to give up her allegiance to Yeshua even if it meant giving birth in a fetid, crowded jail and being told her future was to be mercilessly beaten with 100 lashes, and then hanged until dead.  Her crime: refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus and refusing to become a Muslim, the religion of peace. 

The biggest thing we must confess is that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah, the son of God, and that He died for our sins and we accept Him as our Savior – and refuse to deny him in word or deed. See 1 John 3:21-23.  What was Yeshua’s main command for us, his disciples?

1 John 3:22-23

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Meriam did that in a way that few, if any of us, have so far been asked to do.  I personally respect that about her even though she does not hold to or practice all my beliefs. But there are also thousands more like her. We’re seeing a foretaste of what is coming to a city near you.  I know, you’d much rather pray for someone in your own fellowship.  But sometime read the story in 1 Kings 13 how a prophet of God cursed wicked King Jeroboam and within minutes, this same prophet was praying for Jeroboam’s healing -- and God heard!  And we all know about “come out of her [Babylon], my people…” – but are you as aware that when Judah was sent into captivity into Babylon, they were to pray for Babylon?  Did you know that?  See Jeremiah 29:4-7.

So let’s not get all high and mighty and think we can’t pray for “the unconverted”.  Also, remember mercy will be shown to the merciful. When our turn comes to be on the receiving end of persecution resulting in jail, beatings, beheadings and stonings -- we’ll all want as many prayers we can get, going up for us. And we’ll see how many of us will be as strong and faithful at those times as Meriam was. 

And whether or not she was a true believer?  Well, neither was Naaman of the Bible when he asked for healing.  Neither were the women of Abimelech’s harem when Abraham prayed for them.  Neither were those crucifying and ridiculing our Messiah on the cross – but He prayed for them anyway.  Don’t be better than Yeshua, folks!  Those who “sigh and cry” for the abominations we see are those who will be protected (see Ezekiel 9).  Moses and Aaron interceded even for rebellious Israelites who were about to stone them (Numbers 16:41-50).

And don’t forget – Yeshua was called “a FRIEND of sinners”!  Are we?  We should be! God our Father – Abba – so loved ALL the world that He sent His only begotten son to die for them.  Now that’s true love. He loved us WHILE we were yet sinners. And even those of us who are his children – yes, we still sin and his Son stands as our defense Attorney. 

I’m urging God’s children to speak up.  Remember it was Adam’s silence in the Garden that allowed the serpent to indoctrinate Eve. He should have spoken up; he should have said something forcefully, as he was not deceived.  It was the SILENCE of “good” Germans in the 1930s and 1940’s that allowed the evil Nazis to exterminate and torture millions.  It was the silence of good Russians that allowed the pogroms of even more millions in Russia.  It was the silence of good Chinese that allowed the genocide of even yet more millions in China.  It is the silence, frankly, of millions of peaceful Muslims tolerating the evils of the terrorist extremists by their silence that is giving fuel to the extremists.  And it is OUR silence today – brothers and sisters – that allows scores of kidnapped Nigerian teenage girls to remain out there, even though we apparently know exactly where they are.  

Can you and I afford to remain silent? 

Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the right to read some actions we can each take to make our voices be counted!  It’s not enough to just shake our heads and walk on by. 

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Praying for healing for the unconverted

I’ve known of, seen and heard a lot of stories of ministers refusing to pray for someone’s relatives because they were not one of “God’s people” – i.e., the pastor felt they were still living in their sins, or didn’t attend with that pastor’s church, or maybe had quit tithing to the pastors in question. 

I’ve even seen this question posed on chat rooms, Facebook and other media.

I say if someone asks for prayers for anything, we pray. Let God do the judging.  He’s a great judge. He’s very good at it.  We’re not good at reading people’s hearts or minds – so neither can we judge whether they are “worthy” to receive your prayers. I repeat: we’re not.  It’s not our job. It’s his job.

Why would anyone think we can hold off prayers for people who don’t attend with us?  So let me share a few reminders:

--- Yeshua (Jesus) told us we SHOULD pray for those folks.  Remember his admonitions at the end of Matthew 5:44 – to pray for those spitefully use you and persecute you?  They’re hardly “converted” children of God! 

--- EVERY single person Yeshua healed was a person without the spirit of God.  We are to be followers of Yeshua, right?  He didn’t go around asking which synagogue they attended or if they attended regularly or if they were tithing or if … anything.  He sometimes might have asked if they believed… and that was it!

---Elisha was involved in the healing for Naaman the Syrian, an enemy of Israel.  Even after the healing took place, Naaman asked to be excused while he helped his king in the pagan temple!  Are we better than Elisha and his judgments on this?  The story is in 2 Kings 5.

---Paul healed all the sick who came to him from the then-pagan island of Malta. Read the passage for yourself. First they thought he was a god because a poisonous snake had bitten him without repercussions or effects. 

Acts 28:8-9

“And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.”

---JOB’s life was restored beautifully – but only after he prayed for his friends (Job 42:7-10). 

---SARAH’S womb was opened by Yah and she was allowed to have a child only after Abraham prayed for Abimelech and his harem and wives whom God had made barren because Abimelech had taken Sarah (after Abraham and Sarah had half-lied about being brother-and-sister). Read the whole account in Genesis 20 and 21.  And notice that Genesis 21 comes after Abraham prayed for all those “unconverted” people in Genesis 20:14-18; Gen 21:1-4.

I could go on and on and on.  But why do we sometimes feel “holier than thou” and refuse to appeal to God for the healing of people who also were made in His image and likeness? 

Pray for one another. Let God do the judging.

Oh yes, I’m aware of Jesus saying in John 17 that “I pray not for the world”.  True, at that moment, his focus was on the disciples. But surely he prayed for the world, did he not, when he said from the crucifixion tree, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. 

And I’m aware of some verses in Jeremiah where God told him not to pray for those people at that time.  I have a sermon on this you may wish to look up.  But remember, Nehemiah prayed for the nation of Judah.  So did Daniel – including a deep prayer of repentance for the nation where he included himself.  See Daniel 9.  Moses certainly prayed for sinful Israel to be pardoned when God was ready to wipe them all out after the gold calf incident. 

So please folks, let’s just pray – and let God decide what to do with your prayer.  There’s so much more that can be said about this. Don’t limit your intercessory prayers for just people who are full of God’s spirit.  And you’ll be blessed as you pray for anyone and everyone.  God bless you.

And if your minister won’t pray for someone in your family or neighborhood – contact me.  I’ll be glad to. Yeshua’s the healer anyway; it’s not us.  Have a great sabbath and weekend.

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Are you a “friend of Sinners”?

That’s a strange question, you might say. But is it?   Why would anyone want to be a friend of sinners, you might ask.  But after all, your Savior said that he himself was called that – “a friend of publicans and sinners.” 

Here are a couple contrasting scriptures.  One says if we are a friend of the world, we are the enemy of God.  The other – spoken by Yeshua (Jesus) himself says HE was called a “friend of sinners”.

James 4:4

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

Luke 7:33-34

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'  34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'  

So back to the question: ARE you a friend of sinners?  Was Yeshua really a friend of sinners? It would be easy to give a simple answer and say “we are all sinners, and so of course he is a friend of sinners.  And so am I – because we’re all sinners, aren’t we?” But as you’ll see, the ‘sinners’ that Yeshua was a friend to – were the more notorious sinners. He didn’t seem to mind “hanging out” with people everyone knew were not nice people.

But our loving father has plans for all who will accept Yeshua as THEIR friend - - and SAVIOR and King. He wants us in His family as his very own children.  Yeshua was the way in, the door to the kingdom. He came to save – as that is what his name means – SALVATION – and the ones needing saving are sinners. And yes, we ALL are sinners. But lets’ read Savior’s story, shall we?

One time Yeshua invited himself to dinner at an infamous tax cheat, the little-liked IRS agent of his day – Zacchaeus.  He was pretty excited that this miracle-working holy man knew him by name and wanted to come visit with him.  As he slid down the sycamore tree in haste, he must have been asking himself, “Why me? Why would he even care about me?” 

They had a grand old party going and just when it was getting good, the church-going folks (the Pharisees) wondered out loud….let’s pick up the story in Luke 19:6

Luke 19:6-7

So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He [Yeshua] has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."

My question again:  has this ever been leveled at you?  Have you ever been accused of being a friend of sinners?

Please be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the right -- to get the rest of this thought-provoking question answered.

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The 17th of Tammuz – a day of mourning and hope

Today as I write this – July 15, 2014 – today is the 17th of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar.  It’s a day of mourning – but also of hope for what’s to come in the near future.

Remember that under King David and later King Solomon, all 12 tribes of Israel were called “Israel”.  But after King Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into two kingdoms, or two houses: the House of Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and the House of Judah (mostly the southern tribe of Judah and Levites).  The country we all know today as “Israel” is in reality just the remnants of the House of Judah primarily. Some individuals of the northern tribes did decide to live in Judah.  Anyway, each House went into captivity for breaking the sabbaths, for idolatry and generally for forsaking the Way of YHVH.  Look at Jeremiah 2:17:

“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking YHVH your Elohim (God) when He led you in the way?”  (Jeremiah 2:17). 

What I’m about to say has to be more than coincidence. 

Today devout Jews are mourning what happened on this day. On this very day, both in 586 BC and 70 AD, the walls around Jerusalem were breached by invading armies -- the first time by Babylon and the 2nd time by the Romans.  On the very same day!

But the “coincidences” continued. Both the First Temple (the one Solomon built) and the Second temple (the one Yeshua was involved with) were destroyed, burned and razed to the ground on the same Hebrew calendar date  just three weeks later: the 9th of Av. 

This is common knowledge among devout Jews, but there are lessons for us today too.

Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the right to read the rest of this informative blog, and learn how this relates to us today.

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 Should we PRAY for Israel’s blessings and protection?

Israel is under daily rocket attack aimed at their largest cities as I write this. A full scale war with Hamas in Gaza could be imminent.  If the USA was being attacked by over a hundred rockets from across its borders every day, would we sit idly by? 

Now consider this:  we know that of all the many sons of Abraham, the Eternal God referred to Isaac – the son of promise by faith – as Abraham’s one and only son (Genesis 22:1-2). Ponder that. Who came from Isaac?  It is through the Seed of Abraham--Isaac – Jacob (renamed Israel), that our Messiah came.In Yeshua – of the Seed of Abraham – all the families of the earth can be blessed.  So here’s what YHVH (the personal name of our Eternal God) said to all of us and to Abraham:

Genesis 12:3

“I will bless those who bless you,

And I will curse him who curses you;

And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Almighty God repeated this in Genesis 27:29 directly to Jacob (Israel) –


Genesis 27:29

“…..Cursed be everyone who curses you,

And blessed be those who bless you!"

Have you recently asked our heavenly Father to bless Israel? 

Isaiah 62:6-7

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;

They shall never hold their peace day or night.

You who make mention of YHVH, do not keep silent,

7 And give Him no rest till He establishes

And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

And how well do we keep this command?

As I write this, Israel is preparing to stop the hundreds of M-302 rockets being fired every single day directly at Israel’s cities!  The only reason we’re not yet reading about hundreds or even thousands of Israeli dead is because of God’s protection and the Iron Dome missile defense.  Basically Israel is shooting down rockets with rockets. But Islamist terrorists don’t care where the missiles land and make no effort to spare civilians. They’re firing into civilians.

Be sure to finish the rest of this blog by clicking on the link to the right “Continue reading”. 

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Praising and thanking our Father BEFORE we receive

I’ve been receiving some positive comments from a friend who heard the sermon about praising and thanking God before we receive what we’re asking, and I thought I should encourage you to hear that message as well. It was given in March 2014. 

We all know about Yeshua’s (Jesus) instructions about receiving from God and when we pray.  If not, this will be a good little scripture study for all of us to review on the topic of answered prayer:  

  • Diligently seek our Father, for He does reward those who do so (Heb.11:6)
  • Remember your own private prayer is to be private (Matthew 6:5-6). There ARE times for group prayer, such as we read in Acts 12:1-19 when the believers prayed for Peter and their prayer was answered.  It’s interesting that there’s no record of the group coming together in prayer to pray for James – and he was beheaded by King Herod.
  • We must ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).We will have more confidence of a positive answer when we are pleasing to our Creator (1 John 3:22).  2 Chronicles 7:14-15 “… if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
  • We need to ask more. “You have not for you ask not” (Matthew 7:7-11). 
  • We should always ask in faith, believing.  (James 1:5-8; Mark 11:22-24). If your faith is weak, acknowledge it, and make that part of your prayer. Ask Him to strengthen your faith.
  • We should pray in Yeshua’s name (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24).
  • We know we should ask unselfishly. (James 4:2-3)
  • We know we should be persistent and not give up when we don’t see an answer right away, like the persistent widow parable (Luke 18:1-8).
  • We know we should ask for similar things – like healing – for others, if we wish to be healed (James 5:16).  Notice it says to pray for others “that YOU may be healed”. 
  • The same verse in James 5:16 says the fervent prayer of the righteous man is the effective prayer.  “Fervent’ does not have to mean loud. It just means to put your heart into it. 
  • Mark 11:25-26—if we want God to hear our prayers, we need to be sure we are at peace with everyone.  We need to have forgiven those who have offended us and ask their forgiveness if we have offended them.
  • We pray from our hearts; not speaking just rote, repetitive prayers (Matthew 6:7).
  • We know sometimes God’s “answer” to our prayers can sometimes be “not yet”, or “no” or “OK, I’ll answer, but it will be somewhat different than what you asked.” Paul experienced this when our Father told him he would not remove the “thorn in the flesh” but would give him strength to bear it.

I could keep going with more points on “answered prayer”. But I hope this much has been helpful -- but it’s still not my main point today.

Have you made a conscious practice of applying the March 2014 sermon about praising our Father for having already answered your prayers BEFORE you even see any results?  And be sure you do so in Yeshua’s name, as if Yeshua is the very one asking our Father.  In that sermon I give many examples of Yeshua himself doing this, as well as many examples from the prophets.  Yeshua taught us this when he says when we pray, believe we have already received it (Mark 11:20-24, especially verse 24).  Hear the sermon, it will have much more.  I recommend you hear the sermons in audio while having the Notes printed out ahead of time.  My “Notes’ are not a complete “transcript”. Sometimes I have bonus points in the notes, sometimes there’s more in the audio, but either way you’ll get more out of the messages if you hear them AND have the notes in hand. 

Remember that faith is the evidence of things NOT YET seen (Hebrews 11:1).  So if we have faith we’re going to receive a wonderful answer from our so-loving Abba, why NOT start thanking him for having already done it, even when we don’t yet see His answer?  The sermon explains fully how and why this is such a hallmark of believers.  If you haven’t heard and read the sermon, I recommend you do. It can change your life.

I also hope you will enjoy the series I am starting on our loving Abba – and the next sermons, God willing, will be on what happens when we, as children of Abba, sin?  Does that put us outside his love?  We certainly must deeply repent and turn from the evil we got involved with – but does that put us outside Abba’s love?  It will be coming soon.  Then I’ll be talking about experiencing the real JOY of salvation, as King David described it in his very prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.  So a lot is coming, and I hope you will benefit from the messages. I enjoy hearing any feedback or suggestions or even questions.  May our loving Abba in heaven bless you and watch over you.  

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Because I Love you

The following essay is by a spirit-led brother in Christ I’ve known for many years. I was moved by this beautiful essay and I hope you will be too. Be sure to click on “continue reading” at the bottom right so you can read it all. It’s wonderful!    -- Philip Shields 


I looked and beheld that the Earth had become without any form and was void of all life. My spirit was moved to make it new and so I placed it upon its orbit and blessed it within its course.

 (Genesis 1:1-3)

Because I Love You

I called for the light to come forth and separated it from the darkness. I saw the beauty in both the light and dark and I named them day and night.

 (Genesis 1:3-5)

Because I Love You

I set the waters above the Earth and divided the firmament into its proper order. I placed this protective cover I called heaven, so that life could be sustained upon the earth’s surface.

(Genesis 1:6-8)

Because I Love You

I gathered all the waters to form the mighty seas and caused the dry land to appear. I planted it with a variety of herbs, grasses and trees to grow and yield its fruit for a covering.

(Genesis 1:9-13)

Because I Love You

I set a great light I called the Sun to provide light and warmth during the day. I set a lesser light I called the moon and dressed it with many twinklingstars to shine for you by night. These lights I created to also show you my holy appointments, my special times, with you.

(Genesis 1:14-19)

Because I Love You

I gave the vast seas its bounty of many varieties of wonderful life. I set the birds upon the air with the wings of flight and filled the land with creatures of many kinds to prosper and multiply.

 (Genesis 1:20-25)

Because I Love You

I looked upon the beauty that shimmered on the waters and across the vast new land; I saw my reflection within both and out of the ground I created and breathed life into the first Man.

(Genesis 1:26, 2:7)

Because I Love You

I saw how much a man needed a companion to share and enjoy the beauty of my creation. I caused a deep sleep to fall upon him and from his own body I created his helpmate called woman. Together their seed would begin to fill the earth with human life.

(Genesis 1:28, 2:18, 21-24)

Because I Love You

I fashioned both the man and woman in our image, after our likeness.  No other creature has that honor.

(Genesis 1:26-27)

Because I love You

On the seventh day I rested from all my works of creating. I sanctified it as my Sabbath day so that all that I had made could rest from their works, rejoice and reflect upon Me.

 (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11)

Because I Love You

I set the man and woman in a beautiful garden, a paradise I planted with my very own hands. I taught them my way of life and gave them my Laws and statutes that would bring forth fruit of my very own nature.

(Genesis 2:8-17)

Because I Love You

I gave you the honor to bear my glorious name and become a great nation. You were to be my witnesses upon this earth and live by every word that I would decree.

(Exodus 6:7, 19:3-6, Leviticus 26:12; Acts 1:8)

Because I Love You

I emptied myself of immortality and left my place of honor before my Father to live as one of my creations. I came for many reasons. I came to live a perfect life so I could be your Savior. I set the example of what Abba, our dear Father desires. And I came to proclaim the Way into His glorious kingdom.

(Philippians 2:5-8; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

Because I Love You 

Our Father personally chose you to be one of the first children in His family and asked me to lead you to Him. I love showing you what a loving Abba He is. He’s the greatest.

(John 6:44; Matthew 11:27; John 14:28)

Because I Love You 

I gave my body to be beaten so you could be healed. Then I gave you my life, my living blood to be spilled to justify you and pay for all the penalties for all your sins. By this act, and by my resurrection that followed, I conquered the last enemy – death.

(Isaiah 53:5-6; John 6:47-58, 10:11, 14-18; Hebrews 2:9, 14; Romans 5:20-21)

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Five Steps Toward Walking by the Spirit

Let me give a brief conclusion in mentioning five things that I think we must do so that it can be truly said that we are walking by the Spirit.  (These are just Omae’s summation points at the end of his excellent sermon – P Shields).

1. Acknowledge

First, we must acknowledge from our hearts that we are helpless to do good apart from the enablement of the Holy Spirit. As Paul says in Romans 7:18, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." What did Yeshua mean when he said in John 15:5, "Without me you can do nothing"? Of course we can do something without Yeshua: we can sin!

We cannot do anything pleasing to God without the constant enablement of the Spirit.

2. Pray

Second, since it is promised in Ezekiel 36:27 that Yahweh will put his Spirit within us and cause us to walk in his statutes, pray that he do it to you by his Almighty power. Many of you know the glorious, liberating experience of having an irresistible desire for sin overcome by a new and stronger desire for God and his way.

And now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight through Yeshua.

If it is God alone who works in us what is pleasing in His sight, then above all, we must pray. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

3. Trust

The third step involved in walking by the Spirit is faith. We must believe that since we have come under the gracious sway of God's Spirit, "sin will no longer have dominion over us" (Romans 6:14). This confidence is what Paul meant by "reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to God" (Romans 6:11). We simply count on it that the Spirit who made us alive when we were dead in sin wills our holiness and has the power to achieve what God wills.

The reason we can is that we know that God will cause his obedient children to be led by the Spirit. We do have to follow that leading of the Spirit and walk with and in the spirit. We have to let God’s spirit lead us. And the way we know this is because of Romans 8:14, where Paul says you can't even be a child of God unless you are led by His Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." If you are a child of God, you have a solid and unshakable promise that God will give you victory over those powerful desires of the flesh.

One word of caution: do not prejudge the timing of the Holy Spirit's work. Why he liberates one person overnight but brings another to freedom through months or even years of struggle is a mystery concealed for now from our eyes.

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Attacks on Christians – but where’s the outrage?

Where’s YOUR voice?

 Believers in Jesus Christ or Yeshua the Messiah – unfortunately – still seem to like to be separated from one another. I realize there are true believers and false ones. There are nominal “Christians” and real practicing Christians. But that’s not the point of this blog.

 Whether others out there who call themselves “Christian” believe exactly the way you do, you need to be aware of this:  Christians around the world are being tortured, imprisoned and even killed for their belief in Jesus (you know I call him Yeshua). 

 The prophet Ezekiel was told in a vision in Ezekiel 9 that a mark was being placed on those who “sighed and cried” for the abominations in the land. Will God Almighty place a mark on your head?  You surely are praying about and sighing and crying for the atrocities going on all around you. 

A 27-year old Christian mother(MERIAM IBRAHIM),is imprisoned in a filthy overcrowded jail in Islamic Sudan, along with her 2 year old son and newborn Americandaughter – surely we can do or say something. She was shackled in a stinking fetid prison with hundreds of inmates in the jail, while giving birth to her newborn little girl recently. So now her 2 year old son and NEWBORN baby girl are all in a terrible jail with her, as she’s shackled in a Sudanese prison.

 Why is all this happening to her? Because she won’t give up her belief in Jesus Christ.  Surely we can pray for her. Some believe she is a US citizen. Though that’s not proven yet, my point is bigger. Why the silence when those who profess a belief in Christ are treated this way?  Now that she’s had her baby, the next step—if nothing stops the process-- is they are going to flog her with 100 excruciating lashes, and then they will hang her until she dies. Her child is to be given to Islamic “parents’ to raise in that great religion of peace – Islam. 

 All this in Sudan—which has received BILLIONS of U.S. dollars.  And our President has YET to say one word about this. Our Secretary of State has yet to say one word about this inhumane “treatment”.  How about you?  And would YOU be as faithful to your belief in Yeshua as she has been so far?  Would YOU agree to 100 lashes and then to be hanged, all because of your belief in the TRUE Son of God? 

Makes one think, doesn’t it?  Surely you can mention her and her babies in your prayers? Surely you can sigh and cry for her?

There’s also the Christian American pastor in Iran who has been in and out of jail for his beliefs – with threats to his life daily.  In the past couple weeks,American Pastor Saeed Abedini was beaten, removed from his hospital bed where he had been receiving much-needed medical care, and forced back to a deadly prison in Iran. Would you and I have recanted long ago, or would we be holding firm to our loud and clear claim that we are believers in Jesus Christ and we will never give that up?

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Who is “YAH”? 

Sometimes instead of saying “YHVH” or Yahweh or Yehowah, I simply write “Yah”.  Why do I do that?  Is there a Biblical basis for that?  Who is Yah?  Is it being disrespectful to call our great Creator “Yah”?  Is it like a nickname and therefore too casual?

 I have a couple sermons on “What is our Creator’s name?” – given in October 2011.  You may wish to follow-up this sermon with a study into those sermons.

 We all say “Yah” without even realizing it.  There is no “J” sound in Hebrew. What appears as a J in English is pronounced as a “Y” in Israel and even in much of Eastern Europe.  So even Jerusalem is “Yerushalayim” or variants of that, in Hebrew. 

Take the word “hallelujah”.  Notice the “Jah” at the end of the word.  We all pronounce it correctly in this case as “Yah”.  It means “PRAISE Yah.”

 Yes, Yah is an acceptable shortened form of YHVH, the most personal name of our Creator.

 Your English Bibles translate it as YAH, several times.  It is Strong’s word # 3050. You can look it up in Strong’s concordance under that number.  I’ll quote some, to verify that saying “Yah” is Biblical.  Where you see “YHVH” in my text, your English Bibles will have it as “the LORD”.  I preserve the name of God in the Hebrew.  The KJV only has it as “Jah” in Psalms 68:4 but NKJV and others list more. KJV usually translates Jah or Yah as “Lord”.   Here are a few of the many times where the original Hebrew actually mentions “YAH”.  You’ll miss it in most English Bibles though, where most simply translate the name “Yah” as “the Lord.”

 Isaiah 12:2
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;

'For Yah, YHVH, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.'"

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How to be greater than your enemy

I heard a thought today that made me think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty good. I hadn’t thought of it that way before”… and so I’ll share it.  Just a short blog today.

 How would you like to be greater than your enemy?  You know, the ones who gossip about you or make life difficult for you. (Or maybe you’re one of the blessed rare souls with no enemies.)

 Here’s how. 

The lesser is blessed by the greater.  Hebrews 7:7 says that.

 Yeshua taught us something he himself did. On the cross, as he was dying, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  In its own way, that prayer was a huge blessing.  He was forgiving them and asking his Father not to charge them with any wrong-doing. Now that’s a blessing!

 Matthew 5:43-48

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”.

 So He also taught us to “LOVE your enemies; BLESS those who curse you. Do GOOD to those who hate you.  PRAY for those who spitefully use you.”

 Scripture teaches us that generally speaking, the greater person is the one who is able to bless someone lesser, or poorer, or weaker.  See Hebrews 7:7.  There are many examples in Scripture of this.

 So, do you want to be greater than your enemy?  Here’s ONE simple way, of many:

Pray a blessing over your enemy.  The greater blesses the lesser

 When you pray blessings over your enemies, instead of curses, you become larger, stronger and more at peace. And yes, you become greater than your enemy, because you are becoming ever more like God himself. 

Now, don’t let even ten more minutes go by without praying a blessing on someone you know doesn’t like you very much. Watch your attitude towards that person change, and I’ll “bet” you, you’ll see their attitude change towards you as well over time.   

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Our Father’s GRACE – does it lead you to sin more?

I have been speaking and writing more recently about various aspects of our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and the WONDERFUL grace of God.  Without His grace, we would never be in the kingdom.  It’s that simple. I’ve spoken and written on faith in the Messiah; on being justified by faith, and on various aspects of the grace of God.  Some people become uncomfortable with anyone preaching faith in the living Son of God, instead of faith in what we ourselves have to do.

 Folks, my faith is not just blind belief, but a solid anchoring of my soul in believing on and in the Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth.  My confidence of being in the better resurrection rests in HIS life.  After all, we all know we’ve been forgiven and reconciled to our Father by his death for us, if we accept it.  But do we also remember that Romans 5:10 says we are saved by HIS life? Not by our own lives. No sir, no ma’am.  HIS life.  That’s what saves us.

 Now – does receiving God’s grace and relying on Him cause us to sin more? That’s the lie that Satan himself tries to put out there, so that we don’t receive God’s grace.  (Watch for an upcoming sermon soon on “How Well do you RECEIVE?)  If Satan can make us feel that the topic of “grace” is so poisoned, is so dangerous, then we tend to distance ourselves from this wonderful truth – and we refuse to receive it.  Then Satan has scored a victory.

Abba’s grace in me and over me won’t let Satan win if we keep looking to our Father’s love and in prayer asking Him to be our covering through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 Can the grace of our loving Father be perverted? Yes it can. Jude and Peter write of the misapplication of grace quite a bit in their epistles. But neither does it mean we should not speak of gracecorrectly. Even Jude ends his warning epistle with words of GRACE. In verse 21 he speaks of keeping yourselves in the love of God. Look how Jude ENDS his short epistle even after all his stern warnings:

 Jude 24-25

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise,Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”

 WHO is the One able to keep us from stumbling? Ourselves? NO!  WHO is able to present us FAULTLESS before Him with great JOY?  GOD OUR SAVIOR… to HIM BE THE GLORY and majesty. 

 THAT is how JUDE ends his treatise on false grace! Look to the TRUE GRACE of God.  In verse 21 he says to keep yourselves in the love of God looking to the MERCY of our Lord. 

 Peter, who also warns against becoming lax on sin, and on submitting to one another and to the authorities over us, and speaks so much about our conduct – also says a lot about GRACE in the first verses of his first epistle. He ends 1 Pet 1:2 with words of grace. Then verses 3—he blesses God for his abundant mercy and for the resurrection of Yeshua. Then in verse 5 he speaks of how are “kept by the power of GOD through FAITH for salvation…” In verse 10 he speaks of how the prophets foretold this GRACE that would come upon us.

 In the 2nd Epistle of Peter, he starts and ends his letter with words all about grace. Go read it.  Then in between he has stern warnings about continuing in sin. Then he ends the letter of 2nd Peter telling us all to “grow in the GRACE and knowledge OF OUR LORD Jesus Christ…”  The possibility of sin did not keep him from speaking of Grace. Oh, not this Peter, the one who denied his Master 3x then went on to preach on Pentecost with 3,000 being converted as a result!  God’s GRACE allowed Peter to go from self-condemnation to speaking about God’s grace for them in Acts 2, if they would repent and receive it. 

 John ENDS the whole New Covenant scriptures with words of grace in the last verses of Revelation, though he also has much to say about becoming spiritually sleepy or dying Christians In Revelation 2-3.  So we teach the balance. Let’s absolutely talk of Grace – while also talking about using that grace to be impetus to more change and growth (Romans 8:12-15).

 Paul gives his OWN experience to make the point that when we appreciate God’s grace, the last thing we really want to do is go sin again or to sin lightly. Read 1 Cor 15:9-10.  He was heartbroken by the fact that he had so persecuted the Body of Christ, the brethren,  that some of them even cursed God as Paul tortured them (1 Tim 1:        12-15; Acts 26:11).  So he calls himself the least of the apostles and even the “chief sinner”.  He received God’s grace while on the way to Damascus to arrest and torture more Christians (Acts 9).  One could hardly say he received Grace because he was a good man! No, he was a mean and cruel man before his conversion.  He thought torturing believers and making them recant was the right thing to do. 

So Paul received a lot of GRACE.  What did it lead him to do?

 1 Corinthians 15:9-12

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

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Two GREAT memory verses to understand  Romans 1:16-17 

Many of us have quoted Romans 1:16-17.  But this time, let’s read it slowly, pausing after each phrase, and let's ponder it.  This little 2-verse is packed with meaning.
Romans 1:16-17

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel OF CHRIST, for IT is the power of GOD to SALVATION for everyone who BELIEVES, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness OF GOD is revealed from FAITH to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

We must not be ashamed of the Good NEWS of Christ.  I know some interpret “of Christ” to mean the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached. It certainly includes that. But what Yeshua (Jesus) did for us and to us, is the WAY INTO that fabulous kingdom. There is no good news even possible without His role, His life, His death, His resurrection, His advocacy of His people, His grace, and more.  This gospel, it goes on to say in verse 16 leads to SALVATION.  Interestingly enough, that’s what Yeshua means: SALVATION. 

 It’s the POWER OF GOD to salvation. We are saved by God’s power.  We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. 

But we have to BELIEVE.  Sure, that belief evidences itself in godly actions as James 2 explains.  Remember Hebrews 11 – that because Noah believed, he built the ark.  Because Moses believed, he led Israel through the Red Sea. So of course, when we believe that true belief is proven by things we do later.  But first we believe – we TRUST – then we act because we believe and trust. That’s what Paul explains in Romans 4 and 5, that we first simply believe God.  We have to believe the gospel. 

The gospel:  I do have a sermon or two on this website about the full complete gospel. I need to give another one. Just do a word search on “gospel” in the search bar on this website.  The disciples were told to go to all the nations and preach the gospel.  And when we read what Peter, James, John and Paul preached, what did they focus on?  They focused on the life, death and resurrection and salvation of Yeshua (Jesus).  Peter’s whole first sermon in Acts 2 was almost entirely about Yeshua. The first sermon Paul preached after Yeshua confronted him as he went to torture more Christians, was what?  HE PREACHED Christ. 

 The message of and about Christ and His glory and His salvation is very much a part of the true gospel.  Without that message, how does one enter the kingdom of God?  2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says that Satan tries to blind people from “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is

the image of God, should shine on them”.   In fact, though I know most of you  reading this would agree that the gospel is about Christ AND the kingdom of God, just read 1 Cor. 15:1-8 and see what Paul clearly, clearly says was his gospel message. Its right there, plain as day – Christ and how he was crucified and raised the 3rd day, etc.  So the gospel has to include the good news about Jesus, and the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).  Paul said he was called to testify to the “gospel [good news] of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24). So it’s also called “the gospel [good news] of your salvation” – Eph 1:13, and the “Gospel [good news] of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11). 

So as Paul says, of course we can’t be ashamed of it.  And once we understand the gospel is about the way we can each experience and receive the good news of what the Son of God brought and did for us and continues to do for us, we share that good news every chance we get. The end result is that we are put into the kingdom of God, since we found and received the Door, the Way, The Truth and the Life – all of which is Jesus the Christ, or as I call him, Yeshua the Messiah. 

 Rom 1:           16 continues:It’s the Power of GOD to salvation for everyone who believes”.  All the power you can muster in the world will not save you.  Salvation is by GOD’S power, not yours. HE is your Savior, not you yourself.

HOW?  “For in it the righteousness OF GOD is revealed”.  Be sure to hear my upcoming sermon on “How well do you receive?”  We have to receive Yeshua personally and accept HIS holiness, HIS righteousness and HIS power to live a new life. It’s not about my righteousness.  It’s not about your righteousness either.  No, it’s about the “Righteousness of GOD”.   As Paul says clearly in Philippians 3:9 – he didn’t want his own righteousness which is by the Torah. He didn’t want that! Because that righteousness is not enough.  The Torah/the law cannot perfect anyone, because of our human weakness (Hebrews 7:19; Romans 8:2-4) we just keep failing.  So we have to do what Paul says in Philippians 3:9-11, after calling his own “blameless” keeping of the Torah inadequate and a bunch of rubbish (KJV “dung”):

 Philippians 3:9-11

“and be found in HIM, NOT having my OWN righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is FROM GOD by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of HIS resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. “

We work hard to stay attached to the Vine and let the vine’s power flow into the branches (John 15:4-5). We are the branches and we will DISPLAY the healthy fruit of the Vine (of Christ).LET HIM live in you.  His death paid the sin debt.  His resurrection is what saves us as HE demonstrates HIS power and HIS life in us. (I pray I can give a sermon soon on Bearing HIS Fruit… watch for it.)

Our changing LIVES should be evidence that Yeshua LIVES, that HE is resurrected! If He lives in us, He will walk and live the same way He did the first time – obediently, as HE changes us.  We will be living, walking testimonies of HIS resurrection.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. We overcome by the power of GOD, including the power from His Holy Spirit.  It’s a false righteousness or gospel to believe you can remain as you are. No you can’t. You and I have to change. We have to fight evil, but it’s the POWER OF GOD doing it, and we receive that by faith and let HIM WORK in us. Then HE gets all the credit and the glory. And it’s HIS perfect righteousness then.

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Did Samson look like a muscle man? 

And how this impacts each of us immensely…

 Don’t assume the answer is yes.  Why am I writing on this?  Because too many of us still look to ourselves instead of to our heavenly Abba, our dear Father or our Savior Yeshua (or Jesus Christ, if you prefer). 

 Though I’m writing about Samson, the principle of what I’m going to explain will carry across many concepts.  We’re coming up soon to the day of Pentecost when God empowers us all with His Spirit.  GOD is our strength.  The very word we use --  “God” --  comes from the Hebrew El  (singular) or Elohim (plural), which is translated “God” or gods, depending on the context, but it literally means “Strong one(s)” or “mighty one”. 

 Now back to Samson and why this is so important. If Samson looked like a Mr. Universe, a Charles Atlas, a Hercules-type figure, then people would attribute his strength to HIS muscles.  But something about Samson was very puzzling.  He had long hair due to his Nazarite vow, but aside from that, I’m convinced he looked like every regular guy.  SO how could a regular guy carry off the gates of a city or break fresh ropes like thin thread?  That’s what was so puzzling. 

 And for that matter, was Samson ALWAYS strong, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  I’m not sure we can say “yes” to that.  Notice this about Samson.  It was in the times he needed strength, when it says “then the spirit of YHVH (the Lord) came upon him” and then it describes some amazing feat of strength he did against the Philistines.  Was he only strong when he was moving in the strength of God’s spirit?  I tend to think so myself. 

 Judges 14:6

“And the Spirit of YHVH came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand….”

 Judges 15:14-15

When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of YHVH came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.

 Judges 14:19

“Then the Spirit of YHVH came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men….”

 So do you see why now that I think Samson looked ordinary but did powerful feats when God’s spirit came upon him?  If he had huge muscles, then he could boast of HIS great strength.  But if he was ordinary, then he and others would have to realize he was receiving supernatural strength.

 Paul said “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  Hmm. 

 So what if Samson looked just like you or me, but when he needed strength, he was given the strength from the Mighty Ones (Elohim) to do whatever Yah wanted him to do?

 And so here’s the main point of this blog:  what are you trying to do in your own strength?Sure, you know you have the spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9-10), but do you rely on the spirit, or on your own righteousness, and on your own efforts, on your own holiness, on your own ability to overcome and fight sin – or are you learning to form the relationship with Yeshua and rely on HIM?

 Yeshua said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).  NOTHING.  Get it?  Nothing spiritually.  But WITH him, Paul says we can do ALL things.

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