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.

“He shall bruise your head…” Genesis 3:15

We’re in the Passover season.  The earliest prophecy for the coming of the Savior was given right after Adam and Eve sinned, and spoken to the serpent – not to Eve, as many seem to believe.  

Genesis 3:14-15

14 So YHVH Elohim (the LORD God) said to the serpent:
"Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN,
And between your seed and her Seed;   [her Seed = Yeshua)
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."  

The Hebrew word for “bruise” here is “sup” – and can be translated “bruise, attack, crush” according to the “Complete Word Study of Old Testament Words”. 

At the Passover, though Satan struck a painful blow on Yeshua by means of the scourging and crucifixion He went through, Yeshua used that very same day – and the crucifixion – to deal a death blow to Satan’s power. 

Because of what happened at Calvary, all who look to and believe on Yeshua now have ALL their sins washed away, they can be reconciled with their living God Most High our Father and no longer ever have to feel condemned for any of their sins.  Yeshua took the penalty and condemnation for us, thus crushing sin’s power.  Satan uses our sins against us, but now our Advocate can stand in the heavenly courts for us and declare “there can be no charges brought, Father, because his/her slate has been wiped clean, there is nothing bad in his record, because all the penalties have been paid in full by my own blood. There is nothing here to condemn him or her for, Father.” 

Without sins to attack us with – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, as Romans 8:1 clearly teaches. 

Consider your head crushed, Satan.


And thank you, thank you, our Lord and Savior, our Yeshua!!  What a champion you are!  Hallelujah! 

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What about our “Past”?

One of the things I love about the Passover season is what it says about the Passover: “When I see the BLOOD, I will PASS OVER you and not allow the Destroyer to come into your homes”. Any household in ancient Israel who killed their innocent lamb and sprinkled its blood on the entrance of their house was spared having their firstborn males and livestock die that night. The innocent lamb took the death for the household.

You see, we’ve all earned the death penalty for our sins (Romans 6:33). No point in looking at someone else’s “past” – and thinking your “past” is not as bad as his or hers. If you or I fall one fraction of one point short of the perfection of Holy God, we have earned the death penalty. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4) and if we stumble even in just one point, we were guilty of all (James 2:10). ALL of us are in that same boat.

So why do people still talk about someone’s “past”? When I hear discussions like that, it tells me those people have not learned even the very basics of Bible Forgiveness 101 yet. When you and I repented of our sins and asked for the blood of the Lamb of God to apply to us -- ALL our past, ALL our sins, ALL our unrighteousness, ALL our spiritual failures – were washed away. There is no past now. It’s been washed clean in the crimson tide of the Lamb’s blood shed for you and for me. ALL of the sin. Not one sin was left. Not one. Not one of mine, not one of yours.

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God is not ashamed of us!

Praise Yah. Though I have often been ashamed of myself over the years for a wide variety of reasons, as I come to Passover I lift my Savior on high, and praise my Father in heaven – for God is not ashamed of me. In the end, that’s what matters.

Now humanly speaking, unless you’re God in the flesh yourself, we each have many things of which we can be ashamed. Or am I the only one?

Now God is not ashamed of you and me NOT because we’re so good. He is not ashamed of us because of the saving work of His firstborn son Yeshua. We are now part of HIS body, HIS life.   Paul says “Christ, who is our life…” – Colossians 3:4. In Col 3:3 he says our lives are hidden in Christ, in God. If you’ve heard my sermons on “Yeshua our High Priest”, you’ll see how HE is the one who presents us to the Holy of Holies in heaven, making us acceptable in him.

But all that’s technical stuff. Let’s get to the point of all this. I want you to revel, to rejoice, to be overwhelmed by the almost incredible notion that holy and perfectly righteous God Most High is NOT ashamed of you and me – after all we’ve done, after all we’ve failed in, after all our sins! And neither is Yeshua ashamed of me or you.

He is not ashamed of us NOT because of what we’ve done, but because of what my Passover Lamb of God has done for you and for me.

Hebrews 2:11-12

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He [Christ] is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 saying:

"I will declare Your name to My brethren;

In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

Wow, Yeshua. WOW, wow, wow! So many times I’ve been so ashamed of myself, and others have been ashamed -- but not you. Wow, my Savior. That’s amazing. You’re amazing. After everything I’ve done, you’re still willing to call me your kid brother, part of your family. That’s almost unbelievable, but nay – we believe. We believe you and believe in you, dear King, our Lord and God. You’re such an amazing big brother. You are the only Way, the only Door to Father’s Kingdom -- and you’ve opened your door to me and to so many of us who have come to know you.

As we come to Passover, help us sing of your glories and magnify you and your name, O Savior, our Master – Yeshua, our Salvation.

Because it’s not just me – but all the thousands and thousands and thousands of us who are coming to know you, dear King. You are not ashamed of any of us, as your precious blood is more than enough and covers all sins, of all of us, and cleanses us and brings us into the Holy of Holies. Yeshua, you are Savior of the world – not just of the Jews or Israel. Your father so loved the WORLD that He gave YOU, dear Master. God Most High had a choice: he could either spare you and condemn all of us – or condemn you to execution on the tree so all of us could be spared. He chose to spare all of us.

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It’s not what, when, where, why or how – but WHO

Abram is said to have had faith in God – for Abram went to an unknown final destination in faith, not knowing where he was going, when it would all settle down, or how everything would pan out – but he knew with WHOM he was traveling.

Hebrews 11:8-10

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

How about you and me?

If you’re like me, I like details. I want to know the plan of action and that we’re making progress in our plan of action. I don’t like the unknown. You probably don’t either.

We’ll see in the coming years more and more times when Abba, our dear heavenly Father, will ask us to step out in faith. Times when we won’t have details – just a statement of what He wants us to do. Father wants us trusting him implicitly – so He will give us opportunities to show Him we trust Him, implicitly.

We like to know HOW something will come about. We like to know WHEN and what and where but really all we really need to know is WHO. With whom are we walking? To whom are we listening? ON whom are we focused?

It doesn’t matter that we don’t know all the details of what, when, where, why and how. It only matters that we know WHO our life is. Colossians 3:3 says Christ is our life now. HE is in charge. HE is navigating this ship, your life.

Once we get that firmly in mind, nothing else should matter as much.

Easier said than done. Granted. But if we’re truly in him, if we’re truly focused on him, we’ll learn this more deeply with each passing day.

We believers will need to be reminding each other of this. When we’re told we have growths on our liver – the only detail we need is WHO our healer is. When we’re told we’re losing our job, all we need to focus on is who our Provider is. Who multiplied loaves and fish? Who provided manna in a wilderness? Who is the ALMIGHTY? Who has all the answers? Who has all the power? Who has perfect love for you? Who opens doors miraculously when we’re in various kinds of prisons – physical or emotional or otherwise?

When you find yourself fretting (yes, I still sometimes fret too), stop and just say: “I don’t need to know what, when, where, why and how. I just need to know WHO. And I know Him and love him and HE loves and cares for me more than I can even imagine. In him I have peace.” 

When the boat the 12 disciples were in was apparently in danger of being swamped by a Sea of Galilee storm, our Savior was sound asleep. Instead of looking at the storm, they should have looked at HIM and relaxed. OK, it’s easy to say that, but we would have done no better. But the stories are there so we read them and learn from them.

Do I practice this all the time? No. That’s why I have this website. It’s a way for me to share with you the meditations of my heart as I struggle to put off the “old man” and put on the new man in Christ. I’m learning these very things I’m being led to share with you. Together we can remind each other to not look to the worrisome things around us, but to Him who is unseen but who is absolutely there.

Also, as we come to Passover especially, we’re reminded once more to focus on WHO. For example, we focus on Him who knew no sin, but became sin for us so that we who knew no true righteousness could receive HIS righteousness by faith (Philippians 3:9-11; Romans 5:17-19; 2 Cor. 5:21)

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“When you hear the sound of marching in the top of the mulberry trees…”

Praise Yah. How often he must smile as he sees our look of bewilderment when He tells us to do something – but so often to us, what we think He’s saying to us makes no sense.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. What we must see is the presence of God Most High in our troubles. Oh, we clearly see the trouble. But are we learning to more clearly see our great and awesome God in us, around us, above us and with us? Are we? I know I sure have a lot to learn yet on this score.

Some of the things YHVH has told his people to do almost make one chuckle. But will we do what he says when push comes to shove?

The title of this blog comes from a story of David and his fighting men. David had inquired of YHVH as to the best next step, the battle plan for his men as they were about to fight the Philistines.

1 Chronicles 14:13-17

Then the Philistines once again made a raid on the valley. 14 Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.

15 And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines."

16 So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer. 17 Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.

Now imagine how David’s commanders felt and what they thought when David comes back with the battle plan: “Guys, we have to wait until we hear the angels marching at the top of those trees over there, and when we do, then we can attack. God wants to clear the way for us first”. Verse 16 is our lesson: “So David DID as God commanded him…”.  

Would we have? ARE you and I first of all inquiring of God, then waiting to hear his instructions – and for that matter ARE we even hearing God’s words or voice? I do have a 3-part sermon on “Hearing God’s Voice” that I recommend you listen to. It has changed my prayer life since I prepared and gave that series. Go to February 2009 and you’ll find the series there. There are many helpful sermons if you look at the timeless topics from years past.

In much the same way as David’s experience, Joshua told Israel the battle plan for conquering Jericho. “Hey everyone, we’re going to circle the city quietly once every day for 6 days, and then 7 times on the 7th day. Then, upon my command, we blow the shofar ram’s horn trumpets and all of us shout. And guess what? Those thick walls you see over there are going to fall flat and we’ll run in and catch them by surprise and quickly take the city.”

We know the story today – but imagine looking at the thick walls and the fighting men of valor along the tops of those walls looking down at you as you all circle the city. I wonder how many of those ancient Israelites really believed the battle plan. Well they did. They obeyed and trusted in faith – and the rest is now history!

Our Father so often asks us directly, or through Christ, or through His Word to do things that seem unearthly – because they are! He’s in heaven and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He has all power and wants us to believe, wants us to trust him, wants us to step out and obey in faith. In the rough times coming, we better get used to living and walking by faith, because that might very well be your life or death--whether we believe or not. From beginning to end, men and women of God were told “strange” things at times that ended in marvelous outcomes when they trusted – and obeyed what they were being told to do. (Of course don’t forget to test or check the source and be sure it’s God or His spirit giving you the directions or strong thoughts. See 1 John 4:1)

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What and where is our FOCUS?

On my website home page in February 2014, I highlighted 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 where it says we are to behold Jesus, look at him, look to him, and as we do – we are being transformed into his image by God’s spirit.

There is more to that verse than meets the eye. ARE we beholding the Christ in everything we do, every day? Are we focused on HIM, what’s He’s done and what He continues to do in and for us?

Our Adversary wants to do everything possible to get our eyes OFF our Master and off what our Master says – and on to anything or anyone else but Him. He will distract you with Facebook, games, busy-ness, worries – and self. In fact, what Satan tries to constantly do is to get you focused on YOURSELF – on how well you’re doing (or not) and how far you still are from the perfection that is Christ Jesus – or Yeshua our Messiah, as I often say.

The result of taking our focus off of Yeshua and focusing instead on what each of us is doing will always end in disaster, disappointment, depression, confusion, anxiety and a sense of not measuring up. In this website I’m trying to help folks grow closer to their Savior and focus on HIM.

Satan deceived Eve into thinking God didn’t mean what He said. Satan told them (Adam was with her – Genesis 3:6), that it would be alright if she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Maybe the serpent even demonstrated by taking a bite of the fruit himself – and he didn’t die. We don’t have every detail, but we know Satan succeeded. And once she took her eyes off what God said and began to listen to the Deceiver and look at the forbidden tree, she sinned. Then Adam, who was standing nearby but who was not deceived, ate of the fruit as well. (Genesis 3:1-11).

Turn to Matthew 14:25-32 for another example. There we have the story of Yeshua walking on the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee very early one dark morning.

29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

As long as Peter focused on Yeshua, even Peter walked on water! But what did he do? He took his eyes off Yeshua – looked at the wind and waves, used human reason that humans don’t walk on water. Faith requires believing what we can’t see – and oftentimes believing something that humanly makes little sense. So he sank like a petros, a stone. When we take our eyes off our Master, doubt takes over and we start to sink.

The book of John adds the detail that when Yeshua got into the boat, the boat immediately ended up at the seashore. Many miss this intriguing detail (John 6:21). When we’re with our Master and focus on HIM, we will experience many extraordinary and inexplicable things in our lives.

You and I have been called to come out of the boat of the mundane and what makes sense – to step out in faith as we walk on water. To go beyond the realm of the ordinary into the extraordinary with Christ. Where could Yeshua take you and me – if we would just fully believe and keep our focus on him? Imagine what we could be doing individually and as a group of believers – if we would just keep our fixed on Him and truly believe! Just imagine it! As Paul said, “I CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It’s through HIM, it’s by being IN Him, and it’s by focusing ON him.

Click on the bottom right where it says “READ MORE” to finish reading the rest of this blog that will change your life forever – if you will understand it and believe it.

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Which gets more of your time -- Facebook or God’s word?

Do I need say more?

First let me state: I’m on Facebook myself. I go on FB probably 2-3 times a week for about 20 minutes each time to stay in touch with friends and family. I’ve found it very, very easy to start spending hours on this media – even until 1-2 a.m. And I’ve had to check myself and remind myself that our lives have only so many minutes and hours that will be allotted to us. So many of my sermons and blogs are really a sharing from my heart of the same issues I struggle with. This is one I intend to stay on top of and not let FB eat up all my time. Is FB time the best use of my time – or your time? Sometimes it is for crucial comments or statements that can help encourage someone or put someone back on the right track. Sometimes WE need the positive comments we can sometimes receive.

So I understand FB. Facebook certainly has a lot of good that can be said about it. OK, there, I’ve said it. It allows family and friends to share pictures, ideas and thoughts – and to stay in touch. It’s fun. It allows us to share and reminisce the fun times. It helps us find long-lost friends and family. I hope you can see that I’m not against Facebook per se. I’m not.

But remember, even the forbidden tree had good stuff on it too. So – moderation in all things. IT was “the tree of the knowledge of GOOD and evil.” Not just evil. I also understand Facebook can become very addictive and time consuming.

We are to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all the things we worry about will take care of themselves (Matthew 6:33) – or “shall be added unto you”, to be more exact.

We are warned in the Parable of the Sower that our spiritual growth and fruit can be choked by concerns and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14) – so we end up not bearing any spiritual fruit, and end up rather empty. Nothing wrong with pleasure, per se. At God’s right hand (Yeshua) are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11). But now look at all the people who can find hours and hours and hours – did I say “hours” yet?—each day, to play games on Facebook, or to read everyone’s updates, or to mention that they’re about to bake some cookies or some banal and trite comment like that, but who say they have no time for real deep Bible study or prayer. They have time to touch base with their 418 friends, or a lot of them anyway, but comparatively little or no time for our Father or our coming King of kings. Don’t kid yourself. All this is not lost on God. He knows.

That surely can’t be right.

Here are some heart-check questions:

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The Heart of a Servant

The gospel by Mark emphasizes Yeshua’s ministry and life as being that of a servant. He is our Servant King. We also must become servants of the Messiah and our Father – and of one another. We will serve – if He is living in us and active in our lives. If we seek Him, focus on him, learn about him and ask him to live, move and speak in us – he will serve.Because though our Yeshua is the coming King of kings, he is also the Servant of servants.

Check out the newest sermon on this site – Yeshua – The Servant King of kings.

There is so much more that could have been said about our calling to be a “servant of all” – of everyone. I found doing the study to be very instructive and corrective to me, the one who was getting ready to present it. I have a lot to learn about this and every subject. It was very humbling to realize how much more I have to still let Yeshua live in me. Maybe you’ll find the message helpful.

Here are some additional thoughts on serving that didn’t get into the sermon (ran out of time):

  • The best service opportunities are often when it is most inconvenient for us. It’s 2 in the morning and someone needs to have you be with them. And they live a long ways away. Or you’re on your way to church services and an old woman looks distressed by the side of the road with a flat tire and seems lost. (Remember the priest and the Levite on the way to the temple who passed by the wounded man – in the story of the Good Samaritan?) So acts of service often don’t get set for convenient appointment times – but just crop up when it’s not convenient. Give up your favorite show – and serve anyway.
  • The best service opportunities are those not seen or known by a lot of people, or even by ANYONE – but God sees, and He promises to reward us openly. You may not be recognized for the good you do, but do it anyway. If it’s worthy of recognition, Father promises He’ll do so openly in the world to come. A godly servant is constantly looking for ways to help others be more comfortable and to know they are loved.
  • The best service opportunities leave people feeling wonderful, like they’ve been visited by an angel.People will soon enough forget what we did and what we said. But they won’t soon forget how we made them feel. (Yes, I preach to myself too.) So serve in a way that people realize you are esteeming them highly and worthy of your valuable service – and leave people feeling good. Yes, I’ve had some repenting to do on this one. But even if people don’t seem to appreciate our hard work or don’t leave US feeling wonderful after all our hard service, serve anyway.
  • The best service opportunities are not often fun, often have no glory, and in fact sometimes downright awful, humanly speaking – until you realize you’ve let Yeshua live in you and you’ve done some good.
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The forgotten first part of the 4th Commandment

What is the fourth commandment – in it’s completely stated form in Exodus 20:8-11? Most of us know it as the one about resting on the 7th day. It is a day we stop from all our work – everyone in our household is to stop. Even the work animals are to stop. There have been many discussions about HOW to keep the sabbath, what we can and cannot do on the sabbath, whether or not we can eat out in restaurants on the sabbath, and on and on. This blog is about what is said in the first part of the commandment that doesn’t seem to get much play.

Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but on the seventh day …..”   (Exodus 20:9).

Get it? One half of the sabbath commandment is teaching us to be sure we are WORKING the other six days. It seems our society has gotten away from wanting to work. America was built on the idea that hard work and education could lead to a better life. A man was proud to “do it yourself” and not rely on others – and worst of all, rely on “the government”. But now we have 47 MILLION people on EBT or food stamps. Some are deserving of it. I have given sermons on our privilege to help the poor and needy. So that’s not my point. But many of those claiming food stamps or some who even claim disability – I’ve seen this loads of times – use our money to buy themselves beer, candy, junk food and take advantage of the system. On the news I heard that some strip bars were even allowing EBT cards to be used for nude lap dances! And I can’t believe that all 47 million can’t do be doing something to get OFF of the food stamp program!

God’s word tells us we are to be generous to the truly poor. But there’s the truly poor – and people who won’t work. God’s word also tells us that if someone won’t work, they should not eat.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

Now there are those who truly cannot work, cannot function, who are incapacitated. Those people we should help. Absolutely. I’m always so impressed by so many of the veterans who came back from Iraq or Afghanistan with their legs or arms blown off – and are back at work with prosthetics. They won’t let something like that keep them from being productive.

Paul also tells us the REASON for working: so we have funds to help others who truly need help!

Ephesians 4:28

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Even the rules on helping the poor involved the poor getting out and fending for themselves as much as they could. For example, the corners of the fields were not to be harvested but were to be left for the poor and strangers. But no one gave them hand-outs. They had to go the field and harvest what farmers were leaving for them. Ever read the book of Ruth? It’s largely based on that concept. But today we just give people handouts – often, people who could do something to help out. If they can’t find employment, they should at least volunteer to help at schools, libraries, help clean up sections of highway or help out in nursing homes. IF nothing else, use that free time you have now to get more education in fields that would make you more employable!

Click on at the bottom right where it says “READ MORE” to finish the rest of this blog and to learn what you can do as a parent, as a grandparent to help instill these values – plus there’s a lesson from the State Park system.

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The secret to Uzziah's EARLY success (2 Chron. 26:3-5)

And a warning!

I hope this blog makes us all stop, think and take stock where we are in terms of our relationship with YHVH, the eternal God.

Uzziah was the 10th king of Judah who – while younger – was helped and blessed by Yah. Why?

2 Chronicles 26:3-5

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. 4 And he did what was right in the sight of YHVH, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.

He SOUGHT God (Elohim) in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought YHVH, God (Elohim) made him prosper.

Read that passage several times until it makes a deep impression on your soul. God plays no favorites. He is impartial. If we also SEEK Him – daily, as our first priority each day – our God will also make us prosper.

The old favorite verse – Matthew 6:33 – if we seek FIRST the kingdom of God and ITS righteousness (the righteousness which is by faith through Yeshua), ALL the things we need to have will be added unto us.

Uzziah means “My Strength is Yah” or “YHVH is Strength”.   I find it interesting that God helped him become a strong king as he lived out his name and sought the Eternal first and foremost.

So when you continue reading 2 Chronicles 26, you’ll see how YHVH actually HELPED Uzziah in his efforts to strengthen the land and its defenses.

            Verse 7 – “God helped him against the Philistines…”

            Verse 15b –“his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong.”

But then we have a warning. Later in life, Uzziah let all the blessings of Yah go to his head and he decided he was good enough to offer incense in the sanctuary. That was reserved only for priests, sons of Aaron, and not for kings.

So the other part of Uzziah’s story is this: we must not start thinking we can do as we please because God is obviously blessing us. If we decide to stray from the Almighty and His ways, there will be penalties and consequences. We cannot remain strong while distancing ourselves from the Source of real power, strength and blessings.

2 Chronicles 26:16-21

But when he [Uzziah] was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against YHVH his God (Elohim) by entering the temple of YHVH to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of YHVH — valiant men. 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to YHVH, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God."

19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of YHVH, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he YHVH had struck him.

21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of YHVH. Then Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.

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By R. Herbert

Intro by P Shields/Light on the Rock: This blog by R. Herbert is thoughtful. Besides the excellent main point it makes, it also makes the implied point that we should be more careful in our reading of scripture. There is so much more going on in the scriptures than we often see at first glance. I’ve never heard or read anyone else make the point he makes in this blog.


All the Gospels tell the story of Jesus casting the money changers and animal sellers from the temple. It’s a powerful story. When He found people keeping animals in the temple and making profit in various ways He overturned the tables of those who changed the common Greek and Roman money for Jewish coins (which were acceptable for temple offerings) and used a whip to drive out the animals and birds being sold there (for sacrifices), saying: “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16).

The picture painted in the Gospels is clearly one of Jesus displaying righteous anger at the way in which the temple was being polluted and commercially used, and at least one modern portrayal of the story depicts Jesus as seeing the selling and essentially flying into a sudden and furious rage. It may be easy to imagine it that way, but the Gospels actually show that nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the Messiah’s purposes in living out a human life was to provide a role model for us. How Jesus dealt with this difficult situation shows us how we should act under the same circumstances - a situation in which it would be all too natural to become instantly angry and to begin to lash out to act on that anger.   So how did the Son of God deal with this provocation to “righteous anger”? We find the answer in the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s account of the cleansing of the temple is particularly interesting in that it gives us extra information which shows that Jesus certainly did not just act with natural, impulsive anger, but with a controlled anger based on calm prior thought.  

*Read more to see how Jesus really dealt with this anger arousing situation ….

Alone of the Gospels, Mark adds a fascinating detail to the temple cleansing narrative. After his humble but triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Mark tells us that “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve” (Mark 11:11). Then Mark continues, “The next day … On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there” (Mark 11:12-15). It is clear from Mark’s addition that Jesus must have already seen the sellers and money changers in the temple courts, but He chose to return to Bethany for the night – doubtless thinking about what he had seen – before returning the following day to cleanse the temple.

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The power of the short prayer

I almost titled this “the power even of the short prayer” – but then realized I was falling into the very point I was trying to AVOID: that it doesn’t take long prayers to be effective!

I used to be taught that we had to pray at least 30 minutes a day, bare minimum, or our prayers would simply be ineffective. Now don’t get me wrong: I understand that there are many examples of men of God praying for long periods of time before their answer came.

  • I’m very aware of that. Jesus (Yeshua) prayed all night before finalizing on his 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-13).
  • Matthew 14:23-25- another example of our Messiah praying at least 4 hours into the night
  • We know before his crucifixion he spent a long time in prayer in Gethsemane
  • Daniel was praying and fasting for weeks (see Daniel 8 and 9)
  • Jacob wrestled all night with the Man we know later as Yeshua (Genesis 32:24-25).
  • In fact I wrote a blog recently also about what it means to “pray always”.
  • Another example: when Peter was jailed and to be executed, the local church prayed long into the night – and they were heard (Acts 12:5,12). There’s no record, by the way, that they prayed that way earlier for James, the brother of John, who was in fact, executed.

So I understand the need for fervent and long prayer at times in our lives. But sometimes we start feeling like “if I don’t have at least 30 minutes to pray on my knees, there’s no point in praying at all!”.


My personal conviction is this: we do need times of committed vigils of prayer that build the base, the foundation of our relationship with our loving Father and Savior. But with that base, we then make contact – short prayers – many, many times each day, as we “pray always” and stay in touch.

When we do that, when we need to pray about something, it doesn’t have to be long. In fact, Christ says it’s the hypocrites who like to make long prayers (see Matthew 23:14). Your long prayers should be in secret – just you and God – and not in public, not in opening/closing prayers, not at the dinner table, etc.

With this as our foundation, remember that the priests of Baal prayed all day long – and received no answer from their non-existent “god”. Elijah on the other hand? The English version of his prayer, even if spoken slowly, takes only 22 seconds! And YHVH answered mightily! (1 Kings 18:36-38).

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By R. Herbert

As believers in Christ, we know we have to fight the good fight spiritually. In Deuteronomy 20, we find special instructions which God gave to ancient Israel as it was about to enter the Promised Land. These instructions were the “tactical briefs” given to Israel’s fighting forces. They may seem deceptively simple, yet they were the vital information needed for successful conquest.

Today, those same tactical instructions can be applied in our lives and offer us timeless guidelines for the spiritual battles we must fight – as we can see in each instruction and the lesson it carries.

COMMAND 1: “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because YHVH (the LORD) your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you” (Deuteronomy 20:1)

LESSON: God reminds Israel – and us – not to walk by sight. If we focus on the physical circumstances that surround us, we will often fail before the battle begins when the problems just look too big. God tells us that He has brought us this far and that we must remember the forces we do not see are greater than those we do see (read 2 Kings 6:17 for an example). DON’T WALK BY SIGHT ALONE – OUR BATTLES ARE WON BY WHAT IS NOT SEEN.

*Read more to see the other commands – and fighting lessons – God gave to Israel and to us …

COMMAND 2: “When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: ‘Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For YHVH your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’” (Deuteronomy 20:2-4).

LESSON: God had his servants deliver this message in person. This order helps us remember that victory is not found just in believing in the unseen God, but in trusting Him for the strength and victory we need in any battle He tells us to fight. No problem is bigger than His power. DON’T FEAR; LOOK TO GOD FOR HIS STRENGTH.

COMMAND 3: “The officers shall say to the army: ‘Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? … Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it?... Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home’…” (Deuteronomy 20:5-7).

LESSON: Next, the officers speak. God has given us his true ministers and elders to exhort and feed us (Ephesians 4:11-13; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4) . On top of that, since God is our “Commander in Chief,” our free moral agency also means we relay to ourselves the orders we read in God’s word as to what we should do.Although there is a humane aspect to this particular command, excusing those who might not want to fight, the clear tactical reason is that we must not fight with distractions or our minds will be on them. It’s extremely dangerous to be distracted once the fighting starts! DON’T ALLOW PHYSICAL DISTRACTIONS TO GET IN THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL FIGHT.

COMMAND 4:“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to labor and shall work for you” (Deuteronomy 20:10-11).

LESSON: God shows that in our life battles we should be willing to work with people if they are willing to work with us and it does not interfere with our obeying God. For example, someone who has only recently come to the faith should try to work with co-workers as much as possible to facilitate changes he or she may need to affect rather than suddenly throwing the workplace into what might seem like destructive chaos to everyone else. This principle applies in many other areas - we need to be firm in our beliefs, but not to turn people off from our beliefs inasmuch as that is possible. WORK WITH PEOPLE AS THEY ARE WILLING TO WORK WITH YOU SO THAT POTENTIAL ENEMIES BECOME ALLIES.

COMMAND 5: “However, in the cities of the nations YHVH your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as YHVH (the Lord) your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against YHVH your God” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).

LESSON: God shows clearly that we will never win our battles if we compromise with sin in any way. The nations around Israel not only enticed the Israelites to sin, but they also became a type of sin which must be destroyed. MAKE NO COMPROMISE WITH SIN - THE ENEMY THAT IS BENT ON DESTROYING YOU MUST BE DESTOYED.

COMMAND 6:“When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them? However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls” (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).

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HOW we become Spiritually Beautiful, God’s way.

This is a sequel to the last blog. Read the last blog first please.

 In my last blog, I talked about how God wants us to be truly beautiful people. I spoke of the inspired words of Peter speaking of the beauty of the inward parts, of the heart (1 Peter 5:1-4). We saw how God sees not as a man sees, looking on outward appearances, but on the heart. Jesus said the Pharisees were like beautiful, freshly painted tombs outwardly – but inside, were full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27). Ouch! That’s not where we want to be, so why do we strive so hard to put a fresh coat of paint on the outward tomb? Or perhaps we can compare it to the makeup being put on to a corpse. We died spiritually. We have a new life in Christ. That is where the true beauty is.

But as I re-read my own blog, I realized I didn’t explain enough about HOW one becomes spiritually beautiful, as God regards true beauty? Are there things WE have to do? WHO makes us beautiful? I hate it when I’m told to be or do something, but no one says HOW.

I think some may have misunderstood this part from my last blog. I hope you will dig out your Bible and study in your own Bible all the verses I point to in this blog.  

Can you make yourself spiritually beautiful? Can you?

In Isaiah 61:10, we are clothed with the garments of yeshua (salvation) by Yah! By the great God. Those garments are compared to the adornments that a bride and groom put on before their wedding, but it’s clear WHO puts them on us or at least who provides the clothing.

Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in YHVH, My soul shall be joyful in my God;

For HE has clothed me with the garments of salvation (yesa in Hebrew – same root to yeshua),

HE has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,

And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

In ancient weddings, the one putting on the wedding provided exquisite garments for the guests. If they did not put on what was provided for them, it was considered the highest insult, as we read in Matthew 22:1-14, especially verses 11-13. The one without a wedding garment in that parable was the one who simply refused to change his soiled, cheap garments and put on what the King had provided.

You see, we might think we are OK as we are. We are not. We need to let Him give us garments of His righteousness to change into. Many scriptures tell us HE gives us the garments of His covering, His righteousness, but we put them on. We need to take off the filthy rags of our own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6), which simply do not measure up to the requirements of the righteousness of God which He offers to us, by faith. So we take our spiritual clothes off – but spiritual nakedness is not acceptable either. That was the Laodicean problem. God is not into public nakedness. They were naked. Laodiceans had gone only part-way. They had removed their own clothing but had not accepted HIS righteousness, HIS garments of salvation -- and so they were still spiritually naked (please study Revelation 3:17-22).

My point in this blog is this: to be beautiful, we look to God who is the one who knows how to make all things beautiful. He is the One who gives us, who shares with us His beauty, HIS salvation, His glory – and our job is to believe, accept it, and put it on with utmost gratitude.

There’s so much more. Please read the rest of this blog to find out what our part is and what God’s part is. What about “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? You’ll be surprised, but all to the glory of God.

I can’t – by myself—make my heart or “inward man” – beautiful. I can’t. And you can’t either. But we can, and we MUST, accept whatever HE wants to do in us, for us and with us. We have to accept His invitation – but HE provides the beautiful wedding garments and the wonderful food at the wedding banquet. But we do have to respond. We do have to be open to what He is doing. He wants to make you beautiful – and our job is to say “thank you, Master” and submit to His work in us and then display the fruit of HIS righteousness (Philippians 1:11; John 15:4-5), like a good branch attached to the Vine does. The Vine produces the fruit. The branch holds it up and displays it – and puts it out there for others to eat of it, and benefit from the work of the vine or tree. We are saved by HIS grace, not by our own works, so that no one can boast. See Ephesians 2:8-10. But don’t’ miss verse 10 either.

Ephesians 2:8-10

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. 10 For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand that WE should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10 gives us the whole story in a nutshell. HE saves us. Our conversion and obedience by HIS power and HIS might is proof of His saving work. Our life’s works change now. The changing going on is “HIS workmanship” (v. 10), so we can walk a new walk, in good works, that HE prepared for us. And it says “that we should walk in them”. We do have to have a new, changed walk - - meaning our way of life does change. Our life now proves our love for Messiah by letting Him live again in us, this time obediently.

“If you love me, keep my commandments”, the Messiah himself said in John 14:15 and John 15:10, 1 John 3:3-6. But it has to be Christ in us doing it, by faith, or it’s our own works and that won’t cut it!

So Paul clarifies later that our old self dies in baptism and the life we now live we live by the faith of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20), for if righteousness were possible just by us striving to keep the law, “then Christ died in vain” (Verse 21). Paul calls our life – “Christ who is our life…” – see Colossians 3:2-4. Are we getting it? It’s the resurrected Christ in us who is now perfecting and completing us “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). I ask you to re-read slowly – Philippians 3:9-11. Read it several times. It is now HIS work, HIS righteousness we receive by believing, by faith. We can’t strive to become perfect or strive to qualify for the kingdom. We are in Christ, and he is perfection. He has qualified and therefore He has qualified us in him (slowly read Colossians 1:12-14). And He in us continues to live obediently.

Are we getting it? It’s HIS work. It’s Him living again in you and me. It’s us now living by the power of HIS resurrection, as Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:9-11. HE needs to be living in us now. And Jesus will live in you now the way He lived the first time: joyfully, humbly and obediently.   But it is HIS life, HIS beauty, HIS spirit, HIS heart – now in us.

Now THAT is beautiful. Now when Abba our dear heavenly Father sees you – He sees you in Messiah – He sees us as ONE body, the Messiah’s perfect, holy and beautiful life. THEREIN is also your eternal beauty – in HIM.

Even the often quoted verse that says we are to work out our own salvation goes ON to say who does it and HOW it is done. But verse 13 is rarely quoted. This time, let’s read all of it.

Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU both to WILL [the desire] and TO DO for HIS good pleasure”.

I’m suspicious of people who won’t read verse 13 in Philippians 2. Or they won’t ever quote Gal. 2:21, though they love Gal. 2:20. We have to be honest with God’s word and preach ALL of it.

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Are you and I one of “the Beautiful People”? We should be!

Are you beautiful? I hope it won’t be a depressing shock for any of our readers to find out that if you Google “World’s Most Beautiful people” – surprise -- you and I won’t be found on that list anywhere! I looked and looked, and somehow they missed me…and you. (LOL). That doesn’t seem fair somehow. (Laughing). No one ever mistakes me for Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Tom Cruise. I don’t even recognize the names of the top 30 most beautiful women except for Angelina Jolie, Beyonce and a couple other names. That’s how far out of the loop I am. I didn’t see any of the poor of the world on that list either.

Most of the people of God I’ve seen wouldn’t be picked as models strutting down a fashion runway or win any beauty contests or be picked to model the latest men’s underwear. No loss there. My children, though I think they are wonderful and even beautiful, didn’t grow up looking like Ken and Barbie dolls. Aren’t they “divorced” now? Hmmm… have to check that out.

Now here’s the point of this blog: you have been born and created to be beautiful! Did you know that? I am not talking being “beautiful” as the world sees beauty, but what your Maker says HE considers to be beautiful. I know that you and I can be beautiful and are beautiful right now to the One who counts—EVEN IF you have had diseases, even if you’re growing old, have sagging skin, are overweight, have had amputations, have survived a fire and are permanently scarred—or whatever your situation is!

You may even be, in God’s eyes, one of the most beautiful people in your country.

Looking beautiful and youthful forever has been a long-sought after goal – for millennia. Now in this age of high-def TV, where every hair, every pimple and every line is seen in high definition, I’m reading how even beautiful actors and actresses are stressed out! So they put high value and spend lots of money to look even more beautiful and youthful. So they have Botox shots, liposuction, hair coloring to get rid of the grey and white hair; have face-lifts, nose jobs, breast implants, cosmetic surgery, teeth-whitening, “new” teeth with perfect smiles, hair implants or plastic surgery. Some women panic if they have any cellulite on their thighs. All of that is highly esteemed – by man at least. But I wonder how much of those bodies are even real? Or is it mostly expensive plastic and surgery? So the poor people of the world will rarely be esteemed as “the beautiful people” of the world. They can’t afford Botox shots, face lifts and fake breasts. But those poor people at least are REAL.

What does GOD say? I hope we can grow more and more to see ourselves and one another as GOD sees us, not as man sees.

The Bible is clear that many of its heroes were in fact beautiful in their prime – Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, David, Bathsheba and others were very attractive. (See Gen 12:11,14; 24:16; 29:17; 39:6; Exodus 2:2; 2 Samuel 11:2).So God is not against being beautiful outwardly! If you are naturally beautiful, this is not a diatribe against people who look good, OK? I still admire beauty too – whether in a woman or a man or even a beautiful animal. Beauty is fine if it doesn’t become an all-consuming goal and priority.

But oddly enough, when Jesus came as a man…was HE good looking by man’s standards?

Isaiah 53:2

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.

He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him,

There is NO BEAUTY that we should desire Him”.

Please read the rest of this blog so you have the Bible perspective of Beauty and can teach this to your children and grandchildren.

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The FIRST questions in scripture

THE FIRST recorded questions in the first books of Scripture – whether in the “old” or “new” testaments, are very telling and instructive about our relationship with our Maker.

What were the first recorded QUESTIONS in Genesis? And what’s the first recorded question in the first book of the New Testament -- Matthew? Let’s start with the 2 first questions in Genesis.

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God (YHVH Elohim) had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"

So the very first question was putting doubt into mankind (Adam was there with Eve – v. 6) about God’s desire to be our Leader and to give us eternal life. Satan posed God’s way as a bunch of negatives; just a series of what we can’t do, a bunch of “shall nots”.

Genesis 3:6-7

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings”.

The result of the first question is that mankind recognized they were naked, lost and separated from the loving relationship and confidence they had in their Maker.

The next question is even more telling. Now it’s God himself who is doing the asking.

Genesis 3:8-9

And they heard the sound of YHVH Elohim (the Lord God) walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of YHVH Elohim among the trees of the garden.

Then Yehoweh Elohim (the Lord God) called to Adam and said to him, "Where are YOU?"

Our Creator knew where our ancestors were. They were LOST. God called to the head of that household (1 Cor. 11:3) – the man, the husband, though Eve was the first to eat of the fruit. It was to the man that God gave the instructions about the tree and is considered the first sinner.

Anyway, they were on the wrong path. They were in disobedience and were now in trouble, and most of mankind has been out of union with our Maker ever since -- -unless we come up with the correct answer to the first question in the book of Matthew! That’s the next question we will read.

Matthew 2:1-2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where IS HE who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

So the first question GOD asks in the book of Genesis is revealing the problem: “Where are YOU?”. The first question in the New Testament reveals the answer, and is the question WE need to be asking, “Where is HE, who was born KING…”. We need to focus on where HE is even more than where WE are, knowing He is our Savior and can take care of all our issues and then be a SEEKER after God, searching for Him – even as He comes looking for us.

Read the rest of this blog for more exciting points on being united with our Maker and Savior.

Mankind is spiritually lost and doesn’t often recognize it. If a lost person in the woods doesn’t know he is lost, he usually goes ever deeper into trouble. God knows where we are, and in his love, God still asks – “Where are you?” God comes looking for US. That’s what happened with Adam and Eve. God came looking for them first, didn’t He? Mankind – represented by our ancient grandparents Adam and Eve – doesn’t know enough about their lost state to even start to come looking for their Deliverer. God has to first come looking for us. Often, a lost person doesn’t even know there are loved ones out looking for him. But God first loved us, and that is why and how we can love – because HE first loved us. And there’s great joy in the reunion!

The father of the prodigal son describes his joy when being reconciled to his lost son: Read the full story yourself in Luke 15:11-32 please, but here’s what the FATHER said when his son “woke up” from cutting himself off from his dad and reunited with dad:   “….let us eat and be merry, for this my son was DEAD and is alive again, was LOST and now is found.” (Luke 15:23-24). This verse applies to us all – whether we are sons or daughters of God.

Wise men from the east tell us all that the answer to God’s question asking where we are, is found in their question: “where is HE who has been born king of the Jews?”

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Some of our reader’s favorite blogs on this site

We are hoping to have some new features soon on our website, including a search feature. But in the meantime, I thought I’d mention some blogs we’ve had in the past that may be interesting to you if you missed them before. You’ll notice that at the bottom of the blog page, when you scroll all the way down, that there are 10-11 “PAGES” of blogs going back several years. So I’ll list some titles you may find intriguing and decide to check out. So I’ll do it by page number and date. The “page number” will change of course, if you are reading THIS blog some months or years after Dec 2013.

I find many of the requested titles go back to page 10 – to 2011 and 2012. But the main point of this blog: scroll down and see what’s here. You’ll discover a lot of timeless topics you’ll find interesting. 

Page 1            John 15:2 – the branch that is “taken away” – or is it “lifted up”.

“Seeing Yeshua Throughout scripture” -- where you might not have seen him before. Oct 26, 2013 - WHY Study – the biggest reason, was a big favorite for many.

Page 2:           Oct 17, 2013- “It is well with my Soul”  The inspiring story behind the hymn.

                      Oct 12, 2013 – Our ability to bless GOD!

Page 3:           July 20, 2013- Do you want to be Well?

A very intriguing blog by guest writer R. Herbert.    

July 13 – Are you a Gatherer or a scatterer?

June 15, 2013-- How to “pray without ceasing”

Page 4:           March 20, 2013-   JOHN 21:11 – Why are 153 Fish specifically mentioned?

Page 5:           March 27, 2013 – Who REALLY killed Christ? (The answer will surprise you. It goes beyond the Romans, the Jews, and even YOU, as the answers. Way beyond.)

Page 6:           Nov 17, 2012- Is “Hamas” mentioned in scripture?

Page 7:           June 24, 2012—According to Scripture, when does human life actually begin?

Page 8:           6/12/2012   How the 9 month Birth Cycle ties perfectly with the holydays of God.

Page 9:           Feb 22, 2012- explaining “You’re the Apple of His Eye” (one of most requested)

 July 19, 2011- “I’m so glad they lost my luggage” -- or “baggage” (spiritually)

Page 10:          June 27, 2011—A new look at the verse about “Gates of Hell”

                       June 21, 2011 – The Islamic Anti-Christ, a review.

                       June 3, 2011—A New look at Amos 3:3 and walking together

                       April 17, 2011—I don’t call my brother “Mr Shields” (church titles)

                       April 15, 2011—We don’t get to choose our brothers and sisters.

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An encouraging look at John 15:2- the unfruitful branch

One of most frightening verses in the entire Bible, as translated into most English translations, is John 15:2.  But when you look at the original Greek, one has to wonder why it has been translated the way we normally read it.  
John 15:1-2
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Christ is the Vine, and we are the BRANCHES on that vine (verse 5).  Well, even the fruitful branches get pruned back, but if you’re an unfruitful branch, you’re “taken away”. KJV says “he taketh away”.  CJB says “he cuts off”.  Apologetics/Holman – “he removes.” Sounds very scary. Taken away, removed, cut off – how? Where to? Then what? In any case, it’s scary.

If you’re like me at all, you realize there are unfruitful “down” times in your life when you’re not bearing fruit and don’t even feel like bearing fruit is possible. Or am I the only one who feels that way at times? So am I to be cut off, removed, thrown away, and discarded to the trash heap?  It certainly sounds that way.  In Luke 13 there’s the story of the unfruitful fig tree – and that tree at least got an extra year reprieve where the gardener was going to work with it, feed it, dung it and do all he could do to help that poor fig tree produce fruit. But here, that poor unproductive branch seems like it is to be whacked off without mercy.  

Or so it would seem. But not so fast.  

When you look at the actual Greek word – it is “airo”, Strong’s #142. What I’m about to say is not original to me. I read something about this verse in a book some years ago ago, as well as having heard others speak on it. Plus I’ve talked to arborists who care for vineyards.  

The Greek word is airo – and it primarily means “to take up, raise up, lift up” according to the Complete Word Study of the New Testament.  When you search everywhere Strong’s word #142, Airo, is used, that is verified.

Apparently “airo” is also translated as “taken away” in several other verses. That is true. So it’s possible for it to be translated either as “taken away” or “lifted up”.  For example, Col 2:14 speaks of the ordinances that were against us were “taken away”.  John 20:1 speaks of the women coming to the tomb and finding the stone had been “taken away”.  So apparently the word can be translated the way it is usually translated in John 15:2.  But there’s more.  

BUT, in most other instances that same word is used, it is translated “lift up, pick up, or raise up”.  For example, in these following verses, the underlined words are the same Greek word “airo” – and look how it’s translated in these instances:

John 8:59 – the angry crowds lifted up, picked up, stones to throw at Jesus.
Mark 16:18 – they shall pick up deadly snakes and not be hurt
Mark 2:9; Matthew 9:6 – Arise, TAKE UP your bed and walk…

Matthew 15:37; Mark 6:43 – the disciples “picked up” the left-over food after the miracle of the loaves and fish

Matthew 16:24—let him TAKE UP his cross and follow me.

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“…They have also divided up MY land” (Joel 3:2)

How does our heavenly Father – who gave a large swath of land to Israel – view efforts by world leaders, including those from the USA, who seem to be siding with those who want Israel to give up “the West Bank” and the Golan Heights?  Israel already has given up the Sinai Peninsula, which they conquered. They’ve already given up the Gaza strip as well.  But in those “land for peace” deals, did they receive peace? Terrorists from Gaza, in particular, have rained down thousands of missiles into Israel since that time. So there was no peace that resulted from giving up land. America certainly would not put up with that if our neighbors were raining down thousands of missiles into our land.

What’s next?  Israel is a tiny country, smaller than New Hampshire!  Let that sink in! There’s not much land to “give up” and still have any buffer zones for security.  Their tiny country is surrounded by much, much larger and much more populous Islamic countries. When rockets are fired from Gaza or Lebanon, Israeli citizens have 15 seconds from the time they hear the alarms, to when the rockets explode around them.  By contrast, when Israel strikes a civilian hiding terrorist leaders, Israel gives that area 15 minutes of notice that a strike is coming. Of course their intended target gets the message as well.  

I’m not a prophet, so with that caveat, let me suggest:

•    Watch for efforts to grow to declare Jerusalem an international city owned by no one but “belonging to the world”, as a compromise move to “create peace”. Jerusalem does NOT belong to the world but to God, as you shall see.  International “peace” soldiers from the UN or Europe could then surround the city, providing the security. But read Luke 21:20.  The surrounding armies MAY initially come as peacekeepers. Imagine that!

•    There will be strong efforts to force Israel to halt any further construction in lands anciently given by God to Ephraim and Manasseh, around the area of ancient Samaria, now called The West Bank.  This area includes the Palestinian hotspots of Ramallah and Nablus.  

•    Then strong coercion will be placed against Israel to give up the West Bank altogether. Please don’t forget that the Hamas, Hezbollah and PLO have also sworn to fight until every Jew has been driven out or killed. That’s who Israel is dealing with!  And those terrorist groups are supported, trained and financed by Persia (Iran) and others. Secretary Kerry of the USA has publicly stated recently that his government under Obama does not agree with Israel’s right to build on the West Bank.  Well, Mr. Kerry, you’re wrong. God gave Israel that land, and God says they have a right to build there, live there, and own that land.

What man says means nothing if it goes against the stated wishes of Almighty God. Read the rest of this blog for what Almighty GOD says about dividing up the land He gave Israel.  

Joel 3:2
“…..On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also DIVIDED UP MY LAND.”  

My point is this:  YHVH sees the Land of Israel not just as Israel’s land, but HIS land. He refers to it as “MY land.” And He’s NOT happy about that! If the Almighty calls some real estate “my land” – then any attempt by mere mortals to divide it up surely will incur his wrath. The West Bank was ancient Samaria, ancient Ephraim in particular.  

I’ve spent almost four months in Israel.  This is the land God gave to Israel. The point of this blog is to urge serious caution in dividing up God’s land.  American and European leaders need to back off, as there are dire warnings spoken against all who would do so.

YHVH will bless those who bless the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Israel (Genesis12:3) and He curses those who curse Abraham’s children.  Remember God himself referred to Isaac as Abraham’s “son, your only son…” (Gen. 22:1-2). Isaac was the son of God’s promise. So we’re talking about blessing or cursing the children who came through Isaac, and then through Jacob, who was renamed “Israel”.  Read Genesis 27:29, pertaining to Jacob/Israel.

There have been repeated statements for decades, where Israel’s neighbors and enemies have sworn to drive every Jew into the sea.  Israel, do not fear – but only IF you seek the God of Israel, Yehowah most High. He is your Banner and he promises to be an adversary to your adversaries and fight for you – IF you seek Him and obey Him  (Exodus 23:22-23). If you do not seek Him, you’re on your own for a time, and you’re greatly outnumbered.  In the end, however, YHVH will come to your rescue.  
Now let’s read more of what YHVH says.

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Thank God for Unanswered Prayers!

A few years back I heard a most insightful country song with that same title and I’ve often thought about it. I think Garth Brooks composed it, but someone will set me straight if I’m wrong on that. But the point is – it makes some great points in the song.

What do I mean – thank God for unanswered prayers?  It could be a lot of things. Maybe like in the song, years ago, maybe it was a certain person you wished and hoped – and prayed – you would be able to marry, but it never worked out that way. Now years later, you realize how blessed you are to NOT have had that prayer answered the way you sure wanted it at the time.

Have you ever found yourself asking God to please see things your way and that you hope something you want will also be his will to let you have that something?  We so often pray to try to get God to see things OUR way.  We even ask others to pray that the will of God shall be what we want.  Maybe it’s a prayer why we need a certain person to be our spouse, or a certain job we think he should give us.  And then we get exasperated when his will apparently is not what we hoped for -- and so we exclaim ‘I just don’t understand him! If I had all that power, I sure would have granted this simple request.”  

But that’s all backward.  

We should not be praying that’s God will would line up with OUR heart’s desires. Father sees things so much clearer and better than you or I ever could.  Our prayers should be more like, “please show me what YOU want to do in my life and help me get in line with YOUR will, cheerfully and thankfully, knowing you are Being of such great love”.  

I’m writing this because now that I’m 60, maybe I’m starting to begin to slightly understand this. At least until the next time I have a bright idea that I haven’t first run by HIS will.  It’s a tough lesson to learn, but learn it we must.

So many times, in fact, our Father’s answer is not “no” – but “wait a minute. I have something better for you.”  And sometimes his answer is “not now, not yet”.  And sometimes, like with Abraham, the wait can be a long time.  Sometimes the promises will be clearly seen in the resurrection and we just aren’t geared to waiting that long.  Reminds me of the verse that basically tells us “these ALL died, NOT having received the promises…” (Hebrews 11:13, 39). Not yet. But they will. Abraham never got to see his children be as numerous as the visible stars of heaven, but he will!

Look what problems Abraham, the father of the faithful, caused when he decided, for example, to help God along with his promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. It was taking too long, so what did Abraham do?  He and Sarah conspired to produce an heir by his works with another woman – Hagar-- rather than by faith.  Remember Hagar and Ishmael?  How well did that work out? And the problems continue to this very day.

But like Abraham, we start thinking “time is running out for anything else to work. I guess God wants ME to work this out.”  And away we go, no longer walking hand in hand with our Maker.  

We’ve all done the same thing, over and over.  MY works - - and their results – have not had good results. But when I rest in God’s promises and live by faith, I’m astounded at what HE works out when I rest in his promises and keep an awareness of how much he loves you and me beyond our wildest dreams.

So let’s start thanking Abba above, our God Most High, and our Savior Jesus Christ – for all the UNANSWERED prayers as well as the ones where He let us have what we were asking for.  Let’s even thank Him for the times that appear like rough times, bad times, or even hellish times of our life – as these may be the very times he is getting our attention. These are times when he is most actively working with us -- refining us, changing us and purifying us.  

In fact, we truly can even be joyful in these difficult times if we look up and tell him we trust him, we love him and we know he’s working his plan . . . even when we have no idea HOW he’s going to work it all out.  

We don’t NEED to know HOW everything will work out.  We need only to know with WHOM we walk. And that is enough.

Midway through the song, the words go something like this:
“…just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

So praise Him and his holy name even for unanswered prayers.

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