All posts by John (HFJ Director)

Why Does God Do Some Miracles And Not Others?

Many people are confused about when and why God does miracles. It is difficult to understand why he answers one prayer and seems to not answer another.  He heals one person and not another. Why does he allow some to be martyred for their faith, but save others?

There are many reasons why God may choose not to answer our prayers the way we want Him to. Sometimes He answers “yes”, sometimes “no”, sometimes “not yet” or “not the way you think is best but rather the way I know is best”. To study more about prayer, please study our teaching about prayer, Learning To Pray Effectively, and review other devotions listed in the “Prayer” category. (Once you click the link “Prayer“, just scroll down through the devotions to review them.)

It is good to seek to understand why God may not be answering our prayers and to test ourselves and our motives as to whether we are submitted to His will in righteous prayer and trusting Him or demanding our own outcome.

It is very important to trust God and submit to His will. His ways are so far above ours that we can not hope to fully understand our all powerful, eternal, all knowing God.

[Isaiah 55:8-9]    8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

It is really that simple. Even a dog learns to trust a good master with no hope of ever understanding all of the master’s plans. So too a small child who has good parents learns to trust them. We are to do the same with God.

Few have had as much motivation as Job to feel that God has abandoned him and seek to understand why He allows certain things in this world. Job was a righteous man, yet God allowed Satan to torment Him through personal loss of family and wealth and through personal illness. Job’s “friends”, which he is allowed to keep, seem to be more a curse than a blessing. For the full series of events refer to the book of Job.

[Job 1:1]   1There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.

Job was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. I strive to achieve such a righteous description for it is the description of one who submits to God and serves Him wholeheartedly. Yet God allowed Job to suffer incredibly. After enduring much suffering, Job struggled to understand why these things were happening to him.

God’s response takes up four chapters (Job 38-42) which basically can be summarized to say “Who are you to question God?”

Along the way, Job is humbled again.

 [Job 40:3-4]   3Then Job answered the LORD and said, 4“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth.

[Job 42:1-3]  1Then Job answered the LORD and said, 2“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

To be sure, it is fine to ask God to show you why He does or does not do some particular miracle or answer a prayer a certain way or why He allows certain events. We should ask as a child asks a father… humbly, respectfully and without challenging authority or complaining. He may answer or He may not. We are to trust and love Him either way, submitting to His will rather than insisting on our own.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Is God’s Law A Burden?

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is written originally in Hebrew in a literary style that begins one section after another, each with the next letter of the aleph bet (Hebrew alphabet). It is beautiful and passionate. It focuses on the law of God. It is only one place in scripture that speaks about the law of God, but it is a great place to start. Read and digest all that it claims about the law of God and then ask yourself, does describe the law as burdensome? difficult? harsh? or does it describe it as quite different than that? Does it describe something that we would want to be set free from? Is it bondage?

Put aside what you think you know about the law from those who do not understand it and listen to how it is described by one who understood it well and loved our heavenly Father very deeply. Don’t worry for now about what is the full content of “the law” or if we can fully follow the law today, but instead let us just try to better understand if scripture reveals it to be burdensome or something else.

As you grow in understanding, you will actually come to realize that much of the teaching today in the Christian church is still based on the law, even while many Christians say it is obsolete… tithing, not coveting, no idols, etc. Even the need for blood to be shed for forgiveness of sin comes from the Law. Let us not forget that Yeshua shed his blood for our sin. It is far beyond the 10 commandments, but many now simply pick and choose what they will or will not obey.

Before we begin with Psalm 119, however, let’s hear what Yeshua had to say about the law given through Moses. Some claim He never taught that people should follow it.

Matthew 23: 1-4

      1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

In fact, if we study the Moses seat we learn that only the books of Moses would be taught from one sitting in it. Thus we see Yeshua clearly told the people to obey what was taught from Moses . The burden, as Yeshua describes it, was associated with all the extra rules made by the Pharisees, not the commands given by YHWH through Moses.

Yeshua went on at a different time to clearly state he did not come to abolish the Law and that whoever annuls the commandments will be least in the kingdom but whoever keeps and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom. It certainly sounds like we should not be dismissing the Law to easily.

Matthew 5:17-20

      17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 119

Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God.

Aleph.

     1How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.

      2How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.

      3They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.

      4You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.

      5Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!

      6Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.

      7I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.

      8I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!

Beth.

     9How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

      10With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

      11Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

      12Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

      13With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.

      14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

      15I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.

      16I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

Gimel.

     17Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

      18Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

      19I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

      20My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.

      21You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.

      22Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.

      23Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

      24Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.

Daleth.

    25My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

      26I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.

      27Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.

      28My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

      29Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.

      30I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.

      31I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!

      32I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

He.

     33Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

      34Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

      35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

      36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.

      37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.

      38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

      39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.

      40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Vav.

     41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;

      42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

      43And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.

      44So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.

      45And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.

      46I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.

      47I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.

      48And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Zayin.

49Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.

      50This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.

      51The arrogant utterly deride me,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.

      52I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD,
And comfort myself.

      53Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law.

      54Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.

      55O LORD, I remember Your name in the night,
And keep Your law.

      56This has become mine,
That I observe Your precepts.

Heth.

57The LORD is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.

      58I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.

      59I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

      60I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.

      61The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.

      62At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      63I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.

      64The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

Teth.

65You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.

      66Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.

      67Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

      68You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

      69The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.

      70Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.

      71It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.

      72The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Yodh.

     73Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

      74May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.

      75I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

      76O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.

      77May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.

      78May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

      79May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.

      80May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

Kaph.

     81My soul languishes for Your salvation;
I wait for Your word.

      82My eyes fail with longing for Your word,
While I say, “When will You comfort me?”

      83Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget Your statutes.

      84How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?

      85The arrogant have dug pits for me,
Men who are not in accord with Your law.

      86All Your commandments are faithful;
They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!

      87They almost destroyed me on earth,
But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.

      88Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.

Lamedh.

89Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.

      90Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.

      91They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.

      92If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.

      93I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.

      94I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.

      95The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.

      96I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Mem.

      97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

      98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

      99I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

      100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.

      101I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.

      102I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.

      103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

      104From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Nun.

     105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

      106I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

      107I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

      108O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And teach me Your ordinances.

      109My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.

      110The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.

      111I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.

      112I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.

Samekh.

     113I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.

      114You are my hiding place and my shield;
I wait for Your word.

      115Depart from me, evildoers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God.

      116Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

      117Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.

      118You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes,
For their deceitfulness is useless.

      119You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.

      120My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.

Ayin.

     121I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.

      122Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.

      123My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.

      124Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.

      125I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.

      126It is time for the LORD to act,
For they have broken Your law.

      127Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.

      128Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way.

Pe.

     129Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.

      130The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.

      131I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.

      132Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.

      133Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

      134Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.

      135Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.

      136My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

Tsadhe.

     137Righteous are You, O LORD,
And upright are Your judgments.

      138You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.

      139My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.

      140Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.

      141I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.

      142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.

      143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.

      144Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

Qoph.

     145I cried with all my heart; answer me, O LORD!
I will observe Your statutes.

      146I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.

      147I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.

      148My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

      149Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your ordinances.

      150Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.

      151You are near, O LORD,
And all Your commandments are truth.

      152Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

Resh.

     153Look upon my affliction and rescue me,
For I do not forget Your law.

      154Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

      155Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.

      156Great are Your mercies, O LORD;
Revive me according to Your ordinances.

      157Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.

      158I behold the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.

      159Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.

      160The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

Shin.

     161Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.

      162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.

      163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.

      164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

      166I hope for Your salvation, O LORD,
And do Your commandments.

      167My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.

      168I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.

Tav.

     169Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.

      170Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.

      171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

      172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

      173Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.

      174I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.

      175Let my soul live that it may praise You,
And let Your ordinances help me.

      176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

In case it is not obvious, let’s recap a few of the things that are written in scripture about the law of God…

righteous, blessed, teaches me, do not forget it, do not go astray from it, pure, treasured, rejoice, delight,  I trust in Your word, , I will walk at liberty because I seek Your precepts, I shall delight in Your commandments which I love, I will lift up my hands to Your commandments which I love, Your statutes are my songs, I shall give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances, I delight in your law, better than gold and silver,  forever Your word is settled in heaven, I would have perished if Your law had not been my delight, oh how I love Your law!, Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, Your words are sweeter than honey, Your word is a lamp unto my feet, I love Your commandments above gold, the unfolding of Your word brings light and gives understanding to the simple, I longed for Your commandments, Your word is very pure and therefore Your servant loves it, Your law is truth, Your commandments are my delight, I will observe Your statutes, the wicked are far from Your law, every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting, I love Your law, I praise You because of Your ordinances, those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble, all Your commandments are righteousness, Your law is my delight

The law sounds wonderful as described here. It is not a burden that we need to be free of it, as so many teach today. If it were, would not Yeshua have said so? Would not Yeshua have told us the law was abolished? obsolete? The law described here is something which helps us, something in which we can rejoice and delight, something we can treasure. It is not followed out of obligation or for salvation anymore than obeying any other instructions of Yeshua.

It sounds like a beautiful set of instructions from the Lord, which I want to understand more… both in their original context and with regards to how they still apply to my life today. Psalm 119, if we let it, can really be a testimony for the law of God as a wonderful gift and guide that helps us to know how God thinks we should live and what He values. Obviously to fully understand the depths of what is in the law and how it may still apply, we need to study the Torah (1st 5 books of the Bible).  Some of the elements of the law (e.g. ceremonial law) can no longer be carried out as God specified while there is no temple and no Levitical priesthood, but that should not discourage us from understanding and following God’s law as much as we can. Should we walk away from doing as Christ taught just because we can’t do it perfectly?

It is hard to consider this for many as it contradicts so much of what is taught in churches today. However, we must decide what is the unchanging record of God’s instruction… the Bible or the word of man?  We can be sure that Yeshua referred to the scriptures as the source of truth for the law of God, not the laws of the Pharisees.

The Torah is a great place to start for any Christian, many of whom have been taught to really focus only on the New Testament. Spoiler alert… if the New Testament is the building, the Old Testament is the foundation that holds it up. They are not contradictory, but rather complementary.

Pray with me that our Creator and Father would open our eyes, and the eyes of His followers around the world, that we may behold wonderful things from His law. Give us understanding, that we may observe His law and keep it with all our heart.

To learn more:

God Is Love, But How Do I Love Him And Others?

God is love. Let us take care to understand this properly. Many take this to lead into error in lifestyles today. God is love, yes. But how? Is he love in that he accepts everyone as they are without repentance and without change? Absolutely not. He loves us enough to send Yeshua to die for us so our sins can be forgiven. He loves us enough that Yeshua reinforced the teaching of the Torah and prophets as the core standard by which we should live. He did this by word and action. He loves us enough to send the Holy Spirit to dwell within us as believers as guide and counselor to help us turn away from sin and the ways of the world and live God’s way.

1 John 4:7-21

God Is Love

     7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

      15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

A few more points John makes in today’s scripture… God loved us first, before we loved him. our love is perfected by abiding in God (living his way and in relation with him). There is no fear in love. In his perfect love, if we abide in him, we need not fear the day of judgment. John also emphasizes we love our brother.

Two questions come to mind for clarification… who is our brother? and how do we love God’s way?

Yeshua addresses the first question in Matthew. It is not “everyone who breathes”. He is focused on those who love and accept and submit to the Father, not just in words, but in “doing” the will of the Father.

Matthew 12:46-50

  46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

How do we love God’s way? Some claim it is to accept everyone how they are and have no expectation of repentance or change in their lives. This is man’s way, not God’s way. The entirety of the Torah and the prophets is based on loving God and loving one another. We love God and people God’s way when we live according to the law of God, which is documented in the Torah and the prophets. Who said so? Yeshua himself.

Matthew 22:36-40

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Let us take great care not to use “love” as an excuse to encourage people to remain in sin and separated from God. True love shines a light on truth and invites them to follow us to the Father through the Son… to change and be less like the world and more like Yeshua.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Believe Every Spirit, But Rather Test Them

Scripture continually warns us to test our understanding of God’s instruction to ensure we are not deceived. We go back to the Torah and the writings of the prophets to validate truth. It has not changed. More recently, but entirely consistent with the first, we can also test our understanding with the record of the New Testament, recognizing that if our understanding of the New Testament implies inconsistency with the Old Testament then we are in error. In fact, the New Testament builds on the Old like the framework of a house is built upon the foundation. Without a good foundation, the rest will not stand.

1 John warns us to test every spirit… not to believe every spirit. We are again warned that there are many false prophets… many. They speak as from the world and the world listens. Those who know God will listen to us, who truly follow Christ. Thus, do not be surprised if the majority of people will not follow someone who teaches and proclaims truth. On the other hand, if someone claims Christ in name and teaches a compromised doctrine that seems palatable or comfortable to the world, then many will follow him.

Keep in mind that the very idea of a false prophet implies that they present themselves as if representing God. The same is true today. Perhaps they do not claim to be prophets today, but rather pastors and bishops. The point is that the false teaching is not something that “those unbelievers” are presenting, but rather will come from what appears to be within the church, within the body of Christ.

1 John 4:1-6

Testing the Spirits

     1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Reflecting further, this is not simply referring to false prophets. It seems to be deliberate in choosing the word “spirit”. I would need to study further, but it seems to imply that Satan will attempt to influence us and deceive us even in sending his messengers to seemingly deliver or confirm the (wrong) word of God to us. We must stay focused on the true Spirit, which is always aligned with the Word, to ensure we are not led astray.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Has A Plan, And It Is Typically Different Than We Expect

 

The LORD chose from among the people a king at their request. As it typically goes, the LORD selected someone that would not normally be chosen if it were men doing the choosing. Saul was from a small tribe. He was not a leader of the tribe.

Further, the LORD chose him in a very unique manner. Saul lost donkeys and went looking for them. It was in this way that He the LORD brought him to Samuel. It seems then the LORD rather than directly declaring him king, has a bit more of a process to lead Saul through on his journey to become king, perhaps to help prepare him.

Notice that Saul is not exactly embracing this situation without reservation. He goes along for the most part, but ends up hiding when it is time to step up and be recognized.

The LORD’s ways are not our ways. He does things differently. We may not always understand them. Ask him for the faith to trust him completely. Even when we may be off distracted, “looking for lost donkeys”, let us remember that perhaps the LORD has a plan for us and it may develop in unexpected ways.

1 Samuel 10

Saul among Prophets

     1Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? 2“When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3“Then you will go on further from there, and you will come as far as the oak of Tabor, and there three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a jug of wine; 4and they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from their hand. 5“Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. 6“Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. 7“It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you. 8“And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”

      9Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. 10When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. 11It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

      14Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.” 15Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned.

Saul Publicly Chosen King

     17Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah; 18and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19“But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”

      20Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.” 23So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”

      25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua’s Prayer For His Disciples

Yeshua came to the Father in prayer for His disciples as He prepared to leave. We can learn much by reviewing and considering His words.

John 17:13-21

The Disciples in the World

     13“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

      20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • Yeshua wanted His disciples to have His joy made full in themselves
  • He gave us the instructions of YHWH to this purpose for making our joy full. We can rightly conclude He intended for us to obey them, not just be aware of them.
  • Those who follow Yeshua, like Yeshua, are not “of the world”. The world will hate and reject us, usually more so as we stand and live more boldly for Christ. This does not mean every person will hate us, but one need only look around at newspapers for national and world events to see that followers of Christ are persecuted in varying degrees depending on where they are in the world. (I do not mean people who claim Christ and live like the world… the devil and the world love these folks.)
  • We need the Father’s help to protect us from Satan. Yes, he is a real adversary.
  • Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Yeshua asks YHWH to make us holy through truth, or through the word. Again, we can reasonably conclude He intends for us to live according to the word rather than the same way the world lives.
  • Here, Yeshua specifically calls out that He is praying not just for this specific group of men, but for all who believe in Him.
  • His desire is for us as His followers to be united. We can see this is not the case throughout the world. This can seem difficult at times, because we are not called to accept false teaching, but we are called to unity. Many disagree on the true application of scripture creating division. We should allow room for debate where scripture permits, but there are some teachings that are heretical and dangerous and need to be rejected. (e.g. The teaching that everyone who claims Yeshua in name pleases the Lord and goes to heaven even if they are without repentance and do not change their lives to match His instruction.)

I encourage you to pray and reflect on these verses and ask the Father to enlighten you on their full meaning and application for your life.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

May His Face Shine Upon You

What a beautiful blessing we find in Numbers 6, intended for the audience of Aaron and his sons. I pray this now for myself, those close to me, and also for pastors and leaders who follow Christ with a genuine heart. I pray it for those reading through the scriptures with me daily… and I sure appreciate if / when you pray for me as well.

Numbers 6:22-27

      22Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

      24The LORD bless you, and keep you;

      25The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;

      26The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’

27“So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”

Another translation captures verse 24-26 slightly differently… “may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you”. I certainly want to have that relationship with Him and please Him in that way. I want other brothers and sisters in Christ to do so as well.

Numbers 6:24-26 Living Bible (TLB)

24-26 ‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.’

Take some time this morning and pray for yourself, your family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and for whomever else you feel led to pray for today.

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Seeking Wisdom From The One Who Is Truly Wise

Truly if you want wisdom, do not look to universities and degrees in higher learning, though those may have some value, but instead look to the Lord and ask Him humbly for the wisdom you seek. Pursue it in study of the scriptures and prayer and God will give it to you in the measure and time He deems appropriate.

Do not seek it though to accomplish your own plans and desires for you own glory, but the Lord’s plans for His glory through you. Do not ask for it expecting Him not to give it either, but rather expect and trust that He will grant what you ask.

2 Chronicles 1

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

     8Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9“Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” 11God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, 12wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.” 13So Solomon went from the high place which was at Gibeon, from the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem, and he reigned over Israel.

James 1:5-8

    5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Give Thanks To The LORD, For He Is Good; For His Lovingkindness Is Everlasting

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 118

Thanksgiving for the LORD’S Saving Goodness.

     1Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

      2Oh let Israel say,
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

      3Oh let the house of Aaron say,
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

      4Oh let those who fear the LORD say,
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

      5From my distress I called upon the LORD;
The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.

      6The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?

      7The LORD is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.

      8It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in man.

      9It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in princes.

      10All nations surrounded me;
In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off.

      11They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;
In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off.

      12They surrounded me like bees;
They were extinguished as a fire of thorns;
In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off.

      13You pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the LORD helped me.

      14The LORD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

      15The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.

      16The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.

      17I will not die, but live,
And tell of the works of the LORD.

      18The LORD has disciplined me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

      19Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD.

      20This is the gate of the LORD;
The righteous will enter through it.

      21I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.

      22The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.

      23This is the LORD’S doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.

      24This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

      25O LORD, do save, we beseech You;
O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!

      26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

      27The LORD is God, and He has given us light;
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

      28You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.

      29Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What May Seem A Bother To You Now, May Actually Be Part Of His Plans

Sometimes our Father is at work in seemingly strange ways, without our knowledge. Consider The events which lead Saul to Samuel so he would be made king. It must have seemed a bother to chase lost donkeys and not find them. Little did he know what was coming. The LORD was at work in ways that he would just not understand at the time. This can be a lesson for us as well. Let us be patient as things seem to go wrong. Sometimes the LORD is arranging something we don’t fully understand yet.

We can also reflect on why YHWH chose Saul, from the “least of all the families” of the “smallest tribe”. The Father’s ways are not our ways… they are infinitely better.

1 Samuel 9

Saul’s Search

     1Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

      3Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to his son Saul, “Take now with you one of the servants, and arise, go search for the donkeys.” 4He passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.

      5When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, and let us return, or else my father will cease to be concerned about the donkeys and will become anxious for us.” 6He said to him, “Behold now, there is a man of God in this city, and the man is held in honor; all that he says surely comes true. Now let us go there, perhaps he can tell us about our journey on which we have set out.” 7Then Saul said to his servant, “But behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread is gone from our sack and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8The servant answered Saul again and said, “Behold, I have in my hand a fourth of a shekel of silver; I will give it to the man of God and he will tell us our way.” 9(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he used to say, “Come, and let us go to the seer”; for he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer.) 10Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

      11As they went up the slope to the city, they found young women going out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12They answered them and said, “He is; see, he is ahead of you. Hurry now, for he has come into the city today, for the people have a sacrifice on the high place today. 13“As soon as you enter the city you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat, for the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up for you will find him at once.” 14So they went up to the city. As they came into the city, behold, Samuel was coming out toward them to go up to the high place.

God’s Choice for King

     15Now a day before Saul’s coming, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel saying, 16“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have regarded My people, because their cry has come to Me.” 17When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, “Behold, the man of whom I spoke to you! This one shall rule over My people.” 18Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Please tell me where the seer’s house is.” 19Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and in the morning I will let you go, and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20“As for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?” 21Saul replied, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak to me in this way?”

      22Then Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who were invited, who were about thirty men. 23Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion that I gave you, concerning which I said to you, ‘Set it aside.’” 24Then the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here is what has been reserved! Set it before you and eat, because it has been kept for you until the appointed time, since I said I have invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

      25When they came down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof. 26And they arose early; and at daybreak Samuel called to Saul on the roof, saying, “Get up, that I may send you away.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. 27As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Say to the servant that he might go ahead of us and pass on, but you remain standing now, that I may proclaim the word of God to you.”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.