All posts by John (HFJ Director)

Learning To Pray Effectively

God has a lot to say about prayer in the Bible. It is a very important two-way communication between God and His people. He wants to hear from us and wants us to hear from Him. God also wants us to selflessly pray for others, not just for ourselves.

Prayer is a topic that can and should be studied at great length by every believer. This teaching is longer than most that we provide. As such you may expect to go through it thoughtfully will take more than just a few minutes. Take it in pieces and come back to it if that helps, but get started even if you can’t finish it all at once.

For the purposes of this teaching as a starting point to lead you toward righteous prayer we highlight several scriptures regarding prayer but will only break down into greater detail the teaching of Jesus, Himself, regarding prayer in Matthew 6:5-14. It was in this way that Jesus began teaching His disciples how to pray.

To learn more about prayer, you can review our devotions on prayer by selecting the Category “Prayer” or consider other resources such as those recommended on our site at “Study The Word: Books and Other Study Tools“.

1 Timothy 2:1-8

1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

8Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Ephesians 6:18-20

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 5:23

23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Matthew 26:36-46

36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

Matthew 6:5-14

5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

10‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

11‘Give us this day our daily bread.

12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Please do not skip over verses 5-8. While these are not included in what we commonly refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father”, they are critical points in teaching common mistakes that what we should not be doing. Do not pray for attention before men, but rather pray in secret for relationship with God. Do not use meaningless repetition… including just empty recitation of the prayer that Jesus shares in verses 9-13! This prayer is not a formula of specific words that must be recited, but rather an outline to help you focus your prayer in relating to God. It is meaningless to just memorize and repeat the words without truly dwelling on what they mean and how to relate to our God!

To explore this further, we will explore how to apply this outline for prayer with greater depth, so we draw near to God rather than repeat memorized words. (I am grateful to those who shared with me what I now share with you as I find it a very good application of the Lord’s Prayer.)

“Our Father who is in heaven,”

Respect and honor who God is. Take a few moments and be still before God. Contemplate the character of God:

  • The Great I Am
  • Creator of All
  • All Knowing (omniscient)
  • All Powerful (omnipotent)
  • Present In All Places At All Times (omnipresent)
  • Unchanging (immutable)
  • Eternal (without beginning or end)
  • Incapable of Making a Mistake (flawless)
  • Without limit or boundaries (infinite)
  • Holy (worthy of devotion as one perfect in goodness)
  • Just (behaving according to what is morally right and fair)
  • The Beginning and the End (Alpha and Omega)

In Ephesians 1:18-19 Paul prays “…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Reflect on the greatness of God’s power toward you as:

  • God the Father: Father, Provider, Shelter, Protector
  • God the Son: Righteousness, Holiness, Peace, Truth
  • God the Holy Spirit: Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Guide

“Hallowed be Your name.”

God’s name is to be separated from the world. To do this, we must separate from the world and focus on God. Focus on the Old Testament names for God.

Consider, also, focusing on God through a worship song.

“Your kingdom come.”

God’s kingdom is where He has total rule and authority. It is a kingdom of righteousness based in free will. His servants choose willingly or even enthusiastically to obey Him.

This scripture represents submission to God to rule and control your life. You are asking God to make your character to transform to be more like His character to make the fruit you bear more like the fruit of Jesus’ life and ministry.

We must first pray “my kingdom go” before we can truly pray for God’s kingdom to come. Pray for God to take control of these areas of your life; release them into His hands.

  • My family
  • My future
  • My job
  • My finances
  • My ministry
  • My thought life

Write in your prayer journal any areas you feel like God is directing you to pray for specifically.

God’s character should be reflected in our character.

  • Compassionate
  • Gracious
  • Humble
  • Pure (in body and mind)
  • Merciful
  • Giving (in time and resources)
  • Slow to anger / Patient
  • Filled with love
  • Truthful
  • Forgiving
  • Kind
  • Faithful (to God)
  • Wise
  • Servant’s heart
  • Disciplined (self control)
  • Joyful
  • Holy (set apart from sin; set apart for God’s purpose)
  • Just (e.g. justice)

Periodically (e.g. once a week) pick one of God’s characteristics, starting with your weakest, and study its meaning completely including study of application in scriptures. This activity will renew your mind in that area and, in turn, transform your character to be more like God and our Lord Jesus Christ. After completing the list, start over again.

“Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

This should be our personal acknowledgment of God’s will to be done in our lives in His timing and His way. Ask God what His will is for decisions that you need to make this week or later this year and then listen and wait for His answer.

Proverbs 3:5-7 guides us to”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

Write in your journal decisions you have to make and answers from God. Expect Him to answer, and then test the answer you hear against the scripture to ensure you are hearing from God and not from your own sin nature or from Satan.

God’s answer may not come during prayer time. It may come later that day or even the next couple days. Often His answer is not what we expect.

Pray for upcoming events as you write them in your journal. They may include things such as government (federal, state, local), schools, Christian leaders or ministry / church staff, missionaries, pastors, and of course events personal to your own life or that of your family and friends.

Pray for God’s will to be done for any individuals or groups for whom you are responsible or for individual people for whom God puts on your heart a desire to pray.

Consider writing down a prayer strategy in your journal and refer back to it periodically.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

At this point, ask God to provide for your needs (e.g. home, family, finances, church, ministry, friends, etc.)

The body needs food to live, but the spirit also needs food to live. Jesus is our food because He is the Word. Ask Him to speak a word to your spirit. Consider reading a devotional from a book and/or a few verses from the Bible. Write down what stands out to you. Meditate on it and write in your journal an action plan for applying it to your life as you feel led by the spirit. (Meditation in the Christian walk is not emptying the mind and seeking nothingness as in some other faiths, but rather actively using our God-given minds to think about and apply the written word of God in our lives.)

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

This was so important to Jesus, that He came back to it in verses Matthew 6:14-15.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Examine your heart and be completely honest with what you find because your Father knows anyway. Confess these things to God and ask forgiveness. Then turn from them and sin no more. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and reveal any sins you are unaware of at this time. Confess these sins to God and again ask forgiveness, turn from them and sin no more.

If there is a particular sin that keeps recurring, create an action plan to address it. The plan should include prayer, focused Bible study, and possibly additional resources or partnering with an accountability partner with whom you can share your struggle honestly.

Pray that God would forgive, bless and be good to the people who you believe have mistreated you. The only way God will continue to forgive us is if we continue to forgive others. Hold no bitterness or resentment in your heart. Purge from your heart any desire for revenge.

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Ask God for protection. Ask Him to show you any snares of the enemy so that you might not be caught in them. This is where you must ponder your footsteps and consider where you are going or by whom something is coming. Write in your journal anything new that is coming into your life or anything that is already in your life that you do not have a peace about. Now, ask God if this is from Him or from the enemy or from our own internal sin nature. Test each situation against the word of God revealed in scripture. If something does not line up with the word, do not do it. If it lines up with the word, but you still can not get peace about it, seek advice from a mentor. Godly counsel can be very helpful.

“[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

Acknowledge God and all of His attributes. Realize that God is on the throne and He is in charge. Everything is under His control. Let this truth comfort you.

Thank God for being with you during your prayer time and thank Him that He will be with you all day, because He will… our Father loves us!

Praying meaningfully through the Lord’s prayer can easily grow to take thirty minutes or more. Do not try to rush it! If you do not have as much time, pick some of the areas to focus on in each part of the prayer and then rotate which areas you focus on from day to day. Whatever you do, please heed Jesus’ advice:

5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

As individuals within a global Christian community we can ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. To submit a prayer request, go to our Submit Prayer Request page.

We at Hearing From Jesus will pray for you when we receive these prayer requests. We also invite other members of our community to visit our site Pray for Others page and pray for the needs listed there.

For those of you in the body of Christ that have a calling to pray for others… the prayer warriors among us… you may even consider adding the Pray for Others page as a favorite to remind you to click in and pray for God’s people in their need.

To study more teachings about effective prayer, review our category of teachings about Learning to Pray Effectively.

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

The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

As Yeshua returned to Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-11, we can clearly see that he once again points back to the Tanakh (often referred to as the Old Testament) and fulfillment of prophecy as significant. Yeshua was going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, once again reinforcing the observance of the commands of God laid out to His people through Moses. Yeshua was also clearly aware, as we read earlier in Matthew, that he was to die, be buried, and rise again. He was going there to suffer and die for all of our sins.

Matthew 21:1-11

1When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3“If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5“SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION,
‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU,
GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY,
EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”

6The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.

9The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”

10When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Yeshua clearly has a supernatural awareness of things around him, else he would not know where the donkey colt was and be able to tell the disciples exactly what to expect when they follow his instructions. The disciples did very well to just obey exactly as Yeshua told them. Everything worked out as planned. We should take care to do the same… obey God’s instructions as he gives them… without changing them to a way we think may be better or more consistent with our culture.

There is much significance for YHWH in the death and resurrection timing coinciding with Passover. It was intentional. The Passover lamb used as sacrifice to save the Israelites was a foreshadowing of Yeshua’s sacrifice for all of us… paying the price for our sins. In both the Passover and death and resurrection of Christ, YHWH’s people must choose to accept his grace and do so publicly. In Passover, by following YHWH’s instructions including putting lamb’s blood on the door post. In accepting Yeshua, we must repent of our sins, submit to YHWH, and ask him to be Lord and Savior. We must no longer live our way, but his way. That is what it means to submit. Those that truly accept Yeshua as Lord will proclaim Him publicly.

Yeshua points back directly to prophecy recorded in the Tanakh and fulfills it. He honors the Father’s instructions given to us through Moses and observes them every time. In this case he comes to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. We should be careful not to quickly dismiss the Tanakh as no longer relevant. Yeshua showed us the opposite! He honored YHWH’s instructions in the Tanakh and so should we.

Note how many in the crowds came out to welcome Yeshua and celebrate him as prophet. How fickle the crowds are… a week later the crowds shout to free Barabbas and crucify Yeshua. Few stood by Yeshua during the arrest and crucifixion, perhaps none publicly as even Peter denied him three times. We must be careful to look to the Father for our guidance on what is right and never just follow the crowds. Often, YHWH’s people find themselves standing against the crowds if they are to stand for him.

My family and I have found it very enriching to reflect the entirety of God’s word in our celebrations by including Passover along with our celebration of resurrection of Christ. As we started this a few years ago, we find ourselves continuing to study and learn how interrelated these celebrations should be.

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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.

David Sets to March with the Philistines Against Israel

1 Samuel 29 is an interesting chapter. David continues in his deception of Achish and even lines up to go to battle against Israel with him. The other Philistines do not trust David due to his reputation against their people. They are wise, Achish is deceived, and David is righteous one… it gets confusing. We should note that David’s deception in this case was exclusively aimed against those who were enemies of God and His people and it was only when his life was in jeopardy due to Saul’s persecution of him.

My kids ask me about who is good and who is bad in some situations, either in real life or in movies. The truth is that often it may not be as clear as “good” and “bad”. Sometimes there are two parties both of which are offensive to God and they are battling. Sometimes there are two that claim to honor God and fight. Sometimes even the righteous seem to do things which seem inappropriate.

Ultimately no one is perfect and we should test everything against the word of God. Not everything David does is righteous. However, he is often rebuked if he is doing something which is bad. He is not rebuked in this situation. Take time to pray and reflect on the situation recorded in 1 Samuel 29.

1 Samuel 29

The Philistines Mistrust David

      1Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, while the Israelites were camping by the spring which is in Jezreel. 2And the lords of the Philistines were proceeding on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were proceeding on in the rear with Achish. 3Then the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or rather these years, and I have found no fault in him from the day he deserted to me to this day?” 4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him, and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Make the man go back, that he may return to his place where you have assigned him, and do not let him go down to battle with us, or in the battle he may become an adversary to us. For with what could this man make himself acceptable to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of these men?

5“Is this not David, of whom they sing in the dances, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”

      6Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the LORD lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight; for I have not found evil in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, you are not pleasing in the sight of the lords. 7“Now therefore return and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8David said to Achish, “But what have I done? And what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9But Achish replied to David, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’ 10“Now then arise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who have come with you, and as soon as you have arisen early in the morning and have light, depart.” 11So David arose early, he and his men, to depart in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

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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.

Don’t Pass Over Passover

Most of us who grew up as Christians do not recognize or truly understand the Biblical holidays or “holy” days that YHWH instructed his people to celebrate. Christians turned away long ago from his appointed times to follow their own traditions, which are now blended with many pagan traditions. There was a clear intention by man to separate from the Hebrew roots of our faith. We must now each ask ourselves if that was right or wrong and decide what we will do personally in our pursuit of YHWH.

Exodus 12 provides a clear example of where God places a lot of emphasis on celebrating according to His instruction… Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yet many Christians ignore this celebration because the traditions of men have taught them to consider this a “Jewish” holiday. The Bible says it is God’s holy day, not a Jewish holiday.

Remember, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that he would not let God’s people go easily. He did so in order that He would demonstrate more signs and wonders so that His people would remember how He set them free from slavery in Egypt. God did not want His people to soon forget the momentous event. So much so that He even commands his people to celebrate it multiple times in scripture.

If it was that important to celebrate in order to look back on how YHWH delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, how much more so now that we can also look back and celebrate remembering how Yeshua died as our Passover lamb, setting us free from slavery to sin once and for all. When we celebrate it, the focus is on our relationship with our Father and his power and what he has done for us as his people… unlike common holidays of today in which the focus is on a magical man in red who brings gifts or a mythical bunny that brings candy.

Exodus 12:42-51

Ordinance of the Passover

42It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

43The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45“A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46“It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47“All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49“The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

50Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51And on that same day the LORD brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

We should remember as well, that God used Passover as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus was to make on our behalf. God even arranged it so that Jesus was crucified at Passover because He wanted to emphasize the two events together… God setting His people free from slavery in Egypt and God setting His people free from slavery to sin.

For those of us who wish to draw nearer to our Father, prayerfully consider studying and observing Passover, even though it feels strange at first and contradicts what most Christian churches teach.

Considering this change personally can seem very overwhelming to many. Many Christian’s have adopted such a strong tradition of celebrating according to man made pagan traditions that it is hard to turn away from them. It often creates difficulty and stress within a family. Jesus warned us about this type of conflict when we choose to follow Him, even within our own families.

Matthew 10:32-39

32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.

37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Ask yourself… do you wish to please man or God? I encourage you to pray for God to enlighten you and study the scriptures. Amazingly enough, even common encyclopedias identify the pagan traditions in Easter quite readily and consistently. The knowledge is not hidden… but we each have to make a choice about whom we serve and whom we follow.

To say we can only “have fun” by celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies is not true. My family and I find it can be quite fun to celebrate Passover. It clearly reminds us of God setting us free. We enjoy a Passover seder which is rather informal and observe the Sabbath days of rest to celebrate God and family as we rest. We dress up as if we were Israelites on the original Passover, eating the seder prepared to leave Egypt. We then take up our livestock (ok… a dog and plush farm animals) and march out of Egypt and across the Red Sea (ok… around the house with imagination). We even celebrate the days of Unleavened Bread. Of course it felt unusual at first when we started, but we have found that if we just apply a bit of imagination and creativity toward how we celebrate according to God’s instruction, we can do so in a joyful and fun way. We also celebrate Messiah’s sacrifice and his resurrection as part of this appointed time, which is clearly intentional timing from our Creator.

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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.

In Christ, We Have Another Reason To Celebrate Passover

It is important to remember what YHWH has done for us. He is our Creator and Lord. He is all powerful, all knowing, and present at all times in all places. Still He takes time to know each one of us and He loves each one of us as a father.

Sometimes He dwells on a certain instruction to emphasize it so that we pay attention and do not miss it. Celebrating Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is one of those. As we read through Exodus 12, we experience God’s instruction about celebrating these as remembrance of God setting His people free from bondage in Egypt. Given how much the Christian church today distances itself from these appointed times of God , we may be tempted to think… “Ok, glad I am done with Exodus 12 and can get on with the story.” God however, is not done commanding and emphasizing to us that we should celebrate Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread in remembrance of His actions on behalf of His people. He comes back to it in Exodus 13 and again in Exodus 23. Spoiler alert… he comes back to it again and again… especially in Leviticus 23.

Exodus 13:1-16

Consecration of the Firstborn

1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”

3Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. 4“On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth. 5“It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month. 6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

11“Now when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 12you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD. 13“But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15‘It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16“So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

You may find yourself asking, “Why is this so important to God? The church has not taught me to celebrate it.” God tells us why it is important to Him.

8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

and again…

14“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15‘It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16“So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

When our Father repeats something over and over again, we should recognize it is important. Our heavenly Father wants us to remember His love and power in setting His people free from bondage in Egypt. As followers of Messiah we can also recognize that in Messiah we now have yet another reason to celebrate Passover. Yeshua served as our Passover lamb, killed for our sin. The unleavened bread can remind us of getting sin out of our lives… making vivid a reminder that a little sin affects us a lot, like a little yeast affects the whole loaf of bread. We need to get all the sin out of our lives.

Passover is not just for Jewish people who don’t believe in Christ as Messiah. Passover has rich meaning and can help us draw nearer to the Lord. We could have a longer discussion on how to celebrate today, but for today I am really focused on encouraging you to read and study more, to embrace God’s holy days and learn more about them. God said we should, and he has great ideas. Once we make the decision to do it, then we take the next step and begin to study how… that is the journey my family and I are on today. We find great joy in seeking to better understand our relationship with YHWH through studying and celebrating his appointed times.

Do take care that we don’t have to celebrate Passover because it is “required” but rather so we can grow in our relationship with our Creator and delight in him. As the temple and the priests are not available, we can not celebrate in a fully Biblical manner, and that should not be our goal as Yeshua has already served as our Passover lamb, once and for all. Let us use this as an opportunity simply to glorify YHWH and what he has done for his people in setting them free from slavery in Egypt and more importantly in setting us free from slavery from sin through Yeshua.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

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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 The LORD In His Moedim (Holy Days)

Each year as Passover approaches, I am reminded to reflect on my personal journey with Yeshua. I was raised in a household that identified as Christian. We went to church weekly, but we did not study the Bible or seek to apply it in our lives actively. We watched things on TV which we should not have. There was little discernment about separating from the commonly accepted ways of the world to seek out the set apart ways of YHWH. We embraced and celebrated every common cultural holiday, apparently unaware or unconcerned about the significant pagan influence in shaping each of these holidays. In fact, holidays like Christmas and Easter often have more pagan roots and traditions than Christian.

As YHWH has continued to lead me, he has opened my eyes to his appointed times, or Moedim. They are described in Leviticus 23 and other places in scripture. Do not get tied up into the traps of whether or not they are required and if required, how “must” they be celebrated. Start by learning about YHWH’s holy days and participating in them. They look back at the relationship he has with his people and look forward to it as well. Each has meaning, not just from a “Jewish” perspective, but also from a Christian perspective. Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of these celebrations, including looking forward to his second coming. They are not “Jewish” holidays, but rather YHWH’s holy days. We can not or do not have to try to live them out perfectly as they were laid out for his people in the Torah, in Leviticus to harvest value from celebrating them.

We do not have to celebrate them absolutely according to what is now Jewish tradition. Only seek to study and better understand them so we better understand our relationship with God. Celebrate them as a great way to help teach your children as well. How much more rich than just “book learning” alone!

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

I hope you join me in a pursuit to know, love, and serve our Father more. Learning about and celebrating the Moedim is a fun and meaningful way to continue together on this journey. I invite you to start with Passover, which takes place in the upcoming weeks.

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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.

Don’t Be An April Fool

A lot of people start thinking about fooling people as a way of recognizing “April Fool’s Day”. Some find this fun and some do not. I think it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on what God says about being a fool and test ourselves to make sure we are not a fool in His eyes, in April or any other time.
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. 14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.
1The wise woman builds her house,

But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

2He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD,
But he who is devious in his ways despises Him.

3In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back,
But the lips of the wise will protect them.

Proverbs 14:15-18

15The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

16A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.

17A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.

18The naive inherit foolishness,
But the sensible are crowned with knowledge.

Proverbs 18:2

2A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.

Proverbs 20:3

3Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.

Proverbs 20:5

5A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out.

Proverbs 29:11

11A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.

Ecclesiastes 4:5

5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.

Ecclesiastes 7:9

9Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.

Titus 3:3-11

1Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

There is much in the Bible to help us understand how to be wise and avoid being foolish. Let us seek not to be fools, no matter what month it is!
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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.