Category Archives: Guide

Glorify the LORD Through Your Actions And Words

Do not continue in the desires of those who do not follow Yeshua, in sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and idolatries. Do not expect them to understand why you do not continue in these things with them. However, remain fervent in your love for Yeshua and live according to the Father’s ways, as Yeshua did. Act in such a way that Yeshua is glorified through our actions and words… in how we treat one another. But do not let this be an excuse to accept sin as we should continue to help one another to move away from our previous godless ways so common in culture around us and move ever closer to the LORD.

1 Peter 4:1-11

Keep Fervent in Your Love

      1Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

      7The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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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 Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

This teaching is really a core part of our personal walk with Yeshua. Please take the time to read through it prayerfully, even though it may be a bit longer than average.

At Hearing From Jesus, we take the commands of our Lord very seriously and that certainly includes The Great Commission. In fact, it is this command that most directly inspires our ministry. We want to obey Jesus and make disciples of all the nations.

Besides being the command of our Lord, it is also a natural desire we have in gratitude to God for His grace and forgiveness and also out of love for other people, who may be headed for eternal separation from God in hell, unless they hear and study the true word of God.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To learn more about the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, we recommend you study our teaching, The Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations, before continuing with this teaching on building a personal discipleship plan.

Whether Hearing From Jesus is a primary source for your personal study and growth with the Lord or just another valuable reference site, we have structured our ministry to help you become a disciple, a learner, of Christ and then to prepare to go and make disciples of others. This last point is important… it should not be our goal to do the absolute minimum we can and still get into Heaven. Those who have this attitude are far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our goal is to grow spiritually to the point that we are feeding ourselves from God’s word and growing in our relationship with God from now until we die. It is a journey that we never finish, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus and less like our old sinful nature. We are to learn well enough to then teach others effectively and help them become disciples as well… so they can , in turn, teach others.

Overwhelming? It can be. So, how do we begin such a task?

Let us begin by studying and then following the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can review how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship. In all the examples I just mentioned, these servants of God knew the ultimate authority was God, not a religious authority figure or scholars or traditions. We must seek to develop a personal relationship with God. We must not cling to traditions of men, even if they are taught by religious authority figures. Even the Pope is quite fallible and what he teaches must be tested against the word of God and sadly it often contradicts God’s word. We must test everything against the truth of God’s scripture and seek God in prayer consistently. To be a disciple of Christ we must be willing to put Him first, above and before all other parts of our lives and it will be hard. We must lose our own lives in order to find true life with Jesus.

Matthew 10:34-39

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.

Jesus did not attend formal schooling or study at seminary. These things may be helpful, but are not necessary and for most of us, not practical. Jesus studied the scriptures rigorously and with devotion since He was as child. So knowledgeable was He, that when He was twelve, He was amazing the scholars and teachers of the law.

Luke 2:46-47

46Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

If you are coming to know Jesus later in life, do not worry. Use the time God has given you and get started studying (not just reading) the Bible consistently today. God will reveal much to a devoted disciple through His word. Jesus’ disciples certainly did not start studying scripture as children but God used them in a mighty way!

Jesus had a powerful prayer life. Communicating with God to receive God’s instruction through prayer is essential to live as an effective disciple. Jesus did not pray when convenient… when He had time. Jesus stayed up late and got up early. Consistent prayer is essential to staying submitted to God’s will rather than our own. To study more about Jesus’ prayer life, we recommend reading Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby.

When it was time for His public ministry to begin, Jesus found a small set of disciples, or followers. He had an inner circle in which He invested much time (Peter, James, John) and He had a wider group, but still small, that included all twelve disciples. He invested much time in the twelve, but not as much as He invested in the closer circle of three. Jesus also taught the masses who sought to hear God’s word. He never turned away those who were genuinely seeking the word of God.

We must recognize that Jesus forced no one to be a disciple or to listen to His message. Instead He choose people as disciples who came enthusiastically and willingly. They were eager to learn and not rebelling against God, insisting on clutching onto their traditions or even their personal lives before meeting Jesus.  They were willing to put Jesus as a priority above all other things. They left much behind of what they knew to follow Him. Others whom he invited, such as the rich young ruler introduced in Matthew 19:16, could not put him first and thus chose not to follow him.

Jesus made time for people and demonstrated compassion, but also remained focused on going about doing God’s work. He dealt with mockers appropriately so as not to let them distract Him from getting to those who wanted to hear.  Jesus would reply to those trying to trick Him, but only to provide a teachable moment and an opportunity for them to hear truth and repent, and then He would move on.

In three years He created a team of disciples who could go out and teach others. This is what disciple means… Jesus does not call us to just remain a “baby” in the faith, needing constant care and feeding. Jesus calls us to be disciples who can learn and teach others to learn. Those others then teach more and there is a multiplying effect that has dramatically impacted the world over the last two thousand years… starting from the humble beginnings of a poor carpenter who taught truth and stood up against the established  teachers and scholars of the time and against centuries of traditions of men which were put above the commands of God.

We will briefly comment regarding Moses, Elijah, and Paul but of course you can study and learn more about them by reading the scriptures.

Moses trained judges to be prepared to help meet the needs of the people in order to properly lead such a large number of people. [Exodus 18:17-26]

Elijah invested time to disciple Elisha, who became his successor. [1Kings 19:19-21]

Paul managed his disciples over a wider geography, across many different cities and regions.  He taught to crowds, big and small, on his missionary journeys. However, he clearly had a close circle of disciples with whom he traveled and invested significant time and a wider circle of individuals whom he discipled through occasional visits and more frequently through correspondence (e.g. letters).

So… what do we learn from Jesus and His servants?  What is a practical way to begin?

We must all begin with study of the scripture and prayer. We must develop a strong personal relationship with God.  Do not get in a hurry to be the teacher. Jesus did not start discipling others immediately, he studied from time of child and started with disciples at 30 years old. His disciples spent three years under His instruction and care before going out to disciple others on their own. They maintained a support structure often going out in pairs and coming back to consult with one another.

Most of us need to identify resources and techniques for studying scripture, and possibly find a teacher or disciple who is further on the journey than we are to help lead the way and answer questions. We must learn to feed ourselves with God’s help, still listening to the wise, but testing all they teach against scripture.

When you are ready, start seeking those you can invest time and relationship in to come together to study God’s word with commitment and devotion. Seek your disciples, without giving up or forsaking your relationship with your teacher or with God. Keep feeding yourself and continue on the journey to know, love, and serve God or you will not be effective in leading others. Even if you do not feel comfortable guiding a Bible study on your own, set up a  Bible study anyway. You can use material from our ministry or from other teachers who have already prepared and shared the message of God’s word. Just remember to test everything against the whole of scripture using your own discernment and prayer…  as even good teachers have some doctrine incorrect… and some of it quite significant.

After a time, do not rush it, and staying connected to the disciples you study with… each of you perhaps in pairs can also set up separate small groups to disciple others. Invest in more than just Bible study, but in life activities and support one another. Do not tolerate among your disciples those who would tempt you to sloth or to disregard and rebel against God’s word by rationalizing sin or worldly culture as acceptable. Do not tolerate among your close disciples those that refuse to submit to God and repent of their sin, clinging to their sin nature and refusing to change behaviors to honor God. Follow Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-17.

15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Listen, also, to your fellow disciples when they point out to you your sin… for the wise listen to good advice with thanksgiving and become wiser. A fool despises correction.

Stay focused. Consider writing down a plan for your personal discipleship both as a learner and as a teacher. Review periodically, perhaps a few times a year, to evaluate your progress and commitment to this mission. Pray for God’s help frequently… “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Please reach out to us with questions through our Contact Us  page. Our intent is to teach you and support you in becoming a disciple, not just to give you a word from the scriptures daily… though that is a great start.

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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 Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations

This is an important core teaching, so please take some extra time to read through it as it is a bit longer than perhaps an average post. It is worth it. Pray for the LORD to speak to you and guide you as you reflect on the message.

God came down to live among us in the person of Yeshua (Hebrew name of Jesus). Both fully man and fully God, He demonstrated a perfect sinless life of devotion and submission to God. He set a fantastic example for us to learn from and replicate. Then He fulfilled the purpose for which He came through His suffering, death, and resurrection… providing a path for those of us who accept Him as Lord to be reconciled with God regarding the punishment of our sins.

After His resurrection, Jesus gave a clear command to His disciples regarding what He wanted them to do. We  should study this command and obey it as well. It not only applies to the disciples, but to all who truly submit to Jesus Christ and therefore commit to do His work and obey His will and honor His kingdom. The command may not be easy to follow, but neither was dying on the cross easy. Jesus’ command should be very important to each of us that declare Him “Lord”.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Those of us who serve Christ have our marching orders, a mission if you will. Jesus did not say… “Live comfortably and according to your own desires. When you feel like it and when it is convenient and easy, please consider telling others about me.” Not at all. Quite the opposite. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all the world! Do not think that this was easy for the disciples either, but rather it was a challenging task. Let’s examine the command a little more closely as we begin.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

This statement clearly confirms to us that Jesus has the full authority to speak for God. Jesus’ tone is different now from earlier in His earthly ministry when He consistently said He could do only His Father’s will. He absolutely has authority over us and to refuse to obey His command is to rebel. You either obey or rebel. There is no “comfortable” middle ground where we sort of obey, but not fully.

But what is He asking us to do when He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”

“Go”

“Go” certainly seems clear. It is an action very different from “wait”. We should take action to fulfill the request, not wait for people to come to us and ask about Jesus.

“therefore”

“Therefore” refers to the sentence preceding… because Jesus has all authority, He has authority over us and He is commanding us to perform this mission. We either obey or rebel. There is no comfortable and convenient middle ground.

“…and make disciples…”

To make “disciples” is to make “learners”, people who can learn about God and then, once ready, teach others. We are not commanded to make “converts”, who accept Jesus, but then require constant care and feeding (spiritually) from a pastor or other members of the body of Christ. We are to first lead them to conversion and then prepare the new Christians to be able to “feed” themselves (spiritually), growing in their relationship with the Lord for the rest of their lives. This obviously implies that we, too, must learn first how to feed ourselves and become mature Christians, seeking and submitting to God and obeying His word while constantly learning to know Him more intimately.

“…of all the nations…”

Of whom are we to make disciples? Just those like us? Just those nearby or just those far away? No. We are to make disciples of “all the nations”. To accomplish this we will clearly have to work together as the body of Christ, united in one mission… one purpose… each using the gifts and abilities God has given us to fulfill this great commission. Everyone must participate; no one can sit on the sidelines just watching and letting others complete the mission. Notice He does not command us to make disciples of all the people… as many will reject Him and we can not force someone to accept Jesus. But we are to bring the message around the world so all can hear the good news of the gospel.

“…baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”

Baptism is important because it represents a public proclamation of submission to God. Jesus commands us to publicly acknowledge Him before others. There is no such thing as a private or secret faith. Such faith is not faith at all.  Many ask if the name of God matters… YES, the name matters. God revealed through Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is very different than other false gods and false representations of God. God revealed through Father, Son, ands Holy Spirit is, by definition, different than even the incorrect Jewish belief that worships the God of the Old Testament (which is correct), but rejects Jesus as God (incorrect). All religions are not equal. Only one is correct. Those who accept Jesus will have eternal life with God, those who follow other gods will be separated from God for eternity in hell… as a result of their own choice to reject Him. If this is a hard teaching and you want to reject it, your argument is not with me, but with God, Himself.

“…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”

How can we teach others if we do not first learn ourselves? We must study and seek God consistently and for a lifetime. Do not read the Bible in a year, read it for a lifetime. Focus on understanding and applying rather than just reading a target number of pages in an arbitrary timeline such as a year. Reading scripture was not helpful to the Pharisees and religious leaders as they were not truly applying it correctly. They read it, but did not fully understand and apply it correctly. Truly there was more rejoicing in heaven for the sinners who repented and sought forgiveness in Jesus, despite not knowing the scriptures well, than for all the “learned” and “well read” scholars that refused to submit to God.  That said, when we submit to Jesus, we must take on the serious work of reading scripture and understanding it and applying it in our lives.

Note also that Jesus commands us to obey and teach others to obey “all that I commanded you”. All means all. Those truly submitted to Christ do not get to pick and choose which of His teachings they want to follow and which they reject because they do not like them or understand them or because they are unpopular. Righteousness is unpopular. So is holiness. So was Jesus Christ. Seek to please God rather than men. Obey and teach all that Jesus commanded.

Just for clarity, this includes observing the laws given by God through Moses in the Torah, or first 5 books of the Bible, to the extent they have not been fulfilled by Yeshua. (We should be careful in studying what has been fulfilled and what has not. Yeshua clearly states he did not come to abolish the law.)

Matthew 5:17-19

 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.

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ did not change right and wrong so as to lead us away from following God’s law or “set us free” from God’s law. Rather Jesus constantly lived the example of honoring God’s law including things like honoring Sabbath and celebrating Passover, which have been incorrectly tossed aside by mainstream Christianity today. For more on this subject, read our teaching on Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today?

“… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

It is amazing and at times overwhelming how much significance is contained inside this command from Jesus, commonly called the Great Commission. To obey such a command may seem a daunting or intimidating task. So, too, it must have seemed to the disciples when Jesus first commanded them. That is why Jesus finishes by assuring them that He will be with them throughout this mission and beyond.

We now have the benefit of seeing the successes and failures of God’s people in living out the Great Commission 2000 years later.  While individuals and groups of people often fail, God has none the less used many courageous servants to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ across the world. (For more on the gospel Of Jesus Christ, read our teaching The Message Of The Cross – Salvation.)

But there is much more work to be done. The mission is not complete. Now it is our turn!

How do we begin such a task? Study and follow the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can study how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship to share God’s word. We explore this in more detail in our teaching, The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan.

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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.

Lawlessness Continued In Israel

We have been reading in Judges 17-19 about some historical records that reveal the lawlessness that took place in Israel after the death of Samson. Chapters 17-19 specify explicitly that in those days there was no king in Israel. We see people have degraded to “might makes right” mindset to do whatever they please that they can get away with. We should not pretend that the same thing would not happen even today if there was no government or clear leadership to constrain evil people.

In Judges 19 specifically, a Levite took on a concubine, she played harlot, her father made difficult their return home, and they end up in amongst a very wicked people within Benjamin. They rape (to the point of death) the concubine. It is an appalling series of events to witness.  In Judges 20 it continues with men of Israel gathering to carry out justice against the wickedness, but the tribe of Benjamin turns it into a civil war by refusing to acknowledge the wickedness.

This situation is a stark warning and remind to us of what happens when we allow a society to evolve toward anarchy and lawlessness.

Judges 20

Resolve to Punish the Guilty

      1Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah. 2The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword. 3(Now the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?” 4So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 5“But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. 6“And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel. 7“Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.”

      8Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. 9“But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. 10“And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 to supply food for the people, that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.” 11Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.

      12Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13“Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel.” But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. 14The sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. 16Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

      17Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.

Civil War, Benjamin Defeated

      18Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.”

      19So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. 21Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. 22But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23The sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Go up against him.”

      24Then the sons of Israel came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day and felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

      29So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30The sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah as at other times. 31The sons of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike and kill some of the people as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32The sons of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. 34When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became fierce; but Benjamin did not know that disaster was close to them. 35And the LORD struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all who draw the sword.

      36So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. When the men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah, 37the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush also deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. 39Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, “Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. 41Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that disaster was close to them. 42Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the east. 44Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. 45The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them at Gidom and killed 2,000 of them. 46So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who draw the sword; all these were valiant warriors. 47But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.

We do see at least the men of Israel turning toward the LORD for help and guidance. They pray and fast. They are seeking justice against those who practice wickedness. Interesting enough, I am not clear why the LORD allowed them to be defeated at first, but they kept turning toward him and he gave them victory in the end. Perhaps we can take it as a reminder that just because we face temporary defeat, does not mean we are not following YHWH’s path or that living righteously and seeking justice is not easy.

Let us remember historical accounts like this one when we find ourselves complaining about the law of YHWH. His instructions and guidance is there to provide a framework of righteous living. The rules help protect us. Let us take great care when claiming and pursuing “freedom” to do whatever seems right in our own eyes. This will never end well in the long run due to the inherent sinful nature of man. Seek after YHWH’s ways rather than our own.

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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.

Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets

A few years ago, my family and I began to study about and observe the appointed times of YHWH as laid out in Leviticus 23Growing up a Christian in the United States, I certainly never was taught about the Biblical festivals which YHWH calls His people to celebrate. Most Christians really skip over much of the instruction that our Father has provided in the Old Testament as if it was now irrelevant. It is not! It certainly felt odd or a bit uncomfortable at first as we started to study and learn YHWH’s traditions, which were new to us, but it can be a joyful step in moving closer to YHWH. There is great symbolism and purpose to each of our Father’s festivals. They help us remain focused on Him and His word and bring so much more honor and glory to YHWH and our relationship with Him than the typical holidays we see celebrated today, which are all too often merged with pagan celebrations and rituals from the past.

Yom Teruah, literally “day shouting/blasting”, is the first of YHWH’s holy days (specified by Leviticus 23:23–32) which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. It is coming up soon. It has also come to be called more recently Rosh Hashanah and is celebrated as the start of the new year in YHWH’s calendar (often referred to as the “Jewish calendar”).

Leviticus 23 actually does not document a lot of information about Yom Teruah, and it is worthwhile studying elsewhere in scripture. Today you can find a lot of information about it by simply searching online for Yom Teruah. My suggestion is however, to always test what people say about the celebration and traditions against what the scripture actually says. Often people add to YHWH’s instruction or change the emphasis and create their own traditions which they treat as if they were commands from our Father.

Yom Teruah is characterized by a holy day, a Sabbath, which constitutes a day of rest. The trumpets remind us to prepare for the day of Atonement which will follow. As followers of Christ, we are reminded that the trumpets will blast again when Christ returns. We should now prepare ourselves by asking God to convict us of our sin and help us to repent. Let us turn away from the way of the world and to the ways of God. You can have quite an interesting study as well generally about the use and significance of the shofar (ram’s horn) throughout scripture which is what the term “trumpet” means in this context.

I encourage you to do some personal study on this celebration. I include a few links below. However, be sure to validate everything you read against the truth of scripture. Remember, these are YHWH’s holy days not “Jewish” holidays.

TheMoedim.com

119Ministries.com

SetApartPeople.com

Hebrew4Christians.com

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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.

Being Real and Open In Our Relationship With The Father

The prayers of David in Psalms are truly worth dwelling on and praying in application to our lives today. He was indeed a man after God’s own heart and we can learn from his relationship with YHWH. He had a genuine and open dialog with YHWH, which is perfect since YHWH knows everything already, including how we feel.  Let us not feel like we have to “fool” YHWH by putting on pretenses, but rather be real with him about what is going on in our lives. Ask him for help. Praise him. Thank him.

Psalm 141

An Evening Prayer for Sanctification and Protection.

A Psalm of David.

     1O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to You!

      2May my prayer be counted as incense before You;
The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.

      3Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.

      4Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice deeds of wickedness
With men who do iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

      5Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it,
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.

      6Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock,
And they hear my words, for they are pleasant.

      7As when one plows and breaks open the earth,
Our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

      8For my eyes are toward You, O GOD, the Lord;
In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless.

      9Keep me from the jaws of the trap which they have set for me,
And from the snares of those who do iniquity.

      10Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
While I pass by safely.

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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 Became Our High Priest, and We Need Proper Guidance

Yeshua has become our high priest. He has offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He became man, and as such he understands temptation and what we experience. He was chosen by the Father. He has acted as mediator on our behalf with YHWH.

Hebrews 5

The Perfect High Priest

      1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

      5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,
“YOU ARE MY SON,
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

      11Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

I suppose it is worth considering also that the end of this chapter highlights a different important reality. Neither in Paul’s day, nor today, are churches perfect in their teaching and walking out the instructions of Yeshua. Quite the contrary. Many of Paul’s letters and again in Revelation letters to seven churches all provide encouragement and also reprimand to them. We are all flawed and need the encouragement and rebuke of the word of YHWH in the Bible to ensure we walk in righteousness and not confusion… according to the ways of YHWH instead of the ways of man. I encourage each of you to test everything against the written word in the Bible, even my teaching of course. We must each study for ourselves and then test the teaching we receive from others.

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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.

Obey the LORD, Even When We Are Afraid

Reading earlier in Judges 6, we see a messenger of the LORD visit Gideon and tell him YHWH will defeat Midian through him. Gideon is a bit surprised, to be sure. Now starting in verse 25, we see the LORD gives him a more modest mission to get started. Perhaps this was to build Gideon’s confidence or to test his faith before he was to confront Midian. He was clearly afraid, even though the LORD was speaking to him clearly. We should take a moment to acknowledge that. When YHWH tells us to do something, it does not mean we will not be potentially nervous or anxious about it in part. We choose to overcome that because we trust the LORD and perhaps as our relationship with the LORD continues to grow, we have less and less anxiety or fear over what he asks us to do as we know he will do it through us in his power. It is not dependent solely on us.

Despite being afraid, Gideon carries out the mission in obedience.

Judges 6:25-35

      25Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; 26and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” 27Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night.

The Altar of Baal Destroyed

     28When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was torn down, and the Asherah which was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar which had been built. 29They said to one another, “Who did this thing?” And when they searched about and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash did this thing.” 30Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it.” 31But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” 32Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had torn down his altar.

Personally, I am amused by Joash’s response to defend his son. But we can take note that even when (or perhaps especially when) we obey YHWH, people will come against us. They like to live in their sin and do not like to be challenged about it.  We must put our trust, our faith, in YHWH and obey him anyway.

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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.

Test Christian “Norms” Against the Biblical Text

Much of what is taught in churches today has drifted far from the early church and the followers of Christ… from those like Paul and the written record we have in the Bible. I think in many cases, it is hard for us to accept it because so many of us just accept what we are told by others around us, by our parents, by people at the local church. How often do we really test it against what is actually written in the Bible?

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

      1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Reflect prayerfully on the following, some of which may seem contradictory to what many Christians teach or how they act.

  • We are not to hang out with others who lead an unruly life, even if they claim to be Christian and come to the same church we do.
  • Work hard to support yourself and your family. Seek not to be a burden on anyone. Do not take or demand handouts on a recurring basis if you don’t need them, even if you could justifiably ask for them.
  • Do not continually support and feed those who refuse to work for themselves. This does not mean those who can not work, but those who choose not to work. Let them eat their own bread. While this may seem offensive to some, think about it. If we screen out the lazy who could support themselves, we will have more to help those who really need it and can not help themselves. Charity is not intended to support sloth.
  •  Shame has a place. It is useful and appropriate at times for someone to be or feel shamed when they are doing something wrong. Our world tries to teach that no one should be “shamed”. This is false. Shame can help lead to repentance. We are to separate ourselves from those who claim to be Christian but live as the pagans do. They are not enemies, but they are to be admonished. This includes pastors and churches teaching false doctrine which is not consistent with the Bible.

These are not my opinions… these are the words of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit and included in the Bible for our reference from YHWH Himself.  They are intended both to protect us from drifting away from Him and also to help encourage others to avoid drifting away from Him to be more like the culture around them. These instructions lead to helping the body of Christ shine as a light to others, different from the world around them and lead to glorifying God. We never glorify God by simply adopting the ways of the pagan culture around us and blending in.

As we close, spend time praying and reflecting on the following:

  • Pray that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
  • The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one if you seek Him and submit to Him.

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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 Is Higher Than The Angels

Hebrews 1 makes a strong statement about the importance of Yeshua as higher than the angels. If we would look to angels to bring us word from YHWH and we would obey, how much more so should we be carefully observing what Yeshua taught and how he lived as our example. Our lives, as faithful followers of Yeshua, should look a lot like his in how we act and treat people, how we obey, teach, and rebuke based on YHWH’s instructions, and yes in how we face persecution for our faith. We should test everything that others wrote about Yeshua and how he wants us to live against the model and example of how he actually demonstrated it. This includes testing Paul’s letter for proper interpretation. What we think we learn from Paul’s letters should not create a new and radically different way of living than Messiah did, but should build upon the law, the prophets, and the life of Messiah.

Hebrews 2:1-4

Give Heed

      1For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

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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.