Category Archives: Guide

The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

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.

—-

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.

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Judah

There are passages in scripture where a common first reaction is to wonder what the value could possibly be in reading them and how they could possibly apply today. We should heed Paul’s guidance in 2 Timothy 3:16 and recall that he is specifically calling out the Torah, or Old Testament. The gospels most likely had not been written yet and 2 Timothy in the preceding verses refers to the scriptures that Timothy has known since he was a child.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

With that in mind, we will come to a section of Joshua in which the territory given to each tribe is laid out in detail. Joshua 15 starts with Judah. What can this possibly mean for us today? There are likely several levels, only a few of which I will touch on here. There seem to always be multiple layers or levels to the significance of scripture. The more time you spend studying it, the more treasure and significance you find.

Two things that strike me very powerfully in these following chapters of Joshua are the following:

  • There many are parts of the scriptures that are clearly written in the style of an historical record. This means that they include detailed records of events. This should encourage us that the Bible is true and accurate! Someone making up these stories would not take the time to add such fine detail.
  • Also, we should see that our Father is faithful. He promised the land to the Israelites a long time before and now we should see this as the fulfillment of his promise. This should also encourage us. Though his timing is different than ours, we can always count on our Father being loyal and faithful to his word.
  • Our Father cares about the details in the lives of his people. He was very involved in dividing up the land in very specific way in which he deemed fair and appropriate. He did not simply say … here is the land, go figure out how to divide it yourselves.  So also he cares about our lives today. Once again, this should be encouraging to those who seek to please him and dwell with him.

Joshua 15

Territory of Judah

     1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

      13Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

      20This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families.

      21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah, 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan, 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth, 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam and Shema and Moladah, 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet, 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah, 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem, 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah, 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah, 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

      33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

      37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad, 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel, 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon, 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish, 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

      42Libnah and Ether and Ashan, 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib, 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

      45Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

      47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

      48In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 49and Dannah and Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim, 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

      52Arab and Dumah and Eshan, 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah, 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

      55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

      58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor, 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

      60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

      61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah, 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

      63Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

—-

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.

Guidance Within The Church Regarding Widows

1 Timothy 5 is a very interesting passage. Paul lays out some specific instructions to help guide Timothy in his ministry leading a church body. He makes some distinctions that we do not often make in our society today. We do well to truly reflect on this passage and let it guide our behavior and focus as a church.

One interesting distinction is that he does not refer to all widows as one group with the same guidance for all. He separates it based on age, based on behavior and attitude. He suggests the church body should be focused on helping those who truly don’t have family to care for them. He also rather firmly asserts ” 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:1-16

     1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

      3Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      9A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

I think the guidance is good that is given in regards to treating elders as if father or mother when giving a rebuke, younger folks like brother and sister. This perhaps helps us limit the condemnation in our rebuke and focus our help as offered in love. The rebuke is still applied, but in a more gentle and loving way.

It is a good reminder that even the pagans take care of their own household. We are failing in our faith if we don’t take care of ours. We should not rely on the church body to care for our own household. In this way the church body can focus on those who are truly alone and without support.

—-

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.

Discipine Yourself for the Purpose of Godliness

None of us who follow Christ should allow ourselves to be content to simply get by and do the minimum “required”, but rather seek to transform our lives and be examples to others in godliness. That means we will be different from those around us. We will not blend in. We must be able to demonstrate that our walk ties back to God’s word and God’s Spirit. We will need his help to be sure, but we must also dedicate ourselves to pursuing godliness and being holy and set apart from much of what is around us in society and culture and even in the church where they have mixed or blended with the teachings of the world.

1 Timothy 4:6-16

A Good Minister’s Discipline

     6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

      11Prescribe and teach these things. 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

—-

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

The Lord Wants To Be Engaged In The Affairs Of His Children

YHWH started the journey of the Israelites under Moses and continued under Joshua. He was involved and engaged. He was not some “far away God” who is busy with other things. He was then and is now still present amongst his people and interested in their lives. He gives direction and he delivers results. To experience his plan, however, we must take action in obedience to what he tells us. This model is reflected clearly in the taking of the promised land by the Israelites. YHWH was involved in even which part of the land goes to which tribe.

The Lord wanted to be involved in the lives of his people, even in details and governance. He is not to be separated to only part of our lives. We are not to hold him out of parts of our lives so we can maintain control. We are to yield all areas of our lives in submission to him and do so willingly and without complaint. We are to realize that when we do this, we will more fully experience what he has for us, which is better than what we plan for ourselves.

Joshua 13

Canaan Divided among the Tribes

     1Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed. 2“This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and all those of the Geshurites; 3from the Shihor which is east of Egypt, even as far as the border of Ekron to the north (it is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines: the Gazite, the Ashdodite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite, the Ekronite; and the Avvite 4to the south, all the land of the Canaanite, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorite; 5and the land of the Gebalite, and all of Lebanon, toward the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 6“All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon as far as Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians, I will drive them out from before the sons of Israel; only allot it to Israel for an inheritance as I have commanded you. 7“Now therefore, apportion this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”

      8With the other half-tribe, the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance which Moses gave them beyond the Jordan to the east, just as Moses the servant of the LORD gave to them; 9from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley, and all the plain of Medeba, as far as Dibon; 10and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the border of the sons of Ammon; 11and Gilead, and the territory of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan as far as Salecah; 12all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); for Moses struck them and dispossessed them. 13But the sons of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurites or the Maacathites; for Geshur and Maacath live among Israel until this day. 14Only to the tribe of Levi he did not give an inheritance; the offerings by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as He spoke to him.

      15So Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the sons of Reuben according to their families. 16Their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley and all the plain by Medeba; 17Heshbon, and all its cities which are on the plain: Dibon and Bamoth-baal and Beth-baal-meon, 18and Jahaz and Kedemoth and Mephaath, 19and Kiriathaim and Sibmah and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20and Beth-peor and the slopes of Pisgah and Beth-jeshimoth, 21even all the cities of the plain and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses struck with the chiefs of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain. 23The border of the sons of Reuben was the Jordan. This was the inheritance of the sons of Reuben according to their families, the cities and their villages.

      24Moses also gave an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the sons of Gad, according to their families. 25Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the sons of Ammon, as far as Aroer which is before Rabbah; 26and from Heshbon as far as Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim as far as the border of Debir; 27and in the valley, Beth-haram and Beth-nimrah and Succoth and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as a border, as far as the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan to the east. 28This is the inheritance of the sons of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages.

      29Moses also gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh; and it was for the half-tribe of the sons of Manasseh according to their families. 30Their territory was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities; 31also half of Gilead, with Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were for the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh, for half of the sons of Machir according to their families.

      32These are the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho to the east. 33But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.

I think sometimes we miss the fact that he wants to be engaged in our lives in even a detailed level. Sometimes we miss it because we are the ones not truly submitting to him in all things or spending enough time in prayer and study to grow closer to him and to closely hear him. The more we seek him the more he will reveal himself to us.

Matthew 7:7-11

      7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

—-

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.

But We Know That The Law Is Good

The letters of Paul are often used out of context to make the case that the law and instruction of the LORD has been completely abolished or fulfilled. We must remember also that each of the letters of Paul is addressed to a specific community or group of people and he is addressing very specific issues they are experiencing. These letters were not written with the audience in mind of Christians 2000 years later. They were written to Jews and Gentiles contemporary to Paul’s life and writing, and not to all of them, but rather specific letters to specific audiences.

Paul writes his letters to Timothy, after the death and resurrection of Christ.  We see, however, that Paul himself tells Timothy that the law is good, if applied properly. He does not rebuke people for teaching the law, but rather those who are teaching it incorrectly. He calls them out for getting lost in fruitless discussions about genealogies and such or teaching strange doctrines. Strange doctrines would refer to new and different understandings of the law, not to the understanding of the law traditionally held prior to Christ’s death. Else he would likely use different words to indicate that it was “outdated” or “fulfilled” rather than “strange”.

Paul asserts the law is still good and relevant. It confirms for us what is right and wrong. It convicts us of improper behavior and attitudes. It confirms the leading of the Holy Spirit, as YHWH will not contradict himself.

1 Timothy 1:1-11

Misleadings in Doctrine and Living

     1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,

      2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

      3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

      8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Take time to reflect on the core message here and how it contradicts what is taught in many churches today. Paul asserts the law is good, it is not a burden to be set free from. If we are to use the law properly, than we must study and understand it and the context in which it was given and used as a guide for God’s people. We can not simply dismiss it or ignore it. We should not assume that everyone who accepts the name of Christ if fully transformed and led by the Spirit so completely as to no longer need the law as a guide. We need only look around us to see that is not the case. I think the point he makes here is that one who is led by the Spirit will walk consistent with the teaching of the law and thus the law is not necessary for them.However, the law can still confirm for us that we are walking the right way and listening truly to the Spirit instead of our own sin nature or the adversary. If I already know by heart how to do a task, then I may no longer need the instructions. The instructions are still valid and have not changed just because I may not need to refer to them.

I encourage each of you to pray on this matter and challenge yourself to study more in the area of the law and our Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. There are great resources available online through ministries that are focused on understanding the Hebrew roots of our faith in Christ Jesus. I have included several on our page, Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots. I have listed a few additional resources to help you Study Hebrew Roots of Christianity.

—-

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

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.

—-

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.

Fond Memories of Holiday Traditions

I have many fond memories of holiday traditions growing up. As a child my family participated in many common traditions such as hunting for Easter eggs. My family has celebrated this way for generations. It is quite difficult even to consider changing these ingrained generational traditions.

Is that reason enough for me to continue these traditions? What does God have to say about common holiday traditions? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us never even think about it. We just continue with what is “normal” and “traditional” based on how we have been raised on based on culture around us.

The truth is that if we have really decided to model our lives after Jesus, then we should take time to explore and study what He celebrated and also the origins of what we may be celebrating. Don’t assume traditions are pleasing to God just because “everyone else is doing it” or even because “everyone else at the church is doing it”. Test everything against the truth of God’s word. Challenge yourself to truly seek to honor Him without bias toward rationalizing and accepting certain traditions because they are associated with fond memories or because it would upset your family to change. After all,  what is more important… pleasing people or pleasing God?

Easter is coming in a few weeks. I encourage each of you to take some time now and really study the origins of the common traditions and celebrations you take part in. Many are based on pagan worship which have been adapted with “new meaning” whereby people basically have accepted copying and participating in what was once a pagan worship rituals, only now they just call it something else. If you put lipstick on a pig… it is still a pig. Studying now can give you time to shift or transition away from some of these traditions without surprising people at the last minute and making it more difficult later, or increasing the pressure on you not to change because it is hard rather than deciding what is right and pleasing to God.

Ask God for help and then challenge yourself to really seek the truth. You can start with any number of sources like online encyclopedias or web search. If there is conflicting information… seek out the truth objectively. Do not just seize upon the rationalization that supports your current practice. Also decide which way you will lean if you are not sure… will you lean toward pleasing God or pleasing man? In other words, like in a trial, if you think there is reasonable doubt as to whether or not your current traditions are pleasing to God, will you continue in them or change? One such study I found helpful was from Psalm 119 Ministries (Sunburned – Part 1, Sunburned – Part 2).

God does not want us to worship Him in the way that the pagans worshipped their gods. Jehovah has provided specific information on how He wishes to be worshipped… we must study the Bible and pray to learn and understand.

Deuteronomy 12:1-8

    1“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. 2“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3“You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5“But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. 6“There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

      8“You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes

Deuteronomy 12:28-32

      28“Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

      29“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

      32“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

We are to be set apart and holy, different from those that do not worship YHWH. We are not to follow after Him and worship Him in the way that others worship their gods. We are not to simply do what everyone else is doing or what our parents did… but rather what our Lord instructs us to do.

—-

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

Trust the Lord. Seek to Glorify Him. Don’t Compare Your Path to Others.

Yeshua continued to speak with Peter and indicated to him a bit about what kind of death he would experience to glorify YHWH. This conversation continued after Yeshua asked Peter three times if he loved Yeshua. Peter answered three times yes. Perhaps this was related to Peter’s three time denial of Christ before his death? Perhaps it was for emphasis to prepare Peter for what difficulties may come in the future as he lives (and dies) for the glory of YHWH.

John 21:18-23

The Love Motivation

     15So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Our Times Are in His Hand

     18“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.19Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

      20Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” 23Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Yeshua also makes a point that each of us should focus on what he wants for us, not compare that to what he may want for someone else. If he chooses one disciple to die for him and one to live for him, who are we to complain? what is that to us? Let us put our full trust in him instead of comparing our situation always to that of another, as if all of us should receive the same treatment in the same way.

Let each of us be content with what he has for us. Trust the Lord. Love the Lord. Seek to glorify him. Do not compare your path to that of others.

—-

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.

If You Love Me, Tend My Sheep

Yeshua engages Peter in a very pointed discussion. He repeats it multiple times. It would seem he was really trying to make a point. We should pay attention to it as well. Though this was specifically aimed at Peter, and not even all the disciples there at the time, any time Yeshua correlates “if you love me” to any action, we may want to pay attention as it may have applicability to us as well.

John 21:15-17

The Love Motivation

     15So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Let us seek to help one another in our journey with Yeshua. We should recognize that the primary meaning of this series of questions to Peter is actually about spiritual care and guidance, not physical, but sometimes the physical is essential as well.

—-

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.