Category Archives: His Ways Are Not Our Ways

Shall We Chose His Ways or Our Own?

Our strength and protection come from the LORD. He will be with the righteous, those who pursue his ways rather than their own. Those who turn aside to their own ways will face consequences.

This is a simple message, repeated throughout the Biblical texts. The LORD will not treat the righteous and the wicked the same way. He will respond and treat us differently based on our response and attitude toward him. Will we pursue righteousness, which is doing things his way, or will we pursue our own ways?

This is an important question we should ask ourselves often. We should ask the Spirit to help us with this. His ways may be strange to us as our culture, even within the church, has separated in many ways from doing things his way and continues to evolve or change things to suit the culture of people today. To seek his ways is to be on a much less traveled path. Even Christians will challenge you as most have become deeply accustomed to certain ways or traditions of man accepted in the church over time.

We see examples in which Sabbath has been given up and no longer has practical meaning to most. Now with regards to homosexuality and transgender, rather than helping these people as our LORD would want us to do, we see more churches accepting and celebrating them to remain in sin and confusion. The same is true with many (almost all) traditional holidays that church going Christians still partake of. Their are many pagan roots based on worship of false gods, but we have relabeled them and declare that they mean something else to us now. However, we must remember that it is not what it means to us that matters. It is what it means to YHWH that matters. We need to seek to understand what it means to him, rather than hold on to something based on what it means to us.

Psalm 125

The LORD Surrounds His People.

A Song of Ascents.

1Those who trust in the LORD
Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.

2As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

3For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous,
So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong.

4Do good, O LORD, to those who are good
And to those who are upright in their hearts.

5But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways,
The LORD will lead them away with the doers of iniquity.
Peace be upon Israel.

Pray that YHWH would open your eyes to any areas in which you are turning aside from his ways to your own crooked ways. Truly reflect on it and be willing to change. Seek to define your life to match what is written in the Bible and lived out by Yeshua rather than defining yourself by simply what you grew up considering to be “normal” or “Christian”. This is hard. It takes YHWH’s help. It takes a truly submissive heart that is willing to surrender some things that you like and want so that you can instead pursue what he likes and wants. You will have to walk away from some things that you have accepted as good your whole life and try out some new things which seem strange at first.

It is not a journey for the faint of heart and most are not willing to really make the transition. Pray for his help and give yourself time to change. You will not get everything right but go in with a desire to please him and submit fully and a willingness to change and a willingness to be humble and learn and get better at it.  Do so humbly and joyfully and without bitterness or complaint.

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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 The Passover Lamb

As the final days of his earthly ministry were passing, Yeshua led His disciples to prepare to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Think about that for a few moments. Yeshua, God himself living among us, chose to spend some of the closing moments of His brief earthly ministry in preparation of Passover. It was clearly important to him and for good reason.

The timing is not coincidental that Yeshua would be sacrificed for our sins at Passover time. It was intended that way by our Creator. Passover not only reminds us of deliverance from bondage in Egypt but also foreshadows our deliverance from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua was sacrificed as our Passover lamb… dying for our sins so we can be set free from sin and death.

Mark 14:12-21

The Last Passover

      12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15“And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

      17When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21“For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

These celebrations are not “Jewish” tradition.  They are not just somehow a meaningless or obsolete instruction from our Creator either. Now we who believe in Yeshua as Messiah have more reason to celebrate it than ever before! Passover and Unleavened Bread are part of God’s tradition for celebrating and remembering our deliverance from sin through Christ! It is a wonderful way to teach our children about the Creator’s relationship with His people.

Exodus 13:6-10

6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

We should enjoy taking part in our Father’s appointed times rather than creating our own based on the traditions of men. It is not just that He tells us to… that got me started to look into it. Now I see how powerfully these celebrations tie into the core element of my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and what a wonderful way it is to teach my children. As I reflected personally in this regard, it occurred to me. God has some pretty good ideas. (That is quite an understatement!)

I invite you to take some small steps even today to learn more about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how it is not only a celebration of YHWH* freeing His people out of slavery in Egypt, but also a celebration of our being freed from bondage to sin through the death and resurrection of Yeshua!

*Note: YHWH is the four letter name of God in the Bible derived from the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew did not record vowel sounds, we no longer know how to pronounce it for sure. It is often pronounced Yehovah or Yahweh today. Interesting history if you want to study it.

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

Do Not Pass Over Passover

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

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

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

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

Exodus 12:42-51

Ordinance of the Passover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 10:32-39

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ, We Have Another Reason To Celebrate Passover

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

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

Exodus 13:1-16

Consecration of the Firstborn

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

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

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

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

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

and again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

Are God’s Ways Really That Odd?

Growing up in a society that has truly rejected much of God’s word, it is not surprising that much of what God instructed us to do would seem odd to me when I first read or studied it. I am accustomed to hearing people dismiss as “odd” the customs and guidelines that God set aside in instructing His people for what holidays to celebrate and how. Today’s brief scripture in Exodus is not the best place to get the details about what God tells His people to do in regards to holidays, or more accurately “holy days”. However, it is one of several places in His word that instruct us in His desires for how we should celebrate and why. (For those who are unfamiliar, the Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover.)

Exodus 23:14-19

Three National Feasts

      14“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16“Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

      18“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.

      19“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.
“You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.

Are God’s instructions really that odd? Let us compare them to our common cultural holidays and see if they are really that unusual.

Worldwide people celebrate Christmas with a tremendous focus on pagan symbols and traditions. Mistletoe is supposed to make us kiss someone, anyone, if we stand beneath it? Parents lie to their children about Santa Clause and flying reindeer… even going to the extreme to deceive them by leaving out carrots, milk or cookies at night and eating some of them? At Easter we are supposed to paint eggs and hide them? We are supposed to dress up as monsters at Halloween and go door to door threatening people that we will play tricks on them if they do not give us free candy. All of these are just simple examples of pagan traditions that simply are not questioned when it comes to celebrating holidays. But seemingly God’s instructions to celebrate holy days strike people as odd and outdated. As a matter of fact, some of you are probably angry just reading this article where I question these common and accepted traditions.

I challenge any who claim to follow Christ to truly spend time in prayer and personal reflection considering which of these types of celebrations are truly odd and which are actually holy and set apart for God’s purposes.  Just because we are used to it, or our parents and grandparents and neighbors do it does not mean it honors God.  Let us look to God’s instruction for what we should and should not do rather than looking to people. Just because we “have always done it” a certain way does not make us right.

Once we awaken to the benefit of celebrating YHWH’s holy days, we can start to have a good discussion about how to do so.  We will not be able to do animal sacrifices, nor will we need to try. Even for those who do not believe that Christ fulfilled this part of the law, we can not do the sacrifices YHWH’s way without the temple and the Levitical priesthood. But there are fun and meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate YHWH’s holy days that can draw us nearer to him and each other.

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

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? 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.

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.

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

Learn About YHWH’s Appointed Times

As we enter Spring, and the season leading to Passover approaches, I invite each of you to take some time and study the Lord’s appointed times. I have found that studying and participating in these has been very fulfilling and helped to draw me nearer to the Lord and more focused on him. I hope it blesses you as well.

“The Lord’s appointed times are festivals and holy days that commemorate significant times and events in Israel’s history. I had the unique privilege of attending Beth Hallel, a Messianic Jewish congregation, from 1988 through 1994. During these six years I joined with my Messianic Jewish friends in celebrating these holidays. They were a rich experience. In the fall of 1992, I was teaching through the Book of Revelation. As I heard the shofars blowing in the synagogue, I began thinking of the seven trumpet judgments. I asked myself what the association might be between these shofars and the trumpets in Revelation. This paper, in part, is what I discovered.
How do you learn best? Do you prefer to hear a lecture or read a book? Do you get more out of a documentary movie or studying the printed page? Can you learn about something abstractly, or do you need hands-on experience? As with many other things, the Lord has given each of us different learning styles. Therefore, it should not surprise us that the Lord communicates His truth in diverse ways. This is, at its core, what Leviticus 23 and related scriptures have to tell us. We not only have His written word, but we have commemorative holy days to transmit truth to the young and the old, the literate and the illiterate alike. The holy days tell and show the great truths of God’s salvation, His love, and His plans. They contain things to hear, see, taste, build, and do, and they appeal to everybody. They are “holy days,” but that really means that they are holidays.
The celebrations are fun, mostly, but they also teach us about eternal things. From a New Testament perspective, these holidays take on a meaning much richer than the Old Testament saints could have dreamed of. As Paul wrote to the Colossian church:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).
These holidays look back, in time, to miracles that God performed for the world and for the Israelites. They also look forward, in time, to the work of Jesus Christ. Occurring during the spring and fall harvests, they speak of God’s continuous provisions. Together they promise God’s eternal care for His people.
This paper tells the story of these events on three levels. The first level discusses how the holidays have been celebrated through the centuries. The second level discusses the sensory elements and how they teach the truth in non-verbal ways. The third level discusses how Jesus Christ fulfilled or will fulfill the substance of each celebration. “

This message was preached by Don Curtis.

Learn more about the appointed times at Bible.org Leviticus 23. 

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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.

Be Humble, Inspired, and Thankful… Reflecting on the Life of Yeshua

I am humbled, thankful, and inspired each time I read the historical account of Yeshua as he faced trial and punishment, remembering that he went willingly and fully aware of the suffering he was to endure… and he did so for our sins. What he experienced, we deserve and he did not.

He did not make up excuses or try to convince Pilate to let him go. He did not lie. He calmly endured each step of the process. Surely it must have hurt to hear the people call for release of a robber and call for Yeshua to be crucified.

John 18:28-40

Jesus before Pilate

     28Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

      33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. 39“But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.

I am reminded how wicked our world can be. Pilate crucified Yeshua after finding no guilt in him. The crowd was incited to call for release of a robber rather than Yeshua. I know it had to happen this way and it was YHWH’s plan, but it still reveals the wickedness of the human heart.

Yeshua went willingly as our Passover lamb, sacrificed for us and for our sins. Take a few minutes and give thanks to the Father. Ask for forgiveness.  Let us seek to live according to the example of Yeshua in facing adversity as we live in obedience to YHWH.

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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.

For The Wisdom Of This World Is Foolishness Before YHWH

The account of Joshua’s defeat (truly the Lord’s defeat) of Jericho is truly remarkable. It is one of so many examples where our Father shows us that His ways are not our ways. Why is it then, that so often we find ourselves trying to do things our own way?

What military school teaches about the strategy employed at Jericho? I doubt you find one, but perhaps they should. Putting our faith in YHWH and obeying His instructions is always the right answer for any situation.

Joshua 6

The Conquest of Jericho

     1Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3“You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4“Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5“It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”

      6So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.” 8And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” 11So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

      12Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days.

      15Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. 17“The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18“But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19“But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

      22Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

      26Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” 27So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

I delight in reading this account of YHWH delivering victory His own way. It brings to mind several other verses:

1 Corinthians 3:19

19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

      18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

Let us not limit ourselves to accepting only the ways of YHWH which we clearly understand, but put our faith and trust in Him in all things. Often He leads us to do things that we ourselves would never think to do and through this He brings victory in His own way. In this way, He brings more glory and honor to His name and strengthens the faith of His people.

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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.