Category Archives: His Ways Are Not Our Ways

Worship His Way Rather Than Our Own

The LORD wants us to worship him according to his instruction and his ways. He does not want us to worship him each according to our own ways. He also calls us as a body of Christ to engage with one another to help one another to remain in right relationship with him. We should be discussing proper understanding of how to live for and worship our Creator. We should not just ignore one another’s differences in how we understand God’s word. By challenging one another we can help to ensure we walk correctly and together. We must really challenge our own theology as well as that of others. We do not need to go to war, but we neither should we ignore key differences within the body of Christ in understanding how to worship or live for him. YHWH does not intend for there to be thousands of different sects of Christianity and those apart from a separate Judaism. He intends on one body of believers, together Jews and Gentiles. He intends one way to live according to his instruction. That there are so many different opinions, and each going their own way, gives testimony to how confused we are as his people.

Joshua 22:10-34

The Offensive Altar

     10When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance. 11And the sons of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” 12When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war.

      13Then the sons of Israel sent to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 14and with him ten chiefs, one chief for each father’s household from each of the tribes of Israel; and each one of them was the head of his father’s household among the thousands of Israel. 15They came to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them saying, 16“Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, turning away from following the LORD this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the LORD this day? 17‘Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although a plague came on the congregation of the LORD, 18that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? If you rebel against the LORD today, He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19‘If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’S tabernacle stands, and take possession among us. Only do not rebel against the LORD, or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the LORD our God. 20‘Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’”

      21Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the families of Israel. 22“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not save us this day! 23“If we have built us an altar to turn away from following the LORD, or if to offer a burnt offering or grain offering on it, or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings on it, may the LORD Himself require it. 24“But truly we have done this out of concern, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your sons may say to our sons, “What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25“For the LORD has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no portion in the LORD.” So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the LORD.’

      26“Therefore we said, ‘Let us build an altar, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; 27rather it shall be a witness between us and you and between our generations after us, that we are to perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your sons will not say to our sons in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’ 28“Therefore we said, ‘It shall also come about if they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, then we shall say, “See the copy of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; rather it is a witness between us and you.”’ 29“Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away from following the LORD this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the LORD our God which is before His tabernacle.”

      30So when Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the congregation, even the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them. 31And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is in our midst, because you have not committed this unfaithful act against the LORD; now you have delivered the sons of Israel from the hand of the LORD.”

      32Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33The word pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God; and they did not speak of going up against them in war to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living. 34The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.”

Dedicate yourself to prayer and study to seek out the LORD. Do not simply think that listening to a pastor once a week will guide you properly. We are called to understand scripture and test it ourselves against his word, documented in the Bible.

I have a number of resources listed on HearingFromJesus.org to help you get started. Just recognize that no one source has all the answers laid out. (The Bible does, but we have to properly understand it.) The LORD wants us to seek him and devote time in our lives to worship and know him personally. In this pursuit, he reveals more to us over time in proper understanding.

I think some of the most fertile ground for us as Christians to start improving our understanding of the Bible is to study and learn the Hebrew roots of our Christianity. The New Testament is best understood through a good understanding of the Old Testament.

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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.

Celebrating Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks

Many Christians have heard of Pentecost and remember it as the time to celebrate and remember when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the early church believers after the death and resurrection of Christ. This truly is a holy day worth celebrating. Our Father sent a Helper to dwell among us… to teach us and lead us as His people. The Spirit dwells amongst believers today, though many have been taught to dismiss the Spirit as an active part of experiencing relationship with our Father in our daily lives. We don’t, as a culture, know how to relate to and experience the Spirit in our lives anymore.

Pentecost is a wonderful event that followers of Christ should want to remember given that we are promised the Holy Spirit dwells in all of us. What a great reminder that we have that Helper from our Creator to guide and teach us… to comfort and counsel us. We are not alone in trying to live our lives obedient and pleasing to the Lord as we face hardship in this world.

Acts 2

The Day of Pentecost

      1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

      5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8“And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Peter’s Sermon

      14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

      17‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;

      18EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy.

      19‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.

      20‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.

      21‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

      22“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

25“For David says of Him,
‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE;
FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.

      26‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED;
MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;

      27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES,
NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.

      28‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE;
YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’

      29“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30“And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

34“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

      35UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’
36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The Ingathering

      37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

      43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reading through Acts 2, we are reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit in us. What an inspiring event! Look at how Peter was transformed from the man who denied Christ three times as he followed to see what would become of Him on the way to crucifixion into now a powerful man of God addressing large crowds and bringing many to the Lord.

If we dig a bit deeper, note that the very beginning of this scripture identifies that the day of Pentecost was drawing near, and many had gathered for it… before the Holy Spirit showed up.  This day already had significance. It is often referred to as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot by Jewish people.

Pentecost is simply Greek for “50 days”. It was applied to this day because the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, was a festival to be observed seven weeks from the second day of the Passover. Since seven weeks times seven days per week is 49 days… the day after would be 50.

The Feast of Weeks is the second of three major Jewish festivals with the others being Passover and Feast of Tabernacles. This celebration corresponds to when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were offered to the Lord. Many also traditionally associate it with commemorating the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 34:22-24

22“You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23“Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24“For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:15-21

    15‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD. 18‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. 19‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

Numbers 28:26-31

 26‘Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the LORD in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 27‘You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old; 28and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 29a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30also one male goat to make atonement for you. 31‘Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present them with their drink offerings. They shall be without defect.

I am still personally coming up to speed on some of historical context and rich meaning behind the feasts of the Lord as He instructed in the Old Testament. There is much to be studied and appreciated there. Our Father makes a habit of tying together the Old and New Testament events. Often one is a foreshadowing of another, not one a replacement of the other. For example, Jesus was crucified at Passover. This was not coincidence. As Passover celebrates God’s people being set free from slavery in Egypt by the mighty power of God, so too Jesus death and resurrection on the cross should be celebrated as setting His people free from slavery to sin.

Consider also, then that the Holy Spirit being sent to the believers after the death of Christ on Pentecost. This is not coincidence. God intended the two to be linked. We must then explore the Old Testament to fully understand what God is telling us in the New. Consider that a homework assignment… a challenge for each of you who are hungry to seek the Lord. Put some time aside for additional study of Pentecost and how the Old Testament feast foreshadows the coming of the Holy Spirit to our lives.

As a start, I am beginning with my family to set aside the day of Pentecost as a Sabbath day of rest as God instructed. We will discuss the significance of both the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost. Both are worthy to be remembered and celebrated.

You can study more about the creators calendar using sites like Hebrew4Christians.com or Psalm119Ministries (select Time: Our Creators Calendar to see collection of videos available). You can learn about what the scripture says about these holy days, when they occur, why God told us to celebrate Shavuot, and traditions.

There is some debate amongst different sources as to the date of the Passover and thus Shavuot/Pentecost each year.  Don’t let this discourage you from getting started celebrating and studying God’s holy days.

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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.

God Does Not Change

Today’s message is a simple one, but if we truly meditate on it, we will recognize the powerful implications and it may open us better examine our lives and whether or not we are living according to YHWH’s instruction.

God does not change. He is timeless… eternal. His character and his instruction for us is consistent throughout time.

Malachi 3:6

6“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

James 1:17

17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Hebrews 13:8

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Though few say it so plainly, many Christians act as if the Bible really only starts with Matthew and ends in Revelation. It is not uncommon for even seminaries and churches to act this way. We must take care, however, as that approach assumes that somehow YHWH has changed and it discards two thirds of his instructions to us.

If YHWH does not change, than it serves us well to study and understand how he relates to his people and what instructions he has for his people throughout ALL of his holy scripture.

If we find ourselves having difficulty reconciling what is taught in the Old and the New testaments with one another, then we must consider that our understanding is wrong. God’s word builds on itself. The Old Testament is foundation for the New. It is truly one record rather than two. Yeshua often taught referencing back to the Old Testament, as did Paul. Without the foundation of understanding from the Old Testament, then our understanding of the New will be subject to more mistakes.

I will close with two scriptures that reference specifically the Old Testament, as the New had not yet been written.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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.

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.

If God does not change, then we should truly spend time reflecting if the way we are living our lives today follows the example of what Christ taught and lived (as written in the Bible) or if instead it follows what man has said about how we are supposed to live so differently than Christ did, reasoning that much of his instruction changed after his death and resurrection. I pose that we should rededicate ourselves to understanding what is written in scripture and test everything we know against what is written. We should not simply continue in the way that is popular, broadly accepted, or taught by man.

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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.

Cities of Refuge

In our culture today, if a man kill someone, there is a significant difference in how he is judged if he did so intentionally and with forethought, or by accident. Most of us realize this concept makes sense and seems right. However, most of us likely don’t realize that God rather than man made this distinction important as defined in Joshua 20 and previously in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible written by Moses). We are still very influenced by God’s principles, even as our society has turned away from God and many of his instructions.

Let us turn back to him and his righteousness, seeking forgiveness, and leaving behind our wicked ways. Instead, let us renew ourselves by studying the whole of God’s word and returning to it as a guide for our lives. Imagine what else we may find that we have lost over time in regards to how our Creator calls us to live.

Joshua 20

Six Cities of Refuge

     1Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. 4‘He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them. 5‘Now if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not deliver the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. 6‘He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

      7So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. 9These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever kills any person unintentionally may flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.

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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.

“Fear” of the Lord Leads to Blessings

The Hebrew root word for “fear” in Psalm 128:1 is ירא which can be translated as fear, but also as reverence, to hold in honor, to be in awe. I think this is interesting to keep in mind as we read about the blessedness of the “fear” of the Lord.

Psalm 128

Blessedness of the Fear of the LORD.

A Song of Ascents.

1How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.

      2When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.

      3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.

      4Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

      5The LORD bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

      6Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

Excellent guidance indeed. Holding YHWH in awe and reverence, even fearing him as we may a Father whom we choose to disrespect or rebel against, will help set us on the right path to seeking to know him and obey him. We will be blessed if we pursue his ways rather than our own!

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

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.