Category Archives: Trinity

Foundation 1: God’s Plan For Marriage

As I was reading through genealogies in 1 Chronicles, I found myself searching for some of the meaning that I know is in there.

2 Timothy 3:16

 16All Scripture is [i]inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for [j]rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man or woman of God may be [k]fully capable, equipped for every good work.

I was struck by how many had multiple wives and concubines. They could not possibly be living out God’s purpose for marriage as intended. I found a good study on it that I wanted to share. I will be highlighting a series of articles I found on marriage on Bible.org.

To be clear, the following material is from a series on that site, and is not my work. It is worth highlighting and reading. This is one that is probably a good idea to walk through with your spouse, or potentially future spouse if you know who that will be. It is also good for sharing with children or adults who are not married as it helps them understand God’s purpose before they approach that significant decision in their lives.

—Link to Bible.org: 1-foundation-one-god-s-plan-marriageBible.org

—Link to PDF: Foundation One_ God’s Plan For Marriage _ Bible.org

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground… The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18, 24

In this session, we will consider God’s plan for marriage as primarily seen in the Genesis narrative. Most married couples miss God’s best simply because they do not know what God desires for marriage. If you don’t know the purpose of something, it is destined for misuse. Therefore, over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and a large number of those who remain married continue to miss God’s purpose for their union.

Today, we will help move your marriage or future marriage in the direction God desires through studying his Word. In this session, we will consider five aspects of God’s plan for marriage.

God’s Plan for Marriage Is to Reflect His Image

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27

The Bible teaches Adam and Eve, as husband and wife, were created in the image of God and, therefore, were meant to bear God’s image—to be in his likeness. Marriage was meant to model and display God’s glory to all of creation.

In what ways is the image of God reflected in the marriage union?

We see his image is in the plurality and unity of marriage. God said, “Let us make man in our image,” and then the text says, “male and female, he created them” (v. 26, 27). When God made man, he made a plurality. He made man and woman, and later in the narrative, he said they would become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; they are one and yet still individual persons. When a couple gets married, they are meant to demonstrate this. Marriage demonstrates two individual people becoming “one” for the rest of their lives while maintaining their individuality.

With that said, there are other Trinitarian implications to the marriage union. In the Trinity, Jesus the Son submits in all things to God the Father (cf. John 5:19, 1 Cor 15:27) and the Holy Spirit submits to both (cf. John 14:26, 15:26). There is perfect submission in the Godhead. In the same way, when God made man and woman in his image, there was meant to be order in the relationship. First Corinthians 11:3 says: “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Paul says in the same way that the head of Christ is God, so the head of the woman (better translated wife) is man. God made the husband and wife relationship to mirror the Godhead specifically in the area of authority. Therefore, Ephesians 5:24 calls for wives to submit to their husbands in everything.

Another Trinitarian implication is love in marriage. The wife submits to the husband and the husband loves his wife. Consider Ephesians 5:25-27:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

The submission of the wife happens in a perfect loving relationship with her husband. Similarly, throughout eternity, the Godhead has always dwelled in a perfect relationship of love and authority. The Father loves the Son and the Son submits to the Father. The Father does not oppress the Son and make him submit. He loves the Son, and within this perfect love, the Son submits to God. The Holy Spirit loves and submits to both. In fact, 1 John 4:8 simply says, “God is love.”

In the same way, wives are called to submit to their husbands, and husbands are called to love their wives. It is not that the wife does not love her husband or that the husband never submits to his wife (cf. Eph 5:21). It’s just that the defining characteristic of the woman’s service to her husband should be submission, and the defining characteristic of the husband’s service to his wife should be love. This is part of the way we see the image of God in the marriage relationship.

Ephesians 5:25 gives us a picture of what the husband’s love should look like. It should reflect Christ. The husband is called to love his wife as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He died for her, and he also teaches her the Word of God. The husband must love his wife sacrificially and lead his wife spiritually.

When the world looks at a Christian marriage, they should see a husband who makes daily sacrifices for his wife and actively leads the home spiritually. He leads his family to a Bible preaching church. He leads family devotions. He serves his wife and edifies her with his words. He sacrifices to please her and build her up. The wife honors him as her head and submits to him in everything (Col 3:18). This is a redemptive picture of the gospel.

Marriage should demonstrate the perfect love and submission in the Godhead. It should also reflect the perfect sacrificial love of Christ for the church and the church’s submission to Christ. People should be encouraged and challenged by watching a godly marriage. They should see something of the glory and the greatness of God.

Therefore, when a marriage is not functioning correctly, it displays a marred image of God and distorts its intended message. With so many marriages ending in divorce or continuing in disarray, the glory of God has been greatly dimmed. It is no surprise that so many people doubt God’s existence or are falling away from him. The light in marriages has often become darkness, which in turn pushes people away from God. In marriage, it should be our desire to reflect God and bring glory to him since that was his original plan.

God Plan’s for Marriage Is to Raise Godly Children

God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Genesis 1:28

At one point, raising children was considered the pinnacle of marriage and revered by all. However, many now see children as a burden and the ultimate kill-joy for a married couple and sometimes even for society. One of the key differences between angels and mankind is the fact that God made man to procreate, to create new beings as he did. When a couple relinquishes the prospect of having children for job, hobbies, freedom, etc., they are missing out on one of the grandest and most awesome desires of God for marriage. This is further supported by what God said through the prophet Malachi:

Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
Malachi 2:15

This passage clarifies God’s command for people to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1:28. It is not just children he wants but godly children. He wants children who are holy and driven to see the kingdom of God advance. One of the parents’ highest purposes is to teach their children the Bible, to help them grow in character, and to help them find their spiritual gifts and calling in serving the Lord.

Now, it must be noted that obviously it is not God’s will for everybody to have children. Physical issues keep some from having children. For others, God simply never called for them to marry. However, in general, it has been God’s will from the beginning for man to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). Having children should be considered as a way of obeying God and building his kingdom. Therefore, we should pray about it and plan for it as we do with any ministry.

God’s Plan for Marriage Is to Establish and Build His Kingdom

God blessed them and said to them… fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Genesis 1:28

After telling Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, God told them to subdue and rule over the earth. They were to be co-rulers over his creation and to be stewards of it. This is expanded in the New Testament as marriage is described as a spiritual gift given to build up the body of Christ and to advance his kingdom. Consider what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:7:

Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me–a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. (The Message)

Here Paul taught that marriage is a spiritual gift, just as singleness is. And since all gifts are given to build up God’s body and his kingdom (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), a godly marriage is a powerful weapon for the kingdom of God. They build the kingdom through raising godly seed, corporate prayer, service to God’s church, and evangelism of the world.

Certainly, each couple will have unique gifts and a unique way God has called them to build his kingdom. One couple may excel in worship, another in teaching, another in hospitality, another in missions, etc. Each couple must discern the way God has uniquely called them to build his kingdom.

How is God calling you and your mate to uniquely build his kingdom?

God’s Plan for Marriage Is Companionship

The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’
Genesis 2:18

God has put an innate desire in mankind for intimate companionship. This is why so many single people, though they have family and friends, covet something more and often have bouts of loneliness. God made man to be married to a woman and woman to a man.

Certainly some in the world have the gift of singleness, a very special gift given to allow for a deeper devotion to God and his work (cf. 1 Cor 7:32). The gift of singleness is a gift that needs to be restored to the church, as singles have accomplished some of the greatest work for God’s kingdom (i.e. Jesus and Paul). But, with that said, this gift is not for everyone. God wants most people to have a mate: someone to fellowship with, to dream with, to serve with, and to be heirs of life together with. It is a beautiful experience and a great gift.

Solomon gave several reasons that companionship is good. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Though these apply to any companionship, they most definitely apply to marriage. He said that two are better than one because of the productivity of their work. Many couples have seen themselves more productive in finishing school, working in business, growing in the Lord, doing ministry, etc., because of the marriage union. God desires to increase one’s productivity through marriage.

Solomon also said that a companion is helpful when one falls down because a friend can help him up. Life has many ups, downs, discouragements, trials, and even mountain-top experiences. However, many times there are more downs than ups. When a marriage is working properly, it will help navigate the trials and discouragements of life. A good spouse will speak words of encouragement and faith to her mate, enabling him to get up when he has fallen down. She will make him strong when he is weak and vice versa.

Sadly, marriages that are not functioning properly will actually wear one another down instead of building one another up. Be careful to never speak words of discouragement over your spouse. Decide to always speak gracious words over their lives to edify them, even when you don’t feel like it or you feel like they don’t deserve it. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Do you practice speaking words of faith and encouragement over your mate to help build them up?

Marriage also has many other practical benefits such as keeping oneself warm and providing for daily needs, but one of the greatest benefits is protection. Solomon said two can defend themselves (Ecc 4:12). This is especially important in a Christian marriage because of the attacks of the enemy in spiritual warfare. Satan realizes the tremendous potential in every marriage, and consequently, he always attacks them. Expect warfare in marriage. Satan will do everything he can to keep a couple out of the Word of God, out of prayer, away from commitment to the church, and fighting with one another. He does this because he realizes that two people unified and on fire for the kingdom of God can do incrementally more than one.

Therefore, it is important for couples to use their spiritual weapons to protect one another. These weapons are praying over one another daily, consistent Bible reading, speaking the Word of God over one another, commitment in serving the body of Christ, and having accountability with other Christians.

Have you given thought to the increased warfare that will happen in the marriage union? Many find themselves overpowered in marriage for lack of understanding the nature of their new warfare.

God’s Plan for Marriage Is for a Couple to Make a New Family Unit

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

After God made a woman for Adam, he said that a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. This means that in marriage, a couple is starting a new family unit.

This does not mean that they are no longer their parents’ children, but it does mean that the priorities of a man and woman have changed. Their priority must now be their marriage. This is very important because one of the top reasons for divorce is in-laws. The wife battles between submitting to her parents’ expectations and that of her husband, and it’s the same for the husband. Every time the couple fights, the husband’s mom or the wife’s father has something to say.

Married couples must be very careful of this. They are always called to honor their parents and even care for them in old age (1 Tim 5:4, 8), but they must honor their spouse first.

The fact that a man is called to leave his father’s house also implies that he must be able to support himself and his new wife financially. It implies independence. Young couples who are still dependent upon their parents financially often invite unnecessary tension in their marriage. The parents’ financial support typically comes with a certain amount of control or expectations that can be detrimental to their marriage.

Couples who are ready to get married should consider whether they are financially prepared to get married. They should consider if they are ready to leave their families and cleave to their mate and also if they are ready to make their mate their primary focus after God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it important to remember the reasons God created marriage, because if we forget them, the marriage relationship is destined for abuse. Instead of building God’s kingdom, raising godly children, or providing companionship, couples neglect these pursuits for other things which ultimately cripple their marriage. Let us always remember God’s plans for the marriage union so that we can honor them and fulfill God’s purposes.

    1. God’s plan for marriage is to reflect his image.
    2. God’s plan for marriage is to raise godly children.
    3. God’s plan for marriage is to establish and build his kingdom.
    4. God’s plan for marriage is companionship.
    5. God’s plan for marriage is for married couples to make a new family unit.

God’s Plan for Marriage Homework

Answer the questions, then discuss together.

1. What was new or stood out to you in this session? In what ways were you challenged or encouraged? Were there any points/thoughts that you did not agree with?

2. Why do you want to marry this person? Give five reasons other than love.

3. If marriage is a spiritual gift meant to advance the kingdom of God, evaluate yourself and your spiritual gifts. How has God uniquely gifted you to build up his church (teaching, encouraging, serving, helping, mercy, etc.)? If you are not sure, ask your mate or friends what they would consider your spiritual gifts to be.

4. What are your mate’s spiritual gifts? How do you see God using your mate to build the kingdom of God, serve the church, etc.? How can you help him/her in that pursuit?

5. Solomon discussed some of the benefits of companionship that we find in marriage such as: being productive in work, helping when the other stumbles, and protecting one another. What are your common pitfalls or circumstances where you find yourself prone to discouragement or sin? What are the triggers to those pitfalls (problems with career, family, depression, worry, spiritual life, etc.)? How do you navigate these trials and what role can your spouse play to help you out?

6. The weapons we use in spiritual warfare and the trials of life are primarily spiritual. Discuss your spiritual disciplines (prayer, reading the Word, accountability, fasting, church attendance, service, etc.) and how you implement them daily/weekly. How do you think your mate is in his/her spiritual disciplines and how can you encourage one another in them so you can more effectively overpower the enemy?

7. God’s desire for most marriages is to be fruitful and multiply, producing godly children. How many children do you want? How many does your mate want? Have you discussed family planning? Will you use contraception? If so, what types? It is important to research this before the wedding as some methods are abortive and therefore immoral.

8. What type of relationship do you have with your parents? Do you foresee your family having any problems with your marriage (i.e. not accepting your spouse, cultural problems, distance, etc.)?

9. What type of relationship do you have with your mate’s parents? In what ways do you think you could better minister to or get to know your mate’s parents in order to honor them (cf. Eph 6:2)?

10. Do you foresee any problems in your marriage with putting the union first over one’s parents? Explain.

11. Do your parents or your mate’s parents have any serious sicknesses? God’s call on couples is to care for their parents in old age (1 Tim 5:4, 8). Have you and your mate discussed the possibility of caring for parents in old age? How would you handle this? Share any thoughts or concerns.

12. After completing this session, in what ways do you feel God is calling you to pray for your future marriage? Spend some time praying.


For all those who read through the whole article, well done. I hope it serves you well by giving some additional insight into God’s purpose in marriage.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please strengthen marriages among Your people who are called by Your name. Let our marriages bring glory and honor to You and lead others to You, even as they enrich our personal lives and relationships and bring us joy. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

Checking In On Those New Year’s Resolutions

It has become very common for people to view the start of a new year as a means of getting a “clean start” with regards to making changes in their life to improve their situation. Sometimes people take this time to commit to stopping a bad habit or undesirable behavior and sometimes a start of something desirable. Somehow they come to feel as if a new year means their past mistakes are behind them and they have a clean start. If they tried to exercise regularly and failed, somehow now the past failure is forgotten.

For those who made such resolutions to make change in their life, they typically don’t last. There is no real power in them. By February, most of the new year’s resolutions have been dropped or forgotten and people are right back to living the way they did previously. If you made some, how are you doing? Are you still following them? I suppose we could also ask if they are focused on drawing you nearer to God or on something else.

There is a way to make a true clean start, one that comes with power to help us… and it is available to us any time, not just in January. Through Christ, our sins can be forgiven. We repent of our sins, ask forgiveness, believe that He died for us and submit ourselves to the Father. He is waiting for us, looking on the horizon so to speak for our humble return to Him. There is no sin too big to be forgiven, no previous disrespect of God that we can not repent from.

Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son

     11And He said, “A man had two sons. 12“The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14“Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

      25“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26“And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27“And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29“But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31“And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

God waits for us to return home to Him, as the father waits for the prodigal son. He will run to greet us and welcome us. He will not, however, force us to come home. He will allow us to remain separated from Him if we choose to do so.

It is hard for us to get our minds around this type of forgiveness, because we can not imagine granting it to others, but He is God and we are not. Come home to Him now, without delay. He is always ready to receive you… not just in January.

When He receives us as His children, He also gives us a helper in the Spirit to bring His power to bear on our repentance and our fresh, clean start. We are not on our own. We have the power and help of God Himself.

John 16:5-15

The Holy Spirit Promised

     5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

      12“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Some may still be asking, does God really forgive all my sins if I repent and submit to Him in Christ? … yes and He speaks a lot about it. But to be clear, do not expect forgiveness if you continue in rebellion toward Him and do not live according to His word.

Isaiah 1:18-20

18“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.

      19“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;

      20“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Daniel 9:7-14

  7“Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9“To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11“Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12“Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14“Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

Acts 3:19-21

19“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

Ephesians 1:3-14

    3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Colossians 1:13-14

     13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9-10

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Psalm 103:1-13

1Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

      2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

      3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

      4Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

      5Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

      6The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

      7He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

      8The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

      9He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

      10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

      11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

      12As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

      13Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

And there are plenty more scriptures about forgiveness… a clean start can be yours, in Christ, in January or any other time of the year. You don’t have to do it alone, but the power and guidance is in God and not in the turn of a calendar from December to January and not in what our culture or society says is good and to be valued.

To learn more about following Christ, continue reading The Message of the Cross.

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

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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.

When God Invites You to a Deeper Understanding of Truth, Pursue It

It seems the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the time, those most educated and trained in the formal practices of religion, never tired of spending time and energy trying to trick Yeshua while at the same time never had any energy to try to accept Him for whom He claimed to be… God and Messiah.  The same is still true for many people today. They spend all their effort trying to explain away Yeshua rather than accepting Him as Lord and submitting their lives to Him.

We have been discussing the earlier scriptures in Matthew 22 which document a list of questions which were brought to Yeshua and His answers.  He answered every question with clarity and wisdom. Still they are reluctant to consider He may indeed be who He says He is… Messiah. Finally, He asks them a question in return.

Matthew 22:41-46

      41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42“What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,

      44‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET”’?

45“If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” 46No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.

After responding to the questions He was asked, Yeshua then challenged the Pharisees and Sadducees with a question. They could not answer it and realized Yeshua was much wiser than they… but they still refused to acknowledge Him as Messiah and God. Their minds were already made up and they were not seeking truth and understanding… instead they sought only to discredit Jesus.

The question Yeshua asked them was actually quite important… and it was clear they did not understand it. Yeshua was pointing out that the anticipated Messiah was not just a descendant of David, a secular king or prince. If so, how could David, as an ancestor, call him Lord. No, the Messiah was not only “Son of God” but “God in the flesh”. Hence, David called Him Lord. Yeshua at once opened a door to show these men a deeper understanding of the Messiah and also revealed how little they truly understood. It is also very important to note that He did not simply claim something, like Messiah is God, and say the Spirit revealed it to Him. Rather He pointed to specific scripture to develop and prove the point. We should do likewise.

God invited the Pharisees and Sadducees to a deeper understanding of truth. They rejected the opportunity and instead stopped the conversation. They were unwilling to become humble and seek the wisdom Yeshua offered, but instead remained proud and plotted against Him. They had already made up their minds against Him.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help me to be humble and to seek You and learn from You. Help me submit to You and learn from You. Let me seek truth and follow evidence, which will lead me to You. May I not be so prideful as to miss what You have for me because I insist that I already know and already understand. Help me challenge and update my current understanding of truth based on Your word and Your spirit. Help me to fully embrace that Yeshua was not just a “good teacher” or prophet, but God in the flesh, come to dwell among us.  Help me to do as Yeshua did and look to Your Torah and the writing of the prophets to confirm the truth about You. Amen.

Shalom.

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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

The Parable of the Railroad Tracks

We begin by studying a modern day parable. While this is not a Biblical parable, it is based on Biblical truth and used to help us understand the urgency of God’s instructions to us. Then we will explore further in scripture.

A car with three men inside came to be stuck on the railroad tracks at a railroad crossing on a cold, rainy night.  The three men had certainly heard of trains and were aware that cars were sometimes hit by trains, but did not really believe it to be likely. While the car was stuck, they remained inside because it was more comfortable than stepping outside. They decided to call a tow truck and wait in the car until it arrived or until the rain stopped.

 A man was walking along in the rain, wet and hurried. He wanted to reach his destination quickly and get out of the cold rain. He saw the car stuck on the railroad tracks and briefly thought about checking to see if they needed help. Instead, he walked on assuring himself that it was not his business to get involved and saying that he was sure it would all be fine in the end. Surely they had a phone. Surely help was already on the way. There was danger, but it was not urgent.

A second pedestrian came by and also noticed the car stuck on the tracks. He was wet and cold, too, but felt God would want Him to check on the men and warn them of the danger. He walked over to the car and spoke with the men inside briefly. He warned them that the trains usually come at night and there was real danger. The men inside did not listen, but actually seemed to get aggravated. One even made fun of the man outside the car and told him to go away. The driver did not want to leave his nice comfortable car, especially when it was uncomfortable outside. So they insisted they would wait in  the car.  Not wanting to offend or be considered foolish, the second pedestrian left quickly and went on about his way, shaking his head and thinking to himself that the fools deserved whatever trouble they brought on themselves.

The third pedestrian came along and spoke the same, true warning as the second pedestrian to the men in the car. He warned them about the danger from the train. He said it was urgent, the train always came about this time of night. The passengers of the car mocked him and told him to go away. They would be fine. The tow truck would be coming soon. The third pedestrian considered leaving, but instead he tried again, warning them of the urgency of getting out of the car. He pointed to the warning lights that now had started to go off and said he heard the train whistle. The driver did not want to hear it and said he was fine. He said the lights often go off on their own, probably a malfunction due to the storm. He did not hear the train whistle over the sound of thunder. Finally one of the men in the car got out of the car, with two remaining behind. The third pedestrian hurried the passenger safely away from the car. When the two remaining passengers saw the light from the train, it was too late, they did not know what to do. The train could not stop. Both men perished. Only the one that responded to the warning was saved and only because the third pedestrian persisted in the urgency of the message.

Who served God best? The man who walked by without saying anything? the second man who tried but quickly gave up when mocked? or the third man that shouted the truth even when others mocked him and pushed him away?

If not for the third man, who persisted in the warning, all in the car would have perished. How sad that people deny the impending danger of the train… of hell. They deny the need for a change … a need to die to self and submit to Christ to be saved and thus they perish. But how glorious that God, in His love for us, has made a way for us to be saved!

Christian evangelism is the sharing of the gospel of Christ with those who have not yet received Jesus as Lord and submitted their lives to Him. To share the good news of the gospel… that God loves us so much He became man in the person of Jesus Christ and suffered, died, and rose again to pay the price for our sins. It is always good news! God provides the answer to all of the wickedness of the world, but we must choose Jesus instead of the ways of the world.

For those of us who submit to Christ, evangelism must not be a casual thing or something we do “if we have time” or “when convenient”. It is not something that only some Christians do… but something we are all instructed to do. Jesus Christ commands us to go and make disciples of all the nations.

Matthew 28:18-20

 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Followers of Jesus should recognize the urgency of sharing the gospel. Those who do not come to accept the offer of salvation through Jesus will perish… will suffer eternal separation from God. How can they accept and submit to Jesus if no one shares the gospel?

Isaiah 52:7

7How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Romans 10:13-17

13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news of good things!”

When we obey the command of Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations, not everyone will accept Jesus, but we can trust God that when we obey His command, He will be with us and help it to be effective.

Isaiah 55:10-11

10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Each of us should take time to consider the following in our personal life:

  • Am I a disciple of Jesus? or just someone who accepted Him once and goes to church?
  • Am I constantly learning more about how He wants me to live through studying scripture and prayer and changing my behaviors and attitudes to submit to Him? or am I doing things my way, convinced my way is “good enough”.
  • If I am not a disciple, than how can I go and make disciples of others?
  • If I am a disciple, than am I going and making disciples of others?

To learn more about being and making disciples, please study our teachings, The Great Commission – Making Disciples of All The Nations and The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help me to be eternally minded, not focused solely on the matters of this world that surround me every day. Help me to see people through your eyes and not my own. Let me have a heart to desire to help others to find Christ, the courage to do so even taking personal risk, and the wisdom to know how to be effective. Help me to remember also that I can not save anyone by myself but it is only through your Holy Spirit that they will turn to you. Help others be willing to make the choice to submit to and follow you when confronted by the truth of the gospel. Help me not give up or be discouraged if I can not see the affects of my efforts to share Christ with others. You may be working in them in ways I will not witness personally. Amen. 

Shalom.

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

A Clean Start… God Is Ready Anytime, Not Just in January

It has become very common for people to view the start of a new year as a means of getting a “clean start” with regards to making changes in their life to improve their situation. Sometimes people take this time to commit to stopping a bad habit or undesirable behavior and sometimes a start of something desirable. Somehow they come to feel as if a new year means their past mistakes are behind them and they have a clean start. If they tried to exercise regularly and failed, somehow now the past failure is forgotten. Unfortunately, seeking a “clean start” in the powerless framework of December turning to January usually falls apart quickly and by the end of January people have lost any momentum in their “New Year’s Resolutions”.

There is a way to make a true clean start, one that comes with power to help us… and it is available to us any time, not just in January. Through Christ, our sins can be forgiven. We repent of our sins, ask forgiveness, believe that He died for us and submit ourselves to the Father. He is waiting for us, looking on the horizon so to speak for our humble return to Him. There is no sin too big to be forgiven, no previous disrespect of God that we can not repent from.

Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son

     11And He said, “A man had two sons. 12“The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14“Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

      25“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26“And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27“And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29“But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31“And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

God waits for us to return home to Him, as the father waits for the prodigal son. He will run to greet us and welcome us. He will not, however, force us to come home. He will allow us to remain separated from Him if we choose to do so.

It is hard for us to get our minds around this type of forgiveness, because we can not imagine granting it to others, but He is God and we are not. Come home to Him now, without delay. He is always ready to receive you… not just in January.

When He receives us as His children, He also gives us a helper in the Spirit to bring His power to bear on our repentance and our fresh, clean start. We are not on our own. We have the power and help of God Himself.

John 16:5-15

The Holy Spirit Promised

     5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

      12“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Some may still be asking, does God really forgive all my sins if I repent and submit to Him in Christ? … yes and He speaks a lot about it. But to be clear, do not expect forgiveness if you continue in rebellion toward Him and do not live according to His word.

Isaiah 1:18-20

18“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.

      19“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;

      20“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Daniel 9:7-14

  7“Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9“To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11“Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12“Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14“Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

Acts 3:19-21

19“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

Ephesians 1:3-14

    3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Colossians 1:13-14

     13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9-10

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Psalm 103:1-13

1Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

      2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

      3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

      4Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

      5Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

      6The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

      7He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

      8The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

      9He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

      10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

      11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

      12As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

      13Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

And there are plenty more scriptures about forgiveness… a clean start can be yours, in Christ, in January or any other time of the year. You don’t have to do it alone, but the power and guidance is in God and not in the turn of a calendar from December to January and not in what our culture or society says is good and to be valued.

To learn more about following Christ, continue reading The Message of the Cross.

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

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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.

We Are Not Interchangeable Parts in God’s Eyes

Reading the context of Matthew 18 preceding verses 12-14, we see emphasis put on humbling oneself like a child to come to the kingdom of God and caution against causing those who do to stumble and turn away from Yahweh.

Yeshua continues in this teaching by calling out a metaphor of a shepherd who looks for any of his lost sheep. He is not content to simply return with most of them or even almost all of them. He wants all of his sheep. So, too, our Father wants for all of us who have humbled ourselves like a child and put our trust in Him as Father to continue in relationship with Him. If one of us strays, He will seek after us. It makes an important point. Each of us as individuals matter to our Father. We are not just part of a big flock. We are not interchangeable.

Matthew 18:12-14

Ninety-nine Plus One

      12“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13“If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14“So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Perhaps another way to think of this is to think of the Father / child relationship that Yahweh gives us so many times in scripture. Would a father be content to leave one child behind if he had three? What if he had 10? He would surely leave the others  behind in safety and pursue the one that was missing. Yahweh loves each of us in this way who have humbled ourselves and submitted to Him as Father.

Note that there is not indication in this scripture that the lost sheep will always be recovered. It simply states that He will pursue them.

Pray and give thanks to our Father that He loves each of us as individuals and that we are not simply interchangeable parts of a flock or herd in His eyes. Reflect on that. The Creator and Master of all loves each of us as individuals. He cares for us. He does not want to lose any one of us. Really take time to let that set in. No matter what you face in your personal life, you can see that you have value and purpose when you submit to Yahweh.

For those whom the Holy Spirit may convict as being a lost sheep, do not lose heart. Turn back to Him and ask His help. He wants you to come back to Him. Turn from the ways of the world and seek after our Father in Heaven. He is looking for you!

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

 

Keep God’s Commandments AND Hold to the Testimony of Christ

Revelation 12 lays out some key fundamentals in the spiritual warfare between Satan and YHWH’s people in some attention grabbing visualizations. Notice you will find now labels of “Jewish” or “Christian”. These labels are not always meaningful as many call themselves by these names but do not follow YHWH or do not hold to the testimony of Yeshua. In verse 17 we see that the key is not what label someone claims, but who actually “keep[s] the commandments of God and hold[s] to the testimony of Jesus”.

It seems obvious that the Jewish people do not hold to the testimony of Yeshua. However, it may only be slightly less obvious that most who identify as “Christian”, holding to the testimony of Christ, do not keep the whole of the commandments of YHWH. Common Christian teaching holds to some commandments and dismisses many others. It is not simply about “the 10 commandments”. There is so much more to be learned and followed in studying the foundational books of the Bible, the Torah (written by Moses) and the writings of the prophets.

I encourage Jewish people to seek Messiah in Yeshua. I encourage Christians to seek to study the Bible and challenge to deepen our understanding of the Hebrew roots of our faith and the fullness of the wonderful things in the law of YHWH.  (Focused Ministries – Understanding the Hebrew Roots of Christianity)

Revelation 12

The Woman, Israel

     1A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

The Red Dragon, Satan

     3Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 4And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

The Male Child, Christ

     5And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 6Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

The Angel, Michael

     7And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12“For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

      13And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. 17So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

“Who do you say that I am?”

In reference to Yeshua, how we truthfully answer this question frames up how we relate to our heavenly Father. It is a simple question, but one of immense importance.

Matthew 16:13-20

Peter’s Confession of Christ

      13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

Let us keep in mind that even Satan knows Yeshua is Son of the living God. Recognizing this, do not be overconfident that you are on in right relationship with our Father just because you acknowledge Yeshua as Christ. However, if you do not at least get this question right, you will surely not get the right relationship with our Him or our Father.

A second key point would be that the Father has to reveal this to us. We can tell someone over and over and lay out all the evidence, but if the Father does not reveal it to them, they will not see and acknowledge it. So if you want to truly reach someone, be sure to ask the Father to open their eyes to the truth. Once He reveals it to us, it is then that we have the chance to accept Him truly.

Third, and this is important and often misunderstood… the rock upon which the church will be built is not Peter. He was too fallible, as we all are, to be spoken about in this context. In fact, only 5 verses later, Yeshua calls Him out in a very harsh and dramatic way in verse 23. The rock is the fact that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Nothing can overcome this foundation of solid rock. It is upon this solid rock that we build our faith and our relationship with Yahweh. It is upon this solid rock that we find our hope and salvation and nothing can come against it.

What is a bit confusing to me is that Yeshua told His disciples not to tell others. This is intriguing. I am not going to try to address this in this article, but encourage anyone interested to do more study. You can consult the commentaries for possible opinions on the matter and can pray and ask Yahweh to show you.

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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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.

“Come to Me” – Yeshua

The context of Matthew 11:25-27 is building off of prior verses in which Yeshua speaks about how some in certain cities have witnessed many miracles and yet they still have not chosen to repent and follow Yeshua. The punchline is that will be very bad for them (Matthew 11:22 “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.)

Matthew 11:25-27

Come to Me

      25At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26“Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

      28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

There are several key concepts of which we should take note:

  • Some things are hidden from the wise that are revealed to those who are simpler. In this context it certainly points to knowing our LORD and dwelling in relationship with Him. One easy example to apply this is to imagine two people witnessing the same miracle, perhaps someone coming back to life in a hospital. One who is wise in his own eyes, perhaps a smart doctor, may declare there is a “scientific” or “medical” explanation that he just can’t identify. He sees the miracle, but dismisses it. The second person perhaps simply embraces the miracle that God has clearly delivered and gives God the glory. We must rely on God, not ourselves and our own wisdom.
  •  All things have been handed over to Yeshua by the Father. Yeshua is mediator and has authority over all.  This is consistent with Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Let us remember this if we are tempted to fret and worry. Yeshua is over all. We can pursue Him and submit to Him and trust in Him!
  • No one can truly and fully know the Father but the Son, and vice versa. They are infinite and far above our ability to fully comprehend. Recognize this, but don’t let it deter you from pursuing an intimate relationship with them!
  • No one can know the Father, except those to which the Son reveals Him. Let us thank Yeshua for our opportunity to know the Father rather than get arrogant about how great we are because we know Him. Let us similarly pray for the lost rather than scorn them.
  • Life is hard. We often feel like we are carrying heavy burdens. Yeshua calls us to Him. He wants us to share a yoke with Him, not to help Him, but to help us! He is the strong “ox” in this metaphor and we are the weak. This is not a call for us to take on a heavy load He is pulling, but rather to let Him help us carry our load. In Yeshua, we find rest for our souls.

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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.