Category Archives: Jesus Christ

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.

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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.

Key Points From 1 John In His Own Words

John summarizes and emphasizes why he wrote the letter to his audience. It is a good summary from his own perspective.

1 John 5:13-21

This Is Written That You May Know

      13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

      16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

      18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

      21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

Quick recap… We who submit to and follow Yeshua have eternal life. We know he hears us when we ask anything according to his will and that we will have what we request. Let us take care not to overlook the phrase “according to his will”. It is not about God being at our beck and call to deliver everything according to our will.

When we read the section about sin leading to death and not leading to death, we should remember that the penalty for all sin is death, but through Christ our sins can be forgiven and thus not lead to death… but only through Christ. John seems to be encouraging us to pray for others who we see sinning and the prayers will be answered, if it is according to God’s will. But we should take care also to remember the “unpardonable” sin Yeshua describes… this is the sin leading to death.

Matthew 12:30-32

The Unpardonable Sin

      30“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

      31“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32“Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

It is another opportunity for prayer and study to try to understand this unpardonable sin. I think it is often understood to be the continuing rejection of the Holy Spirit. When we couple this with the use of the term “brother” it seems that this is a description of seeing a brother or sister in Christ sinning, but not rejecting the Spirit. We pray for them to be forgiven of this and they will be according to God’s will.

We are encouraged again as John approaches his closing to trust in God who will keep us and we are warned that this world lies in the power of the evil one. Let us not expect righteousness and godliness from the world.  We are reminded that Yeshua came so that we could better know the Father and there is one last warning about avoiding idols.

Please prayerfully reflect on this and ask YHWH to help you gain clarity and understanding of how to apply it in your life.

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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.

Christ Is Our Advocate, Let Us Walk As He Walked

I find it interesting that John refers to his audience as “my little children”. I assume this is in relation to his role being a bit like a father to them in teaching and guiding them. It may imply that they are not mature in Christ yet. Many Christians to some degree understand the concept that Christ is our advocate, but let us be sure not to skip over the details. Read carefully and I will highlight some key themes on the other side of the scripture.

1 John 2:1-14

Christ Is Our Advocate

      1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

      3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

      7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We are to stop sinning. We do not use Christ’s sacrifice as an excuse to go on sinning. However, if we do sin, we can be forgiven through Christ. (Read more on The Message of the Cross.)

If we are to know him, we follow his commandments. We walk as he walked. We do not go our own way or the way of the culture around us, no matter how much they claim to follow Christ. We can compare the actions of the church to his commandments and how Christ walked and know if they are liars or followers of Christ. We are to use discernment, not simply accept everything that is told us by someone claiming to speak YHWH’s word. The Bible is our most reliable source. Read it. Study it. Test everything. Pray for enlightenment and discernment. Pray for boldness and courage to follow the word of YHWH even when other Christians around us do not understand. Just for clarity, Yeshua walked as a Jewish Rabbi, who obeyed the law of YHWH. He did not simply pick and choose which commands he would obey and which he would not. He did not only obey the ten commandments, but also the entirety of the law including such things as celebrating YHWH’s appointed times laid out in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) such as Passover, Unleavened  Bread, Tabernacles, etc. (Read more on Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?)

If the Light is in us, we are to love our brother. I think it would be interesting to study further who is my brother, but at a quick review, I will suggest it is the words of Yeshua himself who can clarify best.

Matthew 12:46-50

    46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Note that this does not imply we consider everyone living as a brother. We consider those who do the will of the Father as brothers.

Through Christ we can be forgiven and overcome the evil one. In this statement, let us remember there remains an evil one who comes against us. Only through Christ will we find victory. Read more on Spiritual Warfare.

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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 Word Come To Life

1 John contains an interesting introduction which is easy to skip over if we are not careful. John starts with eternity in mind. What they learned and experienced through their relationship with Messiah was entirely consistent and unchanged since the beginning. YHWH does not change (Malachi 3:6). Consistent with the opening in the gospel of John, he also here refers to Messiah as the Word, in this case the Word of Life. This reminds us that the Messiah is the Word become flesh to walk among us. When we have questions about how we should live, we can not only study what Yeshua taught, but also how he and his disciples lived. We can be assured that the Word has not changed since the beginning, and as such we are called to study and learn the Torah and the writings of the prophets, not just the “New Testament”. They do not contradict when understood properly. None is obsolete or irrelevant. In fact the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament like a house on a foundation. Without the foundation, it is not complete and will not function properly (will be misunderstood in this case).

I find it encouraging but also challenging that he states that this message is proclaimed and shared so that they may have fellowship together and with the Father. The disciples were not content to let others continue in wrong understanding and wrong teaching but reached out to teach and instruct others. Where people are living according to an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the Word, the fellowship with fellow man and with YHWH is not complete.  Perhaps the most challenging is that these things are written to their joy may be complete. I pray the LORD sustains me in this way that I would find joy in bringing the word at all times and not get distracted and weighed down with the daily toils of life.

One more point to focus on here is that we are to have fellowship with the Father, not with Yeshua alone. Some Christians put all the focus on Yeshua and neglect our relationship with the Father. In fact, Yeshua always pointed to and lived the example and taught his disciples to look to the Father rather than himself. He was there to help us connect with the Father.

1 John 1:1-4

Introduction, The Incarnate Word

      1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

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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.

YHWH Reveals Himself Through The Holy Trinity

Many struggle to fully understand how one God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some even fall away from true faith over their lack of understanding in this issue, or hesitate to follow Jesus because of it. Others may simply dismiss it. Blessed are those who accept it on faith and those who study God’s word to gain a clearer understanding of it. Whatever your understanding, scripture is clear… God reveals Himself to us in three key relationships… that of God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16-18 16After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove andlighting on Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Matthew 28:18-19 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.”

Take note of the importance of the Holy Trinity by its explicit mention by God in both the beginning of Jesus’ public earthly ministry at baptism and the end after He has died and been raised from the dead. The fact that God finds it important to express Himself to us in this way is undeniable. He  does not shy away from it. It is front and center and important.

We could do well to conduct a detailed Bible study on each aspect of the trinity, and I encourage you to do so as you read through the Bible and study. I encourage you also to prayerfully ask God to reveal Himself clearly to you. For the purposes of today’s devotion, I will summarize at a high level.

Let me first begin with a simple example that may help remove some of the mystery, and then we will explore Biblical insights into the persons of the Trinity through which God reveals Himself to His people.

Try not to get hung up on someone revealing themselves through three persons. It seems impossible at first, but consider even God’s humble people. I am a servant of God. So too am I a husband and a father. Further, I am a neighbor and a citizen of a city and a nation. I am an employee and also a leader. I am a son and a brother. I could go on. I am one person, but through many different roles I reveal myself in different relationships with people I meet. I am the same person, yet the way I act to my children is different in some ways to the way I act to my employer. Each relationship is consistent with the person being revealed, but each may show a different aspect or part of that person. So it is likewise with God.

God the Father

God the Father is the Creator, the Alpha and Omega… beginning and the end, He is our Father, our Provider, our Protector. He is sovereign. Respect and honor who God is. Take a few moments and be still before God. Contemplate the character of God:

  • The Great I Am
  • Creator of All
  • All Knowing (omniscient)
  • All Powerful (omnipotent)
  • Present In All Places At All Times (omnipresent)
  • The Beginning and the End (Alpha and Omega)

God’s name is to be separated from the world. To do this, we must separate from the world and focus on God. Focus on the Old Testament names for God.

God the Son, Jesus Christ

The word of God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and dwelt among us. He showed us how to live in relationship with God the Father and our fellow man. He suffered and died and was raised from the dead so our wrongs could be forgiven.

John 1:1-5 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:14-18 14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 14:6-11 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

God The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a helper that God sends for each of us who believe in Him through the person of Jesus Christ and submit our lives to Him. The Spirit represents God living inside of each believer to help comfort, counsel, teach, and guide us.

John 14:16-26 16“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20“In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

Embrace God’s word and allow God to more fully reveal Himself to you through each of these relationships He has chosen… God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

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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.

He Disciplines Those Whom He Loves

Hebrews 12 reminds us of at least two key concepts. The first is that Yeshua is our example and we should keep our eyes fixed on him and pursue him. Do not rely simply on what others say about him, but instead study what the Bible actually says about him. Many portray him incorrectly, even in churches.

The second point is an important reminder that the LORD disciplines those whom he loves, those who are his children. Receive it well and learn and adapt to go the way he is directing you. Do not take his discipline as failure and stop trying to follow him. He may not discipline those whom he has not called.

Hebrews 12

Jesus, the Example

     1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

      3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A Father’s Discipline

     4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

      6FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

      12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

      14Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Contrast of Sinai and Zion

     18For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

The Unshaken Kingdom

     25See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” 27This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29for our God is a consuming fire.

Let us remember well that he disciplines those he loves and let us accept and learn from the discipline of the LORD.

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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.

 

Message of the Cross – Salvation

God’s instruction to us is so complete and relevant that a scholar could spend a lifetime studying it, yet so simple that a child can understand it and come to a personal relationship with Christ.

The message of the cross, of Jesus Christ, is perhaps best summarized in the words of Jesus and Paul.

John 3

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

Let us take care to understand properly in context the word “believe”. I believe that Greenland exists, but it has no impact on my life. Many believe that Jesus Christ was a true historical figure, but they do not live according to His instructions. Many even believe Jesus was Messiah, in an academic sense, but they do not submit to Him and live His way. If we truly believe that Jesus is Messiah, God, then we should submit to Him and the evidence should be demonstrated in our changed life through actions and attitudes that are increasingly more like Him and less like our old selves.

James 2:14-20

     14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

      18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Some ask…”What is sin?” or “How can I know if I have sinned?” People are inherently sinful, not good. Sin separates us from God. The Bible tells us that “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]

Have you ever broken one of God’s commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]? Jesus makes clear that God’s standard goes beyond committing the physical acts but even includes the heart and mind. To hold anger against someone is to commit murder. To have lustful thoughts is to commit adultery. [Matthew 5:21-48]

God is love, but He is also holy and just. A price must be paid for our sins. It can not be ignored. We are not able to pay the price ourselves because we are not worthy. Our sins are so ugly before God that the penalty of sin is death.

God so loved the world that He became man in the person of Jesus Christ, living a sinless life, and suffered and died for our sins. He was buried and rose again.  He has overcome death and gives us a path to eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord.

The work of the cross has already been completed. The price has been paid for your sins and mine. We must each individually repent of our sins before God. This means we must turn away from them, not just feel bad about them and keep sinning. We accept Him as Lord, submitting our lives fully to Him. We cannot call Him Lord and then only submit to Him part way. If He is Lord we must submit to Him all the way. This is evidenced by a change in our thoughts and behaviors. We become different from the world. We do not rationalize and accept even some of our sin but rather reject it and seek to follow God.  It is not enough to call ourselves Christians and go to church. We must fully submit to God.

Romans 10

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the [a]end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is [b]based on law shall live [c]by that righteousness. But the righteousness [d]based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, [e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be [h]disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 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? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who [i]bring good news of good things!”

16 However, they did not all heed the [j]good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ.

18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the [l]world.”

19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation,
By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”

20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,

“I was found by those who did not seek Me,
I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Many will reject the message, but we are called to preach it to all the world. We as believers must not be silent or no one will hear the true word of God. If they do not hear it, they can not accept it and be saved.

If you have never submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord, please pray with me the following, but pray genuinely with your heart because it is not about the specific words but the condition of the heart and submission to God.

Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I admit that I have done wrong and ask your forgiveness. I believe in my heart that Jesus died for my sin and that you raised Him from the dead. I ask Jesus into my heart as Lord over my life. Help me to change my attitude and behavior to turn away from my own ways  and the world’s ways and instead turn toward You and live the way You teach as revealed in Your word, the Bible. Help me to gladly and boldly proclaim Jesus publicly in my life. Thank you God for saving me.

This is not all there is! This is but the beginning… the doorway. Once you pass through this doorway you submit your whole life to Christ. It requires a combination of Intellect (knowing God), Emotion (loving God and fearing God), and Will (choosing to do His will instead of our own). It is an ongoing decision in our lives that starts us on a journey to know God more intimately and to obey Him more completely. It requires study and prayer and action. It is a journey we never finish in this life, but it transforms us along the way to be more and more like Jesus Christ.

If you made this decision today, we encourage you to reach out to us so that we can welcome you into the body of Christ as well as pray for you and provide more information and encouragement for your life changing decision. You can reach us through our Contact Us page.

Tell others you know have already accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Tell them of your decision to follow Christ. Look to connect with a Christian mentor, local church or group of true Christian believers.

Why is it important to declare Jesus as Lord publicly? Jesus said so.

Matthew 10:32-33 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.

Also, connecting with other Christians and publicly declaring your decision to follow Christ can help provide important support from other believers to help you on your journey with Jesus Christ. Remember, many who reject Jesus will try to talk you out of submitting to Him and following Him. Pray God will guide you to and connect you with the fellowship of true brothers and sisters in Christ that will help you to continue your lifelong journey to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ!

We invite you to study the Bible with us daily through our devotions via email, FacebookGoogle Plus, or on our website Latest Devotions page. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has developed and shared the following wonderful tools to help new believers get started. (Steps to Peace God and Living In Christ)

If you have questions or want to know more, please Contact Us.

Understanding what the law means to us today can be confusing and requires careful study. In Romans 10:3-5, above, Paul is not saying Jesus came to change the law or abolish the law. Paul is specifically referring to the aspect of the law in which we are to be made right with God. Instead of being made right with God through perfect execution of the law, or through sacrifices and through the earthly priesthood, we are made right with God through Jesus Christ. John 3:16-18 confirms that Jesus came not to redefine sin or redefine God’s instruction by which we are to live (e.g. the law of God) but rather to address the judgment for our sin when we fall short of fully living up to God’s standard.  Jesus did not end the law, which shows us how to live according to God’s instruction, but rather to provide a way for us to be reconciled to God when we fall short of perfectly executing God’s law. For more, please read our message on Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today?

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you.

 

Yeshua Became Our High Priest, and We Need Proper Guidance

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

Hebrews 5

The Perfect High Priest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeshua Is Our High Priest and Example

Yeshua is our high priest. He is truth and righteousness, holiness and peace. He is worthy of more glory than other servants like Moses and the prophets or Paul. He is our primary example to follow. Let us always test everything we understand against his life and teaching to ensure our understanding is correct. Let us take heed and not harden our hearts and insist on constantly testing him, but rather place in him our faith and trust and do as he instructs.

Hebrews 3:1-11

Jesus Our High Priest

       1Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

      7Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,

      8DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,

      9WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.

      10“THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;

      11AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”

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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.

Messiah Came As A Man Rather Than An Angel

Hebrews seems to be very focused in the first two chapters about angels and the importance of Yeshua as higher than the angels. It would seem that some people were perhaps too focused on angels and not enough on Messiah. Perhaps they questioned why the Messiah would come as a man rather than an angel, thus doubting Yeshua as Messiah.

To be clear, angels are messengers for YHWH. Yeshua is over all things, even though we may not see it yet manifested in a way we expect. Yeshua is one with the Father.

He became fully man and fully god and walked among us. Hebrews 2 clearly refers back to Psalm 8, which celebrates YHWH’s creation and his putting man in charge over creation. Perhaps in this reminder about man’s position over creation, the writer intends to continue to make the case for why it makes sense that Messiah would come as a man rather than an angel.

Hebrews 2:5-8

Earth Subject to Man

      5For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.

6But one has testified somewhere, saying,
“WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM?
OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM?

      7“YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS;
YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR,
AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

      8YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

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