Category Archives: Am I on the path?

Did Yeshua Tell His Disciples To Separate From The Teachings Of Moses?

Many Christians are taught that we should be separated from the teaching of Moses and the Hebrew roots of Christianity. There are new traditions made by men which have substituted for the instructions of YHWH, such as Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday and many, many others. Many Christians teach that the instructions of Moses are no longer relevant.

Did Yeshua tell His disciples to stop attending synagogue and stop following the instructions of Moses taught there? Did Yeshua tell His disciples to separate from the Hebrew roots of our faith and start a “new religion”? Let us explore scripture together.

Yeshua had just warned His disciples that the world would hate them and reject them, as it was rejecting Him (John 15). I am sure this was hard to hear. He knew it was. In fact, He had not told them previously because He was still with them, but now He was preparing them for His departure.

Yeshua warns His disciples that they will be considered outcasts form synagogue, but why?

John 16:1-4

Jesus’ Warning

     1“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

A few key points which we should try not to overlook, which often get overlooked in reading a larger portion of scripture in one sitting.

  • Yeshua warned they would be made outcasts from synagogue. That means they were not outcasts at this time, or why would He bother to warn them about it. Yeshua and His disciples attended synagogue, with the other Jewish people. They had not started a “new religion” or separated from Judaism. They remained fully connected to their Hebrew roots and simply recognized that Messiah had come.
  • Making the disciples outcasts of the synagogue was not YHWH’s plan to start a new religion or new traditions or to remove the new followers of Christ from their Hebrew roots. It was done by man because they did not know the Father. In fact, they thought they were acting in service to the Father. They were wrong.

Prayerfully reflect on these points. Once again in scripture, we can see that YHWH did not intend for followers of Yeshua to break away from the teachings of Moses or our Hebrew roots. Rather it is the failure of men drove that. While some of this separation started with the disciples being made outcasts and persecuted by the Jews, even a quick study of history will show that the Romans did even more to separate those who followed Yeshua from their Hebrew roots over a period of several hundred years.

I acknowledge that this is difficult for most Christians to objectively test and study. However, I would encourage you to challenge the concept that Christians are to be separate from their Hebrew roots, as if a brand new “religion” has been established. Rather, Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy embedded within Hebrew teaching from YHWH that Messiah would come. Just because many Jewish people reject Yeshua as Messiah, does not mean we who follow Him should reject our Hebrew roots that were consistent with all that He taught and demonstrated.

To learn more:

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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.

Let Us March In Unity Under The Direction Of The Lord

When we as God’s people stand (or march) together consistent with God’s clear direction and with Him to lead us, we are unstoppable. It is not because of our glory or goodness, but because of His.

Joshua 1:10-18

Joshua Assumes Command

     10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11“Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.’”

      12To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God gives you rest and will give you this land.’ 14“Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, 15until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

      16They answered Joshua, saying, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17“Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the LORD your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18“Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.”

We see God has started to give parts of the promised land to several tribes to begin to occupy, but they are still to march and fight with their brothers to help them achieve victory. They are not to get complacent only because they have been provided for.

Let us reflect on this in our own lives. Many of us have tremendous comforts in this world. We have hot and cold running water, indoor toilets, heat to cook at our fingertips, plentiful food, and safe from attack. In fact, we live in some ways more luxuriously than kings of old. Let us not get complacent to just settle into our own lives and activities. Let us seek God’s direction for how He wants us to gather together as one body and what He wants us to march against and defeat. There are some things which should be obvious from scripture… abortion, the move to normalize homosexuality and transgender. These are fundamentally leading many people away from God to their own sorrow and troubles. What about the decline in the family structure? There are many broken marriages and broken families. Many families which have a wife and husband have both working so many hours that neither is really home to raise the children, who are raised by the school systems (often godless). Consider those who follow Christ and face severe persecution around the world in the Middle East or other locations. Consider God’s chosen people, Israel, who face enemies on all sides. Let us stand with them, we who are grafted in to the same vine (Romans 11).

Pray that those who follow Christ would humble themselves and pray for our nation. Pray for repentance and genuine seeking of the Lord. Pray for His Spirit to move across our nation and lead us to unity and victory to take back our own “promised land” of the United States for Him. Just because we can have rest personally, does not mean we should settle down and get comfortable and quietly live within our own small circle of influence and friends.

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

Be Strong And Courageous Living Obediently For The Lord

I find the record in scripture regarding Yahweh’s charge to Joshua to be fascinating. I have read it several times over the years and the Spirit continues to reveal more depth each time. On the surface we may simply summarize it in passing as Yahweh told Joshua to lead the people into the promised land and they would have victory.

Joshua 1:1-9

God’s Charge to Joshua

     1Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4“From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5“No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

If we go a little deeper, there is more. Notice the focus is not on the leadership of Moses or Joshua. The focus is on the fact that Moses was the servant of the Lord and Joshua was the servant of Moses. This is entirely consistent with Yeshua’s teaching about who is truly great and contrary to how most people think.

Luke 22:24-27

  24And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26“But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

The next thing that strikes me is that the Father tells Joshua that “no man will be able to stand before you…” and that He is giving him victory. Even with this promise, Yahweh then goes on to tell Joshua several times to be strong and courageous. Most of us have a tendency to think if the Lord is with us everything will go smoothly and easily. Then why would He need to encourage Joshua to be strong and courageous? Even when the Lord is with us, especially when the Lord is with us sometimes, we will encounter difficult circumstances and need to be courageous and have strong faith to remember God’s promises and direction. This, also, is consistent with the teaching of Yeshua.

Matthew 7:24-27

      24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

What builds the foundation for us to endure difficult times? Yeshua points to the hearing of His teachings or words, not to Himself. It is our hearing and our living out the instructions and commands of Yahweh that put us on a solid foundation for what we face in the world. And we see in Joshua 1 that Yahweh gives this same direction to Joshua… 7“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Let us not overlook that Yahweh specifically told Joshua to be strong and courageous in following the Law. I think it is reasonable to assume that this implies that sometimes when we live out the Law or other instruction from God, we can expect others to come against us. In Joshua’s case, no enemy was going to stand against Him and certainly not going to challenge following the Law. So it likely then points to being strong and courageous leading his people to follow the Law even when they begin to stray from it and do not want to follow it. (This a situation we face today throughout Christianity. People continually redefine God and His instructions rather than redefining themselves to align with what His word says.) How many of us do as Yahweh told Joshua to do?

8“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Indeed, Yahweh felt it important to emphasize that even with Him promising victory, Joshua would face difficulties and would need courage. He would need to stand on the Law and commandments of Yahweh. Then He would be prosperous and have success. It is the same for us.

Pray for the Lord to help you and other followers of Christ. That we would have eyes to see and understand His glory and to live courageously according to His ways rather than blending in with our society and living according to man’s ways. Pray we would have ears to hear His instruction and courage to follow it and go forward where He sends each of us for His glory rather than our own.

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

Views of the Cross

Today I want to share a good resource available to you at AnswersInGenesis.org. I visited their Ark Encounter in Kentucky and my family truly enjoyed it. Far too many present the historical event of the great flood and the ark as if it is a fairy tale. They present a Biblical view of the historical account and provide much more engaging material as well to help provide answers for how science and history line up with, not against, the Biblical word of God. I encourage all to make the trip if they can. They have another sister exhibit about 45 minutes away near Cincinnati as well, The Creation Museum. We enjoyed both and found both educational and stimulating.

The following is material from Views of the Cross tract from Answers in Genesis. You can order printouts from them online at the link I provided above.

Views Of The Cross (views-cross-tract PDF)

Examine Your Heart

Take a sincere look at your own life. Are you like the thief on the cross who mocked Jesus and remained obstinate, refusing to trust in Jesus Christ? Perhaps you are like the soldiers at the foot of the Cross gambling for Christ’s clothes. They were too distracted by worldly desires to realize they were part of the most important event in history.

Have you been too preoccupied by the busyness and cares of this world to consider your eternal destiny? If you are like any of these individuals, don’t wait until it is too late. Be like the repentant thief who confessed his sin to Jesus, asking for mercy. Turn from your sinful ways and call out to God, asking for His forgiveness. He is ready and willing to graciously forgive all who come to Him.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

For more information, visit arkencounter.com/gospel.

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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.

What Can We Learn From Moses’ Last Advice?

Moses was a man who is well regarded by many. He was a man of God. He overcame many personal shortcomings to serve the Lord faithfully and lead the people of Israel through many challenges and victories, out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness, and up to the promised land. He had a close and personal relationship with YHWH for decades. Let’s take a look at his parting advice for his people and consider how it may apply to us still today.

Deuteronomy 31:1-13

Moses’ Last Counsel

      1So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ 3“It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. 4“The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5“The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

      7Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 8“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

      9So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.10Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13“Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

If we pause to break it down a bit we can see some keen insight.

  • Go where the Lord leads, not a place of your own choosing.
  • When the Lord goes before you, you will have victory.
  • Even with the Lord going before you, you will still encounter challenges and you will still need His help to be strong and courageous as you face them.
  • Remember the instructions of YHWH. Read them over and over. Teach them to your children. Put them in a place of honor in your life and in society. Keep them before the people continuously as a light unto their path.

We would do well to heed this advice. Many who claim to follow Christ have disregarded His word. Many are making their own path or following the world rather than following where YHWH leads. It is a path that leads to defeat rather than victory, though Satan is clever enough to make it feel like success at times.

Pray for YHWH to help you to come into right relationship with Him. Seek Him. Study His word. Obey and live out His instructions. Test everything (yes, including what is taught in churches) against the Bible, the unchanging and inspired word of God.  Be strong and courageous in doing so.

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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 Is Your Father? Whom Do You Really Follow?

John 8 includes a very tense interchange between Yeshua and those who were wanting to kill Him. He makes a striking point. Our actions will clearly reflect our hearts and reflect the desires of the one we follow. The one whom we truly follow is not revealed by what we say alone, but by what we do. What we do reveals if we follow our Creator or the father of lies.

For those that believed in Him, Yeshua said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine”. He goes on to highlight how they will know the truth and it will truly set them free. It does not set them free from the law. It does not set them free from physical bondage. It sets them free from the power of sin over their life.

For those who seek to kill the One sent by the Father, their rejection of Christ reveals that they do not know or follow the Father. Yeshua highlights that they are in fact following Satan, albeit unwittingly. The same is still true for us today. We are either sons and daughters of God or of Satan. Only Christ can set us free from the power of sin and reconcile us with our Creator.

John 8:31-59

The Truth Will Make You Free

     31So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

      34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38“I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

      39They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40“But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41“You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

      48The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50“But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53“Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?54Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

You can ask yourself whom you really serve. However, we often rationalize our own actions and beliefs. Seek a godly friend you can trust. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you the answer. Read the Bible critically and challenge what you do to see if it is really consistent with God’s word. Pursue the Creator as Father. Change yourself to become more in line with His image rather than redefining Him to your image.

     31So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

      34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

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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.

Pursue Both Spouse and Savior With Passion And Admiration

If you browse or study Song of Solomon you will likely come across the thought that it not only represents the love and passion of a husband and wife for one another, but also picks up on the metaphor raised elsewhere in scripture of the body of Christ as the bride and Christ as the husband.

With both in mind not the passion in Song of Solomon 5. Note the anxiety and torment of separation. Note how we are to view our spouse and also our savior… with admiration. With Christ there are no flaws and some would think that is then easy to admire. Take care, however, because the world is constantly trying redefine what is right and good and then make it appear that Christ and those who follow Him are bad. Also, we are vulnerable to acknowledging His good and admirable traits, but sometimes without true passion to pursue Him. We may not give Him our full attention and focus.

With our spouses, of course we all have flaws. While flaws need to be acknowledged, prayed for, and dealt with, let us focus on those things that are admirable about our spouse and do so passionately.

Song of Solomon 5

The Torment of Separation

     1“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends;
Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”

      2“I was asleep but my heart was awake.
A voice! My beloved was knocking:
‘Open to me, my sister, my darling,
My dove, my perfect one!
For my head is drenched with dew,
My locks with the damp of the night.’

      3“I have taken off my dress,
How can I put it on again?
I have washed my feet,
How can I dirty them again?

      4“My beloved extended his hand through the opening,
And my feelings were aroused for him.

      5“I arose to open to my beloved;
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
And my fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the bolt.

      6“I opened to my beloved,
But my beloved had turned away and had gone!
My heart went out to him as he spoke.
I searched for him but I did not find him;
I called him but he did not answer me.

      7“The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
They struck me and wounded me;
The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.

      8“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
As to what you will tell him:
For I am lovesick.”

      9“What kind of beloved is your beloved,
O most beautiful among women?
What kind of beloved is your beloved,
That thus you adjure us?”

Admiration by the Bride

     10“My beloved is dazzling and ruddy,
Outstanding among ten thousand.

      11“His head is like gold, pure gold;
His locks are like clusters of dates
And black as a raven.

      12“His eyes are like doves
Beside streams of water,
Bathed in milk,
And reposed in their setting.

      13“His cheeks are like a bed of balsam,
Banks of sweet-scented herbs;
His lips are lilies
Dripping with liquid myrrh.

      14“His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.

      15“His legs are pillars of alabaster
Set on pedestals of pure gold;
His appearance is like Lebanon
Choice as the cedars.

      16“His mouth is full of sweetness.
And he is wholly desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Seek The Light; Reject The Darkness

It is interesting that Nicodemus came to Yeshua by night, as if to avoid being seen, and yet claims he knows that Yeshua has come from God as a teacher. But none the less, I will give Nicodemus some credit for coming to Yeshua to learn more when his peers would likely have pressured him to reject Yeshua all together. We will sometimes have to make similar decisions if we are to learn more about and grow in relationship with Yeshua. Many of those around us will pressure us not to do so.

Though we may struggle, like Nicodemus, to fully understand being “reborn”, it is none the less a real experience and an important one. Yeshua clearly states that we must be born of water (natural birth) and of the spirit (spiritual birth or rebirth) if we are to see the kingdom of God. Being born of the Spirit has to do with our submitting to Christ as Lord and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us as helper for us to experience the kingdom of God, to see things the way God sees things rather than just from our own perspective focused on self.

We must look to Christ and believe He died for our sins and rose again. He came to create a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to God… it is the only way and not one of many. We must love the Light (aka Christ) more than the darkness (aka sin and self).

John 3:1-21

The New Birth

      1Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

      4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

      9Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

      16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Do not be content to simply claim with words that you follow Christ. Test yourself against your life choices and attitudes. Ask YHWH to help you. Our actions will reflect truly whether or not we seek the Light of the darkness more than our words. Our behaviors and actions do not save us, but they certainly reflect our heart and whether or not we believe in Christ as savior and submit to Him.  Do not fool yourself into thinking you are submitted as it is your own salvation at risk. Test yourself against the truth of scripture… against your actions and attitudes.

Ask the Spirit to guide you and be willing to recognize you need to change to be more like Christ. It is not a journey we complete in this life, but rather one we continue on throughout our life. So if you have found yourself complacent and satisfied that you are as much like Christ as you “need to be”, then take that as a warning and check yourself. As with any journey, when you believe you have arrived, that is as far as you will ever go.

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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.

Guidance and Encouragement for the Church

There is actually quite a lot packed into a fairly short chapter in 2 Thessalonians 3. Read through it and meet me on the other side to unpack it.

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

     1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

There is a lot we should take note of and apply in our own lives today.

  • Paul begins this chapter by asking for prayer not only for him to be protected from wicked men, but also for the word of God to spread quickly and be glorified.
  • Paul expresses faith and confidence in the Lord not only for his situation but for that of the believers in Thessalonica. He has confidence in God’s protection from Satan as well as the need to ask God to help direct our hearts to love Him and be steadfast in Christ.
  • Paul takes time to encourage other Christians.
  • Contrary to what many would teach today, we are not to befriend and be close to unruly, undisciplined people just because they may claim to follow Christ. Their behaviors and attitudes bely the fact that they are not truly submitted to Christ.
  • Paul makes special emphasis of saying they should not grow weary of doing good.
  • Right before saying this, Paul comments quite a bit on how they set an example by working for and paying for what they needed to survive. He makes two points, both of which seem at odds with what is normal in our culture today.  We should take note as our culture may be out of calibration with the early church. First, that even though he could expect the people to provide for him while he ministers to them about Christ, he thought it important to support himself as an example. Second, those that refuse to work “shall eat their own bread”. He clearly states that those who are unwilling to work (not talking here about unable to work), should not be subsidized in their laziness or stubbornness by others but rather encouraged by even their own hunger to work and be productive.
  • Paul also makes a point to instruct the church to discipline and admonish  members who refuse to live according to the proper instruction in these matters. Too often today churches do not admonish anyone effectively, if at all. All are invited to sit in church regardless of their outward sin and rebellion. Pastors rationalize that “at least they will hear the word”, but individuals take home the message that living in sin as they are is just fine and they are “saved”. Those outside the church can no longer see that the church is any different than they are.  People in the church behave the same way that people outside the church do. Effective rebuke is desperately in need, even though it should be done with respect and love. Pastors are too concerned someone may get mad and leave, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no trophy for having the biggest crowd sit in church and not follow God. Quite the opposite. Leaders will be judged based on how they accepted sin and offended God instead of man.

Pray and reflect on this message from Paul to Thessalonica. It is still relevant today. Ask God to show you what changes you should make 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.

 

Let Your Actions Match Your Statement Of Faith In Christ

We should all strive to live in such a way that our actions match our statement of faith in Christ. For those who would simply acknowledge Christ in name but live according to the world, you are worse than those who just reject Christ outright because you fool yourself and others so that they may not find their way to Him.  We are to be a light, which is to say that we must be very different from the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Christian Conduct

      12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not quench the Spirit; 20do not despise prophetic utterances. 21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

      23Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

      25Brethren, pray for us.

      26Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

      28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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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.