Category Archives: Righteousness / Serving God

Worship His Way Rather Than Our Own

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

Joshua 22:10-34

The Offensive Altar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love YHWH and Keep His Commandments

Once the tribes of Israel found rest in having taken the promised land, Joshua released the tribes from beyond the Jordan to return home to their land, which had been the first to be taken. They had remained with the other tribes to help take the promised land at Moses’ commands.

The instruction that Joshua gives them is important. We should receive this message still today in our own lives.

Joshua 22:5

5“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

To love the LORD is to walk in his ways and keep his commandments. It is how we hold fast to him rather than the world. It is how we serve him with all our heart and with all our soul. To keep his commandments, all of them, is to keep ourselves a holy and set apart people ready for YHWH’s purposes and separate from the rest of the world around us.

It is with this admonition that Joshua then blesses them. We can recognize that the blessing is contingent upon our obedience to the LORD, as indicated elsewhere in scripture. (e.g. Deuteronomy 11)

 

Joshua 22:1-9

Tribes beyond Jordan Return

     1Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you. 3“You have not forsaken your brothers these many days to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. 4“And now the LORD your God has given rest to your brothers, as He spoke to them; therefore turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan. 5“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 6So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.

      7Now to the one half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua gave a possession among their brothers westward beyond the Jordan. So when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 8and said to them, “Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.” 9The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home and departed from the sons of Israel at Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession which they had possessed, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.

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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.

How Are We To Behave?

The entire Bible is a guide for us to help us lead our lives in proper relationship with our heavenly Father. In his letter to Titus, Paul takes time to instruct on the way in which older and younger men and women should behave. This is not a comprehensive list of everything we should do, but it is a good checklist at least on some of our attitudes and behaviors toward YHWH and toward one another.

Titus 2

Duties of the Older and Younger

     1But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

      3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

      6Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

      9Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

      11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

      15These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard 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.

What Does God Say About Homosexual Behavior?

Since the United States supreme court ruling that same sex marriage is now legal, many seem in an uproar on one side or the other. Many act as if those people in black robes have some godly power to define what is morally right and wrong in the eyes of the Lord. They do not. They simply have power over the laws of one increasingly pagan nation that is far from YHWH. For those of us who follow Yeshua, the answer is not dictated by one or more governments but rather by the very words of YHWH himself. We can point to countless examples of governments throughout history that reject his instruction and choose to endorse immoral behavior as legal. What’s more, just like with the Supreme Court decision, the decisions and opinions of man shift and change over time. However, there is an absolute standard of what is right and wrong and it is defined by the Lord. It does not change. Man does not have the authority to change it, only to rebel against it.

[Matthew 9:4-6 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a] And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

[1 Corinthians 6:9-11] 9Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

[Romans 1:25-28] 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

[Leviticus 18:22] 22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

Genesis 19:1-13 tells of the wickedness of sexual sin that led to God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Despite many governments or cultures throughout human history that try to re-define what is moral… YHWH is very clear and consistent on the issue of homosexual behavior.  Throughout Old and New Testament He confirms the same message, that it is a sin… an act of rebellion and rejection of God. He does not establish rules arbitrarily or to punish us. He establishes and provides His guidance knowing what is best for us, as He is the one who designed and sustains us. He wants His children to flourish.

To highlight a rather silly example… my DVD player does not work well if I stick pizza in it. It was not designed that way. It is intended for a specific purpose… a DVD. It would be silly to knowingly put something in that is not according to its design and then expect it to work as designed. This is true as well with the design of the human body, both physical, emotional, and spiritual. We flourish best when in proper relationship with the Lord and when we act in accordance with our design.

The story does not have to end with condemnation for any sinner. Yeshua loves sinners and through YHWH’s grace has made a way for us to come back in relationship with him. Repent from your sin, turn to YHWH and seek him wholeheartedly, and ask forgiveness. Pray the Spirit would fill you and guide you as you turn from sin toward YHWH. Then separate yourself from those influences which would pull you back to your old ways and make new connections with followers of Christ who can help encourage you to grow closer to Him.  Yeshua can set you free from your sin!


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

Remember the Sabbath

Sabbath can be a very interesting topic to study within the Bible. YHWH had a lot to say to his people about Sabbath. In fact, a seventh day rest is recorded from the beginning with the example of YHWH as he completed creation. We can also perhaps see where Sabbath rest foreshadows the rest we find in Yeshua as Messiah for it is through him and his death and resurrection that we are saved. We need not try to be made righteous through our works, though our works should still be righteous. We can also see the foreshadowing of the rest we find when we die and go to be with the LORD and also when the LORD returns for the second time and begins his millennial reign on Earth. Further, Sabbath is a part of the holy days of YHWH set out in Leviticus 23 and was intended to be part of our relationship with him and intended to help us.

Sabbath is rich in meaning, but unfortunately today most Christians act as if Sabbath is obsolete and has no meaning. I have seen it disappear in my lifetime. Where businesses were shut down for Sabbath in the past, albeit on Sunday, now most are open. People no longer rest but rather remain very busy on basically every day of the week. People go about their agenda in their way. They have lost the Sabbath.

My family and I rediscovered the Sabbath in recent years and have started setting it aside as a day of rest. It is a significant change and may even seem inconvenient at times as you adjust, but it is genuinely worthwhile to pursue. It is important to YHWH and he created it for our benefit rather than his own.

We can, and perhaps should, have robust discussion about how to celebrate Sabbath today, but let us take time today to simply review some of what YHWH has said and demonstrated about Sabbath. Once we help to establish the importance of it, I encourage each of you to continue studying Sabbath and seeking to begin living it in your own lives. Keep growing and learning on this subject. There is much that has been lost for which we should endeavor to recover.

A good and simple place to start as you read through scripture is to recognize that the main theme is that his people should not work and should not cause others to work on Sabbath. It is to be kept as a sign of our covenant with him and he created it for us. It is interesting that I can not find instruction specifically to go to synagogue or temple (or church) on Sabbath day, however it was clearly an accepted custom that even Yeshua demonstrated.

YHWH set an example for us from the very beginning as part of creation to observe a day of rest on the seventh day, after our work has been done.

Gen 2:1-2       1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Did YHWH say anything about when his people should stop celebrating Sabbath?

Exod 31:16-27 16‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

YHWH gave guidance to his people to work in the first six days and rest on the seventh, which is consistent with his example during creation. (The seventh day would be Saturday by our current calendar.) He also instructed us not to cause others to work.

Exod 20:8-22    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Leviticus 23:3    3‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

YHWH intended us to recognize Sabbath even during pressure to get work done or accomplish an important task (like handling Yeshua’s body after he was crucified).

Exod 34:21    21“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

YHWH intended the rest to be more than just not doing the work for which we get paid. One can have quite an engaging dialog in defining “work”, recognizing that some of the literal activity which YHWH specifically called out in scripture could arguably not really feel like work in today’s environment / technology. (e.g. lighting a fire, etc.) He also specified not buying things offered for sale on Sabbath

Nehemiah 10:31 31As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

When does Sabbath begin?

Leviticus 23:32 32“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”

This would be consistent with the Hebrew calendar observed by God’s people in Biblical times, where a day started with sundown and ended with sundown. In today’s calendar, this would be Friday night at sundown through Sat night at sundown. (Learn more at Hebrew4Christians.com or 119Ministries.com.)

Is Sabbath casual or important to YHWH? You can probably already tell it is important based on how much YHWH had to say about it to his people and the fact that he set the example during creation.

Exod 20:8    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

Ezekiel 20:20 20‘Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’

Deuteronomy 5:12    12‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.

Exodus 31:13      12The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Tell the Israelites, “Surely you must observe my Sabbaths, for this will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

Why is Sabbath important to YHWH?

Exod 31:17 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

What example did Yeshua set for proper observance of the Sabbath?

Luke 4:16  16And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

Matthew 12:9-15

      9Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12“How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

      15But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,

John 9:13-14   13They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

Mark 2:23-28       23And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

In order to make the Sabbath day a day of physical rest, we must prepare ahead of time. The sixth day was referred to as the day of preparation.

Exodus 16:5 5“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Exodus 16:22-26       22Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26“Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”

Mark 15:42-43   42When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

For whose benefit is the Sabbath? Man or God?

Mark 2:27   27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

We should prayerfully reflect on what the Lord has to say about Sabbath and how we should observe it still today. Invest time to continue studying and begin trying to adjust your lifestyle to incorporate Sabbath. Don’t be overwhelmed trying to “get it all right” and do so overnight. Instead, allow yourself to learn and apply and then continue to learn more and apply that and so on.

I am convinced the Lord is pleased when his people pursue living according to his instruction by pursuing something in our lives as important as Sabbath.

Some additional resources to consider:

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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.

 

 

 

In The Hand Of God

We think we have control over our lives, but we do not. We have free will, and thus influence in our own lives, but we all remain in the hand of God.  For those that are sons of men, rather than of God, there is wickedness and ultimately when they die they will be separated from him in death as they are in life. For those who are sons of God, we know we will die, but we will be with our Father when we do and remain in his hand. So let us enjoy life as he has provided for us and seek to please him and draw near to him.

Ecclesiastes 9

Men Are in the Hand of God

     1For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.

      2It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is afraid to swear. 3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead. 4For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. 6Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.

      7Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. 8Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

Instructions To Titus on Elders

We should often remind ourselves as we read Paul’s letters, that they were not written to a broad audience in the same way that the gospels were written. These letters were written privately to specific audiences that were dealing with specific issues. We must take care to discern which elements were applicable to the specific situation and which are applicable still to us today.

Titus 1

Salutation

     1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

      4To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications of Elders

     5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

      10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

As we see Paul’s salutation, we should take care not to overlook even that as providing insight. He identified himself as a bond-servant of YHWH. That mean he was dedicated to the work of YHWH and doing it according to YHWH’s ways rather than Paul’s ways. We would do well to take a similar attitude in our lives. He also reminds us that we get grace and peace from the Lord, not from our own efforts or accomplishments.

As YHWH’s people, especially the leaders, must be beyond reproach. Let that sink in. There are specific characteristics listed upon which we should focus, including the behavior and attitude of our children. We also see that seem to always be people coming to attach the body of Christ, often from within. They need to be rebuked appropriately.

It is good to close with the following verse, and prayerfully consider if we ourselves need to repent and change in some way.

15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

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

God Does Not Change

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

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

Malachi 3:6

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

James 1:17

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

Hebrews 13:8

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

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 5:17-19

     17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

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

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

Prayer For and Against the Enemies of YHWH

As a people who follow Yeshua, we are the most persecuted group in the world according to studies I have seen recently. Much of the persecution comes in the Middle East from Islamic countries or in Africa and China and Russia. In America, we enjoy much freedom and protection for worshipping YHWH. However, even here we can see the erosion of our rights which are constantly being challenged in court in examples across the nations as companies like Hobby Lobby must go to court to avoid being forced into health insurance supporting abortion. Chik Fil A is constantly persecuted on college campuses or airports or cities like New York because they stand for Christian values. Small businesses like the Colorado baker or some florists and photographers are under assault leally because they refuse to endorse and participate in homosexual marriages or gender transition parties. University professors have been fired for refusing to use transgender pronouns to recognize someone who has tried to change their gender (which is not actually possible… it is in our DNA). High schools allow children to choose what locker room and bathrooms they can use, regardless of their actual gender.

There are other examples. We see wickedness throughout many who struggle for power in politics and business in our nation that support and lead these attacks.

Yeshua instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us that we may walk in his ways and be different from the world.

Matthew 5

43You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

It is an interesting apparent contrast with some of the prayers we find in Psalms whereby even righteous people are praying for YHWH to defeat their enemies and protect them from the wicked.

Psalm 129

Prayer for the Overthrow of Zion’s Enemies.

A Song of Ascents.

     1“Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up,”
Let Israel now say,

      2“Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.

      3“The plowers plowed upon my back;
They lengthened their furrows.”

      4The LORD is righteous;
He has cut in two the cords of the wicked.

      5May all who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned backward;

      6Let them be like grass upon the housetops,
Which withers before it grows up;

      7With which the reaper does not fill his hand,
Or the binder of sheaves his bosom;

      8Nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the LORD.”

We should indeed pray for our enemies, that they would repent and turn from their wicked ways and turn to Yeshua and the Father. However, we can also pray that YHWH would defeat the plans of the wicked and their power to harm his people. I believe it is still acceptable to pray for YHWH to protect us from the wicked and bring them to defeat. We can also pray that he would transform them toward paths of righteousness.

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

Cities of Refuge

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

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

Joshua 20

Six Cities of Refuge

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

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

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