Category Archives: Grace / Patience

Who Are My Mother And Brothers?

There is truly treasure packed all throughout scripture for us to find as we study and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us. While it may be good for a beginner in the faith to read the Bible in a year to get an overview of the whole historical account, let us take caution that there is also great value in going more slowly. Taking it one bite at a time and thoroughly going through it, pausing and praying. Considering verses that may otherwise be overlooked in our hurry to read 3 chapters a day.

Yeshua was teaching and sharing parables with crowds. His biological mother and brothers were trying to get to Him. Yeshua took that opportunity, not to disparage His earthly family, but to highlight another important perspective for us as believers and followers of Christ. While blood relatives are important and are an important organizational structure in society (refer to the organizing of God’s people by tribes throughout the Bible), we should also be keen to focus on the strong relationship that should exist between fellow believers. I should not overlook that fellow believers and followers in Christ are like brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. We should hold them close, support one another, and work together with grace for one another.

Luke 8:19-21

19And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. 20And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.” 21But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

As you go throughout your day engaging in life with other believers and followers of Christ, remind yourself to think about them as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in Christ. It may seem a subtle shift, but I find myself suddenly willing to engage more and help more, supporting one another. I find myself naturally extending more grace to them, more kindness and gentleness, more love. They are not simply strangers, but family in Christ.

—-

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.

The Foolishness of Man Ruins His Way

As relevant today as when it was written. Timeless wisdom from Proverbs.

Proverbs 19

On Life and Conduct

     1Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.

      2Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.

      3The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.

      4Wealth adds many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.

      5A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.

      6Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

      7All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues them with words, but they are gone.

      8He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

      9A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.

      10Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.

      11A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

      12The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.

      13A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.

      14House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.

      15Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.

      16He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.

      17One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.

      18Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.

      19A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

      20Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.

      21Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

      22What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

      23The fear of the LORD leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

      24The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

      25Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.

      26He who assaults his father and drives his mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.

      27Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

      28A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.

      29Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

—-

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.

Enlighten the Eyes of My Heart

Let us approach our Lord with thanksgiving for fellow believers and for the wonderful gift of our own salvation by grace, through faith. Let us ask Him to enlighten the eyes of our hearts.

Ephesians 1

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.

15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

—-

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 We Approach the Needs of Others Matters

Contrast the response to David’s request by Nabal and by his wife, Abigail. It is clear which is pleasing to the LORD. The LORD’s anointing was on David and his men had acted honorably and been helpful to Nabal’s servants. Nabal reacted with selfishness and arrogance and spurned them. Abigail interceded with grace and wisdom and a servant’s heart.

Let us reflect personally on how we respond to situations like this in our lives, even if they are not quite so dramatic as 400 armed men coming to get supplies from us. People around us do have needs. We should pray and ask the LORD to give us the right attitude.

1 Samuel 25:2-38

Nabal and Abigail

      2Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3(now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), 4that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; 6and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7‘Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. 8‘Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

      9When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11“Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” 12So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13David said to his men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.

      14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15“Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16“They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”

Abigail Intercedes

      18Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22“May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”

      23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25“Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

      26“Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, since the LORD has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27“Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28“Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29“Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30“And when the LORD does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the LORD deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”

      32Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34“Nevertheless, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.” 35So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”

      36Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died.

—-

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 Go of Anger, Jealousy and Bitterness; It Will Consume You

Saul was harassed by an evil spirit from the LORD because of his disobedience. It seems after that he was consumed with jealousy and fear. He was no longer rational. He just wanted to “get David”. It would seem this could serve as a warning for us also. We may not want to kill someone, but we can be vulnerable to jealousy and irrational desire to “get even” or “beat someone”. It can lead us in a bad direction, lead us away from the LORD. Rather, we should seek the LORD’s help to overcome any anger, jealousy or bitterness toward others. It only consumes us if we let it remain.

1 Samuel 22:6-23

      6Then Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered. Now Saul was sitting in Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. 7Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, O Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse also give to all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8“For all of you have conspired against me so that there is no one who discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in ambush, as it is this day.” 9Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing by the servants of Saul, said, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10“He inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

      11Then the king sent someone to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s household, the priests who were in Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13Saul then said to him, “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?”

      14Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king’s son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? 15“Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair.” 16But the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!” 17And the king said to the guards who were attending him, “Turn around and put the priests of the LORD to death, because their hand also is with David and because they knew that he was fleeing and did not reveal it to me.” But the servants of the king were not willing to put forth their hands to attack the priests of the LORD. 18Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn around and attack the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep he struck with the edge of the sword.

      20But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household. 23“Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life, for you are safe with me.”

—-

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.

May His Face Shine Upon You

What a beautiful blessing we find in Numbers 6, intended for the audience of Aaron and his sons. I pray this now for myself, those close to me, and also for pastors and leaders who follow Christ with a genuine heart. I pray it for those reading through the scriptures with me daily… and I sure appreciate if / when you pray for me as well.

Numbers 6:22-27

      22Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

      24The LORD bless you, and keep you;

      25The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;

      26The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’

27“So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”

Another translation captures verse 24-26 slightly differently… “may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you”. I certainly want to have that relationship with Him and please Him in that way. I want other brothers and sisters in Christ to do so as well.

Numbers 6:24-26 Living Bible (TLB)

24-26 ‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.’

Take some time this morning and pray for yourself, your family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and for whomever else you feel led to pray for today.

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

—-

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.

A Living Hope, And A Sure Salvation

1 Peter, like so many letters and books of the Bible, contains a lot of information if we slow down long enough to reflect on it and ask our Father to open our ears and eyes to be able to more fully understand it. Do not rush through. “Chew” on it awhile.

1 Peter 1

A Living Hope, and a Sure Salvation

      1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

      3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

      10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

      13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

      17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

      22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

24For,
“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE GRASS WITHERS,
AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,

      25BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
And this is the word which was preached to you.

Peter writes to those followers of YHWH who have accepted Yeshua as Messiah and are scattered across different lands. They are living as aliens amongst other people who do not believe as they do. Right away I think that this letter applies to most of us who truly seek to follow YHWH through Yeshua today. Most of those who even claim to be Christians are living lives that are blended or mixed and mingled with pagan beliefs. It has been happening for centuries, but you can see it continue to evolve today. Pagan holidays rather than YHWH’s holy days are celebrated. People embrace homosexuality and transgender even within some churches. There are many examples. This of course makes it harder for those who wish to truly follow him according to his ways laid out in his word. Simply put, we don’t really fit in to culture and are more like aliens from another land living amongst the people of the land.

Peter notes that the Father already knows who will obey him. He is omniscient (all knowing). He also comments on the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit makes us holy over time as we build relationship with YHWH through the Spirit. Of course we also see the role of the blood of Yeshua. Do not overlook the work of the Spirit but rather seek to embrace him.

Even the simple greeting relaying “grace and peace” is worth reflecting on. He does not greet them with “may you be rich and free of troubles”. Rather to be receivers of YHWH’s grace and experience peace that comes with it, these are things to be desired and pursued.

Our salvation is through Christ. It is imperishable and reserved for us in heaven. We should rejoice, even if we experience hardship and trials for awhile in our lives while we wait. As a matter of fact, he does not just emphasize “survive” hardship, but rejoice in the hope of salvation and recognize that our being tested can actually bring glory to YHWH, if we handle it right. (I admit that I sometimes do not handle all my trials well, but I see the Spirit at work over time transforming me and I am closer as time goes by and I continue to mature.)

We are called to prepare our minds for action. Living the Father’s way is not passive, but active. Fix our hope on the grace we receive through Yeshua for forgives of sins. Be obedient, even like children, and be set apart and holy… apart from the former lusts which tempted us and in which we sinned.  Once again we see that YHWH calls us through scripture to change our behaviors and attitudes. We are not to remain the same and say “now I am saved”. We are to change. We are to be holy because the LORD is holy.

We are called to love one another. This does not mean to accept one another in our sin. That is not love. Love drives us to help others find their way to the LORD, not remain in sin and rationalize why they can not or should not change. But how we engage with people should reflect we care about them. This does not mean hang out with sinners who refuse to acknowledge a need to change and seek Christ. We should follow Yeshua’s example… bring the word to people and then our closest circle of friends should be fellow believers and followers of YHWH.

Do not miss at the close. Peter quotes scripture. The word of the LORD endures forever. This is what I preached to you. Once again we see the founding fathers of the Way, of Christianity as followers of Christ, telling us that they taught the unchanging word of YHWH. They did not make up a new set of instructions based on only Yeshua. Quite the opposite. What Yeshua taught was totally consistent with the Torah and the writings of the prophets. This unchanging word of YHWH is what Peter and his fellow apostles taught to followers of Yeshua. We are not to simply disregard what is referred to commonly as the Old Testament and start over. The unchanging word of YHWH endures forever.

—-

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.

 

 

James’ Exhortation For Followers Of Yeshua

Exhortation… I had to look that one up. The definition is “an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something”. There are many places in the Bible where there are exhortations about how we should act. Let us consider them carefully and without getting defensive.

Be patient waiting on the LORD. Do not complain against one another. Endure well when hard times come. Read through the whole list with an ear for how it could be impactful in your life.

James 5:7-20

Exhortation

      7Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

      12But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

      13Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

      19My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Perhaps the last one is worth reflecting on. Our culture today seems to value (and bully) Christians to be silent about their faith and leave everyone to their sin. James exhorts us to engage those who stray from the truth and help them find their error and return.He emphasizes this strongly.

—-

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.

There Are Times and People Who Will Not Accept Sound Doctrine

Paul has an important message for Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, and it is important for every believer. We must be ready to preach the word at all times, when we expect it and when we do not. We do not want to miss an opportunity. Further, we know there are times and people who will not accept sound doctrine. They prefer something which makes them feel good about themselves as they are or avoids conflict… Paul calls it “tickling their ears”.  People go and shop for teachers who tell them what they want to hear instead of teachers who tell them what YHWH desires of us.

Let us take the charge given to Timothy, and prepare ourselves to be ready and willing at all times to preach the gospel of Yeshua. Let us also challenge ourselves not to behave like those who change preachers and teachers rather than change their behavior to match what YHWH has said he desires. Let us challenge ourselves to seek to understand and live out YHWH’s word in the Bible, even when it calls for us to change and be set apart from other Christians. To truly live according to our Creator’s ways, we will be set apart even from most who call themselves Christians in some distinct ways. One example today is fairly obvious. Culture tells us we are to hold our faith private and not discuss it publicly. Many churches are more concerned with an agenda like a social club rather than instructing people in the ways of YHWH.  This is wrong. We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort and do so with patience and instruction. It will be hard and people will reject it. We must endure and pray for wisdom and patience.

2 Timothy 4:1-8

“Preach the Word”

     1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

      6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Paul talks about hardship in your ministry. We must ask ourselves, “If we endure no hardship, are we really challenging ourselves and others to change for YHWH?”

None of us should be so arrogant as to assume we have a perfect and full understanding of our Lord. Thus, if we love him and are praying and searching and studying his word we should expect to learn and develop a better understanding over time. This means we should be changing ourselves. Our lives and our understanding with YHWH today should not look the same as it did 10 years ago or will 10 years from now. If we find ourselves anchored in the same comfortable understanding of our Lord and in the same comfortable patterns of behavior, we should ask ourselves, “Am I really growing in my relationship with the Lord, or am I stagnant and no longer growing close to him?” Then we should take action, which will include change in our lives.

Do not be attached to the ways of men (not even traditions of our parents and grandparents), nor to the ways that men declare of YHWH, but rather diligently seek the truth through scripture, study, and prayer and then make changes to live it out more fully even when others come against you because your change makes them uncomfortable. Pray for patience, wisdom, and discernment but also for courage.

—-

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.

Difficult Times Will Come

The difficult times referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are very challenging indeed. There is a list of bad things that have become commonplace, ranging from loving self to disobeying parents to loving pleasure rather than YHWH. This describes many times and places throughout history and certainly applies to the United States today. In particular, one deceptive aspect which is not to be overlooked is that people hold to a form of godliness, but have denied its power. This is particularly dangerous as it misrepresents YHWH while claiming his name. We have instructions to stay away from people such as these… not to convert them or win the argument but to stay away.

Paul also included advice on what Timothy was to focus on when confronted with these difficult times and we can as well. We can expect persecution and hardship when we stand for Yeshua and YHWH. We are to endure it, not avoid it by hiding our faith or acting as if our faith is “private” and not to be shared. Faith, patience, love, and other such qualities are key for us during these difficult times.

Paul also ends the chapter with direction that Timothy should study and rely on all scripture, in particular the scripture he has been studying since he was a child. The New Testament was not yet written and compiled as scripture. Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament. We should take care to hold fast to the whole Bible and not discard or downplay the Old Testament in pursuit of the New as is often taught or emphasized in churches today. The whole of scripture works together as one unit and does not contradict one another. Paul directed Timothy to study the Old Testament, and this was after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. We should do likewise.

2 Timothy 3

“Difficult Times Will Come”

     1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

      10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 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.

—-

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.