Category Archives: Love

Let Scripture Define the Truth of Who God Is, Not the Teachings of Man

Let us allow scripture to inform us about the character of YHWH rather than our own assumptions and what we have learned from the teaching of man. We know that YHWH is love. For those that study the word, we also know that we do not define how to love his way. All of the law and the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. These are not my words, but rather the words of Yeshua in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

This is very different than today’s common view where loving others is taken to mean accepting them as they are in whatever sin they embrace, no matter if they rebel against God or not. That is not the truth revealed in God’s word.

God loves people, but he hates sin and rebellion against him. He is not only love, but also holy and righteous. Sin will carry with it a price. For those of us who accept Christ as savior and repent of our sins to follow him, our price has been paid. For those who reject Christ, there is no other path. Living in a constant state of unforgiven and active rebellion is not pleasing to God. Don’t assume he is ok with it just  because he may be patient in bringing it to an end. He waited hundreds of years before bringing the Israelites into the promised land to punish those living their who rejected and rebelled against him. I would say that is far more patient than any of us. However, ultimately there was a time for judgment.

Joshua 11

Northern Palestine Taken

     1Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— 3to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

      6Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. 8The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. 9Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

      10Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. 11They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. 14All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. 15Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

      16Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. 18Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      21Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained. 23So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.

Perhaps the toughest verses for us to absorb are the following:

19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The time for mercy had past. The Lord himself saw to it that he would make sure no other groups came in peace to Joshua, so they could be fully destroyed.

If this makes you uncomfortable, that is ok. But take care to start with an understanding that God is right and just and without error. Take care that he is also unchanging though time in his character.

Now ask him to show you how to process this truth about him in a way that increases your knowledge of his character rather than allowing yourself to just dismiss it and continue to think of him as nothing but a cuddly grandpa in the sky. Sin has serious consequences. If we don’t recognize that it is very offensive to him, we may make poor choices in how we live or encourage others to live. In the right context we must acknowledge that accepting people as they are in sin so as to avoid offending them is actually not loving them. For any of us whose lives have been transformed by Christ, we realize that it changes us in this life and brings more joy and fulfillment in addition to leading us to heaven.   Thus to encourage people to accept sin in their lives rather than repent is like encouraging people to stay in a burning building. True love and concern for them demands that we tell them the truth of God’s word, even if it offends them. Let us each seek to find an effective way to do so and pray for boldness and wisdom in how we approach it.

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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.

Trust the Lord. Seek to Glorify Him. Don’t Compare Your Path to Others.

Yeshua continued to speak with Peter and indicated to him a bit about what kind of death he would experience to glorify YHWH. This conversation continued after Yeshua asked Peter three times if he loved Yeshua. Peter answered three times yes. Perhaps this was related to Peter’s three time denial of Christ before his death? Perhaps it was for emphasis to prepare Peter for what difficulties may come in the future as he lives (and dies) for the glory of YHWH.

John 21:18-23

The Love Motivation

     15So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Our Times Are in His Hand

     18“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.19Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

      20Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” 23Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Yeshua also makes a point that each of us should focus on what he wants for us, not compare that to what he may want for someone else. If he chooses one disciple to die for him and one to live for him, who are we to complain? what is that to us? Let us put our full trust in him instead of comparing our situation always to that of another, as if all of us should receive the same treatment in the same way.

Let each of us be content with what he has for us. Trust the Lord. Love the Lord. Seek to glorify him. Do not compare your path to that of others.

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

How Should We Relate To One Another? To The World?

How should we expect to relate to one another as disciples of Christ? How should we expect to relate to the world? These remain important questions. When people mix up the two, they often end up compromising truth in search of approval by men. To often we try to be loved by the world and are willing to create division amongst followers of Christ to try to achieve this goal. We often get it backwards.

Yeshua answered these questions for us. As disciples, or “learners”, of Christ we should love one another as He has loved us. This is significant. He laid down His life for us.

How we expect to relate to the world is quite different. If we are with Christ, we should expect to be rejected and hated by the world, because we are not of the world. Too often today churches and Christians try to change their beliefs or doctrine to suit society and culture around them so they are more acceptable to others outside the church or so they can face less conflict. This is a trap. We are to be a light, that contrasts with darkness. Those who live in darkness hate the light (John 3:19-21). We are to testify about Him in the face of conflict with the world. Do not expect to follow Christ and be loved or accepted by the world.

John 15:12-17

Disciples’ Relation to Each Other

     12“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.

Disciples’ Relation to the World

     18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23“He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25“But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’

      26“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

To summarize, we are to love one another as disciples of Christ and be prepared to face conflict with the world as we testify to Christ. Let us not lose track of that reality and try to please the world, for if we do, we will lose Christ in the process.

We should also be thoughtful about what “love one another” means. It is not to accept everyone in their sin. We don’t get to define what love means. The Father already has defined it. We need to understand His definition of love.

Matthew 22:36-40

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Yeshua points out very directly that loving YHWH and loving one another is the basis of the whole Law and the Prophets. If we are to love one another (fellow disciples of Christ), then we must seek to understand the Law and the Prophets that are recorded in scripture in the Tanakh, or what we more commonly refer to as the Old Testament. This is not my opinion, but the direction of Christ Himself.

I believe that the New Testament is also helpful in studying what love is, but we must take care not to create new meaning that is inconsistent with the Old Testament, lest we untether ourselves from truth and begin to drift. I do find 1 Corinthians 13 helpful.

1 Corinthians 13

The Excellence of Love

      1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

      4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

      8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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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 is Love?

What is love? This is a very old question with many answers. Context is important. We may “love pizza”, but that is different than when we say we “love our spouse”. Today, the world even steals the word “love” as a replacement for “sex”, which is completely incorrect. These are certainly not the same meaning. Greek, the language in which the New Testament was largely written, had multiple different words for different types of love. In English, we have one word and we must therefore pay close attention to context.

Many put a lot of time and focus into the highly marketed cultural holiday of Valentines Day. Candy makers will tell you that you must buy chocolates to show you love your spouse. Greeting card makers insist you must “care to send the very best” and thus spend $5 or more on a card, and send one to everyone you know. Flowers are a must, right? But now they even sell gold dipped flowers. Wow. Of course, not to be outdone, Jewelers insist that you are a buffoon if you don’t buy diamonds for that special someone in your life. We do well to remember that this is marketing intended to sell things and get our money. This is not how God tells us to show love to one another.

God calls us to show love to one another daily, not once a year, or on a few annual special occasions!

1 Corinthians 13

The Excellence of Love

      1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

      4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

      8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If you want to give a gift, and it is wisely within your budget to do so, go ahead. But don’t do so because you “have to” or are “expected to”. These gifts mean little and will ultimately have a very limited impact if you do not show love the way God tells us to. Often times just giving gifts on designated marketing holidays comes to be expected and not appreciated as much. If you choose to give an expensive gift, don’t do it because it is Valentines Day, do so because you want to give a gift and can wisely afford it within your budget. Consider intentionally giving it at some other time besides the widely marketed holidays for an even greater impact.

Warning… if you come to make changes in how you celebrate these marketing holidays, discuss it openly with your spouse ahead of time! Don’t surprise someone by not giving them something they already expect from years of habit.

When you are ready to truly grow in maturity, turn towards God’s definition of love and begin showing it today to those you love. No warning necessary. They will greatly appreciate how you treat them. However, you may consider sharing the scripture with your spouse and helping one another as you both make the effort to shift focus from the world’s definition of love to God’s.

You can also ask yourself, if I am celebrating love, would it not be right to celebrate loving God as well as loving one another? And to come in thanksgiving to Him for all the love He has shown, shows, and will show us? If we are to focus on love in the Biblical sense, Valentines Day just does not match up very well at all. If you explore the origins of this celebration you will find that once again the Catholic church embraced this festival, but it was based first on a pagan celebration. As followers of Christ, we are better off separating from these pagan festivals and loving one another His way instead of man’s way.

World Religion News: Pagan origin of Valentines day

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Father Has Sent Us A Helper, But How Does He Help?

As Yeshua was preparing to leave His disciples, He spoke to them about another Helper whom the Father would send. He says the world cannot receive this Helper because it does not see Him or know Him, but Yeshua’s disciples would receive Him.

He gives encouraging words to them about Him being one with the Father and the disciples will see Him again, even while the world can not. I am sure they may have struggled to understand exactly what this means, but how encouraging that though Yeshua would depart, they would not be alone. He encourages them to be peaceful and not fearful.

Read through the scripture and reflect on what the Helper is there to help them with as you read and we can meet again on the other side of the scripture.

John 14:16-31

Role of the Spirit

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

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

      25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 27“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28“You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. 30“I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

As I read this scripture, it seems to me the Helper is there to help them live according to the teaching and instruction of Yeshua, which is totally consistent with the law and the prophets provided by the Father previously. The Helper is to help them understand scripture so they can live it out according to YHWH’s commands. He does not, as some seem to believe, make us do everything right without the need to study scripture anymore. Nowhere will you find Yeshua say that the Helper has replaced the need for God’s law or our obedience to it. Rather He helps us understand it and helps us to live it more than we could do on our own.  He brings teaching back to our minds to help us.

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

21“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

23Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,  and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

In fact, Yeshua sets the example and holds Himself to it. He shows His love for the Father through obedience as well.

31but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.

How we view the Holy Spirit is important. We can rejoice in this Helper, but let us take care not to fall into the trap of believing that we can go on auto pilot and no longer study or live according to the instructions of the Father. We must still study and seek the Lord and try to live for Him His way. The Spirit is a wonderful gift, but He is only a Helper. He will not prevent us from doing wrong if we are bound and determined to ignore God’s written instruction and do things our own way or the way of the world around us.

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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 Has Seen Yeshua, Has Seen The Father

For any who continue to say that Yeshua was a good teacher or prophet, but not God (yes, people actually claim this, such as Muslims)… you have to really be creative to redefine this scripture (and many others). Yeshua claims to be one with the Father, that He is in the Father. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, Jesus is either a madman, a liar, or God as He said. I am convinced He is God. That is where the evidence leads.

John 14:7-15

Oneness with the Father

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

      8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

      15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Also, let us not lose verse 15 in this context. In the context of a discussion where Yeshua is making a point about being one with God, He then says that those who love Him will obey His commandments. This is not a new set of commandments. He is referring to the same commandments that so many Christians dismiss today… the law of God as taught by Moses.

For more information, read:

Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean Today? 

Is God’s Law A Burden?

Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots

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

The Parable of the Widower Who Remarried

Just to be clear, this is not a biblical parable, but one based on biblical teaching and one that is true many times over.

There is a story about a young man who was happily married. He loved his wife very much. To show it, he learned her favorite flowers, favorite candy, learned how to help around the house the way that she liked, he even bought her the style of clothes she liked to wear. Of course, holiday celebrations were no exception. He honored her in the ways that she told him she appreciated and she knew that he loved her. They were married many years and many of their ways became strong habits and  traditions.

After a time, his wife grew ill and died. He truly missed her. He grieved for a time and eventually remarried.

His second wife did not like the same things or do things the same way as his first wife. He would tell his new wife how much he loved her but than continue in the old habits and traditions he created for his first wife, even buying the same style of clothing for her and giving her the flowers that his first wife enjoyed instead of the ones she liked. His second wife asked him gently many times to change how he tried to honor her and explained what she liked and did not like. Despite her many efforts to communicate clearly, the man refused to change from his habits and traditions to learn to show love and honor his second wife the way she appreciated and desired.  He simply would tell her that he was doing it for her to show his love and that it was all for her. She was deeply hurt and at times very offended. She grew to doubt whether he loved her at all or rather she was just a replacement because the one he still loved was no longer there.

How obvious it must seem to all of us that the man is making a big mistake and certainly not showing love by insisting he do things his way or the way of his first wife. How is the parable going to end? If it is to end well, the man must admit he was wrong and decide to visibly repent of, or turn away from, his ways and learn the ways of the one he wishes to love and honor.

In a way you get to finish the story… you see many of us treat God the same way as the man in the parable treats his second wife. We have learned and accepted certain ways of doing things. In some cases they are now traditions with happy memories that have been accepted for hundreds or thousands of years. None the less, God has clearly communicated what He likes and does not like… what is good and bad in the holy scriptures.

Not being aware that we are doing what is bad makes it no less offensive to Him. Why did we not take time to learn what He values…what He wants from us?

Claiming we can take something that is bad in God’s eyes and make it into something that is good is like saying we can give someone a weed, but call it a rose and everything will be great.

We must each decide if we are to cling to our traditions of man, like the Pharisees and Sadducees who came against Jesus, or if we are to stand up and do things God’s way as Jesus and His disciples did, even if we are mocked for it.

Would it surprise you to know that Christmas trees, evergreen wreaths, mistletoe, gift exchange, even celebrating on Dec 25 are all  based on pagan worship practices which the church originally banned but later accepted because people would not stop doing them? Of course much of Easter celebration also has origins in pagan worship as well. The church decided if we can’t get people to stop their detestable pagan worship, then we will join them but make up a new story to explain the items previously used in pagan worship. They took a weed and called it a rose.

If you truly love God, and submit your life to God… take the time to learn more about what He wants and not just stick to traditions of men that are offensive to Him. You can easily study online even using Christian encyclopedia’s like Zondervan or other encyclopedias. The origins are not secret, only that it has been accepted to celebrate God in ways that were developed by pagans for their gods.  119Ministries.com is putting together an effective summary in video form you can watch, but the project has not been completed yet (The Christmas Question). They have previous teachings already available you may consider as well (Sunburned – Part 1 and Sunburned – Part 2).

I recognize that this is an emotional subject for many and admitting that we should change is very hard. Even if we accept it and change our behavior, there will be much difficulty among family. This is to be expected when we stand for Christ above all others. Jesus said so himself in Matthew 10:23-39.

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’[l]

37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

We each must decide whether or not we submit to God fully or hold tightly to the traditions of man. By the way… study of the new testament clearly shows that clutching to the traditions of man was the way of the Pharisees and Sadducees, not the way of Jesus.

God wants his people to be holy (set apart for God’s use) and righteous (living according to God’s commands rather than the world’s). He wants us to put Him first, above everything else.

Challenge yourself to objectively evaluate your traditions and seek first the kingdom of God. Do not dismiss this quickly but rather prayerfully seek God to show you the truth of His word and how to apply it in your life.

 

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Love God and Love One Another… By Following God’s Law

Many say the law of YHWH through Moses was harsh, outdated or barbaric. I say it was way ahead of its time. So much of it is based on protecting and helping people. The rest is based on honoring God. We would do well to take it more seriously today and apply it in our lives.

Deuteronomy 24:6-22

Sundry Laws

      6“No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge.

      7“If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.

      8“Be careful against an infection of leprosy, that you diligently observe and do according to all that the Levitical priests teach you; as I have commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9“Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

      10“When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. 11“You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12“If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13“When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the LORD your God.

      14“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. 15“You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the LORD and it become sin in you.

      16“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

      17“You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18“But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

      19“When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20“When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.

      21“When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 22“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

Carefully reflect on each of these laws. Who is being helped in each case? How? Do we still help others in this way today? What can you do in your life to help others in a similar way to how these laws were created to help people?

Matthew 22:36-40

 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEARTAND WITH ALL YOUR SOULAND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

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

A Young Bride And Her Lover

Why is it that when I go to write, or perhaps you to read, the title “A Young Bride and Her Lover” it brings to my mind that she is cheating on her husband with someone else? Our culture has corrupted the idea of sex and love in and outside of marriage. In fact, the reference is to a young bride and her husband, but our society has so damaged this image and tried to paint sex and love inside marriage as dull and boring and all manner of sinful exercise of sex outside marriage as somehow exciting. This is backwards. YHWH had it right and our culture often has it wrong.

Song of Solomon is an interesting book in the Bible to be sure. It is focused on a passionate relationship between a bride and her groom. So many people mischaracterize YHWH’s position on sexual relations, claiming He just has a long list of “do nots”. Dismissing or getting angry at YHWH for that is like getting mad at someone who makes hair dryers for putting the label on it that says “keep away from water”. The warnings and boundaries are there for your protection. YHWH invented the gift of sexual relationship between a man and a woman. He gave it to us as part of the marriage relationship. He created us to feel passion and excitement, but it is intended only for marriage of one man and one woman. Yes, it is supposed to be enjoyed in marriage!

As you read Song of Solomon, realize that it was first written in a different time, place and culture. Do not get tripped up over some of the references (e.g. “like the tents of Kedar”), but seek to understand the excitement and passion they felt for one another… the love they felt for one another.

Song of Solomon 1

The Young Shulammite Bride and Jerusalem’s Daughters

      1The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

      2“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.

      3“Your oils have a pleasing fragrance,
Your name is like purified oil;
Therefore the maidens love you.

      4“Draw me after you and let us run together!
The king has brought me into his chambers.”

“We will rejoice in you and be glad;
We will extol your love more than wine.
Rightly do they love you.”

      5“I am black but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the curtains of Solomon.

      6“Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,
For the sun has burned me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
They made me caretaker of the vineyards,
But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.

      7“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do you pasture your flock,
Where do you make it lie down at noon?
For why should I be like one who veils herself
Beside the flocks of your companions?”

Solomon, the Lover, Speaks

     8“If you yourself do not know,
Most beautiful among women,
Go forth on the trail of the flock
And pasture your young goats
By the tents of the shepherds.

      9“To me, my darling, you are like
My mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.

      10“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
Your neck with strings of beads.”

      11“We will make for you ornaments of gold
With beads of silver.”

      12“While the king was at his table,
My perfume gave forth its fragrance.

      13“My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh
Which lies all night between my breasts.

      14“My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
In the vineyards of Engedi.”

      15“How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves.”

      16“How handsome you are, my beloved,
And so pleasant!
Indeed, our couch is luxuriant!

      17“The beams of our houses are cedars,
Our rafters, cypresses.

I feel it worthwhile to mention, that though Solomon was granted great wisdom by YHWH when He was young, He still made a significant mistake in embracing the concept of more than one wife and of concubines that was more common back then. It was a fail on his part and drew Him apart from YHWH as Solomon got older. We have the opportunity to learn from him what is good and reject the mistakes he made.

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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 One Another

We are indeed called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and to behave properly toward outsiders.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

     9Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

The mistake that many make in this regard is that this does not mean accept everyone as they are without calling them to repent of their sinful actions and attitudes. We are to repent and turn away from sin. To love others does not mean to accept their sin and let them remain in it. To love someone is to help them out of illness and suffering… and like it is to help them out of sin. YHWH has elaborated throughout the Bible in the law and the prophets as well as the teaching of Christ to show us how to love one another. It all points to repenting, to turning away from sin, and calling others to do likewise.

Even in 1 Thessalonians 4, before Paul addresses loving one another he addresses some areas of sin in which they need to avoid certain behavior.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

      1Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

Paul first speaks to sanctification, being made holy and set apart for the purposes of YHWH.

Loving one another is the guidance, but we are called to do so YHWH’s way, not our own way. Just like with our own children, loving them sometimes means we tell them what to do and what not to do. YHWH does the same for us. We should share what He has taught us with others. This will help them far more than simply being kind to them and leaving them suffering in their own sin and separation from the Father, even if it is hard for them to hear. And yes… some will reject the message… but that is no reason to avoid our delivering the truth just as Yeshua did and the prophets before Him.

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