Category Archives: Holy / Holiness

Would You Risk Your Success or Comfort To Honor God?

Many in our society try to compartmentalize their faith. Satan has convinced people that it is ok to keep your faith not only private, but invisible. In this way our faith will not hinder our careers or other pursuits where people may persecute or harass us for our faith. This is in direct contradiction to Christ calling us to be a light to others to shine and draw them to Him. We must not keep our faith invisible or entirely private.

Matthew 5:14-16

    14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

For the most part, in the US, we don’t see the levels of life threatening persecution that are common in some majority Muslim countries in the Middle East or in atheist countries like China. Our brothers and sisters in Christ certainly need our prayers. They face true difficulty for their faith. They stand strong. If someone claims to be Christian there, you know they mean it. There are few lukewarm Christians there, because it is not worth the cost unless you really believe.

However, even here in the US we face some level of cultural backlash against openly living out our faith in business. There are law suits or rebukes that we may offend someone. We each must decide what we are willing to do for Christ. What are we willing to risk to honor and obey Him? It is better to decide ahead of time, before the persecution comes to avoid rationalizing why we can accept a little more private faith… really an invisible faith… because we want to protect our “success” or comfort.

Daniel stands as an excellent example. He was successful at his job. He was liked by the king. He not only stood to lose these things, but also he knew he faced the lion’s den. He prayed anyway. He could have closed his window perhaps or blocked it. He could have prayed when he knew no one would be around. He refused to change his prayer behavior because of outside pressure. He did not let “it’s illegal” become an excuse to stop praying to God or to hiding his relationship with God. Daniel was a man of great faith, whom I admire.

How many of us avoid praying or have almost no prayer time even with no persecution? How many of us just allow ourselves to get “too busy” for prayer? We let the daily concerns and activities of the world choke out our prayer life with YHWH.

I hope and pray I would do like Daniel, while admittedly hoping I never have to face a situation like that one. I have, however, made conscious choices to not hide my faith at work, even if that would be more easily accepted. I am increasing my prayer time and asking YHWH to help me truly enjoy and look forward to prayer time. I pray YHWH gives me courage and boldness to live for Him and I encourage you to do the same.

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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 Tale Of Two Responses To Christ

Passover and Unleavened Bread are important celebrations to Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and His disciples. Yeshua participated in these holy celebrations and so did his disciples. We see further, that is was important from the fact that Mark includes this explicitly in the timeline of events leading up to Yeshua’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This event was an important part of the timeline for us to understand.

We also get insight in Mark14 into two very different responses to Yeshua. The chief priests, who present themselves to the people as if they are holy and set apart for YHWH’s purposes, are plotting to kill Yeshua… God Himself walking among them. Meanwhile, a humble woman, a “sinner”, comes to anoint him and honor him with very expensive perfume and her own personal time and effort.

This provides a stark contrast that reminds us to use careful discernment in clearly identifying who is following YHWH and honoring him with their lives and who is just playing a part to look holy before the people. To be sure, we should start by looking in the mirror and making sure we have the right attitude toward our Creator.

Mark 14:1-11

Death Plot and Anointing

      1Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

      3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

      10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

Discern carefully who truly follows after Yeshua and learns from him, changing their lives to be more like him, and who uses Yeshua and the scriptures only to manipulate the message to their own gain and the appearance of holiness. In some cases, they genuinely fool even themselves. Do not be so foolish as to assume anyone in “church” leadership is holy and a true disciple of Yeshua, or that others who are not in those positions are not true disciples.

We all have a choice in how we will respond to Yeshua. Will we reject him entirely, will we pretend to serve him but let wickedness and selfishness reign in us, or will we humbly and faithfully serve him even when others will mock us for it?

How will you choose to respond to his offer of love and personal relationship 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.

Are God’s Ways Really That Odd?

Growing up in a society that has truly rejected much of God’s word, it is not surprising that much of what God instructed us to do would seem odd to me when I first read or studied it. I am accustomed to hearing people dismiss as “odd” the customs and guidelines that God set aside in instructing His people for what holidays to celebrate and how. Today’s brief scripture in Exodus is not the best place to get the details about what God tells His people to do in regards to holidays, or more accurately “holy days”. However, it is one of several places in His word that instruct us in His desires for how we should celebrate and why. (For those who are unfamiliar, the Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover.)

Exodus 23:14-19

Three National Feasts

      14“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16“Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

      18“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.

      19“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.
“You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.

Are God’s instructions really that odd? Let us compare them to our common cultural holidays and see if they are really that unusual.

Worldwide people celebrate Christmas with a tremendous focus on pagan symbols and traditions. Mistletoe is supposed to make us kiss someone, anyone, if we stand beneath it? Parents lie to their children about Santa Clause and flying reindeer… even going to the extreme to deceive them by leaving out carrots, milk or cookies at night and eating some of them? At Easter we are supposed to paint eggs and hide them? We are supposed to dress up as monsters at Halloween and go door to door threatening people that we will play tricks on them if they do not give us free candy. All of these are just simple examples of pagan traditions that simply are not questioned when it comes to celebrating holidays. But seemingly God’s instructions to celebrate holy days strike people as odd and outdated. As a matter of fact, some of you are probably angry just reading this article where I question these common and accepted traditions.

I challenge any who claim to follow Christ to truly spend time in prayer and personal reflection considering which of these types of celebrations are truly odd and which are actually holy and set apart for God’s purposes.  Just because we are used to it, or our parents and grandparents and neighbors do it does not mean it honors God.  Let us look to God’s instruction for what we should and should not do rather than looking to people. Just because we “have always done it” a certain way does not make us right.

Once we awaken to the benefit of celebrating YHWH’s holy days, we can start to have a good discussion about how to do so.  We will not be able to do animal sacrifices, nor will we need to try. Even for those who do not believe that Christ fulfilled this part of the law, we can not do the sacrifices YHWH’s way without the temple and the Levitical priesthood. But there are fun and meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate YHWH’s holy days that can draw us nearer to him and each other.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Resources To Help You Focus On God Rather Than The World

Resources

We all need help sometimes. Turn to God and those who serve Him rather than the world. Whether we are trying to find help for someone facing a crisis like abortion, searching for ways to strengthen our marriage, or just to find quality Christian entertainment… there are a lot of resources out there that call out for our attention, but many do not honor God. At Hearing From Jesus we try to help by sorting through some of that for you and providing recommendations that honor Jesus.

We invite and encourage you to click through some of these links and review some resources we have found helpful. This is not intended to be a complete list, but a rather a seed list to help you get started.  This list is a standard page on our website and you can get to it anytime, not just through this post. To save the webpage link, just click “Resources” at the top of this article.

If you have identified Christian resources you recommend for inclusion on our website, please submit via our Contact Us page.

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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.

Perfected In Unity With Yeshua And The Father, Not In Unity With The World

For the full text of the prayer (perhaps blessing) that Yeshua is praying over His disciples, click the link to John 17 below. Today’s scripture focuses on the last part of it.

John 17:22-26

Their Future Glory

     22“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

      25“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Sounds like a beautiful blessing. I would love to pray this for followers of Christ and have others pray it for me. That we should have the love of Christ in us as the love of the Father was in Him… that we should be one with Christ as the Father was one with Him. And the purpose?

that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved [the disciples], even as You have loved Me

There is no prayer that the disciples be one with the world! This is a prayer so that we would be one with Yeshua and the Father, which puts us separate and apart from the world.

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

Yeshua’s Prayer For His Disciples

Yeshua came to the Father in prayer for His disciples as He prepared to leave. We can learn much by reviewing and considering His words.

John 17:13-21

The Disciples in the World

     13“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

      20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • Yeshua wanted His disciples to have His joy made full in themselves
  • He gave us the instructions of YHWH to this purpose for making our joy full. We can rightly conclude He intended for us to obey them, not just be aware of them.
  • Those who follow Yeshua, like Yeshua, are not “of the world”. The world will hate and reject us, usually more so as we stand and live more boldly for Christ. This does not mean every person will hate us, but one need only look around at newspapers for national and world events to see that followers of Christ are persecuted in varying degrees depending on where they are in the world. (I do not mean people who claim Christ and live like the world… the devil and the world love these folks.)
  • We need the Father’s help to protect us from Satan. Yes, he is a real adversary.
  • Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Yeshua asks YHWH to make us holy through truth, or through the word. Again, we can reasonably conclude He intends for us to live according to the word rather than the same way the world lives.
  • Here, Yeshua specifically calls out that He is praying not just for this specific group of men, but for all who believe in Him.
  • His desire is for us as His followers to be united. We can see this is not the case throughout the world. This can seem difficult at times, because we are not called to accept false teaching, but we are called to unity. Many disagree on the true application of scripture creating division. We should allow room for debate where scripture permits, but there are some teachings that are heretical and dangerous and need to be rejected. (e.g. The teaching that everyone who claims Yeshua in name pleases the Lord and goes to heaven even if they are without repentance and do not change their lives to match His instruction.)

I encourage you to pray and reflect on these verses and ask the Father to enlighten you on their full meaning and application for your life.

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

What Is Mardi Gras and Should Christians Celebrate It?

What is Mardi Gras and why do so many Christians celebrate it? I grew up in a Catholic church and never could quite figure out how people could say that Mardi Gras was a “Christian holiday”. People broadly seemed to have accepted the concept that Christ wants us to embrace wild parties, drunkenness, public nudity, gluttony and other sinful behavior as a precursor to a period of repentance which follows. If it is not obvious enough that celebrating Mardi Gras is not a way to edify, honor, or lift up Christ then try a more academic exercise. Where in scripture did Jesus demonstrate or teach that we should sin greatly before a period of repentance? It’s not there. In fact, the opposite.

The call to repentance is real, but not the call to sin before it.

This does not even begin to touch on the focus that Mardi Gras puts on pagan gods associated with parades and other events.

Matthew 4:17

      17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Romans 6

      1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

      8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

      12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

      15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

      20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are called to righteousness and not to sin. How then can those in the church widely accept and embrace sin as a “Christian holiday”? The answer is that we have not followed the Lord’s instructions. He commands us not to learn the ways of the pagans and not to celebrate as they do. But all too often our common cultural holidays have been greatly influenced by pagan celebrations. The church has chosen to accept and blend pagan practices alongside or in place of how the Lord wants us to worship Him.

Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

   1“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. 2“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3“You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5“But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.

In order to choose to follow the Lord His way, which is the only true way to follow Him, then we must turn away from and reject pagan celebrations which have been blended with or replaced God’s instructions for how we are to worship Him and how we are to live. Let us not make excuses, accepting the lifestyle of the pagans as our own, no matter how long the family traditions have been established. When we start making exceptions, we often end up with things like Mardi Gras… many who claim to be Christian accept it and would defend it… but none can justify it based on scripture or God’s word. It has become part of the culture based on a historical choices and family traditions. Let us seek the Lord and the Lord’s way alone to live submitted to Him. Let us not blend with the ways of the pagans but rather turn back to our Lord wholeheartedly and without hesitation.

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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 Parable of the Two Fathers

This is not a biblical parable, but one based on biblical teaching and in fact it is a true story many times over.

In a certain town there were two fathers who were neighbors, each of whom had a son. Both men wanted to honor God. They both went to church every Sunday and prayed with their sons every night. They both read the Bible with their sons.

The first father truly wanted to submit his life and that of his family to God, even if it was difficult at times. The father was sometimes mocked for being different from those around him when he was standing up for God, and his son noticed. The father refused to lie to his son, and his son noticed this also. This father always remained clear that there is only one God, whom we can know through Jesus Christ. He taught his son that God has already defined what is good and bad and there are real consequences for sin, which is to say… rebelling against God’s instruction and authority. As the son grew older, he sometimes wondered how he could know Jesus was real since he could not “see” him or “touch” him but accepted it because his father was always honest with him. He learned to stand for Jesus even when it was hard, because he learned by watching his father.

The second father was content to continue living his life in the traditions of his parents and grandparents. It felt comfortable, most of his friends and neighbors lived their lives in a similar manner so there was no conflict. He did not feel that God really cared that much about some areas of how he and his family led their daily lives. He told his son that Jesus was the way to God, but he also liked to tell his son seemingly harmless made up stories about make believe characters. He enjoyed telling his son about the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, and of course Santa Claus. He continued the stories for many years until finally his son would learn on his own that each story was not true. The father even went out of his way to provide false evidence that the stories were true… like money under the pillow for a tooth, or telling his son that the bunny hid the eggs and brought him a basket, and of course having lots of presents at Christmas… all from Santa.  He even ate cookies and milk on behalf of Santa. After all, it’s just a bit of fun. What harm can it do?

As the son of the second father grew older, he was confused. The son sometimes wondered how he could know Jesus was real since he could not “see” him or “touch” him. He loved his father, but throughout his life his father had lied to him and even gone out of his way to fake evidence in many make believe characters. He could not help  but wonder if Jesus and the Bible were like the rest of the made up stories and he had many doubts.

Ask yourself about each of the made up stories that you may tell… “Is lying to my children about this really honoring God or teaching God’s message effectively?” (To be clear, lying is when you convince your child the made up story is true… not just telling them a fictional story.) But let’s go further, beyond even lying to your children and the possible mistrust that creates for more important issues later.

Let’s take the story of Santa Claus as a representative example and see what it teaches. I will name a few, you can probably think of more.

  • The focus of Christmas, especially for kids, is “What stuff do I get?” With Santa, the story does not even focus at all on giving but rather only on getting. Trying to tell a child Christmas is about Jesus, but then overwhelming them with presents and made up stories about Santa is like telling a child to eat a carrot and then putting in front of them a table full of cookies, brownies, cakes, and ice cream. At the very least, the table of desserts is a major distraction. In most cases, the children will remember the desserts long after they forget the carrot.
  • Gifts are not received from parents out of love, but rather you receive gifts because you deserve them. You were “good”.  Rather than a sign of love and sacrifice from parents who worked to earn money and chose to spend it on presents… it is a right to get gifts.
  • Supposed accountability for “bad” behavior (e.g. coal in the stocking) never really happens. There really is no punishment for poor behavior… or perhaps we just need to do more good than we do bad… and then the bad is ok.
  • There is another person, different from God, that has god like powers. He is essentially all knowing, very powerful, and can be in many places at the same time. He is eternal. He judges who is good and bad.
  • After spending years lying to children and convincing them that Santa is real, even when they start to recognize it and ask questions, we will then tell them it was all in fun… but trust me about Jesus.

Santa is in fact accepted around the world by many because he is absolutely not pointing to God, but rather distracting attention away from God or replacing God completely. Christians and non-Christians alike  accept him. In one very recent example, Santa’s picture was used as a spokesman for a billboard campaign by atheists basically saying we can be good without need of God. “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness sake.” (link to article here). [How an atheist can define “good” while claiming there is no God is an interesting conversation for another day.]

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 10:32-39.

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? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

All Scripture Is Inspired By YHWH

Deuteronomy 23 has a collection of instructions. Let’s review after you read the chapter. Read through, you may be surprised by how much is relevant today to our lives.

Deuteronomy 23

Persons Excluded from the Assembly

     1“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 2“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 3“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, 4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. 6“You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.

      7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. 8“The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

      9“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

      10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11“But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp.

      12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14“Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

      15“You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16“He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

      17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18“You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

      19“You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20“You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

      21“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22“However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23“You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.

      24“When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket.

      25“When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

Doubtless, this is another passage which seems strange to us in our culture and time today. It may stir up some questions for those who wish to dig below the surface meaning. If we at first do not understand, remember who YHWH is and that He is holy and just. Start with that and we realize that if parts of this are troubling, we should study more to fully understand the context of the times when it was written. I am not an expert in these matters to be sure. My surface thoughts are as follows:

  • First, I ask myself what it means to be excluded from the assembly of the Lord. There are different views and I am not sure which is right. Does it mean excluded from the worship gathering? excluded from marriage? excluded from temple service? excluded from leadership? I am not sure which is right. Worthy of study for those who want to find out more.
  • Other nations would at times make eunuchs to serve in a palace or temple. Such a disfigurement is not pleasing to the Lord. I do not believe this was intended to punish victims but rather to prevent doing this to God’s people.
  •  It may seem harsh to exclude illegitimate children. However, this puts more emphasis on families following YHWH’s instructions and being holy. I believe the intent is to deter people from having illegitimate children, rather than intending to punish the children. It was not something to be normalized and accepted. Depending on the meaning of forbidden from the assembly of the Lord, this could also simply mean that they were not to be working in the temple, which is set apart and holy.
  • Amonites and Moabites were held accountable in memory of the sins of their people against Israel. We as a nation may face similar consequences for rebellion against the Lord. Though not all of us may rebel or reject Him, we may all face certain consequences together as one people.
  •  The people were then specifically told not to hate the Edomites and Egyptians. Interesting to note that YHWH never makes an equivalence of all people groups as equally righteous and valued. Those who rebel and fight against YHWH and His people are not to be accepted. Others, are specifically called out to not be hated. Our culture today must surely think this odd as many try to say that “all cultures and all nations” are to be respected and accepted as they are equally, with none better than the rest. YHWH seems to indicate differently.
  • There are certain behaviors that make us unclean. Rather than trying to excuse it and reject it, try to understand what and why and try to avoid them. If we become unclean, take time to seek to be cleansed. Spend that time with the Lord in prayer. Seek forgiveness.
  • YHWH takes the term “walking among us” seriously. He intends for us to keep our “camp” (or our home) clean with no indecent thing among us. Think about your home today. Are there indecent things among you? It may be idols. It may be pornography. It may be inappropriate clothing. It may simply even be television programs and music that is indecent. Cleanse your home and let nothing indecent be among you so that the Lord may walk among you.
  • Be kind to an escaped slave. Do not return them to their owner. Let them live among you. This is very gracious, in particular in a time when it was written when slavery was more common. I could also derive perhaps that we are to help those escaping difficult circumstances and not treat them badly. Rather help them to get free, even if it is from abuse or addiction. Note it does not say let entire nations and tribes of foreigners come into your midst (e.g. open borders). Rather it is focused on helping individuals, which could be assimilated and helped more effectively in smaller numbers.
  • Prostitution is wrong. YHWH does not even want money from such objectionable and offensive behavior. He wants no part of it. I hypothesize also that He does not want any part of many other objectionable behaviors even if they bring profit… perhaps drugs, human slavery, abortion, and many more.
  • As a follower of YHWH, we are not to loan to other believers for interest. If we loan it is to help them, not make money off them by increasing the cost burden to them by adding interest.
  • You are not required to make vows to YHWH, but if you do… take it seriously and do not delay in fulfilling it. Better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Further, you can ask YHWH to help you without making a vow.
  • We also see more guidance in reference to grain and grapes. We can share from our neighbors hospitality, but do not become greedy and become a burden by taking more than you should.

I for one am always surprised when I try to reflect on passages like this one. My first reaction is that none of it applies and I can “skip” it or read quickly. After prayer and a serious attempt to understand, even without lengthy, detailed study, I am amazed how relevant this guidance still remains for our lives.

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

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Should A Christian Celebrate Halloween?

Far to often we just go along with whatever “everyone else” is doing when holidays are concerned. We can always rationalize why many of the common “holidays” such as Halloween “are harmless” or even “an opportunity to participate so as to lead others to Christ”. However, never in scripture does God encourage us to in any way imitate the pagan celebrations of others as a way of “getting along with” or “blending in with” or even witnessing to non believers. We are instead called to be set apart from pagan traditions and worship of false gods in every way. We are to do things only God’s way. Being different is an important part of being a light to draw people to Christ. If those who follow Christ blend in with everyone else, why should they accept Christ and change their lives?

The following article is a good summary about Halloween, so I choose not to write my own. I recommend you pray for God to give you an open mind and test celebration of Halloween, not against what your church does or your family has done for generations, but against the word of God.

A few easy questions to ask yourself…  “Does celebrating this holiday honor God and point others to Him? Could it actually confuse others as to what Christ calls us to do and how He calls us to act? If I ignore traditions of men for a moment and test the holiday (and how it is celebrated) against scripture, is there any way I would ever reasonably conclude I should celebrate this based on the Bible itself?”

ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

The October 31st holiday that we today know as Halloween has strong roots in paganism and is closely connected with worship of the Enemy of this world, Satan. It is a holiday that generally glorifies the dark things of this world, rather than the light of Jesus Christ, The Truth.

Have you noticed how costumes and masks are getting generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year? Unfortunately, the gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society, not only on Halloween, but throughout the year in frequent horror movies and television programs.

My family does not celebrate it or participate in it. We do not believe that our children are “missing out,” and neither do they. Other days are used for costumes and parties. Happily, all of our children have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that, as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11).

What about church “Harvest Festivals” held on October 31? Although we understand the rational and good intentions behind them, we don’t think they are the best approach. Our family tends to agree with the author of an article called “Are ‘Harvest Parties’ for Christians?” (written by a self-avowed former witch and now active Christian). Harvest parties on October 31 tend to assume that “our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won’t be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something. And indeed they are, if we allow them to spend Halloween in celebration.” There are better things to do on Halloween than partying.

Also, we need to teach our children that “the fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians who feel differently than we about Halloween, or institutions that promote Halloween, but” “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

Click the following link to read the full article: ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

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