Category Archives: Obeying God

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Ephraim

We are continuing in the book of Joshua in a series of chapters in which Joshua documents how the promised land was divided up between the tribes. It is clearly written as an historical account, and not a moral book or book of wisdom. We may be tempted to quickly overlook this passage and the following chapters as not relevant or “boring”. However, reflect on the fact that this was written as an historical document. It is a true record of what has transpired between YHWH and his people. This should be very encouraging as it gives credibility to the rest of the Bible as more than just a book of moral stories. The Bible is in fact true and an accurate historical document.

Joshua 16

Territory of Ephraim

     1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

      4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now this was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued beyond it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9together with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.

It seems subtle, but we also see in this record that the Israelites failed to drive out the Canaanites. Here we see they became forced laborers. It would be interesting to study what other roles those Canaanites played in history since they were not driven out as they should have been. Most obvious would seem that they remained a corrupting influence on the Israelites due to their pagan religion and lifestyle. A careful study of the Bible and history documented elsewhere likely would bear an interesting story for what role they played.

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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 Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

At Hearing From Jesus, we take the commands of our Lord very seriously and that certainly includes The Great Commission. In fact, it is this command that most directly inspires our ministry. We want to obey Jesus and make disciples of all the nations.

Besides being the command of our Lord, it is also a natural desire we have in gratitude to God for His grace and forgiveness and also out of love for other people, who may be headed for eternal separation from God in hell, unless they hear and study the true word of God.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To learn more about the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, we recommend you study our teaching, The Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations, before continuing with this teaching on building a personal discipleship plan.

Whether Hearing From Jesus is a primary source for your personal study and growth with the Lord or just another valuable reference site, we have structured our ministry to help you become a disciple, a learner, of Christ and then to prepare to go and make disciples of others. This last point is important… it should not be our goal to do the absolute minimum we can and still get into Heaven. Those who have this attitude are far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our goal is to grow spiritually to the point that we are feeding ourselves from God’s word and growing in our relationship with God from now until we die. It is a journey that we never finish, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus and less like our old sinful nature. We are to learn well enough to then teach others effectively and help them become disciples as well… so they can , in turn, teach others.

Overwhelming? It can be. So, how do we begin such a task?

Let us begin by studying and then following the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can review how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship. In all the examples I just mentioned, these servants of God knew the ultimate authority was God, not a religious authority figure or scholars or traditions. We must seek to develop a personal relationship with God. We must not cling to traditions of men, even if they are taught by religious authority figures. Even the Pope is quite fallible and what he teaches must be tested against the word of God and sadly it often contradicts God’s word. We must test everything against the truth of God’s scripture and seek God in prayer consistently. To be a disciple of Christ we must be willing to put Him first, above and before all other parts of our lives and it will be hard. We must lose our own lives in order to find true life with Jesus.

Matthew 10:34-39

34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Jesus did not attend formal schooling or study at seminary. These things may be helpful, but are not necessary and for most of us, not practical. Jesus studied the scriptures rigorously and with devotion since He was as child. So knowledgeable was He, that when He was twelve, He was amazing the scholars and teachers of the law.

Luke 2:46-47

46Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

If you are coming to know Jesus later in life, do not worry. Use the time God has given you and get started studying (not just reading) the Bible consistently today. God will reveal much to a devoted disciple through His word. Jesus’ disciples certainly did not start studying scripture as children but God used them in a mighty way!

Jesus had a powerful prayer life. Communicating with God to receive God’s instruction through prayer is essential to live as an effective disciple. Jesus did not pray when convenient… when He had time. Jesus stayed up late and got up early. Consistent prayer is essential to staying submitted to God’s will rather than our own. To study more about Jesus’ prayer life, we recommend reading Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby.

When it was time for His public ministry to begin, Jesus found a small set of disciples, or followers. He had an inner circle in which He invested much time (Peter, James, John) and He had a wider group, but still small, that included all twelve disciples. He invested much time in the twelve, but not as much as He invested in the closer circle of three. Jesus also taught the masses who sought to hear God’s word. He never turned away those who were genuinely seeking the word of God.

We must recognize that Jesus forced no one to be a disciple or to listen to His message. Instead He choose people as disciples who came enthusiastically and willingly. They were eager to learn and not rebelling against God, insisting on clutching onto their traditions or even their personal lives before meeting Jesus.  They were willing to put Jesus as a priority above all other things. They left much behind of what they knew to follow Him. Others whom he invited, such as the rich young ruler introduced in Matthew 19:16, could not put him first and thus chose not to follow him.

Jesus made time for people and demonstrated compassion, but also remained focused on going about doing God’s work. He dealt with mockers appropriately so as not to let them distract Him from getting to those who wanted to hear.  Jesus would reply to those trying to trick Him, but only to provide a teachable moment and an opportunity for them to hear truth and repent, and then He would move on.

In three years He created a team of disciples who could go out and teach others. This is what disciple means… Jesus does not call us to just remain a “baby” in the faith, needing constant care and feeding. Jesus calls us to be disciples who can learn and teach others to learn. Those others then teach more and there is a multiplying effect that has dramatically impacted the world over the last two thousand years… starting from the humble beginnings of a poor carpenter who taught truth and stood up against the established  teachers and scholars of the time and against centuries of traditions of men which were put above the commands of God.

We will briefly comment regarding Moses, Elijah, and Paul but of course you can study and learn more about them by reading the scriptures.

Moses trained judges to be prepared to help meet the needs of the people in order to properly lead such a large number of people. [Exodus 18:17-26]

Elijah invested time to disciple Elisha, who became his successor. [1Kings 19:19-21]

Paul managed his disciples over a wider geography, across many different cities and regions.  He taught to crowds, big and small, on his missionary journeys. However, he clearly had a close circle of disciples with whom he traveled and invested significant time and a wider circle of individuals whom he discipled through occasional visits and more frequently through correspondence (e.g. letters).

So… what do we learn from Jesus and His servants?  What is a practical way to begin?

We must all begin with study of the scripture and prayer. We must develop a strong personal relationship with God.  Do not get in a hurry to be the teacher. Jesus did not start discipling others immediately, he studied from time of child and started with disciples at 30 years old. His disciples spent three years under His instruction and care before going out to disciple others on their own. They maintained a support structure often going out in pairs and coming back to consult with one another.

Most of us need to identify resources and techniques for studying scripture, and possibly find a teacher or disciple who is further on the journey than we are to help lead the way and answer questions. We must learn to feed ourselves with God’s help, still listening to the wise, but testing all they teach against scripture.

When you are ready, start seeking those you can invest time and relationship in to come together to study God’s word with commitment and devotion. Seek your disciples, without giving up or forsaking your relationship with your teacher or with God. Keep feeding yourself and continue on the journey to know, love, and serve God or you will not be effective in leading others. Even if you do not feel comfortable guiding a Bible study on your own, set up a  Bible study anyway. You can use material from our ministry or from other teachers who have already prepared and shared the message of God’s word. Just remember to test everything against the whole of scripture using your own discernment and prayer…  as even good teachers have some doctrine incorrect… and some of it quite significant.

After a time, do not rush it, and staying connected to the disciples you study with… each of you perhaps in pairs can also set up separate small groups to disciple others. Invest in more than just Bible study, but in life activities and support one another. Do not tolerate among your disciples those who would tempt you to sloth or to disregard and rebel against God’s word by rationalizing sin or worldly culture as acceptable. Do not tolerate among your close disciples those that refuse to submit to God and repent of their sin, clinging to their sin nature and refusing to change behaviors to honor God. Follow Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-17.

15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Listen, also, to your fellow disciples when they point out to you your sin… for the wise listen to good advice with thanksgiving and become wiser. A fool despises correction.

Stay focused. Consider writing down a plan for your personal discipleship both as a learner and as a teacher. Review periodically, perhaps a few times a year, to evaluate your progress and commitment to this mission. Pray for God’s help frequently… “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Please reach out to us with questions through our Contact Us  page. Our intent is to teach you and support you in becoming a disciple, not just to give you a word from the scriptures daily… though that is a great start.

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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 Futility of Life Without YHWH

Reading a chapter at a time from Ecclesiastes can lose some of the focus and clarity compared to reading the whole book start to finish. The context is important. A wise man, likely Solomon, reflects on his life and observations toward the end of his life. He shares this wisdom. The key conclusion is found in chapter 12. It helps keep the rest of the book in context for us.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

 13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

It is difficult to find any true and lasting significance in life without consideration of our Creator and our relationship with him. With that in mind, let’s explore chapter 6.

Ecclesiastes 6

The Futility of Life

     1There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men— 2a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction. 3If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, 4for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5“It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he. 6“Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”

      7All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied. 8For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? 9What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.

      10Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

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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.

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Judah

There are passages in scripture where a common first reaction is to wonder what the value could possibly be in reading them and how they could possibly apply today. We should heed Paul’s guidance in 2 Timothy 3:16 and recall that he is specifically calling out the Torah, or Old Testament. The gospels most likely had not been written yet and 2 Timothy in the preceding verses refers to the scriptures that Timothy has known since he was a child.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

With that in mind, we will come to a section of Joshua in which the territory given to each tribe is laid out in detail. Joshua 15 starts with Judah. What can this possibly mean for us today? There are likely several levels, only a few of which I will touch on here. There seem to always be multiple layers or levels to the significance of scripture. The more time you spend studying it, the more treasure and significance you find.

Two things that strike me very powerfully in these following chapters of Joshua are the following:

  • There many are parts of the scriptures that are clearly written in the style of an historical record. This means that they include detailed records of events. This should encourage us that the Bible is true and accurate! Someone making up these stories would not take the time to add such fine detail.
  • Also, we should see that our Father is faithful. He promised the land to the Israelites a long time before and now we should see this as the fulfillment of his promise. This should also encourage us. Though his timing is different than ours, we can always count on our Father being loyal and faithful to his word.
  • Our Father cares about the details in the lives of his people. He was very involved in dividing up the land in very specific way in which he deemed fair and appropriate. He did not simply say … here is the land, go figure out how to divide it yourselves.  So also he cares about our lives today. Once again, this should be encouraging to those who seek to please him and dwell with him.

Joshua 15

Territory of Judah

     1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

      13Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

      20This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families.

      21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah, 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan, 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth, 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam and Shema and Moladah, 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet, 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah, 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem, 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah, 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah, 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

      33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

      37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad, 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel, 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon, 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish, 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

      42Libnah and Ether and Ashan, 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib, 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

      45Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

      47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

      48In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 49and Dannah and Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim, 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

      52Arab and Dumah and Eshan, 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah, 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

      55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

      58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor, 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

      60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

      61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah, 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

      63Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

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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.

Caleb Was A Righteous Servant, Faithful and Patient

We hear a lot about Joshua as a loyal follower of YHWH, but often Caleb can be overlooked. Caleb stood firm with Joshua in faith when they spied out the land. The Lord recognized the faith of Caleb and Joshua both. He rewarded them by letting them see the promised land while they were still in good health. Take note, however, that their reward was delayed quite a bit, and they still had to endure wandering in the desert due to the sins of their peers. Let us remember that we don’t always get instant gratification and feedback from the Lord when we do well. That does not mean the Lord is not pleased or will not reward us… only that it is sometimes delayed.

Joshua 14

Caleb’s Request

     1Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2by the lot of their inheritance, as the LORD commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5Thus the sons of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.

      6Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. 8“Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully. 9“So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ 10“Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11“I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12“Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”

      13So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. 15Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb was a righteous servant, both faithful and patient. Let us follow his example.

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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 Lord Wants To Be Engaged In The Affairs Of His Children

YHWH started the journey of the Israelites under Moses and continued under Joshua. He was involved and engaged. He was not some “far away God” who is busy with other things. He was then and is now still present amongst his people and interested in their lives. He gives direction and he delivers results. To experience his plan, however, we must take action in obedience to what he tells us. This model is reflected clearly in the taking of the promised land by the Israelites. YHWH was involved in even which part of the land goes to which tribe.

The Lord wanted to be involved in the lives of his people, even in details and governance. He is not to be separated to only part of our lives. We are not to hold him out of parts of our lives so we can maintain control. We are to yield all areas of our lives in submission to him and do so willingly and without complaint. We are to realize that when we do this, we will more fully experience what he has for us, which is better than what we plan for ourselves.

Joshua 13

Canaan Divided among the Tribes

     1Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed. 2“This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and all those of the Geshurites; 3from the Shihor which is east of Egypt, even as far as the border of Ekron to the north (it is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines: the Gazite, the Ashdodite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite, the Ekronite; and the Avvite 4to the south, all the land of the Canaanite, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorite; 5and the land of the Gebalite, and all of Lebanon, toward the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 6“All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon as far as Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians, I will drive them out from before the sons of Israel; only allot it to Israel for an inheritance as I have commanded you. 7“Now therefore, apportion this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”

      8With the other half-tribe, the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance which Moses gave them beyond the Jordan to the east, just as Moses the servant of the LORD gave to them; 9from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley, and all the plain of Medeba, as far as Dibon; 10and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the border of the sons of Ammon; 11and Gilead, and the territory of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan as far as Salecah; 12all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); for Moses struck them and dispossessed them. 13But the sons of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurites or the Maacathites; for Geshur and Maacath live among Israel until this day. 14Only to the tribe of Levi he did not give an inheritance; the offerings by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as He spoke to him.

      15So Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the sons of Reuben according to their families. 16Their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley and all the plain by Medeba; 17Heshbon, and all its cities which are on the plain: Dibon and Bamoth-baal and Beth-baal-meon, 18and Jahaz and Kedemoth and Mephaath, 19and Kiriathaim and Sibmah and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20and Beth-peor and the slopes of Pisgah and Beth-jeshimoth, 21even all the cities of the plain and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses struck with the chiefs of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain. 23The border of the sons of Reuben was the Jordan. This was the inheritance of the sons of Reuben according to their families, the cities and their villages.

      24Moses also gave an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the sons of Gad, according to their families. 25Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the sons of Ammon, as far as Aroer which is before Rabbah; 26and from Heshbon as far as Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim as far as the border of Debir; 27and in the valley, Beth-haram and Beth-nimrah and Succoth and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as a border, as far as the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan to the east. 28This is the inheritance of the sons of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages.

      29Moses also gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh; and it was for the half-tribe of the sons of Manasseh according to their families. 30Their territory was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities; 31also half of Gilead, with Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were for the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh, for half of the sons of Machir according to their families.

      32These are the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho to the east. 33But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.

I think sometimes we miss the fact that he wants to be engaged in our lives in even a detailed level. Sometimes we miss it because we are the ones not truly submitting to him in all things or spending enough time in prayer and study to grow closer to him and to closely hear him. The more we seek him the more he will reveal himself to us.

Matthew 7:7-11

      7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask 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.

Yeshua Is The Passover Lamb

As the final days of his earthly ministry were passing, Yeshua led His disciples to prepare to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Think about that for a few moments. Yeshua, God himself living among us, chose to spend some of the closing moments of His brief earthly ministry in preparation of Passover. It was clearly important to him and for good reason.

The timing is not coincidental that Yeshua would be sacrificed for our sins at Passover time. It was intended that way by our Creator. Passover not only reminds us of deliverance from bondage in Egypt but also foreshadows our deliverance from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua was sacrificed as our Passover lamb… dying for our sins so we can be set free from sin and death.

Mark 14:12-21

The Last Passover

      12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15“And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

      17When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21“For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

These celebrations are not “Jewish” tradition.  They are not just somehow a meaningless or obsolete instruction from our Creator either. Now we who believe in Yeshua as Messiah have more reason to celebrate it than ever before! Passover and Unleavened Bread are part of God’s tradition for celebrating and remembering our deliverance from sin through Christ! It is a wonderful way to teach our children about the Creator’s relationship with His people.

Exodus 13:6-10

6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

We should enjoy taking part in our Father’s appointed times rather than creating our own based on the traditions of men. It is not just that He tells us to… that got me started to look into it. Now I see how powerfully these celebrations tie into the core element of my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and what a wonderful way it is to teach my children. As I reflected personally in this regard, it occurred to me. God has some pretty good ideas. (That is quite an understatement!)

I invite you to take some small steps even today to learn more about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how it is not only a celebration of YHWH* freeing His people out of slavery in Egypt, but also a celebration of our being freed from bondage to sin through the death and resurrection of Yeshua!

*Note: YHWH is the four letter name of God in the Bible derived from the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew did not record vowel sounds, we no longer know how to pronounce it for sure. It is often pronounced Yehovah or Yahweh today. Interesting history if you want to study it.

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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.

Do Not Pass Over Passover

Most of us who grew up as Christians do not recognize or truly understand the Biblical holidays or “holy” days that YHWH  instructed his people to celebrate. Christians turned away long ago from his appointed times to follow their own traditions, which are now blended with many pagan traditions. There was a clear intention by man to separate from the Hebrew roots of our faith. We must now each ask ourselves if that was right or wrong and decide what we will do personally in our pursuit of YHWH.

Exodus 12 provides a clear example of where God places a lot of emphasis on celebrating according to His instruction… Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yet many Christians ignore this celebration because the traditions of men have taught them to consider this a “Jewish” holiday. The Bible says it is God’s holy day, not a Jewish holiday.

Remember, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that he would not let God’s people go easily. He did so in order that He would demonstrate more signs and wonders so that His people would remember how He set them free from slavery in Egypt. God did not want His people to soon forget the momentous event. So much so that He even commands his people to celebrate it multiple times in scripture.

If it was that important to celebrate in order to look back on how YHWH delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, how much more so now that we can also look back and celebrate remembering how Yeshua died as our Passover lamb, setting us free from slavery to sin once and for all. When we celebrate it, the focus is on our relationship with our Father and his power and what he has done for us as his people… unlike common holidays of today in which the focus is on a magical man in red who brings gifts or a mythical bunny that brings candy.

Exodus 12:42-51

Ordinance of the Passover

      42It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

      43The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45“A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46“It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47“All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49“The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

      50Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51And on that same day the LORD brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

We should remember as well, that God used Passover as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus was to make on our behalf. God even arranged it so that Jesus was crucified at Passover because He wanted to emphasize the two events together… God setting His people free from slavery in Egypt and God setting His people free from slavery to sin.

For those of us who wish to draw nearer to our Father, prayerfully consider studying and observing Passover, even though it feels strange at first and contradicts what most Christian churches teach.

Considering this change personally can seem very overwhelming to many. Many Christian’s have adopted such a strong tradition of celebrating according to man made pagan traditions that it is hard to turn away from them. It often creates difficulty and stress within a family. Jesus warned us about this type of conflict when we choose to follow Him, even within our own families.

Matthew 10:32-39

     32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

      34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.

      37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Ask yourself… do you wish to please man or God? I encourage you to pray for God to enlighten you and study the scriptures. Amazingly enough, even common encyclopedias identify the pagan traditions in Easter quite readily and consistently. The knowledge is not hidden… but we each have to make a choice about whom we serve and whom we follow.

To say we can only “have fun” by celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies is not true. My family and I find it can be quite fun to celebrate Passover. It clearly reminds us of God setting us free. We enjoy a Passover seder which is rather informal and observe the Sabbath days of rest to celebrate God and family as we rest. We dress up as if we were Israelites on the original Passover, eating the seder prepared to leave Egypt. We then take up our livestock (ok… a dog and plush farm animals) and march out of Egypt and across the Red Sea (ok… around the house with imagination). We even celebrate the days of Unleavened Bread. Of course it felt unusual at first when we started, but we have found that if we just apply a bit of imagination and creativity toward how we celebrate according to God’s instruction, we can do so in a joyful and fun way. We also celebrate Messiah’s sacrifice and his resurrection as part of this appointed time, which is clearly intentional timing from our Creator.

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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.

Reflections On What Matters In Life… by Solomon

Ecclesiastes can certainly come across as depressing and discouraging. It helps to keep in mind the ultimate conclusion that the book is leading up to. The context is an old Solomon, wise and rich in splendor as king over his lifetime. He is reflecting back on the meaning of life. He ultimately concludes the following:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

    13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

It is with this conclusion in mind that it helps to drive home the meaning of the whole book as we read it. Ultimately everything falls short of real significance except fearing God and keeping his commandments.

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

     1Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

      4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

      7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

      9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

      13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.

There are a collection of gems of wisdom in this chapter, all of which are worthy of reflection and prayerful consideration for application in our own lives today. Some that strike me…

  • Oppression is very bad.
  • Empty rivalry is worthless.
  • Two working together are better than one.
  • A poor wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer receives instruction

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

Let 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.