Category Archives: Obeying God

Is God’s Law A Burden?

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is written originally in Hebrew in a literary style that begins one section after another, each with the next letter of the aleph bet (Hebrew alphabet). It is beautiful and passionate. It focuses on the law of God. It is only one place in scripture that speaks about the law of God, but it is a great place to start. Read and digest all that it claims about the law of God and then ask yourself, does describe the law as burdensome? difficult? harsh? or does it describe it as quite different than that? Does it describe something that we would want to be set free from? Is it bondage?

Put aside what you think you know about the law from those who do not understand it and listen to how it is described by one who understood it well and loved our heavenly Father very deeply. Don’t worry for now about what is the full content of “the law” or if we can fully follow the law today, but instead let us just try to better understand if scripture reveals it to be burdensome or something else.

As you grow in understanding, you will actually come to realize that much of the teaching today in the Christian church is still based on the law, even while many Christians say it is obsolete… tithing, not coveting, no idols, etc. Even the need for blood to be shed for forgiveness of sin comes from the Law. Let us not forget that Yeshua shed his blood for our sin. It is far beyond the 10 commandments, but many now simply pick and choose what they will or will not obey.

Before we begin with Psalm 119, however, let’s hear what Yeshua had to say about the law given through Moses. Some claim He never taught that people should follow it.

Matthew 23: 1-4

      1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

In fact, if we study the Moses seat we learn that only the books of Moses would be taught from one sitting in it. Thus we see Yeshua clearly told the people to obey what was taught from Moses . The burden, as Yeshua describes it, was associated with all the extra rules made by the Pharisees, not the commands given by YHWH through Moses.

Yeshua went on at a different time to clearly state he did not come to abolish the Law and that whoever annuls the commandments will be least in the kingdom but whoever keeps and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom. It certainly sounds like we should not be dismissing the Law to easily.

Matthew 5:17-20

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

Psalm 119

Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God.

Aleph.

     1How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.

      2How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.

      3They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.

      4You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.

      5Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!

      6Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.

      7I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.

      8I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!

Beth.

     9How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

      10With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

      11Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

      12Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

      13With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.

      14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

      15I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.

      16I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

Gimel.

     17Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

      18Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

      19I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

      20My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.

      21You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.

      22Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.

      23Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

      24Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.

Daleth.

    25My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

      26I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.

      27Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.

      28My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

      29Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.

      30I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.

      31I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!

      32I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

He.

     33Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

      34Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

      35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

      36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.

      37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.

      38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

      39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.

      40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Vav.

     41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;

      42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

      43And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.

      44So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.

      45And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.

      46I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.

      47I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.

      48And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Zayin.

49Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.

      50This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.

      51The arrogant utterly deride me,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.

      52I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD,
And comfort myself.

      53Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law.

      54Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.

      55O LORD, I remember Your name in the night,
And keep Your law.

      56This has become mine,
That I observe Your precepts.

Heth.

57The LORD is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.

      58I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.

      59I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

      60I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.

      61The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.

      62At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      63I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.

      64The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

Teth.

65You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.

      66Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.

      67Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

      68You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

      69The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.

      70Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.

      71It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.

      72The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Yodh.

     73Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

      74May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.

      75I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

      76O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.

      77May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.

      78May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

      79May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.

      80May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

Kaph.

     81My soul languishes for Your salvation;
I wait for Your word.

      82My eyes fail with longing for Your word,
While I say, “When will You comfort me?”

      83Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget Your statutes.

      84How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?

      85The arrogant have dug pits for me,
Men who are not in accord with Your law.

      86All Your commandments are faithful;
They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!

      87They almost destroyed me on earth,
But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.

      88Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.

Lamedh.

89Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.

      90Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.

      91They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.

      92If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.

      93I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.

      94I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.

      95The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.

      96I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Mem.

      97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

      98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

      99I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

      100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.

      101I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.

      102I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.

      103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

      104From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Nun.

     105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

      106I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

      107I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

      108O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And teach me Your ordinances.

      109My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.

      110The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.

      111I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.

      112I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.

Samekh.

     113I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.

      114You are my hiding place and my shield;
I wait for Your word.

      115Depart from me, evildoers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God.

      116Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

      117Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.

      118You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes,
For their deceitfulness is useless.

      119You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.

      120My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.

Ayin.

     121I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.

      122Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.

      123My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.

      124Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.

      125I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.

      126It is time for the LORD to act,
For they have broken Your law.

      127Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.

      128Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way.

Pe.

     129Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.

      130The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.

      131I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.

      132Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.

      133Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

      134Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.

      135Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.

      136My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

Tsadhe.

     137Righteous are You, O LORD,
And upright are Your judgments.

      138You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.

      139My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.

      140Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.

      141I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.

      142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.

      143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.

      144Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

Qoph.

     145I cried with all my heart; answer me, O LORD!
I will observe Your statutes.

      146I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.

      147I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.

      148My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

      149Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your ordinances.

      150Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.

      151You are near, O LORD,
And all Your commandments are truth.

      152Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

Resh.

     153Look upon my affliction and rescue me,
For I do not forget Your law.

      154Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

      155Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.

      156Great are Your mercies, O LORD;
Revive me according to Your ordinances.

      157Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.

      158I behold the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.

      159Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.

      160The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

Shin.

     161Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.

      162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.

      163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.

      164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

      166I hope for Your salvation, O LORD,
And do Your commandments.

      167My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.

      168I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.

Tav.

     169Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.

      170Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.

      171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

      172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

      173Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.

      174I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.

      175Let my soul live that it may praise You,
And let Your ordinances help me.

      176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

In case it is not obvious, let’s recap a few of the things that are written in scripture about the law of God…

righteous, blessed, teaches me, do not forget it, do not go astray from it, pure, treasured, rejoice, delight,  I trust in Your word, , I will walk at liberty because I seek Your precepts, I shall delight in Your commandments which I love, I will lift up my hands to Your commandments which I love, Your statutes are my songs, I shall give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances, I delight in your law, better than gold and silver,  forever Your word is settled in heaven, I would have perished if Your law had not been my delight, oh how I love Your law!, Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, Your words are sweeter than honey, Your word is a lamp unto my feet, I love Your commandments above gold, the unfolding of Your word brings light and gives understanding to the simple, I longed for Your commandments, Your word is very pure and therefore Your servant loves it, Your law is truth, Your commandments are my delight, I will observe Your statutes, the wicked are far from Your law, every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting, I love Your law, I praise You because of Your ordinances, those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble, all Your commandments are righteousness, Your law is my delight

The law sounds wonderful as described here. It is not a burden that we need to be free of it, as so many teach today. If it were, would not Yeshua have said so? Would not Yeshua have told us the law was abolished? obsolete? The law described here is something which helps us, something in which we can rejoice and delight, something we can treasure. It is not followed out of obligation or for salvation anymore than obeying any other instructions of Yeshua.

It sounds like a beautiful set of instructions from the Lord, which I want to understand more… both in their original context and with regards to how they still apply to my life today. Psalm 119, if we let it, can really be a testimony for the law of God as a wonderful gift and guide that helps us to know how God thinks we should live and what He values. Obviously to fully understand the depths of what is in the law and how it may still apply, we need to study the Torah (1st 5 books of the Bible).  Some of the elements of the law (e.g. ceremonial law) can no longer be carried out as God specified while there is no temple and no Levitical priesthood, but that should not discourage us from understanding and following God’s law as much as we can. Should we walk away from doing as Christ taught just because we can’t do it perfectly?

It is hard to consider this for many as it contradicts so much of what is taught in churches today. However, we must decide what is the unchanging record of God’s instruction… the Bible or the word of man?  We can be sure that Yeshua referred to the scriptures as the source of truth for the law of God, not the laws of the Pharisees.

The Torah is a great place to start for any Christian, many of whom have been taught to really focus only on the New Testament. Spoiler alert… if the New Testament is the building, the Old Testament is the foundation that holds it up. They are not contradictory, but rather complementary.

Pray with me that our Creator and Father would open our eyes, and the eyes of His followers around the world, that we may behold wonderful things from His law. Give us understanding, that we may observe His law and keep it with all our heart.

To learn more:

God Is Love, But How Do I Love Him And Others?

God is love. Let us take care to understand this properly. Many take this to lead into error in lifestyles today. God is love, yes. But how? Is he love in that he accepts everyone as they are without repentance and without change? Absolutely not. He loves us enough to send Yeshua to die for us so our sins can be forgiven. He loves us enough that Yeshua reinforced the teaching of the Torah and prophets as the core standard by which we should live. He did this by word and action. He loves us enough to send the Holy Spirit to dwell within us as believers as guide and counselor to help us turn away from sin and the ways of the world and live God’s way.

1 John 4:7-21

God Is Love

     7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

      15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

A few more points John makes in today’s scripture… God loved us first, before we loved him. our love is perfected by abiding in God (living his way and in relation with him). There is no fear in love. In his perfect love, if we abide in him, we need not fear the day of judgment. John also emphasizes we love our brother.

Two questions come to mind for clarification… who is our brother? and how do we love God’s way?

Yeshua addresses the first question in Matthew. It is not “everyone who breathes”. He is focused on those who love and accept and submit to the Father, not just in words, but in “doing” the will of the Father.

Matthew 12:46-50

  46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

How do we love God’s way? Some claim it is to accept everyone how they are and have no expectation of repentance or change in their lives. This is man’s way, not God’s way. The entirety of the Torah and the prophets is based on loving God and loving one another. We love God and people God’s way when we live according to the law of God, which is documented in the Torah and the prophets. Who said so? Yeshua himself.

Matthew 22:36-40

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

Let us take great care not to use “love” as an excuse to encourage people to remain in sin and separated from God. True love shines a light on truth and invites them to follow us to the Father through the Son… to change and be less like the world and more like Yeshua.

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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 Has A Plan, And It Is Typically Different Than We Expect

 

The LORD chose from among the people a king at their request. As it typically goes, the LORD selected someone that would not normally be chosen if it were men doing the choosing. Saul was from a small tribe. He was not a leader of the tribe.

Further, the LORD chose him in a very unique manner. Saul lost donkeys and went looking for them. It was in this way that He the LORD brought him to Samuel. It seems then the LORD rather than directly declaring him king, has a bit more of a process to lead Saul through on his journey to become king, perhaps to help prepare him.

Notice that Saul is not exactly embracing this situation without reservation. He goes along for the most part, but ends up hiding when it is time to step up and be recognized.

The LORD’s ways are not our ways. He does things differently. We may not always understand them. Ask him for the faith to trust him completely. Even when we may be off distracted, “looking for lost donkeys”, let us remember that perhaps the LORD has a plan for us and it may develop in unexpected ways.

1 Samuel 10

Saul among Prophets

     1Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? 2“When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3“Then you will go on further from there, and you will come as far as the oak of Tabor, and there three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a jug of wine; 4and they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from their hand. 5“Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. 6“Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. 7“It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you. 8“And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”

      9Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. 10When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. 11It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

      14Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.” 15Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned.

Saul Publicly Chosen King

     17Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah; 18and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19“But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”

      20Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.” 23So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”

      25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

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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.

Love YHWH and Love One Another (In Deeds, Not Words)

The closer we get to YHWH, the less the world will recognize or know us. As we become children of YHWH, they reject us more because they do not know him. Those of us who abide in him, strive to sin no more. We do not remain in sin and expect him to forgive us despite intentional, repeated rebellion against his ways. Practicing righteousness is akin to obeying YHWH’s law and sinning is akin to practicing lawlessness. Words alone are empty. Let us love in word and deed… both love YHWH and love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We show love by obeying his instructions rather than the ways of men.

1 John 3

Children of God Love One Another

     1See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

      4Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

      11For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

      13Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

      23This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Note the repeated emphasis on keeping his commandments as loving and abiding in him. Let us not fall prey to new and sadly increasingly accepted false teaching that says we can do whatever we want because we have “freedom in Christ”. He never made us free with the intent that we should sin more. We are free from the penalty of sin and forgiven. If we are truly in Christ, we will want to obey the instructions of the Father.

Grace is how YHWH shows love to us. Obeying and living according to his instructions is how we show love to him and each other. All the law and the prophets are based on this principle according to Yeshua.

Matthew 22:34-40

    34But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

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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.

Christ Is Our Advocate, Let Us Walk As He Walked

I find it interesting that John refers to his audience as “my little children”. I assume this is in relation to his role being a bit like a father to them in teaching and guiding them. It may imply that they are not mature in Christ yet. Many Christians to some degree understand the concept that Christ is our advocate, but let us be sure not to skip over the details. Read carefully and I will highlight some key themes on the other side of the scripture.

1 John 2:1-14

Christ Is Our Advocate

      1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

      3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

      7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We are to stop sinning. We do not use Christ’s sacrifice as an excuse to go on sinning. However, if we do sin, we can be forgiven through Christ. (Read more on The Message of the Cross.)

If we are to know him, we follow his commandments. We walk as he walked. We do not go our own way or the way of the culture around us, no matter how much they claim to follow Christ. We can compare the actions of the church to his commandments and how Christ walked and know if they are liars or followers of Christ. We are to use discernment, not simply accept everything that is told us by someone claiming to speak YHWH’s word. The Bible is our most reliable source. Read it. Study it. Test everything. Pray for enlightenment and discernment. Pray for boldness and courage to follow the word of YHWH even when other Christians around us do not understand. Just for clarity, Yeshua walked as a Jewish Rabbi, who obeyed the law of YHWH. He did not simply pick and choose which commands he would obey and which he would not. He did not only obey the ten commandments, but also the entirety of the law including such things as celebrating YHWH’s appointed times laid out in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) such as Passover, Unleavened  Bread, Tabernacles, etc. (Read more on Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?)

If the Light is in us, we are to love our brother. I think it would be interesting to study further who is my brother, but at a quick review, I will suggest it is the words of Yeshua himself who can clarify best.

Matthew 12:46-50

    46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Note that this does not imply we consider everyone living as a brother. We consider those who do the will of the Father as brothers.

Through Christ we can be forgiven and overcome the evil one. In this statement, let us remember there remains an evil one who comes against us. Only through Christ will we find victory. Read more on Spiritual Warfare.

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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 Humble Servant of YHWH and Fellow Man

Reading about Samuel as a prophet, he truly comes across as a humble man. He is not a king with great wealth and power. He is, however, a righteous man, a prophet, a servant of both YHWH and man. He traveled routinely to judge for the people without any evidence of getting rich from it. Let us take a lesson from him and strive to serve both YHWH and man and let us do so by first following YHWH and then letting him show us what we are to do in serving man.

1 Samuel 7:15-17

Samuel’s Ministry

      15Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16He used to go annually on circuit to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. 17Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the LORD.

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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 There Be No Darkness In Us

John brings a strong message in his opening to 1 John. He does not sugar coat it. God is light. There is no darkness. If we walk in darkness, we are not with him… period… no clarifications or exceptions. If, on the other hand, we walk according to his ways, then we not only have fellowship with him, but with each other.

John drives home a second point as well. Let us not say or pretend we have no sin. We do. But let us thankfully acknowledge that he cleanses us from unrighteousness from that sin. However, this does not happen just because we claim Yeshua and keep on sinning, keep on doing things our own way instead of his. That is walking in darkness. It is important for us to admit our sin and ask forgiveness and turn from it and stop walking in darkness. There is also an indication here that makes the case that we don’t need to continue animal sacrifices for forgiveness of sin as Yeshua’s blood cleanses us of all sin. (However, let us not forget that sin offering was only one of several types of sacrifices laid out in the Torah for YHWH’s people. It is an interesting study to consider the others, but not for today.)

 1 John 1:5-10

God Is Light

      5This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

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

The LORD Is In Control; Trust Him And Do Things His Way

Never doubt the LORD is ultimately in control, even when facing difficult circumstances. We are not promised an easy path with no trouble. Quite the contrary. We are warned that we should build our lives on the solid rock of Christ and his teachings so that when the storms come, we can stand firm. (Matthew 7:24-29)

The people of Israel lost the ark and it was out of their power to confront the Philistines and get it back. The LORD brought it back in his own timing after showing his power and glory to the Philistines.

We can also be reminded that, even when we celebrate and want to give glory to YHWH, be sure to do it his way, rather than our own. He smote over 50,000 Israelites who looked inside the ark. Only the Levites were supposed to handle the ark. In their excitement, the people disobeyed, and suffered greatly for it. The ark indeed represented the presence of YHWH. He is holy and the people were to approach him only in the ways he had prescribed, not in whatever way they wanted. There could clearly be a lot of study on this point alone.

1 Samuel 6

The Ark Returned to Israel

      1Now the ark of the LORD had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we shall send it to its place.” 3They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” 4Then they said, “What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?” And they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5“So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land. 6“Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? 7“Now therefore, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves home, away from them. 8“Take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. 9“Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”

      10Then the men did so, and took two milch cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11They put the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors. 12And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh.

      13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone; and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices that day to the LORD. 16When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned to Ekron that day.

      17These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.

      19He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20The men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up to you.”

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

Appreciating Those Who Serve As We Approach Veteran’s Day

Though we should always first look to the LORD with thanksgiving for our freedom and protection, we can also take time to give thanks to those who serve or have served in the military which protects our nation from foreign threats. Not every person who serves in the military should be stereotyped as some kind of automatic hero, but by and large they provide a valuable service and do so with honor and at personal risk. Most recognize that they serve for something higher than themselves, their country, freedom for themselves and others, a constitutional republic (we are actually not a democracy and there are good reasons for it), and a way of life provided by our Creator.

Thank you to all who serve actively or have served. I pray you would draw near to our Father and be blessed.

This is also a good time to remember that we should also seek to serve in the LORD’s army. We submit to him. We face difficulty and persecution for him when we live his way. We face rejection. We go where others do not wish to go or do what others do not wish to do… for a higher purpose that is beyond ourselves. We celebrate joyfully even when we have difficulty that we can bring glory to his name.

Thank you to all who serve in the LORD’s army, submitting yourself to him and trusting in him! May you also be blessed and draw near to 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.