Category Archives: Peace / Rest

Entering His Rest

In Hebrews 3, we read about Yeshua as our high priest and about how the Israelites were not permitted to enter his rest (the promised land) due to their unbelief. In a way, the Israelites entering the promised land through faith (or not entering for lack of faith), foreshadows our own opportunity with Yeshua as our Messiah. We have not earned our way to his rest, but we can find his rest through grace.

The Sabbath is another view which foreshadows ultimate rest. YHWH teaches us about physical rest on Sabbath days as a way of helping us physically but also helping us to understand the spiritual rest we may find in Yeshua. We can better understand the spiritual when we first understand the physical. That is why Yeshua taught in parables so often. The physical Sabbaths remain a meaningful instruction for us from the LORD. We also rest from relying on our works to earn salvation through Yeshua, but in doing so we should be following his example and instructions in how to live because we have submitted to him. Ultimately we also find rest when we die and are brought into the presence of the LORD and / or when the LORD returns for the millennial reign.

In all cases, the rest is not obsolete. In all cases, faith is required.

Hebrews  4

The Believer’s Rest

      1Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

7He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

8For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

      14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

—-

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.

When YHWH Delivers Victory, Praise Him!

When YHWH delivers victory, take time to give him the glory with thanks and praise. Don’t let a simple thank you suffice, when he is worthy of praise as well. Take time to reflect on who he is and what he has done, on what he continues to do. Take time to enjoy the peace that follows trials once he delivers you.

We see a good example of this recorded in Judges 5, and we should apply this to our lives often.

Judges 5

The Song of Deborah and Barak

      1Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,

      2“That the leaders led in Israel,
That the people volunteered,
Bless the LORD!

      3“Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers!
I—to the LORD, I will sing,
I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel.

      4“LORD, when You went out from Seir,
When You marched from the field of Edom,
The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped,
Even the clouds dripped water.

      5“The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD,
This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.

      6“In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted,
And travelers went by roundabout ways.

      7“The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel,
Until I, Deborah, arose,
Until I arose, a mother in Israel.

      8“New gods were chosen;
Then war was in the gates.
Not a shield or a spear was seen
Among forty thousand in Israel.

      9“My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel,
The volunteers among the people;
Bless the LORD!

      10“You who ride on white donkeys,
You who sit on rich carpets,
And you who travel on the road—sing!

      11“At the sound of those who divide flocks among the watering places,
There they shall recount the righteous deeds of the LORD,
The righteous deeds for His peasantry in Israel.
Then the people of the LORD went down to the gates.

      12“Awake, awake, Deborah;
Awake, awake, sing a song!
Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Abinoam.

      13“Then survivors came down to the nobles;
The people of the LORD came down to me as warriors.

      14“From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek came down,
Following you, Benjamin, with your peoples;
From Machir commanders came down,
And from Zebulun those who wield the staff of office.

      15“And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
As was Issachar, so was Barak;
Into the valley they rushed at his heels;
Among the divisions of Reuben
There were great resolves of heart.

      16“Why did you sit among the sheepfolds,
To hear the piping for the flocks?
Among the divisions of Reuben
There were great searchings of heart.

      17“Gilead remained across the Jordan;
And why did Dan stay in ships?
Asher sat at the seashore,
And remained by its landings.

      18“Zebulun was a people who despised their lives even to death,
And Naphtali also, on the high places of the field.

      19“The kings came and fought;
Then fought the kings of Canaan
At Taanach near the waters of Megiddo;
They took no plunder in silver.

      20“The stars fought from heaven,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.

      21“The torrent of Kishon swept them away,
The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
O my soul, march on with strength.

      22“Then the horses’ hoofs beat
From the dashing, the dashing of his valiant steeds.

      23‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD,
‘Utterly curse its inhabitants;
Because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
To the help of the LORD against the warriors.’

      24“Most blessed of women is Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Most blessed is she of women in the tent.

      25“He asked for water and she gave him milk;
In a magnificent bowl she brought him curds.

      26“She reached out her hand for the tent peg,
And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer.
Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head;
And she shattered and pierced his temple.

      27“Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay;
Between her feet he bowed, he fell;
Where he bowed, there he fell dead.

      28“Out of the window she looked and lamented,
The mother of Sisera through the lattice,
‘Why does his chariot delay in coming?
Why do the hoofbeats of his chariots tarry?’

      29“Her wise princesses would answer her,
Indeed she repeats her words to herself,

      30‘Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil?
A maiden, two maidens for every warrior;
To Sisera a spoil of dyed work,
A spoil of dyed work embroidered,
Dyed work of double embroidery on the neck of the spoiler?’

      31“Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD;
But let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.”
And the land was undisturbed for forty years.

—-

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.

Find Peace and Victory By Turning Back to the Father

We begin to see a pattern develop in Judges, one to which we should pay attention. The people turn from YHWH and mix and mingle their practices with those of the pagans. Then YHWH removes his hand of blessing and even raises up enemies against them to discipline them. The people suffer and ultimately cry out to YHWH and he raises up a leader to set them free and lead them to repent. It is only then that the people experience peace.

There is no reason to believe this pattern does not still apply in our relationship with YHWH and for our nations today. We need to humble ourselves and pray that he would have mercy on us and raise up righteous leaders and that his people would turn from sin and return to him and his ways.

Judges 3:9-30

The First Judge Delivers Israel

      9When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

      12Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. 13And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. 14The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Ehud Delivers from Moab

      15But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. 17He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 19But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him. 20Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. 21Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. 22The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out. 23Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.

      24When he had gone out, his servants came and looked, and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool room.” 25They waited until they became anxious; but behold, he did not open the doors of the roof chamber. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead.

      26Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. 28He said to them, “Pursue them, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross. 29They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped. 30So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.

Shamgar Delivers from Philistines

      31After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.

—-

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.

Celebrating Freedom

Many in the USA celebrate freedom as a key part of the heritage of our July 4 national holiday. It commemorates independence for the USA from England and the policies of the government there for which the colonies were not represented. We can be reminded to value our freedom and not take it for granted. Fireworks and parties are commonplace. The birth of a free nation is celebrated. We do not celebrate this freedom by rebelling against the very nation that protects and provides our freedom. We do not declare that our freedom means we are no longer subject to any laws.

This day is a good opportunity for us to reflect deeper on one who is greater than us who also allows us the freedom to make our own choices. Our Creator made us in His image and allows us the freedom to follow Him or live in rebellion to Him, choosing instead to honor and follow the desires of our flesh and sin nature. All of us are inherently sinful. Babies at birth need not be taught to scream when they want something. Young children need to be taught to share, taking what they want comes naturally. We must learn to focus on the needs of others just as we must  learn God’s ways in order to be set apart and different than the world.

Our Father, YHWH, provided us instructions to follow as any good father does for His children. Often the instructions are for the benefit of the children themselves, even if they don’t understand that fully. The instructions have been communicated through thousands of years and neatly compiled into the Bible we have so readily available to us today, so long as we choose to open it or click the link to it. We need only pray for enlightenment from the Spirit and read with a desire to learn and change our behaviors to follow God’s instructions. We should not read with a desire to justify all of our current actions and attitudes… that is redefining God in our image rather than redefining ourselves in His image.

We talk often in Christian community about freedom through Christ. It is amazing, but sadly many get confused by false teaching about this freedom. What are we set free from?

The short answer is that all too often people essentially say we are set free from all boundaries and can do anything and God will be pleased. This is false. This would be akin to saying we are free in the United States and then pretending that there are no laws or boundaries governing what is acceptable behavior and what will land you in prison. God has established guidelines and instructions for us to follow to help us, as a father does for his children. Are we to use our freedom to rebel against the one who gives it to us? No. Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. He sets us free in that we can be reconciled to YHWH even when we do not live out his instructions perfectly to his standard. This means, simply that we can be forgiven for our sins, because Jesus already paid the price required by the law for our sins. We can be set free from condemnation and guilt, but we are to repent from the sinful ways and do things according to God’s instruction. We are to follow Christ.

Romans 8:1-4

1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Many teach that we are set free from the law, from God’s instructions, but this is absurd. Jesus followed God’s instructions throughout His earthly ministry and so did His disciples. In fact, he was judged righteous in that he lived perfectly according to the law. He never taught against following God’s law, only against following the man made traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees that were overburdening people with meaningless traditions and distracting from or even contradicting God’s law. We must ask ourselves… “Is Jesus our example to follow? or our excuse to live how we want rather than how God tells us to?”

Throughout the scriptures, God’s law is highlighted as good, as worthy of love, of setting us free from the lure of sin by showing us what is right. It is a light unto our path to guide us. I have included a few excerpts from Psalm 119, but you should click the link and read the whole Psalm. Many others have similar content. The law of God is to be obeyed. Jesus did not come to set us free from it.

Psalm 119 (excerpts – I encourage you to read 119 completely)

     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.

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

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

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.

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

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

Would it make sense that Jesus came to set us free from wisdom, delight, truth, and peace? Certainly not. This would be absurd. Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death. Yes, we all sin, and thus deserve death. However, Jesus sets us free from that guilt and condemnation and judgment because He already paid the price for us. What He calls for in return as part of this freedom is that we submit to God, repent of our sinful ways, and seek after God. True repentance transforms us to be different from the world and to become more and more like Jesus as we continue to grow in wisdom and maturity in our faith over the course of our lifetime.

Just as we see so obviously in the physical world, freedom brings responsibility and accountability for the choices we make. It is similar with our Father in heaven. Freedom comes with responsibility and accountability. There are spiritual consequences in our relationship with God and ultimate destination when we die from this life and go into eternity to heaven or hell. There are also physical and emotional impacts in our lives today based on how well we follow the instructions He has provided. After all, the loving Father and Creator knows how best to guide His creations. He gives us the answers, but we need to listen and obey… even when we don’t understand fully.

—-

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.

Saved By Mercy, How Now Should We Live?

We are saved by the mercy of YHWH. We are saved by grace, through faith and that in Yeshua as Messiah. It is a gift and not earned.

Ephesians 2:8

8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

We too were (or still are) foolish and disobedient in our lives to Yeshua. Let us then be peaceable and gentle toward others who are struggling. Let us show consideration toward men as they journey from sinners to saved by grace and beyond in the maturing of their  relationship with the Father.

Let us also recognize, however, that our lives before YHWH should be more than an alter call asking Yeshua into our heart. If we are genuinely turning away from our sin and submitting to Yeshua as Lord, then our lives, demonstrated by behaviors and attitudes, should begin to change and continue to change as we continue to mature in our understanding of and relationship with YHWH.

What might that look like? Let’s take a look at one view presented in Titus.

Titus 3:1-11

Godly Living

     1Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

—-

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.

 

Remember the Sabbath

Sabbath can be a very interesting topic to study within the Bible. YHWH had a lot to say to his people about Sabbath. In fact, a seventh day rest is recorded from the beginning with the example of YHWH as he completed creation. We can also perhaps see where Sabbath rest foreshadows the rest we find in Yeshua as Messiah for it is through him and his death and resurrection that we are saved. We need not try to be made righteous through our works, though our works should still be righteous. We can also see the foreshadowing of the rest we find when we die and go to be with the LORD and also when the LORD returns for the second time and begins his millennial reign on Earth. Further, Sabbath is a part of the holy days of YHWH set out in Leviticus 23 and was intended to be part of our relationship with him and intended to help us.

Sabbath is rich in meaning, but unfortunately today most Christians act as if Sabbath is obsolete and has no meaning. I have seen it disappear in my lifetime. Where businesses were shut down for Sabbath in the past, albeit on Sunday, now most are open. People no longer rest but rather remain very busy on basically every day of the week. People go about their agenda in their way. They have lost the Sabbath.

My family and I rediscovered the Sabbath in recent years and have started setting it aside as a day of rest. It is a significant change and may even seem inconvenient at times as you adjust, but it is genuinely worthwhile to pursue. It is important to YHWH and he created it for our benefit rather than his own.

We can, and perhaps should, have robust discussion about how to celebrate Sabbath today, but let us take time today to simply review some of what YHWH has said and demonstrated about Sabbath. Once we help to establish the importance of it, I encourage each of you to continue studying Sabbath and seeking to begin living it in your own lives. Keep growing and learning on this subject. There is much that has been lost for which we should endeavor to recover.

A good and simple place to start as you read through scripture is to recognize that the main theme is that his people should not work and should not cause others to work on Sabbath. It is to be kept as a sign of our covenant with him and he created it for us. It is interesting that I can not find instruction specifically to go to synagogue or temple (or church) on Sabbath day, however it was clearly an accepted custom that even Yeshua demonstrated.

YHWH set an example for us from the very beginning as part of creation to observe a day of rest on the seventh day, after our work has been done.

Gen 2:1-2       1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Did YHWH say anything about when his people should stop celebrating Sabbath?

Exod 31:16-27 16‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

YHWH gave guidance to his people to work in the first six days and rest on the seventh, which is consistent with his example during creation. (The seventh day would be Saturday by our current calendar.) He also instructed us not to cause others to work.

Exod 20:8-22    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Leviticus 23:3    3‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

YHWH intended us to recognize Sabbath even during pressure to get work done or accomplish an important task (like handling Yeshua’s body after he was crucified).

Exod 34:21    21“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

YHWH intended the rest to be more than just not doing the work for which we get paid. One can have quite an engaging dialog in defining “work”, recognizing that some of the literal activity which YHWH specifically called out in scripture could arguably not really feel like work in today’s environment / technology. (e.g. lighting a fire, etc.) He also specified not buying things offered for sale on Sabbath

Nehemiah 10:31 31As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

When does Sabbath begin?

Leviticus 23:32 32“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”

This would be consistent with the Hebrew calendar observed by God’s people in Biblical times, where a day started with sundown and ended with sundown. In today’s calendar, this would be Friday night at sundown through Sat night at sundown. (Learn more at Hebrew4Christians.com or 119Ministries.com.)

Is Sabbath casual or important to YHWH? You can probably already tell it is important based on how much YHWH had to say about it to his people and the fact that he set the example during creation.

Exod 20:8    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

Ezekiel 20:20 20‘Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’

Deuteronomy 5:12    12‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.

Exodus 31:13      12The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Tell the Israelites, “Surely you must observe my Sabbaths, for this will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

Why is Sabbath important to YHWH?

Exod 31:17 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

What example did Yeshua set for proper observance of the Sabbath?

Luke 4:16  16And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

Matthew 12:9-15

      9Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12“How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

      15But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,

John 9:13-14   13They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

Mark 2:23-28       23And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

In order to make the Sabbath day a day of physical rest, we must prepare ahead of time. The sixth day was referred to as the day of preparation.

Exodus 16:5 5“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Exodus 16:22-26       22Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26“Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”

Mark 15:42-43   42When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

For whose benefit is the Sabbath? Man or God?

Mark 2:27   27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

We should prayerfully reflect on what the Lord has to say about Sabbath and how we should observe it still today. Invest time to continue studying and begin trying to adjust your lifestyle to incorporate Sabbath. Don’t be overwhelmed trying to “get it all right” and do so overnight. Instead, allow yourself to learn and apply and then continue to learn more and apply that and so on.

I am convinced the Lord is pleased when his people pursue living according to his instruction by pursuing something in our lives as important as Sabbath.

Some additional resources to consider:

—-

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.

 

 

 

He Who Loves Money Will Not Be Satisfied With Money

Riches and wealth by themselves have no lasting significance. This seems contrary to what our culture today testifies and covets. However, really it changes when you stop thinking only about this world and start thinking about eternity. We can take none of this wealth with us.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-20

The Folly of Riches

     10He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. 11When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? 12The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.

      13There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. 14When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him. 15As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.

      18Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. 19Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. 20For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.

For those who love money and seek to be satisfied by it, there will never be enough. There is always more to pursue.

—-

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.

Leadership Qualifications for the Church

Paul provides some timeless guidance on how carefully we should choose leaders within our church body. They high standards and appropriately so. Someone not only needs to meet these standards to lead in the church but also to remain in leadership within the church. If they fall, even if they repent, one must still consider very carefully if they are “beyond reproach” and if it is appropriate for them to retake a leadership position again. The emphasis is really about helping those they lead to grow closer to YHWH and it is not about maintaining the career interest of the leader.

1 Timothy 3

Overseers and Deacons

     1It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

      8Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

      14I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

16By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

I think this is an valuable standard to consider for all of us who wish to lead lives pleasing to YHWH, whether or not we take a formal position in the church. Prayerfully reflect and ask the Spirit to show you, without bias and defensiveness, how you and your household stack up to this standard. Ask him help to lead you in change as needed or continued growth in these areas. Pray for one another in this regard, that we would grow toward this standard.

—-

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 Prayer of Jabez

Almost buried in a section of historical family lineage in 1 Chronicles is a brief excerpt, limited to two verses, about a man named Jabez for whom God answered his prayer. Like so many parts of scripture, it is waiting for us to find it and explore the depths of God’s word, like buried treasure.

It is worthwhile to pause and reflect on these verses.

1 Chronicles:9-10

9Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” 10Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.

Quite some time ago, someone wrote a book about “the prayer of Jabez” and people got almost in a craze about it. The problem is that many focused on only his prayer. They wanted to turn it into some formula whereby if anyone repeats the words they force God to bless them also. However, this is not how a relationship with the Lord works. We don’t control Him. We don’t get His power by rehearsing specific words like some sort of spell.

Matthew 6:7-8

     7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

The prayer of Jabez was an honorable prayer. He asked for God’s blessing and asked for God’s protection from harm. These are good things to pray for. Let us also take care not to overlook that he also asked for God’s hand to be with Him and he was honorable in his life.

Jabez was not simply asking for more land and less pain, but also for a relationship with God and living his life in accordance with what God directed.

The path to living with the peace and joy of the Lord is one of submitting to him and building relationship with him. You can not and should not try to skip the relationship with God in pursuit of controlling him to give you the outcomes you want. As you build relationship with him, you will also discover that the relationship is the real treasure… that his hand would be with us.

—-

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.

Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Is Real

The most basic rule of warfare is perhaps that if you don’t realize or accept there is an enemy moving against you, you will most probably lose. If you don’t fight back with an effective strategy, you will lose even if you take on the enemy. If you don’t properly identify your enemy, you will develop the wrong strategy.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

Ephesians 6:10-18

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Consider the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit to keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

—-

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.