Category Archives: Purposeful / Intentional

David Sets to March with the Philistines Against Israel

1 Samuel 29 is an interesting chapter. David continues in his deception of Achish and even lines up to go to battle against Israel with him. The other Philistines do not trust David due to his reputation against their people. They are wise, Achish is deceived, and David is righteous one… it gets confusing. We should note that David’s deception in this case was exclusively aimed against those who were enemies of God and His people and it was only when his life was in jeopardy due to Saul’s persecution of him.

My kids ask me about who is good and who is bad in some situations, either in real life or in movies. The truth is that often it may not be as clear as “good” and “bad”. Sometimes there are two parties both of which are offensive to God and they are battling. Sometimes there are two that claim to honor God and fight. Sometimes even the righteous seem to do things which seem inappropriate.

Ultimately no one is perfect and we should test everything against the word of God. Not everything David does is righteous. However, he is often rebuked if he is doing something which is bad. He is not rebuked in this situation. Take time to pray and reflect on the situation recorded in 1 Samuel 29.

1 Samuel 29

The Philistines Mistrust David

      1Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, while the Israelites were camping by the spring which is in Jezreel. 2And the lords of the Philistines were proceeding on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were proceeding on in the rear with Achish. 3Then the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or rather these years, and I have found no fault in him from the day he deserted to me to this day?” 4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him, and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Make the man go back, that he may return to his place where you have assigned him, and do not let him go down to battle with us, or in the battle he may become an adversary to us. For with what could this man make himself acceptable to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of these men?

5“Is this not David, of whom they sing in the dances, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”

      6Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the LORD lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight; for I have not found evil in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, you are not pleasing in the sight of the lords. 7“Now therefore return and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8David said to Achish, “But what have I done? And what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9But Achish replied to David, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’ 10“Now then arise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who have come with you, and as soon as you have arisen early in the morning and have light, depart.” 11So David arose early, he and his men, to depart in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

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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.

Don’t Pass Over Passover

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

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

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

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

Exodus 12:42-51

Ordinance of the Passover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 10:32-39

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Light of the Righteous Rejoices, but the Lamp of the Wicked Goes Out.

Proverbs 13

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

1A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

      2From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.

      3The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

      4The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

      5A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.

      6Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,
But wickedness subverts the sinner.

      7There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

      8The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
But the poor hears no rebuke.

      9The light of the righteous rejoices,
But the lamp of the wicked goes out.

      10Through insolence comes nothing but strife,
But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

      11Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,
But the one who gathers by labor increases it.

      12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

      13The one who despises the word will be in debt to it,
But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

      14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn aside from the snares of death.

      15Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.

      16Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool displays folly.

      17A wicked messenger falls into adversity,
But a faithful envoy brings healing.

      18Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline,
But he who regards reproof will be honored.

      19Desire realized is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil.

      20He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

      21Adversity pursues sinners,
But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.

      22A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

      23Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
But it is swept away by injustice.

      24He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

      25The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
But the stomach of the wicked is in need.

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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.

If YHWH is Silent, That Does Not Make It Ok To Seek A Medium

Sometimes YHWH will be silent when we seek Him. We wants us to be patient and trust Him, not turn to ungodly means to try to figure out what to do. It is in these times we should continue prayer and make decisions by what we know of His character from the scriptures and our relationship with Him. It is never an excuse to seek out a medium or other demonic influence… even to seek a righteous person like Samuel.

Saul was desperate, and he made a very poor choice that made the situation worse for Him and he was even further from the grace and forgiveness of YHWH.

As a side note, for the skeptics, mediums are real and there is real danger in seeking them. Their power is not from YHWH, thus it must be from Satan. He is not one to be trusted in the slightest.

1 Samuel 28

Saul and the Spirit Medium

     1Now it came about in those days that the Philistines gathered their armed camps for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Know assuredly that you will go out with me in the camp, you and your men.” 2David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” So Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

      3Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists. 4So the Philistines gathered together and came and camped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped in Gilboa. 5When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. 6When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. 7Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”

      8Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.” 9But the woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who are mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you then laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” 10Saul vowed to her by the LORD, saying, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” 11Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.” 13The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” 14He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage.

      15Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” 16Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary? 17“The LORD has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David. 18“As you did not obey the LORD and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19“Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!”

      20Then Saul immediately fell full length upon the ground and was very afraid because of the words of Samuel; also there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day and all night. 21The woman came to Saul and saw that he was terrified, and said to him, “Behold, your maidservant has obeyed you, and I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to your words which you spoke to me. 22“So now also, please listen to the voice of your maidservant, and let me set a piece of bread before you that you may eat and have strength when you go on your way.” 23But he refused and said, “I will not eat.” However, his servants together with the woman urged him, and he listened to them. So he arose from the ground and sat on the bed. 24The woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly slaughtered it; and she took flour, kneaded it and baked unleavened bread from it. 25She brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they arose and went away that night.

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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.

Establish Discipline to Study the Word in Detail to Grow in Understanding

There are times when it can be a bit hard to read Revelation due to the intense imagery. Trying to understand the deep meaning, rather than just take it at surface value as a dramatic vision, is good but takes time and commitment. I would encourage each of you to invest some time not only to read the scripture today, but also to open up and review a commentary or two on the subject. It may be good to familiarize yourself with this type resource. It is available online free on a number of sites, including BibleHub.com. Keep in mind, there are a lot of different opinions, and just because the commentaries are there, does not mean they are right. Consider them the thoughts of another who has studied. Compare them. Pray for discernment. I have also found Hank Hanegraaff’s book the Apocalypse Code to be a useful reference for understanding Revelation.

Developing a discipline to set aside and invest more time to study the word of God is important to increasing our knowledge and understanding of Him. We should not simply rely on what pastors say from the pulpit, as they will never cover most of the Bible in detailed study.  Just as it is with building human relationships, so too in building relationship with God we must invest time with Him and learn what He thinks and believes and what is important to Him.

Revelation 10

The Angel and the Little Book

      1I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” 5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

      8Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

 

What Is Mardi Gras and Should Christians Celebrate It?

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

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

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

Matthew 4:17

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

Romans 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

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

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

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

 

Make Learning About God Fun!

The world continuously bombards our children with messages that are not consistent with a Christian world view – whether online websites, apps, videos or music. However there are some very creative Christians that have put their talents to work honoring God by creating wonderful material that is consistent with what we hear from Jesus. You and your kids can honor God and have fun doing it!

What your children are exposed to does matter. Don’t settle for programming and entertainment that mocks or ignores our Lord. Instead seek out material which trains up our children in the way they should go. Please take some time to explore the resource links we have included here and share with those you think may benefit from it. There is some great stuff to get you started. If you are like me, once you know this kind of stuff is out there, you will go look for it on your own and find even more than what I have listed here.

Check out the Kid Zone section in Resources on our website, www.HearingFromJesus.org. Click the specific links below to dive right into the Kid Zone.

Kid Zone

Proverbs 22:6

6Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Do you have recommendations that honor God? Please share your input through our Contact Us page.

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

A True Friend Is Closer than a Brother

A true friend is closer than a brother and infinitely more valuable than a large collection of companions or those who would call themselves “friends”.

Proverbs 18:24

   24A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

David and Jonathan were true friends. We should all consider praying for such a friend for ourselves and for others. So, too, we should strive to be that friend for others who are truly seeking the LORD in their lives. If you are fortunate enough to have that friend, give thanks to YHWH.

1 Samuel 20:1-29

David and Jonathan Covenant

     1Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?” 2He said to him, “Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!” 3Yet David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ But truly as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.” 4Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 5So David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. 6“If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.’ 7“If he says, ‘It is good,’ your servant will be safe; but if he is very angry, know that he has decided on evil. 8“Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is iniquity in me, put me to death yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father?” 9Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! For if I should indeed learn that evil has been decided by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell you about it?” 10Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” 11Jonathan said to David, “Come, and let us go out into the field.” So both of them went out to the field.

      12Then Jonathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if there is good feeling toward David, shall I not then send to you and make it known to you? 13“If it please my father to do you harm, may the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And may the LORD be with you as He has been with my father. 14“If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the LORD, that I may not die? 15“You shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD require it at the hands of David’s enemies.” 17Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.

      18Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. 19“When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel. 20“I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. 21“And behold, I will send the lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the lad, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come; for there is safety for you and no harm, as the LORD lives. 22“But if I say to the youth, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you,’ go, for the LORD has sent you away. 23“As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.”

      24So David hid in the field; and when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. 25The king sat on his seat as usual, the seat by the wall; then Jonathan rose up and Abner sat down by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. 26Nevertheless Saul did not speak anything that day, for he thought, “It is an accident, he is not clean, surely he is not clean.” 27It came about the next day, the second day of the new moon, that David’s place was empty; so Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28Jonathan then answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem, 29for he said, ‘Please let me go, since our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to attend. And now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me get away that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

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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.

Do We Compete To Win For Christ?

As the Super Bowl draws near and the national championship for college football has recently completed, it is an interesting time to reflect on what effort and dedication it takes to compete in such a way as to win. Beyond this, it is also a good time to reflect on what we choose to prepare and compete for.

Throughout the world, people enter competitions of all kinds.. sports, crafts, baking, writing… even hot-dog-eating contests. Yes, really. People enthusiastically compete to eat the most hot dogs in a few minutes. No matter what the contest is, those who win had to work hard and dedicate themselves to the competition in order to compete well and win.

Much glory is given to those who win and win consistently. Athletes in particular are raised up by society as having accomplished something meaningful when they compete at a high level of ability. Inevitably, those who reach the highest levels have devoted much of their time and effort to preparation and training. For example, NFL Super Bowl champions did not sit around watching TV on the couch all year, eating whatever junk food they feel like and practicing once in awhile maybe an hour a week. They were working hard to prepare their minds and bodies all year long. Their pursuit of greatness in a particular field becomes a huge part of their personal identity.

It is much the same way for us to succeed in a life spent truly serving God. I do not mean one in which we just go to church once a week, or occasionally open the Bible or help someone. We must train as the athletes do… train to win! Study consistently the word of God in the Bible, pray daily, apply the word of God to our own lives by changing our wrong behaviors and attitudes… even when others might say we are “good enough”. Those who accept man’s definition of “good enough” will never achieve greatness. We must use the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and the scriptures in the Bible as the standard for what is good enough. We must work hard and dedicate ourselves to keep moving toward that holy example. Do not settle for being “better than most” because “most” fall far short of the standard God calls us to work toward.

Ask how many champions in this world, at any event, attribute their success to a dedication to “sort of work at something when they have time” and a satisfaction with being “better than most”. I tell you none with this attitude have achieved greatness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Perhaps you should also consider that if you spent more time, energy, and focus pursuing a great Super Bowl party than you have in seeking God over the same period of time… you may want to reconsider your priorities.

Do not get complacent.  Continue to know, love and serve God forever. Obey His commands. Fear Him instead of man. It is a journey where we never reach the final destination in this life, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus Christ and less like our own selfish nature.

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

Better to Be Hot or Cold than Lukewarm

The introduction in the message to Laodicea is interesting. Yeshua identifies Himself as the faithful and true witness and the beginning of creation. Once again we see Yeshua is our example to follow beyond any others and we are reminded that He is co-eternal and has always existed with the Father. The two are one (along with the Holy Spirit makes three).

Laodicea is warned that they are complacent. They are neither hot nor cold. This refers to people who claim His name, but really live according to their own ways. They are not passionate about Him nor are they against Him passionately. Perhaps we could say these folks are “riding the fence” or are perhaps reflective of the people who come to church, but don’t change their lives for Christ. Yeshua is not pleased with them. He would rather hot or cold than lukewarm! That is quite a statement. What a warning for us as well. He does not want people being called by His name that are complacent and just mix and mingle with the world or are a reflection of the world rather than a reflection of Him.

Yeshua highlights the cause relating to their feeling self sufficient because of wealth. He rebukes them that truly they are poor and wretched (spiritually) and that they should repent quickly and focus on the wisdom and ways of Yeshua which will bring true wealth.

Revelation 3:14-22

Message to Laodicea

      14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

      15‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

I am at times stunned by how directly these messages apply still in so many of our churches and people today. I pray people would wake up and repent. I pray that His people who are called by His name would be hot, passionate, for Him and His ways and not lukewarm. Further I pray that the Holy Spirit would prompt and rebuke me as needed so I do not become lukewarm.

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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.