Category Archives: Fear / Reverence for God

Fear YHWH and Keep His Commandments

Followers today too often discard the Biblical instruction to fear YHWH. The word can mean to awe, fear, reverence, etc. But let us not forget to have the right amount of fear of our loving Father, who will discipline those whom he loves. Let it, along with our love for him, help guide us to obey him, just like with an earthly Father.

In Ecclesiastes 12, the writer reminds us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, when things are going well, before hard times come. We do well to build relationship with him early in life and in good times so that when the hard times come we already know him and are close to him.

At the end, as the writer closes the book of Ecclesiastes, we get the summation or conclusion of the whole book. He has lived a long life with many diverse experiences. He concludes with very solid advice in verse 13-14 that we all do well to heed.

Ecclesiastes 12

Remember God in Your Youth

      1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; 2before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

Purpose of the Preacher

      9In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

      11The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

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

There is nothing hidden from YHWH, not even our thoughts. We should fear the LORD and keep his commandments. We should embrace Yeshua as Messiah so that through his death we may be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to YHWH.

—-

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.

Obedience Leads to a Blessing; Disobedience to a Curse

The pattern in Judges is very plain to see. The Israelites turned from the LORD and did evil and he turned them over to the hand of others to rule over them as judgment. Through a period of pain being ruled by cruel neighbors who knew not the LORD, the people of YHWH repented and cried out for help. The suffering brought them back to YHWH. Once the repented and cried out for help, the LORD raised up leaders within Israel and led them to victory. Then the cycle repeats.

Try not to fall into this cycle personally, but rather continue to seek the LORD and submit even when things are good. However, if you do find yourself suffering and feeling distant from the LORD, take it as an invitation to return to him and repent from your own ways or the ways of culture around you. His is a forgiving Father, full of grace and mercy.

Judges 4

Deborah and Barak Deliver from Canaanites

      1Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. 2And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.

      4Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. 7‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’” 8Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also went up with him.

      11Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, from the sons of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

      12Then they told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14Deborah said to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the LORD has gone out before you.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left.

      17Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. 20He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’” 21But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. 22And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.

      23So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. 24The hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan.

Let us not miss the opportunity to pray for and influence our nation to turn back to the LORD either, for this pattern certainly applies to nations and groups of people who claim to serve him, or used to claim to serve him. This applies to the USA. We were founded a Christian nation on Christian principles and beliefs. Now the people turn away from him and his ways and he will turn us over to the depravity of our own minds.

Romans 1:18-32

     18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

      24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

      26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

      28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

However, if we would humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways, he may heal our land.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

13“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

—-

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.

YHWH Alone Is Our Refuge And Our Salvation

We all face times where we feel like things are not going well, where we feel like others are against us. David certainly had times where he experienced many enemies plotting against him. Even if all others had abandoned him, he knew he could find refuge in his heavenly Father. Let us not try to find security and refuge in ourselves or in other people or money or power. Let us seek only YHWH as our refuge, no matter what we face.

Psalm 62

God Alone a Refuge from Treachery and Oppression.

For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

      1My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.

      2He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

      3How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

      4They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse.

Selah.

      5My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.

      6He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

      7On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

      8Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Selah.

      9Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.

      10Do not trust in oppression
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

      11Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;

      12And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.

I would encourage each of us as well, no matter how dire our situation may seem, even if we feel completely alone… trust in YHWH. Pour out your heart before Him. Trust in Him and Him alone as our salvation and refuge.

—-

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.

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

We all face a choice. Really, we face it daily because of our human tendency to let our focus drift off the Lord and to our own desires or those of others. We must choose whom we will serve. We are not to mix and mingle false gods with YHWH. We are not to blend with culture elements that we think make us more acceptable to others. We are either choosing YHWH and his ways or we are choosing against him. There is no acceptable middle ground, no lukewarm that pleases our Lord.

Revelation 3:15-16

    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.

We are left with a choice. I will follow the example of Joshua… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will fear (e.g. hold in awe) the Lord and serve him with sincerity and truth. I encourage you to do the same. This means we need to turn from our own ways and seek the Lord’s ways.

It may be helpful to remind yourself all that the Lord has done for you in your life, or if you are new to faith in Christ, all that he has done for his people that is documented in the Bible. He died so that we may be saved and reconciled with YHWH. He was sinless but paid the price for our sin. We thus have the opportunity to be saved by faith through grace and not in any deeds we can do ourselves.

Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Joshua 24

Joshua Reviews Israel’s History

     1Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. 3‘Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. 4‘To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. 6‘I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and Egypt pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7‘But when they cried out to the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness for a long time. 8‘Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land when I destroyed them before you. 9‘Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and summoned Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 10‘But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. 11‘You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. 12‘Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow. 13‘I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’

“We Will Serve the LORD

     14“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

      16The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. 18“The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.”

      19Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. 20“If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” 21The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.” 22Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23“Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.” 28Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.

—-

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.

“Fear” of the Lord Leads to Blessings

The Hebrew root word for “fear” in Psalm 128:1 is ירא which can be translated as fear, but also as reverence, to hold in honor, to be in awe. I think this is interesting to keep in mind as we read about the blessedness of the “fear” of the Lord.

Psalm 128

Blessedness of the Fear of the LORD.

A Song of Ascents.

1How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.

      2When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.

      3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.

      4Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

      5The LORD bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

      6Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

Excellent guidance indeed. Holding YHWH in awe and reverence, even fearing him as we may a Father whom we choose to disrespect or rebel against, will help set us on the right path to seeking to know him and obey him. We will be blessed if we pursue his ways rather than our own!

—-

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

The Futility of Life Without YHWH

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

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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

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

Ecclesiastes 6

The Futility of Life

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

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

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

—-

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.

Fond Memories of Holiday Traditions

I have many fond memories of holiday traditions growing up. As a child my family participated in many common traditions such as hunting for Easter eggs. My family has celebrated this way for generations. It is quite difficult even to consider changing these ingrained generational traditions.

Is that reason enough for me to continue these traditions? What does God have to say about common holiday traditions? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us never even think about it. We just continue with what is “normal” and “traditional” based on how we have been raised on based on culture around us.

The truth is that if we have really decided to model our lives after Jesus, then we should take time to explore and study what He celebrated and also the origins of what we may be celebrating. Don’t assume traditions are pleasing to God just because “everyone else is doing it” or even because “everyone else at the church is doing it”. Test everything against the truth of God’s word. Challenge yourself to truly seek to honor Him without bias toward rationalizing and accepting certain traditions because they are associated with fond memories or because it would upset your family to change. After all,  what is more important… pleasing people or pleasing God?

Easter is coming in a few weeks. I encourage each of you to take some time now and really study the origins of the common traditions and celebrations you take part in. Many are based on pagan worship which have been adapted with “new meaning” whereby people basically have accepted copying and participating in what was once a pagan worship rituals, only now they just call it something else. If you put lipstick on a pig… it is still a pig. Studying now can give you time to shift or transition away from some of these traditions without surprising people at the last minute and making it more difficult later, or increasing the pressure on you not to change because it is hard rather than deciding what is right and pleasing to God.

Ask God for help and then challenge yourself to really seek the truth. You can start with any number of sources like online encyclopedias or web search. If there is conflicting information… seek out the truth objectively. Do not just seize upon the rationalization that supports your current practice. Also decide which way you will lean if you are not sure… will you lean toward pleasing God or pleasing man? In other words, like in a trial, if you think there is reasonable doubt as to whether or not your current traditions are pleasing to God, will you continue in them or change? One such study I found helpful was from Psalm 119 Ministries (Sunburned – Part 1, Sunburned – Part 2).

God does not want us to worship Him in the way that the pagans worshipped their gods. Jehovah has provided specific information on how He wishes to be worshipped… we must study the Bible and pray to learn and understand.

Deuteronomy 12:1-8

    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. 6“There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

      8“You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes

Deuteronomy 12:28-32

      28“Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

      29“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

      32“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

We are to be set apart and holy, different from those that do not worship YHWH. We are not to follow after Him and worship Him in the way that others worship their gods. We are not to simply do what everyone else is doing or what our parents did… but rather what our Lord instructs us to do.

—-

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.

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.

—-

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.

 

Focus On The Glory and Power Of Our Father

The power of YHWH is incredible. It is enough to really grab people’s attention. While not everything the Lord does will be as dramatic as drying up the waters of the river so His people could cross, there are many miracles that we experience all around us in His creation and in our lives. The more effective we are as His people to give glory to YHWH and point to His work rather than our own participation, the more it will impress upon others to acknowledge Him.

Joshua 5:1

     1Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

Let us always seek to tell of the wonders of YHWH’s power and glory and seek to live in such a way as to put the focus on Him rather than ourselves.

—-

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

What Will Provide True Purpose and Fulfillment?

Ecclesiastes is another book of wisdom, written by Solomon. He records here his thoughts about how the value of many things he has tried in his life and ultimately has an important conclusion for us all to recognize and apply in our lives. Here is a very wise man, given wisdom above other men by the Father. He has lived with great wealth and power. He has been able to do many things seeking fulfillment. His conclusion?

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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

This conclusion by itself is a powerful message. I share it as we begin Ecclesiastes for context. We will revisit it again as we go through the scripture, but take a few moments to contemplate it. Then remember it as you read through Ecclesiastes and see all the pursuits which Solomon tried to find fulfillment… and came up empty. Most of us today are still trying to find fulfillment without the Father and we too will come up empty if we continue on that path.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

The Futility of All Endeavor

      1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

      2“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

      3What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?

      4A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

      5Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again.

      6Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.

      7All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.

      8All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

      9That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.

      10Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.

      11There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.