Category Archives: Seeking God

The Patmos Vision Begins – Revelation

John reminds us that to be a partaker in the kingdom sometimes means we are also a partaker in tribulation, or trials. It is the perseverance through Christ which strengthens us for such a challenge. John did not say this lightly, as he was stuck on an island due to his sticking with the word of YHWH and the testimony of Christ.

I find it interesting he notes that he experiences the vision on the Lord’s day, which I presume to be Sabbath (Saturday by today’s calendar). He also notes he was “in the Spirit”. He was in a mindset where he was set aside and focused on the LORD.  We should each ask ourselves how often we create that environment for ourselves to be with YHWH, absent other distractions. For me it is not often enough.

Revelation 1:9-20

The Patmos Vision

      9I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

      12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 13and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

      17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 19“Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. 20“As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Clearly YHWH intended for John to receive and deliver this vision to seven churches identified. This message is for them rather than us, but it appears as we read and study Revelation that there is plenty for us to apply in our lives as well. Humans have not changed. We are still embroiled in the same struggles with rebellion, sin, and self as ever. We should heed the messages to the churches and test our own lives and with the body of Christ where we engage with others.

There is much symbolism throughout Revelation. It communicates real tangible prophecy and warnings that are not fictional or imaginary. Studying the symbolism unlocks more depth of meaning. I encourage you to study more, but you may need to explore a couple of different sources to test and validate the understanding of all the imagery in Revelation. I am not an expert here and have much to learn. Ultimately, test Revelation vs. the rest of the scripture.

In Revelation 1, we get a break… Yeshua tells us what some of the symbolism means. Keep in mind, however, that the Hebrew word for angel and messenger is the same. Recognizing Revelation may have been written in Aramaic, it would still be interesting to test if it really says “angel” or “messenger” of the seven churches, which could be their leader or pastor. The sword perhaps is the sword of YHWH, which is His word. This is how it was referenced by Paul when he spoke of putting on the full armor of YHWH. It would make sense. Nothing comes from Yeshua except the true word of YHWH.

I look forward to exploring this book with you. One book you may consider as a reference to help you get started is The Apocalypse Code, by Hank Hanegraaff.

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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.

 

Hear and Heed What Is Written – Revelation

The book of Revelation can be very intimidating. There is a tremendous amount of imagery and prophecy and deep meaning on many levels. There are many studies into Revelation and if or when you feel ready to dive in and fully understand it (as best we can), then I encourage you to start with prayer and perhaps a study partner. Test what others say about it. Give yourself time to explore and understand. Do not be in a rush. Be ok with not having all the answers as you begin and move through it.

I will be walking through Revelation and will look to focus on some of the more obvious elements to help get us all started. I have studied some, but not a lot considering the depth available to explore. Keep in mind, that YHWH wants His people to hear this message and understand. It was written to John thousands of years ago, but there is much significance to us still today and in the future.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it.

Revelation 1:1-3

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

      1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

We Must Judge Good From Evil Lest We Be Deceived

Jude begins with a warning about the ungodly who will (and do) creep in among the church and defile the truth of YHWH’s instructions, leading many astray. He then closes with a call to remember the words spoken by the apostles of Christ… that there will be mockers who follow ungodly lusts and cause division. We are encouraged to keep ourselves in the love of YHWH and rely completely on Christ and Christ alone.

Jude 1:17-25

Keep Yourselves in the Love of God

      17But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

      24Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

It is through YHWH’s love that we are saved, through Christ and Him alone. Let us never forget that. We must use discernment to judge the wicked that claim the name of Christ from those who genuinely submit to Him. We are warned that we must judge who is right from who is wrong, but we must do so based on the written word, not the changing opinion of men.

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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.

Be Prepared for Battle, and Make Sure You Fight the Right Ones

Once Saul became king, he was involved in constant warfare with those around Israel. In particular the Philistines were a constant throughout his days. It is interesting to note that the Bible does not record that YHWH told him to go to war with all these nations, but clearly YHWH was giving him victory. This does leave me a bit curious as to whether YHWH intended them to go to war or just supported them once they were at war.

We can conclude from this, and from other scripture such as the record of David, that just because one is chosen by YHWH does not mean you will have peace all your days. Sometimes it means you will be called into battle and you may have a long season of battling for Him. It may not always be physical warfare, of course. Sometimes it may be spiritual battle or just conflict to live and teach others the truth of YHWH’s instructions for our lives. It may be a metaphorical struggle to constantly fight against evil or poverty or sickness or whatever YHWH calls you to do.

Sometimes, we may choose to “battle” with someone who does not believe. We take it as a personal mission to “convert” them to our way of thinking. This is not Biblical. Quite the opposite, Yeshua told His disciples simply to shake the dust from their sandals and move on should they encounter someone that refuses the truth of YHWH’s word (Matthew 10:14).

Though this has been clear to me for awhile, perhaps for some it is less so. We can also clearly see another example where it is not wrong for a nation to defend itself or even strike back against those who were aggressive toward them. If it were wrong, there should be record of it being wrong and perhaps they would have suffered defeat. A strong military is important and actually helps keep the peace by keeping potential aggressors in check.

My suggestion for each of us personally is to endeavor to ensure that if we are struggling and battling it is the battle YHWH wants us to fight and we honor Him as we do it. If He is with us, we will do well. If He is against us, we will struggle mightily. And I am a fan of having a nation with a strong military for defense.

1 Samuel 13:46-52

Constant Warfare

      47Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines; and wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. 48He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.

      49Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan and Ishvi and Malchi-shua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab and the name of the younger Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the captain of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

      52Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any mighty man or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff.

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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.

Sometimes Scripture Brings Questions

Although I turn to scripture for answers and guidance, sometimes I am left with questions not answered. It is an invitation to trust the LORD even when we don’t understand and an invitation to study His word more and prayerfully ask for insight. This should not be an excuse to not trust in YHWH or the Bible.

Jonathan went to battle with the Philistines without YHWH telling him to do so and against tall odds. He had faith in YHWH to deliver victory, but at the same time we are told elsewhere in scripture not to put the LORD to the test, by Yeshua himself (Deuteronomy 6:16 and Luke 4:12). This leaves me with some unanswered questions for how what Jonathan did was not putting YHWH to the test. Jonathan’s faith, however, was real. Think about how much defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Philistines that Jonathan felt confident trusting in the LORD to attack a large group without much support.

I am also a bit confused in that they bring forward the ark without specific guidance from the LORD. I compare this to a bit earlier in 1 Samuel 4 when the Israelites brought the ark into battle and the Philistines captured it. I am left a bit confused about what was different. It may have simply been that YHWH wanted to show the Philistines His power in the events starting in 1 Samuel 4 and recorded over the following chapters. It may also be that he wanted to enact judgment on Eli’s sons. But I admit that I would be a bit hesitant to call the ark to the battlefront again without hearing from the LORD. Yet here it seems to work.

My lack of understanding does not mean that YHWH did not have His reasons or that He is not there. It simply means I do not understand and am invited to pray and read more and trust in Him.

1 Samuel 14:1-23

Jonathan’s Victory

      1Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3and Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the LORD at Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4Between the passes by which Jonathan sought to cross over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp crag on the one side and a sharp crag on the other side, and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5The one crag rose on the north opposite Michmash, and the other on the south opposite Geba.

      6Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.” 7His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.” 8Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men and reveal ourselves to them. 9“If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not go up to them. 10“But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the LORD has given them into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us.” 11When both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, the Philistines said, “Behold, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12So the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor bearer and said, “Come up to us and we will tell you something.” And Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hands of Israel.” 13Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him; and they fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer put some to death after him. 14That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a furrow in an acre of land. 15And there was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. Even the garrison and the raiders trembled, and the earth quaked so that it became a great trembling.

      16Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away; and they went here and there. 17Saul said to the people who were with him, “Number now and see who has gone from us.” And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. 18Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel. 19While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and came to the battle; and behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22When all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, even they also pursued them closely in the battle. 23So the LORD delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven.

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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.

Worship The Lord His Way, Not Your Way

Most of us who have followed Yahweh for awhile have had the opportunity to see His hand at work in our lives. I have marveled that He takes such an interest in someone so insignificant as me, but nonetheless He does! He loves each of His children. As we get to know Him more closely, we more easily recognize His hand at work in our lives.

We must take heed, however, and not turn away when we feel distant from Him or when we do not feel His presence. At those times, we must continue obeying His commands and His ways, faithfully believing that He is there, even if we do not see His hand at work. Often we can point back to events in our lives where He intervened to encourage us to remember Him. Do not turn from Him.

Consider His people as they left Egypt. Yahweh delivered them from slavery through many mighty miracles. There were ten plagues, parting of the Red Sea, defeat of Pharaoh’s army, God appearing as fire  and smoke to lead them, manna and water miraculously to meet their needs in the dessert. Surely we would think that generation could never turn from God, but they did.

Exodus 32:1-10

The Golden Calf

      1Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

      7Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” 9The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10“Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

I think we can all see clearly that Yahweh was not pleased with His people for making this idol and worshiping it. He was going to destroy them and start over. Let us consider carefully what happened. If we read to quickly we may conclude, as many have, that the Israelites were worshiping an idol of a false god and that is why Yahweh was upset… but this is not the case.

Look closer. Indeed they had created an idol and began to worship it, but in fact they were using the idol to represent Yahweh Himself. Consider the following verses:

“This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.”

In fact, the people were worshiping Yahweh, and He was very upset! Why? Yahweh does not want His people to worship Him in the way that the pagans worship their false gods. It disgusts Him. He wants us to worship Him in the way He tells us.

Deuteronomy 12:30-32

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.

The Israelites may have been worshipping Yahweh, but they were doing so in like manner to how the Egyptians worshipped their false gods by making idols.

While this may seem like it does not apply today, it certainly does! Yahweh has not changed His opinion on what is good and what is bad. He still does not want us to worship Him with idols or with any of the manners or traditions with which the pagans worship false gods. If we take the time to study our common Christmas and Easter traditions (and other traditions as well), we will certainly find the history of many of these traditions are derived not from God’s word, but from pagan worship practices. Christians have created new meanings for many of these traditions, but they still are derived from pagan worship. Yahweh is not pleased, even if we say it is He whom we are worshipping.

Do not repeat the error of the Israelites, which drew great anger from Yahweh. Instead, learn the history and true origin of the traditions you practice. Reject the ones that are derived from pagan worship. Instead, study and learn the practices and worship that Yahweh instructs us in His word. There is so much to learn!

I feel like I have been on an archaeological dig for a decade to understand and lay down traditions rooted in pagan worship and instead to focus on and adopt practices and traditions that are commanded in God’s word in the Old Testament.

I encourage you to invest time to get to know Yahweh. If He is Lord (and He certainly is!), then we should take time to learn His ways and reject the ways of the pagan worship… even if done in Yahweh’s name. Do not accept something just  because it is a family or cultural “tradition”. Test and explore to understand the true origin and whether or not it may be offensive to our Lord. Choose the Lord’s ways over even dear traditions that may be emotionally difficult to walk away from. Do not be like Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom while leaving, but rather leave behind the past things without looking back on them.

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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.

Torah Portions

The Torah and the writings of the prophets are the scripture that Yeshua studied and taught from and likewise his disciples and Paul. There are many references to them throughout the New Testament. They are the foundation. They are not obsolete and meaningless as some would imply, but they can be challenging to understand in parts and in how to apply today. In large part this is because churches and seminaries do not teach all of it as relevant content to help is draw near to the LORD today.

We have all heard about plans to help read the Bible in a year. There is a similar, long standing concept by which the Torah portions are scheduled to be read over a year. I have started doing this with my family. There are many sites  available as reference and some not only provide the  references for each week, but also some teaching to support it. Some have broken it down for children as an audience and some have even 15 minute or less summaries for folks who may feel they can only invest that much each week. Others go deep and have hours of teaching.

I encourage you to try it and stick with it. You may be surprised what you learn. These are not meant to take you away from also studying the New Testament, but help you dive into all of God’s word.

  • TorahPortions.ffoz.com by First Fruits of Zion
  • BillCloud.com/audio-page/ has Torah Portions and Torah Tidbits by Shoreshim Ministries. It also has an excellent series I recommend called Returning to Our Roots.
  • Ruach Life with Yitro has some teaching available on youtube, simply search ‘Torah Portion Yitro’
  • MTOI.org by Messianic Torah Observant Israel has a weekly Torah study video you can join live or watch later on YouTube or Facebook.
  • Psalm119 Ministries has a series of weekly short videos called Parashah Points at 119ministries.com/teachings/video-teachings.
  • MessianicTorahPortions.com also included suggested New Testament scriptures alongside Torah portions weekly.
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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.

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Might Get It

Sometimes our Father withholds something from us that we ask for and it is a good thing. Sometimes he may give us what we ask for and it is not good. Israel asked for a king. They got one. Samuel makes the case why this was a mistake, but they are stuck with it. They looked at how all the other nations were run and desired to be like them. God’s intent was for them to be special, set apart, his own people. He was to be their king.  Samuel makes it plain… with or without a king, they will do well to obey the LORD and do poorly if they do not.

We do well to remember that we must develop relationship with our Father. Our government can not save us.

1 Samuel 12

Samuel Addresses Israel

     1Then Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me and I have appointed a king over you. 2“Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. 3“Here I am; bear witness against me before the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you.” 4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5He said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day that you have found nothing in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

      6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7“So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did for you and your fathers. 8“When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9“But they forgot the LORD their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10“They cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11“Then the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.

The King Confirmed

     12“When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the LORD your God was your king. 13“Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14“If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. 15“If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16“Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes. 17“Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD by asking for yourselves a king.” 18So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

      19Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” 20Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21“You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22“For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. 23“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24“Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25“But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”

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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.