Category Archives: Study the Word

Worship His Way Rather Than Our Own

The LORD wants us to worship him according to his instruction and his ways. He does not want us to worship him each according to our own ways. He also calls us as a body of Christ to engage with one another to help one another to remain in right relationship with him. We should be discussing proper understanding of how to live for and worship our Creator. We should not just ignore one another’s differences in how we understand God’s word. By challenging one another we can help to ensure we walk correctly and together. We must really challenge our own theology as well as that of others. We do not need to go to war, but we neither should we ignore key differences within the body of Christ in understanding how to worship or live for him. YHWH does not intend for there to be thousands of different sects of Christianity and those apart from a separate Judaism. He intends on one body of believers, together Jews and Gentiles. He intends one way to live according to his instruction. That there are so many different opinions, and each going their own way, gives testimony to how confused we are as his people.

Joshua 22:10-34

The Offensive Altar

     10When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance. 11And the sons of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” 12When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war.

      13Then the sons of Israel sent to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 14and with him ten chiefs, one chief for each father’s household from each of the tribes of Israel; and each one of them was the head of his father’s household among the thousands of Israel. 15They came to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them saying, 16“Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, turning away from following the LORD this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the LORD this day? 17‘Is not the iniquity of Peor enough for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although a plague came on the congregation of the LORD, 18that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? If you rebel against the LORD today, He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19‘If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’S tabernacle stands, and take possession among us. Only do not rebel against the LORD, or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the LORD our God. 20‘Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’”

      21Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the families of Israel. 22“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not save us this day! 23“If we have built us an altar to turn away from following the LORD, or if to offer a burnt offering or grain offering on it, or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings on it, may the LORD Himself require it. 24“But truly we have done this out of concern, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your sons may say to our sons, “What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25“For the LORD has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no portion in the LORD.” So your sons may make our sons stop fearing the LORD.’

      26“Therefore we said, ‘Let us build an altar, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; 27rather it shall be a witness between us and you and between our generations after us, that we are to perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your sons will not say to our sons in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’ 28“Therefore we said, ‘It shall also come about if they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, then we shall say, “See the copy of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; rather it is a witness between us and you.”’ 29“Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away from following the LORD this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the LORD our God which is before His tabernacle.”

      30So when Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the congregation, even the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them. 31And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is in our midst, because you have not committed this unfaithful act against the LORD; now you have delivered the sons of Israel from the hand of the LORD.”

      32Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33The word pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God; and they did not speak of going up against them in war to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living. 34The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.”

Dedicate yourself to prayer and study to seek out the LORD. Do not simply think that listening to a pastor once a week will guide you properly. We are called to understand scripture and test it ourselves against his word, documented in the Bible.

I have a number of resources listed on HearingFromJesus.org to help you get started. Just recognize that no one source has all the answers laid out. (The Bible does, but we have to properly understand it.) The LORD wants us to seek him and devote time in our lives to worship and know him personally. In this pursuit, he reveals more to us over time in proper understanding.

I think some of the most fertile ground for us as Christians to start improving our understanding of the Bible is to study and learn the Hebrew roots of our Christianity. The New Testament is best understood through a good understanding of the Old Testament.

—-

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

Remember the Sabbath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does Sabbath begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Sabbath important to YHWH?

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

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

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

Matthew 12:9-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For whose benefit is the Sabbath? Man or God?

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

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

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

Some additional resources to consider:

—-

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

 

 

 

God Does Not Change

Today’s message is a simple one, but if we truly meditate on it, we will recognize the powerful implications and it may open us better examine our lives and whether or not we are living according to YHWH’s instruction.

God does not change. He is timeless… eternal. His character and his instruction for us is consistent throughout time.

Malachi 3:6

6“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

James 1:17

17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Hebrews 13:8

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Though few say it so plainly, many Christians act as if the Bible really only starts with Matthew and ends in Revelation. It is not uncommon for even seminaries and churches to act this way. We must take care, however, as that approach assumes that somehow YHWH has changed and it discards two thirds of his instructions to us.

If YHWH does not change, than it serves us well to study and understand how he relates to his people and what instructions he has for his people throughout ALL of his holy scripture.

If we find ourselves having difficulty reconciling what is taught in the Old and the New testaments with one another, then we must consider that our understanding is wrong. God’s word builds on itself. The Old Testament is foundation for the New. It is truly one record rather than two. Yeshua often taught referencing back to the Old Testament, as did Paul. Without the foundation of understanding from the Old Testament, then our understanding of the New will be subject to more mistakes.

I will close with two scriptures that reference specifically the Old Testament, as the New had not yet been written.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 5:17-19

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

If God does not change, then we should truly spend time reflecting if the way we are living our lives today follows the example of what Christ taught and lived (as written in the Bible) or if instead it follows what man has said about how we are supposed to live so differently than Christ did, reasoning that much of his instruction changed after his death and resurrection. I pose that we should rededicate ourselves to understanding what is written in scripture and test everything we know against what is written. We should not simply continue in the way that is popular, broadly accepted, or taught by man.

—-

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.

Cities of Refuge

In our culture today, if a man kill someone, there is a significant difference in how he is judged if he did so intentionally and with forethought, or by accident. Most of us realize this concept makes sense and seems right. However, most of us likely don’t realize that God rather than man made this distinction important as defined in Joshua 20 and previously in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible written by Moses). We are still very influenced by God’s principles, even as our society has turned away from God and many of his instructions.

Let us turn back to him and his righteousness, seeking forgiveness, and leaving behind our wicked ways. Instead, let us renew ourselves by studying the whole of God’s word and returning to it as a guide for our lives. Imagine what else we may find that we have lost over time in regards to how our Creator calls us to live.

Joshua 20

Six Cities of Refuge

     1Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. 4‘He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them. 5‘Now if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not deliver the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. 6‘He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

      7So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. 9These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever kills any person unintentionally may flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.

—-

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 Writings of Paul Are Personal Correspondence

The closing of 2 Timothy contains a wealth of information and insight. I will highlight one key message and challenge you to dwell on the passabe longer and ask the Lord to give you further insight.

Let us remember that the writings of Paul are first and foremost, personal letters. They are not written to us. Paul did not write them intending them to be scripture or for a broad audience. The gospels were written for a broad audience and have a very different writing style. The letters of Paul are written to a very specific audience at a very specific time. There are many timeless truths and insights, but there are also some things that are simply personal correspondence that do not apply to us broadly or today. We must use discernment to tell the difference.

We should always take care where we think the guidance in Paul’s letters leads us to live differently than the example demonstrated by Yeshua or even Paul and the disciples themselves, who were living according to the example of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:9-22

Personal Concerns

     9Make every effort to come to me soon; 10for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

      16At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

      19Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.

      22The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

—-

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.

There Are Times and People Who Will Not Accept Sound Doctrine

Paul has an important message for Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, and it is important for every believer. We must be ready to preach the word at all times, when we expect it and when we do not. We do not want to miss an opportunity. Further, we know there are times and people who will not accept sound doctrine. They prefer something which makes them feel good about themselves as they are or avoids conflict… Paul calls it “tickling their ears”.  People go and shop for teachers who tell them what they want to hear instead of teachers who tell them what YHWH desires of us.

Let us take the charge given to Timothy, and prepare ourselves to be ready and willing at all times to preach the gospel of Yeshua. Let us also challenge ourselves not to behave like those who change preachers and teachers rather than change their behavior to match what YHWH has said he desires. Let us challenge ourselves to seek to understand and live out YHWH’s word in the Bible, even when it calls for us to change and be set apart from other Christians. To truly live according to our Creator’s ways, we will be set apart even from most who call themselves Christians in some distinct ways. One example today is fairly obvious. Culture tells us we are to hold our faith private and not discuss it publicly. Many churches are more concerned with an agenda like a social club rather than instructing people in the ways of YHWH.  This is wrong. We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort and do so with patience and instruction. It will be hard and people will reject it. We must endure and pray for wisdom and patience.

2 Timothy 4:1-8

“Preach the Word”

     1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

      6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Paul talks about hardship in your ministry. We must ask ourselves, “If we endure no hardship, are we really challenging ourselves and others to change for YHWH?”

None of us should be so arrogant as to assume we have a perfect and full understanding of our Lord. Thus, if we love him and are praying and searching and studying his word we should expect to learn and develop a better understanding over time. This means we should be changing ourselves. Our lives and our understanding with YHWH today should not look the same as it did 10 years ago or will 10 years from now. If we find ourselves anchored in the same comfortable understanding of our Lord and in the same comfortable patterns of behavior, we should ask ourselves, “Am I really growing in my relationship with the Lord, or am I stagnant and no longer growing close to him?” Then we should take action, which will include change in our lives.

Do not be attached to the ways of men (not even traditions of our parents and grandparents), nor to the ways that men declare of YHWH, but rather diligently seek the truth through scripture, study, and prayer and then make changes to live it out more fully even when others come against you because your change makes them uncomfortable. Pray for patience, wisdom, and discernment but also for courage.

—-

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.

Difficult Times Will Come

The difficult times referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are very challenging indeed. There is a list of bad things that have become commonplace, ranging from loving self to disobeying parents to loving pleasure rather than YHWH. This describes many times and places throughout history and certainly applies to the United States today. In particular, one deceptive aspect which is not to be overlooked is that people hold to a form of godliness, but have denied its power. This is particularly dangerous as it misrepresents YHWH while claiming his name. We have instructions to stay away from people such as these… not to convert them or win the argument but to stay away.

Paul also included advice on what Timothy was to focus on when confronted with these difficult times and we can as well. We can expect persecution and hardship when we stand for Yeshua and YHWH. We are to endure it, not avoid it by hiding our faith or acting as if our faith is “private” and not to be shared. Faith, patience, love, and other such qualities are key for us during these difficult times.

Paul also ends the chapter with direction that Timothy should study and rely on all scripture, in particular the scripture he has been studying since he was a child. The New Testament was not yet written and compiled as scripture. Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament. We should take care to hold fast to the whole Bible and not discard or downplay the Old Testament in pursuit of the New as is often taught or emphasized in churches today. The whole of scripture works together as one unit and does not contradict one another. Paul directed Timothy to study the Old Testament, and this was after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. We should do likewise.

2 Timothy 3

“Difficult Times Will Come”

     1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

      10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

—-

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.

Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean Today?

There is much confusion about what the law means to Christians today. Many teachers of Christianity say that the law (and essentially all the instructions of the Old Testament) no longer apply now that Yeshua has come, died for us, and been resurrected. They proclaim that we are covered in grace and no longer in “bondage” to the law. In order to support this case, people point to passages from Acts and the letters of Paul, but ignore or disregard the Old Testament, the earthly ministry of Yeshua, and many other writings of Paul where he is clearly teaching that we should uphold the law. Further, they must ignore that Paul encourages others to follow his example, which is modeled after the example of Yeshua and includes adherence to the law. It can be confusing for sure and at times Paul seems on the surface to contradict himself.

This same confusion was present in the early church. So much so that Peter even warned us about it .

[2 Peter 3:15-18]

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

We should not simply dismiss the seeming contradictions and pick the scripture that feel most comfortable to follow. Instead, each of us should evaluate and seek to understand this complex and foundational issue. But whom should we trust? The Christian majority? Scholars and teachers?  A particular respected or popular teacher? or the word of God in the Bible, which would include the example Yeshua set in His earthly ministry?

The answer, I hope is fairly straightforward… we should trust in the word of God, in Yeshua, rather than the doctrine of men. It is fine to listen to the teachings of scholars and pastors, but we must test everything ourselves against scripture. This can take time and be hard, but that is no excuse just to take someone else’s word for it. That demonstrates a lack of diligence or lack of recognition in the importance of following Yeshua and certainly does not show a love for God and that He is a priority in our lives. (Yes, you should test what I teach as well, comparing it to the scriptures. Do not take my word for it, but rather seek to understand the methodology and truth revealed from studying scripture.)

First, let’s deal with the belief that the majority can not be wrong. If you claim to be Christian, then you already accept that premise to be false. The majority of the world rejects Yeshua as God and savior. Well then… perhaps it is the majority of God’s people, backed by scholars and teachers, that can not be wrong? Again, that would be contradictory to the foundation of Christianity itself. The most respected teachers and scholars of the law, with centuries of tradition on their side, were the Pharisees and Sadducees at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. They persecuted and killed Yeshua, denying that He was God. Thus, as Christians we once again already believe that the religious majority of God’s people along with the  scholars and teachers (complete with centuries of tradition) were wrong. Perhaps then we believe that the Christian majority after the death of Christ can not be wrong? Once again, we can look to the Protestant Reformation as an example of true believers fighting against the wrong teaching and doctrine of the church. We have much to be thankful for that now we have God’s word available for all of us to read plainly in our own language instead of hidden away behind closed doors, written in Latin, and kept from the people. How can we possibly hope to know and follow God’s instruction fully if we are not allowed access to His word except a few minutes a week and that even only told to us through another person based on what they choose to share? In fact, God commanded us to study and know His word and to use it as test to identify false teachers. This is a command we can only do properly if we have access to His word.

[Deuteronomy 13:1-5] 13 [a]“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the Lord your God, who redeemed you from slavery and brought you out of the land of Egypt. Since they try to lead you astray from the way the Lord your God commanded you to live, you must put them to death. In this way you will purge the evil from among you.

No teacher in all the history of God’s people is infallible with the notable exception of Yeshua. Yeshua, in fact, as recorded in the book of John was the very word of God made flesh.

[John 1:1-18] In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,[aand his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]

God sent a man, John the Baptist,[c] to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[d] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[f] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[g] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

Yeshua is in fact eternal and is the word of God made flesh to dwell among us. So we should pay special attention to what He teaches about the law, and how he acts with regards to the law. In this we will find truth in regards to the law.  Let us then explore what God’s word says about the law. Is it bondage? Has it changed with the death and resurrection of Yeshua?

In fact, Yeshua is incredibly clear… He specifically warns us not to misunderstand why He came and to obey God’s law (not to ignore them) and teach them to others. He clearly indicates that some of the law has been accomplished or fulfilled in Him, and some has not. It is important for us to study and learn which is which and not just assume everything the mainstream Christian churches teach today is accurate and consistent with the Biblical text or the example of Yeshua.

[Matthew 5:17-19] 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yeshua further clarifies the subject of the law by clearly stating it is not bondage but rather God’s instructions on how to love God and love one another.

[Matthew 22:35-40] 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. That does not sound like bondage at all! Why would God come as Jesus to die to set us free from the law… from loving God and loving others? This makes no sense. (You can read more about what God’s word says about the law throughout the Old Testament, such as Psalm 119.)

Yeshua went on to instruct his disciples in the great commission to teach others to observe ALL that He commanded them. This includes the teachings of the Old Testament including the law, which Yeshua taught and observed without fail.  Please note that this is after Yeshua died and was risen! Yeshua did not cancel the law, but rather confirmed its importance.

[Matthew 28:19-20]  19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Clearly, we must reconsider the misconception that Yeshua came to “set us free from the law”.

This is confirmed in several other scriptures in Old and New Testament. I have included but a few.

[Deuteronomy 11:26-28] 26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! 27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.

[Psalm 19:7-13] The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

[1 John 2:3-6] And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

[1John 5:2-3]  We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

[James 1:25] 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Paul encourages those in Corinth to follow His example, which was modeled after Yeshua. Both Yeshua and Paul followed the law. Would it then make sense that Paul teaches to disregard the law? In fact, Paul teaches explicitly the importance of following the law! Keep in mind that when he writes 2 Timothy 3:16-17 there is not yet a New Testament. He must, therefore, be referring to the Old Testament.  Is he contradicting himself with regards to how he teaches about God’s law? A detailed study of context in Paul’s letter is necessary to understand properly what Paul is teaching.

[1 Corinthians 11:1And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

[Romans 3:31] 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

[Romans 7:7] Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”[c]

[Romans 7:12] 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

[2 Timothy 3:16-17] 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

One of the most referenced scriptures by those who say we are no longer under the Mosaic law is Romans 6:14. However, careful study of context shows that Paul is not referring to Mosaic law, but rather what he refers to as the law of sin and death, as clarified in Romans 8:1-2.

[Romans 6:14] 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

[Romans 8:1-2] Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

To study more deeply about what Paul really taught about the law, we encourage you to visit 119Ministries.com and watch their video series on the “Pauline Paradox”.

Yeshua did not come to set us free from the law. The law is perfect. The laws sets us free. The law is God’s instruction on how to love Him and one another. Why would He want to set us free from this?

Yeshua came to set us free from the curse we receive when we fail to live up to God’s law perfectly. All of us fall short of perfectly executing God’s law. Jesus came to take our punishment so that we could be redeemed… be forgiven.

[John 3:16-21] 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

So we know that we do not need to follow the law to be saved… to find salvation. Salvation comes through Yeshua alone by grace, through faith and not by works. So Yeshua now holds in our place the judgment and condemnation for our failures to properly follow the law. He has paid the price on our behalf.

To learn more  about why Yeshua came to live among us, died, was buried and rose again… please read our teaching about The Message of The Cross.

So why then should we still follow the law?

We follow the law not to achieve salvation, but because we are saved! We follow the law because God commanded it and because it was His instruction for how to love God and love one another. We follow the law to show God we love Him. The law is not then cancelled or no longer valid, but rather it serves us still as God’s guide and instruction for our lives. We do well to study carefully and ask God’s help to guide us in understanding what elements of the law have been fulfilled in Yeshua’s death and resurrection and which have not. The entire Bible is relevant and applicable to our lives today as we seek to know, love, and serve God.

To learn more:

The Great Commission – Personal Discipleship Plan

At Hearing From Jesus, we take the commands of our Lord very seriously and that certainly includes The Great Commission. In fact, it is this command that most directly inspires our ministry. We want to obey Jesus and make disciples of all the nations.

Besides being the command of our Lord, it is also a natural desire we have in gratitude to God for His grace and forgiveness and also out of love for other people, who may be headed for eternal separation from God in hell, unless they hear and study the true word of God.

Matthew 28:16-20

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To learn more about the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, we recommend you study our teaching, The Great Commission – Make Disciples Of All The Nations, before continuing with this teaching on building a personal discipleship plan.

Whether Hearing From Jesus is a primary source for your personal study and growth with the Lord or just another valuable reference site, we have structured our ministry to help you become a disciple, a learner, of Christ and then to prepare to go and make disciples of others. This last point is important… it should not be our goal to do the absolute minimum we can and still get into Heaven. Those who have this attitude are far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our goal is to grow spiritually to the point that we are feeding ourselves from God’s word and growing in our relationship with God from now until we die. It is a journey that we never finish, but it transforms us along the way to become more like Jesus and less like our old sinful nature. We are to learn well enough to then teach others effectively and help them become disciples as well… so they can , in turn, teach others.

Overwhelming? It can be. So, how do we begin such a task?

Let us begin by studying and then following the example of Jesus Christ. Likewise, we can review how others, like Paul or Moses or Elijah practiced discipleship. In all the examples I just mentioned, these servants of God knew the ultimate authority was God, not a religious authority figure or scholars or traditions. We must seek to develop a personal relationship with God. We must not cling to traditions of men, even if they are taught by religious authority figures. Even the Pope is quite fallible and what he teaches must be tested against the word of God and sadly it often contradicts God’s word. We must test everything against the truth of God’s scripture and seek God in prayer consistently. To be a disciple of Christ we must be willing to put Him first, above and before all other parts of our lives and it will be hard. We must lose our own lives in order to find true life with Jesus.

Matthew 10:34-39

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.

Jesus did not attend formal schooling or study at seminary. These things may be helpful, but are not necessary and for most of us, not practical. Jesus studied the scriptures rigorously and with devotion since He was as child. So knowledgeable was He, that when He was twelve, He was amazing the scholars and teachers of the law.

Luke 2:46-47

46Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

If you are coming to know Jesus later in life, do not worry. Use the time God has given you and get started studying (not just reading) the Bible consistently today. God will reveal much to a devoted disciple through His word. Jesus’ disciples certainly did not start studying scripture as children but God used them in a mighty way!

Jesus had a powerful prayer life. Communicating with God to receive God’s instruction through prayer is essential to live as an effective disciple. Jesus did not pray when convenient… when He had time. Jesus stayed up late and got up early. Consistent prayer is essential to staying submitted to God’s will rather than our own. To study more about Jesus’ prayer life, we recommend reading Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, by Henry and Norman Blackaby.

When it was time for His public ministry to begin, Jesus found a small set of disciples, or followers. He had an inner circle in which He invested much time (Peter, James, John) and He had a wider group, but still small, that included all twelve disciples. He invested much time in the twelve, but not as much as He invested in the closer circle of three. Jesus also taught the masses who sought to hear God’s word. He never turned away those who were genuinely seeking the word of God.

We must recognize that Jesus forced no one to be a disciple or to listen to His message. Instead He choose people as disciples who came enthusiastically and willingly. They were eager to learn and not rebelling against God, insisting on clutching onto their traditions or even their personal lives before meeting Jesus.  They were willing to put Jesus as a priority above all other things. They left much behind of what they knew to follow Him. Others whom he invited, such as the rich young ruler introduced in Matthew 19:16, could not put him first and thus chose not to follow him.

Jesus made time for people and demonstrated compassion, but also remained focused on going about doing God’s work. He dealt with mockers appropriately so as not to let them distract Him from getting to those who wanted to hear.  Jesus would reply to those trying to trick Him, but only to provide a teachable moment and an opportunity for them to hear truth and repent, and then He would move on.

In three years He created a team of disciples who could go out and teach others. This is what disciple means… Jesus does not call us to just remain a “baby” in the faith, needing constant care and feeding. Jesus calls us to be disciples who can learn and teach others to learn. Those others then teach more and there is a multiplying effect that has dramatically impacted the world over the last two thousand years… starting from the humble beginnings of a poor carpenter who taught truth and stood up against the established  teachers and scholars of the time and against centuries of traditions of men which were put above the commands of God.

We will briefly comment regarding Moses, Elijah, and Paul but of course you can study and learn more about them by reading the scriptures.

Moses trained judges to be prepared to help meet the needs of the people in order to properly lead such a large number of people. [Exodus 18:17-26]

Elijah invested time to disciple Elisha, who became his successor. [1Kings 19:19-21]

Paul managed his disciples over a wider geography, across many different cities and regions.  He taught to crowds, big and small, on his missionary journeys. However, he clearly had a close circle of disciples with whom he traveled and invested significant time and a wider circle of individuals whom he discipled through occasional visits and more frequently through correspondence (e.g. letters).

So… what do we learn from Jesus and His servants?  What is a practical way to begin?

We must all begin with study of the scripture and prayer. We must develop a strong personal relationship with God.  Do not get in a hurry to be the teacher. Jesus did not start discipling others immediately, he studied from time of child and started with disciples at 30 years old. His disciples spent three years under His instruction and care before going out to disciple others on their own. They maintained a support structure often going out in pairs and coming back to consult with one another.

Most of us need to identify resources and techniques for studying scripture, and possibly find a teacher or disciple who is further on the journey than we are to help lead the way and answer questions. We must learn to feed ourselves with God’s help, still listening to the wise, but testing all they teach against scripture.

When you are ready, start seeking those you can invest time and relationship in to come together to study God’s word with commitment and devotion. Seek your disciples, without giving up or forsaking your relationship with your teacher or with God. Keep feeding yourself and continue on the journey to know, love, and serve God or you will not be effective in leading others. Even if you do not feel comfortable guiding a Bible study on your own, set up a  Bible study anyway. You can use material from our ministry or from other teachers who have already prepared and shared the message of God’s word. Just remember to test everything against the whole of scripture using your own discernment and prayer…  as even good teachers have some doctrine incorrect… and some of it quite significant.

After a time, do not rush it, and staying connected to the disciples you study with… each of you perhaps in pairs can also set up separate small groups to disciple others. Invest in more than just Bible study, but in life activities and support one another. Do not tolerate among your disciples those who would tempt you to sloth or to disregard and rebel against God’s word by rationalizing sin or worldly culture as acceptable. Do not tolerate among your close disciples those that refuse to submit to God and repent of their sin, clinging to their sin nature and refusing to change behaviors to honor God. Follow Jesus’ instructions found in Matthew 18:15-17.

15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Listen, also, to your fellow disciples when they point out to you your sin… for the wise listen to good advice with thanksgiving and become wiser. A fool despises correction.

Stay focused. Consider writing down a plan for your personal discipleship both as a learner and as a teacher. Review periodically, perhaps a few times a year, to evaluate your progress and commitment to this mission. Pray for God’s help frequently… “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Please reach out to us with questions through our Contact Us  page. Our intent is to teach you and support you in becoming a disciple, not just to give you a word from the scriptures daily… though that is a great start.

—-

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.

Guidance for the Church

Looking inside the letters that Paul wrote can be fascinating. There is a mix of eternal truths we should try to apply and personal situations which really may not have as much applicability broadly.

1 Timothy 5:17-22

     17The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

      23No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

      24The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

Clearly when we review this scripture, we can see elements which are still broadly relevant. When there is an elder with good reputation and a teacher or preacher of the word, let us not accept an accusation without two or three witnesses. This is just good sense to apply to anyone who has a good reputation. Sometimes people make false accusations or accuse them of something that is not true, even if the accuser believes it.  A good name, or reputation, is to be valued and considered.

He makes reference to rebuking publicly those who continue to sin. This implies that they continue to sin… after you have confronted them privately. Making the rebuke public for those who refuse to repent is important. We don’t do it much today and are the worse off for it. It is intended to discourage others from sinning. Today it seems we are always too concerned about offending the sinner, rather than about offending YHWH by accepting the sin in our midst. Publicly addressing it helps to highlight the sin to others in the congregation also. Failing to confront the sin also sends a clear message to the people that it is acceptable.

Do not lay hands on anyone too hastily. Before we pray over and bless someone as a congregation, let us take time to know them and use discernment. We are to be selective. If we bless and encourage someone who goes off and does bad things, we have some accountability for it, according to Paul.

Then there is a sudden switch over to talk to Timothy about something very personal and specific to him. He has a stomach condition and Paul recommends a little wine. This does not appear to be generally and broadly applicable, but rather specific to Timothy. Paul is not saying all of us need to drink some wine because all of us have stomach issues or are frequently sick.

The last few verses are very interesting as well. It is certainly true that some people are obviously sinners and everyone knows it. For others, they may appear in life to be good and righteous, but their sins may be discovered after they have died. Not everyone that appears righteous is so.

Ultimately though our sins may be concealed for awhile to man, they are never concealed before the Lord.

I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on this passage and consider how it applies to your life today. Think specifically about changes in attitude or behavior that you should make.

—-

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.