Category Archives: Worldliness

What Is Mardi Gras and Should Christians Celebrate It?

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

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

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

Matthew 4:17

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

Romans 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

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

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

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

 

Better to Be Hot or Cold than Lukewarm

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

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

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

Revelation 3:14-22

Message to Laodicea

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

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

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

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

Repent or Face the Consequences

There are several interesting points to consider in Revelation 3 in the message to Sardis.

Not surprisingly, we are reminded that just because a church has a reputation, or name, for being alive and in the Spirit and serving YHWH does not mean that it it actually true. We see again a potential indication that a church that was very vibrant has faded over time and lost their passion and purpose, though they continue in their reputation.

Once again we are reminded that those who are called by His name are expected to repent or there are consequences. He is not OK to just accept everyone as they are without change. He loves us too much to leave us how we are.

We see that there are a few who are righteous. It certainly does not sound like a majority. This is typical. In fact, Yeshua states that these are worthy and will walk with Him and their names will not be removed from the book of life. This next statement may be controversial or upsetting to some as it goes against what many teach, but that does not make it wrong. Think about the fact that He specifically says He will not erase the names of some worthy people from the book of life. The fact that this is news and worth saying, and is directed at a small audience, leads me to conclude that there may be people who could be removed from the book of life should they not repent. Why else would He bother to say this if no one’s name could ever be removed?  These are people who have willingly turned away from YHWH after knowing Him in truth. They have turned back to culture and the world instead. We should all take heed and not be complacent in our faith, simply trusting that we need not repent of anything in our lives but just remain as we are today, or worse, drift into accepting and compromising with the world.

Revelation 3:1-6

Message to Sardis

      1“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

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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.

Avoid the Enticement of Sinners

For some this message may seem obvious, but for others, you need to hear the message and take it to heart. There will always be people who try to draw you into their own sinful lifestyle and choices. Sometimes it may be obvious in terms of things we call illegal in today’s society like what is laid out in Proverbs 1, but other times it may be subtle, even within a church or people who claim to or actually want to follow Yeshua. We must carefully study the word and test everything not against “what everyone else is doing”, and not against “what the preacher in a church teaches”, but against YHWH’s written word in the Bible. We do well to also seek the insight of the Holy Spirit to guide us through prayer and supplication.

In the end, whenever we make choices to follow those who entice us to sin or follow a path that is not the LORD’s, it is our own life we ambush and our relationship with the Father. Do not remain around those who entice you to sin. Separate from them.

Proverbs 1:8-19

The Enticement of Sinners

     8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;

      9Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.

      10My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.

      11If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;

      12Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;

      13We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;

      14Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”

      15My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,

      16For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

      17Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net
In the sight of any bird;

      18But they lie in wait for their own blood;
They ambush their own lives.

      19So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.

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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.

Beware of Those Who Have Crept In And Defile God’s People

Jude is writing to “those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, kept for Jesus Christ”. He is not writing to unbelievers or those who deny Christ. He is providing a strong warning that the ungodly have crept in among them, unnoticed. These people turn the grace of God into licentiousness. Jude clearly seems to be referring to those who suggest that we should do whatever we want to and trust the grace of God to cover our sins. People like these push us not to follow God’s law, but rather consider it obsolete and unnecessary, or at least large parts of it. They turn grace into an incentive to sin. These people are still very well embedded into the church as we know it today. It will often sound very nice, but it is wrong teaching… such as “God loves you the way you are”, implying He does not expect us or call us to change and turn away from our ways and follow Him. Sometimes, perhaps often, we are doing poorly and we do actually need to change to pursue Him more closely in how we live our lives.

Jude 1:1-16

The Warnings of History to the Ungodly

      1Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

      3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

      5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

      8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

      14It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

Let us ask YHWH to guide us and give us discernment. Let us seek to dig through the Bible as if looking for buried treasure. Let us test everything against the written word and not just accept what is taught, even from pastors. Many have crept in which are corrupting the true word of YHWH.

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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.

Christmas on Trial – The Closing Argument

I am sharing an article from LifeHopeandTruth.com. If you really want to test what is pleasing to God in how you approach this holiday, then I encourage you to invest some time to read this article.

Christmas on Trial

Imagine a courtroom where Christmas is on trial, charged with false impersonation of legitimate, godly worship. Both sides have presented their cases. Now it’s the prosecutor’s turn to make his closing argument. It could well go something like this.

By Clyde Kilough

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard the defense supporting the religious practice of celebrating Christmas. I trust you noted it was not a biblical defense, because none exists.

Let’s step away from human reasoning and emotion, and revisit the facts presented to you by history, scholars and God’s Word itself.

You’ll recall that all the expert witnesses—secular historians and theologians alike—attested that modern Christmas practices can be easily traced back to non-Christian origins. Their sources were so numerous that no one bothered to present counterarguments.

Please remember these facts:

    • Christmas is a man-made holiday. The Bible has zero reference to celebrating Jesus’ birth, which was probably in the autumn, not winter. Not until nearly three centuries later, in fact, did a “birthday party for Jesus” make its way into religious observance. Not until A.D. 336 did a Roman calendar officially note celebrating Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25.
    • So how was Dec. 25 selected for this celebration? Pope Julius I decreed it. Why? Because syncretism, the blending of religions, had become a common tool employed by the Roman church for assimilating “heathens” into its fold. Midwinter pagan festivals were immensely popular throughout Europe, so mixing these into the church’s rituals was an easy method to induce nonbelievers to embrace their version of Christianity.
    • What were these festivals? They included:
    • The birthday of the sun god Mithra.
    • Saturnalia, a time of debauchery honoring the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn.
    • Northern European celebrations of the winter solstice glorifying the sun’s return.
    • The Scandinavian Norse religion’s yule celebrations Dec. 21 through January, with its abundant superstitious customs.
    • The German version revering their god Odin. Interestingly, Odin is supposed to have made nighttime flights during which he would watch people and decide who to bless and curse. Hmm. Isn’t that reminiscent of a modern tale of a mythical guy who flies at night, somehow having godlike powers to know “who’s naughty and nice”?

People aren’t easily converted from entrenched popular customs, but church leaders had their methods. Let the people keep their customs, they figured, but simply syncretize them with ours and call them Christian. Instead of celebrating Dies Natalis Solis Invicti—the birthday of the unconquered sun—we’ll say we’re now honoring Jesus, the Son of God.

I remind you of the historian who quoted Augustine of Hippo, a great church influence, as saying in a Christmas sermon, “Let us celebrate this day as a feast not for the sake of this sun, which is beheld by believers as much as ourselves, but for the sake of Him who created the sun.”

If Jesus appeared today, would He okay our worshipping on a holiday borrowed from pagan religions that idolized the sun, moon and rocks?

I’ve barely recapped the historical evidence, but clearly, no one can legitimately argue for any biblical support upholding any aspect of Christmas as a Christian holiday. In fact, virtually all of our Christmas traditions—trees, mistletoe, gift-giving, wreaths, caroling, Santa Claus—sprang from these pagan festivals.

It is the thought that counts!

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s examine the defense’s arguments in support of observing Christmas today, beginning with the contention that “at the end of the day—so what? It’s the thought that counts!”

Actually, I agree 100 percent! It is the thought that matters—and it’s God’s thought that matters most! God left ample evidence of His thought on this in His Word, the Bible.

I remind you of the religious scholars who admitted that God has always adamantly opposed syncretism, often bemoaning how His people mixed their idolatrous neighbors’ customs with their worship of Him.

When God delivered Israel from Egypt, what did He command? “Do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.”

What part of “you shall not” is so confusing for us humans?

For emphasis, He added, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” That’s in Deuteronomy 12:30-32.

So, centuries later, after watching the people continually blend pagan practices into their worship, taking from and adding to everything He’d said, God told them through the prophet Amos, “I hate, I despise your feast days” (Amos 5:21).

Did God use lightly the words hate and despise? If not, why should we assume He feels differently today?

In the same verse He also said, “I take no delight in your solemn assemblies” (Revised Standard Version). Today’s most important “solemn assemblies” are Christmas and Easter, but they are not the holy days God appointed. Even then, God told them, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs” (verse 23). They may be beautiful and catchy songs, but because of what they represent and where they come from, to God they are just noise!

Now, since God says in Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I do not change,” and emphasizes in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” we have to ask, “Has God now changed His mind about such things?” If Jesus appeared today, would He okay our worshipping on a holiday borrowed from pagan religions that idolized the sun, moon and rocks? Because someone mixed it into religion and called it “Christian,” does that mean God sanctioned it?

It is the thought that counts—but what does God think?

But if my heart’s right …

You also heard from a defense witness who reasoned, “I know Christmas’ origins are wrong, but I know in my heart why I go to church at Christmas—it’s to honor Jesus—and I believe it’s what’s in my heart that counts!”

Absolutely—the heart does count! That’s big on God’s list of qualities! But don’t forget what Jesus said about the heart in Mark 7:6-9: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” Jesus doesn’t accept just any worship, even if in our heart we think it’s okay.

Notice, too, He said, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

Christmas offers a prime example of this. Isn’t God the One who said, “Do not lie”? But what is one of the biggest Christmas traditions people cling to? Lying to kids about Santa Claus! How does that honor Jesus, who commands us not to lie! And don’t forget Easter. How do people lie to their kids that rabbits lay eggs, then trot off to church saying it’s all about worshipping God?

Do we really think we can reject doing what God says, instead borrowing religious practices from pagan religions, and think He’ll be happy about it because we say “my heart’s right”?

Tradition does not trump obedience. If our heart’s right, won’t we be striving to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” as Jesus told the Samaritan woman (John 4:24)?

Saying “Lord, Lord” to no avail

You also heard this line of reasoning from the defense: “Yes, everyone knows the bad side of Christmas—the partying, commercialism, indebtedness, greed and so on—but most people have a very merry Christmas. What’s wrong with families enjoying being together with good food, gifts, pretty music and lights, or helping the needy? There’s far more good than bad, and a lot of it involves good Christian acts!”

Well, of course God loves good things and seeing people happy. But do good deeds justify bad actions? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Who was He addressing? Religious people proudly pointing out all their good deeds!

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

There is more “Lord, Lord” talk at this time of year than any other, but does it impress God when we persist in lawlessness—doing things He tells us not to do?

We say we’re worshipping the baby Jesus, but we’re not doing what the grown-up Jesus told us to do! If people were really serious about doing God’s will, we’d see real “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men.” We’d see good deeds all the time, not just during a few days when they get in the “Christmas spirit.”

People of truth?

You also heard the defense try to poke a hole in our case by arguing, “The Jesus I know isn’t so radical about something that brings so much fun and enjoyment to everyone, even the fantasy part for the kids.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this one’s simple. Answer this, please: Would you like it if someone told your kids lies about you and got them to believe it? I don’t think so.

So how do you think God feels when He’s being lied about?

This is so important because of where it comes from. Jesus explained one time—in John 8:44—that the devil “is a liar and the father of it.” The people He was addressing were the religious leaders of the day, and He angered them by saying they were of their father the devil. It doesn’t matter who you are—if you lie, or perpetuate a lie, it’s wrong.

If people claim to follow God, isn’t it logical that He expects them to not lie? Aren’t Christians to be people of truth—telling the truth and practicing the truth?

Sad to say, for thousands of years God has seen people lying about Him, even under the guise of claiming to speak for Him.

Long ago God spoke through Ezekiel words that are just as true today: “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. … Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken.” That’s Ezekiel 22:26 and 28.

Putting words in God’s mouth is just a bit presumptuous, wouldn’t you say?

What’s really on trial?

So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let me ask you again: Given the weight of evidence, both factual and circumstantial, if Jesus were here today, do you think He would attend Christmas Eve services, or exchange gifts around the Christmas tree? Would He have a “Put Christ back into Christmas” bumper sticker—or would He say He was never in it to begin with?

Would He still stand by His words in Matthew 4:4, that man shall live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”? I ask, can you do that and observe Christmas at the same time?

I rest my case; but as you make your decision, I urge you to remember that it’s not really Christmas that is on trial—we are.

 

Yeshua’s Prayer For His Disciples

Yeshua came to the Father in prayer for His disciples as He prepared to leave. We can learn much by reviewing and considering His words.

John 17:13-21

The Disciples in the World

     13“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

      20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • Yeshua wanted His disciples to have His joy made full in themselves
  • He gave us the instructions of YHWH to this purpose for making our joy full. We can rightly conclude He intended for us to obey them, not just be aware of them.
  • Those who follow Yeshua, like Yeshua, are not “of the world”. The world will hate and reject us, usually more so as we stand and live more boldly for Christ. This does not mean every person will hate us, but one need only look around at newspapers for national and world events to see that followers of Christ are persecuted in varying degrees depending on where they are in the world. (I do not mean people who claim Christ and live like the world… the devil and the world love these folks.)
  • We need the Father’s help to protect us from Satan. Yes, he is a real adversary.
  • Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Yeshua asks YHWH to make us holy through truth, or through the word. Again, we can reasonably conclude He intends for us to live according to the word rather than the same way the world lives.
  • Here, Yeshua specifically calls out that He is praying not just for this specific group of men, but for all who believe in Him.
  • His desire is for us as His followers to be united. We can see this is not the case throughout the world. This can seem difficult at times, because we are not called to accept false teaching, but we are called to unity. Many disagree on the true application of scripture creating division. We should allow room for debate where scripture permits, but there are some teachings that are heretical and dangerous and need to be rejected. (e.g. The teaching that everyone who claims Yeshua in name pleases the Lord and goes to heaven even if they are without repentance and do not change their lives to match His instruction.)

I encourage you to pray and reflect on these verses and ask the Father to enlighten you on their full meaning and application for your life.

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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.

Love YHWH, Not The World

Again we see encouragement from John in that we should focus on and love the Father rather than the world or the things of the world. We are reminded that we can not have relationship with the Father except through the Son. We are also reminded to abide in what we have known since the beginning. We are not to keep coming up with new interpretation and recasting of scripture. The LORD does not change. For this audience, the beginning of what they have known does not start with Yeshua in the flesh, but rather as Jews they would have already known the Father through his law and instruction. I believe this is another encouragement to not start making up new doctrine because the Son has come, but rather to continue to abide in what we knew before he came in the flesh, which did in fact prophecy his coming and is consistent with his coming. We should take great care in validating in God’s word what has changed or been fulfilled in Christ and what we are still called to obey. Common church teaching gets much wrong. Study and pray to verify what you are taught against God’s unchanging word in the Bible.

1 John 2:15-24

Do Not Love the World

     15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

      18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

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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 Vigilant To Avoid False Prophets

Make no mistake, there were and clearly still are false prophets. They corrupt the teaching and instruction of YHWH and mix and mingle it with what is unholy. They lead people astray from YHWH’s path, especially those that do not study the Bible to know what it tells us and to test what others say YHWH wants. By definition, a false prophet is representing themselves in some way like they are bringing truth from the LORD. They do not announce that they are teaching things against YHWH. They slowly mislead people, bit by bit, away from the path YHWH has for us.

We must be intentional. We must seek YHWH. Follow the example of Yeshua to be sure. Study and pray and walk out the life according to YHWH’s word, which we have now in the form of Bibles. Do not be idle or lazy or just take the word of men. Test everything, even that which you have been taught by churches and your family against what God’s word actually says. Study it. Pray about it.

Think about it this way. If I love my wife, do I simply listen to what others say about what she values and wants? or do I listen to her words directly? Which is the better source? If someone tells me something which does not sound right, I would test it with her and what she has told me in the past. I would trust her input over that of others if there is a conflict. If I have a point of confusion, I would seek her out to clarify, not the other person. In this way, we should also pursue the LORD.

2 Peter 2

The Rise of False Prophets

      1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

      4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

      17These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

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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.

Should a Follower of Christ Celebrate Halloween?

Far to often we just go along with whatever “everyone else” is doing when holidays are concerned. We can always rationalize why many of the common “holidays” such as Halloween “are harmless” or even “an opportunity to participate so as to lead others to Christ”. However, never in scripture does God encourage us to in any way imitate the pagan celebrations of others as a way of “getting along with” or “blending in with” or even witnessing to non believers. We are instead called to be set apart from pagan traditions and worship of false gods in every way. We are to do things only God’s way. Being different is an important part of being a light to draw people to Christ. If those who follow Christ blend in with everyone else, why should any non believer accept Christ and change their lives?

The following article is a good summary about Halloween, so I choose not to write my own. I recommend you pray for God to give you an open mind and test celebration of Halloween, not against what your church does or your family has done for generations, but against the word of God.

A few easy questions to ask yourself…  “Does celebrating this holiday honor God and point others to Him? Could it actually confuse others as to what Christ calls us to do and how He calls us to act? If I ignore traditions of men for a moment and test the holiday (and how it is celebrated) against scripture, is there any way I would ever reasonably conclude I should celebrate this based on the Bible itself?” Perhaps one final question, “If I am not sure it is good and honoring to God, should I skip it or celebrate it anyway?”

ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

The October 31st holiday that we today know as Halloween has strong roots in paganism and is closely connected with worship of the Enemy of this world, Satan. It is a holiday that generally glorifies the dark things of this world, rather than the light of Jesus Christ, The Truth.

Have you noticed how costumes and masks are getting generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year? Unfortunately, the gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society, not only on Halloween, but throughout the year in frequent horror movies and television programs.

My family does not celebrate it or participate in it. We do not believe that our children are “missing out,” and neither do they. Other days are used for costumes and parties. Happily, all of our children have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that, as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11).

What about church “Harvest Festivals” held on October 31? Although we understand the rational and good intentions behind them, we don’t think they are the best approach. Our family tends to agree with the author of an article called “Are ‘Harvest Parties’ for Christians?” (written by a self-avowed former witch and now active Christian). Harvest parties on October 31 tend to assume that “our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won’t be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something. And indeed they are, if we allow them to spend Halloween in celebration.” There are better things to do on Halloween than partying.

Also, we need to teach our children that “the fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians who feel differently than we about Halloween, or institutions that promote Halloween, but” “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

Click the following link to read the full article: ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

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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