Category Archives: Worldliness

A Tale Of Two Responses To Christ

Passover and Unleavened Bread are important celebrations to Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and His disciples. Yeshua participated in these holy celebrations and so did his disciples. We see further, that is was important from the fact that Mark includes this explicitly in the timeline of events leading up to Yeshua’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This event was an important part of the timeline for us to understand.

We also get insight in Mark14 into two very different responses to Yeshua. The chief priests, who present themselves to the people as if they are holy and set apart for YHWH’s purposes, are plotting to kill Yeshua… God Himself walking among them. Meanwhile, a humble woman, a “sinner”, comes to anoint him and honor him with very expensive perfume and her own personal time and effort.

This provides a stark contrast that reminds us to use careful discernment in clearly identifying who is following YHWH and honoring him with their lives and who is just playing a part to look holy before the people. To be sure, we should start by looking in the mirror and making sure we have the right attitude toward our Creator.

Mark 14:1-11

Death Plot and Anointing

      1Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

      3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

      10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

Discern carefully who truly follows after Yeshua and learns from him, changing their lives to be more like him, and who uses Yeshua and the scriptures only to manipulate the message to their own gain and the appearance of holiness. In some cases, they genuinely fool even themselves. Do not be so foolish as to assume anyone in “church” leadership is holy and a true disciple of Yeshua, or that others who are not in those positions are not true disciples.

We all have a choice in how we will respond to Yeshua. Will we reject him entirely, will we pretend to serve him but let wickedness and selfishness reign in us, or will we humbly and faithfully serve him even when others will mock us for it?

How will you choose to respond to his offer of love and personal relationship in your life?

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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.

Yeshua Died For You. Really Reflect On That.

It is too easy to simply think of Yeshua as being killed for our sin and then we thank him and move on. Let us truly reflect. He went willingly. He was mocked and beaten. He was forced to carry his own cross. The soldiers gambled for his clothes even as he hung on the cross and his disciples and mother looked on. Picture this as the fate that each of us deserved. Imagine you were sentenced to that death, and he stepped in to take your place. Let that sink in.

John 17:16-30

The Crucifixion

     16So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

      17They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 20Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

      23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.” 25Therefore the soldiers did these things.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

      28After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Let us be thankful to our Lord for making a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with him. Let us rejoice in him. Do not cast aside easily such a gift in pursuit of worldly concerns and priorities. The world is as lost today as the Roman soldiers were then who were casting lots for Yeshua’s garments, unaware of who he really was.  Let this motivate us also to tell others about him and to live in a way that gives testimony to him.

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.

Let Judas Remind Us That We Should Not Betray Christ

Judas betrayed our Lord, Yeshua, in a very bold and obvious way. He took money to lead the Romans to him. Perhaps one thing which may be difficult for us to grasp at a personal level, however, is that this was in keeping with the Father’s plan for Yeshua.

John 18:1-1-11

Judas Betrays Jesus

     1When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

None of us will face the same exact situation as Judas. Most of us may never face any situation even remotely like this one. However, we all have an opportunity to speak out for and defend our Lord, Yeshua or reject him throughout our daily lives. Sometimes it may be by deliberate action, giving into temptation or sin. Other times, we may simply reject his ways by remaining quiet or not taking action to help another or defend his name.

Let us not look upon Judas as the only one who betrays Yeshua. Instead, let us reflect on our own lives and seek to honor and glorify him through our actions and thoughts. Let us seek his help for us to be loyal and not betray him when situations we face may be uncomfortable or hard or when greed may tempt us to turn from his ways.

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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.

You Will Not Find Lasting Fulfillment In Work Alone

Ecclesiastes is written with a theme throughout the book of seeking lasting fulfillment. Solomon seeks it in many different areas. Ultimately he concludes that nothing provides this lasting fulfillment except seeking and obeying YHWH.

We may work hard, and accomplish things and accumulate wealth and enjoy it for a time, but it will not last. We will ultimately leave it to another and go to face our Father. Labor may bring happiness and satisfaction for a time, but can not replace the purpose of the Father in our life. This does not mean that hard work is bad in itself. It is not. But do not seek your total fulfillment in it, but rather in YHWH.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

The Futility of Labor

     18Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. 20Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. 22For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

      24There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

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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.

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.

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.

 

Yeshua Is The Vine And We Are The Branches

John 15 documents a great visual that Yeshua provided to help us as His followers. Read the scripture and then we can review some key points afterwards.

John 15:1-11

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

     1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Let’s review a few key points that jump out to me. You may find others as well.

  • Yeshua is the vine. He is essential to supply the branches.
  • The Father is the vinedresser. He is in control.
  • Disciples of Yeshua are the branches. Our purpose is to bear His fruit. We must stay connected to Him to remain healthy and effective. We can not “go it alone”.
  • The Father will remove branches that bear no fruit. They will be cast aside and burned. This should get our attention as a stern warning.  Arguably He is talking about those who claim to follow Him or did follow Him at one time follow Him. Those who never knew Him would not be branches connected on the vine to Yeshua. We must not grow complacent! Challenge ourselves to keep knowing, loving, and serving our Father… bearing His fruit rather than our own.
  • Even those branches that bear fruit, shall be pruned by the Father so that we will bear even more fruit. Pruning is sometimes a difficult process for the branch, but it helps!
  • Yeshua also, as is common in scripture, ties together our obedience to God’s commandments with our love for Him.
  • He wants us to be joyful! It is His joy in us, not joy we achieve on our own apart from Him.

Prayerfully reflect on this visualization for our relationship with our Father and ask Him to show you areas in your life where you may be able to apply the word. Reflect on whether or not you bear fruit, and if so, if it is the Father’s fruit. When you may be going through difficult situations, consider perhaps that He may be pruning you to bear even more fruit in the future. Seek to understand His commandments so that you may obey them to demonstrate your love for Him. Pray for Him to help you experience His joy in you!

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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.

There Are Consequences When A Nation Turns From YHWH

This is a message our nation and our world need to hear even today, as they continue to distance themselves from God, worship other gods, and live according to their own ways instead of those of YHWH. He gave us the law as instruction for us in how to live and relate to Him. He sent Yeshua to make a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him. However, when we as a nation continue to reject His instruction in how we live we can be sure to expect the same response that YHWH had toward Israel. He will be angry. His blessing will be removed. We will get to live with the results of our own wickedness and He will bring punishment. Let those who have ears to hear, hear and apply our lives today. Let us humble ourselves and repent before Him, praying for our nation and for His grace to deliver our people back to following Him… not according to the teachings of the church, but according to His instruction in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 31:23-30

      23Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”

      24It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 25that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 27“For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? 28“Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29“For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.”

      30Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:

Deuteronomy 32

The Song of Moses

     1“Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

      2“Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.

      3“For I proclaim the name of the LORD;
Ascribe greatness to our God!

      4“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

      5“They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.

      6“Do you thus repay the LORD,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.

      7“Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.

      8“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.

      9“For the LORD’S portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

      10“He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.

      11“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.

      12“The LORD alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.

      13“He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,

      14Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat—
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.

      15“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—
You are grown fat, thick, and sleek—
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scorned the Rock of his salvation.

      16“They made Him jealous with strange gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.

      17“They sacrificed to demons who were not God,
To gods whom they have not known,
New gods who came lately,
Whom your fathers did not dread.

      18“You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.

      19“The LORD saw this, and spurned them
Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.

      20“Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end shall be;
For they are a perverse generation,
Sons in whom is no faithfulness.

      21‘They have made Me jealous with what is not God;
They have provoked Me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

      22For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And burns to the lowest part of Sheol,
And consumes the earth with its yield,
And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

      23‘I will heap misfortunes on them;
I will use My arrows on them.

      24They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague
And bitter destruction;
And the teeth of beasts I will send upon them,
With the venom of crawling things of the dust.

      25‘Outside the sword will bereave,
And inside terror—
Both young man and virgin,
The nursling with the man of gray hair.

      26‘I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces,
I will remove the memory of them from men,”

      27Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy,
That their adversaries would misjudge,
That they would say, “Our hand is triumphant,
And the LORD has not done all this.”’

      28“For they are a nation lacking in counsel,
And there is no understanding in them.

      29“Would that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would discern their future!

      30“How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the LORD had given them up?

      31“Indeed their rock is not like our Rock,
Even our enemies themselves judge this.

      32“For their vine is from the vine of Sodom,
And from the fields of Gomorrah;
Their grapes are grapes of poison,
Their clusters, bitter.

      33“Their wine is the venom of serpents,
And the deadly poison of cobras.

      34‘Is it not laid up in store with Me,
Sealed up in My treasuries?

      35‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.’

      36“For the LORD will vindicate His people,
And will have compassion on His servants,
When He sees that their strength is gone,
And there is none remaining, bond or free.

      37“And He will say, ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?

      38‘Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you,
Let them be your hiding place!

      39‘See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

      40‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven,
And say, as I live forever,

      41If I sharpen My flashing sword,
And My hand takes hold on justice,
I will render vengeance on My adversaries,
And I will repay those who hate Me.

      42‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword will devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’

      43“Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
And will atone for His land and His people.”

      44Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun. 45When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47“For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

      48The LORD spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49“Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. 50“Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.52“For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.”

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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.

To Stand Boldly With and For Christ Means Others Will Come Against You

Today we are digging in a bit deeper into John 7. In a previous article, we highlighted that Yeshua was documented as participating in the appointed times of YHWH as laid out in Leviticus 23, in this case Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. Though this has largely been dropped from mainstream Christianity, those who seek truth by following Christ’s example should study more and consider participating in the appointed times as Yeshua did. My family has been doing so for years now and it is very rewarding, though a bit awkward as you get started.

There are a few main points I want to highlight as we dive a bit deeper into the beginning of John 7.

  • For those facing persecution for their faith in Christ, note that Christ in this chapter also chose the time and place for His teaching. He knew there were those who wanted to harm him. He was clearly actively proclaiming the truth of the gospel, but did so strategically and at times remained private or hidden. We should take care not to use this as an excuse to avoid standing for YHWH. Clearly Yeshua proclaimed His ways publicly.
  • For many of us who come to know Christ and then proclaim the truth of His message, the fullness of His instruction, our own families and friends may reject us. It is uncomfortable for many who claim to follow Christ, and perhaps genuinely do, to accept that much of what the church has taught them is wrong and they should change based on study of the whole word of YHWH, the whole Bible. The appointed times are a great example. You will face resistance and discouragement from some for pursuing the same celebrations of YHWH that Yeshua participated in just because they are not wanting to face the change themselves. Do not be discouraged. For Yeshua, even His own brothers were not believing in Him.
  • Do not fear rejection. Ask YHWH for the grace to accept and deal with it, as Christ did. The world will hate us, as it did Yeshua, if we testify that their deeds are evil. You can see it plainly today. If you share with someone the love of Christ for unborn children and the fact that abortion is offensive to YHWH and should be to us… you will be likely scorned by half the population not just as “disagreeing” but labeled all sorts of mean and nasty things. They will say you hate women and such. None the less, we must stand up for the ways of YHWH as Christ did.
  • If we teach the full word of YHWH it will be different from what most Christians are now accustomed to. Many ignore Sabbath. Those that don’t, celebrate on Sunday instead of Saturday (as Christ and His disciples did), gluttony is a significant problem in our culture but it is taboo to say anything, sexual relations outside of a husband and wife relationship are out of control in society, and coveting is practically a national pastime more than baseball. Our society does not accept rebuke or correction, each claiming offense if someone tries to point out where they may be in need of repentance.  People don’t like change and they like admitting they are wrong even less. Though some people will agree with you and say good things, so too will many disagree with you, grumble and say bad things about you… as they did Yeshua. Be prepared for this and ask YHWH to help you with it.

You can not preach the truth of the gospel without offending those who reject it or accept only parts of it. To stand boldly for Christ means others will come against you. If no one is coming against you, you may want to reflect if you are really living and speaking boldly for Christ in your daily life and if you are doing so to those that do not necessarily already agree with you.

John 7:1-13

Jesus Teaches at the Feast

     1After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. 3Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4“For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5For not even His brothers were believing in Him. 6So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. 7“The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8“Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.

      10But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. 11So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” 12There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” 13Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

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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.

All Scripture Is Inspired By YHWH

Deuteronomy 23 has a collection of instructions. Let’s review after you read the chapter. Read through, you may be surprised by how much is relevant today to our lives.

Deuteronomy 23

Persons Excluded from the Assembly

     1“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 2“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 3“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, 4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. 6“You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.

      7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. 8“The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

      9“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

      10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11“But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp.

      12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14“Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

      15“You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16“He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

      17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18“You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

      19“You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20“You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

      21“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22“However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23“You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.

      24“When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket.

      25“When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

Doubtless, this is another passage which seems strange to us in our culture and time today. It may stir up some questions for those who wish to dig below the surface meaning. If we at first do not understand, remember who YHWH is and that He is holy and just. Start with that and we realize that if parts of this are troubling, we should study more to fully understand the context of the times when it was written. I am not an expert in these matters to be sure. My surface thoughts are as follows:

  • First, I ask myself what it means to be excluded from the assembly of the Lord. There are different views and I am not sure which is right. Does it mean excluded from the worship gathering? excluded from marriage? excluded from temple service? excluded from leadership? I am not sure which is right. Worthy of study for those who want to find out more.
  • Other nations would at times make eunuchs to serve in a palace or temple. Such a disfigurement is not pleasing to the Lord. I do not believe this was intended to punish victims but rather to prevent doing this to God’s people.
  •  It may seem harsh to exclude illegitimate children. However, this puts more emphasis on families following YHWH’s instructions and being holy. I believe the intent is to deter people from having illegitimate children, rather than intending to punish the children. It was not something to be normalized and accepted. Depending on the meaning of forbidden from the assembly of the Lord, this could also simply mean that they were not to be working in the temple, which is set apart and holy.
  • Amonites and Moabites were held accountable in memory of the sins of their people against Israel. We as a nation may face similar consequences for rebellion against the Lord. Though not all of us may rebel or reject Him, we may all face certain consequences together as one people.
  •  The people were then specifically told not to hate the Edomites and Egyptians. Interesting to note that YHWH never makes an equivalence of all people groups as equally righteous and valued. Those who rebel and fight against YHWH and His people are not to be accepted. Others, are specifically called out to not be hated. Our culture today must surely think this odd as many try to say that “all cultures and all nations” are to be respected and accepted as they are equally, with none better than the rest. YHWH seems to indicate differently.
  • There are certain behaviors that make us unclean. Rather than trying to excuse it and reject it, try to understand what and why and try to avoid them. If we become unclean, take time to seek to be cleansed. Spend that time with the Lord in prayer. Seek forgiveness.
  • YHWH takes the term “walking among us” seriously. He intends for us to keep our “camp” (or our home) clean with no indecent thing among us. Think about your home today. Are there indecent things among you? It may be idols. It may be pornography. It may be inappropriate clothing. It may simply even be television programs and music that is indecent. Cleanse your home and let nothing indecent be among you so that the Lord may walk among you.
  • Be kind to an escaped slave. Do not return them to their owner. Let them live among you. This is very gracious, in particular in a time when it was written when slavery was more common. I could also derive perhaps that we are to help those escaping difficult circumstances and not treat them badly. Rather help them to get free, even if it is from abuse or addiction. Note it does not say let entire nations and tribes of foreigners come into your midst (e.g. open borders). Rather it is focused on helping individuals, which could be assimilated and helped more effectively in smaller numbers.
  • Prostitution is wrong. YHWH does not even want money from such objectionable and offensive behavior. He wants no part of it. I hypothesize also that He does not want any part of many other objectionable behaviors even if they bring profit… perhaps drugs, human slavery, abortion, and many more.
  • As a follower of YHWH, we are not to loan to other believers for interest. If we loan it is to help them, not make money off them by increasing the cost burden to them by adding interest.
  • You are not required to make vows to YHWH, but if you do… take it seriously and do not delay in fulfilling it. Better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Further, you can ask YHWH to help you without making a vow.
  • We also see more guidance in reference to grain and grapes. We can share from our neighbors hospitality, but do not become greedy and become a burden by taking more than you should.

I for one am always surprised when I try to reflect on passages like this one. My first reaction is that none of it applies and I can “skip” it or read quickly. After prayer and a serious attempt to understand, even without lengthy, detailed study, I am amazed how relevant this guidance still remains for our lives.

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Yeshua, be with you.

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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.