Category Archives: Traditions / Holidays

Understanding the Hebrew Roots of Christianity Draws Us Nearer to Yeshua

Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots

Understanding Hebrew roots – “God’s ways” not “Jewish traditions”

Far too many Christians are taught today in churches that the Old Testament is an interesting book of stories but not relevant anymore or that somehow the New Testament has completely replaced the Old Testament. This is simply not true. Seek to understand the Hebrew roots God Himself created as the foundation of our relationship with Him and how to place them in proper context in our lives today. Test what you have been taught by our culture and churches today against what scripture really says.

Do not accept the world’s assessment that these are “Jewish ways”, as if that is a bad thing. This is about understanding God’s ways, which He gave to the Jewish people and much of which Christians have discarded in favor of the ways of man.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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

Let us also remember that Yeshua was judged perfect by obeying the law and instructions of YHWH laid out in the Old Testament. He should be our example and we should seek to better understand the ways he lived when he was among us physically, setting the example for us to follow. Then we can seek carefully to understand what elements have been fulfilled.

  • 119ministries.com (also TestEverything.net) challenges and helps us test common teaching or practices today against God’s word. We are to test everything and hold onto only what is good
  • Shoreshim Ministries, at BillCloud.com, re-introduces Christians to the Jewish Y’shua in order to educate believers in the Hebraic roots of their faith. This in turn helps disciples to understand and follow Messiah more fully in their lives.
  • Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship, at BethImmanuel.org, is a family-based Messianic Jewish community for people of all nations. Teaching and Bible study is at the center of what they do. They emphasize teaching and study from a Messianic Jewish perspective, revealing the Jewish Roots of Christianity, and encountering the Jewish Jesus.
  • First Fruits of Zion, at ffoz.org, specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. They present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity.
  • Foundations in Torah, at FoundationsInTorah.com, focuses on connecting the gospels and epistles of the New Testament with their foundations in the Old Testament for better understanding of context.
  • Hebraic Roots Network, at HebraicRootsNetwork.com, is a consortium of like-minded ministries dedicated to bringing solid Biblical teaching to the world. They present the Scriptures from a Hebrew perspective allowing the viewer to gain deeper understanding through applied context.
  • Hebrew For Christians, at Hebrew4Christians.com, helps us study and deepen our faith by connecting with the Hebrew roots of God’s relationship with His people.
  • MTOI.org Messianic Torah Observant Israel. We are dedicated to serving YHWH as He brings the Body of Messiah together worldwide. We pray that this website becomes a valuable resource for you to learn, grow, and fellowship with other like-minded believers from around the world who desire to connect with you and help you feel connected.
  • RenewedMoon.com Latest reports and tools for sighting crescent (renewed) moons throughout the world and within Israel for the purposes of observing a Biblical calendar.
  • RestoringTheWay.org It is the focus of this ministry to restore what we believe has been something lost over the past 2,000 years or so and that is the Hebrew or Hebraic roots of the Christian faith.

Additional resources to help you Study Hebrew Roots of Christianity.

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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.

Examine Everything Carefully; Hold Fast to that Which is Good

This post is not really about Christmas, but will use Christmas as an example. Today I want to emphasize the importance for each of us to test what we hear or are taught against what the Bible says. Test everything and hold onto what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

19Do not quench the Spirit; 20do not despise prophetic utterances. 21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

People may often speak about Christmas as if it is a Christian holiday. It did not originate that way. You will find no command or direction from YHWH to celebrate Yeshua’s birth. In fact, He has not even revealed to us when Yeshua was born during the year, almost as if to prevent us from doing so. For all the holy days YHWH tells us to celebrate (e.g. Leviticus 23), He is very clear about when and to some degree how to celebrate them. I find it interesting that so many who celebrate what He did not command (e.g. Christmas), fail to celebrate what He did command (e.g. Passover, Tabernacles, Sabbath, etc.)

In fact a general search of origins for holiday traditions like Christmas tree and holly will show the significant pagan influence on what is now a mixed and mingled cultural holiday.

To find truth, we must separate how we emotionally feel about something which may have good memories growing up or with our family and seek the factual truth about something. To fully serve YHWH, we must be willing to change our behaviors away from what is socially acceptable in our families or culture to be in line with what the LORD desires. It is easy to give this lip service, but can you point to specific examples where you have stepped outside your family norms or cultural norms based on YHWH’s word? If not, you may want to reflect more deeply in prayer on if you are truly committed to putting YHWH first. Do you really assume your family or your culture is the one doing everything how YHWH expects? That society does not exist today.

I do not intend to dwell no the specifics of holidays today as it is out there to be explored and I develop it in other posts. I encourage you to look through our previous posts on Traditions / Holidays.

Today I want to point out that even the Biblical text which has become mixed in with the holiday is wrong. Our cultural traditions do not even reinforce learning of accurate Biblical history. If I were to ask most people “How many wise men visited Jesus?”, most would say “three”. Fact is that we don’t know. The Bible does not say. It only says they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and we assume and teach three. It could be two or it could be 5. One person can bring a gift of two items or two people can both bring the same item.

Similarly, nativity scenes almost always show the wise men at the stable where Yeshua was born. If you read the text, you will see this is not at all accurate. The star appeared when Yeshua was born. That is what triggered the wise men to plan and begin their journey. By the time they arrived, Yeshua was in a house, not a stable. We will also read later that Herod, understanding that Yeshua was born well ahead of the arrival of the Magi, ordered children up to two years old to be killed, not only newborns.

The simple point is just to encourage us to really test cultural holidays and teachings that are mixed with assumptions and wrong information. Let us test all teaching we receive and all that is presented when people talk about the Bible.  Let us seek the answers and truth in the Bible itself, rather than substitutes. Always test what others will teach by studying and praying yourself. This applies to what I teach also, of course. The main objective is to get folks seeking YHWH themselves and not just accepting whatever may be said about Him.

Matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Magi

      1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

      6‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”

      7Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

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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.

Freedom In Christ

Many in the USA celebrate freedom as a key part of the heritage of our July 4 national holiday. It commemorates independence for the USA from England and the policies of the government there for which the colonies were not represented. We can be reminded to value our freedom and not take it for granted. Fireworks and parties are commonplace. The birth of a free nation is celebrated. We do not celebrate this freedom by rebelling against the very nation that protects and provides our freedom. We do not declare that our freedom means we are no longer subject to any laws.

This day is a good opportunity for us to reflect deeper on one who is greater than us who also allows us the freedom to make our own choices. Our Creator made us in His image and allows us the freedom to follow Him or live in rebellion to Him, choosing instead to honor and follow the desires of our flesh and sin nature. All of us are inherently sinful. Babies at birth need not be taught to scream when they want something. Young children need to be taught to share, taking what they want comes naturally. We must learn to focus on the needs of others just as we must learn God’s ways in order to be set apart and different than the world.

Our Father, YHWH, provided us instructions to follow as any good father does for His children. Often the instructions are for the benefit of the children themselves, even if they don’t understand that fully. The instructions have been communicated through thousands of years and neatly compiled into the Bible we have so readily available to us today, so long as we choose to open it or click the link to it. We need only pray for enlightenment from the Spirit and read with a desire to learn and change our behaviors to follow God’s instructions. We should not read with a desire to justify all of our current actions and attitudes… that is redefining God in our image rather than redefining ourselves in His image.

We talk often in Christian community about freedom through Christ. It is amazing, but sadly many get confused by false teaching about this freedom. What are we set free from?

The short answer is that all too often people essentially say we are set free from all boundaries and can do anything and God will be pleased. This is false. This would be akin to saying we are free in the United States and then pretending that there are no laws or boundaries governing what is acceptable behavior and what will land you in prison. God has established guidelines and instructions for us to follow to help us, as a father does for his children. Are we to use our freedom to rebel against the one who gives it to us? No. Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. He sets us free in that we can be reconciled to YHWH even when we do not live out his instructions perfectly to his standard. This means, simply that we can be forgiven for our sins, because Jesus already paid the price required by the law for our sins. We can be set free from condemnation and guilt, but we are to repent from the sinful ways and do things according to God’s instruction. We are to follow Christ.

Romans 8:1-4

1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Many teach that we are set free from the law, from God’s instructions, but this is absurd. Jesus followed God’s instructions throughout His earthly ministry and so did His disciples. In fact, he was judged righteous in that he lived perfectly according to the law. He never taught against following God’s law, only against following the man made traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees that were overburdening people with meaningless traditions and distracting from or even contradicting God’s law. We must ask ourselves… “Is Jesus our example to follow? or our excuse to live how we want rather than how God tells us to?”

Throughout the scriptures, God’s law is highlighted as good, as worthy of love, of setting us free from the lure of sin by showing us what is right. It is a light unto our path to guide us. I have included a few excerpts from Psalm 119, but you should click the link and read the whole Psalm. Many others have similar content. The law of God is to be obeyed. Jesus did not come to set us free from it.

Psalm 119 (excerpts – I encourage you to read 119 completely)

97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.

143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.

162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.

163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.

164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Would it make sense that Jesus came to set us free from wisdom, delight, truth, and peace? Certainly not. This would be absurd. Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death. Yes, we all sin, and thus deserve death. However, Jesus sets us free from that guilt and condemnation and judgment because He already paid the price for us. What He calls for in return as part of this freedom is that we submit to God, repent of our sinful ways, and seek after God. True repentance transforms us to be different from the world and to become more and more like Jesus as we continue to grow in wisdom and maturity in our faith over the course of our lifetime.

Just as we see so obviously in the physical world, freedom brings responsibility and accountability for the choices we make. It is similar with our Father in heaven. Freedom comes with responsibility and accountability. There are spiritual consequences in our relationship with God and ultimate destination when we die from this life and go into eternity to heaven or hell. There are also physical and emotional impacts in our lives today based on how well we follow the instructions He has provided. After all, the loving Father and Creator knows how best to guide His creations. He gives us the answers, but we need to listen and obey… even when we don’t understand fully.

Learn more:

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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.

Celebrating Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks

Many Christians have heard of Pentecost and remember it as the time to celebrate and remember when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the early church believers after the death and resurrection of Christ. This truly is a holy day worth celebrating. Our Father sent a Helper to dwell among us… to teach us and lead us as His people. The Spirit dwells amongst believers today, though many have been taught to dismiss the Spirit as an active part of experiencing relationship with our Father in our daily lives. We don’t, as a culture, know how to relate to and experience the Spirit in our lives anymore.

Pentecost is a wonderful event that followers of Christ should want to remember given that we are promised the Holy Spirit dwells in all of us. What a great reminder that we have that Helper from our Creator to guide and teach us… to comfort and counsel us. We are not alone in trying to live our lives obedient and pleasing to the Lord as we face hardship in this world.

Acts 2

The Day of Pentecost

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8“And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Peter’s Sermon

14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;

18EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy.

19‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.

20‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.

21‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

22“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

25“For David says of Him,
‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE;
FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.

26‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED;
MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;

27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES,
NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.

28‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE;
YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’

29“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30“And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

34“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

35UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’
36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The Ingathering

37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reading through Acts 2, we are reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit in us. What an inspiring event! Look at how Peter was transformed from the man who denied Christ three times as he followed to see what would become of Him on the way to crucifixion into now a powerful man of God addressing large crowds and bringing many to the Lord.

If we dig a bit deeper, note that the very beginning of this scripture identifies that the day of Pentecost was drawing near, and many had gathered for it… before the Holy Spirit showed up. This day already had significance. It is often referred to as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot by Jewish people.

Pentecost is simply Greek for “50 days”. It was applied to this day because the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, was a festival to be observed seven weeks from the second day of the Passover. Since seven weeks times seven days per week is 49 days… the day after would be 50.

The Feast of Weeks is the second of three major Jewish festivals with the others being Passover and Feast of Tabernacles. This celebration corresponds to when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were offered to the Lord. Many also traditionally associate it with commemorating the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 34:22-24

22“You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23“Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24“For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:15-21

15‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD. 18‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. 19‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

Numbers 28:26-31

26‘Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the LORD in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 27‘You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old; 28and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 29a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30also one male goat to make atonement for you. 31‘Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present them with their drink offerings. They shall be without defect.

I am still personally coming up to speed on some of historical context and rich meaning behind the feasts of the Lord as He instructed in the Old Testament. There is much to be studied and appreciated there. Our Father makes a habit of tying together the Old and New Testament events. Often one is a foreshadowing of another, not one a replacement of the other. For example, Jesus was crucified at Passover. This was not coincidence. As Passover celebrates God’s people being set free from slavery in Egypt by the mighty power of God, so too Jesus death and resurrection on the cross should be celebrated as setting His people free from slavery to sin.

Consider also, then that the Holy Spirit being sent to the believers after the death of Christ on Pentecost. This is not coincidence. God intended the two to be linked. We must then explore the Old Testament to fully understand what God is telling us in the New. Consider that a homework assignment… a challenge for each of you who are hungry to seek the Lord. Put some time aside for additional study of Pentecost and how the Old Testament feast foreshadows the coming of the Holy Spirit to our lives.

As a start, I am beginning with my family to set aside the day of Pentecost as a Sabbath day of rest as God instructed. We will discuss the significance of both the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost. Both are worthy to be remembered and celebrated.

You can study more about the creators calendar using sites like Hebrew4Christians.com or Psalm119Ministries (select Time: Our Creators Calendar to see collection of videos available). You can learn about what the scripture says about these holy days, when they occur, why God told us to celebrate Shavuot, and traditions.

There is some debate amongst different sources as to the date of the Passover and thus Shavuot/Pentecost each year. Don’t let this discourage you from getting started celebrating and studying God’s holy days.

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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.

No Greater Love

As we recognize Memorial Day, it is a good time to reflect on and appreciate those who have laid down their lives for the rest of us to be able to live free in the United States of America. It is a good time to pray for those who are actively serving, have served, or are surviving family of those who have died in service to our country. God gave us this unique nation based on Christian values and heritage. Many have served and died protecting it.

Yeshua demonstrated and taught that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends. He laid down His life for all those who choose to follow Him and submit to Him. We can be thankful for sure that our sins can be forgiven because of Him. We could never pay that debt.

Yeshua also encouraged His disciples to show this kind of love for one another as well… to lay down their life for one another. So, too, are we encouraged to lay down our lives for one another. At times, we may face a situation where we literally must make that choice in an instant. Other times we lay down our lives by how we live for others rather than living for ourselves.

As we read, we should not overlook that Yeshua said that “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” This is clearly important, but a different context in our relationship with Him vs. relationships with each other that we may consider friends. We should obey Yeshua to be His “friend”. We do not need to obey each other to be friends.

John 15:12-17

Disciples’ Relation to Each Other

12“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.

Take time to pray for those who risk their lives or lose them for others. Pray also for their families. Of course, not everyone in uniform is righteous or acts with righteous motives, but many have sacrificed none the less to protect our country and our freedom. Pray also for the leadership in our government so that they would lead well and not recklessly. Further, pray for the people of our nation that they would hold in high regard those that serve to protect our nation and risk their lives to do so.

Take time to also pause and reflect on our Savior, Yeshua, who laid down his life for us so we could be forgiven and reconciled with the Father. Give thanks to him. Do not let that offer be wasted. Rather, submit to him, turn from your sin, and seek him. Let him be Lord of your life. You will find greater joy and peace in this world and after.

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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.

The New Heaven and Earth

After all the tribulation and trials, after the 1000 year reign of Yeshua, after the judgment and many are thrown into the lake of fire… the new heaven and earth. What a wonderful moment to look forward to. God will come down to dwell again with His people. This is the event that celebrating Feast of Tabernacles reminds us to look forward to each year. This is the restoration of all things, making all things new. No pain. No sorrow. The new Jerusalem is a magnificent place. Spoiler alert… you will want to choose and submit to Yeshua to experience this wonderful place. The alternative… the lake of fire.

Revelation 21

The New Heaven and Earth

      1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

      5And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

      9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

The New Jerusalem

      10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

      15The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

      22I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of 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.

Let Us Celebrate, Honor, and Love Mothers

We should celebrate, honor, and love mothers all year round. Honoring mothers should be more than a once a year “Thank you, Mom. Here is a gift I bought.” Let’s reflect on some of what the Bible says about the role of wives and mothers.

Deuteronomy 5:16

16‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Not everyone who gives birth is a good and selfless mother, but many mothers sacrifice daily to take care of their household. They work hard. They are compassionate and loving. Good mothers are seldom idle.

Proverbs 31:13-31

13She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.

14She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.

16She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

18She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

20She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.

26She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

31Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

Good mothers help to teach and guide their children in righteousness.

Proverbs 6:20-22

20My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;

21Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.

22When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.

Children should live in righteousness and bring joy and gladness to their mother. This is a greater gift than can be put in a box with a bow to be given one day a year.

Proverbs 23:22-25

22Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.

23Buy truth, and do not sell it,
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.

25Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.

Good mothers exemplify Biblical love, especially for their families. Their children should demonstrate this kind of love to them (daily) as well.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Remember to celebrate, honor, and love mothers all year round. There is no gift that can be purchased once a year that will bring more joy to them than loving and honoring them year round in a biblical manner. As children, let us seek to live in righteousness and lovingkindness, which will bring joy to good mothers and to 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.

Who Are My Mother And Brothers?

There is truly treasure packed all throughout scripture for us to find as we study and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us. While it may be good for a beginner in the faith to read the Bible in a year to get an overview of the whole historical account, let us take caution that there is also great value in going more slowly. Taking it one bite at a time and thoroughly going through it, pausing and praying. Considering verses that may otherwise be overlooked in our hurry to read 3 chapters a day.

Yeshua was teaching and sharing parables with crowds. His biological mother and brothers were trying to get to Him. Yeshua took that opportunity, not to disparage His earthly family, but to highlight another important perspective for us as believers and followers of Christ. While blood relatives are important and are an important organizational structure in society (refer to the organizing of God’s people by tribes throughout the Bible), we should also be keen to focus on the strong relationship that should exist between fellow believers. I should not overlook that fellow believers and followers in Christ are like brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. We should hold them close, support one another, and work together with grace for one another.

Luke 8:19-21

19And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. 20And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.” 21But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

As you go throughout your day engaging in life with other believers and followers of Christ, remind yourself to think about them as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in Christ. It may seem a subtle shift, but I find myself suddenly willing to engage more and help more, supporting one another. I find myself naturally extending more grace to them, more kindness and gentleness, more love. They are not simply strangers, but family in Christ.

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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.

Resurrection and First Fruits

When we devote time to prayer and study of YHWH’s word and ask him to show us the full depth of his word, the Spirit often does just that. We must be willing to let go of traditions of men that we have learned and seek out the traditions of YHWH. I have previously written about my transition away from celebrating Easter in the tradition of the church and culture of today, which includes a number of pagan influences, towards celebrating Passover, which aligns with reinforcing our relationship with YHWH as he previously instructed his people to celebrate. To state the obvious, Yeshua celebrated Passover and I will follow Him.

Without getting into full study here, I do not take this to mean that we perform animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10), but rather seek to celebrate or memorialize Passover by remembering how YHWH led his people out of slavery in Egypt by his might and power. Now, we also have more reason to celebrate Passover as Yeshua was sacrificed during Passover as our Passover lamb, setting us free from slavery to sin and death. We have much reason to celebrate indeed!

As we look to his resurrection, study indicates that it actually took place during the Biblical celebration of first fruits. Once again, YHWH shows that he will use his holy appointed days to reinforce and amplify the meaning of his relationship with his people.

I have included a brief article from Ligonier Ministries about First Fruits and resurrection below.

“You shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statue forever throughout your generations” (v. 14). Leviticus 23:9–22

Passover was not the only spring festival celebrated under the covenant, for the Israelites also commemorated the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. The Feast of Firstfruits actually took place during the week-long Passover celebration (Lev. 23:4–8), on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the week (vv. 9–11). Pentecost occurred fifty days after that Sabbath (vv. 15–16) and marked the culmination of what started at the Feast of Firstfruits.

As its name indicates, the Feast of Firstfruits marked thanksgiving to God for the firstfruits of the harvest — in this case, the grain and cereal harvested in the spring in ancient Palestine. At this festival, the Israelites offered the very first sheaf of the harvest and were not allowed to eat anything from the crop until they gave its initial portion to the Lord (vv. 9–14). This required a great deal of faith on the part of the Israelites, as they would be giving the offering of firstfruits at a time when not much was ready to be harvested. They had to trust God that He would indeed provide the fullness of grain that had yet to come forth, something that from a human perspective was far from certain given the people’s utter dependence on the right amount of rainfall and so forth to give the best crop.

Somewhere around AD 30, the firstfruits of an even greater harvest issued forth, for it was on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the Passover celebration that Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1–10). Lest there be any doubt that His resurrection fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits, Paul tells us explicitly that Christ is the firstfruits of those who will be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20–23). Just as the firstfruits offered to God under the old covenant anticipated the fuller harvest to come, the resurrection of Jesus anticipates the bodily resurrection of His people first promised under the old covenant (Job 19:25–27).

Fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits was the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (from the Greek term pentekostos, or fiftieth), which was the grand celebration at the end of the grain harvest. On this occasion, the offerings of food and animals to the Lord were more lavish (Lev. 23:15–22), an appropriate way to thank Him for the tremendous bounty He had provided. Tomorrow we will look at Pentecost in more detail.

Coram Deo

Paul says Jesus was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25), and so we often celebrate Jesus’ resurrection as proof that our sins have been fully atoned for and that we are now declared righteous in God’s sight. This is entirely appropriate, but we should also remember that our Lord’s resurrection is proof positive that we who trust in Him will be raised in like manner at the last day and dwell with Him bodily in a new heaven and earth.

Passages for Further Study

Numbers 28:26–31
Proverbs 3:9–10
Acts 2:1–4
2 Thessalonians 2:13

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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 Is The Passover Lamb

As the final days of his earthly ministry were passing, Yeshua led His disciples to prepare to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Think about that for a few moments. Yeshua, God himself living among us, chose to spend some of the closing moments of His brief earthly ministry in preparation of Passover. It was clearly important to him and for good reason.

The timing is not coincidental that Yeshua would be sacrificed for our sins at Passover time. It was intended that way by our Creator. Passover not only reminds us of deliverance from bondage in Egypt but also foreshadows our deliverance from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua was sacrificed as our Passover lamb… dying for our sins so we can be set free from sin and death.

Mark 14:12-21

The Last Passover

12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15“And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

17When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21“For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

These celebrations are not “Jewish” tradition. They are not just somehow a meaningless or obsolete instruction from our Creator either. Now we who believe in Yeshua as Messiah have more reason to celebrate it than ever before! Passover and Unleavened Bread are part of God’s tradition for celebrating and remembering our deliverance from sin through Christ! It is a wonderful way to teach our children about the Creator’s relationship with His people.

Exodus 13:6-10

6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

We should enjoy taking part in our Father’s appointed times rather than creating our own based on the traditions of men. It is not just that He tells us to… that got me started to look into it. Now I see how powerfully these celebrations tie into the core element of my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and what a wonderful way it is to teach my children. As I reflected personally in this regard, it occurred to me. God has some pretty good ideas. (That is quite an understatement!)

I invite you to take some small steps even today to learn more about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how it is not only a celebration of YHWH* freeing His people out of slavery in Egypt, but also a celebration of our being freed from bondage to sin through the death and resurrection of Yeshua!

*Note: YHWH is the four letter name of God in the Bible derived from the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew did not record vowel sounds, we no longer know how to pronounce it for sure. It is often pronounced Yehovah or Yahweh today. Interesting history if you want to study it.

For more information about Passover or the Hebrew Roots of our faith in Yeshua…

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.