Light on the Rock Blogs

The blogs are short articles, almost like a “sermonette” compared to a sermon. They are on a variety of topics, please enjoy.

Our focus has always been on the Rock (who is Christ) and on the Light of the world (who is Christ), and on our heavenly Abba, our Father.  So this site is not about us but the website software requires some kind of bio. We felt led in 2004 to share Bible studies with others and to help people whom God was calling to come to their Messiah, and...

Our focus has always been on the Rock (who is Christ) and on the Light of the world (who is Christ), and on our heavenly Abba, our Father.  So this site is not about us but the website software requires some kind of bio. We felt led in 2004 to share Bible studies with others and to help people whom God was calling to come to their Messiah, and this website was born.

Philip was ordained in 1976 and has served sabbath-keeping congregations in Canada and the USA. He runs his own long-term care insurance agency along with his wife, Carole. Philip and Carole met in 1971 and have been happily married since 1975.  God has blessed them with three children and a total of SEVEN grandchildren:  5 in FL and 2 in WA. 

Philip lives now in Leesburg, FL so they can be closer to their four grandsons and 1 granddaughter and his second daughter and her husband.  Philip and his website also support a group of 28 orphan children in Kenya.

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Infant and child baptism

As people from various backgrounds and religious former-affiliations come into contact with Light on the Rock, we receive a variety of comments and questions. Another recent inquiry is whether infants or children can be or should be baptized.  

True Biblical baptism of course means “to be immersed” or “immersion” – to be put under the water, not just sprinkled with water as is common on the Catholic and some other denominations. The original Greek word is “baptizo” meaning to completely “immerse, submerge, baptize” (Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament).

In a Biblical baptism your entire body goes under water and then back up again, to picture our burial spiritually into Christ and our resurrection spiritually in Christ as well (Romans 6:3-6).  Being sprinkled with water is not baptism. It’s not the same at all as being buried – in figurative death as we are totally immersed into and under the water.

So any of you reading this who believe you are baptized because as an infant you were sprinkled with water by a priest must understand: in fact, you were never immersed. You were never baptized even a first time. But you should be baptized upon your repentance and confession of sins and accepting Jesus as your master, king and savior. This time, your baptism should be by complete immersion under water.  For those of you baptized as infants, being baptized now will be your first true baptism. Remember – if you read Acts 19:1-9 – you’ll see that some who had been baptized by John the Baptist were re-baptized by Apostle Paul because they did not understand the Holy Spirit. And yet John baptized by immersion and taught repentance and was a true minister and prophet of God.  

Baptism points to us dying with Christ and being resurrected to newness of life in Christ. It all points to Jesus/Yeshua’s death and resurrection. On your own, please study Romans 6:3-14. Here’s the first part.

Romans 6:3-4  --"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. 

We know of John the Baptist – the baptizer. Notice where he baptized and why.

John 3:23  -- “Now John also was baptizing [immersing] in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized (immersed).”

John the baptizer baptized in the Jordan “for there was much water there.”  If sprinkling water was all that was required, he would not have needed to find a place where there “was much water”.

 John 1:9 says Yeshua/Jesus came to be baptized (immersed) by John “in the Jordan”.  So Yeshua was baptized in a river. He was not sprinkled with water.

When the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, it says Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he was baptized. Then they came back up out of the water (Acts 8:35-39).  Please be sure to read that in your Bible.

So sprinkling water on anyone of any age and calling it “baptism” is simply unscriptural. One’s whole body has to be immersed in water as it actually symbolizes our old self being buried as Romans 6:3-6 explains. 

Now how about the age when a person can be baptized?

Jesus/Yeshua was baptized at age 30. That should say plenty to us. He is our example. He was not baptized as an infant or even as a teenager. He was baptized at age 30. Those of you who believe in infant or even child baptism need to decide if you think Joseph and Mary (his parents) and Jesus himself were all wrong to have Jesus wait til he was 30 years old.  

Neither is there a single clear instance in the Bible that I am aware of, of infants or children ever being baptized.  

But there are other significant points to consider

** Baptism follows repentance and forming a promised, committed relationship with our Almighty Father and Jesus Christ.

After Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Shavuot – meaning ‘weeks”), people asked him what they could do. Here was his reply.

Acts 2:38 -- “Repent and let every one of you be baptized [immersed] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

God’s Holy Spirit usually came upon the laying on of hands first by the ministry (Acts 8:17; 19:6).  There was the exception of Cornelius and his household, who were given the Holy Spirit first, as a sign to Peter, that God had already “OK’d” uncircumcised Gentiles to come into the church and be baptized.  See Acts 10:44-48.  

How can we possibly say that an infant or even a child or teen has repented and committed himself/herself to God? We can’t. So children and infants should not be baptized. Nor should adults be baptized who have not repented or properly understood repentance yet.  

But neither should you wait, once you’re an adult who has fully and deeply repented. Having repented does not mean you never sin anymore. It means you are choosing to live God’s way now and accept Yeshua as your Savior. You will still sin. If you come to me or any ministers and claim you’re ready for baptism because you don’t sin anymore, I would try to open your eyes to see that we all still stumble in sin. But don’t delay your baptism once you have repented and accepted Christ as your Master and committed yourself to obey Him fully.

            I do have a sermon on “Baptisms”. It’s plural because there are various baptism – of water, of fire, of the Holy Spirit.  I know you’ll learn a lot more by listening to it. It would actually be a good review for anyone, even all those already baptized, as we come up to Pentecost and review what it was that we committed to.   

            https://lightontherock.org/videos/message/baptisms-the-exciting-meaning-of-immersion1.html?highlight=WyJiYXB0aXNtcyJd

Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, that newly baptized person is immersed into the body of Christ and becomes a member or part of the body of Christ, the church, by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13 says by one spirit we are baptized – immersed – into one Body, meaning the very body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13a  “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”

One purpose for us being baptized is to find and prepare a bride for Messiah. A baptized person is committing to happily marry Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul said he betrothed us to Christ, as a “chaste virgin”. Can an infant repent? Can an infant make the commitment to marry the son of God?

Just as you would not put an engagement ring on an infant or child, neither should we ever baptize a child or infant.  It makes no sense. Committing to marriage – especially to the Son of God – takes far more maturity and understanding.

So – no, an infant or child should not be baptized or immersed in the name of Jesus Christ.

If a teenager (let’s say 16-17-18 yrs old)  wishes to be baptized, there should be thorough counseling on the subject first. This should include a complete discussion of repentance, of accepting Christ and what it means to be totally committed to Christ and God’s Way.  I’d personally still advise them to wait until at least 18 or 19 years of age or even later. SO many who were baptized at 16-18 years of age quit later on.

I was present for the baptism of an approximately 16-year old girl who insisted on it. I refused to baptize her before this point.  But then a new pastor came in and baptized her. But now 25 or so years later, she lives in sin, uses profanity freely, openly condemns the minister who baptized her, and she does not display any of the fruit of God’s spirit. Ditto for countless other children and teens who were “baptized”. SO many have discarded all that water baptism was supposed to mean.

So if you’re a teenager and want me to baptize you, I will likely tell you to wait a few more years. I just haven’t seen good fruit from most teens who were baptized.

And again, let me remind you: Jesus was 30 when he was baptized. HE is our model. You’re not “more ready” than he was, if you’re still a teenager.  He waited til he was 30.  Infants and children should NOT be baptized. If you were “baptized” (sprinkled) as an infant, you should seek proper baptism now.

I recommend again you listen to my sermon on “baptisms”. 

https://lightontherock.org/videos/message/baptisms-the-exciting-meaning-of-immersion1.html?highlight=WyJiYXB0aXNtcyJd

I welcome your comments on this and any blog. You must register first, and then write your comments and opinions that are supported by the Bible.

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When the Bible is literal and or figurative

Some people read the Bible and it seems to them that everything is an allegory, figurative or metaphor and most things to them in the Bible are NOT “real” or literal. Others read the same verses and they take most scripture literally and almost nothing is a figure of speech or a picture of something deeper.

This short sharing is just to say – be so careful about forming beliefs and teachings based on everything being all literal or everything being mostly figures of speech or metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech where a word stands for something else. If I said to you—“You’re a peach,” I’m not saying you literally are a peach, but you are sweet and delightful. Metaphor.

Whole doctrines based on one or the other way of looking at each scripture can cause whole church groups to split up. I do sometimes wish that our God would have said, “OK children, this next series of verses are not to be taken literally” (or vice versa). But we don’t see that much in the Bible. We’re told about parables, but they’re not quite the same. Or are they?

Let’s look at some of the Bible language and see where YOU fit – do you take the words I’ll bring up more literally, or as more allegorical?

I know people who don’t believe there were literal people called Adam and Eve. I do believe they were there, in a literal garden of Eden. Yes, I believe there was a worldwide flood – and many don’t. Or they call it just a regional flood. I believe God blasted out of existence the cities of the Plain, including Sodom, Gomorrah and other surrounding cities of Admah and Ziboam. Zoar was spared as a potential destination for Lot and his two daughters. And yes, I believe Lot’s wife was turned to a real pillar of salt. Many people think all these things are figurative. Not me.

Many scriptures seem literal to me, but other ministers feel they’re symbolic or figurative. Many don’t believe in a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ and his firstfruits as Revelation 20 tells us. I do take that literally, but you’d be surprised how many don’t. We’ll have to see. But the thousand years are mentioned several times in that one chapter. I’d love to see some of you comment on this on our website. Register first, then leave your comment.

But then others take figurative language and make them all literal.

Here are some more examples of what must be, surely, figurative language:

** In our relationship with God, are we literally Sheep or goats? Or do they represent various kinds of people? Was Christ literally God’s “LAMB”? A literal lamb?

** Does a literal sharp two-edged sword come out of the mouth of Jesus? Some believe so. I do not believe a literal big two-edged sword sticks out of Messiah’s mouth, but I’ve heard preachers who declare it must be true.

** Is Jesus literally a LION – as in lion of Judah, or is God making a point? And is our Messiah a literal Door, or Bread of life? Of course not. Nor is he a literal Vine (nor are we literal stick branches on a literal vine – John 15:1-5). He was using word pictures that people could relate to and help them understand.

** Exodus 19:4 quotes God as saying He brought Israel out of Egypt “on eagles’ wings.” Clearly, they walked out. But many people take this hyper-literally. Others have even tried to find airlines with eagle logos to perhaps find a way that we might also flee to a wilderness in future – “on eagles’ wings.” This is just saying God brought them out supernaturally and with great energy. The first day of walking out could have been a 48-hour period, but no one was sick or infirm. To me, “eagles’ wings” is clearly a metaphor.

One thing we can learn from the words of Yeshua/Jesus is that he was constantly thinking on a higher plane than his disciples. So he used “spiritual” language or alliterative words.

For example Jesus said to “beware of the leaven of Pharisees”  (read Matthew 16:6-11). His disciples started concluding that it was because they had forgotten to buy or have bread on hand. It’s almost funny but we might have reacted and concluded the same as they did. Jesus/Yeshua said  -“no, no, I’m referring to their wrong teachings or doctrine, which can spread throughout the community like leaven.” So doctrine is important too. In another place, he compared the Pharisees’ “leaven” to hypocrisy – just like leavened bread is puffy, airy, and not as big or satiating as one might assume. He wants us to be exactly what people see – and not hypocritical.

So as we read the Bible, we have to ask ourselves if this passage is literal or figurative.

Also consider the source. I’m extremely cautious when reading the Book of Job, because God Himself told Job and his friends that his 3 main friends had NOT spoken correctly of God and his ways. In fact, one of them, Eliphaz – was hearing from a DEMON! Read it for yourself in the last half of Job 4.

So who is speaking? You need to know that when quoting the Bible. The one who said “You shall not surely die” – was Satan himself! So what’s the one thing people still believe today? It is that your soul cannot die. Straight from Satan! So now we have people believing the “immortal soul,” though Ezekiel 18:4, 20 both say, “the soul that sins shall DIE”! And Jesus himself said to fear him who is able to kill both body AND soul in his hell fire. Matthew 10:28 --  “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  So now people believe the wages of sin is NOT death, but is endless life being tormented by a God who claims to be the very essence of what LOVE is. But what happened to ‘death”? So “they” redefined it as “death is being separated from God as you are being tormented in hell fire forever and ever.”

I obviously cannot agree with that. Death is death. AFTER the thousand years reign by Christ is finished, “the rest of the dead” will be resurrected, and some to suffer the 2nd death as their punishment. Read Revelation 20:3-6, 12-14. They will be as ashes under the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3). Now THAT is “death.” Be sure to watch my upcoming sermons on death, God’s plan for us and more.

Here are more example of “is it literal – or figurative”?

**  BABYLON the Great of Rev. 17 and 18. Scripture calls it “that great city” on 7 hills, who rides The Beast – until the Beast casts her off and destroys her. OK, so who/what is Babylon in Rev. 18? Some say it has to be the literal city in Iraq that is slowly being rebuilt but has no consequence so far. Others are certain it’s not that – but perhaps Rome, or perhaps New York City. Many are certain it is Rome or Vatican City or the Roman Catholic Church. Others say it is Jerusalem when the Beast and False Prophet take it over for a few years and perhaps even make Jerusalem their world headquarters. What do you think?

** Will the final Two Witnesses really destroy their enemies with literal fire from their mouths? (Revelation 11). Elijah called down fire from heaven, not from his mouth, to burn the groups of 50 who came to arrest him (2 Kings chapter 1). I won’t test the 2 Witnesses on this – but it will be interesting to see if this is literal or figurative. (I think it’s figurative).

** We’re also called the temple of God’s spirit. But we’re not made up of literal big stones and precious stones of a temple – but allegorically yes, we’re the residence of God’s spirit and God does see his children as very precious in his eyes. But we are not literal stones but actually something far more precious.

** However, I personally do take literally that we are a Royal Priesthood. We’re children of God, and that makes me and you royalty of the highest order possible.

** Now this will challenge some of you: we are also called Children of God. Yes, I take that literally. MOST Christians do not. They think it’s allegorical. But God is my Abba – my wonderful Father. And I am literally called his child, and if you are led by His Holy Spirit, then so are you! You’re not just some sort of “angel” or something. No, you’re his daughter or son. Literally. Now ponder what all that could mean! I have teachings on “Your Breathtaking Destiny.”  When you grasp it, it will “blow your mind” as we used to say.

** The entire Flat Earth movement is based literally on taking scriptures about our planet  super-literally. So because the Bible speaks of the setting of the sun or rising of the sun, they say therefore the sun goes around the earth – and not the other way around. Because the KJV (and only the KJV it seems) mocks “science, so called” (1 Timothy 6:20), some of them say we should not believe science. The Greek word is “gnosis” – meaning knowledge!

So the Flat earthers – and there are millions of them now (for real) – believe the earth does not move at all, does not rotate, does not spin on its axis, does not revolve around sun. They believe the entire “universe” of sun, moon, stars, planets all fit inside a hard dome, the “firmament” that is above the flat earth. The sun is a small light – not a huge star—that is just 3000 miles above our flat earth.  Yep, people believe this. Then the religious Flat Earthers say God’s kingdom of heaven is just outside this dome, not that far from all of us.

The earth is not moving and cannot move at all? That’s one of their main beliefs in the Flat Earth movement. It comes from hyper-realism when reading scriptures, which say the earth cannot be moved. Check the original language too. “Moved” in Hebrew can also mean cannot be made to slip, or change, or fall. God was saying he made the earth correctly – and it’s not going to fall apart of skip – unless HE himself causes it to move! Isaiah 13:13 says “…the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord…”

Also please read Isaiah 24:18-20, where the earth is described as … reeling like a drunkard when God gets involved.

Though many Flat Earthers claim their movement is based on the Bible, it is not. Their most-used model of the flat earth has the North Pole in the middle. But G0d CLEARLY says that HE set JERUSALEM at the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). They believe the South pole – Antarctica – forms around the edge of their round, flat earth, keeping all the salt water in. They say that “edge” is a 150-foot wall of ice, though there’s no proof for any of this. Where are the photographs?

So that’s another point:  use ALL The Bible when setting doctrine so we’re not confused by figurative words. And when we check the original Hebrew or Greek, it often becomes clear. You can also see how other translations translate particular verses.

Get www.BibleHub.com  – it’s free and lets you do all kinds of cross-referencing. So does www.BibleGateway.com . Check them out. EVERY word of God is good, and we are to live by every word of God. There are other free Bible helps as well.

They also don’t believe any man has ever gone into space or the moon – or as they say it, outside our firmament dome. Flat Earthers also say all the photos of our beautiful round earth, as taken from the moon or far out in space, are all really just computer-generated imagery (CGI) and Photo Shop work.

Our world is a sphere, like a globe, folks. It’s not a Flat earth with a hard dome over it. All the provable evidence is there. Flat earthers have a tough time being able to convincingly demonstrate day/night, seasons, lunar eclipses, etc. Don’t fall for the hyper-literalism of Flat Earthers.

I’ll leave it at that and just remind you all to:

  • Check out who’s speaking. Is it God, or Satan? Is it a prophet or false teacher?
  • Check all the verses on a particular subject. Don’t force a doctrine from one verse. Have at least 2-3-4 scriptures which say the same thing.
  • Figure out by context if it’s a literal verse or figurative verse

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IS Circumcision of the flesh still required?

I’m writing and discussing this topic because it keeps coming up, sooner or later, as I work with various groups who want to be obedient to God and his word. I keep hearing that there are those who want to require only circumcised males to be able to keep the Passover. 

It is VERY true that in the Old Testament, in the first or “old covenant”, God’s followers from Abraham onwards had to be circumcised as the sign of them being in covenant with the true living God. But what about today? I want to show both the Old Testament and New Testament teaching on this topic.

I strongly recommend everyone studies this short teaching – whether you are male or female, so you can discuss it correctly and intelligently when the topic rears its head again AND as it also bears heavily on understanding how we’re in the NEW COVENANT now.

So we’ll read some of the Old Testament scriptures first and then see what we’re told in the New Covenant. ARE we required TODAY to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons? Many still circumcise for health and hygienic reasons today, but we’re discussing circumcision for spiritual requirement reasons or not.

Here’s God’ command to Abraham in Genesis 17 saying ANY male in his group – whether freeborn or a purchased slave – were all to be circumcised.

Genesis 17:9-14

And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 

12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

God chose the 8th day because 8 is the number of new beginnings. Like there were 8 in the ark; David was the 8th son of Jesse. But also on the 8th day is when Vitamin K in our blood, needed for strong blood clotting, is at its highest level it will ever be!

It is also true that in the first Passover service in Exodus 12, everyone partaking of the Passover had to first be circumcised. SO understand, before they left Egypt all the males had been circumcised. But we’ll find that in the next 40 years in the wilderness, they did not continue to circumcise any of the newborns. Not at all. Not even Moses enforced it, as we’ll see later on in Joshua 5.

Exodus 12:43-48

And YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to YHVH, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

So that’s clear enough as well! If you wanted to keep Passover back in the day, yes – you had to be circumcised. So all of Israelite males coming OUT of Egypt, had had the circumcision ceremony done on their bodies before they left Egypt. Keep that in mind.

But did you know that in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites were not circumcised and so probably did not keep Passover either! You can read that all very clearly in Joshua 5:1-9. Not even Moses had made them get circumcised during the 40 years wandering.

Moses and Jeremiah pointed out the real meaning of circumcision is to cut out anything between you and God. 

Deuteronomy 30:6  

“And YHVH your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Deuteronomy 10:16

“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer”.

Jeremiah 4:3-4 says to take away the foreskins of your hearts.

So please note: circumcision today – for spiritual reasons – points to exposing your HEART to God, in deep repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ, by FAITH, as your Savior . So even you WOMEN need THIS kind of circumcision, OK?  

Circumcision became an issue in the New Covenant when believers who had been PHARISEES saw uncircumcised Gentiles coming to conversion. Pharisees were super strict and orthodox about keeping the law.

Remember, they did not have any of the New Testament scriptures we have now for the first few DECADES after Christ’s death and resurrection. ALL they had were the scriptures I’ve just read you and if that’s all you had, you too would have said circumcision of the flesh was required.

So there was a ministerial conference in Jerusalem to address this topic of circumcision – AND, verse 5 – whether people had to keep all 613 laws of the entire law of Moses, meaning his 5 books, the Torah. It’s important to understand both questions were being addressed. People were saying one must be circumcised for salvation and keep all 613 laws (the Torah).

You may want to hear my teaching on “The NEW Covenant”.

Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 

Acts 15:5-12

“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, AND to command them to keep the law of Moses."

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, [before those Gentiles were circumcised] 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their HEARTS by faith.

10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ WE shall be saved in the same manner AS THEY" (meaning by faith). 

Peter was circumcised. So were all the other Jews present. What is this yoke on the neck that neither they nor their fathers could keep; weren’t “able to bear?” 

It was this: The Old Covenant was all about blessings and cursings. You were blessed if you obeyed and cursed if you did not (Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 28). The Old Covenant did not offer eternal life to Israel for being obedient. It offered a blessed life, but not eternal life. This is so key to understanding this.

So people like Joshua and others said they chose LIFE (Joshua 24:15), meaning they chose to be obedient and serve the LORD. But they were not offered eternal life except for a very few exceptions of prophets and leaders and some women who were being called to receive the Holy Spirit even way back then. Hear my “New Covenant” sermon please.

The NEW covenant that we and they in Acts 15 were now a part of – was a covenant of salvation, righteousness and eternal life by FAITH in Yeshua and our Father. But too many 21st century believers don’t understand this still. Too many are still trying to QUALIFY for eternal life, instead of receiving the GIFT of salvation. Peter is trying to explain that in Acts 15:9 and 11 especially. Read it again. Salvation by FAITH in Christ and in faith receiving the gift of God’s favor, God’s grace (verses 9, 11). Eternal life is God’s free GIFT (Rom. 6:23). 

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

Then for the rest of the chapter – they issued a decree that they wanted 4 points emphasized to the uncircumcised Gentiles: abstain from meat offered to idols, no sexual immorality, don’t eat meat strangled, and don’t be drinking blood (v. 20).

BUT WHAT WAS LEFT OUT of the 4 requirements? CIRCUMCISION.

 Timothy was half Jewish by his mom and half Gentile by his dad. So he was circumcised to keep from offending the Jews.

Acts 16:3

“Paul wanted to have him (Timothy) go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

But Titus, a Greek man, was not required to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3).

WHAT CIRCUMCISION IS REQUIRED – both of men and women of God 

The Apostle Paul, especially, clarifies that circumcision of the male parts is not required or even desired in the new covenant. We become spiritual Jews by faith and circumcision of the heart.

Romans 2:28-29

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;

29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

1 Cor. 7:18 is so clear. If a believing man is uncircumcised, “let him NOT be circumcised.” And verse 20 – stay the way you are! It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

1 Corinthians 7:18-20

“Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him NOT be circumcised.

19 Circumcision is NOTHING and uncircumcision is NOTHING, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”

This next passage in Galatians 5 is especially strong.

Galatians 5:1-6 especially   v 2, 4

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

3 “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails ANYTHING, but faith working through love.”

Paul goes on in Galatians 6:14-15 to say he did not want to boast in anything he did in the flesh – but just to glory to what Yeshua did on the cross. Paul really puts down those in the church who were advocating for circumcising the men and boys. 

So today, we do NOT seek to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons. If anyone wants to circumcise their 8-day old boys for health reasons, that’s fine; but please – not for spiritual reasons. We ARE all circumcised in the New Covenant if we have repented, opened up and exposed our soul and heart to God, and accepted Yeshua as our Savior. We had circumcision of the HEART, which is what physical circumcision pointed to.

Colossians 3:9-11

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

I want to end by reading again, the first 5-6 verses of Galatians 5:

Galatians 5:1-2, 6

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love”.

So, are we to be circumcised now, in the New Covenant?

Yes – but only by circumcision of our heart; being tender-hearted to God and baring our soul.

But if someone means physical circumcision of the male foreskin, then NO. Absolutely not.  

So to be clear: in the new covenant, NOBODY has to be physically circumcised today to keep the Passover, or to be baptized, or to be allowed to marry, or to attend church services. Nobody has to be circumcised today, except in our hearts. And we are in the New Covenant!

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DON’T Forget Wavesheaf Day today

Most of the Christian world is celebrating Easter Sunday today. But those of us who go by the Bible are remembering a very special day – Wavesheaf Day. Don’t let the day go by without you realizing this is such a special day.

For full details, be sure to hear/read the brand-new audio sermon about Jesus’ inspiring Wavesheaf Day.

At 9 am on this day, the day after the weekly sabbath that falls between the first and last day of Unleavened Bread, the High Priest would raise up to God an omer of fine flour beaten from the first barley sheaves. This was done before the rest of the barley harvest could begin. Then he would lower his hands and the flour back down again. Thus the rest of the harvest has been accepted, because of presenting the first fruit of barley first to God.

Leviticus 23:9-11

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be ACCEPTED on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

So on this day, Yeshua/Jesus had been resurrected just before sundown the evening before, exactly three days and three nights after being placed in the tomb, and then waited to fulfill what this ceremony pointed to: to HIM and his role in making the harvest accepted by God our Father. He did see Mary Magdalene in the garden and revealed himself to her but told her that he must go to his Father and his God, and to her God and Father first. (John 20:17)

Which he did. What a glorious reunion that must have been with cheering angels, with joy and wonder, with praise and glory to the victorious Son of God. How indescribably moving it must have been for Father and Son to finally reunite and hug and – what JOY! God had sent him to us as a perfect baby, and we returned him all battle-scarred. BUT, Yeshua was sinless, had won the perfect victory over Satan. Satan only had to make Jesus sin one time to win. But Satan lost, and lost badly, as Christ redeemed us all in his complete and total victory.

Yeshua came back down that same day, saw Peter first of all (1 Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:34) in what had to be a beautifully re-affirming meeting with the man who had denied him three times. Then He appeared to the 2 men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:23-35), who then returned to Jerusalem and joined up with the 10 gathered (minus Thomas) there along with others. Then once again our wonderful Savior appeared to them all – minus Thomas -- once more, confirming his resurrection (Luke 24:35-38).

Surely most of us feel so unworthy much of the time and feel rejected by people, even God’s people, and we often can feel rejected by God when we know we have failed. THIS day  affirms God’s acceptance of the rest of the harvest – of those He is calling now. Notice how all of this listed in Ephesians 1 is attributed to Jesus to make it all possible also for us. And notice how positively worded is the entire summary – blessed, the good pleasure of his will, and that wonderful grace and favor of God towards us.

Ephesians 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us ACCEPTED in the Beloved.”

So this day is not just about our Savior rising to his Father and being accepted as the first of the firstfruits – but in that act it also allows US to be accepted by Father. SO this day is also very much about you and me, in and through Christ.

Take time today to bow down and worship in profound gratitude for the meaning of this day. This is what my wife and I do. So today, Wavesheaf day, is not a holy day but a very, very special day that must not be forgotten.  I have more details in the sermon about this day that has been posted.

Please help spread the word to others to remember this vital and loving day.

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Correctly understand eating unleavened bread

(This article is an updated version of one I wrote a year ago).

Let me get right to the point. Over the many years in the Church of God and its subsequent branches, I was taught – and I even taught – this about unleavened bread:

**  Leavening pictures sin like malice and wickedness (1 Cor. 5:6-8) as well as false doctrine (Matthew 16:6-12) and so that is why we put it out. (True, but leavening can also picture God’s kingdom that spreads! Matthew 13:33).

**  Then when talking about eating UNLEAVENED bread, it is believed that this pictures our new life committed to obedience and being free from sin.

All that can be true. But it’s not complete. It’s dangerously incomplete, in fact. 

When you deleavened your home, and men – I hope you helped a lot and led the family in this – you threw OUT and disposed of all leavened breads, crackers, cookies, etc. because there was no way to salvage any of it. We couldn’t pick the leaven out of the bread. We could only throw it out – and then we all had to REPLACE it all with brand new unleavened bread that you either made at home or bought matzah from an outside store.

What did the leavened bread you threw out picture? 

The right answer:  It pictures our old carnal selves, not just sin itself, but how we had sin in our lives and were sinners. Leavened bread pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, perhaps even daily, even during the days of Unleavened bread. Sinning is no longer our way of life, but we still stumble in sin, as even Paul says in Rom.7:15-20. Please read it carefully.

So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out, not just sins, but our sinful old self. We must be totally surrendering to God in every facet of our lives so we can call Jesus our Lord. So the leavening we throw out pictures – US. Not just sin generally, but “US”.  And this is why Paul would say in Galatians 2:20 that he is crucified with Christ. Paul wanted his old self tied down and killed – with Christ.

When you were throwing out your leavened products, did you realize all that leavening pictured – YOU? Your old self; what Paul calls “the old man”? It pictured you giving up the old ways of unrighteousness.

After throwing out the old sinful way pictured by leaven, we go out and buy or bake fresh UNLEAVENED bread that had never been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product that NEVER had any leavening in it. That’s key.

Sin is defined as breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4), for failing to do the good things we should have done (James 4:17), going against our conscience, doing things “not of faith” (Romans 14:23). All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). We repent of what we ARE – a sinner, as the tax collector did (Luke 18:12-14).

So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US because there’s still sin in our lives we need to repent of, daily. True unleavened bread has never had any leaven in it. It doesn’t even picture us as we try to keep sin out of our lives because as Paul admits in Romans 7, we all still stumble in sin. UNLEAVENED bread has to picture something more, and someone far greater than you and me. 

Unleavened Bread pictures the One, and the only One, who DID keep sin totally out of his life. HE is the Unleavened Bread of God. HE is the manna, the bread of heaven, from God (John 6:48-51 please read it). He and he alone. This is why Yeshua said, “this is MY body, broken for you.” (Matthew 26:26). The unleavened bread of Passover AND during the days of unleavened bread picture HIS body, HIS life; not mine, not yours.

So far, are you with me? Leavened bread pictures us who still stumble in sin. Each year, we remind ourselves that there are still vestiges of sinful habits and ways of thinking we have to cast out as we cleanse the temple of God, which is our body (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said – “This is MY body…,” and what Paul echoes in 1 Cor. 11:23-25. It pictures us taking in Christ’s life. The old sinful self – pictured by leavened bread – we threw out. We eat of it, in remembrance of HIM. We focus on Christ now in the new covenant more than on coming out of Egypt. And we don’t focus on ourselves trying to get sin out of our lives by ourselves.

Let me say again: we don’t try to take the leavening out of already leavened products. We can’t. We throw them out. They are not able to be unleavened. They must be replaced. 

In the same way, we must die to this world and its way. We must be crucified with Christ. We cannot – we cannot ourselves make ourselves righteous enough to be acceptable to the “be ye therefore perfect/complete” standard Yeshua/Jesus laid out for us (Matthew 5:48).

We have to eat the unleavened bread that pictures the NEW life, the new bread of our Messiah Jesus Christ. We put out malice and wickedness, remember, and take on sincerity and truth. WHO is the Truth? It is Yeshua/Jesus!

1 Corinthians 5:6-8  “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore throw out the old leaven, that you may be a NEW lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and TRUTH”.

Corinthians – truly are unleavened? Each chapter is about another one of their corporate sins, one after the other. The only way they were unleavened was through Christ, sacrificed for them and who is sincerity and TRUTH. You cannot take leaven out of an already leavened product. Our old self is leavened. We can’t perfect it. It has to be thrown out and we have to accept the NEW UNLEAVENED, SINLESS life of Christ. And HE, by his one offering, we are told in Hebrews 10:14 – “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

So the Unleavened Bread does not picture our perfection by us taking each little and big sin out of our lives – but pictures us accepting the forever sinless perfection of Christ’s life now to replace our old life.

In 2 Cor. 5:17 that Paul tells us that in Christ we are A NEW CREATION – like the new unleavened bread you bake or buy that had never existed before in your life. We cannot make ourselves a new creation. The Creator of our NEW CREATION is – guess who? Is GOD through Christ, just like the original creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

Paul goes on after saying all of this is made possible by God. “Now all things are of God.” God’s perfection and righteousness is credited to us as his gift (Romans 5:17; as we accept the justification that is by faith – Romans 5:1)

2 Corinthians 5:21  “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that WE might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.”

And so now we can come boldly before the throne of God’s favor or grace. HOW? Is it because we have become so good now, though we still stumble in sin? No! We come boldly through the blood and pierced flesh of our Savior (Hebrews 10:19). God will remember our sins no more (Heb. 10:17)

Hebrews 10:19-23 –Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Don’t misunderstand me. Now once we have partaken of our Savior we must, of course, fight sin viciously and keep ourselves from intentional sin, willful sin, which is seen very seriously by our God.

Hebrews 10:26-27   “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries”.

As we focus on Christ, we become more and more in his image (2 Cor. 3:17-18). We copy Him, follow him (1 Cor. 11:1) and we let HIS mind become ours. Christ himself is now our new life – Colossians 3:1-4.

So the UNLEAVENED BREAD we eat does NOT picture US primarily. It is NOT about our lives that are now free from the penalty of sin, but we still sometimes sin (leaven) as Paul says in Romans 7:15-17. Though you may not consume any leavened products during the week of unleavened bread , I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during those seven days. Apostle Paul, as you know in Romans 7, still admitted to stumbles of sin that he hated.

Paul even goes on to make a differentiation between his old carnal sinful fleshly self – and the new creation Paul. In fact Paul says in Romans 7:16-20 that NOW when he sinned, it was not really himself sinning. It wasn’t the new Paul—no,  it was “Sin that dwells in me” that was doing the sinning.

Romans 7:15-17  “but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

Paul differentiates between the old carnal self that we still have – alongside the new creation of God in Christ, that we now have as well. These 2 fight each other and fight they must. But the UNLEAVENED bread is Yeshua, our Messiah. Each day we eat of it, we are asking God to let Christ BE our new life, and that we follow his guidance and look more and more like HIM.

Our entire life before Christ had been leavened, in other words. We can’t keep any of it. It all has to go – just like your bread, cookies, and crackers. Once a life is leavened, you cannot deleaven it, any more than you can deleaven already leavened bread. A leavened LIFE – which is really what all this pictures – has to be cast out and rejected just like we do leavened bread.

Even GOD has to start with a new creation in us. A once-leavened life cannot be deleavened. It has to be replaced. It is replaced by the life of Christ alive in each of us. So I need a new life pictured by new bread that is unleavened: Yeshua himself.

But my new self is NOT me, trying to qualify for God’s kingdom in my efforts to overcome and defeat sin. In fact, remember that the days of Unleavened Bread come BEFORE the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Imagine claiming you could have any victory over sin without the holy spirit! My old me failed. So did yours. We need something – or Someone – PERFECT, without ANY sin at any time, ever (Hebrews 4:15).

Are you seeing the difference? It’s ALL about Yeshua. ALL about him and how he perfectly obeyed his Father, and our Father.

I eat unleavened bread to remind me that I have to take in Jesus Christ my Savior day after day. We become what we eat. In this season, let’s FEAST on our Messiah. I don’t eat matzah to remind me I no longer sin – because you and I still do. I eat matzah during Passover week – and figuratively the rest of my life – because I need HIM living in me from now on. 

When our Savior handed out the pieces of matzah to the disciples, he does NOT say “Eat this, as this pictures the new you trying your best to ‘make it’ and to finally be good enough to be allowed into the kingdom.” No!           

Yeshua said, “Eat this bread, for this is MY LIFE broken for you. Drink of my cup, for this is MY BLOOD of the new covenant” that he SHED for us (Matt. 26:26-29). Life is in the blood. It’s all about him. “Do this in remembrance of ME,” He said several times (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).

I know you know that, but I still keep hearing and reading an emphasis on the unleavened matzah picturing each of US successfully fighting sin. But even just ONE sin makes us a sinner, right? Even one lustful or overly angry thought makes you and me a sinner, right?

Yes, we have to fight sin. Yes, we have to be Christian soldiers fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12). Yes, we have to put on the whole armor of God. All of that is in context that we must “be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might” (Eph 6:10).

Unleavened bread does not picture us defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures CHRIST living in me and crushing sin and being my new life. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me. As you eat unleavened bread, don’t leave Christ out of your thoughts: you’re picturing HIM.

As you eat unleavened bread, think of it as you pursuing the Messiah, seeking to be with him, learning what it means to abide in him. As you eat unleavened bread, invite him to BE the new you, PERFECTLY at one with Him, prepared to be His Bride. Invite him to cleanse the temple of your body of anything unpleasing to Father. Dwell in him. Invite him and Father to dwell in you.

And this is why you and I must eat unleavened bread each and all 7 days of the Feast. We simply cannot live perfectly enough without it being HIM and HIS righteousness all the time, 7 days a week living as our new life.

To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.

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Children at Passover

The question came up recently about children being involved and participating in the Passover service in one’s home, so I thought we could address it. What follows is what we do at Passover, which we normally keep to 2-3 families in our home; keeping it intimate and family-like.

One’s children were definitely expected to be present at the Passover in the time of Moses.  Let’s read some scriptures and then I will cover what WE do in our home on Passover. In the scripture below, focus on verses 26-28:

Exodus 12:21-28 -- Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.  22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 For YHVH will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, YHVH will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. 

24 And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. 25 It will come to pass when you come to the land which YHVH will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.

26 And it shall be, when your CHILDREN say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of YHVH, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'"   So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as YHVH had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”

So children were obviously present, and still are present in the Jewish Pesach (Passover). There’s more in Exodus 13:7-10 and then again in verses 11-16, about redeeming the firstborn, going back to the Passover.

Exodus 13:7-10   “Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. 8 And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what YHVH did for me when I came up from Egypt.' 9 It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that YHVH's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand YHVH has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.”

So it’s clear that children were present at the Exodus 12 Passover and beyond.  In the Jewish celebrations of Pesach (Passover), children are also present. Jews take to heart the scripture – it’s a Mitzvah or law to them -- to be sure to explain to the children present what is going on. But keep in mind that Jews keep 2 Seders on what they call “the first 2 days of Passover”. In many sabbath-keeping Christian groups, children are not present and I think that is unfortunate and let me explain why in a minute. If you aren’t planning on your children being in the service, I hope you’ll reconsider after reading all of this article.

The Jewish Passover is more like what many of us would call the “night to be much observed”, at the end of Passover day and beginning the first day of Unleavened Bread -- where we have a big meal celebration of the freedom we now have after Christ’s death frees us from Satan’s grasp.

In a nutshell, we try to do what Jesus did, regardless of calendar issues. He kept his Passover meal plus the footwashing and bread/wine service the EVE of Passover day, then died on Passover day at 3 pm and was put into the tomb just before sundown, still Passover day. The next day, starting at sundown, was a “high day” (John 19:31-32) – not a regular sabbath but a holyday sabbath, one of the annual “feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:1-2), where God calls them “MY feasts”.   

But I want to stay on topic – children at Passover.

Our own practice is to personally always welcome well-behaved children to be present, as scripture says, as long as they have been prepared ahead of time to be respectful, quiet, observant and obedient. So at our Passover services, our grandchildren and any other children of other participants are welcome and present – and just quietly watch. Maybe 1-2 older teens can sit among them to be sure they aren’t talking and are respectful during the service. Rowdy and untrained children should be left at home with a babysitter.  

Why do we welcome children? Because as I’ve shown, children were present at the original Passover. And I want them to feel included in this deeply spiritual, meaningful, and solemn service. One of my most cherished photos in my old photo album is a picture that shows me at age 6 with my brother and sisters watching our mom during a Passover bread/wine service. So I hope this is going to be something our children also realize is part of their practice as they grow older too. We keep the bread and wine and footwashing on the eve of Passover day, then have a meal the following night, after sundown.

We personally do not keep an official Seder, as some of it is unscriptural and is wrapped in traditions that come out of Babylon (like the egg) and can tend to become too much of a ritual and focused on Judaism, which I won’t do. It also seems to take forever to go through!  I’m familiar with the Haggadah and Seder. Jews often don’t even eat a lamb anymore but chicken instead! Plus in the New Covenant – we copy what Yeshua did. He added the footwashing service and focused on the bread and wine, which pointed to him.

But let me hasten to add, that in the New Covenant, our answers to the children’s questions will include the story of the deliverance from Egypt of course – but then we need to pivot, and turn our focus to point to what the lambs depicted: the sacrifice of our Savior, Yeshua.

Yeshua made clear – Passover needs to be focused on HIM, the intent of all those lambs. In Yeshua’s last Passover supper with his disciples, he is never once recorded as talking about coming out of Egypt, the 10 plagues, etc. – but said this, and this is what we need to teach our children too: the OBJECT LESSON of the Passover Lamb dinner was the bread and body of our Lord Jesus Christ and the cup of wine, picturing his shed blood for us. Life is in the blood and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Luke 22:17-20   Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;  18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of ME.”

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

Notice how Passover is primarily in remembrance of the Messiah—and not in remembrance of coming out of Egypt. Once the POINT of the service is here (and that is Messiah!), we do not emphasize the “shadow” of the service as much now that we’re in the new covenant. I want children to know and learn about Yeshua too. I want them to see how we grownups love him and our heavenly Father. We are so thankful to be delivered from the enslavement of sin and Satan’s world.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25   “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,  "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of ME."  25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of ME."

So be sure to teach the children that Passover is really about Messiah and his sacrifice, even more then it is about those lambs sacrificed in Exodus 12, as they POINTED TO our Messiah and the liberty he gives us by his life’s blood shed for us as the Lamb of God.

I’m sometimes asked if children can wash feet and take part in the bread and wine service. I know some of you allow them to participate in the footwashing.

In our service and our home, we absolutely love having children watch the footwashing and the bread and wine service, but they do not partake of any of that portion. We explain the footwashing as the humble act of serving one another AND to remember, as we wash someone’s feet, that Yeshua already has washed them (John 13:12-17). We’re just acknowledging that fact and it’s saying to the one we’re serving as we wash his/her feet, that we see him or her as washed by Christ. It is saying that “we’re not going to see you in any way but washed by Christ, and so you’re cleansed, my brother/sister.”  All that in in context of course, of serving one another as well.

Whether you wish children, especially older children perhaps, to participate in footwashing is your call decision. We reserve all that to baptized members.

Partaking of the bread and wine of Christ is so deep, so special, so spiritual, and one we must be prepared for, so that we are ready to take it in a worthy manner, as Paul says.

So no, we absolutely do not risk this with children not old enough or mature enough to understand. We are severely warned by Paul not to take Passover unworthily, and so let’s let the children grow up more, come to repentance and baptism as adults –and  then by all means at that point let them partake of the bread and the wine.

1 Corinthians 11:27-31    “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

Don’t put that burden on yourself as the parent, and don’t put that burden on your children. Let them watch – but no more than that, is my advice. At least that seems to be the clear direction of scripture for me and my household. 

And I personally see no example of children participating in footwashing or partaking of the new covenant very deep symbols of the bread and wine. So at our Passover services, children are welcome to politely and quietly observe, without talking or playing, while baptized adults wash feet and partake of the bread and wine of the body of Christ. Of course the presiding host or minister should be explaining all aspects of footwashing, and the bread and wine – so the children hear all that as well. 

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DON’T let the Passover sneak up on you!

Short but vital blog today. Passover.  For most of us it is coming in April 2022 this year. There are various calendars being used out there, so be sure you know when you’ll be keeping the footwashing and partaking of the bread and wine service. For most of you, the Passover service will be kept sometime between April 14-16, 2022, depending on your calendar you use.

For those keeping Jewish or rabbinic calendar, Passover day is April 15, 2022, and the bread and wine and footwashing kept the eve of the 15th – end of April 14. The first holyday of Unleavened Bread for many will be April 16, sabbath.  For those following the conjunction method and sighting of the new moon in Israel, it will be a day or so later.

Remember scripture is clear that Passover day is Nisan or Abib 14, the daytime portion when our Messiah was crucified. The first Hebrew month is called Abib or Nisan.

Leviticus 23:5-6   On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.”

Yeshua’s own example for us was that he did the footwashing and bread and wine service the eve of Abib 14, and then died in the daytime portion of Abib 14. Remember Biblical days start and end sundown to sundown. The 15th of Nisan/Abib starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread, again starting at sundown and ending at sundown.

Do also be aware though, that traditionally the whole time – Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread were sometimes all lumped together, and simply called “Passover”, just as we might today call the 7-day Feast of Tabernacles and 8th day Festival – “the Feast of Tabernacles”, though they are technically 2 separate festivals.  

Ezekiel 45:21  "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.”

But back to my topic: Have you given much thought to Passover this year?  Are you ready to take the bread and the wine?  Or did you find Passover rapidly coming up – and you haven’t given it much thought?  If that is what has happened, resolve to make changes so it never happens again. It’s our own fault if that’s happening. But frankly it’s also a reflection on your ministers if that happened. Pastors should have been discussing Passover-type topics for the past few sabbaths.

So here’s my point:  If you’re among those keeping it in April, and you realize it has come up so quickly and you feel caught off guard, this blog is for you! 

God’s people must NOT, must NOT, let the pivotal event in all human history since Adam and Eve were created to “sneak up” on you, to catch you off guard.

When we get new wall calendars each year, I make a point to mark up the calendars with the Passover and the holy days of God, as well as our personal anniversaries or plans we have.  Some of you may have dispensed with wall calendars ages ago. But however you track time, be sure you do. Then I do the same in my cell phone calendar and even make a note 2-3 weeks before Passover, to start thinking heavily about God’s love for me and for you.

Remember that Passover pictures the Son of God, called “the Lamb of God”, who himself was God (John 1:1-3, 14), who gave his life to pay the penalty for your sins and mine and of the world (John 1:29) so that humanity would not all have to die for all of our sins. 

This event, this spilled holy blood of the Lamb, broke the back of Satan’s tyranny, pictured by the death of the first born in Egypt that broke Pharaoh’s hold on Israel. The Passover paid the ransom for sin, paid the penalty for sin, soothed God’s wrath over all our sins, and cleansed each of us of all of our sins. ALL of them, bar none.  ALL of them, no matter how horrendous they were (1 John 1:7, 9).  If you and I deeply repented of each of our sins and our failings and then came humbly before our Maker and confessed our sins and accepted Yeshua of Nazareth as the promised Messiah (Anointed One), then ALL of our sins are washed away in his blood.

Upon baptism we were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. 
“For by one spirit were all baptized into one body…and have all been made to drink into one spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). 

Whose body was that?  Of course, it’s HIS body.  “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).  So now we are seen as “members of HIS body, of his flesh and of his bones” (Eph 5:30).  “His body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24)—and us individually as members of that body. 

We are part of HIM, folks. The Bible speaks repeatedly of how we are IN HIM.  So if you think of your own body and your own blood, our blood is coursing through our whole body, giving nourishment, and cleansing the body from head to toe, literally.  

Well we are now part of His body and so His blood continues to cleanse us. Just like YOUR own blood cleanses YOUR body when you cut yourself and infection begins.  Your blood immediately sends out white blood cells and attacks the infection, protecting and cleansing your body.  God’s blood does the same for the parts or members of HIS own body – you and me.  His blood at Calvary forgave us of all our past sins.  Now as we live in him, He continues to cleanse us as long as we continue to stay attached to him, to abide in him as John 15 tells us.  Remember life is in the blood. He spilled his blood for me and for you.

When God looks down upon his children, does He see all of us coming under His son’s blood?  Remember what God said in Exodus 12 – “When I see the blood [splashed on the door posts and lintels of the houses], I will PASS OVER you” – and the people in that household were spared (Exodus 12:13). 

WE – when we repented and answered our Creator’s call – also came under the blood.  God must see us as people who take this all very seriously.

SO, are you ready for Passover?  You do NOT want to be taking it in an unworthy manner or unworthily.  We need to give it careful thought.  We need to be sure we especially in the days before Passover are not taking any ongoing sins in our lives lightly. 

You’re ready if you are very soberly thanking and praising Yeshua for his great work in your behalf. You’re ready if you’ve been giving thought to Passover the last so many days or even weeks.  You’re ready if you have examined yourself and realize – “Boy do I EVER need the washing and cleansing of his blood over me”.  We’re told that after we have examined ourselves, “so LET him drink of the cup” and eat of the broken bread. 

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and SO LET HIM EAT of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment on himself, no discerning the Lord’s body.”  (1 Cor. 11:27-29). 

We don’t examine and then decide we are unworthy.  No, no, no. Ultimately just the Lamb is worthy. But when we are IN him, as we are – by His Spirit – we too become worthy because we are a part of Him, his holiness, HIS perfection, HIS righteousness.   But we never, never take this lightly. 

We diligently put out leaven – but be sure you are even more diligent in fighting sin and temptations in your life.  The most effective way is NOT to focus on your sins and weaknesses, but keep your mind and eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, who conquers it all. We become what we think about. Focus on Messiah and become more and more like him in so doing.  

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 -- “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Be sure you are cleaning out the crevices of your heart.  Be sure your focus is on the spiritual elements of this season way more than the physical parts of it. 

We were washed at our repentant baptism, but we also still do the foot washing each Passover to remember to be humble and to serve one another, as well as to keep the spiritual dirt of sin off of us as we walk our walk of life day by day. And as you wash feet this year, don’t miss this:  recognize that Yeshua has ALREADY WASHED this person and we accept that person as a brother or sister in the body washed of any sins, of any gossip about his/her sins, and just love one another in the love of Christ.

So please – be sure to be taking time to focus on Passover and that means focusing on Messiah! I suggest you hear my sermon on “Do this in remembrance of ME!” (Christ speaking). 

I would also recommend this: if you can --before Passover, spend a day in fasting as you examine yourself, your life, your commitment to the Way to which you’ve been called.

But even if you don’t fast, at least spend some time in the days preceding Passover and even after Passover—to recommit to a life attached to Jesus Christ and to express your thanks and gratitude daily to our truly amazing Father in heaven and the Son of God who gave himself for you, because of his love for you.

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Be BOLD in your requests to God

Are you bold when you make requests to God? Is being bold with God -- a good thing, or a bad thing?  Remember our Father is all powerful, all knowing and loves to bless his children. But sometimes I wonder if we’re too “small” in our thinking? God enjoys going above and beyond anything we can hope for and ask for. So many verses tell us that. He won’t give us a rock if we ask for bread. He loves pouring out his holy spirit.

So let’s be bold when we ask Father for some blessings. For example, in terms of healing, sure – we can pray God guide the surgeon or speed up the healing. But why not be bolder?  Why not ask, “Father, when they examine my cancer tumor again before surgery, please – in Jesus’ mighty name, command the entire cancer to just be gone, totally healed. Leave them wondering what happened, but I’ll explain it to them to your glory, dear Father. And I thank you right now, in advance! May your will be done, Father, and I submit to your will.”   (I don’t have cancer right now, but I have been healed of cancer twice.)

Or, if you’re struggling with a chronic sin and temptation, be bold:  “Yeshua, my king and my Savior, I’m struggling with coveting [or whatever your issues are]. I hate it when I do. I know you want us to be content with whatsoever we have and not to covet anything out there. Yeshua, I’m repenting of this and I’m opening the door of my heart to you and I invite you to come into my life. BE my life, Lord. Please Lord, come live in me – obediently as you did 2000 years ago. Please BE my life, BE my thoughts and deeds… I want to say victoriously with Paul, that I no longer live, but the life I live is really Christ living in me, as Paul says in Gal. 2:20. Please show me how to blast this covetousness out of my heart and soul. I hate coveting, Lord, and please let me always be pleasing you. Thank you, Master.”

If you’re struggling with anything, you can ask God through Christ to create and live a new life in you, the very life of Jesus Christ, in complete victory over any sin. This applies to lacking God’s love in your life, asking for help in living your life in JOY and peace, no matter what.  It can apply to impatience, lust, porn, being too loose on sabbath observance, alcoholism, gluttony, being unkind and unloving – and the thousands of other sins people struggle with.  

Perhaps you struggle with forgiving someone from your heart. Talk to God humbly – but boldly – that you’re tired of this struggle and want to claim the victory. You realize if we don’t forgive others who have sinned against us, neither will Father forgive us of our sins against him (Matthew 6:12, 14 and many others). So this could be a very serious problem! Check out my sermon on it, coming out in March 2022.

Without God’s forgiveness, we have no future. On your knees, declare your problem with this, and how bitter and hurt you feel over someone’s sin against you.  Confess how hard it is for you to feel forgiveness and love for that person. Ask God’s forgiveness, ask God to change your heart to be like HIS. And then when you have forgiven, declare to God that you have forgiven this person whom you once claimed to surely be “unforgivable”. Or, if you haven’t and just can’t seem to be able to forgive him/her, boldly again ask Yeshua to come live in you and share with you his gentle and forgiving spirit. 

I remember doing that some time ago. Someone was a terrible thorn in my side, had gossiped badly about me and it was hard for me to like her or care about her. But when I had finally totally forgiven her while praying, the phone rang as I was ending my prayer. I can’t go into details, but it was about this very issue I had been praying about and God turned around my bitterness to a heart of compassion, forgiveness and asking God to bless her. But it wasn’t easy for me. I had to ask Yeshua to rule in my heart.  It took a while.

If you need financial help, remember we are to be content Paul says – if we have food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8)! But if you truly need a financial blessing, ask boldly – and declare you intend to share it with the needy as well. Have you heard of the Prayer of Jabez?  Be bold, ask God to bless your work, your employment, your income, and thank him in advance, as if you have already received it – and then be sure to share it with others.

Jabez had caused his mother much pain in childbirth, so she named him Jabez – “He will cause pain.”  Imagine that. You could feel cursed! But note what Jabez did and prayed.  This is called “the prayer of Jabez”. It’s a great model for us and God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 -- Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain." 10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested.

Read the scripture above several times. I call it a very bold prayer. Are we limiting what the living God would do in our lives – if we would but ask, and ask boldly?  Do we fall into the category of “you have not, for you ask not” (James 4:2b). So ask! And be sure to ask in a way that is not just selfish, as James tells us. Be sure to ask it be in God’s will.

Look how bold Jabez’ prayer was! And God granted him what he requested! God does not change. He wants to grant you powerful answers too

Matthew 7:7-8 --"ASK, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Even in the Lord’s Prayer – “give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Deliver us from evil (or the evil one)…”   Pretty bold. 

There’s an old, lesser known story in the Scriptures about Elisha and one of the kings, which has intrigued me for years. Elisha was old and about to die. Joash, one of the righteous kings of the northern ten tribes of Israel, had come to pay his last respects apparently. Elisha asked King Joash to shoot an arrow out of an east window, and then explained that arrow symbolized victory over Syria at a future battle. Now let’s read what happened.

2 Kings 13:14-19

Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!"

15 And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. 17 And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the Lord's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."

     [So Elisha had explained what the arrow symbolized.]

18 Then he [Elisha] said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times and stopped. 19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times."

We can’t get into Joash’s head and see what he was thinking. Perhaps he didn’t understand what his action was depicting. Perhaps he lacked faith and wondered how he could crush Syria. We just don’t know. We do know this: instead of vanquishing Syria once and for all, he limited himself to three victories.

The point of this blog is simple: when Almighty God opens a door for us, let’s not be timid or small-minded in our thinking. Let’s not limit our true God who knows no limits. We can all fall into that trap at various times of our lives. We are His children, who are part of His HOUSE. My children are bold about claiming what I have, what I offer. So should we be.

Are we limiting the one Living God and what He wants to do in us, through us, with us? Remember even Yeshua could do virtually no mighty work in Nazareth, his home town, because of their unbelief (Mark 6:4-6).  God works through faith, trust and belief. He often holds Himself back if we don’t believe mightily in His power (see Hebrews 4:2).

When you ask for something from Yahweh – especially when it’s for someone else and your request is being totally selfless – do we ask in a small way?  For example:

  • If we’re asking Father to open up a job for an unemployed brother or sister, do we just ask for a job, or do we ask for a fabulous career job with wonderful benefits and a great group of people to work with?
  • If we’re asking God our Healer to deliver someone from the bonds of illness, are we just asking for that specific condition? Do we ask boldly, or fall back to “whatever your will is”—and keep ourselves from a bold request? Remember when Jesus spoke those words “Thy will be done” in Gethsemane, He knew the divine purpose and will was that He be the sacrifice for all sin. Why not ask Father to heal anything else that isn’t quite right in that person’s body, to imbue him/her with untiring energy, a bright spirit and powerful health that could bring glory to our Father? Be bold, ask big.

I’m sure you can think of many more examples. Don’t limit God. He is limitless. Evaluate where you ARE limiting God.

Go back and read the account of how bold Abraham’s servant’s prayer was when he was tasked to find a bride for Isaac. It’s a great example for us. Read Genesis 24:10-28.

In Psalm 78:12-16, we read of some of the most astounding miracles ever seen by mankind, such as the waters of the Red Sea standing in a heap on either side, providing water from a split rock, providing shade and light in the pillar overhead.  But Israel still questioned Almighty God’s ability to provide, and this angered God.  In Ps. 78:17-20, they got into the “yeah, buts”.  “Yeah, he parted the Red Sea, but can He provide food for this many people?”.  This was limiting the Eternal God. You can read all about it as you continue in Ps. 17:21-32. 

It came down to limiting God, not having faith in His power or in His desire to use His power in our behalf. Do we ever see a miracle and then go into the “yeah buts”?  We know He can work wonders and did do miracles here and there, but then doubt, limit and wonder if Our God would intervene in the same way for us? Doubting and limiting God go hand in hand.

Psalm 78:40-42 – “How often they provoked Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert!  41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy.”

That’s what I mean by limiting God.

When we have our open window of opportunity as King Joash had, don’t just strike the earth three times. Let’s not limit our request to three arrows or three strikes. Let’s use all our arrows. Let’s think large.  Let’s ask for big things. Believe Father really does want to do beyond what you can even imagine or conceive. Yes, even for you and me.

Can you imagine what God’s children could be involved in, if all of us would learn not to limit God – and watch Him work powerfully, to HIS glory? Ponder your prayer requests. Are they bold, and big – or timid and just going through the motions? Beware we’re not limiting our Maker, who knows no limits!

Why not even declare out loud in prayer – “Father, blast through my petty small-mindedness. Work your glory in your children’s lives – to your glory. Help me think big, and not limit you, and accept whatever you send as well. Thank you so much.”

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Don’t give up! God still has a plan for you.

Many of us have probably looked at ourselves and wondered how God could possibly work with “someone like me” when we look at our slip ups, sins and mess ups.  Check out the new AUDIO sermon “When you really MESS UP” to help you, if you feel this way at times.

I just wanted in this blog to add a couple more examples to the ones I have in the sermon, on how our Father has such a powerful and beautiful way of taking even our SINS, our serious life issues and failures, and if we commit it all to him, will work even all those out for good.

Romans 8:28 does say, after all, “ALL things work together for good, for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.”

I believe “ALL” means “all”.  Everything. Even our worst, horrible SINS. The lineage of the Messiah came through, after all, the prior adulterous couple we know as David and Bathsheba – where David murdered Bathsheba’s husband in an attempted cover up for getting her pregnant! But God chose them to produce the Messianic line to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem!  That’s astonishing to me. But that’s our loving Father for us! 

Father in heaven, God Most High, has a plan for every single human being ever conceived. I believe, somehow, even for those sacrificed in abortion. He has a plan for you. No matter what you’ve been and no matter what you’ve done, as long as you deeply repent and turn back to him – you will be amazed at his lovingkindness to you and ways he can still use you for His Kingdom’s sake. So DON’T give up on God! Or on yourself.

Here are some other examples:

**  The first person who ever saw the risen Messiah was a woman named Mary of Magdala who had SEVEN demons cast out of her sometime before all that.  She was the “crazy woman” in town. Women in that day could not be witnesses in court, as they were deemed “unreliable”. But this was the first person GOD chose to see the risen Son of God. So don’t decide for God that you are unusable because your past is simply too weird, and you had evil personified going on – as Mary Magdalene did. Mary witnessed anyway.  John 20:17-23.  And God gave her that honor and role anyway.

** the first person in Samaria to “see” that Yeshua (Jesus) was the promised Messiah was also a “bad” woman, who had had FIVE failed marriages and was once again shacking up. God selected HER to spread the good news that the Messiah had come. He stayed there a couple days  and many believed on him based on this “bad woman’s” heartfelt testimony and witness. The story is in John 4. So if your marriage failed, and the present one is atrocious – don’t give up on God being able to still have a plan for you.

**  Two super strong examples are of God still showing grace even to the 2 most wicked kings ever. God did not just cast them aside.

Ahab. And King Manasseh. In Ahab’s case, after God had declared Ahab would die a vicious death soon for killing the innocent Naboth, whose vineyard Ahab coveted – but God reversed himself when Ahab humbled himself. See 1 Kings 21, especially verses 25-29.

In King Manasseh’s case, he is called the worst king ever. Please read his story in 2 Chronicles 33, and his repentance in verses 10-17.  God sent him to Babylon – dragged by meat hooks it seems – but when Manasseh repented, God restored him to his throne, though probably as a vassal king. Believe me, you’ve never been down as low as Manasseh, and God still heard from heaven and delivered him. So don’t give up on God or yourself. He is perfectly aware of you and what you’re doing and what your concerns are.

** Paul, who wrote half or more of the New Testament, was initially a very mean, cruel, death-dealing persecutor of the Way he eventually embraced. (Acts 22:4 “I persecuted this Way to the death…”). 

Look at Paul’s own testimony of what he did and how God was still able to use him.

1 Timothy 1:12-16   “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”

Let’s humble ourselves as Paul did, admitting we are sinners, maybe even “chief sinner” as Paul said. Let God use your redeemed past to also be a pattern of hope for others who will come and see how you surrendered to God, and how he was able to use you too.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10   “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

YOU can also look back someday and say, when you see what God can and will do through Christ in youif you surrender to Christ fully – “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain…”

Acts 9:1-2  “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

In the sermon about really “messing up” I just gave, a big key is for us to truly turn to God now, abide in Christ and stick to him like glue! John 15:4-5. If we do, we are promised that God in us will bear much fruit. The fruit comes from the vine or tree (Christ) as we’re staying firmly attached. We don’t glue fruit on to the tree by our efforts. Fruit is the natural consequence of being part of the Vine, which produces fruit through the branches (us) in due season. We DISPLAY the fruit that the Vine (Christ) produces in us.

Philippians 1:11 – “be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

 But back to the point of this blog: don’t give up on yourself no matter what you’ve been, or what you’ve done, so far. Yes, repent! Of course.  And going forward, trust in God, don’t give up on your amazing Father in heaven or in Christ, in whom we belong now.

 

Failed marriage(s)? Failed childrearing, and kids who won't talk to you? Have you been “disgraced” by society?  Turn back to God and watch what He does.

And hear the new Audio sermon – “When we really, really mess up!” for further encouragement.

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NEW YEAR – in the dead of winter?

And Possible origin of “April Fools.”

Many go around this time of year proclaiming “Happy new year” to everyone they see whom they know. So in the dead of winter, we find people proclaiming the new year. You might be interested to learn that it wasn’t always that way.

First of all, our Creator specified when the “new year” would be – and it was to be in the spring – with new leaves bursting on to branches and bushes. Flowers like crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths popping up were always a welcome sight and delighted us.

The first of Abib, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, in the springtime of the year, was the first of the year. Not Rosh Hashanah in the 7th month of Hebrew months. New year may have originally been in the Fall of the year when God created Adam and Eve, but God changed it to the spring in the time of Moses -- typically late March or even as late as early April, in our Roman-named months.

Exodus 12:1-2   “Now YHVH (the LORD) spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

That first month was called ABIB (Exodus 13:4), when they came out of Egypt and kept Passover. During the Babylonian captivity, Jews accepted the name given while in Babylon – which was Nisan. See Esther 3:7.

My point is this: God’s “new year” is Abib 1 (or Nisan 1). I prefer the name Abib. Usually it falls at the end of March. Some years, like 2022, it can be later, in early April. So April 1 was the approximate date people used to keep in their heads as being around the time of the new year.

I looked up “April Fools” on a Google search and the History Channel came back with this. Here’s their link, but this quoted section below is the essential part.

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/april-fools-day  

“Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. 

 “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”  (emphasis mine) 

So a lot of early believers – who kept God’s holy days, were aware of the true new year being at the time of new spring growth. Since they kept it around April 1, they were often ridiculed and called “April Fools”.

So which makes more sense? Having new year begin in the spring exactly when our Maker says it begins – or the dead of winter, to confirm to a Pope Gregory XIII’s “Gregorian calendar” orchestrated through the Catholic church?

The Gregorian calendar did correct some calendar issues, such as instituting a leap year when necessary to keep the calendar on track. It also shortened the number of days in a year from 365.25 days (Julian) down a tad to 365.2425 days in the Gregorian calendar. It also changed the new year from the spring to January 1.

I personally don’t “keep”, participate in, or celebrate New Year’s day because it isn’t God’s new year’s. We don’t go banging pots and pans or lighting fireworks or go dancing and celebrating as others do. We just stay home. It’s just another night. We don’t watch the new year’s celebrations on TV either. Why should we? It’s not God’s new year, so that’s reason enough.

So if anyone wishes to call me “April Fools” – I’ll accept it with a smile. God our Father knows best.

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Where was our Messiah actually born?

How wonderful, though we know Christ was NOT born Dec 25th, how wonderful to experience the love of our Father to send His Son to be born as our Savior. We believe all the evidence points to his birth most likely being in the fall, probably either on the Feast of Trumpets or possibly even the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, since John 1 says – in the Greek that he came to “tabernacle” (translated “dwell”) with mankind. The Bible simply does not specify the date when our Messiah was born.

But this blog is about specifically WHERE he was most likely born. Could the exact spot in Bethlehem have been foretold 700 years earlier?   I’m not the first to write about this. But most people seem to think he was born in a barn or stall and might miss a more interesting explanation.  There are also those who believe he was born in a sukkah – a booth – since they believe this was during the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles.  Of course others believe he was born in a deep cave, the site of the present Church of the Nativity - - a site chosen by Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena, centuries after the birth of Christ.  I’ve seen that spot within the church, and I don’t believe for even a minute that he was born on that spot at all!  They have a star shaped SPOT where they say he came out of Mary in birth. 

There could be a scripture in Micah that actually tells us where he would be found at his birth.  And remember, everything I write here is geared to a FALL-TIME birth, not December 25th. In other sermons about the TRUE STORY of Jesus’ birth, I went into more detail on why I say in the Fall. So though we do not keep Christmas, we are delighted that God did send his Son to be our savior.  

Now, where was he born in Bethlehem? Where more specifically?

Everyone knows he was born in Bethlehem “in a manger” – which refers to a food crib for animals.  According to Luke 2, Caesar had ordered people to go to their home town to register (the KJV “tax” is more correctly referring to a registration, as most other translations have it, and as the Greek word more strongly implies).  Usually just the males would have had to go, but since Mary was also a royal descendant of the house of David in her own right, she would have had to register as well.

Luke 2:1-7
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Note that Yeshua was her “firstborn son”, by the way. Mary did not remain a virgin! Scripture clearly states she had at least 4 more sons and at least 2 daughters (carefully read Matthew 13:53-56; Mark 6:2-3).  We know that James, the presiding elder over Jerusalem was his brother – the same one who wrote the epistle of James. (Please read Galatians 1:19; 1 Cor. 9:5).  Jude was also his brother. So Mary had a LOT of children.

Now compare Luke 2:6-7 to a prophecy in Micah 4:8, written 700 years before the birth of our Savior. We’ll read about the Tower of the Flock, the Migdal Eder as it is called in Hebrew.  You’ll find this very fascinating! 

Micah 4:8
“And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come,The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”

Hmm.  What’s this all about?  When the shepherds were told about the birth of Yeshua, the sign they were given is that he would be found in “swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).  They were very aware of the Micah 4:8 and it says in Luke that they “came with haste”.  Why? 

Micah 4:8 refers to the “Migdal Eder” – translated “Tower of the Flock”.  The lambs that were to be sacrificed at the temple were primarily raised in the fields around Bethlehem, which is about 4 miles from the Jerusalem temple mount area. It’s not far. The priestly shepherds would watch over their flocks destined for sacrifice from the Migdal Eder, the “tower of the flock”. 

The  priestly shepherds were careful when a lamb was birthed in the lower areas of the Migdal Eder (tower of the flock) to wrap the newborn lamb in swaddling cloths to keep it from being marred in any way, so it could be used as a lamb sacrifice. Then they’d place the newly wrapped lamb into a feed stall (manger) nearby until it settled down. Then once calm, they would carefully put the newborn lamb with its mother. They were careful to not mar or harm the lamb in the any manner so it could be sacrificed for the sins of the people. Remember sacrificial lambs had to be without spot or any issues.   

Back to Micah 4:8.  Priests were aware that Micah 4:8 was a Messianic prophecy.  Their new ruler would be born in the Migdal Eder (THE tower of the flock) and from there – as it goes on to say in Micah 4 – he would eventually set up his dominion and kingdom! 

So when these priestly shepherds were told the newborn Lamb of God would be found in swaddling cloths in a manger, they knew where to look – the Migdal Eder – and there they found him, as the angelic messenger had foretold!  Remember they were told the One born that day was their promised Messiah (Christ, meaning “anointed one”), the Lord.

Luke 2:11-12
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ [Messiah] the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

Remember that the original “city of David” was Bethlehem.  It was only later, when he became king of Jerusalem, that the ancient city of Jebus (Jerusalem) was called the “city of David” also. The shepherds were beside themselves with joy – their SAVIOR had been born, right where they expected him to be, in the Tower of the Flock as Micah 4:8 had foretold.  They found Him in swaddling cloths – just like the newborn lambs destined to die as the sacrifice for sins were wrapped in swaddling cloths. 

Bethlehem has other significant connections:

  • Bethlehem had a lot of meaning to Jacob (Israel), King David, and of course Yeshua.
  • David and Yeshua were born in Bethlehem.
  • Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel died there while giving birth to Benjamin, her 2nd son. His name means “son of my right hand” – perhaps a prophecy about Jesus, who is the Father’s Son at HIS right hand. There is to this day the Tomb of Rachel, carefully guarded and highly regarded site for Jews.

Let’s look more closely at Jacob’s (Israel’s) connection to this very site through Rachel.

Genesis 35:16-22
Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath (Bethlehem), Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. 17 Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, "Do not fear; you will have this son also." 18 And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
20 And Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel's grave to this day.
21 Then Israel journeyed and pitched his tent beyond the TOWER of EDER.”

David was a shepherd. Though the temple had not yet been built, is it possible that David also shepherded flocks whose lambs would be offered at the Tabernacle? I think so. Have you thought of that?  That inspires me, that a future son of David – the Lamb of God – may have been represented by lambs David watched over. We know for sure that after the temple was built, the lambs from Bethlehem definitely were the ones used for temple sacrifice – and they all pictured Yeshua. Could it be David used this very watchtower to watch over his own sacrificial lambs – depicting “The Lamb of God” yet to come (John 1:29)? 

Watchtower. It was a great place to watch the flocks and see any dangers approaching. From the tower they could also observe the road from Jerusalem, to see who or what was coming down the road. Yeshua is our watchtower. HE is observing his flock very carefully. I think it’s very significant that he very, very likely was born in this very watchtower – about 1000 paces from Bethlehem, in the fields. How beautiful.

So even though many of us do not participate in Dec 25 festivities, due to all the reasons I’ve spoken on before, I thought it was interesting to learn about Micah 4:8 and I hope you found that interesting too.  And yes, I do praise our Father in heaven for sending His Son to be His Lamb to be sacrificed for all of us, to take away our sins.  IN his blood was the antidote for the curse of sin – from Adam to our own sins.  Yeshua probably was born in the Autumn.  And praise you Yeshua, our wonderful brother, our awesome Friend, our King and Savior and Redeemer, thank you for being willing to be our sacrifice to remove our sins. Thank you. Thank you.

Here's a picture of the Migdal Eder outside Bethlehem.

MidgalEder

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The 2 Witnesses: two people or groups? Revelation 11:1-14

We’re all interested, and some are anxiously wondering – who are the 2 Witnesses of Revelation 11? Who is the False Prophet?  Who/what is the whore called “Babylon” in Revelation 17-18?  

Today let’s zero in a bit on the two witnesses. I plan to eventually give a full sermon on this, but felt one issue needs to be handled first:  Are the 2 Witnesses 2 individuals, or 2 groups? 

MOST Bible students believe they are two individuals, who perform similar miracles as Moses and Elijah did. In fact God promises to send “Elijah” before his great and dreadful day of the LORD (Malachi 4:5-6).  John the Baptist fulfilled that partially, and yet he clearly was not the actual Elijah preaching just before the terrifying Day of the LORD, which is yet to come.

Malachi 4:5-6  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,

And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."

Yeshua also clearly implied there would yet be another “Elijah” to come in the future, when he says in Matthew 17:11 that Elijah IS COMING first and “shall restore all things” – and then he added that Elijah HAS come, referring to John the Baptist.

Matthew 17:11-13  NKJV --  Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah IS COMING first and WILL restore all things.  12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands."  13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”

John the Baptizer also came as an Elijah-type, but there is still one more time we’ll see an end-time Elijah prophesying in Jerusalem.

But John the baptizer did not restore all things or reunite fathers and sons as Malachi 4:5-6 says. Plus, John the baptizer had died some years before Yeshua said all these things. Again, the Elijah to come will come just before the awesome and terrifying Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6). 

But there are also a persistent few who promote the notion that these 2 Witnesses in the future actually represent groups of people and not just two individuals. Let’s tackle that today. Sometime later I will go in depth in a sermon about the two witnesses. Some believe these represent Old and New covenants. Or Jews and Gentiles. Or the Philadelphian and Laodicean churches of Revelation 3.  Or representatives of the Law and the Prophets. And on and on and on. 

When we read about the 2 Witnesses, the description of them and their work cannot, surely cannot, apply to groups. The account is fully discussed in Revelation 11:1-14.  I recommend we all read it carefully.  I’ll post the entire scripture text at the end of this blog.

Revelation 11:3 says these two witnesses prophecy for 1260 days (3.5 years) and are clothed in sackcloth.  Are we expected to believe that two GROUPS of people will all be clothed in sackcloth?

Rev 11:4-6-- The descriptions in verses 4-6 clearly apply to individuals and not groups. Are groups going to devour their enemies by fire coming out of each individual in those two GROUPS?  Will two GROUPS, dressed in sackcloth be turning water to blood? No, the idea of these two individuals actually being two groups is not making any sense. Water to blood points to Moses’ miracles.  Destroying enemies by fire and calling for famine points to Elijah’s miracles.

Revelation 11:7-13:  Can we expect the dead bodies of GROUPS to be in the city and then GROUPS of people be resurrected 3-1/2 days later? That just would not make sense and the wording here seems to clearly point to two individuals.

Revelation 11:10 clearly says these are TWO PROPHETS, not groups, who are to be tormenting the world with their plagues. The world will not like them at all.   

So I won’t be preaching or teaching that the two witnesses represent two groups, when I prepare the full sermon on the topic.

For those of you without your own Bibles in parts of the world, here is what Scripture says, using the New King James Version:  

Revelation 11:1-14

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two PROPHETS tormented those who dwell on the earth.

11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.”

If this teaching has helped you, please be sure to comment and to let others know about our free website. Thank you.  

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Prepare now for possible rough winter

We may be in for a tough winter. Are you ready? If there is a severe cold snap like Texas experienced last winter, will you be caught off guard and unprepared? If your power grid shuts down for a few days, what will happen to you? If your source of electricity and heating in a cold winter is cut off, what will you do?

God watches over us, but He expects his children to be wise and prepared. Even ants prepare by storing up food in summer – Proverbs 6:6-8. God gave Joseph understanding of seven years of plenty followed by seven calamitous years. And what did Joseph advise the Pharaoh to do? Store up extra food and supplies in the plentiful times, and they did, so Egypt was ready and able to help the rest of the world.

When you are prepared for times of trouble and difficulty, you also will be able to help those around you, as well as your immediate loved ones.

WHY do I say get ready and be ready for a rough winter? MAJOR weather changes could happen. Though the media trumpets “global warming,” it is entirely possible we could go through a deep freeze this winter. But there could also be disruptions to the supply chain caused by covid. There could be major disasters like earthquakes that interrupt flow of goods, food, and water. We watch our gas gauge on our cars to be sure we keep them above half full – again, in case unexpected fuel shortages hit us.

We know the very end times will be tough times, and it would be prudent to do what you can to get through these times as best as we can. In the end, yes, we will all have to trust in God to supply our needs but I’m sure he expects us to prepare as much as we can. We certainly should do our best to keep ample supply of food and water on hand at LEAST.

In our home we keep at least 5-6 five-gallon bottles of purified WATER ready at all times. Before any projected hurricanes, we even fill up a bathtub of water in case our water supply fails for a time. We also have a water purifier that takes out 99% of all contaminants and water pollutants. Be sure you can get through at least a month or more without having to shop for FOOD. Stock up now with as much food as you can – and of course be using your cans or boxes of food up as well over time and replenish as needed. Many have even bought three months or more of emergency food from MyPatriotsupply.com, and other vendors. These have to be kept in a relatively room temperature environment though. You can’t expect it to stay edible if stored in a hot garage attic. Check your supply of batteries of all sizes to be sure you can power up lanterns, flashlights and more.

We also bought a propane outdoor barbecue stove and extra bottles of propane – again, in  case of electrical failure. That way we can still cook. A couple years ago we bought a large enough generator to keep lights on in much of the house, plus keep key appliances like fridge and stove powered up. That also means having some backup fuel for the generator too.

OK, in the end, these steps won’t supply your need in extended emergencies of several months or years. Worldwide famines and plagues ARE coming. Jesus said so (Matthew 24:7). Even to America. Do your best to be as prepared as possible  -- and then still also totally trust and rely on God.

Be willing to share. This is KEY. I know many of you just naturally would. When Elijah showed up at a widow’s home during a famine he had called, the widow had enough for one last meal. Elijah asked her to share it with him. She did  -- and God blessed her with miraculous food supply for the duration of the famine. Her jars of oil never got used up! Her supply of flour never dwindled. Read the story in 1 Kings 17:8-16. And remember, in the 7-year famine of Joseph’s day, Egypt shared as well, though at a price. 

Plus this: remember the miracle of feeding the 5,000 plus? The story begins with the young boy who had 5 loaves and 2 fish but was willing to give them up to Jesus! And boy did he ever end up sharing to thousands! John 6:1-14, see verse 8-9 about the youth.

 The greatest preparation we can all make is to be seeking God diligently more than you ever have in your life. Seek him. Get as close to your Father and your Savior as you can. It’s really wonderful that our father is God Most High – king of the universe! Be sure you’re getting to know Him, then He will take care of his children if you do that.

And watch world trends, and “pray that you be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come upon the earth” (Luke 21:36). 

 Please feel free to add comments and give further suggestions below this blog that you may have that can prove helpful. Let’s get through these rough times with God’s blessings and the support from God’s children.

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The Hardest "Thank You"

What would you say would be the hardest time for you to say, “thank you”?  

I can think of a few specific examples where my “thank you” could be difficult and perhaps insincere. 

It’s easy to say “thank you” when we’re lavished with wonderful gifts, or after receiving someone’s much needed help, or anytime we receive something we like and appreciate from someone else – including, of course, from God.

But what about when what you’ve just gone through has been incredibly painful to your spirit, emotions, or body? This is the challenge of this blog today for you. Can we be thankful – at least to God -- no matter what is going on?

A while back I gave a sermon on being thankful IN all things and FOR all things.  I’m learning to practice this better and better as time goes along, but I can still find this difficult at times, at least in the beginning, until I remember I belong to God and trust what He is doing in me. Here are several verses about being thankful at all times, in all things, for all things:

Philippians 4:4-7 NIV:  “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but IN everything, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I think thanking God IN everything we go through, is hard at first, but it does get easier to do the more we practice it. And the peace – oh, the PEACE – one gets from doing this – is beyond description! Just as Paul says. We can sorrow, and still also rejoice in the broader bigger picture. Look how Peter puts this juxtaposition of peace/joy and sorrow:

Ephesians 5:20-21 – “giving THANKS ALWAYS for ALL THINGS to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

I REALIZE thanking God FOR ANYTHING, and EVERYTHING sounds crazy when you’re in a terrible situation. But no matter what, the more we practice this, the more peace in the trial we will experience! This includes accidents, health issues, your diabetes, loss of loved ones, pain you’re going through – everything! For ALL things, IN ALL things – means just that! Everything.

It's hard to thank God in some circumstances, but please start doing it. In the beginning, you’ll hop back and forth from submissive gratitude for even a painful event or condition—to feeling God is unaware of you and not hearing your prayers. Submit to his edicts on what we go through. It will pay big dividends.

When our son died when I was 29 years old, I remember kneeling beside my bed and saying, “Even in this, I’m supposed to thank you, Father. I’m finding that so hard to do. But I trust you, that you have a reason and purpose for this, so accept my struggling ‘thank you’ to you. But Father, I still don’t know why you allowed it. I’m hurting, a lot. And Carole my wife is devastated too. We need your comfort and peace and reassurance….”   And I went on from there. It was hard, very hard, to thank God for the death of our son, but at his burial the man from the funeral home with us commented that he had never seen a couple with so much peace at such a painful moment. I remarked, “oh, it’s because I know God has a purpose in this. But really, I feel like getting in that grave with him right now…”   So it’s a mix of rejoicing and grieving as Peter says below.

1 Peter 1:6-9 – “In this you greatly REJOICE, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been GRIEVED by various TRIALS, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.”

So many things God puts us through are painful: the death of your spouse or child would top the list for a lot of people, pain involving deaths. Or from prolonged pain from illness and physical afflictions like we’d suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, bone-on-bone joint pain, end-stage cancers and more. Some of our brothers and sisters around the world are being terribly persecuted, tortured and killed for believing in Christ. Others have their children taken away and sold into slavery.

All of that would be terribly painful.  Why would anyone thank God for all of those?

Scripture is clear that once we die to the self, and let Messiah redeem us, pay  our sins’ debts – that we now belong to Him. God is now “calling the shots”. 

Once we belong to Yeshua, we have to trust the scriptures that say things like “EVERYTHING – ALL THINGS -- work together for GOOD – to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 -  “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were BOUGHT at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

This means we have to trust God and Messiah that no matter what we go through, they’re aware of it, allowing it and working in it. God is aware of the number of hairs on your head. He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows our worries, concerns and pains. And we have to trust the Bible when God tells us He IS love.

After all, He sent his eternal companion – the Word – to become mere flesh and die for us. This Word became His own SON… and look what he put Jesus through, for us, so we would not have to die or suffer God’s wrath for our sins. THAT is proof, surely, of his love for you and me.

Paul sought God’s intervention several times for what he referred to as “the thorn in my flesh”.  God finally told Paul that it was through that ordeal that Paul would see God’s grace and grow into the spiritual maturity God wanted for him. I explore this in more depth in the 2-part sermons on “God’s Perfection for us – God’s way”. I hope you’ll watch the videos. 

Here's what Paul says about God’s answer to him on his “thorn in the flesh” trial:

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 – “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In spite of the pain and suffering, GOD’S strength is coming to us during and because of the suffering we go through. We are being perfected… all brought out in the new sermons on Perfection.

God used pain and suffering to finish Yeshua’s preparation to be high priest.  He uses pain and suffering to perfect, mature and finish us as well.

Hebrews 2:10  – “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

He was being prepared to be the best possible High Priest he could be. That required understanding the weaknesses and trials of those you serve – and so that’s one reason why Yeshua had to suffer so much – certainly with his crucifixion.  This allowed him to understand pain at so many levels. The physical pain of crucifixion is beyond description. Plus the pain of rejection, of being alone, even realizing Father in heaven would not take his pain and suffering away but had to let him die painfully.

We also are being prepared to be priests in God’s kingdom – helping others.  We’re called a “royal priesthood”, remember. So that is why we have to also be tested and tempted in all points as Jesus was (Hebrews 4:15), so we understand sin and its consequences. That’s also why we have to suffer the death of loved ones or endure incredible pain – so we can be empathetic with others.  Of course God sometimes heals our pains and suffering, though he did not take away Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” and did require Yeshua’s suffering and death.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  -- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

No one knows the pain of losing their child unless you’ve also lost your child. No one knows the pain of losing a beloved husband or wife, unless you’ve been through it. And the pain of losing a spouse is different from the pain of losing a child. So God lets a number of us go through all that so we can better understand what others go through when they also lose their spouse or child. That process matures us, deepens our understanding and ability to be a great priest in the future and even to help in this life. 

WHEN we understand and ACCEPT that all things do work together for God’s good for us, and that HE is allowing or sometimes even sending the trials to BUILD US (edification) – then we can understand how we can thank God in and for all things.

Even, especially, the annoying, painful, stressful, “horrible” times of our lives. God is with us, at all times and is working His plan in us, at all times, for all things, in all things – and that is how and why we can say “thank you, Father, that I have you here even when it seems like you’re not answering my prayers, even though the pain is not subsiding, even though there has been death in my family – I know you’re here with me. And knowing that, I have peace and gratitude. And I trust whatever you’re doing, because I know you love me, and you ARE love personified. And as I go through all this, I will be a more effective priest and comforter for others. So thank you, dear Father. Help me, strengthen me and others going through pain, and help us see you in all of this.”

A hard time to say thank you – but we do, and we always must – for it’s working out a great plan beyond our wildest dreams.  And the PEACE of mind we receive when we say “thank you” even in our most painful times, is just amazing. It boils down to absolutely trusting our Creator. It means having FAITH in him, no matter what we go through.

In the months and years ahead, and in times of tribulation, we will need to have this honed down real well. There’s more in the sermons on God’s Perfection that he’s building in us. 

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God’s protection while at the Feast  

We’ve just come back home from the Feast of Tabernacles and eighth day.  In these lawless times, it may be tempting to decide not to go to the Feast due to the risk of someone breaking into our home and stealing everything we have. Or perhaps you dislike flying or driving anymore – because of all “those crazy drivers on the road.”

I am very aware that there have been mishaps and accidents going to and coming back from the feast in the past. So what I’m writing today is not an ironclad promise I can offer to everyone in the world – because I believe God’s protection on people will often be somewhat commensurate to the depth of their relationship with him and their trust in him.

If we flout God’s laws, if sin often and flagrantly, if we are careless in our actions or inaction, then there may be lessons God needs us to learn.  In those cases, what I’m about to write may not apply to those people to the same degree it would apply to others.

Notice this:

Exodus 34:23-24 – “Three times in the year all your men shall appear before Yehovah, YHVH God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.”

This statement  from God was given to the nation of 12-tribed Israel, with national laws. But the principle is surely there. God will take steps to protect us while we are at His Feasts, especially if:

  • We are sure we are close to our Maker and love him with all our being, soul and might and heart. IF we love him, we will obey his commandments (John 14:15). And we also understand our righteousness must really be from him, from his credited or imputed righteousness, so he gets all the glory.
  • We ASK him to watch over our trip and watch over our home and property while we are away. “You have not, for you ask not” (James 4:2b).  “Ask and you shall receive…” (Matthew 7:7-8).  SO ASK.  Don’t be shy or hesitant. God’s Son TELLS us to ask. Let’s obey him. Ask in his name, believing (John 16:24).
  • All DURING the Feast we continue to ask for protection for our health and well-being. Not a single person from our Feast site got Covid19 during or immediately after the Feast to the best of my knowledge. We asked God in public prayer to place a spiritual “iron dome” around the whole community and rebuke the covid, rebuke Satan, and let us worship in good health.
  • We take careful steps to protect our property – by being sure we lock the doors, leave a light on, cancel any deliveries and mail, and you know the drill. And one thing I learned: don’t tell too many that you’ll be away. That includes NOT posting pictures of where you are DURING the feast. What an easy way for people to figure out they can break into your home. So I normally don’t post pictures when I’m away, or pics of our flight or drive out.  It’s a calling card for thieves. 

So, did God protect US?  He sure did.

God will put a hedge around you and your children and property if He wants to protect you. Satan knew that about Job. Satan could do to Job – or to us – only what God allowed for HIS reasons.  Here’s Satan speaking to God:

Job 1:10 -- Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

At our Feast site, God certainly kept disease, accident and death away. Nobody to my knowledge got or left with any Covid19, praise to God.

Divine protection

On our return home from the Feast, while we were driving at freeway speeds headed for the airport, I was in the center lane with my wife, right behind a truck thirty feet ahead of us. The freeway was packed. Cars were on both sides, and many behind us and the truck and more ahead of us.  Suddenly something huge and heavy, seemed to be metal, clunked off the back end of the truck thirty feet in front of us. The item was about 5’ wide, 3’ deep, and almost 5’ high. It was huge. Right in front of me.

Quick check in the rear view and I could see a car close to me.  I HAD to brake and did – but then quickly found myself going around it and missing somehow the car on my right.  Then back into my own lane without hitting this massive object now behind me. Carole said, “Wow, great driving, hon…” but I was sure something more had happened. I’m certain that for 3-4 seconds an angel took over the wheel and the car and spared us from what could easily have been a fatal accident for us.  I didn’t believe that my “great driving” was what happened. Once again, God spared me.

Then later I found that our Webmaster for our site had a similar intervention. His wife Brandie, on the freeway during the Feast, had a loud bang total tire explosion. She also felt some help getting her car to the side without incident. 

My wife feels that God lets us have these near disasters so we’re aware of his angelic protection over us. They probably have spared you and me many times we’re not even aware of. So I remember now to thank God for his protection, including all the ones I never become aware of, knowing he cares for me more than he does sparrows, which he cares for all the time.

Then it gets even better.

When we got home, we found our garage side door had been tinkered with – as someone had tried to break in. But for some reason, they quit, just when they could have entered with one more minute of trying. We could have lost everything of value.

Afterwards I sent a note to our “village”  of homes asking for everyone to keep a strong lookout for each other’s homes. One of my nearby neighbors said that one night, when he let his dog out to “go”, the dog suddenly turned towards our house, barking like crazy. The neighbor then opened his garage door and then the dog stopped – and he feels that was the time the thief decided to quit and left. I think God made that dog bark a lot. That dog never barks, at least any time I’ve seen him.

Again, thank you God, and thank you guardian angels. We love you Father and our Beloved Jesus for all your protection. Be sure to ask for it, thank him for it, and expect God will watch over us.

Also remember Luke 21:36 and be praying that you be counted worthy to escape the atrocities that are definitely coming on this planet, sooner probably than later.  It will be the worst time this planet has EVER seen. Revelation 12 shows the Woman will be supernaturally taken to her place of safety in “the wilderness” (that’s not heaven) for the final 3-1/2 years before Yeshua returns in glory. But some – the remnant who do not go to the place of safety – will be tried in the fire of testing. I mean the Laodiceans of Rev. 3.

We ESPECIALLY will want God’s protection in these end times. SO pray and fast and be counted worthy. Those with Christ (Rev. 17:14) will be the Called, the CHOSEN AND the faithful. For the rest of your time alive on this earth, please double your prayer time, Bible study time, more time doing good works helping people and face sins and bad habits that simply must be given up. Seek the deepest relationship with God and Jesus that you can possibly develop.

Don’t be Laodicean. Don’t be lukewarm.  Don’t think you’re all OK. But repent, seek our God with all your might. But neither should the place of safety be your main goal. Let a closeness to God be your main goal. Some great men and women will be tasked with being tested viciously for their witness. That will include the Two Witnesses, who will be stoned to death at the end of their ministry.  I will give a sermon soon on the Two Witnesses. Be watching for it.

We praise you dear Abba our dear Father, for all you have done to protect us. May we be always thankful. We love you, dear Abba and our Beloved Messiah Yeshua. 

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Don’t just go without food on Atonement. Be READY for Atonement.

The day of Atonement is a most solemn holyday, and we should be prepared for it. In here I will address the fasting we do.

I’ve written on this before, so I’ll get to the point. There are probably a lot of us who will be fasting who – at the end of the day – are hungry and wondered what we accomplished by fasting and only have a headache to show for it. That will happen IF… IF we don’t prepare for Atonement spiritually and mentally.

Don’t just go without food or water on Atonement. We are told to afflict our souls (Leviticus 23:27 and Lev 16:29,31). David said he humbled and afflicted his soul with fasting (Psalm 35:13; 69:10). “Afflicting your soul” was commonly understood to mean fasting. Fasting with deep repentant prayer often went hand in hand – as In Daniel 9:3, when Daniel sought his God and was repenting frankly not just for himself, but also for the whole nation of Judah, which was in captivity.

I urge all of you reading this to study Isaiah 58, which is all about effective fasting from God’s viewpoint, before Atonement. Let’s use Atonement as a day of repenting of areas in our lives that we know fall short of God’s will. I mean habits that aren’t Christ-like like movies, entertainment, and any activities we participate in – that we know Yeshua would not be participating in. We renew our determination to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Maybe we’re too stingy with our funds instead of supporting widows and orphans in their time of need.

Those last 2 sentences above are actually a definition of “pure religion” – see James 1:27.

Use this day to come before God Most High and ask him – by faith through Yeshua -- to cover you with HIS righteousness, to atone for our sins we still fall into, and let us be there with Yeshua when he returns to this earth. I have many sermons on this website about how we must have the righteousness of God himself gifted to us through faith (Romans 5:17; Philippians 3:9-11).

Don’t just use the day to listen to the sermon and just go hungry. Have a purpose for being hungry, besides the automatic reason that “God told us to fast”. Let’s read Isaiah 58 together now and I hope this year’s fasting on Atonement will result in our decisions to make some definite changes in our lives – which makes it an effective fast.

In Isaiah 58:3-5 God tells us fasting without change in our lives gets nowhere with God. We dress up and go to church on this day, say the prayers, sing the songs of praise, listen to the sermons -- but God’s not impressed. Why? So let’s pick up in Isaiah 58:6, God speaking:

Isaiah 58:6-10 New Living Translation: "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people.

“ (v.7) Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.   [Can you point to specific times recently when you’ve done these?] 

God implies in verse 8 that we’re not seeing more HEALINGS partly because we’re not using fasts to create changes in our lives. If we wonder where God is, and he doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers – maybe we’re not praying and fasting with changes in our lives. Verse 9 – God WANTS to answer our prayers. If he doesn’t seem to be, the issue is not with God, but with us. 

Continuing Isa 58:8-10 :   "Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9 Then when you call, YHVH will answer. 'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!10 Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

In verse 9 He asks us to stop the gossip about others. Stop “pointing the finger” as we criticize everyone else for falling so far short. I have women neighbors I can hear, who walk together in the morning, and I can hear them as they pass by our home. Sometimes they talk loudly on their cell phones. It’s almost always about someone and what horrible thing that someone did, can you imagine that? God says stop gossiping, pointing the finger, especially when identities can be known.

Let’s read and re-read Isaiah 58 until we know what changes we’ll make. Certainly let’s do pray much more and seek our God with all our being as we worship and seek Him on this Day of Atonement. Let’s not just go a day with a no-caffeine headache while feeling hungry and wondering why we were fasting.

Of course we fast on the Day of Atonement for other reasons as well. Some few (initially) from around the world will be seeking this new ruler who came through space – visible to all – and his name is Yeshua, the Son of God. With all the plagues, war, hail, earthquakes and heavenly fearsome sights before he lands on Mount of Olives – He’ll have the world’s attention. After landing on the Mount of Olives, he will start to judge the world and - - best of all--- offer them atonement for their sins and reconciliation with God, if they would just “come under his wing”. They will come with fasting and prayer as they seek this new world ruler – coming soon!

Be sure to hear my sermon about the Day of Atonement.

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Could the EU be the world’s next super power?

Let’s talk about the coming Beast system, where it could be, the coming Great False Prophet and how God is continuing to bring America down to fulfill prophecy.

A friend of mine just sent me a copy of a quote from the “EU Observer”. Has our recent debacle in Afghanistan just motivated Europe to not want to rely on the USA anymore militarily?

You should find what my friend just sent me very interesting. For years, many of us have believed that the “Beast” of Revelation who allies with a great False Prophet (Revelation 13, etc.) will be a military/economic power based in Europe, as a final “resurrection” of the Holy Roman empire – which is not “holy” and not obviously Roman to most eyes. But it will be powerful and have worldwide influence.

"The EU needed to become the world's third-largest military superpower, the debacle in Afghanistan has shown, French defense minister Bruno Le Maire said at a business congress near Lake Como in Italy Saturday, Reuters reports. "Europe has to become the number three super-power besides China and the United States. Let's open our eyes, we're facing threats and we cannot rely anymore on the protection of the United States’, he said."

By EUOBSERVER

Keep an eye on this, as we will. I had heard that French President Emmanuel Macron had voiced something like this but didn’t have the quote. His name is interesting – meaning “God with us”. So he may be at least the start of motivating Europe to become far more powerful militarily and not reliant on the USA.

The Beast power (interesting, isn’t it, that God compares the world ruling empires to animals) will be allied with a world religious leader, we call the great False Prophet – a la 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13, as well as mentions in Daniel.

So who will be this great false prophet – the man of Sin – who will declare he is god and will rule from inside the temple of God – which I believe could be constructed in soon-coming years in Jerusalem?

Others believe all we need is to re-start sacrifices, without the building. But scripture is clear that this coming man of Sin, who will be able to do great wonders, takes residence inside the temple of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). But read all of 2 Thess 2, a scripture I’ve referenced several times in recent sermons.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of GOD, showing himself that he is God.”

Read all of 2 Thess 2.

That sounds to me like there will be a real, physical 3rd temple not just an outdoor place of animal sacrifices. Certainly just about all the pieces of “furniture” and items for the third temple in Jerusalem are ready. I’ve seen with my own eyes the golden menorah for the 3rd temple – already built. We saw the priestly crown to be worn by the high priest, their garments, the table of showbread, the altar of incense, various shofars and much more.

There’s some discussion on where the temple should be located – and God will determine that and will have to let world politics be such that a temple CAN be built. Some believe it will be in the old city of David area, south of the present “temple mount”. I studied personally under Dr. Ernest Martin in 1973 at the Jerusalem Dig. His ideas will require a change of mind and heart from God for present Jewish leaders and archaeologists to build near the Gihon springs, considerably below the present “Temple mount”.

Right now, most Jewish rabbis, historians and archaeologists are adamant that the 1st and 2nd temples were very close or directly at the location of the Dome of the Rock. They would need convincing. To build the 3rd temple in the ancient city of David – just a 12-acre site south of the present southern walls --will require a miracle.

So watch -- and keep watching and praying.

Will the man of sin who rules from the temple of God – be a pope? Or could it be someone outside the Roman Catholic church who is able to unite the whole world in one religion – but likely at the expense of announcing we can’t say Jesus/Yeshua any longer?

I’m not prophesying anything. Just saying – keep your eyes open. Watch and pray, that you be counted worthy to escape these things which shall come to pass (Luke 21:36).

Are the pieces of the puzzle coming together? Did President Biden just give Europe and the EU the impetus, the push, to come together as a powerhouse no longer reliant on America? Even President Trump was urging EU /NATO to be able and willing to defend themselves. So we may see a split coming between the USA and Europe if we continue to no longer keep our treaties and commitments abroad.

The next test of American resolve and their power could be Taiwan. Will the USA give up on Taiwan – or be willing to go to war against China to defend Taiwan? If the USA gives up on Taiwan and the Ukraine, you’ll see Europe come together militarily with real power – FAST – I believe.

You might want to listen to the sermon I recently gave on how God is breaking the pride of our power. Also check out my sermon on “When will Christ return”—which lists the various steps enumerated in scripture before Yeshua lands on the Mount of Olives to rule this world.

“Thy kingdom come.”

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What will our resurrection body be like?

Many claim to believe in the resurrection of the dead. That’s great, for “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we’re of all men most miserable” – someone famous said (1 Cor. 15:19).

Do good people go to heaven when they die? Yeshua said “NO ONE has ascended to heaven or come down from heaven except the Son of man” (John 3:13). NO one. Peter confirmed that even righteous King David “did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:34). If King David is not in heaven, then who is? After listing so many men and women of enormous faith, Hebrews 11:13 says ALL, everyone, before us – even Enoch and Elijah – DIED, not having received the promises.

Just enter into the Search bar “Enoch and Elijah” for more details on what really happened to them.

And our destiny is not to sit on fluffy clouds in heaven while we strum on harps forever and ever. Neither is it “the beatific vision”, as in Catholic theology. It’s so much more. So what will our bodies be like when we’re resurrected?

Since you’re not zoomed up to heaven when you die, a resurrection from the dead is necessary if we are ever to live again after we die. And that’s what the Bible teaches. In fact I’ve often wondered, if “good” people go to heaven when they die and are having a beatific vision of God already, what’s the NEED for a resurrection?

The Bible also speaks of those who will be punished with death for their unrepented sins, and they will be part of the “second death” (see Revelation 20:6, 14). To have a 2nd death, those people would need to have a 2nd LIFE – the resurrection for those not in the first resurrection, but a later one.

So everything else I will write about in this blog is about the first resurrection only, OK?

Keep reading, it will get clearer.

The First Resurrection is for the righteous. Saying “first resurrection” implies other resurrections, does it not? That’s a different topic for a different time, so let’s keep to this topic of the kind of body we’ll have if we’re in the first resurrection.

WHO will be in the first resurrection? According to Revelation 20:4-6, those who are in the first resurrection will reign with Christ. So they are believers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ – into Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:13) and never partook of the dreaded mark of the Beast on their forehead or on their hands. They are God’s saints!

Revelation 20:4-6

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

No doubt this first resurrection is also the one described in Hebrews 11:35 as “a better resurrection” – in the famous chapter often called “The FAITH Hall of Fame”. It’s the one called “the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14) and it is “the resurrection from the dead” – Philippians 3:11. Other verses call it the “resurrection of the just” and the “resurrection of life for those who have done good” – John 5:28-29.

So the first resurrection if made up of God’s children being resurrected with new bodies unlike any bodies you’re familiar with.

So OK, that’s great, but what kind of body WILL we have in that first resurrection? Note: what I describe now applies only to those in the first resurrection.

WHEN does it happen: At Christ’s return. There will be 7 trumpet blasts and it’s at the last trump when He returns and receives his resurrected and changed Bride in the clouds.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Corinthians 15:22-25

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”

Paul is on a roll. After stating that celestial bodies have differing brilliances – like comparing the sun, moon and stars –he says so it is in the first resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:42-45

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.

44 It is sown a NATURAL body; it is raised a SPIRITUAL body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Did you get that? Those in the first resurrection are brought back to life with a SPIRIT body, not a flesh and blood body.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Read verse 50 again: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. So we must be SPIRIT. This is a very KEY point in understanding our body at the resurrection.

 Yeshua said “that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit IS spirit” (John 3:6). So we will be spirit beings. “GOD is spirit” – John 4:34.

Angels are also spirit beings so Yeshua says we’ll be like the angels, in as much as they are spirits, or spirit beings, as we shall be (Mark 12:25). We’ll be higher than angels, as they will be our servants and they’re not really considered “sons” of God literally, like we are. (Hebrews 1:13-14).

Another thing: those in the first resurrection to spirit, will shine like the sun! See Daniel 12:3.

Matthew 13:43

“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

So at the last trump, the dead in Christ rise first with their new spirit, shining, immortal, perfect, powerful bodies that can never die again. Those of us who are still alive, will then be changed to spirit as well. I have 2 sermons on “Life as a Spirit Being” if you care to learn more about what the Bible says about living as a spirit.

But can you imagine all who have died – whether in battle, or car accident or cancer – coming back to life with a brand new, immortal, perfect, healed, powerful Spirit body raised in glory and power? All the wounds and pain and illness and aging – all gone. Just a brand-new powerful spirit immortal body now. Hallelujah. I can’t wait.

The deaf will hear the birds chirping and frogs croaking and the sound of their grandchildren playing. The lame will leap like a deer. The mute will sing God’s praises in perfect tune and harmony. It’s clear from scripture that spirit beings can appear and disappear at will. They can pass through solid walls – and then disappear again, as Yeshua did after his resurrection. They can eat and drink and fly. That’s what our bodies will be like! We’ll never age again. We’ll never die again (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14).

And - no – we’re not just going to while away our time on a cloud strumming harps. Here’s what God says we’ll be doing:

Revelation 20:6

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

In fact, we’re told once we’re changed to spirit – as angels and God are spirit beings – we shall see God as he is. Here’s one of my favorite scriptures:

1 John 3:2-3

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Let me remind you: all this pertains to those in the First Resurrection. Those who come up in the 2nd Resurrection … that’s a different story. Maybe we’ll continue another time. Hint: the “rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years are finished” – Rev. 20:5

But if you remain faithful and true and endure to the end after accepting Yeshua as your Savior and your new life, you will get a brand-new immortal and glorious SPIRIT body when Christ returns. Hallelujah.

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Noah’s ark: Did it really take 120 years to build?

Most people believe it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. Today’s blog may surprise some of you. And many people think Noah’s 3 sons helped him build the ark, right from the get go. Keep reading. More surprises are in store for many of you.

One point of this blog is to encourage everyone to read the scriptures more carefully. The other point is how incredibly patient God is, even in the face of violence and sin and perversions that were so bad that God decided to end all land life on the earth except what could be placed inside that huge ark.

People lived a long, long time back then. Adam and Eve were still in their midlife when Enoch was actively preaching. Adam was there when Methuselah was born – and lived such a long time.

If you haven’t seen the Ark life-size replica in Kentucky, USA, I recommend you do. The single biggest impression you’ll be left with will probably be how huge that ship was. Plus, what an undertaking it had to be to build such a huge ship without all the modern tools and machinery and equipment we have today. Check out: https://arkencounter.com/about/         

I only wish they had shown more animals in their ark like the ones we see today – and less of the dinosaur type, but other than that, it is a “must see”.

Genesis 6:3   “And YHVH said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."

Notice it does not say, “…yet I’m giving my man Noah one hundred and twenty years to build the Ark.” But that’s the assumption so many make!

And it’s not clearly said here whether this 120-year time period was stated to Noah or anyone – or just a conclusion God had made for himself. It’s true that God gave mankind another 120 years before the rains would fall – but that period of 120 years is not necessarily the same as the years Noah was building. The world’s doomsday clock was well underway into those 120 years by the time Noah was even clearly told to start building the Ark, as we’ll see.

Here’s what we’re clearly told. Keep these numbers in mind. 

** We’re told God had decided there would be a final 120 years for mankind. (Genesis 6:3). It is NOT clearly stated that this timetable was said to, or given to anyone. It seems to be a private conclusion God had decided. If God told Noah of the 120-year deadline, then Noah would have been 480 years old – but we’re not told that. And his first son is still 20 years away from even being born yet!

** We ARE clearly told that Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came upon the earth (Genesis 7:6). 

** We’re also told Noah was 500 years old when his first son Japheth was born to him (Genesis 5:32), and now only 100 years separate the birth of Noah’s oldest son and the time of the Flood, when Noah was 600 years old.

So, had you realized before that at the start of the 120-year timeline, Noah and Mrs. Noah had no children born to them yet?

** We also know that Shem – Noah’s second son – was 100 years old when he had his first son Arphaxad (Genesis 11:10). This means Shem was 98 years old when the flood came. It also means Noah was 502 years old when Shem was born.

Genesis 11:10 “This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood.”

** The first time we actually have God CLEARLY telling Noah there would be a worldwide destruction by flood that would kill all living things on the earth, is in Genesis 6:13-18. God is – by that time -- mentioning Noah, his wife and Noah’s sons and their wives (verse 18) – which mathematically means Noah was at least 525 years old by this time, to allow 3 sons to be born to him and for them to be old enough to be married. That’s if that was indeed the first time God mentions it to Noah himself. That leaves a maximum of 75 years left in the 120-year countdown, for the Flood came when Noah was 600 years old (Gen. 7:6). So based on the statement GOD makes that includes Noah’s entire family and daughters-in-law (Gen. 3:18), the actual building of the ark could have been 35-75 years.

There is of course also the possibility that God was saying all that to Noah when he was still childless – as a matter of faith, just as God told Abraham he would be the father of multitudes of children, when he also was still childless.

BIRTH ORDER: By the time Noah had his firstborn – who was Japheth, Noah was 500 years old, according to Genesis 5:32. I realize, Shem is listed first in Genesis 6:10 and 7:13, but in the Bible, the most important one in Biblical history, or who had the most impact – or sometimes the most righteous one through whom God worked the most, ends up being listed first a lot of times. For example, Abraham was not the firstborn among his siblings either, but is also listed first.

So the real order of births of Noah’s children was this: Japheth, Shem and Ham – and yes, I know, we’re all used to saying “Shem, Ham and Japheth”, as the Bible itself does that as well (Genesis 6:10; 7:13) multiple times.

Again, Noah was 500 years old when Japheth was born – Genesis 5:32. The flood waters came when Noah was 600 years old. Genesis 7:6. Already you see less than 120 years right there. 

I suspect Noah had to have a LOT of hired help to cut down the trees, prepare the boards and build such a huge ship – whether he had sons or not.

How big was Noah’s ARK? Read Genesis 6:14-15 in a modern translation so you get it in feet. Go see the replica in Kentucky. A FOOTBALL field and a half long! Now imagine that. Picture that next time you see an American football field. That, and half again as long added to that. 450 feet long. 75 feet wide. Over four stories high – or 45 feet high. OK, modern cruise ships are much bigger, but still – this Ark was one huge ship! Imagine having to build all that!

Genesis 6:14-16 NLT   -- "Build a large boat from cypress wood [gopher wood, teak] and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. 15 Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16 Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.”

I also believe that God may have tested Noah and all mankind by having a completed ark sitting there for some months or even years, without any sign of flooding or rain. Then when the time for the flood came, Noah had a one-week warning. That was it. (Read Genesis 7:1-20).

ark

Here's a photo of my wife and I standing in front of the Ark replica. Go see it.

The ark by the end of that week had to be full of food and water for all the animals and Noah’s family, plus they had to get all the wildlife God was sending them into the ark and get them all settled in and organized, before the rains, floods and break-out of waters from the deep began to happen. Then God himself shut them in. God locked the doors (Genesis 7:16). Imagine that.

Where did all the water come from?

Besides torrential rains for 40 days and 40 nights, where else did all the water come from? Some scientists have said that under the crust of the earth there is more water than we see in all the oceans today. Scripture speaks of it as “the fountains of the deep”. God broke those open to flood the world, in addition to the enormous amount of rainfall he sent. No doubt this was a very, very scary time to go through – whether inside or outside the ark.

When God stopped the flooding, and began to order the waters to recede, he sent a lot of wind to dry things out (Genesis 8:1). And look how it’s worded (notice “fountains of the deep”).

Genesis 8:2The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.”

It took many more months before even the tops of the mountains could be seen – let alone before they could safely leave the ark.

There’s a lot of evidence of a worldwide Flood visible in the earth’s strata of rocks. Lots of it. Every culture around the world has some epic tale of the saving of a few people and animals. The best known one is the Epic of Gilgamesh.

I admit: whether it took Noah just 40-75 years to build the ark – or if he took all 120 years, that’s not a huge spiritual point. But it IS important to read and study the scriptures carefully enough to realize when we’ve been told something over and over that simply may not be true.

And, I’ve got to say this: the most recent Hollywood movies about Noah and the Flood are simply rubbish. They don’t follow the Bible’s descriptions at all. Don’t even waste any time watching them. They’ll put totally wrong concepts in your head and much of what they show are simply untrue, if you go by God’s word.

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Did Yeshua (Jesus) really say these?

I believe there are a lot of misconceptions on what the Son of God – Yeshua, or in English we say Jesus – was really like, what he would say, or how he would react in some circumstances. This blog may surprise you. I posted it first a few years ago, but as we will be looking into prophecies, the book of Revelation of Jesus Christ and upcoming world events – it’s critical we drop misconceptions and come to really know our Lord and Master completely. Apostle Paul said that was his main goal: “That I may know him and the power of HIS resurrection” (Philippians 3:9).  

Yeshua could be amazingly tough, direct, even rough – as well as the oft depicted “sweet Jesus” by many in religion. Let’s come to know the complete, true, living Messiah. He’s not the weak-looking, long-haired depiction we are always shown. 

Some of the most often cited scriptures in the entire Bible are His words about being our perfect, caring Shepherd. And that His Father so loved all of us that he sent his one and only son – Yeshua – to die for us so that any who believe in him would be saved, and not perish. You know many more verses about him being the Way, the truth and the life. He was the perfect son of God. He is our Lord. He’s great, he’s love, he’s terrific, he’s kind and he’s forgiving. ALL of that is absolutely true.  

But how often does your pastor ever preach these other verses that are also words spoken by the son of God? Paul and Peter and others certainly did. Paul spoke of the “severity of God” (Romans 11:22), as well as his goodness. God is love. But God is also just. Sometimes his justice frankly can be severe, especially at people who don’t believe, won’t budge or won’t obey. Faith, true belief, and obedience go hand in hand. 

Paul didn’t mince his words. In talking to the Romans – and you can go back and get the entire context about the Olive tree analogy – look what Apostle Paul says: 

Romans 11:21-22 – “For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness AND severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, IF you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” 

Ministers love the gentle verses about forgiveness, patience, grace, and God’s patience and so on. And so do I. I love to preach of God’s grace and his imputed righteousness we receive by faith, as so many scriptures teach. But I also want to be sure to give you, what Paul calls “the WHOLE counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). So this blog – which could develop into an even more exhaustive sermon on the topic – will do just that: talk about other words of Yeshua that are just as true and pertinent as the ones which are most often quoted.  

Brace yourself. You may be surprised these words came from Yeshua. But remember: he is a loving king and Savior to those who seek Him and submit to him as Lord of lords, king of kings. But to those who carelessly believe they don’t need to change, don’t need to overcome, don't need to be prepared and ready for his coming, and don’t need to seek him with all their might – they WILL be in for a big surprise. So here we go; remember these are Yeshua’s OWN words! Check them out!

Luke 12:45-48 -- “But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  47 And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” 

Have I made my point? “Jesus said that?”  I can hear people thinking that already. Yes, he did. Yeshua spoke of beating ineffective servants with stripes? Yes. This should help you understand that our king is not just a “baby Jesus” or always a “sweet Jesus”. If we don’t obey him or prepare for him, his coming will be a very sharp wake-up call for us – including many who call themselves his followers, as you shall see. 

It’s NOT enough to claim he is your “Lord” or “Master”. Our actions and way of life have to prove our words. Listen to your Lord on this. Remember HE is speaking here:           

Matthew 7:21-23   "NOT everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 MANY will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, you who practice lawlessness!

Notice these are people who claim to be believers. They claim to have had power to even cast out demons in Christ’s name and perform miracles, perhaps healings, in his name – and yet they hear him shout at them -- “GET OUT of my sight! I never knew you!” They apparently were not people who were seeking and doing God’s will in their lives (v. 21). When I read that passage, it drives me to deep repentance!  

I hope these verses are making you and me realize being a believer in Christ is very serious business! The “goodness and severity of God” – remember that? It’s for real. 

If we have sins and after repentance, remain in a lifestyle of sin as a way of life – well, let’s let Yeshua say it. After healing the blind man who was now worshiping his Healer…

 John 9:40-41 “Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.” 

Ouch! When we sin when we know better, that’s far more serious than sin done in ignorance. I preach to myself. I believe many of us know better when we’re doing wrong. It’s gotta stop – for if we see what we’re doing and do it anyway, “your sin remains.” Not my words. HIS words. I hope some of you are waking up from a false sense of security in the soft preaching of some. Don’t harbor sins. Don’t cuddle up to temptations. It’s time to wipe them out of your life. After repentance, prove your repentance with real changes happening in your life. 

Do you know Yeshua - speaking directly to Peter – called him “Satan” – because he was repeating a thought Satan had put into Peter’s head, that Christ would not have to die! Yes, Christ is really talking to the source of Peter’s words that time. Read it for yourself: 

Mark 8:32-33 -- “He spoke this word [of his impending death] openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He [Yeshua] had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked PETER, saying, "Get behind Me, SATAN! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." 

One time a Gentile woman pleaded to him to heal her daughter. Gentiles were often called “dogs” by Jews. I’m sure Yeshua had a reason for saying what he said, and the way he said it, and to whom he said it, but it’s still shocking. Read it in Matthew 15:21-28. It wasn’t a gentle response. And yet her story is still told, as she didn’t take offense. I’ll quote part of it:

Matthew 15:25-28 “Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” 

How about this one? Someone’s dad had just died. The man wanted to be a follower of Yeshua and asked if he could first bury his dad. Here are Yeshua’s tough words: 

Matthew 8:21-22   Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." 

In the messages to the 7 churches of Revelation 2-3 we find once more some very tough talk from Yeshua to especially five of the seven churches. Study Revelation 2 and 3 on your own and you’ll see what I mean. Remember we are told to hear and heed the words to each of the seven churches. We all like to think we are Philadelphian, but quit being so easy on yourself. He calls Sardis spiritually dead in Revelation 3. Laodicea – he says if they don’t repent, he’ll vomit them out! And so on. He’s very, very tough on most of the churches. What would he say about your congregation?  

Are you ready for more? 

Matthew 10:32-33 -- "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” 

Titus 1:16 says we can be denying our Savior by our actions. Read it for yourself.   So, are you hearing THESE verses where you attend church? Pastors, we should be preaching the entire Bible, and not just the soft and easy parts. 

We all like to think Jesus came to send peace on earth. Surely that was mentioned at his birth – “peace on earth” – but it’s going to take a while to get to that point. 

Luke 12:49-53 -- I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." 

If you want to understand “send fire on the earth” – just read the book of Revelation again. Have you ever met an angry lamb? Believe it or not, the Lamb of God (Jesus) can be fearsome to meet. In Revelation 6, men are hiding in caves and behind rocks in total terror of the Lamb. When the Messiah returns will be a very scary time to face the angry Lamb if you’re not one of his. 

Revelation 6:14-17 – “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" 

And I haven’t even begun to talk about what he said to the religious leaders of his day – especially in Matthew 23. He called them sons of snakes and whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones. And you know who “THE snake” is, right? Or how about when he overturned the cheating money changers’ tables and drove them out with a whip from the temple area? (John 2:13-17 – worth re-reading!).  

My intentions are several with this blog:

  • Come to know the real and total Jesus of the Bible. Yes, he certainly was kind, and gentle – but he also could be, at times, very, very tough.
  • Take your high calling very seriously. You and I will be called to account to how well we have used our calling and the opportunities and gifts given us.
  • Put your whole energy into preparing for his calling. Be a good servant, helping others, carrying their burdens and thus fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

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If this blog or sermons on this site have helped you, don’t keep us a secret. Let others know about this free and Bible-based website. And do give us suggestions for topics you would like me to address. This is also your website. We’re here to serve YOU, even as we serve first and foremost our great Father and our Saviour. The Son of God.

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