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.

Why Immodesty is a Problem


Written by older ladies in the Church of God

(Please do NOT give this to teenagers youger than 18. Parents should read this and reveal as much as they feel their teens need to know).

In coed sports, when male players accuse female players of trying to distract them with their skimpy outfits, it’s not usually taken seriously.  But did you know that the same sort of feminine distractions are the cause of thousands of car accidents every day?!  A study done in August 2022 discovered that, in Britain alone, nearly a million accidents a year are caused by drivers—mostly men—being distracted by attractive pedestrians and billboards!  [1]

Given the way most women dress today, it’s highly unlikely that many of the women the drivers said they ‘could not help but look at’ were dressed modestly.  And you can be almost certain that the beautiful women on the billboards—which many of the men said they ‘couldn’t tear their eyes away from’—were scantily clothed and posing seductively. 

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We older women remember how fun it was to turn heads and feel attractive to the opposite sex.  Like most other young women, we didn’t understand what turned a guy on and were often surprised that something as innocent as a strap of a sundress falling off our shoulder could do it, or the wind accidentally blowing our skirt up.  We now have a far better understanding of how those strange creatures called men, work. Of course, we’ve also included many comments from men as we thought it best to ‘go to the horses’ mouth,’ so to speak!

In our youth, clothing like mini-skirts, short shorts and thigh-high boots were introduced by the fashion designers, music and movie stars. They were banned by most parents, schools, and colleges but girls nonetheless bought them. Nowadays, the mini-skirt is considered normal and is even accepted as part of the uniform for some high schools, both private and public. But God’s Word commands women to be modest in every way, and for good reason!

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“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 

For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” (I Tim 2:9-10)  

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Acting or dressing in a sexy manner creates lust in men. Modesty, femininity and sweetness create a desire in men to care for and protect a woman. 

Decaying Morals

The Western world’s morals are on a severe downward spiral with many music and movie stars taking provocative clothing and seductiveness to a whole new low.  It likely makes most young women today feel quite modest in their strapless crop-tops and mini-skirts, compared to the many outrageous outfits of so many idolized female pop stars. 

But merely dressing less immodestly than pop stars is not what a godly woman should be striving for!  As quoted by Tomorrow’s World magazine from an article in the magazine, Good Housekeeping, “Surviving Britney Spears”:

“Parading through videos in cropped-tops and bikinis, she has incredible appeal to girls as young as eight or nine.  Young teenagers are increasingly immersed in an erotic world. The results are quite evident…many, barely into their teens, look and act like prostitutes!”  [11] 

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It is sad to see very young girls wearing cloting and makeup like little sex objects. What are their parents thinking?

Do you really want your teen to be mistaken for a prostitute?  But do you know what you are saying by the clothes you’re wearing!?  Here is some wise advice that sums up the Biblical principle of modesty: ‘Wear clothes tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.        ’
 
The same principle applies to any outfit that shows cleavage, is too short, or shows any part of your body that is meant to be kept private.  A godly woman does not show off her body in any way.  (If you’re not sure whether something is provocative, ask someone you trust—like your parents, a brother, or husband)

This excerpt from the same World Tomorrow magazine should help make it clear: “Skirts that are too short and tight, plunging necklines, high slits and other similar styles are designed to send a sexually seductive message to men. While many young women would deny this is their intention and say that it is just the style, their parents need to help them grasp that, regardless of their motive for doing so, they are projecting an image that is seductive and sexually arousing to men.” [11]

Immodesty is Self-Defeating

While it isn’t wrong for women to try to be attractive, to purposely dress or act in any way that tempts a man sexually (other than her husband in private) is absolutely wrong, foolish, and counterproductive.  Of course, most women in the Western world dress in skimpy clothing because it is the fashion of the day, but they are nonetheless following Satan’s way when they do, and it is self-defeating—as we will prove! 
 
The survey in the Daily Mail called men’s dangerous attention to attractive females, ‘lust.’ Lust begins with looking which can very quickly create sexual arousal in men and can then turn to lust in a heartbeat.  While it is not wrong for any of us to look at the opposite sex with admiration, lusting after anyone is a sin

But do you really know what lust is? Lust is not just sexual desire.  A man and a woman in love will have sexual desire for each other which is God-given, beautiful, natural, and normal.  Sexual desire can and should be a part of every marriage based on love.  But lust has nothing to do with love!  It is selfishly desiring immediate sexual gratification and involves no lasting feelings for the person desired.  Lust can even be aroused in men by seeing private body parts of a woman having no idea of who they belong to!  The current fad of girls sending risqué pictures of just their private parts to men—many complete strangers—is doing exactly that!  It is an absolute abomination purposely tempting men to sin and a disgrace for any woman to engage in!

Women must understand that most men will be attracted to and look at sexy women—even if they are happily married.  But, as strong as their sex drive is, the majority still value true love, a lasting relationship, and a family, above all else.   And women who dress as sex objects are usually not taken seriously, whereas the modest, girl-next-door type are looked up to and valued.   For a woman to mix sweet and innocent with sexy and alluring, confuses men, to say the least.   Always dress for the type of woman you are!

One of the biggest mistakes women make with men is believing that when a man desires them sexually it means he likes and cares for them.  The old saying is true: Women give sex to get love and men give ‘love’ to get sex.  Of course, men are not giving love when they are ‘in lust’—they are only doing and saying whatever will get a woman to have sex with them!

Lust causes men to objectify and use women and even despise them because it is focused solely on satisfying the self.  This is exactly what happened between Amnon and Tamar. (2 Sam 13)  And it’s why ungodly men can have sex with any number of women with no feelings or concern for them whatsoever. 

Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” (Job 31:1 NIV)
 
And Christ said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Matt 5:28) 

There is no such command for women!  So don’t blame men because their thoughts can so often turn to sex, or because they are much more easily aroused—it’s the way God made them!  And, whether a woman shows sexy body parts purposely or accidentally, makes no difference in how it can affect men. It is up to you to wear clothes that don’t even accidentally show off your body!  As one long-time minister said,

“I really appreciate it when a woman keeps her top from gaping open as she bends over, to prevent me seeing something that might tempt me to sin.”    

A woman who truly understands the nature of lust, would never desire to have men be ‘in lust’ with her. It is one of the most misunderstood aspects of male/female relationships and why so many women are hurt when, what they thought was a relationship built on love, turns out to only have been built on lust

All women need to understand that, to a man, a woman acting or looking ‘sexy’ is offering herself to every man around.  So, he assumes it’s just a matter of which man she’ll choose to satisfy her—and him—sexually.  And when a woman dresses in a way to purposely ‘inspire’ lust, that’s usually all she’s going to get!

"Dear Girls, dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. Yes, you'll get attention, but mostly from pigs!" Sincerely, Real Men

Modesty and True Love

Here is God’s way in a nutshell from a man who has been in God’s Church for over 50 years and was happily married for over 40 years:

“You have a perfectly loving heavenly Father, and His way is THE ONLY WAY that works. Unfortunately, many people settle for something that can look and feel like love but is not!  Lust—and being lusted after—is Satan’s way and his way NEVER WORKS!  It might feel like love and be exciting for a time, but Satan’s way always ends in pain.  The way for you to have the very best that God created for you—the love you need and deserve—is to save every aspect of your sexuality for a man who will treasure you, protect you, provide for you, and truly love you. 

Don't dress or act in any way that might attract fake ‘love’!  Get the whole enchilada!  God truly loves you and wants the very best for you!”

Do you really want the kind of attention that puts sex first instead of respect, love, and commitment?  Without love there can be no commitment and without commitment there can be no love.   So, when you dress or act in a sexy manner, you are shooting yourself in the foot because it comes across as blatantly offering sex with no commitment.  And most men cannot even think of getting to know or care about a woman when their sexual desire is aroused, because that desire, once stirred, is all they can think about.

Too many women know firsthand how aggressive and persistent men can be when they are crazy for sex. The severe emotional and bodily injury that can occur in rape are so disastrous that most women can never get past it.  However, while a woman should never attempt to arouse sexual desire in a man other than her husband, she is never responsible for rape or abuse no matter how she acts or dresses!  But if you aren’t offering sex, don’t send wrong messages by dressing or acting in a sexy manner! 

And don’t think a man’s need for sexual release is somehow shameful—God made men that way!  However, He does not condone men fulfilling their needs with any woman except his wife!  The Bible addresses this need in marriage quite clearly:

“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Cor 7:5 NLT)

Most women can go weeks, months, and even years without the need for any kind of sex.  Men aren’t made that way!  That’s why there are far more men indulging in pornography, strip shows, and sex for hire, than women.  But it is not the desire that is evil, it is the way either men or women seek to fulfill that desire. It is meant to be shared in marriage only and wives who deprive their husbands of sex are causing their husbands to be tempted to find sex elsewhere and damaging their marriage big time.   Just as food is not much of a temptation when your stomach is full, so a man who is satisfied sexually will be far less likely to be tempted than one who is deprived. 

Women Need to Control Their Wrong Desires too!

If you protest that men should just control themselves, you’re absolutely right!  But women must also control their own wrong desires because it isn’t just men that are guilty of lust! 

While some few women may be sex driven, most women just want attention and admiration. This is why so many women ‘compete’ with other women, resorting to immodest clothing as a common strategy.  And, even when they know they’re getting the wrong kind of attention, or are even happily married, it’s why many women still want to dress in a provocative manner!    Lust for attention can be as addictive as a drug—and yes, it is lust if a woman’s desire to be admired leads her in wrong ways—like showing off her body or behaving immorally!  That is Satan’s way, it is sinful, and it does not lead to any kind of lasting happiness.  God tells us plainly: “A person who commits sexual immorality sins against their own body.”  (I Cor 6:18)    The temptation to dress like the world is very strong but it cheapens a woman in a man’s eyes making her appear as a sex object—not the result most women are striving for!  Like setting a diamond in a worthless plastic ring, it can be difficult for a man to believe there is a woman of great value under a cheap sexy exterior.  

"As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman who is without descretion" Proverbs 11:22

Virtually any woman of any age or size can get men’s attention by acting or dressing immorally, so don’t think it’s any great accomplishment if you get lots of looks.  Seek instead respect and true love by presenting yourself as decent, moral, and modest.  A woman who does not demean herself by pandering to men’s lust, may not get as much initial attention, but the attention she does get will more likely be respectful and for her as a person rather than as a sex object.   

A modest, upright woman shows that she respects herself and is saving herself for one special man.  That makes her of far more value than those who flaunt themselves.  But we are very complex and devious and don’t always acknowledge or know why we do what we do, which is why King David asked God to cleanse him from secret sins.  (Psa 19:12)   

 

But Immodest Clothing is the Norm!

It would be understandable if you thought that because immodest clothing has been prevalent for so long, men aren’t really affected by it anymore.  But look at this response from a recent survey by 200 women given to 200 men [2]: “Despite rampant immodesty all around us, girls who choose to dress modestly do make a difference!”   92% of the guys agreed.  Here are some more responses to the girl’s questions to the men:

  • Can a girl tempt a boy by the way she dresses? 98% said, Yes.
  • Does fashion use sex appeal? 96% said, Yes.
  • Do you believe that boys are stimulated by sight more than girls? 92% said, Yes.
  • Do you feel that girls really understand the problem of immodest apparel? 50% said, No.
  • Which part of the female body as seen in public most quickly arouses your emotions? 60% said, Legs.
  • If you were married, would you want other men and boys to lust after your wife?  96% said, No.
  • Are most boys tempted to lust after a girl who dresses the way girls dress today?  77% said, Yes. [2]  

As Christ said: “Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting.” (Matthew 18:7 NLT)

This is not saying we are ever responsible for anyone else’s sins. ‘The devil made me do it’ doesn’t work with God!  God commands men to keep their thoughts pure and they must not put the blame on any woman, no matter how she dresses or acts.  However, lust is something all decent men fight all their lives and we women are either helping or hindering them by what we wear and how we act!

If you are hindering your brother in Christ by how you dress or act, YOU ARE SINNING!

This comment was from a college-age man: The thing that women do not seem to fully grasp is that the temptation towards lust does not stop for us as men.  It is continual.  It is aggressive.  It does all it can to lead men down to death.  They [women] have a choice to help or deter its goal.  Consider this message my appeal on behalf of the men for you to help us deter the goal of lust in our lives.  To the girls who are ignorant, please serve your brother, and have your dad screen your wardrobe.  Ask him how you can better choose holiness over worldliness. To the girls who don't follow the pattern of the world, thank you a million times over!  You are following Scripture's commands and helping your brothers in the process.” [5]

The author of ‘Modesty Never Goes out of Style’, said this: “I heard a story of one of the ladies…who went shopping and really liked the shirt she was trying on; but then she thought, ‘No, I can't do this to the guys.’  That was the first time I’d ever heard of anything like that, and it made me so grateful.  It is such a blessing to have friends who care for me enough to be selfless and sacrifice what might look attractive in order to help me and other guys with sexual lust.  When ladies dress modestly, it's attractive.  Oh, yes, it is!  There is nothing more attractive ­­­­­than a godly woman dressed modestly, and it makes me want to hang out with them more.  I think modesty is so attractive and helpful in friendship because it makes it easier for a friendship to be centered around God and for fellowship to be unhindered.”  [5]

And this is a quote from a college student on Family Life: “Sometimes when I see a girl provocatively dressed, I'll say to myself, 'She probably doesn't even know that 101 guys are going to devour her in their minds today.'  Then, again, maybe she does.  To be honest, I don't know the truth: the truth of why she chooses to dress the way she does, the way she chooses to walk, the way she chooses to act.  I don't know because I've never sat down with the girl and asked her ‘Why?’  All I need to know is that the way she presents herself to the world is bait for my sinful mind to latch onto, and I need to avoid it at all costs.” [5]           
 
Here’s a comment from a man, aged 30:  “They distinguish themselves—the very thing the immodest girls are trying to do.  All girls have curves.  To a guy, showing more than that…doesn’t tell him anything new.  He knows you’re a girl; he wants a lady!”   [2]

Another from a 16-year old man:  “Yes, they (modestly dressed women) make me think!   That’s the kind of girl I want to marry!  Not only that, but their courage inspires me to be pure!”  [2]

A gentleman aged 21 said this: “They make a difference to me because they show me there’s something out there to save myself for.  They give me hope and prove they are a princess worth valuing. “ [2]    

Good Men Don’t Want you to Dress Immodestly!

One Church of God minister summed it up in a sermon: “The fellows who have a proper mind-set—who want to be Christians in every way—very much want to get to know the ladies around them.  But if they are approached by a lady who is dressed so provocatively that every moment he’s with her he’s got to guard his thoughts about the obvious way she’s coming across—as a sexual object—he can’t think about her personality; he can’t think about a conversation he might have with her.  He’s too busy—as a Christian—trying to block out all those things that are slapping him in the face wanting to get his attention in the wrong way.”

In summarizing a lot of the comments (from the survey above), so many of the guys said, ‘You know, when a woman dresses modestly, then I can get to know her! I can ask her about her life, and we can develop a relationship. And it goes so much better when the other ‘thing’ is not there, kind of ‘beating me up’.
 
“One of our young men said in a sermonette that he had gone to a warm-weather Feast site and the ladies in the Church were wearing bikinis.  Now I would submit to you—in a public setting—how would a bikini ever be proper?!  A Church setting at the Feast of Tabernacles and OUR ladies in OUR Church are wearing bikinis!?  How is that ever justifiable?!  And the people this man was talking about were not teenagers.  They were in their twenties and past, so this is not just for our teens.”  [2]

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Look at this excerpt from a church bulletin:  “Dear sisters, On behalf of and for the benefit of men who are seeking to live in accordance with the will of God and to keep themselves pure and holy, to the end that you not encourage them to lust, and for your own eternal welfare, please do not call undue attention to yourself or expose yourself by wearing immodest apparel.

Godly men do not want to see your thighs—or more—in clothing that is too short, your cleavage in tops that are too low, your navels in tops that are too short, your undergarments in clothing that is too thin, nor the curves and characteristics of your bodies in clothing that is too tight.  Please look in the mirror at yourself—front and back—and ask yourself if your attire is becoming one professing godliness. You may need to make some changes.  A brother in Christ”  [2]

As one long-time Elder put it: “Personally, when I see things like this [ladies in immodest clothing], it is with disgust, a turn off and I think many men feel the same way!”      
 
Did you know that the late Queen Elizabeth of England did not allow any of the women in her family to appear in any official photographs in anything immodest?  At the very least we should be dressing as modestly as the Royal family, because, after all, we are always dressing for the very King of the Universe!  And His laws are always for our benefit!

As is stated in the COGWA Teen Blog:  “Are we dressing to impress the guys, or are we dressing in a way that shows them respect? You want a guy to respect you for you, and not for what you wear.  When we dress in inappropriate clothing, we can be creating a stumbling block for the men around us. Wearing short shorts and low-cut shirts will only attract the wrong kind of guy and send the wrong message to a Christian man.          
 
“How are we supposed to become friends with a guy when his mind is everywhere but on what we are saying? We can dress attractively while still staying modest and respecting everyone around us. Yes, it can sometimes be very challenging to find appropriate clothing at the mall.  Still, a pure woman chooses to dress and act in a way that makes her an object of respect rather than an object of lust.” [8]

Modest attire is also important in job interviews and the workplace. As Betsy Olinger, founder of Marketing-U (www.marketing-u.com), an executive coaching firm, said about work attire:  “If it's something you think you look 'hot' in, it's wrong.  Women who dress in a manner that arouses men’s sexual senses are usually not taken seriously when it comes to promotions in the workplace.  They are seen as just wanting a ‘good time’ and studies show that a woman whose work attire is too provocative can be sabotaging her career.” [9]
 
Secure women have no compulsion to flaunt themselves. These women value their worth and show it in their dress and are far more likely to inspire men to also value and honor them! 

What Men Think Women are Saying When They Wear Seductive Clothing

Men can’t read women’s minds and they don’t understand women any better than women understand men.  Most men believe women who wear provocative clothing are showing that they want sex!  And is that not a logical conclusion?!  As they say in the business world: ‘Dress for the position you want!’    Haworth-Hoeppner (1998) reported that men…’believed women’s clothing choice was actually used to signal sexual intent’. [7]     
 
“Moor had male and female Israeli students view a photo of a woman wearing low cut tight jeans with a short top that exposed her breasts and midriff. Participants were asked to explain why the woman was so dressed. Men indicated women’s primary intentions for wearing sexy dress were temptation and seduction. Women indicated the woman dressed that way to gain affection. Over half the women shared that they sometimes dressed in body-revealing clothing; of those, nearly three-fourths indicated that they did so to look attractive, not to indicate their sexual intent.” [7]

Would you think i's OK for men to make sexually suggestive remarks to women in Church? I think not! But do you not realize that wearing sexy, suggestive outfits is inappropriate in the same way?

The bottom line is this: If you don’t want men to treat you as a sex object, do not dress like one!  Godly men neither need nor want a woman to cheapen herself by wearing immodest clothing.   They greatly value modesty and mystery!  Be different from the herd and choose to be modest!  The Devil tries every way he can to besmirch sex which God made to be beautiful, bonding and private between a husband and wife, so dressing in any kind of provocative, sexy way in public fits right in with his evil plans!  Remember who rules this world—including the fashion industry—Satan the devil! 

As Author Jeff Pollard states:  “The fashion industry does not believe that the principal purpose of clothing is to cover the body; it believes that the principal purpose of clothing is sexual attraction…” [3]
 
The Chicago Sun Post had this to say:  “Year after year, a handful of suspicious-looking characters who call themselves clothing designers issue their commands: ‘Wear your dresses short and wear boots and look like a ‘hooker.’ Now dress like a gypsy fortune-teller. Now look like a farm wife. Now wear spiked heels. Now show your thighs.’  And every time the pimps of fashion give word, all these ‘enlightened’ females obediently trudge to the clothing store.” [10]

Women must not be slaves to fashion!  It may take a little more work, more hunting for the right clothes and maybe some modifications, but to be modest is part of Godliness and Godly men appreciate it more than you know!  It IS worth it!

 

Don’t Feed Your Vanity

A great many women flaunt their bodies shamelessly and not only don’t care if men are affected but do it on purpose to tease, get attention, manipulate men, or feed their vanity.  This must not be a godly woman’s attitude.  Hopefully this article is helping you understand how a man’s mind works so you will make better choices in your clothes—all of them!

Here is what one man said:

“…if I could say anything to the women in the church, it would be this: first, there is not a man I know that doesn't struggle in some way with lust.  If they had any idea what went through guys' minds, it would probably vastly change the way they dress.  Secondly, and I think most importantly, God has created his church to be a resting place for Christians, to be a place where people encounter God without all the distractions… It is disappointing when I walk into the church or an event with the church and have to deal with the same temptations that I face in the world, but I rejoice whenever I see a girl or woman that is attempting to serve the Lord (and guys) by dressing modestly.  You have no idea how sweet and challenging it is when I see a woman who has decided not to flaunt her body— like the culture shouts for her to do—but rather she has decided that serving the Lord and her brothers is more important.” 

Another single man put it this way: “The one place where I might think not to have to face temptation is at church.  But this is not always the case!  When ladies that I'm friends with dress immodestly, it definitely has a negative effect on our friendship.  When she dresses immodestly, it doesn't make it easy to see her as a sister in Christ.  There is a constant battle going on as I'm talking with her.  Communication becomes more difficult because as I'm trying to listen to her, I am also trying to fight temptation.  I also think some ladies just aren't aware.” [5]

If you don't want other women showing off their bodies in as such a way that might tempt youir boyfriend or husband to lust, then why would you dress that way yourself?

This excerpt from a 1962 Good News magazine may be old but the advice is timeless: “God made the female body to be attractive to the male.  This attraction may be, and should be, one of sheer beauty.  But it also may be a stimulation of lust.  Especially when certain parts of the female figure are emphasized, such as the hips and buttocks by tight skirts, the low neckline exposing portions of breasts, or too-short skirts exposing more than is modest of the female leg.

“When I see a female with a skirt tight enough to call attention to her hips, she is either careless or else she is wearing it deliberately to attract male eyes and arouse lust toward her.  Wearing skirts which completely expose the knees when sitting, is an abomination in God’s eyes.  Are you deliberately trying to tempt men into breaking the spirit of God’s law against adultery?  Are you not breaking the very spirit of that law, yourselves?  God’s Church encourages women to dress neatly, pleasingly, attractively within the bounds of proper modesty and good taste.  It is the over-emphasis of lust-arousing portions of the female body that must be corrected. [6]        This also applies to skin-tight jeans, pants or leggings.  Showing off your body from the knees to the bust in any way—whether clothed or unclothed—is not God’s way.

From a minister in the United Church of God: “Virtually every man between the ages of 12 and 112 who has a normal set of male hormones responds to any female immodesty, overt sensuality or suggestiveness! The response may be lust and sexual arousal…But he may have another negative response, such as embarrassment, a compulsive curiosity to see more or annoyance at the distraction. If the man is trying to obey God, he may lament or resent the visual temptation that has provoked a mental battle within him.  A man often has mixed feelings, being turned on and turned off at the same time.” [12]

From a pastor: “Ladies, please don’t forget to apply these principles of modesty to formal events and weddings. In recent years, I have become increasingly grieved by the immodest dresses of both brides and bridesmaids at the weddings that I officiate. I have observed a number of young ladies in our fellowship who have dressed modestly all their lives appearing on their wedding day in extremely provocative dresses, exposing more of themselves than on any other day of their lives.

“Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when shopping for a wedding or bridesmaid’s dress: Does this dress reflect the fact that a wedding ceremony is a holy service of worship and not a fashion show?  Can I picture myself standing in this dress, for an extended period of time, just a few feet from my pastor as he opens the Word of God and leads me in my solemn vows?

“Here are some criteria:

1. Find a wedding dress with a neckline that completely conceals any cleavage.
2. Avoid dresses without sufficient covering in the back.
3. Strapless gowns or dresses with only spaghetti straps are revealing
4. A modest gown should not be excessively tight and draw unnecessary attention to your figure.” [5]

Buying into the World’s Deception

When you attend a pop or rock concert featuring many of the popular femalesingers with their extremely provocative performances, do you have any idea how it is affecting virtually every man there, including your date, boyfriend, or husband?  There is8 no way any normal man can watch those indecent women gyrate around a stage with almost nothing on and not be tempted to lust!  And remember, you paid to see them! 

There are also some women who take their husbands to lingerie stores in order to pick out something sexy for themselves!  Really!?  Unless he is blind, he can’t help but notice many posters and ads with larger-than-life perfect bodies in sexy underwear and lingerie, guaranteed to arouse sexual desire!  And that desire won’t be for his wife!

If you wish to marry a man who is striving to keep himself sexually pure, does it make sense for you to dress in a way that tempts him to be impure?

What Can I Wear Then?

So, is the answer to wear clothing that covers every inch of us?  Of course not! There is no need for women to look weird or like you belong to some cult.  There are websites that sell modest clothing for women and plenty of fashions that are not revealing.  You can also wear a camisole under a low-cut top; sew up a slit in a skirt; wear something modest under anything see-through, put a long loose top over hip-hugging skirts, tight leggings and yoga pants, etc.  (Some women think that because tight leggings or yoga pants ‘cover’ them, they aren’t being immodest.  But even though skin may not be showing, revealing the cracks and dimples of a woman’s private parts through clothing can also be a huge turn-on for men.)

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Women can dress very attractiveliy and still be modest!

You may have to buy clothing a size bigger to give you room because a lot of clothing that is ‘your’ size will be purposely made to tightly outline your figure.   But there are plenty of very modest, yet very pretty clothes for all sizes.  There really is no excuse!

A great many women who wouldn’t wear tight or revealing clothing out shopping or to work, somehow think the gym is different.  But immodesty in public at any time is a sin.  This means there are some hobbies and professions a godly woman cannot take part in.  If it requires immodest clothing, it is not suitable for a woman of God. 

But what about the Apostle Peter’s instructions against expensive clothing or jewelry, or fancy hairdos? (I Peter 3:3-4)

As a minister in UCG explains:

“These verses are talking about giving the wrong impression…If God has blessed us and we have sufficient income to buy nice clothing and jewelry—buy the nice clothing!  But not to show off or ‘one-up’ somebody else!  Is there something wrong with women taking care of their hair?  Absolutely not!  The whole concept…is that we are not to do anything for the wrong reason and not to overdo things from a vanity point of view but to do the very best with what God gives us. godly women should want to take care of what God has given them and look the very best they can—but modestly.  To be modest doesn’t mean to be ugly…the idea here is to adorn yourself with a meek and quiet spirit, and this is a big part of what modesty is.  It’s not just what we put on our bodies; it’s what we have in our minds in terms of an attitude.” [4]

Going back to the survey, the girls asked the guys for their reactions to this statement: “Girls can dress attractively without being immodest.”  97% of the men agreed! 

Strive to look Sweet rather than Saucy; Feminine rather than Foxy;
Class rather than Sassy!

Here are two comments from men, age 19: “Girls can be beautiful, noticeably beautiful, and guys can notice it without there being immodesty or lust involved and this is a good design of God!  Jacob, for example, clearly thought Rachel was beautiful in Genesis.  But there is no hint that Rachel dressed immodestly or that Jacob lusted after her.  Don’t allow the Devil to make us think the enemy is beauty!  The enemy is manipulation—the very ugly forces of lust and vanity in our hearts.”     
 
“When your views on beauty have been aligned with the Bible, you’ll be attracted to modesty.  For example: Now I’m much more attracted to girls in full-length dresses than a girl in ‘Daisy-dukes’.  Obviously, the girl in shorts is not the kind of girl I’d want to raise my children!  She’s wearing clothes I wouldn’t allow my daughter to wear!  To me, that’s not attractive.  It may ‘turn me on’ but it’s not attractive—and there’s a difference!” [2]

Having to fight ungodly impulses may cause many men to just stay away from women who dress or act in any manner that compromises their walk with God, including any such women in Church. And a man who is looking for a wife will likely feel some aversion to a woman who is willing to show off her body for all other men.  Men are not as shallow as some women think, especially men who are striving to be godly!  They greatly prize a woman who keeps her body hidden in respect for herself and others.
 
One of the female writers for COGWA, asked a male college-age friend why he thought modesty was important.  He said:

“Due to the sheer volume and accessibility of these themes and [provocative] images...I feel like I’m bombarded with it almost constantly, and it’s exhausting. Seeing girls in modest states of dress is almost comforting because it’s like a breath of fresh air; like a relief…Girls fail to consider the impact seeing a girl undress[ed] has on a guy. When a guy sees a girl like that, he can never unsee it. When I go to beach [Feast] sites and see all these [girls] in bikinis, it really bothers me…and because it’s like, ‘Come on, you should know better.’” [13]


Immodesty is Embarrassing

Some older men even feel obliged to turn down requests to speak to the teens in their congregation because the young girls dress so provocatively!   Parents need to make sure their teenage daughters are taught how to be modest and—as long as they are living at home—that the parent’s rules are followed!  A minister should never have to correct teenagers on this point!  That is the parents’ job!  (No one said raising children was easy!)  Remember your children are also holy, so see that they dress as becomes holy people!  (I Cor 7:14)

From a minister in CGG (Church of the Great God):

“Many people, especially men, have complained about immodesty in the clothing of some women and girls in the church. They have been embarrassed by such things as plunging necklines that expose the cleavage and exposure of the midriff area, especially the rolls of fat just above hip-hugger pants. My son-in-law works for a restaurant, and he said that he has not found a man yet that finds that attractive in any way. Thin bras that show everything, especially when the room is cold also embarrass them, as well as tight blouses.  Who would come before God dressed like this to worship Him? …Not being able to find something modest to wear is no excuse for buying something immodest and wearing it.”

“Job made a covenant with both his conscience and his eyes. God is the Judge; and we are therefore bound not to look on anything with a lustful or covetous eye, by which our conscience may be defiled, or God dishonored by our thoughts or actions as members of His church. It is hard for men not to look at such things. Women have a responsibility to help us not to look.” [14]

Tempting anyone to sin is a sin itself!  Look how Christ elaborated on what He said in Matthew 18:

“It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!  It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)

It is highly unlikely that any woman would become sexually aroused simply by how a man dresses!  But, as the young men in the survey above confirmed, virtually every one of them said they would be tempted to lust if a woman is dressed immodestly! 

And please remember that when you come before God in a worship service, your clothing should be especially modest and not distracting!  If a woman is going to be on a stage—such as for special music—her skirt will appear several inches shorter because the audience is looking up at her.  And do you really think a woman who is dressed immodestly should be teaching our children, playing for hymns, providing special music, signing for the deaf, or any other such service in church? 

Another perspective is from a minister in Church of the Great God: “I cannot help wondering where the husbands in the church are when their wives come to Sabbath services with thin tops and bras, leaving nothing to the imagination of the other men in the congregation. Ladies, if you do not have a husband attending with you, or you are single, please check your clothing by looking in a mirror before you come. Is your blouse too tight and gaping open? When you sit down, are you well covered? Whatever you see in that mirror, we see! Do you fathers monitor your teenagers' clothing?” [14]

Besides sitting in front of a mirror, lean over to see what is revealed if your blouse gapes open.  Look at yourself from the back and sides.  Your bottom and thighs should not be visible through your clothing, nor should they be outlined by tight clothing.  If they are, your clothes are immodest.           
 
We would also add that accessories which bring attention to specific body parts, like fishnet or patterned stockings, platform or overly high heels, body jewelry or ‘bling,’ can also cause men to focus on your body instead of you.  The Living Church of God adds this: “Clothes considered stylish by this world are often lacking in modesty. They are often overly revealing of the female body.  Double entendre slogans on sweatshirts and T-shirts, also, are suggestive and inappropriate.” [15]

And what about swimsuits?  Here is the LCG youth camp’s instructions: Girls must bring a modest one-piece or ‘tankini’ style suit for girls…The camp facility permits no bikini swimsuits for females, with no exceptions. Please make sure you plan accordingly. All swimsuits must be full coverage on the bottoms and tops. [19]         
 
Bikinis are not suitable for any woman of God in public at any time and many Christian camps for teens ban them!  Our standards should be at least as high as a teen camp.

 

Making A Parent’s Job Difficult

But causing men to stumble isn’t the only problem when Godly women dress immodestly.  Good mothers don’t want their teenage sons lusting after girls, nor their daughters dressing like sex objects.  They know how easy it is for men to become sexually aroused and how that powerful urge can cause them to say almost anything to get a girl into bed. And teens and young women are especially vulnerable to flattery and empty promises, not understanding that men can profess all kinds of endearing emotions just to get sex and then never call again.

The teen years are some of the most difficult times for parents who are striving to keep their daughters safe, innocent, and modest.  But how much more difficult is their job if these girls see older women in Church dressing in provocative clothing?!  Women who should know better and should be shining examples!  What a dreadful thing to be the bad example a young girl points to as ‘proof’ that she should also be allowed to wear provocative clothes!  And not only should the older women be setting the right example, they should also be teaching the younger women!  Unfortunately, even little girls as young as eight and nine are getting into racy clothing because the world promotes it so much.  And young mothers are letting them!  Is your example helping or hindering their choices?  

As editor of the pre-teen magazine Cookie, Pilar Guzman writes, “You get this idea that there is a kind of lost innocence, when racy adult fashions are being worn by ever-younger girls. In a world where media marketers seek to introduce adult fashions to younger-and-younger clients, it is more important than ever that mothers, older sisters, teens and adult female friends in God's Church set a good example for the younger girls.”

It can also be difficult for women—even godly women—not to be angry with immodest women and girls for tempting their husbands, boyfriends, or sons to sin, or for setting a bad example for their daughters.  It should be obvious that when a woman dresses or acts immodestly, it is wrong on so many levels!  Paul puts it very plainly:

“Decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Rom 14:13 ESV)

 

A Light to the World

Being a light to the world definitely includes how we dress!  That includes not following the immodest fashions of the day! 

“Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2 HNV)

In his talk to women and girls, a UCG minister, had this to say about women’s clothing:  “Advertisers know that a split-second sexy image can have as great an impact as a longer scene…high slits in skirts are like flashing lights—now you see thigh, now you don't. Also, sheer clothes, loose blouses when a woman leans forward, and sleeveless tops with loose armholes offer titillating peeks of skin and underwear.  Total nudity is less erotic than sexy packaging. A woman in skimpy or tight clothes is more exciting and mysterious because she is tantalizing and teasing to a man…similar to a striptease show.” [12]  

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Modest clothing can be very beautiful and stylish!

What a terrible example for any woman professing to be a Christian to be a walking ‘striptease’ show!  Hardly a light to the world!  This minister further clarified: 

“Many psychological factors are involved in how one's dress and appearance affect others, not just the amount of skin showing. A short skirt is more provocative than shorts of the same length because of the obvious possibility of seeing up the skirt. A top with straps is less provocative than a strapless top. Décolletage without showing cleavage is not nearly as erotic as seeing the same neckline with cleavage showing. Outerwear that looks like underwear is risqué.” [12]

 

Some Guidelines for Godly Modesty:

  • Tight, form-fitting clothes of any kind should be avoided as should any outfit that reveals the back below the bra line.
  • No cleavage should be showing—wear a camisole or an undershirt if necessary. Don’t wear thin tops without a bra.
  • Armholes should not reveal the bust or the under-arm area
  • Midriff should never show—check when you raise your arms
  • Hems on skirts should be below the knees (test them sitting down)
  • Slits should not go above the knee (Test when sitting down)
  • Skirts & Pants should not hug the hips and thighs
  • Shorts should not be form-fitting and must completely cover the bum, including when you bend over
  • Jeans should not be form-fitting and should have no tears or slits above the knee
  • T-shirts and tops should not be form-fitting and should not have words, bling, or other décor across the chest
  • Leggings should never be worn without a long top covering the hips and thighs
  • Two piece swimsuits are not acceptable at any time (except tankini type). All swimsuits should cover cleavage and the bum and torso completely
  • Lace or patterned stockings should be avoided
  • Very high heels or high platform shoes should be avoided
  • Overdone hair or makeup should be avoided. Makeup should be minimal and should not completely change your looks (No man wants to marry a woman he doesn’t recognize in the morning!) False eyelashes are just that—false!  Be real!

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Wear a camisole under a low-cut top. Sew up revealing slits. Choose feminine clothes rather than sexy.

The overall principle is to be modest!  Your clothes, shoes, accessories and hair are just the start.  Modesty also includes your walk, your look, makeup, and what you talk about.  Innuendos, sex talk, sexy flirting and joking are unsuitable for a Godly woman. 

God's people are to ‘come out’ of this world! (Revelation 18:3–4). We’re not to just be more conservative than the world but should always strive to exemplify godly principles, no matter what the world does.  In a sermon about the declining morals of this world, the president of the Living Church of God, Gerald Weston, made the point that not only should we not let our morals slide with the world, but we shouldn’t even stay on a straight line.  Our morals should constantly be on an upward slope aiming towards the perfection of Christ! [17]           
 
The disconnect of a godly woman dressing or acting immodestly is summed up in this quote by Ralph Waldo Emmerson: “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.”

If you look or act just like the world, why would anyone suspect you are a Christian? 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: Walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:8)

As stated in a sermon by a minister in CGG: “It is a Christian duty—a requirement, not a suggestion—that we dress modestly. We have a Christian responsibility to wear modest apparel that begins in the context of our reverential worship and that extends from there to our daily living… God wills that we wear clothes as a matter of decorum and propriety in consideration of others and to avoid temptation that could lead to sinful wrong use… The reason for avoiding indecent or lewd exposure is that this type of exposure of the female body is lust-arousing to the carnal male mind.” [16]

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Prov 31:10

 

Your Body is a Temple to God

Modesty involves more than clothing. Your demeanor—the way you talk and walk and your body language—all must be modest and pleasing to God which leads to another question from the survey: Could a modestly-dressed girl still be a stumbling block because of her attitude and behavior?  94% of the men said, Yes [2]
 
Here is a comment from a young man, age 18: “A modestly dressed girl can still be a stumbling block when she is moving and acting in ways that make it clear she is not modest at heart.  This can inspire thoughts in my mind that tempt me to sin even though her body is covered.” [2]       
 
Another question in the survey was this: If you could say one thing to your sisters in Christ about modesty, what would it be? 

 One man, age 16 said:  “Please don’t take modesty lightly. As your brother in Christ, I value the relationship I will have with my wife someday.  When I am tempted because of you, I lose a part of myself I’m trying to save for her.  When I’m tempted because of you, I become that much more accepting of the perversions in the world.  When you remain pure and modest, my life is made so much easier!  Instead of watching to ensure I don’t sin, I can focus on you as a person and fellow follower of ChristI appreciate modesty more than you’ll ever know!  Please show respect for yourself and me and be modest!” [2]

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT).

This world is held captive by Satan. Don't let the world with its seductive ways lead you down destructive paths! “Glorify God in your body and spirit.” (I Cor 6:20) How? By saving ALL seductiveness, sensuality, and sexuality for marriage when your lovely body will help to enrapture just one special man! (Proverbs 5:19).  There is no greater gift you can give to your husband than your purity—in thought, action, and dress.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” (Rom 12:1 CSB)

"Classy is when a woman has everything  to flaunt but chooses not to show it: [20]

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov 31:30)

 

References:

[1]  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188191/Ogling-drivers-cause-nearly-million-crashes-year.html

[2] https://gbntv.org/the-truth-about-modesty/ (Most of the survey and many comments have been taken off their website, but we have written permission to use those we found before they disappeared.)

[3]  Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard

[4] https://www.ucg.org/sermons/What-Does-God-say-About-Modesty by Randy D’Allesandro

[5] http://www.cjmahaney.com/blog/god-my-heart-and-clothes/ Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World

[6]  https://www.HWAlibrary.com/cgi-bin/download/viewitem.cgi?PageNo=#Page=3

[7] https://fashionandtextiles.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40691-017-0101-5

[8] https://teens.cogwa.org/blog/Young-Women-Maintaining-Godly-Purity

[9] https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2006/10/06/do-your-clothes-say-hire-me-2/

[10] https://www.chicagotribune.com/2017/04/14/mike-roykos-chicago-voice-memorable-excerpts-from-his-columns/

[11] https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2002/july-august/Teaching-Chastity-in-an-Unchaste-World by John   Ogwyn

[12] https://www.ucg.org/united-news/heart-to-heart-talk-with-women-and-teen-girls by Don Hooser

[13] https://members.cogwa.org/godly-women-blog/modesty-is-hardest/ by Vivienne Villaescusa

[14] https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/library/sermon/id/1606/ modesty-part-two-put-on-righteousness.htm

[15]https://members.lcg.org/lcn/2017/september-october/what-drives-your-decisions

[16]  https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/library/sermon/id/ 1592/modesty-part-one-moderation-propriety.htm

[17] https://members.lcg.org/sermons/2020-06-27/come-out-world by Gerald Weston ?? (Not sure of

 this link)

[19] Modest Attire: Our Christian Responsibility January/February 2007 Rod McNair LCG

[20] Attributed to Hugo Chavez

Church Organizations:

CGG—Church of the Great God

COGWA—Church of God a Worldwide Association

LCG—Living Church of God

UCG—United Church of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 The Call to Shine: Why We Must Not Be Secret Christians 

In today's world, where the pressure to conform to societal norms is intense, the temptation to be a "secret Christian" or even a secret believer can be strong. We might fear judgment, ridicule, or even persecution if we openly declared ourselves to be believers in the Messiah. However, the call of Christ is clear: we are to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). 

Let's explore why being a secret Christian is not an option and how openly living out our faith can transform our lives and the lives of those around us. 

The Biblical Mandate 

Jesus Himself spoke about the importance of openly professing our faith. 

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV) 

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. LET your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." 

This is a powerful reminder that our faith is meant to be visible. Just as a city on a hill cannot be hidden, our lives as Christians should not be hidden either. So, is our believing light shining clearly – or do we hide our faith and life? We should let the light of Christ, the Light of the world, shine naturally through us, drawing others to Him. 

The Impact of Bold Faith 

When we live our faith openly, we do more than just fulfill a commandment. We have the potential to inspire and encourage others. Consider the early Christians who, despite severe persecution, boldly proclaimed the Gospel. Their unwavering faith and courage led to the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. 

Notice how the early church brethren prayed after the twelve apostles had been threatened before being released (Acts 4:18-24). Here’s part of their prayer: 

Acts 4:29-31 (NKJV): "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your 

holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." 

After Stephen was martyred, persecution was so strong against the early believers that they fled Jerusalem, except the apostles. What we’re about to read was written about the regular church brethren who were the ones scattered: 

Acts 8:1-2, 4 

“Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time, a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 

4 Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” 

Similarly, our open declaration of faith can have a ripple effect. When we share our testimonies, show love and kindness, and live with integrity, we become living examples of God's transformative power. People around us, seeing the difference Jesus Christ makes in our lives, may be drawn to seek Him themselves. 

Matthew 5:16 (NKJV): "LET your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." 

1 Peter 2:12 (NKJV): "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." 

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV): "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." 

Living out our faith boldly and visibly not only strengthens our own relationship with God but also serves as a powerful testimony to those around us. As we embody the teachings of Christ, we demonstrate the reality of His presence and power in our lives, compelling others to explore and embrace the faith that guides us. 

Overcoming Fear and Opposition 

Fear of rejection or opposition can be a huge barrier to living our faith openly. Yet, the Bible offers numerous examples of individuals who faced these fears and stood firm. The Apostle Paul, for instance, endured imprisonment, beatings, and ridicule, yet he remained steadfast in his mission to preach Christ. 

In 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NKJV), Paul encourages Timothy and all believers: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God." 

This should remind us that God equips us with the words, strength, and courage we need to face opposition. Our testimony, even in the face of adversity, is a powerful witness to God's sustaining grace. 

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV): "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." 

Joshua 1:9 (NKJV): "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 

Romans 8:31 (NKJV): "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" 

1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV): "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part, He is glorified." 

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV): "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." 

These scriptures also remind us that God's presence and power are greater than any opposition we might face. They encourage us to stand firm in our faith, knowing that God will uphold us and that our steadfastness can inspire others to trust in Him as well. 

Practical Ways to Shine Your Light 

  1. Let others know – in various ways - you are a Believer. You believe in Jesus. Share how you went to watch a baptism lately for example. Or when a friend or neighbor tells you of a trial they’re going through or recent medical issue they have, tell them you will pray for them. Those are easy ways to let others know who you are and that you are a Believer without being pushy. Also see point #6. 
  1. Share Your Testimony: One of the most personal and impactful ways to share your faith is through your own story. Talk about how our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ have worked in your life and the difference they have made. 
  1. Live with Integrity: Your actions often speak louder than words. Strive to live in a way that reflects Christ's love and teachings. Be honest, kind, and compassionate in all your dealings. 
  1. Engage in Service: Show the love of Jesus Christ through acts of service. Volunteer in your community, support charitable causes, and help those in need. Consider also helping Light on the Rock by participating in our outreach programs or contributing your time and resources to our initiatives. Your involvement can make a significant impact in spreading the Gospel and introducing people to our Great God. 
  1. Invite others to come visit your church meeting. Tell them they can sit next to you. 
  1. Utilize Social Media: In today's digital age, social media is a powerful tool for sharing your faith. Post encouraging scriptures, share inspirational articles, and talk about your faith journey. Remember to share our website, www.lightontherock.org. It is easy to share our blogs and sermons with others, helping to spread the message far and wide. 
  1. Be Prepared to Answer Questions: People may be curious about your faith. Be ready to explain what you believe and why, always with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV): "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.") If you’re not comfortable answering questions, ask if they mind if you ask a friend to help with the Bible answers. 

Being a secret Christian and hiding in the closet is not an option for those who truly follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus. We must come out of the believer’s closet! Our faith is meant to be a light that shines brightly in a world often filled with darkness. 

By living openly and authentically as Christians, we not only fulfill our calling but also are given a great responsibility to lead others to the hope and salvation found 

in Jesus. Embrace God’s call to shine. Let your life be a testament to the transformative power of Jesus Christ living his life in us. 

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The Urgency of Daily Bible Study

By Randy Freeze, host of website “Hope of Israel Worldwide”.

In a world filled with distractions and competing voices, it's easy to lose sight of the timeless truths found in God's Word. Yet, now more than ever, we need to prioritize daily Bible study so we can navigate the complexities of modern life and heed the warnings God has given us. Let's explore why daily Bible study is essential for Christians today, drawing wisdom and guidance from Scripture itself.

Perhaps this could help too: Think of prayer as us talking to God. And think of the Bible -  called the Word of God – as God and Messiah talking to us when we do Bible study! Bible study is one of the ways God speaks to us. When we want to do more Bible study, it shows God we are eager to listen to him speak to us. Before even beginning your Bible study, invite God to speak to you.

Understanding God's Warnings:

Scripture is filled with warnings from God, urging us to turn from sin and follow His ways. In Ezekiel 33:7-9 (NKJV), God speaks to Ezekiel, saying:

"So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul."

We normally think those called to be Watchmen would be prophets, pastors, and speakers, but certainly we all have been called to be God’s lights in the world, letting the light of Christ shine through us. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and when he comes into us, HIS light shines through us. Let His light in you be strong. Studying his Word helps that connection be strong.

As Believers, we are called to be God’s lights in a darkened world (Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:8, 14), diligently studying God's Word and sharing His Way, his teachings and even his warnings with others. Daily Bible study enables us to discern God's voice amidst the noise of the world and respond faithfully to His call.

 

Strengthening Our Faith:

In addition to warning us of the consequences of sin, Scripture also serves to strengthen our faith and equip us for the challenges we face.  Read carefully what Paul writes us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV):

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

By immersing ourselves in God's Word daily, we are equipped with the knowledge and wisdom needed to live lives that honor and glorify Him. Through Scripture, we gain insight into His character, His promises, and His will for our lives, empowering us to walk in obedience and trust.

Think of the Bible as God’s bread from heaven, Jesus Christ in print.  And we are to live by every word of God. We know God gave Israel manna in the desert. When were they to gather manna? First thing in the day, every day except Sabbath, before the day got hot and melted the manna. We too should apply the command to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” – and then all the things that occupy us will be taken care of (Matthew 6:33).

So we gather our “manna” – our Bible study – every day, first thing and early in the day as much as possible. That may mean making some changes in our schedule so we can get up early enough to do it. Let’s make Bible study and prayer our top priorities. We make time for whatever we feel is truly important.

Navigating the Modern World:

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, daily Bible study provides us with a firm foundation amidst the shifting sands of culture and opinion. God’s word – the Bible -- should be lighting up our path in life.  Psalm 119:105 (NKJV), the psalmist declares:

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

As we study God's Word each day, we are guided by His truth and wisdom, enabling us to discern right from wrong and make decisions that align with His will. In a world where moral relativism abounds, the Bible serves as our unchanging compass, directing our steps and illuminating the path ahead.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the urgency of daily Bible study cannot be overstated. In God's Word, we find His warnings, encouragement, and guidance we need to navigate the complexities of modern life and live faithfully as His followers. Let us commit ourselves afresh – without delay or procrastination -- to the discipline of daily Bible study, drawing near to God and allowing His Word to transform our hearts and minds. As we heed His warnings and follow His ways, may we shine as lights in the darkness, pointing others to the hope found in Christ alone.

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Are we FAITHFUL in LITTLE things too?

This is a very important topic, as we get ready for the kingdom of God to be set up on earth relatively soon. Will you be there? And if so, in what capacity?

As we come to Christ, and let him live in us, and face and tackle our sinful flesh, realize the change has to be total. Jesus teaches that one way He and Father look at our reliability is that we are reliable, faithful, trusted even in what we might consider to be just little things.

But the way people treat so-called “little things” shows their character.

What things are “no big deal” to you? Or we also say, “not a biggie”, to use a couple of expressions. There certainly are some things that truly are not a big deal but a surprising number of things we say or feel are no big deal might be a big deal to God. Why? Because it shows our heart.

If we’re faithful in little, God will reward us. If you’re not, you won’t be rewarded. I’m not necessarily talking about being saved – but being rewarded. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, and as we read in Eph 2:8-9 we have already been saved, and it is finalized if we endure to the very end. But though we’re not saved by our deeds, big and small, we ARE rewarded by our deeds, big and small.

Read these carefully:

Luke 16:10

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” 

Luke 19:17-19

And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.'  18 And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.'  19 Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.'   [These are definitely rewards]

Matthew 25:20-21

"So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' 

21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

What are “little things” to you?

  • We might always be kind and respectful to people outside our home but maybe not so kind and respectful to our wife or husband or children. “They’re just kids. It’s not a big deal” – we might falsely reason. But that’s an example of a “little thing” that God is watching.
  • How well do you keep sabbath? Or is it not a big deal to not be ready for sabbath properly? Or to be vacuuming your home still a few minutes into the sabbath… but you’re almost done. What do you do on sabbath because those things are not a big deal, are just a little thing to you?
  • Truthfulness little white lies. We even call them “little”, not a big thing… but a lie is a lie. There’s so much lying that goes on so we never know if we’re being told 100% the truth – or a lie. In turning in reports, are your reports 100% the truth? Watch this one. It’s so easy to lie but hardly notice it.
  • Are we considerate of the needs of others? It’s polite when calling someone to first ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time? Or can you talk for a little while?” That’s a little thing that shows a deeply loving heart.
  • One I have to do better at: being on time for appointments and meetings. Certainly for church services or conference calls, don’t be late. Don’t make others wait for you to arrive. Don’t make GOD wait for you to arrive. Yes, I have to be better at this too. Being on time – meaning you arrive a few minutes earlier – means a lot to everyone. Habitually being late means you don’t care how your late arrival is impacting others. It’s inconsiderate. It’s not being like God. Being late for a dinner or meal being put on for you can spoil the host’s dinner! Don’t do it. It’s more than just a “little thing”. 
  • Those of you in Kenya and Tanzania who submit sabbath reports: that’s not a little thing. Submitting those reports on time, not late, shows God you’ll also be faithful in much. We have to chase down some of you to get your reports in at all, let alone on time! I personally read every word, check your sermonettes and sermons and prayer requests, etc. Your reports often lead me to bow my head in prayer for you for specific requests. So send those in, as I ask God to bless those of you needing blessings. In fact, this very article would be a good sermonette for you guys to use as well.
  • Have you ever taken the time to learn the name of a custodian cleaning out the bathroom in a store or work place, and tell her how much you appreciate how she keeps the place so sparkling clean. Last time I said that, the lady was amazed, and may have even been a bit emotional as she said, “No one has ever said such a nice thing to me. Thank you. It means so much to me.”

Doing such a thing shows your converted spirit-filled heart.  That “little thing” action – showed God a lot. He notes that.  

At the same token, when we’re not being served well, or have to wait in line or online for a long time before we get any service, how are we with the person on the other end when they’re finally talking again?  Oh, I’ve blown this one too many times in the past but am praying for a new godly way of not taking out my frustrations on the man or woman on the other end. Be kind. Be patient. Be sweet. Be faithful in little – so God can trust us with much.

  • Trash. Do you EVER throw your trash out your car window? If you’re a baptized child of God, shame on you. Do you see trash on your street as you walk around your block? Pick it up, throw it away. Or pick up stuff lying on the floor where you work. Pick it up. These are little things that show a big heart.
  • How well do you follow rules? Government rules, speed limits, stopping fully at stop signs, following your pastor’s instructions at church. Not cheating on your income tax – not even one dollar.
  • Gossip. That’s not a little thing. Too many of God’s children still talk about others in negative ways. Sing the praises of God’s children instead.
  • We know better – I hope – than to commit adultery for example… but do we push the limit by staring too long where our eyes should not be on an immodestly undressed woman? Or is that just a little thing to you? And ladies, a little thing to you perhaps, but are you showing cleavage or thigh that can cause lusts to rise up in your brothers in God’s family - - who see you in that blouse or those hot pants or short skirt? Would you dress immodestly like that if you knew Jesus was coming to see you? Would you? Well, Jesus IS seeing you! He’s IN your brothers.

So it’s not just a little thing. Immodest dress can cause a serious lust and sin in the men around you. At the beach – are you following the latest trends, ladies, and exposing your entire bottom and most of your skin? Don’t. That’s not even just a little thing.  But even in God’s church services, dressing immodestly is happening more and more. Let’s wake up and be faithful in little things!

  • One thing I really want to zero in on much more in my own life: my body and my health. Our body is the residence, the dwelling of God’s HOLY SPIRIT. In fact Father and Yeshua/Jesus are IN me and IN you (John 14:23). What kind of temple are we providing for their dwelling? Are we clean, modest, eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough sleep?

I’m NOT referring to those of you who have been in bad accidents  

or who are getting old and infirm or are paralyzed and can’t do much for their bodies or health. I’m talking to those of us who can exercise, can move, can decide what we put into our mouths.

  • WORRYING. Jesus commands us not to worry. It means we think we are facing a problem too big for God. Worrying is not a little problem. Worrying has to stop. Instead, learn to thank God IN all our concerns (Phil 4:6-7) and FOR all our trials and all things (Eph 5:20).

ARE you getting the point? Examples of “just a little thing” -- can be endless. 

Be faithful in little things and God will be able to know how well you’ll handle the big things He has in mind for you.

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Brothers don’t use titles

If you were the actual flesh and blood half-brother of Jesus Christ (same mother, different father), and you were introducing yourself to others, how would you introduce yourself? James – who wrote the epistle of James, was such a brother. The other James – the brother of John, was martyred remember (Acts 12:1-3).

Here’s what he said. Unlike the epistles written by Paul and Peter – he doesn’t even bother mentioning that he also is an apostle.

James 1:1   “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” 

WOW! “I’m just a bondservant of my Lord Jesus the Messiah!” Several translations take the word “bondservant’ and simply say “SLAVE of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” – as in the LEGACY translation, Holman and New Living Translation.

Here’s someone who was born from the same mother as Jesus was, and who is an apostle and leader of the Jerusalem Headquarters church – but all he says about himself is – “I am a SLAVE of God and of our Master Jesus the Messiah.” 

He didn’t focus on his titles or “qualifications” at all, except being a slave of his half-brother. 

James had another brother who was also half-brother to Jesus (they had a different father). That brother was JUDE. Notice how Jude also starts HIS letter. 

Jude 1  “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ…”

I love this. He also is the SLAVE or servant of Jesus Christ. He also doesn’t add “and brother of Jesus.” No, he only mentions he is the brother of James. He also became an apostle like his brother. But no mention even of their titles from either one of them.

In your church, perhaps you all call your pastor by some title like “Pastor,” or “Elder.” Or if they were to write an email to someone, they’d feel they must sign off as Elder so-and-so, or Pastor so-and-so. 

I bring all this up because we have decided in Light on the Rock that we shouldn’t call members of our own family – including leaders in the church, our spiritual family -- by big titles.

My physical brother is Loren. I don’t call him by some big title. Just simply Loren. He simply calls me Philip. And when I sign off on an email or note to anyone in our fellowship, I’m simply Philip. When I write to our pastors in Kenya, I simply use their first name. I’ve instructed them that even in Church services, all the brethren are simply to refer to them also by just their first name. That’s what Jesus taught. That’s the example we have throughout the New Testament as we’ll see.

But somehow, it’s become the norm in many congregations and churches to call the church pastor by some title – Elder so-and-so, or Pastor so-and-so or Bishop, Overseer, Apostle, Coordinator, or people will at least refer to their leader, regardless of his age, as “Mr. so-and so” – ostensibly to show respect.

When Paul spoke of the other leaders in the church – Peter, James and John and other apostles, he simply referred to them as Peter, James, John, Barnabas, Apollos. He usually used no titles when referring to them. So why do we? When Luke wrote the Book of Acts, he simply used their first names also, not big titles. So why do we think we have to have even our older brethren refer to even a young church pastor as Mr. so-and-so when he’s hardly 30 or 35 years old, or even younger? Where are the scriptures to support that?

If anything, Jesus tells us NOT to be called “rabbi” or “father” in a religious way. So why do Catholics refer to their priest as “Father” this or that. Let’s read what our Savior said. The context is warning his disciples about the way the religious leaders of their day – the Scribes and Pharisees liked to be treated and addressed.

Matthew 23:6-12   “They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' 

8 But you, do NOT be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all BRETHREN.

9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

10 And do not be called Teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

Read and re-read that please until you have resolved to obey Jesus. DO NOT call someone “Teacher, Father, or Rabbi” – because you’re all brothers! I hope you Catholics and Jews are reading this too. You’re all family members. And we don’t call family members by titles – titles that belong frankly, HE says, either to him (Jesus/Yeshua) or to our Father in heaven. And so I tell our ministers I work with: “cut out the use of titles when you send emails. Don’t let yourselves be addressed by religious titles. Just use your first name. We’re all brothers and sisters. Speak as if that is what you are.”

Titles tend to elevate someone’s opinion of themselves. So he concludes that section by reminding his disciples to stay low – like a servant or slave, just like James and Jude did. I’ve seen those trying to exalt themselves just end up demoted or outright removed. Jesus was a perfect Servant Leader. He did lead. He did show the way, but he also constantly found ways to serve others – he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and encouraged the downtrodden. That’s our example.

Father” – of course we can call our earthly fathers our father. And symbolically, Paul even called himself the father of some congregations, but he didn’t tell anyone to call him “father,’ like Catholic priests do. The priests in Catholicism wield extraordinary power. As one Catholic told me, “they can consign you to hell, if they wish.”  True or not, it conveys the power they wield. The ONLY One we should call “Holy Father” is God Most High, Father of Jesus Christ and our father. NO MAN should ever be called “holy father.”

This also applies to the many other titles we find in churches, especially the Catholic Church. Vicar of Christ. Cardinal (meaning the main one).

Rabbi” – means “teacher.”  Jesus also tells us to call no one “rabbi” except himself (Matt.23:8). The “rabbis” loved being called the teacher. Many of us ministers can fall into that way of thinking. ALL our teaching must come from THE Teacher, Yeshua. HE is the ONE Teacher overall (v. 10).

What about respect for their office? Shouldn’t we exalt them with titles like “elder,” “Pastor” or even “Mr.”? 

Using a title is not what grants respect. Respect for someone comes from the way they live, interact with people, run their ministry, with loving kindness and patience and being led by the Holy spirit. 

I first wrote a blog on this topic in 2011. IN there I also remind readers that there are in fact elders, teachers and shepherds in the church. They were put into the Body of Christ for the perfecting of the saints and for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) Positions in the Body of Christ are functions, they’re there for a reason. We all have different functions (Romans 12:4-5), and yet we are all part of the body of Christ. He’s the Head, the Chief Shepherd, the Leader.

We respect and honor them – but not any more than we would a widow or orphan. All with God’s spirit are members of the body of Christ and deserve respect – without needing a fancy title. We all are the holy sanctuary of God’s spirit. 

In the end, it’s vital we simply obey Jesus’ commands. He said to cut out the

titles and focus instead on serving one another. Read Luke 22:26-30.

Luke 22:24-27  “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.'  26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

He goes on to explain  in verses 28-30, that when we learn this in this life, he can trust us with truly great positions he will give us in his kingdom. 

Luke 22:28-30  "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,  30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

We remember Jesus’ words: you are brethren, all part of God’s family. Brothers and sisters just call each other by first name, nothing more. We don’t focus on title but on serving and loving one another. So if you see me as your brother, I’m simply Philip. Nothing more.

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WHY we must understand Wave Sheaf Day 

Wavesheaf day is not a holyday but is explained in Leviticus 23. I have many sermons and blogs which go into far more detail about Wavesheaf Day, always in between the two regular weekly sabbath days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

Most church groups I know omit or barely mention Wavesheaf day. In 2024, it is on April 28. It always falls on the first day of the week, or “Sunday”. This blog is to simply give you a very broad view of this day. It’s not a holy day. There is no appointed church time, there’s no church services, no church assembly. It’s not a “moed” – or a divine appointment with God. 

So what is it? In its most simple form, it’s the day when Messiah rose from the tomb and on the first day of the week, as He told Mary Magdalene, “I must go to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God” (John 20:17). So He did. But WHY did Yeshua/Jesus have to go to his Father on this day? 

The very firstfruits of the barley harvest was ready to be presented to God for approval, so the barley harvest could proceed. But first the harvest had to be shown to God so he could approve it. The firstfruits barley pictured Jesus. Once he went to heaven after his resurrection, and was accepted and approved by God the Father, He was ALSO being accepted on behalf of the rest of the harvest. ON behalf of the rest of us! We are also called firstfruits (James 1:18), but Christ is the first of the first fruits of barley. 

We are firstfruits in the sense of the first harvests of the land of Israel. The rest of the harvest continues all year long – but the early harvest of barley and even the spring/Summer wheat was considered first fruits. God will harvest the rest of his crops later, BUT each in his own order, starting with Christ the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23, 20-25). Right now God is entirely focused on those He is calling now. NOT everyone is being called now to have that special intimate relationship with God the Father right now. And we can’t just decide all that ourselves. 

Jesus said no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). And no one could come to Christ even, unless the Father first calls him/her first (John 6:44). 

Jesus as the first of the firstfruits had to be presented to God, be accepted on behalf of the REST of the harvest [those being called now], and then the harvest continues. 

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.” 

All the details are in the sermon and in the notes in the link below here. It wasn’t stalks of grain that the high Priest was “waving” – but a bowl of fine flour from the early barley. Read it all in the notes below. 

https://www.lightontherock.org/index.php/sermons/message/wavesheaf-is-acceptance-day?highlight=WyJ3YXZlc2hlYWYiXQ== 

You’ll notice it’s also on the “day after the sabbath” – so it’s always on a Sunday. 

SO how do I observe Wavesheaf Day? 

At 9 a.m., when that ceremony was taking place 2,000 years ago, Christ rose to heaven to be accepted and to return the same day. So at 9 a.m. on the Sunday between the two weekly sabbaths, my wife and I have a short but very thankful prayer of thanksgiving to our heavenly father and to Yeshua/Jesus. Why? 

Because – due to their profound love for you and for me, I – yes, even I with my past faults and sins, can be found to be ACCEPTED. HOW? By that special first sheaf – who was Christ. HE is now our life as Paul teaches over and over – especially in Col 3:3-4, Gal. 2:20. 

I can now know that in spite of my human weaknesses, shortcomings and stumbles into sin, God has accepted me IN Christ. You can be assured joyfully of this too! Quit the depression caused by constantly wondering if you’re able to be accepted or not. God has accepted you. You’ve been qualified, because of the perfect life of Jesus, GIFTED to us by faith. Start experiencing the JOY of salvation, knowing you’re being saved and have been saved – by God’s favor and grace (Eph 2:8-9). Here are the scriptures: 

Ephesians 2:5-9 

“even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is The GIFT OF GOD, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 

The Messiah Jesus, the Anointed One, is now my life and yours by faith. 

Colossians 3:3-4 

“For YOU died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God

4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” 

We are human flesh and we still fail spiritually ourselves. But IN Christ, who is our life, we now have been ACCEPTED. Read verse 6 below over and over until you believe and know that means even you. 

Ephesians 1:4-6 

“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.” 

God has also qualified us for the kingdom of His dear son: 

Colossians 1:12-14 

“giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” 

We’re accepted – in the Beloved! 

If you struggle with this concept of being accepted by God it’s because you keep trying to focus on what you’re doing, instead of on what Jesus did already and has done for you … AND continues to do IN you. It’s HIS work in you. He lives in you again, as He lived the first time: perfectly in the spirit. But we keep looking to our flesh and see failure. God is looking at our spirit, where Christ is. HIS spirit merges with our spirit to make ONE NEW SPIRIT (1 Cor. 16:17). 

So get this -- because God Most High accepted Christ as the firstfruits, we are also now accepted through Christ. Read these verses below in your own Bible. God’s view of your righteousness is NOT going to be because of how righteous YOU are, but because of how righteous Jesus is, and because of the faith we have in HIM. You came under his blood, s0 He paid the highest possible price for YOU. That price? His very own life as the perfect Son of God. He bought you, and you are now a part of HIS body. 

Romans 3:21-26 The Righteousness of God is revealed through faith in Jesus on all and to all who believe – to demonstrate HIS righteousness. 

Romans 5:15-19 – shows us the GIFT of God’s righteousness. We can’t earn a gift. Therefore there can be no condemnation on us, because we are in Christ and he certainly can’t be condemned (Rom 8:1-4). 

2 Cor. 5:21 – we become the righteousness of God in Christ. 

Phil. 3:9 – we want to “be found in Him, NOT having our OWN righteousness from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” 

You will never feel settled but always wondering if you’re going to “make it” into the kingdom or not, until you learn this topic strongly. When you really learn it deeply, you will experience the deep, deep JOY of knowing you are saved, the JOY of salvation in Christ, for us, in us, and on our behalf. 

Wavesheaf Day is all about us being accepted because God had already accepted Jesus on our behalf (Lev 23:10-11). 

Hallelujah. Praise Yah! 

Again, if you wish to learn more details, check the full sermon link I gave you earlier. 

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The Price of Forgiveness

iShot 2024 04 20 07.16.47

This blog is by R. Herbert, a good friend, minister and former AC classmate of Philip Shields, who has a wonderful website full of lots of great information:  www.tacticalchristianity.org

It might seem strange to talk of putting a price on forgiveness, yet that is exactly what Jesus did in his parable* of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35).   In that parable Jesus painted a detailed word picture of a king’s servant who owed the ruler ten thousand “talents” (vs. 24).

A talent was not a unit of currency, but a unit of weight. The NIV translates this verse “ten thousand bags of gold,” but it is far more likely that silver would have been the precious metal involved in the transaction, as even ten thousand talents of silver would represent an almost unimaginably large amount.  In fact, ten thousand talents of silver would be too large to have normally been a personal debt.  The word “servant” Matthew uses could refer to a king’s high-ranking servant who had control of massive amounts of money as part of his work.

By contrast, the second servant in the parable who owed the king’s servant money was doubtless a far less powerful individual who had borrowed “one hundred denarii” (KJV “a hundred pennies,” NIV “a hundred silver coins”).  We read in the parable that the servant who owed a huge amount that was forgiven was himself unwilling to forgive the individual who owed him a much smaller debt.

To get a true sense of the relative amounts Jesus spoke of, notice that in another parable –  that of the men working in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) –  Matthew specifically tells us that an acceptable rate of pay for a laboring man was one denarius per day (vs. 1, etc.).  So, the debt of the minor servant who owed the king’s servant 100 denarii was the equivalent of a hundred days pay – some four months of wages calculated on a regular workweek – and certainly not a small amount.

But to get a sense of the debt for which the king’s servant was responsible, we must realize that a “talent” was equal to approximately 6,000 denarii in value, so that debt equaled ten thousand times about six thousand days pay for an average laborer –  some 60 million days or 200 thousand years pay at 300 workdays per year – based on talents of silver, not gold.

So the price of the forgiveness given by the king to his servant in Christ’s parable was an astronomically high one –  far beyond the realm of any possibility of being repaid.  But it is easy to think that this parable was simply teaching that our neighbor’s spiritual debts to us are far less than what we “owe” God as a debt of forgiveness, but while that is true, the parable has greater depth than that.

Clearly, the king in the parable represents God, and the king’s servant represents us as debtors to God through our sin, while the minor servant represents those who are “indebted” to us through sins against us. But we should remember that the amount owed by the minor servant –  a hundred days’ pay –  was not a trivial amount. It is important to realize that Christ was not downplaying the “debts” or sins of others against us –  rather his parable admits that those who sin against us may indeed sin to a substantial degree, leaving us significantly hurt.

But the parable also puts that hurt in perspective by showing that the astronomically high debt we have incurred through our own cumulative sins far outweighs whatever sin may have been committed against us – no matter how bad it was.  As it is given in Christ’s example, the story shows a ratio of one million to one – the sins of others against us represent one millionth of our own sins against God.  That is why Jesus ended his parable by saying that the unmerciful servant was severely punished by the king, and   by saying “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (vs. 35).  

Ultimately, however, Jesus’ parable is not about numbers or balance sheets.  Its primary message, of course, is that we ought to forgive as our King has forgiven us. And we should not forget the context in which the parable was given.  Matthew makes it clear that Jesus told this story in response to Peter asking how many times we should forgive those who sin against us: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king… (Matthew 18:21-23, emphasis added).

According to Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question, the forgiveness given to us is extravagant both in amount and in repetition, and finally it is extravagant in terms of the attitude with which the forgiveness is given.  True forgiveness, Jesus tells us, is so extravagant that it cannot be repaid; it is so extensive that it does not run out in our lifetime; and it is so truly meant from the heart that no price can really be placed on it. ​

*Download our free e-book on the Parables of Jesus  here.

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This coming full solar eclipse April 8, 2024

eclipse

comet
We all know in America that a full solar eclipse is due April 8, 2024.
It will cross from Eagle Pass, Texas heading northwest through Dallas, Cleveland, Erie, Burlington VT – and through Maine. The full eclipse will last almost four minutes, longer than most eclipses. If you are planning to watch it, if you’re in the path, be sure to use true eclipse glasses, not just sunglasses.

As an aside, the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion was not, and could not have been, an eclipse, as that darkness was very thick and lasted for three hours. It had to be something other than an eclipse, which usually lasts 2-3 minutes.

An eclipse happens when the sun, moon and earth align and the moon blocks the sun. During a full eclipse, it makes it seem twilight, or even darker for those few minutes. At full eclipse, you may be able to see the sun’s corona and flares. Some solar changes are expected and may also affect us here on earth.

Is this April 8 eclipse of any importance? This one has a lot going on: longer than usual, comes with the Devil Comet and the planets align.

There are many eclipses, but the next full solar eclipse over America won’t come until 2044. But since 2017 on the other hand, counting April 8’s eclipse, there will have been now THREE full solar eclipses that will have crossed America in the past seven years. Seven is God’s number of perfect completion.

Why do I write about this April 8 eclipse happening over America?

Because I have always taught that “Israel” in the Middle East is really just the end-time nation of Judah of the Bible, plus Levi (for the Levites and priests) and others mixed in. But we believe the MAIN and TRUE end-time “Israel” is UK and USA, as Ephraim of the Bible. Jacob – whose changed name was Israel – actually put HIS name (Israel) on to the sons of Joseph, especially Ephraim (Gen 48:16). The name “Israel,” in other words, was not put on to Judah, but on Ephraim, Joseph’s stronger younger son (USA today).

When the 12 tribes split into 2 separate nations during the reign of David’s grandson Rehoboam, the northern 10 tribes became known as the House of Israel – headed by Ephraim, the extra-blessed son of Joseph. The Southern tribes then became the House of Judah.

So there are numerous prophecies in the books of the prophets about “Israel” and even about Ephraim. I believe these apply more to UK and USA.

So when God sends significant things to America in these last days, He’s trying to get our attention, as He did before. And of course Jerusalem and Judah in the Middle East are also extremely crucial to keep watching.

There are many links to this total eclipse. Here’s one that’s interesting. https://www.sapphirethroneministries.com/post/alef-tav-eclipses-the-ring-of-fire

When you place the three eclipses over America from Aug 2017 to April 8, 2024, their paths show up as the ancient Hebrew letter Alef and the letter Tav – the equivalent of the Greek Alpha and Omega, which refer to God. Study the links to understand better. Could God be trying to get America’s attention. Alef and Tav the beginning letter and last letter – the beginning and the end?

The last letter Tav looks like a slanted cross.

Yeshua/Jesus is the prince of Peace. The 2017 eclipse started in Salem (peace) Oregon and end up at Salem, South Carolina in the far southeast. But it crossed SEVEN towns named Salem. Is the Prince of Peace trying to get our attention? We won’t panic. But maybe God is trying to get our attention.

Pray we be accounted worth to escape the terrifying end times (Luke 21:36).

The eclipse coming on April 8 will cross seven towns named Nineveh, where God sent a warning through Jonah and they repented. Could this just be coincidence? Maybe. That April 8 eclipse also apparently follows the track exactly of the New Madrid fault line, where in winter of 1811-12 they had three very large earthquakes – including an earthquake of 8.4. Today, such an earthquake in that location would be devastating.

If strange and mysterious events occur with this eclipse, perhaps it’s more than just a routine eclipse. If not, just keep your eyes open. There is a strange comet that may be visible during the full eclipse and it’s called the Devil Comet, of all things. Its official name – Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. Maybe learn more about it. https://www.digitaltrends.com/space/devil-comet-april/

Plus the planets all align at about the same time as the eclipse. To me, there just seem to be too many “coincidences” lining up with this eclipse to make all of it just be a matter of chance. Is God warning us?

Here’s another link by a friend Linda Watson. I don’t concur with everything she says, but she makes some interesting points. So be alert and watch.

https://youtu.be/alRkm0TjZn4

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Which would you choose? Gold bar or severe trial?

gold bar I remember a sermon in church from when I was maybe 15-16 years old. That’s going back 55 years or more. Some sermons just stick in your memory forever and this was one of them.

The preacher asked us all – “If I could give you your choice, which would you pick? A solid gold bar weighing 1 kilo (2.4 pounds) – or a serious trial God will put you through. Which would you pick?”

The gold bar of course would have been worth many thousands of dollars when the price of gold was already very high for just an ounce of gold. The price today for just one ounce of gold is $2,233. Imagine what a 1 kilo bar of pure gold would cost! That would be about $77,000 for a .999% pure gold bar. Maybe I should go out and buy a truck load, right? In my dreams.

So you’re being offered a $77,000 gold bar – OR you could have – from God - a serious trial He has hand-selected for you, just you -- like a terrible bone cancer or pancreatic cancer or multiple sclerosis that goes on and on and on – which would you pick? The pure gold bar you can keep – or God’s trial He would give you?

If you would pick the gold bar, you made a terrible decision. But this should show us the real VALUE of going through a serious trial from God, with God’s help – a value that would last forever.

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.

Listen to my recent sermon on “When God doesn’t heal the faithful” for much more on this. God has wonderful reasons for letting us suffer. God’s own Son was PERFECTED by the things which He suffered. Suffering does that. Should it be any different for us?

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.

Even in Hebrews 11 we read of our spiritual forefathers who were chased out of their homes, had to live in caves, or like Isaiah – were SAWN in two! God certainly wants his people perfected and refined and tested – and suffering builds all those for us.

It’s the same for us. We must have our faith tested and perfected and strengthened. It puts qualities in us for God’s use for eternity.

1 Peter 5:10

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, AFTER you have suffered a while, PERFECT, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

James 1:2-4

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

So there are definite and strong reasons for the sufferings, for pain, illness and tests and trials we each are going through – all of it worth far, far more than a gold bar that perishes.

I think most of us know that it would be terribly hard to choose being bedridden for year after year in pain and suffering – or paralysis – over the chance to be given a gold bar. And yet, look at what apostle Peter told us. As we read this, think about the trials you’ve had, or know others have, and maybe this can put those trials into perspective. Also, be sure to hear my recent audio sermon “When God doesn’t always heal the faithful.”

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The Humble Centurion

centurion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest examples of humility that we find in the Gospels – and in the entire Bible, other than in the life of Jesus – is seen in the story of the centurion who implored Jesus to heal his servant. Both Matthew and Luke record this story (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10), and the additional details each one gives paint a picture of a leader of men who was remarkably humble – and more.

Humility

The centurion’s humility is certainly one of the most memorable aspects of the story. As the ranking officer in his unit, he was an important soldier who gave orders to many men.  Yet  this same centurion willingly humbled himself in his request to Christ, declaring “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof … I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you” (Luke 7:6–7). This attitude is all the more remarkable as we know that most Romans looked down on the Jewish people, considering them to be a relatively uncivilized nation. 

The story also shows the humility of Jesus in his willingness to go to the sick rather than having them be brought to him, but the centurion’s humility is what is highlighted. For a Roman officer to humble himself to the degree he did before one of the people he was charged to rule over was almost startling.

Strength

But humility is clearly not the only trait this centurion displayed.  As commander of at least 80 men (see our post “Ten Centurions,” here) he said that “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matthew 8:9).    Centurions were often battle-hardened individuals who were not chosen for weakness of any kind – rather their strength was often deeply respected by the men they led.  This is an important fact because it shows that the biblical quality of humility so clearly demonstrated by this man is not in any way an expression of weakness. The centurion’s humility was all the more noticeable because of his strength.

Compassion

There is also another quality of this soldier that we should not overlook, and that is his compassion. Clearly, he was concerned for his servant’s welfare, but the sick man was  apparently not an indispensable or key person in his household. Luke tells us, in fact, that the sick man for whom the centurion asked Christ’s help was not an important servant, but simply a lowly slave (doulos). This centurion was obviously concerned for even the least members of his household staff.  

Faith

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the story of the humble centurion, however, is the man’s faith.  On hearing the centurion’s request that Jesus simply command that his servant be made well, Jesus responded “Let it be done just as you believed it would” (Matthew 8:13) and Luke adds the further detail that “Jesus … was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel’” (Luke 7:9).  As a result of the soldier’s great faith, his servant was healed at that exact moment (Matthew 8:13). 

The level of detail given in both Matthew and Luke’s accounts of this healing shows how important the story is from a New Testament perspective. While the Gospels could simply have recorded that Jesus healed the servant of a Gentile centurion, they stress that the soldier was a man of strength and compassion and of outstanding humility and faith. These are fitting goals for every soldier of Christ.

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Time for a Phinehas to appear?

All scriptures are NKJV unless noted otherwise. 

Whose belief or action was said to be so strong that it was accounted to him for righteousness? If you instinctively answered, “Abraham, of course” (Genesis 15:6), you’d be correct -- but not complete. 

That statement was also made of a strong young leader in Israel of Moses’ day who stood up for the right, took decisive action, and stopped a plague continuing from God. 

Psalms 106:28-31 

“They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, 

And ate sacrifices made to the dead. 

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, 

And the plague broke out among them. 

30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, 

And the plague was stopped

31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness 

To all generations forevermore.” 

One of the priests at the coming third temple we believe will be built in Jerusalem in our lifetime, will be a descendant of Phinehas, due to the action of Phinehas that really moved God. When Phinehas acted, God was in the middle of exacting a plague in which 24,000 Israelites died. Phinehas’ action stopped the plague and saved thousands of more lives. 

In times of crisis in the Church – the Body of Christ today – do we have a modern-day Phinehas willing to stand up, take action and speak up for what’s right? I pray we do. YOU and I may be called upon to be a Phinehas at some point, maybe sooner than you think. Let’s read the story in Numbers 25. 

In the Exodus wilderness wanderings, Israel had been seduced into religious sex by Moabite and Midianite women. Israel started worshiping their pagan gods and committing harlotry with the foreign women. God was furious. Many of those involved were hanged. This takes us through the first five verses of Numbers 25. Now verse 6. What a Simeonite leader did was so “in-your-face” that even Moses seemed stunned. But here’s where our hero Phinehas gets involved. 

Numbers 25:6:15 

And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 

7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 

8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 

9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 

10 Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'" 

14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father's house in Midian.” 

Phinehas “was zealous for his God” and stood up against a LEADER of a tribe who was leading in a sin. Verse 11 quotes GOD himself saying Phinehas’ action may have stopped God from wiping out most of Israel in God’s zeal. 

The sin wasn’t just adultery – but was rebellion against God’s laws, against Moses as their leader, and that rebel – Zimri by name – was intent on doing what he felt he wanted to do. 

Numbers 25:6 says he did this in the sight of all the brethren. This was a taunt, an “In your face’ moment. He basically dared the brethren. “Nobody can stop me from doing what I want to do” – as he blatantly paraded the Midianite woman for all to see – right into his tent. 

Phinehas didn’t worry if what he was about to do was polite or not. He didn’t ask for any permission to go into the man’s private tent or “knocked on the door” first.] No, he grabbed a javelin and thrust it through both their bodies right in the midst of their act of sexual sin. 

A bit extreme? GOD didn’t think so. God commended him. I think it’s very possible that most of Israel would have been killed by God had Phinehas not stepped in. As it was – 24,000 died from God’s plague. 

YOU may be called upon to take decisive action and lead the way back to God in various times and places. 

Critical point: to be an effective Phinehas, know your God really well. Know his Word, His scriptures. Be studying and meditating on them night and day. Pray for courage and decisiveness – but also pray for wisdom so you do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Know when to do it boldly in front of everybody – and when to do it privately with just the one or two involved. But either way, don’t just sit back and do nothing. And remember there was a plague going on when Phinehas stood up. Twenty-four thousand had already died. He had no time to waste in that case. 

There are crises happening in the world and in the church right now. If you see a problem in the church, speak up. Do something. Say something. Talk to the ministers. Talk to others who need to hear you speak up. Voice your concerns. Take action. Realize you yourself may not have all the facts straight, so be sure of your facts before your Phinehas moment. But the couple’s actions in Numbers 25 were for all to see, done in the “sight of all the congregation.” 

If someone is openly causing division and slandering other pastors or sowing discord in your church body, speak up. It’s not a time to quietly sit back and do nothing. Remember that the name “Devil” means “Slanderer”. A slanderer has literally become a “devil” himself. Paul said “there must be no divisions among you” – 1 Cor. 1:10-11. Tell the divider – no, he’s not welcome to speak to your group. And be willing to tell him he needs to repent and seek God’s mercy. Be a Phinehas to him. 

If there’s drunkenness at church parties, speak up. If there’s womanizing going on or even just inappropriate comments, looks and flirting, speak up. In many cases you should speak privately first. Not every situation is a “grab your javelin and do a Phinehas” occasion. SO wisdom is also required. 

Older ladies, if there’s rampant immodesty (1 Tim. 2:9-10) at church services or anywhere our church ladies are, speak up. You older women, first set the right example – then speak and teach the younger women as Titus 2:3-5 clearly says. We all have a role to play in our church services and among the brethren, but that’s for another day, another topic. But today I’m talking about taking decisive action when it’s called for. 

Titus 2:3-5 

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed”. 

I believe our church members are much too placid in times when leadership and action are required. 

Take a few minutes to ponder if you would have done what Phinehas did – if you could be transported in a time machine to that moment in time. Ponder further to consider times coming in the future when we might have to stand up for what’s right and speak up, or say something. I’ll write a blog or have a sermon before long, with God’s help and blessing, on when we should stand up and speak up – and when we it might be best to remain quiet. Too many of God’s people, though, are real good at the “remain quiet” kind of inaction – and never seem to be a real Phinehas. 

How about being willing to be a Phinehas when the circumstances and time are right? Be a zealous man or woman of action when the time warrants it. Be a Phinehas. 

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Who is “Messiah”?

Who is “Messiah”? Are you sure you know for sure? Did you realize the Bible speaks of MANY messiahs? Many messiahs but only 1 who is “THE Messiah” to come. How can there be many Messiahs? What does the word from Hebrew even mean? 

There’s often a debate - especially involving Jews – if Jesus/Yeshua is the long awaited Messiah mentioned in scripture, especially by the prophet Daniel. Many Jews have long waited for the coming of their messiah and expect him soon. This is one reason why there’s been a lot of talk – much more than usual – for construction of the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem. 

We Christians see in our view of Messiah not just a ruler, but our Savior. The one who takes sin upon himself and becomes our Redeemer and Savior – and not just king. But for Jews, the predominant view was that the true messiah would not have died but would have set up the kingdom with Israel at its center. 

So let’s look into this very word “messiah.” 

Let me get right to the main points: 
The Hebrew word “Mashiach” is where we get the English word “Messiah.” It means anointed one. The equivalent from the Greek language is “Christos– where we get “Christ,” also meaning “anointed one.” 

So “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing: anointed one. I find Messianics and Hebrew Roots brethren prefer “Messiah” and regular Christians prefer “Christ,” but both mean the same. I use both since I’m addressing everyone. 

The Septuagint (LXX) Greek version of the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”) invariably used the Greek form “Christos” in their verses about an anointed one. So it became natural for the New Testament writers to also choose that designation – Christ – over Messiah. So in the New Testament, we don’t much of “Messiah” except in John 1:41 and 4:25 - but we read of “Christ” – and both mean Anointed One. Messiah does not mean “moral one” – as many anointed priests and kings were anything but moral. But “Messiah” does point to someone who was called to be set apart for holy use by God, though no man was ever perfect except THE Messiah. 

  • We have come to identify this term “Messiah” with Jesus Christ – meaning “Savior Anointed one,” so sometimes we read of “the Christ” – the anointed one. Of course you know that “Christ” was not his name or surname. It seems people feel compelled to avoid saying just “Jesus,” his NAME, which in Hebrew is Yeshua. The name Jesus is used many, many times by itself in New Testament scripture. And 56 times it comes with the descriptor “Christ” – as “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus THE Christ” – Jesus or Yeshua, the Anointed one. 
  • But in its first usages, did you realize the word “Messiah” applied to a lot more people than just the Savior. In fact, the idea that the Messiah was also our Savior did not really fully develop until the new covenant times. That concept is not as clear in the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures, commonly called “the Old Testament” by Christians. 
  • So Messiah means “anointed one.” But if Yeshua is the Messiah, who anointed Him? King David was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel, but when and where do we read of Jesus being anointed with oil? We don’t. So how is he “the anointed one,” the Messiah, the Christ? 

GOD anointed Him, but not with oil, but with what OIL REPRESENTED. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit from HIM, from God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the power, presence, DNA from either God the Father OR Jesus Christ. So it was the Holy Spirit from God the Father that anointed Jesus the Messiah at his water baptism by John. So Jesus/Yeshua was baptized/immersed both in water and by God’s Holy Spirit, all at the same time. 

Acts 10:38 (after speaking of the beginning of his ministry, Peter says this: 
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” 

Acts 4:27-28 also clearly says GOD anointed Yeshua. 

  • In John 4, to the woman at the well in Samaria, Yeshua identified himself for the first time ever as the coming promised Messiah. Look to whom he chose to reveal himself: a disgraced Samaritan woman, married and divorced four times, now living with someone (the 5th), and so disgraced that she went for water at the hottest time of the day so other women wouldn’t be there. The story is in John 4. When she mentioned the coming Messiah, Yeshua basically told her that HE was THE promised Messiah (John 4:25-26). 

John 4:25-26
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."  Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." 

In the Scriptures, there were MANY genuine Messiahs – meaning “anointed ones” who were “A messiah” – but only ONE who was to be “THE Messiah.” All priests were anointed ones (Leviticus 4:3; 8:12; Psalm 105:15). Kings also were anointed ones (1 Samuel 24:7-11; 2 Samuel 23). This made Kings and Priests “messiahs” – anointed ones. It’s the same word. 

Someone anointed with oil by a prophet was considered a very special set-apart person chosen by God himself. This is the very reason David, when fleeing from King Saul, could not strike or kill Saul when given the opportunity. He said he could not strike the LORD’s anointed (1 Samuel 16:6; 24:6-10; 26:9-11, 16, 23). 

When an Amalekite came to David after Saul’s death, claiming to have been the one who killed Saul, David had them executed! It would be well worth your time to read the account in 2 Samuel 1:13-21.

Who else was anointed with oil? God told Elijah to anoint ELISHA to be the prophet to replace Elijah (1 Kings 19:15-16). Many do not commonly realize this. So prophets were also anointed ones, “Messiahs” in the meaning of “anointed one.” 

Jesus Christ was whom all these priests, kings and even prophets depicted. HE was indeed THE Prophet and Royal Priest of God Most High. I’ve been talking about Isaiah 53 recently. We’ll read Daniel 9 soon. If Yeshua was not the promised Messiah, who else fulfilled all those prophecies by the dozens, like HE did? 

  • One more point: Messiahs, anointed ones, included especially Israelite kings and priests, but not just Israelites and Jews

God himself referred to one special Gentile king, CYRUS, as HIS OWN anointed (see Isaiah 45), over 100 years before Cyrus was born. God calls him His own Anointed one! Or we can say, God’s own Messiah. In Isaiah 45:1, the word for “anointed” in Hebrew is “mashiach” or Messiah. 

Isaiah 45:1-4 
"Thus says YHVH to His anointed [“messiah’], 
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held — 
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings, 
To open before him the double doors, 
So that the gates will not be shut: 
2 'I will go before you 
And make the crooked places straight; 
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze 
And cut the bars of iron. 
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness 
And hidden riches of secret places, 
That you may know that I, YHVH, 
Who call you by your name, 
Am the God of Israel. 
4 For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect, 
I have even called you by your name; 
I have named you, though you have not known Me.” 

God called this messiah – by name – over one hundred years before he was even born. The great living God had purposed this Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the second temple, and that is exactly what happened. Here are more amazing words from God: 

Isaiah 44:28
“Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure, 
Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," 
And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."' 

And this may be a surprise: being a messiah or an anointed one does not mean you are righteous or moral, as Cyrus worshipped pagan gods like Marduk. It just means you have been set apart for special designated purpose, like being a king or priest. 4 

But the majority of kings and priests ended up NOT being righteous. So kings and priests were “messiahs” (anointed ones) but NOT Saviors. 

Let’s end with a few scriptures about anointed one Jesus of Nazareth, or by his Jewish name Yeshua. I explain it this way: yes, there are many who were called “messiahs” in the Bible, but only one who will ever be THE Messiah, and that one is our Savior. 

The CLEAREST scripture that pointed to THE MESSIAH specifically is in Daniel 9 in the famous 70 weeks prophecy. It’s also in this prophecy where the TIE IN TO SIN AND FORGIVENESS is clearly shown – showing the connection THE Messiah was to have with saving his people. Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled in Yeshua. 

Daniel 9:24-27 NASB 

"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. 25 "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 

26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 

27 "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." 

Habakkuk 3:12-13 
12 You marched through the land in indignation; |
ou trampled the nations in anger. 
13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, 
For salvation with Your Anointed (Messiah) 
You struck the head from the house of the wicked, 
By laying bare from foundation to neck.” 

There’s another prophecy in Daniel 2:34-39, 44-45 you should carefully read. THIs shows Someone is coming who will topple all world governments and set up His kingdom on this earth and rule the earth. A Stone strikes the image depicted here and the stone “became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35). 

More can be found in Daniel’s prophecies (Daniel 2:21-27) about THE Messiah saving His saints, his holy ones, in the last days and giving dominion and rulership to them. When scripture speaks of “God’s anointed” – this is speaking of THE Messiah, God’s anointed, anointed by God himself, as Yeshua was. God Most High is with this Anointed one in a singularly unique way. We worship him. He was seen by many hundreds after his death, as God had resurrected Him and He still lives today, just waiting for the command to return to save Israel. His resurrection was so convincing that thousands of believers were willing to die for him, for they either SAW him directly after his resurrection or the evidence was so powerfully demonstrated to them. They also saw that the prophecies of the virgin conceiving and their Son being a descendant of King David, were all fulfilled in him (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:10-11). The prophecies of the peaceful kingdom (Isa 11:6-9) will be fulfilled at his second coming – which is close. 

Habakkuk 3:13 – Holman – “You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed. You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck.” 

I pray any of you Jews reading this, just pray to the One you call “Hashem” – the Name. Ask him to reveal to you who The Messiah was, or is, or will be. I recommend you read the New Testament on your own. You’ll see that this anointed one by God, THE Messiah, was a Jew, born in Bethlehem, raised and preached in Galilee of the nations and gentiles and was crucified. Then over 500 saw him elevated to heaven after his resurrection. All the apostles were Jews. ALL of the early believers were Jews. Many priests and orthodox Jews (Pharisees) joined with them in worshiping this Yeshua Messiah – Jesus the Christ. Don’t MISS your Messiah! 

My Jewish brothers, we long for you to see this Messiah and see how He can transform your life. He LIVES. He’s coming again. Give Him a chance to show you who He is. 

In Judaism there’s an acronym -- YESHU – that unfortunately means “May his name and memory be obliterated.” The holy man Yeshua has been so maligned in Judaism that it will take a miracle to remove centuries of bile against him and for many to open their hearts to Him. His full name as the mashiach (Messiah) was Yeshua, meaning “Savior, salvation.” And yes, He came once already to die for us all - -and is coming again. This Messiah Yeshua is coming again to finally rule all the nations from Jerusalem. Amen. Zech 14:16-18. Isaiah 60:6-9; 66:18-23. 

NO one should want the full beautiful Jewish name Yeshua to ever be blotted out. It’s by that precious and powerful name that we’re saved from our sins and through Him and his perfect life, we can stand righteous before God. He clothes us with HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). This same Yeshua is coming back to fight for Israel as you can read in Zechariah 14. HE is “the LORD” who is coming to fight as a man does in the day of battle (Zech 14:3-4). Yes, Yeshua is the Word of the Old Testament and is also YHWH. Don’t miss your Messiah! 

Yeshua fulfilled all the prophecies of Messiah regarding the first coming. All the prophecies not yet fulfilled, of a worldwide kingdom, will be fulfilled when he comes again. Amen. If Yeshua is not the promised Messiah, then who is? Don’t miss him! 

Honor him. Love him. Worship him. HE is THE Messiah – the Anointed One of God. He said he will return in glory with all the angels and all the nations will be gathered before him (Matthew 25:31-32). THIS is the ruling Messiah to whom all nations will eventually come to Jerusalem to worship Him, the LORD, as Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-4 so clearly say to us. 

Praise the Holy Name of the One we worship and of his glorious Anointed One. 

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God’s promises to you, Israel

In this blog or article, I just want to post some scriptures of God’s word to Israel, promising to bring them back to their own land He gave to their forefathers. They’re in a tough time right now. But I believe God is with them still, especially if you Israelis will turn to your Maker with all your heart and being. Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-15. I am heartened to have watched many short videos of IDF Israeli soldiers praying and praising God before each battle. As long as they and we put our true GOD first, all will be well. Turn, Israel, turn.

Another VERY exciting thing about you our brothers in Israel:

More and more of you are discovering that “forbidden chapter,” Isaiah 53 – about the Suffering Servant – who gave his life for you. Yes, though it’s never read to you, YOU can read it yourself in your own Tanakh, your Hebrew Scriptures. Don’t let anyone keep a single word of God’s word from you! In fact, I’ll record a video soon where I read it in two translations.

Many in Israel are finding Yeshua and realize the Messiah came as one of you – and he’s coming again. And God promises that He is bringing every Israeli back to the land HE promised them, no matter where they are in the world. Enjoy God’s word on this, from the New King James Version.

Whether you’re Jew or Gentile, I recommend you read these verses of God’s promises of returning Israelis to the land He gave their forefathers.

Jeremiah 23:7-8

"Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 8 but, 'As the Lord (YHVH) lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil."

Ezekiel 34:11-13

11 'For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.

13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

Jeremiah 31:16-17

Thus says YHVH:
"Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says YHVH,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.”

Deuteronomy 30:2-6

“If you return to YHVH your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you were driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.

Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
And the Lord 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.”

Isaiah 43:5-6

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth —"

Isaiah 56:6 NIV

“The Sovereign Lord declares — he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered."

Ezekiel 39:27-29

“When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord God."

Jeremiah 32:37-39

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.”

Isaiah 27:13

“So it shall be in that day:
The great trumpet will be blown;
t
hey will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria,
And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”

Certainly in the past 70 years, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, even millions, have been airlifted to Israel – from Russia, Argentina, Egypt, Yemen, India, Iraq, Morocco, South Africa, Germany, Ukraine, France, the United States and really from all over the world. They went HOME. Praise God. Today we see the nation state of Israel, ancient Judea, thriving and blossoming though surrounded by hostile neighbors and outnumbered 50 to 1 or even greater. Many Arab and Muslim states call for the elimination of Jews and Israel and shout “Death to Israel, death to America.” God is bigger than all that.

God be with you, Israel. God IS with you, and so are so many of us.

Please read your “forbidden chapter” – Isaiah 53 – and discover your Yeshua. Please feel free to copy this to any others you wish, without edits.

Philip W. Shields

www.Lightontherock.org  

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But DO you also pray TO Jesus/Yeshua?

You may believe you can pray to Jesus, but DO you? Have you listened to a recent sermon I gave on praying to Jesus? SO many of us have been taught that Christ’s teaching “when you pray, say ‘Our Father in heaven…” – to be an absolute that we can only pray to our Father. I urge you to study my short sermon on it, because scripturally we must not sideline Jesus as we pray.

Here's the link: https://lightontherock.org/index.php/sermons/message/is-praying-to-jesus-ok   Is Praying to Jesus OK? 41 minutes.

And many of you would probably agree also that you see nothing wrong with prayers to Jesus – but my question is: DO you ever pray to your Savior?

I address especially seventh day sabbath-keeping groups. Most Protestant groups already pray a lot to “the Lord,” to Jesus. On this issue, I have to agree with them, that not only can we pray to Jesus but we should pray often to him.

Don’t misunderstand me. My prayers almost always start by addressing God Most High as my dear Father, my Abba. This way I am acknowledging I am His son, a part of his family and that he looks after us in intricate and intimate detail as a loving Father. So I start by praying to God my Father, but within that prayer I usually include a section of praying directly to the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, who is also God, who is my Savior and to whom I am betrothed (2 Cor. 11:2). How can I not include talking to the One I will marry, God willing? Surely our prayers must include speaking to Yeshua, the Messiah, though most of you use the name “Jesus.” Be sure you hear my audio sermon explaining why we must be talking to Jesus and not sideline him. Then add this blog for more details.

WHY do I feel compelled to say more? Because as my wife Carole said to me: “For too many people, Jesus is just a concept, a doctrine, and not a real person, a real being we need to know well, and talk often to, and to love praising, as the one we’re going to marry!”

She’s so right. Jesus must be totally REAL to us as never before. That won’t happen if we’re not talking with him every day.

So DO you pray to Jesus as well as the Father? I urge you to study my sermon so you start doing it. DON’T sideline your Master!

Many of us were taught NOT to pray to Jesus. That is so strange. One minister called it “strange fire” as in Leviticus 10. So we can’t talk to the One we’re betrothed to marry? Really? (See 2 Cor. 11:2). We’re allowed only to talk to the father of our betrothed? What kind of a betrothal is that?

Who did the prophets and forefathers in the Old Covenant pray to? The evidence is that they prayed to God Most High AND to the Word of God, who was also God. See my sermon.

            ** Abraham was certainly talking to/praying to the One who became Jesus, as he saw him, ate with him and physically interacted with him (Genesis 18). So Abraham prayed to Jesus, but we can't?

            ** Moses pleaded with God – who showed Moses his glorified back – to please not eradicate Israel after the gold calf sin. (Exodus 34:1-9). So Moses many, many times prayed to Jesus but we can’t? He and God – the Word – spoke face to face as a man does to his friend – but we can’t talk to Jesus?

** David and the prophets all prayed to Jesus – the YHVH who appeared or spoke to them. David called “The LORD is my Shepherd.”

Are there any New Covenant scriptures that show the apostles and others praying to Jesus directly? I have several examples in my sermon, that indeed they did! ONE of several was the prayer of Stephen the deacon just as he was dying “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). If praying to Jesus is wrong, this verse should not be in the Bible. So Stephen was not wrong.

So now let’s add a few more.

My friend and a fellow minister reminded me of John 5:23 that we must honor the SON even as we honor our Father. This was a great comment from him and I wish I had included it in my sermon, but then again, I have many things that make the point in my sermon too. Let me start a few verses before:

John 5:19-23

Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,

23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

 

Yeshua/Jesus must become so much more REAL to us. We HONOR him by speaking OFTEN to him throughout the day. I urge you to study the sermon also on “Constant Contact.”

 

ALL of Paul’s epistles, my friend added, “Begin with a salutation from the Father AND the Son.”

 

Let’s take Philippians for example. Notice how many times Jesus is mentioned in just two verses:

Philippians 1:1-2 “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So many of my friends just say “God” a lot, or “Father” a lot – but rarely do I hear them speak glowingly and lovingly about Jesus, as someone they know intimately. I’m urging you all to grow in this.

My friend also pointed out Rev 15 and how we know this chapter as “the Song of Moses” that is being sung. But scripture actually says it’s also “the SONG of the LAMB.” Yes, Yeshua has a SONG for his Father. How lovely is that? How inspiring!

Revelation 15:1-3

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, AND the song of the Lamb, saying:

"Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!

Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!”

The Song of the Lamb. Jesus has a SONG for his Father. But notice his prominence. And certainly we surely know that God our Father has elevated Jesus to having a name higher than any other name under heaven except the Father himself.

Also read Revelation 5 and how the angels certainly praise and pray to the Lamb! Somehow they can pray to Jesus but his very betrothed can't? Notice the bowls of incense they present are YOUR PRAYERS – “the prayers of the saints”! Being presented to Yeshua/Jesus.

Revelation 5:8

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: [clearly directed at Jesus the Lamb]

"You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals;

For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth."

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

To receive power and riches and wisdom,

And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

"Blessing and honor and glory and power

Be to Him who sits on the throne,

AND to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”

We should be thanking our betrothed – Jesus -- directly every single day for being our Savior. For dying for us, for living for us, for being the new creation in us what we are supposed to be. Indeed, everyone extended honor and glory as they exclaimed, “worthy is the Lamb!”

Make this your PRACTICE. Make talking with Jesus more than just a doctrine but an intimate relationship.

Please, all of you, as we pray to Father, let’s pause and always include a prayer of worship, praise, gratitude and amazement for and to our wonderful Yeshua, our Savior Jesus, Son of God, worthy of all honor and praise.

Do everything you can to grow in your relationship with Jesus, even as you start your prayers to our Abba, our wonderful heavenly Father. Relationship. It’s all about having a real relationship with a real Being inside of us and who is leading us. Amen.

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Don’t DO it! Have NO part in Halloween.

Light on the Rock

The evening of 31st of October each year is one of my most hated evenings. In 2023, it’s this coming Tuesday night, Oct 31, 2023. Halloween. A night that clearly openly celebrates fear, darkness, evil, Satan, ghosts, goblins, violence, blood. Clearly something not for the children of God, right?

Obviously not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that even some of you who come to this site will participate in it one way or another, maybe low-keying it. Even a well known televangelist was recently saying “Halloween’s not all that bad. In fact it could be a time we could witness to others”. NOPE.

I have a full-length detailed SERMON about Halloween and why it is SO wrong for any professing Christian or believer to participate in it, in any way. And I mean not letting even your children be involved either, even if they dress in less evil outfits like maybe as a prince, princess, fireman, or something harmless. If it’s for Halloween, they’re still getting involved. And so are you. Don’t do it!

Someone near us has gone all-out to participate in this dark night.

Here's the full sermon on it and how and why our God warns us not to be involved in it at all, in ANY way. Just be aware it’s always 31st of October.

https://lightontherock.org/images/Should_Christians_participate_in_Halloween.pdf

If you’re not 100% clear in your mind why we should not be involved, then check out the sermon.

** If you’ve heard the arguments against participating in Halloween, but are still unconvinced, study my detailed sermon.

** If you’re going to hand out treats at your door, hear my sermon.

** If you’re going to let your children get all dressed up in non-gory safe costumes (and sure, it’s fun for them) and just be mildly involved somehow, hear the sermon.

** If you feel I’m going overboard and I should “lighten up” and let kids have a little fun, study my sermon. Please.

Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Study and focus on these kinds of thoughts and activities. Are any of these what you’d find in Halloween?

Philippians 4:8 -- “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Let’s come out of this world, children of God. I imagine that on this subject, 95% of you reading this, already no longer participate in it. Thank God! The rest of you – study that sermon.

https://lightontherock.org/images/Should_Christians_participate_in_Halloween.pdf

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Is Hamas mentioned in Scripture? Joel 3:19; Obadiah 10.

When I first wrote this in 2012 with 2,901 readers, the militant arm of the Islamic Brotherhood was Hamas and they were shooting rockets all over Israel at that time. Well, Oct 7, 2023 – on the 8th Day High day of God’s calendar, almost on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Hamas is at it again: they’ve shot thousands of rockets, killed over 700 Israelis as of this writing, and taken scores of people captive, including Israeli soldiers. Israel, is once again, at war, defending the land GOD gave to Israel. We need to be concerned and praying.

In today’s blog, I can’t resist pointing out what might simply be a coincidence – or maybe not. There are many examples of “plays on words” in Scripture. To the Arab, the word “Hamas” is taken to mean someone acting bravely in the cause of Allah. In Arabic it means “zeal” and it’s an acronym in Arabic for “Islamic Armed Movement”. ‘

However, in Hebrew, there might also be an interesting play on words. In Hebrew the word “Hamas” means “violence.”  It can also be spelled “chamac” but the “ch” is like an “h” and the c at the end is like an “s”. Is it possible that we were warned thousands of years ago in Scripture that Hamas would become a violent thorn in Jacob’s (Israel’s) side? That word in Hebrew – Hamas- - is used at least 60 times, and sometimes in direct correlation to Israel. Let’s examine a few.

Joel 3:19-21

19 "Egypt shall be a desolation, And Edom [Esau’s descendants] a desolate wilderness,

Because of violence [Hebrew: hamas] against the people of Judah,

For they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 But Judah shall abide forever, And Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted;

For YHVH dwells in Zion."

Edom – or Esau – always felt that his twin brother Jacob had stolen what was rightfully his. He made sure his children were firmly indoctrinated from their early childhood to hate their uncle Jacob, renamed Israel. The descendants of Esau included the Amalekites, the most hateful of Israel among Esau’s descendants. I suspect the Palestinians are from the ancient line of Amalek. This hatred for Israel is as intense as ever among the descendants of Israel’s brother Esau/Edom.

Today we find his descendants in much of the Arab and Muslim populations of the middle east. It is ironic that Palestinians and Jews are really from the same overall family. Both are children of Abraham and Isaac. Esau and Jacob were brothers. Palestinians and many Arabs are really brothers or cousins to the Jew. But the bad blood between these brothers has been roiling for millennia.

And it doesn’t help that the Hebrew or Jewish word for “darkness” or “nighttime” is “erev” – which can sound very much like “Arab” when it is spoken, though it doesn’t mean “Arab”.

Next, you simply must read the one-chapter book of Obadiah. It starts out as a prophecy, a vision, concerning Esau/Edom (Obadiah 1:1). We jump ahead to verse 10, but be sure to read all of it:

Obadiah 1:10

10 "For violence (hamas) against your brother Jacob [Israel],

Shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.

Yehovah does not like it when brothers don’t support or love each other. He hates it when a brother stands back and lets things happen without doing anything to stop it. When we read the first chapter of Obadiah, it is clear that some calamities are going to hit Israel very, very hard and the Jews’ Arab brothers are going to do nothing to stop the cataclysm. For their inaction, Yehovah will strike them very, very hard.

If any of my readers are Jews or Arab, please my brothers: in our Messiah we can come out of the ways of this world. Those of us led by the Holy Spirit can become friends, be brothers and sisters in Messiah, be heirs of the promises given to Abraham through Christ – whether you are Jew or Arab. But first, we each have to come to Him and surrender our lives to Him. Only then can we be one. John 17:20-23 tells us how we become one: IN and THROUGH our Savior, who also happens to be our Creator. Jesus – Yeshua – was the God-being who spoke the words “Let there be light” and HE was the one who created man out of the dust and then built a woman from Adam’s side.

Right now as I write this October 7, 2023 AND as well on Nov 16, 2012, Hamas is firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel. These are not aimed at military targets, nor are they precision strikes but much improved from before. The rockets could kill Jew or Arab, the aged woman or a baby, man or woman. Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense has kept most of the rockets from landing. It’s like firing a bullet to stop a bullet that has already been fired at you. It is amazing technology but not foolproof. The rockets are landing even around Tel Aviv at this point.

Israel is about the size of New Jersey. Imagine if thousands of rockets every day were being fired from Mexico and hitting Dallas or around Dallas. How would we react? So Israel is striking hundreds of military targets in Gaza, many of which are around population centers, so innocent civilians are also being killed. It’s a terrible scene all around. We must be fervently praying “thy kingdom come” as never before. Let’s also pray for Jerusalem and for Israel. I also pray that our God Most High, our Father, will be merciful on all people -- Arab, Palestinian or Jew-- especially when people turn and come to Him in repentant surrender of their lives.

The Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament has this to say about Strong’s word # 2555 – Hamas:

“A masculine noun meaning violence, wrong. It implies cruelty, damage, and injustice…..In relation to physical violence, cruelty is implied (Judges 9:24). When coupled with the term instrument or weapon, it becomes an attributive noun describing weapons or instruments of violence (Psalms 58:2 (or verse 3 in Jewish scriptures). When it describes a person, it can mean an oppressor or a violent man (Proverbs 3:31).”

I suggest you read the one chapter of the book of Obadiah, which is a prophecy against the descendants of Edom. Edom was another name for Esau. I suspect many of the Palestinians are descendants of Edom and even Amalek, Esau’s/Edom’s grandson from a concubine.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the return of our King Jesus!

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BECOMING SERVANT Leaders Like Jesus

(Introductory comment from P Shields: I have been very pleased with the hard work of all the pastors in Kenya. George Owato is the appointed coordinator there. The work he and Francis and others have put into serving the brethren there and helping plan for the coming Feast of Tabernacles is so appreciated. I asked him to write a blog on fulfilling our calling to be Servant Leaders like Christ is, as we prepare for the Kingdom of God. And really, we practice for God’s kingdom by being servant leaders now in this life. So here’s George.)

We know Jesus by so many dozens of titles. But how did he get so many titles? I mean titles like, King of kings, Lord of lords, Master, Teacher, Rabbi, High Priest, Savior, mighty prophet, chief apostle, Chief Shepherd and many more like Lion of Judah, our Rock and our High Tower. However, He lived a humble life and He did not go about broadcasting who He was by always using these titles. Have you ever asked yourself why? Because He was a servant leader. He lived, led and taught His disciples many things – Becoming servant leaders being one of them! Let’s focus on what he said about servant leadership.

Jesus was born to be a King but look at what he taught His disciples:

Mark 10:42-45 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall NOT be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Jesus was appointed by God Most High to be the King of Kings but he never acted like one lording it over others, though we call him “Lord”. Isaiah 9:7 says ““For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders…….of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

His mother Mary was told her son would be “called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:31-33).

Jesus clarified when that would happen.

Matthew 25:31 – ““When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” And yet we don’t see him acting in the way so many leaders today act: lording it over others.

MANY people aspire to be leaders at home, in their communities, in companies, in governmental and non-governmental organizations and, even in the Church BUT very FEW really seek to become leaders like Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of the Living God, “Who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself of nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Are we beginning to see what kind of leadership God wants for Jesus’ followers to have? May God Most High birth in us the desire to become Servant Leaders like Jesus, for His glory! Becoming Servant Leaders like Jesus MEANS we must totally surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and embrace His Servant Leadership model. Frankly we need the same mind that was in Christ Jesus for us to become servant Leaders like he was.

“Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Our attitude needs to be the same as that of Christ Jesus – humbling ourselves and taking on a servant’s nature (Philippians 2:5-9). Read those verses again. It is this mind and attitude of Jesus that will transform us to become servant leaders like Jesus – “who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

This mind of Jesus- the SERVANT Mindset will enable us fulfill these scriptures: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, in humility consider others better than ourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

This will be possible only if we have the same mindset Jesus has.

Probably very few of us really think that others are better than ourselves. Or think about others’ needs even above our own. So realize that even as we are training to be leaders, it comes by practicing Servant Leadership all the time and everywhere.

Even when Jesus returns, we will find him serving.

Luke 12:37 “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that He will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”

We know Christ laid down his life for us when he died on the cross. But do we also think of him laying down his life in daily acts of loving service and helping others? True service is giving up of our time and our life in a daily way, not just in death. For example, after preaching to the multitudes, our model Leader was moved with compassion and so he served them. He prepared a feast for them, as it was late in the day and they were famished and I’m sure Jesus was tired too. But he served their needs ahead of his, anyway. Even on the cross, his thoughts were on being sure his mother would be well provided for by John – though he was racked with pain.

This mind of Christ is a mind filled with and motivated by love- the agape kind of love God has, that will make us also be willing and ready to lay down our lives for others, any others like Christ did, not just our fellow believers. He died for us while we were still sinners. He died for all the world who would accept him. Are we willing to even serve and die for people who are not being so kind to us? Jesus did. He died while we were yet sinners.

But again, laying down our lives is not limited to literally dying, but also in daily acts of service, giving up our time and our lives for others now. Being a true Servant Leader means we’re putting other’s needs ahead of our own. We help - - even when it is so inconvenient to help. This starts at home. Many are willing to go all out for others, but not for our own spouse or family sometimes.

So in becoming Servant Leaders like Jesus we must have his kind of humility. That’s where it starts. We must humble ourselves just as Christ humbled Himself. There’s so much in scripture about humility.

Here are some examples to ponder: when you do a godly act of kind service, do you have to let others know? Our Messiah actually often told people he had just healed to be quiet about it, and not tell everyone (Matthew 8:1-4). But we tend to let others know of what a good person we are and all about our good deeds. When we do that, we are forfeiting our rewards from God! (Matthew 6:1-5). So Servant Leadership starts with our Lord’s humble mindset in whatever capacity we find ourselves – as dad, a mom, boss, pastor, teacher or coach, older brother or sister.

“…humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33). God will raise up the humble eventually, just as Jesus was elevated and honored tremendously after he humbled himself, as we can read in Philippians 2:8-9

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…”

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23). “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12). “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble…all of you clothe yourself with humility toward one another…..Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1Peter 5:5-6.

So before God elevates any of us, He has to see that we will be wonderful leaders, serving those he’s given us to work with – just like our King would.

Remember it was the very son of GOD who got up and did the job of the lowliest servant or slave: He washed all the others’ feet, including Judas’ feet, at the last Passover. Do we ever feel too important to do lowly work? Can we help quietly weed a widow’s garden if she needs help? When we feel like having more coffee or getting seconds after dinner, do we ask someone else to get it, or do we get up and get it ourselves and even ask the others if they want anything while we’re up? Men, are we willing to help with the housework, cleaning and tidying up – or is that the wife’s job?

Yes, the wife was to be the man’s “helper” or “help-meet”; “ezer” in Hebrew. But did you know that the Hebrew word there is exactly the same word used for our Creator who is also our “ezer”- our helper? Eliezer means “GOD is my help”! So men, husbands –we can be the ones helping our wives as well. Let’s become known as a wonderful helper, a leader who serves anyone and everyone.

We should be servant leaders at work, in church, with our families, everywhere! At church we help set up and take down the chairs. We might serve as ushers or singing in the choir or helping with the P.A. system. Those who serve in those capacities spend countless hours serving the rest of us. We really don’t need to be “serving” in the more prominent positions like preaching or giving Bible studies. God is checking our hearts and minds and examining our thoughts as we do everything we do. Those he sees are real servant leaders now will be the ones he will trust with high positions later. When we’re faithful in little, God knows we’ll be faithful in much.

When we finally have the humble mind and heart of our own Leader Jesus Christ, we won’t even think about or focus on being promoted or lifted up and exalted. It will come, in God’s good time, when and how He determines. Our real concern for now is not trying to be “in charge” – but in trying to serve the best way possible. We’ll be more concerned with the well-being of those we are serving, and not having to demonstrate we’re “in charge”. God can’t and won’t lift us up to be leaders in the Kingdom until we first learn to humble ourselves and be helpers and servants in every way we can – without putting on a big show and letting everyone know about our serving or how we are “in charge” here. We don’t need to be in the pictures of serving that are being shown everyone.

So humility is KEY to becoming Servant Leaders like Jesus. We must be humble, we must clothe ourselves with humility. “For this is what the high and lofty One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).

God, who lives in unbelievable splendor – wants to come live in us too, but only if we are lowly in spirit and humble. He really is not comfortable with prideful people.

“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

“…the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:26).

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Let’s be humble. Let’s have the mind of Jesus as we find ways to serve – ideally behind the scenes, unnoticed by mankind, but every thought and action is seen by God.

In conclusion, it takes humility and the mind of Jesus – the servant leadership mindset/attitude to become Servant Leaders like Jesus. And it’s something we’re doing all the time. Every day.

God willing, we’ll be able to share more ideas in future on this whole topic of being a Servant Leader like Jesus, wherever we are and wherever we go.

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Power of Group Prayer - Acts 12:1-5, 7-12

Many of you who have been students of God’s word for many years know that our Savior, Jesus the Christ, taught us to pray in private (Matthew 6:5-6). He said to find a private room – and there open our hearts to our heavenly Abba, our father in heaven. Prayer, especially when it can be heard and seen by others, can sometimes become a show otherwise. Or we can become self-conscious.

We also have numerous examples of Yeshua himself rising early and praying in private. Sometimes he would go up a hill in the magnificent creation and there commune with the Almighty (Matthew 14:23). Even in his most agonizing hours in Gethsemane, he moved some distance from his disciples while he went to pray alone (Matthew 26:36-39). Peter prayed in private on a housetop! (Acts 10:14).

Even in times of spectacular healings, though there are many examples of healings taking place in public, there are also examples of the man of God preferring to be private as he prays for the dead or sick person. Elisha closed the door behind him before praying for the lad whom God resurrected (2 Kings 4:33). Peter, when doing the same with Dorcas (also called Tabitha), also put everyone out and then knelt and prayed (Acts 9:40).

So I begin this blog about group prayer by being sure you, my readers, know that I understand that most of our praying time should be in private. I love to pray outside in the beautiful gardens and park-like yard our Father has given us. Other times, I beseech God Most High beside my bed as I speak to – and listen to – dear Abba.

But there’s power when many of God’s people come together in special times of beseeching Him. Scripture is clear on this also. Especially in times of deep trial and pain that affect the whole group.

I know many in the organizations I have been a part of who never come together to pray as a group for someone’s healing or for our dear Abba’s intervention in times of serious trial (with the exception of opening and closing prayer at church services or asking the blessing over the meal). They cling to those verses about praying in private and not to be seen – and so they would never be seen praying in a group, with a group. And yet scripture is clear: there are times we could be experiencing great blessings that come from group prayer… coming together as one body, and together beseeching our dear Abba and our Messiah.

For example in Acts 12, we can read of how Herod – during the days of Unleavened Bread – arrested two top apostles, James and Peter, with the intent of gaining popularity with the majority Jews who hated the apostles, by executing them. Look what’s said:

Acts 12:1-5   “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”

As we’ll find out shortly, in this case, constant prayer wasn’t just offered individually in everyone’s own private room in their own homes. Oh no. The believers came together in someone’s home and prayed together for hours and hours. Verse 12 says “MANY were gathered together praying.” Many! In Mary’s house, the mother of Mark. Read all of Acts 12 yourself. My question: would you and I have been there with them?

Now we don't know if the execution of James was quick and sudden – without warning, or was there prior imprisonment like Peter’s case? We just don’t know. But I’ve often wondered: IF James had also been imprisoned first, there is no statement that the church made constant intercessory prayer for him. Maybe they had no chance to, for its suddenness. I grant that possibility. But IF he had been imprisoned first, could it be that the brethren could have assumed that God surely would protect James, with or without their prayers? I hope I’m wrong in even wondering about that.

But you know the rest of the story, and how Peter was miraculously delivered after the church kept up their praying around-the-clock for Peter. They gathered together, several together in one place, to pray. You know Mark of the gospels? It was in his mom’s home – Mary the mother of John Mark the gospel writer, assistant to Peter – where they gathered.

I have to wonder: would we be reading the inspiring story of Acts 12 if they had not prayed together, as one body? I don’t know. But it’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? Maybe our Abba would have done exactly the same thing if they had all decided to just pray privately, individually, at home. But the story we have is that God stepped in as they prayed together, as a group!  

If you’re uncomfortable with the notion, stretch a bit. Start small. Sometimes, if not all the time, have one prayer with your spouse perhaps at bedtime or when you both get up. Add a child, if available. Now you have a group of three. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I AM THERE in the midst of them”, Jesus taught (Matthew 18:20).

Certainly there are many examples of the power of brethren coming together to pray as on together.

I know, I know, our Master tells us to go into our “closet” or private area when we pray and that we are to avoid praying in a way where we could be seen by others and therefore have them all feel we are a “man or woman of prayer”. Certainly that’s all true for our daily, personal prayer time. But there are just too many examples of awesome deliverance when God’s people got together to pray together, as one.

My wife and I normally pray by ourselves, apart from one another. But when someone is very ill or needs a miracle or answer from heaven, we will bow and kneel before Yahweh our Healer and together raise that person in prayer to the throne of grace and mercy and petition Abba for him or her.

The early believers were terrific about group prayer. There’s another example in Acts 4:23-32. The apostles had been threatened by the council for preaching in the name of Yeshua (Jesus), so they went to their spiritual brothers and sisters and shared their plight.

Acts 4:23-24   “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…..”

Now keep reading. After their group prayer as one voice and one accord:

Acts 4:31-32 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul….”

Our Almighty God clearly gave his blessing on that assembly praying together. Please ponder that. Be willing to follow their example! Be willing to stretch when you need to, to try things in the Bible that you maybe never have. Like praying in a group once in a while. Now I don’t believe in daily group prayers either. But in times of trial and stress, yes, come together and together beseech God in earnest prayer. Stretch a bit. Do it. Try it. Another stretch for you to try new things might be to raise holy hands in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8).

Another case of group prayer so pleasing to God – of many – is found in 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat of Judah prayed with a large crowd of people for God Most High’s intervention and protection. Jerusalem was surrounded by innumerable enemy soldiers.

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek YHVH, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from YHVH; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek YHVH. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of YHVH, before the new court…” and prayed with the group. Notice it clearly was a group.

Verse 13 – “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before YHVH.”

Can you imagine what it must have been like? Have you ever been a part of something like this? And wow! Did their God ever answer! You can read it for yourself in verses 14-19. And the people all bowed their heads as they worshiped Almighty. The next day YHVH worked a great miracle in their behalf.

The power of the group acting as one, together. Putting differences aside. Loving one another and loving the living God as we pray and trust him – together.

There are more examples. Read Esther 4. When Esther heard of Haman’s plans to ethnic-cleanse the Jews, here’s what this great woman said:

Esther 4:15-17 Then Esther told them to tell Mordecai: “Go gather ALL the Jews present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

They may or may not have come together in one place during those 3 days of fasting, but it is certain they prayed and fasted at least at the same time, for the same purpose. It does say they were to “GATHER” together and fast.   And did God ever hear that praying and fasting? Indeed!   (And by the way, when was the last time we each fasted?) I believe your brethren in southwest Kenya in Isebania fast monthly for prayer needs and requests. May our God bless them and provide answers. 

Why not try praying together as a group for some urgent requests and also for praise and thanksgiving? For those of you who have been doing this already, terrific. For some of you, this may be a new experience. We can all come together decently and in order, and then one after another can take turns leading in prayer as all the others assent in prayer and their “amen”. We can also come together to someone’s home as they did in Acts 12, perhaps some of the time spent in private prayer in the various rooms of the house—and at times come together as a body of one. Hold hands, bow your heads and pray as one soul, as one body led by His One Spirit. You will sense the anointing of God’s spirit as you do this when you do it to seek HIM – and not for any human show. I know this kind of group praying is not commonplace in some circles, but so what!? It’s Biblical. SO do it! 

It’s exciting when you feel the presence of Holy Spirit in your midst. There IS power when many of God’s children come together to pray to Him as one. Many – as one. Together, unitedly, harmoniously, humbly. Experience this powerful way of coming before God: as a group coming to him as one body.

Yes, most of the time – pray in secret, in private, just you and Abba as His Spirit Jesus Christ intercedes with and for you (Romans 8:26-27, 33-34). But be open to the power of the group prayer too!

I’d love to hear from some of you who will stretch and try this. Please share your stories and experiences with me. May our wonderful Abba and His Son bless each of you mightily.

 

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Gehazi, God’s mercy and you

We all know the story of Naaman the Syrian commander who was told to dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River and his leprosy would be healed. He finally did that, and was healed indeed. See the story in 2 Kings 5.

But do you know the rest of the story? Don’t assume you know or can guess the encouraging end of the story.

Naaman, upon being healed, offered Elisha a lot of silver and expensive garments, but Elisha declined. But Elisha’s assistant – Gehazi – ran off after Naaman and asked and received expensive garments and a lot of precious silver for himself – enough apparently to buy vineyards, more garments and lots of servants or slaves. Elisha was aware of it, and we start now in scripture reading. But don’t assume you know already how it all ends. I hope this will inspire and encourage you. We pick up at the point where the happily healed Naaman has just left Elisha’s home to go back to Syria.

2 Kings 5:20-27   But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him." 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, "Is all well?"

(BUT NOW GEHAZI LIES in his covetousness for silver and garments, which were very expensive)

22 And he (Gehazi) said, "All is well. My master has sent me, saying, 'Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.'" (No such thing had happened.)

23 So Naaman said, "Please, take two talents." (That’s 150 pounds of silver! Sixty eight kilos! That would be worth over $53,000 in today’s silver, 2023)

And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. 24 When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed.

25 Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" And he said, "Your servant did not go anywhere."  [Another total LIE]

26 Then he said to him, "Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.

Gehazi had coveted, and had lied and God was not pleased. But leprosy clinging to all his offspring for forever and ever? That’s a very serious and severe punishment. In fact in reading it recently I pleaded with God to be merciful today if there are still any descendants of Gehazi who are leprous because of Gehazi’s sin of so long ago.

It was very shortly after that when I learned of God’s mercy on Gehazi that I somehow had missed before. Maybe you had missed it as well. It was like God was telling me, “ Hey, let me show you something about my mercy that you obviously have missed before.”

I don’t believe there are any children or descendants of Gehazi suffering today because of his sin. But how could that be? That was the curse placed on him. But our God is so merciful, as he was even to Ahab, even to Nineveh, even to king Manasseh and so many others.

In 2 Kings 8, we read this, starting with the widow whom Elisha had been blessed by and he asked God to bless her with a son. She had moved away from Israel for seven years during a famine and now wanted to return and have her land back. Let’s read how Gehazi figures into this:

2 Kings 8:1-6   Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, "Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years." 2 So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.

3 It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.

4 Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done." 5 Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, "My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life." 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him.

So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now."

Here’s what’s easy to miss. Sure, the story goes on to show how the widow received her land and lost income back that she would have had from the land.

But here’s what I hadn’t seen before:

GEHAZI is seen here serving in the King’s court. But I thought he was a leper! He surely had been. And it was totally against the law for a leper in Israel or Judah to come anywhere near other people. They had to stay outside the camp and shout “unclean, unclean” as they walked. You can read this strict law in Leviticus 13:45-46 and Numbers 5:1-4.

There is NO WAY, that a leper in Israel or Judah at least, would be serving in their king’s court!

God’s mercy is perhaps being revealed here. God must have forgiven Gehazi and healed him, or we would not be reading what we do in 2 Kings 8. He would not have been serving openly in the king’s court.

And indeed, I’m confident there are no descendants of Gehazi suffering from leprosy today because of God’s mercy. SO many speak of the harsh “God of the Old Testament”. I see instead in this story and so many others, such kindness, gentleness, mercy and a very forgiving God.  

 

I found this very encouraging that even in my faults and sins, I can count on God’s mercy and forgiveness if I seek him, repent, and turn back to God. So can you. I hope this encourages you, as I know we all still slip up in sin too often. God loves to give his children another chance to live right and be a blessing to others upon forgiving their sin. Praise God our Father and Jesus/Yeshua our Savior/Redeemer for that!

As Paul Harvey used to say on radio, “And that’s the rest of the story.”

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Unlearning but replacing with truth

Most of you who come to Light on the Rock or other sabbath-keeping church groups, came out of a former church that probably was a Sunday-keeping church. Or maybe they taught that we are all in His rest now, and all days are sabbath rests in Christ. I don’t subscribe to that of course. Some of you came out of Judaism and Jewish synagogues. Or perhaps from Messianic groups and Hebrew Roots groups that focus heavily on the Old Testament and read the Torah every sabbath, as the Jews do. Some of you are former Pentecostals or Lutherans or Catholic. And some of you were born into sabbath keeping groups and that is all you were ever exposed to.

We are told to grow in the grace/favor and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). One of the things we have to learn to do when “getting it right” as far as knowledge goes, is being willing to unlearn what we believed before when clear scripture shows us correct doctrine or teaching. We all have to do this. I continue to learn more about God, Christ, the Bible – and continue to have to discard old ideas that I see now were just plain wrong. For example, perhaps some of us have had to learn that God really does love the people of the world, so much so that he sent his only son to die for us – and all of “them” too. And perhaps some of us had been too tough on the people of the world, for whom Christ died. So we unlearn thinking that taught us that God is always angry with people of the world. Yes, sometimes he IS, that’s for sure, but overall God is not willing that any should perish, so He sent His son to perish for them.

And how are we to know who among those not living totally righteously and obediently are ones God is starting to call and plans to have them in His First Fruits? When Paul first arrived at Corinth, God told him to relax a bit and not fear anything bad will happen to him there. Paul had just been stoned in Lystra and left for dead. He had in other places been attacked, mauled, beaten, scourged and ridiculed. But God’s reason to relax a bit: “For I HAVE many people here.” God was speaking of the ending from the beginning. And indeed, Corinth became a huge and energetic congregation.

Acts 18:9-11 “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I HAVE many people in this city." 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them”.

So we learn to unlearn some things – and replace them with what’s true. But fully unlearning is really hard sometimes. Sometimes you’ll be excited to understand Biblical truth. But other times it will challenge you, like making you wonder how you’ll tell your family that you can’t be part of their big family Christmas festivities anymore. Sometimes it’s our pride that gets in the way. We don’t want to admit we were wrong. Especially if you are a minister and have to tell your congregation now that you see some things very differently now.

Some people hate having to change or unlearn. But as God reveals himself and his word more to each of us, we will all have areas we have to let go of and replace with truth. We’re seeking “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), learning all the scriptures on a topic. And we learn how alive the Bible is. We keep learning deeper and newer information each time we study it.

Be aware that if you were an active Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim or whatever you formerly were, that now you’re learning new understanding about our God Most High – God the Father – and his Son Jesus/Yeshua. And you’re learning more about God’s Spirit and how God lets HIS nature and his power, and really Himself, come into us with that extension of him, his Spirit. But it’s not separate from Him. See my Part 1 of “Who – or what – is God’s Holy Spirit?” Even in Revelation 1 we see that Christ is speaking to the seven churches of Rev 2 and 3, and yet it says, “Hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches”. But Revelation 1 clearly identifies “the Spirit” as Christ himself speaking.

Let me also hasten to add that we don’t need to fight over doctrinal differences, especially when it comes to things like prophecy. I like to ride loosely in the saddle when it comes to prophecy. Don’t be so dogmatic on prophecy unless an angel has explained things perfectly to you. I suspect most of us will have to admit how we got some of it so wrong, when we look back one day. And if a doctrinal matter doesn’t affect your salvation, we can each have an opinion on it and see in the end how it ends up when Christ returns. But we don’t divide over such matters. 

For example, I believe we WILL go to heaven, but after we are resurrected, to be married to Christ, then return to rule with Christ on the earth (Revelation 5:10). Others do not believe this. They are against the idea of ever going to heaven ever, for any reason. Heaven is coming down to earth, they say. So I explain, the first 5-6 verses of Revelation 14 and 15 clearly speaks of 144,000 people, called “first fruits” who are “before the throne, before the 4 living creatures” or “on the sea of Glass” – and these are all descriptions of what are only in heaven. I believe we go to heaven to meet Abba, our dear father and to learn our upcoming assignments, be given our new names, and to marry and be part of the marriage supper of the Son of God (Revelation 19). How thrilling that will be! Others find that hard to accept. So be it. What we believe about that doesn’t affect your or my salvation. But be willing to really look into explanations different from yours and be willing to unlearn and be excited about the truth you’re learning. Be a Berean checking things out to prove what is being taught is true. 

Unlearning and what you’re going through is not that different from what the early brethren experienced. Initially ALL of them were Jews who had been taught in their Synagogues about Torah and their Hebrew scriptures. And key: for several decades, all they had as “the word of God’ was what we now call the Old Testament. The Epistles and other books weren’t even written yet for decades!

They called their Hebrew Scriptures either the Miqra or the TANAKH, which stood for Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim – the Law, prophets and writings. For the first few decades, this is ALL the early church of God had as their “Bible”. They didn’t have the gospels, the epistles of Paul or any others, or the book of Acts and Revelation. ALL they had was what we now call the Old Testament.

And within the synagogues, there were the stricter Pharisees, forefathers of today’s Orthodox Jews – and the Sadducees, many of whom were priests. They had doctrinal differences. Pharisees believed in the resurrection and a spirit world but the Sadducees did not, for example. Sadducees were more interested in material things, power and wealth. But they also believed that we are to live by God’s written word, not the oral traditions that Pharisees loved so much. Karaite Jews may be descendants of the Sadducees. Then there were others like the Essenes, who kept mostly to themselves.

But each one, unwittingly perhaps, brought some of their past and false doctrinal beliefs – or what I call “baggage” -- with them to this new body of believers. Some were ex-Pharisees, some were Ex-Priests from the Sadducees. Some were just sabbath keepers but not part of either sect. Not all of them hid behind their former beliefs, but some did.

Acts 6:7 “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

Many Pharisees also came to be believers (Acts 15:4).

The biggest and immediate new belief was that the man they knew as Yeshua from Nazareth of the Gentiles was truly the son of God, had died for their sins and was resurrected three days later and had gone back to heaven to be with His Father. For many, even the notion that there was a SON of God, the ONE God, was a big hurdle.

So they had to unlearn so much. They thought God is one being only. They believed the Messiah would be a warrior king as he conquered enemies before setting up his kingdom. But this Messiah, Jesus, had come, died, and left. And the hated Romans still remained. So there was a lot of unlearning to do. Could Messiah come twice? The first time as a suffering servant of Isaiah 53, and then return another time as conquering king of kings? And they had to learn that we’re mostly in the “spirit of the law” and in a brand New Covenant, not just a “Renewed Covenant” of the old. (I have sermons on this. Look up New Covenant).

One really big hurdle for many was that “the Chosen people” of God was now no longer limited to just the Jews or Israelites – but to whomever God called from ALL the nations. No more Jew, no more Gentile, but all one in Messiah.

ALL those who answered the call of God and received HIS Spirit, were the new “chosen”, whether Jew or Gentile. This was tough, very tough, for the Jews of Jesus’ day. But they all had to accept Jesus as their Savior, as the Son of God who died and was raised again for their sins and for their new lives in him. This was not easy to accept after millennia of being told they were the exclusive “chosen” and that all Gentiles were so inferior to them. Many Jews still struggle with this notion. SO much to unlearn. And you also will have areas of your belief to unlearn and replace with what Scripture really says.

Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees but he fought many ex-Pharisees’ understanding when he was in the Body of Christ. We are also told that some PRIESTS had become believers as well in the early days. The arguments over circumcision and whether they had to make Gentiles wear tassels (Tzit-zit) or not – keeping the letter of the Torah – became so heated they sent their leaders to Jerusalem to discuss it. It was a contentious meeting at first.

Acts 15:4-5   “And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 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."

So these Pharisees who were now part of the body of Christ were discussing TWO issues: circumcision of the Gentiles and keeping the Law of Moses (the Torah). This was a BIG DEAL back then.

One of the hardest things to do is to be willing to UNLEARN what you were once so convinced was solid truth. If all you had was the Old Testament, yes, it would seem clear that every male would have to be circumcised, until some began to realize there were also verses about circumcising the heart. Plus they had their experience with the household of Gentile Cornelius, and how God gave them the Holy Spirit without prior circumcision. To make things worse, Cornelius was a Roman centurion! An occupier. A soldier.

So the early church of believers in Christ was composed of brethren with differing ideas. My point is, we all bring with us what we had learned before and we have to be willing to UNLEARN many things to be in harmony with what the Bible really teaches – AND to be in harmony with one another.

Are you willing to UNLEARN when you’re shown clear scripture of what the Bible actually says? If so, you will start to see more and more of God’s truths from this site and from others too.

With this site you will learn the truth of what happens when you die. Or if God is trying to save the whole world right NOW (if so, He’s losing badly. MY God will never lose!). Was the sabbath day rest done away with? Were the 10 commandments done away with? If so, can I now go lie all I want, bring in an idol and commit all the sex sins I feel like doing? Of course not. It comes down to some groups rejecting the 7th Day Sabbath and God’s holydays. So they’re willing to discard the 4th commandment but pretty much everyone will agree the other nine are good to keep. That’s something you have to resolve.

What doctrines and beliefs will you have to unlearn and replace? What areas of baggage are you bringing in to the ekklesia (Greek translated “church” – but meaning “called out ones”. (The Latin version uses c’s – as in ecclesia. I prefer Greek).

The cure for this? Spend as much time in God’s word as you can and read it with an open mind. Scripture is your base, your starting point. Use this website to help you also. www.Lightontherock.org   Use the Search bar to put in just 1-3 key words of what you’re wondering about and chances are high we have a study or sermon on it.

So be willing to check us out, with your open Bible, and prove for yourself if what I teach is true or not. Don’t believe me; believe the Bible. God bless you as you approach HIM with an open mind, willing to unlearn if and when necessary, and leave old baggage aside. I’d love to hear from you too. May our dear Father and Savior bless you. And I hope someday to meet you.

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