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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 11:1-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prepare now for possible rough winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hardest "Thank You"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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God’s protection while at the Feast  

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

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

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

Notice this:

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

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

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

So, did God protect US?  He sure did.

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

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

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

Divine protection

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

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

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

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

Then it gets even better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By EUOBSERVER

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

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

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

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

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

Read all of 2 Thess 2.

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

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

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

So watch -- and keep watching and praying.

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

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

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

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

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

“Thy kingdom come.”

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What will our resurrection body be like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading, it will get clearer.

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

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

Revelation 20:4-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 15:22-25

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 15:42-45

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 13:43

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 20:6

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

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

1 John 3:2-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ark

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

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

Where did all the water come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Did Yeshua (Jesus) really say these?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready for more? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My intentions are several with this blog:

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

** ***

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

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WHY did David take 5 stones?

One of the best known “Bible stories” is David and Goliath, the giant from Gath, of the Philistines. When we were at “the Jerusalem Dig” in Israel in 1973, our group made a trip to the Valley of Elah, where the David vs. Goliath battle happened. I was surprised by how far it was between the 2 sides, the 2 hills where each army had gathered, opposing each other.

You probably know this story well. David carefully selected five smooth stones from a brook. As a watcher over his flock, David knew which stones would “fly” the best and have the greatest impact. He knew God would guide this, but he did his part.

But why FIVE stones? Did he think he’d miss? I’ll post the story of the battle later from 1 Samuel 17:1-11 so you can re-read the account if you wish or need to.

The Bible does not tell us why David took five stones with him. Let’s start with that. So whatever the full reason is, any answer is an educated guess, but you will find it interesting.

There are normally two theories for explaining why David selected 5 stones. First of all, remember that five is the number of God’s grace – and even that is significant to me.

--- The First Theory is David was just being prepared for whatever could happen. David gives no hint of fearing he would miss or that God wouldn’t give him success. So I don’t think he took five stones in case he missed. But what if the Philistines sent more soldiers out to fight David? So the first theory is that David simply wanted to be prepared for other contingencies that could happen. Besides, though he knew God would fight his battle for him, neither had God said that one stone would be enough. So David took 4 additional stones just in case he needed more.

Remember that God wants us to be prepared. Proverbs 27:12 says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

So if a hurricane is heading our way, long before it’s too late – we’ve prepared. You trust in God, yes, but you also prepare. You see danger coming and you take prudent steps. So you have spare batteries, spare gas (petrol), food, water, pet food, medicines are ready, first aid kits, and more. You might even board up the windows. This means buying plywood well ahead of time and cut to the proper sizes ahead of time. It always amazes me how so many people wait until it’s too late to “be ready” or seem unaware of other contingencies.

BUT… watch for my upcoming sermon on whether we should speak up and act in times of apostasy and danger against God’s children – or whether we should remain silent and be “invisible”. In this particular case, David showed up in the face of danger, DID speak up, and did face the giant danger head on! But he did take precautions and carefully selected FIVE stones. 

--- The Second Theory is that 2 Samuel 21:15-21 shows that there could have been a literal giant in Philistia named “Rapha” who had four giant sons besides Goliath. FOUR more giants!

The name “Rapha” can actually be translated “the giant” as well, or Rephaim – plural for “giants”. Some translations even translate Rapha as “giants” – or “a son of the giants” – plural.

So whether this was the name of one man who had 4 fearsome giant sons or whether they were simply descendants of the giants generally – the point is: there were FOUR additional giants. Some translations read this as these four were either sons of Goliath himself or a brother of Goliath. Without getting into the nitty-gritty on this, just know there were FOUR additional giants who were fearsome combatants.

So the second theory is that David was not just eager to fight Goliath from Gath – but ALL the giants at that time, all FIVE giant warriors. This theory is plausible, though we have no indication that David was even aware there were an additional four other giants besides Goliath. But it’s an interesting possible explanation for 5 stones, or is this just coincidence?

You can read 2 Samuel 21:15-22 that explains all about the four other giant warriors – but let’s read the summary for now in verse 22:

2 SAMUEL 21:22 –“These FOUR were born to the giant [Hebrew: Rapha] in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

So if you ask me why David took 5 stones, I’d say he was being prepared for any contingency, whether he needed more than one, or whether the Philistines sent others to help Goliath, or whether the giant’s 4 other warrior sons would show up.

I’ll end the blog with the scriptures of the fight and also about the additional 4 giants, but first this: David’s trust was not in his sling and stone – but in YHVH to fight for him and win.

Here’s the battle scene:

1 Samuel 17:40-51 NCV – (David) He took his stick in his hand and chose five smooth stones from a stream. He put them in his shepherd's bag and grabbed his sling. Then he went to meet the Philistine. 

41 At the same time, the Philistine was coming closer to David. The man who held his shield walked in front of him. 42 When Goliath looked at David and saw that he was only a boy, tanned and handsome, he looked down on David with disgust. 43 He said, "Do you think I am a dog, that you come at me with a stick?" He used his gods' names to curse David. 44 He said to David, "Come here. I'll feed your body to the birds of the air and the wild animals!"

45 But David said to him, "You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel! You have spoken against him. 46 Today the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll kill you and cut off your head. Today I'll feed the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel!

47 Everyone gathered here will know YHVH does not need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to him, and he will hand you over to us."

48 As Goliath came near to attack him, David ran quickly to meet him. 49 He took a stone from his bag, put it into his sling, and slung it. The stone hit the Philistine and went deep into his forehead, and Goliath fell face down on the ground.

50 So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. He did not even have a sword in his hand. 51 Then David ran and stood beside him. He took Goliath's sword out of its holder and killed him by cutting off his head.” 

Now here’s the account of the additional four giant warriors:

2 Samuel 21:15-22 “When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. 16 Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant [Rapha}, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, "You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel." 

18 Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. 19 Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.

20 Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. 21 So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David's brother, killed him.

22 These FOUR were born to the giant [Hebrew: Rapha] in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

The main thing: David trusted in Yehovah to fight for him, to guide him, and give him the victory. But he certainly was willing to face additional issues – whether from other giants or other soldiers from the Philistines. A great example of faith from such a young man, probably no older than 17 at this point (1 Samuel 17:42).

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Who will be the Beast and False Prophet?

I’m often asked to give prophetic sermons on exactly who the powerful duo working together will be – the Beast and the False Prophet. I’ve given sermons lately on steps to keep from ever being deceived by them or taking their mark on your hand or forehead.  But in those sermons, admittedly, I didn’t name names.

How important is it, for us to know right now who the Beast will be?

Scripture says “666 is the number of a man.” (Revelation 13:18). And who is the great end time False Prophet, the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Many assume it is a Pope. But how do we come to that conclusion for sure? And if it is the Pope, could it be the present-day pope or a coming one? Could it be a coming world False Prophet—working in tandem with the Beast power -- who can unite the Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists all under him – for it clearly says these 2 leaders deceive the whole world, including every tribe, nation and ethnic group (Revelation 13:5-8).  

And what does 666 mean? Who does it pertain to?

Everyone wants the answers. SO many people over the years have labored for hours upon hours on detailed time lines and charts to validate their prophetic conclusions.

I say – if you’re doing that -- you’re not making the main thing the main thing. I wrote on that recently too.

Here’s what I have to say about all that, and I think it is supported by scriptures:

--- I believe we will all know soon enough who the Beast of Revelation 13 is (world dominating super power with 10 kings giving their combined support to one Strong Man world ruler). We’ll know who that one strong man is – someday. All the present speculation going on – is pointless. Even if you get the right man (some say, “or woman”) in the end, so what? How does that benefit us all? It will be obvious when it happens, I’m sure, though some of you will argue against that.

--- Ditto for who the great False Prophet of the end time will be. He’ll be able to apparently bring to life the “image of the Beast” and to make it move and speak. He’ll be able to call down fire from heaven and to kill the saints who don’t worship the image of the Beast (Revelation 13:8-11). We’ll know who he is soon enough.

---All these charts and timelines take uncountable hours of time. Let’s talk about that. I’m not talking about timelines showing the 3 days and 3 nights of Christ in the tomb, or those kinds of timelines. I’m talking about prophetic timelines, the most egregious being the ones that put real future calendar dates and names to their papers. Unless God has inspired you and an angel has spoken to you - - like angels did to John as he wrote the book of Revelation – you’re just guessing!

And guess what? Identifying the Beast and False Prophet – even if you get it 100% correct – is not going to guarantee you special protection or to be counted worthy to escape these things that shall come upon the earth (Luke 21:36). Knowledge you have or think you have by itself –just puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Luke 21:34-36 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Here's the point of this article: Paul said his #1 quest in life was not to identify the Beast and False Prophet. Nope. Paul said his main goal was “that I may KNOW Him and the power of HIS resurrection”Philippians 3:9-10.

Paul spoke of the “man of sin”, that “lawless one” – in 2 Thess 2, but he did not name him. Paul said when whatever is holding him back is removed, he would be revealed plainly enough for all to see, though most of the world will see him as a kind and wonderful true religious leader and he deceives almost everyone.

Paul DID name the one whom he DID desperately want to get to know, and that name was Jesus Christ, or Yeshua the Messiah as many prefer, using his Hebrew name and title.

Paul also said we should follow or imitate him, as he followed the Anointed One (what Christ and Messiah mean) (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul wanted to come to know his Messiah and Savior more deeply than ever before.

Please everyone: we’ll all be much better off if we spent much more time seeking God and our Savior in prayer, fasting, ever deeper Bible study and coming to know our Savior - - instead of wracking our brain trying to figure out who the Beast and False Prophet are.

And by the way, once you figure out who they are, or when exactly the Christ will return to earth, please tell me. Then we’ll see if you’re right. All I know is that Yeshua himself said to his disciples that he would return at “a time YOU think NOT.” (Luke 12:40).

 We’re encouraged to seek to BE ready, not just “get ready”.

Luke 12:40 – “Therefore you also BE ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do NOT expect."

 But if we do seek to fervently pray always, fervently, I’m super-convinced that HE will reveal to us everything we need to know when we need to know it, and I believe our chances of being counted worthy to escape the terrible things about to land on this planet will be greatly enhanced (Luke 21:36).

To be able to do this also means many of us need to be spending far LESS time on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, TV, TikTok, Snapchat, video games and more. I will probably quit my Facebook. I totally dislike their censoring and information grabbing that they could use someday against God’s children.

So focus on getting God’s word firmly planted in your heart because you read, listen, and study God’s word so much. Focus on talking to our Savior and Father – and asking God to please open your mind, help you see spiritual things, help you see where you need to repent/change and overcome . Ask God to help you and me to repent and to wake up out of our Laodiceanism and lukewarmness. And also ask God to speak to you. He will. He does – if you tune in and are close to him and seeking him while he may be found.

THIS is where I want you focusing your non-working time. And if you do, you will recognize the Beast and False Prophet, recognize their mark, and 666 will just jump out at us – when it’s time.

Again, this is what Paul said kept him going:

Philippians 3:9-11 “…and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may KNOW Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

And please do watch my video on “5 Steps on HOW to be sure you will not be deceived by the Beast and the False Prophet”.

The points in that sermon are frankly far more important than identifying the Beast and False prophet. They will be so convincing that we will have to rely on the power of GOD to recognize his deceptions. It’s all in that video. Please also tell others about this website and the things you’re learning here.

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Cybercrime - tips to avoid cybercrime

  1. Cybercrime is real. Municipalities, corporations, government agencies and people just like you can get viruses, malware and even ransomware. Ransomware is particularly dangerous in that it encrypts all of your data so it can’t be opened or read. Victims will often pay heavy sums to get the “antidote”. I have a friend who works at CDC whose elderly mother fell for this trap and ended up paying $300,000, her entire savings in the scam.
  1. Make sure your internet connection at home is secure using a strong password (at least 8 characters including special characters like ! ^$). Do not use the same password for all of your online accounts, especially banking. If it’s been more than a month since last changing passwords, it would be wise to change them all now since there have been massive cyber break-ins that could affect you – with Amazon, Google and Facebook and many more, for example.
  1. When shopping online, make sure before you purchase anything to verify the connection is secure, with the address showing: https and a small padlock icon in the URL address bar.
  1. Keep your devices (computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones) up to date. These updates often include security patches and are good defenses from viruses, malware, ransomware and other online threats.
  1. Only login to your banking, credit card or other financial online services at home or work where you have a secure connection. Never access your financial information at a public location such as a coffee house or even a hotel on any device, including your cell phone. Your internet connection in public locations is often not secure and your username/passwords can easily be stolen. Don’t take the chance.
  1. Watch out for phishing scams. You might get an email that concerns you about an unknown purchase, a request to reset your username/password or anything that might seem suspicious. 

  2. Never open any attachments such as a pdf, zip file or Microsoft office document from unknown sources as these might contain macros that install malicious software. Also, do not click on any links from untrusted senders. These can take you to sites that download malware or viruses without being detected. Always check the email address of suspicious senders. Often, it is unrelated to the content of the email. For example, you might get an email from FedEx, Apple or Amazon, however the senders email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The domain name should be the same as the company mentioned in the email.
  1. Especially if you’re on Facebook, do not share information about pending vacations, trips or anything personal online. If a criminal knows your plans they can find where you live and break into your home when you are away. It’s also best not to post your birthdate on public sites, or names that could be used to help crack your passwords, i.e., be cautious about using names of pets, or nicknames of grandchildren or children, etc.
  1. Your friends on Facebook and other media may ask you to copy and paste something they found elsewhere and now want you to do the same. The problem with this is that all too often those oft-shared posts can have malware and computer viruses that can infect your computer and the ones with whom you share!  I recommend you stay away from these kinds of invitations. 
  1. Never give any PII (Personal Identifiable Information) on the phone, including your birthday, social security number or any banking information. No government agency will ask for this information. In addition, the IRS will never email you regarding you filing status.
  1. Don’t throw your personal information in the trash without first shredding it, tearing it up or blocking out sensitive information with a marker.
  1. Check your credit card statements each month and immediately report any unapproved activities.
  1. Windows 10 offers Windows Defender that should protect your system in real time, however that service can be compromised. A good, inexpensive alternative is Malwarebytes that can protect your computer and periodically scans your computer for any threat. While PC’s running Windows are the most targeted operating systems, Mac OS is also vulnerable as well if you do not take precautions.
  1. Finally, if you think you are the victim of a cybercrime, Do Not Panic. Shut down your computer and call an IT specialist for help.
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Living with awareness of our mortality

Are you and I becoming more and more aware of our mortality – without being morbid?  I am. Are you ready to meet Christ at your next conscious moment? 

It’s undoubtedly easier for people with serious health issues or for older people to have this awareness of our mortality. But it should be an awareness we all should have – whether healthy or not right now. Our lives can change suddenly and in an instant. 

I want to face that awareness of my mortality with a confidence of having fought a good fight and run the course given to me, as Paul said (2 Tim. 6:7). That wasn’t just for Paul but for all of us (1 Timothy 4:12). Still working on that part by forming the right trusting relationship with my Savior and Father.

David said God gave mankind by David’s time, about 70 years of life. After that, it’s bonus or grace. Obviously in our day, many live into their 80’s to even past age 100.

Psalms 90:9-10 – “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;

We finish our years like a sigh. 10--The days of our lives are seventy years;

And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,

Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

We know Methuselah and many others lived over 900 years. And for many of you, your dad or mom or grandpa lived into their 80’s and 90’s and longer. Regardless: everyone’s first moment of awareness after our death – whether young or old – will be with Christ, one way or another. (Hebrews 9:27; John 5:28-29). Some will receive praise (2 Cor. 4:5) from God.

But what about you? And why does it matter? Are you ready to have your next moment of awareness be in your resurrection -- and what happens after that? Literally, our “life expectancy” or “lifetime” could be our very next breath or heartbeat. Are you ready for that to be the conclusion of your life?

Have you ever been taken to the hospital by ambulance? It really wakes you up to the fact that “this could go either way” and your time left on earth could be mere minutes.

I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance about a year or so ago after severe chest pains. One moment I was feeling great. The next moment, I felt like someone had stuck an ice pick into my chest all the way to outside my back. And it felt like it was throbbing there, in and out, and not subsiding. That’s when I called for my wife to take me to ER nearby – and with just a few checks on me, they rushed me into an ambulance to the full hospital.

As I rode to the hospital by ambulance – though I honestly was not afraid, the thought did cross my mind, “is this the way I finally go”? I was connected to various monitors and had things stuck into me by the EMT all the way to hospital. I was answering his questions. Then in a quiet moment, I wondered if I had let God do as much in my life as He may have wanted or could have – or did I resist his will for my life? And now I am much more aware of how quickly things can change.

Our life can end suddenly. Or it can drip away little by little, as you slowly die with severe pain, or Alzheimer’s – like my wife’s mom. Like grandma. Like my brother’s wife recently. But one way or another, we all will die unless Christ returns in our lifetime. 

Are you ready?

For my dad, at 61, it was after a hard day’s work in the Philippines, but with a weak heart after many prior heart attacks -- he just lay down to sleep and never woke up. For my mom at 65, it was a sudden stroke and that was it. I was only 30 and 40 when they left us.

And going further back to when we were just 29 years old, how awful it was hearing my young wife’s screams as she pointed to our young first son’s lifeless tiny body and his dark blue face on our bed. I’ve never been able to hear screams or ambulance sirens ever since then without reliving the indescribable horror of those moments.

But once again, the suddenness of how quickly our lives could change -- was slapping me in the face. My attempts at CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for our little David were so frustrating as nothing happened – as I prayed my heart out and breathed in deeply into his tiny mouth to give him air. But it was too late. His face was dark blue and his body already hardening. I remember being amazed at how many tears I was splashing on to his still and lifeless form. He was so small, so new, so young – and gone. Suddenly.

Mortality. Your mortality. Mine. Are we aware of it? Our physical life can end at any time – or not. Paul urges us to “make the most of our time” – or “redeeming the time” we have. In Greek, it’s literally “buy back the time” you have left.

Ephesians 5:15-16 CJB -- “Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely. 16 Use your time well, for these are evil days.”


Other translations say, “Redeeming the time”. Holman Bible says “Making the most of the time…”

I tell these stories only to help make the point of how quickly things change. Just a buzz on your cell phone in your pocket can mean “it’s started”. The notification could be someone trying to alert you of a dear one in an accident, or in the hospital, or who has died. Will you be ready?

Even on a worldwide basis, remember how quickly a virus changed the whole world. Suddenly!

Just a couple days ago, we got the notice that one of our neighbors had died of Covid-19, the terrible virus from China. I had come to know her, been there for some needs she had, and even worshipped with her at her place of worship. But suddenly – she was gone. We’ve personally known 3 others who have died from Covid-19. In those other cases, there were prayer requests for a few days – and then they too had died. So those weren’t instant, but still rather sudden.

How suddenly things can change. That’s the point.

Yeshua said the very end time’s events will be like those in the days of Lot and Noah. We tend to think he was addressing how evil the end time will be, but if you read it, Yeshua’s main point was actually on how SUDDENLY their end came. I actually have a sermon on this too.

Paul described the very end time by saying it will seem peaceful and safe – then sudden destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5). He also said it would be like a pregnant woman who knows the time is close – then her water breaks suddenly, at the worst possible time and place. Read it below:

1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 – “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”

You and I may not have time or may not be given time to spend a few months seeking God, repenting, fasting, changing, overcoming before the “end” comes to you or me.

My point in this message is simple: don’t assume you have all the time in the world to seek your God, to pray often to Abba our dear Father or talk to our Beloved Yeshua and to build the strongest possible relationship.

 

Relationships take time. Sure, God can and does hear “deathbed repentances”. But don’t risk your eternal assignment and even communication with last minute planning.

 

I had a classmate “in the church” in high school who said he would quit messing around at the “11th hour”. I remember telling him as a 17-year-old, “the problem with that, is that you could die suddenly at 10:30 pm and have no eleventh hour”. He did die suddenly, shot in the chest multiple times. He never did get his life in order.

So we may not be given all the time we hope for. Some of you won't’ agree with me on that. Fine, but I’d rather play it safe and always be ready. NOW is the time to pray as never before. Now is the time to pray OFTEN, many times a day. Now is the time to stop habitual sins that you’ve allowed to fester in your life.

And yes, we all hope Messiah will return soon, in our lifetimes, or in the next 10 years. But no matter when he returns, his “return” to you may be your next heartbeat or breath! We must live with that awareness; not morbidly, but with seriousness of our time – even as we EAGERLY await our meeting with him, knowing – like Paul said about his own life – that he had fought the good fight and there awaited him the crown of righteousness.

That’s the right balance. We know we can die at any time but we’re ready – whether we live or die anytime soon or not. We’re ready – in faith in our Messiah and our awesome Father. We’ve repented and turned away from our sins. We’ve accepted Yeshua – Jesus Christ – as our Savior and Master. We accepted his righteous covering over us, and his life now has become our life (Col. 3:3-4). His righteousness has been credited to our account (Romans 4:5-8, 23-24) and so God now sees Jesus’ goodness in us. And we accepted that (2 Cor. 5:21).

So we don’t have to fear death. We don’t fear meeting our God. In fact, we have confidence in him and look FORWARD to being with Christ.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 – “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have LOVED His appearing.”

Do WE have that confidence to LOVE his appearing? We should! 

 

Hebrews 9:27-28 -- “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who EAGERLY wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Did you get that? EAGERLY awaiting him. In fact when he comes – He will have judgment on those destroying the earth, yes. But he will have PRAISE for those who are his people, those “who do good” (1 Peter 2:15b).

1 Corinthians 4:5

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's PRAISE will come from God.”

So BE ready – no matter how much or how little time we have left – BY CHANGING the way we live and letting the Messiah’s life BE our new life. The “old self” in us should no longer be dominant.

1 Peter 4:1-4   “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”

Titus 2:11-15   “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

Philippians 1:21-22   “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell”.

Let’s live -- soberly and joyfully looking forward to meeting our Beloved Savior. Let’s take our remaining lives seriously and thankfully. If we have serious sinful habits, let’s be done with that and let’s let Christ live in us now as never before.

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Keeping the main thing -- the main thing.

What’s first in your life?  What’s your Main Thing in life? 

 Some time ago, someone wrote a book that popularized the title above, so I want to give credit to where credit is due. But the point was: life is about keeping the main thing, the one main thing.  Do you readily know your “main thing” in life?

 Our Master told us what he thinks our main thing should be:  God. Seek him first thing every day. First thing. David sought God in prayer three times a day… morning, noon and night. He is our salvation. He is our goal. He is our holiness. He has all power – for that matter – to make things go easier for us or he can refrain from smoothing out our paths.

 Yeshua said “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and all these other things you worry about will be added to you.” (Paraphrased a bit from Matthew 6:33). 

 We get into trouble when things that are not the “main thing” get in front of what’s most important.  ARE you and I seeking the Kingdom of God FIRST thing, each day?  Look for the sermon about Eating your Daily Manna. 

 We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Oh Martha, Martha”  In the story of Mary and Martha, two wonderful faith-filled sisters who supported Christ’s ministry. Martha had forgotten the main thing. She very understandably became overly concerned with getting dinner ready for everyone while her sister Mary was stuck in the room with the guys listening to Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus). 

Many of you reading this, especially you ladies, would have to admit that many of you would be exactly like Martha. You’d be busy getting the appetizers, drinks, napkins out, and the main course meal all ready if this dinner was in your own home. You know you’d be no “better” than Martha! Nor would I! So what Yeshua says is of utmost importance. 

What did our Master say? How does that apply to us today? Are you and I keeping the main thing, the main thing – day after day?

I wonder if many of us even have our own “Main Thing” established in our lives.  Look at your life. What are the priorities in your life?  What are the things you and I have as “must do” items each day?  Are we any better than Martha? I’ll get to what Yeshua said in a moment. 

You know you certainly spend more TIME on other things than seeking after God and his word. Who gets more of your time – Facebook, or God? Which grabs more of your instant attention – your dumb cell phone or listening for God’s words for you? TV – or Bible study? 

And we excuse ourselves by saying we’re too busy to pray and study every day as the first thing we do. There are other pressing issues. Remember the warning in Yeshua’s parable of the wedding supper in Matthew 22. Those who were invited to the royal wedding of the King’s son had to go check out some land they had bought, or their new team of oxen, or the woman they were about to marry. Please read it again for yourself (Matthew 22:1-10). So others were invited, but they did the same thing. Finally the king pulled in anyone they could find – both good and bad. And the others had a bad ending. Go read it. It’s not just a cute story but a strong warning. 

I heard a report that the average 15-30 year old reads and responds to 1,500 texts a month! That’s at least 50 a day! Now add to that, any time we spend actively engaged in downright sinful activities. God forbid.  

What do you do when you first wake up and open your eyes? Sure, we all go to the bathroom. But after that what do you do? Yep, many of you grab your cell phone before all else to check what new texts await you, what’s the latest news, or new gossip is being offered or what the calendar says is on for the day. 

That’s NOT keeping the main thing the main thing. If that’s your pattern, please wake up. Don’t put God and his kingdom 2nd, 3rd, or 40th in your life. 

You know I’m right – for many of you. I don’t even have my cell phone anywhere near my bed because I don’t want my cell phone to be my main thing. It IS the main thing for most people. I know people who can’t go shopping without the cell phone and will drive all the way back home first, as they’re lost without their cell phone. 

Put the cell phone down. Now pray. Then Study. And spend time with your wife or husband and go for a walk and leave your cell phone behind. Some of you just would refuse to do that. I say put it down, focus on relationships. Start with your relationship with God, then with your husband or wife, and your children. Relationships. That’s what life is all about and will always be what it’s about – not how much work you can accomplish. 

Yes, I’ve had to learn that too. So now my wife and I have daily time focused on each other in pickleball, or sitting out in the lanai and just enjoying each other, or going for walks around the block hand in hand, focused on each other. It wasn’t always that way and I almost lost my marriage. And my relationship with God too. So I had to wake up and keep the main thing the main thing. And now we’ll soon be happily celebrating our 46th anniversary – when many didn’t give us much of a chance years ago. But more importantly, I want to be accepted by my Master and my Father. 

Oh that we would feel as “lost” if we were to start a day without communing with our Father and Savior each and every day, absolutely first thing every day. You know what happens otherwise: other things CROWD OUT God and seeking him and his word. 

Are you caught in that trap of seeking and spending time on worthless things – pursuits that won’t bring you eternal life? Are we missing out on building a closer bond with our Savior because the weeds and thorns of life’s distractions are choking the word of God?  

Do you remember the Parable of the Sower and how some seeds were prevented from growing and bearing fruit because the cares of this life were likened to weeds and thorns choking the word of God? See Matthew 13. “Cares of this life” can be the worries of this life as well as the pleasures of this life – anything that chokes out God’s word from being productive in us.

Matthew 13:22

“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the Word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

Luke 8:14-15

“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

Back to Mary and Martha. Notice Yeshua’s words to Martha. She was concerned with MANY things and missed the MAIN Thing. But her sister Mary was concerned with the ONE thing, the main thing, and she was commended. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to His words. Remember there were no doubt thousands of stories that could have been told about Yeshua, but of all of those possible stories, only a few dozen are preserved for us today. This one story was important enough to be among those preserved for eternity – as so many of us, men and women alike, are “Marthas” so much of the time. Including me!

Luke 10:38-42

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about MANY things. 42 But ONE thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

If this were spoken today, he’d be mentioning some in the audience who were distracted by their dumb “smart phones” – as they would check for their latest FB notification, or email or twitter – even AS Yeshua was speaking. There’s a time and place for social media and smart phones. But there’s a time we should turn them off and focus on The Main Thing. 

Would YOU have been Mary in that situation, sitting at Yeshua’s feet, listening to the Master? Or seeking other priorities? 

I find it disgusting to see people in a restaurant unable to talk together because most are checking their cell phones instead. Table after table – the same thing. Are you like that? What have we come to? How about leaving at least one cell phone in the car and just focus on your spouse or family and the meal and talk – and listen. Focus on relationships! 

Please don’t make your cell phone more important than God. Roll out of bed, speak and listen to your Father, first thing every single day. Make that your new habit, if it’s not already. Let’s MAKE the main thing the main thing in our lives – and then KEEP the main thing the main thing.  

Get to bed early enough to get up early enough to once again sit “at Jesus’ feet and hear His word”. Get up early enough to open the Word of God, thank God for this daily time you devote to seeking Him and His Word. 

We’re too close now to the return of Yeshua our Messiah, our Beloved Master for us to be letting Satan distract us.

In case it’s still unclear to anyone: the main thing is seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness –Matthew 6:33 –and you’ll find you have lots of time for everything else. God smooths out our paths and opens doors when we put him first.

Proverbs 3:6  --“In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct (smooth out) your paths.”

And keep the main thing – The Main Thing. 

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God bless you, Moms and Grandmas! Happy Mothers’ Day.

I just watched a series of videos of our young American soldiers coming home – surprising their moms, who didn’t know they were there.  I’ve seen a few of those, and they always make me cry.  Thank God for moms.  Thank God for you women.  Thank God for wives.  The videos I just mentioned make it so clear how deeply moms feel for their children, especially when they’ve been in harm’s way for so long.  Happy Mother’s Day, moms.  

I lost my mom in 1993 and how I miss her. She was way too young, only 65, and I was way too young (only 40) to not have my mom in my life. I lost my dad when I was 30 and lost our first son when I was 29. You never know how long you will have close family, so love them all now, even if you think you see flaws in your mom. We’re all fractured people, and you may never know all the situations your mom had to work through in life. If you see your mom in bad light for some reason – forgive. Love. Honor her – anyway. If you adore your mom – be sure to tell her often. 

So I always delight to see people of all ages loving and respecting their mom. My wife’s wonderful mom was 90 when she died last year (2020), and her dad died suddenly at age 95 before that. Of course I always called them Mom and Dad too. I felt a special closeness to her mom when some years ago, I opened up and said, “I don’t have my own mom anymore, and haven’t for a long time. I’ve been calling you ‘mom’ – but could I really see you as my Mom?”   She hugged me and said “of course”.  

One pet peeve I have to mention: Most of us older people (let’s say those of us over 55) still prefer to hear your voices rather than get your text. We like to see you in person from time to time. We love feeling your hugs and assurance we mean something to you, our kids. Trust me on this. TALK to your mom more often. Sit down and enjoy her conversation. Go for a walk with her. Be there. I’ve often thought that many of the under-55’s would even text GOD – instead of talking with him – if they could! Talk with your mom, folks. Talk. 

Mothers, know your role is so huge in shaping all of humanity and even world history! So many of you nowadays soldier on in “single-parent homes” due to an absent husband, the father of your children – but you keep doing what you have to do to provide for the children in your care. So many of you have to get up and go to work early in the morning, or late into the day, but you do it for the deep love you feel. That’s not going unnoticed, moms. And so many of you are the teachers of things Biblical to your sons and daughters. In the coming final years before Christ returns, you moms can play a strong role of solid faith to your adult children and your grandchildren. I count on it. 

I remember my own mom, as she went through the divorce (I was 12) and we were so poor. We didn’t own a washer/dryer and money was always tight. Poor mom worked hard all day and then had to do the laundry, shopping, cooking – and though we all certainly did try to help, I could see her carrying the load in those years especially. How I miss her. But she never lost her focus on her Lord and Master Jesus Christ. 

I look at my own wife when she’s around our children. She never seems to be thinking of her own needs. Never. Or so it seems to me. She’s always trying to be sure everything is ready and running smoothly for everyone else. She’s constantly trying to please the kids, to please me, to please guests. I know she has her own issues, but you’d never know. And as special as she is to me, I know this would be said by many of you of your moms or your wives out there. God bless you moms and wives out there. 

Timothy of the Bible was raised to love and obey God and know his word due to the faith, example and diligence of his mom and grandma (2 Timothy 1:5), mentioned by name in scripture: Grandma Lois and his mom – Eunice. Yes, you grandmas can have a HUGE impact even on the grandkids! I see it all the time as I watch my wife’s impact on our grandchildren here.  

Women were also made in the image of God and then Elohim gave both the man and the woman dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). I’ve always personally believed that God divided his qualities equally into the male and into the female. God is neither male or female – but is both, I believe. We call him Father, true. But if both male and female are in his image, I believe women will feel very, very comfortable around our heavenly Father when you women someday meet Him “in person”. 1 John 3:1-3 clearly states, we shall see him as He is sometime. 

Click on “Continue reading” to read what God says about moms and women generally – and to read of some women I feel were great moms in the Bible.

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Beware of wolves in SHEEP’s clothing.

You all know this verse where Yeshua (Jesus) is speaking to his very own followers and disciples and says this: 

Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” 

“Beware of wolves IN SHEEP’s clothing”. We’ve all heard that verse, but many have missed it. Christ is NOT telling us to just beware of false ministers, false prophets, or false SHEPHERDS who come to us AS ministers, prophets, or shepherds. That applies too but notice what he actually says. But here at least, Messiah doesn’t say “beware of false prophets who come to you in Shepherd’s (ministers) clothing.” We have to be aware of that too. There are a lot of false teachers out there. We must be on guard against that too.

But who are the “sheep”? We brethren are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). Sheep are regular members of the congregation. That’s why Messiah told Peter to “Feed my lambs and my sheep” in John 21:15-17.

By saying “who come to you in SHEEP’S clothing”, Yeshua is saying “beware of false teachers who come to you like a regular brother or sister in the congregation. They look, act and speak like a regular church member.”

 Especially in these last days, deception can come from any direction – including from beloved Sheep of God – the brethren. In this passage Christ is urging to have our guard up because even regular brethren can actually be wolves or false teachers.

The Supreme Being, God Almighty, selects and appoints leaders - or shepherds -- over the flock to guide and lead the sheep. We know them as “watchmen, pastors” – which is related to being in the pasture with the sheep. Hence, we have “shepherds, teachers and ministers”. Many prophets and teachers were actual shepherds like David, Amos, Jacob, and his sons and many more.

There certainly are many warnings to teachers and shepherds. We teachers will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Read Ezekiel 34:1-10 on your own. And in Acts 20, we have Paul’s warnings to the leaders of Ephesus – and it really applies to any who are leaders in the congregation.

Acts 20:28-29   “Therefore take heed to yourselves AND to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”

We belong to Christ, as he purchased you and me with his own life blood. We do not belong to any other shepherd. Christ is our Chief Shepherd and you and I can follow pastors only as long as they follow Christ. As Paul said, “Follow or imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

So the ultimate shepherd over the flock of God is the Son of God, Yeshua. HE’S the head of the church. David said “YHVH, the LORD, is my shepherd”. God the Father is, by hierarchy, also our shepherd, but Yeshua was explicitly clear that HE is the good shepherd. John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd…” 

But now let’s get back to wolves/false teachers who talk to you as a brother or sister in the church. Your guard may be down, for he/she is – after all – someone you know so well. SO you talk, so you listen, so you get influenced.

ARE there wolves masquerading as shepherds and ministers? Of course.

But don’t miss what our Messiah is actually saying: You and I can just as easily be led astray by brethren we hold in high esteem who are not pastors or shepherds but like to share their new idea with others and lead them away from the flock. This could be anybody. It could be me. It could be you. It could be our friends. We must be vigilant even with those we thought we could trust as good friends in the congregation. This is why we must speak up more often than we do when someone is leading others astray.

How would YOU feel, if you had been one of the 12 disciples of Christ – and Jesus the son of God called you “Satan”?

Yeshua was being super aware not to let anyone near him be used by the Adversary (Satan).

Matthew 16:21-23   “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"

23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, SATAN! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

So never forget that Yeshua called even Peter – “SATAN” -- when he perceived that SATAN’S own wrong spirit had infected Peter’s answer when he was correcting Christ about his upcoming crucifixion. If Christ could call Peter “Satan” – it shows how we must be on guard even with our own best friends, our own family, or our own church members.

We often let our guard down when it’s family or friends speaking to us. We shouldn’t EVER let our guard down.

Some of you prefer to never “rock the boat” or look disagreeable. Had you been Yeshua that day, would YOU have corrected Peter so strongly – even calling him “Satan” – because that is whom Peter had listened to. Remember another time Yeshua warned Peter that Satan had asked God for permission to “sift him as wheat”. Don’t think that all stopped with Peter. I’m sure Satan is asking permission to use other brethren as well.

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

The good news is that once we belong to God, Satan cannot do anything to God’s children without the Almighty’s permission. Remember Job? Yes, God does give Satan permission at times. Even Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” – whatever that was – was, according to Paul, “a messenger of Satan” to harass him and keep him humble (2 Cor. 12:7).

Christ warned that our own family could turn against us in the very end as some will become wolves – in sheep’s clothing, not wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

How do we remain on guard to counter this? We’re given several points.

You will know the wolves in sheep clothing by their fruits.

Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Another point: Be like the Bereans. Compare whatever brethren are telling you -- to God’s word. Are all of us even IN the Bible absolutely every single day? It’s the BREAD from YHVH. We don’t miss food on any given day unless we’re purposely fasting. Neither should you miss time in God’s word one way or another, especially in 2021 when it’s so EASY to have the whole Bible in many formats in books, on our cell phones, tablets, computers, everywhere!

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you ABIDE in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Know God’s word SO WELL that when you hear something that just isn’t Biblical – you can challenge it. Instead of having the TV on constantly or having news or music on in the car when you drive – listen instead to the Bible in audio format. Or just turn everything off – and meditate in silence over what you studied that morning. DO the audio Bible in addition to deep study at your desk.

You and I are set FREE by the truth. But if we don’t KNOW the truth of scripture, how will you be set free? Yeshua says we have to ABIDE – stay closely in – HIS word!

And of course PRAY for God’s spirit to help you discern truth from error.

I personally think we should follow Jesus’ example too. SPEAK UP when heresy is being discussed. Our Savior didn’t let Peter get away with saying HE – Yeshua – would not be crucified. No, he roundly corrected him. Many of us are more comfortable saying nothing and “not causing a fuss”. But silence emboldens those propagating error. Silence is seen as agreement with their error.

There’s a great example of a married couple named Aquila and Priscilla who took an upcoming “leading man” named Apollos, mighty in scriptures, and took him aside to explain more correctly the way of God that Apollos didn’t understand. They didn’t just let him continue teaching what was error. Apollos went on to become a great leader in the church, by the way, and in Corinth some even claimed to be “of Apollos” (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4). 

Acts 18:24-26 “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Would you have done that? Apollos may have, at this point, been simply a regular brother/member of the church. But had Aquila and Priscilla not done that, he could have become a wolf in sheep’s (brethren’s) clothing deceiving the brethren. But it ended well – because Aquila and Priscilla were on guard.

Today, false teachers coming to you as regular members, can use so many avenues: Facebook, email, text messages. They can forward link after link of something new and titillating they think everyone needs to hear. Just be careful. Some of these forwarded links are fine. Some are not.

So –as Yeshua said: “Beware of wolves in SHEEP’S clothing;” FALSE teachers who come to us as a regular member of your church. So – we think “they’re just one of us; he’s a church member – so yes, I can listen to him”. And so our guard goes down. Let that not be your story. Let your story be that you keep your guard up, and you abide in the word of God, know it very well – and you recognize error and don’t let that wolf in sheep’s clothing continue sending you more and more material that is off based.

I certainly would not recommend you let false teachers TEACH in your congregation. If what they’re teaching is easily proven to be false – or causes division and arguments and discord – recognize their FRUIT. You shall know them by their fruit.

Let’s end with James’ admonition. When listening to other brethren around the dinner table or after church services, watch for the fruit of that discussion. Watch for it to be according to God’s word. Be sure it’s TRUTH. And be sure it is peaceable, gentle, willing to yield – and sown in peace.

James 3:13-18   “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”.

So there you have it: wolves who come to us looking like regular sheep. Beware.

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Are YOU a blessing to others? Genesis 12:2

We know God loves to bless people. He even sends rain on the just and unjust. He just loves blessing as much as he can. One blessing we receive, for example, is his patience and longsuffering – even giving mankind centuries sometimes to repent before he punishes, is well known. He loves doing things for people.  God loves to bless and BE a blessing. Now consider this: he says he also wants us to be like Him and he makes it possible via his spirit in us.

So how about you and me? Do we like to bless? ARE we a blessing to others? WHY does God bless you and me? Look at one of the reasons God gives for blessing Abraham.

Genesis 12:2 ESV – “I will make you a great nation; and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Other verses say that in Abraham, all nations of the earth will be blessed by blessings given to Abraham (Genesis 18:18-19). Of course much of those blessings (v.19) came because he and his family were obedient to God. Apostle Paul says that the blessings of Abraham even extends to all Gentiles in Christ (Galatians 3:14).

Back to Genesis 12:2. It says God blessed Abram so that he could be a blessing to so many all around him and ultimately to all nations.

When God blesses you and me, do we in turn consciously wonder how we can use God’s blessings to BE a blessing as Abraham was? I believe from all the principles in scripture, that when we use God’s blessings to bless others, God blesses us even more because of that.

I remember when my girls were very young, I had bought one of them a candy bar. She broke it in half, ate half the bar but kept the other half uneaten in its wrapper. I asked her what she was doing. Her reply: “This is so good that I want Heather [her sister] to have the other half.”

In that moment, I decided to bless her even more. The younger daughter has done similar things too, and we end up blessing our children and grandchildren more when we see them being a blessing to others.

How can you be a blessing? Well, do you have a gift or talent God has given you? By talent I don’t mean the type of money that “talent” in the New Testament means. I mean a special ability, the way we normally use the word. Well, USE your talents to BE a blessing to others. Bless others with your gift. Don’t just sit on it or bury it. I’m not just referring to money here.

I’m referring to gifts God’s given you either through heredity – or even more special, spiritual gifts you wouldn’t have except from God. Maybe you explain things well, or can sing well, or play piano. Maybe you communicate well with others. Maybe people tell you that you are a great writer. USE your gifts to bless others. Find ways to be a blessing.

Do you have some time to serve? We all have 24 hours a day. Be willing to use some of your precious time in service to others. Help elderly neighbors with yard work or errands. Do you know what? Just giving people a lovely smile can bless them! How about calling your neighbor’s spouse—after seeing her husband rushed to hospital with a heart attack. Show interest to ask how they are all doing, offer to help, take over some food – BE a blessing.

Use your voice to bless. Find kind words you can say to the person checking you out at the food store. Be profuse with thank you. Whenever I see someone mopping floors or sanitizing shopping carts – I make a point to get his or her attention and say, “I sure appreciate you doing all that for us. Thank you so much.” So many times they respond: “Aw, that means so much!”

I have a couple of people who contribute ideas to this website that I can sometimes use to serve others. It takes up some of their time, but it sure helps me and all of you. That’s being a blessing to me and others in that case.

One lady has helped with doing the transcripts of my sermons – which takes an unbelievable amount of my time to produce for each sermon and any help is much appreciated. Believe me, I’ve done it by myself for years as we have brethren who are deaf and rely on these notes. Others appreciate the notes too. Someone also helps make “Happy sabbath” cards and “shabbat shalom” cards for me to use. They’re beautiful and those cards bless people. It gives them a lift. Those are ways to bless.

When you recognize you are being blessed - - and again, I mean beyond just about physical blessings and money – BE a blessing with the blessings you have received.

And financially too. Be sure you tithe (10%) cheerfully. Be sure you obey God’s laws to give an offering on at least the three pilgrim holy day feasts – Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles, as we’re instructed (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). Help where you can financially too.

Four or five households help us support a pastor in western Kenya who has taken 30 orphan children who were trying to find food in garbage cans – and brought them to his home. These orphans had lost both parents to HIV AIDS in most cases. Many were just 4-5-6 years old; some were 10 or 11 when he first took them in – and we first started helping him. Most of them are in their teens or even late teens now. Had he not taken them in, many of them would have been raped or would have died by now. Their home is called “Cup of Water Home for Children”.

Our pastor over there fed and housed them. Several here from USA provided funds for wells for drinking water, bought land, paid to build a proper home, toilet facilities, bunk beds, clothing, schooling, uniforms, Bibles, medical needs and hospital fees, and much more. Many of those 30 would have surely died without support. Thank you who have helped. May God bless you all even more, for being a blessing. I certainly could not have done it without those 4 households helping me. Right now the Pastor has Covid19 and needs oxygen. He came close to dying but others who were being a blessing – paid the huge hospital bill and the oxygen he needs for a while at home.

Some of you have a way with words. Use those skills to write to those who have lost a child or husband or wife. Send them a note. Let them know there are people out there – like you – who care for them and are praying for them.

There are always things we each can do to be a blessing. And I promise you, God will bless YOU much more when you ARE a blessing to others as he blesses you.

One more thought: In the days of the Patriarchs, men would bless their children. I urge you fathers and grandfathers: US speak a blessing over your children too, in their hearing, like Jacob (Israel) did to his sons in Genesis 49. He also blessed the two sons of Joseph separately in Genesis 48. Don’t just wait for the “official” blessing of the children at the Feast. You do it for your own children and grandchildren. You know their strengths and weaknesses. Bless them! If there’s no father or grandfather, then you moms do it.

And don’t forget: we think of God blessing us. There are numerous psalms which speak of OUR ability to bless GOD! Have you ever thought of that?  “Bless the Lord Eternal, O my soul” – is one of the hymns sung often in Church of God congregations. Do you ever say in prayer “I bless and praise you, my God and Savior…”?   David sure did. Here are a few. Maybe I will write an entire blog simply on this matter of blessing God.

Psalms 34:1 “I will bless YHVH at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Psalms 63:3-4 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”

Psalms 145:1-2 “I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

While we’re at it, remember to bless Israel, for God says he will bless those who bless Abraham and his descendants, and curse those who curse Israel. Genesis 12:3 continues – speaking to Abram: “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Now another hard command and teaching of my Lord about this:

           “BLESS those who curse you…”    Matthew 5:44

Are you ready to obey that? A full sermon is coming on HOW to do that. I’ve found that when I started getting so angry at anyone for their persecution or gossip and lies, that my whole spirit changes when I ask God to forgive them, love them, bless them, heal their marriage, mend their broken financials and so on. And I also ask Him to fill me with his audacious love and help me to love my enemies, just as God loved all of us while we were enemies of God.

You can refuse to bless your enemies – and as a result have ulcers, depression, heart problems, abdominal issues and headaches. I’ll choose healing that comes from blessing others instead, thank you.

Watch my upcoming expanded sermon on this point of HOW we can love our enemies and bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully abuse us. Yeshua goes on to explain that we prove we are children of God when we act that way.

“THAT you may be the children of your father in heaven, for he sends rain and sun on the just and unjust”. And he loved the people of the world while we were his enemy; His godly Son dying for the ungodly. Asking God to bless even those hateful to you shows you have the mind of God, according to Matthew 5:44-48.

So if God gives YOU blessings – USE them to BE a blessing, and I suspect you’ll receive even more blessings from God as a result. Learn to bless, bless, bless.

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Have you misunderstood Unleavened Bread?

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

** Leavening pictures sin and so that is why we put it out. (True, but leavening can also picture God’s kingdom that spreads! Matthew 13:33).

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

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

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

What did the leavened bread you threw out picture?

The right answer: Our old carnal selves. It pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, though it must not be a way of life any longer. So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out our old self. We must be totally surrendering to God in every facet of our lives so we can call Jesus our Lord. So the leavening we throw out pictures – US. Not just sin generally, but “US”.

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

After throwing out the old sinful way pictured by leaven, we go out and buy or bake fresh UNLEAVENED bread that had not been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product.

So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US. It doesn’t even picture us as we try to keep sin out of our lives because as Paul admits in Romans 7, we all still stumble in sin. UNLEAVENED bread has to picture someone far greater than you and me. 

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

So far, are you with me? The leavened bread pictures us who still stumble in sin. Each year, we remind ourselves that there are still vestiges of sinful habits and ways of thinking we have to cast out as we cleanse the temple of God.

The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said, and what Paul echoed.

Yes, I know we are to grow to become in His image. We are to copy him. We are to follow him. (1 Cor. 11:1). I am to let HIS mind become my mind (Philippians 2:5). But the life I now live is not supposed to be mine, nor can it really be mine, just as Paul says in Gal. 2:20 and Col 3:1-4. Christ is now my life. HE is now my righteousness. He “became FOR us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).

So the UNLEAVENED BREAD we eat does NOT picture US primarily. It is NOT about our lives that are now free from the penalty of sin, but we still sometimes sin (leaven). Though you may not have eaten any leavened products so far this week, I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during the same last few days. Apostle Paul, as you know in Romans 7, still admitted to stumbles of sin that he hated.

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

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

That’s not me saying that, but Paul. He repeats it in verse 20. Paul makes a clear distinction between the carnal nature he still had (“For I am carnal”- v.14), and the new nature and the new life and new creation inside him -- which is Christ actively living in him. This only happens if we abide in him in constant prayer and frequent studying of his word.

How could Paul say that it was no longer him sinning but sin that dwelt in him? Because he understood that just as we throw out the old leaven, we have to get rid of, surrender, put to spiritual death – the OLD SELF. ALL of it. Did you get that? ALL of it.

But now we have 2 natures inside us: the old carnal self is still there, fighting the new spirit-led self, the new creation. See Gal. 5:16-17.  

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

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

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

Jesus Christ said the prince of this world (Satan) had NOTHING in him. Nothing (John 14:30). He was the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), totally without sin his entire life. Now THAT is what unleavened bread looks like. It looks like Christ.

Even just a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

Cast it all out, Paul says, for we are now unleavened. What does that mean? That you don’t sin anymore? Hardly. The Corinthian brethren were loaded with sin. Chapter after chapter is about another sinful behavior – party divisions, marital problems, terrible open sex sins going on, suing one another, getting drunk at Passover, teaching our resurrection is already past, and on and on.

The ONLY way the Corinthians could be said to be “truly unleavened” (v.9) is by the new life of Christ himself living in them.

            Who is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? Yeshua! He said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life.” (John 14:6). “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Who is the Word? John 1:1-3. It’s Yeshua! We strive to live more sincerely and truthfully, but the One it pictures is Yeshua.

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

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

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

Yeshua said, “Eat this bread, for this is MY LIFE broken for you. Drink of my cup, for this is MY BLOOD of the new covenant” that he SHED for us (Matt. 26:26-29). Life is in the blood. It’s all about him.

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

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

WE can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens us so we can fight – but it’s HIS might, HIS power (Phil 4:13) -- not through our own failing efforts. Even Jesus, remember, relied on his Father for everything! He said 3-4 times, “I can do NOTHING of myself” (John 5:19, 30; 8:28) and then reminded us WE can do nothing apart from HIM (John 15:5).

To this end, Paul repeatedly teaches that HE – and you and I – are supposed to have DIED to sin, to have been crucified with Christ, and our new life is not one of our own making, but is the life of the Son of God himself – it’s Yeshua (Jesus) himself! Any righteousness we have now is from and by Jesus Christ (please read Philippians 1:10; 1 Cor. 1:29-31; Phil 3:8-11). I’m finding many “church of God” friends resisting this; that God’s righteousness is only possible through faith in Christ and his life, and his righteousness gifted to us (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21). HE is our righteousness and our unleavened bread.

WE died. Christ was resurrected and his resurrection life becomes ours when we declare it with our mouths and believe it with our hearts (Romans 10:1-4, 9-10). Read these again. This is our unleavened bread that we eat.

Unleavened bread does not picture ourselves defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures Christ living in me and crushing sin. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Colossians 3:2-4 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 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.”

Unleavened Bread. It is Christ who is pictured. It is Christ, who is now our life, living victoriously in us. Be sure as you eat unleavened bread, you don’t leave Yeshua out. It’s all about him.

As you eat unleavened bread, think of it as you pursuing the Messiah, seeking to be with him, learning what it means to abide in him. As you eat unleavened bread, invite him to BE the new you. Invite him to cleanse the temple of your body of anything unpleasing to Father. Dwell in him. Invite him and Father to dwell in you. And this is why you and I must eat unleavened bread each and all 7 days of the Feast. We simply cannot live perfectly enough without it being HIM and HIS righteousness.

To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.

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Personalize God’s love for YOU

As we prepare for Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, and examine ourselves so we take the Passover in a worthy manner, I hope all of us are focusing on a few things I’ll hi-lite here. Please take time to personally review each scripture in your own Bible. As we gather and feast on Messiah, there’s a lot to ponder.

*** PERSONALIZE your Passover. It wasn’t done just for the whole world, though that’s true too. Look at the examples of scripture, like how Paul says Christ “died for ME” (Galatians 2:20). The Israelites were told to tell their children that Passover is about what God “did for ME” (Exodus 13:8-9). FEEL those verses. Know God chose YOU and died for YOU through Christ. In Exodus 12, being under the blood of the lamb saved their lives. Today, being under the blood of Messiah – saves us for eternity! Hallelujah.

Make this real. Make it about what God did for YOU, just you – and then we know of course that he did it for everyone else who will accept him as well.

** Look at the SPIRITUAL meaning of everything you are doing.

The blood of the lamb is the blood of the Lamb of God. Putting out leaven is more about focusing on surrendering and giving up our remaining life behavior and thought patterns that are contrary to God’s Way. Throwing out leaven is really pointing to repentance – and leaving the old way, getting all of it out of our lives. Repentance is proving you’re sorry for your sins by throwing out the old patterns – the point of deleavening.

It makes little difference if we found and removed every crumb of leaven – but we still sinned with hardly a fight. We got drunk this week, or we looked at porn - again, or lost our temper – again, or pigged out as a glutton would, or were lax on keeping the sabbath day holy and set-apart. It makes little difference if we emptied the cupboards of leavened products but continue to shack up instead of honoring your partner and GOD -- and coming into a covenant marital relationship instead of living in sin.

DO TRUE deleavening, in other words, and put out the sinful ways we each still have. And really ultimately, we have to come to Yeshua and ask him to wash us thoroughly in his blood and to keep washing us thoroughly. It’s an ongoing activity! (1 John 1:7 is in the ongoing present tense – “cleanses”).

So you looked into every crevice of your couch and chairs and under cabinets – so what, if you or I continue to wallow in self-pity, worry, anxiety or fear – instead of trusting in our King, who has offered to take all of that from you, if you would just surrender it to Him.

So personalize it. Verbally with your lips and even more so with your heart – recognize Yeshua as the object of everything we do at Passover season.

Don’t keep this Passover with “old leaven” – old sinful habits we hang on to.

1 Corinthians 5:8 -- “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

Sincerity and truth aren’t pieces of bread – but Paul is pointing us to the spiritual point of all that we’re doing. So he speaks of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It’s way beyond bread and wine and leavened bread or matzah or vacuuming our house.

Remember Yeshua said, “this is the NEW COVENANT in my blood which is shed for you” (1 Cor. 11:25). He also reminded us – that in the new covenant – our focus is “in remembrance of ME” – of Christ. The Exodus 12 Passover pointed to Yeshua. Remember HIM – much more than the symbols of Ex. 12.

LOOK TO Yeshua in all of us. Rejoice in his victorious resurrection. It is by his LIFE that we are saved. We’re forgiven by his Blood, but saved by his life, being lived anew in you (Romans 5:10-11).

Spiritual meaning, focus on that. When you drink of the wine, remember the Bible also focuses a lot on “the CUP”. Drinking of one’s cup meant willingly accepting what God has in store for each of us – whether it seems good or bad. Even Yeshua, in the garden of Gethsemane, asked if there was any other way than to drink of that cup – but always ended it with our perfect example of “not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-44).

So as you look for leaven, look for true leaven of hypocrisy, of malice and wickedness that remains in your life; items you haven’t surrendered yet. Where are we still hypocritical?

*** Passover is a memorial of God’s RECONCILIATION with you – even though he opened the way while you and I were still ungodly sinners. He died for the ungodly – including you and me (Rom 5:6-11 – please read it).

If we don’t forgive and reconcile with everyone who has issues against us, or we have issues against them – our prayers at Passover won’t mean much, frankly. Reconcile with anyone you’re not at peace with. Maybe your daughter, your son, your husband, your father, your mother – your neighbors, your work associates, anyone you are not at peace with.

Good scriptures to review: Romans 5:9-11; Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 6:11-14. I’ll have a sermon soon on Reconciliation with everyone possible and forgiving everyone with whom you’re at odds.

 

As you wash other’s feet this year – remember Yeshua already washed his/her feet – and yours too. You’re just acknowledging God has already cleaned them up, and you as well. It’s more than just being a humble servant.

*** Be SURE you EAT unleavened bread each day, focusing on what that pictures! FEAST ON MESSIAH! He’s what the bread pictures.

The Passover season and days of unleavened bread is not just about NOT eating leavened products – but EATING unleavened bread. That pictures the life of Yeshua, the bread from Heaven (John 6). Again, look at the spiritual meaning! This is much more than just eating matzah for a week.

We all want the resurrected Jesus living in us more and more. With every piece of unleavened bread, remember – and say in your heart, “Dear Savior, my beloved king, come and BE my new life. We are what we eat. I want to fully devour your way of life and I invite you as my Savior – not just one time but day by day! Yeshua, BE my life. I want to FEAST on you during this special time. I love what you’ve done for me, - yes for ME --, and I praise you Father in heaven for resurrecting your Son, my King! Now may I glory in his resurrection being lived out anew in me.”

As you eat the unleavened bread, remember the righteousness you seek is not what comes from your own obedient actions now – but the righteousness that is from God, by faith, as HIS GIFT (Rom 5:17) to you. That’s what the UNLEAVENED bread pictures. And of COURSE, as I’ve been saying, surrender and change and obey as well.

But in fact, we don’t want the righteousness that comes from our own efforts (read Philippians 3:8-11) but that which is from God by faith in Christ’s life. ALL our righteousness is Christ. Philippians 1:11 says “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness that are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” – not to your glory for all you have done.

Sure – unleavened bread also pictures – as we always hear – humility, and not being all puffed up. But in a nutshell, we’re really picturing a new life; Yeshua is now our life and our righteousness. See also Colossians 3:1-4 again.

I have several sermons on God’s righteousness you can find on this website. And please read these verses below, also.

** Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:1-4.

** Romans 3:19-26. Verse 20 – all the law-keeping you can do won’t make you righteous enough. Just ask Job. V. 25-26 – God wants us to see HIS righteousness at work in us, not our own attempts at it. Then read Romans 4:20-25 – Abraham’s faith resulted in God’s righteousness being imputed to him, but not to him only, but to us also.

***REMEMBER TO ALSO BE FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT of faith. I’ll give a full-fledged sermon on just this magnificent point: remember we’re in a WAR against evil spirits. We are to be AWARE of that and fight HARD.

This includes bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (please read 2 Cor. 10:3-6). TO do that, we have to be into God’s word enough that clear Biblical teaching comes to mind with every errant thought. We recognize the attack – often coming as something we’d carnally like to do – capture it, demolish it with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17-18), and then continue to dwell on what GOD says to you about that thought. Think on GOOD things. Let’s get off the negatives, the worries, the fears.

Paul’s not fooling around here. It’s a real war. And in the end, he declares he has “fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith”,   (2 Timothy 4:7-8). He goes on to say he was certain of receiving the crown of righteousness and that we all should look for that too.

So have a wonderful Passover season. Know God would do all of it, even just for you.

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The 9 month Birth Cycle and the Eternal’s Holydays

This blog is going to be sharing what Zola Levitt wrote in October 2008. Zola Levitt was from that wonderful species – the Jew who comes to Jesus Christ and accepts His Jewish Savior. Hallelujah. Yeshua, whose name means “Salvation”, their Maschiach  - their Messiah.  Zola wrote a piece tying the gestation and birth cycle to holydays.  I thought it was just fascinating, so here it is, with very little editing to keep it brief and to fit my blog limits.  Remember the correlations are based on the Hebrew calendar and months.  Their “seventh month” for example, usually fits in to our mid-September to mid-October.  I added some of my own comments in brackets:

Zola Levitt discovered an amazing correlation between the Seven Feasts of the LORD and the gestation of a human baby, from conception to birth. While preparing for writing a new book for new parents, Zola contacted a gynecologist for some help in understanding gestation. 

During that session, the gynecologist shows him a series of pictures, pointed to the first one (an egg and a sperm) and said:  “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the egg appears.” The statement struck a chord in his Jewish mind because that was the date of Passover….

The gynecologist continued: “The egg must be fertilized within 24 hours or it will pass on.”  This reminded Zola of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the seed or grain that “fell to the ground and died” in order to produce a harvest, the first fruits of which were presented to God.

Next, the gynecologist said, “Within two to six days, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb and begins to grow.”  And sure enough, the Jewish evangelist thought, “The Day of Firstfruits is observed anywhere from two to six days after Passover.”    [This was the day in John 20 where Messiah first went to heaven to be accepted by His Father, as the real first Fruits to be accepted in behalf of the spiritual harvest.]

Next, he was shown a photo of an embryo [first 8 weeks] showing arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, a head, eyes, etc.  The caption said “FIFTY days”.  The gynecologist continued, “Around the fiftieth day, the embryo takes on the form of a human being. Until then, we don’t know if we have a duck or a tadpole.”  Zola thought, “That’s Pentecost!”  [Some feel this is also when the first resurrection will take place, when we will be like Him – 1 John 3:2]

The next picture showed the fetus at seven months. The gynecologist said, “On the first day of the seventh month, the baby’s hearing is developed. For the first time it can hear and distinguish sounds outside of the womb.”  Zola knew that was the date for [Yahweh’s] festival of Trumpets.

The gynecologist continued, “On the tenth day of the 7th month, the hemoglobin of the blood changes from that of the mother to a self -sustaining baby”.  Zola thought, “That’s the Day of Atonement, when the blood was taken into the Holy of Holies”.

Next, the gynecologist said, “On the 15th of the 7th month, the lungs become fully developed.  If born before then, the baby would have had a very difficult time breathing.”  And Zola thought, “That’s the Festival of Tabernacles, a time of celebrating the Temple, home of the Shekinah glory or Spirit of God.”  In the New Testament, the Greek term ‘pneuma’ normally translated as “breath”, is applied to the Holy Spirit.”

Birth takes place on the 10th day of the ninth month. Eight days after birth in Jewish families, a baby boy is circumcised. Zola noted that the 8 days of Hanukkah are celebrated right on schedule, nine months and ten days after Passover.  [Jesus made it a point to be in Jerusalem for Hanukkah – called “the Feast of Dedication” John 10:22]

No human being could have understood the gestation period 3,500 years ago [when Yahweh revealed the seven Feasts of Yahweh to Moses and the nation of Israel].  The establishment of the seven Feasts of the LORD was given to Moses by the LORD Himself. Its correlation with the human gestation period is not only remarkable; it proves “Intelligent Design”.  It proves there is a Creator God who guides the affairs of man.

That was the blog or article by Zola Levitt. I thank Zola and his organization for posting this. Feel free to share this blog and this website with other believers, especially those who keep Yahweh’s feasts.

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