HIStory: PROPHETIC MILESTONE – 25 Dec 2010

HIStory unfolding:

Is 9:6-7 (5-6 Heb)   For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.  And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with justice and righteousness from this time forward, even forever.  The zeal of YHVH of Hosts will perform it!

Hag 2:18,21-22  Consider now from this day forward, from the 24th day of the ninth month (Hebrew month, Chislev, when Hanukkah begins in winter, adjusting to a lunar/solar calendar), from the day that the foundation of YHVHs temple was laid consider it!  (Yeshua/Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone of the ultimate and true Temple of God!). . . .Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:  I (YHVH) will shake Heaven and Earth.  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride on them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.

Lk 1:51-52  [And Mary said, . . .] He (YHVH God) has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. . . .

Lk 2:8-14  Now there were in the same country (area of Bethlehem in Judea) shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people!  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you:  you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Heb 12:25-29  See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.  For if they did not escape who refused him who spoke on Earth, much more if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven, whose voice then shook the Earth; but now He has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not only the Earth, but also Heaven!  Now this, Yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire!

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

Meanwhile, keep up the good work in His name to glorify the Father.  Merry Christmas, and a fruitful 2011!

JESUS CHRIST CAME AND IS COMING IN THE FLESH

Lk 18:17   Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, will by no means enter it.  

Once again it has come to my attention of a false teaching concerning Yeshua.  It is not new, but it is influencing believers in the Body of Messiah in Israel – and I suspect in other nations as well.  

Paul exhorted Timothy – and us – to expose and to correct false teachings so that the sheep would not be led astray, and so that the Church would honor and worship the true God and Savior.  

The truth sets us free; the truth believed sanctifies us; God the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.  

The teaching I am referring to is that Yeshua/Jesus was not really human, but rather only an Angel who was God taking on the appearance of a man, similar to the Angel YHVH who appeared to Abraham before destroying Sodom.  

According to the N.T., John, one of the apostles and disciples of Jesus and an eyewitness of His death on the cross, wrote to us this very significant detail:

Jn 19:34-35   But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.  And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.   

The significance of this is at least two-fold:  Jesus died on the cross before the Roman soldier pierced Him; and, Jesus was a flesh and blood human being – the Son of Man – who could and did suffer and die to redeem and save us.  An angel is not born, has no blood, can not die physically, and can not redeem a human being.   

Lk 18:31-33  The  [Jesus] took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that written by the Prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.  For He will be delivered to the Gentiiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge and kill Him.  And the third day He will rise again.

 If Jesus could not suffer physically, then crucifixion for Him was not painful, nor any other form of killing.  How then can He, as our Great High Priest, be sympathetic to us in our physical pain?!  

Heb 9:11-17   But Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.  For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all  while the testator lives.  

Heb 2:14-18   Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetimes subject to bondage.  For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Note:  PHYSICAL PAIN IS A HUGE MEANS OF TEMPTATION TO TURN AWAY OR AGAINST THE LORD!

Why is it so important to refute this false teaching that Jesus was not truly human?   

1Jn 4:1-3   Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God:  every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh if of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.  And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.  

2Jn 1-11
To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.  Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.  

I rejoiced greatly that I have found of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.  And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning:  that we love one another.  This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.  This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, yhou should walk in it.  

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.  Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.  

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 

LIGHT DISPELS DARKNESS – 21 Dec 2007

This Sunday some of us are going to Bethlehem to worship with Arab brothers and sisters in the joy of our God.  Next weekend our congregation (actually the Lord Yeshua’s congregation) will be host to over 40 teenagers from that same area.  Today happens to be the shortest day of the year, when the light of day in the darkest of seasons is at its briefest in this part of the globe.  A little light can dispel even more darkness; how much more the sun the blackness of night; how much more even does the Light which is the Word of God, and who is Himself the Lord Jesus Christ, dispel the darkness of lies!

Recently, at this very time of year when Jesus Christ is remembered by nearly the entire world, there has been an exposure of some rather remarkable indications of a falling away from the truth which has been entrusted to those who say they know God – or rather that they are known by God:  a book by the well-known preacher and Israel supporter, John Hagee, with the strange view that Yeshua did not come to be Israel’s Messiah and therefore was not rejected as Messiah by them!; we’ve already had those even within the Messianic community deny the deity of Yeshua, or that Jews do not necessarily have to believe in Jesus in order to be saved.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, the supposed spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, went on record just this week on a BBC radio interview that downplayed the importance of believing that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin.  Besides undermining the veracity of the written word as given us in the Scriptures, it also, of course, raises the question:  who then was the father of Jesus.  If not God, then there is another Jesus the right reverend (or, maybe, wrong reverend, or simply not reverent) archbishop must be referring to!

I don’t know how many of you have seen the recent documents put out by Muslim leaders from around the Islamic world, and the response by Christian leaders.  The Muslim letter is called, “A Common Word Between Us and You” (http://www.acommonword.com ), and the Christian response is titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together” (http://www.yale.edu/faith/abou-commonword.htm).

The resolution of conflict in areas of mutual social welfare is not and can not be treated as being of the same kind alongside with “theologically based” peace.  Our relationship and fellowship through the blood of Yeshua and our common salvation in Him are essential factors as a basis for other areas of reconciliation amongst believers.   The Holy Spirit is speaking plainly when the Scripture says that  between unbelievers and believers (with respect to the true God)  there can be no genuine reconciliation between nations or peoples!  (2Cor 6:14-18).  

To seek to be at peace, as far as possible, with all persons is one thing, but quite another to do this in such a way which compromises in any way the confession of who the one true God is.   To the Muslims, the name Allah is not the same one God as YHVH God, who has revealed Himself especially to and through the Jews – even if Arab Christians use that term with their own tacit understanding of it.  So those who are blessed as peacemakers or pursuers of peace in being called “sons of God” will be those who pursue and make peace based on YHVH GOD’S covenantal truth regarding peace. As it is written, even the demons know that there is one God . . . and tremble.  When Muslims hear and say “Allah” they are not referring to YHVH God, the Father God who revealed himself through His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, who is one with the Father. (Ps 83:16-18 Eng)  The Jews, Christians, and Muslims do not all share the faith of Abraham, for they do not all believe in the God of Abraham!  (Dec 31:  Check this current extremely relevant story for an Islamic view on the use of the name ‘Allah.  Is Allah a personal name?http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071228/30662_Malaysia_Christians_Challenge_Ban_on_’Allah’.htm )

By the way, YHVH/Yehovah/Yahweh does not mean ‘God’ or ‘LORD’, but is the Name by which He will be known forever, the Everlasting God, the One who was, and is, and is to come – and who came to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name alone is given under Heaven for salvation unto eternal life.  YHVH is the Most High God — God of gods, and Lord of lords (Ps 136:1-3) — over the god of the Muslims,  the Hindus, the humanists, even of the atheists!  There is no God like YHVH our God, and no other is to be compared with Him.

The document, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ “, which in fact was a Muslim initiative to “define peace and hope in this world only, presents a position, with its language of accommodation, that gives the implicit impression that the God of the Bible is the same as that of the Koran.  Concurrently it then implies that Jesus Christ is no different, higher, or greater than Mohammed, and that reconciliation between the two faith communities is essential for world peace.

The following quote is taken from the “Christian Response”:

“What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each.  It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both:  love of God and love of neighbor.  Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam, as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together.  That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.”

Neither Judaism nor Islam accepts that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Yet it is precisely upon this confession that He builds His church, of which we profess to be.  Islam teaches that their God is not a father, and therefore, he has no need of a son, which expressly refers to Jesus, but also includes Israel as first-born son amongst the nations by YHVH’s own declaration.  The Muslim nations’ hope lies in being reconciled to THIS God and to HIS Word, which is no different than that to Israel and the Jews, or to any other people. Peace in this world is of HIM and not of ourselves, however well-meaning.

In the Christian response to the Muslim leaders , the one true God is blurred and too much is left to each person and side to define for themselves what the different terms refer to.  This, of course, will never succeed to accomplish anything genuine, and is clearly the wiles of the devil who is seeking to deceive even the elect, if he can.

The Lord Jesus says that we are the light of the world, and that our light is to shine so before men that they may see our good works done in His Name and glorify our Father in Heaven.  To the Muslim, this makes no sense, since they do not believe in the same Lord and Savior as we do; nor is our Father in Heaven theirs.  We are called to be stewards of the mysteries of the Kingdomof God and of the uniqueness of our God, of His Son, and of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Some say that speaking of Yeshua’s life and teaching is understood to include also that He died and rose again.  By whom?  The Muslims do not believe that He died, and therefore He did not rise again.  The Jews believe that He died, and no more than that.  As believers our salt will become more tasteless and less effective if we allow ourselves to be brought down to the lowest common denominator in the pursuit to find ‘common ground’, which will be found to be nothing but sinking sand!

The “Christian Response” to the Muslim appeal promotes neither inner nor political peace, not now nor for eternity.  Yes, we all would like to see even temporary relief from all the suffering and injustices we face in the world, just as from headaches and other illnesses.  But our actual calling is to bring those in darkness into the Light where there is true and lasting hope, not for this age only (which is in any case subjected to futility), but especially for the world to come.

At the very time and season that many believers around the world are celebrating the birth of Him who is the true Light who came into the world, His enemy is at work to bring in confusion, and using those called by the name of the Lord and of His Christ to either show themselves to be hypocrites who don’t really believe what they have written, or else afraid through unbelief in the love of the truth.  “By this we know love, because [Yeshua] laid down His life for us.”

We live in sobering times, and are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.  The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?!  May God our Father have mercy on all His children.

THE OFFENSE OF CHRISTMAS – 23 Dec 2006

Ps 69: 5-9 (6-10 Heb)   O God, You know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from You.  Let not those who hope in You, O YHVH God of Hosts, be ashamed because of me; let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God ofIsrael.  Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.  I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children (Mk 3:21; 6:3).  Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.   

Lk 2: 29-35   [Simeon] took [Yeshua] up in his arms and blessed God and said:  Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your peopleIsrael. . . .Behold, this One is destined for the fall and rising of many inIsrael, and for a sign which will be spoken against, . . .that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.   

–Jesus the Son bears the reproach of God His Father
   –we are to go outside the camp where Messiah is and bear His reproach 

–Great responsibility not to be a cause of stumbling for those seeking truth, for those seeking the true God, or of those whose hope is already in YHVH God of Hosts, the God of Israel
   –important to give our children proofs from the Bible concerning controversial issues, to enable them to stand against those who want to attack generally accepted truths handed down to believers 

–during recent trip to Richmond, I had a number of conversations regarding the truth of Messiah and of the Bible as the inspired Word of God
  –I was called a fundamentalist, as if that was unworthy, by another Christian
  –I was called an extremist, since religion is the cause of so much war and suffering in the world 

–I spoke with two revisionist historians.  They want to be taken seriously.  One of them is a professor.
  –he could not tolerate my belief in history being governed by God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth
  –think that religion is all man-made; that Jews are therefore merely a product of myth; that the God of the O.T. is either a myth, or the embodiment of evil
  –think mankind is on the threshold of making “heaven on earth” through knowledge and technology
    –don’t believe in God, but use a term – Heaven – that comes from Him

God will abase all pride because He – the great God – humbled Himself and was/is humiliated by the pride and foolishness of man.
  –God Almighty came in flesh and blood; born as a baby, in poverty, in weakness
    –What reproach did Mary and Joseph have to bear for being chosen for such a miracle and done in such a way that Miriam was thought to have been unfaithful to Joseph and to the holiness of YHVH?
    –What did the people of Bethlehem think when all the babies were killed by Herod because of hearing that the Messiah, the rightful King of Israel, had been born?
    –Will we stand up for our God and Savior when we are considered strangers and aliens to those we love and care about?

God does not do things to satisfy our own understanding or expectation, but rather for us to take note that He has intervened in the affairs of man for His own holy name’s sake.

JESUS CHRIST IS COME

(Our celebratory service this Shabbat was interrupted by a mob of unruly ultra-orthodox religious Jewish people.)

There was much messianic expectation around the time of Yeshua’s birth (Dan 9:24-26).  Hanukka itself is a holiday commemorating a messianic hope which gives Israel and the Jewish people freedom from their enemies in order to worship YHVH God in an acceptable way in our own land.  Simeon and Anna were waiting in hope for the Redeemer and Savior of the children of Israel and of Jerusalem, the City of the Great King.  False Messiahs also arose about that time (Acts 5:35-39); today also there is Messianic expectation – Moshiach Now! – amongst many Jews and also Muslims and other religious and spiritist groups.  

By the Word of God given to us in the Bible, and by the witness of the Holy Spirit given to us who believe what God says, we know that the only true Messiah is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born to the virgin Mary about 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, not so very far from us here in Beer Sheva.  What a great thing for the Almighty God to demonstrate His humble nature by taking on the form of a man, and then humbling Himself by being a servant to men, and dying on the cross, bearing our sins so that we could receive the grace of life!  

We do not believe in mythology or fables, but we have the testimony of real people in history who saw, who heard, who touched, who wrote; and more, we have the testimony of God Himself, who cannot lie, giving His record of His Son, Yeshua; and to seal this truth in those who do believe, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us so that we can know who and what and why we believe.  

Let’s look at some of the reasons given as to why Jesus came in the flesh (1Jn 5:6; 4:2; Acts 1:11):   

Hag 2:18-23; 1Cor 3:11; 2Tim 2:18-19   to lay the foundation of the Temple of YHVH, and to overthrow the kingdoms of this world

Mt 9:12-13; Acts 7:34   not to the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance and to deliver His people from bondage to sin

Lk 4:32-36; 1Jn 3:8   to destroy demonic power and the works of the devil, who is a deceiver, a liar, a murderer, a thief, a destroyer, and full of pride, which is the root of all evil

Jn 4:25; 15:15   to tell us all things which the Father has given Him to reveal for now

Jn 10:10   that His sheep may have life, and life more abundantly

Jn 15:22; 1:1-9   to expose sin; the Light has come into the darkness

1 Tim 1:15; Mt 1:21   to save sinners; His name is Yeshua, the Savior

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  

Jn 14:28   coming again to take us to Himself

Rev 22:12   coming quickly to judge every man according his works

SERVING YHVH GOD WITHOUT FEAR – 25 Dec 2004

Lk 1:67-75       Now John’s father Zecharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed is YHVH God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the lovingkindness to our fathers; and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham:  to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.’

Gen 22:15-18   Then the Angel of YHVH called to Abraham a second time from out of Heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, says YHVH, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the Earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’

Already from the third chapter of Genesis we have YHVH God’s promise that the Seed of the woman—i.e., the Messiah and His people—would overcome the serpent—the devil—and his seed.

–fear of opponents to truth
–fear of death
–fear of life’s circumstances:  health, employment, theft, accidents, CHANGE out of, or despite, our    control
–fear of failure:  in marriage, in a position of work, in a duty, in LIFE
–fear of rejection, of not being accepted; of a bad conscience, condemnation
–fear to love and to be loved

To serve and worship God in holiness and righteousness without any fear. . .is this not reason enough to call out to the Lord Jesus to return?!  This is the hope of His birth and the certainty at His return.

He came the first time as a little baby to bear the sins of many; He will appear a second time without sin as Lord of every man.

Set us free, O God, to serve You without fear of any enemies, without or within.  Amen.

The Whole World Revolves Around Jesus – 27 Dec 2003

John 1:1-5,10-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. . . He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

This past and coming week the whole world is reminded that Jesus Christ was born.  Not only did millions—perhaps billions—celebrate that this most unique person came into the world, but in a few days time, all will also acknowledge His influence when this year 2003 ends and the next 12-month period begins.  Modern history and global culture revolve around this Man—Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday I went up to Bethlehem with some of the medical students and my two sons.  As you remember, the congregational offering from a few weeks ago was set aside to help provide toys for children living in the Bethlehem area.  That was done, and there was a sense of joy and satisfaction in doing that in the name of the Lord Jesus.  I was able to visit the homes of some Palestinian Arab Christian friends who live in Beit Jala.  They were blessed and encouraged that someone “from the other side” would come during these times of troubles, and also be of one spirit with them to celebrate Jesus at this special time for believers.  With your permission, I was pleased to give them a gift from the congregation here to their children’s center, Beit Halika, to bless them in the work they do as believers.

The Manger Square, where the festivities of Christmas Eve take place, was full of people, but not as in earlier years before the intifada.  Despite being warned not to identify myself as an Israeli, God provided opportunities to do so, even to a policeman from Hebron with whom I had a conversation about the weather!  I could also testify of the birth of Jesus as the reason we came, when asked at the checkpoints.  They wouldn’t let me in as an Israeli, but as an American.  Praise God!  Even the apostle Paul found it helpful to have dual citizenships!

What was very evident at Manger Square was the political exploitation of the celebration of the Savior of the world to express anti-Israel slogans, whether hanging on banners from the roof and walls of buildings, or from the Christian patriarch at the midnight Church service, which was broadcast around the world.  Just as Israel did not receive her King Messiah when He was born until this day, so do many of those in the Church today still not know Him, who was born and died to be the King of the Jews.  The apostle John expressed it well:  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend it.  It is truly saddening to see the Glory of God being “darkened” by the false prophets of this world.  The Lord Jesus told us that His Kingdom is not of this world.  The Holy Spirit expressly says through the Scriptures that such would be the situation in these last days.

We who believe are called – not to be lukewarm, not to be nationalistic and militant, but rather to be witnesses of Jesus as Lord and Messiah, the Son of God who is Heir of all things.

It is not certain what will come upon us during 2004.  We do know that the time will come for the one to be called the antichrist, and it is written of him that he will change the times and law (Dan 7:25).  Who knows, the day may come when the year will not be marked by the birth of Jesus by those in authority.  And even now, laws are proposed and passed to change laws in western Christian nations to make it illegal to publicly express or display faith in the one true God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

As we look ahead to the next year and wish for others and ourselves a “happy and good year”, let us bear in mind that what is happy and good according to the world or to our flesh is not necessarily what will make for a blessed year according to God our Savior.  He wants more people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  If you were to say that to unbelievers as you wish for them a happy and good year, they would not understand it that way!  The Lord wants us to grow more mature in the faith, and often that comes only through suffering – trials and tribulations – of some sort or other.  That is not what we usually consider as we wish each other, and ourselves, a good and happy year!

But God has a plan to bring honor and glory and praise to His Anointed One—Jesus—by whom all things were made, including us.  I do pray and wish for each one of you, and for all of us together, a good and blessed year for the sake of the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace be upon Israel in our days!

The Incarnation – 21 Dec 2002

John 3:13 (5-21) The Son of Man has descended from — and ascended to — Heaven

There are well-meaning dear brothers and sisters in Messiah who do not celebrate the birth of the Savior at this time of year.  They have their reasons for this, just as I once did.  The danger, however, is that we will harden our hearts from being able to rejoice at all in the birth of Yeshua – from singing the great songs of Heaven over His coming into the world He made to redeem people like you and me and them.

Jesus came into the world to defeat the works of the devil, and so give hope and joy to persons who are looking and waiting for salvation and redemption from futility and despair.  God came in the weakness of flesh and blood to deal a death blow to spiritual forces of wickedness who are oppressing the whole creation of a loving and good Father.

This same Jesus who died and rose again ascended back to the presence of God His Father, and this same Redeemer will come again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth.  Meanwhile, He is establishing the Kingdom in the hearts of men, women, and children who turn from their ways unworthy of God and instead put their hope and trust in His mercy and grace.  Yeshua has come and God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life freed up to give honor and glory to God.  We learn to say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to righteousness, because the Son of God has set us free from the power of sin and given us the power of holiness.  This is His love for us so that He can live within us, and that we can live in His presence.  God is not only for us; He is not only with us – Immanuel; God is in us:  Messiah in us, the hope of glory.  The incarnation was the beginning of the end for Satan because Messiah, Son of David, came to utterly defeat the Goliath of this world.

God’s desire is that none should perish but rather inherit eternal life through believing in and loving His only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone is the mediator between God and man, and so we are commanded to pray for and to seek the salvation of all persons through the preaching of the glad tidings.

Just as Mary was pregnant with the Holy Child within her, so too does the Holy Spirit conceive Messiah in every born-again child of God.  It is as Christ grows within our hearts and thoughts and every act of our lives that the reality of the glory of God becomes more real and visible – as a light shining in darkness.  Do people see Messiah in us?  Do they see the truth of the incarnation: that God has come to dwell in the midst of His people, according to His promises?  Is there this witness in our relationships with our fellow human beings?

Indeed, the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits for the revelation of the sons of God.

Jesus teaches what He lived and died for:  to make peace – true peace, God’s peace – to all who truly come to Him for salvation.  He forgives; He cleanses; He heals.  Jesus is truly the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The Holy Spirit is working to transform (convert) us into God’s likeness, that the glory of God would be revealed in and through us; that the name of our Father in Heaven would be sanctified in us.  It is all for the honor and glory of Yeshua, the Son of the Father’s love, who was crucified in order that God’s love would be manifest to all.  He did not create this world just so that it might be destroyed by the devil and all who take his side – whether actively or passively.

God paid the ultimate price to have what He wants:  us.  The whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of YHVH as the waters cover the seas.   With the angels we sing, “Glory to God in the highest”.   The holy and spotless Bride of the Lamb of God cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus”.

A Time for Hope, A Time for Joy

Rom. 5:1-11

As members of the Body of Messiah — in the world today and of those who have believed during the last two thousand years — there is something special at this season of the birth of the Savior, Yeshua the Son of David.  It is similar to that specialness when Jewish people — around the world today and since the time of the Exodus from Egypt about 3450 years ago — celebrate the Passover.  It does not require either the Christian or the Jew to be a believer to anticipate these special holidays each year.  Families, relatives, and friends share together something extraordinary in their history as a people that has impacted not only their own culture, but of the whole world.  They are times of inclusion.  Because of this, these can be the saddest times of the year for many Jews and Christians who are alone, or who feel rejected and unloved.  In their souls they know that they are supposed to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to celebrate, especially with others in the family.

It is the blessing and inheritance of the believer to really celebrate these holidays.  Believers celebrate the God of these special times and events, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the focus of both these holidays.  We have joy in the Holy Spirit because we are known by our God and have our Father’s peace.  On the other hand, it is also as true today as it was in the time of Amos the sheep breeder/prophet that many of God’s own people celebrate the set times for testimony of the LORD in a manner unworthy of the Holy One of Israel.  They leave Him out of their parties and neither give Him glory or thanks.  But then, let us not go to the other extreme and “throw out the baby with the bath water”.  Even Yeshua Himself participated in the holidays in His day.  Believers in God through His Son Jesus can sanctify the Lord in their hearts and rejoice:

Joy to the world:  the Messiah has already come!  God is faithful to all that Moses and the Prophets wrote, and there is hope and joy in God the Father in Heaven.  The LORD has become my light and salvation; Yeshua is Lord and Messiah!  God knows us; He has come down to be with us on this unique planet He created.

This is not just the joy of remembering something good in our lives as we think back, and wish that we could do that again — or be there again.  No, this is the joy that kicks like John the Baptiser did in his mother’s womb when, by the Spirit of God, he acknowledged His Lord, Yeshua, in the womb of His mother.  Our joy is even greater than John’s because the Spirit of Messiah dwells in us who believe, and we rejoice in the sure and living hope that this same Lord Jesus is coming again from [the Heavenly] Zion to take His own to be glorified with Him!

All this began to take place here in Israel about 65 km (40 miles) from Beer Sheva, when the Word of God became flesh and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven began to be revealed.  Praise the LORD that He has revealed such wondrous things to us and filled us with hope and joy in His love.  We have much to thank Him for, including for approving of a day when many of His people throughout the world through countless generations can celebrate together–from the rising of the sun to its setting down–the God of gods and Lord of lords — even Jesus, who was born to be King of the Jews, and who has already become King also to many, many gentiles!  The wise men from the east who saw the special star rejoiced in the hope of that sign in the firmament of the heavens:  the promised Ruler was born.

The enemy wants to steal the blessing and the heritage of God’s people.  As he always has, he lies and puts doubts in our mind about what God has said or about God’s intentions.  In a world filled with grief and fear and hopelessness, the God of Glory, who is Love, still proclaims and offers peace on earth and goodwill towards the children of Adam.  Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the destroyer, the devil.  Believers can celebrate as a testimony that our God is the one true living God and that Jesus is the one alone who can satisfy the need of every human being who is born into the world.  The gospel of God is going out to all the world, and the Heavens declare the glory of the LORD.  (See how many people are fascinated with that star which spoke of the birth of the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!)

God’s Word is truth:  Yeshua came in the flesh and the Man Christ Jesus will come again in the flesh from Heaven to bring fullness of joy to all whose living hope is in Him.  Jesus gives His peace from the heart of the Father to His family.  Receive it with a thankful heart.  The joy of the LORD is our strength.  It is not what people — even believers — do or not that is going to bring Spiritual unity within the Body for a testimony of who Jesus really is; but rather, it is when we confess what God has done, and when we do this in love for all who are His people — and who have become our people, the Bride of the Lamb — that will demonstrate the reality of the truth of Messiah in us.  Doesn’t the desire of true revival burn within us to recover our first love for Jesus — when Messiah was born in us at our new birth?  Our Father has shown that He wants His children to be at peace with each other, and for each to know that he or she is accepted in the Beloved Son, and to rejoice in true and spiritual worship of the One who was born to die as a sacrifice for the sin of the world, and who now lives forevermore.  He stands at the door knocking, and will gladly come in to every heart and church that repents and opens up the door for the King of Glory to come in.  Glory to God in the highest!

Being Reconciled to God and to One Another

Matt. 23:16-21   The altar is greater than the gift

Matt. 5: 21-24   First be reconciled to your brother, and then offer your gift upon the altar

The calendar tells us that it is a new year,  a year which reminds us and the world that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh into the world which He made.  We can look back and consider how our God has watched over us and has kept us.  We can look ahead and know that our salvation and redemption are nearer this year than they were this past year.

The Lord is building up His church and showing Himself faithful, training us to trust Him fully to bring us through to glory at His coming.

God has shown us His way to be at peace with Him and with one another.  He had (has) a controversy with Israel and with mankind.  Our sins separated us from the LORD our God. What was God to do since it became clear that we were not going to do anything sufficient to get right with Him?   The reality is that we blame God for our problems and those in the world at large.  God’s altar is the place of sacrifice.  In Lev. 17:11 the LORD says that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that He has given it to us upon the altar to make atonement for our souls.  The heart of God our Father came to us in the person of His Son Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself on the cross to make atonement, to make reconciliation, for those who have sinned against Him.  Yeshua satisfied God’s righteousness and justice so that the LORD can show grace and mercy and compassion to whomsoever He will.  He has reconciled Himself to man.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation in that we are to be peace-makers, telling and showing others how they can be reconciled to God:  through repentance and faith in Him through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.  This is the love of God and the new commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us:  if we know that someone has reason to have something against us, we are to humble ourselves and grant forgiveness based on the righteousness of  God.  Then we can come to the Lord’s table and supper; then we can offer our gifts and prayers and praise to God.  For we have acknowledged that the cross – the altar – of God is greater than any thing which we can offer.  It is the faith we have in, and the thankfulness for,  the sacrifice of God’s Son that sanctifies us and our gifts, both before God and before our brothers and sisters.

When Jesus came into the world, His whole life was consecrated to God His Father and to His Kingdom.  He knew that the spirit in the world was opposed to God.  He came to give honor and glory to His Father, whom He knew to be good.  Jesus brought light to expose the darkness in men’s souls, even in those who claimed to know and to serve the LORD.  Before the Holy One of Israel, many of the religious leaders were exposed as hypocrites, not really sincere in caring about God’s interests, but more concerned for their own honor and privileges.  Jesus did not sing their songs or dance to their tunes.

(Mt. 11: 16-19; Is. 22:12-13)    The Son of God listened to God’s voice and responded in a manner which showed that He loved His Father more than He wanted to prove that He was a man like others of His day.  He seeks the lost sheep of the House of Israel, those who want to be found and go back home.

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecc. 3:4).  What “time” is it this year?  Certainly the Lord will give us much to know and enjoy the liberty that we have in Messiah.  Yet the Holy Spirit in us groans and mourns over the sin still acting within us, and the spirit in the world which still is separated from and in opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed One – to the sovereignty  of God and the truth that Jesus is LORD.  The people of this age are getting ready for a big party and celebration for the new millenium.  They have forgotten God, and, sadly, so have many who are called by His name.  It is written that the joy of the Lord is our strength; if our joy is truly in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond in a worthy way to show that we love our heavenly Father, that we are His children and servants.

Even so, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples that when we see these things beginning to happen, that we are to rejoice, for our redemption is near.  As God intervenes in the affairs of man – whether in grace or in judgement – the holy Father in Heaven so loves the world that the reconciliation which Jesus accomplished still abides:  the blood of the Lamb still speaks salvation and  peace to those who will repent from their unbelief and evil and, instead, believe the love of the truth:  God has forgiven sinners and Jesus rose from the dead to justify all who believe that with thanks.

This year the Lord wants to bring forth more fruit from us His  people.  He wants to give us His song to sing.  Jesus has given us His peace.  Let us desire to be at peace with one another for His sake.  He will make us glad in Him.