The Names of God Part VI

The Names of God Pt. VI

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 1/21/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

                                                                         Romans 10:12–13 (NASB95)

In Hebrew thought, a name was not just a way of identifying a person, it was a way of revealing that person’s identity and essence. The same is true with God, but God’s identity is not revealed in just one name but in many. Each name is like a curtain hung upon a window, as we draw back that curtain the view behind the curtain becomes more fully known. So, it is with the names of God, as we draw back the curtains on His name, we gain a more fully developed picture of who God really is.

When Moses asked God who He was, he wasn’t asking what he should call God. No, what Moses wanted was for God to describe Himself. He is not just God. He is the eternal God. He is the God of Israel. He is a God of compassion. He takes notice of the storms His people face. Moses asked for a name, he was given an expression of God’s relationship with His people, and so, the Christ follower too must seek to know and understand this One we call Father, for there is far more in a name than just a title.

Scripture tells us that “those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NASB95) But which name are you calling upon? Yes, that’s right, the Lord God has more than one name. The Names of God, which we are looking at today, are found in the Old Testament. Each name reveals a different characteristic or attribute of God. These names were revealed to those who needed God, a specific part of God, at that moment of time. There are some amazing things revealed about God in His names and those things help the Christ follower develop a deeper faith.

The Names of God brings the Christ follower into a deeper relationship with the One who created them, the One who makes the whole, and the One who has overcome the world and won the victory over sin, death, and the grave.

In this message we seek to understand how The Names of God help the Christ follower develop a deeper faith.

1). The importance of the name Elohim to the Christ follower is to help us identify the One who created all things.

He is the Creator, Giver, and Sustainer of all things – all things are held together by Him.

Elohim is the most common of the names used for God. It is the plural form of “El”; most likely this name is used to explain the plural of majesty or excellence. It is the name that conveys the creative power, authority, and sovereignty of God. This is the name used when referring to God in His relation to creation. Elohim can be understood as the All-Powerful Creator. He is the God who knows all, creates all, and is everywhere at all times. He is the all-powerful creator of the universe.

The most well-known passage of Scripture to include the name Elohim is found in Genesis 1:1-3. “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” This is the name of God used throughout the Genesis creation account, including when God created human beings. In Deuteronomy 10, we find God speaking to Moses when Moses returned back to the top of Mount Horeb to receive the Ten Commandments for a second time. It is in verse 17 where we find out more about our great God.

Elohim is said to be the God of gods and Lord of lords, showing His excellence over all other gods. And Elohim is shown to have no favorites and to take no bribes. In this we see both the compassion and excellency of Elohim. His compassion is seen in forgiving Israel and giving His commands a second time, though this time Moses must do the work of carving out the stone tablets before God inscribes them once again. His excellency is seen in not playing the favorite with anyone, nor can He be bribed by anything, from anyone.

Finally, in Psalm 68 we find a psalm of victory, likely written for David’s march back to Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. In this psalm there are seven names of God used, including Elohim. The number seven, signifying perfection or wholeness, gives us the full picture of the excellencies and power of our great God.

As Christ followers, we read the first words of John’s gospel account and we are immediately drawn back to Genesis and the creation story. We know Yeshua as the Word at creation, active in creating and sustaining the universe. We know from His life that He had no favorites and took no bribes from anyone. Included in His miracles or signs as John calls them, we see His power over nature as He turns water to wine, feeds thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fewer fish; He walks on the water and calms the storms. Part of the mission for Yeshua was to reveal the Father to all people and this He has done in a very real and personal way.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you seeing the creative power of Elohim during this season of life?

In what way is Yeshua revealing Elohim to you as you continue in your faith walk?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

2). The importance of the name Jehovah-Nissi to the Christ follower is to remind us that the victory has already been won.

In Yeshua, the world has been overcome and sin, death, and the grave have been defeated.

The name Jehovah-Nissi means the Lord our Banner, or the Lord our Miracle. This name is meant to remind us that God alone provides for our victory over the flesh and our enemy, Satan. This is the name Moses used for the altar he built after defeating the Amalekites at Rephidim. This is the first of three Scripture references we will look at to gain a fuller understanding of Jehovah-Nissi. Exodus 17 recounts two very important points for us. First, the beginning of chapter 17 of Exodus recounts the people complaining about the lack of water. God instructs Moses to strike a rock with his staff and He will provide water. Moses strikes the rock and water pours from the rock, enough for all of Israel. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul reminds the church that all those in the desert ate the same spiritual food and, more importantly for us with our passage today, all drank the same spiritual drink. Paul tells the church that rock was Yeshua, Jesus.

The second part of chapter 17 is where the name Jehovah-Nissi finds its meaning. In this portion of the chapter Amalek has come against Israel. Moses instructs Joshua to choose men to fight for Israel and in the morning he will go to the top of the hill with God’s staff. As Joshua fights against Amalek when Moses raises his hands, Joshua prevails. But as the arms of Moses tire and he allows them to drop, Amalek prevails. Aaron and Hur come to the top of the hill and place a stone under Moses so he can be seated to watch the fighting and they lift his arms, one on each side, so that Israel prevails against Amalek. God instructs Moses to write in a book, to be remembered and to instruct Joshua, that God promises to wipe out the memory of Amalek. Jehovah-Nissi was the Banner, which can also be translated as rally point, for Joshua and all of Israel.

Deuteronomy 20 also serves as a reminder to look to God when you are facing an enemy that vastly outnumbers you. Do not be afraid for the Lord God goes with you into battle to fight for you. Moses goes on to list men who should not enter into battle. These are exemptions meant to make it clear that it is God, Jehovah-Nissi, who fights for Israel, and He alone gains the victory over their foes. Finally, in Isaiah 11 we find the shoot of Jesse, a branch from his roots, prophesied. Verses 10 – 11 tell us that this Branch will become the rally point for the remnant of God’s people. They will come to this Branch for rest, and this rest is said to be glorious.

As Christ followers, we know that Yeshua is the Branch of Jesse and we do indeed find rest in Him. He is also our Banner, our rally point, and our miracle, for each of us, in our own right, is a miracle in Yeshua. He has taken us from the hand of the enemy and set us on the path of righteousness because we have placed our faith in Him. He has fought and overcome the world that we might have victory over our sinful flesh. His work on the cross put an end to the enemies work in our lives, for now we can stand in the victory He has already won.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is Jehovah-Nissi acting as your rally point in this season of life?

How are you finding rest in Yeshua during your faith journey?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

3). The importance of the name Jehovah-Rapha to the Christ follower is to remind us of the One who makes us whole.

He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in us.

The final name we will examine today is Jehovah-Rapha. The meaning of this name is the Lord who Heals. He is the God who can heal us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. This is the name that is proved by Yeshua as He heals the sick, blind, lame, and in His casting out of demons. In Exodus 15, right after the Lord has parted the Rea Sea for Israel to escape the Egyptian army, we find the people complaining about the lack of water, for the waters of Marah were bitter. Moses cries out to the Lord who shows him a tree and instructs him to cast the tree into the water. The tree makes the water sweet, and the people drink of the water freely.

After this, the Lord make statutes and regulations to test the people. He encourages the people to heed the voice of the Lord God and to do what is right in His sight, and to hear His commandments, then He will put none of the diseases on them which He had put upon the Egyptians, for He will be their healer. In Psalm 103:3, we are reminded by the psalmist that God alone removes our sin and heals our diseases. He redeems our lives from the pit, a life that was once headed on a path to death and surrounds us with lovingkindness and compassion. Finally, in Psalm 147:2-5, and particularly verse 3, we find the psalmist recounting the Lord’s care for His people. Verse three tells us that He heals the brokenhearted and binds the up their wounds.

As Christ followers, all of us have read, and perhaps some of us have even experienced, how Yeshua came to heal the sick, cause the blind to see, make the lame walk, and set free those captive to sin. We read in John that He heals a man lame for thirty-eight years. He will heal a man born blind, also found in John; in John chapter 4 His conversation with the woman at the well sets her mind free from whatever demons might have held her captive, so much so, that she returns to tell the people and the entire city comes out to see Yeshua. Finally, in chapter 11 Yeshua will raise Lazarus from the dead! And that is just the accounts found in John’s gospel message. We could go on and recount how Yeshua has healed each of us, but the message is clear, Jehovah-Rapha is our Healer!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How has Jehovah-Rapha made a bitter situation sweet, simply by your calling out to Him?

How are you experiencing being set free in Yeshua during your faith walk?

The Names of God help the Christ follower know the One who called them into fellowship on a deeper, more personal level.

Each of The Names of God reveal a new characteristic or attribute of our great God. I do not believe it is a stretch to say that all of us have experienced Elohim as the all-powerful God who knows all, creates all, and is everywhere at all times. How often have you sat in awe at the beauty of a sunset, or sunrise, and silently given thanks to the Lord? Or how many times have you experienced Jehovah-Nissi providing you victory over a sinful element of your flesh? Maybe an addiction or habit you needed to break to draw closer to Yeshua? And how many times have you come before the Lord seeking healing from some ailment, illness, or affliction that is simply too big for you alone? Our great God is wonderful and complex. His love for us is far deeper than we may ever understand and as the day draws closer for His return, that love and care for His people will continue to be seen by all who call on His name.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 7: 36-53

The Danger of Rejection

The Danger of Rejection

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 1/14/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“So, they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. Therefore, Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. “You will seek Me and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? “What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?”

                                                                                 John 7:30–36 (NASB95)

Last week we studied The Danger of Judging by Appearances, seeing how the Pharisees viewed two deeds through the same point of Law and applied their already developed methods differently. Yeshua has challenged the Pharisees to apply these methods consistently. The Pharisees have judged two deeds by their appearance, one seen as a responsibility, the other seen as a way to enhance a person’s station or status in life. The people in the crowd exhibit the same tendency to judge by appearance as some begin to believe Yeshua is the Christ, while others say it is not possible because they know this man.

In today’s passage we encounter the second danger Yeshua is warning the crowds and the Pharisees about – The Danger of Rejection. The teachers of Israel have long taught that they, the Jewish people, are the chosen of God, and this is true. What they have missed is the mission of the Messiah to make God known to the entire world – all people, not just the Jews. The danger here is that rejecting the Messiah means they are rejecting the One who sent Him, and in this rejection, they make the place where God can be found an unapproachable destination.

While some in the crowd began to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Pharisees hear them muttering and see a troublemaker. So, the Pharisees and the chief priests, in a power play of authority, send officers to capture Him. However, Jesus is clear, He is with them for a short time, but The Danger of Rejection means they will seek Him but not find Him, because they cannot come where He is.

As Christ followers, we must be prepared for the time when the world will see those who follow Christ as troublemakers. We will be wanted, hunted, and put in jail, because we remain obedient to a higher authority. As time grows short, we must warn others of The Dangers of Rejection, for the end result is eternal separation from the Father and the Son.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why should the Christ follower be aware of The Dangers of Rejection?”

As Christ followers, we are called to obedience to a higher authority – an Authority which the world has rejected, which only leads to eternal separation from the Father.

1). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Rejection because one day we will be seen as troublemakers.

Yeshua has warned us to be prepared to be hated by a world that hated Him first.

The Pharisees continue their pursuit of Yeshua after He has challenged them to apply their already developed methods to the Law consistently. Once again, John tells us that “His hour has not yet come.” We see the people in the crowd once again begin to believe in Him, this time pointing out the numerous signs He has performed. And once again, we find the Pharisees at the fringe of the crowd, listening to the mutterings of the crowd, and then, in a power play displaying their authority, they send officers, yet again, to capture Him. It is becoming increasingly clear that the ruling authorities, particularly the Pharisees, have rejected Yeshua outright, as the Messiah.

At the heart of the matter is the fact that Yeshua refused to come to the ruling council and seek their permission for His ministry. The Pharisees believe they are the gateway to God the Father, not some carpenter from Nazareth, and they have every intention of putting His ministry to rest, once and for all! While the Pharisees have taken the lead in opposing Yeshua, they are working closely with the chief priests. After standing at the fringe of the crowd and listening to the mutterings of the crowd, they have had enough and have, apparently, persuaded them to send officers for His arrest. The tipping point comes as those in the crowd begin to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, even mentioning His numerous signs. They are fully opposed to Him and reject Him as the Messiah.

Emotions are at a fever pitch, and at one point, the Pharisees thought they had enough popular support to make a public move against Yeshua. They have miscalculated the division within the crowd and the impression Yeshua was making on those in attendance. There appears to be much confusion about Messiah and the crowds have moved from questioning the education of Yeshua to the number of signs He has performed, many saying the Messiah will not do more than He has already performed. And yet, the Pharisees and the chief priests, those who make up the Sanhedrin, are clearly opposed to Yeshua and have branded Him as a troublemaker, to be rejected as the Messiah.

Throughout the gospel accounts, Yeshua prepares His disciples for His death and the trouble they will find because they have believed in His name. Two of these times occur in John, and we will examine them more closely when we get to them, but for now they add confirmation to what we find in our passage today. In chapter 15 and 16, Yeshua and the disciples are walking to Mount Olive and the Garden of Gethsemane. As they walk Yeshua tells them plainly that should they find hate in the world, it is because the world first hated Him (18-19). Then in chapter 16, Yeshua again speaks plainly in telling His disciples, “In this world you have tribulation.” But Yeshua goes on to say He has overcome the world.

It is clear that Yeshua wanted those who follow Him to know that this is not an easy life. He never promised us that it would be easy, but He does promise to be with us until the end of the age and He has promised to send us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Truth, to lead us into all truth and to remind us of the teachings of Yeshua. We will not find peace in this world. Never. The world has no idea what true peace is, and it certainly cannot provide what it does not know. We are to be prepared to be hated because this same world that hated Yeshua, will, indeed, hate us for believing in Hs name. Because the world has rejected Yeshua, they will reject those who follow Him and the message they bring.

Questions for discussion/Reflection:

How do you sense the world opposing Yeshua today? If you do not, why is this?

How do you sense the world, or at least the people you are associated with, opposing the message you bring? If not, what have you done to prevent this?

Where are you beginning to get a feeling of being hated because you are a Christ follower? If not, why do you think this is?

As Christ followers, we are called to obedience to a higher authority – an Authority which the world has rejected, which only leads to eternal separation from the Father.

2). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Rejection because rejection makes eternal life an unapproachable destination.

When the world rejects the Christ follower, it rejects our message and our God.

The Pharisees make a power play and send officers to seize Yeshua. Sensing this to be the case, Yeshua makes a statement that only adds to the confusion of the people. “You will seek Me, and you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” What in the world is this man talking about?! Where can He possibly go that we cannot go? Many thought He was going to the Greeks, but this is not simply the Greeks by nationality, the people thought He was going to Jews who acted like Greeks, the Hellenized Jews. This is what they meant when they said the Dispersion among the Greeks. But Yeshua has something entirely different in mind. Yeshua has just told the crowds and the Pharisees on the fringe, that He answers to a Higher Authority, the God of Israel.

We see this rejection of Yeshua and His disciples elsewhere in the gospel accounts as well. In Luke’s account of Yeshua returning to Jerusalem for the last time, the crowds greet Him with the shout of Hosanna, the Pharisees take issue with this and demand that Yeshua rebuke His disciples. There are numerous times we read of the Pharisees condemning Yeshua for healing on the Sabbath, for eating with tax collectors and sinners, or for allowing a known prostitute to clean His feet with her tears, wiping them clean with her hair. It is plainly clear that Yeshua does not fit the expectations the Pharisees have of the Messiah. Yeshua has been clearly branded as a troublemaker.

Going back to the power play by the Pharisees, this is not the first time they have made such a play. Back in chapter 1 of John we see the Pharisees have sent priests to John the Baptist to interrogate him to find out his identity. Again, they want to know who has given him authority to begin a ministry without getting their permission. In both cases, it is the priestly authorities, the Pharisees, and the chief priests, who are involved. These authorities do not really wish to know the Authority that has sent Yeshua, for time and again when He states, “My Father,” or “the Father and I,” these same men accuse Him of blasphemy. The real issue remains He has not gotten their permission and they will not stop until He submits or ceases His ministry.

The answer provided by Yeshua is no ordinary answer, for if you listen and look closely, Yeshua tells them He is returning to the Father, and more importantly, they cannot come where He is! Think about this implication for a moment. To be Jewish and told that you cannot come to the place where God is to be found would simply be earth shaking news. Remember, the teachers of Israel taught they were God’s chosen people, and so they were and are, but they misunderstood their mission as a light to the nations, and further misunderstand the mission of Yeshua as Messiah to the world. It was understood that those who were not Jewish were completely separated from God. Now they hear that because they reject Him, God has become an unapproachable destination!

There is a warning here for both the world and the Christ follower. The warning for the world is rather obvious, reject Yeshua and you risk the promise of eternal life. There is only one way to the Father, one way to receive eternal life, one way to enter the Kingdom of God, one way to overcome sin, death, and the grave…Yeshua, the Son of God, the Messiah. That message is and has been clear for many for a very long time, it is, in fact, the main reason so many reject Christ and Christianity, for the belief that He is the ONLY way to the Father. The world today wants things the way they want them, when they want them and on the terms they want them, end of story. No one will tell us how to get to heaven and see God. But what about the Christ follower?

The warning here comes in the plural, warnings. First, there is coming a time when we will be seen as troublemakers. The examples I mentioned make this clear. I know it is hard to believe while living in this country, the greatest country the world has ever seen, but it is true. We are already seeing the changes starting to happen and, as we read in the Scriptures, it is only going to get worse. In Matthew 10:34. Yeshua Himself says, “Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword.” Simply put, the mission of Yeshua is to be filled with tension, persecution, and even death. The second warning has to do with how we handle our faith. We still face the danger of rejecting Yeshua at the end of our lifetime, under the stress and strain of persecution, facing our own death. We must remain strong and firm in our faith, even as we face persecution and possible death, for we must remain obedient to a Higher Authority – God the Father, Almighty Creator and Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you sensed rejection because you remain faithful to Yeshua? If not, why do you think this is?

Where do you sense confusion over your mission for Yeshua? If none, how have you gained clarity?

Where do you sense tension or persecution as you try to remain faithful to a Higher Authority?

As Christ followers, we are called to obedience to a higher authority – an Authority which the world has rejected, which only leads to eternal separation from the Father.

As Christ followers, what do we do with this information? How can this help prepare us for what the future holds? First, we must remember that, when you find opposition, it is not the person who opposes you, it is the spirit behind that person who opposes you. Paul taught us that we do not fight against flesh and blood, rather we are fighting against the powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). Second, remember the message you take with you is counter cultural, it goes against the flow so it will naturally create tension. Thirdly, remember it is hard to be hated, but hatred cannot harm you or kill you. Our suffering does not match the suffering Yeshua experience on our behalf. So, take courage for Yeshua has overcome the world.

Fourth, remember this is not a personal rejection of you but a rejection of the One you represent. If you believed exactly as the world believes you would be readily accepted, but you are different, you have been called into the Light of the Christ and it is this Light that is being rejected. Fifth, if you are finding confusion concerning your mission, seek clarity through prayer, reading and studying the word, talking to other trusted Christ followers, and then pray some more! Finally, we are never to be subject to an evil or immoral authority – at any level. We always answer to a Higher Authority – it is His will we seek; it is His will we obey.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 7:37-53

The Dangers of Judging by Appearances

The Dangers of Judging by Appearance

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 1/7/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.”                                                                         John 7:20–29 (NASB95)

Let’s do some quick review to remind ourselves of what has been happening around Yeshua. Chapter 5 opens with Yeshua attending a Feast of the Jews. The feast is unnamed so we are not sure which feast this might be, but it is not one of the seven Feasts to the Lord, celebrated each year by all Israelites. Yeshua arrives at the Sheep Pool at Bethesda and heals a man who has been lame for 38 years. Rather than rejoicing with the man for his healing, the Pharisees accuse him of breaking the Sabbath. When the man figures out it is Yeshua who has healed him, he tells the Pharisees and the lengthy conversation we are studying begins.

In chapter 6 Yeshua attends the Passover Feast and as He travels the area, a large crowd begins to follow Him. Testing His disciples, Yeshua asks how they can feed so many people. The crowd numbered 5,000 men plus women and children. The disciples think only in terms of human devises and taking the small offering of five loaves of barley bread and two fish, Yeshua feeds the people with twelve baskets leftover. The crowds follow Him to Tiberias where He makes His “I Am the Bread of Life” statement but the people grumble because He says they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

We now arrive at chapter 7 where the brothers of Yeshua attempt to convince Him to show himself to the world. The Feast of Booths is at hand and the brothers cannot think of a better time to show the world He is the Messiah. Yeshua tells His brothers it is not His time, and He will not be attending the feast, but they should go alone. Yeshua arrives later, about mid-week, and begins teaching at the Temple. As He teaches the people begin to wonder how He can speak this way when He has not been educated. The controversy begins when Yeshua says His teachings are not His own but come from God, the One who sent Him. Which brings us to our passage today.

The final question from Yeshua to the crowd is “Why do you seek to kill Me?” The reaction is that Yeshua has a demon, meaning He is insane. But as we will learn in our passage, Yeshua has been calling out the inconsistencies of the crowd, as well as the Pharisees, when it come to the interpretation of the Law. The warning here is clear and very much needed even today, we must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances.

Accused of having a demon, Jesus contrasts circumcision to keep the Torah, to healing a man on the Sabbath. The Dangers of Judging by Appearances comes into focus as the people declare they know where Jesus is from, but no one will know where the Christ is from. Jesus points out the people do know Him, but they do not know the One who sent Him.

As Christ followers, we must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances, for the way people judge is inconsistent and relies on personal opinion rather than a right understanding and the consistency required for judging rightly.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why must the Christ follower be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearance?”

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

1). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because they will cloud our inconsistencies.

The Christ follower must be consistent in their witness to the world.

This entire controversy and conversation started with the healing at the Pool of Bethesda, near the Sheep Gate. This healing was done on the Sabbath and the Pharisees take exception to this. Yeshua is at a Feast when the healing occurs, but the feast is unnamed. There are only two other feasts the Jews observed, and both are in Winter months. Chapter 6 happens during the Passover Feast or in the Spring and chapter 7 happens during the Feast of Booths, or in the Fall. So, this could be nearly a years’ worth of conversations and controversy surrounding one healing on the Sabbath.

What we must understand is that Yeshua is NOT arguing with the Pharisees about the legitimacy of the Law or the Torah. In fact, Yeshua agrees with them on the point of Law they accuse Him of breaking. What He is arguing about is their interpretation of the Law they are accusing Him of breaking. Yeshua understands and agrees that the Law of Moses must be kept, even if it means performing a circumcision on the Sabbath. A person is brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, making them whole spiritually. If this is true, then how can making an entire person whole on the Sabbath be wrong? Does this not bring them into a covenant relationship with God? Or at least, back into a covenant relationship? And certainly, it makes them whole both physically and spiritually.

Here is the point of contention for Yeshua, the inconsistency in interpreting the Law. Yeshua is not calling them to repentance or out of legalism, He is calling out to apply their already developed methods more consistently! For example, in Matthew 12, Yeshua challenges the Pharisees concerning the practice of helping an animal that has fallen into a pit or ditch on the Sabbath. The Pharisees find this acceptable because it is the responsible thing to do when caring for an animal, something that is helpless. Yet these same Pharisees condemn Yeshua and the practice of healing an entire person – one who is more valuable than any animal – on the Sabbath.

It is this inconsistency that is being called out. One good deed, that of helping an animal fallen into a ditch or pit, is acceptable as it is a responsibility on caring for the animal, but to heal the entire person is not acceptable as it might be seen as an act to enhance one’s station or status. Yeshua is challenging the Pharisees to see both the act of circumcision – done to meet a religious and ceremonial need for people and the healing of a person to meet a deep, desperate need for that person – in the same fashion. The Pharisees have judged two deeds by appearances – one deemed acceptable because it is a responsibility, the other deemed unacceptable because it is seen as a way to enhance a person’s status or station in life.

As Christ followers, we are in the same dangers as the Pharisees. For example, how many times have you been given the evil eye, or perhaps given the evil eye, over the way someone has come into the church dressed? Or perhaps someone has taken exception to the translation of the Bible you choose to read and study. How many times have you looked upon someone who claimed to be a Christ follower and thought, “As if!” There are many, many ways we can judge by appearances, these are but a few. The point is, we are all in danger of falling into the temptation to judge someone by the appearance of things.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you thought, someone was trying to “sound smarter than they really are?”

What point, or points, of our faith are you applying inconsistently?

When was the last time you openly judged someone completely on their appearance? Either in the church or someone out in public?

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

2). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because they can keep us from the One who called us.

The Christ follower must stay close to Yeshua so they can truly and fully know Him.

At this point the people begin to put things together, they are finally beginning to realize who this is that is teaching. This is the One, who just moments ago they accused of being insane, who the Temple authorities have been seeking to kill. Some in the crowd, however, have an issue with Yeshua as the Messiah. They know where He comes from. We have mistakenly thought that the crowd was talking about His knowing His parents, but that is not the case here. The teachings and miracles of Yeshua are well known by this time. The issue is that Yeshua has not sought the approval of those in Jerusalem. In addition, there is the belief that when the Messiah appears it will be suddenly – there is no more suddenness with the ministry of Yeshua now.

Yeshua has been known for some time now – almost three years – because of this, He no longer fits the candidate checklist of the people, or that of the Pharisees. So, when the people begin to grumble stating that they know where Yeshua is from, it seems He agrees with them. “You both know Me and know where I am from:” But Yeshua goes on to explain that they really do not know Him as well as they might think. Christ has been sent by Israel’s God, but Yeshua tells them plainly the One who sent Him is true whom they, the people, do not know, and He knows Him because, Yeshua says, “I am from Him.”

The people claim to know more about Him than they really do. He has not come of Himself. He did not come to bring glory to Himself. He did not come to build a following or a new movement. He has been sent with a specific message and He has been sent on a specific mission. He has come to reveal the Father to all people, beginning with the lost sheep of Israel. He has come to make the Father known by bringing glory to the Father. He has come preaching the Kingdom of God is at hand, and as we learned in chapter three, the Kingdom will be open to the world, not just the nation of Israel. Yes, the nation of Israel is expecting the Messiah to come but they truly had no idea what to expect when He arrived. They did not know as much about Messiah as they claimed because they did not know the One who sent Messiah.

As Christ followers, we must be careful to stay close to Yeshua. We must be in the word daily, reading and studying, so that we can truly and fully know Him. We too face the danger of thinking we know more about Messiah than we truly do, just as the people in the crowds. If we simply take the word of the pastor in the pulpit, or the teachings of the church, or the accepted doctrine of the day without exploring, researching, testing, and praying for clarity, we are in danger of allowing our personal opinions to cloud the truth of God’s word. We must communicate, talk with our Savior. We must be a praying people, taking every care and concern to our Lord and Savior. We must stay close to our great God so we can truly and fully know Him.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

The people had an issue with Yeshua as Messiah because they know Him – He had become too familiar. What part of God’s word – His commandments and teachings – have become too familiar with you? If none, how do you keep this from happening?

The people thought they knew more about Christ than they really did. When was the last time you thought you knew something about Christ only to find out you were wrong or did not have the entire truth?

What are you actively doing to stay close to Yeshua? If nothing, why?

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

The point of this message is not to point the finger at anyone or to call anyone out for something they have done. The point here is to provide a warning that we all face this same danger. It is easy to judge things or people by their appearance. I bet most of us do it every day without even thinking about it or knowing it. It seems to be just a natural part of the day and how we operate. But if we take the time to examine our own motives, we just might find we are doing it far more often than we care to admit.

For the Christ follower, there are precautions we can take. We can make the effort to see people through the eyes of Christ. If we can see people as sheep looking for a shepherd, we just might be able to understand how they are feeling or understand why they are acting as they do. If we can stay in the word and ask the Lord for clarity and guidance as we read, we might find that we can make a difference in someone’s day, week, or even their life. A simple kind gesture, made in the love of Christ, can turn a day around or flip a life upside down. The point here is simple, take a beat, take a deep breathe, or count to ten and then look at things again. Look beyond the appearance of things. You might find those harsh words spoken to you by someone else were actually a spiritual attack meant to get your focus off what God has been calling you to do. You might find the one who seems dressed inappropriately or in dirty, untidy clothes, is deeply hurt and seeking what you already have – the love of Christ.

This message is meant to call you out of your comfort zone, to keep your eyes on Christ, to read, study, and meditate on the word, to research, test, and seek guidance and clarity from the Lord, and above all, to love others with the end in mind, for we all face The Dangers of Judging by Appearances.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 7:30-36

Made New in Christ

Made New in Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/31/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

                                                                  2 Corinthians 5:14–17 (NASB95)

Well, here we are, ready to “turn the page” on the calendar once again. In fact, by the time many of you read this message, it will already be 2023. Hope seems to spring eternal with the prospect of a new year. Every year, people around the globe look to the New Year with hope for a better year, whether it be in finances, health, love, or work environment, we look to the New Year as if the changing of a number can make a difference in what happens to us during the coming twelve months.

For many of those who look to the New Year with such hope, they are sadly disappointed when the New Year fails to produce the hoped for and anticipated “betterment” of their situation. The truth is, nothing will change if we simply “turn the page” or change the number of the year in which we live. No, it is not that simple. Real change needs to come from the person, not the calendar page or the number of the year. For those who are Christ followers this is especially true, for those who follow Christ have hope for change because they have been Made New in Christ.

Paul reminds the church at Corinth that the love of Christ controls those who follow Christ. Because He has died for all, all have died and must now live for Him. They recognize no one in the flesh but now see a new creature; the old has gone and new things have come because they have been Made New in Christ.

As Christ followers, we must remember the death of Christ was for us. We are identified in His death; He rose that we may now live for Him. We no longer see the old self but the new self of all those who are Christ followers, for those who follow Christ have been Made New in Christ.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the importance of being Made New in Christ for the Christ follower?”

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

1). Made New in Christ means that the Christ follower has died to the old ways of life.

Gone are the ways of the world and our selfish and self-centered ways of thinking.

There is one great reason for the hope the Christ follower has and that is the love that Christ has for those who follow Him and now lives in them, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to control them. The Greek word used for “control” means “to hold together” or “to hold fast.” If we really want things to get better, if we want to see a change in the New Year, the simple truth is, WE need to be better, WE need to change and then things around us will get better. For those who follow Christ, our hope is found in Christ alone. He is the “glue” that holds our lives together, He enables us to hold fast during the storms of life. The love of Christ is what holds us together as we seek to leave behind the old ways of life we once knew. It is the love of Christ that helps us hold fast as we put new things into practice.

As Christ followers the death of Christ was for our benefit. It is through His death that we gain victory over death, the grave, and sin. Through this death we are able to die to our old self, the self that thought only about what was best for “me” or “what’s in it” for me. We are able to put aside our old attitudes of selfishness and self-centered thinking. We put off the anger, bitterness, and rage we held for and against others. We put away the old way of thinking as the world does and then acting upon those thoughts without regard for our consequences, either to ourselves or those around us. We take off the willingness to cater to the sinful desires and cravings of the flesh – the old self as to die in order for real change to happen in us, for us, and around us.

The Hebrew word for year is Shannah. This Hebrew word offers us an interesting insight into the change we have such hope in for the New Year. This word is also the root word for “second,” as in “the second time” or a “repeat.” Very often, those who look to the New Year with hope for change, continue to make the same mistakes they made the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that and… You get the point. We can live the New Year as if it is the second time around for the same thing, or we can find a way to make some meaningful change. It is far easier to continue in the ways that are known and comfortable to us and continue to see the same results, results we know and have grown comfortable with, even though they may be tiresome. But then again, we always have the next New Year to look towards for real change…right?

As a Christ follower, the implications here are real and they are difficult. We have been identified with Christ in His death. This means the old self has died, it must cease to exist. We must put on the new self and remove the old, worldly, self-centered, and selfish ways of living life. If you have not changed after coming to Christ, you need to take a long hard look at what is happening, or not happening, in your life. If you are the same angry, bitter person filled with rage, ask yourself why? If you are still looking upon others in lust or envy, ask yourself why? If you still seek what is best for your first and care little about the consequences to others, ask yourself why!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is the love of Christ holding you together during this season of life?

What aspect of the “old self” do you still need to die to or put off? If none, what steps are you taking to continue to “die to self?”

Having been made new in Christ, have you made changes that are noticeable to others? If yes, list a few for your own benefit and encouragement. If not, why?

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

2). Made New in Christ means that the Christ follower has put on the new self and a new way of life.

We put on the new things of the new self and see others through the eyes of Christ.

Having been identified with Christ in His death also means we are to be identified in His resurrection, the rising up of the new self. If putting off the old self is difficult, then putting on the new self is near impossible! Why? We all know old habits die hard. Establishing new actions that become new habits is just as hard, but we have the added stress of the world around reinforcing those old habits we wish to break. Our sinful cravings and desires of the flesh will not go away easily. The good news is that we are not alone in our battle. We must never forget that we are fighting a battle in which the war has already been won! Christ stands in victory for those who follow Him, we simply need to learn to stand in HIS victory!

We no longer need to see others, including ourselves, according to the flesh, according to worldly standards, or perceptions. Now we can see others through the eyes of Christ because we have been made new in Christ. Gone are the old attitudes, the old behaviors, the old way of speaking! We must now put on the new self, complete with new attitudes, behaviors and speaking. As Christ followers it is our goal to become more like Him, to become Christlike in every area of our lives. Our attitudes must be like His attitude. He was obedient to the Father, so obedient He went to the cross to die for all people. Our behaviors must become like His. He was loving, gentle, and showed compassion to all, but He was never afraid to be fully honest and to rebuke others in love. We must also learn to speak in the way of love as He did. Love does not sugar coat the truth, but explains it fully, honestly, and in gentleness.

The new self is being molded as you grow in Christlikeness. It has no preconceptions of what must be; it holds no personal agenda of what must happen or how you must get to where you are going; it has no previous pattern to hold it in check or define its boundaries. The new self finds its identity fully in Christ. Any preconceived ideas must be based in and on Him; any agenda must be in obedience to the Father and the Son and all they have taught us; any boundaries are set by Christ and where He leads and what He desires for us. The new self is, essentially, a blank canvas ready for new ways of thinking, doing, and speaking.

Which brings us to the next interesting aspect of the Hebrew word for year, it also means “new” or “second chance.” The New Year is just that, it is NEW. The New Year is meant to be a blank canvas, an opportunity for you to make the changes that need to be made to have a “second chance” at the hope for change you saw in the New Year. You must now choose to change the way you make your choices and choose to do things differently, or you can choose to continue in the same old way, doing the same old things, and then look to yet another New Year with empty and false hopes.

For the Christ follower, we have been identified with Christ in His death, that is the difficult part for us, dying to self. But we have also been identified with Christ in His resurrection. This is the new self, the rebirth of us as Christ followers. Gone are the old attitudes of anger, bitterness, and rage, to be replaced with happiness, joy, and peace. We love others because He has loved us to the point of dying for us. So, we must die to our own agenda and think of others first. We must think differently than the world and we do so by see others through the eyes of Christ. We see the lost looking for and needing a Shepherd. We see the hurting and the sick searching for a Healer. We see the hungry and thirsty looking for the Bread of Life and Living Water. We have been changed from the inside out because we have been Made New in Christ!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where are you struggling the most to “put on” the new self? Why? If not, what steps did you take to make change easier?

What steps are you taking to continue to grow in the new self? If none, why?

Do the people who know you best see the changes that have come with the new self? If so, how? If not, why?

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

Change is never easy and that is especially true in the church. There is a reason we are compared to sheep so often in Scripture. Sheep are hardheaded and stiff-necked animals. They prefer to go their own way, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. They will drink from dirty, parasite infested waters and eat from the worst possible food sources, just to fill their own desires and cravings. Sound familiar? Do we not become hardheaded when we disagree with something that will change how things will be around us? Are we not stiff-necked when we are opposed to a change that upsets our comfort zone? Do we not seek our own way first! We eat and drink for our pleasure and seldom consider the consequences of what we are putting into our bodies.

The point is this, you are a NEW creature in Christ. You have been made NEW through His death and resurrection. You are a blank canvas, ready for new attitudes, new behaviors, and a new way of speaking. The war has been won, only you can make this battle as easy, or difficult, as you choose. The old self must die if you truly want a better you…or a better year. The new self must come to the front and show those who know you best the changes that have come through your life in Christ. If the old you is the only you that they see, something has gone terribly wrong. If the love of Christ is not seen in you, if it does not hold you together, then you need to ask yourself some very difficult questions. We are at the doorstep of a new year, just as you are at the doorstep of a new you. Only you can decide how good – or how bad – this year and this new you, will be. In Christ you have been made new; in Christ you have been given a second chance, a blank canvas to create, to change, to overcome. You must choose. Will this be a second chance, or just a repeat of the same mistakes and choices that have always been?

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: 7:20-29

Word of the Father

Word of the Father

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/24/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

                                                                                  John 1:14–18 (NASB95)

Have you ever had to try and explain something you really know nothing about? It’s not easy, is it? To have any chance of making sense at all, you need to do some quick research to get, at least, a working of understanding of the subject you are trying to explain. And even then, you really have no idea what you are talking about, you just don’t want to sound like a complete idiot and make a fool of yourself.

But what happens when someone asks you to explain something you are passionate about? Man, now is the time you can get excited! Finally, someone has asked you about something you truly know and love! Now you can make known some of the little-known facts and tidbits of your favorite subject. Now you can show others why you are so excited about this subject. Now you can lead others to the inside scoop of your subject. In our passage today, we learn that the Word of the Father came to explain the Father as only He could, for He alone fully knows the Father and can make Him fully known to others.

The Word became flesh to dwell among us; He showed people His glory as the begotten of the Father. John testified about Him, and all have received from His fullness. The Law was given through Moses but through the Word of the Father, grace and truth have been realized, for He came to explain the Father.

The Word became human to live with those He created. From the Son of God, we have all received more grace than we deserve. The Law was given to people through Moses, but through the Word of the Father, grace and truth have been realized, as the Son of God made the Father known.

In this message we seek to understand why the Word of the Father is important to all people.

The Word of the Father put on flesh to live with and as those He created.

1). The Word of the Father is important to all people because all people have received from Him.

He came full of grace and truth and all people have received more grace than they deserve.

For the Son of God to put on flesh meant He had to take on the human form at a specific time, in a specific place, and to a specific people. This is exactly what has happened with the begotten Son of God. We are told earlier in John’s gospel that He came to His own, meaning Israel, specifically, Judah, being born in Bethlehem. He put on flesh to live among those He created, to share the human experience with them. In the Greek, the word “dwelt” means to tabernacle or pitch a tent. Quietly literally, we could say that Christ pitched His tent among humans to live with and as they lived. Those who lived with Him saw His glory, glory that comes from the Father. This glory shines with grace and truth.

This grace and truth fill Christ, there is room for no more grace or truth to be found in Him for He is full of grace and truth. Just as you cannot squeeze another ounce of gas in the tank of your car when it is full, so you cannot squeeze another ounce of grace or truth in Christ – He is FULL, to the brim, of grace and truth. Grace can be understood as kindness or blessing, while truth can be understood as certainty or real. Today we understand grace as unmerited favor and truth as sincerity and integrity of character. In Christ, grace and truth can be seen in all their fullness and scope.

John tells us that we have all received from His fullness. All people have received from Christ – not just those who lived with Christ as He pitched His tent among them. All people have received life from Christ. He is the creator, sustainer, and giver of life. This means that every person EVER conceived has received life from the Creator of life – Christ, the begotten Son of God. This also means that the abundant life and eternal life are available to all people – even though so many choose to reject this offer, it is available to those who come to Christ, acknowledging Him as the Son of God and Lord and Savior of the world.

This also means that every person EVER conceived has received light from Christ. Each person has been given light that will produce life and growth. More importantly this light will shine in the darkness to expose sin that separates people from God the Father. It will reach into the darkest recesses of the heart and expose the thoughts and intentions of every person. This light also cleanses, burning away the impurities of sin. We are called to walk in the Light as He walks in the light. This glorious light means we never walk in darkness again and leads to eternal life found only in Christ.

What does this mean for the Christ follower? It means we treat all people as valuable because they are! Each person ever conceived has life and light given to them by Christ; they are made in the image of the Father; this alone demands we treat all others with respect. We are called to love others as He has loved us, fully and unconditionally. Our love for other Christ followers is to be seen by all people that they might be drawn to Christ. Christ came, putting on flesh, to live with and as those He created. In His fullness He has given us more grace than we deserve. In turn, we are to give grace to those we do not feel deserving of grace; we love those who are called unlovable; we respect those who disrespect us, all in the name of love – the love shown to us by the Word of the Father.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you showing grace to those around you in this season of life? If you are not, why?

How does your life express the truth of who Christ is in your life? If it does not, what steps can you take to correct this?

Where do you need the Light of the Word in your life today?

How are you expressing the value of those you meet? If you are not, why?

The Word of the Father put on flesh to live with and as those He created.

2). The Word of the Father is important to all people because He came from the Father to explain the Father.

He came from the very bosom of the Father to make Him known to all people.

John concludes this passage by reminding us that no one has ever seen God but the One who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. The word used for “explain” here means to show the way. The word “explained” is a compound Greek word, coming from two root words, the first root word means from or from out of; the second root word means to lead. In our context here, Christ has come from the bosom of the Father, John has told us He is in the bosom and being sent from the Father, obviously, He must come from the bosom – only One who knows the Father fully can make Him fully known. In a real sense, Christ has led people to the Father. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The way to the Father, the truth of the Father, and the life of the Father.

When the readers of John’s gospel read, “He is in the bosom of the Father,” they may have been reminded of the story of Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. Or perhaps today’s reader is reminded of the place of “the disciple Jesus loved” at the final Passover meal in the Upper Room. Both are vivid pictures of love and comfort, care, and concern for another, but perhaps it is also a vivid picture of the mutual love of the Father and the Son, and most importantly, the Sons utter dependence on the Father. Christ came to “explain” the Father and part of this explanation must include the deep love the Father has for all people. Yes, God is a holy God. Yes, God hates sin. Yes, God will one day do away with all sin. But He has sent His Son to show us, to explain to all people, the deep love He has for all those who bear His image.

These vivid pictures of the Father and the Son should cause all Christ followers to pause and think about how they are showing the love of the Father and the love of the Son to those they meet. The one distinguishing mark of the true Christ follower is the love they share amongst other Christ followers. The Word of the Father came to “explain” the Father and part of the explanation offered is the deep love the Father has for all people. As Christ followers, we carry the Light of Christ within us, for He has called us into His glorious light. We, as Christ followers, know the Life that leads to the Father and eternal life. Most importantly, as Christ followers, we know the Way to the Father, and it is our responsibility to share with others that the Way is found only in the Word of the Father.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Does your love for your fellow Christ followers show love, care, and concern for them?

How are you showing those you meet, who may not know the love of Christ, the deep love the Father has for them?

How does your life “explain” the power of the Father in your life? If it does not, what steps do you need to take to change this?

How are you making the Father known to those you meet? If you are not, why?

The Word of the Father put on flesh to live with and as those He created.

How does the Son “explain” the Father? He explains the Father as the Creator, Sustainer, and Giver of life. Through Him all things have been created, nothing has been created without Him and He alone holds all things together. The Son explains the Father as the Light of the world. His light gives life to all people. He has called us to walk in His light, meaning we never have to walk, live, or work in darkness again. His Light cleanses, exposing our sin and cleanses us that we may stand before the Father, clean and holy through His Sons redeeming work. The Son explains the Father through the sinless life He lived, fully God and fully man. He lived His life as a human being, in the flesh, living with and as those He created, yet He committed no sin, remained obedient to the Father, and sacrificed His life that all people might have eternal life. There are no excuses, for anyone, for the Word of the Father has come to make the Father known to all people. His life, His love, His care, and concern for all people have pointed the way to the One who sent Him from His very bosom, the Father, God Almighty.

All that remains is for you to decide. No one can make this choice for you. You either believe the Word of the Father, sent to explain the Father or you do not. You either accept Christ as the Son of God, or you do not. The Father has been explained, His attributes ad clearly seen in the Son. He has a deep love for you, and He waits for you to come to Him. Time is short. Repent of your sins, turn from them to Christ, acknowledge Christ as the Son of God and believe in Him for eternal life.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

The Love of Christ

The Love of Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/17/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

                                                                               John 13:34–35 (NASB95)

Love is a universal obsession in our country. We love people, places, and things. Just name it and we have a love for it. We love our sports teams, our food, our hones, our jobs, our cars, our spouse, our boyfriend, or girlfriend, we even love our pets. We have learned that we all have a love language. It fills us up when we are down, we expect others, especially our spouses to know our love language and we to know theirs. Love has even infiltrated our music. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.” Or “You are the love in my life, you are my inspiration.” Everyone knows, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love.” So, if you “Heard it in a love song, can’t be wrong!” This love gives us the warm fuzzies, like a pair of comfortable pajamas on a cold winter’s night. But this love doesn’t reach down to the core of our soul – this love doesn’t fill the gaping hole in our soul.

In the greatest act of love ever seen or experienced, the kind of love that fills the gaping hole in our soul, was made available to all people. However, before this act could take place, the One who performed this act, spoke to His followers, giving them a commandment to love one another. But this love is not the normal love we experience as human beings. No, this love goes far deeper, for the kind of love we all seek, the kind of love this One expects from His followers, is The Love of Christ.

Jesus gives His disciples a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved them. For all men will know men will know they are His disciples, when they show The Love of Christ to one another.

As Christ followers, we are called to love others as we ourselves have been loved by Christ. By showing The Love of Christ to others, all people will know we belong to Him.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is The Love of Christ important in the life of the Christ follower?”

As Christ followers, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ so fully and unconditionally, that those who see our love know we belong to Christ.

1). By showing The Love of Christ to other Christ followers, the Christ follower shows how they have been loved by Christ.

The Love of Christ loves other Christ followers fully and unconditionally and then spills over into the world around us.

First of all, we need to see and understand this commandment is given to the followers of Christ. It is not given to those in the world. Chapter 13 takes place in the upper room, at the last Passover Supper shared with the disciples, before it moves outside as Christ and the disciple’s journey towards Gethsemane. The commandment to love one another is a call to love as Christ has first loved us – we are to love with the love of Christ. This goes beyond loving your neighbor as yourself. This commandment has been given to the disciples of Christ first, and then to the church through those disciples, and through the church to each individual member.

Secondly, this commandment has NOT been given to the world, it has been given to the followers of Christ. We cannot expect those who do not know Christ to be filled with His love. If people in the world have not known Christ and experienced His love, how then, will they know what His love is like? Because this love is to be seen by all people through His followers. We will discuss the importance of this in our second point, but we are not to hide this love. It is to be clearly and plainly seen by all people we meet, pass-by, work with, live with, eat with, and a multitude of other daily activities. This love must be seen to be affective.

If this love is the love of Christ, then this is the love of God Himself. This love can only be placed in the hearts of the Christ follower by the Holy Spirit. This is NOT the love the world shares between neighbors, brothers, friends, or even lovers. This is not the emotional feeling called love shared by the world. This is a much deeper love that goes to the depth of the soul and fills the gaping hole we all seek to fill.

When we become Christ followers, the Holy Spirit begins the work of creating a new person, from the inside out, we become a new creation in Christ. The love of Christ is love that – causes us to hunger for God and God’s people, to share in fellowship and family relationships; this love shares the same life with all Christ followers – the abundant life and eternal life. The love of Christ binds and ties the Christ followers together in life and purpose; it shares needs, blessings, joys, sorrows, and gifts together. This is love in which all Christ followers have a shared, universal experience.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where do you sense Christ calling you to share The Love of Christ during this season of life?

What area of your life needs a new infusion of The Love of Christ?

How have you experienced The Love of Christ among other Christ followers?

As Christ followers, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ so fully and unconditionally, that those who see our love know we belong to Christ.

2). By showing The Love of Christ to other Christ followers, the Christ follower shows they belong to Christ.

The Love of Christ proves we are His – learning from His examples and being obedient to His commandments.

I mentioned in our first point that the love found in the Christ follower must be seen by all people. Now we can discuss why this is important. This type of love can only be found in the Christ follower because it is placed there by the Holy Spirit. Part of the new creation includes a new love founded in Christ. This new love is far different from the love shared with your neighbor, friends, family, and those you work with. This type of love is the mark of a true disciple – of a true Christ follower. The Love of Christ loves fully and unconditionally; it loves indiscriminately and inclusively, and it loves universally. This love starts with the Christ follower, but it does not stay there. It is the norm for love in the community of the Christ follower, thus it must be a love that is seen by all people.

This is love created by the Holy Spirit and placed in the heart of the Christ follower. The Holy Spirit can melt and mold the heart of the Christ follower to other Christ followers. This is a commandment for the Christ follower, and while the Holy Spirit creates this love in the heart of the Christ follower, the Christ follower must receive this love. When the Holy Spirit creates this kind of love in the Christ follower, it is love that binds the heart of the Christ follower to the lives of other Christ followers; it ties the life of the Christ follower to the same purpose of other Christ followers. This is love that causes us to surrender our will and be of one mind with other Christ followers; it causes us to understand and empathize with other Christ followers. Finally, this is love that causes us to put the needs of other Christ followers above our own needs, it causes us to deny ourselves.

Love is more than a simple warm feeling; it is an attitude revealed in our actions. How can we love others Christ followers as Christ loved us? We help when it is not convenient; we give when it hurts; we spend our energy to benefit others before ourselves; we take hurt from others without hurting back or complaining. This type of love is meant to bring unbelievers to Christ and keep Christ followers strong and united in a world that hates God and all things related to God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you showing The Love of Christ to all people? If you are not, what can you do differently?

How are you loving fully and unconditionally? If you are not, what steps need to be taken so you are loving in this fashion?

How is your love strengthening and uniting other Christ followers?

As Christ followers, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ so fully and unconditionally, that those who see our love know we belong to Christ.

Far too many people in the world depend on their feelings or trusting their heart to define, feel, and spread love. Scripture teaches us that our hearts and feelings cannot be trusted. Most days our hearts and feelings can change in a matter of hours, some days in a matter of minutes! No, we cannot trust our hearts or our feelings. This is why The Love of Christ is so important to the Christ follower. Do you think any of us might be here today if Christ had trusted His feelings in the Garden of Gethsemane? I highly doubt that. But having experienced all things human, Christ knew not to trust what He was feeling as He prayed that night. In fact, He said “Father, Your will be done.” Because He sought the Father’s will, love has won out over all things. Now we too have this deep love inside of us, placed there by the Holy Spirit.

We no longer need to trust our hearts or feelings because we know we have the capability to love others as we were first loved by Christ. We can love fully and unconditionally, regardless of our feelings, circumstances, or situations we face. The Love of Christ is an attitude that begins with love for other Christ followers, seen by all people, and then flows out to the world around us. Because of this love, we have the ability to impact the lives of those who do not know The Love of Christ, while strengthening and uniting with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is love. That Christ died for us, even while we were in sin, that we too can love others as He loved us.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 1:14-18

The Joy of Righteousness

The Joy of Righteousness

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/10/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. ‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. ‘In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ “For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”

                                                                            Jeremiah 33:14–17 (NASB95)

At some point in our lives, we have all felt the burning desire to be right. I’m not talking about simply being correct, no I’m talking about being right and shoving it in someone’s face. That one person that has a smug attitude and never seems to be wrong about anything…or so they think. Seems like they are always pressing on your last nerve, and you just want to be so overwhelmingly right you can stick in their face and say, “I told you so!” In the end, what we really seek is our own brand of justice.  

What we are really talking about here is righteousness and justice. In the example I gave we would call that self-righteousness. The justice we seek is more along the lines of fairness and correct treatment by another. As Christ followers, we know that we have no righteousness within us, and justice can only come from One who is fully righteous and just. There is coming a day when true righteousness and justice will be brought to the earth and in that day, we will truly discover that The Joy of Righteousness comes from the Lord, for the Lord is our Righteousness.

The days of fulfillment are coming when a righteous Branch of David will spring forth and execute justice and righteousness on the earth. He shall save Judah and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; those who have placed their faith and trust in God shall have The Joy of Righteousness found only in the Lord, for He is our righteousness.

As Christ followers, we look forward to the day the Lord keeps His promise to His people. Yahushua, the Son of God, will claim His place as the Branch of David, bringing justice and righteousness to the world. To those who place their faith and trust in Him, He shall bring The Joy of Righteousness.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is The Joy of Righteousness important to the Christ follower?”

The Joy of Righteousness is important to the Christ follower because it is a promise from the Lord to those who place their faith and trust in the Branch of David.

1). The Joy of Righteousness is important to the Christ follower because we await the return of the Branch of David.

In His return, the Branch of David will bring true justice and righteousness to the world.

In our world today, everyone is looking for justice and to be right. In this world, justice is fairness, correct treatment, or equitable distribution of resources; it is giving each person what he or she deserves. We see this more and more in television commercials particularly, “Call now and get what you deserve.” To be right is the quality of being right or right actions. However, even the idea of what right actions are, is now changing. What used to be considered right actions is no longer true. Today it seems like justice and right are seen through your own personal lens. A very different way of thinking from what we find in the Scriptures.

Righteousness in the Bible does include the idea of the quality or characteristic of being right or just and the thought of right actions. This used to be known as rightwiseness. But biblical righteousness goes further still. This is being right in the eyes of God, and it includes character, conscience, conduct, and command. Put another way, it is our nature, attitude, actions, and word. All seen through the eyes of God, eyes that see all clearly and without partiality or prejudice.

As Christ followers, we know there is nothing righteous about us. We have come to grips with our sin and the need for a Savior. We also realize there is not a just bone in our body and we need the strength and guidance of One who has overcome the world. This is the real reason we have become Christ followers; we have been shown our fault, flaws, and failures – we have seen our sin. We have humbled ourselves and come to the One who knows all things human and has still remained sinless before the Father and has come that we might find life through His sacrifice. Biblical righteousness and justice go much further than the world is ready for or even understands.

Biblical righteousness and justice demand personal accountability, it requires that each individual be held accountable for his or her own wrongdoings. There is no blaming society or any other person, each individual is responsible for their own wrongs. Fairness is found, not only in the courtroom, but also in the marketplace. Laws apply to all people equally; no prejudice or partiality can enter the administration of the law. Likewise, in the marketplace, pricing, availability, quality, and quantity must be fair. Name, status, nor power should influence the marketplace or the seller. Finally, there is collective responsibility. We a take responsibility for our community; we speak out against unfairness and mistreatment; we attempt to correct what others have broken. Our choices both benefit and hurt others.

As Christ followers this is to be found, particularly, within the church. The command of our Lord to love one another is meant to set us apart from the one-sided love shown by so many in the world. We are not above accountability, nor do we try and “get our fair share,” or use our words to hurt others. We love others first, putting their needs above our own, we take only what we need, and our words are used to encourage, build up, and inspire one another. If this were truly the church, outside of the church walls, what a different world we might be seeing now.  

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Which area of your life is not right in the eyes of God? Your nature, attitude, action, or word.

Where do you sense the Lord calling you to personal accountability?

How are you using your words to build up, encourage, and inspire others? If you are not, why? How can you change this?

The Joy of Righteousness is important to the Christ follower because it is a promise from the Lord to those who place their faith and trust in the Branch of David.

2). The Joy of Righteousness is important to the Christ follower because the Lord is our righteousness.

We have all fallen short of the glory of God, but He freely makes us righteous through our faith in Christ.

This prophecy concerns both the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Whenever we see the house of Israel in a prophecy, we need to pay close attention, for this involves us! While there is not time or space for a full teaching on this, we are involved through the birth promise given to Manasseh, carried through the house of Israel and the line of David. Our Messiah comes through this line, and He is the One who will bring the promised righteousness and justice to the earth. As we will learn, it is through faith and trust in the Messiah that we, as Christ followers, have any righteousness.

We read that Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. Judah remains in place to this day. The house of Judah was comprised of two full tribes, Judah and Simeon and a portion of Benjamin. This was the Southern Kingdom during the divided kingdom era. The Northern Kingdom was comprised of the remaining ten tribes that went into Assyrian captivity and are now referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Judah currently makes up the nation of Israel and Jerusalem has been the focal point of many a battle over this most holy city. While her enemies still attack, Jerusalem is living in safety, protected by her technology and the God who called her into being.

In Romans 3:23, Paul writing to the church in Rome, reminds us that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Sin has set in, through our first parents in the Garden of Eden, the entirety of the human race has fallen into sinfulness. Throughout the Scriptures we see sin equated to lawlessness, and in Romans for not conforming to the glory of God. It is important that we understand the statement found in verse 23 as being in the present tense. We have not fallen but continue to fall short of the glory of God because of the sin we have within us. This sin would keep us separated from the God who created us but for the sacrifice of Messiah, for it is through our faith and trust in Him that we find the righteousness to stand before the Father.

Verse 16 in our passage, tells us that Judah will be saved by a particular name, that name is the Lord is our Righteousness. This is the Hebrew name of God Jehovah Tsidkenu. It is translated as the Lord our Righteousness. We can also find this name in Jeremiah 22:5-6 and Ezekiel 36:26-27. Yahushua, the Son of God, is the One through whom we find our righteousness. He imparts upon those who have placed their faith and trust in Him, His own righteousness, already found acceptable by God the Father. This righteousness is found only in those who place their trust and faith in Him. It is not given to those who reject the Son or believe there are other ways to the Father.

For the Christ follower, we are justified and made righteous as a free gift through our redemption in Christ. There are no personal merits, achievements, accomplishments, or status that is worthy of this gift from the Father. It is only given to those who place their faith and trust in Christ, the Son of God. There is absolutely no cause found in us to make us worthy of such a gift. It is given freely and fully by God the Father. We cannot earn, demand, take, or buy this free gift; it costs us nothing and yet it costs us everything, for we must place our faith and trust in the One sent by the Father – the Messiah, His Son, our Lord and Savior.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where are you falling short of the glory of God during this season of life?

In our country we have been told from an early age we can do anything we set our minds to. How do you sense you have been trying to earn, take, demand, or buy righteousness in your walk with Christ? If not, what steps have you taken to prevent this?

The gift of righteousness is given freely by the Father. It costs us nothing yet costs us everything. What has this gift cost you in recent days?

The Joy of Righteousness is important to the Christ follower because it is a promise from the Lord to those who place their faith and trust in the Branch of David.

The day is quickly approaching when the promises found in this passage will be fulfilled. There will come a day when, suddenly, the King of kings and Lord of lords appears to claim His rightful place on the eternal throne of David. There will be a day when true justice and righteousness are lived out on the earth. There will be a day when Judah is saved, and Jerusalem will dwell in safety – eternal safety. In that day the final Son of David will sit upon His father’s throne forever and ever. His kingdom will be established for all eternity. There will be no more temptation, no more sin, no more disease, no more illness, no more death.

Because of our faith and trust in Christ, we have been right in the eyes of God. Our right standing with God has given us the opportunity to become members of His family, enjoying all the privileges of a son or daughter of the King. This is pleasing and makes us happy and filled with joy. As we grow closer to the day of His return, our lives will not get any easier, but we know our Lord is faithful and keeps His promises. He is with us always, to the very end of this age. We know He has provided for our defense against the enemy with His very own battle gear. We know He has experienced everything human, so nothing will take Him by surprise, and He knows how to speak to us in every situation we face.

We know our great God is the Creator and King of the universe, and through Him we experience The Joy of Righteousness – His righteousness.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 13:34-35 Love

The Peace of Christ

The Peace of Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/3/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

                                                                                John 14:27 (NASB95)

How many times have you said, or heard someone say, “I just want some peace and quiet!” or “I want to enjoy some peace and quiet.” Peace seems to be a constant, common goal shared by just about everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are in a good mood or bad mood, perfectly healthy or feeling under the weather, out with friends or home alone, sometimes you just want some peace. But what kind of peace are you looking for? Are you looking for peace that comes from being away from people, with no concerns of conflict? Or are you searching for something deeper when it comes to peace?

While it is only my opinion, I believe most people want something more than just a surface level peace. I believe most people are seeking a peace that will bring peace of mind and heart. Peace that goes far beyond what we can find in the world or from other people. This kind of peace comes from an inner sense of peace and this peace comes from one source and one source only. What people are seeking is The Peace of Christ, peace that brings something far deeper than the peace offered by this world.

As Jesus prepares His disciples for the time when He will leave them, He leaves them with His peace, He gives to them but not as the world gives. Because they have The Peace of Christ, their hearts need not be troubled or fearful.

As Christ followers, we have The Peace of Christ, a peace that is far different than the peace the world offers. The peace we have been given leaves our hearts free from worry and anxiety.

In this message we seek to understand why The Peace of Christ is different than the peace offered by the world.

The Peace of Christ is different than the peace offered by the world because the heart of the Christ follower is free from worry and anxiety.

1). The Peace of Christ offers the Christ follower peace in the spiritual realm.

The Peace of Christ brings the Christ follower peace with God the Father.

In Scripture there are two words used for peace. In both the Old and the New Testaments, the word used for peace can and does mean the absence of enemies or war, but both words mean much more than this. Shalom carries the thought of wholeness; being full or filled; finished; and made perfect. This is a state of being, as in contentment or tranquility. There is quietness and trust as results of righteousness, and a friendship as within a covenant, as in a covenant of peace. In the New Testament it conveys the idea of harmonious relationships between people and nations; it is friendship and order. But the one most important for the Christ follower is the harmonized relationship between God and people – it conveys a sense of rest and contentment.

To have peace in the spiritual realm is to mean we have peace with God the Father. Yes, this is, of course, an absence of war between God and people, for Paul reminds us that while we were enemies of God, Christ died for us. But it is much more than just the absence of war, it is reconciliation between a holy God and sinful people. This was accomplished by God through the death of Christ. We are made righteous through Christ, standing before the Father spotless and without blemish. There is nothing we can do to earn this and no work we can perform to deserve this reconciliation, it is fully dependent upon the sacrificial death of Christ and placing our faith and trust in Him.

Through Christ we also experience peace in our spiritual battles. Make no mistake about this, we still face spiritual battles, sometimes daily, but those battles are now fought differently. No longer do we fight our spiritual battles in our own strength or on our own. We now fight in the victory and strength of Christ. He is the God of Heavenly Host, commanding legions of angels to fight for us, to protect us, and to stand around us, even in the midst of our spiritual battles. The enemy will still come at us, still search for the week spot in our defense. On our own, that weakness would be evident immediately, but in the strength of Christ, the weakness is much harder to find, for Christ leads the charge against the enemy, not us.

Finally, we must not forget that the Father has made His armor available to all Christ followers. From the soles of our feet and the gospel of peace to the very top of our heads and the helmet of salvation, God has provided for protection to all areas of the human body and soul. It is no accident that the first place the enemy strikes is the heart and the minds of the Christ follower. More often than not, it is the mind to first come under attack. Win the mind and the heart soon follows. The mind comes under attack with subtle thoughts that sound logical if not scriptural. But they are not and yet they get the desired affect the enemy was looking for…causing doubt to enter your mind. Rest assured, these are not your thoughts, but thoughts planted there by the enemy seeking to distract and cause doubt.

As Christ followers we must use all of the weapons available to us. We can never win a spiritual battle with our own strength, power, or our own weapons. They simply are not strong enough. But we do have the armor of God available. We discussed but two of those pieces above and still have available the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and the shield of faith. This makes the Christ follower fully covered and protected, but we must take up this armor daily if it is to be of use. But we do not stop there! With the armor of God, we add prayer, taking all of our cares and concerns to the One who has placed them on our heart. We read and study the Scriptures and meditate on them, so we have them fresh in our minds and hearts. In all things we practice obedience. In all things, not just the easy things, not just the fun things or the things that get us noticed, but in all things, we show obedience to God and His commands. Above all this, we wrap ourselves in love and love people, even those who are the most difficult to love and those who show hatred towards us. We love and we love some more!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What spiritual battle is Christ leading the charge for you during this season of life?

Where do you sense the need for The Peace of Christ today?

What seed of doubt has the enemy planted in your heart and/or mind today?

The Peace of Christ is different than the peace offered by the world because the heart of the Christ follower is free from worry and anxiety.

2). The Peace of Christ offers the Christ follower peace in the physical realm.

The Peace of Christ brings the Christ follower peace of mind and heart.

Now that we have peace within the spiritual realm, we can turn our attention to peace in the physical realm. Once again, we are looking for more than a simple, surface level of peace. We are seeking a deeper peace, a peace that will leave our hearts and minds free from worry and anxiety and this is only found in The Peace of Christ. In the physical realm this will include our finances, our employment, and our relationships. Yes, there are far more things in our physical world, but these are the main areas the enemy will seek to hit and hit hard; these are the areas that bring us the greatest amounts of stress, worry, and anxiety.

Peace in our finances may not always look like an abundance, it is generally just enough and just in time. When Lee Iacocca took over Dodge Motors in the 80’s, he found a car manufacturer completely out of sync. The company was drowning in debt, unnecessary stock, and a lack of needed materials to complete vehicles that were being sold. He instituted the “Just Enough, Just in Time” philosophy in the manufacturing of Dodge vehicles and Iacocca was able to turn Dodge around and payoff a government loan early. The idea was to have the necessary parts delivered just in time and in just enough quantity to complete the needed vehicles for the day or week. This is exactly what our Great God has been doing from the very beginning of time as we know it! We have just enough, just in time, that we might rest in the provisions of our Father.

We also find peace in our employment. Yes, there will still be conflict and we may or may not see them coming, but The Peace of Christ allows the Christ follower to remain in control and not overreact to the conflict when it comes. You will react, but you will not overreact. You will make comments, but you will not make comments that “add fuel to the fire,” or cause further confusion or chaos. In these situations, God will protect you, either putting the right words to speak in your mouth or putting a hand over your mouth! Either way, God will protect you! The one thing that most people miss in these situations is the clarity that God will bring to your situation. Whether it is an opportunity for a promotion or the opportunity to make a change, God will bring clarity to what is happening, and this may bring clarity as to why it is happening.

Finally, we find peace in our relationships. Again, there will be conflicts and concerns but now the Christ follower is able to quickly turn them over to God through prayer. More importantly, the Christ follower leaves them with God and continues to pray over the conflict or concerns. The Christ follower continues to battle in prayer through the strength of Christ. This prevents the Christ follower from making this a one-sided attack but seeking rather, for the best in both themselves, and the other person involved in the conflict or concern. Above all, the Christ follower loves with the end in mind. We love people so they too may see and know the love of Christ that we know, then they too can come to the peace of Christ and have the same reconciliation with the Father we have experienced.

As Christ followers we must remember our battle is NOT with flesh and blood – not with people, but rather the spirit behind the situation we face. Yes, of course, this could lead back to needing peace in the spiritual realm, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the enemy uses people in the physical realm to distract us, to get us to take our eyes off Christ, to disrupt our walk with the Father and then cause more issues in the spiritual realm. We must fight these battles as we do the spiritual battles, through prayer, the armor of God, and reading and studying Scripture. It may sound like a broken record, but this is our best defense against an enemy who will use every weapon at his disposal, including those closest to us. Be prepared, be in the Word, and always love with the end in mind.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you experiencing peace in the physical realm during this season of life?

In what area of the physical realm do you need The Peace of Christ?

How are you keeping prepared for sudden and unexpected attacks by the enemy during this season of life?

The Peace of Christ is different than the peace offered by the world because the heart of the Christ follower is free from worry and anxiety.

It has been said that if life is going smoothly, it is because Satan is not concerned about you. The implication here is that Satan has convinced you to partake in some sin and you are safely out of the way and not living in God’s will. It has also been said that if life is going roughly, it is because Satan is attacking you and he has need to be worried about you. The implication here is that Satan has lost control over you. I guess there is some truth to these statements, but I have one issue with them. They dwell on the negative aspect of being a Christ follower. What if we looked at it from the positive aspect of being a Christ follower? What if we said that if life is going smoothly, it is because you are at peace in all areas of life because you are at peace with God. Meaning, of course, that you are doing and living in God’s will. Or, what if we said, if life is going roughly, it is because you are being prepared to handle more and the enemy knows it. The implication here is that you have proven yourself and God is enlarging your area of influence.

In the above scenarios it matters not the perspective, for The Peace of Christ will bring peace with God in both perspectives. The Christ follower needs to be about seeking peace while the time is still available. We seek The Peace of Christ first and then seek peace of mind and heart, for we cannot have the latter without the former. There is no easy way to find and keep The Peace of Christ. Stay in the word, remain diligent in prayer, read, and study the Scripture, meditate on the word so it is fresh in your heart and mind and above all, love with the end in mind. Time is short, soon there will be no peace to be had on this earth, especially for those who do not first have The Peace of Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: Joy – Jeremiah 33:14-16

Hope in Yahweh

Hope in Yahweh

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 11/26/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

                                                                             Zephaniah 3:17 (NASB95)

What is hope? If you do an internet search for the definition of hope, most dictionaries have about the same definition. Hope is defined by online dictionaries as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust; to want something to happen or be the case. Hope is the expectation for things to go well in the future.

For the Christ follower, it is this last part of the definition that, particularly, fits the theme we are examining this week – hope, an expectation for things to go well in the future. We have placed our trust in Yeshua, the Son of God, with the hope that our futures as secure in His hands, and that, upon His return, we will be claimed by Him and delivered from our enemies before we join Yeshua in His eternal kingdom. We have Hope in Yahweh because He will take delight in us, His children, forever and ever.

Even as he sounds the alarm, warning of coming judgment, Zephaniah offers encouragement to the people, reminding them the Lord is in their midst as a victorious warrior; He will exult over them in joy and be quiet in His love. The people can Hope in Yahweh, for He will rejoice over them with shouts of joys.

As Christ followers, we have Hope in Yahweh, for He is God with us, a mighty soldier who has won the battle, delighting in us as He rests in His love for us. With a ringing cry, Yahweh will delight over us forever and ever.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why must Christ followers have Hope in Yahweh?”

As Christ followers, we have Hope in Yahweh because He is the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

1). As Christ followers, we have Hope in Yahweh because He is in our midst as a victorious warrior.

He is Immanuel – God with us, Mighty God, Eternal Prince.

Our passage today comes from Zephaniah, a prophet during the reign of King Josiah in approximately 640 B.C. He is a contemporary of Jeremiah, beginning his prophetic ministry in approximately 627 B.C. The theme of the entire book of Zephaniah concerns the Day of the Lord, or the Lord’s Day – the day Yeshua, the Son of God, makes His return to the earth. In this short book, Zephaniah covers the judgment to befall Judah, a call to repentance and the judgments of the Gentile nations. Our passage is a passage of Hope in Yahweh for future blessings upon the people of Yahweh.

Scripture is filled with passages concerning the return of Yeshua and the final battle with His enemies. Perhaps the most recognized passage is found in Revelation 19 and what we know as the Battle of Armageddon. Here, Yeshua is pictured on a white horse, with a white robe, the ends of which have been dipped in blood. From His mouth comes His only weapon, a sharp sword. We are told, in verse 21, that everyone was killed by this sharp sword coming from the mouth of Yeshua. On His return on the Day of the Lord, Yeshua will be the victorious warrior, He will stand alone after this battle and rescue His people from certain destruction. This is our great hope that Yeshua will return to take us as His own, fight the remaining battle on our behalf, forever defeating evil, sin, and death.   

In chapter 11 of Hebrews, the author of that letter links our faith with hope, stating “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is described as the assurance, or reality of things hoped for by the Christ follower, things not seen. The author of Hebrews is saying our faith gives reality and proof of those things unseen, treating them as if they were already objects of sight, rather than just objects of hope. In his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us we walk by faith, not by sight. It is our faith that makes the unseen things we hope for a reality in our faith walk. In other words, we walk today, as Christ followers, in the victory of Yeshua.

As Christ followers, we walk as children of God, in the reality of His coming Kingdom. We walk in a faith that gives reality and proof of our hope in Yeshua. We walk in faith as a redeemed people, living as reality and proof of the power of God in the human life, the power to soften and change hardened hearts to fertile soil. We walk in faith because we have Hope in Yahweh, He alone provides the assurance of the things unseen. We can walk in faith because our God is Immanuel – God with us. We walk in faith because our God is a Mighty God, a victorious warrior. We can walk in faith because our God is the Eternal Prince.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What battle is Yeshua fighting for you today?

How does your faith walk give reality and proof of things hoped for in Yeshua?

How is Yahweh acting as Immanuel, Mighty God, or the Eternal Prince during this season of life?

As Christ followers, we have Hope in Yahweh because His is the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

2). As Christ followers we have Hope in Yahweh because He will delight in us forever and ever.

He is the Alpha and the Omega and comes quickly as the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

The second half of this passage confirms our Hope in Yahweh, for we find that He will exult over us with joy, He will be quiet in His love, and finally, He will rejoice over us in shouts of joy. So, let’s unpack this a bit to better understand this hope we have in Yahweh. In his description of the Risen Lord in Revelation 1, John describes Yeshua in all His radiance. We learn that Yeshua is the Alpha, the first and the Omega, the last, for the Christ follower Yeshua is our all-in-all. In the passage we looked at in Revelation 19 we learn that He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. And in the final verses of Revelation, we learn He is coming quickly.

Why would Yeshua say He is coming quickly? Because of His deep love for those who belong to Him. As we break down this passage, the words chosen by God Almighty in His message to the prophet Zephaniah make this clear, His deep love for us drives Him to return and rescue us from the evil of the final days. Zephaniah says Yahweh will exult over us. The word translated as exult means to delight. Think here of the wedding ceremony and the delight seen in the bride and the groom when they first see each other as the bride begins her walk down the aisle. This is the delight Yahweh has when He finally has us in His kingdom.

Next, we learn that Yahweh will exult or delight over us with joy. Joy here is gladness or mirth. This is cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment – our Great God, the Mighty Warrior, will be cheerful, happy and find enjoyment over us! Can you imagine this for a moment? We Hope in Yahweh for our future salvation and security, and He will find cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment in our presence! I must admit, I had difficulty getting past this point. Who is our salvation for? Is it for us, to provide safety and security? To give us a good life spent in ease. Or is it for the One who created us? Does God really need us to be cheerful, to find happiness, or enjoyment? Of course not! But this is, in fact, what brings Him cheerfulness, happiness, enjoyment, His prized creation living in His presence.

We also learn that Yahweh will be quiet in His love. This is perhaps our greatest hope – the final removal of our sins. The word translated as quiet can also be translates as silent. The meaning here is that Yahweh will not hold our sins against us – He will not even mention them! Yahweh is silent over our sins. The forgiveness is complete, full, and final! And finally, we find Yahweh will rejoice over us in shouts of joy. We can think of rejoice the same way as joy, gladness, and mirth. He will find cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment in us, but this time, Zephaniah says He will do so with shouts of joy! It is to these shouts we must pay particular attention. The word translated shouts can mean a ringing cry or…get this…singing! Yahweh will be singing over us – He will find cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment and He will sing about it!

As Christ followers, we are traditionally taught that our praise for Yahweh will never end and of course, this is true. I won’t speak for anyone but myself when I say that I have never had anyone point to this passage, a passage where Yahweh will delight over me, finding cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment! Now, there will be plenty who say this is meant for the Jews alone, but they would be wrong. This is an end of days prophecy, and it is meant for God’s PEOPLE…all of them! Yes, Judah and Israel come first, but this is for all of God’s people, and this is one of the reasons we Hope in Yahweh! As we praise and worship our Great God, He will be singing over us in His cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment of us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you feeling the deep love of Yahweh today?

How is Yahweh delighting in you today?

How are you sensing Yahweh singing over you during this season of life?

As Christ followers, we have Hope in Yahweh because His is the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

There is no doubt we will face dark and difficult days sometime in the future. But we can cling to this great Hope in Yahweh, knowing we are headed to a future far beyond any description humankind can dream of. Perseverance will be the key. We must keep our eyes fixed on Yeshua, no matter the circumstances that surround us. As Christ followers, we must stick together, keeping our relationships rooted in Messiah. We must remember that we are identified with Christ in His suffering and death, but we are also identified with Him in His resurrection and eternal life! We must also remember that this world is not our final home or resting place. We are headed to a home in the new Jerusalem, where we will live with and see our Heavenly Father face to face. Above all, we must remember that we have Hope in Yahweh alone, for He alone will find cheerfulness, happiness, and enjoyment in us, forever and ever.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: Peace John14:27

Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving

Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 11/19/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

                                                                            Philippians 4:4–7 (NASB95)

From an early age our parents taught us to say thank you. If someone gives you a piece of candy, you say thank you. If someone holds a door open, you say thank you. If someone gives you a drink, you say thank you. If someone smiles and says, “Have a nice day.” You say thank you and return the sentiment. So, we learn to be thankful FOR things. We are thankful for food, clothing and shelter. We are thankful for a beautiful day. We are thankful for friends and family. Yes, we have indeed learned to be thankful for things.

But what happens when everything is not peaches and cream? When our rosy future turns a darker shade than we prefer to see? How do we react when our finances are stretched to the breaking point? What do we do when health issues, a sudden illness, or even death interrupt our blissful existence? When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, his life was anything but peaches and cream. Paul wrote this letter, like most of his letters, from jail. Bound in chains and guarded by a Roman soldier. Paul, however, does not exhort this small church to give thanks FOR everything but rather IN everything. For Paul, and the church at Philippi, Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving is the only way to have a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to rejoice in the Lord. Their gentle spirit should be known to all men, for the Lord is near. They are to be anxious about nothing, yet, in everything, they are to make their requests known to God. By Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving, the peace of Gid will guard their hearts and minds.

As Christ followers, we find our joy in the Lord. We love all people as if the end is near, being worried about nothing but praying about whatever we are facing. We are Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving by taking our concerns to God and allowing His peace to cover our lives.

In this message, we seek to answer the question, “What is the importance of Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving?”

As Christ followers, Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving is the means by which we obtain the peace of God.

1). As Christ followers, we are Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving when our joy spills over in love for others.

As Christ followers, we must love others like the end is near.

The church in this country has been blessed in that it has not faced open persecution like many other Christ followers around the world. Though we do not know when, that day is in fact, coming to the church in this country. With just a cursory reading of this passage one does not get the “feel” that this small church in Philippi is facing any persecution either. But as we read and study the words within the text, we begin to understand that they are indeed facing persecution, of some form, from their pagan neighbors. Paul first exhorts the church to rejoice in the Lord. This is not just joy but a joy so full and complete that nothing and no one can replace it or take it from them. This is a fullness of joy that can only be found in the Lord Himself.

Next, we see Paul exhorting the church to let their gentle spirit be known to all people. This word is generally used as an attitude of kindness when the normal or expected response is one of retaliation. This is love that goes beyond the norm, one that walks the extra mile and turns the other cheek. Paul adds that the Lord is near, so love these people as if He were standing beside you. The word used here is also translated as forbearance. Paul uses it in referring to the meekness and gentleness of Christ. During His trial, the Roman soldiers mocked Christ, tempting Him to react to their treatment of Him. They fashioned a crown of thorns and a mock cloak of purple fabric and taunted Him as the King of Israel. But Yeshua did not take the bait. In His great love for them, for the entire world, He did not react.

Paul then tells the church to “be anxious for nothing.” To be anxious is to have a distracting care about something. This is having your mind preoccupied with something. In the case of the church, it is the persecution coming from their pagan neighbors. Some of this persecution was coming from false teachers attempting to refute the teachings of Paul and convince the church that their form of the gospel based on knowledge and the Spirit was superior to that of Paul’s. However, Paul is in good standing with this church. He prays for them and gives thanks for them; they have twice sent money to support him in his efforts to spread the gospel message. His teaching is consistent and full proof.

While what we have learned is certainly most useful in facing persecution, there are still valuable lessons for the Christ follower, even though we do not face open persecution in the present. Living in the days just prior to the return of Christ, people are going to try and convince us that what we have learned and what we believe to be true about the Bible and the teachings of Messiah are not only false, but they are also filled with hate speech, do not include all people, and are just one way to reach God and heaven. It is imperative that Christ followers know what they believe and believe what the know and why. Scripture tells us to be prepared in season and out, to give an account for the hope that lives within us.

Secondly, we must be gentle in all things. We must love like the end is near, because, quite honestly, it is! People are going to try and tempt us to react or overreact, distracting us from what Yeshua is calling us to do, to say, and to show to others. By allowing gentleness, love for people and for Yeshua, to be at the forefront of all we do, we can make the love of Christ known to all. Thirdly, do not allow anyone or anything, to steal your joy found in the Lord. This is not going to be easy, it may in fact, be the hardest thing we face in the days ahead. Our joy should spill over to others, in the form of love, tolerance, and forgiveness, but it will not be easy to hold on and allow that joy to grow. Finally, be anxious for nothing. Do not allow anything to so fill your mind with worry that you lose sight of Yeshua, the One who has the answers, fills your needs, and shines the light on the path He has called you to walk.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What do you find trying to steal your joy during this season of life?

How are you showing your “gentle spirit” to those around you?

What are you carrying a “distracting concern” for during this season of life?

As Christ followers, Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving is the means by which we obtain the peace of God.

2). As Christ followers, we are Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving when we are worried about nothing but praying about whatever we are facing.

There is no other way to find peace that goes beyond our understanding.

What we discussed in the first point of this message is not going to be easy, it will be very difficult, at best. But Paul gives us the roadmap to finding success. I began this message by talking about how we have learned to be thank FOR things. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with that at all. We should be thankful for all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us. Giving thanks for those things is the proper response for the great blessings God the Father has given us. But this passage is not about how we react FOR things, it is about how we react IN things.  How do you react while you are in the middle of persecution? What is your response to sudden illness, health issues, or even the death of a loved one?

Paul tells us how we should react while we are IN something. We react by prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving; we make our requests known to God. We all know what prayer is, in fact, I would venture to say that the one time we can all be found praying is when things begin to go bad. However, the type of prayer we are most likely to launch is a request for help, or asking “Why me, Lord?” Paul, however, is talking about a different type of prayer, he says supplication with thanksgiving. Have you ever tried to be thankful in the middle of a financial crisis? How do we give thanks for a sudden illness or disease? The first clue is found in the word supplication.

Supplication is a form of prayer, but it is a prayer borne out of desperation, out of dire need. But there is more to it than just desperation, than just the dire need. The key to this kind of prayer is found in the attitude of the person doing the praying. This calls for earnest prayer, that is, with sincerity and intense conviction, done humbly by the person making their request known to God. Think of Yeshua in the Garden of Eden. “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from Me. But not My will but Your will be done.” Here is the God of Creation, knowing what is coming in just a few hours, probably feeling the pain as He thinks about what is about to happen. Begging His Father to remove what is about to happen, if it is at all possible, but…if it is not, Your will be done.

Finally, there is thanksgiving. This simply means to give thanks, but the root word tells a different story. The root word means to give freely, so we give thanks freely while in the middle of whatever we might be facing. We give thanks freely while we are on our knees or flat on our face, making our requests known to the God of all Resources, the only One who can both hear and answer our prayers. In this type of prayer, we are asking or begging for something. When we are in such a place of desperation, we are exactly where God wants us…at the end of our human resources! We have finally come to the place where we must turn to the One we should have turned to in the first place!

For the Christ follower, we must be willing to humble ourselves and seek the One who hears our prayers and can answer those prayers, before we speak a word! Our first reaction must be one of seeking after God first, not when we have expended all of our pitiful human resources. Our Father in heaven is not caught off guard by anything we face. He is prepared to help if we but seek Him first, in sincerity and humbly. When we finally come to that place of desperation, we must fix our eyes on Him, not the issue we face. In all we face, we must be willing to freely give thanks to the Father who has called us into fellowship with His Son, for the One who offered His Son in our place, is prepared for anything – any crisis, any disease, any illness, any sin, or even any death – that might strike against us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How do you find yourself reacting IN the middle of an unexpected hardship?

Are you freely giving thanks during this season of life?

Have you reached the point of desperation that has led you to cry out to God?

As Christ followers, Practicing Joyous Thanksgiving is the means by which we obtain the peace of God.

The result of all that we have learned from this passage is that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Guard is another term used for situations of conflict. It is used to refer to the actions of a military garrison stationed inside of a city. The military garrison is charged to watch over in order to protect or control; to protect against damage or harm. The peace of God will protect our hearts and minds against outside attacks. The first two places our enemy attacks are the heart and the mind. Spiritual warfare begins with the mind and works to twist and pervert the teachings of Yeshua that our hearts are turned away from God and to the things of the world.

More damage is done to the mind of the Christ follower by the subtle twisting of God’s word, than any all-out verbal attack or physical confrontation done by another person or group of people. Verbal and physical attacks involve other people, people we can confront, talk to, and reason with; the spiritual attack on the mind involves only our faulty thinking and untrustworthy hearts. We must guard these two areas first and foremost against enemy attack. We do this in Christ the Lord. We do this in His strength, in His victory, for He has already won both the battle and the war. Doing any of this in our own strength will only lead to failure, frustration, and defeat. We must remember, we face a defeated enemy who knows his time is short. Freely give thanks IN all things, praying earnestly, begging humbly, making your request known to God, for this is how we obtain the peace of God, peace that goes beyond our human understanding.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next Week: Advent Week 1: Zephaniah 3:17 – Hope