Fruits of the Spirit: Goodness

The Apostle Paul wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:22-23.

As mentioned in the previous installments, these nine attributes form the foundation or bedrock of what it is to be a believer in Messiah. If we desire to emulate and follow in our Savior’s footsteps, then we must adopt and live by the characteristics we find here. It’s not enough to keep the Sabbath and other commandments, but we must go beyond this and change who we are on the inside.
In Matthew 23 Yahshua refers to what He calls the weightier matters – judgment, mercy, and faith. I believe the attributes we see in Galatians 5 would also be considered the weightier matters. And as believers we should always be pursuing them.

Does this mean, then, that commandments like the Sabbath are not important? The answer is obviously no; Yahweh’s commandments are critically important. We know that Yahshua and the apostles, including Paul, faithfully observed the commandments including the Sabbath and Feast days. Is it possible to obey these commandments and yet NOT be found worthy of the first resurrection? Based on the examples of the scribes and Pharisees, I believe this is a real possibility. And for this reason we must not only focus on the outward commandments but also on how we’re to change inwardly.

Let’s now continue with this series on the fruits of the spirit and focus on the next one: Goodness.

The Virtue of Goodness
The Greek word for goodness is agathosune, and according to Strong’s Concordance means “goodness, i.e. virtue or beneficence.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon tells us this word means “uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness.”

As for “virtue,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, this word refers to a conformity, to a standard of right, and to moral excellence. It also refers to strength or courage and to a commendable quality or trait.

I believe virtue here would refer to living according to good works that exemplify righteousness and moral excellence in the context of goodness. In short, it’s doing what is right and living a life that rightly reflects the morality and standards of Yahweh’s Word.

In some ways, goodness can be viewed differently from the other fruits we’ve looked at thus far. Previously we’ve looked at love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and gentleness—attributes that we show to our fellow man. While this is true for goodness, goodness is also something we do individually. Living a moral and virtuous life requires a sense of fidelity to our Heavenly Father apart from how we interact with one another.

Agathosune is found only four times in the New Testament, including Galatians 5. Let’s review the three other instances where this Greek word is found, the first being Romans 15:13-14.
“Now the Elohim of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

Romans was written by the Apostle Paul. In this passage we see him refer to several important attributes, a few of which have been mentioned throughout this series. For example, we find here joy and peace. As a reminder, joy is a sense of happiness we find through the Holy Spirit that is not conditional or based upon our current situation. If we’re going through some sort of trial or tribulation, we should still be able to have a sense of happiness in Yahweh.

This passage also refers to unity within the Messiah’s body and the peace of mind we find through Yahweh’s promises. Peace is somewhat related to joy and for a moment, notice where we find these two characteristics.

Paul says here that the Elohim of hope fills us with joy and peace. So we see that these attributes are from Yahweh through the Holy Spirit.

Paul closes by saying that we should also be full of goodness, i.e., virtue or righteousness. This virtue leads to knowledge and the ability to rightly admonish one another.
Now what does it mean “to admonish”? Strong’s defines this word as, “…to caution or reprove gently.” As we learned in the “gentleness” segment, when we reprove somebody, we should do so with kindness.

Source of Goodness
The second example of agathosune is found in Ephesians 5:2-13. “And walk in love, as Messiah also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to Yahweh for a sweet-smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Messiah and of Yahweh. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of Elohim upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in Yahweh: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto Yahweh. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”

Paul begins this passage by saying we should walk in love, as Messiah loved us. Yahshua gave His life as a ransom for our sins. During His ministry He said there wasn’t a greater love than to lay down one’s life for another.

As believers, do we have this same sense of love? If we want to be like Yahshua the Messiah, we must exemplify what it means to show love and concern for one another.

Paul also refers to specific sins within this passage. He mentions fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, and other works of the flesh. He says that some within that assembly were in darkness, meaning that they were guilty of some of these sins, but now they are in the light of Yahweh, meaning that they are now walking in goodness and virtue.

We know that goodness and righteousness come from Yahweh’s Word. In fact, without the Bible we would have no way of defining what is good or virtuous.

Worthy of Our Calling
Let’s move on to the last example of agathosune in 2Thessalonians 1:11-12. “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our Elohim would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Master Yahshua Messiah may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our El and the Master Yahshua Messiah.”

Here Paul encourages the Thessalonians that Elohim would count them worthy of this calling. The concept of being found worthy has mostly been lost today. Many would even define this as legalism or trying to earn our salvation. We know that we cannot justify ourselves or earn salvation; this comes only through Messiah’s blood and the washing of water through baptism. But once we’re justified or free from our sin, we must then live a life of goodness or virtue.

What happens if we refuse to live a life of goodness, a life that reflects the morality and righteousness of Yahweh’s Word? We’re going to miss the mark and not be found worthy of our calling.
You know, being found worthy implies that we must act or do something, living a life based on Yahweh’s goodness and virtue. When we do this, we also glorify Yahshua the Messiah.

Walking in Integrity
So by living a life of goodness, not only will we be found worthy of our calling, but we’ll also bring praise and honor to our Savior. And I would hope that we would desire to glorify the One who died for our sins.

Let’s view a few passages on integrity from the Old Testament, beginning with Proverbs 10:9. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” (KJV)
The New International Version translates it as, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

From both the King James and the NIV we find that walking uprightly is the same as a man walking in integrity. The word “integrity” is essential. It conveys the ideas of honesty and reliability, both of which are important to believers. When we walk uprightly or in a way that shows integrity, our path will be sure. This doesn’t promise health, wealth, and prosperity, but it does promise a direction that provides stability, if nothing else, of right morals and values. Even if we’re going through some trial or tribulation, it helps to know that the life we’re living and the decisions we’re making are based on Scripture. When we live according to Yahweh’s Word, there’s a sense of stability and strength within our lives.

In Isaiah 33:15-16, we find a promise of blessing for those who walk uprightly and in goodness. “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.”

This passage gives a few examples on how to obtain this blessing: We don’t oppress others for personal gain, we refrain from taking bribes, we do no hurt to others, and we remove ourselves from seeing or participating in evil. When we do these things, Yahweh promises that we’re going to dwell on high and He’s going to provide for our needs.

While this passage is multi-layered, much is a prophetic promise pointing to His Kingdom. This is why it’s so important that we as believers live a life of goodness and virtue, that we practice what is right according to our Father’s Word. Many today believe that goodness or virtue is either outdated or never really existed. Many will argue that virtue is subjective and that my virtue is as good as your virtue.

As believers in the Messiah, though, we know better. We know there is a one-core truth and that is Yahweh’s Word. As we read in Malachi 3:6, Yahweh doesn’t change: “For I am Yahweh, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Lessons from Daniel
We must never deviate from or compromise Yahweh’s Word. When it comes to uncompromising, I often think about three illustrations in the Book of Daniel.

The first is when Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to eat of the king’s meat (Dan. 1:8). Some believe the king’s meat was either unclean or possibly sacrificed to idols. I tend to think the latter was true, but either way we know that something wasn’t right about it. Daniel convinced the prince of the eunuchs to feed them only vegetables and after 10 days to compare their health to the others. And as we know from the story, this was done and “at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat,” (v. 15).

There’s a lesson here for us: Sometimes we must take a stand – whether it’s with our job or even our families. Maybe it’s refusing to work on Sabbath or not attending our family’s Christmas dinner. Like Daniel, when we stand on Yahweh’s Word we’re going to be blessed. Daniel could’ve upset the king by refusing to eat his meat, but in the end he was blessed for standing on virtue.
The second instance is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s conviction when they refused to worship the golden image (Dan. 3). As the account goes, when the people heard the music, they were to bow down and worship this golden image.

But, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship this image, and so the King commanded they be thrown into a fiery furnace, which did not affect them. Yahweh not only protected them from the fire, but one like the son of Yahweh was in the furnace with them. This was likely Yahshua the Messiah in His preexistence. Yahweh divinely protected these three men for their devotion. They showed goodness and virtue in their faith.

In the last incident we see Daniel defying the king’s command and openly praying to Yahweh (Dan. 6:10). Daniel’s enemies convinced the king to enact a law prohibiting anyone from praying to their mighty one for 30 days.

They did this because they knew Daniel would not comply and as we know from the story, he continued to pray somewhat openly to Yahweh with his windows open. After word got to the king, Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, but Yahweh protected Daniel. Just as the fire did not affect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the lions did not hurt Daniel.

For me, these cases show that Yahweh can do all things and when we choose to walk in virtue and integrity, we will be blessed.

Sometimes we lack the faith to walk in goodness or uprightness; we fear the consequences more than our Creator. But we should never fear doing what is right. Whether it means losing our job, upsetting our family, or even losing our lives, we should always seek to walk in goodness and do what is scripturally right.

Yahshua spoke about this in Matthew 5:15-16. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

Yahshua encourages us not to hide our goodness, but to allow it to shine so that others can see and benefit from it.

When we are about our daily business, do we show ourselves to be different? One way we do this is by not cursing or using foul language. Recently one of my coworkers apologized to me for swearing in front me. I said or did nothing to prompt that response; he knew from my behavior that I was not one to use that kind of language.

It’s often not what we say but what we do that makes the real impact. Our behavior speaks far louder than anything we can ever say and that’s why it’s so essential we walk in goodness and virtue.
Others notice our behavior and the words we use. After all, we may be the only Bible some will ever read. In other words, the integrity that we show in our lives may be the only exposure to biblical truth that some will ever see. And that’s why Yahshua says to let our lights shine and why we must live a life of goodness, virtue, and uprightness of heart.

Kingdom Focused
Paul also speaks about the importance and blessings of doing good. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Galatians 6:9-10.

What do you suppose Paul’s referring to when he comments, “we shall reap”? He’s indicating the promise of Yahweh’s Kingdom. The fact is, when we live a life based on the Word, we will often receive pushback and even experience trials and tribulations. Paul’s telling us that even though we suffer, it’s worth it; the journey is worth the destination.

I don’t believe we can fathom the greatness of Yahweh’s Kingdom. Not only will we live forever as spirit beings, but we’ll also do so in a kingdom without sin and all the trappings of it. Just as Paul does, I would encourage you to realize that no matter what you’re going through or may go through, it’s all worthwhile.

Paul also declares that we should do good to all men, especially to those in the household of faith or the assembly. According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, the phrase “do good” implies to act in a way that is pleasant, agreeable, joyful, and happy.

Are we acting in ways that others would define as pleasant and agreeable? Do we bring joy and happiness to those in the assembly? If the answer is yes, that’s great, but we need to ask why and what we can do to improve and do better if the answer is no.

Goodness Begins the Journey
Ephesians 2:10 shows we have a special calling as believers in Messiah. “For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua unto good works, which Yahweh hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

When we are immersed into Yahshua’s name, we rise as a new creature with newness of mind. It’s so important that after baptism we recognize we are a new person in Messiah.

When I counsel for baptism, I stress the idea that after baptism we’re to think and behave differently. We can’t live like we did before, our decisions and actions must be based solely on Yahweh’s Word.

This is what it means to walk unto good works. Our lives should reflect Yahshua the Messiah in all ways. While Yahshua obeyed the commandments, He also showed by example how to live the weightier matters; we must do the same.

Second Peter 1:5-7 shows a progression that begins with faith and virtue. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience holiness; And to holiness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

Another word for virtue is goodness, which also refers to being upright in heart. He goes on to say we should add knowledge to our virtue, temperance to our knowledge, patience to our temperance, holiness to our patience, brotherly kindness to our holiness, and charity or love to our brotherly kindness. Notice that this progression begins with virtue or goodness and ends with love.

From Grace to Obedience

From Grace to Obedience

From Grace to Obedience

 

“Guilty” was the jury’s verdict. The judge’s sentence: death by lethal injection. For Adam Sinclair Smith, a convicted murderer, the nightmare of that January day seven years ago had played endlessly through his mind. In a jealous rage he had taken a man’s life. He realized that he deserved the death penalty for what he had done. No amount of agonizing or remorse could change that.

Regardless of how many times he pleaded for forgiveness from the victim’s family, no matter how much he wished he could relive events, one persistent fact remained: Adam deserved to die. The law was the law. He was guilty of a capital crime and would pay the utmost price for his sin. With nowhere else to turn, he sought mercy from the governor.

 

‘You Have Been Pardoned’

Just minutes before his scheduled execution, Adam heard the most wonderful words ever spoken to a condemned man: “By the grace of the governor of this state, you have been pardoned.”

“I can’t believe it,” he said to himself.

“He pardoned me! I can live!”

Humbly thankful for the gracious pardon, Adam vowed from that point on that he would be a model citizen. And he never was in trouble with the law again.

The foregoing illustrates the concept of scriptural grace and how it works in the believer’s life.

No person on earth is sin-free. Paraphrasing the words of Nathan the prophet to King David, “We are that man.” We all deserve to die for our sins, Romans 5:12; 1John 1:10. We earned our fate and nothing we can do can change that fact. Only the mercy of Yahweh and the sacrificial death of Yahshua can save us.

Being sinless, our Savior was the only one who could pay the death penalty in our stead. Yahweh’s grace in sending His Son to die for us is our only hope for salvation. Like the governor in Adam Smith’s case, only Yahweh and His Son can release us from the death sentence our sins earned.

In Romans 6 Paul explains the operation of Yahweh’s grace. The chapter is a profound study in the transformation that takes place in a True Worshiper under Yahweh’s grace. In the last verse of chapter 5 Paul writes, “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua the Messiah our Master.”

Few other concepts are as misunderstood as Yahweh’s grace. What does Paul mean in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved by grace? Is he saying that the statutes of Yahweh are no longer binding in this New Testament era? If so, what of the many passages warning us of disobedience and the necessity to watch carefully lest we fall again into the condemnation of the unrighteous?

Now suppose the condemned man went right out and repeated the crime for which he was pardoned. Wouldn’t his actions violate the spirit of the pardon? Certainly! The governor didn’t save him by his grace so that he would go out and commit serious crimes all over again. Would not the courts and the governor deal with the man much more harshly the next time? Absolutely!

Yahweh’s grace is no different. What’s the point of Yahweh’s grace  – His favor on sinful human beings – if once pardoned we deliberately return to sinful ways?

The words, “grace reigns through righteousness,” are key. The New Testament in Modern English translates the phrase, “Now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end.” Grace is not static. It is active and it must work daily in the believer’s life.

Yahweh’s grace has an objective: that we will repent and turn from sin to live uprightly as we follow in Yahshua’s footsteps. Obedience is the mechanism allowing that to take place. That means to obey His laws, since sin is clearly defined as the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4.

Paul explains further in chapter 6 how grace works in the life of the repentant sinner. “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (vv. 1-2)

To accept Yahweh’s grace—His pardon for our sins—and then turn back or continue sinful ways as if nothing happened is to pervert the whole purpose of grace. We make Yahweh’s grace  pointless if we accept His pardon only to repeat the sin.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns of practicing intentional sin: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Further in the chapter we find this solemn warning: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). The word “despite” means, “to insult.” If we continue in sin after receiving Yahweh’s grace, we show contempt for Yahweh.

Slipping up and making a mistake is one thing, willfully returning to sin is another entirely. In Galatians 6 Paul explains the difference.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted.” “Overtaken” is the Greek prolambano and means, “to be taken off-guard in a trespass.” “Fault” is the word paraptoma and signifies a slip or lapse, rather than a deliberate act.

We have only this option: obey the law, which is righteousness, or don’t obey, which is sin. If we obey, we can’t be blamed.

The next part of the verse reads, “For you are not under the law but under grace.” How clear! Through Yahweh’s grace (His pardon) our former sins will not be held against us. The penalty for breaking the law has been paid by Yahshua’s sacrifice. By trusting in His grace, we will not need to pay the penalty ourselves, which the law demands.

The wages of sin is death, Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. In our case it is Yahshua’s death in exchange for our own. If we continue in sin that has been pardoned, we make a mockery of His sacrifice.

 

The Upright Not Condemned

Does this passage mean that we are free from the law now and can go out and sin again, as some seem to say? The Greek word for grace is charis and is defined as the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in one’s life.

Simply put, under Yahweh’s grace we now emulate His righteous nature. We begin to think and act as He does. That means refraining from sin, which is the same as adhering to His standard, His laws.

When we come in line with His law by righteous living, the law with its incrimination and penalties for the disobedient has no claim on us. In Romans 8:1-2 Paul explains this concept:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The critical word is “condemnation,” which results from lawbreaking. When we live according to Yahweh’s statutes, we are innocent of sin and therefore free from condemnation and punishment.

An unintentional slipup is certainly covered by grace for the repentant. But if you continue to repeat the sin, you are mocking the spirit of grace and are subject to Yahweh’s wrath.

Paul continues in verses 3-12 of Romans 6, asking, how can we who have followed Yahshua into the waters of baptism and have buried our old carnal life, continue in our old ways? Particularly since baptism means a putting to death of the “old man.” We must become dead to sin, he tells us in verse 11.

A person who has yielded his life to Yahweh, having put to death his sinful nature, must now live a new life of obedience, Paul explains in verse 13. As he puts it, we become “instruments of righteousness.”

Righteousness derives from a Greek word meaning right or just. The opposite is wrong or sin, which is lawbreaking.

Moving on in verse 14 Paul writes, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law but under grace.” Does he mean that after all he has just said about giving up sin that we are no longer under any obligation to obey Yahweh’s law? How is that possible when the law itself defines what sin is? (‘‘For where no law is, there is no transgression,” Rom. 4: 15.) Let’s examine the verse by segments.

First, for sin not to have dominion over us we have to be out from under it. The only way to accomplish that is by obedience to the law because sin by definition is lawbreaking.

As we have demonstrated, to be free of sin is to be obedient to His law. The same concept is found in Galatians 5: 16, where Paul writes, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

If grace means we are not under obligation to keep Yahweh’s laws, then grace gives the okay to sin! To this the prophet Jeremiah speaks for Yahweh in 7:9-10:

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other deities whom you know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” Yahweh answers that because of these sins and that kind of attitude, “I will cast you out of my sight,” verse 15.

“But does that mean that I am free to do anything I please under grace?” you may be asking. Let Paul answer that question. The very next verse of this chapter, Romans 6:15, reads,

“What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Yahweh forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Under Yahweh’s grace we are expected to live obedient lives, giving honor and worship to Him alone as His special people.

When we sin we are unrighteous. This is shown in verse 20: “For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.”

 

What ‘Under the Law’ Means

The converse is just as true: to be righteous is to be free from sin. No one can be legally arrested for doing good. No sheriff will arrest me for saving a drowning man. There is no law against doing good.

When you do good, you are not under the condemnation of any law. The demands of the law are already met, therefore, and you have no debt to the law. This is what Paul means by not being under the law. It does not mean the law is no longer in effect.  A murderer would not be condemned to die if there were no law against murder. And he would not need a pardon or grace.

Yahweh offers His grace and sent Yahshua to die for our sins for the plain and simple fact that the law is still in effect. Because the law is in force, the penalty for breaking it is real, or else we would have no need to fear sin’s consequences.

Some will argue that Yahshua came to do away with the law and thus we are under grace. This belief falls flat if we can find grace in the Old Testament. Sure enough, in Genesis 6:8 we find, “Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.” Because of grace, Yahweh saved him from the penalty of death by drowning. Exodus 34:5-7 reads like something out of the Book of Galatians. It speaks of Yahweh’s mercy, grace, longsuffering, and abundance in goodness and truth.

If grace existed in the days of ancient Israel, then why does Yahweh command Israel to keep the Ten Commandments? Why should it be any different with us?

We are under grace so long as we do not continue to break the law. Grace is not a permanent condition of the believer but a gift granted by Almighty Yahweh. That gift can be rejected through our rebellion and acts of disobedience.        “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled,” Hebrews 12: 15.

 

Salvation Cannot Be Earned

Being law observant has nothing to do with “earning” salvation. I don’t get any special reward for paying my taxes on time, for keeping the peace, for not robbing my neighbor or mugging a stranger. I’m simply obeying laws. I’m not earning a thing by being law abiding.

Paul writes in the Book of Ephesians, “For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Yahweh: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” 2:8- 9.

Nothing we humans can do earns us a place in the Kingdom because Yahweh has not defined obedience that way. Obedience simply engenders Yahweh’s favor and demonstrates our faith in and love for Him. Obedience is the criteria by which He judges us worthy for the kingdom. We are judged by our works, Romans 2:6; Revelation 22:12.

Now if I fail to pay my taxes, if I rob a bank, disturb the peace or mug someone, I will come under the penalty of the law. Yahweh says in Galatians 5:19-21 that those who practice sin are also lawbreakers. Unrepentant lawbreakers will not inherit the Kingdom.

Yahweh’s people love and serve Him and want above all else to please Him. In several Scriptures we find that the love of Yahweh is defined as the keeping of His commandments. (See John 14:15, 21; lJohn 2:5; 5:3; 2John 6.)

Only Yahweh can grant salvation and at His own pleasure. Therefore, we want to be sure we have His favor by being obedient to what He commands. “And being made perfect He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him,” we read in Hebrews 5:9.

Lawkeeping is not salvation by works. Rather, it is salvation by obedience. Obedience can’t guarantee me a position in the Kingdom, but disobedience will keep me out of it!

We complete our faith by following through with action. A faith that is sincere is proved by what we do about it. When we obey Yahweh’s commandments and other laws in our daily life, we prove our faith in Him while pleasing Him at the same time.

Yahweh’s grace is a wonderful gift. May we never forfeit that grace through willful disobedience.

Possessing a Positive Attitude

The Apostle Paul has an attitude that we as True Worshipers must possess if we are to endure to the end and enter the Kingdom of Yahweh.

Philippians 4:4-9 provides his valuable instruction:

“Rejoice in Yahweh always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Master is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto Elohim. And the peace of Yahweh, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Messiah Yahshua. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the Elohim of peace shall be with you.”

Paul was no hypocrite; he practiced what he preached. Here was a man who had much that he could have complained about. Second Corinthians 11 gives an account of his many trials:

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the assemblies. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (vv. 24-30).

Despite all his sufferings, rather than dwell upon the negative with grief and sadness, Paul instead chose to look on the bright side with joy and a positive attitude. He turned the sorrow and weakness of adversity into joy and strength.

We read in 2Corinthians 12:9-10: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Messiah may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Messiah’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

The Forerunner Commentary describes Paul’s attitude this way: “Paul turned what could have sent him into deep bitterness and passivity…into a strength (humility and a deeper reliance on [Yahweh]). As painful, frustrating or hindering as it was, his circumstance never deterred him from being an apostle who by the grace of [Yahweh] labored more abundantly than all others.”

Finding joy in times of sorrow and strength in times of weakness was the hallmark of the Apostle Paul’s ministry.

 

Our Attitude

As sincere seekers of Truth, each of us should possess this same positive attitude and express joy in the face of all adversity and trouble. We must be a people with positive attitudes if we are to endure the difficult times that lie ahead.

Our Savior Yahshua the Messiah also instructed His disciples to have a forward-looking attitude regardless of the difficulties faced.

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see Elohim. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of Elohim. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,” Matthew 5:1-12.

Take special note of that last verse. Yahshua tells us to rejoice… for great is your reward! For those sincere seekers with an upbeat attitude, adversity will always motivate them toward great spirituality. They will be a people of joy who rejoice in their reward in the Kingdom.

We also see that joy and a right attitude is an important element of the fruits of the Spirit, as we read in Galatians 5:22-26. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Messiah’s have impaled the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

 

The Day of Destruction

Isaiah describes a very horrific time in the future, a day of trouble and distress, the day of Yahweh.

“Howl ye; for the day of Yahweh is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of Yahweh cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of Yahweh of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land. Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished,” Isaiah 13:6-16.

 

Our Reward

It may be quite difficult to think of having a positive attitude during such a gruesome time. However, by having joy in adversity and looking on the positive side, we will be better equipped to endure and thereby receive a reward; Jeremiah 31:1-9 gives us hope for such a reward.

“At the same time, saith Yahweh, will I be the Elohim of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith Yahweh, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. Yahweh hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto Yahweh our Elohim. For thus saith Yahweh; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Yahweh, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

As long as we possess an optimistic attitude, and remember the adage, “this too shall pass,” we have the ability to get through any difficulties that we may face.

 

Yahshua’s Advice

As a final thought, we rely on Yahshua the Messiah to be our guide in how to balance sorrow and adversity with the joy that shall ultimately come in the Kingdom of Yahweh. John 16:19-24 reads:

“Now Yahshua knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

May our joy be made full as we reflect the mind of Yahshua.

Why on Earth am I here?

Why on Earth Am I Here?

You will do well if you can find one in 10,000 who knows the fundamental biblical teaching on the afterlife, and even fewer who conform to its requisites.
In sampling common beliefs, I selected a few responses to an online blog asking the question of why humans exist. Why on earth am I here?

• “Ah, yes, the most mysterious question that everyone ponders. When this happens in your life, then you begin your journey to know your truth. Everything in your life is placed there to awaken you to your truth and nobody else’s. The truth reveals itself through many and not just one. It’s a puzzle just like we are many but from the one. All I can give you is to stay grounded in love and gratitude.”

• “Isn’t it to be remembered long after you are gone? There had been billions and billions of lives that have been completed before us but almost all of them are forgotten except a few whose names we still remember…That’s the worst fear I have…the fear that the world will forget that I even existed.”

• “I feel life is a test and we don’t know anything because that’s part of the test.”

• “If you don’t want a purpose that’s up to you. Having no purpose is the same as being dead. Life is too short to make just one decision, music is too large for just one station, love is too big for just one, and G-d is too big for just one religion.”

The answer that came closest to the truth was the following (except for the zinger at the end): “The purpose is to know your creator. Then connect to your creator and follow his commands. everything created on this earth had a purpose so how about us? who created us? He is Allah – Almighty the most gracious the most merciful.”
Of the many comments surveyed, not one gave a Bible-based response.

Your Kingdom Potential

Biblical ignorance has serious consequences. Nowhere is that more so than living without knowing why. Yahweh says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that thou shall be no priest to me…” Hosea 4:6.

The Bible gives us the clear answer to the purpose for life as Yahshua taught it. He said the goal in this life is to prepare to be a kingdom of priests in the coming rulership of Yahshua. Revelation 5:10 explains, “And hast made us unto our Elohim kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Because they ignore and miss this simple truth, we see countless questions and uncertainties that have troubled the masses for millennia. Beyond this very plain teaching of Yahshua lie all the misconceptions, false notions, bogus doctrines, man-made creeds and traditional fallacies about what life is about and what follows it.

As a youngster in Sunday school class I once read to the class Revelation 2:26, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” The teacher just smiled, nodded to me, and continued his lesson praising the Emperor Constantine and his “conversion” to Christianity.

It is this goal of the believer as taught by Yahshua that is hidden in plain sight. It is this teaching that defines our life’s purpose and why we must strive to obey the Truth taught by Yahshua.
Today thousands of ministries spend billions of dollars – and most all of them totally miss the mark when it comes to understanding the destiny of the chosen and what is acceptable in worship and what is not.

The Greatest Story Never Told

What does it mean to become a priestly Kingdom, Revelation 5:10, and how do we fit into that divine plan of salvation now? Do we need to change from a life of sin or come “just as I am” without a plea?

The Apostles and disciples were in training to take on leadership roles in Yahshua’s Work and ultimately to help govern the earth in the Kingdom. The called-out are in the same training now.
How could many overlook Yahweh’s overarching plan of expanding His family on earth? The same way they cannot see the clear Sabbath command, the numerous directives to keep His Feasts, His Name, and many other plain biblical teachings. Most are willingly ignorant.

A columnist in a commercial newspaper explained why so many firmly embrace false beliefs. Two reasons were given:

• Beliefs that are passed down by parents are tightly held to, whether they have a basis in truth or not.
• A person will hold firmly to beliefs that are internalized to become part of a person’s very identity.

Many respond viscerally if someone differs with their beliefs. Disagreements are often seen as a personal attack.

Yahweh has grand plans. The human family is a mere reflection of a far greater one to come. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Elohim hath prepared for them that love him.”

Half of Yahshua’s ministry was about His Kingdom coming to rule the earth. The other half was how to be included in that Kingdom. It’s today’s major truth never taught, even though it is clear as crystal in Scripture and openly seen throughout the New Testament.

Even Yahshua brings it out in His popular model prayer: “Thy Kingdom COME, thy will be DONE, on EARTH as it is in heaven.” His Kingdom is coming to earth and His plan will culminate on earth at that time!

Sweet Nothings Order of the Day

Useless tradition is what drives worship today, while the focus of billions is living to please number one. Lives are spent without direction or promise because of a refusal to obey Yahweh, disrespecting the only one who grants everlasting life.

Suppose you just started a new job. How long would it last if you told the boss that you would come to work whenever you pleased? What if you told your employer that you would decide yourself the tasks you would do? What if you told your boss that you didn’t need to do what he expects you to do? But you still expected a paycheck regardless?

Crazy? Sure. Unheard of? Absolutely. The subordinate doesn’t call the shots. But apparently millions of professing Bible believers think they do. They themselves determine how and when they will worship their Heavenly Father. They defer to fossilized traditions rather than to Yahweh’s Word. Many have the impudence to tell the Supreme Ruler of the universe what name they will call Him – or no name at all.

Biblical worship is never about pleasing the worshiper. It’s always about pleasing the One worshiped. Worship with a future promise of Kingdom rule means learning about and then doing Yahweh’s will.

Billions have no clue about the covenant Yahweh gave to His people. Billions never will until after the thousand years of millennial rule are finished and they are brought up in the Second Resurrection.

The True Believer must never be discouraged when criticized for following the faith. Just remember, a day of reckoning is coming. Today it is the believer who is up for judgment.
It was no accident that Yahweh called you to obedience. Answer the call as did Peter, James, and John at Galilee, who without hesitation or excuse dropped everything to answer Yahshua’s summons.

That means we must keep the same laws Yahshua did, including the Sabbath and Feasts.

The Evil One is well aware that Yahweh Himself wants you at His Feasts. Satan would not try so hard to make it challenging if these were just man-made celebrations like Xmas or the Fourth of July. Yahweh’s Feasts are holy times to Him and are called “His.”

Disobedience Is Sin

We sin when we know Yahweh’s days are obligatory but refuse to observe them anyway. James wrote in 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
At its core sin stems from ignorance of Yahweh. If man could see Yahweh in all His magnificence, in all His unfathomable power, all His glory, man would be as dumb as rocks not to humble himself instantly and obey without question.

Children who obey their parents have a healthy respect for their parents and know the consequences of rebellion. But those who ignorantly break Yahweh’s laws don’t know Yahweh and have no fear of the consequences.

Anyone who has ever held a job is familiar with one of the oldest excuses for not attempting something different: “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” How does that make it right or better? For thousands of years people bowed to non-existent, pagan deities. Does that mean we should continue that pointless worship?

Proverbs 16:25 tells us: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

All that matters is what Yahweh dictates. Period. He makes the final ruling.

Where in the 66 books of the Bible does righteousness come by anything other than what the Bible says it does? Where does it say that righteousness comes by doing what we ourselves decide is best?

The very definition of righteousness means doing what is right. Yahweh sets the standard for what is “right.” How can we be righteous with Yahweh if we don’t measure up to His standard? Including the days He commands us to observe?

That is why from the very start in the very first Commandment He lays down an imperative. He says I am Yahweh and you must worship none else. Everything about proper worship emanates from that first commandment. There is no other way. Many still believe otherwise.

This is illustrated in a book on textual interpretation. The author was discussing a controversial verse with a fellow. The author realized the man misinterpreted the text because of the archaic English of the KJV and also because the verse misrepresented the Greek text. So the author gently suggested that the fellow was in error. The fellow’s response was that the Holy Spirit doesn’t lie and so his own interpretation had to be right, citing 1Corinthians 2:10-15, that spiritual things must be spiritually discerned, which left little doubt as to the status of the author. The author then asked, but what if Yahweh had given ME the proper interpretation? After a pause the fellow said, “I guess that would mean the Spirit says the Bible means different things to different people.”
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:5 that there is “one Master, one faith, one baptism.” There is only one right interpretation.

Romans 6:16: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Sin is doing what the Word prohibits.

Please Yahweh and Be Blessed

Nothing is more fundamental than honoring the one we worship in all things. It means following what Yahweh expects and not what we desire and decide. Biblical worship has a promise, a future, and His blessing.

This was no mystery to the pagans, who sought to please their deity in ways they believed were acceptable. Whether that meant sacrificing children to Molech, burning fires to the sun divinity Mithra, or coloring eggs in honor of the goddess Astarte – each was done specifically for their mighty one.

No doubt they learned the concept of worship itself from how Yahweh instructed man to worship Him soon after creation (Gen. 4:4-5).

The difference is that pagans are generally more dedicated in their false worship.

Paul asks in Romans 9:21, “Has not the potter power over the clay…?” Who put the clay in charge?

All of this is to say that a correct understanding of the Bible necessitates that we know its author. We cannot worship in truth unless we know the One we worship and what He expects. The more we know who Yahweh is, the more our worship will honor Him.

The less we know about Him, the more likely we will be living and worshiping in ways He does not accept. And that has been a problem through the millennia.

He says, “Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you, that you shall be no priest to me.” Do you want to be a priest in the Kingdom? If so get educated. Learn about Him. Why? Because in rejecting knowledge, you also reject knowing Yahweh, which is a basic expectation of His.

Once we humble ourselves before Yahweh the errors of our past worship end. Now we do it His way, all the way, and in no other way, or else have no part in the Kingdom reward.

If we are not pleasing Him by our conduct and worship, we are wasting our time. Our very blueprint for worship, Yahshua the Son, said He came to do His Father’s will, John 4:34. That’s also what we must do.

Peter wrote in 1Peter 2:21, “For even here unto were ye called: because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.”

To be free from your past life of sin takes action. Just praying the sinner’s prayer won’t cut it. Just saying I’m sorry is not enough without a permanent change.

Even though He lived a life without sin, Yahshua took on our sins. Our transgressions, which were placed upon Him, had to be dealt with. By His death and resurrection He showed that those sins were remitted permanently.

Yahweh is not taken seriously when we are not serious about our own destiny. Israel didn’t take Him seriously most of the time, either.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote in 5:2-4 (although this is a prophecy, it has had a prior fulfillment in the rebellion of Judah): “And though they say, Yahweh liveth; surely they swear falsely. O Yahweh, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of Yahweh, nor the judgment of their Elohim.”

Our desire is to present to the world the real Father in heaven. We do this by revealing what He expects of His people. He has a Name, He has a family, and He has a plan to expand His family to the far reaches of the very universe itself – starting with us, here on planet earth.

We find in the prayer of Hannah, in the writings of the prophet Samuel, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let [not] arrogancy come out of your mouth: for Yahweh is an Elohim of Knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” (1Sam. 2:3)

All Our Actions Reveal Us

Why is He weighing actions? Because it takes more than faith alone. Two facts are key to our relationship with our Heavenly Father: He is: “An Elohim of knowledge” and “By Him actions are weighed…” Whose actions? OURS! Here the prophet applies Yahweh’s wisdom, His understanding, His knowledge to OUR actions.

To find out whether we are pleasing Him by our lives, we need to know how He looks at our behavior, what His desires are for His creation and what we can expect from our actions. We must know His standard of measurement and judgment. A reverential respect of Yahweh will lead us to greater knowledge still. He promises it.

“The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom” the Psalmist wrote, “a good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Ps. 111:10). This being the case, the reverse is true as well. A person who will not obey and do His commandments will lack understanding.

The next time you are tempted to listen to someone claiming to be a minister of the Word, ask, does the man pattern His own life by Yahweh’s Word? Does he call on Yahweh’s Name (2nd-3rd Commandments)? Does he remember the Sabbath and Feast days to keep them holy? Does he live by the statutes of Scripture? Is his life moral and an example for others to follow?
We are in training to be a kingdom of priests, according to Revelation 1:6. A biblical priest is very well educated in the office he holds.

So, ask yourself again “Why on earth am I here?”

This life is a training ground. Doing Yahweh’s will is central to a future in His Kingdom soon coming to earth.

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Joy in Living

No matter what age we are, we will always be considered by Yahweh as His children. Yahweh is sovereign in the heavens, the earth, and all of creation, and we are a part of His creation. It is Yahweh through Yahshua whom we trust who provides for our needs, just as a child looks to one’s parents for his or her needs.

We all have needs, and many times when those needs are not met when we believe they should be met, we get anxious and worried about life. Pray to Yahweh and ask that He provide for your needs. In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto Elohim. And the peace of Yahweh, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Messiah Yahshua.” Pray, believe, and have joy knowing that Yahweh is in control of all things and can provide for your needs.

Also, praying for our own needs is not enough; we must pray for the needs of others. Look beyond yourself and find out how you can help someone by saying a prayer for his or her needs. Praying for another’s needs is an act of love, and that love will yield joy within your heart.

Humility of Mind
Humility is more than just being humble toward Yahweh but also humble toward one another. In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” To view oneself as less important than someone else is contrary to the mentality of this world. So much emphasis in this world is placed upon serving self rather than serving one another.

Yahshua came to this Earth to serve rather than to be served. He gave up everything that He had and emptied Himself because He had a desire to please Yahweh and to give us a way to eternal life through His life, sacrifice, and death. He did not do all these things for Himself or to serve Himself, but He served for Yahweh and for us. We ought to model ourselves after Yahshua’s example and give to others freely with humility of mind just as He did. Joy doesn’t come from merely fulfilling our own needs and desires, but real joy comes from forgetting about ourselves for a while and focusing in love on what can be done for someone else. As Paul says in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Attitude
Joy can truly come from how one approaches a situation. In Philippians 2:14 Paul says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” This type of attitude doesn’t mean the tasks that we are not so fond of must suddenly become fun, since everyone is different and everyone has certain likes and dislikes of what to do. But we are told that in all the things, even the not so fun tasks, that we must not complain.

Consider the example of Yahshua. When He came to earth He didn’t complain to Yahweh about coming. He came with a joyful spirit, even though He fully knew He would die a painful death. He didn’t squirm or try to get out of what He had to do. He came without complaint. Yes, there are many bothersome things in life, but complaining about every one of them will not make the situation better, but will only make us feel worse. Just the small effort of not complaining about every bad situation will assuredly increase the amount of joy in life. Someone said, “The antidote to negative thinking isn’t positive thinking, but gratitude.”

Thankfulness
Focus on the blessings that Yahweh has given and not on the things that we don’t have. We humans tend to have wandering eyes toward what we don’t have and forget about all the things that we do have. In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul says, “I know how to be abased and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to abound and to suffer need; I can do all things through Messiah which strengthens me.” Paul was content in all these situations because his goal wasn’t for comfort in his life but to glorify Yahshua through his life.

Life is not about what we own, but about living as Yahshua did, and realizing that the things we do have are blessings that Yahweh has given us. Be content and thankful for the blessings you have been given, and joy will truly follow.

Surroundings
Our surroundings are more than just what’s around us. They are also the thoughts we have and the people with whom we associate. These are the influences that can either erode the joy in our lives or create joy. In dealing with our thoughts Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The characteristics in this verse are attributes of Yahshua and are a glimpse into the kind of thoughts He had. We become the thoughts that we think, so it is important for us to fill our minds with good things and forget all the negative thoughts.

In dealing with others Paul says the following in 1Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” Yes, we are to be lights to the world, but when you hang around someone too much who constantly has a bad attitude, that attitude tends to rub off on you. If at all possible, surround yourself with people who would rather encourage you than complain about everything. Peace comes from being around those of a like-minded faith and joy, and in turn will produce joy in our lives.

Our circumstances don’t have to regulate our joy, but the things we do, the things we think, and our attitude about life will regulate our joy.

To dovetail all these points, loving Yahweh and loving others really is the focal point of all these ways to create joy in your life. Focus on good things, do good deeds, and Yahweh will surely fill your heart with joy.

by Joel Wirl

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Progress

Progress Ought to Believe in Yahweh

In 1776 America declared independence from Great Britain, igniting the torch that lit the American Revolution and changed history. The year 1789 marked the revolt of the French against their government and its tyrannical aristocracy, becoming known as the French Revolution.  Both insurrections wanted liberty from their oppressors, both were willing to give their very lives for the cause.  Two revolutions, two countries, yet two very different outcomes. Progress!

The American Revolution ended with the creation of a Republic form of government and a constitutional set of laws designed to restrain the power of the government.

What began the French Revolution with a rallying cry of liberty, fraternity, and equality ended with anarchy throughout the land. Beheadings in France were common, beginning with the aristocracy and spreading to those whom the majority deemed worthy of meeting the guillotine. Napoleon Bonaparte was ultimately given supreme power as emperor of France.

Two movements with very different outcomes. One nation tried to restrain its power, the other did not. These two movements were complete opposites be-cause of one main idea – the one believed that progress meant believing in Yahweh or Providence, and the other did not.

Some may point to the fact that progress in various areas such as science and philosophy has happened without any regard for a supreme being. So the question is not whether progress will happen, but why is it so dangerous without any belief in Yahweh.

Science Needs Yahweh

Recently a televised debate focused on which side had the correct model for the origins of the universe. Debaters were Ken Ham, a believer in creationism, and Bill Nye, an evolutionist. During the discussion, Mr. Nye concluded that the model of creationism and belief in the Bible stunt the growth of progress, especially in the scientific realm, because the Bible has ideas that come with conclusions to its questions, i.e. there is a Creator, which he believes inhibits the search for answers.

Let’s assume that this theory is correct, and that the Bible hinders man’s growth, and that a belief in atheism is more correct than believing there is a Creator. For a moment we’ll go along with the argument that the Bible is wrong, and that mankind is better off and would progress further without it.

To test this theory one needs to under-stand that there was a nation that achieved great scientific discoveries without any moral compass to guide its actions. That nation was Nazi Germany.

During the Nazi regime, it was a common occurrence for the scientists to practice their craft and experiments on their prisoners, especially in the concentration camps. In the book, How Mankind Committed the Ultimate Infamy at Auschwitz, the author states on page 177, “For the doctor who was ambitious in pursuing a career in research and unencumbered by humanity or com-passion, Auschwitz was a laboratory without parallel.” These scientists had a particular interest in scientific knowledge and progress in their field.

To achieve their ends prisoners were exposed to toxins and diseases such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and malaria in order to find an antidote or remedy. Pharmaceuticals were tested on many to study their effects. To understand hypothermia and the maximum altitude safe for pilots, prisoners were exposed to extreme conditions of cold and pressure.

Experiments were done on women prisoners to dis-cover methods of sterilization through intense x-rays and injections. The list of such horrific experiments in the name of understanding could go on.

Now this is not to say that all atheists believe that these experiments were good. I be-lieve that many atheists are decent people and would never consider do-ing or condoning such atrocious acts. However, if you consider the end result of atheism, that there is no Creator and man is just a highly evolved animal, then who’s to say these experiments are morally wrong?

The Nazis believed that the Jews, Poles, Russians, and many others were lesser humans, mere animals in fact, and it was their duty to eliminate this “sickly” breed from humanity. If man is just an animal then it would be no different than squashing a hill of ants that you want removed from your property. But man is not just an animal.

The human race has not evolved from lesser forms. Science needs a belief in Yahweh. Progress must be led by Yahweh lest we become as the Nazis had become. We need direction from Yahweh and the knowledge that there is a right and wrong so that one’s actions cannot be rationalized in the name of progress.

Progress is for the betterment of mankind, as much of science has been, but science without Yahweh will be mankind’s destruction. Who knows what other evils will be thought up that lack a check upon the vices of men? Progress detached from right and wrong will create a Frankenstein monster that can only leave destruction in its wake.

A World Without Yahweh

Let’s imagine that the dream of many scientists and atheists comes true, that the Bible is no longer relevant, just a book used to describe a primitive neurosis of the past, and a belief that there is no Creator is the doctrine of the day. No more pesky people telling you what is right and wrong, no more intelligent design beliefs floating around. Finally, a society that is free to grow and do as it pleases. But let’s take a closer look at a society such as this.

What would change in going from a world that believes in Yahweh to one that doesn’t? One is the matter of what happens after you die.

To an atheist, what happens at death? They believe nothing happens; they just die and that is it forever. Your life was just a blip on the world scene and then you’re gone. No future to hope for, no dreams of a better life in the Kingdom of Yahweh. Why should they care to be good people if this is their end? Why try to better society and mankind when a meteor could strike Earth and wipe everyone out? It would be better to live for today for tomorrow you may die.

Another issue is morality. If the Bible has vanished, and there is no moral compass directing lives, then who will direct them? Who will say what is right and wrong? Will the culture or government decide?

In some cultures it is natural to eat one’s human enemies and use their skins as clothing. They believe this is right, so how can we judge them and say they are wrong? They are right and we are right, but then you have to ask that if both are right, yet believe differently, then one of us cannot be right.

Perhaps the ma-jority will decide what is right and wrong. Whoever said the majority is always right? The French Revolution happened because of the majority, and they were wrong.

Another issue is free will. How can we have free will, the ability to think and choose for ourselves, if we are just highly evolved animals? Yes, there are many animals that have intelligence to be trained, that show affection, and communicate in some form, but this is a far reach from the ability to make complex decisions.

Does a clown fish speak out in his school of other fish and say that he believes that their collective form of travel would be more effective if they swam upside down? Does a monkey in the wild consider the ramifications of stealing his brother monkey’s bananas, and whether it is the right thing to do or not?

If an animal cannot make complex, moral decisions then how can we? Our decisions really wouldn’t be decisions, but just urges and instincts that drive us forward to some goal. You thought you decided to not eat that doughnut today, but really it was just some primal desire to survive.

Another issue is the matter of science. If science has all the answers, then where did DNA come from? How can DNA contain so much complex information without a designer?

Men and women design and build bridges, skyscrapers, space shuttles, and so much more, and they are built through planning and a concerted effort. A mere pile of timber, roofing material, nails and paint will not change into a house over a long period of time even under ideal conditions. Throwing ink on a page doesn’t create a book to be read.

Why, then, is the argument made that information and intelligence in our very sophisticated cells cannot point to any kind of intelligent being? How can you live in a world that believes that science has all the answers if you are unwilling to admit that an intelligence formed you?

Building for Progress

Our society believes it is progressing toward a better life by making homosexual marriages lawful. It believes that the abortion of a child is progress toward greater liberty to choose. It believes that its schools must teach evolution as a fact and take the Bible completely out of its system.

Some believe this is all good, but these beliefs lead only to destruction. Such steps toward progress will destroy the very thing being built. Every society in history that believed the same way met the same end: they fell. Society, like a building, needs something to stand upon, a foundation that must be firm and sure.

Yahshua in Matthew 7:24-27 spoke about making our foundations sure and of the danger of not doing so, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

The house built on a rock is built on what is firm. It doesn’t move despite what goes on around it; it is built on truth. Truth is a constant that never changes, like all that Yahweh has ever spoken through the Bible. He is unchanging, and His word cannot change. Without the filter of the Bible in our lives, in our families, in our culture, the shaky sands of lies will blow into our foundations to make them weak and liable to collapse.

Are we an immovable object? Do we stand firm despite the trials we face, or do we cave in to whatever everyone else is doing? I hope that our lives are built upon rock because this will be the test when society breaks down around us.

If our society wants to progress, we need to throw out the ideas that are contrary to truth. We need to cling to that which is good and put that which is evil and false far away from us.
I don’t want to live in a world like Nazi Germany’s. I don’t want to live in a world that has another French Revolution. Progress needs Yahweh or we will live in a world without a happy ending.

But happiness will come if we obey Yahweh, if we keep Him in the forefront of our minds, and if we turn to Him with all our heart. Then we will have true progress.

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In Yahweh We Trust

Troubles are all a part of life; it’s something that no one can escape. If you are alive, then you have problems. So with that in mind, what can we do about it? Should problems just hit us as we passively take them or are there some action steps in dealing with these challenges?

To answer these questions let’s look at an example from Yahshua in Mark 4:35-41. The passage reads, “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

First consider where Yahshua and His disciples were. It reads that they passed over to the other side. The other side of what? We know that they were in a boat and their destination according to Mark 6:1 was the country of the Gadarenes, which is called Gadara. Therefore if you reference a map of the area, Yahshua and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee.  This is not surprising, since Yahshua used this sea many times during His ministry to travel to the various cities in the area.

Continuing on in the passage, a great storm came upon these men so much so that the disciples thought they were going to sink. Most of the disciples of Yahshua were fishermen. Simon Peter, Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother were all fishermen by trade.

Luke 8:22 says that Yahshua was in the boat with His disciples, so at least one of these men in the boat with Yahshua must have been a fisherman. Fishermen are used to dealing with the sea and the storms that come upon them, so this must have been a really huge storm for these men to panic under such conditions.
Fearing for their lives, they woke Yahshua from His sleep. Yahshua, waking ever so calmly, said, “Peace be still,” and the storm ceased. He then responded to His disciples by saying, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Yahshua could not understand why they were so afraid. He was with them, so they ought to have had faith that everything was going to work out okay. He rebuked them for their lack of faith and trust in Him.

Personal Storm
The disciples in these verses faced a literal storm, a physical danger. Now we may not face an actual storm like these men, yet I would say that we are all going through some metaphorical storm right now, represented by a trial or trouble we are having to weather. Perhaps it’s finances, relationships, health, job, or some other part of life troubling us.
Also, we all face the looming storm of evil that is attacking our freedoms and morality in this country. We have our own problems that we face daily, and then we have to feel the crushing weight of things seemingly getting worse day by day with violence and wickedness increasing while morality is decreasing.

These are serious issues that should not be downplayed, yet focusing so much on these is not the solution. Stressing too much on the storms we face can lead to a lack of faith. It did for the disciples and it can for us, too. We are not exempt from falling into this pattern.
It all comes down to what we focus our energy and thoughts upon. If we can change our focus then we can stop worrying so much about what hits us in life and more about trusting in Yahweh.

Realize Who Is in Your Boat
What can we do to keep our trust in Yahweh? We can remember who is in our boat. The disciples were in the boat with Yahshua, the son of Yahweh, who was given authority from Yahweh Himself. With one word Yahshua could have called a host of angels to His and the others’ aid. And even if one of these men had fallen out of the boat and drowned, Yahshua had the authority to bring him back from the dead.

Don’t forget what Yahweh can do, and what Yahshua can do through Yahweh His Father. Because this same Yahshua who was in this first century boat is the same One who is with us through the good and bad in our lives. We don’t need to go at our problems alone. We have a Heavenly Father and a Savior there for us. In Romans 8:35, 38-39, Paul spoke these words of the love of Yahweh and Yahshua toward us.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword…for I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Yahweh, which is in Messiah Yahshua our Master.”

When going through troubles, focus on His power, His Word, and His promises. The promises He made to us are throughout the Bible:
• Psalm 50:15 reads, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

• Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of Yahweh emcampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

• Psalm 103:17 tells us, “But the mercy of Yahweh is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”
This is just scratching the surface of the promises He makes to us, which are true and sure. It can bring great comfort in knowing that Yahweh is there for all of us.

Trust and Believe
Looking back at the scene of Yahshua and His disciples in the boat, the second thing the disciples needed was trust and belief in Yahshua. If they would have looked at Him, seen Him for who He was, and then believed, they would not have panicked.

Thinking about the promises of Yahweh and what He can do are amazing, yet it is incomplete by itself. It must be combined with belief and trust that He can do these things and that He truly is the most powerful being in the universe.

Without this faith, this belief in Yahweh, it is impossible to please Yahweh, according to Hebrews 11:6. If we want to please Him, we must believe.
The Israelites coming out from Egypt were constantly plagued by unbelief. Despite the fact that they saw the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna falling from heaven, and many more miracles, they still lacked faith.

Hebrews 3:12, 16-19 speaks of unbelief: “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living Elohim…for some, when they had heard did provoke, howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
You see, it goes back to where our focus lies. The Israelites could not get past this and were always eager to complain about what they were going through. They could have looked to Yahweh for help, and for salvation, but instead were too caught up in their problems.

Now because you remember that Yahweh is with you and you believe that He can do all things, does this mean that you will not face any more troubles? Of course not. The Bible says that in the coming tribulation many saints will be killed for their convictions.

Life is filled with unfairness. It seems that those who do wrong get away with what they’ve done, while those who try to do what is right are continually beset with challenges. If you look at it just from where we are now and the perspective of this time, then yes, things can be drummed up as being quite bad at times.

Keep hope and keep your trust in Yahweh because though life may be challenging, Yahweh will set all things right in the Kingdom. If you keep your mind on the eternal, the life where things will last, then it is easier to handle the problems in this life.

Yahweh’s Work for Good
No matter what happens or has happened to you, Yahweh does this for a reason. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Elohim, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We must believe this to be true, that Yahweh works out the bad things for good to those that love Him. It doesn’t say that it will be easy, or that difficulties are fun, but everything will work out in some way whether it is in this life or in the life to come. But for this to happen we must love Yahweh, we must trust in Yahweh, and we must believe in Him fully with all our heart, soul, and mind.

Yahweh can do all things. He has allowed trials to come into your life, and He can make them go away. No matter what happens, we need to keep our faith in Him.
In the book, The Hiding Place, author Corrie ten Boom speaks about her imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps as she helped save many Jews from imprisonment and death. While she was in the camp, she and her sister, Besie, got moved to another building that was infested with fleas.
Corrie was frustrated with the situation, but her sister kept reminding her of the passage in 1Thessalonians 5:16 about rejoicing in everything. Corrie, though, could not find any way to be thankful for the fleas.

While in this new building Corrie and Besie started to speak about the Good News from the Bibles they had hidden from the guards, reaching many of the women and giving them hope. Typically the guards would not stand for such activity, especially one that was religious, yet these guards did not bother their meetings. They continued on, yet still wondered why they were given this strange treatment.

As time passed, Besie got sick and had to be moved to the camp hospital. Corrie, wanting to visit her sister, sneaked through the camp and into the hospital. Besie was overjoyed to see Corrie and had even more exciting news of her own. Besie had found out why the guards left them alone and gave them the freedom they had in that building. It was because of the fleas. The guards didn’t want to get the fleas on themselves and so they stayed away.
If that’s not a story of good coming from a terrible situation then what is?

Let’s use these lessons to guide our thoughts and actions and to keep our focus off of everything that is going wrong and to think on Him who can make things right.
Don’t ignore problems, just take action according to your belief and faith in Yahweh rather than reacting with fear and frustration

by Joel Wirl

613 Laws

What about the 613 Laws?

What about the 613 Laws?
Many embrace Jewish traditions more than Scripture. They observe purely Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and Purim and neglect the commanded seven annual Holy Days of Leviticus 23. Incidentally, the word Purim is Persian and means “lots,” as in casting lots. The ancient practice worked like a horoscope, where the heathen cast lots to divine the future each day.

Following Jewish practices often leads to renouncing the New Testament and along with it, Yahshua the Messiah.

At the other end of the spectrum are critics of obedience as practiced in the New Testament. “So do you keep all 613 laws?” they typically ask in a “gotcha” attempt intended to entrap. Let’s take an overview of what the Jews contend are the 613 laws of the Old Testament.

Granted, we observe the vast majority of Yahweh’s commands in the way He intended. But there are some commands that clearly could only apply to the time of ancient Israel.

For instance, a statute in Deuteronomy 22:8 says to make a low wall about 3 feet tall around your roof. That law makes sense for safety on flat roofs in Israel because families used their roofs as living spaces. But it makes no practical sense for most homes today in America.

Following are more of the 613 laws we today cannot comply with because of their nature: Leviticus 25:34 says Levites are to redeem their homes in their Levitical towns; their houses are redeemable but the land surrounding them is not. To keep this law we need first to find out where any remaining Levites are today, where their fields are and where their cities are. If we can’t determine that then we fail in this law.

Deuteronomy 12:2-3 directs Israel to destroy their idolatry and its appurtenances. Anyone care to go through retail stores in December and take a hammer to all the Santa figures and cut down all the Xmas trees?

Exodus 22:18 targets witchcraft with a mandate not to allow a witch to live. What would happen if we took this law into our own hands vigilante style?

Then there are all the laws pertaining to the high priest and the conducting of temple worship. Being we are not under the Levitical priesthood, these laws are unobservable today. Hebrews 5:6 tells us, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Anyone with a physical defect shall not serve in the sanctuary, Leviticus 21:17. There is no sanctuary or priesthood even existing now.

We get ourselves into a real predicament if we attempt to keep the sacrificial laws today because sacrifices are owned by Yahshua’s power as our High Priest in the Melchisedec order. His sacrifice covered all sacrifices for sin. We best not offer animal sacrifices if we value our salvation as there is no complete removal of sin under the old system of animal sacrifices.

Those 613 laws (a number not found in Scripture but only in Talmudic tradition) were also the constitution of Israel. Those statutes were necessary for running a righteous, theocratic government under Yahweh. They include laws on how a ruler should conduct himself as well as statutes governing political interactions with other nations. They regulated court proceedings and judgments, punishing of criminals, citizen behavior, social interactions, and worship.

Many of these statutes are not in our power to comply with because we live under a Roman system, a government of man, which has assumed some of Yahweh’s prerogatives. The Bible was Israel’s constitution and it will be again in the millennial Kingdom.

Now, biblical laws dealing with Yahweh’s worship, social relations, and morality are for everyone. Many crossover categories. The following is a quick breakdown of major divisions of biblical law and some examples of each.

Governmental Law
The king must not have too many wives and horses, Deut. 17:16,17
The king must not have too much silver and gold, Deut. 17:17
Regulations of houses in walled cities, Lev. 25:29
How can such statutes apply to us?

Judicial Law
Appoint impartial judges, Deut. 1:17 and16:18
A judicial court must not execute anyone on the testimony of a single witness, Deut.17:6; Num. 35:30
Anyone who knows the evidence must testify in a court case, Lev. 5:1
Punish the false witness exactly as he sought to punish the accused, Deut. 19:19
How can these laws apply to us in a court system that’s not ours?

Moral Law (regulates relationships with fellow man, Ex. 20:12-17; Matt. 22:37-39)
Don’t bear a grudge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t wrong any one in speech, Lev. 25:17
Don’t curse father or mother. Ex. 21:17
Keep your word and your promises, Deut. 23:23
Don’t take revenge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t be superstitious, Lev. 19:26
Keep the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20
These laws are for everyone in any age.

Spiritual Law
Observe the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20; Deut. 5
Keep the Feasts and Sabbath, Lev. 23
Eat only clean foods, Lev. 11
Observe the sabbaticals and jubilees, Lev. 25
Yahweh no longer wants animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:5)
Animal sacrifices did not remove sin. (Hebrews 10:11). They simply pointed to the Messiah who was to die as the Lamb of Elohim who would take away the sin of the world.
Crossover laws: Don’t allow anyone practicing witchcraft to live (Ex. 22:17)
Slay the inhabitants of a city that has become idolatrous and burn that city (Deut. 13:16-17)
Man’s statutes do not change perpetual spiritual laws such as sodomite marriages.

Civil Law
Order of inheritance, Num. 27:8
Help a brother with his fallen beast of burden, Deut. 22:4
Don’t overcharge or underpay for an item, Lev. 25:14
Don’t charge a believer interest, Deut. 23:19-20
Houses sold within a walled city may be redeemed within a year, Lev. 25:29

Yahshua Our Standard
Yahshua is our guide when it comes to obedience, as He provided the proper example of how to live the precepts of His Father Yahweh. Being sinless, Yahshua was faithful to the Old Testament commandments, including the weekly Sabbath and Feasts, Hebrews 4:15, 1Peter 2:22.
The Saints at the end of the Bible are defined as those who “keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua,” Revelation 14:12. They have both Yahshua and the law. Obedience to the commandments as well as fidelity to the same standard of living shown by Yahshua come as a unit. Those who do Yahweh’s commandments are called blessed, and they will have right to Yahshua’s coming Kingdom, Revelation 22:14

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Army of Yahweh

Army of a Few

Army of Yahweh

In 1Samuel 13 we are thrust into a battle scene in the land of Gibeah. King Saul, Jonathan, and their Israelite army of 4,000 men are fighting the Philistines. They strike a mighty blow to the Philistine garrison, which in turn incites the Philistine army to counter by sending about 36,000 soldiers to the battle.

Being massively outnumbered, most of the Israelite army flees from fear and hides in the mountains and caves, leaving only 600 men who stay by their king’s side. To make matters worse for the Israelite army, a group of spoilers from the Philistine army raid the Israelite camp and steal their weapons. The Philistines, not wanting their enemy to gain any advantage, remove the weaponsmiths from the land so the Israelites cannot make replacement swords or spears. The only weapons they have left are what King Saul and Jonathan have with them. The war effort is starting to look impossible for Israel.

In 1Samuel 14 Jonathan decides it is time to confront his adversaries. Perhaps he sees the lack of courage that afflicted the Israelite army, but for whatever the reason, he chooses to quietly sneak away to the enemy camp, unbeknownst to the others, taking only his armor bearer with him. Upon reaching the enemy camp, Jonathan tells his armor bearer, “Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that Yahweh will work for us: for there is no restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few,” 1Samuel 14:6.

Note what Jonathan said, “There is no restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few.” Although Jonathan was speaking of a military victory, it has much greater application. The Oxford Dictionary defines restraint as, “A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits.”

This definition makes one think of someone under another’s power with limited decisions and actions, like being a slave to another. In the verse, though, Jonathan says that Yahweh has no restraint, which means that there is no entity with power enough to control Yahweh.

Is Yahweh’s power limited only to military victory? Of course not. If one has power in one area, but not another, then he or she is still limited. Therefore this applies to all things; Yahweh has no restraint on His power from anything.

Jonathan elaborates further by saying that Yahweh’s unlimited power is not held back by numbers. Jonathan proves this when he and his armor bearer attack the Philistines, killing twenty soldiers, thus causing confusion in the camp that leads to fighting among themselves.

This impetus spurs the rest of the Israelite army, and those who had gone into hiding, to fight hard against the Philistines, thus defeating them. All of this happened because of whom? Was it Jonathan and his armor bearer who did it? No, without Yahweh’s causing confusion in the camp and allowing the final victory, the initial attack would have been short lived. So why does Yahweh not want to save by many but rather chooses to save by few?

 

Gideon and His Few
In Judges 6 the Midianites had overtaken the land of Israel because the people had sinned. The Israelites were so greatly impoverished by their oppressors that they finally cried out to Yahweh to save them. Yahweh, in His infinite mercy instructed Gideon to attack the forces of the Midianites. Gideon reluctantly agreed and gathered a force of 32,000 soldiers to fight. The army camp, pitched beside the well of Harod, waited to attack the host of Midianites on the north side of the hill. Yahweh said to Gideon, “The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” Judges 7:2-3.

Yahweh knew that if Israel had won the victory, they would have attributed their success to themselves and not to Yahweh. So Yahweh had Gideon release from the army all who were too fearful to fight, leaving 10,000 soldiers, which was still too many for Yahweh. The soldiers would probably be even more arrogant in victory because the fewer they were, the more amazing they would think their own skills would be.

Yahweh told Gideon to take his men to a body of water for a test. Those who bowed down to drink would be excluded from fighting, but those who lapped the water would stay. Those who were chosen to stay were only 300 men.

These men were probably the best of the best but even with their skill level, it would have been nearly impossible to beat the entire Midian army with only 300 soldiers. Their enemy was described as being a multitude like the sand of the sea. Yet only 300 was enough for Yahweh.

Yahweh gave Gideon and his 300 the victory. Yahweh would rather save by a few than by many because “by many” puts the glory on the group.

When it’s few facing impossible odds it is hard to not recognize that Yahweh gives the victory. It puts the glory where it belongs, on Yahweh and not us. When you go up against an army with only 300 men and win, it is hard to conclude anything other than divine intervention. Our greatest human strength cannot come close to even His weakness, which is none. He too has an army. And although we may not be able to see it, it is there.

 

Elisha and the Angels
In 2Kings 6 we find the Syrians battling Israel. Elisha the prophet was assisting the Israelite army. Each time the Syrians would plot an assault, Elisha would warn Israel and thwart the attack. The king of Syria became troubled when Israel always knew his battle plans.

He first wondered if it was a conspiracy within his own ranks, but after inquiry it was made known to him that Elisha the prophet was prophesying to Israel what the Syrian army was about to do.

In 2Kings 6:13-16 we see that the king of Syria had plans to kidnap Elisha, “And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of Elohim was risen early, and gone forth, behold an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! How shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Yahweh, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see, And Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

Note his statement, “For they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” We may not be able to see the angelic forces as Elisha and the young man did, but they are there nonetheless. Yahweh’s army fights for those who believe and trust in Him.

Yahweh worked with Jonathan and Gideon to bring about a victory for good, and He wants to do the same for us. He wants us to fight for Him in the battles we all face, and He wants us to realize that it will be won by His strength and not just our own.

Fighting Our Own Battles
We may not have to face an enemy in armed combat as the Israelites did, but we too fight a battle against the moral decline of this nation and much of the world. You just have to watch a small portion of the news to see this trend.

Immorality is becoming legalized, much of the education system is teaching obedience to a system rather than to Yahweh, the love that man once had for his fellow man is growing cold and stale, happiness is based on entertainment rather than living a righteous life – these are the trends of the culture.

We also see the teachers of morality, the churches and religious centers, are many times not preaching the message of repentance from sin, but rather watered down and smooth messages that don’t convict a person to turn from his or her wicked practices and back to Yahweh in obedience to Him. Nature dislikes a vacuum, and it is the same with our minds. Our minds will fill with something, whether good or bad. Correct biblical principles are needed to transform the mind and heart.

Much of the religious scene is changing in the world. The former Archbishop of Canterbury warned that Christianity in England is one generation away from extinction.

And yet as the tide of Christianity seems to be ebbing, we see the strong tide of Islam crashing through the world. This is a scary thought for those who understand that what is taught in the Islamic faith is Sharia law, which is a law of no toleration but rather domination.

We are in a battle for truth. Bible truth is now considered an archaic ideal, replaced by worldly values that inevitably lead to destruction. We fight a battle not only to keep discovering truth ourselves but also to help others learn. It is up to us, with Yahweh’s supreme help, to do it.

Our Mission
Jonathan and the Israelites won the victory because Jonathan knew that numbers mean little to Yahweh in getting things done. Gideon and his army won the victory because they trusted in Yahweh’s power and strength rather than their own. Elisha did not panic when he saw the enemy surrounding him because he knew that good is greater than evil. We must realize the same because much is at stake.

Malachi 4:6 and Matthew 24:14 speak of a restoration back to the truth in the end times. The restoration is of people turning back to Yahweh and away from sin. If this is the end times that we live in now, if this truly is the period spoken of in prophecy, then the time is now to stand for truth. To stand up and live a life of righteousness. To be the example Yahweh wants us to be to the world.

Prophecies spoken of in the Bible will come to pass. As much as our culture wants to deny the Bible and what it teaches, it will not stop the inevitable. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we will just go along with what the world is teaching, to just be like everyone else, or will we be a force for good? We can make a difference, because if Yahweh is with us who can be against us? It is by Yahweh that the victory will be won in our time, but we must still do our part.

The enemy is strong, and seems to be invading all aspects of our culture. What can we do about it? What can we do to fight back against such overwhelming odds? We can do what is right. We can shine our light to a world filled with darkness. We can worship Yahweh rather than man or institutions. We can make a difference. It is always better to do something than nothing at all.

Our acts of kindness, choosing Sabbath rest rather than working, consistent prayer, and other acts may seem small and insignificant. Even small deeds of righteousness, however, impact the world. As the Syrian army was unable to see the angelic host, we may not see the instant benefits of doing a good deed, but they are there.

Those who truly desire to serve Yahweh with all their mind, heart and soul must not lose heart. We have a mission to spread the good news of the Kingdom to the world, to help people come to the truth. And it doesn’t matter how small in number His followers are because with Yahweh, He is more than enough.

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Succeeding Believer

Succeeding as a Believer

Succeeding as a Believer

Most would agree that the trends we’re seeing in the world today are troubling. Radical Islam is on the rise, and Bible believers are being persecuted throughout this world. Many western and democratic countries are passing laws, including the United States, restricting freedom of religion. In addition, traditional marriage and values are under attack, along with many other unfavorable developments.
What we’re witnessing today will only get worse with time. It’s entirely possible that these current trends will usher in the Tribulation and the Second Coming of our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah.
For this reason, now is not the time to be spiritually asleep or negligent with our faith. It’s more important than ever before that we strengthen our faith and devotion. Even though many are facing different challenges and trials, few know the meaning of true persecution.
If and when this day comes to our time, as believers we must be strong and courageous. To achieve such discipline, we will be reviewing the following lessons:
• First and foremost, we need to know and understand the One we worship;
• We must be strong in faith and courage;
• We must be willing to make a distinction in our behavior and worship; and,
• We must keep life in perspective and always maintain proper balance. Each of these points is crucial to remain strong and overcome as a believer. They will provide us the strength and character to persevere.

Discover Yahweh’s Splendor
To begin with, let’s consider the greatness and immensity of the One we worship. The Old Testament in 1Chronicles 29:11-13 provides a glimpse of Yahweh’s splendor: “Thine, O Yahweh, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Yahweh, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our Elohim, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”
Our Father Yahweh is above all! He is the greatest and all power, glory, and majesty on earth and in the heavens belongs to Him. Possibly the best illustration of our Father’s awesome power is this universe.
For thousands of years man has looked to the heavens to understand Yahweh’s creation. Today we have massive telescopes, but even with these we comprehend only a small fraction of what this universe offers. Its complexity is far beyond man’s comprehension.
Consider the following: it’s believed the number of atoms in the universe is somewhere around 10 to the 78th power. This is 10 with 78 zeros after it. Such a number is beyond our grasp.
The believed diameter of the known universe is 93 billion light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year. In miles, this number is 5.87849981 x 10 to the 12th power. It’s estimated that the Milky Way galaxy contains 200-400 billion stars. Overall, it’s believed that this universe contains around 100 billion galaxies.
This should give all reason to pause and consider the greatness of our Father in heaven. It’s important we realize that all of this came into existence through the power of our Creator, Almighty Yahweh. If He can design and create such a vast universe, surely He’s capable of seeing His people through life’s problems.
Saying that, it’s important also to realize that sometimes it’s His will that we suffer. The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” and prayed three times that Yahweh would remove it. Yahweh never did and Paul soon realized that he was made strong through that thorn or weakness.
The fact remains, though, our Father in heaven is bigger than anything in this universe; He is in control of the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.
Even though this world can be a chaotic place, as long as we remember that we serve an awesome El, nothing should discourage us or pull us away from the faith. There’s nothing beyond His power or control – He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

Obedience Brings Blessings
Another way of succeeding as a believer is by obeying our Father in heaven. Deuteronomy 30 says that we’re blessed when we follow His commandments. “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love Yahweh thy Elohim, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and Yahweh thy Elohim shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it,” verses 15-16.
As believers, it’s imperative to understand that there are consequences for how we live. If we live a life of righteousness after Yahweh’s commandments, we’ll be blessed and prosperous in this life and more importantly, in the life to come. However, if we choose to rebel and ignore His Word, we will not find life, but death.
Yahweh’s commandments are for the good of mankind. As our Creator, He’s established a natural order in this universe and His commandments are the guide to achieving success in this order.
For example, He’s given commandments regulating our diet. He tells us to avoid things such as shellfish and swine, which medical science is now finding are a detriment to human health.
Dr. Rex Russell in his book, What the Bible says About Healthy Eating, says, “One reason for [Yahweh’s] rule forbidding pork is that the digestive system of a pig is completely different from that of a cow. It is similar to ours, in that the stomach is very acidic. Pigs are gluttonous, never knowing when to stop eating. Their stomach acids become diluted because of the volume of food, allowing all kinds of vermin to pass through this protective barrier. Parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins can pass into the pig’s flesh because of overeating. These toxins and infectious agents can be passed on to humans when they eat a pig’s flesh,” pp. 76-77.
As Yahweh designed, these meats are a detriment to man’s health. So in this case when we obey Him, we’re more likely to maintain better health.
Yahweh also established marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman, Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:6. If you consider the impact of divorce that we’re seeing in this nation, whether that be single parent homes or broken families, there should be no wonder why He says what He does.
Based on data from the 2010 census, one-third or a total of 15 million children are without a father in the home. Statistics have shown that a child suffers emotionally and socially without the influence of a father. Consider the following statistics:
● 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes – 5 times the average (U.S. Dept. of Health/Census).
● 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
● 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
● 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average (Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26).
● 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – nine times the average (National Principals Association Report, thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com).
Everything our Heavenly Father says in His Word is for our good. The problem is most people are simply too stubborn to listen. It’s amazing, though, how many of these same people will ask, “Why are these things happening?” Even though the truth is obvious to the sincere seeker, they’re blind to it.
Acts 5:32 provides another benefit for obedience. It reads, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom Elohim hath given to them that obey him.”
The Bible declares that the ruach ha qodesh, i.e., Holy Spirit, is given to those who follow Yahweh’s Word. Now, what benefits do we find through our Father’s Spirit? It brings us into deeper truths and helps us change from whom we are today into how we should be based on Yahweh’s will. It also gives us wisdom to rightly apply our Father’s Word. Finally, it offers encouragement and strength in times of need and trouble.

Blessings Through Faith
Succeeding as a believer also demands faith. Before we explore why faith is important, let’s first understand the meaning of faith. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The author of Hebrews tells us that faith is believing or having a conviction in something that can’t be seen. In this case, it’s a conviction for our Heavenly Father, Yahweh, who Scripture says is invisible and immortal.
Verse 6 goes on to explain why this characteristic is so important: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to Elohim must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
We can’t please Yahweh without faith. We must believe in Him and His promises, including His promise of everlasting life in His Kingdom. If we don’t believe in these promises, then our faith is not genuine and not pleasing to the One we worship.
Because faith is a belief and conviction in our Creator, it should be obvious why it’s essential in remaining strong as a believer. Without the promise of the resurrection and His Kingdom, what would be the motivation to follow Him? Yahweh has promised all this and much more in His Word; all we must do is believe and follow Him.

Have Courage to Overcome
Another important attribute in succeeding as a believer is courage. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” In essence, courage is responding even in those moments when we’re afraid. In other words, courage is not allowing fear to control our response.
In the first chapter of Joshua, Yahweh commands the Israelite leader to remain strong and courageous: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for Yahweh thy Elohim is with thee whithersoever thou goest,” 1:7-9.
Yahweh told Joshua to obey His commandments so that he would have success. As confirmed in Deuteronomy, when we follow His commandments we’re going to be blessed.
Second, Yahweh tells Joshua to be strong and of good courage and not to be afraid. There’s a connection between faith and courage. To achieve either one we must believe in Yahweh and in His promises. If we have a deep faith in our Heavenly Father then even death should not concern us. The Bible promises that for those who lose their lives for His sake will find them in the life to come.
Like faith, courage requires that we are resolute in our conviction of Yahweh and willing to do whatever is necessary to remain true to Him. If we allow fear to control us, then we may never achieve the goal of everlasting life.
Yahweh gave this key message to Joshua, the son of Nun. This man had the task of not only leading a nation, but doing so during a time of conquest. He was going to war for the nation of Israel and for Almighty Yahweh. Yahweh knew that this would require strength and courage like never before. He would risk everything to obey the One he worshiped.
If indeed Yahshua’s coming is closer than what many realize, we as believers will require this same level of courage and faith as this time approaches.
Yahshua in His Olivet Prophecy stated that the Great Tribulation would be the worst time this world has ever and will ever see. Nothing will rival the sin, depravity, and the persecution that this world will experience prior to Yahshua’s coming. The challenges that we go through today are nothing compared to the tribulation we might see in the days to come. Joshua showed courage and strength against nations and peoples greater than he. Can we do the same?

Show a Difference
Another key in succeeding as a believer is to show a distinction. Paul conveys this message in 2Corinthians 6: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Messiah with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of Elohim with idols? for ye are the temple of the living Elohim,” verses 14-16a.
The Apostle Paul asks, “What concord has Messiah with Belial?” The word “Belial” here is a euphemism for Satan the devil. There is no greater contrast than that between Yahshua the Messiah and the Evil One.
We don’t have to look hard to see sin in the world today. In the last few decades we’ve seen a lot of change in this nation. Many no longer know what is morally right in this day and age. The concept of absolute morality has been thrown out the window. Today’s belief in diversity and political correctness has replaced biblical standards.
It seems that everything we read in the Bible regarding immorality is happening today, including the acceptance of sodomy and a complete disregard for Yahweh’s commanded standards.
As we find in the fifth chapter of Isaiah, they now call evil good and good evil. We may very well be witnessing the final collapse of biblical values in this nation. This is why it’s so important that we make a distinction between us and this world.
Just because we live in the world doesn’t mean that we live like the world. We must show a difference in what we watch, what we listen to, how we behave, and most importantly, how we worship! We will not be found worthy if we don’t come out of this world.

Never Lose Perspective
Another key in succeeding as a believer is keeping a right perspective. In Psalm 103:15 we find a fact about life that is true for all people. It reads, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”
David compares the life of man to a flower in the field. For some, 70 or 80 years seems like a long time. Truth be told, man’s life goes by very quickly. Before we know it, we’re at the end of our days and there’s no way to get that time back. There’s no way to rewind the clock or to redo what we did.
For this reason we must keep in mind that this life is not the only life. While this life is short and transitory, the life to come is forever.
How many decisions do we make every day with this thought in mind? Many people are so caught up in the day-to-day that they completely forget about why we’re here and what’s most important.
Is it more important that we work to excess to get ahead, or spend time with our families? Is it more important that we take a vacation or attend Yahweh’s appointed Feasts? Is it more important that we buy that big screen TV or support our Father’s work through our tithes and offerings?
Life is all about setting priorities and keeping perspective on what’s most important. Yahweh remembers what we put first in our lives. Before we know it our days will be over and the record of our lives will be established for all eternity.
What should the believer be focused on? Solomon, in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, provides one answer. He says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear Elohim, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For Elohim shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil,” 12:13-14.
How does Solomon define the whole of man? Obey the commandments and fear our Heavenly Father. To be found worthy as a believer we must obey Yahweh and always remember to show Him fear and reverence. If we do these things, not only will we overcome this world, but we’ll find blessings in this life and in the life to come.

Maintain Proper Balance
Now the last key in succeeding as a believer is maintaining balance. In the Old Testament, Solomon prayed for divine wisdom. Because his heart was right, we know that Yahweh blessed this man with incredible wisdom. The Bible says that he had more wisdom than all those in the east and in Egypt.
Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:16 speaks about balance. In the New International Version it reads, “Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise – why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool – why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears [Elohim] will avoid all [extremes].”
The word “overrighteous” here likely refers to self-righteousness. What are some of the attributes of a person who is self-righteous? To name a few: arrogance, a lack of compassion, a sense of entitlement, an unwillingness to admit wrong. The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines this word as, “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others.”
In essence, this is why our Savior reprimanded the scribes and Pharisees in the New Testament. These people had the written law down to a science, but through their self-righteousness they lost that which was most important. They forgot about things like love, mercy, and faith, and because of that Yahshua chastised them for their hypocrisy.
As believers, it’s not only our actions by which we’ll be judged, but the motives behind our actions. As believers we can physically do all the right things and yet in the end fall short. We must ensure that our life is balanced according to our Father’s Word.
Solomon closes here by saying that the man who fears Yahweh will avoid all extremes. In other words, we should not venture to the right or left, but remain on that narrow path. While we are to obey, we must not be pharisaical in that obedience. It’s all about striking a balance in our walk as believers.
This world is becoming worse by the day. We’re seeing an increase in crime, sin, and immorality. If we’re going to succeed as believers and please Yahweh, then we need to be resolute in our faith and devotion. If we find something in our Father’s Word that we’re not doing now, we must make that change. It’s about serving Him, following Him, obeying Him, and making Him the center of our lives.
As Yahshua told the Laodicean assembly – be either hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Going part-way as disciples of Yahshua will never be enough. Either we’re all in or we’re all out. Yahweh will not accept half-hearted commitment. He has big plans for His people and He wants only those with total dedication who will one day rule in His Kingdom.

 

by: Randy Folliard