Chosen

Sun Beams

Sun Beams (Photo credit: fdecomite)

“I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”—Jeremiah 1:5

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.”—Ephesians 1:4-6

Have you ever stopped to meditate on these verses? Have you ever wondered why…? Why did Yahweh choose Mary to be the mother of Yeshua? What was so special about her? Why did Yahweh choose Abraham… Moses… David… Peter… Paul…etc.? What was so special about them? Why did Yahweh choose me? What’s so special about me? And here’s the answer…because He could. He is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Not because any of us are more special than anyone else (Romans 3:23), but because He shows mercy to whom He will show mercy and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15).

Yahweh chose us, we didn’t choose Him (John 15:16). He chose His before the foundation of the world…out of His sovereign grace…according to His will. Yahweh’s elect are chosen before they are born (before they do any good or evil–Romans 9:11)…not because of anything they would do in the future, not because of human will or effort, but because of Yahweh’s mercy (Romans 9:16).

And why are we called? Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 1:4 tells us we were chosen, “to be holy and blameless in His sight.” John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.” Because He has called us, redeemed us, justified us, we conform our lives to Him. We bring Him glory.

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in this world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.”–2 Peter 1:3-11

Unless

 

There’s a list in His word

That says away we’ll be sent

Far, far to the depths

Unless we choose to repent.

 

As believers, we’ve chosen

This path and this door.

But what about those

Who don’t know Him deep down in their core?

 

We should be like Ezekiel,

A watchman at the gate…

Warning, warning

Before it’s too late.

 

It is our duty

With care and with thought

To tell them sin’s wrong

Whether they listen or not.

 

But do so with love

With compassion and care.

Show them The Christ

So they will not despair.

 

Say, “Crucify your flesh

With its passions and desires

Set your sights upon

His ways that are so much higher”

 

Do we love our neighbor enough,

That we are willing to say,

“Turn, turn from your sin

Please follow The Way.”

 

Unless we are willing

To speak up and warn

Their blood is on our hands

So weep for them, and mourn.

Stop! Look around you! There are people perishing every minute of every day. We need to have Yahweh’s heart. It is not His will that any should perish…but they are—people we meet and walk by every day. We need to have His eyes, His heart–We should be in anguish that there are people dying and going to Hell and we are so busy arguing unprofitably with one another, we don’t tell them. (Scriptures from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ezekiel 3, Galatians 5:24)

Choices

Have you ever stopped to think about happiness, love, and forgiveness? These are all great attributes, characteristics…qualities to have. And they are all commands in the Word of Yahweh. And……they are all choices, just like every command that Yahweh gives us.

That’s what I want to talk about in this post: the choice to forgive, the choice to love, and the choice to be happy. In a world where we have so little control, isn’t it comforting to know that we have choices for these wonderful things? What do I mean we have so little control? Well, when I finally woke up to the fact that there is only one aspect of my life that I have control over, it changed my whole outlook. You see, none of us has any control whatsoever about the circumstances around us, what someone else says to us, what someone else does to us…the only control we have is the choice of how we will respond to those events, words, and actions. Yes, we control our response.

Happiness is a command…and choice. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always!” When the storms of life arise and our circumstances are not what we think they should be, we can choose to be swallowed by despair and self-pity or we can choose to rejoice in the Lord because as believers, we know He has our best interest at heart. Romans 5:3-5 says, “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The choice is ours.

Love is a command…and a choice. Matthew 22:37-39 reiterates the commands of old, “He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are commanded to love God, and love our neighbor. We have a choice to love God by following His commandments (John 14:15, John 14:21, 2 John 2:6), or we can make the choice to say we love Him by following the traditions and commandments of men, or we can choose not to love Him at all. The choice is ours to make. We also make the choice to walk in love with our fellow man and walk in the fruit of the spirit or we can choose to walk in fruit of the flesh towards each other. In each of these areas, we have choices: one is biblical and honors the Most High God and leads to life; the other choice is contrary to scripture and dishonors the Most High God and leads to death. The choice is ours.

Forgiveness is a command…and a choice. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” We have choices to make. We can make a conscious choice to forgive one another and move on, or we can choose to hang onto an offense and risk having a root of bitterness spring up harming ourselves. The choice is ours.

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.—Luke 6:27-38

Let’s make the choice today and every day to love one another, forgive one another, and rejoice always in all circumstances.

Mirror, Mirror

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Españo... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you look in the mirror,

what do you see?

Do you see your reflection,

or do you see me?

Do you see the faults of others,

that you can’t let be?

Or do you see a glimpse

of how eternity will be?

When you look in the mirror,

do you see your own faults?

Or do you look to find others’

imperfections, for yourself to exalt?

When you look in the mirror,

do you see a speck or a log?

Are you examining yourself,

or others with eyes all agog?

Do you not yet realize

oh friend of mine,

that no human is perfect

we’ve all crossed that line?

We all fall far short,

of the One who is right.

Until we put on

His robes so bright.

So let’s be humble and gentle,

bearing with each other in love.

Pursuing peace and holiness

that comes from above.

Helping one another

with arms open wide.

In His divine love

each one should abide.

When you look in the mirror,

what do you see?

When you look in the mirror,

do you see Me?

Whatever…

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9

I’ve heard this verse many times. I can quote most of it, and I try to live this verse. It is amazing to me how much information our brains take in every day whether we are aware of it or not. The things we hear, the things we see…all get inside our brains consciously or subconsciously. We need to be very careful what we allow into our temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). What are we watching? What are we reading? What are we listening to?

I had an interesting exchange with someone recently. When the whole hubbub with Miley Cyrus twerking was going on, this person just had to see what the excitement was all about and watch the replays. “It’s only a couple of minutes,” she said. What I said to her was this, “Yes, but it’s two minutes of your life you can never get back. Is that how you want to spend your time?” Now, I’ve thought before about how I spend my time…but after I said that, I have really been thinking about it. Time is a gift…time is precious…how do I spend the time that I have been allotted? Granted, it’s not watching someone twerk…but there are definite areas in my life where I can be spending my time more wisely.

Paul exhorts us to focus on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable; in other words, things that reflect Yahweh and things that please Yahweh. How do we know if the things we are seeing, reading, and listening to are meeting these criteria? What standard should we be using to measure our activities? Obviously we need to start with the Word of Yahweh. We need to anchor ourselves in Him and His Word…know Him and His Word…meditate on His Word…Let His Word guide us in every area of our life.

Why is this so important? It’s just a little TV show here…a little music there? Well…as the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” What we take into our minds will eventually come out as words and actions. So, how do we represent our Savior? Do the things we see, read, and listen to line up with the Word of Yahweh? Does how we spend our time honor Him? Are we using the gift of time that we have been allotted to live intentionally, bring honor and glory to Yahweh, and not regret that we can’t get that moment in time back?

Remember: Whatever…is true…is honorable…is just…is pure…is holy…is commendable…dwell on these things.

Lemmings on the Road to Rome

Lemmings in migration

A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic. – Dresden James

LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in a time of distress, the nations will come to You from the ends of the earth, and they will say, “Our fathers inherited only lies, worthless idols of no benefit at all.” Can one make gods for himself? But they are not gods. Therefore, I am about to inform them, and this time I will make them know My power and My might; then they will know that My name is Yahweh.” –Jeremiah 16:19-21

I am sure that most of you have heard the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” What about The Lemming Condition by Alan Arkin?  The Lemming Condition is about a lemming named Bubber. Bubber is ready to follow all the other lemmings on their march to the sea and their eventual jump off the cliff into the sea. All is well until his friend Crow asks him if he knows how to swim. Bubber isn’t sure, so he begins to question and search. During his quest, he finds out he can’t swim. So he tries to stop all the other lemmings from jumping off the cliff. They were all hypnotized and he could not stop them. Eventually it looks like Bubber is the only lemming left; but soon other lemmings start popping out of their holes. He was not the only survivor, and so there was hope for the future of the lemmings.

Daniel 7:25 tells us, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law…” These deceptive changes to Sabbath and Yahweh’s appointed Feast Days have come about through many centuries, and over the torture and dead bodies of millions of followers of Yeshua. And, the lie is followed by dare I say millions of “bible believing” Christians today. They will tell you that Sunday is the Sabbath, that they observe Sunday because that’s the resurrection of Jesus (although that He resurrected on Sunday is in and of itself questionable, but that is for a later post), that God does not care which day you worship Him on (which is true to some degree…you can and should worship Yahweh every day; but He Himself has commanded that the Sabbath (7th day) be set apart, holy, and blessed). They will tell you that it was “nailed to the cross”. They will tell you that following Yahweh’s commands is legalism. There are many excuses as to why the fourth commandment is not followed. And yet…are any of these excuses based on the powerful, holy, eternal, unchanging Word of Yahweh?

Most people have no idea that Sunday worship did not start with the dawning of Christianity.  It was in fact a practice two thousand years before Yeshua. It goes all the way back to shortly after the flood with Tammuz, Nimrod and his mother/wife Semiramis founding the pagan religious system of “sun-god” worship/Baal worship. From the tower of Babel, “sun-god” worship spread throughout the entire ancient world. With the exception of the worship of the One, True God, all other religious systems come from Babylon. They also all worshipped the sun, which correlates with Satan, otherwise known as Lucifer which means “light bringer”.

When Babylon fell, and was taken over by the Medes and the Persians in 539 B.C. the Babylonian priests made their way to Pergamum and Egypt. They taught their religion in these places and eventually saw an opportunity and made their way to Rome. The Romans readily took on the ways of this religious system. By the time the “Christian” Church came into existence, the practices of the Babylonian religious system blended right in and mixed with the Christian church. The blending of these two religious systems made it quite easy for people to “convert” to Christianity. Eventually the Roman Catholic church was born. As it grew in power, it came to oppose the 7th day Sabbath and changed it to Sunday. Historical records show clearly that the Catholic Church made the change official at the Council of Laodicea in 364 AD when they handed down 59 Canon laws.

Canon XXIX: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.” (Percival Translation).

Samuel Bacchiocchi in “How Did Sunday Keeping Begin”,  which summarizes his thesis From Sabbath to Sunday, tells us, “Both anti-Judaism and Sun-worship contributed to the change from Sabbath to Sunday. Anti-Judaism led many Christians to abandon the observance of the Sabbath to differentiate themselves from the Jews at a time when Judaism in general and Sabbath keeping in particular were outlawed in the Roman empire. Sun-worship influenced the adoption of the observance of Sunday to facilitate the Christian identification and integration with the customs and cycles of the Roman empire. The change from Sabbath to Sunday was not simply one of names or numbers, but authority, meaning and experience. It was a change from a holy day divinely established to enable us to experience more freely and more fully the awareness of divine presence and peace in our lives, into holiday which has become an occasion to seek for personal pleasure and profit. This historical change has greatly affected the quality of Christian life of countless Christians who throughout the centuries have been deprived of the physical, moral, and spiritual renewal the Sabbath is designed to provide. The recovery of the Sabbath is especially needed today when our souls, fragmented, penetrated, and desiccated by a cacophonous, tension-filled culture, cry out for the release and realignment that awaits us on the Sabbath Day.”

The Roman Catholic Church itself brags and throws it in the face of Yahweh the fact that it alone changed the Sabbath.

“The authority of the Church is illustrated most clearly by the scriptures, for on one hand she recommends them, declares them to be divine, and offers them to us to be read, and on the other hand, the legal precepts in the scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed into the Lord’s day. These and other similar matters have not ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He says that He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the authority of the Church.” – Gaspare de Posso Archbishop of Reggio, Council of Trent.

 And they mock Protestants that follow Sunday keeping.

“They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason…The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of Sabbath observance…The author of the Sunday law…is the Catholic Church.” – Ecclesiastical Review, February 1914.

 “It was the Catholic church which…has transferred this rest to Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the (Catholic) church.” – Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.

 “I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” – father T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, printed in History of the Sabbath, p. 802.

 “Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:

“1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.

“2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other laws.

“It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible.” Peter R. Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society (1975),Chicago, Illinois.

Yeshua never once mentioned the first day of the week. As followers of Yeshua, we must diligently seek the truth and line up our beliefs and behavior with His Holy Word. We must strive to enter the narrow path that leads to righteousness no matter what the cost. People argue that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life…not a truth, a way, or a life because of the definitive article THE. Well, doesn’t the fourth commandment say, “Remember THE Sabbath…”

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. –2 Timothy 4:1-5

May we all be found as the Bereans in Acts 17:11, “The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” May we examine the Scriptures daily and find ourselves workmen approved. May we look beyond the way things have been done and not blindly follow the crowd in order to find THE Truth.

Ten Shekels and a Shirt

I listened to an amazing sermon today. What a timely message!

How Ten Shekels and a Shirt Came to be

By Paris Reidhead

 In over fifty years of Bible teaching and preaching “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” is the only message that I feel constrained to explain how it came to be preached.

During a Bethany Fellowship Summer Conference in the mid sixties I was preparing to speak at the Tuesday morning Bible hour. Upon returning to my room after breakfast to meditate and pray about the message for that morning hour, I felt strangely impressed that I could not deliver the message that had been prepared for the session. Instead, I felt that there was some other message that was needed which I was to bring.

After prayer, the message that came to mind was one which I had begun preparation for the ministry at the church in New York City of which I was pastor at that time. My notes were not with me, but were in a file folder in my study. An empty envelope was on the desk in my room, on the back of which I wrote the scripture texts to be used and one or two ideas that came to mind. With the envelope in my Bible marking Judges, Chapter 17, and my self utterly cast upon the Lord, I went to the auditorium where between four and five hundred people waited to hear from the Lord through me.

I remember praying, “This morning I am utterly cast upon You because I am not really prepared.” In my heart I seemed to hear His response, “Well is that so bad, already” (being from New York City it was given in a idiom I would understand.)

I delivered the message and gave an invitation. Shortly the altar across the front of the auditorium was filled with broken people seeking God.

The summer conference was soon over and I returned to New York City and the ministry there.

About ten years later, one of the Bethany Fellowship staff was in Washington, D.C., where we had moved and from where we still minister. His word was, “Paris, I want to tell you that God has repeatedly used your messages, but the exact message itself was preached only that once.

A week or two later Harry Conn from Rockford, Illinois was in Washington. He invited me to have dinner with him. In the course of the meal he said, “I buy that message of yours ‘Ten Shekels and a Shirt’ by the dozen to give people. God is really using it in lives.” My response was that if you have a copy, I would like to have it sent to me so that I can find out what it is I have said. In a few days the cassette arrived.

Since I don’t have a tape player in my office, I put the tape into the Sony dictating machine on my desk and listened through the little playback on the hand-held microphone. The element of distance in terms of time, and the distorted sound through the miniature speaker, let me listen to the message with no real awareness of who was speaking. From time to time I felt like exclaiming, “That’s right! I wish I had said that!”

Then it dawned on me that it was my voice, but God was speaking through me. I realized that on a Tuesday morning during a summer conference, God had been able to get His message across because of my utter and complete helplessness. Here it is, just as the Lord gave it.

Paris Reidhead                                                                    ©2013 Bible Teaching Ministries Inc.