As with most of the “Holy” sites in Israel, there are two tombs in Jerusalem. Both are alleged to be the “real” tomb of Yeshua. One is within a cathedral-size church, dark, stuffy, formal, seemingly walled off from the public. The other is in a garden outside a northern gate, near a bus depot. At this particular tomb, standing near the city wall and looking toward it, there is a huge skull-shaped stone. This rock is said to be Golgotha, where two thousand years ago three crosses would have been seen.
Inside the garden there are benches in which one may meditate upon the events in Jerusalem so long ago. Sitting in the garden one can’t even hear, for some reason, the noise from the nearby bus station and the main highway going to Jerico. It is pleasant within that garden. There is even a door on the tomb that tells us “He is not here.” It comes from the Gospel of Luke. 24:6-8 tells us:
” ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words. . .’ “
Yesterday I posted Psalm 20 with the title “Some trust in chariots,” v.7. Trust grows, often slowly, as we experience the new life, the regenerate life, in Messiah Yeshua. The psalm is a prayer for combatants. The Pandemic of 2020 has been likened to an invisible war. If it is a war then there are no civilians. There is universal draft. We are all in it.
Like any combatant, we take up the arms we are trained to use. Yet we are more than worldly combatants. As such we have available to us greater arms, greater strength, than others. Trust is one.
“They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright,” v.8. Experience. We see others’ collapse from fear, we feel within us an inner peace, and our soul rises just a little. Each time we allow Spirit to raise us a little more we gain confidence, we gain trust. Little by little we grow in faith until we stand upright.
Our enemy isn’t an invisible plague, though too often our enemy is invisible. Our enemy is, as Apostle Paul explains:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” Eph. 6:12.
Trust grows like leaves and flowers in Spring. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes quite rapidly. Experience is the food that feeds the growth.
Let us Stand Upright Together. Let us experience great trust in our Heavenly Father who gave His Son Yeshua for us our eternal lives.
We have no peace in this world, necessarily. We have Peace in our souls in our G-D.
A Sermon on Matthew 24:3-14
Signs of the End of the Age As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (ESV)
The Christian Gospel : is it relevant today? why the Gospel will never ‘change’ the world; saved from the coming destruction.
In the sermon, Pastor MLJ says that humankind believes philosophers, scientists, and evolutionists and thinks it can build a perfect world. But the humankind is in rebellion to G-D, and has been since the perfect Garden was tainted by wanting to be like G-D.
Pastor MLJ goes on to say that a misunderstanding of the Gospel has even led preachers to think Yeshua meant for us to build a perfect Earth. But the Gospel has been preached for two thousand years and we are at war, we suffer calamities, famine, and plague. Yeshua foretold those things. The Gospel offered eternal salvation to those called by G-D.
Will there ever be peace and prosperity? Yes. Yeshua will return. And will bring judgement and peace; judgement will be for those in rebellion, peace for those who’ve overcome the world, been born again into a new person in Yeshua Messiah.
With this plague that has come, let us look only to our Master, our King, our Savior—Yeshua. Philosophy won’t save us. Science won’t save us. Evolution won’t save us. Yeshua is The Way, The Truth, The Life.
My uncle, Ivor, was born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Tenby is a walled city. I am told the English built it for a place to live, and walled it to keep the fierce Celts out. It still has walls, and several gates that are just wide enough to allow cars and small trucks to come and go.
Another walled city, more widely known, is Jerusalem. In Biblical times, it was sealed off hoping to prevent intrusion. The Old City of Jerusalem still has walls. The walls have come down. The walls have been rebuilt. More than once.
Many of the Psalms tell us that G-D is our refuge, our shelter. The walls we erect to protect us work only if we abide in G-D, if He is our G-D. It doesn’t take long for our walls to be vulnerable if we refuse to put G-D first.
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
Here Asapf cries for G-D’s assistance when a multi-nation force is about to come against Israel. When the army went out to fight against the foe, it found G-D had already been there, had taken care of the enemy.
When I think about our modern enemies, and our modern walls we erect, I immediately think of the distractions offered by the”world” to keep me from G-D, and the walls I create around my heart to keep the “world” out. The wall around my heart can be too solid, and it hardens me. It can be too porous and let’s the in the World’s virus. The Spirit of our L-RD balances my heart’s walls when I look to Him. And to Him alone.
When my kids were young, they were blessed to have been able to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS). The first few years I dropped them at a church up the road from our house. While I was on the road (Abundant Life Christian Ministries of Georgia’s Into the Highways project), the Lord put it in the heart of a neighbor who’d taught VBS, to have VBS at her home. My kids attended and were blessed.
In less than a month American’s throughout the world will celebrate Thanksgiving. Here in the U.S.A. it mostly means stuffing turkeys, roasting them, and then stuffing ourselves with them. Later we’d try to make room for Continue reading “Thanks”→
Will You not revive us again,
that Your people may rejoice in You?
When I think of a Holy Ghost Revival, I think of the tent meetings, or camp meetings, popular into the 1960s. I also think of The Reverend Billy Graham and how his humble beginnings in a tent turned into crusades that would affect nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries.
Initially, Rev. “Graham scheduled a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949, for which he erected circus tents in a parking lot. He attracted national media coverage, especially in the conservative Hearst chain, although Hearst and Graham never met. The crusade event ran for eight weeks—five weeks longer than planned. Graham became a national figure with heavy coverage from the wire services and national magazines.” — Wikipedia
There is more to a Holy Ghost Revival than tent meetings. There’s the Welsh Revival.
“For nine months, between November 1904 and August 1905, God anointed and used a 26 year old coal miner, by the name of Evan Roberts, to release a powerful revival movement of the Holy Spirit which produced 100,000 converts and which profoundly affected the spiritual life of Wales and the world.” — Welsh Revival Library
There’s the Azuza Street Revival. It began when the Holy Spirit used William Seymour at the Apostolic Faith Mission, 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles.
“The first secular news reports of the revival appeared, on April 18, 1906 – on the very day of the San Fransisco earthquake. The Los Angeles Daily Times sent a reporter to an evening service on April 17, and he filed reports that were highly critical of the meetings as well as of the people who attended them. The introductory headlines to the article were ‘weird babel of tongues,’ ‘new sect of fanatics is breaking loose,’ ‘wild scene last night on Azusa Street,’ ‘gurgle of wordless talk by a sister,’ all carefully calculated to give the appearance of religious mania or madness. (See separate article) Nevertheless, Bartleman reported that this brought the crowds! Many of them were true seekers but there were also the ‘crooks and cranks,’ even hypnotists and spiritualists came to investigate!
“An article published in ‘Way of Faith,’ October 11, 1906 probably penned by Frank Bartleman gives a friendlier description: “The centre of this work is an old wooden Methodist church, marked for sale, partly burned out, recovered by a flat roof and made into two flats by a floor, It is unplastered, simply whitewashed on the rough boarding. Upstairs is a long room, furnished with chairs and three California redwood planks, laid end to end on backless chairs. This is the Pentecostal “upper room,” where sanctified souls seek Pentecostal fulness, and go out speaking in new tongues and calling for the old-time references to new wine.” There are smaller rooms where hands are laid on the sick and “they recover” as of old. Below is a room 40 x 60 feet, filled with odds and ends of chairs, benches, and backless seats, where the curious and the eager sit for hours listening to strange sounds and songs and exhortations from the skies, In the centre of the big room is a box on end, covered with cotton, which a junk man would value at about 15 cents. This is the pulpit from which is sounded forth what the leader, Brother Seymour, calls old-time repentance, old-time pardon, old-time sanctification, old-time power over devils and diseases, and the old-time ‘Baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire.’ ” — Revival Library
Revivals have been controversial, as pointed to in the article in the Revival Library concerning the Azuza Street Revival. It’s the fruit, or the outcome, of a revival that can be used to judge whether or not it truly is a Holy Ghost Revival. In Wales, for instance, “the movement kept the churches of Wales filled for many years to come, seats being placed in the aisles in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea for twenty years or so, for example. Meanwhile, the Awakening swept the rest of Britain, Scandinavia, parts of Europe, North America, the mission fields of India and the Orient, Africa and Latin America.” (Orr, J. Edwin. The Flaming Tongue. Chicago: Moody, 1973.)
Toward the end of the Twentieth Century, another purported revival began in Toronto, Canada. It was dubbed the Toronto Blessing. It began in the Toronto Airport Vineyard Fellowship January 1994. It greatly influenced another purported revival in Lakeland, Florida, at the Ignited Church on April 2, 2008. The Lakeland Revival began as a five-day service that continued for six months. While both these are purported to be genuine outpourings of the Holy Ghost, both have been criticized for excessive, inappropriate worship. Many pastors from large churches attended these events, and returned to their own churches bringing with them these same excesses. Uncontrolled laughter, and brief periods of unconsciousness were reported at these meetings. While many Christian leaders cite Scripture in support of events at these gatherings, others are more critical. A number of the churches that initially seemed to benefit from, and were impacted by, the purported revivals, are also churches that today are embroiled in controversy over their support of non-Biblical doctrines.
When all is said and done, there is little difference between any of the Christian Revivals and the the revival/apostasy cycle we read about in the Book of Judges, when the people of Israel turned to G-d after He raised a judge to lead the people, then after some years, turned again away from G-d. Some people through various movements, various times of Holy Ghost Revival, grown closer to G-d through His Son, our Savior, our Messiah, Y’shua Jesus. And that’s the real point anyway. One person, reached and changed.
For there comes a day when all people of Earth will give account of themselves before the Judgement Seat of Y’shuaJesus, LORD and JUDGE and REDEEMER. After that, the revived will feast with Y’shua at a banquet that won’t end. Then the real party will begin.
“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts” – Psalm 145 v 4
Kris Kristofferson wrote and performed “Me and Bobby McGee.” I remember Janis Joplin’s beautiful, gritty voice singing the song, and especially the line “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” If you look up the lyrics, a lot of people have commented their understanding of the song, and of this particular verse. A number of people commented that total freedom means having no material goods that one can lose, of have taken. “True freedom comes from having nothing left to lose. As long as we have something to lose, our actions are constrained by our need to protect it. A more modern, anti-consumerism expression of this would be ‘Our things own us,’ ” wrote one person. I’m sure that a measure of freedom can be gained by putting aside material goods, by simply having nothing. But can we simply say that a homeless person is truly free? I equate freedom with independence, with the ability to determine one’s own future, having one’s own sovereignty. Freedom is also the ability to recognize the freedom of others, and to enter into an interdependence with other free persons. I am not free if I am dependent upon people or people governing. I am also not free if I have dependents, people depending upon me taking care of them because they are unwilling to care for themselves.
But for the people of Israel, having been in Egypt nearly four-hundred years, freedom was being out of the bondage to the Egyptian rulers. It seems to me that G-d had other ideas what freedom is for them—and is for us today. G-d allowed a band of brothers, along with their aging father, to live quite nicely in Egypt for a time. As the years became decades, as rulers changed, as the band of brothers grow into a small nation of people, they became a threat to Egypt. Also, Egypt didn’t know the G-d of the Hebrews, the sons and daughters of Israel. Bene Yisrael. Egypt became ‘master’ to the the people of Israel in order to contain them.
So G-d, Who took a band of squabbling brothers into Egypt in the first place, Who then turned them into a nation, wanted to be their only Master. As Y’shuaJesus taught, one can not have two masters. G-d called Moses out of his own exile to lead the people out out of Egypt. G-d would use Moses to led what by then had become a great nation out of Egypt so that G-d’s people could have one Master, the Master of the Universe, the Creator.
When Israel came out of Egypt. . .
Read Psalm 114. It can be seen as the “deliverance of Israel,” as it is titled in my online Bible. It can also be seen as much more. This Psalm describes. . .
“. . .the sea “fleeing,” the Jordan River “retreating,” and the mountains and hills “dancing” in the presence of God. According to the Radak, these images refer to the events of the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the splitting of the Jordan River, and Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai). The Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf) split to allow Bene Yisrael to escape from the pursuing Egyptian army (Shemot, chapter 14), and the Jordan River split when Bene Yisrael entered the Land of Israel under the leadership of Yehoshua (Yehoshua, chapter 4). At Matan Torah, Mount Sinai as well as the surrounding hills trembled as the divine presence descended upon the mountain.
“This Psalm declares (verse 2) that when Bene Yisrael earned their freedom from bondage and left Egypt, they became God’s “sacred nation” (“Hayeta Yehuda Le’kodsho”) and His “governed people” (“Yisrael Mamshelotav”). The event of the Exodus involved much more than simply an oppressed nation earning its freedom; it meant the transformation of Am Yisrael into God’s special nation, with all the privileges and responsibilities that this entails. The miraculous events that followed – such as the splitting of the sea and the Jordan River, and the Revelation at Sinai – demonstrate the unique status as Am Yisrael, that their freedom from bondage was intended not merely for the sake of personal liberty, but rather to allow them to become the loyal subjects of the Almighty.” —Daily Tehillim
As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus responded, “ I assure you:Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free
John 8:30-36 tells us the lack of freedom is more than attachment to material things; it is bondage to sin, which enslaves ones heart. We must be redeemed, says Y’shuaJesus, from our current bondage,and we must continue in Y’shuaJesus’s Word. Y’shuaJesus here speaks in the divine voice, representing the Father, to us on Earth. The Word we are to remain in, the Word that makes us Free, is Y’shuaJesus, the Word of G-d. And the Word is the Word spoken to us through Moses and the Prophets, and we’ve come to accept G-d’s Word spoken to us through His Apostles. It is the whole Word of G-d, we are told by Y’shuaJesus, in which we are to continue. The Bible contains the divine thoughts and words of our Lord, our G-d. Continue in Him, in His Word. Be free.
Christian persecution is a real and terrible part of our lawless world. The chaos of the world is carried into our homes, too, as it causes family discord. But greater than the physical and emotional toll is what happens to our spiritual peace. For we have an enemy that would steal our peace, our spirit, leaving us without hope, in utter despair. Our Lord Y’shuaJesus is the remedy. He said:
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. —John 10:10
“Christ is a good Shepherd; many who were not thieves, yet were careless in their duty, and by their neglect the flock was much hurt. Bad principles are the root of bad practices. The Lord Jesus knows whom he has chosen, and is sure of them; they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of Him. See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him, he laid it down of himself for our redemption. He offered himself to be the Savior; Lo, I come. And the necessity of our case calling for it, he offered himself for the Sacrifice. He was both the offerer and the offering, so that his laying down his life was his offering up himself. From hence it is plain, that he died in the place and stead of men; to obtain their being set free from the punishment of sin, to obtain the pardon of their sin; and that his death should obtain that pardon. Our Lord laid not his life down for his doctrine, but for his sheep.”—Matthew Henry Commentary.
I like the way the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary describes Abundant Life : “[It is] not merely to preserve but impart LIFE, and communicate it in rich and unfailing exuberance. What a claim! Yet it is only an echo of all His teaching; and He who uttered these and like words must be either a blasphemer, all worthy of the death He died, or “God with us”– there can be no middle course.”
When the chaos of darkness intrudes we face the loss of our exuberance. . .
I like Andrae Crouch’s song Take Me Back. The chorus is:
Take me back, take me back dear Lord To the place where I first received You. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I First believed.
King David offered this pray, that we can make our prayer:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’s hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
It makes sense that Moses should stand upon a hill, above the battle, with upheld arms. The symbolism seems clear. Moses raising his arms, yielding to the will of G-d, his own strength wanes. Aaron and Hur support Moses, allowing him to continue to hold high the staff of G-d. The staff symbolizes authority. It is upon G-d’s authority that Moses sends Josua and the people of G-d into battle. Somewhere I read that the names Aaron and Hur meant Praise and Word. This, too, makes sense. For holding up the arms of Moses, supporting the waning strength is:
Praise of G-d Word of G-d
But let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that all it takes to gain victory over an enemy is to stand upon the authority of G-d, holding up the Word of G-d as our justification, lifting our hands, our arms in praise. For there, below Moses, boots hit the ground, weapons found their mark. The people of G-d fought for liberty from their enemy, an enemy that would enslave them.
And some 3,000 years later—two-hundred and forty years ago—farmers on what is now American soil stood together against another form of enslavement: British imperial tyranny. They stood together for Liberty. They stood together for Justice. And so it began in Lexington, not far from Boston, that well-trained British soldiers were ordered to move against the colonial people, against farmers and craftsmen. They were ordered to subdue men and women, untrained in the art of war. But the colonist stood bravely against the “red coats.’ Ordered to give up their arms, they refused. Shots were fired. Shooting continued into their backs as they ran. Men died, including their commander. This was the battle, really a massacre, of Lexington. But. . .
. . .came Concord. On April 19th, 1775, things would be different. It began a mile out of Concord, at Meriam’s Corner, as the red coats crossed a bridge, still exuberant from their victory and sacking of Lexington. They marched toward Boston. They met more untrained farmers and craftsmen. But this time, the red coats faced a different tactic, one we call guerrilla warfare.
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Even now, the significance of Lexington and Concord awakens a response in Americans that goes far beyond the details of the day or the identity of the foe. An unmilitary people, at first overrun by trained might, had eventually risen in their wrath and won a hard but splendid triumph.” —Author Willard Wallace