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Can There Be No Unity ???

In my post of last Saturday, July 25, I mentioned how I had witnessed unity within the church in France like I have never witnessed anywhere else. How that unity was achieved and has been kept alive, I’m not certain. One person told me that it is because the church is not large in numbers. I did speak with more declared atheists in Paris and London than I ever have in my whole life. It definitely is a post-modern culture there. Much more than I run across in NYC, and anywhere else in this country that I frequent. Perhaps this is a factor.

I believe that if the apostles were present today, or Jesus Himself, the church of today would not be recognizable to them. Paul, in his epistles, wrote 7 verses speaking of church unity to every one he wrote on justification by faith. This should speak volumes to us!! Justification by faith is very important, it is a major doctrine no doubt; but if Paul spent so much time on Christian unity, why does the church care so little about it??

There are hundreds of denominations here in the United States that have reproduced themselves all over the world. Most are so suspicious of one another and won’t even talk to one another. What a superior thought of oneself and a tragedy it is!! This is not to say that the early church had no disunity. In Romans Paul told the house churches there to get to know one another and not to be suspicious of one another.

” May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7 (ESV)

It’s because of this disunity that the world doesn’t take us very seriously. When speaking with the many people that I do, church disunity, and all the differences, is a major drawback for them to not even want to consider Christianity. True Christian churches should have one central message, which is the Gospel. The Gospel is our unifying message and is what should bring us together. Not the way that a person is baptized, or the different views of Communion, or when and how Jesus is coming again, etc.

As I stated earlier, Paul spoke of unity within the church more than he spoke of justification by faith. He knew it was difficult, and so must we. Let’s do something about it!!!

Shalom until next time, Lord willing,

Levi

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Thought From Paris !!!!!!

It’s been 4 days since I returned home from my travels and I have had some time to reflect on some of the trip. I was away for close to 2 months and I witnessed so much that I will never forget. Watching the hand of God caress and love and work in the lives of people is something you don’t get over.

Mission work is not all about seeing immediate results. Before there is a harvest of the fruit, someone must sow the seed, someone must nurture the young tender plant and water it, and then after the proper time and environment you reap the harvest. Much of our work was seed sowing, particularly in Europe. I spoke with people who had heard of Jesus but knew nothing else about Him. Without a Damascus Road experience it will take them some time to know enough to make a decision concerning Jesus. We spoke with thousands of people and have hundreds that want us to contact them to learn more. There are enough to keep the local missionaries busy for a long time.

There were others who were ready for the harvest, and how great it was to see. A few of us were walking down the sidewalk in Paris on our way to the train station. A young man in his 20s almost hit us while riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. He had not done it on purpose and immediately he stopped, turned around, and apologized. He noticed that our shirts said “Juifs Pour Jésus” which is Jews For Jesus in French. He asked us what we were about. We explained to him who we were and what we did and he began to speak about his experience in church. He said he had felt convicted of his sin at one time but said he didn’t want have to confess it to a priest. He said “if I’ve sinned before God why do I have to confess it to a man? Why can’t I just go directly to God?” He thought this was the only way to find forgiveness. We told him that he could and should go directly to God. That God hears all and was still waiting on him to come. Within a few minutes he was praying the sinners prayer with a missionary in his native tongue.

I have several stories like this that happened in my time away. God works extraordinarily through, and in spite of our feeble efforts. He is building His Kingdom and it’s great to be a very small part of His work.

Shalom until next time, Lord willing,

Levi

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Jesus and the Mummy !!!!!!

Even though it has been a couple of weeks since we celebrated Passover and Resurrection Sunday, I wanted to share something that came across in my reading today. It’s not new information but maybe something that we need to be reminded of.

Every person that Jesus raised from the dead eventually died again. There is a big difference between a resurrection and a resuscitation.

Jesus called down into the darkness of the tomb with a loud cry, “Lazarus! Come out!” Jesus’ shout into the darkness reminds me of His earlier words: “I say to you, that an hour will come and is now here in which the dead will hear the voice of the son of God, and those who hear will surely live” (John 5:25).

Lazarus stepped out of the grave still bound in his tachrichin, the linen wrappings in which the Jewish people bury the dead to prepare them for the resurrection. In Jewish burial practice, the simple linen garments are tied around the dead with special ceremonial knots. A covering veils the face of the dead.

In those days, they placed a strip of linen on the body, wide and long enough to completely envelope it. The feet were placed at one end of the cloth and then they drew the cloth over the head to the feet. They bound the cloth at the angles, and they fastened the arms to the body with linen strips.

The Gospel’s description of Lazarus’ burial garments is consistent with Jewish burial garments to this very day. The Gospel of John later describes the tachrichin of Jesus in identical language, but in His case, Jesus left His burial garments behind, lying alone in the tomb.

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:40)

And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there. (John 20:6)

The grave clothes illustrate the difference between the resurrection of Lazarus (resuscitation) and the resurrection of Jesus (transformation). Although Lazarus returned from the dead, he remained clothed with a mortal body. He was certainly to die again. Jesus, however, left mortality behind in the tomb, much as He left behind His burial garments.

Jesus instructed the onlookers to release the revived Lazarus from his burial garments and let him go. Jesus also releases us from our mortal bodies and offers us a transformation. “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus the Messiah our Master!” (Romans 7:24-25). An hour is coming when the dead will hear His voice and rise. We will at that time be unshackled and free indeed.

 

Shalom, until next time, Lord willing,

 

Levi

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in Christianity, Faith, Religion

 

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How To Live Debt-free

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Back in the day when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, taxes were a hated part of life, especially by the Jews. It reminded them they were subjected to foreign (Roman) rule, just like God had warned them if they did not obey and follow him.

Nothing has changed over 2,000 years. No matter which country we live in, we still hate taxes. And woe to us if we don’t pay them on time.

In one incident the religious leaders tried to entangle Jesus in his words by asking, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus answered them, “Show me the coin for the tax.” They gave him the coin, and Jesus continued, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Instead of trapping Jesus in what they thought would be an offense against the religious establishment or the Jewish authorities, depending on how he answered their question, they marveled instead at his answer and walked away. (See Matthew 22:15-22)

Come April 15, a collective groan goes up all over this country. Why do we resist paying taxes so? I think it’s because we were born to freedom. We know, deep down, we were meant to live without paying tribute to anybody except to the God who made us.

In truth, we owe much more than just taxes. We owe our very being to God. He gave us life and breath, but instead of acknowledging it, we resist Him with all our might and wills. Every newborn comes into the world with this predisposition, and lives and dies with it, unless some greater power from the outside invades that life and draws him to God.

That resistance is called sin and it has contaminated the human race. However, God has provided a way to come to Him, through his Son Yeshua (Jesus). Jesus lived a perfect life conforming to God’s laws with all his might and will, and also went to the cross as our sin bearer and died in our place. Anyone who believes this and places his faith in Yeshua’s finished work on the cross is declared debt-free in the sight of God.

We should heed what Jesus said to the religious leaders – we should pay taxes to our government, and also give to God the things that belong to him, namely ourselves in faith to him.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”John 8:33 ESV

Won’t you make April 15 the beginning of a debt-free life?

 

Written by Carolyne Rohrig

Original post: Debt-free Living

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Christianity, Faith, Religion

 

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The Great Tribunal !!!!!! (A John Newton Poem)

John in vision saw the day
When the Judge will hasten down;
Heav’n and earth shall flee away
From the terror of his frown:
Dead and living, small and great,
Raised from the earth and sea;
At his bar shall hear their fate,
What will then become of me?

Can I bear his aweful looks?
Shall I stand in judgment then,
When I see the opened books,
Written by th’ Almighty’s pen?
If he to remembrance bring,
And expose to public view,
Every work and secret thing,
Ah, my soul, what canst thou do?

When the list shall be produced
Of the talents I enjoyed;
Means and mercies, how abused!
Time and strength, how misemployed!
Conscience then, compelled to read,
Must allow the charge is true;
Say, my soul, what canst thou plead
In that hour, what wilt thou do?

But the book of life I see,
May my name be written there!
Then from guilt and danger free,
Glad I’ll meet him in the air:
That’s the book I hope to plead,
‘Tis the gospel opened wide;
Lord, I am a wretch indeed!
I have sinned, but thou hast died.

Now my soul knows what to do;
Thus I shall with boldness stand,
Numbered with the faithful few,
Owned and saved, at thy right hand:
If thou help a foolish worm
To believe thy promise now;
Justice will at last confirm
What thy mercy wrought below.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Christianity, Faith, Religion

 

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Ticket To the Kingdom!!!!!!

Every true disciple of Yeshua should expect to experience persecution in one form or another, sooner or later, but there is an upside to it: Entrance to the kingdom.

Yeshua taught His disciples to expect persecution. He said, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). By saying “theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Yeshua indicated that those who endure persecution for His sake will find entrance into the kingdom.

To be persecuted for the sake of righteousness means to suffer for the sake of faithfulness to God despite various types of insults and ridicule and attempts to force a person into compromise and apostasy.

The Jewish people have had a long history of enduring suffering and persecution for their allegiance to God, and most of it done to them in the name of Jesus. In the days before the Hasmonean revolt, the wicked Syrians and Greeks persecuted and even martyred Jewish people who remained faithful to the commandments of circumcision, Sabbath observance, and dietary laws. The same torture awaited the faithful Jews of the apostolic and post-apostolic age as the Roman world attempted to thwart the practice of Judaism.

Yeshua warned His disciples that they would be insulted, persecuted, and falsely accused specifically because of their affiliation with Him. He said, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22). Some New Testament scholars suggest that the original Hebrew of Matthew 5:10 reads, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of The Righteousness One (HaTzaddik), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Yeshua is the Tzaddik, the “Righteous One.”

Yeshua reminded His disciples that the prophets of old suffered similar persecution from their countrymen. He said, “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets” (Luke 6:23). In fact, Yeshua’s disciples should be concerned if they do not experience some measure of persecution for the sake of the Master: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way” (Luke 6:26). The reward of the persecuted is laid up in heaven, that is to say, it remains with the Father to be paid out at the coming of the kingdom of heaven: “They came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

Something to think about on this almost Spring day,

Shalom, until next time, Lord willing,

Levi

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Obedience and Sacrifice !!!!!!

For many of us, holiday gift buying is very difficult, because most of whom we purchase gifts for already have almost everything. Speaking for myself, there is nothing that I really want from the material perspective. Can we even begin to imagine what kind of gift we can offer God since He is both the Creator, and owner of ALL that exists?

What gift can you get for the God who already has everything? Does God desire sacrifice? The book of Leviticus opens with a gift registry that offers a few suggestions.

What gift can you get for Almighty God? It’s hard to shop for a God who has everything. The Hebrew word for sacrifice, korban, could be translated as “something brought near,” or to put it another way, it could be translated as “gift.” The Israelites were to view the sacrifices as gifts that they could bring to God.

He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf. (Leviticus 1:4)

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to present our bodies as a “living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.” What does this mean in practical terms? Is Paul asking us to build altars and literally sacrifice ourselves upon them? Of course he’s not. Paul is using the sacrificial language as an illustration for obedience. He is urging us to set aside our stubborn wills, our wayward flesh and our self-centered egos and force them to submit to the commandments of God. When we set aside our own personal desires and inclinations for the sake of obeying God, we are sacrificing ourselves for the sake of heaven. Instead of offering a bull, a goat or a lamb to God as a gift, we are offering ourselves. This is why the prophet Samuel declared that obedience is better than sacrifice:

Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Through the prophet Hosea, the LORD declared, “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Yeshua was fond of quoting this verse to prove that God was more concerned with ethical behavior than half-hearted ritual obedience. This is an important principle for all religious people. Regardless of one’s religion, it is always easier to attend to ritual concerns than to live godly lives. This is very true with Christians of every denomination as well. The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

In today’s world there is no Tabernacle or Temple in which a person might offer a sacrifice. If we desire to give God a gift today, what can we give Him? We can give no better gift than our own humble submission to His will. We can give Him the simple sacrifice of grateful obedience.

 

Shalom, until next time, Lord willing,

 

Levi

 
32 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Christianity, Faith, Religion

 

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