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(12 min. video)
It’s Not About the Toaster (Sabbath Meditations)
Days of Unleavened Bread. A toaster’s day in the sun. Only during these
days does a normally mundane appliance get thrust center stage in the
relentless endeavor to purge out the leaven from every corner of our
It’s a ritual re-enacted every Spring by those of us who take
seriously the command to keep the annual High Sabbaths, given by our
Lord in the Old Testament and observed by Him, and His Church, in the
New, reminding us of His sacrifice and the covenant relationship we have
entered with Him.
Our toaster is of course not the only item in our
home that gets the attention of our vacuum cleaner. In our valiant
effort to eradicate every vestige of the symbol of sin from our
dwelling, no appliance, no couch cushion, no cupboard is left untouched.
But our toaster, being perhaps the greatest potential carrier of the
sin virus, has typically commanded the top spot. We’ve fretted about it,
inspecting it with the intensity of police dog sniffing for narcotics,
meticulously scouring every last nook and cranny where a wayward crumb
or runaway piece of crust might linger, no matter how minuscule or
incinerated it might be. In short, for a brief period every spring, our
toaster became a rock star.
If our family toaster could speak, it
would probably tell you that the last few years in our house it’s begun
to suffer from an identity crisis. It just hasn’t been treated like the
rock star that it once was. Oh, it’s gotten some attention, but it’s
commanded nowhere near the spotlight it held back in the glory days.
Well, our family simply came to the realization that these days
of Unleavened Bread, for lack of a better way of putting it, are not
about the toaster.
In Colossians 1:26-28 we read, “...the mystery
which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been
revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the
riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ
in you, the hope of glory.”
Above all things this season is to teach
us is that it is His life, living within us, that is the hope we have of
salvation. While Passover reminds us that we are justified by His
blood, Unleavened Bread reminds us that we are saved by His life, the
“Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth” living within us, continually
covering our sin.
There is a reason these are called the Days of
Unleavened Bread rather than the Days of De-leavening. The primary focus
is on the putting in, not the taking out. We take in of Jesus Christ,
the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth, for seven days. In the
Bible the number seven represents completion. The symbol of taking in of
His life, His nature, for seven days pictures the completeness of the
work He is doing in His people.
De-leavening in this context becomes,
then, a symbol, not of my efforts to become sinless, but of my becoming
de-leavened, sinless through the cleansing sacrifice of our Lord. I put
the leaven out, not to symbolize my struggle to overcome sin, but to
symbolize what He has done through His sacrifice for me.
Don’t get me
wrong. I am not among those who believe Christ has done it all so there
is no need to obey. We do need to overcome. We do need to strive to
become like our elder Brother. We do need to struggle against sin. But
the season of our overcoming, of growing up in Him in all things, is
more appropriately pictured after, not before, the Festival of
Pentecost, picturing the giving of the Holy Spirit which helps us in
that process. The period between the Spring and Fall harvests represents
a time of growth. Just as the crops, having been planted in the Spring,
are allowed to grow to maturity and produce their fruit, so you and I
grow to spiritual maturity and produce spiritual fruit prior to the
return of our Master, Jesus Christ.
These Spring Harvest festivals,
Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, are awesome pictures of the
love He has showered on those He has called to be the first fruits of
His harvest. It is right that our focus this season be on Him, not on
ourselves. He gets all the glory.
The truth is that, no matter how
clean I get my toaster, or anything else in my home for that matter, no
matter how determined my effort to make myself spiritually clean, I fall
miserably short of God’s standard. My righteousness before God is as
filthy rags. It’s His life continuing to live in me that makes me
worthy, that allows me to be in relationship with the Father. “We who
were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Jesus.” That's
the awesome lesson of these days.
Yes, my toaster might be feeling a
little more lonely this Spring, but it will just have to get over it.
It’s not as if it’s getting completely ignored, it’s just not the rock
star it once was. That spotlight is shining elsewhere, off of the
toaster, and onto the Master.
A Worthy Passover (Children of God)
are to make a survey of our spiritual lives in order that we might take
Passover in a worthy manner. Do we pat ourselves on the back and give
ourselves a passing grade with flying colors? Are we absolutely certain
that we meet that criteria – in other words, are we as ready and
prepared as we can possibly be? It behooves us to heed the words of
Jesus Christ in Revelation 3 with regard to the state of the brethren at
the very end-time.
“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12).
words of disapproval. That certainly is not the attitude we should have
as we come close to Passover. Let’s be frank with one another. After
years of Christian living sermons explaining how we must let our light
shine, the fruit of our lives is hardly distinguishable from those in
the world. Do we have the eyes to see that over the last few decades,
the Church of God has slipped terribly away from the faith once
delivered to the saints (Jude :3)? As we prepare for Passover, we need
to be thinking about what it would take for us to be pure in God’s eyes.
Paul wrote it so clearly:
“Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink
this cup of the Lord, unworthily [irreverently], shall be guilty of the
body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let
him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and
drinks unworthily [irreverently], eats and drinks damnation to himself,
not discerning the Lord's body.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
only a short time to prepare. The Church of God is not ready to take
Passover in a worthy manner. The seventh doctrine of Jesus Christ is,
“Go on to perfection;” which is what we must be doing (Hebrews 6:1).
Anyone who assumes that they have attained to the perfect measure of the
stature of the fullness of Christ, underestimates the supreme
perfection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13). To what degree of
excellence must the Church brethren attain in order not to take Passover
unworthily? What can we do to ensure that we will take it in a reverent
manner? There is precious little time remaining for us to get ready.
did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet, and why did He tie the footwashing
command to the New Testament Passover? What spiritual lesson should we
draw from the footwashing? When Jesus said, “You also ought to wash one
another's feet,” He was giving us a most important command (John 13:14).
Why must we wash the feet of others? The footwashing means much more
than merely humbling ourselves by washing the feet of others.
example, Jesus was teaching us to serve others just as He has served us.
The footwashing is about learning to serve one another in a spiritual
way. It’s serious. Jesus said that, if we do not learn the lessons,
“thou hast no part with me.” (John 13:8) The footwashing, when performed
in the spirit in which Jesus established it, assures our place in the
Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Kingdom of God and eternal life.
we were once washed at baptism, the footwashing symbolizes our renewed
commitment to walk in the newness of life. Because we are yet sinners,
the yearly footwashing indicates our desire to ‘clean our slate’, so to
speak, in a reaffirmation of our baptismal vow. But, this explains only
having our own feet washed. We must wash the feet of others to learn a
vital lesson (John 13:12-15).
In the same way that we want to be pure
before God, He requires us to help other brethren to be clean before
God in our common spiritual quest. This is where we come short, because
there are many brethren in other organizations that we totally forget
We must think that Jesus taught, “This is my commandment, That ye
love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than
this, that a man lay down his life for [some of] his friends. [while
having nothing to do with those in other groups]” (John 15:12-13)
laid His life down for us, so we must be willing to lay our lives down
for all others. This is a perfect example of the spiritual application
of the footwashing which defines our relationship with God and our
fellow brethren. We need to think of all the brethren, not with
regard to the organization they attend or the man that they follow, but
as a part of the one Body of Christ – with Him as the Head of the
Divided Kingdoms (New Horizons)
of the Gospels record these words of Jesus: ‘if a kingdom is divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided
against itself, that house cannot stand’ (Mark 3:24-25). It’s a
statement borne out by the facts; for we see nations torn apart by civil
war, and we see families ripped asunder by strife.
Sadly it is, too,
a fact of life within the world’s religions. The various Islamic sects
in the past - and even now, today - are at each others’ throats,
sometimes literally. In Christianity denominations arise and over time
divide as internal factions arise. History tells us that the latter has
at times resulted in hot wars between branches of their faith.
a fact of life that this division has infected our Sabbatarian
churches. There have been splits - often amicable. But a few factions
act as attack-dogs regarding the ethical or doctrinal stance of other
groups - even to the extent of branding them as unchristian, and ‘headed
for the Tribulation’. Or, ‘damned to destruction’ and may ‘lose eternal
It is worth recalling the letters Jesus wrote to the seven
individual churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3). Despite their clear
heretical tendencies in some, Jesus still recognizes each of them as his
church, though in need of a clean-up. Critics fail to note that Jesus
is the Head of the Body, and that he alone judges - and, when necessary,
corrects his church. Or removes them.
It is true that the ethos of
any one congregation affects everyone in it - Laodicea is a prime
example. A whole assembly - indeed a whole world-wide denomination - can
depart the ‘faith once for all delivered’ by the apostles.
however, is personal, and individual Christians within a failing
assembly may well remain as humble servants of the Saviour, despite what
comes from the pulpit (Revelation 3:20)! The Father deals with each of
us personally, lovingly (though it might hurt! Hebrews 12:5-8),
shepherding us towards the formation in us the image, the holy
character, of Jesus. After all, He chose us to serve Him throughout
eternity. We are not ‘yellow pencils’!
The New Testament pattern for
organization of the church was that each individual assembly was
autonomous, independent - rather, inter-dependent. They were not tied to
the strings of a denominational label - but simply addressed as ‘the
church of God in [location]’. They worked together, not in competition.
local assemblies welcomed visiting teachers - but carefully weighed
their message. They initiated country-wide evangelistic outreach. They
supported needy brethren in distant assemblies, and emulated their
faith. They saw to the material needs of roaming apostles and
evangelists, and provided prayer support. They shared written
communications from authentic recognized leaders. Above all they were in
tune with the Head through the leading of his Spirit (eg Acts 13:2).
Revelation letters also indicate diversity of doctrine and behaviour
(good and bad!) in individual assemblies. But note that, within each of
those assemblies taken to task by Jesus, there were faithful brethren who
resisted the negative influences.
Unity, then, is not subservience
to a unitary remote and uncaring headquarters. It is a unity of spirit, a
shared desire to work together to further the work of the Gospel of
Christ and the spiritual nourishment of the saints to Christ-like
maturity. A divided kingdom won’t last.
‘Free Speech’ - for Good or Evil? (OzWitness)
Australian Prime Minister, in a speech on National Security, warned that the counter terrorism challenge
evident in Australia and across Europe and in the USA is a terrible fact
of life which faces all our governments. Essentially, he said that in
the need to counter violent extremism we had, in the past, given
terrorists the benefit of the doubt, let them take advantage of our
hospitality and generosity, let bad people use our good nature against
us, and they have taken us for mugs. He continued, that organisations
that spread discord and division and those that vilify, intimidate or
incite hatred or violence against innocents, will no longer be
It is good to hear such a stand against evil, but therein
lies a problem. Today we have lost sight of the difference between good
Isaiah 5:20, ‘How terrible it will be for those who call
evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for
darkness, who substitute what is bitter for what is sweet and what is
sweet for what is bitter!”
Consequently, there is a danger that those
who speak out the truth about evil, could find themselves accused of
vilifying or inciting hatred, unless the laws are framed to protect
those whose plain speaking actually seeks only peace, and the removal of
those who seek to take advantage of our freedoms to attack our way of
It is an undeniable fact, for example, that Islam is a big
source of trouble worldwide. It is found behind almost all terrorism.
Muslims apparently cannot live peacefully side by side with others of
differing religions without strife, unlike any of the other religions.
Islam leads to oppression or strife wherever it is found, which is why
Muslims flee to non-Muslim lands. Almost all terrorist organisations
worldwide are Islamic.
Could a crackdown on vilification prevent this
truth being stated? Muslims could say it inspires hatred to speak this
truth, but the truth should be admitted even if it is not politically
Zechariah 8:16, ‘These are the things you are to do: Speak
the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your
The truth is that Muslim extremists have taken advantage of
the West’s ‘free speech’ to incite hatred and violence within our lands,
because we have forgotten to apply the guidance of God’s laws when we
frame the laws of our lands regarding what is permissible in speech.
4:31, ‘Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil
speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.’
If we would do that
and allow for the truth when we frame the new laws that the Australian
Prime Minister has mooted, the condemnation of Islam’s encouragement to
violence against non-Muslims could not be claimed to be vilification
because it is both true and without malice to those who seek only peace.
“Go Ye Therefore Into All the World”
(Lacee Hilgen, Volunteer Instructor Legacy Institute)
know this scripture was directed specifically to the apostles, and Jesus
Christ wanted them to be the ones to preach His truth. But what does it
mean to those who aren’t ministers? What does it mean to children and
young adults? What does it mean to women who don’t have a speaking or
ministerial role in the church? Does that mean that we can’t go and
preach the gospel? How can we preach without preaching? I have been
asking myself these questions for a while.
Jesus tells the apostles
to GO OUT. He doesn’t tell them to hang out where the truth was already
stable and flourishing. There were already churches that were able to
function on their own because of Christ and the apostles preaching.
Their job was done and they then left those congregations in the hands
of faithful and devout men. He told them to leave the foundation that
they had built together and go find somewhere new. He told them to go
and find new people to preach to and to share God’s plan to other
willing hearts and ears.
I look at a map and see just how huge this
world is. I see how many places that the gospel could potentially be
preached to. I know it is all up to God. The men and women who dedicate
their lives to live in a different country (or preach in another country
and travel tons) in order to build up a strong, faithful and unified
congregation are now one of my greatest respects. They have been chosen
by God to uproot their stable and comfy lives in order to create a
stable and comfy church for brethren that couldn’t possibly have it
without help from a more blessed nation. Those that accept the challenge
are my heroes!
I am a 25 year old lady-girl (saying lady is weird
and saying girl is weird because I am technically an adult… and woman
makes me sound extra adult) with little travel experience. I have
traveled all over America and into Canada and Mexico a few times, so
when I felt God pushing me to come to Thailand, I resisted at first. I
actually resisted for a whole year. It was a very scary thought, but
thankfully I accepted the challenge and here I sit in Mae Sa, Thailand… a
small and peaceful village 20 minutes outside the hustle and bustle of
Chiang Mai. At this moment I am witnessing God’s endless miracles,
blessings, compassion and His holy spirit working in amazing ways.
Legacy continues to get money from donors from other countries and we
all are very pleased and ridiculously thankful. Without those donations,
Legacy wouldn’t exist anymore. Legacy couldn’t have a school, couldn’t
feed the students, couldn’t house the students and most importantly, the
church in Burma would lack leaders who will one day be leaders in that
church. My point here isn’t to advertise the fact that Legacy needs to
continue to have donations; it’s the fact that what I see is a church
that is truly working! God is calling people! They LOVE God’s word and
they thrive on it. They want more and more. They constantly want to
learn. God’s congregation in Burma (which I get to visit in April for
the Holy Days, God willing) has 25 families. Families have children,
lots of children! Will those children have a future? Will they know
God’s truth and live a life for Him? Will they live lives free from the
war and upheaval that exists in Burma? It’s crucial that our small
congregations all over the world remain intact. It’s our job and our
responsibility. It’s important that they are well sustained and cared
for. It’s important that each congregation has well trained leaders, who
love God first and their brethren second. It takes time to train
leaders to be in charge of a church community, and that’s what Legacy is
If we aren’t trained ministers, how can we “Go therefore
into ALL the world?” I have a few ideas. We can donate to these small
churches that need our help to build a church, a house, to have clean
water and food daily. We can sponsor a young adult to go and serve in
countries who need our help, encouragement, resources and EXAMPLE. Go
visit during the Feast of Tabernacles and Days of Unleavened Bread.
(Your life will change) If you are on vacation or a business trip in a
foreign country, go and stop in on the Sabbath. I think the most
important job that we all have is to PRAY. Pray that all the places that
God is seeking out and calling people that He will call on special
people to take on that job and duty to be there for that church
community. Pray that these people will answer that calling and they are
willing to give up their life for serving God and His people. Times are
changing everywhere on the globe. Life is getting harder and the world
is getting more evil and God has many people on this earth with eager
ears to hear His word. Those of us that are blessed to know God’s truth
already… well we should try to listen to what God wants us to do for Him
through our lives in order to help others join us as FIRST fruits in
Throwing It All Away (First Century Christianity)
saw Franklin Graham on the TV the other day defending Christmas, and a
break up song from the late 1980s came to mind. The song is ‘Throwing It
All Away’ by Genesis. It’s not religious at all, but the chorus of that
song has been resonating in my head lately as more and more formerly
Protestant ministers show up on TV returning to their Catholic roots.
are now in the season for Chanukah, which is a season of revival. The
Jews had been occupied and oppressed for so long that many of them
turned into Greeks. Many did things to hide or reverse their
circumcision, so they could wrestle nude in public arenas called
gymnasiums. They had fallen away incredibly far.
One Levite named
Mattathias witnessed the defilement of the altar and snapped. He killed
the man who defiled the altar and then had to flee to the hills, which
started a revolution that allowed Judea to ultimately become autonomous
and peaceful again, with a fully restored and cleansed temple. This
reformation lasted until the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
of the Christian Reformation in the 16th century, where hundreds of
thousands threw off the pagan traditions and oppression of the Roman
Catholic Church, held until, well, now. We are living in a period I like
to call ‘Post Protestant America’. While the reformers did not return
to Torah, they did return to fundamental truths and a great many shed
Christmas and Easter, paying for it with their very lives. The leaders
who trace their faith today to the reformation, what is now called
‘Evangelical’ rather than ‘Protestant’, are throwing it all away.
Warren, a fabulously popular Baptist preacher (Baptists, from the
Anabaptists, some of the most strident Protestants in history), is
actually evangelizing for the Catholic Church.
Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, and Robert Jeffress, also
Baptist preachers with large followings, frequently defend Christmas on
the Fox News Channel, even though they know both that Yeshua was not
born in winter and the true pagan history of Christmas. Kirk Cameron has
even made a movie defending Christmas, while publicly stating that
Christmas is in opposition to the Bible and pagan in nature.
Seventh Day Adventists, the largest Sabbath observing group on earth at
over 18 million members (there are only 13.5 million Jews on earth), is
throwing it all away with widespread observance of Christmas
(unthinkable just twenty years ago) and now entertaining the ordination of women as well.
This is particularly bizarre because the Seventh Day Adventist Church
views Ellen G. White as a prophet and she refused ordination on the
basis that ordaining women is not supported by scripture.
Day Adventist church is a strident observer of the 4th commandment and
they have been blessed with private schools and hospitals on at least
three continents because of their obedience. The Baptists have also been
rewarded lavishly for their faith with enormous congregations,
hospitals, and the ability to do good works on the order of rebuilding
entire countries. The successes these and many other groups have today
are because of the strident faith of their predecessors displayed
through works. Why are the leaders of these organizations so willing to
throw it all away? It is a shame. It has been prophesied, so it must happen, but it is so difficult to watch.
realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men
will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers,
disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable,
malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers
of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its
power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into
households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by
various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the
knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7
This falling away is made
even more bizarre because the motivation simply cannot be about wealth.
The Baptist preachers named above are but a handful of Post-Protestant
ministers who have made enormous amounts of money giving sermons. The
Seventh Day Adventist church is simply going to disintegrate, or at
least split and become smaller if it continues down a similar path as
the Sunday keepers, because it is composed of conservative people.
seems to be no good reason why the spiritual leaders are so cavalierly
willing to ‘throw it all away’. But let us take solace that there is
coming a time, quicker and quicker by the day, were every tongue will
confess and every knee will bow to the One True God and His Son.
Time to Stop Praying? (Morning Companion)
One time God told Moses to stop praying. If we accept that prayer is a good thing, why would God tell someone to cut it out?
“Why are you crying out to me?” (Exodus 14:15). Given the circumstances, I would think the question should be, “Why not?”
the story. Moses had just led Israel out of Egypt. Through his hand God
had turned the Nile into blood, brought many plagues on the Egyptians,
and with boldness he had led the nation to freedom. Now, shortly after
this triumphant march from slavery, Pharaoh has a change of heart and
decides to chase down the fleeing masses with his infantry and chariots
in order to drive them back to their former state.
Why shouldn’t Moses cry out to God? Why would God object?
this is a lesson about prayer. The newly freed Israelites had already
cried out to God (verse 10), after which Moses tells them to do
something: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (verse 13).
There are indeed times when all we can do is stand still and wait. As
the old saying goes, “Let go, and let God.” But in spite of appearances
this was apparently not one of those times.
Thus God says to Moses,
“Why do you cry out to me?” And then he says, “Tell the children of
Israel to go forward” (verse 15). It is time to get off your knees and
into your hiking boots. Tell the people the time for standing still is
over. Now is the time to do something about your situation.
make two grave mistakes regarding prayer. One is to think that we can
get along just fine without God’s help. If we just work hard enough,
sweat hard enough, and think clearly enough, we can make all the right
things happen. I can put on my boots and fight my own way through the
Or we can make the other mistake. There is something to
be said for waiting on God, “standing still”, shall we say. It’s true
that in some circumstances God’s strength is revealed through our
weaknesses. But simply sitting in our pajamas while waiting for God can
be just as bad as thinking we can do it all on our own. Most of the time
God expects us to be actively involved in carrying out his will. “Why
do you cry out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”
God could not have led them through the Red Sea had they had just stood still and waited.