You seek the impossible!

Be encouraged; seek unity; love one another; These three statements are becoming increasingly difficult to live. Yet, throughout the New Testament we are told to live this way. How are we to be encouraged when looking at the direction of this world, unless one chooses to live in ignorance? How is one to seek unity when every issue is so divisive? How are we to love one another in such a fractured world? i don’t pretend to know all the answers but let me at least point us in a direction to explore.

Be encouraged. There’s a war, rumors of wars, violence of every kind, inflation at never before seen levels, pandemics, a food shortage brewing, and the list could continue. So how exactly is one to “be encouraged?” Here are a few verses to ponder. John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 “For Elohim did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Adonai Yahshua ha’Mashiah, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort (encourage) each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” Here is one that i find personally encouraging, Luke 21:28 “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Seek unity. We are being divided by, race, gender identity, social economic classes, political affiliation, vaccine status, pro this or anti that, and the absolute vitriol that comes from certain sides is frightening as it is full of unseen hypocrisy by those spewing it. Yet, let us consider these words. Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Is this calling us to compromise? Not at all! Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Elohim’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Later in this passage it says; “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18). This brings us to . . .

Love one another. How do you love someone who seemingly hates you? How do you show love to one who uses you or is evil? The Romans passage continues (12:19-21) “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of Elohim, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says YWHW. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Colossians 3:12-14 puts it this way; “Therefore, as chosen ones of Elohim, holy and beloved, put on compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another, indeed as Messiah forgave you so also should you forgive.”

There is one point i feel needs to be made. When talking about unity, or love, or encouraging one another, in the context of the Church it is done to and for the unity of the Body of Believers. It is through our love for fellow believers of the WAY, that we achieve unity in the Body of Messiah and are able to truly encourage one another. It is in this genuine fellowship that those that are not of the WAY see us as a light on a hill, set apart, different. And in that we hope for the opportunity to share the Gospel of our Messiah Yahshua. Yes, we love everyone. Yes, we encourage, and yes we seek to live in unity with all, however, not at the expense of our commitment to holiness found in Yahshua ha’Mashiah.

Therefore, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25

You are loved,

cj

Flee from idolatry

And YWHW spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the poeple of Israel and say to them, I am YWHW your Elohim. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow My rules and keep My statutes and walk in them. I am YWHW your Elohim. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My rules, if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am YWHW.’” Leviticus 18:1-5

These are the laws and the statutes that you shall be careful to do in the land that YWHW Elohim of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship YWHW your Elohim in that way. But you shall seek the place that YWHW your Elohim will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there.” Deuteronomy 12:1-5

Have we as a church allowed the influences of the world to creep in on the things of YWHW our Elohim? Have we, as Israel, forgotten that our Elohim is jealous for us? i fear that as we embrace the traditions of man over the appointed Feasts of our Adonai, we are in a way doing as Israel did time and time again. We don’t possess the land, so i am not calling for violence or to take the measures outlined in the verses above. However, in a spiritual sense, i am saying, that we need to purge these things from our life as to not blend man’s tradition with Elohim’s statutes or His Feasts.

YWHW our Elohim is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As He revealed Himself through Yahshua, He didn’t somehow condone idolatry. He didn’t say, it was now okay to worship anyway we see fit. What He did do is affirm our need for a Saviour and dependance on the Holy Spirit in our lives. We cannot serve two masters. We are still to flee idolatry. We should be growing closer to YWHW our Elohim through Yahshua by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and forming our worship of Him through His instruction. How we worship matters, it has always mattered, and it will matter when we see Him, shouldn’t we then focus our attention on the ways He has outlined for us?

You are loved,

cj

For love’s sake i appeal to you

Now, therefore, fear YWHW, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt. Serve YWHW! And if it seems evil to you to serve YWHW, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve YWHW.” Joshua 24:14-15

This is my yearly appeal to you out of love, walk away from Easter and all of its pagan roots. We know it to be true that Yahshua fulfilled the Passover. John the Baptist declared on the river’s edge, “Behold, the Lamb of Elohim, who takes away the sin of the world!” Yahshua is the final Passover Lamb, we should be honoring that and not the combination of a pagan festival mixed with the richness of the Feast of Elohim that tears the vale and covers us in righteousness, cleansing us from our sin.

In Emperor Constantine’s letter to “all those not present at the council,” following the Council of Nicea wrote how it would be better to separate from Jewish custom. He called out the Jews for killing Yahshua and in many instances called for anti-Semitism. For instance, he wrote, “We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews.” He goes on to say, “They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two Passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the Passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired[to establish] only one Catholic Church.”

The question of whether or not Constantine truly converted to Christianity or not has been debated for centuries. However, we do know for a fact that rather than adhere strictly to Christian tradition and belief; for the sake of the unity of the empire, he combined the festal days of paganism and Christianity. His disdain for the Jews as represented in his letter, and his lack of judgment in establishing a new religion where we see the combination of paganism and Christianity should certainly call into question our adherence to these traditions.

When Adonai your Elohim cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? —that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship Adonai your Elohim in that way, for every abominable thing that Adonai hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I caommand you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32

i want to make a clarification here about Constantine’s reference to two Passover’s, clearly he was unaware and sadly none of the scholars of his day enlightened him. In Numbers 9 we read of some men who were cerimonially unclean and therefore unable to bring the sacrifice of Passover. They inquired of Moses and Aaron on what to do. YWHW told Moses to give this instruction: Numbers 9:10-11 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, if any one of you or of your descendants is unclean through tourching a dead body, or is on a long journey, he shall still keep the Passover to YWHW. In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight they shall keep it. . .”

Concerning the idea that Passover or any of the Feast of Adonai are strictly Jewish, i present Leviticus 23:1-2 “Adonai spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, these are the appointed feasts of Adonai that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are MY appointed feasts.” Clearly they are HIS feasts, much like the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

Finally, let me close with this, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yahshua. And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:23) Passover this year begins at Sundown on Friday April 15, in line with Good Friday services, however, the tomb would not be discovered empty until Tuesday morning fulfilling the three days and three nights. Often Easter and Passover do not line up and occasionally are off by a months time. Although this year is very close in timing i will refuse to attend any church that is honoring Easter, hosting an egg hunt, or in any way mixing pagan tradition with this most Holy of Feasts, Passover.

You are loved,

cj

And God * said, ​”because you are free,​ it is ok to do as the pagans do!” (*never)

And God * said, ​”because you are free,​ it is ok to do as the pagans do!” (*never)

This is me wading into the muck of a cultural tradition steeped in paganism. The question, should Christians celebrate Halloween? The answer, first, let me ask you a question. If Jesus were alive today, would He attend a pagan festival, dressed as a zombie? No, given the many times in Scripture, we are told not to do as the pagans. Would He attend the festival to preach to the attendees? Unlikely, perhaps He would stand outside of it preaching? Maybe. We don’t know because there isn’t a pagan festival written in the New Testament, so what we have is Jesus’ words regarding worship and the Old Testament. So when in doubt, search the Scriptures and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Let me tackle the idea that we are not to put on others our own convictions, which, i hear often. The verse most widely used is found in Galatians 5:1 — “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Another prominent verse is 1 Corinthians 6:12 — “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.‘” We could also look at Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 here, but we will touch on those in a bit. Our freedom gives us, well, freedom. But, not license to sin by committing idolatry. i have been reading and studying Halloween for some time now, and these are the things that i have learned.

  1. It dates back to a Celtic festival known as Samhain. In which the Celts believed that a portal between worlds, life, and death, was opened. They would dress up in costume to ward off evil spirits.
  2. The Celts date back to 1800 B.C. However, The existence of the Celts was first documented in the seventh or eighth century B.C. The Roman Empire, which ruled much of southern Europe at that time, referred to the Celts as “Galli,” meaning barbarians.
  3. In the early Church, roughly the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween.
  4. It was believed that if the church incorporated some of these traditions, it would make it easier for pagans to convert to Christianity.

There is so much more i could write regarding the traditions and origins of those traditions but suffice it to say all of them are pagan. Therefore, they should be avoided. Look at this passage in Deuteronomy 6:13-15 we read:

“It is the Lord your God, you shall fear. Him you shall serve, and by His name, you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you, for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God, lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23, we have Paul instructing the Thessalonians to avoid evil.

“but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely . . .”

Two things here stand out. First, abstain from EVERY form of EVIL. Would you say that Halloween in its former and present state is filled with evil? i know i sure do! Second, “sanctify you,” sanctify means to set apart from. As Christians, we are to be different than the world not blend in so well that no can tell the difference. Let me share a few more verses just to add some perspective for our thought.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11

“He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3

We could discuss here the eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols, but i will just add this . . . The intent here is to not be a stumbling block to others by our understanding.  So let me pose the question, are you confident in your celebration of a clearly pagan festival isn’t laying a stumbling block for your neighbor? That is the test! Let me end this with a passage from Ezekiel and really, the reason i am writing was inspired here.

“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 3:18-19

Can you warn someone of wickedness, evil, and idolatry, and still keep the same festival you are warning them about? No, you cannot. So, therefore, in my humble opinion we as Christians should not partake of the pagan festival known as Halloween regardless of its human tradition. Let me add, this was a natural conclusion, but a difficult decision. Why? Because i love tradition and i grew up on Halloween. i even helped my sister put on a haunted trail for a park she worked for not many years ago. However, my conviction over this grows more and more every day as i see the day of the Lords return getting ever closer. We must wake up and proclaim the truth!

You are loved,

cj