Today is Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement in God’s Biblical calendar. Starting at sundown Sunday 9/24 and continuing for 25 hours through sundown on Monday 9/25/23.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered .” —Psalm 32:1 ESV
Even more blessed are those whose sins are totally washed away by the blood of Jesus!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. –1 John 1:9 ESV
For Christians it is a great day to repent and ask for forgiveness. Ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything you need to receive forgiveness for and to show you anyone you need to forgive:
…and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. –Luke 11:4 NLT
During Bible times, all Israel refrained from work on this day, fasted, and offered themselves before the Lord for forgiveness. (See: Leviticus 23:26-32)
Today, Jews world-wide observe Yom Kippur for a 25-hour period, beginning at sundown. It is considered the Shabbat of all Shabbat therefore work is prohibited. Five additional prohibitions are included in the observance: 1) no eating or drinking; 2) no bathing; 3) no anointing the body with oil; 4) no wearing of leather shoes; and 5) no sexual relations.
Many Jewish folks attend a service on this day—at the end of the observance a shofar is blown and all sins for the previous year are considered covered.
A New Year began today- 5784. The Biblical New Year–Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Friday 9/15/23 and the celebration will continue until sundown on Sunday 9/17. It ushers in the high holy days of the Jewish calendar. You ask, what significance does this have for Christians? The Jewish calendar is Biblical and God instituted it in the first place and still seems to honor it in many ways.
The Biblical name for Rosh Hashanah is ‘Yom Ha-Zakkaron’ meaning: “The Day of Remembrance.” It is the beginning of 10 days of Awe in the Biblical (Jewish) calendar when the people of God are suppose to look at their lives and inspect the way that they lived during the just completed Biblical year. The 10 days end with Yom Kippur. In 2023, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Sunday September 24th and ends the following evening on Monday September 25th.
On ‘Yom Kippur’-also called “The Day of Atonement” -Jewish folk traditionally repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and look forward to making changes for the better in the new year.
Many Christians find that the Holy Spirit seems to call them to look at their lives and make changes during this time of year. Especially those in ministry. Most of us have thought that it is because of the change of seasons with the kids going back to school, and the changes that fall brings to church activities and ministries.
Changes in ministry for me always seem to take place in the Fall. I use to think that it had to do with my birthday coming in October. Lately, I have come to realize that the Lord always seems to call me to make changes during this time of year, and that it is really connected with the Biblical New Year. A number of major modern prophets have commented that during this time, they believe that ministries ‘pass under the rod’ (Ezekiel 20: 37-38) and are evaluated. If you are involved in ministry, it is a good time to get on your knees and listen to what the Holy Spirit says about you and the coming new Biblical year.
While everyday of the year is a good time for Christians to look at their lives, repent, and make changes. The Biblical New Year is an especially good season for it.
The following is our traditional message for the 4th of July:
Flags are flying, parades are moving, drinks are flowing, and politicians are speaking today in America.
Over 240 years ago a document was confirmed by representatives of 13 colonies proclaiming their freedom, a freedom that was considered to bederived from God:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Much has been made of the variety of beliefs held by the founders of this country but their words and convictions remain not only on paper but also in the hearts of the people.
Declaration of Independence: The Emphasis Upon God
When it comes to the Declaration of Independence, the words- “by their Creator” were a major part of the message, the subject, and the emphasis.
Many secularists and atheists today want to de-emphasize the role of faith in the founding of this country to the point that many are attempting to actually rewrite history itself. For them, God could have easily been left out of the document with little or no effect.
But in the context of 1776, those words were the whole linchpin of the document and appealed to God as the ultimate authority and source for the rights of the Americans to rebel against the King of England.
In the context of the 18th century the Europeans believed that their Kings reigned and ruled ‘by Divine right’ under the authority of God and were His direct representatives. In fact, the King of England was also the head of the church and was supposed to defend the Christian faith against heresy and all enemies. In that cultural context, to rebel against the King was tantamount to rebelling against God the Creator himself.
In the Declaration the founders made it clear that they were not rebelling against God but that the Creator was actually the ultimate authority they were appealing to saying that their ‘rights’ were derived directly from the Creator and not given to them by the King of England or some parchment or Parliament.
It was a radical document at the time and changed the whole course of human history and ‘the Creator’ was part and parcel of the Declaration of Independence and the ultimate authority appealed to in the whole process.
All of a sudden I was undone and tears were flowing down my cheeks. Yes, I was responsible for his death. All of a sudden I could see that in a way I never understood it before.
I had begun the morning in my easy chair with a tall cup of strong coffee enjoying my latest sci-fi read when unexpectedly there was a reference to Jesus and how humanity had killed him because he didn’t meet our ‘religious expectations’:
“…so we killed him.”
Intellectually I knew it was true. After all, I majored in theology in seminary. But this was different and personal, the Holy Spirit had just knocked me down and I was on my knees. I was just as responsible for the death of Jesus as the ones who nailed him to the cross or the crowd who shouted- “Crucify him!.” What a surprise and I couldn’t stop crying.
Fact is, everyone who has ever sinned is ultimately responsible for his death but I always self-righteously held special contempt for those religious leaders who planned it. But he did personally die for my sins and now I could no longer deny the implication. In a moment I could see my own part in his death.
But the story doesn’t end there does it! Jesus rose from the dead and everyone who believes on his name will also.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…John 11:25-26 -ESV
Once I was asked on my Bible Answers website: “Why do you Christians keep celebrating Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus- something that happened 2,000 years ago and seems rather impossible?”
My Answer: Because Jesus Christ is still alive today and still appearing to folks and changing lives.
In fact, there has never been a generation in 2,000 years when Jesus hasn’t appeared to somebody. Church history records a number of those appearances.
Lately, I have read the testimonies of a number of Muslims who converted to Christianity after Jesus showed up in their bedrooms. I also personally know a number of folks, even in my own family, who have seen the Lord and I have heard of many others.
Finally, I myself must testify that I have seen my Lord and talked to Him. Therefore for me this goes beyond faith or even strong conviction-
May You and your family have a wonderful Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus should give us all hope in the midst of this pandemic. God is still in control and the Coronavirus will be conquered and the Devil will lose again.
Happy Resurrection Day!
When the women went to the tomb on Easter morning the rock was rolled away and the tomb was empty. Not only that but an angel met them there and said:
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where he lay.”
…And behold Jesus met them and said, “Greetings! Do not be afraid…” –Matt.28:5-10
Another good scripture to remember–this is what Jesus told Martha before he raised her brother Lazarus from the grave:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? –John 11:25-26
The good question for each one of us today—Do you believe this?
The whole tape is great but the best part is toward the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he was attending.
Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.
The following is just a taste of what the climax is like in the 45 minute tape/sermon. it doesn’t really do justice to the original but this printed abbreviated version is inspirational none the less:
It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming—
It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this:
It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.
It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.
And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.
Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb.
Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.
It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave.
It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Usually this is a day of parades, green beer, and rowdy drunken debauchery all done in the name of a historical character that was God’s apostle to Ireland—forget ‘Saint’ this guy functioned as an apostle and a power evangelist with signs and wonders.
The Real Story of St. Patrick
There is all sorts of stories about Patrick that today they call ‘myths’. I believe that a lot of the myths were probably based upon true events that seem far too supernatural for secular folks to accept today.
But who was this St. Patrick anyway? A man born into a Roman Christian family in Wales around 385 AD with the given name of Macwyn Succat. At age 16 he was taken from his home and enslaved by Irish Celtic raiders. He tended sheep for his new masters for 6 years and became closer to God in the process. The ‘voice of God’ directed his escape and later commissioned him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He went to seminary and became a Priest in preparation and later a Bishop.
He is recognized by all major Christian churches–Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican since he ministered before the church was divided into all the different denominations we have today. So Protestants have just as great a claim on him as Catholics. And those of us who have Welsh blood running through our veins have as much right to claim St. Patrick as any Irishman.
It is said in documents from that period that he “baptized thousands of people,” and ordained hundreds of priests to lead new Christian communities and villages. He also converted the sons of Kings and chieftains leading to the conversion of an entire pagan nation to Christ.
It is said that he was also a healer and that he prayed for hedges of spiritual protection surrounding Christian homes, churches, and whole villages. Legend has it that snakes were banished from the island in the process, though scientists today doubt there was ever any on the island. Nevertheless, Druid priests were forced leave and demons and evil principalities were cast out and challenged by St. Patrick.
Here’s an example of the spiritual condition of church that St. Patrick left behind—part of a prayer attributed to him but probably recorded a couple of generations later:
From “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ below me, Christ above me, Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye which sees me, Christ in every ear which hears me.
We could use this kind of spiritual maturity. What a great declaration to live by–a good example for those seeking a Kingdom culture and economy.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. The following is our traditional Thanksgiving message:
Thanksgiving is an uniquely American celebration that began nearly four centuries ago with a deeply religious people, the Pilgrims, giving thanks to God for preserving them though a very hard year and bringing them their first bountiful harvest which they gratefully shared with their indigenous neighbors.
It was our first President George Washington who proclaimed that our first official national day of public thanksgiving should be dedicated by observing and:
“…by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.“
In recent years the ‘politically correct’/secular crowd has rewritten the history of the First Thanksgiving placing an emphasis upon the hand that the indigenous American Indians played in helping the original Pilgrim community to survive. In the process they have redirected the emphasis on thanks towards neighbors and friends and away from the providence of Almighty God.
While it is always good to be thankful for others who have enriched our own lives and certainly that has a good part to play in the celebration. Nevertheless the major emphasis of Thanksgiving should always be upon giving thanks to God along with our family and friends as it was on that very first occasion.
For my family and I, we will be praising and thanking the Lord God Almighty for the bounties and the providence that he has bestowed upon us this year in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. May Our Heavenly Father bless your family today and continue to bless all of us and this nation during this holiday season and in the year to come.
With the new year, many want to improve their lives in 2021. One of the best ways to do that is to read the Bible daily in the new year.
Several polls taken during the last few years have unfortunately demonstrated that American Christians are somewhat illiterate when it comes to the Bible and particularly Biblical teachings. One good way to reverse the trend is to set aside time to read the good book everyday. An excellent idea is to read through the whole Bible or at least the New Testament during 2021. There are a number of good programs to help you in the process.
One of the easiest ways to get it done is to get a ‘One Year Bible’ where the whole year is divided up into daily readings usually with a selection from the New Testament, the Old Testament, and from Psalms. You can even get it in your favorite version at the book store or download an ebook version on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
If you find that reading all of it in one year is maybe too much, then you could read just the New Testament and Psalm offerings for each day and then maybe save the Old Testament or the following year (or visa versa).