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Hanukkah Verses Christmas

Mosaic of Maccabee Revolt: Faithful Jews cleanse the temple of pagan defilement and restore the worship of the one true God.

Mosaic of Maccabee Revolt: Faithful Jews cleanse the temple of pagan defilement and restore the worship of the one true God.

More and more born-again believers in Jesus Christ [Messiah] are now celebrating Hanukkah each year instead of Christmas. They have discarded the pagan practice of observing “Christ-Mass” and begun to observe Hanukkah instead in a New Testament context. For more information on the fallacy of Christmas observance, read our article: “Was Jesus really born on December 25th.”?

Hanukkah’s historical origin.

The Hanukkah holiday we celebrate this week originally commemorated the defilement of the Jewish temple in 167 B.C. by the Roman ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he attacked Jerusalem, purposely sacrificed a pig (and other abominable creatures to the Jews) on the temple altar, and forced everyone to worship Zeus, his pagan god.

A small number of faithful and heroic Jews, known as the Maccabees, fought back and regained control of their temple from the Roman invasion. Immediately they cleansed the temple and restored the worship of the one true God, Yahovah.

The miracle associated with Hanukkah occurred when the Jewish priests only had enough oil for the Candelabrum to give them one day of light. But they prayed in faith, and God miraculously made the oil last for eight days until more oil could be produced. Thus, the significance of the eight days of Hanukkah where one new candle is lit everyday. The ninth candle is called the “Shammash” (Hebrew: Servant), used to light all the other candles.

New Testament meaning of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah should remind us that our bodies should be cleansed daily of any spiritual defilement because we are the personal dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Let us live in such a way as to honor and please God with our bodies. When you commit sin, you must confess it quickly and ask God to forgive you and cleanse you once again from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

– Luis Josephus

RealJesus Logo+75x75REAL JESUS MINISTRIES
www.RealJesus.net
RealJesusMinistries@gmail.com

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Entering Into God’s Rest

Luis JosephusThe Testimony of Evangelist Luis Josephus

Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29

What does it mean to “enter into God’s rest”? It means to lay all your burdens of sin and guilt upon Jesus. The day you accept Him as Savior and Lord, He takes away that heavy weight you carried on your shoulders most of your life. He gives you peace and rest for your souls as you allow Him to teach you and guide you in the way of happiness and fruitfulness God has purposed for you.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews also states, “For he that is entered into his (God’s) rest, has also ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10). Just as God rested on the seventh day – after laboring for six days when He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:3), He also wants us to cease from our own works and stop striving to earn our salvation, or be good enough to earn God’s favor. Jesus already paid the price for our salvation when He took our place on the cross. The penalty of sin was paid for, and we are now free to rest in Him. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8,9) and there is nothing left for us to do except trust and obey God’s plan and perfect will for our lives.

This Salvation-Rest was a free gift from God through His Son Jesus Christ. We didn’t earn it for being good, nor can we lose it for messing up and missing the mark. We just need to hold on to the unchanging, loving hand of Jesus by faith, and He will accomplish the work He needs to do in us. His Spirit now indwells our earthly bodies and He has taken a firm hold of our mind and our will, so that we may do what is well-pleasing in God’s sight. When we sin again, He convicts us to confess and get back on the right track. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross forgives us once again and cleanses us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

God has blessed us with an earthly rest – as well as an eternal rest.

The day we received Jesus’ forgiveness and salvation, we entered into His earthly rest.  We no longer have to live in condemnation, anxiety, insecurity or fear of God’s judgment. We are now His beloved children that He blesses and cares for. In the future, as we die in the Lord, we enter into His perfect rest in heaven where we will enjoy unending peace, joy, delight, love and fellowship with God and other sanctified ones who were also redeemed.

My Conversion Testimony – How I found my rest in God.

Because of an abusive father and dysfunctional family life, I lived most of my early life enslaved to my fleshly passions, living in fear, insecurity and self-condemnation. For many years I didn’t know what real love and acceptance was until I met the “real Jesus” – not the angry and intolerant Jesus falsely portrayed by some religions. I felt unworthy, insecure and guilty all the time fearing something bad was going to happen to me. I also feared that God was ready to strike me down at any minute for all my rebelliousness and wrongdoing. I didn’t know the true loving, merciful and patient God of the Bible (John 3:16)

Although I was generally taught right and wrong by my parents, they themselves were not good role models of what they preached. My father was an angry atheist who hated any mention of God. He once set out to write a book to discredit the Bible but never finished it. He believed in UFO’s and that we were the offspring of aliens from another universe. Fortunately, just before my father died of cancer, he repented and prayed the Sinners Prayer. My mother, on the other hand was very spiritual but a troubled and insecure woman. My father was very abusive and controlling towards her; she rebelled and resented his abuse and they fought like cats and dogs most of the time. There was no peace or stability in our home. I was very rebellious myself, had an explosive temper, and was always getting into trouble. I didn’t do well in school. I was a loner and secretive and never had many friends. I was very critical of others (a trait I inherited from dad) and difficult to get along with.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic religion.

I would repent and confess my sins to the priest on Saturday so I could take Holy Communion on Sunday at church. But as soon as Monday would come along, I was back to my evil ways.  It became a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing, sinning and confessing. I stuck it out as long as I did out of obligation to my mother who had dedicated me to God while I was still in her womb during pregnancy. Finally in my teenage years I had had enough of the futility of Roman Catholicism; it wasn’t doing me any good, just making me feel guiltier. “There must be something better than this,” I reasoned, “I’ll find spirituality some other place.” So I started to look into other religions. I discovered that they all claimed to be able to show me the way to God without feeling guilty about my sins. I could keep on living a sinful lifestyle and still have spirituality. I tried Spiritism, Metaphysics, New Age Philosophies, and finally Hinduism.

Luis Josephus_before salvationAt the time, I was living a hippie life on Miami Beach practicing free sex, drugs, and all manner of immorality.

I was approached by several people who belonged to a Guru worshipping cult. They talked to me about spirituality and joining their group. They promised me that I would be able to find God and experience a “natural high” by learning to meditate. I noticed some of the women were pretty nice looking in this cult so I decided to attend their nightly meetings hoping to be able to get hooked up with them. They called these meetings  “Satsangs” (Sanskrit for “gathering for truth”). These Satsang meetings were held at a different members house each night on South Beach. Everyone would come in quietly, prostrate themselves before a large photo of the guru, and then sit down on the floor cross-legged anywhere there was room. One by one, each person would voluntarily take turns going up to the front and to testify of how much they loved the Hindu guru and what “incredible bliss” and miracles he had blessed them with when they prayed to him. I have to admit, there was a very powerful spiritual presence in those meetings. You would get so supernaturally high you felt you were floating on air when you finally left there. I realize now this strong spiritual presence was demonic and not from God. Remember that Satan has supernatural power too. He can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and counterfeit the power and anointing of God in order to deceive people (Revelation 13:14).

Well, I certainly fell for Satan’s deception – hook, line and sinker.

I joined the group of “Premies” (followers) of this guru-worshipping cult. I became a vegetarian and was initiated into a their secret rite of receiving “Knowledge” – a special meditation technique for experiencing divine “light”, “music” and “nectar.” Each day I would spend a couple of hours in the cross-legged lotus position experiencing (supposedly) divine bliss. I stayed in this cult for a number of years until God started to send Christians into my life to witness to me. Earlier, my mother had been saved in a Spanish Baptist church. My father’s cousin, Mariita, had been witnessing to mom and inviting her to come to her Baptist church. Mom did, and heard the true gospel for the first time. One day, she responded to the preacher’s altar call and accepted Jesus Christ.  She came out of the Roman Catholic religion, got rid of all the statues and idol altars in our house, and received water baptism as a true Christian. She also began to tell me about the real Jesus of the Bible and his plan of redemption for my life.

At first, I thought my mother and other Christians were a little “wierd.”

I would politely say, “Yes, Yes” to their attempts to reach me with the gospel. But inwardly I would think they were just ignorant and simple-minded people. Little did I know that God was using them to plant seeds of faith in me; I was the ignorant one.

To make a long story short, it took years for these seeds to bear fruit in my life. My mother and others were also praying for my salvation during this time. But finally at the age of 29, I had a major crisis occur in my life. I was living in New York City with a successful advertising career. I was making lots of money, snorting expensive cocaine, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, and enjoying many decadent worldly pleasures. But I was still extremely unhappy.

end-of-your-ropeWhen I experienced this crisis, I reached the end of my rope.

I hit rock bottom and cried out for help in my desperation. I prayed to the guru I had worshipped for many years and he didn’t answer me. I prayed to other spirits and “ascended masters” and they ignored me too. Finally I remembered Jesus; I cried out to Him and He responded. I prayed a simple prayer in my own home: “Jesus, if you’re really real, help me right now. I promise that if you help me get me out of this mess, I will follow only You. Please forgive me.” As soon as I prayed that prayer, I felt a tremendous peace come over me. I also felt that a heavy weight of sin had been lifted off my shoulders. I realized God had heard me pray and mercifully responded. Jesus was alive! He was the real deal. I renounced all other (false) gods and burned all my occult books and tapes.

PraiseOut of gratitude I praised Jesus and thanked Him.

I was immediately led of God to move out of New York and move back to Miami. I drove for three days to get back to Florida. I picked up a hitchhiker along the way and started to tell him about Jesus. I was so excited about Jesus that I began to tell everyone I met.

I arrived early on a Sunday morning and decided to surprise my mother at church. By this time she had been attending a Spanish Pentecostal church in Southwest Miami called, “Iglesia de la Biblia Abierta” (Church of the Open Bible) with Jose Vera as Pastor. As soon as she saw me, she burst out in tears. “Mom, I became a Christian!”, I said. “Praise the Lord, glory to God!” she responded. My aunt Carmita who had previously been into prostitution in Cuba, Spiritism and Santeria*, had also been saved and had become a powerful evangelist. She came to me after the service was over and said, “My God, you look like a different person! Your face has changed; you look peaceful and happy!”

I began to attend my mother’s church and was water baptized six month later.

At the baptism, I spoke in public for the first time and gave my testimony in front of the whole church. As I started to grow as a newly born-again Christian, I developed a hunger for studying the Bible, praying, and witnessing to others about Jesus. My life was completely transformed for the better. And since my conversion at the age of 29, I have followed and served the Lord now for many years. My greatest joy is teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ our Messiah. The Lord called me early after conversion into the ministry. Shortly thereafter, I was officially ordained as a Pastor and Evangelist. I have preached and taught at many churches, prisons, nursing homes, homeless shelters and evangelistic events throughout the years. I also write and publish books through my own ministry at: http://www.realjesuslife.com/

I pray that my testimony has been an inspiration to you, and that God will anoint this message so that other lost souls will be brought into His kingdom of truth and light. All glory, honor and praise be unto Jesus, our redeemer, Lord and king!

– Evangelist Luis Josephus

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If you want to receive the forgiveness of your sins and the life-transforming power of God in your life, pray the simple prayer below and invite Jesus the Messiah to become your Savior and Lord. Don’t put it off another day; God loves you and wants to save you – just as you are. Accept His free gift of salvation-rest right now!


prayer 1SALVATION PRAYER

Dear Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God who died on the cross to pay my sin debt. Please forgive me for my sins. I repent and receive You today as my Savior and Lord of my life. Help me to change and become the person You want me to be. I promise I will start going to church, studying the Bible, and living a new life with your help. Amen.


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Struggling Faith

Grace For Today“When however they persisted with their accusations, He [Jesus] raised His head and said to them, “Let the sinless man among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7

Many people are quick to criticize and judge others who fall into sin or fail to live up to their standards of perfection.  But the truth of the matter is, none of us are perfect – no matter how much we say we love God or try to keep His commandments.

The Bible tells us that we are “saved by grace through  faith” in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf. We must remember that, even after we are saved and spiritually born again, we are still far from being perfect. We are all a “work-in-progress” for the rest of our lives. We will still commit mistakes and sin everyday, make wrong moral choices, and fail to live up to the righteous expectations of our holy God. We even have days that our faith is weak and wonder if we are really saved at all.

But does that make us phonies? Or does anyone else have the right to judge us or question our salvation? Not at all! Even Abraham, who is considered the “father of our faith” struggled with his faith and made wrong moral choices.

In Genesis 12:10-20, we are disappointed to learn that Abram, a great man of faith, was also a man of moral weakness. At 65 years of age, Abram took his family to Egypt. Because he feared for his life, he sold his beautiful wife Sarai into adultery with the Pharaoh of Egypt. He lied about Sarai being his sister and permitted her to become the sexual plaything of the King. Fortunately God intervened before Sarai was defiled and struck Pharaoh and all his other wives and family with disease.

When Abram’s deception was exposed, Pharaoh was mad. He declared, “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you lie to me and say, ‘She is my sister.’?” Ashamed and humiliated, Abram, Sarai and their entire clan were expelled from Egypt.

Abram’s character weakness and failure to trust God to protect him and deliver him out of any danger shows that, this great man of faith, still had “issues”. His faith still faltered at times, and his personal works did not line up with the religion he professed.

Does that sound familiar?

I think many of us can relate to that story. I know I can. I think many of us will admit we have done things that we regret and that has brought shame to the name of Christ. When we sin and make mistakes, don’t give up; God is very forgiving, merciful and patient with us. Confess your sins to Him and promise to do better. When you fall, pick yourself up and get back in the race. Keep pressing on towards the finish line and you will ultimately win the prize.

FAITH STEP

Memorize the verse: “If we confess our sins,[to God] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Remember that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. The good work He has started in us will be completed one day. Don’t ever give up on God – no matter what. He will never leave us or abandon us.

PRAYER

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for your great mercy, forgiveness and compassion. Please forgive me of my sins today. I confess that I am weak and make mistakes. Strengthen me more and more each day and help me to live up to your holy standards. Thank you for Jesus who paid the penalty for my sins on the cross. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

– Pastor Luis Yosefus

RealJesus Logo+75x75REAL JESUS MINISTRIES
www.RealJesus.net
RealJesusMinistries@gmail.com


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Fess Up When You Mess Up

Grace For Today“Fess up” is a modern phrasal verb that means “to admit that you have done something wrong.” In biblical terminology, it means “to confess your sin.” Even though we have been forgiven and saved by trusting on Jesus Christ, God understands that we still sin. That’s why He reminds us in 1 John 1:9:

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The precious, cleansing blood of Messiah Jesus our Savior is available to us, at any time, to cleanse us from all sin. All that God asks of us is to “confess” or “fess up” when we know we have sinned, once again, and missed the mark of God’s holy commandments.

Confession on our part helps us to recognize that we still struggle against the old sinful nature and how often we fall short of God’s standard of perfection. On a daily basis, confession also keeps us humble and dependent on God’s grace and mercy. Without regular confession, we have a tendency to become prideful and self-righteous. We may even become blind to our faults and self-deceived – like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:9-14). This pompous religionist looked down on other people and declared himself more righteous than the Publican because “he wasn’t an immoral person, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed.” Yet Jesus said he was still lost!

Only the Publican went home “justified” because he humbled and pleaded with God to forgive him – a sinner.

–         Pastor Luis Yosefus

REAL JESUS MINISTRIES
www.RealJesus.net
RealJesusMinistries@gmail.com

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Related Messages:
Get Over Past Failures
Prayers God Will Not Hear
God Be Merciful To Me A Sinner


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God Be Merciful To Me A Sinner

Grace For Today“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:9-13

Without recognition of our sinfulness, we have a tendency to become prideful and self-righteous. We may even become self-deceived, like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:9-14). This pompous religionist looked down on other people and declared himself more righteous than the Publican because he wasn’t an immoral person, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed. Yet Jesus said he was still lost!

Notice Jesus said in verse 14 that only the Publican went home “justified” – forgiven by God and acquitted of his sins. The self-righteous Pharisee never got saved! He was obviously a religious man, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed. But his religion didn’t do him any good; he was trying to earn his salvation by his own efforts, not by faith in what Christ did for us on the cross. Despite his exceptional acts of piety and outward goodness, he thought he didn’t need the grace of God.

The Publican (i.e. Tax Collector) on the other hand, was deeply conscious of his sinfulness and guilt before God. In true FAITH, HUMILITY, and REPENTANCE, he pleaded with God to forgive him and be merciful.

The point of Jesus’ parable is that the Publican typifies the true child of God; one who continually recognizes his wretchedness and cries out for God’s amazing grace to sustain him. The assurance of his salvation is not based on his own good works, nor perfect obedience to God’s commandments, but on the certainty of God’s goodness and mercy towards all His children who abide in Jesus Christ and persevere in faith to the end.

–         Pastor Luis Yosefus

REAL JESUS MINISTRIES
www.RealJesus.net
RealJesusMinistries@gmail.com

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Related Messages:
Fess Up When You Mess Up
Get Over Past Failures
Prayers God Will Not Hear
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Comment from http://TheGospelOfGrace.Wordpress.com: “Amen. and Amen and Amen. I believed the publican justified after leaving the synagogue. I also believed next time the publican went to the synagogue He didn’t do the same thing again just like what he did the other time. Grace and peace.”



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Get over past failures

www.RealJesus.netI have never met a perfect Christian, have you? Jesus was the only man that ever lived that did not sin. He was tempted in all points as ourselves but without sinning. The rest of us are imperfect (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). But though we are “sinning saints”, we should be striving to become more like Jesus. We should love God with all our hearts and endeavor to please Him in everything we do and say.

The fact is that in the real world, we all still sin. Big time.

We fail ourselves, we fail in our relationships with others, and most importantly, we fail in our Christian testimony. But that doesn’t surprise our heavenly Father; He knows our weaknesses, and He is always willing to forgive us – no matter how grievous the sin. He says we can always run to Him and His throne of grace to receive more grace and mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). He also says that if we honestly confess our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us, once again, of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  The blood of Jesus atones for past, present and future sins.  God’s mercies are new every morning.

Keep moving forward.

So when we sin and fail as Christians, we need to honestly admit it to ourselves, confess it to God, and keep moving forward. Although we may understand this, many times we still have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Understand that you cannot change what has been done in the past. But you can change the future. Get up from your failures and get back in the race. Keep “pressing on” and moving upwards towards Christ and perfection.

“Dear brethren, I have not achieved it yet, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards perfection – the goal of winning the supreme prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 (JCV)

Remember that God will never leave you nor forsake you. And, He will be faithful to complete the good work He has started in you. Do you believe that? Then be at peace. Be encouraged. God still loves you. Amen.

–         Luis Yosefus

REAL JESUS MINISTRIES
www.RealJesus.net

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