Stand Firm in Forgiveness: Savor Sweetness and Abandon Bitterness

Here is a message that was prepared 7 years ago. I reviewed and edited it again for clarity, but the same message rings true today and has powerful truth to encourage you. Click Here to read: Bitterness and Forgiveness
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Theological Balance & The Middle Way.

Appearance Oriented – Attitude Oriented – Action Oriented

Been perfect – Becoming perfect – Be perfect or be gone.

Love one another
Compartments of worship – Complete worship – Complaining, not worship.

Issues of Sin
Delving into sin – Deliverance is of the Lord – Deliverance ministry.

Nature of Ministry
Express yourself – Experience God’s presence – Extend your hand.

Failure – Faithful – Fighter

Gifts – Giver – Giving

The Cross & Resurrection
Heretical Renderings – Historical Reality – Hysterical Ruin

Investigate the Author – Invested with Authority – Invest in Autocrats

View of God
Joking matter – Jesus Saves! – Judge

Kingdom of God
Kiss the son lavishly – Keep a simple faith – Kill Enemies

Brotherly Kindness
Lust – Love one another – Love as duty

Mean people cause it – Method of growth – Meaning of life

Born Again
New Livelihood – New Life-Source – New Lifestyle

Position toward Christ
Original sin – Order restored – Original Sin

Please self. – Please God – Please men

Character of Worship
Quest – Quietness – Quick

Gaining Strength
Restore – Rest – Repent

Nature of righteousness
Surface – Solidity – Shallow

Dealing with Hurt
Tears away from other – Tears at sin – Tears up in pain

Unity of the Saints
Umbrella for any sinner – Understanding shared – Unique identities stressed

The Sovereignty of God
Vanquish the thought – Vanguard of the soul – Victory in behavior

Balancing the Way of the Lord
Walk in Unity – Worship God always – Witness to God’s glory

Nature of God’s Word
X out the unwanted parts – X-Ray exposing our hearts – Xerographic conservation

Cause of Joy
Yesterday’s strength – Yes, Today is the day – Yearning for tomorrow

Paths to choose from
Zoological worship – Zeal for the Lord – Zeroed out religion.

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The Census & the Cause of Christ


All people in the USA are to fill out the census. PRAY that they would also be enrolled in the census of God’s Kingdom.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that Jesus was born in Judea in a year of a Roman census. (Luke 2:1-5) Census taking in the Roman Empire, generally affected the taking of taxes and the allocation of imperial resources to public works. Likewise, in America, census usually accompany allocation of resources to the states … and relate somewhat to taxation. This year, for example, the Census will be taken during the same season as taxes are gathered in by the IRS. Government officials will be allocated according to the number of people discovered.

What does that have to do with the rest of the Bible and the cause of Jesus other than an off-hand comment that helps us properly place the birth of Jesus in historical time?

In 1 Chronicles 20, almost 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, David the forefather of Jesus took a census of fighting men in his day. Joab his general objected, but the king prevailed. The king had been fighting a battle for years to establish the LORD’s people secure in the land. He wanted to ensure he had adequate personnel to fight if they needed to do so again. Where was the Kingdom after all those years? The curse that followed David’s decision resulted in the death of thousands of men in Israel. The Lord made it plain that the curse which lasted for days upon the land was the result of the unwise taking of a census. 70,000 people died.

Just as Israel had fighting surrounding nations for a generation or two (the reigns of 2 kings, 40 years each), the USA has seen at least 80 years of regular waves of global conflict and war. Most recently the USA has been fighting the heirs of Edom, that forebear of Islam. The President has staked his administration on preserving the nation and the people of God. We may be charitable and assume that he is doing all he knows to do to lead the battles we are facing. However, not a few people are dying. Currently the flu along with COVID-19 are plaguing the land along with any number of other illnesses, disorders, and diseases that could be prevented. Suicide is killing far more youth and soldiers each year than COVID-19 has killed globally so far. Rumors of conflict arise in the news as there is regular talk of police brutality and occasional terror strikes and school shootings. An outsider’s perspective could lead to the conclusion that there is a curse in the land.

Perhaps we can learn something from David’s response to the curse: He invested in land to be used as a house of prayer for all nations. He bought the threshing floor from someone who was present where the plague stopped, and David dedicated that land to serve as the foundation for the Temple. The same area where Jesus would later be dedicated to His Father as a baby, as an adolescent, and as an adult. God used the disaster of an unwise census to prepare the way for His Kingdom agenda.

What was wrong with the census?

In the book of the Law in Exodus 30:12-16, the LORD says that whenever a census was taken, all those 20 years old or more were to give an offering equivalent to ½ Shekel. The value of a shekel has fluctuated over time, as has the standard weight of the unit. At times, ancients were paid as much as 7-10 shekels per month in the ancient world. So, a Shekel paid for as little as 2 day’s wages at times. A half-shekel would have paid approximately 1 day’s wage for a common laborer. If a day’s work is 8 good hours at minimum wage, you are looking at ~$80. ($120 if you work for 12 hours of daylight! Or maybe you earn more than minimum wage .…)

If that seems to be a burden, another way of figuring the value of a shekel is to look at the weight of a sheke since the word shekel means weight: A shekel was the basic silver coin of that day, of whatever nation. In the days of the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, a half shekel weighed about 8.6 grams of silver (Jesus seems to have critiqued the cheap money changers and the low value of their temple coinage, and thus prophesied its collapse in the gospels.) The value would have approximately been $5 in today’s market. Another way to calculate, would be to figure the value of the main American Silver Coin now made: one troy ounce coins are valued at around $15 if you sell them to a dealer, or you can buy them for $30. So, if $30 is a shekel, then $15 is a half-shekel.

David prayed that the guilt for the wicked census would not be on the people but would be on his family and on his house forever. He did not collect this amount from the people to be put it in the temple treasury, instead he bought the land for the temple. However, can a building and religious services remove guilt? No, Jesus, the Son of David removed that guilt by bearing the sins of His people as the King of the Jews upon the Roman cross outside the city. Jesus was rejected, yet He knew He’d win the hearts of all nations. Has Jesus won your heart? Have you received the mercy the Messiah made available when He offered Himself up for many?

What was the spiritual responsibility of the people of God during a time of census?

God’s people are to invest in the house or center of prayer. Let me encourage you to make a special offering to the Lord’s house of somewhere from $5 to $15 to $80 (or more if the Spirit so leads you), per adult person to pledge loyalty to God’s call to pray. Perhaps you already tithe to your local church, but you really want to honor the Lord’s call to pray for all nations, which is commanded in Psalm 2:8 and Isaiah 56:7 and Mark 11:15-19. You could give a special gift, of the weight that accords with your commitment to pray for God’s Kingdom to Come, to a ministry that is focused on the nations. Not just your own nation. A ministry equipping you to pray for other nations & the advancement of Jesus’ kingdom. You are after all, a kingdom of priests. You are welcome to donate to this ministry which regularly offers and shares prayer for those nations and peoples and individuals of the world that are outside of the realm of Christ’s honor, which is their obedience to His name. (Perhaps you guessed I’d say that.) 😊 But, if you feel uncomfortable donating to the work that I do to advance the Father’s kingdom, I would be happy to suggest some other ministries that are also raising prayer among the nations. Remember, giving to the Lord’s work (and I’m much less concerned if I gain from this teaching than if you do), is a privilege. I have personally seen the Lord’s healing and protecting hand on me as I sought to obey this simple teaching. It has led to some significant gifts to ministries promoting prayer for the nations … and it has resulted in lives and nations being changed. I am committed to promote prayer for unreached Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist lands and direct my investments accordingly, to the Father’s glory.

I do not want the King to return and ask me why I have invested so little into His business. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Are you merely investing in your own time to worship and spiritual services that cater to you? Or are you investing in prayer for the nations, as David, Solomon, and Jesus did?

Mert Hershberger, PO Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1215 – 734-678-1367 – mertaka@everybody.org

To donate online: https://bit.ly/375HzSk

You may print off the attached file that has this teaching and a donation card: 2020-Census-HalfShekel. OR

To make Check donation,

  • mail it to:

IF4ES-Donor Services, c/o New Horizons Foundation, 5550 Tech Center Drive Ste 303, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

If you need further help email support@foundationhelpdesk.com or call (800) 531-4075

Name of Project: “IF4ES” (International Fellowship for Everyday Saints)

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God’s Chosen Fast

Fasting from all, one day at a time.
The body grows weak, dreams come to mind.
All food abandoned, an annual fast.
We’re seeking forgiveness and healing that lasts.

Forty days pass, like Jesus I fast.
Temptations and trials start to attack.
Breakthrough will come, if only I win.
Could fasting help us all overcome sin?

Abstaining from pleasure, I walk Daniel’s path:
Rich foods forgotten, in this partial fast.
I yearn for my homeland: a vision revealed.
The future unfolds; the Scripture unsealed.

Demons must flee, as I starve my old flesh.
Evil must leave! I passed the test!
Mercy increases, I yearn to be right.
The journey’s been long, but the end is in sight.

Transform my hunger to faith in the Lord.
Refraining from comfort as I bear the Sword
Of the Spirit to vanquish my foe and pierce
Through the dark: no lusts, no pride, and no fears.
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Christmas, Bethlehem, and the Tigers’ Roar from where the Kids were Slaughtered.

This evening, I discovered the relevance of the Bible to American Life. We examined the center of attention at Messiah’s Birth in Bethlehem and how BethlehemInTheBible has relevance to today. (See the passages examined in the link highlighted.)

Roughly 7 years ago, one period of debt relief ago, there were 20 children who were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Newtown school district of Connecticut. Though so recent, we have forgotten that debt, that transgression, that violation of childhood wonder. Children who would now be high school were killed.

Some would quickly lift a voice for or against gun control. But that is not the point.

Guns are not in control and never have been. Gunmen are not in control, and never have been. Terror will not have the last say! God is in control!!

This was around the time of the Christmas season and Ephiphany and the observation of the memory of the Slaughter of the Innocents in Bethlehem, some 2,000 years ago. The same scene played out again of tyranny let loose seemed to prevail.

But tyranny and terror will not prevail. For God is in control!!

Many Christians will remember the Christmas narrative of what happened in Bethlehem around the change from BC to AD. The following is from the KJV, for copyright reasons.

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.


This will be familiar to many. Perhaps for you too, this Christmas is met with tears and sorrow and sadness: memories of those loved ones you have lost one way or another. All the festivities and drinks do nothing but bring back bitter memories of those who leave which leaves a tear in your eggnog. So will you linger over this bitterness? Will this bitterness prevail? NO!!

Is it because the loss of loved ones is not sad? No, God knows your sorrow and weeps with you. But sorrow and sadness and sickness will not have the final say. No. The Savior shall return another day and shall have the last say. God’s Word is final, not death nor destruction, not disease nor divorce, not division nor discouragement. Why? For God is in control!

The final verse from that passage quoted in Matthew was from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he had some sad, very sad, lamentable things to say and lamentable times to observe. But lamentation shall not prevail! For God is in control!!

Let us revisit that passage from the “Old” Covenant: Jeremiah 31:15-17 reads in the NIV

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
    “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
    “Your children will return to their own land.


Jeremiah is also one who prophesied restoration after a time of exile. But he looked beyond these pleasant dreams to a vision of the New Covenant, when mercy would abound and all would be made new. As the ESV has it:

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”



The Lord foretold forgiveness and salvation. And that is exactly why Jesus came: to forgive us, to save us from our sins. God also desires to forgive the American people Just as he forgave the children of Israel through Jesus. Just as Israel is being regathered physically into a new nation and spiritually as more and more Jewish people recognize the Messiahship, the Kingship, the Sonship of Y’shua is being acknowledged by more and more people, Jews and Gentiles, God’s grace and truth is making an impact on the nations as far as the curse is found.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

This village where Rachel was buried, the town where Ruth was found by Boaz, the town where David was raised and near where he shepherded sheep, the well of the city had become the source of water that served as a unique and simple sacrifice of that home-dug water, the same town where Micah prophesied a future ruler and where Babylonians had likely massacred children and where Jesus was born and where Herod slaughtered children. This same village will one day see victory. Why? Because God is in control!!

In the irony of God who gained victory through sending His Son to suffer, joy and sorrow often meet in the same places on this earth.

Today, there are Arab believers in the Jewish Messiah who was born in Bethlehem who are longing to visit Bethlehem, not just to see historic sights, but to see family. Those from the rocks, the seed of Hagar, are longing to be reunited with their loved ones in their home town. But a government would stop them. But will those who have been estranged from their family in Christ be separated forever? No, the gates of hell will not prevail. One day, the Baby born in Bethlehem will lead wise men from all nations into the place of joy. Because we are so clever, because we work so hard or are so tough? No. Because God is in control.

Jesus did not merely die on a cross, he rose from the grave. God is in control.

Bethlehem in the region of Judah means there is a House of Bread in the Land of Praise! God provides for us whenever we praise Him. Because God is in control!!

I have seen God’s mercy myself so many times. I have also seen God’s provision and protection. Because I deserve it? NO!! Because God is in control!

Let us look back to the place we started on the shores of this land, in a New Town, In Newtown, Connecticut.

Now, a 7 short years later, something new has happened.

Seven years was the limit that debt had its reign. In the seventh year, there was to be mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from bondage.

In Newtown Connecticut, guess what, bondage is lifting: there seems to be a year of favor in the city where the Tigers play. This year in the same city which saw its little kids slaughtered is now seeing victory. The Joy of Victory (Joieta) is coming to the same place where defeat once seemed so imminent.

God smiled on the people of New Town and they won their final football game of the season. They won their final game against a high ranking team against a team from Media, Pennsylvania. Newtown is fields the Tigers as their team just as Judah fielded the Lion as their iconic creature, both are felines. Both shall live in peace with grazers on the field when Jesus reigns. Why? Because God is in control.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.


In America, Media is powerful. The media seems to govern America. Media seems to make up the minds of America. But American football declared that a New Town shall defeat the Media!! There is a new city which will win in this land as well as in the land of promise. Because the promise has gone out to the ends of the earth. Is it because America is righteous? Certainly not!! The media has done a fine job recounting all the vices of America and violations in the nation. But a New Covenant shall win in a new town. Why? Because we are good or great or special? No! Because God is in control!!

God is in control and He shall have the final say. He shall speak life, peace, and joy for all time! God is victor in the land!! I write this as Trump was impeached. As the media discusses the meaning of politics in places of power.

But I tell you, a little Child shall lead: Jesus shall reign. We do not put our hope in Trump, Congress, nor the Supreme Court!

For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Ruler,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us.

Isaiah 33:22 Amplified

If you believe that is true, say Amen!!






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Thanksgiving Report

God has significantly blessed the work of IF4ES: Numbers of baptisms increased … to three. Numbers of groups grew and impacted new cultures … to three. Those impacted by the preaching of the Gospel included all sorts of people: Mandingo, Congolese, Ugandan, Tamil, Persian, … Jews and Muslims and the church of God.

New works are underway that could potentially impact many in the county as we mobilize prayer and equip the saints for works of service.

Please pray for us. For a more detailed report of the year, current as of the start of November, see the attached PDF at the link at the start of this posting.

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My Eyes are Fixed on the Lord

EyesPagerAttached is a document with verses referring to the eyes in the Bible. … Do you perceive the good news in what the Bible?

I compiled these after working at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center for the past 5 months picking up trash and sweeping and vacuuming the floors.

As I have cleaned, I have been regularly reminded:
A. God has preserved both of my eyes intact, they both work.
B. God has protected the vision in both of my eyes, better than adequate vision.
C. God has granted me favor in His eyes.
D. God has granted me visions of His glory with the eyes of my heart.

Please be encouraged to pray for your own vision and for the vision of others. God still heals. God is watching you, do you live in His favor or disfavor?

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Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

Today I witnessed the repairing of the world.

Some years ago, a man who fought the tyranny of an oppressor of Israel married a local woman in his city in the Middle East. They moved to what is now my home town. Four and a half years ago, he passed away due to complications from unmanaged high blood pressure.

I had met the man almost a decade ago at a grocery store and gradually got to know his family.

Today began with a walk to pick up a moving truck as I listened to God’s threats of judgment to Israel through Jeremiah. After a short drive, we gathered for prayer, not least of which were prayers for more to come help and for good enough weather to make the move without getting the furniture wet.

A group of believers in the Messiah came together today to move the widow from one end of town in a high priced apartment to another apartment that is more affordable. People came from many different churches, bonded by the love of the Lord and a calling to help a widow.

The LORD listened.

People seemed to come from the East, the West, the North and the South to help the widow move. It was true religion. In a short time, all the furniture was in the truck and hauled across town to her new place.

The multi-talented group included engineers, a senior pastor, young and old, men and women, those with tools and those with sweaty hands and achy backs. We converged to reassemble the furniture in her new home.

The single mother’s children mainly watched and kept a curious distance. Furniture was put in place, arranged, and rearranged several times. The furniture pads were one by one put on the furniture for the move, jostled, and then put off the pieces of furniture then folded.

When the hostess was satisfied with where everything was located in her new home, she spread out the food. We read the Scriptures of the LORD blessing Abram and calling him to move to a new place.

We called on the name of the LORD.

We feasted.

We recounted the works of God: the threat of flooding rains had been stayed, the need for workers had been met, the health of all had been preserved, memories of past healings were recounted. Love was shared as friends, new and old, greeted one another.

Slowly the workers headed home to the various cities we are from. The truck was returned. I even had time to mow my own yard and sweep the sidewalk before the rain came.

When the rain came, it did not flood as the weather man had threatened. It was a gentle mist. I sat on a bench looking at the garden behind my humble abode: my wife had selected the plants with care and helped work with me to tend our own Eden.

Today, I am grateful for the suffering of the Lamb who was slain so that we might feast today.

Grateful for the Carpenter who worked on the Sabbath, repairing the world.

Now I go to bed to rest and dream of even more wonderful things.

This is what Tikkun Olam is all about.

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Coming to Jesus

Friend, if you go to God with arrogance,
He’s apt to keep you out of Heaven’s dance.
And if you come for honor for yourself,
He’ll put your proud position on the shelf.
But if you come to call Christ Jesus, “Lord,”
He’ll meet your pure request with faith’s reward.
For if you seek the good of one another,
You’ll find Christ’s not ashamed to call you, “brother.”
Come together to be fully healed,
And then Messiah’s church will be revealed.
Acknowledge Jesus as the great “I AM,”
And He will feed you as His little lambs.
If you would enter Father’s very home,
Your constant praise and pray’r must be His Throne!
Offer God your life, your love, your very best:
For He’s prepared for you His joy and rest.

Based on my reading of Matthew’s account of the Gospel
during a trip to Western Europe.

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The dew, a drizzle, drenching rain …
When water falls upon the ground
the barren earth is slowly changed
by echoes of the dripping sound.

A cloud far off collects, descends
and rinses air of dust and dry
as God directs the whirling winds
and hears the holy farmer’s cry:

to gather as a roaring flood,
the fuel for some fragrant thyme,
transformed as trees and creatures’ blood.
Its constant motion measures time

erodes hills, deepens valleys, fills
the rainbow, quiets games, then sparks
the lightning-thunder dance; distills
the oceans and leaves dried drops as marks.

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