Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

In The Beginning, God…


The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

First, God. Then, God created. That’s the necessary order for the best possible world because without God and His wisdom, creation would be soulless. But God didn’t want soulless creatures that operated like programmed robots, so He created man in His own image. Like God, we have a soul, a spirit, and a body. As it says in Colossians 2:9, For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. And because we are like Him, we can communicate with Him even from our human bodies while living in this temporary world.

Somehow though, today’s world has gotten wrapped up in the pursuit of knowledge instead of operating from the soul God gave us. But, if knowledge and thinking were enough for a good life, we would have no problem sharing our population with androids, and men would not try so desperately to humanize artificial intelligence. We know from the soul God gave us that life requires more, yet we keep trying to shut out that voice of reason as if what brings pleasure in the flesh should have priority. And even when we conquer the flesh, we often prioritize thoughts and feelings over the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

So, here I sit, working on my 402nd post for this blog and desperately wanting to make sure that I write from the leading of God’s Holy Spirit more than my own thoughts and ideas. At the same time, I must trust that because my creativity is also in God’s image, my ideas can come from Him too. I don’t write for readers nearly as much as wanting to write out of obedience and leaving readers in God’s hands. I guess that’s why I might be something of a perfectionist when I write.

Torah season has started again, but I’m not going to do daily updates on portions. I will, however, post a link to the weekly portion in The Complete Jewish Bible at BibleGateway.com for those who want to follow the annual reading schedule. I actually got a week behind, so you can read the full first week’s portion as part of today’s Shabbat (Sabbath) before sundown on Saturday, October 25th. That portion is Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:8. The divisions are written in the CJB, and there is a page with the divided readings and links available at Hebcal.com. The name links to the first portion with a list of links to all other portions.

Another great place to learn about the Torah and Hebrew roots of the Christian faith is Hebrew4Christians.com. Save the following links for your year of reading Genesis through Deuteronomy…

Now, speaking of current reading, for this week, the portion is called “Noah” in English and is Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 11:32. With the seven divisions, this can be seen at http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/noach. And with all that information, I’d say my readers have a chance at a good beginning for their Torah year. I hope you will join me and my husband this year, and please stop in now and then to tell me what you’re getting out of the readings for yourself and your family.

In closing for the day, I want to say that it is because of God’s original plans and designs at the beginning that we get the new beginnings we experience each day. I believe His plans were to make humans in His image for good communications and interactions with Himself, but we sought flesh and soul over His Spirit. Still, even though we pushed Him behind the stuff we have too often made more important than Him, He comes in with mercies that are new every morning. It’s hard to imagine being loved so much that all we have to do is earnestly desire Him and He’s there with open arms no matter what came before, but that’s the truth. And that truth is shown beautifully in the song He Was There All the Time, so enjoy this video. View it at YouTube to find the lyrics in the video description section…

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Good Vibrations


Someone shared the above video on Facebook, and it ranks right up there with those cool videos where people mix corn starch and water and put it on a speaker. The corn starch mix looks a lot like the stuff from the Flubber movies, especially when it’s dyed green. Still, the idea of geometric patterns forming just from changing the volume of a musical piece tied into a plate on a piece of metal really caught my attention. I love fractals and kaleidoscopes, so this fits well with my attraction to patterns.

Anyway, the first thing I thought about, as I watched them turn up the decibels and create different designs, was God speaking the world into existence. I can just see Him speaking with His booming voice, and then seeing the vibrations create patterns in the carbon until molecules pull together and create all that we see. Sound is energy, and what we see is energy either turned on or turned off–just like on a computer screen with its ones and zeroes. I find it amazing!

In reading the scientific reasoning behind the designs, the text said that the salt or sand falls into the places where there is no vibration. If we humans were created that way, then our flesh is the design in the cracks of God’s good vibrations, and that may be why there is such a wrestling match between flesh and spirit. We’re told that God knows our frame, so He knows exactly where our wrestling will come in, and He will be there to help us through it. Of course, when our bodies are perfected like His glorified body, they will be in complete submission to His Spirit, so we won’t have that battle any longer. That is something to hope for.

Now, here’s a test of your age. Do you remember which product used the Good Vibrations song by “The Beach Boys” as a jingle for their commercials? It actually took me a little while to confirm it because I got lost in an interesting article about the original song on Wikipedia. Did you know that, in addition to using the infamous Hammond B3 organ in the recording, they also added the musical accompaniment of a theremin? (The song page says they did, but the theremin page says it was a synthesizer.) And, yes, I mean the instrument that had a solo in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon played the Star Trek theme on it just to aggravate Leonard. Of course, after Leonard sent him out of the apartment, a depressed Sheldon then played a great rendition of Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen. (See video below.)  Oh, and to answer my first question, it was a soda that used the words, “I’m drinking up good vibrations,” and its name was… (ʞuᴉɹp ǝƃuɐɹO ʇsᴉʞunS).

Well, I think that’s all I will add on this theme for now unless you want to see the full lyrics of the song. I’d love to see some comments from you about the original video, the song, the Big Bang Theory, or anything else you’d like to talk about. All the links have descriptions if you want to hover over them before clicking, and I hope you find some interesting places to visit from here. Oh, and all the links open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place. God bless you as you seek to walk with Him and the presence of His good vibrations today and always.

October 5, 2014 Posted by | Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made to Order


Antiques Made to Order by Flickr User tuchodi, CC License = Attribution

Antiques Made to Order by Flickr User tuchodi, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t be possible to make antiques to order, unless the place is one of those that makes things for restaurants that hang stuff resembling real antiques on their wall. I do know that I would want to go into this store because of the sign though, so it is good advertising.

According to a few dictionary definitions I found, made to order can mean something is made to someone’s personal specifications and requirements, or it can mean it’s just perfect for the situation. In today’s (very long) reading from Exodus 35:30 through Exodus 37:16, I think it means both of those and more.

Most of today’s reading centers around a guy from the tribe of Judah named Bezalel. He is a grandson of Hur, one of the two guys who helped hold Moses’ arms up, so Israel could defeat her enemy. Bezalel is a master craftsman who has been endowed by God to make everything from clothing to jewelry to gold dinnerware. He is like a machine who takes in what Israel donates and comes out with a perfectly-designed temple according to the design God showed Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Bezalel hires a helper, Aholiab, from the tribe of Dan. Together, they will both design and create the temple coverings, curtains, furnishings, and all that is needed for temple worship. The Bible says that God filled them both with wisdom of heart and ability to do all manner of craftsmanship. In addition to being gifted with wisdom for creativity, God also gifted these men to teach others, so they would not have to build the entire tabernacle on their own.

In a sense, in addition to building a “made to order” tabernacle, God also made these men to order (train)  other men in how to create according to God’s plans. I don’t know if it works this way for all those who are gifted with wisdom in creativity, but I am thankful for those Christian writers who go beyond the gift of their own writing and share tips and tricks with others. There are a few whose teachings I have learned from, and whose lessons feel as anointed as their creative works. I learn well from them. There are more than I can list here, but if you want to know some of the people that inspire me as writing teachers, let me know and I’ll share some in comments.

As for the rest of the passage, please click the link above to read the details about all that these men and their helpers created. You’ll find they sound much like the details given to Moses on the mountain because they are determined to line up to that blueprint. I can only imagine the designs, but knowing what God can do when He works within a willing vessel, I imagine them to be spectacular and beautiful. I expect them to be that way because of the times when God works in my life to bless whatever efforts I put my hands to. Whether He guides me as I write or sing, or when I design a new kaleidoscopic or abstract creation, if I feel God guiding whatever part of me in engaged in the work, it always comes out better than the results when I struggle to do things on my own.

February 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Follow Him–A Poem


The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.

I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005

I follow Him…

…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”

I follow Him…

…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.

I follow Him…

…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.

I follow Him…

…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.

I follow Him…

…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.

I follow Him…

…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.

I follow Him…

…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.

I follow Him…

…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*

I follow Him…

…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…

…I will follow Him for eternity!

*Hebrews 6:19-20

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Devotion, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Promises of a Loving Creator


We humans think we have it all together sometimes. Just because all the parts are available, including the ability to think and create, we think because we build something, we are some type of creative geniuses. Here’s a little joke that gets the point across well…

One day, a group of scientists were discussing cloning, and they concluded that since they knew how to create humans, they no longer needed God. Upon sharing this news with God, He proposed that before they totally dropped Him out of their lives, they should have a man-making contest. The scientists agreed. God specified they had to do it from scratch–the old-fashioned way, and the scientists still decided it was something they could win.

Finally, the day of the big contest arrived. The timers were set, and the chosen scientist and God were at the starting line. When the whistle blew, the scientist reached down to the ground to grab a handful of soil. Just then, God shouted, “Hold it! Get your own dirt.”

Now, in today’s reading in Genesis 14:21 through Genesis 15:6, the King of Sodom is trying to bargain with Abram about which spoils of war he will keep and which he will give to Abram. But Abram tells the king he will not take anything from him because he wants to be sure the king cannot say later that he was the one who made Abram rich. Abram wanted every thing he gained to be known as a gift from His Creator. He trusted God for the promise of riches, and He knew that meant God would have to be his only provider. We may have many blessings from mankind, but the very source is always our Father God.

This story portion ends with Abram’s conversation with God about not yet having an heir. So, while Abram knew God was his provider, here we get to see his human side as he wrestles with trusting God for his future promise of children that would outnumber the dust of the earth. Abram begins to reason that maybe it is a servant’s child that will become his heir, but God tells him once again that the promise will come from Abram’s own body. He then takes him outside and compares his future promise with the number of stars in the sky.

God knows our form, and He knows that we often trust what we see, which is why we so often trust the creation over the Creator, but He is also kind and merciful as He tenderly reminds us who He is and that His plans for us are always for the good. I love how this little story shows Abram both at his best and at his worst, and it shows how God is ready to bless him in both of those places. God is always the Creator, and He always wants to create wonderful things in our lives if we will keep our sights and trust set on Him.

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Good Gifts Go Bad


The last half of today’s reading from Genesis 11:1-32 is the genealogy of Shem, the oldest son of Noah. But before we get to that point, we get to hear a story about good gifts being used for the wrong purposes. The key verse here is Genesis 11:4 where it says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that has its top reaching up into heaven, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.’ ” The rest of the story is the familiar tale of “The Tower of Babel” (aka “The Tower of Confusion”) where God confused their languages, so they could no longer work together to create things for their own name.

In this story, God has given men the whole earth and all they need to create a life for themselves. He has given them language to communicate with each other. He has given them bricks and mortar to build shelters for themselves. He was their Ultimate Provider then just as He is our Ultimate Provider now. But they forgot that even when they had to work for something, It was God who created the ability to work and the products to work with or from.

With all those gifts, including the gift of unity that was so strong even God said it could make nothing impossible for those who worked together, where do you hear any words of praise echoed to God, or any thoughts of working with His will or plans? You don’t. Instead, these men took God’s provisions as their own, built with them according to their own will, and then used them to make a name for themselves as if it were all their own from start to finish. They forgot that God is the Author and Finisher. They failed to realize that unless The Lord builds the house, all labor is in vain. (See Psalm 127:1.) They allowed the fear of being scattered to overtake them rather than asking God where He would have them to go. They let all the good gifts of God end up being used for selfish, prideful, fearful, and other bad reasons.

Today, there are many gifted people doing the same with the gifts God has given them. They become haughty and act as if the world cannot live without their gift of entertainment or prophecy. If something they have to offer is that important, it’s even more important that they keep it in line with God’s perfect will. Even our faith must be an act of obedience, so if we’re obeying our Creator, where do we get bragging rights? I pray frequently that God will keep me in check when someone positively comments on something I have done–be it singing and writing or helping and encouraging. I know I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, and I also know I can do nothing apart from Him. I know that, even when I am doing His will and accomplishing things through Him, it is only by His grace. According to His word, even my desire to serve Him is from Him. Philippians 2:13 in the Easy-To-Read version states it this way: Yes, it is God who is working in you. He helps you want to do what pleases him, and he gives you the power to do it. So, there is nothing to boast in except Him. May we always keep that perspective that none of the wonderful gifts He pours out on us will go bad.

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Covenant God


The reading for today is all in Genesis 9 and is a very short set of verses from 8 through 17. Noah, his family, and the animals are off the boat. Noah has offered the first sacrifice to show his thankfulness for their salvation. And now, with this family ready to replenish the earth, God has made a promise, and he has given a sign for that promise that we still see today; the rainbow.

I downloaded an image I really like by rwangsa at Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwangsa/452128709/)…

Image

You know, there are many gods out there that people try to please with various works, but most of them are just trying to get those gods to carry them to an eternal paradise. They will give it all for a promise that may or may not be true. But our God and Creator, Yahveh Almighty, has promised us so much more than an eternity in paradise. He has plans so awesome that He says they haven’t even found a way to enter into our thoughts or imaginations.

I was talking with a friend today, and we were discussing what we have with God that so many others do not have with their gods. The greatest thing we have of course is His Love. It’s not just an end game, but a gift He desires to shower on us in every moment. He wants us to trust Him so much that you will see many covenants He makes with His people throughout Scripture. This covenant in today’s reading is not only a promise, but a promise that comes with a sign both to us and to Him. He says that when we see it, we can remember His promise to us. And He says that whenever He brings clouds upon the earth, He Himself will see the sign and remember His promises. It’s like two best friends that tie a string around each others’ wrists or pinky fingers to remind the other that they will be best friends forever. God is our best Friend, a covenant Friend and a covenant God, who will be there for us…forever! Hallelu-Yah!!!

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only Evil Continually


I mentioned one of today’s verses in a previous post when I talked about it being strife for God to dwell within man because of our flesh. To clarify, it is because of the evil of our flesh using the definition of evil to mean “minus God.” The whole of today’s reading is from Genesis 5:25 through Genesis 6:8, and it tells about the multiplication of mankind which includes the multiplication of evil because of the sheer abundance of flesh.

While I’m not sure what is meant here by the “sons of God” vs. the “daughters of men,” I wonder if God created more men from “scratch” than just Adam. And then in chapter 6, verse 3, God says, “My Spirit will not live in human beings forever, for they too are flesh.” I think it’s talking about the “oil and water” mix of flesh that yields evil and God’s Spirit that yields good.

In verse 5, we find that men are filled with wickedness and that all the imaginings of the hearts of mankind are of evil only. The King James Version states it as that their thoughts were “only evil continually.”

Some years ago, I was told that the truest definition of evil is, as I mentioned above, “minus God.” Another statement I read states that evil is a living thing with all of its molecules flowing in a direction that is opposite God. That makes sense when compared to Genesis 8:21 where it says that men’s thoughts are inclined toward evil from their childhood. The flesh by itself is minus God. So, while wickedness is not the definition of evil, it is caused by evil; by those whose thoughts are always in and on the flesh instead of in and on God.

So in chapter 6, we read that it was a constant state of mind–always thinking of self and never thinking of God. In the new testament, in Luke 17:26-27, we read that in the days when Christ returns, things will be just like they were here in Chapter 6. And the thing is, that doesn’t just mean what we would consider to be wicked men. The idea of men thinking more of themselves than thinking of God happens plenty with “the church” as well. When men pray, worship, preach, etc., just to be noticed, they’re thinking of themselves. When men think more about what they can get from God instead of what they can give to Him, they too are thinking of themselves. And when men worship the creation more than the Creator, well, that’s definitely thinking of self.

I asked someone one time, after they told me about an altar call where almost every person in the congregation went forward, “Would the same number of people move to the altar if the preacher asked how many wanted to give something to God as did when he called to everyone who wanted to receive something special?” The thought that fewer are willing to give than receive grieves me because I feel that God is worth more than a “genie in a magic lamp.” If the last thing we received from God was our salvation, it’s still deliverance from eternal death, and that makes it worth more than anything else–especially considering that it is a gift of God’s love to us.

I desire to worship God for who He is more than for what He does. I believe that will keep my thoughts from resting in the thoughts of the flesh, whether those thoughts lead to wickedness or just self-centeredness. For those who are followers of Christ, I find this perfectly summed up by author Chip Brogden from The School of Christ, in the following statement: “What is greater than the work of the Lord? It is, the Lord of the work.” May we always keep it in this perspective.

October 4, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merciful God from the Beginning


Not only was I out and about after reading today’s portion from Genesis 3:22 through 4:26 (end of chapter 4), I was driving, so I couldn’t do the entry from my phone app as I intended to do on days when I’m running. I just got home and looked at the clock, so time is short, which means I’ll have to keep this short. But I’m determined to make my best effort to write every day.

Yesterday, the Scripture ended with man and woman knowing they were naked and sewing fig leaves together to cover themselves. And then God shed the first blood to cover them completely. It was only after I began studying the Hebrew roots of my faith and falling in love with the old testament that I saw God in a new and merciful light, and this is the first place I saw Him that way. I had always believed in God as the “Big Meanie” in the old testament who got nice when He robed Himself in flesh in the new testament. But now, I see Him wanting to visit with Adam and Eve, and feeling pain because of the sin that has now divided them. Scripture says that for God, associating with the flesh is “strife” ( see Genesis 6:3), and He will not have it that way forever.

So, here is God with the new creation, the ones He called “very good,” and it’s hurting Him to even visit with them. What does He do? He causes Himself a bit more pain by slaying yet another of that which He has created, so the blood can temporarily cover the sin and allow Him to fellowship with them once more. I believe He hurt over killing that animal even more than most animal lovers would hurt. I don’t think it was a small thing for Him with that sacrifice or any sacrifice He demanded later. But it was a necessary sacrifice in order for God to participate in the lives of those He made in His very own image.

As this reading begins, we have God setting up angels to guard the “Tree of Life” to make sure that mankind cannot touch it and eat and live forever. That is a huge act of mercy because had they eaten from that tree after being in the sinful state caused by their eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would have been doomed to live in that terrible state forever. Imagine having a front row seat to all the darkness and evil in the world and having to sit and watch it forever. That would have been their fate if God had not intervened with His mercy. Yahveh God purposely caused the knowledge of evil to shorten their lives, so they would not have to live forever in hopelessness. Not only is that a great mercy from Him, it is still only the beginning of what He would do to give hope and a future to those who love Him. Amazing!

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fall Before the Fall


Today’s reading comes from Genesis 2:4 through Genesis 3:21. As usual, there is so much I could comment on, from God Himself breathing the breath of life into the first man, to the heavenly garden in Eden where mankind could eat fruit planted by His Creator, to man and wife being as one flesh. But I’d like to focus on the verses from 3:1 through 3:6.

So imagine Adam & and his new companion walking along a path and just enjoying the beautiful creation that surrounded them. Somehow, they end up right in front of the one tree of which they are not to partake. A voice comes from a serpent also hanging around this very tree. (Of course, this makes me wonder if all the animals talked since neither the man or woman seemed to have been surprised to be conversing with a snake.) And the first thing the snake does is challenge their Creator on whether He is a good provider. My translation: The serpent asked, “Hey, you people, did God say you could not eat from EVERY tree in the garden?

Wait a minute–ONE tree vs EVERY tree? That lying snake was trying to make the one forbidden tree look like it was of more value than all the other trees put together. The focus was shifted from all they did have to the one little thing they didn’t have. And that’s not a new trick. I think it contributes to much of the depression in today’s world. Sure, I’d love to live a cushy life where all my big desires are covered with plenty to spare. But I have the blessing of remembering times when I’ve had less, so those memories often bring me back to a place of gratefulness. The newly created couple didn’t have that to lean on, so all they could do is imagine that maybe they were missing out on something.

Next, the woman restated the rule of the tree of knowledge. Now, it could be that God said more to them with the first given orders, but if not, I’m wondering why the woman enhanced God’s words and added the part about not touching the tree. Did she fill herself with extreme fear to make sure she stayed on the straight and narrow? Or, maybe the law was spoken to Adam, and in his overly zealous desire to protect his wife from disobedience, he told her that she was not only to avoid eating it but also to avoid touching it. (Kinda like when parents tell their kids things like, “If you keep doing that, it’ll stay that way forever.”) Unfortunately, even strong warnings of never and forever don’t always work, and the fear of discipline in front of the woman was not enough to stop her from listening to the next lie.

So, in verse 4, the serpent flat-out calls God a liar. The husband is standing there, (we see that in verse 6), but he doesn’t seem to be getting defensive about all these lies. I wonder why he wasn’t shouting, “Come on, Honey, let’s get out of here. This little wimp has challenged our Creator on His ability to care for us, and now he’s calling Him a liar! We don’t need to hear anything else that snake has to say.” But they just stood there and listened, and the lying words started sinking in.

Now the woman takes a more deliberate look at the tree and begins a thinking process that has gotten man into trouble ever since. 1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Now look at the thoughts it says were going through the woman’s mind: When the woman saw the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to desirable to make one wise (pride of life), she was enticed. She imagined trying to BE like God rather than to SERVE her Creator, and in that, she imitated the very thoughts that got the voice behind the lying serpent thrown out of the Heavenlies in the first place. This was the fall before the fall. Before she even partook of the forbidden fruit, she engaged in evil thoughts and let the flesh win. And because her husband did not challenge the lying voice, she took him down with her.

But I do not want to stop here with hopelessness. It is evident that sin is something born into the flesh from its inception, or she would not have been able to sin in her mind before acting on her thoughts. But knowing this gives us a way to fight when those same thoughts try to bombard our minds. And even better, we are told in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” How was Yahshua (Jesus) tempted on all points? In Luke 4:1-13, we read of “the temptation in the wilderness.” The temptations included the lust of the flesh (turn these stones to bread), the lust of the eyes (look at all the kingdoms I can give you), and the pride of life (cast yourself down and make a show of the angels not letting you fall). He was truly tempted in EVERY way we can be tempted, and thus continually delivers us from what started with a liar at the beginning of creation.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wholly Good Creation


I am so in love with the word of God that I can find multiple things to talk about from even a short reading. For me, Scripture is living and filled with wonder and awe. I can see the possibilities of mistranslations by mankind, and yet the thread of truth is so strong that I do not doubt the validity of life I receive from the written words. Today, I read from Genesis 1:24 through Genesis 2:3.

Creation day 6 was quite the busy one. All the rest of the animals brought forth from the dust of earth, and then mankind. And it was so much more than simple creation. It was the decision to make man a little higher than the animals, so that he could rule them from the earth. It was the decision to risk putting God-like attributes in human flesh made from dirt.

Surely, God being God, knew what He was getting into when He did all of that, and yet upon its finish He said, “It is very/vehemently/wholly good.” Apparently, He saw something more in us that we can see in ourselves. He didn’t just like what He had accomplished, He vehemently loved what He had accomplished. It’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would want to reject that, but I can only guess it comes from people who see themselves as good in their own eyes rather than accepting themselves as wholly good as He sees them and created them to be. That gives me understanding as to why He prefers a humble spirit.

And, after all the flourish of work, creation, risk, and emotion, God was done. He wasn’t done being God, but He was done setting up the dominoes, and it was time for them to do what He created them to do… to multiply, to govern, and to be like Him and create things on their own. I wonder though if His letting go was similar to a parent taking the training wheels off a child’s bike and just letting the child go–even knowing the child may fall. I hope when He takes a chance on me, I bring Him reward that makes it worth the risk of His letting go and letting me have free will.

And this seems like a great place to post a poem called “Free Will” that I wrote back in 2002 in the aftermath of so many claiming 9/11/2001 was something God allowed (or caused) to punish sinful Americans.

FREE WILL

Free will, I say, to all free will,
To do just as you desire.
Tis the greatest of gifts giv’n to man,
It can help or can hurt, as does fire.

Many men seek to do all good,
Neither hurt a friend, nor a foe.
But some men abuse this gracious gift,
And it makes God’s head bow low.

So let us not blame our God above,
For men and their evil deeds.
Let us instead use our own free will,
To comfort a heart that bleeds.

An object or word can cause great pain,
In the hands of hatred and spite.
But in the hands of men filled with love,
A balm of healing and light.

May God be thanked for His gift of free will.
Let all men use it for love.
And bless each other as we fulfill,
The goodness of God above.

Copyright ©2002 Crystal A. Murray

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creation Days 4 and 5


Today I’ve read Genesis 1:14-23. I’m stopping at the Ashkenazi portions (the “A” in the “A” and “S” I mentioned yesterday), so some are very short, but later some may get very long.

The more I read and study, the more I see how many ways there are to do it. For a Torah reading calendar, I like the site “Hebcal” which also includes a holiday calendar, Shabbat (Sabbath) candle-lighting times per zip code, and more. Importantly, it also includes a Torah reading schedule that is divided by reader (or day if you choose to do like I am doing), and it has links to commentaries on the topics. When you go to the schedule, simply click on the portion next to the date where you are looking, and you’ll find the divided portion and links to actually read the Scriptures and commentaries. For example, you’ll see for September 28, 2013, that the portion is “Bereshit” (Beginnings) and is Genesis 1:1 through 6:8. You will notice, however, that the divided portions are based on the Sephardic (S) divisions, so if you follow that, it will be slightly different from the commentary I make here. Of course, if you just read the entire portion, those differences won’t affect your reading plan. I could do that and only comment once per week, but I’m trying to make myself write more often, so I’ll push on.

So, the first thing I noticed when I visited Hebcal for today (that is, the day which began at sunset on Saturday and ended at Sunset on Sunday so I visited during the daylight period), was that it listed the portion for the next Shabbat which begins Friday at sundown. I thought to myself, “Wait, am I supposed to be reading the text through the week and ending on Shabbat because it is the 7th day or end of the week?” If so, that would mean I am a week behind. But, if I continue the direction I’m going, I begin my portion on Shabbat (September 28th for Genesis 1:1) and extend it through the week into the seven daily readings, and I’ll finish before the next portion begins. Hmm? What to do.

Well, since I periodically visit a Messianic fellowship called Adat Hatikvah (or Congregation of The Hope) on Saturdays, I don’t think I want to read the portions ahead of the services, so it looks like extending the reading through the week following the given Shabbat portions will work best for me. Yesterday morning, they read Genesis 1 in the service and talked about beginnings. Yep, this feels right for me. But for the rest of you, whatever it takes to get into the Word of God and apply it to your life, please do it. I welcome you to travel on my journey with me, and I’ll keep giving you links to–hopefully–make it easier, but I don’t proclaim to know specific and perfect answers for anyone–including myself. 🙂

And that brings me to this day’s topic; creation of the sun, moon, and stars (day four), and birds and fish (day five). The first thing I noticed in this reading was that the greater and lesser lights were given first for signs, seasons, and years, and then for light. Maybe this is because God had already spoken light, or maybe it’s because we should be paying much more attention to signs, seasons, and years than we do.

I could do a word study to determine if there’s a difference between the light from day one that God called “Day” and the light on day four that He used to light up both the days and nights. Maybe that will be next year’s commentary if The Lord delays His return. But, if I were to guess, I would imagine that the light He spoke into existence on the first day was more about telling the earth who He is and that He is in control. It was sort of like He was saying, “Earth, receive Me–Creator, Wisdom, Life-Giver.” He was giving Earth her first “lightbulb moment” (that one just “dawned” on me–pun intended) of understanding, so she would yield to His words of creation. And maybe that is why He called the light “good” but did not say the same thing about the darkness. Of course, that’s more of a commentary on yesterday’s reading, so I’ll go on.

So we have lights in the dome of the sky that divide the day from the night. The greater light governs the day and is the power generator. The lesser lights govern the night, and the main one (the moon) does not generate its own power. That says to me that if we reflect the power of God, we can light up any darkness. It is not our power or our own light. It is His. And like a full moon, we can bring so much more of His light when we are filled with Him instead of with ourselves. I like that. When I decrease, He will increase.

And on day five, all that light, and the oxygen created from the seed-bearing plants and trees from day three, needed to be occupied. So God created fish and fowl in the same way He created plants and trees–with the ability to reproduce. He commanded fruitfulness and multiplication because He knows that what He creates is good (every good gift and every perfect gift is from above), and He wants to see more of it. May whatever He creates in me also be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth that His kingdom may increase and fill the earth as well. Amen.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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