Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Not One Who Kneels


No Share in God's Glory Without the Cross by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

No Share in God’s Glory w/o the Cross by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever read the lyrics to all the verses from Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way? In case you haven’t, here are the words for verse three…

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Notice the words of the fourth line. For all the confidence-building and encouragement the song is supposed to inspire in those who may feel a lack of personal empowerment, it lacks real power. Real power, like so many things, begins with an acknowledgement of who and where we are and what we need to move forward. Think of the Twelve Steps in multiple anonymous programs. They all start with the first step and the words “I admitted I was powerless.”

What has changed in the modern church world? There’s more preaching about power than powerlessness. There’s more push to gain and be the head and not the tail than of losing ourselves to make Christ the Lord and head of our lives. There’s too many messages about what God can do for us, and not enough messages about the blessing of giving our all for a God who already gave it all for us.

I think the problem is from a lack of blood flow (aka Calvary). We want to go right from sinner to saint without stopping to kneel at the cross first. We tell people that with a few minutes at an altar, or a simple confession of Christ, they are saved. It’s like hiring someone for a job without checking any qualifications or doing any training. What will an untrained person do when he faces a struggle for which he is not prepared? What will a new Christian do with temptation if he has not left all his sinful desires under the blood of Yeshua and made a decision that all sacrifice is worth it for his loving Creator?

We’ve got the proverbial cart before the horse when we introduce someone to Heaven and future hope before we teach them how to live for Christ on earth right now. And if we try to teach an unrepented soul how to live a new lifestyle before he has died to the old one, we’re doing it again. When we plant a seed in the earth, the seed dies before it sprouts to new life. How do we claim a new life until we have died to our old life? As Scripture says, we can’t put new wine into old bottles or they will burst.

Do we trust that what God has to offer is better than anything anyone on earth can offer us? If not, we can never die out to doing things our own way. If we don’t die out to our way and our old ideas and skewed understanding, we can never rise up to walk in the newness of life. If we want God’s glory, we must give up our personal glory and be willing to kneel before our Eternal Creator. We must choose to fall in repentance at the cross of Yeshua and let His blood wash over and cleanse us, and then we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. Once we do that, we can rewrite the words above to line up with the Scripture from Mark 8:36-37 (NKJV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The new words might read something like…

For what is a man what has he got
Without The Lord then he has naught
To think God’s words and to Him yield
And be a man who repents and kneels
His sins will go under the flow
When he’s walking God’s way

And if you want to hear another person’s version of the whole song, sung to the tune of the original, here’s a video I found at YouTube…

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Lyrics and Song, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ferguson Golden Rule


Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution

Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’m not sure when it became en vogue to pay people back as we feel they deserve, but it is a horrible twisting of God’s real “golden rule.” Injustice should not breed injustice, especially when the first act has not been proven. What has been proven is that people are excusing bad behaviors as balancing justice. Individuals are burning businesses of people who have done them no wrong, and journalists are publishing private information of the innocent family of a perceived wrong-doer.

And what if we all, including the police, did what rioters are doing in the name of justice? What if, every time an African-American gang member shot a white police officer, the rest of the white police officers burnt down the houses of all the gang members and their families? Without any color or race in play, what if police routinely attacked innocent civilians coast to coast as a method of payback for the deaths of their brothers in blue? Would any consider that to be justice?

What does Scripture tell us that God considers justice or right behavior? Here are a few verses from the New Living Testament

Matthew 22:39b–Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 5:44-45aBut I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 4:31-32Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Two wrongs have never made a right. I believe Yeshua told people to forget the old “eye for an eye” instructions for more than just His mercy. I believe it was because people misused and abused God’s instruction, and they used payback for personal reasons instead of under God’s direction.

If we try hard enough, any one of us could find a reason to hate, or at least dislike, any other of us. I have known people who wished evil on others just because of what state they were born in or what team they favored. This idea that we should hate someone because of the job they do, the race they were born into, their financial status, or whatever, is senseless. Those who incite the hatred in others are just as guilty as those who start the fires because they ignite the matches that ignite the matches.

Here’s what I want to know: Where are those who are using this situation to teach their children why they should never put themselves in bad positions by getting involved in criminal activities? Foolishness is born into the heart of a child, and only the rod of correction will drive it from them. Children aren’t necessarily innocent just because they’re children, and by the time they’re teens, they are old enough to take responsibility for their own behaviors. There’s no personal responsibility for them or their “defenders” in trying to refocus the attention on how the police dealt with the criminal instead of reminding youth that crime doesn’t pay.

This new “Golden Rule” as promoted by events like the Ferguson riots, and older versions of the same, is neither golden nor a good rule to live by. It’s all about division even if it disguises itself as unifying people because it’s only unifying for the purpose of being set against others.

The spirit of division began in the garden when Adam blamed God for the woman who helped him sin, and Eve blamed the serpent for offering the sin. In truth, Eve was responsible for listening to the temptation, and Adam was responsible for choosing to obey a voice other than that of his Creator. It continues to this day in dividing race, gender, status, etc. It won’t stop as long as sin reigns in us, but that doesn’t mean any of us has to live by its rule. Will you be one to choose God’s word and rules over man’s?

December 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Current Events, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Have Thine Own Way, Lord


Do you remember the days of youth when personal decisions were not totally our own? We had to ask an adult for almost every plan we wanted to make. We often thought how we couldn’t wait to grow up, so we could do things without asking.

As adults, we don’t have much more freedom than we did in youth because we have a whole new lineup of authorities that want us to get their permissions. On one hand, people will tell us to follow our hearts, and on the other, some will try to make us feel guilty for acting without seeking their opinions. Of course, we should seek opinions when our actions will affect others, but sometimes we’ve got to listen more to a “Higher Power.” In the Infinite Supply for November 16th, Chip Brogden speaks of Paul’s call to ministry  and what permissions he needed to move forward.

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 16

No Permission Needed

“When it pleased God… to reveal His Son in me…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me.”
GALATIANS 1:15-17

Paul did not seek credentials, ordination, or affiliation with a human organization. He did not wait for anyone to confirm the call on his life. He did not seek for hands to be laid on him. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ was renegade enough, but to preach the gospel to the Gentiles was a departure from the norm for the Christians at that time. It would later prove to be quite controversial and divisive. Prudence would dictate that it would be better to check with the other apostles and get their opinion and feedback before striking out in a new direction. Yet, Paul says once he obtained revelation he had no need to confer with flesh and blood.

Why? Because he was a maverick, an independent spirit, a rebel? No, it is only because the Revelation of Jesus is sufficient guidance. Flesh and blood cannot add to or take away from the Revelation.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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Have you ever felt called or inspired by God to make a move in a particular direction? In any of those times, did you second-guess that call and seek the opinions or permissions of others first? I know I have, and sometimes it has stopped me from moving in obedience to God. I remember a time when I even stopped myself from praying for a girl in public because I was afraid my pastor at the time would not approve. I regret that, but I also know that time is in God’s hands, so I trust He sent someone to her in my place.

In our walks with God, there should always be balance. That means, we will have things that require permission, and maybe opinions. It also means there will be times when we must move forward in faith to what God speaks to our spirit. Sometimes, what He speaks might be to wait or stop, but whatever we do, obedience to His Holy Spirit is what matters most. As Chip says above, obeying God without seeking permission from men does not make us rebellious to people, it just makes us fully obedient to God.

God’s ordination is far more valuable than any ordination or permission, but if we’re not sure we’re hearing from Him, we will need to seek flesh and blood for confirmation. Here’s how Paul states it in 2 Peter 1:10 (NKJV)…

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.

Never stumble; wow. What a promise. But if we are His sheep, we will know our Shepherd Yeshua’s voice, and we can be sure of His calling to us when He speaks. If we are sure we’ve heard from The Lord (if so, our direction should also line up with Scripture), we can move as He leads. May our hearts and actions say as the song below, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way.”

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Party God’s Way


image

Hamburger cake my friend Julie made for her husband on his 50th birthday. I'm amazed at her talent with fondant.

Did you know that getting saved does not mean we must stop having fun? As a matter of fact, I’ve had more real fun since I started serving God than when I served my own selfish ideas of fun. See, a lot of people defend their right to, as was said in the days of my youth, party hardy, but you’ll never hear them defending the right to pay the hardy fees that follow the party. Anything we do to excess comes with an excessive price tag. And if we’re not willing to pay the associated costs, we’re not only looking to party, we’re looking to do it selfishly, and that’s where the problem starts.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 14:22 through Deuteronomy 14:29, we will learn about how to party God’s way. We begin with instructions on an annual tithe that God says to take to a specific place and eat in His presence. And right there is your first hint that God isn’t trying to create a miserable people. He wants us to enjoy even that which we would give as a sacrificial tithe.

As the reading goes on, we learn what God says to do when the place of sacrifice is too far away for the people to get to. In that case, God tells them to take their tithe to another location where He sends them, and once there, they are to sell their tithe in exchange for money. With that money, they are told to have a good time with their families. They can buy whatever they want, including intoxicating liquor, as long as no one is left out–especially the Levites on their property since they do not have their own inheritance.

The last instruction for the tithe of the people is to take a tenth of their produce every three years and store it in towns for the Levites, the orphans, and the widows.

What I find amazing is how the tithe that is set aside for the Levite towns is only a tenth of what comes in for one out of every three years. From that, the ministers must also share with the widows and orphans. In the other two years, the people are supposed to find joy in their own tithes. Imagine telling most of our modern preachers to live like this. :-\

I see a running theme in all of this, and what I see is simply that no one should live selfishly and unto himself. People should share with ministries, ministries should give to the needy, and everyone should make sure that no one else is forgotten. And something tells me that if we all lived that way, all provisions would be taken care of.

Even our fun and celebrations should include sharing and not selfish drunkenness. They should never include drugs because drugs put the mind in places that are only self-focused. You can’t think of others, or of personal responsibility, when you can’t think clearly. But, if everything we do, including partying, is done with God and others in mind, and if we stay fully aware and responsible no matter what we do, we can have fun and still not bring harm to ourselves or others. And that is how to party God’s way.

August 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Worship Begins with Brokenness


True Worship Begins with Brokenness by Flickr User Beggar to Beggar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

True Worship Begins with Brokenness by Flickr User Beggar to Beggar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Imagine sitting down to write a short story, and just as you are writing the final scene, the words jump off the paper and shout, “No, the story can’t end this way!” Maybe you would argue and tell the words to get back onto the paper because you are the writer, and you know what you’re doing, but after you got the words back where they belonged, you’d call a friend to make sure you weren’t going crazy. You would need someone to convince you that you haven’t gone off the deep end because you know that it’s the creator that should have control and not the creation. Should it seem that much different with God as our Creator?

In today’s reading from Numbers 28:16 through Numbers 29:11, God is still in a conversation with Moses about all the things the people should do as they continue to live as God desires. This section covers the special feasts and holy days through the year. I’m wondering if God is just giving a primer here to make sure the people know that even in a new land, He is still their God. And they also need to know that their service belongs to God and not to a man, even though they are to respect Moses and other men whom God will call to lead them.

Each feast day is set for a specific day of the Jewish year, and each feast has certain rituals and sacrifices that God wants His people to perform. The sacrifices often use the same offerings as the daily sacrifices, but they are done in addition to the two daily offerings and not in place of them. The festivals God wants the people to recognize are all said to be holy convocations, meaning they are to be done as a community, and for God, as a holy community.

So why does doing all this worship need to begin with brokenness? Because, in order to just be obedient and do as God directs us without questioning either His motives or His methods, we must be humble before Him. It’s even more than not leaning to our own understanding. It’s realizing and trusting that God is not only in control, but He is wise with His control, so we let go of the understanding within ourselves that makes us question Him. We become broken in His presence, so we will need Him to put us back together His own way.

We have a number of repeated Scriptures that remind us who is the clay and who is The Potter, and they all reiterate the need for The Potter to be the one in control. Here are a few of them…

Isaiah 29:16

How you turn things upside down! —
Is the potter not better than the clay,
Does something made say of its maker,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does the product say of its producer,
“He has no discernment”?

Isaiah 45:9

Woe to anyone who argues with his maker,
like potsherds lying on the ground!
Does the clay ask the potter, “What are you doing?”
or, “What’s this you’re making, that has no hands?”

Romans 9:20-21

20 Who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me this way?” 21 Or has the potter no right to make from a given lump of clay this pot for honorable use and that one for dishonorable?

We are surrounded by a world of people who think they have all the answers within themselves or within whatever rituals they prescribe to themselves to make life bearable. And those of us who put our trust in Yahveh Almighty know that our answers and rituals often end in failure, but when we trust God through to the end of something, we always find success. Those who resist God usually do so because they refuse to be broken; maybe because they’re afraid to be broken. Brokenness is a scary place to think of going until you have experienced it. When you put your whole being into the Hands of One you can trust with all the pieces, you look forward to the blessing you will find when you humble yourself and let Him make you a new vessel as He sees fit to create.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Will Make A Way


God Will Make a Way by Flickr User jubileelewis, CC License = Attribution

God Will Make a Way by Flickr User jubileelewis, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. “ –Proverbs 3:6

God will make a way where there is no way,
I know God will make a way for you.
God will make a way where there is no way,
For that’s what He promised to do.
     So when your situation seems impossible…
     Just trust in The Lord for a miracle!
For God will make a way where there is no way,
I know God will make a way for you.

I have thought on, or sang, this chorus to myself many times to help me get through what seemed like impossible situations, so I’m thankful I have it to lean on. Moses and the children of Israel didn’t have this chorus, or the written word that we depend on now, but I believe the ones that truly trusted Him had their own ways of hiding His words in their hearts for the times they felt they could not go it alone.

In today’s reading from Numbers 27:6 through Numbers 27:23, we begin the last days of Moses as leader for the community of Israel. It’s funny, but I actually feel a little sad, and I’m not the one losing his leadership. And back in those days, I would likely have been among those that only saw him and heard his teaching from a distance. Still, the heart he had for these people is made very clear as we follow along through the portion.

The girls that sought the advice of Moses and Eleazar yesterday are brought before God who answers that the daughters of Zelophehad are correct in their request. Not only does God tell Moses to grant them property from their deceased father, just as they would be granted if they were sons, He expands the property laws to be more inclusive. We see that property due to someone by rights should be passed along to all children, both male and female, and if there are no children, his inheritance will go to his brothers, then his father’s brothers, then other next of kin. I’m thinking that life estate beneficiary laws could follow along these same guidelines.

After God gives the expanded inheritance law, He tells Moses that it’s time for him to climb Mount Abarim and take a look at the land He is about to give the children of Israel. God explains that while Moses is up there, he will be gathered to his people as Aaron was because he cannot enter The Promised Land due to the rebellion over the water (striking the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded) in the Tzin desert.

It almost sounds like God was speaking with pain and sadness as He told these things to Moses. I think He wanted Moses to enter into the land of promise after all the sacrifice and work he put into getting Israel there and standing for them to protect them from God’s destruction along the way. But God needed to stand firm on His word to remain a God who could be trusted by the people, so He took Moses right to the edge, and He did not take his life until He showed him that his work had not been in vain.

I’m certain that Moses knew God’s heart as He was speaking to him because he responded with beautiful praise to God. Moses asked that God, the God of all flesh and spirit, would please set someone over the people to continue their desperately needed guidance. This is where I can see Moses’ heart of love for the people. He knew He would no longer be there to lead and guide them, or to stand up for them when they failed, so He wanted to make certain someone would take over where he was having to let go. He even told God that he wanted to make sure they would not become as sheep without a shepherd.

God told Moses to select Joshua, the son of Nun, who was a man who walked in The Spirit. He said to bring him before Eleazar the high priest, and that they should stand him before the congregation of Israel and to lay hands on him to commission him in their site. God said for Moses to give Joshua some of his authority, and for the rest, Joshua would go to Eleazar who would seek God and get an answer using the Urim stone on his priests garment. The answer would allow Joshua to know how to tell the people when to go out and when to come in, and the bestowing of authority showed the people they could trust Joshua’s directions to them.

I can see the types and shadows of Yeshua in this. Moses was like God commissioning Yeshua (same Hebrew name as Joshua) to make a way for the people. Moses loved the people of Israel, and he wanted to be sure a way was made for them to know their path and walk in it. God so loved the world that He sent Yeshua to show us a path where we could walk and be saved. Just as God did not choose Joshua to condemn the people of Israel but to lead them in the way to The Promised LandHe did not send Yeshua to condemn the world either. Instead, He chose Him to light a path that the world, through Yeshua, could find a way to eternal salvation. God wanted the children of Israel to live in the land He promised them, so He made a way for them many times over. God wants us to be saved, so He makes a way for us.

July 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Weary May Rest


 

Jesus is the Rest by Flickr User jubileelewis, CC License = Attribution

Jesus is the Rest by Flickr User jubileelewis, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Matthew 11:28 (CJB) says, Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We know from that verse that Yeshua is talking about Himself there, and that He has become all that we need when we are burdened with the sins of the flesh. He is the Passover Lamb that shed His blood for our salvation, and He is our Sabbath that we may rest in our deliverance and celebrate God’s grace and mercy.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 23:1 through Leviticus 23:22, we read about the beginnings of God’s appointed celebrations and commands that are fulfilled in our Messiah. I’ve said before that you cannot know whether an orange candy that says it tastes like a real orange lives up to its claim if you have never tasted a real orange. It’s good to know that Yeshua has fulfilled all the mitzvot (Hebrew for laws and commands) of the Old Covenant, but it will mean much more when you understand what those things were for Him to fulfill for us.

In verse 2, God tells Moses to remind the people that all the designated times He gives them are His times. In this portion, He talks about the festivals of Shabbat, Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. These festivals are holy, and they are times for celebrations. (And, yes, Sabbath is listed among The Lord’s feast days, and it is to be a day of celebration for us.) God gave Israel (and us) the feasts as ways to remember that He has provided all things for us. That’s why the feasts are permanent regulations, even to the point that we will enjoy them in Heaven as we celebrate that He not only gave us life on earth, but that He also gave us eternity. That’s also why man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath for the man.

One thing I noticed about the Lord’s feasts in today’s portion is how the lack of them has affected our current society. For example, most people do not take a true Sabbath rest–one where they do no work at all. Some of the celebrations say not to do “ordinary” work, but the Sabbath rest says it is to be a complete rest, even in the homes. We say Yeshua is our rest, but do we take a complete rest even when we rest in Him? In other words, do we rest according to our idea of rest, holding on to those doctrines of men we think will make us holy to God? Resting in Him means letting go of ALL our own ways, not leaning on our own understanding, and trusting that His ways and thoughts are above our own. That kind of rest would cure all kinds of anxiety and depression if we truly grabbed hold of it, but in our current society, it’s hard to let go and rest as an individual when our families and communities do not rest with us. Still, if you’re with me on wanting to make an effort to rest more in Him, I recommend the book 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth.

The next holy day covered is that of Passover. We have just come through the season of celebrating Passover, and my husband and I went to two different Passover Seders during the week. I enjoyed parts of them both, but I longed for something more. One former Orthodox Jew mentioned how the seder used to take three hours not including the regular meal, and my husband and I both realized that the new “speedy” versions of most Seders meant we were probably missing something; especially since the more we understand about Passover, the more we understand about how Messiah fulfilled it.

The next feast is that of Unleavened Bread, and the teaching of it is part of the Passover Seder. I won’t tell you everything you can learn from a seder, but I will tell you about the bread. First, leaven (yeast) represents sin, and when put into dough (the flesh) it makes it rise up, so with leaven, bread is puffed up, and with sin, we are filled with works of the flesh instead of with Christ. So, for the week of this feast, all leaven is removed from the home. Symbolically, then, if Yeshua is our feast of Unleavened Bread, we would remove all sin from our body, so it may be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Also, instead of regular bread, matzah is served during the feast week. Click on the word for an up close image that will show you some very cool things about this bread: It is not puffed up, it has blood-colored stripes, and it is pierced. As part of the seder, it will be broken, hidden in a sack that is divided in three parts (a sack called an echad which means unity), and one of the broken pieces will be wrapped in linen and hidden (as in a grave) which will later be found by a child and “redeemed” (as in resurrected).

If I go on to tell you anymore, this blog will get too long, but you can read all about the seder at the Hebrew4Christians site that also includes a downloadable Passover haggadah (story book) in PDF. Also, I recommend that next year, you find yourself a Messianic or Christian seder to attend, so you can hear the story. Oh, by the way, that’s what the seder dinner is all about. It is a way to tell the story of what God has done for his people in a way that is easy to remember. It has actions (like tasting bitter herbs) as part of the telling, so even the children can remember their Creator and Deliverer. Our current society depends almost solely on their own works to accomplish success in this life, and as they face failure after failure, they turn to things like drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex to help them forget their failures. When that doesn’t work, too many decide to take their own lives.

The last feast mentioned today is that of “First Fruits.” This harvest festival is the time when people say “Thank You,” to the Creator who “brings forth bread from the earth.” They wave sheaths of their harvest before Him, and they thank Him by given grain offerings. And have you noticed that in our current society, grain seems to be something that brings a lot of curses? How often do you hear the words “gluten free” these days? Gluten seems to be a curse on wheat. And MSG is also a wheat by-product. At one time, it was even thought that refined flour caused an overabundance of sexual urges in young men, so Dr. Graham created “Graham flour” and “Graham crackers” to include more of the wheat germ to stave off lust. Read more about Sylvester Graham at Wikipedia. In addition to wheat, we have corn meal and corn by-products (like high fructose corn syrup) that are blamed for all kinds troubles from diabetes to lethargy. But I wonder if it would be different if we were still bringing our grains before God to thank Him for being our Provider.

Today’s reading ends with a reminder to leave the corners of the field unharvested, so the poor can come harvest for themselves and be able to eat without depending on someone else to feed them. Imagine if our society created a system where every person (except those who are truly physically unable) would have to do some kind of work for his or her food. If they had to pick their own vegetables, clean around the farm where their beef was raised, or even pick up garbage and weeds in the cities where funding is running to short to hire people to do it, they would feel their provisions had more value, and they would be healthier. Imagine a world where people actually did things God’s way, and you will understand then how He is where true rest can be found.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Way IS the High-Way


Highway 1 at Sunset by Flickr User namealus, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Highway 1 at Sunset by Flickr User namealus, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Proverbs 16:17 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) says, “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; he who guards his way preserves his life.” With all we are seeing as consequences for the use of drugs, and all I have been learning from the doctors, the idea of doing things God’s way to preserve our lives is making more and more literal sense. We have a relative that completely looks past what our nephew did to bring on the consequences, and she refuses to acknowledge her own part in it or to repent of her continuing sins. Yet, she continues to claim that there will be a miraculous healing just because she is claiming it in Jesus’ name. But is there communion between holy and unholy just because the unholy uses a holy name?

Today’s reading from Leviticus 9:24 through Leviticus 10:11 shows that God is picky about the purity of what is offered to Him and whether or not our offerings are given with a spirit of obedience. After the offerings and blessings that brought forth the presence of Yahveh, we see His Spirit consume the offerings with fire. The people shout and fall on their faces in His holy presence.

But the next thing you know, two of Aaron’s sons (apparently he had four sons who were becoming priests based on this reading), march up all big in their britches and try to put on a show. They take unauthorized incense in their censers and try to light it from the holy altar of God. Not smart! As the fire of God’s presence comes down upon the altar, it consumes these boys who gave an offering other than what God had commanded to give. (Some versions use the term strange fire.)

Oh, but shouldn’t God be merciful just because they were offering something to Him? After all, they were called by God to be priests, right? In today’s theology, it would seem that anything done in Jesus’ name (or by a person who calls himself or herself a pastor or a prophet) is supposed to win God’s favor. Yes, we are made holy by the blood of Christ, but we still have to be led by the Spirit if we want to be free from the curse of the law. It’s all about our hearts, and if our lips are simply declaring the word of God while our hearts are far from Him, then we are an evil tree that cannot bring forth truly good fruit. But if we are sincerely following God, we will walk on His “high above sin” way, and we will bear good fruit.

As the reading continues, God declares that He will be glorified before all the people, and Aaron keeps silent, Then Moses calls Aaron’s other two sons and tells them not to perform any of the rituals of mourning, so that God will not be angry. He tells them to let the community of Israel mourn for them instead. And then he tells them to stay by the entrance to the Tent of Meeting because if they go out while God’s anointing oil is on them, they will die. They are also given a warning to never enter God’s presence having consumed wine or other intoxicating liquor because they must be able to know the difference between clean and unclean, holy and unholy.

The last statement makes me wonder if the first two of Aaron’s sons were intoxicated, and that’s why they couldn’t tell the difference in which incense to offer. If not, I’m guessing they just had disobedient spirits. We don’t get to see a lot of information about them, but we know they had been anointed and consecrated as priests for God, we know they were dressed in holy garments, and we know they had been in the presence of Yahveh. But none of those things compared to the moment they decided to follow after their own ideas instead of being led by God’s Holy Spirit. Living God’s way is about abandoning our own thoughts and ways because we love and trust God, and because we know that His thoughts are above our thoughts, and His ways are above our ways. His way really is the high way.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well, Since God Said So


Yellow Rose in Green Frame by Crystal A Murray (with the help of Fractalius)

FAITH–Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Photo of yellow rose in green frame by Crystal A Murray
(Edits with Irfanview and Fractalius)

Yesterday, we read about God giving Abraham’s servant a sign that he was moving in the right direction, and through it, the servant found Rebekah as a future wife for Isaac. Today, we read in Genesis 24:27 through Genesis 24:52, and the story is almost exactly the same except that it is being retold by the servant to Rebekah’s relatives.

In verses 47 & 48, the servant begins to share his personal reaction to being shown a positive sign about Rebekah. He tells the family how he put the gifts of jewelry on her, and then he describes bowing before Adonai and worshiping Him for bringing him to the right place. In verse 49, he gives his audience the chance to make a decision about whether or not they will believe and adhere to the direction that has been shown to the servant and confirmed by the sign, and I love their response.

In verses 51 & 52, the two men respond by saying (my paraphrase), “Well, since this is obviously from God, we can’t say anything good or bad. Since Rebekah is here before you, take her and go, and let her become your master’s son’s wife…since God said so.” And at that point, the servant again bowed on his face to worship Yahveh Almighty.

If only we could all respond as calmly and without argument, right? I know I have thought for sure that God said things, but then I waited for a person to confirm what I knew in my heart. When I didn’t get the human support I felt I needed, I backed down only to find later that I should have listened to that still, small voice in my spirit. If only I would always understand that His ways and thoughts are above my ways and thoughts and, with or without human support or understanding, move forward in obedience just because God said so. There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end leads to destruction. And then… there is God’s way.

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

   

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