God is God and we are not. That’s step one. Psalm 46:10, as in the above image, reminds us from The Amplified Bible…
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!
I know He knows me far better than I can ever know Him this side of Heaven, and yet I have a desire to know Him more deeply every day. He is more than just an idea to me, and He’s more than just what I read in Scripture. It’s difficult for me to express the depth of my heart for Yahveh Almighty. I guess it’s a little like trying to tell you about the love I have for my husband. I mean, I can try, but no matter what I say, I can’t convince you to love him the same way I do. I hope that, if you are in love with someone, there’s nothing I can say that would make you feel more love for my mate than for your own. And, if you are in love with God, I hope there’s nothing that anyone can present that would make you love anything more than Him.
I think, above all else that God is looking for in us, it is a sincere heart. If we sincerely love Him, we will automatically be faithful to Him. If we are faithful to Him, we will automatically want to please Him and do what He desires by obeying His commands. It won’t be about trying to be perfect for the sake of some kind of reward. It will be about trying to be as close to perfect as we can get simply because we don’t want to hurt the One we love.
There are many who try to tell us who God is, or what God is, or what God wants from us, but can they really tell us those things? Each of us is different. God is able to become exactly what each of us needs, so if I tell you the attributes He has revealed to draw my heart to Him, it may mean nothing to you. If I battle fear, and God comes in showing Himself to me as the victor over my fears, that will mean everything to me. But, it will mean nothing to confident people who need to know God as a source of gentleness and compassion because their confidence has been built on hardening themselves against pain.
I’ve talked before about the group of young church girls whose behaviors were lacking in godliness. A deacon of the church tried to correct the bad behaviors. They answered him a bit indignantly with the oft-repeated line, “God knows our hearts.” In essence, they told the deacon to mind his own business because if God knew their hearts, nothing else mattered. However, the deacon was undaunted and asked them a question that I hope has come back to them as often as it has come to me. He answered their prideful attitude with, “Yes, but do you know God’s heart.”
In Romans 11:33 (in the Holman Christian Standard Bible) we read…
Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments
and untraceable His ways!
That’s not an excuse to say He is too hard to get to know. It’s an invitation to get to know Him in a more personal way. His word promises us that if we seek and search for Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him. We can’t judge by what someone else says God is (or isn’t) to them. We can’t base Him on written word alone because we need the guidance of His Holy Spirit for understanding. If we want to know our Creator, we must shut out all the other voices and words and seek Him for ourselves.
The people of the community of Israel saw God from a distance, and they saw smoke and fire. The priests saw Him from a closer place, and they saw feet that stood on a sea of glass. Moses went into the holiest place, and up on the mountain, and he saw the face of a Friend. Do you know your Creator as your Friend? If so, leave a comment. If not, keep on seeking and push into the holy place beyond the veil of your flesh. When you meet Him there, you’ll find a friend–and you’ll never want to leave Him.
Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast unless you’re waiting on something? There are very few times for me anymore where I wish time would hurry up and move. Most of the time, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.
While thyme may not make a very good gift or present, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much time a person needs, and it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.
It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used of God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s a very great pain to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.
A choir I once sang with performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I don’t know who the writer is to give credit, but the song is called While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
While there’s still time.
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”
And here’s the video…
Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…
The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”
God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.
When my husband David first declared his love for me, he said he would love me forever and three days because forever and a day just wasn’t long enough. After a hard year in 2009 that included a huge flood in our basement, David decided to re-declare his love for me by adding a permanent reminder to the new cement work we put in as part of our future flood prevention efforts. On the morning of our 19th wedding anniversary in 2010, I decorated the heart and took the above picture as a forever memory.
Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that a couple can stay together for a long time and still keep saying they want to keep each other forever. So many things happen on the way to forever, and it takes more than romance to get all the way there. Both of our first two initials are enclosed the heart image to show our dual commitment. We share far more than a last name. We share a lot of good times, but we also share some bad times. It’s in getting through the bad times that you learn whether someone is really in it for the long haul. If you love someone with almost all your heart, you may not have the heart you need to make it through the inevitable difficulties of life and love.
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 18:6 through Deuteronomy 18:13, we have two main subjects. In the first, Moses tells Israel what to do should a Levite that is not part of the ministry decides he wants to join the ministry team. I was a little confused on first reading because I thought they were all only ministers with no inheritance. With some research, I was reminded that some Levites could own land passed along to them by parents who received it as an offering. It appears they did not have to work in the temple, but this passage says that if they decide to serve in the presence of The Lord, they are to receive the same share as the other Levites plus whatever they may receive from the sale of their ancestral property.
The next part of the passage deals with some of what God considers to be abominable practices. Moses reminds Israel that these horrible practices are why God is driving out the former inhabitants, and he gives Israel a warning not to follow the ways of the former tenants of the land. Among the abominations are all types of witchcraft and sorcery. Here’s the exact words from today’s text in verses 10 and 11…
There must not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through fire, a diviner, a soothsayer, an enchanter, a sorcerer, a spell-caster, a consulter of ghosts or spirits, or a necromancer.
Apparently, participating in these things takes away part of the heart a person promises to God. I’m guessing that because, after telling the people that these things are abominations to God, Moses says (in verse 13), “You must be wholehearted with Adonai your God.” I knew that tapping into those things could open the door to evil spirits, and I knew that it meant taking on power and authority other than what God gives us according to His will, but I never thought of it as taking away part of the heart we say we are dedicating to Him.
Many years ago, I had friends who owned a discotheque in Southern California. I was a valley girl who loved to dance, so I was there about four nights a week. When disco died down, the owners turned the club into a magic club, and I continued to hang out there. I was always enthralled with illusion and slight-of-hand tricks, and at seventeen, I thought maybe I would like to be a part of that sparkly world. I talked to one of the magicians who was a member at L.A.’s famous “Magic Castle.” While he couldn’t reveal the actual secrets of a membership there, he did share things about the beliefs of some of the members that made me second-guess my desires.
I was not saved back in those days, but I also wasn’t totally sold out to a life of Godlessness. Thankfully, the part I was holding back was because of a fear of committing some kind of unforgivable sin. Even though I was not yet following Yeshua, I was a believer in God Almighty, and I knew some Bible teaching from years of Sunday School. Something in my heart felt a weirdness associated with those that claimed to practice “real magic.” I now know that “something” was a “Someone” and that it was the Holy Spirit leading me away from a world that could have trapped me in darkness.
Having lived with part of my heart set aside from the life I was living, I have experienced how to give only some of myself and how to hold back the most important parts. In a life of sin, it was a method of self-protection, but I don’t have to live that way anymore. Now, I serve a God who loves me and cares for me to the point that He has every hair on my head counted and numbered. I no longer have to hold back because of fear or for any other reason. I serve God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and I can understand why it’s exactly what He desires. I’m grateful that God protected me even when I didn’t know it, and that He only allowed me to love a world without Him with almost all of my heart.
When I read more about Leah today, from Genesis 30:14 through Genesis 30:27, I feel heartbroken for her. She has had four children, she has had two in proxy through her servant girl, but she still feels unloved. When her son collects some mandrakes from the field (thought to be translated from Hebrew meaning “love plant”), Rachael asks Leah if she can have some to help with her infertility. Leah gets upset and accuses Rachael of trying to steal her son as she has done with her husband. So Rachael makes a deal with Leah to exchange some of the fruit for Leah to have her husband back in her bed with her.
After all is said and done, Leah conceives and bares three more children, two boys and girl. She gives Jacob Isaachar (hired/reward), Zebulun (dwelling) and Dinah. When she named Zebulun, she said, “Maybe now that I have given him six children, my husband will live with me.” Finally, after Leah had her three new babies, Rachael finally conceived and gave birth to Joseph meaning “may He add” and hoping this was the end of her infertility and disgrace.
Both of these women had so much pain. Leah was unloved and lonely, and Rachael was infertile and felt rejected by God. But they were sisters. They could have loved each other and been there for each other through everything they went through. Leah could have cared for her sister’s infertility and invited her to help raise her nephews and nieces, but she was so bitter about the fact that her husband really wanted to be with her sister (and had actually married her in ceremony) that she did not care for her sister’s pain. I wonder if she had drawn closer to her sister, would she have felt less lonely? And I wonder if Rachael had cared more for her sister’s inability to change how their husband felt about her, and her inability to change the looks she was born with, would Leah have tried to spend more time with her. It seems that bitterness and envy made both of them lonelier and restricted both of them to lives without love of one kind or other–be it without a husband in the dwelling or without a child to raise.
Hebrews 12:15 talks about the root of bitterness and the torment that comes with it. I think feeling like you are living a life without any love in it would certainly fall under the definition of torment. But since the chapter ends with Jacob finishing his work for Laban and asking to return to his homeland with all his wives and children, maybe there is hope that once they all live together, the sisters can find love for each other again.
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!
We have a long reading today from Genesis 15:7 through Genesis 17:6, and that means it is harder for me to boil it down–especially since it has two important story parts. I will focus this post on the first part, from Chapter 15, where we have a ceremony between God and Abram that most people likely read through without realizing its significance. To understand the importance of this ceremony, I first need to tell you about the meaning of the “Blood Covenant” which is what is being performed here in what is now known as the “Abrahamic Covenant” or “Covenant of the Pieces.” It’s one of my favorite Old Testament stories because it gives us a glimpse into the future promise fulfilled by Jesus.
In a blood covenant, the sacrificial animals are cut in two pieces as a representation of the two parties or sides who are making the covenant. If either party breaks his agreement, the penalty is to pay in blood. At Wikipedia, I found an article explaining biblical covenants, and the writer there states it this way… “Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing an animal, with the implication that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate. In Hebrew, the verb meaning to seal a covenant translates literally as “to cut”. It is presumed by Jewish scholars that the removal of the foreskin symbolically represents such a sealing of the covenant.”
Now, here’s the understated thing about the covenant that I find very exciting: Each party walks through the pieces to symbolize his own keeping of the promise. This was a covenant between Abram (representing mankind) and God (representing Himself), and we see that before Abram was able to walk through, God put him to sleep. Both a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared in the midst of the pieces, which means that God Himself walked through the pieces as both man and God. By doing this, He promised that He would pay the price in blood if either side of the covenant was violated.
We know that God keeps His promises, but we also know that He understands the ways of man and knew we would not keep ours. That means He planned from way back to shed His own blood. Acts 20:28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Italics mine.) Also, in 1 John 3:16a, the Bible says we know the love of God because He laid down His own life for us.
This was just a beginning of promises to Abram, who will be renamed to Abraham by the end of today’s reading, but I will cover the rest in a separate post due to the length of today’s post. For now though, it excites me to know that His plans for us–and me–have always been to do whatever it takes to make sure He can spend eternity with those He loves. He does this in spite of our rebellious behaviors and our rejection of Him. I guess that’s why in John 15:13-14, Jesus told the disciples that there is no greater love than that where a person would lay down his life for his friends. And then He called them His friends. Halleluyah! We have been granted the greatest love if only we accept it.
Maybe my title should actually be “Thanks Á la Lot” since the story, from Genesis 13:5 through 13:18 is the story of Abram and his nephew Lot, but I just couldn’t pass up the pun. 🙂
In today’s part of Torah portion three, Lot and Abram were both so abundantly blessed that they began to overrun each other. Their servants even started fighting with each other. So Abram, ever a fan of peace and family, decided that it would be best of they put some space between them. Because Abram was the one with the blessing, and because he was the elder, he could have chosen the land he wanted and given Lot the leftovers. Instead, he told Lot to choose whatever he wanted, and he would be the one to take what was left.
Lot decided to take for himself the land that looked the best. The well-watered plains of what we now called Jordan. He did not seem concerned about the inhabitants who already lived there–in Sodom and Gomorrah, and we will see in later chapters how that should have been a top concern for him. Still, because Lot took Jordan, Abram took Canaan.
Starting with verse 14, we find Yahveh talking with Abram and making him some more promises. Now, in addition to the promise of making a name for him, God tells Abram to look around him and see if he can count the grains of sand because his family of descendants will be just as innumerable as the sand. With that, the Lord also tells him to look around at all his eyes can take in and to walk the length and breadth of it. Yahveh promises Abram it will all belong to him.
So, because Abram put love, peace, and family first, God added to his blessings. And Abram knew these things were gifts from the Almighty and built an altar of thanksgiving. To those who are the type to count their losses, having to give up land to Lot may have seemed like a sacrifice too great to pay. But because Abram knew where his blessings originated, he willingly did what was needed and was rewarded for a heart that counted blessings instead of troubles. And what was left for Abram to do after God rewarded him? Offer a sacrifice of praise for God’s abundant blessings on his life in spite of any loss–and he lost “a Lot.” (Sorry, I can’t help it. But laughter is good for us, so I hope my silliness makes someone smile.)
Today’s reading from Genesis 9:18 through Genesis 10:32 is a bit longer, and it is so because it’s another chapter that covers a bunch of genealogy. This time, it’s the genealogies from the sons of Noah from whom the entire earth was repopulated after the flood. But before it gets into the genealogies, this chapter tells a story of excess, drunkenness, and disrespectful behavior.
Noah was a farmer, so after getting off the boat, he planted a vineyard. From the fruit of his labors, he drank a bit too much wine (it is easy to go overboard when you have gone without something for a very long time) and passed out in his tent. I’m guessing his robes came undone, or the wine made him warm, and he stripped them off, but for whatever reason, he was laying there completely naked. What happened next changed the future of many people groups.
Noah’s youngest son, Ham, happened by his father’s tent. Instead of backing out and respecting him, he ran to tell his brothers all about it. Now remember, the sons who entered the ark were married men and their wives, so this was a full-grown married man running off to make fun of his father to other full-grown married men. I think there is likely much more to the story, but here’s what I see: The states of mind before the flood were not only lacking any direction toward God, but they were so selfish, they were immature. Learning to care for others instead of just yourself takes time and maturity, so selfish people often act childish by being demanding, having temper tantrums, and/or being just plain silly. I think Ham came on board with the mindset of those who had just been destroyed. Maybe all but Noah boarded that way, but I believe Ham “missed the boat” mentally and emotionally when he did not learn a lesson by watching the end result of that evil behavior. And that childish behavior caused problems from his son, Canaan, on down the line because Ham did not create a legacy of maturity and obedience that could be taught through the generations.
As with all of God’s stories though, there is always some good news to find. In this case, it was the two older brothers who walked backward with a blanket and covered their father’s nakedness instead of making fun of him. Were they mature because they were older, or had they matured as a result of the last year and the lesson learned from the destruction of mankind? It’s hard to tell, but in a literal way, they fulfilled Proverbs 10:12 where it says, “Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions” (Amplified Bible). The immature son disrespected his father, and hated him enough to try to stir things up against him in the hearts of his brothers. But his brothers loved their father and chose instead to cover his transgressions. I also like the way this is stated in 1 Peter 4:8 (Amp)….”Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”
We have a Savior who feels love toward us, so when given the choice to mock our sins and put them on public display for punishment, He chose instead to cover us–with His own body and blood. He took the public display, the mocking, and the punishment on Himself. And because mercy and love is more powerful than punishment and hate, we have the promise that His love covers our sins, not only unto the third and fourth generation (as it is with those who hate God), but unto thousands of generations of those that love God and keep His commandments. (See Exodus 20:6).
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/)…
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!!!
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