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Who Am I?


When you have a genuine relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) as your Lord and Savior, you have something that goes so far beyond religion and behavior that it sustains you. It holds you up when you’re feeling down, and it carries you higher in your moments of joy. It strengthens you when you are weak, and it gives you endurance when you stand to fight the good fight. There is no religious study or sacrifice that compares to being in love with God and know that He is in love with you.

Those times when I read His word and feel as if He is speaking directly to me are priceless. When I pray and somehow know I’m not just talking to air, but that He is right there in the room with me, it makes every sacrifice and good behavior worth it. I do what I do because of who I am in Christ; because of what He made me through the mercy of His blood that was shed on Calvary. It is in those times that I can feel the heart of those who write great lyrics like those written by Rusty Goodman in 1965 for the song Who Am I. (Video with lyrics below.) The chorus says…

Who am I that a King would bleed and die for?
And who am I that He would pray not my will thine for?
The answer I may never know,
Why He ever loved me so,
That to an old rugged cross He would go,
For who am I.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden talks about the whom versus the what…

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventh by The School of Christ

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

November 7

Knowing What vs. Knowing Whom

“I know Whom I have believed.”
2 TIMOTHY 1:12

A certain brother was always emphatic about what he believed until someone with equal or greater argument confronted him. This occurred one day when someone pointed out several supposed “errors” in the Bible. This caused the brother to be very alarmed. He went to an elderly sister and informed her of these alleged errors and wanted to know her opinion. She simply stated that the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of these questions.

He thought, perhaps not to you, but to me it is important! So he spent the next year investigating what this other person had told him and found it to be untrue. But, had he simply known God He would not have found it necessary to study the whole thing and reason it out. The elderly sister was right, the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of those questions. If you know Who, knowing what and why become less significant.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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A friend of mine went into a store in Florida that was owned by a Jewish proprietor. She was wearing a necklace with both a Star of David and a cross on it, so the owner asked her about it. She explained a bit about Messianic Judaism, and he responded with a statement that she later shared with me. He said, “As long as it is who you are and not just what you are.”

When we have the “who” down (both Whom we serve and who we are), we have an identity. With it, we’ve got a better chance of hanging in there when things get tough. It’s part of what attracts people to gangs and similar groups. People need identity, and who better to share an identity with than The King of Kings? As a matter of fact, I heard a story once of a young gang member walking by a church once where someone was singing Rusty’s song. The thought that he could share an identity with a king apparently meant something to him, so he rushed into the church and asked if he could meet that King.

Have you met The King? If so, have you made Him Lord of your life? If you haven’t, you are welcome to write to me to learn more about God. If you already serve Him, I’d love to hear something about your walk with Him, and who you are in Him. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Who Am I as performed by the “Altar of Praise Chorale” and backed by some beautiful imagery…

November 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When A Lie is Not A Lie


Stories like the one in today’s reading from Genesis 12:14 through Genesis 13:4 may be one of the reasons why our court system has testifiers agree to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” In this story, Abram has decided that his wife Sarai’s beauty could cost him his life, so he falls back on the fact that she is his half-sister. He has her tell the Egyptians that she is Abram’s sister and conveniently leave out the part about her being married to him. They pay him handsomely for sharing his “sister” with them, and they don’t question it until plagues hit their household. Somehow, I guess the word has already gotten around that you don’t mess with the things of God Almighty because they knew what was causing their plagues, and they immediately released Sarai to Abram and sent them both safely on their way with many blessings.

For me, the idea of telling a half truth, even for a good cause, is difficult. I am honest to a fault, and I have to find a reason and a justification before I can agree to something like what was cooked up between Abram and Sarai. I actually felt bad for the Egyptians and what they had to go through as a result of this half-lie. But as I study it and other Scriptures, I can see that there are times when the “letter of the law” is less important than the “spirit of the law.” For example, if you tell someone that you have plans that don’t include celebrating their birthday because you actually want to surprise that person with a party, in the letter of the law, you’ve told a lie. But in the spirit of the law, you were not leaving out truth for the purpose of hurting someone, so it wasn’t truly a lie. For the Egyptians, if they truly served God Almighty, Abram wouldn’t even have had to fear they would take his life just to take his wife for themselves. If they served the True God, and if they were God-minded and not self-centered pleasure seekers, they would have known to pray about everything rather than just thinking they could take something simply because they desired it.

It’s not always easy to know when to lean on the spirit of the law over the letter, but there are a few other biblical examples of it…

In 1 Samuel 21, King David acts like he is insane.

In Joel 3:10, the weak are to say they are strong.

There’s even a story where a prophet has to get beaten to look like he has been attacked before arriving at a particular city.

All of these things point to the same issue–do not speak lies or truth with the purpose of hurting others. Search your heart and pray before you speak at all times. Commit your ways to God, and from there, He will establish your thoughts, and thereby your words. Walk in the spirit of the law, and you’re less likely to violate the letter of the law unless there is just no other way around it.

October 13, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proverbs 2 – Treasure Hunt for Wisdom


Can you recall meeting people who would not let you get to know them? Maybe you tried to show interest in them and show that you cared, so you could create a safe place for them to be themselves. But no matter what you did, it seemed they were all locked up inside themselves. Maybe it was fear, maybe pride, or maybe a little of both, but whatever it was, it was frustrating.

For a person like me who will share just about everything about herself, it’s even harder to deal with someone who is closed up. But thankfully, God is not that way! It thrills me that He says in so many places in His word that He wants me to get to know Him. He says things like, “They that seek me will find me.” Of course, that verse is incomplete. It actually says, in paraphrase from Jeremiah 29:13, “Those that seek me with all their hearts will find me.”

Here’s what today’s reading from Proverbs 2 (talking about seeking God’s wisdom) has to say…

4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (KJV)

God wants us to know more about Him. He wants to share the treasures of His wisdom. But He doesn’t want to give those treasures away to just anyone. He wants to give them to those who desire them and will value them. They are as valuable as silver and gold, so God doesn’t want to just dump them out on those who are satisfied with fool’s gold.

Oh, but if we are seekers, He wants to share with us in abundance. In James 1:5, we’re even told that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God and He will give it to us liberally. And in James 4:8, we’re reminded that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. His presence is an awesome treasure, and this verse amplifies Deuteronomy 4:7 that says, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (KJV)”

Doesn’t that just make you want to run to Him and learn more about Him? I know it does me. I’m thankful He’s not a god who is, like the song says, “watching us from a distance.” He is near. His wisdom is near. He simply wants us to seek Him. And when we do, the rest of this chapter talks about how we will fall in love with His wisdom and knowledge and how it will protect us from being led down paths that could be impossible to return from. I cannot fully put into words how much I value His presence and His wisdom, but I welcome you to join me as a fellow treasure hunter, and to rejoice with me for all the wonderful gifts we will find as we seek Him.

 

 

January 3, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Proverbs & Wisdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Faith


THE POWER OF FAITH – Revision One

By Crystal A. Murray 05-16-12

 (This is a revision of the line-numbered article as linked to in my first post. The revisions are extensive, so please consider reading it even if you have already perused the first post or the article as I wrote it for my Scribd documents. Thanks.)


This study on the power of faith is a result of studies I conducted while walking through my personal valley of decision some years ago. I began to study after seeking God’s wisdom about the current “movements” in the churches about things considered as being in the realm of God’s Spirit. What many called “revivals” were cropping up all over, and they were lauded by all kinds of Christian media. It seemed to be real and to have proven results, so I sought God as to whether I needed to visit one of these “faith healers” about a desperate physical need in my life.

I had always wondered about the depth and value of my faith, and whether it was truly enough to “move mountains” in my life. I battled with episodes of guilt for not having enough faith, such as when I did not receive a miracle healing to conceive children. At other times, it seemed my faith was huge—especially when I prayed for others, and people would come to me requesting me to pray for them because they thought my faith was so much better than their own. I sought God to ask that my faith would always be within His perfect will for my life.

For many years, voices have echoed inspirations to “act in faith,” or to “believe to receive,” or “name it to claim it.” They told me to come boldly before the throne of God and to remind Him of His promises in Scripture, and to proclaim as my own whatever I am asking for in faith. I’ve been told that I would only receive what I believed and even reminded to “fake it until you make it” to encourage myself in faith. As part of the revival movement that started all this, I was even advised that a way to strengthen faith is to exercise it. The suggested exercise as being taught by many at the time was to command one of my own fingers to grow, return to its original size, grow again, return again, etc. People were getting results with this, but I had to wonder if the results were actually from God.

After being introduced to these kinds of powers, and to other teachings I felt might border too closely to mysticism, I felt it necessary to seek God and His wisdom from the depths of my heart. I asked Him to show me, by causing my finger to grow, if this was of Him. No fingers grew, though I knew I had faith since I had experienced this exact phenomenon when I watched my leg grow nearly two inches.

An important factor in the leg growth situation is that the growth came after God specifically directed me to believe in Him for a miraculous healing in my back that day. The growth has since been medically verified, so I had no reason not to believe God could do this type of thing, but only needed to know if He would and if it was His will.

When my finger did not grow, I had to believe it was God’s way of showing me that “practicing” faith was not something He was directing me to do. Still, people who were seeing results from this practice warned me that if I didn’t have enough faith when I asked for healing, I would end up getting worse instead of better. This did not sound like the God I knew from Scripture or the God I knew from my personal testimony of His love toward me. I knew He had plenty of power to share, but I never wanted to think of Him like some kind of “genie in a lamp” type of god.

The more I sought to understand these things, the more I continued to hear about the wave of miracles that was spreading wildly through the churches. The biggest of these “shows” was coming out of Lakeland, Florida, with a man named Todd Bentley. I had no desire to find fault with these events, especially since it would have been in my best interest physically to find them as true and to seek healing through the miraculous rather than through surgical means. However, God was about to open my eyes to things I never expected to find. I won’t cover it all in this article, but I will cover the main points of Scriptures I found about faith as God walked me through them.

My first answer came with just one section of Scripture. From two verses, I understood how people like Todd Bentley, (and other last days’ seducers and apostates as warned of in Scripture), could perform the miraculous, even if it was not of God. However, even knowing this wisdom came from God, I felt it necessary to continue studying to make certain I had more than one Scripture on which to base my understanding. The following Scriptures and commentary are a result of that study.

(All Scriptures used are KJV. Scriptures are bolded with Jesus’ words in red.)

First, the Scripture that tells how people can work miracles and yet not be of God:

(Matthew 7:22-23)

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

But wait, didn’t they just say they prophesied, and cast out devils, and did wonderful works of God? Furthermore, didn’t they say they did all these things in Jesus’ Name? So how can He then say to them that He never knew them? The answer is in the word “knew” which is translated from the same referral to intimate knowledge as when Adam “knew” Eve and she bore him a son. Jesus was saying that He never planted His seed within them. They were worshiping the miracles rather than the Giver of the miracles; the creation more than the Creator; the power more than the All Powerful. Because they had faith, and because—as I will show later—faith works, those referred to in this Scripture (people we will likely see in the “last days”) were able to do good works in the right name, but their hearts were wrapped up in the works of the Lord rather than in the Lord of the work, so their righteousness became as filthy rags. The remedy to this is found in the next verse, a command from Jesus to His disciples.

(Mark 11:22)
And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Have faith in God.”

Have faith in God and not in ourselves or a man. This is the beginning of an admonition to the disciples after they asked Jesus about the power He had over the fig tree. He is making sure they understand that it’s not just about power or faith in general, because (or verily)…

(Mark 11:23)
For verily I say unto you, “That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Understand that faith in and of itself is so powerful that even if a man asks for an impossible thing like moving a mountain into the sea, faith will cause it to happen. God created faith with infinite possibilities–even the possibility to go against His perfect will if believers do not connect their will and their faith directly to Him. In reality, I don’t imagine God would want men running around changing nature and the ecosystem as He has created it, but because of the power of faith, they most certainly could do so.

(Mark 11:24)
Therefore I say unto you, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Therefore, or because of how great the power is that is found in faith, when you have a desire, make sure you pray and THEN believe. Notice Jesus did not say, “if you pray” but rather “when you pray” because it was important for the disciples not to use the power of faith incorrectly. Those things desired should be asked in prayer to God, not just spoken like a man talking to a mountain. This goes back to Jesus’ very first statement, “Have faith in God.” He was giving them a command and then informing them of how to act on it. First, make sure the faith is in God, and then check your desires against that faith by taking it to God in prayer, and then you can have confident belief in it because you know it is His true will for you.

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Here’s another look at the same scenario by a different writer:

(Luke 17:5-6)
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

The mustard seed here is used as an answer to the disciples’ request for Jesus to “increase their faith.” He says, basically, that the amount of their faith had nothing to do with the works they could do. He used something small to drive home that even if it was a tiny bit of faith, they could do great things with it. It wasn’t about the size of the faith but the source of the faith. Jesus was telling them they didn’t need to ask for an increase in faith but rather a change in the use and purpose of their faith. The purpose was to use it in obedience to His command to have all their faith in God. The next part follows this reminder with a story that would seem to be unconnected.

(Luke 17:7-10)
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, ‘Go and sit down to meat?’ And will not rather say unto him, ‘Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?’ Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.’ “

So why would Jesus follow the admonition about faith with the story about the servant doing what was commanded of him? Because, He was reminding them that having faith was a command. It was not something He was praising them for having, and it was not something they should praise themselves for having. They needed to be obedient and humble so that even when they operated in a power great enough to move a mountain they would say, “No big deal. We just did our duty.”

And let me add here that I am extremely uncomfortable with hearing someone say, “He’s a great man of faith” or “She’s a mighty woman of faith.” I believe this goes exactly against what Jesus was saying here about our obedience not making us anything more than unprofitable servants. When we use faith in Jesus, we are simply doing what He has commanded us to do. We are even reminded in Philippians 2:13 that God is the one who gives us the desire to serve Him, so we can’t even brag if we have a desire for faith, let alone if we carry it out. If He wants to see us more highly, that’s fine, but we should see ourselves as nothing more than obedient servants…

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And here is a longer example from Matthew:

(Matthew 17:14-21)
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, “Why could not we cast him out?”

And Jesus said unto them, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

In this example, we can see Jesus again telling the disciples that faith is so powerful, even a little bit can cause a mountain to be cast into the sea. And yet, He reminds them that demons only respond to that which is in the power of God. He goes on to say that He understands they may not be able to have that true and focused type of faith in God required to fight the enemy unless they subdue their flesh through prayer and fasting. This drives home that it’s more than just practicing faith over body parts, or proclaiming what we want to believe. It must be wholly wrapped up in God and His perfect will to be the kind of faith that pleases Him and yields the right results.

Furthermore, to have any kind of power in the spirit realm, we need even more to be sure we are working with God’s power and not our own “faith” which may not be motivated by obedience or love toward God. In Acts 19:13-16, the seven sons of Sceva had faith enough to get the attention of demons, (they were vagabond Jews so they knew the difference in God and the enemy,) but because they had no true relationship with God, and because they were not directed by God to cast out demons, they were overcome and wounded.

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And here’s one more example after the disciples watched Jesus curse the fig tree…

(Mat 21:20-22)
And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, “How soon is the fig tree withered away!” Jesus answered and said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Again, Jesus tells them if they have pure faith, they will not only be able to have power over the fruit of a tree but even greater things. And again, He follows it with the reminder that belief is not enough and that all things should be asked in prayer.

Important note here: Prayer is not the time to speak our beliefs, it is the time to make certain our beliefs are in God’s perfect will for us. Once we have that answer, we can go on to confident belief, which is the meat or evidence of things not seen until they come to pass. Jesus is giving the disciples an exact diagram here of how to have faith. And it works the same for us. Pray first and pray always. Or, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray without ceasing.

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And this one does well in wrapping it all up for me.

(Rom 12:2-3)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

I believe it is first saying we should make sure our motives are correct, so we will do God’s will and not our own. We do not want to be like the world in trying to feel better about ourselves by judging someone else—especially not concerning something like faith that is a gift God gives to all of us. This thing we do where we pat people on the back because they appear to have “great faith” or condemn people because they don’t have enough faith is too much like the servants of flesh that unwisely compare themselves among themselves.

My idea of how Jesus might tell a parable that would explain the power of faith:

“There once was a man who wanted to see a demonstration of the power of God, so he prayed about it and asked God to use him. God handed him a cup of water and sent him to the desert with the command to splash it on a man he would find there. When he splashed it on the man, what do you suppose happened? ”

The disciples correctly answered, “The man got wet and it cooled him off.”

“Right,” said Jesus. “The water had the power to get the man wet and cool him off at the same time. If you have faith in God, you too can take a cup of water and splash it on any person or object and it will get that person or object wet. Even a little water will still cause whatever it touches to get wet. But always pray before you splash so you won’t be tempted to revel in it when a hot and dry man praises you for cooling him off.”

My commentary: 

Since faith has power even apart from God, in the same sense that water gets someone wet even if God is not the one splashing it on, we must remember to think clearly about our use of it. In other words, if God gave us a cup of water, and we used it to get someone wet, would we brag about how they got wet because we were the ones that splashed it?  If he gave me a smaller cup of water and you a larger cup of water, should you brag that you were able to get more people wet than I was? Would that change the properties of the water having the ability to wet things, or would it change who gave the water these properties?

We should never think, just because we obey God’s command and use what God has given us to perform something, that we are more highly valued than anyone else, or even that we have any greater power in God. Unlike what was done to Todd Bentley, our actions in faith do not deserve a special robe and ring, and a declaration from other “mighty men of the faith” that we have some special anointing. That is simply pride that goes before destruction, like the embarrassing truth that came out about Mr. Bentley cheating on his wife with one of the members of the ministry team.

The fact is, just like God made water with the properties to get things wet, He made faith and made it to yield power. The power of faith, like the wetness of water, will work whether or not it is God’s perfect will for us to “splash” it around. We are not special because we are able to use the gift of God’s faith, but by God’s grace we are able (and even commanded) to operate in His gifts–even in this mortal flesh. We should praise God for His grace to trust us with such power, but even when we rejoice in that, we must remember Jesus words to the disciples in the 20th verse of Luke 10: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

Final Notes: The remaining verses in Romans 12 list many gifts in the body of Christ and remind us that we are to use them as a duty, just as Jesus reminded the men when He talked about the servant. By having an obedient and humble spirit, we can remain joined as a body, yielding to our callings, preferring others above ourselves, instant in prayer, not influenced by “high” things, and compassionate. These things culminate with not being overcome by evil, (or subdued by empty worthlessness), but rather taking victory over worthless things by sticking to the right, the good, and the beneficial things. Have faith in God, not because of the power of faith but because of the power of God.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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