Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

God’s Presence Changes Everything!


Fullness of Joy image by Adam Ranck at Flickr

Fullness of Joy by Adam Ranck at Flickr…
https://www.flickr.com/photos/aranck/12436534373
CC License Attribution, Non-commercial

Stress! Anxiety! Who will win the election? Who are my friends and loved ones voting for? Who should a Christian support? Surely, every candidate supports something with which God Himself will find fault, so what’s a Christian to do?

If your answer is PRAY, you are absolutely right, but that is only the beginning. Then, we must question what to pray for. Do we pray for a specific outcome? Do we ask God who to vote for and then hope we hear His answer correctly? Of course, we can pray those things, but there’s still anxiety in them, and God’s word tells us to be anxious for nothing. So, what can we pray that will remove our anxieties when there is so much of our future at stake?

Pray for the presence of God!

I’ll say it again…PRAY FOR THE PRESENCE OF GOD!

Remember the promises that come with praying for God’s presence, and you will see that a prayer for His presence is enough for EVERY situation–including every political outcome. If His presence is in the voting booth, it can guide voters to the best decision. If His presence is in the high places (like the White House and campaign headquarters), it can drive out the spiritual wickedness that dwells in high places. If His presence shows up where there has been deceit, it can spur the revelations that will cause hidden sins to be found out. We need God’s presence to bring balance and truth throughout this nation.

Some of God’s presence promises include…

So, like a little light can drive out darkness, even a little of God’s presence can drive out those things which cause us anxiety, including the turmoil about this election and all that is involved with it. The more of us who pray for God’s presence, the more of His presence will be there–and we then have a great amount of Light to change the atmosphere.

Please, join me not only on election day but always to pray for God’s presence. For elections, pray for God to be in every voting booth, at every polling place, in every government seat and building, in every campaign gathering and headquarters, with every voter, and with every candidate. After elections, and as all the candidates swear their allegiance to our Constitution and the nation, states, and cities they will represent, may the presence of God go with each and every one of them to lead them in their duties and in their personal lives as well.

God’s presence will bring light where there is darkness, truth where there are lies, justice where there is imbalance, and peace where there is strife. There can be no greater prayer for today or for our future than to pray for Him and His presence to be poured out and to fill every aspect of our nation, our world, and our lives.

November 7, 2016 Posted by | Current Events, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Taste Test


Remember the old commercial that told what kind of peanut butter choosy mothers selected? They would do a blind taste test to let people choose their preferred flavor without the benefit of knowing which brand they were tasting. Of course, the commercial displayed those who selected the brand paying for the advertising time.

Much of advertising is set to compare one brand to another, so consumers can make a choice between the two. If that comparison is done with actual experience, such as taste or feel, the advertiser best be certain of the quality of his product before putting it to the test. If the product is of good quality, there should be no fear in comparing it with any other brand.

There are a lot of voices in the world hawking their theories and beliefs as to what is truth. With an array of opinions, both old and new, the advertising and reports of each can seem overwhelming. But as old theories are disproven by new facts, the one that stands the test of time is the word of God. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter speaks of why it continues to stand.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth 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 26

His Word is Truth

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
JOHN 17:17

I am frequently asked how do we partake of this fullness? How do we walk in it? What practical application exists for living according to this Truth? We see what God says, but we also see our situation. We see Jesus, but we also see ourselves. God says we are complete in Him, but we say we are incomplete. God says we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we say we still need this or that. What is the problem here? Is it not a glaring discrepancy between what God says and what we say? Whose word is more reliable?

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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King David said it this way in Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

When all is presented before us, we must be choosy. Whose report should we believe? The one that goes beyond theories and ideas and stands with personal testimony that cannot be disputed. Our own testimony, and the testimonies of those we love and trust, will tell us more than any educated and intelligent scientist can tell through disassociated theory.

When I served my most recent jury duty, one of the things they taught while going over how things worked was evidence. Testimony, they said, was the strongest form of evidence available. Testimony coupled with physical evidence is what makes the difference in knowing whether a report is believable; otherwise, anything could be called the truth.

God’s word is true and believable. Those who stand against it have rarely put it to an actual test of experience, especially of long experience. I would both encourage and challenge anyone who is unsure about the written word of God to read it and try it for yourself. Read it over and over and apply it to your life. Regardless of what you’ve heard from pulpit heralds, good or bad, nothing will be as convincing as your own experience. The saying goes, “Try Jesus: If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back.” I say, take God’s word for your own “taste test.”

Psalm 34:8 from The Message Bible

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revelation Revelation


While many in our current culture are satisfied to just live a moment to moment existence, there are some who seek a deeper life. Those who want more may seek it in almost any area of “great power” because they know it requires more than simple humanity. Some will seek the power in nature, some in witchcraft or magic, some in knowledge, and some in mind-altering chemicals. A few will seek it directly from God, but this is often the minority.

Why would the God who created the whole universe be the last place people want to go for more power? Is it because they don’t feel they can get it from Him? I don’t think so. I think it’s because of the cost involved. Too many people want power without the price, so they buy into something that promises that to them–even if it’s a lie.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter gives us the key to finding real revelation in truth.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fifth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fifth 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 25

The Key to All Revelation

“In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
COLOSSIANS 2:3

It is not that God desires to give us revelation into the many things, but for us to have the Revelation of Jesus Christ. By apprehending Him we will subsequently gain insight in those “things.”

To seek revelation into the “things” apart from the Revelation of Christ fails to give Christ the preeminence. We dare not circumvent the knowledge of Him in the pursuit of “things,” even spiritual things, for they are all summed up into Him.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!

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The author mentions seeking revelation in “things” apart from Christ, and he includes spiritual things. Unfortunately, that desire to have “magic” and “power” without the cost has even taken hold in Christianity. It’s right up there with wanting to go to Heaven but not wanting to die.

However, like it says in one of the currently running television series, “All magic comes with a price.” That series also points out that “love is the greatest magic of all.” The unspoken message here is that even love comes with a price. The difference, of course, is that with love, it’s worth the cost. True love doesn’t even count the cost because it’s focused on the reward just as Christ focused on us instead of the nails at Calvary.

Revelation in The Lord means receiving knowledge and wisdom directly from Him. We seek it from Him because we know it is pure truth. We seek it from Him because we want to draw closer to Him. If we seek it simply for power or authority, or for any reason other than walking in God’s will because we want to please Him, we’re at risk of seeking magic instead of revelation. The Scripture used above is clear when read in the Amplified Bible

In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden.

And, in Matthew 6:33 (KJV), we have the promise and inspiration we’ve been singing about since Sunday School if we spent any time in church as children…

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I’ve always heard this as compared to seeking physical things (like riches and provisions) from God, but it also works in seeking power, authority, and revelation. If we seek Yeshua and His righteousness, all that is Him and is from Him will be revealed to us as we walk in His marvelous light. That’s the right way to receive revelation because, like Solomon sought wisdom and received both wisdom and riches, we seek God and receive all he has to offer with Him.

November 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Tell the Truth


I remember a college class where the main book focused on the thought that “truth is subjective.” They used examples like two different people looking at something from different angles and therefore seeing different truths. In some ways, yes, truth can be subjective. The argument between my grandparents as to whether my uncle’s front door was brown or white was recorded for posterity. We still laugh as we watch Grandpa sitting on one side of the open door and Grandma sitting on the other; both insisting on the color from their perspectives. One side was white, and one side was brown, so both descriptions were the truth.

Real truth, however, is the whole picture. In the case of my grandparents, neither were actually telling the truth because neither saw both sides of the door. To tell the whole truth, you must know the whole truth. Grandma could tell Grandpa it was brown all day long, but he would never believe her as long as his view was only of the white side of the door.

Today’s Infinite Supply talks about “The Truth,” meaning Jesus Christ who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixth by The School of Christ

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

November 6

Seeing As God Sees

“He, the Spirit of truth… will guide you into all truth.”
JOHN 16:13

To choose the Truth is to want the Truth at all costs, even if it means sacrificing everything I have believed up until now, challenging all my paradigms, questioning all my teachers, examining everything I have ever experienced.

Of course our first decision about Truth is based upon Who Jesus is. With that question settled many Christians are content, but Truth is living. Truth will continue to reveal Himself to us and around us for as long as we will allow it. What, after all, is Wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to see things from heaven’s, and thus God’s, perspective. Daily we must choose between ignorant bliss or seeing things as God sees them. It is a daily choice. You cannot be told, you have to see it for yourself.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!

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I think what Chip says about truth having to come by revelation; that it’s something we cannot be told, is important. Yeshua speaks to Peter (Hebrew Kefa) in Matthew 16:13-20 and asks him who people say He (Yeshua) is. Peter confesses that Yeshua is the Anointed Messiah, and Yeshua blesses him for it. He tells him that it’s not something he could have figured out on his own, but that only God could have revealed such truth to him. That’s where Yeshua follows up with the prophecy that on that rock (the foundation of revelation or revealed truth), He would build His church.

Truth must be revealed. It’s like the truth of realizing you are in love. No one else can tell you. I think that’s why people compare it to falling. It comes on quick like you tripped and fell into it, and then you just know, and you know better than if someone had tried to tell you.

Christian Country singer Ann Hartmann has a song called God’s Got the Box on her “Look Up” album. In the lyrics, she talks about how hard it can be to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the box. Then, she talks about life being like a jigsaw where we struggle until we realize that God sees the whole picture because He’s got the box. It’s an analogy that has stayed with me since I first heard her sing the song.

To tell the truth, I guess “truth” really is subjective since the only One who really knows and sees it all is the One who is Truth Himself. Knowing that, however, we can walk in truth simply by walking as we are led by His Holy Spirit.

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Simple Prayer for a God-Led Day


Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, 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.

I was all set for what I planned to share tonight, so I went to YouTube to look for the video I wanted to attach. When I got there, I found some videos claiming that the teaching I planned to bring to you was incorrect. Yikes! Now, I’m not saying it is incorrect, but I am saying I will do more research before I present it here as any kind of fact. I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong (though I don’t like it, of course), but I do try to research all I can before I pass information on to others. And, while I know there will always be dissenters about any kinds of doctrine or teaching, especially when it comes to Bible teaching, I am driven to examine both sides before making a decision.

After a couple hours of study, I didn’t come to a conclusion. So, I am going to read more by and about both authors, and I am going to pray, and then I will present my findings here. Whether I come to a conclusion or not, I will share both sides, but I want to give myself some time to examine all possibilities before I just jump into believing one thing or another. Too many these days believe in things right off because they sound good, and unfortunately, that even includes me sometimes. I try to be like the biblical Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 who searched the Scriptures daily to verify the words being taught by Paul and Silas. Now I find that even teachings I hear from what I consider to be a trusted source can be a misconception, so I will keep studying until I can be confident in what I share.

Therefore, in addition to encouraging you, my readers and friends, to do the same–study to show yourself approved to God, let me share something I wrote sometime ago. I typed it as a note in my phone that I can look at first thing in the morning to set my day on a right path. I hope to put it on some Zazzle products soon, so others can get it before themselves on a daily basis too. Enjoy!

GOOD MORNING LORD!!!

HERE I AM.
I KNOW YOU HAVE PLANS…
FOR THIS DAY;
FOR MY LIFE;
FOR ME;
FOR ME IN THIS DAY.

MAY I LISTEN TO–AND HEAR–YOUR VOICE.
MAY I SEE, AND KNOW, YOUR WILL.
MAY I FOLLOW YOU, AND
MAY I PRAISE YOU
FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE…
THIS DAY AND FOREVER

IN YOUR HOLY, MEMORIAL NAME, YAHVEH,
AMEN AND HALLELUYAH!

Blessings and God’s Shalom to each and every one of you as you seek more of Yeshua and His Word every day.

~Crystal

October 31, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Prayer, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inconceivably Inconceivable


A minister, a Boy Scout, and a scientist were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came running back to the cabin and explained that the plane was going to crash, and anyone who wanted to be saved would have to jump. “But,” he added, “there are only three parachutes and four people. I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children. The rest of you will have to figure out what to do.” So, he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The scientist jumped up almost immediately and declared that he should have one of the parachutes because of his value to the world. He said, “I am the smartest man in the world and they all need me.” With that, he grabbed one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout with a sad smile.  “Son,” he said, “you are young and have your whole life in front of you, and I have already lived a rich life. You take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” Then the Boy Scout said, “It’s okay, Reverend; the smartest man in the world just jumped out with my backpack!”

Inconceivable! How can someone so smart make such a stupid decision, right? But people do it all the time. We’re told in John 1:4-5 (New King James Version)…

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

With the little bit of light it takes to illuminate darkness, it seems inconceivable that darkness would have any choice but to comprehend it. Of course, the word may also mean that darkness could not defeat it based on footnotes, but I can see evidence in this world that those in the dark have no understanding of The Light. To the contrary, we’re told in John 3:19 (The Complete Jewish Bible)…

Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.

It’s not that they are in too much darkness, and it’s not that they are ignorant. They cannot blame being unable to see for their behaviors if they have been presented the truth and knowingly turned it away. There may be difficulty in finding God’s light, and The Light may seem a bit blinding to them when first introduced to eyes not used to it, but it can be done. There is difficulty in bringing sin into our lives. I coughed and hacked and choked when I tried my first cigarette, but I kept working at it until I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be accepted by the girls who introduced me to smoking, and at that point, I felt it worth the struggle.

Maybe it can be a struggle to get free from the bondage of sin, and maybe it will take some work to choke up the darkness we’ve swallowed before meeting God, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because sin is bondage, and God is freedom. It’s worth it because sin is a lie, and God is Truth. It’s worth it because living in sin is like living in pitch blackness, but living with God is living in The Light. God offers so much light that the Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 139:11-12 (New Living Translation)…

I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

If we introduce people to The Gospel, and they choose to remain in darkness, it is not because we have done an improper job of presenting The Light. As you can see from the Psalm, God can turn even darkness into light. No, instead it’s about people who choose to keep their eyes shut tightly against God’s light and hope to claim ignorance in the end. It’s inconceivable to them that their lies won’t work because they are in bondage to them. For those of us who know God and His abundant mercy and grace, we cannot imagine rejecting such love and wonder. To us, rejecting Yeshua and His salvation is inconceivably inconceivable.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 NKJV)

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Obsolete Man


By and far my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone is The Obsolete Man starring Burgess Meredith. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you dedicate 25 minutes to seeing what would be become of a society that decides “Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace.” (Plus. the ending is sooooo worth it.) Our current world has a difficult time not swinging the pendulum to either the far right or the far left when it comes to judgment versus love when the balance of judgment and love is the real truth.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 16:18 through Deuteronomy 17:13, we begin a new portion and a new week. Parashah 48 is titled Shof’tim in Hebrew and means “Judges” in English. It begins with Moses’ instruction from God to Israel that they are to appoint judges for the people. These judges will rule city by city and tribe by tribe, and they are assigned to offer righteous judgment that does not show favoritism or pervert justice. This assignment even comes with the warning that bribes and gifts blind even the eyes of the wise and twists even the words of the upright.

As the portion continues, God’s words of warning move into sacrifice and worship. No one should plant a tree or sacred pole beside God’s altar, and no one should set up a standing stone because God hates these things. They should never sacrifice anything defective because it would be an abomination to God. And then the warning gets really strong. If a man or woman is found doing anything that is wicked in the eyes of God, such as worshiping the sun, the moon, or anything in the sky, the judges first and then the community is to stone whoever worships that which is forbidden by God. Moses tells them this is how to put an end to any wickedness among them.

We all know of issues where we find it difficult to judge, especially with sins being under the blood of Yeshua and Scripture that warns us that if we judge, we will be judged. Apparently, this is not a new thing. As our reading comes to a close, God tells the city judges what to do when a matter becomes too hard for them to make a judgment. The higher court will give a verdict, and the tribal judge must act on it exactly, not turning to the right or left of the judgment. If that judge acts presumptuously and does not obey the word he has been given, God says he should die to put out all such disobedience from the community.

I can say that I would not have wanted the task of being a tribal or city judge back then, but I also understand how a society can move from presumptuousness to becoming devoid of all truth and logic. We need pure judgment. God is the Supreme Judge and Justice who represents perfect truth. If we do not use His holy word as a guide to determine light from darkness, we become a society with boundaries determined by a godless majority. Instead of seeing darkness for darkness, they will put us in a world of gray that men refuse to see as gray but declare only as different levels of light and truth. But there are no different levels of truth and light, and gray is a lukewarm condition that Christ will spew out when it is presented before Him to judge.

What are we to do when we see someone who claims to serve God walking in what the Bible calls sin? If we bring up the Bible, the sinner may thank us for loving him enough to point out the truth, and he will repent. That’s the best-case scenario. Sadly, however, too many are defensive and resistant to change. They will just accuse us of being judgmental. The Scripture that warns “because of sin, the love of many will turn cold” is talking about agape or “Christian” love. The Complete Jewish Bible says it this way…

“…and many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah.”

It’s a hard truth, but because people want to remain comfortable instead of confronted, we are allowing the enemy of our souls to succeed in making men of conviction obsolete–even in the church.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

He’ll Leave A Light On For You


Candle with Shadow Cross by Flickr User John Harvey aka monkeyc.net, CC License = Attribution, Noncommerical, Share Alike

Candle with Shadow Cross by Flickr User John Harvey aka monkeyc.net, CC License = Attribution, Noncommerical, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab with access to original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.
User graciously allows derivatives on this image, so I was able to frame it and add the Scripture verse.

Light is such a welcoming feature that a famous U.S. motel chain created the slogan, “We’ll leave a light on for you.” Few people like to walk into a place with no light, especially if that place is unfamiliar. And in all truth, that’s why we have God’s Word. It is God’s way of bringing us from darkness into His marvelous light. For those who are living in darkness and do not understand it, God’s light can be blinding at first, so we who live and walk in His light do well to remember to bring it up gently. We can also remember that in total darkness, it takes very little light to illuminate an entire room.

In today’s reading from Exodus 10:12 through Exodus 10:23, we will see that God is the Creator of light, and He can take it away just as sure as He can send it. In the beginning of our reading, Moses is instructed to stretch out his hand. When he does, God causes a wind to blow from the east that brings in more locusts than Egypt has ever seen. When it is all said and done, not one green thing remains in all the land.

Pharaoh rushes to bring in Moses, and this time he actually confesses that he has sinned against God and against Moses. He asks for forgiveness of his sin “just this once” and begs Moses to intercede for God to remove this plague. God sends a west wind and drives the locusts into the Sea of Suf, but Pharaoh does not let the people go. As an answer, God begins plague number nine. He tells Moses to raise his hand to the sky, and it brings in a thick darkness over all the land of Egypt. It was so dark that people could not see each other or go anywhere for three days. But the people of Israel had light in their homes.

I love that last line because it can be taken in more than just a literal sense. When the people of Egypt chose to be disobedient to God, even their trusted sources of light (I’m guessing that would’ve basically been candles in those times) did not seem to work. When people now choose to live in disobedience to God, their sources of light–knowledge, power, money, things, beauty, etc.–won’t illuminate their way either.

How many stories do we read of those we would think have everything who end up descending into hopelessness and ending their lives by suicide? There’s a whole set of books by Patricia Fox-Sheinwold that covers stories of celebrities whose lives came to a tragic end instead of a natural one. Many of the stories are about suicide. This tells us that no matter what else people have or do not have, we all need God in our lives and in our homes if we want true peace and light. If we seek God with our whole hearts, we can be sure He WILL leave a light on for us, so we can find Him.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Tell the Truth


Pink Fractalius Rose with Text, (C) All Rights Reserved, Crystal A Murray

And now, O Lord God, you are God, and Your Words are truth. Text of 2 Samuel 7:28a from the Amplified Bible. Image of Pink Fractalius Rose from my sister’s rose bush by Crystal A Murray.

My childhood memories include many associations with television. Maybe it was often a background sound, but a few things were more than background. Game shows fill that slot. I don’t remember much about To Tell the Truth, but as a trivia buff, I enjoyed the information I found on it at Wikipedia. Today’s reading is, of course, about telling the truth. The short passage runs from Genesis 44:31 through Genesis 45:7 and takes up with the last half of the sentence from yesterday where Judah is telling Joseph about how close his father is to his brother Benjamin.

Judah is desperate, and he tells Joseph that his father will die if he doesn’t bring Benjamin home. He explains how he guaranteed the father that nothing would happen to his little brother and that he will bear all responsibility if he doesn’t return him safely. He then begins to beg Joseph to keep him as a slave and let Benjamin go home to his father. He tops it off by saying he could not go home without the boy because he could not bear to see his father in such anguish.

Now, Joseph cannot take it anymore. He makes all the Egyptians go away from him, and he weeps so loud that everyone in the house can hear him. He finally tells his brother who he is and asks them if they’re telling the truth that their father is still alive. The brothers are so dumbfounded by Joseph’s announcement that they cannot even speak to answer his question. He asks them to come closer, and he tells them again who he is and that he is the brother whom they sold into slavery. But he also tells them not to be upset at themselves for their betrayal of him because he says it was all in God’s plan to take care of them through the famine so their family line could continue.

That’s where the story ends for today, but I can imagine how much relief filled everyone’s heart because of that one truth. Of course, it was a big truth, but never-the-less, holding back on the truth even for good reasons can be quite the burden. Have you ever given someone a Christmas or birthday gift early because you just couldn’t wait to see their reaction? Anticipation is it’s own wonderful gift, but sometimes it can get just a little too overwhelming. I love all that God did to ensure the survival of the tribes of Israel, but I also imagine that the waiting game got pretty hard to play sometimes. Actually, it’s still hard when God says to wait, but if we are walking in His perfect will, it will always be worth it in the end. And that’s the truth.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Guilty By Reason of Sanity


Not Guilty Graffiti by Flickr User Duncan C, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Not Guilty Graffiti by Flickr User Duncan C, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
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 have always wondered about the judgment from the court system that deems someone with a reason behind a crime they commit as not guilty. I mean, it would seem to make more sense for them to call the one proven guilty (but not fully responsible) by some other name–maybe “guilty but blameless” or something. But those who commit crimes are most certainly guilty, so calling them otherwise is perpetrating a lie that may be bigger than the crime committed because we have proclaimed a verdict that disagrees with God’s truth.

In today’s reading from Genesis 21:22 through Genesis 21:34, we find what happens when a man displays righteousness in everything he does. We will see why Abraham was truly not guilty, and we will see it hinges on his constant sanity.

Abraham calls for a meeting about a well his men dug that was apparently seized by someone in the camp of the Philistines. Unfortunately, there were no witnesses, so the situation is sort of at a stalemate except for one thing. Abimelech and the commander of his army worry that Abraham might expect them to pay a price for what was stolen from him. They point out that they have been observing him and they see that God is with him in everything he does. Because of Abraham’s favor in God, they have concerns about the possibility of a curse that could pass to their children and grandchildren.

To me, the definition of sanity is to have God with you in everything you do. When you have God in everything, you have His wisdom in everything too. In this case, it helped Abraham to make a wise decision that did not result in any kind of revenge or payback from either side.

Though Abimelech asked Abraham to not treat him unjustly because he knew what kind of power was with a man who consistently walked with God, I don’t think Abraham planned to do anything against him anyway. Instead, Abraham used wisdom in creating a covenant between all of them to mark his new well as his own in everyone’s sight. Doing that made sure all were involved and invested in keeping it under its rightful ownership.

At the end of this reading, we’re told that Abraham continued to live in the land of the Philistines for many years, even though he was a foreigner there. The Bible tells us that we are also foreigners and pilgrims on this earth because this world is not our true home. However, even though we are strangers here, may we as believers walk with God in everything we do. May we walk in such a way that others will see it and desire to keep things right with us even if only because they want our God to have favor with them. If we walk this way, we can remain righteous and clean (not guilty) by reason of God’s wisdom and sanity.

P.S. Last night, my mind was swirling with some great songs about being a foreigner in this land and about hope for a better place, so I decided to look up some lyrics. In the process, my computer froze, so it’s possible that one of the lyrics sites was unsafe. Just in case, I’m going to list some titles and a few of the lyrics, but instead of lyric sites, I’m going to link to YouTube videos. I try to keep my computer safe, and I don’t want to send my visitors to any dangerous sites either. That said, here are a few songs I really like…

1. This World is Not My Home

2. Packing Up, Getting Ready to Go

3. I’ve Got a Mansion (Just Over the Hilltop)

4. Is That the Lights of Home I See

5. Poor Wayfaring Stranger

6. Sheltered In the Arms of God

7. Temporary Home

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

All That God Commands


The title for this post comes from the last verse of this reading from Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 6:22, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” (This verse from the Amplified Bible.)

I just spent an evening and a full day at a training seminar to learn about prayer and healing and ministering to others. I have about 25 pages of notes, and I saw some amazing things in the Power of God. Since I have walked as a follower of God, I can testify to multiple miracles, including one that is medically verified. And yet, I look at these chronicles of Noah, and I wonder, if it were me in his place, would I do ALL that God commanded me to do?

If we all told the truth, I’m sure we would all admit that it would be a struggle to exceed the boundaries of the natural things God wants us to do and take a jaunt into the supernatural. If we can’t see it or feel it, can it really be true? Then again, we can’t see love, but we somehow trust it is true. We can’t see salvation, but we know it is true, and often trust someone who says they’ve become saved just on their word. And salvation, the regeneration of the human soul, is the greatest miracle of all. Of course salvation wasn’t even part of the culture back then–except for Noah. The world had never yet seen a drop of rain, so just believing that God was going to destroy the earth with water was a stretch, but he did it. But then, to build a boat on dry land, build it the size required and believe it would float, and then trust that the animals from all over the earth would just find their way there and walk right in? Wow! Most of the world would have called, and probably did call, Noah a crazy man. But he obeyed in spite of their accusations.

Growing up, we had a record, and yes I mean a vinyl LP album, called “Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow…Right!” I can’t tell you how many times we listened to it, but it was funny pretty much every time. The part we listened to most was the three skits where God calls on Noah to build an ark. Noah asks questions like, “Am I on Candid Camera?” and “Who is this really?” And while the story is written as a comedy, so much of it rings of truth when thinking about how humans react to that which is supernatural in God. To hear it for yourself, listen to this recording at God Tube… http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WL7YYLNX and let me know if it’s your first time hearing it, or if it brings back some great memories for you.

And after you listen to Bill Cosby, and/or read today’s Scriptures, ask yourself whether you would act like Bill’s Noah, or the Noah in the Bible who, rather than doing things his own way, did ALL that God commanded of him. No wonder he found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

October 5, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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