Crystal Writes A Blog

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Rearrange Your Path


Following the Light by Flickr User Nathaniel Eldridge, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Following the Light by Flickr User Nathaniel Eldridge, 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.

Have you ever gotten lost? Have you been so lost that it felt like you were going in circles, stuck in an endless loop of hopeless twists and turns that never get you where you wanted to go? I’ve been there on foot, and I’ve been there in a vehicle–at night, in a bad neighborhood. Getting lost is no fun. Being lost from God is no fun either, but God in His mercy allows us to rearrange our paths. As author Allison Gappa Bottke puts it, God Allows U-Turns.

If your path is filled with the chaos of uncharted turns and bumps and misdirections that keep ending you in places of frustration and hopelessness, make a change and rearrange. (I just couldn’t help but to make that rhyme. ūüôā )¬†To illustrate some rearrangement, I’m going to rearrange some verses from Proverbs Chapter 4. Using the¬†New King James’ Version, I’ll list them in no particular order as bullet points. See what the verses in the following order might tell you about your own path of life.

  • Ponder the path of your feet.
  • Let your eyes look straight ahead
  • Do not turn to the right or the left.
  • Remove your foot from evil.
  • Do not enter the path of the wicked.
  • Do not walk in the way of evil.
    Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    Turn away from it and pass on.
  • The way of the wicked is like darkness;
    They do not know what makes them stumble.
  • But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
    That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

And from Isaiah 30:21

  • Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
    ‚ÄúThis is the way, walk in it,‚ÄĚ

There’s plenty more in Proverbs 4, so I recommend reading all of it. As a matter of fact, I find a lot of inspiration in the idea of reading the entire chapter of Proverbs on whatever day of the month it is. So, since this post was started on December 4th, I took a visit to Proverbs 4, and all those verses about paths are what jumped out at me. With a little rearrangement, I love the wisdom and promise that’s presented.

To continue with the message about your path, here’s a little bit from some of lessons I’ve gleaned as I’ve walked before Yahveh Almighty.

Many paths will visualize before you on your life’s journey, but only one path will lead you where you want to be in the end. It begins with a narrow gate, so no one but you can fit to walk through it. You don’t get through on the coat tails of a preacher or a parent; or even a friend or loved one. You get through it by using a key of mercy and grace provided when you walk through the blood of your Savior, Yeshua.

Once you’ve chosen to walk through the narrow gate, you’ll be on a straight path. It’s not as narrow as the gate, so you’ll have friends to encourage you and walk with you. Fellowship with them and make it a joyful walk. God will light that path for you, and His Holy Spirit is always there to comfort you on your journey.¬†Trust Him to guide you. Seek His wisdom and understanding because the way that seems right to man doesn’t have the promise of God’s way. Look carefully, watch your step, train your eyes on the prize, and listen for that still, small voice that tells you the way to walk.

And here’s one bit of caution… Take heed of anyone who tries to lead you off the path onto another path. God’s path is always the straight one. Because God’s path is straight, even if it looks like it’s a long way off, the end should always be a clear vision ahead of you. Without that vision, you can be turned away and perish, so keep your eyes trained on the goal, and keep pressing forward. Don’t give up, and you’ll cross the finish line and receive your reward.

If you are on a path that doesn’t have a promise of eternal life at the end, ponder your steps and seek God. If you are still breathing in and out, it’s not too late to rearrange your path and follow God.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Proverbs & Wisdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Really Know Your Creator?


God's Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

God’s Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

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.

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Skipping Stones


Skipping Stones by Flickr User iamNigelMorris, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Skipping Stones by Flickr User iamNigelMorris, 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.

Even if I find the perfect flat rock for stone-skipping, chances are, there will be more splat than skip. I guess it’s all in the wrist, and I don’t have enough of whatever it is. One time, as a teenager, I recall getting one to skip a bunch of times, but that was a rare and wonderful thing.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 27:1 through Deuteronomy 27:10, we will read of God’s laws regarding skipping stones. I’ll bet you didn’t know it was in the Bible, but God told Israel not to do it. Really. He told them not to skip setting up standing stones on which He wanted them to record the words of His Torah. (I’ll bet you were wondering just where I was going with that, huh?)

So, Moses and all the leaders of Israel stand before the crowd and tell them to observe every law they were being given that day. To help with the observation, they tell them that, after they cross the Jordan into the land that God is giving them, they are to set up standing stones, put plaster on them, and write the words of Torah on them.

After they set up stones, God wants them to build an altar out of stones and without the use of any tools. His command is that they build the altar of uncut stones and offer burnt offerings on it. They should also offer peace offerings there, and they should eat and be joyful in the presence of The Lord. The next verse restates that they are to write the words of Torah on the stones very clearly.

Next, it is Moses and the high priests that speak to Israel. The first thing they say to them is, “Be quiet and listen, Israel!” They continue with a reminder that today is the day Israel becomes the people of The Lord. Because of that, they should listen to God and obey all the laws and commands Moses gives them on that day.

I wonder how people would react if Scripture actually said we could not skip stones. I mean, it’s not like God would be asking something that difficult, but could we just obey even though it doesn’t seem to make any sense? For me, the hardest thing to do is follow commands that don’t seem to have logic or reasoning behind them. For the sake of obedience, I have done so before, and sometimes it has turned out to be just a man’s interpretation or idea. But, I still believe God rewards an obedient heart and spirit.

God is merciful and He knows our form, so our task is to do our best to honor Him in everything we do and think. He sees when that includes obeying some man-made law because we are told it is required of us. For example, there is at least one church I know of that teaches it is a sin to wear the color red. (I know some Louisville Cardinals fans that would be very upset with that one. ūüôā ) Those who attend there likely follow the rule with their whole hearts because they want to please God, so God will recognize their lawfulness.

Have you given in to things you later found out through spiritual maturity were not necessary? If so, did it make you decide you would never listen again to commands of men? I hope not. I hope you see that God blesses your obedient heart and spirit. I hope, instead, that you use your experiences to gain perspective, and that you seek God’s wisdom to gain discernment. If we do our best, I believe God will lead us in His path as we learn¬†here a little, there a little by seeking Him and studying His word. And if some blogger comes along telling you not to skip stones, pray about it–and then read the rest of the post.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made to Order


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Goes the Leadership, So Goes the Nation


Today I was privileged to have my husband read to me while I drove back from taking one of my great-nieces back her mother. Sometimes, it seems like I hear much more by being read to than I do by reading to myself. Today’s reading is from Genesis 41:15 through Genesis 41:38, and it continues where we left with Pharaoh bringing in Joseph as a dream consultant.

The first thing I noticed here is how Joseph immediately turned things around when Pharaoh said he was told Joseph could interpret dreams. Joseph said,¬†‚ÄúIt isn‚Äôt in me. God will give Pharaoh an answer that will set his mind at peace.‚ÄĚ I love that. Here is Joseph’s chance to show off to someone who could really take him places politically, but Joseph stays humble and gives all the credit and glory to God.

So Pharaoh shares all the same information that we read yesterday about the two dreams with fat and skinny cows and with healthy and withered corn. After sharing it, Joseph tells Pharaoh that both dreams were the same dream but that God gave him two dreams because the thing was already settled and getting ready to happen shortly. He explained to him that the immediate future would bring seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of terrible famine that would completely devour everything brought forth during the years of abundance.

The next thing I noticed was how Joseph suggested that Pharaoh handle things. He advised that Pharaoh should take up a twenty percent tax during the years of plenty that would take care of the lack during the years of famine. That extra collection of produce would be stored up to keep people from starving and dying when the going got rough. Joseph also knew that taking in extra could lead to misuse, so he told them they needed someone both discreet and wise to take¬†charge of the collection, storage, and distribution. Pharaoh and his advisors were impressed and said,¬†‚ÄúCan we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!‚ÄĚ

How I wish we could have governments in our world that would have this kind of wisdom. A government that would even listen to dreams and visions, or one that would seek someone who obviously has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, seems impossible now. I wonder if God gave a dream to someone in charge back before the great depression of 1929. I wonder if God has tried to give advice to our leaders about the various wars with which they have aligned themselves. If we would quit listening to human wisdom–that passionate side-taking about being for war or against it, for weapons or against them, etc., and listen for the direction of The One who sees and knows the future, how much more of a future might we have, and how much better might it be? And then I have to look at myself and ask, “Have I been praying enough for the leaders of our land (and the leadership around the world) that God would send them dreams and that they would heed them?” I confess I have not prayed as I should, but I intend to change that. I hope there will be others to join me in this.

December 1, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Many Laws


Genesis 18:19a has The Lord talking to the angels about Abraham and says, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.”

The first time I read this Scripture, my only thought was, “Can God say this about me?” How blessed to have God testify to the angels that He has found a subject He knows well enough to know the subject’s future holds not only personal lawfulness, but also that the subject will teach lawfulness to others.

Today, my husband and I were in our Torah studies in Leviticus. (We’re a bit behind in the actual portion we should be reading, but we don’t want to skip around and miss valuable information.) For a few weeks now, we’ve been reading about the building of the wilderness tabernacle (also called The Tabernacle of Testimony¬†and another topic I plan to write about). As I was listening to the words about all the laws concerning the tabernacle, sacrifices, offerings, etc., I remembered the words I had read earlier from Genesis and something hit me; these laws came well after God called Abraham a “law keeper.” And then I questioned in my mind, “I wonder what laws of God Abraham was keeping?” I understood, even as I asked, that Abraham was not keeping specific laws, but was keeping a lawful heart.

So, here we are in our current society looking to create law after law after law. Now, the focus is on gun laws (whether or not they violate our country’s foundational Constitution). But the gun laws, like the many other laws that are constantly in motion or discussion these days, are just a symptom. They will not create the answer so many hope they will, because they do not fix the real problem: they do not fix the need for laws in the first place–a need that comes from a general spirit of lawlessness.

How could Abraham have taught those of his household to keep the laws of God when there were none yet given? Because he was not teaching specific laws. He was teaching others to have a lawful heart, and to yield to the instruction of God from pure obedience. Later, it was necessary to create a priesthood and nearly 700 levitical laws to direct people because their hearts had become lawless. And, as so many have noted about these laws, and even many of the laws of our land now, they come with a big dose of bondage.

But imagine if we all strived to keep in our hearts the laws of yielding to a Higher Authority. We would automatically think of others before ourselves. We would not have to be instructed not to lie, steal, cheat, murder, etc. We would not purposely do things to others that we would not want someone doing to us. And if everyone lived that way, we would not need any other laws either from God or from man.

There is freedom in having a lawful heart because we do not need to fall under the bondage and condemnation of external law. Even though we will not be perfect, just as King David was not perfect and failed God multiple times, we can be called people after God’s own heart. And in that way, we will not only be able to say that we know Him, but He can testify to the angels, “I know that one!”

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

Proverbs 1 – When Wisdom Comes Calling


From https://www.youversion.com/bible/1/pro.1.kjv (Using KJV for quotes because it’s public domain)…

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

GOD’S WAY JUST WORKS–IT REALLY DOES

The Message Bible calls the Proverbs “A Manual for Living.” And it can be that for anyone who is willing to apply it. Wisdom in this book is in the feminine which is also the way much of Scripture related to the Holy Spirit is written. You could say it’s the “mothering” side of Our Creator. While Daddy is making the rules, Mom is explaining to us why it is in our best interest to follow them. It’s a picture of the wholeness of God’s love for us if ever I’ve seen one.

So what about those harsh-sounding warnings of laughter in the face of our trials? I used to think that was so cruel to even think God would laugh at me and mock when my fear came upon me. It was even worse to think He would not be there for me when I called upon Him. But through much study, I’ve found this is referring to the spirit of wisdom. In a brief thought, it is simply saying, “Because you didn’t listen to wisdom to keep yourself out of a big mess, you’re gonna be laying there crying, ‘I don’t know what to do, now,’ and you won’t be able to find the right answer.”

God’s mercy is new every morning, and He gets us out of a lot of self-inflicted bondage, but He’s not in the business of going around plucking us out of every entanglement we get ourselves into. If we’ve learned the fire is hot and we stick a hand in it anyway, He’s not going to stop it from burning us. If we knew from the wisdom in the depths of our souls that getting involved with the good-looker that has caught our attention, and then we end up brokenhearted like others who followed the same trail before we did, Wisdom will say, “What made you think that the same thing would not happen to you?”

So, today, let’s heed what this passage brings to us. Let’s put God in the proper place in our lives, on His throne and above us as Lord of our whole lives, and then listen when He speaks. Whether He speaks through our hearts, through His written word, or through others He brings on our paths to lead us, let’s have the fear (respect) that will cause us to listen to His wisdom like a child listens to his nurturing mother. When we do that, we have the promise that ends this chapter. As Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy‚ÄĒyou’re in good hands.”

January 2, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Proverbs & Wisdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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