The above video has beautiful lyrics to celebrate Our Messiah. I pray it blesses you to listen to the group “Lamb” and their excellent worship music.
You can see by the copyright date that I wrote the below poem many years ago. It came about just as I was learning about the Hebrew/Jewish roots of the Christian faith in which I was raised. Learning the Hebrew roots of my faith changed my walk with God more than I can put into words. It made the “Old Testament” come to life for me, and it explained so many of the words of Jesus I had grown up with. Through studying, especially in using The Complete Jewish Bible, I learned that Jesus/Yahshua actually quoted many Old Covenant words as He ministered. I recommend the above study Bible, which also comes with some great notes and appendices. I enjoy it in print and on my Kindle.
I have shared my testimony in previous posts, so I thought it was a good night to share the poem that came from my new understanding of The One who was both The Jewish Messiah and the Christian Messiah I had grown up with.
YAH-SHUA THE JEW
© 1999 By Crystal A. Murray
If Yahshua had come teaching
All the things we teach these days;
If He came not as a Rabbi,
But taught modern “Christian” ways;
If He said, “Stop being Jewish
For their laws & feasts are old;
Just form a church on Sundays
And give the pastor all your gold.”
If He taught multi-religions,
And many-faceted beliefs & ways
Religious & sin tolerance:
No judgment, no prices to pay;
If He taught that love means acceptance
No matter what other people do,
Would ANYone have believed in Him
As Messiah, King of the Jews?
See, it’s not the miracles He did,
Or the hungry that He fed.
Or His interpretation of the Scriptures,
Or any fancy words He said,
It’s the old, anointed, prophecies,
The promises of a virgin-born Son,
That proved He was THE Messiah,
Lion of Judah, and The Holy One.
‘Cause He could not have grafted anyone;
Into a vine of Love, pure and true,
If He, Himself, was not The Vine,
The Lamb, Son of Yahveh, and a JEW!
For another post on my favorite Christmas songs, I’m including the lyric video from the Burl Ives’ version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. This version has a slightly different tune than what we find in many songbooks and by many singers, but it’s the one most familiar to me. I grew up playing the Burl Ives vinyl album called Holly Jolly Christmas for years. If you want to hear other tunes, including a newer one by the Christian group “Casting Crowns,” click the title to view the Wikipedia article.
In reading the history of this song, I’ve found that this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written after a number of life tragedies. History has it written in either 1867, or in 1863 in the midst of the American Civil War. Whether during or after the war, this poem was likely written when, in addition to personal tragedy that included a war-injured son and recently deceased wife, the writer’s heart was close to breaking.
Put yourself into the life of Mr. Longfellow. Imagine getting up in the morning, struggling to find any hope in your day or in your life. Your home and family no longer feel like the safe places of comfort they once were. Then, just when it seems nothing else can go wrong, war in your own homeland takes away your last place of security and stability. You stand on your front porch wondering what it’s all about when the church bells start ringing just as they did when life was safe and war was not raging. Here’s verse 1…
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
The poet laments how the song goes on when it seems life should not. The Christmas season and its accompanying song are unbroken, the exact opposite of the author’s heart. He writes about this in verse 2…
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
It was more than the author could take. His pain brought him to one of his lowest points in life. He writes of this low point in verse 3…
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
The air is thick with his hopelessness. Can you feel it? Have you been there in your own life? He sees no possibility of peace on earth or any good will to men as things stand now. Whatever else he was thinking and doing here, I imagine he was also praying. It is only in heartfelt prayer that a man could hear a voice of hope reminding him that God is still on the throne. Here’s my favorite verse, verse 4…
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
God is not dead! He is not even nodding off for a nap, and He doesn’t need an alarm clock of war or tragedy to wake Him. He is and always has been (and always will be) on His throne. His desire is peace on earth and good will to all men. For that desire to come to pass, God knew there had to be a covering for the sins man commits while misusing his free will.
The best use of our free will is to choose God, and that’s God’s hope for all mankind. Unfortunately, we lean too often on our own understanding instead of on His will, His ways, and His everlasting arms, so we need the blood of Yeshua to rescue and deliver us. That salvation through Christ is the best reason of all to celebrate His miraculous birth. God is still on His throne, wide awake and preparing a hopeful future for those who love Him. The wrong shall fail! The right shall prevail! And, one day, we will have true peace on earth and good will to men.
I don’t think I’ve used this video yet, but it’s one of the first songs I heard by ApologetiX, and as Larry the Cucumber would say, “I laughed; I cried; it moved me, Bob.” Just wait until you hear what they say the whale thought Jonah tasted like. Oh, and listen all the way to the end because they tag a couple funny lines on. If you want the full lyrics, there’s another video at the bottom with no images but all the lyrics.
So what do we know about Jonah–from the song or otherwise? We know he’s a minor prophet with his own book in the Bible. It’s a short book with four chapters that tell us a story of God’s abundant grace and mercy. It opens with God’s request to this Hebrew who is a faithful servant of God until God asks him to minister to the ungodly. He runs and says he’d rather die than to see God have mercy on Nineveh.
As Jonah sleeps on a ship at sea, God stirs up a storm, and even those who don’t serve Him figure out why. They don’t want to throw Jonah overboard because they don’t want his blood on their hands, but they do what they must to calm the storm. Just in case, though, they make an offering to God to repent to Him. In the meantime, it takes three days of Jonah floating in belly acids and darkness to figure out that God is also having mercy on him for his disobedience. He repents to God and declares that salvation belongs to The Lord, and God speaks to the whale to vomit Jonah onto dry land.
This time, Jonah obeys God and preaches to Nineveh. He is okay with it as long as he is berating them for their sin and threatening them with disaster, but when they repent, he gets upset. Imagine that. Imagine preaching “Hell” to someone you’ve seen thoroughly disrespect God and seeing them seemingly get away with their behavior because the price of their sin is taken away. Hopefully, if we have experienced God’s grace in our own lives, we will be happy for those we can help get delivered from eternal damnation.
Jonah should be glad at their repentance, but he isn’t. God, however, is glad to be merciful to people He created, and their repentance is beautiful to Him. In one of Jonah’s tantrums, God tries to explain this to him by comparing the pity Jonah himself showed for a dying plant with God’s love for a dying people. I’m thinking that Jonah never really understood it, but the job he did to bring about repentance of the people of Nineveh mattered enough to be included in the gospels Matthew and Luke and the ministry of Yeshua.
In Matthew 12:41, Yeshua even said to the Pharisees that the people of Nineveh would rise up in condemnation against them because Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and the Pharisees refused to repent even though Yeshua was the greater prophet.
God hasn’t changed, and His mercy hasn’t changed, so He sent the same message into the midst of people in sin, and He desired the same result. He even upped the ante and provided a perfect sacrifice to give them the best chance ever. The grace and mercy at Calvary were so great, it overflowed from those who rejected it to give whosoever will an opportunity to receive it now.
The Prophet greater than Jonah is still here, and His blood still flows from Calvary. Listen to His heart as He looks over Jerusalem and weeps (in Matthew 23:37)…
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
The plan that started with Jonah still exists, and Yeshua still has love for Israel. Read all of Romans 11 for the whole story. I like the way it reads in the Contemporary English Version. Here are a couple verses from Romans 11 in the CEV…
- 1a) Am I saying that God has turned his back on his people? Certainly not!
- 11) Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous.
- 15) When Israel rejected God, the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him. So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life.
- 25) I will explain the mystery of what has happened to the people of Israel. Some of them have become stubborn, and they will stay like that until the complete number of you Gentiles has come in.
- 28a) The people of Israel are treated as God’s enemies, so that the good news can come to you Gentiles. But they are still the chosen ones, and God loves them.
- 29) God doesn’t take back the gifts he has given or forget about the people he has chosen.
What a promise! God doesn’t forget, He doesn’t change, and He doesn’t stop loving us. He still loves His chosen ones, and He loves those of us grafted into the root of the chosen. I’m thankful for what Jonah started way back then because it opened a door for what is offered through the blood of Yeshua now.
And here’s the Jonah Jonah video with lyrics…
I love this song, and I really like to travel on trains. I like the little ones in amusement parks, and I like the big Amtrak trains that cross the country. I love the clickety-clack sounds, the views, the well-dressed staff, the observation car, and so much more. The video above has some great train footage in addition to the song Life’s Railway to Heaven sung by Johnny Cash. I hope you enjoy it. Me; I like trains so much that if I didn’t have to drive about 2 hours to get to a train station, I would likely travel as often as I could get away–even if it was only for a day trip.
You know, I’ve heard that travel on trains can be less safe than commercial airlines, but that’s not something that causes me even as much anxiety as getting on the road in a car. I think it has something to do with the safe feeling of being on a straight track that can only go where it is directed. The only dangers come when the train leaves the track or something crosses the track at the wrong time or place. Of course, the engineer makes most of the difference in whether the train does what it has been built to do.
So, what would happen if the engineer just decided to jump off the train and let it run on its own? Okay, and what if all the staff, including the brakeman, jumped off? Yep, we’d likely have a runaway train. Would it be any fun then?
I know I am beyond the month of sharing the Infinite Supply newsletters by The School of Christ dot org, but the one shared today is one of my favorites. In about 6 years, I’ve probably seen the devotion at least 3 or 4 times, and it resonates with me each and every time. Plus, it goes so well with my point about our need for The Engineer to be on our train. Here’s the main text from the devotion entitled “To Be With Him”…
You are called to be with Jesus. That is your calling. That is the primary thing, the highest ministry. Going forth to preach or do anything else is of secondary importance. We should be with Jesus; after that, He might send us forth to preach. But before Jesus said, “Go into all the world” He said, “Be with Me.” (John 17:24)
The call of the Lord is not more important than the Lord of the call. The work of the Lord must not replace the Lord of the work. No amount of ministering FOR the Lord will make up for a lack of ministering TO the Lord. And knowing the Word of God does not necessarily mean that we know the God of the Word.
Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden ©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org.
I underlined the last sentence in the first paragraph. I love that it says that before Yeshua sent anyone out into any ministry, He first called them to be with Him. To be with Jesus/Yeshua is to have Him on board your train of life to make sure you don’t end up without an Engineer. Wherever we go, we need Him running the show. Without Him, life will be chaos and violence (like we see all around us), and we will be a wild runaway train.
I’ll end with one more video that adds to the idea of needing The Lord in our lives. This one is by Don Francisco, and the first line of the chorus says, “If you’re not livin’ by the word of God, you’re flyin’ by the seat of your pants.” Enjoy!
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. 🙂 ) 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,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
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.
Have you ever read the lyrics to all the verses from Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way? In case you haven’t, here are the words for verse three…
For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Notice the words of the fourth line. For all the confidence-building and encouragement the song is supposed to inspire in those who may feel a lack of personal empowerment, it lacks real power. Real power, like so many things, begins with an acknowledgement of who and where we are and what we need to move forward. Think of the Twelve Steps in multiple anonymous programs. They all start with the first step and the words “I admitted I was powerless.”
What has changed in the modern church world? There’s more preaching about power than powerlessness. There’s more push to gain and be the head and not the tail than of losing ourselves to make Christ the Lord and head of our lives. There’s too many messages about what God can do for us, and not enough messages about the blessing of giving our all for a God who already gave it all for us.
I think the problem is from a lack of blood flow (aka Calvary). We want to go right from sinner to saint without stopping to kneel at the cross first. We tell people that with a few minutes at an altar, or a simple confession of Christ, they are saved. It’s like hiring someone for a job without checking any qualifications or doing any training. What will an untrained person do when he faces a struggle for which he is not prepared? What will a new Christian do with temptation if he has not left all his sinful desires under the blood of Yeshua and made a decision that all sacrifice is worth it for his loving Creator?
We’ve got the proverbial cart before the horse when we introduce someone to Heaven and future hope before we teach them how to live for Christ on earth right now. And if we try to teach an unrepented soul how to live a new lifestyle before he has died to the old one, we’re doing it again. When we plant a seed in the earth, the seed dies before it sprouts to new life. How do we claim a new life until we have died to our old life? As Scripture says, we can’t put new wine into old bottles or they will burst.
Do we trust that what God has to offer is better than anything anyone on earth can offer us? If not, we can never die out to doing things our own way. If we don’t die out to our way and our old ideas and skewed understanding, we can never rise up to walk in the newness of life. If we want God’s glory, we must give up our personal glory and be willing to kneel before our Eternal Creator. We must choose to fall in repentance at the cross of Yeshua and let His blood wash over and cleanse us, and then we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. Once we do that, we can rewrite the words above to line up with the Scripture from Mark 8:36-37 (NKJV)…
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
The new words might read something like…
For what is a man what has he got
Without The Lord then he has naught
To think God’s words and to Him yield
And be a man who repents and kneels
His sins will go under the flow
When he’s walking God’s way
And if you want to hear another person’s version of the whole song, sung to the tune of the original, here’s a video I found at YouTube…
At 4 feet, 10 inches (4′ 10 & 3/4″ when I was younger–LOL), I’ve compared my height to a lot of people. I like that I can make even short people feel a bit taller. I remember when I worked in a truck stop travel store. The cash register was on a platform, but it wasn’t obvious, so when I stepped down from it to make coffee by request, it shocked the driver standing there waiting for his coffee. He said it looked like I had just fallen down into a hole.
Unless I’m trying to retrieve something from a tall shelf, I’m happy with being short, and sometimes it can even be fun. But, if everything in my life was way above my head, then I might desire to measure up to those who can reach all things easily. Spiritually, however, it’s a very different story. I don’t know that I can ever grow enough, so I want to keep growing and learning as long as I’m in this life. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about our need to set a goal to measure up to a stature greater than ourselves.
The Purpose of Ministry
“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Each of these ministry functions fulfill different roles, but their purpose is the same, and that is, to bring ALL of us into that same fullness, that same spiritual maturity, that same experiential knowing, which the elders themselves enjoy. Thus, He gives SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL. Do you see this? And He will continue to give SOME till we ALL. Once He has ALL then the work is complete and these ministries will no longer be needed. Until then they ARE needed, and they are critical to God’s Purpose.
Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden
©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!
I think this is a great post for my last day of sharing Chip Brogden’s newsletters with readers. Before I go on, I want to encourage readers to subscribe to these newsletters for yourselves. I’ve been on the list since 2009, and even those posts I’ve read more than once have encouraged or taught me great things more than once. To get deeper, purchase the books he takes these studies from, or go to the site and get involved with the discussions.
On this topic, I love the point Chip makes about God giving some to each of the ministries above with the purpose that we will all become complete in Him. Our completion comes with learning how tall Yeshua is, so we can measure up to His stature. When all of us have become perfect and can measure up to The Lord, we will no longer need others to minister to us. For now, we need teaching, guidance, examples, perspective, and accountability. Not one of us has it all together on his or her own, even if we are teachers ourselves.
Our purpose in serving God is not to become better at being human, but to become more and more like Christ. We are promised that we will see Him one day, and on that day we will see Him as He is. At that time, we also have the promise that our bodies will become like His glorious body. How tall is God? We don’t know right now, but we know He is taller than us, so we might as well keep growing.
Starting with a little lightness that doesn’t fit the subject so much as it does the title, here’s an actual tombstone inscription from “Boothill Graveyard” in Tombstone, Arizona…
HERE LIES LESTER MOORE, FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44, NO LES NO MORE
Well, I guess someone was trying to make lemonade from the lemons of losing someone to a gun battle. But what about all the times people ignore the lemonade in life and just focus on all the lemons in it? Isn’t that what we do when we complain about all we do not have in this life instead of being grateful for all we do have? Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter points out the abundance we have in Christ.
Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.”
Most Christians are taught to approach God and seek these things when they are conscious of some lack. Eventually we must learn that we have everything in Christ already. That thing called “patience” that we are so diligently seeking is not a thing at all, it is Christ. “Victory” is no longer a “thing,” it is a Man.
And so it is with everything else we need. What a difference it makes to realize that He HAS (past tense) blessed us already – not with three or five or twenty blessings – but with EVERY spiritual blessing. However many there may be, we have them all. Where and how has He done this? Thank God, it was done the moment we received Christ and entered into Him as our All in All. God would have us seek Him first, and not His things. To Him there is no “thing,” for they are all summed up into Christ.
Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden
©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!
The church world is abundant with encouragements to “seek all God has to offer.” We’re told that we can do all things through Christ, ask anything in His name and receive it, and live our best lives with abundant blessings now. Some will even go so far as to point out that if we are not supernaturally blessed (especially in finances), we must be doing something wrong in our walk with God.
The author brings up a wonderful point in the idea of being blessed. If we have Yeshua, we have it all. With Him as our Savior, we have no less than we need, and no other blessing can give us more. Every spiritual blessing means exactly what it says; every spiritual blessing.
Next time you sit down to count your blessings, examine the differences that could be in your life. Imagine your life with your perfect home, perfect car, perfect job, perfect spouse, and no Yeshua. Then imagine your life with the imperfect parts and salvation through our Perfect Messiah. If you have to choose, which one means more?
Like Solomon who asked for wisdom over riches and ended up getting both, if we focus on the right things, we may just receive more than we desire. However, even if we don’t, we can still be satisfied because our focus is on The Lord as our “All in All.” We need no less than Christ and no more than His salvation. If we feel we have all we need and want in Him, everything else will be icing on the cake of life.
Some things hit the ground and go splat. Some hit and shatter. Some bounce. Obviously, bouncing is the best response because it means that instead of staying down, you will rise back up. The fancy word for this is resiliency. Resilient people can bounce back like cartoon characters who never seem to find a permanent splat even if they have to pump themselves back up. It’s an important characteristic that some have naturally, but which we can also learn.
Yeshua knew the ultimate bounce–from death to life. Today’s Infinite Supply talks about how Yeshua’s resiliency can help us bounce too.
Accomplished Through the Cross
“We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
The Cross is the means by which God reduces us to Christ, that we may be raised to new Life. What cannot be accomplished in a lifetime of self-effort is easily accomplished in God through the Cross.
We may take many shortcuts along the way and attempt to escape the inevitable, but the day we cease striving and meekly accept the Cross we find everything is done for us.
Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden
©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!
The trick Yeshua used to bounce back is found in The Holy Spirit. Yeshua didn’t have to fear dying to His earthly self because He knew He would rise again in both body and spirit. He knew death was not permanent, and He knew His new life was worth more than His old life. He also knew the true value of His death–a new life for all those who trust in Him.
I find that people who don’t know The Lord are typically either hopeless or put their hope into things that are likely to destroy them in the end. If they choose the latter, they may look happy in the midst of their partying, but take it away from them and you’ll see how unhappy they are on the inside. If people put their happiness and security in anything this world has to offer, they are only happy as long as they are comfortable.
To the contrary, people who intimately know Yeshua as their Lord, Savior, and Best Friend have hope in spite of discomforts in their lives. The blood of Christ covers us like “Flubber” and helps us both endure and bounce. Serving and loving God gives us the resiliency to bounce back if only to rebound with enough hope to trust in the eternal life He has prepared for our future.
If you are on your way down and know you won’t bounce, it’s not too late to get covered by the blood of Christ in repentance and baptism. Accept the cross and fall at the feet of the Lord before you fall to the bottom of your life, and you can bounce up to a new life and a new hope. When you die to yourself, you open the door for God to raise you up to the newness of life. There’s nothing more resilient than resurrection. Do you bounce? If not, feel free to write to me and ask for more information.
In the second chapter of Acts, those who heard the gospel message asked, “What must we do to be saved?” All who truly hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness will eventually ask that question, and we will receive the answer that we must repent. Later, however, we may look back on that repentance and remember how difficult it was. That may lead us to feel like we have worked for our salvation. That’s where Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus and reminded them that salvation had nothing to do with works they had done. In Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) we read…
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden talks about the grace that brought us our salvation.
Grace is a Man
“All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
1 PETER 5:5
The single requirement for grace is humility. But what is grace? Grace is more than just a theological term used to describe how we are saved. Grace is the power of God at work in my life to do what cannot be done in my own strength. Grace is energizing and proactive. When I have reached the end of myself then Grace Himself takes over and does what I am unable to do. In the first place, what I cannot do is save myself, and so I trust in the Grace of God, Jesus Christ, to save me. But Grace will not only bring me through the Gate; He will bring me down the Path. Grace does not just get me started in the right direction, but goes along with me every step of the way. For Grace is a Man!
Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden
John 1:16-17 (NKJV) says even more to support Chip’s statement that Grace is a Man…
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Because God desires to spend eternity with us, He extends His grace to us to receive Yeshua. We don’t have to do anything to receive it other than to repent because Christ stands exactly opposite our sin. We must turn toward Him and away from our sins. When we become humble before the cross, God gives us grace to receive His message and desire to serve Him; We literally have His amazing grace for Grace.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And Grace my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear, The hour I first believed.
From Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)…
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
What a privilege we have to know who our God is and what He has done for us. What a pleasure He has given us to bless us with His presence when we bless Him with our praise. We often attribute the gates and courts with church attendance, but if we see His gate as the narrow gate of salvation, we find even more opportunities to enter with thanksgiving and praise.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, the author speaks of what we find beyond the gate.
“Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
It is the FULLNESS of Christ that we are after, the revelation of Christ as He IN FACT IS. For too many Christians the Lord Jesus is “merely” their Savior. Thank God He is our Savior, but there is a depth and a richness bound up into the personage of Christ that goes far, far beyond “mere” salvation. Salvation is the narrow gate – coming into the fullness of Christ is the narrow path. The gate is only the entrance to something larger.
Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden
Something larger; something bigger; something more. Most of us want bigger and more, and it is God’s desire to give us bigger and more. If we were satisfied with only a little, we may not desire or pursue a heavenly reward.
I remember some years ago trying to work with a nephew on the idea of the rewards of sobriety. I presented all the great possibilities a sober life could bring, but none of them worked. For every good thing I presented, my nephew told me he was satisfied with something less. Sleeping on a couch in someone else’s home, getting a ride in someone else’s car, never having anything of his own: All of these were acceptable to him. How can anyone argue with that?
Salvation is so much more than just a ticket out of Hell. Being saved is a gate we should all want to walk through, but there is so much more on the other side–both here and in Heaven. I’ve tried to use food as an example, comparing dog food to a steak dinner, but those who simply do not hunger or thirst for righteousness will often reject that too. They want to be saved because they don’t want to go to Hell, but the idea of filling their life with more and more of The Lord holds no appeal. I don’t get that.
The idea of having more of Yeshua and less of me gives me a reason to press on in this life. In his message called Drawing Near, John Bevere talks about Enoch as walking closer and closer to The Lord until he got so close that he just couldn’t stay attached to this earth any longer. I believe that statement is on the audio CD, but I recommend at least reading about the interaction between Adam and Enoch from pages 11-13 which you can read for free at Google Books. (The link will show you 11-12, but keep reading.)
I’ll close with the lyrics to verse three of song Draw Me Nearer by Fanny J. Crosby. It seems to perfectly capture the heart of longing to be in The Lord’s presence. May you find yourself longing to draw nearer to the fullness of Christ each day you dwell on this earth.Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
If someone trades the cross for personal comfort, is it a trade up or a trade down? Well, if you’ve ever truly experienced the comfort of the cross of Christ, you know there is nothing better for which you can trade, so it would be a trade down. His word tells us that the way of the transgressor (one who stands beside the way; a deceiver; or one who deals treacherously) is the way that is hard. It also tells us that Yeshua’s way is the easier way because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In addition, we have the promise that God’s commands are not burdensome.
Some people get weighed down by having their eyes in the wrong direction, and they exchange the cross for a deception of what might seem more comfortable. However, if we’re struggling like that, if we persevere, we will find that the cross IS the ultimate comfort we are seeking. The truth is, if we are facing any kind of battle, it means our backs are to the cross and we’re facing the wrong direction. We get turned around sometimes without realizing it, but once we know, God gives us grace to turn back to Him.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden points out the emptiness of a life without the cross.
Apart From the Cross
“I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 CORINTHIANS 2:2
We can quote these teachings of Jesus, seek to imitate Him as our Example, strive to walk the narrow Way, and even accomplish many good deeds in His Name. But apart from the Cross these activities are wood, hay and stubble.
In calling us to come back to the Cross, God is asking us to lay down our lives and embrace the Wisdom of death, burial, resurrection, and ascension in order to live as sons and daughters within the Kingdom of God. Apart from the Cross we can neither enter the Kingdom nor live in the Spirit, no matter how great the desire. For apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to submit to the will of God, accept suffering, and cast ourselves upon Him. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what Resurrection is.
Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden
Plowing the fields God puts in our lives is not always easy, but it is necessary, and the crop yield will be worth it. While Luke 9:62 reminds us that looking back after we have put our hand to the plow makes us unfit to serve, the unspoken reminder there is to turn around. Of course we can’t push forward with our back to the plow, just as we can’t fight with our back to the enemy. But the cross and the word of God before us enable us to stand and fight with the strength of The Lord. His armor prepares us to face our tasks, not to run from them, and His cross brings us the surrender we need to admit our own weakness and find our strength of Christ. That’s why He says to take up our cross daily because He has provided the cross for our comfort.
Today, a friend and I discussed the difference in serving God out of obligation and out of love. A religious spirit can make you get everything perfect on the outside, but your works will not be with any heart. It’s more like an arranged marriage. But a spirit of love will gently push you to uphold God’s law because you desire to bless and please the One who has been so good to you.
In today’s Infinite Supply, Chip Brogden speaks about the loving Spirit who created the law…
The Spirit of the Law
“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Legally they were on solid ground. But to her accusers, Jesus replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And when they all left, being convicted by their own conscience, He said to the woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more” (John 8:12). We must conclude that however good the Law was, it did not represent God’s highest, or God’s best.
Jesus represents the holiness and purity of the Law but emphasized the part that had been too long overlooked: grace and humility. He came to address the deeper issues of the heart, and in so doing, showed us what God really intended from the beginning. He did not destroy the Law, He superseded the Law! Thus He fulfilled the spirit of the Law – even if it sometimes appeared as if He did not follow the letter of the Law.
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden
Of course, the One who created the law would most certainly know best His purposes behind it. As the author says, He supersedes the law. It’s our interpretations and perspectives on it that cause it to be grievous and chaotic. But the Spirit behind the law will lead us in keeping the spirit of the law as He intended–as a clear dividing line between unholy and holy.
Romans 2:29 (NKJV) adds some clarity to the thought…
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
When we keep the spirit God input into the law by His Holy Spirit, we will seek to please Him instead of men’s ideas of holiness and perfection. We will desire to be holy (separated from sin) because we love God too much to want to be unholy (separated from God). He wants to draw near to us, so He gave us laws to help us learn how to make room in our lives for His presence.
Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, we let Him down and make it hard for Him to find a place for His presence, so He pours out His mercy through the blood of Yeshua. That’s the dividing line now. We choose either outside of His mercy or under His blood because His blood is what makes us holy so He can dwell with us. So The Holy Spirit of The Law is greater than the letter of the law because mercy through the blood of Christ is more powerful than all the works we can do in and of ourselves.
What is it that you will have accomplished in this life that will make you feel you’ve achieved your best goal? Is there a finish line you see in front of you that will make you feel successful? Some want to die old. Some want to gain riches or fame or some other earthly prosperity.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden, we’ll read about pressing toward the right goals.
Press Toward the Goal
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
God has a purpose for the universe: that in all things Christ would have the preeminence. This is the Heavenly Bullseye. Since you, dear reader, are part of the universe, you are one of those “all things.” So this purpose includes you.
Actually, this is the same purpose He had in mind for Adam: that Christ would have the preeminence in him. But Adam chose an independent path and failed to give Christ the preeminence. He took the preeminence for himself. Adam missed the mark, which is a life submitted to, and totally dependent upon, God.
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden
You know what your finish line is by what you focus on each day. For example, do you focus on where you are now with a steady look at where you are going, or do you fill your thoughts with sentences that start with “if only”? If only my ship would come in. If only I’d win the lottery. If only my health were perfect. If only I’d been discovered when I was young, so I could be famous now. If only we had bigger, better, more, etc.
Like the author says, Adam (and Eve) chose the personal finish line. They had those sentences like:
- “If only we could eat from the Tree of Knowledge,”
- “If only we knew what that tree tastes like,” and
- “If only we could be wise and know good and evil.”
Paul would have told them to change their sentences to something like:
- “We have the promise of being able to eat from the Tree of Life,”
- “Thankfully, we have the best flavors from all the wonderful trees we get to eat from,” and
- “It’s so peaceful to just trust God and not have to know everything.”
Paul’s finish line was to become more and more like the Christ he loved and served. He sought to draw closer to Him each day regardless of what it took for him to get there. He learned how to be content in all things by focusing on the steps that were drawing him nearer to Yeshua and Heaven than on anything he was missing here on earth. His finish line was to become less and less attached to earth and its pleasures and more attached to Christ and the promises of eternity with God.
We all have finish lines, little ones and big ones. We all have to set goals in order to know how to run in this life. The big goal, however, should be the same for all of us, and it should run us on the race of faith Paul speaks of in Hebrews 12:1…
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Pray, read God’s word, and offer praise up to The Lord, and then when you are in His holy presence, as yourself: What’s my finish line? Comment below if you’d like to share what you discover.
For some reason, the older I get, the more I like fresh bread. Maybe it’s because I grew up on bagged loaf bread and didn’t go out to eat much, so I didn’t know how good fresh bread and butter could be. Oh, but now, yum. My favorite treats at restaurants are not the desserts, but the slice-it-yourself breads that places like Outback restaurants bring on request. There’s just no comparing the fresh flavors with the stuff in the bag full of preservatives.
Yeshua told the disciples that He had bread they didn’t know of. Here’s what He says in John 4, verses 32 and 34, when they suggest that He eat something…
But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Our Lord was satisfied to work for our salvation, and it fed Him. He passed that mantle to the disciples and then to us. We may not be satisfied by man’s bread alone, but we are promised we can live on God’s bread. In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden talks about the hidden manna of God…
Hidden Manna, Secret Name
“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
The manna is HIDDEN and the name is SECRET. The Lord is doing a work, but that work is, for the most part, hidden and secret. If we are always looking for something out in the open and in plain view then we will miss the deeper workings of God below the surface.
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden
We’re told in the Old Testament that the manna God gave the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness was bread from the angel’s food, and that it tasted like wafer cakes with honey. Imagine baking up some of that. Now imagine that God has something in store that has been hidden and is even better.
I don’t know from His words when He considers us having overcome to where we will receive this promise of hidden bread. It may be when we receive that indescribable refreshing after we have overcome a battle on this earth. It may be something that has a description that hasn’t yet entered the heart or mind of man. Whatever it is, though, I do know that if God is reserving it for those who overcome, it’s the good stuff.
Just like the wine at the wedding of Cana, He may be saving the best for last. Maybe it’s because it’s taking a while to bake, but if it’s the best we’re ever going to have, it will be worth working and waiting for.
When I was a little girl, my mom often sang the chorus, “To know, know, know him, is to love, love, love him, and I do.” After I fell in love with God, I would sing it about Him. Through the years, I’ve sang a lot of love songs written for humans to my Savior because the words said just how I felt. It’s hard to explain to someone who does not know Christ just how those of us who do know Him can be so deeply in love with someone we haven’t met in the flesh. The key to falling in love with The Lord is wrapped up in getting to know everything about Him, and getting to know His heart. That happens by reading His word and seeking Him through prayer.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, the author speaks of getting to know Christ to effectively share Him with others.
To Be With Him
“He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him…”
The first order of business was not the preaching or the sending forth; it was simply being with Jesus. During those times of being alone and apart with Christ He revealed Himself to them in a deep way. They walked with Him, watched Him, and listened to Him for three and a half years. Just as importantly, they learned to walk with each other. They learned how to serve one another in love. When Jesus finally did send them forth to preach they actually had something worth sharing and worth listening to.
Your primary calling as a disciple is to BE with Jesus, because that is how you LEARN OF HIM. It is not learning about the Christian faith – that is a thing. It is not learning about Bible doctrine – that is a thing. It is not learning about Christian things or religious things or spiritual things. It is not learning about the Bible. It’s not even learning ABOUT Jesus, it is learning OF Jesus FROM Jesus.
Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden
The whole verse from the reference above, and the verse just after it, says (in New King James’ Version)…
Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.
As the author notes, the first thing is just to be with Christ. Unfortunately, in our zeal, we may get the cart before the horse. We rush out to preach and heal and cast out demons, and we think that just because we’re doing it in Jesus’ name, we’re okay. But, if we’re not doing it because we know Yeshua and are following His will, we’re walking in ignorance and disobedience. We’re acting presumptuously and of ourselves, in pride, and we risk misleading souls and being responsible for them.
There is a preacher out there (Todd Bentley of “The Lakeland Revival” in Florida) who recorded a message about a vision he had explaining why he didn’t need training in God. He said that God took him to Heaven, cut him open, and filled him with little gift boxes. Then, God supposedly told him that time was too short for him to study and learn before he started preaching. God was pouring a bunch of gifts into him right then. Really? It sounds to me like the man formed a vision to line up with his desire to be up in front of people earning money and fame instead of waiting on God. If he took the time to get to know God better, maybe he wouldn’t have ended up having an affair with a woman on his staff–twice.
Other than just sharing our personal testimony of what God has done for us, we must get to know Christ before we can effectively introduce Him to others. If we want to get to know Him, we find that His word tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29 (NKJV)…
But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
If we want to love God, we should seek to please Him. In order to please Him, we need to obey Him. To obey Him we must hear His voice. To hear His voice, we must become His sheep. To even desire to be His sheep, we need to get to know The Shepherd. Once we know Him–really know Him–we won’t be able to help loving Him.
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…
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
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…
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…
Seeing As God Sees
“He, the Spirit of truth… will guide you into all truth.”
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
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.
My business cards usually include the line “Writer and Creative Mind.” I have been creative for as long as I can remember, so it’s nothing I’ve worked for or been trained in. I know my creativity is a gift from God, and that I am made in my Father’s creative image. God gives me authority over my gifts, so I can use them for Him or for things which are not pleasing to Him. I can even choose to not use my gifts at all. But, my love for Yahveh drives me to want to create positive and uplifting designs whether that be in writing or in products on my Zazzle page.
Speaking of the latter, I finally plugged in the new night lights I created and ordered last month, and they are my favorite items from Zazzle so far. I’d love to know what my readers think of these two items. Also, do you think customized night lights would make good Christmas gifts for friends and family? If so, tell me which of the 29 I recently created are best, or if you think some other images might work better. The two I ordered are of my Pink and Yellow Fractalized Butterflies with Stars and Yellow Daisies in a Field of Purple.
Now, when thinking of God’s gifts, we often think about the promise of His word that we can do all things through Christ. In addition to that Scripture, we have Yeshua’s claim that we can do nothing without Him. Here’s what Chip Brogden wrote on that subject in today’s Infinite Supply newsletter…
Nothing Without Him
“Without Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus would explain to His disciples that spiritual life hinges upon living in active dependence upon Himself. That is the fundamental lesson to learn because it is the fundamental sin of mankind – the independent path. Jesus says without Him we can do nothing. Nothing! But it is human nature to try and do something in ourselves. We call it freedom and liberty; blazing our own trail; making something happen. But the end result is death and destruction.
The fall of man illustrates a fundamental truth: that whenever Self is allowed to rule in the place of Christ, the result is sin, sorrow, separation and death. Apart from Him we really can do nothing.
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom
by Chip Brogden
©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears.
Again, the author covers an important topic for all Christians. I love that he says we need an active dependence on our Savior. Salvation isn’t a “set it and forget it” lifestyle change. It’s more like a raging yet contained fire if we’re fully committed to walking in the newness of a life with Yeshua as our Lord and Savior. We should always be learning something new from His word or from the words He speaks in our spirit. We should be acquiring understanding from Him instead of leaning on our own. And, we should be walking and creating as He leads even if we can generate a million ideas “on our own.”
I know when I’m trying to do things on my own. It’s usually a time of great chaos on my life. My ideas will come at me so fast that I don’t know whether to jump, duck, go around, or catch them straight on. I’ll have an abundance of thoughts but nowhere to go with them, or I’ll want to go everywhere at once. That’s the downside of having a creative mind, and I’ll admit to still not being sure I have all my creativity in God’s hands. Thankfully, God is merciful, and He gives me a new chance to try again with each new day.
Are you creative? If not, do you wrestle with your gifts, whatever they may be, trying to drive you to acting first and praying later? Ideas of any kind can pop up and threaten to leave if we don’t act on them right away, so I’m certain I’m not the only one who faces this challenge. Tell me about your challenges, and we can pray for each other.
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 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.
One of my favorite types of photography is that which they call “macro” because it brings an almost unseen world to life. Macro photography gets as close to a subject as possible while still remaining clear. It allows you to see the eyes on a bug or the tiniest veins in the petal of a flower. Many of the photographers I follow on Flickr take macro photos, and if you do a search for just the word macro, you’ll see the tiny, up-close world I’m talking about.
Maybe it’s the peace that comes with focus required to see things that closely, or maybe I just like observation of detail, but I know it’s a stark contrast to what attracts many others. While I linger to see more things more closely, the world seems to want a super fast view of things from a distance. Commercial advertising on television flashes an array of images at you. Sentences are shortened to fewer words (got milk), and words are shortened to fewer letters or abbreviations (lol). And, no, I’m not laughing in that last line, but it’s an acronym I figure most people know. If you don’t, it stands for “laughing out loud.”
So, I got a new Twitter follower tonight that posts things in micro, which makes sense because Twitter is considered a “micro blog.” He writes micro poetry and micro fiction, and it’s actually quite entertaining. You all know that I’m a long-winded writer, so it might not hurt for me to learn how to say a few things in micro, but I’ll work on that later.
Anyway, this whole micro versus macro thing made me think about the still, small voice of God. Is that considered micro because the Bible calls it small? I don’t know what the writer or his scribe actually meant there, but I consider it more macro than micro. It’s not the fact that it’s small that matters, it that requires closer examination. Just like you have to tune out all the noise in order to hear a person whisper, you must tune out the cacophony of spiritual noise to tune into the voice of Yahveh.
I think we all get the idea that during the days of creation, God’s voice rang out like thunder and made a demand for the world to jump into being. I like the power behind that too, but what if He simply and quietly whispered in a still, small voice? What if that’s all He had to do because there wasn’t a bunch of noise for Him to have to speak over then? So, maybe we were created in quiet peacefulness, and maybe that’s why those of us who seek our Creator seek that peace as a blessing.
I think this new drive of people to see and hear things loud and fast coincides with the distance this world has from The God of Creation. Seeing His beginnings takes time, and understanding them takes even more time. Salvation is not a micro event either. The closer we examine Calvary, the more we realize what Yeshua did for us, and the more we fall in love with Him.
Time is our gift from God to learn whatever we need to make an informed decision about our eternity. We should fill our moments with as much of God as we can, bringing ourselves closer and closer to Him in the process. We can write micro fiction and micro poetry, and we can post micro blogs, but let God and His word be magnified and not diminished in our lives. Amen.
Sometimes I need to play Pollyanna and to find the good in every situation. It’s not a matter of simple desire, it’s a matter of survival. As a deep feeler, when an abundance of negativity surrounds my days and weeks, I just need to play the glad game. If you haven’t seen the movie or heard the story, click the video above for a clip about Pollyanna’s game. It was something her father taught her before he passed away, and it helped her survive the tragedy of his loss. It wasn’t well-accepted by her bitter aunt and the employees who inevitably picked up on the bitterness that riches could never fix.
Since I became a follower of Yeshua, my glad game is a little different from Pollyanna’s. I still try to find something to be glad about in situations that would otherwise make me sad, but I try to find that reason in Scripture or in a promise from God. Maybe I’ll remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Or, maybe I’ll just think about how grateful I am to know that Yeshua will never leave or forsake me, so whatever I go through, I will never be alone.
I think King David played the glad game too because he said things like…
- I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:2 NKJV)
- I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble. (Psalm 31:7a NKJV)
- Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 NKJV)
- Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8 NKJV)
- The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:10 NKJV)
- But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. (Psalm 68:3 NKJV)
- Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14 NKJV)
- Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness. (Psalm 96:11 NKJV)
- This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)
- The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. (Psalm 126:3 NKJV)
Maybe believers should just call it The King David Game when we look for reasons to praise God because it sure looks like he had a handle on the idea of being glad in God no matter what. He even wanted his broken bones to rejoice.
The hardest part of playing Pollyanna is when we face tougher and tougher circumstances that threaten to make it impossible to find something good. My personal version of the game is in my challenge at my website, For One Soul. But, even having this message, it’s not always easy. There have been times in my life that were so hard, even my husband said, “And don’t tell me it might be for one soul because I don’t want to hear that now.” King David talks about feeling like the heavens were brassed over and about watering his couch with tears. There are days when all the encouragement in the world doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
A problem that can arise while playing Pollyanna is when it becomes difficult to accept negative truths. We may try to believe the best about someone when they have clearly crossed a line into darkness or deceit. Or, we may tell people that something is okay when it’s not just because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Me, I only want to give five-star (or whatever is the best) reviews on things because that’s what I hope to get, but that’s not reality. Only God is good enough to always get a top rating every time. But, if I give top ratings to everyone, then people may even have a hard time believing me when I uplift God as best of all.
So, let’s go ahead and play Pollyanna when we need to balance the darkness and pain around us. Find a reason to play the glad game and to rejoice in God, maybe even by looking for where God will make things work for one soul. But, let’s also keep it honest. It’s a lie to say we are whole when we are broken, but it’s the truth to say we are whole in God because we know He is the Potter who will repair us. It’s the truth to say life is hard, but God is good. And when it gets really tough, we can remind ourselves that what we go through here are light and temporary afflictions. Paul even tells us in Romans 8:18 (NKJV)…
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
With that promise, I think all of us can get away with playing Pollyanna’s glad game a little bit more often. HalleluYah!
Have you ever tried to live on minimum wage; or below? I have, and it wasn’t fun. Though I don’t have that much now, there was a time when I would have considered anyone who lived like me to be rich. I mean, I can actually go out to eat, and I can order a full meal. At one point of my life though, I couldn’t even think about going out to eat. Later, there was a time when a waitress dubbed me and my family “The Biscuit and Gravy Bunch” because that’s all we ever ordered. It was all we could afford, but it was worth it for the treat of going out and not having to cook or do dishes.
Until a person has had to live at those low levels, they may not realize the stress of such a lifestyle, and unfortunately, that means most who are making the laws have no understanding. But, for all of us who have had to combine multiple families under one roof to bring in enough pay to keep the rent and utilities paid, we know how hard it can be. If we could demand pay equal to the quantity and quality of work we put out, then only those who refuse to do their parts would suffer those low lifestyles. Even the Bible, in Proverbs 23:21, tells us that drowsiness will clothe a man with rags, but it’s sad when hard work can bring rags as well.
Still, there are some problems with the demands for increased wages. One of those problems is that people want an increase in wages even if there is no increase in work ethics or output. Many want to be paid more just for showing up simply because they want a more comfortable lifestyle. When I worked in Arizona, many jobs weren’t required to pay even minimum wage, so even though I worked hard, I lived on about $10 worth of groceries per week. It got me ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and lots of potatoes. It may not have been great, but at least I felt I had earned every bite I put in my mouth.
That demand for higher wages regardless of work slips into our spiritual lives as well. As the song says, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” People don’t want to die to self either, but they want Heaven on earth with God meeting their every need even if they are not truly sold out to Him. Sometimes, He may give them some extras to draw them closer, but if they continually resist His discipline, He will back away. But does that mean people become lost just because they stop listening and obeying as they should?
It is not my place to judge the final place for our souls, but I can share what I feel based on Scripture. First, we must remember that God only disciplines those whom He loves. If we are hearing His voice and being told to change, we should be thankful for it. But, if instead of being thankful we become rebellious, then we can only blame ourselves for the troubles we suffer. Here’s how the New Living Testament speaks of those who refuse to listen to God’s wisdom in Proverbs 1:25-26; 28…
You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.
So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
I know that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s just like good parents do when it comes to discipline. We don’t reinforce negative behaviors (like our child running into the street where she can get run over by a car) by rewarding them. God doesn’t either. But this is not about our salvation; this is about our works. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 about our works (what we build on the foundation of Yeshua) being tried by fire and how that will affect our salvation. Here it is from the Easy to Read Version…
But the work that each person does will be clearly seen, because the Day will make it plain. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work. If the building they put on the foundation still stands, they will get their reward. But if their building is burned up, they will suffer loss. They will be saved, but it will be like someone escaping from a fire.
Truthfully, though, is that how we really want to live out our eternity? As someone who was just delivered from Hell fire? How is it we would fight against minimum wage here on earth but be satisfied with it for eternity? We have our name in The Lamb’s Book of Life by the price Yeshua paid on Calvary, but we are responsible for our deeds and the rewards they bring both here on earth and in eternity. God has a fair wage scale, and He is ready to shower us with blessings now and forever. When we can have a high salary and all the company benefits and perks, why should we be happy living on minimum wage with God?
What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.
Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.
Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.
These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.
The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.
Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.
For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.
Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.
You’ve seen the slogan, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It comes out every December to remind people that Christmas should not be focused on selfish things like gift-giving and wish lists. Still, because most of us have grown up with it being a holiday about gifts, decor, and Santa Claus, it can be difficult to put the focus on the birth of Christ. How much easier would it be if His birthday was actually at a different time that has not yet been so commercialized? Imagine this fictional but possible scenario…
It’s the first holiday of the new Jewish year where the men are called home for worship; the fall festival of Sukkot. Joseph will follow both the Jewish law and Caesar’s law to go to his home town even though his wife is ready to have a baby at any moment. As the couple arrives in Bethlehem, it’s bustling with activity. Caesar seemed to know that this time between two feasts, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, would draw a big enough crowd to make census-taking easier. Miriam (Mary) just admired the many booths built behind every home and business and longed for the day she would have her own home and a place for Joseph to build their sukkah.
“Oh, no, Joseph, I think the baby wants out,” cries Miriam as the donkey stumbles over another rough patch of road.
“Don’t worry, Honey, I’ll find us a place to rest soon,” says Joseph while trying to hide his own level of panic. He knows how important it is to take care of this pregnancy and delivery. The angel told him the baby was Emmanuel; God with Us, and Joseph does not take that lightly. But there doesn’t seem to be any place available for them to stop. Finally, at the last inn at the other end of town, the inn’s proprietor sees the pregnant girl and whispers something to his wife before letting the couple go on their way.
“Listen. We have our sukkah in back, and we were going to stay in there ourselves, so we know it’s suitable for you. Why don’t you just rest in there for the night. The basket is already stocked with bread, so you can eat something if you like,” says Mr. Innkeeper. Meanwhile, Mrs. Innkeeper is quite happy to agree since it means she will have a reason to sleep in her own bed instead of the floor of a tent.
Joseph and Miriam take their place in the booth as the labor begins. We don’t know if there was an available nurse or if the labor was difficult, but we do know that she soon delivered a bouncing baby boy. She knew who He was. Joseph knew who He was. Joseph extended the special blanket he retrieved from their bags. With the baby’s lineage from the tribe of Judah sewn into the fabric, Joseph wrapped the blanket around Yeshua to swaddle the newborn in warmth and comfort.
Weary from travel and delivery, the new family desperately needed rest. “Where will be put the baby?” asked Miriam.
“You know how I sleep, Dear. I’m afraid I might roll over on Him.”
“Joseph, the bread basket!” shouted Miriam as she quickly began to move the loaves to a small corner table. “This will make the perfect cradle for Him.” Joseph agreed. “Happy birthday, Lord,” Miriam whispered as she nestled the baby and His blankets snugly into the makeshift cradle before lying down to rest herself. Did she know, as she curled up to sleep in Joseph’s little town of Bethlehem (meaning “House of Bread”) that she had just placed the Bread of Life into a bread basket? How fitting, huh?
Superman. No, wait, maybe it’s Underdog. I guess it depends on the era in which you grew up. I was definitely more Underdog than Superman, but when I grew up, we got great Superman movies, so my affections changed. I still hope that Underdog eventually got to marry Sweet Polly Purebread, though. 😉 No matter which one of the characters was your favorite, you know that people said all kinds of stuff about the blur in the sky and never knew exactly who it was until he got closer.
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 18:14 through Deuteronomy 19:13, we begin with Moses telling the people that God will soon raise up a new prophet in his place. He reminds them how there was a time when God wanted to dwell with them, but they rejected God for fear He would kill them, so God used Moses to speak for Him instead. Now, Moses is getting ready to go away, and because the people cannot hear from God directly, they will need a new person to speak God’s words.
To prophesy is to speak, and to prophesy for God is to speak for God. It’s an awesome place to be and not one to take lightly. If you’ve followed these Torah passages with me, and especially if you’ve read any of the passages yourself, you know that God’s words to the people through Moses were more often harsh than sweet. It’s hard to be a prophet (or prophetess) for God because most of what He has to teach us after we are saved is how to get the junk out of our lives when it becomes a wall between us and hearing His pure voice.
Moses has to give the hard words again in this passage. He warns the people that while God will raise up a prophet from among them, they are responsible to test the words of that prophet. If the prophet speaks words in the Name of Yahveh and the words are not something God told him to say, or if the prophet speaks in the names of other gods, that prophet must die. Moses then tells the people that if they are not sure if the words have been spoken by The Lord, they can tell by the outcome. If the prediction does not come true, that is, if the word is not fulfilled, then it was not spoken by God. If the prophet has spoken presumptuously, there is nothing to fear from his words.
At this point in the passage, the chapter changes, and Moses goes into repeating the instructions for building the cities of refuge. You can read the verses in Chapter 19 for yourself if you need a refresher because I want to focus on the parts in 18. It’s interesting that the information about the cities of refuge would directly follow the teaching about the new prophet since the replacement prophet for Moses points directly at Yeshua. It’s even referenced in Acts 3:22 and Acts 7:37. The first of those verses (in the Amplified Bible) reads…
Thus Moses said to the forefathers, The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet from among your brethren as [He raised up] me; Him you shall listen to and understand by hearing and heed in all things whatever He tells you.
Of course, those of us who have New Testament history know that Yeshua never spoke presumptuously, and everything He prophesied did come to pass. As our Prophet now, we have many warnings that Yeshua offered for us to be protected from those who would come in His name and testify falsely. In Matthew 24:24-26 (Complete Jewish Bible) we read…
For there will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing great miracles — amazing things! — so as to fool even the chosen, if possible. There! I have told you in advance! So if people say to you, ‘Listen! He’s out in the desert!’ don’t go; or, ‘Look! He’s hidden away in a secret room!’ don’t believe it.
The part that concerns me is where Yeshua said they could come close to deceiving even those chosen by God, but as I cast my concerns and anxieties upon His shoulders, I am reminded that if I keep my heart and mind in His word, I have nothing to fear. If I strive to walk in His holy presence at all times, I can become more and more sensitive to even His still, small voice. And if I pay attention to all the warnings in His word (see all of Matthew 23-25 for full context), both Old and New Testament, I will know to make sure that any words spoken in His name are true. Even if someone claims to speak as a prophet for God, I will not believe that it’s a bird, a plane, or anything else until it lands and proves itself.
Last minute addition here: I just realized how much this reminded me of an old Hinson’s song I used to love. It is called The Original Superman and I was able to find it on Youtube…
Accidents aren’t always bad things. In the image above, the photographer was trying to set up for a sunset he planned to capture in a few moments when he accidentally hit the shutter and snapped the picture. Once he looked at it and realized how good it was (except for the lens flare in the middle), he shared the unedited masterpiece on purpose. When I finally gave my heart to The Lord, it was sort of an accident that I’m glad to say has become a purposeful walk in His presence for 31 years as of today. I was bribed to visit the church, and I only knelt down because that’s what everyone else was doing, so I accidentally got myself into a position to be prayed for by a group of women who gathered around me because they thought I was repenting. That accident quieted me enough to hear the voice of God, so He could speak to my heart.
In today’s reading from Numbers 35:9 through Numbers 35:34 (the end of the chapter), we read about accidental events that lead people to cities of refuge. I spoke of the cities yesterday but only of their existence, not their purpose. Today, God speaks to Moses to detail what people are able to live within the borders of those cities. Because in God’s law the next of kin can rightfully kill a person who has killed his or her relative, a location of safety needed to be set up for those who killed someone accidentally.
This portion of the reading gives examples of accidental killings such as shoving someone without being angry or throwing something that accidentally hits the person, and the end result is death. It also lists purposeful things that cannot be claimed as accidents, such as hitting someone with a piece of iron or a large rock. Even a person who strikes another with his own hand, if the hit is in anger and it results in death, the person is considered a murderer and eligible to be put to death.
If it is determined that a person killed someone accidentally, the killer is permitted to live in a city of refuge either until a trial or until the death of the high priest. If the killer comes out of the city before either of these events, he takes his own life in his hands because he makes himself subject to the next of kin avenger. If it cannot be determined that the death was purposeful, it will be considered an accident because in order to accuse someone of murder, there must be two or more witnesses. The testimony of one witness is not sufficient enough to put someone to death.
As the reading closes, God also warns people that if a person has actually committed a murder, no one is to take a bribe from them to say it was an accident and allow them to live in a city of refuge. The killer must be put to death. Also, no one must receive a bribe to allow a person to leave the city of refuge before the death of the priest. These things that would allow a killer to go free in any way cannot be permitted because blood defiles the land. A price must be paid for it, and it cannot be allowed to defile the land because the presence of Yahveh lives in the land with His people, Israel.
The statements about an avenging next of kin being required to balance the scales by killing the murderer tells me that God absolutely requires balance in all things. The chaos in our present society is due to the lack of that balance. We have killers and liars that get away with their crimes. We have people who represent justice who will change their rulings for the right amount of money. And, we have a whole lot of people with the mindset that if the excuse is good enough, or the procedure of apprehension and conviction doesn’t dot every “i” and cross every “t,” the person who committed the crime should go free. Yikes! Fortunately, when the law operates as it should, witness testimony is still considered the strongest proof just as it is here.
Let me mention here that while we have an “accuser of the brethren” that seeks to testify against children of God and try to get them condemned to Hell, we also have God’s justice system that requires two witnesses. I believe the other witness would have to be the accused. In other words, just because the adversary wishes for you to perish, if you stand against the accusations and curses, you stand strong in Christ. No one will be lost just because the enemy desires his soul. A person will have to give up his soul by refusing to repent and place his sins under the blood of Yeshua. At the judgment seat, those two witnesses (satan and the accused) will testify, so no one will be able to claim it’s an accident if his name is not in The Lamb’s Book of Life.
Today is the day of salvation. If you have never truly repented for the sin you were born into in this flesh, walk now into the city of refuge that was built for you on the foundation of God’s mercy. It is not His will for any to perish, so He provides a way for you to escape the death sentence that is the penalty for sin. It was no accident that Christ went to the cross for “whosoever will,” and it is no accident if you are reading this post and have not yet committed your life to God. Let all the accidents of your life–loss, pain, suffering, depression, unfairness, or whatever has plagued you in this life–be a catalyst for purpose, and may you turn today and walk forever in the mercy and grace of Yeshua HaMashiach. Amen.
There are many ways to minister to our fellow man, and only a small portion of them include being up behind a pulpit. Those in front of the crowd do get noticed more than the mammas on their knees begging God to have mercy on their wayward children, but are they one bit more important? Granted, we need confident speakers to spread the good news across the airwaves, but we also need the missionaries who are willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience to carry the good news around the world. And we need the home missions preachers who survive on a small budget to bring the gospel to the streets and towns where others fear to tread.
In today’s reading from Numbers 3:14 through Numbers 3:39, we see the breakdown of the census for all those within the tribe of Levi. They are the servants for the tabernacle, and they each have duties that are to be done with complete obedience to God’s commands. We have three sons of Levi who are the fathers of the clans of the Levites, aka “the preachers.” The people from each clan will camp around the tabernacle, and each will have specific duties in the care of God’s house.
The children of Gershon (about 7500 males a month and older) are told to camp behind the tabernacle, to the west. They will be in charge of the tabernacle itself including all the coverings inside and out, the screens at the entrances, the curtains that surround the courtyard, and all the fixtures and ropes used for these items and for maintenance.
The children of K’hat (about 8600 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the south. They are to be in charge of The Holy Place. They are responsible for the ark, the table, the menorah and altars, the curtains, and all the utensils used by the priests when they serve in The Holy Place.
And, the children of M’rari (about 6200 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the north. They are assigned responsibility for the frames of the tabernacle. That includes maintenance for the crossbars, the posts, the sockets and fittings, and the posts that surround the courtyard with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.
Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons who were in charge of The Holy Place were to camp at the front of the tabernacle, in the east, toward the sunrise. They were told to carry out all their responsibilities on behalf of the people of Israel, and anyone else who tried to do the job without being called to that responsibility would be put to death. But there were plenty to do the job since the total number of Levite males a month or older was 22,000.
Now, I know there weren’t televisions, fancy church buildings, and all that we have today back then, but I just can’t equate the jobs this tribe of preachers has been asked to do with anyone who is up doing it for accolades from the crowd. If anything, I’m guessing there were more than a few of the boys who were sorry they were born into the tribe of Levi due to all the work it required. But for those who did the job from their hearts, the rewards of knowing The Almighty Creator was pleased with them was likely pay enough.
In answer to the song title in the video above, no, I don’t believe Jesus would wear a Rolex. Some televangelists, pastors, etc., have jobs outside their preaching positions that enable them to afford a comfy life, so I can’t say they don’t deserve it anymore than I can say a doctor who barely survived internship shouldn’t find some luxury once in private practice. But I definitely have concerns about the ones who use the funds from the flock to pay themselves as if they are a higher shepherd than The Shepherd to whom all our allegiance should be given. And the free-spending on things like gold faucets for a yacht makes it more clear to me why some religions make those in ministry positions take a vow of poverty.
Yeshua asked one man who wanted to follow Him if he was okay with the idea of sleeping on a stone. He pointed out that even though He was The Messiah and The One in charge of the ministry, He Himself did not have a pillow to lay His head on. I am thankful for some of the outreach that is done with the funds going into the big ministries, but I wonder how much could be done if more funds went to actual needs and less into the art of attraction.
The video, and the requirements we read for the Levites, should prompt us to ask this question about all whose ministries we follow and support: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) if He were walking around in human form and ministry these days? Are all these who say they are called to minister for God camping around the tabernacle and keeping up the care of God’s house, or are they camping out in their own comfortable houses while starving sheep foot the bill?
When we say something is finished, we may mean it is hopeless, or that we’re giving up. We can be finished with something before it is even complete. But when God says something is finished, it is all the way done, complete, finalized, and has nothing to be added to it. When Yeshua said these words on the cross, He was completing the task of paying the price of salvation for all who lived then, all who lived before, and all who will live until the end of time here on earth.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 27:29 through Leviticus 27:34 (the end of the chapter, and the end of the book of Leviticus), we finish another week of the year. As the portion begins, it makes the statement that any man condemned to die cannot be redeemed, he must be put to death. The statement here makes a bit more sense in The Amplified Bible where it explains that redeemed means freed from having to die as sentenced.
When Yeshua, under Jewish law, was condemned to die, there was no way to turn it around and free Him from the obligation of the cross. He was going to go there no matter what. But, because His perfect blood fulfilled the law, He set us free from having to pay the wages of our sin that condemned us to death, and therefore, we can be redeemed from it. Halleluyah! The law that was our curse became our blessing because our High Priest finished all that was necessary to fulfill the requirements that left so many in bondage.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been angry as I’ve watched reenactments of the crucifixion. Sometimes, I have wanted to jump through the screen and beat the ones who issued the death sentence to The Savior. I’ve also felt great frustration in watching the Jewish priests as they did nothing to stop the false condemnation, and in watching the people use their chance to free him to free a murderer (Barabas) instead. Now, however, on reading this, I can understand why the condemnation had to stand. They had to keep the laws intact in order for The Messiah to fulfill them.
The next few verses talk about tithing. The word says that if a man tithes of his land, that land will be holy to God. The same goes if he tithes from his animals. If he tithes on his animals, he is not to examine the animals at all, but one tenth of his flock as it walks under the herdsman’s staff will belong to God and become holy to him. And if a man wants to redeem any of his tithes, he is to add twenty percent to its value.
The last verse finishes the laws and commandments given by God to the people of Israel through His speaking to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God was finished giving laws, Moses was finished receiving laws, but the people were not finished learning the laws. Some laws had to be relearned because they were forgotten. Some laws had to be taught to the new children who were born after the laws were given. And some laws had to be relearned the hard way by watching the punishment on someone else who had forgotten. But the day came when no one was required to learn the laws anymore, not because they were bad laws, but because they were no longer necessary to cleanse people from unrighteousness. When Yeshua hung on the cross and said, “It is finished,” He concluded all the work necessary to cleanse us, so when our lives on this earth are finished, we can dwell in unending joy with our Creator.
Matthew 11:28 (CJB) says, “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We know from that verse that Yeshua is talking about Himself there, and that He has become all that we need when we are burdened with the sins of the flesh. He is the Passover Lamb that shed His blood for our salvation, and He is our Sabbath that we may rest in our deliverance and celebrate God’s grace and mercy.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 23:1 through Leviticus 23:22, we read about the beginnings of God’s appointed celebrations and commands that are fulfilled in our Messiah. I’ve said before that you cannot know whether an orange candy that says it tastes like a real orange lives up to its claim if you have never tasted a real orange. It’s good to know that Yeshua has fulfilled all the mitzvot (Hebrew for laws and commands) of the Old Covenant, but it will mean much more when you understand what those things were for Him to fulfill for us.
In verse 2, God tells Moses to remind the people that all the designated times He gives them are His times. In this portion, He talks about the festivals of Shabbat, Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. These festivals are holy, and they are times for celebrations. (And, yes, Sabbath is listed among The Lord’s feast days, and it is to be a day of celebration for us.) God gave Israel (and us) the feasts as ways to remember that He has provided all things for us. That’s why the feasts are permanent regulations, even to the point that we will enjoy them in Heaven as we celebrate that He not only gave us life on earth, but that He also gave us eternity. That’s also why man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath for the man.
One thing I noticed about the Lord’s feasts in today’s portion is how the lack of them has affected our current society. For example, most people do not take a true Sabbath rest–one where they do no work at all. Some of the celebrations say not to do “ordinary” work, but the Sabbath rest says it is to be a complete rest, even in the homes. We say Yeshua is our rest, but do we take a complete rest even when we rest in Him? In other words, do we rest according to our idea of rest, holding on to those doctrines of men we think will make us holy to God? Resting in Him means letting go of ALL our own ways, not leaning on our own understanding, and trusting that His ways and thoughts are above our own. That kind of rest would cure all kinds of anxiety and depression if we truly grabbed hold of it, but in our current society, it’s hard to let go and rest as an individual when our families and communities do not rest with us. Still, if you’re with me on wanting to make an effort to rest more in Him, I recommend the book 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth.
The next holy day covered is that of Passover. We have just come through the season of celebrating Passover, and my husband and I went to two different Passover Seders during the week. I enjoyed parts of them both, but I longed for something more. One former Orthodox Jew mentioned how the seder used to take three hours not including the regular meal, and my husband and I both realized that the new “speedy” versions of most Seders meant we were probably missing something; especially since the more we understand about Passover, the more we understand about how Messiah fulfilled it.
The next feast is that of Unleavened Bread, and the teaching of it is part of the Passover Seder. I won’t tell you everything you can learn from a seder, but I will tell you about the bread. First, leaven (yeast) represents sin, and when put into dough (the flesh) it makes it rise up, so with leaven, bread is puffed up, and with sin, we are filled with works of the flesh instead of with Christ. So, for the week of this feast, all leaven is removed from the home. Symbolically, then, if Yeshua is our feast of Unleavened Bread, we would remove all sin from our body, so it may be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Also, instead of regular bread, matzah is served during the feast week. Click on the word for an up close image that will show you some very cool things about this bread: It is not puffed up, it has blood-colored stripes, and it is pierced. As part of the seder, it will be broken, hidden in a sack that is divided in three parts (a sack called an echad which means unity), and one of the broken pieces will be wrapped in linen and hidden (as in a grave) which will later be found by a child and “redeemed” (as in resurrected).
If I go on to tell you anymore, this blog will get too long, but you can read all about the seder at the Hebrew4Christians site that also includes a downloadable Passover haggadah (story book) in PDF. Also, I recommend that next year, you find yourself a Messianic or Christian seder to attend, so you can hear the story. Oh, by the way, that’s what the seder dinner is all about. It is a way to tell the story of what God has done for his people in a way that is easy to remember. It has actions (like tasting bitter herbs) as part of the telling, so even the children can remember their Creator and Deliverer. Our current society depends almost solely on their own works to accomplish success in this life, and as they face failure after failure, they turn to things like drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex to help them forget their failures. When that doesn’t work, too many decide to take their own lives.
The last feast mentioned today is that of “First Fruits.” This harvest festival is the time when people say “Thank You,” to the Creator who “brings forth bread from the earth.” They wave sheaths of their harvest before Him, and they thank Him by given grain offerings. And have you noticed that in our current society, grain seems to be something that brings a lot of curses? How often do you hear the words “gluten free” these days? Gluten seems to be a curse on wheat. And MSG is also a wheat by-product. At one time, it was even thought that refined flour caused an overabundance of sexual urges in young men, so Dr. Graham created “Graham flour” and “Graham crackers” to include more of the wheat germ to stave off lust. Read more about Sylvester Graham at Wikipedia. In addition to wheat, we have corn meal and corn by-products (like high fructose corn syrup) that are blamed for all kinds troubles from diabetes to lethargy. But I wonder if it would be different if we were still bringing our grains before God to thank Him for being our Provider.
Today’s reading ends with a reminder to leave the corners of the field unharvested, so the poor can come harvest for themselves and be able to eat without depending on someone else to feed them. Imagine if our society created a system where every person (except those who are truly physically unable) would have to do some kind of work for his or her food. If they had to pick their own vegetables, clean around the farm where their beef was raised, or even pick up garbage and weeds in the cities where funding is running to short to hire people to do it, they would feel their provisions had more value, and they would be healthier. Imagine a world where people actually did things God’s way, and you will understand then how He is where true rest can be found.
During my time growing up on the west coast, our family was pretty picky about the type of sandwich spread we used. Whether it was for a sandwich or a salad, we always used “Best Foods Real Mayonnaise.” Since I am typically alert to details, I always read the part on the label that said, “Known as Hellman’s East of the Rockies.” So, do you know what I did the first time I traveled east of the Rocky Mountains? I went into a grocery store to look for some “Hellman’s Mayonnaise.” so I could read the label to see if it said, “Known as Best Foods West of the Rockies.” And, sure enough, it did.
Such a little thing to get excited about, but it really was important for me to find out. Oh, and if you live east of the Rockies, like I do now, you may have heard the commercial jingle that says, “Bring out the Hellman’s, and bring out the best.” That makes so much more sense, though, when you hear it as, “Bring out the Best Foods, and bring out the best.”
In today’s reading from Leviticus 22:17 through Leviticus 22:33 (the end of the chapter), we read of God wanting us to always bring out the best for Him. This entire teaching covers the offerings brought before God whether for vows or for voluntary burnt offerings, and it gives the details of the acceptable and unacceptable offerings. In order to make the person giving the offering acceptable to God, the offering they gave had to fulfill the requirements that made it acceptable to Him.
Just as the priests who had defects could not give offerings to The Lord, people could not offer animals with defects like blemishes, uneven limbs, blind, injured, mutilated bodies, etc. Even if a foreigner tried to offer something less than perfect, ignorance would not entitle him to give a defective offering.
So, how many of you readers would like it if you gave your child all the ingredients to make a wonderful and tasty dessert, and after the child made it, he or she gave it to a bunch of friends and said you could only have whatever leftovers you could scrape off the pan? As the reading ends, God once again reminds Israel to keep His commandments because He is The Lord, and He is the One who brought them out of the land of Egypt to deliver them and make them holy. He gave them all the cattle and land from which to choose their offering, and He gave them the life of freedom that allows them to now offer gifts to Him, so He not only wants the best from them, He deserves the best from them.
Because of the grace and mercy we have from God through the blood of Yeshua, we might sometimes be tempted to think that God is not so picky anymore. After all, He accepts us just as we are, right? Yes, He does accept us, but only because He, Himself, brought out the best when He robed Himself in flesh to lay His life down for us. As the Lamb of Our Salvation, Christ had no imperfection, no blemish, and no sin. He was not even born of the sinful seed of man. He became the offering that was worthy to allow us to come to God broken, blemished, and damaged by sin. And His blood cleanses us and makes us whole in God’s eyes, so we can now offer ourselves to Him in the way He requires and deserves.
I hope this is enough to inspire and encourage people to keep themselves cleansed and holy before God. Let us not allow any of the desires of our sinful nature to drag us down to a place where we are covered with the muck and mire from which God delivered us. God gave us His best, now let us bring out the best for Him.
Remember the commercial where a couple at the movies trip over each other and end up mixing their snacks? One of them says, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” Then the other one says, “Hey, you got your peanut butter on my chocolate.” And items that at one time would have been considered strange bedfellows were suddenly finding themselves mixed together in the form of a peanut butter cup.
The phrase “strange bedfellows” has been in use since the 1400s as a reference to unlikely or peculiar alliances or combinations. For example, in nature, if we see a friendship between animals that normally would be enemies, it strikes us as odd. There are some things that we know just don’t go together, like cats and birds. But strange bedfellows usually refer to things that might seem odd together but actually work, like pickle and peanut-butter sandwiches. (But you do have to toast the bread and used thin sliced dill pickle if you really want it to taste right. 🙂 )
In today’s reading from Leviticus 20:8 through Leviticus 20:22, God again teaches Israel what He considers to be “strange bedfellows.” The difference here, however, is that if God says we should not be in a bed together, He means it. It’s not a matter of figuring out that something unlikely might actually work together because if it goes against God’s perfect will and design, it goes into the arena of disobedience to God and irreverence of God’s holy word.
The reading begins with a reminder that a man should not curse his father and mother or he would face death. From there, it jumps right into a long list of what God considers to be sexual sin. Obviously, these things are important to God because this is the second such list in the book of Leviticus. This list has a little more detail in that instead of just calling people who commit the sexual sins unclean, God goes a bit further and speaks of those that should be put to death.
The first sin listed is that of a man committing adultery with another man’s wife. This says that both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. Next it says that a man who sleeps with his father’s wife disgraces his father, and both of them should be put to death. If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. And if a man goes to bed with a man as he does with a woman, both men are to be put to death.
God goes on to say that if a man sleeps with a woman and her mother, all of them are to be put to death by fire, so that no depravity will exist in the community. If a man or woman has sex with an animal, both the human and animal are to be put to death. If a man sleeps with his sister (or half-sister), God says it is shameful and they are to be cut off from the people and will bear the consequences, but this does not appear to include death. And, finally, it goes into men who sleep with their mother’s sister, their father’s sister, or their uncle’s wife. The consequence for a man who sleeps with his aunt, even if she is only related by marriage, is that the two of them will be childless.
Going back to the first command about killing both the adulterer and the adulteress, I wonder if Yeshua wrote this Scripture in the dirt when the men of Israel were about to stone the woman caught in adultery. At that moment, it wasn’t as much about His having mercy on the woman as it was about His showing the hypocrisy in the men. Why weren’t they casting stones at the man who was with the woman? If they were so holy and so apt to keep the letter of the law, the woman was not the only one who should have been facing a death sentence.
This story, in John 8:1-11, does not end with the men facing their hypocrisy and dropping their stones. It’s one of the places where the mercy of Yeshua shines brightly. He physically demonstrates the grace and mercy He has for all of us when He tells the woman that He finds no fault in her and that she is free to stop her sinning. He didn’t tell her that she was free from that one sin, or for one day only, but he set her free to stop sinning for the rest of her life. No more strange bedfellows for her because she who the Son sets free is free indeed.
Death is still the price for adultery (and all the sins listed in today’s portion), but just as Yeshua protected the woman from the price of her crimes, His blood will set us free from every sin listed in His word–Old or New Testament–because He has paid that price of death for us. He set the woman free from the bondage to her sin with the words “Go and sin no more.” He sets us free in the same way. May we let go of our excuses for sin, and instead may we climb out of the bed we have made with our weaknesses and walk in the mercy and grace that sets and keeps us free. Amen!
In Proverbs 21:31 (AMP), we are given the following wisdom…
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and victory are of the Lord.
So we do all we can to prepare to take a stand and to fight if necessary, but in reality, the battle against sin truly belongs to The Lord. Paul said he kept doing the things he didn’t want to do, and he kept failing when he tried to do the right things, because sin reigned in his mortal body. That doesn’t mean we quit fighting, but it does mean that it takes something (or Someone) greater than our personal self-control to wage and win this war.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:25 through Leviticus 16:34, we are still reading God’s instructions for the priest making atonement for the sins of Israel. We’re told that the man who takes the scapegoat outside the camp must wash his clothes and bathe before he can return to the camp. And then we’re told that the person who takes the hides and dung from the offerings and burns them outside the camp must also bathe and wash his clothes before he can return to the camp.
I see the verses above as a sort of physical representation of the symbolic steps we take as we change from who we are without Christ to who we will become with Him. These steps include confession (we saw that over the head of the goat yesterday), repentance, sending our sinful behaviors away from us, burning up any remnants of sin, and then washing our bodies and clothes (baptism) to show that we are fresh and new without even the smells of “old goat” or “smoke” of sin remaining on us.
And this walks us perfectly into the next part of today’s portion where we learn about The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. We learn that the community is to take a complete Sabbath on this day, and that atonement will be made to purify them. While this high holy day is prepared for with fasting, self-assessment of sins and weaknesses, confession and repentance, the day of Yom Kippur is a day of complete and total rest, and a day of self-denial. It is the actual day when the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, and the congregation would wait in silence to see if he would come back out to them alive to declare their salvation.
In our lives today, we should not enter lightly into the atonement we have under the blood of Yeshua. Yes, He does all the work. Yes, His blood completely cleanses us. But to say we should not prepare for that holy moment would deny us of the knowledge of the awesome work Christ (our High Priest) does on our behalf. How can we value the depth of what He has delivered us from if we go in with our eyes closed and never look at the pit? How can we even know which side we’re on until we understand where the enemy occupies in his stand against our souls? Yes, Yahveh Almighty is The One who will win the victory for us; who has already won the victory through the blood of Christ, but let us prepare for the battle to stand for Him that we can cheer with everything in us when we hear His voice as He declares our salvation.
With all the shorter readings earlier in the week, today’s reading from Genesis 19:21 through Genesis 21:4 was a bit longer. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on in the story until I got to verse 37 of the first chapter in the reading. But let me start with the background.
The angels have granted that Lot would not have to run to the hills where he was afraid to go and have allowed him to go to a small city called Zoar. But, after Lot got there with his daughters (minus his wife because she turned back toward the destruction and became a pillar of salt), he became afraid that somehow people might know that he had favor to escape God’s judgment and would try to kill him. He ran for the hills he tried to avoid.
While he was hiding there, his daughters decided that, since all their brothers were now incinerated, it was their job to carry on the family name. They got their father completely drunk, and both of them went to him to become pregnant without him knowing about it. This has never been my favorite story. I don’t like that kind of drunkenness, and I think it’s pretty gross for the daughters to even make that kind of decision. But then I learned something particularly interesting in verse 37. It says, “The older bore a son, and named him Moab [of a father]; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.”
So, why does it matter that the oldest daughter is the mother of the Moabites? Well, do you remember the sweet story of Ruth and Naomi? Ruth was a Moabitess. She had married one of Naomi’s sons and after becoming widowed, she chose to stay with her mother-in-law. This is where we get that oft-repeated “where you go, I will go” statement made between friends. But Ruth also told Naomi, “Your God will be my God.” And this is where it gets good.
In Matthew 1:5, in the New Testament account of the genealogy of Jesus, you’ll find Ruth in the lineage of our Messiah, Jesus. So, we start with Abraham whose belief is counted to him for such righteousness that God even has mercy on a nephew who lived in the midst of a vile city. Then, after Lot runs and his daughters engage in incest with him, a child from that unholy union produces a lineage that includes a daughter who goes from curse to blessing and finds herself carrying the grandfather of King David. It is a beautiful and amazing story of mercy and redemption, and it encourages me that even from destruction, fear, and debased situations, God can bring His Perfect Light out from the midst of darkness. Wow!
Something came to me about the readings for the last three days, and I want to bring it up before I jump into today. In Genesis 6:8, Noah found grace in the eyes of God. In Genesis 6:9, Noah was righteous & wholehearted, and he walked with God. In Genesis 6:18, God told Noah He would establish a covenant with him. In Genesis 6:22, Noah did all that was commanded of him. In Genesis 7:1, God says to Noah, “I have seen that you alone in this generation are righteous before me.” In Genesis 7:5, Noah did all that God ordered him to do. Can you see a pattern here?
Remember, this was before any of the levitical laws were given, so what do you suppose made Noah find grace in the eyes of the Lord? And that brings us to our reading for today from Genesis 7:17 through Genesis 8:14. Verse 17 tells us that the ark was lifted up above the earth. And that’s where I want to focus.
Noah, whose name actually means “rest,” had a spirit that was above (not obedient to) the flesh. He was, like the ark that he built, lifted up “above the earth” if you think of earth as representing flesh since that’s what we are made from. None of the Scriptures I found say anything about his wife, sons, or sons’ wives being holy, obedient, or finding grace in the eyes of Yahveh.
So, we can sum it all up this way: A man called Rest (and remember our Savior Jesus is The Rest wherein the weary may rest) was righteous. He built a vessel (like our Savior robed Himself in flesh) that would be lifted above the earth (like Christ was lifted up on Calvary and lifted above sin) to save those he loved from complete destruction. Now go back and read the story of Noah as if you’re reading the story of salvation, and ask yourself yesterday’s question…will you get in the ark?
Today’s reading comes from Genesis 2:4 through Genesis 3:21. As usual, there is so much I could comment on, from God Himself breathing the breath of life into the first man, to the heavenly garden in Eden where mankind could eat fruit planted by His Creator, to man and wife being as one flesh. But I’d like to focus on the verses from 3:1 through 3:6.
So imagine Adam & and his new companion walking along a path and just enjoying the beautiful creation that surrounded them. Somehow, they end up right in front of the one tree of which they are not to partake. A voice comes from a serpent also hanging around this very tree. (Of course, this makes me wonder if all the animals talked since neither the man or woman seemed to have been surprised to be conversing with a snake.) And the first thing the snake does is challenge their Creator on whether He is a good provider. My translation: The serpent asked, “Hey, you people, did God say you could not eat from EVERY tree in the garden?”
Wait a minute–ONE tree vs EVERY tree? That lying snake was trying to make the one forbidden tree look like it was of more value than all the other trees put together. The focus was shifted from all they did have to the one little thing they didn’t have. And that’s not a new trick. I think it contributes to much of the depression in today’s world. Sure, I’d love to live a cushy life where all my big desires are covered with plenty to spare. But I have the blessing of remembering times when I’ve had less, so those memories often bring me back to a place of gratefulness. The newly created couple didn’t have that to lean on, so all they could do is imagine that maybe they were missing out on something.
Next, the woman restated the rule of the tree of knowledge. Now, it could be that God said more to them with the first given orders, but if not, I’m wondering why the woman enhanced God’s words and added the part about not touching the tree. Did she fill herself with extreme fear to make sure she stayed on the straight and narrow? Or, maybe the law was spoken to Adam, and in his overly zealous desire to protect his wife from disobedience, he told her that she was not only to avoid eating it but also to avoid touching it. (Kinda like when parents tell their kids things like, “If you keep doing that, it’ll stay that way forever.”) Unfortunately, even strong warnings of never and forever don’t always work, and the fear of discipline in front of the woman was not enough to stop her from listening to the next lie.
So, in verse 4, the serpent flat-out calls God a liar. The husband is standing there, (we see that in verse 6), but he doesn’t seem to be getting defensive about all these lies. I wonder why he wasn’t shouting, “Come on, Honey, let’s get out of here. This little wimp has challenged our Creator on His ability to care for us, and now he’s calling Him a liar! We don’t need to hear anything else that snake has to say.” But they just stood there and listened, and the lying words started sinking in.
Now the woman takes a more deliberate look at the tree and begins a thinking process that has gotten man into trouble ever since. 1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Now look at the thoughts it says were going through the woman’s mind: When the woman saw the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to desirable to make one wise (pride of life), she was enticed. She imagined trying to BE like God rather than to SERVE her Creator, and in that, she imitated the very thoughts that got the voice behind the lying serpent thrown out of the Heavenlies in the first place. This was the fall before the fall. Before she even partook of the forbidden fruit, she engaged in evil thoughts and let the flesh win. And because her husband did not challenge the lying voice, she took him down with her.
But I do not want to stop here with hopelessness. It is evident that sin is something born into the flesh from its inception, or she would not have been able to sin in her mind before acting on her thoughts. But knowing this gives us a way to fight when those same thoughts try to bombard our minds. And even better, we are told in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” How was Yahshua (Jesus) tempted on all points? In Luke 4:1-13, we read of “the temptation in the wilderness.” The temptations included the lust of the flesh (turn these stones to bread), the lust of the eyes (look at all the kingdoms I can give you), and the pride of life (cast yourself down and make a show of the angels not letting you fall). He was truly tempted in EVERY way we can be tempted, and thus continually delivers us from what started with a liar at the beginning of creation.
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