Many of you know that we've been in Israel a little over ten years now. I am still trying to adjust to the spiritual atmosphere, culture and language. Those few things, in and of themselves, are enough to become overwhelmed. But if that's not enough, we are pioneering a new ministry here, trusting totally in God for His provision, trying to raise two young children in a way that is pleasing to Him and all the while, going through our own personal trials.
At a time when thousands of people were dying each year of rabies, Louis Pasteur, pioneer of immunology, was working on a vaccine. Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a 9-year-old boy, Joseph Meister, was bitten by a rabid dog. The boy's mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son…
Some time ago, two university students in Moorhead, Minnesota painted a mural on the wall outside their dorm room. It was of a school of fish all swimming in the same direction except for a single fish heading the opposite way. That one fish going the other direction was meant to be Jesus. Included in the mural were the words, "Go against the flow." Sadly, university officials argued that the mural might offend non-Christians, and told the students to paint over it.
Moses was used mightily by the Lord, yet we all know he had his inadequacies and limitations too. Still he was the vessel through which God chose to work through as He carried out the plagues over Egypt, divided the Red Sea and miraculously led and fed the children of Israel for forty years. That's pretty big stuff. Can you imagine having to be Moses' successor after all that? That's exactly what Joshua had to do. I can't even begin to imagine what Joshua was thinking at the time — How can I possibly live up to Moses? But the Lord comforts and reassures Joshua and says, "as I was with Moses, so I will be with you!"
During his first year of graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley, George B. Dantzig arrived late for a statistics class. He saw two problems on the blackboard. Assuming they were homework, he copied them and a few days later turned in his solutions. One Sunday morning six weeks afterward, the professor appeared at Dantzig's door, waving a manuscript. It turned out that the professor had merely written two examples of unsolvable problems on the blackboard. The manuscript was Dantzig's work readied for publication. George Dantzig later became known as the father of linear programming.
Judges 6 begins with an angel talking to Gideon saying, "thou mighty man of valour!" However, in this passage Gideon isn't feeling very valiant — he's consumed with his circumstances — how poor his family is and how he's the least of his fathers' house. He doesn't feel he's done anything worthy of being called valiant, yet the angel still addresses him "mighty man of valour!"
In his book, Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan has written one of the most beautiful allegories about the journey we all travel as a believers. The book describes the hero, Christian, and his journey from the City of Destruction to his heavenly destination, the Celestial City. Now there's one part of Pilgrim's Progress that I want to focus on today — walking through the Swamp of Despondency!
A United States Army officer who trained pupils at Fort Sill for over 20 years once described the different qualities of the students during the two decades of his tenure. During the 1950's, he observed the students' attitude as being so lax that the instructors had trouble keeping their students awake during their lectures. This drastically changed in the mid 1960's. The students began taking meticulous notes and absorbing every word of instruction. So, what changed?
Every time I turn on the news it seems the new buzzword is – CHANGE! So how can we just shift gears and change? Let's learn a lesson about basic automotive mechanics. Generally a car has between 4 and 5 gears. The first gear maximizes power in exchange for speed. As you move through the gears, you can continue to go faster, yet without using any more power, and before you know it – you have to look at the speedometer – cause nobody wants a speeding ticket!
Just a few weeks prior to this incident, the disciples were trembling for their lives as their Lord was arrested and then crucified. They had all fled in the Garden of Gethsemane and then Peter, whose boldness was legendary, had denied him three times. The fact that they had been serving with Yeshua (Jesus) for three years, witnessing many miracles, including Peter's amazing walk on the water…
This groundbreaking conversation took place at Caesarea Phillipi, which lies today in the modern day reserve of the Banias in the Golan Heights region of Israel. The city was established by Ptolemaic Greeks, a Hellenistic community where the worship of the god Pan was centered. Reviled by the Jews of Yeshua's time and considered by them the most idolatrous place in the entire Galilee, to this day it remains a place of nature worship and deep paganism…
Doesn't it seem like just when we get that much needed breakthrough, suddenly the enemy comes to attack? In this passage we read how the Philistines heard that David was anointed King and quickly assembled together to seek and destroy him. And what does David do? Does he become fearful? No. Does he hide? No! David goes out to meet them!
When the twelve spies were sent into Canaan to spy out the land, ten returned with a bad report. Their assessment was that it was impossible to conquer the land that God had promised them. Forgetting how God had led them with a pillar of fire by night, and fed them manna from heaven during the day, brought forth water out of a rock, and parted the Red Sea, they saw the situation with only their natural eyes, failed to walk by faith, and succumbed to fear.
When Jim Burke became the head of a new products division at Johnson & Johnson, one of his first projects was the development of a children's chest rub. The product failed miserably, and Burke expected that he would be fired. When he was called in to see the chairman of the board, however, he met a surprising reception. "Are you the one who just cost us all that money?" asked Robert Wood Johnson. "Well I just want to congratulate you. If you are making mistakes, that means you are taking risks, and we won't grow unless you take risks!" Apparently, Mr. Johnson wasn’t joking! Years later, Johnson & Johnson remains one of the largest multi-national manufacturers of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical, personal hygiene, baby and biotechnology products.
Historian Shelby Foote tells of a soldier who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War and was ordered to go to the rear. The fighting was fierce and within minutes he returned to his commanding officer. "Captain, give me a gun!" he shouted. "This fight ain't got any rear!"
In the 4th century lived a Christian named Telemachus, in a remote village, tending his garden, and spending much time in prayer. One day, he believed he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome, so he obeyed, setting out on foot. Some weeks later, weary from his journey, he arrived in Rome about the time of a great festival.
50,000 soldiers from the tribe of Zebulun served in David's army with UNDIVIDED (some translations: "not double-hearted") hearts. Can you imagine a skilled army with this level of loyalty and devotion?
When Gideon was called by God, a mighty man of valor, his first task was to tear down the idolatrous altars of Baal and Asherah at his father’s house. Though he was ready to obey this command, his obedience was mixed with fear, so he destroyed the idols at night [Judges 6:27]. When the men of the city realized it was Gideon who destroyed their idols, their allegiance to Baal and Asherah drove them to demand Gideon's life.
Most people overlook a very significant part of the parable of the prodigal son, which is – the elder son received his inheritance as well! (Luke 15:12b) According to the custom of the times, the older son's inheritance would have been twice that of the younger son. In that light, his response to his younger brother's initiative, a response of silence…speaks volumes.
As parents trying to raise kids in this world, we're constantly reminded by the Lord of Proverbs 22:6, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' The Hebrew word 'train', in this passage is, 'Chanak' which can be translated, 'train up' or 'dedicate.' It's the root word from which we get the word, Chanukah.