During the Biblical festival of Shavuot, the book of Ruth is read. It's a powerful story of faith, restoration and redemption. The book opens with a famine in all the land surrounding Bethlehem, forcing a difficult decision upon Naomi's husband, Elimelech. Now, Bethlehem (beth: "house", lechem: "bread") literally means “house of bread”, so the irony of Elimelech's departure from his home, "house of bread", during a famine, is lost on English speaking readers, but reveals that every detail in the word of God can be meaningful, especially the meanings of names.
We’re back in Israel and still dealiing with jetlag. After completing a six-month tour of over 30,000 miles of driving across the United States, we can honestly say – we’re happy to be home — phew!
In today's news, Bloomberg reported that according to a recent study, Americans can add as many as two years to the nation's life expectancy if they stand up more often and watch fewer hours of television. What a concept — move around and you'll live longer!
The word "verily", in this verse, is the Hebrew word “emunah” (em-oo-nah). It also means "faith" or "faithfully". When we trust in the Lord, and our trust is demonstrated by doing good, He declares that He will faithfully feed us. How will we be fed?
As the world celebrates the end of 2014 and enters into 2015, it looks toward the conclusion of yet another year. However, God has not been working his plan according to the Gregorian calendar — but rather according to His own calendar. For example, when Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified, and became the Lamb of God slain for the world, it was on the Biblical feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew).
This passage in Isaiah contains a poetic play on words which is lost to any reader but one who understands Hebrew. A word for word translation runs something like this: “If not you will believe (lo ta-aminoo), surely not you will be established (lo te-amenoo).” The three letter Hebrew root – "aleph"- "mem"- "nun", is the same in both words, and the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah is clearly playing on this root to emphasize His point. The same root letters are also used in the spelling for the familiar word "Amen" which literally means "truthfully".
When Paul wrote to the Philippian church he spoke of pressing forward for the prize of the high calling. Though he was physically content whether rich or poor, [Philippians 4:11] the apostle was not content with his spiritual condition, but constantly seeking a deeper, more intimate and fruitful walk with the Lord…
As Joshua is about to enter the promised land, God reassures him and affirms the promise that was given to Moses, saying, "Wherever you place your feet – it shall be given to you!" God reveals His will, makes an amazing promise, then gives His servant a practical principle for working the promise out and claiming it, telling Joshua to literally step into His will. This is true for every believer. Our mandate is to know, understand and step out into the will of God. How can we know God's will?"
Some time ago, I wrote a devotional about not worrying for tomorrow because tomorrow holds its own worries. But it occurred to me recently, that just about as often as we worry for tomorrow, we fret about yesterday. How many times do we find ourselves saying, "I wish things could be the way they were, I wish I was younger, I wish I could fit into those jeans again, I wish I didn't make that terrible mistake … you fill in the blank"?
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.
When Yeshua (Jesus) was attacked by Satan during His temptation in the wilderness, He countered every attack with the Word of God. But notice in Satan’s second attack – the enemy himself quoted the Scriptures, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, 'He shall give his angels charge over thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'” (Matthew 4:6 was a quote from Psalm 91:11, but the phrase, “to keep thee in all thy ways” was absent from Satan's quote).
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!
We often develop strategies, game-plans, life-plans – and then, at some obstacle or critical point, we say – "Just stick to the plan!" It's usually good advice.
A life without a goal is like the captain of a ship without a map and a compass. His ship will just drift aimlessly from day to day hoping to arrive somewhere. The apostle Paul set for himself a goal! He pressed forward in search for his goal — he pressed toward the mark of the high calling in Messiah! He had a clear direction of where he was going and he was focused on the Lord! How much more should we!
These past few days, writing about the will of God, has reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah, and how the Lord knew him – even before he was in his mother's womb, and he was sanctified by God as a prophet to the nations. A similar foreknowledge and ordination of God belongs to us who are under the New Covenant. God's foreknowledge of His people is clearly stated in scripture. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless, and created in Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) unto good works which He foreordained that we walk in them. It is clear that a life of holiness and good works is an integral part of our destiny in salvation, a fundamental aspect of His original plan for each one of us.
Jonah the prophet ran from what he considered a difficult and abhorrent assignment from God, thinking he could escape to a place where he couldn't be found. He refused to obey the Lord and he boarded a ship headed in the opposite direction. But YHVH's irrevocable gifts and callings were faithfully resting upon His servant Jonah, and He provided the drama needed to bring his man around. He sent a great storm which rocked Jonah's boat and then a large fish which ate him! These persuasions changed Jonah's attitude.
Many people ask us "How do I know what is God's will for my life?" Well, here's your answer above — right here in Romans! When I was reading the passage this morning, it was as the words just jumped off the page.