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 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!
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".
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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?"
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!
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.
Psalms 73:24-28 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they [...]