Just about every Hebrew prayer begins by saying, “Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha Olam” which, translated, means, Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe. Now think about it, King of the Universe! Wikipedia defines "universe" as, "the composition of all the planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, and all matter and energy". Hmm…that’s a lot to be king over!
The world these days is full of bad news, with tensions growing in the Middle East, economies on the brink of collapse, and nature constantly adding to the chaos with one disaster after another. It's a time of trouble all right, and for us believers it may sometimes be hard to believe – but it never is as bad as it seems. Let me illustrate with a joke I like to share with my messages.
I read a story about a new young partner in a law firm. The senior partners had set extremely high standards and had coached him carefully. He did well in some minor trials but he lost his first big case. When the partners reviewed the trial, they pointed out his errors and suggested different strategies. Even with all their critique, he lost the next big one. He felt terrible. Were they ready to give him the boot?
In the early 1800's a preacher gave a message to call men to join him on the mission field in Africa. In the audience were only a few women along with a boy. The pastor knew that few women were expected to volunteer to face harsh African jungle conditions. However, he gave the message; and no one responded. What he didn't realize was that he had touched the heart of a little boy whose name was David Livingstone. This boy would grow up to spend the rest of his life ministering to Africa's unreached tribes.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions Psalms 118:17 I will not die, but live, and I will proclaim what the Lord has done. A farmer and his friend went duck hunting. Eventually, they got to talking about the things of God, as they always would. "You're always talking about these battles you have with […]
Yeshua (Jesus) asked this man "Do you want to be made well?" Of course he did! Wouldn't you? Why did Jesus ask a question like this when its answer was so clearly obvious? It seems the Lord wanted to hear him verbalize his need.
A friend writes: "My father did some pretty nasty things to me. But at the end of his life, as I kneeled by his bedside, I told him how thankful I was for every good thing he had done and every way he had blessed me, and there were many. We were good friends when he passed away." One of the greatest regrets you can avoid at the end of your life is the failure to praise others when they deserved it, (and even when they didn't).
William Wilberforce led a campaign against the British Parliament to abolish slavery in the late 1700's and early 1800's. During the course of his intense efforts, Wilberforce came to a desperate place of discouragement, feeling he had absolutely no more strength to continue. In this condition he was about to give up, when his elderly friend, John Wesley, lying on his deathbed, was informed of his friend William's distress.
There is a process going on in us believers. Since the day the Holy Spirit came to dwell in us He has been at work with perfect wisdom and supernatural power to renew and transform our character, to some extent, our personality, and even our physical body. Our outward man, this mortal body with it's natural weakness and sinful ways was doomed to death and is "wasting away" even now.
Early in his life David was forced to flee from his king and father-in-law, Saul — to flee for his life. During this long season of exile and hiding David began to find himself surrounded by loyal friends who joined themselves to him. But these were friends of an unusual kind: they were men who had all been unhappy, distressed, helpless, or in debt — by and large, the outcasts of the world. But an amazing thing happened to these formerly hapless human beings when they joined with David; they were empowered and became his "mighty men." When David finally became King of Israel, these men were ennobled and raised to be princes and officers in his Kingdom.
During the Great Depression, poverty swept across America like a whirling tornado, ripping up dreams and scattering hopes to the wind. One such poverty twister hit a small part of Texas where a man named Yates ran a sheep ranch. Struggling even to keep food on the table, Yates and his wife did all they could to survive. Finally, they had to accept a government subsidy or lose their home and land to the creditors.
During the American Civil War in the 1860's, a fierce battle took place at Altoona Pass. It was a key supply point for the Union Army, so the Confederate Army led by General Hood sought to take Altoona Pass which held over a million and a half rations. When Union General Sherman realized Hood's plans, he dispatched General Corse along with 1,500 men to hold the city.
You know how sometimes we get a phone call from someone who didn’t intend to dial us? And what do we usually say? Sorry, you have the wrong number.
Here in Israel, cell phones are all the rage. You wouldn't believe it but parents even buy cell phones for their kids and send them to school with them in their schoolbags. I'm talking about six and seven year old kids! While it is true that part of the reason for this cell phone craze stems from the fact that violence goes on here daily and people want to be able to contact one another in the event of an emergency, I would still say that it's somewhat excessive.
Throughout the history of the modern state of Israel, there have been accounts of angelic interventions protecting Israeli soldiers in the midst of intense warfare. One instance recounted by an Israeli military historian after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, describes an Israeli soldier in the Sinai taking captive an entire Egyptian column and leading them to where the Israeli troops were. The Egyptian commander was asked why he and his men gave themselves up to the lone Israeli soldier. He responded with surprise, ”One soldier? There were thousands of them.”
Jonah now acknowledges that God put him where he is, and he accepts His discipline. "Sheol" is the "grave", the "pit" or the "abode of the dead". Did Jonah die, or was he only nearly dead from three days of fish stomach acid, and little or no air? The text doesn't say; only that if he didn't actually leave his body, he came as close as a man can get to it; three days worth. In this nebulous and miserable place Jonah cried out, probably from the deepest depths of his agonized soul…he cried out to the Lord.
The world loves the extraordinary, the spectacular. It relishes on the big, bright, grand and expensive. I remember when we traveled through Las Vegas years ago, to speak at a church in Carson City. Uyy! The lights, the size of everything — crazy! But all I could think as we rolled down Sunset Strip was how sad it is that this is what the world finds extraordinary. The bigger, the brighter, the more expensive — the more the world worships it.
In the Tenach (Old Testament), the Lord commanded Israel to count the Omer (the Barley Harvest) beginning the day after the sabbath during Passover, 50 days to the Biblical Festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). Today is the 29th day of the Omer and Shavuot is just a few weeks away…
This touching story of how Yeshua (Jesus) was anointed before His crucifixion carries a beautiful illustration that has ministered to me time and again. I have wondered why the alabaster box needed to be broken when Mary could have simply opened it and poured out the nard; (extremely expensive and precious perfume which might have been Mary's dowry). One commentator said that she refused to use that box for any other purpose after anointing Him. That would make sense if it was Mary's dowry because it would be an expression of a bridal vow to Yeshua and no one else. But whatever the motive in her heart, Mary's example speaks powerfully of the total devotion and commitment her soul had for Yeshua, her will to give the best of everything she had; and it speaks of brokenness followed by anointing and its beautiful fragrance. So I believe this act is an illustration meant to encourage every devoted soul whose offering of herself brings circumstances which "break" her. The fragrance of perfume following the breaking "fills the room".
Long ago, the shepherds of Israel learned to find grass where most people wouldn't think to look. Here, green pastures are created as the breeze from the Mediterranean Sea brings moisture into our arid climate. It is from this moisture that a kind of dew settles upon the sides of certain hills creating little tufts of grass — just enough for one day's feeding for a flock of sheep.