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.
Since we returned to our home in the Negev Desert in Israel, we've noticed that the usual "desert scene" we are so accustomed to, has completely blossomed with grass and flowers — what an amazing difference! It suddenly occured to me, as we were delighting in the beauty of it all, that the seed was already there! No one planted it. All the hills, now rolling endlessly with green — they are not owned by anyone. Miles and miles of grass and wild flowers suddenly shoot forth where there was nothing but brown before! It was just waiting for someone to water it! And God brought the rains.
I heard a story about a man who was imprisoned during Napoleons reign. While sulking in his dungeon one day, he etched on the wall the words "Nobody Cares".
A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of two hundred, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands immediately started going up.
The Bible speaks of a great falling away in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2) before the end of the age arrives, and it seems that we’re seeing it on a grand scale all around us. Virtually everywhere we look we're watching the decline of morality and ethics — in government, entertainment, and social culture. It seems hard to deny…
The prophet Elijah, through his dramatic demonstration of the LORD's authority and power, inspired repentance in the people of Israel, calling them to exercise His judgment on idolaters by slaying 450 prophets of Ba'al and 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Yet this spiritual victory was followed by a severe demonic reprisal through the woman Jezebel.
A National Geographic article published a few years describing a real celestial event which took place at the time of the birth of Jesus reminded me of Risto Santala’s explanation in his book, "The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings". He wrote about a conjunction of major planets that took place which could have led the wise men from the east, to Israel.
The word for builder in Hebrew is "bo-neh". It is also translated repairer. When our Messiah came 2000 years ago, He came to repair lives — to do a complete restoration of all that is broken in this world. Interestingly, the Hebrew words for son, "ben" and daughter, "baht" both also come from the word "bo-neh".
For the first time in over a 100 years, Thanksgiving and Chanukah will fall on the same day, November 28th, 2013. Some have termed it "Thanksgivukkah", however my wife calls it, "Todanukah". (The Hebrew word for "thanks", is "toda".) According to one calculation, the next time that Thanksgiving and Chanukah will align perfectly will be 79,043 years from now! I expect we will all have gone to our reward by then.
We came across this story, about a man who was slowly losing his memory. After a lengthy examination, the doctor said that a risky operation on his brain might reverse his condition and restore his memory. However, the surgery would be so delicate that a nerve could be severed, causing total blindness.