Joseph, the son of Jacob grew up caring for flocks, a shepherd boy,(Genesis 37:2). While we might have a romantic view of an easy pastoral life among sheep and goats, the main responsibility of a shepherd was to protect the flock against hungry predators (wolves, lions, etc.) looking for an easy meal, actually quite a dangerous job. The shepherd loved his sheep; and Joseph was a good shepherd.
In the Greek olympic games of old, a unique race was run. The winner was not the runner who finished first — it was the runner who finished with his torch still lit!
What is it about salt? And how do I season speech with it? Gracious speech is sweet, yet Paul says to season it with salt.
As we continue to probe the lessons from the salt covenant, we now inquire into our part in the covenant.
In Israel, we often see goats and sheep roaming the countryside. Driving through rural Israel often involves suddenly stopping to allow a herd of sheep or goats to cross the road. But interestingly, I have never seen "sheep kill" on the side of the road in all the years that I've lived in Israel. It's because sheep don't roam without a shepherd!
For over 15 years we've been covering Christian Persecution, and whenever I come across an amazing story of how a saint endured such hardships, it encourages me. I remember reading about Watchman Nee and his imprisonment. The Chinese government would change the guards at his cell daily for fear that Nee would lead them to the Lord. Their fears were justified — many of those guards did come to faith! Apparently Watchman Nee had learned a powerful lesson from the Apostle Paul.
When Peter and John had gone up to the Temple for prayer [Acts 3], they saw a man who was lame from birth, and were moved to heal him in the name of Yeshua (Jesus). Immediately the religious leaders laid hands on them [Acts 4:3] and kept them imprisoned for a day. The following day, with boldness, they declared this miracle was done in the name of Yeshua. I love what the "religious" leaders said next — "they perceived that they were unlearned men and they marveled at their boldness!" Why were they bold? They had been with Yeshua, and the leaders took note of that!
The Hebrew expression in this verse from Isaiah is rich with meaning. The root "nus" (from the expression "raise up a standard") is related to or sounds like numerous words which mean "sign", "miracle", "to drive away", "to flee", "cause to disappear", "a waving flag". This abundance of meanings in Isaiah's poetic style reveals the multiple dimensions of God's revelation; in this case, the way he deals with evil. The assertion in this word is that the Spirit of YHVH will be powerfully activated when evil comes.
Recently, I've been impressed by the Lord to address the anxieties many are feeling about the future– how to be strong in the face of the intense opposition we’ll be facing as believers. One of the founders of the modern state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion once said, “Courage is a special kind of knowledge, the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared. From this knowledge comes an inner strength that inspires us to push on in the face of great difficulty. What can seem impossible is often possible with courage.”
Yeshua (Jesus) knew the heart of every man and woman. As a totally pure and righteous human being, His experience of every other sin-filled person is really impossible for us to imagine. He knew that every repulsive thought, attitude and action of every person in the world would soon fall on Him, and that He would carry them…away. And so Yeshua did not come with a spirit of condemnation — but with a spirit of grace and truth.
While walking through the forest one day, a farmer found a young eagle who had apparently fallen out of his nest. He took it home and put it in his barnyard with his chickens and there it stayed for years. It wasn't long before the little eagle learned to eat and behave like the chickens.
Isaiah 35:1-2 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of […]
I heard a story about a young woman named Linda who was traveling alone up the rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. The first evening she found a room at a small-town Inn in the mountains and figured she'd continue her journey bright and fresh, early the next morning. But strangley, when she called down to the front desk and asked for a wakeup call at 5 AM the clerk sounded puzzled by her request.
"Some time ago, an advertisement appeared in which the devil was putting all his tools up for sale. On the day of public inspection, each one of his tools was marked with its selling price: Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Doubt, Lying, Pride, and so on, were each on the block. Set apart, however, from all the rest of the pile, was a harmless-looking tool, well-worn, but priced very high — it was discouragement!"
I don't know about you, but it seems that the tests we're going through are getting harder and harder. Do you remember when you took tests in high school? At the time they may have seemed hard. But imagine if you had to take an elementary school test when you were in high school. You'd probably think – oh this is so simple.
The first man was called "Ah-dom", we know him as "Adam". The word used for "man", as in "mankind", in Genesis 1, is also the same word – "Ah-dom". "Ah-dom" is rooted in the three Hebrew letters, aleph-dalet-mem, and one of the Hebrew words for earth is "Adamah", which contains the same three letters, however it ends with the Hebrew letter "hay". "Adamah" means "red earth", or "red clay", and this word points to the natural earth elements, the "earth dust" that composed Adam’s body, and the body of every human being since. "Man" is "ah-dom", in a very real sense, "clay".
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".
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?