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.
F.B. Meyer once said, “The education of our faith is incomplete [till] we learn that God’s providence works through loss…that there’s a ministry to us through the failure and fading of things. The dwindling brook where Elijah sat is a picture of our lives.
A father asked his son to carry a letter from their camp to the village. He pointed out a trail over which the lad had never gone before. “All right Dad, but I don’t see how that path will ever reach the town,” said the boy. “Well son, I'll tell you how. Do you see that big tree down the path?” asked the father. “Oh, yes, I see that far.” “Well, when you get there by the tree, you’ll see the trail a little farther ahead — and farther down you'll see another big tree — and when you reach that one you'll be closer and so on until you get within sight of the houses of the village.”
Here's another interesting Hebrew word parallel. The Hebrew word for "love" or "affection", "chiba", is formed by the same root letters as the word, "chova", "obligation", "debt", or "duty". In Hebrew, the only difference between these two words is a few vowel points. But you say, "Isn't love the very opposite of obligation !?" Well, yes and no. The Hebrew language has a wonderful way of relating concepts which seem incompatible.
We tend to focus on the part of that scripture where God does the blessing — but why did He bless Him? The answer lies in the passage! The Lord told Abraham: "I will bless you — and you shall be a blessing." Abraham was blessed so that he could be a blessing!
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt I'm sure several million people were wondering, "How am I going to be fed? How am I going to survive in this wilderness?" Imagine the logistical nightmare. An incalculable quantity of food and water were needed to survive in the desert. Where would it come from? Yet, in this seemingly impossible situation, God provided!
Over the past few weeks, rockets have been landing roughly 30 miles from where we live in southern Israel, and we've been overwhelmed with the number of emails from people who are praying for us– which we so appreciate!… more than you could imagine! We're living in a unique time in history, as once again Israel finds herself surrounded by enemies with few friends willing to stand with her. So often we are asked, and we wonder, how things will turn out here…we've found it's usually foolish to try and predict; but one thing is absolutely certain; the God of Israel is watching over this tiny nation!
Missionaries Dick and Margaret Hillis found themselves caught in China during the Japanese invasion. The couple lived with their two children in the inland town of Shenkiu. The village was tense with fear, for every day brought terrifying reports of the Japanese advance. At the worst possible time, Dick developed appendicitis, and he knew his life depended on making the long journey to the hospital. On January 15, 1941, with deep foreboding, Margaret watched him leave.
One of the great marvels of the Roman Empire was the invention of the aqueduct system to provide water over vast distances. It was an absolutely ingenious method which made use of gravity, with stone arches to support the water channels. An aqueduct was built in 109 AD which carried water to the city of Segovia for eighteen hundred years. For nearly sixty generations this aqueduct provided cool water from the mountains above. But fairly recently, it collapsed.
I love this passage of scripture. If you can imagine the disciples on this day — they had gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions over the past 50 days. They had seen their Lord crucified. And then had gone into hiding … until they discovered in amazement, He was alive! Just over 7 weeks had transpired and they were now watching Yeshua (Jesus) departing Earth and returning to His Father. The disciples were understandably unsure what was next, and so they asked a very reasonable question — "Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?"
As Joshua led the children of Israel into the promised land it seemed that God had given them an impossible assignment — to conquer a foreign and hostile land with fortified cities and armies greater than their own. They had to go forth only on the basis of God's promise. They had to walk by faith and not by sight!
Life can get so hectic sometimes — we often try to do too many things at once. But when our schedule gets that hectic, we need to start investing in some quality time with the Lord. The operating word here is "investing".
I heard a story once, of a chaplain who was speaking to a loyal soldier in the hospital. "Bless you son, you saved a fellow soldier’s life — and lost an arm in the great cause doing it," the chaplain said. "No," said the soldier with a smile. "I didn't lose it … I gave it.
Charles Spurgeon wrote "Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might."
One of the more beautiful ceremonies of the Jewish faith is called "Tashlich". Tashlich means to cast away. Every year between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur, Jewish people around the world journey to a nearby river or stream and cast in bread crumbs as they confess their sins. As the bread crumbs are swept downstream soon to be out of sight, so they believe God will sweep away their sins.
When Jim Burke became the head of a new products division at Johnson & Johnson, one of his first projects was the development of a children's chest rub. The product failed miserably, and Burke expected that he would be fired. When he was called in to see the chairman of the board, however, he met a surprising reception. "Are you the one who just cost us all that money?" asked Robert Wood Johnson. "Well I just want to congratulate you. If you are making mistakes, that means you are taking risks, and we won't grow unless you take risks!" Apparently, Mr. Johnson wasn’t joking! Years later, Johnson & Johnson remains one of the largest multi-national manufacturers of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical, personal hygiene, baby and biotechnology products.
The great pyramids of Egypt have become objects of fascination for many involved in the New Age teching. Some think they were built by aliens from outer space. Others say they are containers of cosmic power. All of them are trying to find the great "secret" of the pyramids. What they are, really, are structures of death, exaggerated tombstones, coffins. The pyramids were made for death. They were built to house a dead body, along with the useless riches of it's rotting corpse.
Are you righteous? If you are truly a believer in the Lord, then you received His gift of righteousness! Righteousness is a gift we receive when we come to saving faith. Righteousness is not something we earn, but rather it's a gift to be received from our Messiah! According to this passage, you have received the gift of righteousness through Him. Not because we have kept the "law" or lived a holy life . It can't be bought with money, or earned through self-effort, or by doing "religious" works. It's a gift!
For centuries in Ethiopia, there have lived a people we now know as the Falashas. They kept all sorts of Biblical traditions and call themselves Beta Yisrael (House of Israel). As experts began to study the matter, it became clear that these were descendants of the Jewish people who came to Africa in ancient times and intermarried. Unbeknownst to many, a percentage of them became believers in Jesus over the years. Jesus (or Yeshua, as they called Him) became a part of their identity as Jewish people. Many Falashan Jews worshipped Jesus as their Messiah and continued to practice Jewish tradition.
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!