Last night began the feast of Rosh Ha Shannah, or Yom Teruah — the Feast of Trumpets. At the end of the summer the Hebrews are commanded to blow the shofar — the ram’s horn, all day long. The sound of the shofar was a sound of alarm — it told the people to get ready. It marked in the calendar that the summer harvest was over and the day of atonement was near and it was time to stand before God.
When the apostle Paul wrote this letter to his young student Timothy, he taught him some profound truths that I often apply in my life. I suppose when Timothy received these instructions, he was about my age – a young man still developing his skills at evangelism, teaching and instructing.
Race car driving champion Bill Vukovich won the infamous Indianapolis 500 race two times, a record of success few others have achieved. When asked about the secret of his success in the race, Vukovich simply replied, "There's no secret. You just press the accelerator to the floor and steer left."
"Break up your fallow ground." "Fallow" means "hard". A hard heart cannot love; and often cannot even receive it. A hard heart will block relationship with God and with others. Whatever the cause; anger, woundedness, bitterness, unforgiveness, the result will be a superficiality in relationship, an inability to empathize, and a corruption of your motivations.
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.
When the Lord gave Jonah a second chance, He didn't change His mind about the prophet's destination. He didn't lighten the load or change the burden Jonah was destined to carry. There was no negotiation with Jonah where the Lord expressed understanding about his reluctance to go to Nineveh. God didn't concede to send him to Tarshish just because he'd been heading in that direction anyway. Jonah's disobedience and repentance produced a clear and simple result…
A "beachhead" is the first objective, the primary location for a military force landing on an enemy shore, which, when secured can be used to gain further advancement.
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".
An ancient story in Church history tells of the apostle John. He would constantly repeat the words, "Little children, love one another." And his disciples became weary of the phrase. Finally, in his old age, as John was being carried to their assembly, the disciples asked him, "Why do you always repeat these same words?" "Because friends," John replied, "it is the Lord's commandment — and if only this one were fulfilled, it would be enough."
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.
Looking at the relationship between “love and affection” ("chiba" in Hebrew) and “obligation” ("chova" in Hebrew), we find another closely related word, “chaver”, one of the Hebrew words for “friend”. Friends are people with whom we share love and affection and also a sense of obligation. Our God and Father wants us to be His friends, to share love and affection with Him and to carry the sense of responsibility and obligation which friendship requires.
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.
The Hebrew word for "face" is "panim", (the Hebrew letters, peh-nun-yud-mem), literally "faces", a plural word. Normally, when we think about God, we focus only upon one of His "faces” at a time. God is "love" – or He is "holy"– or He is "just"— or He's a God of "wrath". Yet, of course, ALL these "faces" are His at once; and so the word "panim" accurately reflects the truth of God's multifaceted being. As we get to know Him better we begin to appreciate the complexity of His nature and the fact that our focus on one "face" is a very limited view, since there's so much more going on in His amazing "Personality".
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…
Here in Israel we have an interesting geographical phenomenon – there are two landlocked seas. One is alive and one is dead. The sea full of life is the Kinneret, better known as the Sea of Galilee. The dead sea is…….you guessed it, the Dead Sea. Now the Kinneret is constantly emptying as it flows through the Jordan River valley…. into the Dead Sea. But the Dead Sea does not empty its water at all. Instead, the Dead Sea is continually shrinking, because the intense heat at this lowest place on Earth actually evaporates more water than is flowing in. Do you see a parable here?
This is an interesting passage of Scripture which details how Josiah, a young and Godly king, went forth to cleanse the land, and in doing so, finds that he was fulfilling a prophecy given years before. Josiah went forth doing what was right — and in doing so, was walking out the works that God preordained for him — he was fulfilling the calling that God had set into motion years before!
When God called Gideon to lead Israel against their enemies, He wanted to show that a small army empowered by God was more effective than the largest armies. But notice how they fought – without weapons that an army would normally use. They fought with shofars and lamps! They fought with weapons that the world would consider ineffective, yet triumphed mightily over their enemies. They shouted as loud as they could, sounded the shofar, and broke the vessels that held the fire so that their lamps burst through with brightness.
One of His greatest promises to us is that nothing can separate us from the love of God. No tribulation or distress we might ever suffer can obliterate the power of His love to carry us through!
As members of the body of Messiah, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts, talents, abilities), and the indentations represent our weaknesses (faults, limitations, shortcomings, undeveloped areas). The beautiful thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful whole.
There once was a girl who hated herself. You see, she had become blind in her early teens from a rare disease. Not only did she hate herself but she hated everyone else too. She was angry at the world, angry at God, angry at everyone.