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.
I came across an old legend about three cowboys crossing the desert on horseback by night. Suddenly, as they reached a rocky spot, a voice came from heaven and commanded them: "Friends, pick up some pebbles, put them in your pockets and do not look at them till morning." The men looked at each other in astonishment and began to do as they were told. The voice went on to promise that if they obeyed, they would be both glad and sad. The perplexed men put a few pebbles each in their pockets and went on their way.
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."
Junk mail — those annoying letters that fill your mail box. Along with the junk comes the delightful bills, and renewal notices. Of course the junk, we can just throw away, the bills, unfortunately can't be ignored, but the renewal notices, those we're thankful to see. Without them, we'd likely forget that we need to renew our licenses, our credit cards, membership cards, whatever else.
During the Feast of Sukkot, the Jewish people took part in a water drawing ceremony on the last day of the feast. They would go down to the Pool of Siloam, draw water and bring it to the Temple Mount. Then they would pour out the water and recite Isaiah 12, "and with joy you shall draw water out of the wells (springs) of salvation." In Hebrew, the word salvation and Yeshua (Jesus, in Hebrew), are the same.
Patience is one of those attributes that you cannot learn by reading about it. It's a quality that can only be acquired by persistent, enduring, practice– and for me it's a drill that I go over, and over, and over again!
People read this verse, and think God is telling them to be passive — to overlook what happened. That is not a bad thing — but it isn't exactly what Yeshua (Jesus) was saying. Turning the other cheek is not about being passive. It's about being active! So active that it actually confounds your enemy! Turning the other cheek is about taking an action so revolutionary, so shocking, so out of the ordinary that it shocks everyone around. It confounds the world — and can also change it!
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. What I've often noticed, however, is that we focus on receiving the desires of our heart. But if we look closely at this passage we have to realize that delighting ourselves in the Lord comes first, centering in Him, delighting in Him as the source and the fulfillment of our desires, and then, also, receiving from Him after your life is centered on Him.