|Posted on February 19, 2013 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
My church has recently begun a series on the Gospel of John. We learned last week that John's Gospel is all about proving who Jesus is and so John starts his book with:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5
In Hebrew The Word is translated as The Dvar Hashem which means "The Word of God." So The Word of God was with God and the Word of God was God. He was with God in the beginning. But how is it that The Word of God, The DvarHashem is a He? How can all things be made through the Word? How can this Word be life and the light of all mankind? This is possible because The Word as some know it, is not the written word. It is not Scripture, but The Word is Jesus Christ!
John 1:14 confirms this - "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
The Dvar Hashem, The Word of God, is Yeshua - Jesus! And the Dvar Hashem became flesh and made his sukkah, His Mishkan (Tabernacle) among us. Think about that for a moment. The body Jesus took on, had to be pure enough that his Divine Glory or presence (shekinah) would be able to dwell in it. That is why Jesus was born of a virgin. If Mary and Joseph had conceived Jesus in the normal way He would have been born into a sinful body. But this couldn't happen because the Tabernacle or body Jesus took on, had to be free of sin or he could not dwell there.
Now let's take that a little further. God went to all that trouble - to find a way here to walk among us, to house His glory - only to take the sins of the world upon Himself at the end of His life! He who was without sin, became sin for us! Why? 1 Corinthians 5:21 makes it clear, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
God made Jesus who had no sin, to be a sin offering (chattat) on our behalf, so that we might become the Righteousness of God in Messiah. Imagine that! Before, there was no possible way for us to enter heaven, because nothing sinful or unclean can enter such a Holy place and God knew that. So, he made a way for us through Jesus.
Think about that for a while. If it doesn't blow your mind - I don't know what will.
|Posted on November 2, 2012 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
It's hard to believe, but one week ago today, my family and I were travelling back from sunny Florida after spending a week in Disney World. We got out just ahead of hurricane Sandy. Before we began the vacation I had chosen to come back on the Friday instead of the Saturday. I kept kicking myself about that when we got down there because it would have been nice to have the extra day. However, when I made the reservation months ago, I felt that overwhelming feeling that we had to return on the Friday. Now I know why.
When we were flying home you could see a wall of dark clouds that seemed to be chasing us back to Canada. At one point, the clouds were so thick you couldn't see a thing. No blue sky, no white clouds, but an eerie fog that seemed to envelop us. It was a relief when we touched solid ground again. When Sandy hit and we heard about all the plane cancellations, I was glad that I had opted to come back on the Friday.
Sometimes God guides us even when we don't realize it.
Other times, we think, "Yes, God wants me to do this." So, we proceed full-steam ahead, convinced that God is part of our planning. Until we discover He has completely different plans for us.
While on vacation my husband, son and daughter got sore throats. Knowing that I had a book signing coming up I tried to stay as far away from them as possible. Not an easy thing to do in a hotel room or a plane! You can guess where this is going. I caught the sore throat, which turned into a chest cold, which is now something worse. My plans for a successful book signing came to a halt. I had to cancel. Much to my disappointment God said, "No."
I don't suppose I'll know the reason this side of heaven, but whenever I run into problems I remember Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord." Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
Sometimes we can let our desires get in the way of God's will. We think we have it right, but we don't. Everyone makes mistakes and be assured that God will correct you if you're making one. Then again, since our God knows all, He may be preparing you for something else down the road, or diverting you from something tragic - like a hurricane.
If your plans suddenly change, trust in the Lord and remember Jeremiah 29:11.
|Posted on September 13, 2012 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
Recently, I came across the following sermons that I believe everyone needs to hear. They are not long, but they are powerful. While the first video states it is Carter Conlon delivering the message, there is some debate about that, as it sounds like the late David Wilkerson of Cross & the Switchblade fame. It doesn't really matter who it is though - it's the message that is delivered.
Have a listen to both because I'm willing to bet you've never heard sermons like these.
|Posted on September 2, 2012 at 5:05 PM||comments (1)|
I have been enjoying a Hebrew word study lately and the things I am learning are absolutely blowing my mind! For instance, in Leviticus 25:10 there is this passage:
"Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan."
I have read this passage many times. God gave the Israelites a unique law about observing the year of Jubilee. Every 50 years, a year of "freedom" (deror) was proclaimed for all those owing a debt. This included all who had borrowed money, who were in debtors prison or who had to sell their ancestral lands. The Jubilee year cancelled everything! You have money to owe? Your debt is cancelled! You've been in prison because you can't pay your debts? You are now free - your debt is cancelled! You sold your land so you could have money to buy food to feed your children? Guess what? You get to go back to the people you sold the land to and they HAVE TO give you back your land! No questions asked! You sold yourself into slavery to pay for a debt? You are now free! The Jubilee year was everyone's do-over! Too bad things don't work that way today!
But, here's something you might not have thought about before. The majority of people who had debts, who were in prison, sold their lands, or became slaves - were those who were desperately poor. This was not a year for the wealthy but for those poor downtrodden souls that life had kicked to the curb. And God in His great mercy was giving them a second chance.
But here is the exciting part! The prophets associated the Jubilee year with the coming of the Messianic King as well. Isaiah 61:1-2 says:
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom (deror) for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn."
Isaiah painted us a picture of the Messiah declaring a Jubliee year. The year of the Lord's favor. Freedom (deror) for those in bondage and in debt. Jesus quoted this same verse in his hometown (Luke 4:16-21) at the beginning of his ministry. It is obvious he was proclaiming that he had come to set the debtor's free! But here's the interesting thing about that - Jesus didn't just mean those who owed money, because the word for debtor in Hebrew is hayav, and it is also used to describe a person who is guilty of sin. So, both debt and sin require restitution and Jesus fulfilled that debt when he came to set all captives free!
We have been forgiven and set free because of Jesus. This is a debt we will never be able to repay and when we come to Christ and seek His free gift of eternal life, we are not only forgiven but we are also given a chance to start over, to begin not just one year of Jubilee but an eternity! Your debts, your sins are cancelled. How amazing is that?
|Posted on August 28, 2012 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
This summer has been one of the hottest and driest on record. Somehow we missed spring and jumped right into the hot weather! Most people refer to this as global warming, but I'm thinking it has more to do with God's plans for His world.
Rain (geshem) or dew (tal) is often depicted in the Bible as a great blessing. The reason for that is because for six months of the year Israel has clear blue skies. They receive spring rains that end in April and those rains don't come back again until October. By fall, all the water supplies have dwindled and most of the grass is dead. Something like we have been experiencing here in Canada and the States. Up until about two or three weeks ago, our grass looked like hay, but then God opened the skies and once again the grass is green. In Israel, when the rain comes back in the fall, it is seen as a blessing from God. But during those six months of no rain, God sends dew. Were it not for this dew during the summer months all the plant life would die. In fact, Israel receives so much dew that during the summer months that it is enough to maintain plant growth so that sheep may graze.
To the ancient people of Israel, no dew constituted a drought and serious introspection as well, for the dew to them was like the manna God sent while they wandered in the desert for 40 years. He sustained them and met their needs each morning by sending manna, along with the dew (Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:9).
We take our rains in Canada and the U.S. for granted, because we seem to have so much of it, but this summer we experienced a drought that lasted for quite a long time. In our spiritual lives we often go through our times of "drought" as well. We feel far away from God and yet we thirst for His presence. During those times we may feel God has left us, but know this - He never leaves. He's always there and ever present. This "drought" you are going through is for your own benefit. For when the "rains" come and your dry season is over you will be able to look back and see the hand of God at work and how He provided for you each morning with a little bit of "dew".
"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."
|Posted on August 1, 2012 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
I woke up this morning to some startling news. A Woodstock police officer had parked his car in a handicapped spot while he went into aTruck Stop to get some breakfast. London resident, Keith Dunseith, saw the car parked illegally and took a picture of it. He posted it on his Facebook page with the comment, "“I wonder if he will get a ticket…. Hmmm.”
Instead, the embarrassed officer received a warning. If he had been anyone else he would have received a ticket for $450. But, as my husband and I have observed lately, the police in Ontario seem to be above the law. Take for example, our trip to Niagara Falls last week. On the drive there, we spotted more than one OPP officer making illegal lane changes and speeding without lights flashing or sirens wailing. Both of these infractions seem minor, but it happened more than once, with different cars! Either the officers in Ontario need more lessons behind the wheel or they have a self-inflated sense of importance.
In regards to the Woodstock Officer, as someone with limited mobility and who has the right to park in a handicapped spot, I probably would have taken my car and boxed him in. Yes, I likely would have been the one to get a ticket and yes, that's not very "Christian" of me, but it would certainly make a point.
But it isn't just police officers. Cyclists seem to ignore basic traffic rules as well. Just this morning while at a four-way stop, where we had the right of way, a cyclist came sailing right on through, ignoring the stop sign. We had already passed through the intersection. He had to swerve around us, otherwise he would have hit us!
When did obeying the law become such an inconvenience for people? The laws are there to protect us. It brings to my mind the Laws God instituted with the Israelites back in Moses day. While there are approximately 612 laws, ten stood out.
And no one kept them.
As children, we have to be taught right from wrong. If the job is done well, our kids will know for example, not to touch something hot and to look both ways before crossing the street. When they get older, the rules become a little stricter, again meant for their own safety. Yet, some children rebel against the rules of their parents. Why? Don't they know we love them and that is why we have these rules in place - for their protection? Isn't that why God gave us the Ten Commandments in the first place? To keep us safe not only spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well.
While our government may not love us, the laws of the land are there for a reason and no one should be above them. What do you think?
|Posted on July 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
One of the most interesting Hebrew words is Shalom. It is translated as peace but has a much wider meaning as it carries the connotation of well-being, health, safety, prosperity, etc. In other words when you say "Shalom" to someone you are effectively saying that you wish for them to be blessed in all possible ways - or in short - with peace in all areas of their lives. In modern Hebrew if you say, "Mah Shalomkah" you are actually saying, "How is your peace, or well-being?"
When we hear this wonderful verse from Numbers 2:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." That last word is Shalom and wraps up this blessing in an extraordinary way, don't you think?
Now consider the peace offerings we read about in the Old Testament. When a peace offering, also known as a fellowship offering, was made by a worshipper, a portion of it was usually eaten by them and their family. In fact, if a man killed an animal to eat and did not first present it to the Lord as a peace offering, that man was guilty of shedding blood (Lev. 17:3-4). In other words, all animals that were to be eaten had to be presented to the Lord first as a peace offering. Not even an innocent animal was far from the eyes of the Lord and the sacrifice it was making. For a man to kill it, without acknowledging that God gave it life, was tantamount to throwing God's blessings back in His face. However, when presented to the Lord as a peace offering, fellowship or Shalom is restored between God and man.
Interestingly enough, when we look at the symbolism behind the Last Supper we find the Peace offering in the Old Testatment fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our ultimate sacrifice.
When Jesus offered the bread, he broke it first and said, "24This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself (I Corinthians 11:24-29).
Jesus' sacrifice for us brings into remembrance the significance of the Peace Offering and reminds us of the consequences to those who partake of it in an unworthy manner. Today, we do not have to kill animals and bring them to the Lord as a peace offering, because Jesus offered Himself to God on our behalf - the ultimate Peace Offering. By his offering we have fellowship with God. Perfect Peace. Shalom.
Mah Shalomkah? (How is your peace?)
Until next time!
|Posted on July 18, 2012 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
"10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.”If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:10-13 (NIV)
So far, we have learned that the word Torah means "to point out, teach, instruct or give direction". So in English it would best be described as "God's instructions to man". It takes on a whole different meaning when God's loving teachings are not burdensome laws, but meant instead to make us more like Him.
Another fascinating Hebrew word is Mishpat. It means judgement, however it also means justice. And the singular word judge in Hebrew is shopet or din and it means defender or hero. Interesting don't you think? We tend to look at God as a fearsome judge, but we learn from the Hebrew that while He is our judge, He is also our defender and hero, or - Saviour!
So what happens when we translate the verse above with the proper meanings? Let's see:
"For whoever keeps to the whole Law (Torah or whole instruction of God) and yet stumbles at just one point, is guilty of breaking all of it." Why? Because...
He who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker (disobedient to God's instructions). Speak and act as those who are going to be judged (defended) by the law (teaching) that gives freedom, because judgment (justice) without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment (justice)."
Did you see what that said? God's laws, His teachings, are there to defend us and give us freedom. Why? Because...justice without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. If you do not show mercy to others, after God has extended mercy to you, you will be treated justly. But notice how the verse ends. Mercy triumphs over justice! I won't get what I deserve? Why? Because Jesus took my punishment on the cross!
God is our Judge and rightly so, but He is also our defender and Saviour!
Author Lois Tverberg says this in her book Listening to the Language of the Bible, "Because God loves the people who have been victimized by sin, He is angry and will bring the guilty to judgment. But, it is out of His love for the guilty that He is merciful and desires to forgive. God shows His great love and goodness as much through His justice as He does through His mercy."
Mercy triumphs over justice! I love that! Aren't you glad God is our defender and Saviour?
|Posted on July 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (1)|
When you hear the term "God's Laws" or the "the Law of God" what comes to your mind? The Ten Commandments? Leviticus? Accompanying that thought, what are your feelings in regards to the laws God has given us? Is it negative or positive?
I don't know about you, but for me the word "law" always had a negative connotation to it. The feeling that God's laws were oppressive rules that had to be obeyed kept me away from church in my youth. Of course, this negative view of God was unfortunately not helped by the "church" with its many rules and regulations.
However, the word law in Hebrew means Torah and in its purest sense it does not have such a negative meaning. Torah is derived from the root word yarah, which means "to point out, instruct, teach or give direction. In other words, Torah basically means instruction or, "God's instruction to man."
Take for example James 4:11, which says: "Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it."
It really should be read like this: "Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against God's instruction and judges it. When you judge God's instructions, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it."
Once again we find that knowing the real meaning behind the words is so revealing! God has not given us a set of rules and regulations (laws) to keep us enslaved to, He has given us His instructions or teachings on how to live rich, full lives in Christ.
Until next time!
|Posted on July 13, 2012 at 3:15 PM||comments (2)|
Many years ago I took a course with Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur). We learned how to look inductively into the Bible, precept upon precept. The best part of that course for me was the discovery of the real meanings of some words in the Bible which have been translated from Hebrew to English or Greek to English and in the translation, lost their true meaning.
One of the neatest discoveries I have made was over the word "fear". Statements in the Bible like, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12) always left me with the uncertainty that at any moment my salvation could be revoked. Fear of the Lord was something I always had because ... well... He's God! Of course we should fear Him, He has the power to lift us up or destroy us. However, the word "fear" as in the "fear of the Lord" does not mean we should be afraid of Him. In fact, what it really means is something totally different.
The Hebrew word for "fear" is Yir'ah (pronounced YEER-AH). Like many Hebrew words it has a broader meaning with very positive feelings like honour, respect, reverence and worshipful awe. The "fear of the Lord" then is a worshipful, reverence of Him. For instance, take the following verse from Proverbs 9:10:
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
When translated correctly this verse should read, "Reverence (Yir'ah) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Takes on a whole new meaning doesn't it?
Take any verse in the Bible as it pertains to fearing the Lord and insert the true meaning of fear (reverence, awe) and you will clearly see how we are to live in relationship to God - and it is not in a fearful state. I've included a few verses below and replaced the word fear (Yi'rah) with its true meaning - awe or reverence, to give you a better idea of what I mean.
"Who will not reverence you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Rev. 15:4)
"Now let the awe of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery." (2 Chronicles 19:7)
"Reverence of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous." (Psalm 19:9) **Sidenote: Have you ever asked yourself how FEAR of the Lord was pure and enduring forever? Doesn't this make more sense?**
"Since, then, we know what it is to reverence the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience." (2 Corinthians 5:11)
The next time you read your Bible and see the word "fear" remember its true meaning!
Until next time!