Morning

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

I love early morning! Even though I usually have to force myself to get up, I still love it.  I love the quiet when everyone else in the house is asleep, and I can just sit with my coffee and enjoy the stillness of it. It’s also the time I miss having a front porch, where I could go out and watch God’s amazing sunrise, although I wouldn’t have done it today. It’s a little chilly.

Still, morning gives me the feeling of starting over; of starting fresh.

Mornings, as they relate to scripture, have been on my mind for a few weeks, ever since Ed shared the verse above with me. Then it appeared the next day in something else I was reading. Usually that means God wants me to pay attention. That verse reminded me of another one that I had committed to memory some time ago.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

In the NIV, the word “morning” is used 211 times. The first six times refer to the “evening and the morning” that were the first days of creation (Genesis 1). There are many references of “morning” in commands from God, such as not letting the manna sit till morning (Exodus 16:19), or a certain sacrifice was to take place morning and evening (Exodus 29:39). Other references deal with things that happened early in the morning, such as,

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

which was a very important morning for us.

But there is another use of the word morning which indicates a time of renewal, or starting over.  David refers to morning often in the Psalms as it pertains to his relationship with God as in the two verses I already mentioned. Let’s look at a few more from David and Isaiah.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress (Is 33:2)

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. (Is 50:4)

And my favorite from Jeremiah:

Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations: 3:22-23)

I love this because when Jeremiah wrote these words, his whole world was in chaos. His prophecies were met with scorn and anger, often putting his life in danger. Then his prophecies came true and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. Even with all that, Jeremiah had infinite trust in God and that is what sustained him

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Photo by Kyle Cottrell on Unsplash

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So whether we are a “morning person” or not, we can still wake every morning knowing that God is faithful, compassionate and merciful. He loves us, provides for us, listens to us, and holds on to us. What a great way to start the day!

Connie

Great Joy

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“Shepherds Being Told of the Holy Birth” Walter Crane 1895

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)

According to Bible Gateway.com the word “joy” is used in the Bible 242 times (in the NIV). Additionally, the word “rejoice” is used 154 times, and “joyful” 28 times. In Galatians, Paul lists “joy” as part of the fruit of the spirit, naming it second, after “love”.

So what does joy mean?

Dictionary.com defines joy as
“the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation”

The word translated as joy in Luke 2 is the Greek word, chara, which basically means gladness, but according to the Revell Bible Dictionary (p.590) “connotes an inner feeling of pleasure, satisfaction of well being.”

Here is the thing about the joy that would come from the birth (and later death, burial and resurrection) of the Christ child. For those who accept the gift, joy is an internal state that isn’t dependent on circumstances or feelings. You can be unhappy about a situation, but still remain in the “joy of the Lord”. As a matter of fact Nehemiah says …”the joy of the Lord is your strength. ” (Neh 8:10 b).

Why should we need joy to be our strength? Living a life in obedience to God through Jesus Christ makes us an enemy of the world, and subject to persecution on both the physical and spiritual level.

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

Revell Bible Dictionary says

“In the NT (New Testament), joy often wells up in the most painful and desperate of situations. Such joy, known by those who are obedient to Jesus, is supernaturally produced as we look ahead with confidence, to reaffirm our faith in the goodness, and ultimate triumph of our God.” (p.590)

When we know who we are in Christ, and that our eternal home is with Him in heaven, we can have joy even when we are dealing with heartache and pain in this life. It’s the joy that comes from knowing that regardless of what happens, God is in control and is working it all out for our good and His glory.  I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of joy I want to have. I find it more and more, as I learn to lean on Him.

God is still offering the gift.

Have you accepted it?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15)

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan: Part 2

Last week, we started looking at God’s plan to redeem mankind.  We read that God told the serpent that Eve’s offspring would crush his head. We read that God told Abraham all nations would be blessed through him. Israel (Jacob), when blessing his sons, said that the “ruler’s staff” would remain with Judah’s descendants until its rightful owner came for it. Moses told the Israelites there would be a another prophet like him, and that they should listen to that prophet.

We also looked at the feasts God instituted, particularly Passover and Day of Atonement.

If you missed last weeks post, you can read it here.

So what’s next?

After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:6-9)

So, apparently, that whole generation had failed to teach their children about the Lord. Things went downhill from there.

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:16-19)

It was a real mess. The book of Judges ends by saying,

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21:25)

Israel had no king because God was supposed to be their King. Not only did the Israelites completely ignore God’s law, they also decided they wanted an earthly king to rule over them. God told Samuel that the Israelites were not rejecting Samuel as judge, they were rejecting God. He told Samuel to give them what they wanted, and make Saul king. g1Sa0921Dore_SamuelBlessingSaul

Saul would prove a disappointment, but that was part of God’s plan too, because He had someone else in mind.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Sam 16:1)

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have? There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.(1 Sam 16: 1-13)

Years would pass before David actually became king, and we’re not going to through all of that now, but once he was king, and reigning in Jerusalem, he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. The Lord said “no”, but He also said this:

The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (2 Sam 7:11-16)

Do you seem some similarity between that and Israel’s blessing on Judah? Oh, if you didn’t already know; David is a direct descendant of Judah. According to this post at Bible.org, it was from this point that the Messiah, was called “son of David”.

Well, David’s heir to the throne was Solomon, and you can read all about him in 1 Kings.

 

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Unfortunately Solomon had many wives and they turned him away from the Lord. Once again, things went downhill. The kingdom was divided, with ten tribes still calling themselves Israel, and two calling themselves Judah. The books of Kings and Chronicles follow both kingdoms, until Israel is taken by Assyria, and pretty much disappears. Later, Judah is taken by Babylon, who is in turn taken by Persia. In time, the Jews (as they were then called) are allowed to return home. The chronological history of the Old Testament ends with the book of Esther, the story of the Jewess who becomes Queen of Persia, and saves her family from annihilation.

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What about God’s plan?

A little longer, please.

David wrote the majority of the Psalms and his son Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs, as well as Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Today, the remaining books of the Old Testament are called the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. Some prophets lived during the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, some during the time of the Babylonian exile and some after the return from exile.

Psalms and the writings of the prophets contain the main portion of what we call the “messianic prophecies”; those which foretell about the one who would come and rescue Israel. There are well over a hundred of such prophecies in the Old Testament. No, we aren’t going to list them all here, but this article has a good list, as well as fulfillment scriptures from the New Testament.

Here are just a few.

Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
(Psalm 22: 16-18)

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Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Is 7:14)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
(Is 9:6-7)

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Is 53:4-6)

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I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken (Ezek 34:23-24)

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan 7:13-14)

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Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech 9:9)

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. (Mal 3:1)

These are just a few of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. He was to be from the family of Judah, a son of David, from Bethlehem, born to a virgin, righteous, victorious and sovereign. He would rescue Israel, and rule forever.

Is that your plan God? Awesome!

Wait a minute. What about redeeming mankind?

There has to be more.

There is. For a hint, scroll up and look at Isaiah 53:4-6 again.

When the New Testament opens, about four hundreds years have passed since the writings of Malachi, the last prophet. What was once the mighty kingdom of Israel is now a Roman province called Judea, where Herod the Great is King. Caesar Augustus is the  Emperor of Rome.

It’s time.

Until next week

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan: Part 1

Last week, I said,
“So we know that sin (transgression, offense, trespass) is disobedience to God, and that disobedience makes us unfit to be in His presence. If we remain in that corrupted, defiled state, all that remains for us is the eternal spiritual death called Hell.”

Then I said God had a plan.

God had a plan from the beginning. He knew Adam and Eve would sin, and He knew that He would make a way to reconcile mankind back to Himself.

I don’t know why He even bothered, but I’m glad He did!

Remember what He said when He cursed the serpent?

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Gen 3:15)

Did you notice that God’s reference to Eve’s offspring is singular? He and his, not they and their. Did He have a particular offspring in mind?

God’s plan was to send His Son, but He needed to wait for the right time, the right place, and the right family.

Abram was a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood by entering the ark.aGen1201Dore_AbrahamJourneyingIntoTheLandOfCanaan

Beginning in the 11th chapter of Genesis, and running through the end of the book, we learn of how God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promised to make him a great nation (when he was childless) and gave him a child in his old age. God told Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). The story continues with Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob had twelve sons, one of which was sold to slave traders by his brothers. That son was Joseph, and he would rise to be the right hand of Pharaoh, and save his family’s life during a great famine. Israel and his entire family moved to Egypt. aGen4605Dore_JacobGoethIntoEgypt

Before he died, Israel blessed his sons. The blessing on Judah is particularly interesting.

Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. you are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:8-12, bold emphasis mine)

Genesis closes with the death of Joseph.

So what does all this have to do with God’s plan? Well, we know God told the serpent Eve’s offspring would crush his head. We also know that he told childless Abram that “all nations” would be blessed through him. We also know that Israel said that Judah would have the “ruler’s staff” and he would keep it until the one to whom it belonged came for it.

Who was the rightful owner of the staff?

Wait. There’s more.

Exodus continues the story of Israel’s descendants, only now they are in trouble. They have become numerous in Egypt and the current Pharaoh doesn’t remember Joseph. He only knows that there are too many Hebrews and they might try to overtake his kingdom. So, he made them slaves and went so far as to make them kill their newborn sons. That was about the time Moses was born. Moses’ family were descendants of Israel’s son Levi. God had a plan for Moses. He would use Moses to get His people out of Egypt and back to the land He had promised Abraham. Because Pharaoh was so hardhearted and stubborn, God sent ten plagues on Egypt.

The final plague in Egypt was the death of the first born.bExo1229Dore_TheFirstbornSlain

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household…The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast…This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. (Ex 12: 1-3,5-8,11-14)

This is the first of seven annual feasts God established for the children of Israel. He would use them to set a pattern for future events. Their observance always required several sacrifices.

One feast came in the fall of the year. It was called the Day of Atonement. You may also recognize it for it’s Hebrew name Yom Kippur.

Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. (Lev 16:6-10)

The high priest was required to make a sacrifice first for himself, then one for the whole nation. The whole process is outlined in Leviticus 16.

Just in case you were wondering about the necessity of blood sacrifice:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Lev 17:11)

Hold that thought. It’s important.

We’ll get back to the feasts later. They figure into God’s plan

We’ve talked about Moses and the Law before. We’ve also talked about how Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land and how Joshua would take his place. Before he goes, Moses tells the Israelites about someone else.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (Deut 18:15)

Eventually, this prophet would be identified as “Messiah” or “anointed one”.

Like God promised, the children of Israel, led by Joshua entered and took control of the promised land of Canaan. Then Joshua died, and everything went down hill from there.

What about God’s plan?

We’ll we’ve already gone on long today, so come back next week and we’ll learn more about God’s amazing plan.

The Unpopular Word

The word “sin” is unpopular; even in some churches. No one wants to hear what they are doing, or the way they are living their life, is wrong. We don’t want someone to point it out to us, and we definitely don’t want to hear that it will send us to hell.

Well, before we get into that, lets look at the word “sin” and see what it means.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, sin means
1. a : an offense against religious or moral law
b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible it’s a sin to waste food
c: an often serious shortcoming: fault
2 a : transgression of the law of God
b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

Ok, so what does it mean according to the Bible? Well, lets’ find out.

Bible Gateway says sin is used 326 times in the Old Testament, and 104 times in the New Testament. That is the exact word “sin”. It does not include, sins, sinning, sinner, etc.

To get a clearer meaning of the word as it was intended, I looked in both Strong’s Exhaustive and Young’s Analytical Concordances. There are several different words, with slightly different meanings, translated as “sin”. Sometimes, a word may be translated as “sin” in one place, and something similar in another. For an explanation of how the concordances work, as well as better pictures, see this post about the word “glory”.

I dropped my camera a few weeks ago. It landed lens down, with the lens open, and has been unpredictable ever since. When I turn it on, it may work or it may not, especially if I need to adjust the focus. After several tries, I was able to get this shot. Then the camera shut itself off again, so this is what we have. I didn’t realize until I uploaded it that I didn’t get the whole entry.

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Page 966, second column, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

This picture is from Strong’s. You can see the heading for the word “sin”. Then there is a subheading that says “1. A Transgression”. That means this is the first definition for the word. So in all the following uses of the word “sin”, the general meaning is “transgression”. The other two definitions refer to a place (like the Desert of Sin), and don’t apply here. Under the “Transgression” subheading, each entry has a number that corresponds to the actual Hebrew word used.

The first entry is the first use of the word “sin” in the Bible. It is Genesis 4:7.

Here it is in the King James, since that is what both concordances use.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

The same verse in the NIV.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

The number listed at the end of the entry (which you cannot see in the picture), is 2403. It refers to the listing in Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary at the back of the concordance. This word is chattath (English spelling of course). It means “sin”. Ok, I was hoping for a little more than that. I looked up the same word in Young’s, and got the same meaning. Young’s however will also show you how the same word was translated different ways, and how many times that way was used.

For example, for chattath:
punishment 2 (the word chattath is translated as punishment two times)
punishment of sin 1
purification from sin 2
purifying 1
sin 169
sin offering 116
sinner 1

Not terribly helpful in this case, but you can see chattath is translated as “sin” 169 times.

Going back to Strong’s, under the dictionary entry for 2304, it said the root word was 2398. I remembered that number was also listed under the “transgression” subheading in the front of the book. As a matter of fact, of the 11 Hebrew words listed under the “transgression” subheading, six of them refer back to 2398. The word is chata, and it means “to sin, to err, to miss the mark.” Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Young’s listing for chata says:
be in fault 1
bear blame 2
commit (sin) 5
do sin 2
have done harm 1
offend 4
sin 165
trespass 1

Again the most frequent translation is “sin”.

A scripture reference for chata is Genesis 42:22.

Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.

Other Hebrew/Chaldee words translated “sin” mean
guilt
error
fault
iniquity
offense
trespass
transgression

The picture is getting clearer, isn’t it?

Moving to the New Testament, the number of Greek words translated as “sin” is significantly less. There are four. They mean:
offense
transgression
error
miss the mark and not share in the prize.

The last word in the Greek  is “hamartano”

Young’s listing says:
offend 1
sin 39
trespass 3

A scripture reference for hamartano is Matthew 18:21.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

No matter which word was used, it is plain to see that sin is a bad thing.

Now that we know what the word means, we can find out how it applies to us.

We’ll do that next week.

On a lighter note, I left the concordances on the dining room table while I was typing this post. I looked up from my laptop to see this, and the camera cooperated for a minute. They are so helpful!

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Adora and Bookworm saving my spots in the concordances.  Yes, this is why she is named Bookworm.

Connie

Family Devotions

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Although we aren’t always successful, my husband and I try to do a daily family devotion time with my daughter. The way it is supposed to work is that one of us reads the scripture for the day, and we have a discussion about what was read. We mention any new prayer needs, and the same person who reads, prays. Like I said, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

However, there seems to always be something that gets in the way. Usually, it’s our own tendency for distraction. Ed works nights, so on those days, we try to do it shortly before he goes to bed for the day. On his days off, we shoot for after breakfast, but sometimes we get side tracked. Usually, I remember that we didn’t do it when we aren’t in a position to go do it right then. By the time we are, it’s slipped our minds again. Yeah, I know. We’re pitiful. We do keep trying though.

I probably don’t need to tell you that my teenager is less than enthusiastic about the whole process.

If we miss a day or two, we spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what we read last (we work out of four books at once) and whose turn it is to read. Ed writes it down on his calendar, but sometimes it isn’t right, and we have conversations like “No, it couldn’t be Ezekiel 23* because I read last and I read Psalm 19, and so whoever is reading needs to be reading Numbers!”

After we get it straightened out, we decide how much will be read. Chapter and verse divisions were made by the translators, and are not, in any way, consistent. One chapter may have 30 verses and take up a half a page, and another chapter have 30 verses, and take up three pages. We use chapter divisions most often, but sometimes divide them up over several readings. The idea is not to read a lot, but to grasp what we do read and be able to discuss it.

Sometimes, we are able to draw parallels from life today. Sometimes, we are reminded of another part of scripture. Sometimes, we have to honestly say that we do not understand what a passage means, or why it says what it does. Sometimes, we don’t make connections until hours or days later. When we do have those delayed connections and insights, we always try to share them with each other.

Yesterday we read from Deuteronomy 3

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” 23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deut 3:21-29)

Look at verses 23-27, especially verse 26.

That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…”

I know I’ve read this before, but it jumped off the page yesterday, and stuck with me.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but scripture encourages us to keep asking until we get a definitive answer. I can’t think of another time when God says, “stop asking”.

Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn in the flesh, and God told him no.

8 three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:8-9)

Evidently, Paul stopped asking after the third time and changed his attitude toward his problem.

I wonder how many times Moses asked? What lead God to tell him to stop?

As a parent, who has been wheedled by a whining child, I can certainly relate to God’s response.

How many times have I said, “No, and don’t ask me again!”

Often God has used my relationship with my children to help me understand something about His relationship with me. The experience is usually quite humbling.

Yesterday afternoon, Ed and I were talking about something we need to start praying about. Ed said that he had already started praying about it, but more won’t hurt. I said, “No, I really don’t see God telling us to stop asking like he did Moses!”

Ed said, “You know, I kind of feel sorry for Moses.”

I do too.

*If you plan to read Ezekiel 23 aloud with teenagers, you might want to read it first, so that you will be prepared for whatever reaction they have. My then sixteen-year-old daughter looked up from the reading with the most dead pan expression on her face, and said something like “Really…wow…Alrighty then.” We then discussed how God doesn’t sugar coat anything, and calls things as they are, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Connie

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday always comes the Sunday before Easter. On that day, we remember Jesus’
“Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem. The event is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-40, and John 12:12-19.

Before we look at those, look at Zechariah chapter nine. You can read it online here.

This prophecy promises deliverance for God’s people. However, if you look closely, you’ll see something odd.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zech 9:9)

Normally, victorious kings ride horses; majestic, magnificent horses. Here it says the king will be riding a…donkey? Yes, that is what it says.

Let’s look at Matthew’s account of what happened that day.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matt: 21:1-11)

Mark doesn’t really add anything to the narrative, but Luke says some of the Pharisees were offended at what the crowd was shouting.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40)

John adds,

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:16-19)

When Jesus came into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, He was proclaiming Himself as Messiah. It was just a few days after He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and the multitudes came out to welcome to Him. The phrase “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” is from Psalm 118, which contains another piece of messianic prophecy. Calling Him “Son of David” referred to prophecy from Isaiah and 2nd Samuel.

By shouting those things, the people were also proclaiming Jesus as messiah. The people knew the prophecies. They really didn’t understand what it was all about though. They were looking for an earthly king. During Jesus time on earth, Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Jewish people desperately wanted deliverance from the Romans, and they expected their messiah to deliver them. He didn’t though, and the crowds that welcomed Him would soon be calling for His crucifixion. If they had really understood the prophecies, they would have known that was part of the plan.

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“Entry of Christ into Jerusalem” Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) oil on canvas, public domain, downloaded from Indianapolis Museum of Art

What are your expectations of Jesus?

Connie

We Have Seen His Glory

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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. (John 1:14)

When John wrote “we have seen His glory” he probably meant it literally. Although John himself never describes the event, the other three gospels do. It is sometimes called the “transfiguration”. Luke tells it this way:

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying. While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. (Luke 9:28-36)

Peter makes reference to the same event when he says,

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1: 16-18)

There are several other New Testament references to Jesus’ glory, but as we’ve already discovered, that subject may be a little too broad for the scope of this blog. I will tell you though, that the word translated “glory” here is the Greek word “doxa”.  A discussion concerning the actual meaning of the word  can be found here.

The point I want to make is this: Both Peter and John were part of Jesus’ inner circle (along with John’s brother James). They witnessed countless miracles in the three years they spent with Jesus. Here they actually saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah in “glorious splendor”; they were in the cloud, and they still didn’t get it!

Jesus called John and his brother James, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) probably because they did things like ask him if he wanted them to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:54). Peter was impetuous and short tempered. When Jesus was crucified, they were  both devastated, and hid with the other disciples in “fear of the Jewish leaders” (John 20:19).

Even after the saw the resurrected Lord, they still didn’t understand. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the “gift from the Father” (Acts 1:4.) The gift arrived on the day of Pentecost, 40 days after Jesus had gone back to heaven.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

That day, Peter preached the first gospel message to the crowed gathered in Jerusalem.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38-39)

The gift of the Holy Spirit; Christ living in us. Peter and John received it on that day, as did the rest of the twelve, and the 3000 who were baptized. Jesus had told them that the Holy Spirit would help them remember (John 14:26). They remembered, they finally understood, and they were changed!

Read the rest of the book of Acts and the letters written by Peter and John to witness the amazing transformation.

Over the last 2000 years, countless live have been changed in the same way.

Has yours?

Connie

Reflecting God’s Glory

At the end of Exodus 33, Moses asked to see God’s glory. God’s reply was something like: “I can’t do that Moses. It would kill you. I’ll tell you what. There’s a rock nearby with a cleft in it. You stand in there, and I’ll cover you with my hand as I pass by. Then I’ll move my hand and you can see my back.” (paraphrase mine).

Chapter 34 opens like this:

The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

God had chiseled the stone tablets the first time, but now, God told Moses to do it. I have to wonder if that was to give Moses time to think about his temper that sent the first tablets crashing down the mountain.

So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.  Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Ex 34:4-11)

I’m not sure if Moses was in the cleft of the rock when this occurred; it really doesn’t say, but God passed in front of Moses and proclaimed Himself. In response, Moses hit his knees and worshiped God. Once again he asks God to go with them. God says He will make a covenant, or agreement, with Moses, to do incredible things for the people, and drive out the people already living in the promised land. The condition was that they had to obey God’s commands. In verses 12-26 God gives some of those commands, most of which are familiar to us, such as not worshiping other gods, not making any idols, keeping the sabbath, etc.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. (Ex 34: 27-28)

For 40 days and 40 nights, Moses was in such deep communion with God that he went without food or water. This isn’t the only record in the Bible of someone going without food for 40 days.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (Matt 4:1-2)

Today, the general consensus is that a human being can go 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Yet, both Moses and Jesus went way past those limits. Obviously, God sustained them during that time.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord. (Ex 34 29-35)

After all that he experienced on the mountain, Moses was literally glowing. The radiant Moses frightened Aaron and the others, and they didn’t want to come near him. Moses reassured them, and then gave them the Lord’s commands. Then he covered his face with a veil. From the way this reads, I would assume that from then on, Moses kept his face covered unless he was speaking with the Lord.

I have two thoughts about this: one is that Moses covered his face because the glowing unnerved the people and they didn’t want to see it. The other is that Moses feared they might start worshiping him instead of God. Actually, there is no evidence of the second one; unless it is simply the way that people tend to behave. I think that is also why God buried Moses Himself. If the people knew where he was buried, they may have created a shrine of the tomb and, in time, began to worship Moses instead of God.

As for the first thought; Paul, in his second letter to the church at Corinth, says this:

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor 3:7-16)

The Israelites really didn’t want to see the glory. They really didn’t want to experience the presence of God. Yes, they were frightened that such an experience might kill them, but I wonder if they weren’t more afraid of the changes that kind of experience might produce in their own lives.

Moses was reflecting the glory of God, and he had to hide his face. How sad.

Paul continues with this:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18-19).

Christians are supposed to be reflecting the glory of God too, and we aren’t supposed to cover it. We are to let it shine as it changes us daily; transforming us until we look just like Jesus.

Jesus said,

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)

Let-Your-Light-Shine

Let it shine!

Connie

So, What Is Glory?

What does the word “glory” mean to you?

Last week we talked about “the glory of the Lord” and discovered the Bible uses the word “glory” a lot, (285 times in the NIV), but we never did settle on what it means. That’s probably because it’s one of those words we hear, but only vaguely grasp it’s meaning.

According to Merriam Webster.com, glory has many definitions: five noun definitions, one verb definition, and one interjection definition. I was going to list them all here, and discuss which definitions applied to what we read in the Bible, but I remembered something important.

The word we read as “glory” is translated from another language; two other languages actually. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. In order to have better understanding of the word we read as “glory”, maybe we should see how the original writer’s meant it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I really need to learn ancient Hebrew..and Greek..and probably Latin too. Since I don’t know any of those languages, except for a word here and there, I broke out both Young’s Analytical Concordance, and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Both are for use with the King James version.

The first thing I realized was that my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, so I used a page magnifier to get a better look. Still, the eye strain got to me pretty quickly.  The second thing was that there are  several different words translated “glory”, as well as all the variations of the word.  In Strong’s, I counted 15 different Hebrew, and 6 different Greek words. It’s a little more difficult to count in Young’s but I’m guessing the number to be the same, or at least, very close.

The way Strong’s works is that words appearing in the KJV are given in alphabetical order. Under the listing for the English word, scripture references are given, in the order in which they appear. Next to the scripture reference is the phrase from that verse, using the word in question. After the phrase, there is a number. This number either corresponds to a word in the Hebrew/Chaldee or Greek dictionary, both which are located in the back of the book. If the reference is in the Old Testament, use the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary; if it’s in the New, use the Greek. The dictionary will give the word as it is written in the original language, the English version and then what the word means, and how it is used.

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from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

Looking at the first entry under the word glory, I saw that it was in Genesis, and the number was 3519. Looking in the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary I found the following.

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from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

About half the time you read the word glory in the old testament, this was the original word. Kabod means heavy or weighty, as in having value or abundance. Sometimes it is translated as “honor”.

Young’s works a little differently. Under the English word, it gives you different meanings with the corresponding Hebrew or Greek word. Then it gives a scriptural example of that meaning. Using the English spelling of the Hebrew or Greek word, you can go to the back of the book and locate the corresponding word. Then you can see how many ways that word is translated, and how often it is translated a certain way.  It shows kabod translated as glorious ten times, gloriously twice, glory 155 times, honor 29 times, and honorable once.

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from Young’s Analytical Concordance
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from Young’s Analytical Concordance

We could spend a LOT of time researching each of the different Hebrew and Greek words translated as “glory”, but I am discovering that is way beyond the scope of this blog. At least it is for now.

This post from Regina at Daily Bible Study Tips not only explains the usage of kabod, but also covers some of the same territory we did last week. The Holman Bible Dictionary  gives a lengthy definition of glory, using both kabod and the Greek word doxa.

Before we go, let’s look at one more use of kabod.

This takes place after the event involving the golden calf (Exodus 32). God is angry and tells Moses, and the people to go ahead into the promised land, but He isn’t going with them because He might kill them. Moses asks the Lord to reconsider, because they are His people, and how will anyone know that they are God’s people if He doesn’t go with them? God tells Moses that He will do as Moses asks. Then Moses says something extraordinary:

 “Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory (kabod).’” (Ex 33:18)

What did Moses mean? There may be a clue in verse 13. Moses says,

 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

I think he wanted to know God as intimately as God knew him. He wanted to know the full weight, the full abundance, that is God. Moses wanted to really see God.  Look what God says to him.

 “And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.‘”(Ex 33:19-33)

Isn’t that amazing?

Connie