Today is the 36th day that we have been counting the omer.
Since God knows the end from the beginning, He tells Moses that after he dies, the children of Israel will turn their backs on God. God commissions Moses to write a song. In fact, God tells Moses to teach it to the people and have them learn it by heart, “so that this song can be a witness for Me against the people of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 31:19) Deuteronomy 32 records the song for us. The words are probably unlike words of any other song that we have ever heard. I encourage you to go read the words, for the Song of Moses is a picture of Israel’s history and exile.
He starts off by bragging on the greatness of Yehovah. “For I will proclaim the name of Yehovah. Come, declare the greatness of our God!” Then Moses says, “He (Yehovah) is not corrupt; the defect is in His children, a crooked and perverted generation.” (v 5 CJB) That is a sad commentary about a people who had been chosen by God to be His very own. He had taken them from nothing, guarded them “like the pupil of His eye”, and carried them around even as an eagle carries her young when she flies. Moses went on in his song to tell how they would totally turn their backs on God and would be brought to ruin. But Moses did not stop there for Yehovah is the God of redemption. He revealed that God will take vengeance on those who destroyed the nation and will avenge the blood of His servants. In fact, God will even make atonement for the land of His people.
But the most pointed thing that Moses told the people was this. “Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. These instructions are not empty words – they are your life!” (vs 46-47, NLT)
I think God, through the book of Deuteronomy, would tell us, the ones who have been adopted into the family of God, that we must guard ourselves and our children. We must teach in the strongest manner possible the truths of God. We must not get lax or we will fall just as Israel fell. Even worse, our children will fall. The devil will destroy them by dragging them through the deepest and most devastating pits he can find. I think God is telling us very bluntly that He is not playing games. He is a gracious and merciful God, but He does not play games. I believe God would tell us the very same thing He told Israel – Listen up! Take these truths to heart and make sure your children obey every word. For this is NOT A TRIVIAL MATTER for you – these are not EMPTY WORDS; they are YOUR LIFE!
May God give us ears to hear and eyes to see His truths.
Today is the 35th day that we have been counting the omer.
One of the greatest desires of every person on this earth is that they would have a great life, a life full of good things and a life of joy and happiness. It seems that everyone is searching for fulfillment. You may have heard of Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist who formulated a theory of psychological health. He was attempting to explain human behavior, defining conceptually the needs of each individual. In his theory, he determined that ultimately everyone is driven to achieve self-actualization. In his mind, that ultimate goal of self-actualization would result in the highest sense of personal fulfillment.
As Moses was giving his final instructions to the children of Israel, he addressed the same basic question that Maslow attempted to answer. However, Moses was a bit more specific in his answer. Maslow theorized, but then left the ultimate answer to each individual. Moses, on the other hand, gave a specific answer to every individual. He said that if a person and even a nation wanted to find their real purpose, they could not look to themselves for the answer. He told the children of Israel that a wonderful life, with all the great benefits and pleasures, was found in “loving Yehovah your God, paying attention to what He says and clinging to Him”. Why? “for that is the purpose of your life!” (Deuteronomy 30: 20)
Moses was right. He spoke the truth that he had seen play out over all the years of leading more than two million people from Egypt, through the desert, and up to the banks of the Jordon River. He laid life and self-actualization, self-fulfillment out for them that day. We may not like what he said, because we have this desire inside of us to do what we want to do no matter what it is, but Moses was not wrong. He was right. Our greatest fulfillment and accomplishment on this earth is wrapped up in one thing – loving Yehovah, paying attention to everything He says, and having an intimate relationship with Him. Nothing else will do.
Today is the 34th day that we have been counting the omer.
As I have been continuing to read in Deuteronomy, I have been impressed with two statements that are repeated several times. One of them is, “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt….” When those words are spoken, they refer to how the people were to treat those who were foreigners, orphans, or widows.
The other has to do with the positive and negative consequences of actions – “if … then.” Moses laid it all out for them. He was very clear about things that were right and things that were wrong in the sight of God. He adamantly declared to them that if they would do what was right according to God’s character, then they would be blessed by God. However, if they chose to do what was wrong according to God’s character, then they would be cursed by God. And even with all his effort to ensure that they would choose the right, he told them that he knew that they would choose wrongly down the road.
I think that both of the statements, “remember that you were a slave in Egypt”, and “if … then”, are meant to spur us to think about where we have been, who we are, and who we want to be. Those statements remind us that we were once away from God and were slaves. We made choices that took us deeper into slavery. We were driven to repeat the same stifling, derogatory behaviors, and attitudes.
We hated where we were, and we knew that there had to be a better way. As a result of that central truth, God’s prevenient grace in our lives, we began to seek the way out. God, “who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) Now, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus the Messiah. We are to remember where we have been and give mercy and grace to those who have not yet found the Truth or are weak. Each day we are to realize that God is still forming Himself within us. We have choices to make that will either polish us to reflect Him more clearly or cloud us over so that His character is not quite recognizable. The choice is ours.
It is my prayer that we will choose to remember where we have been, who we are, and who we want to be and choose God’s blessings each day as we move toward Pentecost.
Today is the 33rd day that we have been counting the omer. In just 17 days we will arrive at Shavuot/Feast of Weeks/Pentecost
Moses makes an interesting statement in Deuteronomy 18:15. “Yehovah will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him.” (CJB) The New Living Translations says, “You must listen to him.” In fact, Moses said that they were to HEAR and OBEY this Prophet. That is what the Hebrew word “shama´” (‘listen’) means.
All throughout time from Moses’ statement to New Testament days, the people were looking for this person, this prophet that Moses said would come. In fact, in John 1:21, the people of Judah send out priests to ask John the Baptist, “Are you ‘the prophet’, the one we’re expecting?” A few chapters later, Jesus says to them, “Do not think that I need to accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is the one in whom you trust – Moses! If you had believed Moses, you would now believe me, because he wrote of me.” But their eyes were blinded. Many of the people living at that time missed the fact that Jesus is THE PROPHET about whom Moses was speaking.
As we head rapidly toward Pentecost, it is my prayer that we do not take lightly the truth of Jesus, the Father’s Anointed Son who is our Prophet, our High Priest, and our soon coming King. It is very easy to become so comfortable knowing Truth that the gravity and power of the Truth, Jesus, becomes commonplace in our minds. It becomes habit with no forethought. We build our own kingdoms in our minds, and then we rely on ourselves just like the scribes and Pharisees did. They had built their own system and were so sure that it was perfect, that they did not even see THE PROPHET that Moses had told them would come.
We, who call ourselves believers, must hear and obey this PROPHET. The only way that we can stay fresh in our relationship with God is to be intentional each day, reading His Word, talking with Him, believing what He says and acting on it and asking for His guidance. Choose today to be intentional with God so that you can truthfully say that you “shama´” this Prophet, Jesus the Anointed One from God!
10:12-13 “So now, Israel, all that Yehovah your God asks from you is to
fear Yehovah your God, follow all His ways, love Him and serve Yehovah
your God with all your
heart and all your being; to obey, for your own good, the commandments
and regulations of Yehovah which I am giving you today.”
concisely wraps up all the teachings that God has given throughout the
40+ years since they left Egypt. He boils it down to this: fear God,
follow Him, love Him, and serve
Him. Do all these with your whole being (physical, spiritual,
emotional, social). Then Moses appeals to each person by saying, “This
is for your own good.”
we tend to think that God’s ways are “best” but not what will really
make us happy. We think His ways are best because in the end, we want to
be on His side. However,
in the meantime, we want to do what we think will make us happy and be
for our right-now good. I looked up the Hebrew word used for “good” and
it says “merry, pleasant, desirable; in order, usable; efficient;
friendly, kind; morally good”. It also has to do
with “festive”. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament
identifies five general areas to which the root word applies. The first
two are: 1) practical, economic or material good, and 2) abstract good
such as desirability. As you can see, these things
are related to what we are looking for in our everyday lives.
said all that to make a point. I think Moses was trying to get the
Israelites to see God’s commandments and regulations as ones that will
make them happy in the moment, not
simply in the future when this life is over. And the same thing applies
to us. When we are following His commandments and regulations, we
experience a conscience that is free from guilt. We can live the “good
life” now and enjoy the blessings that come from
God and a life well lived.
next time you are tempted to think that God is a stick-in-the-mud,
remember that God’s ways are designed for your good in the here-and-now
as well as for the end of this life!
And the more that you experience Him, the more that you will live life
to the fullest!
May 13, 2020
Day 31 MANNA IN ISOLATION
Today is our 31st day of counting the omer.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NLT) we read, “Remember how the LORD your God led
you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and
testing you to prove your character,
and to find out whether or not you would obey His commands. Yes, He
humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a
food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach
you that people do not live by bread alone; rather,
we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
is not unusual for us to experience times of humbling and testing. To a
certain degree, I think that everyone in the world is being tested at
this time through the coronavirus.
We have been quarantined, separated from our normal support of
gathering together to worship, learn, and fellowship. We have been
restricted from shaking hands and hugging to decrease the possibilities
of becoming infected. Our lives are continuing to be challenged
at different levels. We have been reduced to depending totally on God.
And, I believe that this is what God is trying to get us to conclude!
Some of us are very uncomfortable with that. We do not like it when our
independence is brought low. In fact, some
of us have enlarged our independence to the point that we are only
focused on ourselves and what a good job we have done in protecting
ourselves. Yes, God has given us brains, and we have followed truths
about infection and how to avoid it. However, if we
are not careful, we can become so independent that we do not realize
that our nutrition and strength only come from Him.
wonder if Yehovah is allowing us to become hungry, not for physical
food necessarily, but for spiritual food and fellowship so that we can
stop and be fed by our gracious Father
in heaven. Oh yes, most of us will be really excited about being able
to go to our favorite restaurant again. But I think God wants, through
this pandemic, to get us refocused on the spiritual food that only comes
from Him. I think He wants us to sit down
at His table each day and eat His truths.
we use this time to receive from His hand the truths that will satisfy
our deepest needs, it will have been worth it to go through this
testing. God forbid that we only focus
on the physical and do not realize that as children of the Most High
we can only live on every word that comes from His mouth.
May 12, 2020
Day 30 DESTROY OUR IDOLS
Today is our 30th day of counting the omer
we are going back to remind ourselves of God’s truth that Moses
reviewed for the children of Israel before he died. Today’s reading is
out of Deuteronomy 7:5-6 “…treat them
this way: break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to
pieces, cut down their sacred poles and burn up their carved images
completely. For you are a people set apart as holy for ADONAI your God.
ADONAI your God has chosen you out of all the peoples
on the face of the earth to be His own unique treasure.” (CJB)
greatest concern for the nation was that they would forget that there
is only one God and Yehovah is His name. As a result of forgetting, they
would not just ignore Yehovah
and not keep the greatest command to love Him with all their hearts,
souls, and strength, but they would actually worship gods made by the
hands of mankind. They would be drawn away from the One true God because
they allowed the symbols, altars, and carved
images to remain in their land. Therefore, Moses commanded them to
break, smash, cut and burn everything that represented the religions of
those living in the promised land. He did not care how beautiful the
item was, he commanded them to destroy it all.
then he tells them why – “For you are a people set apart as holy for
Yehovah your God. Yehovah your God has chosen you out of all the peoples
on the face of the earth to be
His own unique treasure.” They were sanctified, set apart, to be holy.
They were to conduct themselves in ways that were consistent with His
ways. They were to conduct themselves according to the teachings and
commandments of Yehovah so that they could demonstrate
to everyone on earth what the Kingdom of God looked like. These
descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were and are chosen by God to
be His and His alone! They were not chosen because there were so many of
them. They were chosen because “the LORD loves you
and He was keeping the oath He had sworn to your ancestors.” (Deut 7:8)
God loved them and was prepared to give them more than they could
imagine. As His “unique treasure”, He wanted to pour out blessings and
riches on them that would cause the whole world
to realize that the One they served really was the only true God.
know the story of how they failed, but we must be very careful in how
we judge them. For we, who have been grafted in, often fail as they did.
We have a tendency to forget
that anything that stands between us and Yehovah is an idol. It takes
the place of the one true God, and we begin to depend on it instead of
on Him. So even as Moses told the people thousands of years ago, his
words of instruction are still valid for us today.
It goes something like this – “Make sure that you get rid of anything
that decreases your awareness and love for Yehovah. Break it down, smash
it, cut it up, and burn it because anything that entices you to move
your eyes from Him will ultimately separate
you from Him.” Then Moses would continue. “You followers of Jesus the
Messiah, sent from Yehovah Himself are set apart, sanctified, as holy
for your God. You are consecrated. You are to be unique, clean, pure,
devoted to and singled out for the LORD. You are
His unique treasure.”
God guide us today and through the Holy Spirit show us anything that
would entice us to turn our dependence and allegiance away from Yehovah.
May 11, 2020
Day 29 NOTHING TOO DIFFICULT
Today is day 29 of our counting the omer.
for the last few days we have been listening to God through Moses,
today I want to examine a short portion of a verse found in Genesis
18:14. “Is anything too hard for
God?” The LORD is speaking to Abraham and Sarah at the time. If you
look up that verse, you will find that the word “LORD” is in all capital
letters. That means that God Himself, Yehovah, was the One speaking. So
Yehovah asked them, “Is anything too hard for
the LORD?” It is not recorded that He said, “Is anything too hard for
Me?” Why did God speak in third person about Himself? As I thought about
this, it seemed that God was wanting to impress upon Abraham and Sarah
the truth of His qualities and character.
It was the all-knowing, all-powerful God who was speaking to them.
a child from a dead womb too marvelous for the One who called all
things into existence? He can do it. Nothing is incredible for those in
covenant fellowship with the
Lord because nothing is too difficult for Him.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
This is basically a call to believe and proceed in one’s life on the fact that God can do the impossible! Yehovah
is capable of accomplishing anything, at any
time, in any way that He chooses.
He is still the same today! I don’t know what the impossibility is in
your life, but I know that as we count the omer, God is calling us to
believe in ALL of His qualities.
He is incomprehensible, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present,
immutable, holy, self-existent, self-sufficient, transcendent, and
without end. He is the One who spoke and everything came into being.
And, He knows how to bring a resolution for the “impossibility”
in your life and mine today. Most of the time He accomplishes that as
He draws us closer and closer into His heart. As we intentionally choose
Him today, let’s eagerly invite Him to enter into our impossibilities
nothing is too difficult for Him!
May 10, 2020
Day 28 DRAW CLOSE
Today is day 28 of counting the omer.
we talked briefly about the first verse of Deuteronomy 4. We discussed
the importance of listening and obeying. Today I want to move down just a
bit into that chapter
and point out something that I see in verses 15-24. Moses has just been
reminding them of how God came down on Mt Sinai and spoke the 10 Words
to them. Then God wrote the 10 Words on stone and ordered Moses to teach
them all the laws and rulings so that they
could live by them when they crossed over into Canaan. Then twice in
verses 15-24, he says “watch out for yourselves”. He knew, because they
could not see God, how much they would be tempted to make idols that
they could experience with their five senses.
Bowing down to those idols would bring God’s anger, “for Jehovah your
God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” They had seen the fire on Mt
Sinai. They had experienced the fear that came as the trumpet blast
shattered the silence in their camp. They had heard
Him speak. They had trembled. They had literally shaken with fear
before Him. They begged Moses to go talk to God for them. Moses knew
that they would forget the covenant that God had made with them. It was
out-of-sight and would quickly be out-of-mind when
Moses was gone. Therefore, Moses says, “watch out for yourselves”.
is very easy to forget the true power that comes with being chosen,
forgiven and adopted by God. Forgetting is a fact; it is a product, a
result of the passage of time. The
only thing that will stop this forgetting is intentionality. And God
would call to us and warn us to draw up close to Him daily to avoid that
pitfall. We must make intimacy with God and knowing Him the highest
priority for our lives.
are chosen, forgiven, and adopted, and He has given us His Holy Spirit
to live within us and empower us to proceed to the witness stand and
faithfully tell everyone what He
has done in our lives! Let’s be vigilant!
May 9, 2020
LISTEN on Day 27
Today is day 27 of counting the omer from First Fruits to the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.
have been talking for the last couple of days about Moses’ review of
all that Yehovah had done, taught, and required of the children of
Israel since bringing them out of Egypt.
He has steadfastly focused on reminding them of the most important
things that they must remember and do. He knew that the thing of
greatest importance was for them to obey God, be obedient to His will
and ways. But, the first thing Moses tells them in Deuteronomy
4:1 is to “listen”. Isn’t that the first thing that we have trouble
with? We get so focused on what we think God is saying and what we think
we know that sometimes we don’t “listen”. Additionally, I find that I
frequently have difficulty listening with my
heart and not just with my ears.
my Bible (CJB), I have a few words underlined in the first sentence of
this chapter. Those words are: “listen”, “in order to follow them”,
“live”, “will go in”, and “take possession”.
Moses told the people that they first had to listen. Maybe you are
thinking, “no, duh”. But listening with unplugged ears can be difficult.
We all have perceptions that color what we hear. In fact, it is not
uncommon for us to not hear what is said, primarily
because we think we already know. This is vividly evidenced in the
lives of married couples because at times we believe we already know
what our spouse is thinking and how they are at their core. As a result,
we believe we know what they are going to say,
how they are going to say it, and how right or wrong it will be in our
opinion. Unfortunately, the same thing can occur in our relationship
with God. Because we think that we know what He is going to say, we may
not even listen to Him. Therefore, we read His
Word, with our perception of Him coloring what we think He is saying.
Is it possible that He wants to challenge us today to stop, pick up His
Word and look at it as though it is the first time we have seen it? We
must allow His Spirit to show us things that
we have never seen before. We must allow Him to clearly show us His
truths. So, we must first listen with unplugged ears if we are ever
going to be able to do what He says. If and when we have listened and
followed Him, done what He says, then we can truly
live and go into the land, into our lives, and totally take possession
of it so that it obeys our God! And because we have listened and obeyed,
we can destroy the strongholds that dot the land of our lives. We can
clean them out and experience the power and
majesty of our God! We don’t have to live with the strongholds of
things from our past. We can defeat them as we LISTEN AND OBEY because
Yehovah promises us that He will give us victory over
stronghold that refuses to submit to His Lordship!
May 8, 2020
Day 26 ONLY BEGUN
Today is Day 26 of counting the omer.
we talked about Moses reviewing Yehovah’s commands to the people and
reminding the people of God’s faithfulness but their lack of
faithfulness. We discussed our need
to be in awe of God’s presence in our daily lives, refusing to become
numb to the One who is nurturing, providing and protecting.
we want to continue looking at Moses and the account in Deuteronomy but
now in chapter 3, verse 23-25, “Then I (Moses) pleaded with Yehovah, ‘O
Sovereign LORD, you have
only begun to reveal your greatness to your servant and your strong
hand – for what other god is there in heaven or on earth that can do the
works and mighty deeds that you do? Please! Let me go across and see
the good land on the other side of the Jordan,
that wonderful hill-country and the Lebanon mountains.’”
re-read that verse out loud! When I stopped and looked at the words
instead of skimming it, I was astounded. Moses says that Yehovah has
ONLY BEGUN to reveal His greatness
and strong hand! Did Moses really forget everything that God had done
in and through him from the meeting at the burning bush up to this point
in his life? Did he forget the miracles that God did in Egypt so that
the empire was devastated when the children
of Israel left? Did he forget that God opened the Red Sea, dried the
dirt to let the nation of Israel, over 2 million people, cross over on
dry ground? Did he forget how God had provided the nation with a cloud
to protect them from the sun and lead them through
the desert during the day and a fire to keep them warm and protect them
from wild animals at night? Did he forget meeting with God face to face
on Mt Sinai to receive the tablets of the 10 words, the 10
Commandments? Did he forget that he and the 70 elders
of Israel ate a covenant meal with God up on Mt Sinai? Did he forget
that he had to cover his face after talking with God because it shone so
brightly that the people could not look at him? Did he forget how God
provided manna and quail for the nation throughout
their forty years of wilderness wandering? Did he forget that their
clothes and shoes never wore out? Did he forget that God provided water
in the desert, enough to completely rehydrate at least 2 million people?
Did he forget the battle with the Amalekites
when the children of Israel won as Moses held his hands up to God, with
the help of Aaron and Hur? Did he forget all these things and much
more? How could he say that Yehovah had ONLY BEGUN to reveal His
greatness and strong hand?
because of all these experiences, Moses realized that Yehovah was so
much more powerful than he had ever imagined. Perhaps he realized that
Yehovah had so much more planned
for this rag-tag nation, who whined so quickly and who rebelled so
thoughtlessly. Perhaps he realized that Yehovah was more faithful to His
promises than Moses had ever considered. Perhaps the truth of who
Yehovah is – His character, His reliability, His love,
His grace, His mercy – was really sinking in. Oh yes, Moses wanted to
actually walk through the land that God was giving to Israel, but I
think there must have been much more. Perhaps, just perhaps Moses was
envisioning the fulfillment of the blood covenant
that God had made with the children of Israel. Perhaps he was looking
down through the ages to see the very Son of God, Jesus the Messiah,
coming to give Himself as the Lamb of God and then later coming to reign
over all the earth. Perhaps it was for these
reasons that Moses said that GOD had ONLY BEGUN to reveal Himself.
we put our arms around a small portion of that today? Can we realize
that GOD is so much more than we have ever perceived? Can we recognize
that He wants to reveal Himself
on such a grand scale even as He did during Moses’ life? In fact, can
we recognize that this GOD, Yehovah, wants us to know and be one with
Him even as the three Persons of the Trinity know each other and are
One? He cares about the smallest detail of our
lives, and yet through His power, He holds the universe together. We
have put our GOD in a very tiny box up to now. Let’s rip that box apart
and intimately KNOW and stand in awe of HIM!
May 7, 2020
NURTURE, PROTECT, PROVIDE Day 24/25
Today is the twenty-fourth day that we have been counting the omer.
Well, it really is the twenty-fifth day because we started counting on Resurrection Sunday, March 12, 2020
but I did not start numbering the days until later. So, let’s go with today being the twenty-fifth day of counting the omer.
the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses began to review everything that
Yehovah, Jehovah, had ordered him to tell the children of Israel. He
highlighted their journey for the
last forty years and reminded them of the faithfulness of their God. He
reminded them of their disobedience and how they whined and complained
much of the time. He reminded them of how God had carried them, “like a
man carries his child, along the entire way
you traveled….” Still they did not trust Him despite the fact that “He
went ahead of you, seeking out places for you to pitch your tents and
showing you which way to go, by fire at night and by a cloud during the
day.” (Deut 1:31-33)
describes not only the faithfulness of God but also the gentleness with
which He guides those who choose Him. Such care that He would pick them
up and carry them the whole
way – “along the entire way”! God did not weary in carrying them. He
does not get tired as we get tired after carrying our children in our
arms all day long. Moses’ description of God is handsomely crafted to
show both the nurturing, protective and provisional
nature of the Almighty. He carries the nation and goes in front of them
to choose the right places to camp. Then He gives them visible signs
that He is with them constantly by providing the cloud during the day
and the fire at night. All of these demonstrate
the loving care that He showers on them. And yet, in contrast, Moses
reminds the people of how they grumble because they were not getting
things the way they had imagined or want.
don’t know about you, but this challenges me. Despite the fact that I
know that God is taking care of me in every way, I sometimes find myself
right there in the same category
as the children of Israel because there are times that I grumble when
things are not going the way I would choose. Perhaps we are critical of
the children of Israel because we think they should have done better.
After all, they could actually
fire at night and the cloud during the day. However, I think we can
understand how they got to that place of grumbling – they got so used to
the fire and the cloud that it was no longer something they even
associated with God. How about us? We take for granted
our jobs, our possessions, our security, and even our ability to lie
down and sleep at night in a comfortable environment. We take for
granted our ability to regulate the temperature in our homes and
vehicles. We take for granted our ability to go to the store
and purchase things that are essential or things that just make life
easier. And if we are being truthful, many times we even take for
granted our God. We take for granted that He will be there if we get
ourselves into trouble and think we need help. We take
for granted that whatever we are doing must be His will because our way
seems right and easy for us.
we need to step back and see how God is active in our lives each day.
Maybe we need to renew our God-consciousness, our awareness of His
presence. There is a Hebrew word,
“kavanah” that in a practical manner means to be aware that you are
standing in the presence of God
(Dave Adamson, 52 Hebrew Words every Christian Should Know).
If we sincerely want
to know Him and drink deeply from Him who is the living Water as we
have been talking about for the last few days, then we must
intentionally bring our minds out of the hustle and bustle of the day
and intentionally become aware that we are standing in His
presence every minute of every day. Every good and perfect gift comes
from Him. Every provision and every way of escaping the temptations that
confront us daily come from Him. In every battle, He is fighting for
us. In every step, He is making a way. He is
carrying us as a father carries a child – every day, all day. He is
selecting the places for us to pitch our tents and camp. He is giving us
His Word for our daily nourishment and His Spirit for our continual
challenge us all to choose to be aware that we are standing in His
presence with every breath, with every step, and with every choice
whether big or small. He is faithful and
gentle to us. And He wants us to intentionally be constantly aware that
He, the Almighty God, is with us, seeing and wanting to be recognized,
acknowledged, obeyed, and loved in the deepest place of our beings.
Let’s be intentional today!
May 6, 2020
Day 23 LIVING WATER
Today is Day 23 of counting the omer.
we move through the rest of this day, let’s look at a couple of
writings in the book of Psalms. Psalm 42 is attributed to the sons of
Korah who were the worship leaders in
the temple. GotQuestions.org and the Commentary Critical and
Explanatory on the Whole Bible say that this psalm was written after
David and those loyal to him had left Jerusalem when they were running
from Absalom. There is a heartsick feeling as the writer
is wishing he could be at the temple praising God and hearing the
people raise shouts of joy to God. There seems to be a terrific desire
to be back in the presence of God. You can almost sense the depth of the
desire as you read the first and second verses.
“Just as a deer longs for running streams, God, I long for you. I am
thirsty for God, for the living God! When can I come and appear before
God?” In some versions, the word “longs” is translated as “pants”. The
picture described is one of a deer that is running
from place to place, panting in search of running water – living water.
When the deer is panting, it is in a state of exhaustion. Then he says
that the only thing that will satisfy him is God, “the living God.” The
writer is briefly comparing living water
with the living God. Only the living water will satisfy the thirst, and
only the living God will satisfy the soul. Nothing stagnant will
satisfy. It only causes the thirsty one to be thirstier and perhaps
become ill from the stagnation.
Psalm echoes David’s writings found in Psalm 63:1 where he cries out,
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for
you: my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where
there is no water.” And David goes on to reflect
about how he spent much time contemplating God in the sanctuary because
there he could more clearly see the power and glory of God.
men describe how desperately thirsty they are and how discouraged they
are in their life situation. But they discover that as they focus their
attention on God, their thirst
is quenched, and the despair becomes hope, joy and strength. The author
of Psalm 42 writes, “Hope in God, since I will praise Him again for the
salvation that comes from His presence.” He anticipates getting back to
the temple! And David writes, “My lips will
worship you. Yes, I will bless you as long as I live; in your Name I
will lift up my hands. I am as satisfied as with rich food; my mouth
praises you with joy on my lips when I remember you on my bed and
meditate on you in the night watches. For You have been
my help; in the shadow of Your wings I rejoice; my heart clings to You;
Your right hand supports me.”
are a couple of applications that we can make from these two verses.
The first one is that as long as we live, we will run into times of
difficulty when it seems that we
are totally spent and exhausted. As someone said, “life happens”, and
we will become drained physically, mentally, emotionally AND
spiritually. This is part of being human. And in the midst of that
season or situation, we will either drink the stagnant, polluted
water that sits around us, or we will run to our living God who
provides living water. The living water is Jesus our Messiah. Nothing
that is dead or polluted or stagnant can satisfy. The world really has
nothing to offer us but that which is dying or already
dead. But our living God gives us the true Water of life, Jesus who
refreshes and causes living water to even flow from within us!
second application we can make is that it is in His presence where we
find our rest, strength and comfort. In Psalm 42, the author says,
“…since I will praise Him again for
the salvation that comes from His presence.” He is saying that
salvation – deliverance – comes from being in the presence of God. When
I’m in His presence, I find help and deliverance from all the episodes
of life that remove me from my comfortable position
in the house of God. Oh yes, I’m still experiencing the heart-wrenching
situation, but if I focus on God and seek His face, I know that I shall
be delivered and be in the presence of the Almighty God.
David, in Psalm 63 focuses his mind on remembering sitting in the
shadow of God’s wings. Picture in your mind the Ark of the Covenant.
Remember that on top of the cover of
the Ark, there were two cherubim. Any time the sun is at an angle and
shining on an object, there is a shadow cast on the ground. Depending on
where the sun is in the sky, the shadow can either be very long or very
short. I think this is what David is remembering.
He remembers sitting in the shadow of the wings of those cherubim. He
was getting up as close to the Ark as possible without touching it and
remembering the great joy he experienced. He remembers the fact that
when he was up close to God, he was supported
and given help. He is determined to worship and bless God as long as he
lives. He raises his hands just simply to bless the LORD, Jehovah. Joy
floods over him and all night he chews (meditates) on the truths that
God has shown him as he sat at the guard post
I must run to Him to have life and not die of thirst. I must fix my
mind on Him in order to experience joy and gladness even during my times
of trouble and affliction.
I must get back into the presence of God! For it is only when I am in
His presence that my life is full no matter the circumstances. I can be
more than a conqueror through Jesus! Oh, that our hearts would cry out
with the same intensity for God!
May 5, 2020
TO BE TRANSFORMED on Day 22
Today is day 22 of counting the omer.
think that today we will complete our discussion of Paul’s determined
purpose. There has been so much in this one verse that has stopped me in
my tracks to gaze
upon the depth, longing, and wonder that he expressed in his writing.
last phrase is the one I want to focus upon today. “and that I may so
share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into
His likeness] even
to His death.” Suffering is not something we generally say we want to
experience. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of pain, whether
it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or social. No part of that draws
me. But there is a reality in Paul’s thinking.
He is not wanting suffering simply to suffer. He is desiring to share
Jesus’ suffering so that he is “continually transformed” in his inner
person. Unfortunately, suffering seems to be a place where we either
become more like our Lord or we turn away from
Him. We either seek Him more during the pain or we seek something else –
perhaps simply relief. However, Paul wants something (to know Jesus) so
much that he gladly looks forward to suffering, recognizing that the
suffering will bring about a radical transformation
in his own spirit so that he looks like Jesus.
there is the word “transformed”, not just the word but the word
describing it, “continually”. When I think of “transform”, I think of
the children’s toys called
“transformers”. If you have seen a child playing with them, you know
that they generally start out as some type of vehicle. But as the child
twists and turns parts, moving, opening, and spreading those parts in
strange ways, you begin to see that this “transformer”
is actually a mechanical individual capable of great power with amazing
combat abilities. Let that sink in as you apply that to your spiritual
life. I believe that the Holy Spirit is continually twisting and turning
us, allowing us and even putting us into
strange positions, so to speak, so that He can move and open us up to
demonstrate the same power that He exerted when He raised Jesus from the
dead. He wants to be so integral to our personhood that He is able to
use us, flow through us and prove to an onlooking
and unbelieving world that Jesus really is the Son of God. He wants to
show the world that our God is the ultimate in all things and that our
ability to withstand and fight against our enemies – the world, the
flesh and the devil – is beyond anything that
they have ever imagined. And He wants to do this continually, in every
situation. As we gain strength and confidence in Him, we will trust His
hands more each time. We will trust His wisdom more each time. We will
trust His decisions more each time. It is
at that point that we are truly being “transformed in spirit into His
likeness”. This is an ongoing transformation. It is progressive; it
becomes more and more with each step. And then, if we allow this
transformation to continue, we will ultimately look like
Him even to His death.
did Jesus go through all the suffering? Oh yes, I know that He
willingly gave His sinless life for me so that I can be forgiven and
restored in relationship with
God. However, He also did it because He was totally convinced that God
IS. He was totally convinced in the reality of this God who created
everything and the reality of His Kingdom. He was not looking on what He
could sense with His physical abilities; He
was looking on the spiritual reality to the point that He endured it
all without turning His back on the Father.
And that is the point to which we must all come – that we are TOTALLY convinced, and NOTHING is able to shake us from Truth.
May 4, 2020
POWER on Day 21
Today is Day 21 as we count up to Pentecost.
have been looking at Paul’s determined purpose found in Philippians 3:10
– “that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply
and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing
and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more
clearly. And that I may in the same way come to know the power out
flowing from His resurrection [the power that it exerts over believers];
and that I may so share His sufferings as to be
continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His
death.” (Amplified, Classical Version of the Bible)
this verse, Paul is saying that he wants three things: #1 to know Jesus,
#2 to know the power of His resurrection, and #3, to be allowed to
share His sufferings.
examined much of the first sentence, word by word. We’ve tried to take
in all that it means in Paul’s mind, to know Jesus, the first part of
his purpose. Now today, we will move to #2 – “And that
I may in some way come to know the power out flowing from His
resurrection [the power it exerts over believers]….” It’s as though Paul
is saying, “somehow, I have to know this power that is found in His
resurrection.” He had approved the stoning of Stephen,
thinking that this would stop the talk of Jesus. But, as he watched
Stephen, he was amazed. How could a man respond as Stephen did? What
would cause Stephen to say, “Lord! Don’t hold this sin against them!”
one who had studied under the greatest teacher, Gamaliel the Elder,
can’t understand this power of God as it is displayed through the
resurrection of Jesus. So, when Paul says that he can’t wrap
his mind around it, that is truly extraordinary! Paul knew the
Scriptures. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. There was no lack of
knowledge in Him. But He recognizes that there is something more in this
power than he can grasp. He doesn’t necessarily know
how he is going to understand this power, but this, along with
intimately knowing Jesus the Messiah, is his determined purpose.
frequently talks about the power of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:20, he says
“for the Kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power.” The Kingdom
of God is based on a power that we cannot comprehend.
The resurrection of Jesus was simply one manifestation of the power of
God. There is something inside me that is saying that if there is no
power in our lives, there is no Kingdom. That’s a scary thought! In
fact, I don’t think that Paul is saying that he
wants to know the “power” with his mind, but he wants to know the
“power” experientially. He wants to experience the power of Jesus’
that we would be determined to experience the power of God working in
and through us! As we move to Pentecost, let’s ask Him to bring us to
the place that we experience even a small sample of His
May 3, 2020
Day 20 CHARACTER DETAILS
Today is Day 20 of counting the omer.
been looking for truth out of Philippians 3:10 Amplified, Classical
Version of the Bible. “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him – that
I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with
Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His
Person] more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in the same way
come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection
[the power that it exerts over believers]
; and that I may so share His
sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness
even] to His death.”
continue the process today and delve into the words, “perceiving,
recognizing and understanding” – ordinary words that we probably use,
but let’s see if there is something perhaps that we have missed.
Dictionary.com says that “perceiving” is to “to become aware
of, know, or identify by means of the senses or to recognize, discern, envision, or understand”.
The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old
Testament) adds this: “to understand a situation and make judgments on
the information.” Now, how about “recognizing”? Dictionary.com defines
it as: “to identify from knowledge of appearance
or characteristics”. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,
Abridged in One Volume notes – “intelligent comprehension”. The third
word is “understanding” and according to Dictionary.com, it means “a
mental process of a person who comprehends”. Logos
Bible Software defines it as “a mental grasp, the power of
The more complete phrase from the verse is: “perceiving
and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person]”. If we
attempt to put it all together to have more clarification or a broader
grasp of what Paul is saying, we might say that he wants to
intelligently identify Jesus, incorporating all His characteristics.
Then, Paul wants to mentally grasp and make a judgement about what he
has identified. And after doing all that, he wants to comprehend
the implications of all the information he has pulled together. This
has much more depth than simply saying that you want to know someone.
Paul is saying that he wants to get down to the nitty-gritty, pull it
all together and be able to bask in the wonders
of Jesus the Messiah.
question for you and me today is: Do we want to take the time to study
all the details of His character so
that we are able to mentally grasp who Jesus is? The second question
is: What will we do then, with the information and the implications of
the information. For the truth is, if we mentally grasp, after good
study, the details of His character, then we will
have to say that He is the Son of God. Not only will we have to make
that declaration, but the implications are that we must live our lives
as He has taught and actually do all that we can to cause our lives to
be a reflection of His. (I understand that there
may be those who really know who He is but choose not to follow Him;
however, it is my prayer that when God reveals the truth to us, none of
us would want to make that choice.) This is not for the weak-minded or
for those who want to play with life in a fast-and-loose
manner. For since Jesus really is the Son of God, there is no way
around the truth that I must live my life for Him.
May 2, 2020
Day 19 INTENSE UNDERSTANDING
Today is Day 19 of counting the omer. Just 30 more days of counting. The 31st day will be Pentecost!
we continued exploring truth found in Philippians 3:10: (Amplified
Bible Classic Version) “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him – that I may progressively
become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly
and more clearly. And that I may in the same way come to know the power
outflowing from His resurrection [the power
that it exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings
as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to
let’s search for truth in a few more words – deeply, intimately and
acquainted. Deeply is defined as “far down or in”, “intensely”.
Intimately means “in a way that involves
detailed knowledge” and/or “in a private and personal way”. The word
“acquainted” comes from a French word that means “to make known” and a
Latin word which means to “come to know”. How do we put this together to
allow Paul’s declaration to get past our walls
and presuppositions so that we have a new and better picture of what it
means to “know Him” today?
is attempting to describe an intensity occurring in his spirit which
drives him to search out as many fine details of the Messiah, Jesus, as
possible. Paul is saying that
he wants to be able to apply those details to himself in such a
personal way that the core of his personhood comes to know and
experience this One who was sent to show us Father God.
is calling us to dig down past the top soil – that which we want others
to see, – past the rocky layer beneath that provides protection for us,
and on into the well-fortified
encasement of our true selves – almost like NORAD, buried deep within
the mountains to be able to endure and provide security and control if
everything above ground is wild and threatening. It is there that God is
wanting us to have such a personal and private
relationship with Him. It is there that He wants to bring the truth of
Himself and His Kingdom. It is there that He wants to demonstrate His
love, faithfulness, grace and mercy. It is there that He wants to bring
His completeness to the life that is torn,
bruised, bleeding and unsure. It is there that He wants to heal and
bring forth a beauty that reflects Himself alone.
was Paul’s challenge. This is our challenge as we count up to
Pentecost. Will we allow Him to enter, past all the protective layers
that we have installed, and in a private
and personal way, know Him? That is my prayer today for each of us. He
has so much more that He wants to us to experience if we simply draw up
close to Him!
May 1, 2020
BECOMING on Day 18
Today is Day 18 of counting the “omer”.
explore more of Paul’s highest purpose found in Philippians 3:10:
(Amplified Bible Classic Version) “[For my determined purpose is] that I
may know Him – that I may progressively
become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly
and more clearly. And that I may in the same way come to know the power
outflowing from His resurrection [the power
that it exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings
as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to
we looked simply at the word “progressively”. Today, I want to look at a
piece of the remaining portion of that phrase: “become more deeply and
with Him”. “To become” means that we are not stagnant; it means to
“begin to be”, growing, stretching. Have you ever watched a time-lapsed
video of a plant as it breaks through the ground, uncurls it’s head,
stretches toward the sky, cracks open the top piece
to reveal a flower that slowly opens, spreads out and displays such
beauty as cannot be imagined? If you have time, click on the link and
watch as a sunflower becomes! The amazing thing that I observed as I
watched the YouTube time-lapse video, was the intense
shaking just as the flower was being “birthed” so to speak, as it
started to be revealed. So much energy was being expended just to bring
forth the beauty! If you were not watching it in time-lapse, you would
have never realized how hard it was working or
even seen the progress. You may have only seen the end product. But the
development, the becoming is the most critical piece. That sunflower
would never show itself except for the unseen work. The first time I
watched, I thought there must be a little breeze
blowing as the plant began to grow. However, after I finished watching
it and began to think about it, I realized that at each step of the
development, the energy required for growth was expressed through
I think that is perhaps the most critical part of our life in Christ.
We are to “begin to be”, “become”, every day and even every minute of
the day. God is not done with us!
He has so much more that He wants to reveal in and through us; however,
we must put out the effort, expend the energy, do the hard work in
order to experience the beauty and depth of life in our Lord!
is one more observation: as the plant grew, the old leaves fell away.
Let that sink in . . . . Together with God’s loving direction, we must
shed/release the old things
so that the new growth can flourish!
Praying that this will be an energy-expending day and you “become” in the Lord!
April 30, 2020
Day 17 INTENTIONAL PROGRESS
is Day 17 for us as we count the “omer”. As I have said before, the
purpose of this time of counting up to Pentecost is to cause us to
intentionally increase our intimacy
with the Most High God so that we are prepared for an outpouring of the
Holy Spirit. It is true that the Holy Spirit pours Himself out on us
anytime we are open and seeking Him. Therefore, we do not have to wait
for Pentecost to have a fresh infilling of the
Spirit of God. However, I believe that God is pleased as we focus our
hearts and minds on Him to seek a deeper relationship with Him, looking
with great expectation to what He would be excited to give us on the Day
of Pentecost/Shauv’ot/Feast of Weeks. As
we understand the Feasts of the Lord, we will better see His footsteps
and have a wonderful anticipation about what He is ready to do. However,
He will not do what we are not prepared to receive. Therefore, we
intentionally choose to increase the depth and
intimacy of relationship with our God, Yehovah!
few days ago, we were talking about Paul’s determined purpose found in
Philippians 3:10. Let me quote it one more time out of the Amplified
Bible Classic Version. “[For my determined
purpose is] that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more
deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing
and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more
clearly. And that I may in the same way come to
know the power outflowing from His resurrection [the power that it
exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be
continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His
death.” We have talked about the word “know”, and today,
I want us to begin to look at the phrases that are used to describe and
amplify “know Him”.
explore the phrase: “that I may progressively become more deeply and
intimately acquainted with Him”. If I stop and examine those words, I am
challenged. What does it mean
to progressively know Him? The first word is “progressively”. Dictionary.com
“progressively” as “steadily, in stages”. I am supposing that
“steadily, in stages” could be looked at as a picture of an individual
driving a vehicle with
a manual transmission for the first time. Because the driver is not
skilled balancing the interaction between the clutch and the
accelerator, the result is that the car jumps a foot or two and then
stalls. The driver is both frustrated and embarrassed with
their ability to get the car to move smoothly forward. I have never
seen a driver be able to accomplish a steady forward movement the first
or even with the second try. It takes practice and determination to
become proficient in that skill. But if we back
up to look at this driver, new to a manual transmission, we can see
that the progressive piece is “in stages”. As the driver continues to
practice, there is an obvious improvement in ability. If the driver does
not practice, there is no improvement.
on to define “progressively” as “in a forward-looking, innovative
manner”. I think of this “forward-looking” piece as intentionality.
There is an excitement
inherent in “forward-looking”, as though straining to see what it will
look like when I get there, when I am able to move that vehicle forward
as smoothly and easily as I would if it had an automatic transmission.
And the “innovative” piece means that I choose
to get outside the box to find new ways to accomplish my goal.
we put this all together today and apply it to our relationship with
God, perhaps we can say that although we may not have done the
“progressively” piece before, we are going
to start learning (recognizing that we won’t have it mastered at the
beginning) how to develop the deep intimacy with God that we so hunger
for in our deepest, most private place. And we will be resolute,
determined, so that the jerks from time to time will
not discourage us to the point that we quit. We will rejoice as we
begin to see that we more easily are able to move our hearts and minds
into the Presence of God. We will see those jerks occur less frequently
and more routinely experience the smoothness of
the takeoff as we become more proficient. Additionally, we are going to
be straining to see God throughout the day and leaning forward with
great anticipation, getting rid of things that have not worked for us in
the past. As we ask God to inspire us to find
and employ new ways to develop that deep intimate relationship with
Him, we will be willing to explore new methods. One of the things that I
am doing differently on occasions in my personal quiet time with my
LORD is getting on my knees with my face to the
floor instead of sitting in a chair or even kneeling at the altar. That
small change radically alters my perspective. Remember, it does not
take a huge change; just a little change will make a difference.
prayer today is that we “progressively become more deeply and
intimately acquainted with Him”! May our intentionality be greater than
ever before as we seek to know Him!
April 29, 2020
CLARIFYING RELATIONSHIP ON Day 16
Today is Day 16 of counting the omer from First Fruits to Pentecost.
was watching a webinar today and heard something
that really jumped out at me. I think in reality, I have been talking
about this truth in a round-about way for a while. The statement was
“crisis clarifies priority”. As we slowly become less restricted, I
think it is important for us to make sure that we
have used this pandemic to clarify to us what is the true priority in
you discovered the true priority of your life? Is it different from
what you previously thought? When much was stripped away, what came to
the surface? Some people have discovered
how incredibly important it is in their lives to be able to go out with
friends for a social time. Others have discovered that their personal
time has decreased because the children are not in school or their
spouse is not at work. Some others are thrilled
that they don’t have to go to work now. Some
are really disappointed because they are not being able to go shopping
or traveling as they would have in the past. But each of us has had to
face different realities as we have gone through this COVID-19 pandemic.
What is it that you want to keep when this
is all over?
do you think the nation of Israel decided was a priority as they
wandered through the wilderness for 40 years? What do you think God
wanted them to decide was a priority
during that time? Every person who made that 40-year trip had the
opportunity to “develop trust in God and to enter into the delight of
covenant relationship once again.” (Pryor, 2016, p 166) But not everyone
decided to do that. It could have been so edifying
for each person if they had gotten past the physical and looked with
spiritual eyes to see this magnificent God who provided food, clothing,
drink, heat at night and a cloud to cool them during the day. The bleak
desert that was a death trap that “mirrors
the futility of man’s strivings and self-dependence; nonetheless God
meets him there and He provides man with the vision and the means to
reverse the curse he brought upon himself in the garden. Hope was given
at Sinai in the revelation of God’s glorious Presence
and the gift of His eternal Word.” (Pryor, 2016, p 166)
as we go through this 1 1/2-3 month quarantine for the coronavirus,
what will we decide is of greatest priority? Will you be able to say
that you have used this opportunity
to develop trust in God and delight in a covenant relationship with the
One who created you? Will you let go of your own rushing and pushing to
get the things that so quickly pass? Will you determine that you want
to depend solely on God or will you hold onto
that self-dependence? What will be your most treasured memory of this
experience? I am praying that your greatest memory will be the one that
reflects great gains in relationship with our LORD God.
April 28, 2020
Pryor, Keren Hannah,
a Taste of TORAH: A Devotional Study Through The Five Books of Moses,
Keren Hannah Pryor, 2016, p 166
Day 15 His Strong House
Today is the fifteenth day that we have been counting the omer.
I want us to look at just one verse in the song of Moses found in
Exodus 15:2. The Complete Jewish Study Bible says that verse in this
way, “Yah is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation. This is my God: I will glorify Him; my
father’s God: I will exalt Him.” The word “Yah” is a name of God. The
New Living Translation writes it as “LORD” which in Hebrew is Yehovah,
THE name of God. At first glance, it just sounds
like a song of praise to God. However, let’s take a deeper took and see
what else might be buried in these words.
look at some specific words in the first sentence. The Hebrew word for
“strength” means “fortress, loud, might, power, stronghold, protection”.
The Dictionary of Biblical
Languages with Sematic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) says this, “a
condition in which one can exert great force or withstand great force,
with a focus of having ability to do what is desired, intended or
necessary; a place or structure which is a safe place
to reside against attacks”. The Hebrew word for “song” can mean a
melody but it can also denote the best products or ability, having high
value. “Salvation” means deliverance or victory.
second sentence is, “This is my God: I will glorify Him; my father’s
God: I will exalt Him”. This also has some deep thoughts if we look at
it in Hebrew. The Jewish Study
Bible says, “This is my God and I will enshrine
Him; the God of my father, and I will exalt Him. Here is how it was
translated in a 2,000-year-old Aramaic version of the Bible: “This is my
God, and I shall build [become] a temple for Him.” (a
Taste of TORAH: a Devotional Study Through the Five Books of Moses by Keren Hannah Pryor, 2016, p 81) Keren then quotes a rabbi, S.R. Hirsch who said, “This is my
God, to Him would I be a habitation.” In other words, Keren says: “I shall become his house.”
let’s put it all together and see what we can glean. “The one and only
God, Yehovah is the powerhouse in me. Not only is it His power but He is
also the fortress, strong place
where I am safe from everything the world and the devil would throw at
me. He is the best-of-the-best in me. He gives me my high value! He is
the melody that flows through me. Through Him, I am delivered and given
the victory. He is the Source and the outcome,
my safe place and the complete victory that I experience!”
continues to rave about his God. “Yehovah has chosen me but I have also
chosen Him! He is my God. And because He is so wonderful, I will become
a house for Him. Because
He is so wonderful, I want Him to stay with me all the time. I want to
be the place where He is so comfortable that He will want to actually
live within me. I will offer myself to Him as a place to live, a place
where He can be revealed to me and those around
tells us that we as believers are God’s temple – His home, the place
where He lives! Oh, what a wonderful thought! We have been chosen to be
His dwelling place! What a great
honor! O that this would be at the forefront of our thoughts. For the
more that we recognize this truth, the more we will daily experience His
power and move in that power to be more than conquerors through Him who
loved us and gave Himself for us!
April 27, 2020
Day 14 COME
Today is Day 14 of counting the ‘omer’.
we talked briefly about the importance of having true hearts. Abram’s
heart was true to God as God told him to leave everything that he knew
to a place that he had never seen. The command
to “go” called for the obedience of faith. He believed and trusted God,
even when he could not see. God was faithful to demonstrate to Abram
that He could be trusted and that whatever He said would come to pass.
Today, we want to look briefly at the opposite “command” given by God to Moses, “come”, found in Exodus 10:1. I realize that it probably does not say “come” in your translation. However, the Hebrew word used there is “bo” (transliteration), and that word means “to come, to come in, come back to a prior point from which one previously departed”. According to a Taste of TORAH: A Devotional Study Through the Five Books of Moses by Keren Hannah Pryor, God is giving Moses “a more reassuring command. He says, in effect, ‘Come to me and we will go to Pharaoh together.’ It emphasizes the fact that God is with him and, in fact, goes before him to prepare the way. Moses simply needs to join him and cooperate with the plan already set in place. ‘Bo!’ is an invitation rather than a command, one that requires a response of trust and loving compliance.” (p 77) As I read that today, it seemed that God was encouraging me and us to come with Him as He leads us into places we have never been, or perhaps to a “prior point from which one previously departed”. Is it possible that during this time between First Fruits and Pentecost, God is wanting us to remember when we were more determined to live in accordance with His ways, days when the fire of the Holy Spirit burned more brightly in our hearts and lives. Or, perhaps He is calling us to come with Him to restore relationships that have been broken? Perhaps it is an invitation to respond to Him simply trusting that He knows all the ins and outs of the problems in which we find ourselves, and then following Him as He brings us to reconciliation and peace. Perhaps it is an invitation to us today to walk with Him more intentionally. He will be with us. He has promised to never leave us to our own strength but will be with us in every situation.
I encourage you to allow His invitation to sink in and then to trust Him and “come” to and with Him.
April 26, 2020
TRUE HEARTS on Day 13
This is Day 13 of counting the omer.
separated Abram from the world by telling him to “go to the land that I
will show you. If you do this, then I will make of you a great nation, I
will bless you, and I will
make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those
who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all
the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1b-3 CJB) God
was calling him to leave those familiar things,
leave those things associated with other gods and determine that
Yehovah, Jehovah, was the One true God. In my mind, I can’t help but
think that Abram must have had some real hesitations. After all, he was
living with his family. He was enjoying the prosperity
of his family. His wife had her family there. However, the Bible does
not support these thoughts. Instead, the Scripture says that Abram got
up and started packing.
This was even before God changed his name to Abraham and made a covenant with him.
Genesis 15:6 we are told: “And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD
counted him as righteous because of his faith.” We have talked about the
word “believe” and noted that
it is more than simply a head knowledge. It means to take something
into oneself to the point that it changes everything else. So, Abram was
convinced to the point that his total life was changed. He was willing
to stand on what he knew about this great God,
Yehovah. He was willing to stake his life on the fact that Yehovah knew
all things, was greater than all other gods, was gracious, and was
faithful – He could be counted on to do exactly what He said. Nehemiah
gives us another picture of Abraham’s heart. God
found Abraham’s heart to be faithful [true, established, firm] before
Him and therefore made a covenant with Abraham. (Nehemiah 9:8) Abraham’s
character and his “true heart” were filled with faithfulness and
loyalty to God.
longs to have “true hearts” with whom He can covenant. He longs for us
to be so convinced of who He is that our whole lives are changed.
longs for us to come to the point that we would stake our lives on the
fact that Yehovah is God. He longs for us to be so sure that nothing can
ever shake us
from that truth. He longs for us to know Him to the point that He can
share His deepest thoughts with us. He longs for intimacy with His
highest creation, you and me. If we determine to have true hearts, then
God will reveal Himself to us and we will know
Him. We must look to Him, not look to others but to Him. He is our
sufficiency. And when we do that, He will reveal Himself to us in a
personal, intimate manner. He tells us, “you are never one of many to
Me. You are precious and dear to My heart, yes, even
as a very special treasure. For I love you more than you can ever
comprehend, and I long to gather you in My embrace and hold you close to
Come Away My Beloved, p 26)
April 25, 2020
Day 12 STEP BACK
Today is Day 12 of counting the omer.
our forty-nine-day trek from First Fruits to Pentecost, we are to be
excitedly looking forward to the new thing that God will do in our
lives. The end goal is to know God
at a much deeper level than ever before! Each day, as we walk we want
to examine the growth and fruit in our spiritual lives and expect that
God, through intentionally reading and studying His Word, will plant the
seeds needed for us to produce the fruit of
the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, humility, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Sometimes
we find that we have to do a lot of plowing to break up the ground in
order for the seeds to be planted. Yesterday we talked
about forgiveness and how important it is for us to forgive those who
have hurt us. That is one of the places we must do some digging and
tugging to get the roots out of the ground. As we routinely clear the
weeds out of our lives and nurture the fruit of
the Spirit, our intimacy with God blooms and our hearts are
satisfied/filled/satiated with Him.
perhaps we need to take a step backwards and really look at ourselves,
the whole picture, because there is a truth in the statement, “we cannot
see the forest for the trees”.
So, I encourage you to just step back and look at yourself with as much
spiritual honesty as possible. Ask yourself some questions: What is my
bottom-line spiritual goal in life? Do I really want to know God? Do I
want to be changed so that I reflect Him (just
like a mirror)? If so, can I see some progress toward that goal? What
has slowed me? Has anything stopped me dead in my tracks? Am I willing
to confront that thing, throw it down and eliminate it from my life so
that I can continue on the road to deeper intimacy
May God give you clarity as you allow Him to show you your next step!
April 24, 2020
Day 11 FORGIVENESS
This is Day 11 of counting the omer.
we progress toward the Feast of Weeks/Passover, our desire is to
increase our intimacy with God, looking forward to the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit! We have talked about
the word “know” and “trust” and what they mean regarding a depth of
relationship with God. Those are important concepts and realities that
we must intentionally choose. They are foundational if we desire to
progress. And there are some other foundational concepts
that will either enhance or inhibit our progress toward the goal. Today
I just want to look at one, forgiveness.
I write, my mind begins to bombard me with two sets of thoughts – what
God and mental health disciplines say about forgiveness and the reality
and difficulty of actually making
the choice and following it through to the end. You know from the
teaching of Jesus that it is imperative that we forgive “for if you
forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive
you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses,
your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.” (Matthew 6:14-15) Jesus
did not mince words. And He was very clear. If we want God to forgive
us, then we must forgive those who have caused us trouble. Mental health
professionals tell us that forgiveness is essential
to getting on with our lives. In fact, on the back of one of the books
in my office about forgiveness, there is this statement by Ralph H
Earle, PhD: “Envy, hostility, self-doubt, the nagging awareness that
something is weighing us down … these are the telltale
signs that the hurts we have collected over time have, at last, grown
too heavy to bear….” Does any of this sound familiar to you?
my second set of thoughts, I am reminded about how hard it is to
forgive. We struggle between knowing that it is important to live in
accordance with God’s Word and yet still
experiencing the pain from the past (or perhaps the present). We
struggle because we have allowed some concepts to create barriers that
keep us bound down by unforgiveness. Just let me point out a few
misunderstandings about the idea of forgiveness: Forgiving
is forgetting. Forgiving is saying that what happened is ok.
Forgiveness is a one-time decision. In reality, none of these are true.
is forgiveness? Forgiveness is choosing to let go of the pain and anger
that results from being hurt. I intentionally allow God to decide how
to handle the issue. I quit
trying to make the person pay. I quit being the “debt collector” as
David Seamands would explain it in
Healing for Damaged Emotions.
I do not necessarily
forget that the situation occurred; however, when I remember it and as
often as it resurfaces because of re-injury, I choose to let it go. I
intentionally release the individual into God’s hands. I take my hands
off. Certainly, I should tell the person that
they hurt me, and that it is not right that they continue the behavior.
Depending on the situation, I may even have to leave the environment.
That person is held responsible. But now, as far as I am concerned the
person is accountable to God and not to me.
As I do this, He gives healing to my injury. The barrier between me and
God is removed. I can come into His Presence rejoicing that I have
obeyed and have removed the chains of unforgiveness that held me
hostage. This frees me to move forward toward what Paul
says: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him!”
(Philippians 3:10 AMP Classic Edition)
April 23, 2020
TRUST Day 10
Today is Day 10 of counting the ‘omer’.
stop for a moment and take a look at another word as we count up to
Pentecost/the Feast of Weeks/Shauv’ot. This word demonstrates the level
of your/my intimacy with God.
That word is TRUST. Now that is a scary word, at least to some degree.
It seems to be easier to trust in things that I can know through my five
senses. However, this is about trusting God who is spirit. And,
trusting One who you cannot generally experience
with your five senses, – now THAT is different.
3:5-6 is a classic couple of verses that can seriously challenge us. It
says: (KJV) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto
thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (NLT)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own
understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which
path to take.” The CJB puts it this way: “Trust in
ADONAI with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding. In
all your ways acknowledge Him; then He will level your paths.”
There are many things we could look at today, but I’m going to simply stick with “trust”. The word in Hebrew for ‘trust’ has to do with inspiring confidence, a belief or feeling of safety and security. The New Bible Commentary notes that “trust and lean both suggest the physical experience of supporting yourself on something or someone in total and helpless reliance and commitment.”
remember as a teen seeing a “game” in which one
person stood with their back to another. The second person, after
taking one step back from the first person, would put their arms out and
the first person was encouraged to fall backwards. The second
individual was to catch the person falling backwards. Perhaps
you either have heard of the exercise or participated in it at some
point in time. The purpose of the exercise or game was to increase trust
or better understand trust. Wikipedia calls it a “trust fall”. I don’t
know about you, but that’s a bit of a scary
proposition. Is it possible that this is what we are encouraged to do
through these verses?
you have experienced some difficult times in relationships, this idea
of falling backwards into the arms of God can be pretty scary. Can I
allow myself to fall backwards into
His arms being confident, feeling totally safe and secure, that He will
always catch me? Am I willing to be confident that God has got this
(whatever ‘this’ might be)? Am I willing to determine that I don’t have
to figure it all out but am able to rely on
believe this is the place to which God is calling each of us. He wants
us to have perfect confidence in Him, to feel so safe and secure. He
wants us to relax, and in total reliance,
depend upon Him to take care of us. I would say to you that He is
drawing you and me to know Him that intimately! He wants us to know that
we can trust Him completely.
Now, let me add just three sentences from Francis Roberts’ book,
Come Away My Beloved.
“In your daily walk,
you shall be victorious only to the degree that you trust Me. I can
help you only as you ask. I shall meet you at every point where you put
action alongside your prayers.”
heavy, but you can trust Him today. Just fall backwards into His arms
and allow Him to be your total support and strength!
April 22, 2020
This is day 9 of counting the ‘omer’.
the quarantine is slowly drawing to a close, and perhaps we can see a
light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope that to some degree, our
lives will become less tangled
every few days and our comfort levels will continue to rise, though
slowly, yet still rise.
am thinking about those prospects this morning and wondering if we as
individuals will allow ourselves to go back to our “normal” as pressures
seem to decrease. There’s a lot
of good anticipation in that, and yet, at least as your pastor, I have
many concerns about that “normal”. As I spoke on Sunday, my greatest
concern is that we will quickly forget our greatest need, Jesus Christ.
Will we fall back into an easy lifestyle relatively
speaking, a comfortable place, and not be challenged daily in areas
that really are the most important. Will we forget how important it is
to be focused on our LORD God? Will we forget the urgency to tell others
about our Lord? Will we forget that some of
our friends and family will be lost forever because we lost the urgency
to tell them the most important thing? Oh, trust me, I’m definitely
looking forward to the time that I can go to a restaurant, sit down,
relax and eat, pay and leave! I look forward to
being able to go get my hair cut! But if I forget how important it is
for me to cry out to my God every day for myself, for you, and for those
in my sphere of influence, then it would be better for my life to
remain forever “quarantined”.
Then I was reading from one of my devotional books today given to me by a dear friend:
“O My child, do not expect the trials to be lighter than in the past. Why should you think the testings would be less severe? Lo, I prove all things, and there are areas of your life that I have not touched as yet. Do not look for respite. The days ahead may call for greater endurance and more robust faith than you have ever needed before. Welcome this, for you must surely know by this time how precious are the lessons learned through such experiences….
your heart to learn wisdom. This goal transcends every other aim, and
any other good that comes out of a pressure period is an added blessing
“Seek Me above all else.”
Come Away My Beloved, Francis Roberts
When I read that short piece, it stirred me to get back in touch with reality. God has already told us in His Word that things are not going to get easier as we move toward the end of time as we know it. There are going to be many more stressful events, recurring with greater frequency. I think we may have less and less time between each episode. Jesus is returning soon. I’m really excited about that…, but it begs the question, what type of people should we be? The Apostle Peter asked the same question in his second letter to followers of Jesus not long before he was killed. In the third chapter, Peter tells them that he is trying to arouse them to wholesome thinking and refresh their memories. “I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles. Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers (ridiculers) will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.’ They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of His command, and He brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (turn from their wrong, wicked thinking and behavior patterns). But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything in it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along.” (2 Peter 3:1b-12a NLT)
I encourage you today to write down spiritual things you have learned during this COVID-19 situation. Don’t let this virus go to waste. We will need all spiritual strength to endure to the end. Focus on growth in God, strengthening your knowledge, understanding, and resolve. If you haven’t already, make sure that daily you spend time with God and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you and guide you. If we do these things, then, here’s the reality – if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 KJV) “… in all these things we are super-conquerors, through the One who has loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor any other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming, neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through Messiah Yeshua, our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 CJB)
April 21, 2020
Day 8 – The Unfinished Holy Day
Today is day 8 of counting the ‘omer’. I read something this morning that I just want to briefly share because it goes along with what I sent you yesterday. It’s an added thought that I found enriching. The article noted that the Torah – teachings of God – gave no specific reason for setting aside the Feast of Weeks/Shavuot/Pentecost, other than to celebrate the wheat harvest and wave the two loaves of bread before the LORD God Almighty. Therefore, many ancient sages called it the “unfinished holy day”. According to the article, it wasn’t until later that people started associating it with the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt Sinai. That “unfinished holy day” finally became a ‘finished holy day’ at the pouring out of the Holy Spirit just 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven. If you look through that lens of being the “unfinished holy day”, you can see perhaps a little more clearly why God commanded the people to count the ‘omer”. Each day they counted up to finally reach 49. The next day, the 50th day, would be this great holy day. There was an excitement to see what God was going to do on that very Holy Day. And so it is with us, as we look expectantly toward the day when we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to ALL flesh who receive the Son, Jesus Christ. Here’s the website if you would like to read the article. https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/the-torah-singles-out-resurrection-sunday/
other thing about yesterday’s Cove Church Connections, I inadvertently
wrote “Another website, Chabad.org, states that the primary purpose of
the count ‘demonstrates our thrill
for the impending occasion of receiving the Torah (teachings of God),
which is celebrated on
That should have been
instead of Passover.
Now for some thoughts for today. Let’s go back to Philippians 3:10 out of the classic Amplified Bible. We looked at it on the 4th
day of counting the omer. “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately
acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the
wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in
that same way come to
the power outflowing
from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may
so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into
His likeness even] to His death.”
word “know” is a knowledge based on, grounded in personal experience.
Paul is not satisfied with hearing someone else’s experience. One of the
Greek words used for “know”
refers to a knowledge that comes by being close to, right up next to
the thing known. We are individuals with many parts, components or
spheres. We are physical, biological; we are thinking, psychological; we
are social, inter-relational; and we are spiritual.
If we are to really know God intimately, then all those different
spheres will be included. We generally think of intimacy with God as
being simply spiritual. However, if that intimacy does not spill over
and affect our physical, psychological and social spheres,
we really are not experiencing the depth to which our God is
encouraging us to know Him.
more I draw up to close to God and experience Him personally, the more
that my physical life begins to be transformed. I choose to and
intentionally conduct myself in a manner
that reflects Him. I want my behaviors to reflect Him. The more that I
draw up close to Him, the more I choose to transform in my thinking to
reflect Him. I choose my thoughts and attitudes and bring them into
alignment with Him. As Paul puts it, I “take every
thought captive”. The more I draw up close to Him, the more I see my
social settings and interactions through His eyes. I want to be in
social settings that would please Him and have my interactions with
others to reflect His interactions. And the more I draw
up close to God, the more my spiritual eyes and ears are opened and
cleared so that I enter His presence with anticipation of what new thing
He will reveal today.
with Paul, I declare today that it is my determined purpose to KNOW
Him! And, I hope that you too, are determined to know Him!
April 20, 2020
Day 7 Counting the Omer
This is day 7 of counting the ‘omer’. Ok, I give up, what does it mean to count the ‘omer’, and what does that mean to me today? Perhaps that is what you are thinking; therefore, let’s talk about it for a moment.
is the purpose of ‘counting the omer’? (omer literally means ‘sheaf’.
It is also a measure of dried goods.) This was a command of God found in
Leviticus 23:15-16 Why did
the children of Israel count up for 49 days and the on the 50th
day bring a new grain offering to God – an offering of bread made from the wheat harvest?
In my quest to find the answer, and perhaps some of you already know the answer, I found a couple of things that are interesting and that we might be able to use. My Complete Jewish Study Bible says that the counting helped the people reflect on the symbolic meaning of the day. It goes on to state that the counting of the ‘omer’ was “not a countdown, but a count up in anticipation of the next great work of God at the Feast of Weeks, Shavu’ot or what we call Pentecost.” (Complete Jewish Study Bible p161) Myjewishlearning.com states that part of the counting of the ‘omer’ was to move the children of Israel “from a slavery mentality to a more liberated one.” Another website, Chabad.org, states that the primary purpose of the count “demonstrates our thrill for the impending occasion of receiving the Torah” (teachings of God), which is celebrated on Pentecost. Just as a child often counts the days until the end of school or an upcoming family vacation, we count the days to show our excitement at again receiving the Torah [teachings of God] (as we do in fact receive the Torah in a renewed sense every year).”
counting the ‘omer’ served a couple of purposes. First, it was to help
them to grow up individually and as a group. They had been slaves; now
they were freedmen. They had so
much to learn about how to conduct themselves as freedmen. So much
could be said right there about how we were slaves to sin, but now
through Jesus Christ, we are free and “a new creation” in Him. You can
celebrate along with that song, “Hallelujah I am free,
oh what glorious liberty.” And we are to grow up and become mature in
Christ Jesus our Lord. We are not to stay babies and continue behaving
like babies spiritually. We are to learn how to conduct ourselves as
persons who have been freed from the chains of
sin and go on to maturity in Him!
the counting of the ‘omer’ was a way of anticipating the next big thing
that God had done in their lives. The celebration of the Feast of
Weeks/ Shavu’ot/ Pentecost,
celebrated the fact that God gave Moses the 10 words, the 10
commandments, the teaching of God. I think that perhaps on this side of
Jesus’ coming, we have a tendency to forget how important and really
great that occurrence was. We sometimes forget that Jesus
said that He did not come to remove the things that God had declared
from Mt Sinai. Nothing, not the smallest letter even, would be deleted.
Jesus did not come to get rid of the teachings of God; He came to
correctly teach them in contrast to the religious
leaders who were strapping people with rules and regulations. Jesus was
teaching the spirit of the commandments. The greatest commandment is –
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your strength.” And Jesus
said, the second greatest commandment is “to love your neighbor as
yourself.” Paul says that we Gentile believers have been grafted in so
that we really are part of the chosen. So, if we would learn more than
the letter of the law and get to the place that
our love for God is so strong that nothing, nothing, nothing is more
important, then everything else would fall into place.
we have been counting the ‘omer’, my writings have intentionally had
the emphasis of intimacy with God, knowing Him more and coming into a
deeper love relationship with Him.
We are not slaves to sin; we have been bought with a price, the
precious blood of Jesus Christ. If all I do is based on right and wrong
legalistically, I’ve missed the depth of relationship with Him. I’ve
missed the intimacy with Him. I’ve missed out on the
whole point of it all, and that is having an intimate relationship with
the God of the universe who loved me and loved you, each of us
individually, to the point that He was willing to give up His one and
only Son. I don’t know about you, but that is a level
of love that I cannot understand in my humanity. That depth of love is
beyond my comprehension and should bring me to my knees each time I
think about it!
each day as we “count the omer”, let’s use it as an opportunity to get
to know our God more, to thrive in His teachings, to grow up more into
spiritual maturity, and
look forward to Pentecost when we celebrate not only the teachings of
God but also the giving and baptism of the Holy Spirit as Jesus
April 19, 2020
Capturing our Thoughts Day 6
This is day 6 of our counting the omer.
morning I’ve been focused on coming into His presence. I am overwhelmed
with the majesty and holiness of my God – the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit. I’ve tried to see into
His holiness and release my sprit that I might know Him in a more
intimate manner than ever before. To my chagrin, my mind has had a
tendency to wander from one thing to another. Perhaps you have had that
experience – and it’s not enjoyable or seemingly profitable.
As I struggled with my wandering mind, I found myself over and over
both frustrated and ashamed because of my seeming inability to focus on
Him. I found myself crying out to God in the middle of it, asking Him to
know my heart and how much I want to sense
His presence, to have Him open my spiritual eyes that I might see Him.
Every once in a while, it seemed the door opened ever so briefly, and I
was overwhelmed in His presence.
mind jumped once again, but this time to perhaps a more profitable
place for I recalled Isaiah in his vision of God (Isaiah 6:1-7).
Remember that it was when the most important thing/entity,
the King of Judah, died that Isaiah saw the Lord, Yehovah “sitting on a
high, lofty throne. The hem of His robe filled the Temple. S’rafim
(saraphs) stood over Him, each with six wings – two for covering the
face, two for covering the feet and two for flying.
They were crying out to each other, ‘More holy than the holiest
holiness is ADONAI-T’zva’ot! (The LORD Almighty) The whole earth is
filled with His glory!’” (Complete Jewish Bible) Isaiah had to clear the
distractions out of his line of vision. And, it seemed
to me that God was encouraging me to “take every thought captive to
make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5b) so that nothing would preclude
me from seeing Him.
think God is trying to tell us today that sometimes the things that
keeps us from sensing Him are the distractions, even when they are good
things. Even the good things can get in
the way of us experiencing Him in His holiness, in His righteousness,
in His grace and in His mercy. If the cry of your heart is to know Him,
to experience Him, to reflect Him but you don’t seem to be able to get
there, then I encourage you to check out what
is going on in your mind. See what has your attention, and take it
captive – “make it obedient to Christ”. Our God wants to be known. He
wants us to experience Him and His presence. He wants us to see Him and
love Him with our whole hearts. To do that, we
must make choices, sometimes hard choices. However, if we do, we will
see Him at least with our spiritual eyes until He comes!
is day 5 of counting the ‘omer’. Let’s do some introspection and
evaluation as we begin to prepare our hearts for Pentecost, the Feast of
Weeks. It will be here before we
Today I am reading again Paul’s letter to the Philippians and specifically in chapter 3. This whole letter is chock full of wonder and amazement about the extreme value of our Lord Jesus, Yeshua. Paul demonstrates this extreme value by first pointing out his own credentials: he was circumcised on the eighth day; he was born into the tribe of Benjamin; he spoke Hebrew and came from Hebrew-speaking parents; he kept every single piece of the Torah, the teaching of God and was a Pharisee; he had great zeal for God to the extent that he had persecuted all those who had grabbed onto Yeshua, Jesus; and he was perfect in the righteousness that is demanded by legalism – he was blameless. All of these things, all of his credentials were spotless in the eyes of the world. Those credentials gave him an advantage over everyone else. And yet, Paul says in verse 8 that he considers all of it a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value of knowing the Anointed One, Jesus, Yeshua as “my Lord.”
many times have we thought in our own minds that we have great
credentials? We may have a college degree or maybe an advanced degree.
We may have specialized training that
allows us to offer skills that people need. We may have been very
observant during our lives and gained wisdom that preserves us from
trouble that others just seem to fall into. Indeed, we may think of
ourselves as much more righteous – we do the right things
and say the right things, – more righteous that most people. In fact,
perhaps we even look down on others and are critical of their behaviors,
the way they do things, and their thoughts. We may be very
knowledgeable in theology to the degree that we are sure
that we’ve understood much better than others. We may have read the
Bible through more than once. In fact, we may even delight in our
ability to say that we have a daily quiet time with the Lord. But can we
stop for a moment and realize that Paul is telling
us the truth?
not that any of those things are bad. In fact, most of them are very
good because they allow us to help those around us. What is destructive
is if we begin to have pride,
the kind that says, “look at me. See how good I am.” – If we begin to
have that pride, then we are guilty of the same thing that occurred to
Lucifer. In his beauty, ability and position, he came to the conclusion
that he ought to be the one on the throne instead
of Almighty God. The challenge is for us to “examine ourselves” to make
sure that our deep motivations are still pure before God. It’s very
easy for us to unintentionally get back up on the throne of our lives
and declare that we have got it made. We know
how to do it. We are convinced that we are right.
now we come back to Paul, one who had seven reasons to declare and
conduct himself as right, good and perfect. (By the way, ‘seven’ is the
number of completion or perfection
in the Bible. Therefore, Paul could say that he was complete/perfect
and needed nothing more.) Look again at what he said in verse 8: “…I
consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value
of knowing the Messiah Yeshua as my Lord.” (CJB)
personally think it is a daily challenge to put myself on the altar of
God and say to Him, “Lord, despite all my abilities, all my education,
all my strengths, all my knowledge,
all my accomplishments – all of which You have given to me – You O God,
knowing You as my Lord, (the One who tells me what to do and when to do
it, the One who is charge of my life, the One who sits on the throne of
my life) is the most critical and essential
aspect of my life.”
is your personal passion today? What things have the drawing power on
you to the degree that you would re-arrange your schedule, push aside
all things, jump through any hoops
necessary just to get to that one thing? Is it your family, boyfriend
or girlfriend, your job, your social structure (friends, Facebook,
twitter, Instagram, etc), your hobbies, your favorite pastime, your
money, or even perhaps your connection to electronic
devices? For each of us, it could be something a bit different.
wrote down the one thing that he was searching for, straining for, in
Philippians 3:10. Let me give it to you in some translations. First, the
New Living Translation – “I
want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him
from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death.” The
Message (a paraphrase) puts it this way, “I gave up all that inferior
stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience
His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the
way with Him to death itself.” However, I think The Amplified Bible,
Classic Edition has set it out in a way that it really gets down to the
heart, the core of Paul. “[For my determined
purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more
deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing
and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more
clearly], and that I may in that same way come to
know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over
believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually
transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.” Go back
and read that last translation (Amplified Bible,
Classic Edition) one more time. If you can, read it out loud and let it
penetrate all the way down to your core.
is calling us into the deep places of knowing Him, into places where we
have never gone before. If we want to have an intimate relationship, a
deep relationship in which we
really know our Lord even as He knows us (and by the way, He knows all
your motivations, all your desires, all your faults and failures, all
your accomplishments, everything right down to your core. In fact, He
knows you better than you know yourself!), then,
God calls us deeper. He calls us to intentionally make Him our greatest
passion. He calls us to jump through whatever hoops are necessary to be
we count the “omer” to Pentecost, can we use this time when many of us
are quarantined because of COVID-19, taken outside our “normal”
activities and comfort zones, – can we
use this time to go deeper in our relationship with God? My challenge
for us all today is to intentionally make it our determined purpose to
know Him. We certainly won’t know or grasp the depths of all that He is
or all that He would want to reveal to us in
one day. It’s a a journey. It’s
an every day determination; it’s an intentionality that says, “This is
what I want more than anything else in
the world.” God wants to draw us into the depths of Himself. He has so
much more that He wants to share with us! Let’s find and experience Him
on a deeper level today than we have ever experienced before!
April 16, 2020
Day 3 of Counting the Omer
morning as I am choosing to be in the presence of the Almighty God, my
thoughts are drawn to a renewed recognition that I must have intimacy
with my God. I cannot live without
that personal closeness that allows me to be not just in relationship,
but in love with my Lord and God. This has to be deeper than just
knowing about Him. My heart cries out to know Him, to really know Him on
that personal, intimate level. As I sit here,
my mind goes back and searches for nuggets, answers. For knowing Him,
really knowing Him in deep intimacy is the only place where I can
receive the strength, wisdom and love that He wants to give me. How do I
get there? How do we get there?
I was in Iraq or perhaps it was soon after I returned, I received a
book from a dear friend who wanted so desperately for me to really know
intimacy with God. The book, “Intimacy
with the Almighty” by Charles Swindoll, is full of deep thoughts,
thoughts that cause me to stop and renew my and determination to know my
God in the most secret place of my being. For God has deep things that
He wants to share with us. But “He reserves these
things for those whose hearts are completely His…for those who take the
time to wait before Him.” (Intimacy with the Almighty, p. 15) The whole
key to that thought is the idea of taking time to wait before Him. In
today’s world, waiting is seen as non-essential,
even aggravating and wasteful. But look what David says in Psalm 27. He
is looking around, seeing people wanting to kill him, seeing evildoers,
and seeing those who would lie about him. But as he comes to the end of
the psalm, he makes this statement, “Wait
patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently
for the LORD.” It is imperative for me to WAIT. The other verse that
comes to me is from Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV), “But those who wait on the LORD
shall renew their strength; they shall mount
up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall
walk and not faint.” The word “wait” is translated as “hope” in the
Complete Jewish Bible and the New Living Translation uses “trust”.
can we apply this to ourselves individually and perhaps even
corporately? We can look at “wait” in three ways. First “wait” means to
stop, put everything else aside, and intentionally
be still, not allowing anything to stir us up and cause us in our
minds, spirits or bodies to take off to the next thing on our agenda or
the last things that concerned us. This word “wait”, can mean “to endure
the tension, to look eagerly” (Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs
Hebrew and English Lexicon). Just as we noted two days ago, “Be still
and know that I am God” has an intentionality behind it. It is an active
condition, “to let go, to release” so that we can know that God is
ultimately in control. The second way to look
at “wait” is to hope. The idea behind hope is to “look forward with
confidence to that which is good and beneficial, often with a focus of
anticipation in a future event” (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with
Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament). Then
the third way to look at “wait” is trust. This gives us just a little
different perspective. To “trust” is “a firm belief in the reliability,
truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” according to the
online dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines it
as the “firm belief in the character, strength, or truth of someone or
something”. And Dictionary.com adds “confidence implying a feeling of
David and Isaiah are encouraging us to WAIT – stop and endure the
tension of being still, look eagerly to see God, be confident in His
character, ability, truthfulness and
goodness, and know that we are secure in Him. As we do this, as we WAIT
for Him in the middle of a world that is turned upside down, God will
reveal Himself, and once again, or perhaps for the first time, we will
fall in love with the One who loves us so much,
and we will begin to have intimacy with the Almighty. The result of
that intimacy with Him will be the ability to endure anything and
everything (to include COVID-19!) that comes our way, for then, nothing
can separate us from the love of God that is revealed
in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:38-39)
April 15, 2020
Counting the Omer Day 2
started counting the ‘omer’ up to Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks.
Yesterday, day 1 for us, we looked at “Be still and know that I am
God.”. Today, day 2 for us, let’s look
at another verse that may help us meditate on God a little deeper. That
verse is Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding-place and shield; I put my
hope in your word.”
is a hiding-place? Many of us would like to have a hiding-place today,
away from the world and particularly away from COVID-19 and all the talk
on the TV about it. Probably
by now, you’ve about had your fill of negativity and the idea that the
world has now changed and will never get back to what we considered to
be “normal”. If you remember when you were a kid playing hide-and-seek,
you probably remember quickly looking for
a place that was really concealed before the person stopped counting.
That was fun. But if you put yourself in the shoes of the writer of this
Psalm, what would a hiding place have looked like? We don’t know the
writer of this Psalm, but we think it was probably
written after the exile in Babylon. Recall that when folks returned
from Babylon, the individuals living around Jerusalem were very unhappy
that these Jews were coming back to build up walls and rebuild their
city and their temple. They were so unhappy that
Nehemiah had to have all his workers carrying their swords in order to
ward off those who would come to destroy. Just imagine being caught
outside the city at night! That would have been terrifying. So, having a
quick place to run and hide was a good thing.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says that God is our hiding place
from the “temporal calamities. The perfections of God are chambers of
retreat and safety to His people, where they may hide themselves and be
safe till such calamities are over.”
The second part of that verse says, “and my shield”. You know what a shield was for – it was used to protect oneself from spears, arrows, and swords back in the days when wars were fought with such instruments. The Roman soldiers would come together as a group and all put up their shields to form a covering when the enemy shot arrows at them. Additionally, they would cover the shields with a substance that would extinguish the arrows that were burning. In Ephesians 6:16, Paul told the people to use the shield of faith to stop the “fiery arrows” of the devil. Cover ourselves with faith – that’s quite a picture.
last part of the verse says, “I
put my hope in Your word.” Psalm 119 has eight words that are used for
“Torah”. Those eight words are: word, law, commandment, rules, decree,
precepts, teaching. If you apply the previous sentence to verse 114, you
find this “I put my hope in your commandment,
teaching, precept, decree, rule, and/or law.”
how can we apply this verse, Psalms 119:114, to our lives. I think that
God wants us to know that He has provided safety for our souls if we
will hide in Him. He will quench
the fiery darts/arrows of the devil if we will keep our faith that
Jesus really is the Son of God and trust Him. And I think God would tell
us that the first two pieces of this verse are accentuated as we
actively put our hope in His teaching, His commandments.
Hope in the Bible is a confident expectation
of what God has
demonstrate faith and trust by doing what He says. I cannot say that I
have faith in God if I chose not to do what He tells me to do. To
believe, trust, and to have
faith will result in an action.
one last thing of application: Satan will do all he can to shake us up.
He will attack our physical health, our mental health, our social
health, and our spiritual health.
If we can just keep our spiritual eyes open so that we are aware of
what is going on around us, if we can back up far enough to see the
forest instead of each tree, we can be confident in this and say with
Oh my God, You are my hiding place and shield. I am convinced of who You are and Your intentions toward me. Therefore, I put my hope in Your Word – Your teaching, Your truth, Your commandments, Your laws. I choose to react to everything around me through the eyes of a confident expectation in what You have promised!
we do that, His peace will cover us; His strength will enable us; and
His love will hold us even during COVID-19 and all the complications
resulting from it!
April 14, 2020
The Next 49 Days
Dear family and friends,
was the day of First Fruits when God commanded people to bring a sheaf
of barley to be waved before the LORD. If we look at Leviticus 23:10-21,
we find the
instructions for both First Fruits as well as instructions for what the
people were to be doing for the next seven weeks. Looking at verse 15
of chapter 23, we find, “From the day after the day of rest – that is,
from the day you bring the sheaf for waving
(First Fruits) – you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after
the seventh week; you are to county fifty days, and then you are to
present a new grain offering to ADONAI.” (CJB) Therefore, the
instructions were to count, starting on First Fruits,
for the next 49 days and then the next day, celebrate with a new grain
offering to God.
remember that all the male children of Israel were to be in Jerusalem –
the place where God put His Name – three times a year. Those days were
Passover (& Feast
of Unleavened Bread), Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and Feast of
Tabernacles. Why were these instructions given? The whole purpose was so
that the people could see where God was walking, that they would be
able to see what He was doing. So, on Passover, the perfect
Lamb of God was sacrificed. God wanted everyone to see His perfect Lamb
being sacrificed. If you count up from First Fruits as God commanded,
to the 50th
day, that is the Feast of Weeks. What happened on the Feast of Weeks?
The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the sons and daughters that had
faithfully followed Jesus and obeyed His last instructions to stay in
Jerusalem until you are covered with the power of
the Holy Spirit. The reason God instructed all the male children of
Israel to be in Jerusalem on the Feast of Weeks was so that they would
see the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit! God is very precise! Now
the last feast, the third time that all of them
were to be in Jerusalem is the Feast of Tabernacles. When is that? It
is the last one of the fall feasts. I believe that one day in the
future, after the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement are
fulfilled that the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled
in perhaps two ways. The first intermediate fulfilment will be when
Jesus sets up His millennial reign. The final fulfilment will be when
the new heaven and the new earth are created and the holy city,
Jerusalem descends from heaven and God “tabernacles”,
comes to live, with man for eternity!
want to encourage you to begin to count the ‘omer’ – to count each day
as we move from First Fruits to The Feast of Weeks, Pentecost and the
outpouring of the Holy
Spirit. We count up, not down. Each day, I encourage you to meditate
upon personal growth in our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Remember that it is
during this time that Jesus was teaching the disciples after He rose
from the dead. He was with them for 40 days, teaching.
Acts chapter 1 tells us that He taught them about the Kingdom of God.
So, I encourage you to search for ways that you can nurture spiritual
growth. There is an unfortunate and a fortunate piece of the COVID-19.
The unfortunate part is that we are basically
not to be out taking care of normal things and we cannot meet as a
group at church other than in drive -in church services. However, the
good part is that God uses trouble (COVID-19) to draw His people closer.
We have more personal time generally speaking,
now that we can’t just run out to the restaurants to have dinner with
friends, etc. I think God wants us to use this time constructively to
allow Him to speak to our hearts and to grow us up even more in Him.
am attaching something that perhaps will give you a good start. It
comes from the Israel Biblical Studies website. I think it is especially
appropriate for us during
this coronavirus outbreak. “Be still and know that I am GOD.”
all the uplifting verses in the Book of Psalms, perhaps
none better expresses the essence of a true life of faith than, “Be
still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I
will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps. 46:10). The most fascinating words
here are “be still” because they are the core of
trust. Although the translation “be still” is acceptable, it does not reveal the truth expressed.
Actively Let Go
In the original Hebrew of this psalm, the word is harpu,
from the verb RFH רפה meaning “to let go, to release”.
A more literal translation of harpu would be
“cause yourselves to let go”. The implication here is significant. Rather than merely being passive, we are instructed to actively let go in order to know
that God is in control and to objectively know the saving power of God in our lives.”
May the Holy Spirit surround you and bring you enlightenment and peace as you focus on HIM!
April 13, 2020
The Day of First Fruits April 12, 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
to stop and write before this day is over. For today is First Fruits on
God’s Calendar. It is part of the seven Feasts of the Lord. Therefore,
it is important
for us to be mindful of it and not only understand its underpinnings
but also understand how Jesus fulfilled the day of First Fruits.
you look over in Leviticus 23:9-15, you will find the instructions. It
is in the middle of God’s instructions for the designated times of
Jehovah. It’s as though God
has a calendar, and as we recognize the dates on His calendar, we will
begin to see where and how He is walking. Let me demonstrate this. God
told Moses that the month of the “aviv” was to be the first month of the
year for the children of Israel. “Aviv” is
a descriptive word that tells the condition of the barley. Is it ripe
enough to be harvested? So, every year, the priests, when the new moon
was sighted, would check to see if by the 14th
of the month, if the barley would be ripe enough. If it was not going
to be ripe enough for harvest, then another month would be added to the
calendar. This is because the harvest was essential to the Feasts that
would be coming throughout the rest of the
year. So, on the first of the month, after they determined that the
barley would be ready to harvest by the 14th,
they would let the people know that Passover would be occurring. Then
all the feasts would fall into place and occur at the right time on
God’s calendar. They would be in alignment with God’s calendar.
The Day of First Fruits is a Feast that did not have a specific day. Passover was the 14th.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the 15th.
The Feast of Weeks would occur 50 days after First Fruits, so it was
dependent upon correctly identifying First Fruits. The Feast of Trumpets
is on the first day of the 7th
month. The Day of Atonement is the 10th
of the 7th month.
And the Feast of Tabernacles is the 15th
of the 7th month.
Day of First Fruits was to occur during the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
on the first day after the weekly Shabbat (Saturday). So, this year, the
Feast of Unleavened
Bread began on April 9th,
a Thursday. Saturday was Shabbat, the day the people were commanded to
rest. The next day, today, April 12 then is First Fruits. This is the
day that the people were to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of their
harvest to the priest.
I noted the other day, as soon as the priests who were serving in the
Temple at that time, had finished killing the last animal on Passover,
they would put their lambs
into the ovens and rush over to the Mount of Olives to mark 10 sheaves
of barley that would be harvested early on the Sunday morning, the first
day of the week. After marking those sheaves, the high priest would go
into seclusion until the firstfruits were
harvested and brought to him. At that point, he would come out of
seclusion and wave the sheaves before God. This all had great symbolism
as we look back on it now.
is 20/20. At the time, the religious leaders totally missed what was
occurring in the year that Jesus was crucified. According to Hebrews,
Jesus is our High
Priest who meets our deepest need. He was holy, without evil, without
stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens; He was
the one who does not have the daily necessity, like the other high
priests of offering
a sacrifice first for his own sin and then for those of the people.
Indeed, He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up
Himself. And while
Caiaphas the high priest was secluding himself away, Jesus was in the
belly of the earth, taking the keys of death hell and the grave away
the day after the weekly Shabbat, the Day of First Fruits, Jesus rose
to present Himself to God the Father. He was the firstfruit of those who
died. “He was powerfully
demonstrated to be the Son of God spiritually, set apart by His having
been resurrected from the dead; He is Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord.”
(Rom 1:4 CJB) At the same time Jesus was presenting Himself to the
Father, the high priest, Caiaphas was waving the
sheaves of the barley harvest before God. Indeed, some would go a step
further and state that the tombs that were split open when Jesus died,
were in essence the tombs of the holy people who had been selected to be
waved before the Father as Jesus went to
heaven to present Himself and those souls to the Father. I do not find
anything in the Scriptures to give credence to that thought. However, we
KNOW that Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection as is noted by
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20!
today, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and
Savior/Deliverer Jesus the Anointed One, think on these things that
offer an opportunity for increased understanding
of how our God thinks. He does not want us to be living without a clue
about what He is doing. He wants us to see with spiritual eyes exactly
where He is walking so that none of us is caught unprepared for the next
phase of His calendar!
April 12, 2020
Day 3 of the Feast April 11, 2020
is the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. First Fruits has not
arrived but will arrive tomorrow. For now, let’s look forward to it,
focus once again on the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
preparation for this Feast of the Lord, the people were to ensure that
all leaven had been removed from their homes. They were to eat no
leaven. They were
not to come into contact with leaven. As we mentioned a couple of days
ago, leaven/yeast is a metaphor for sin because of how leaven – even a
little bit – saturates and grows and impacts the whole of the dough.
writes about the Feast when addressing those Jews and Gentiles in the
congregation at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (CJB) “Your boasting is
Don’t you know the saying, ‘It only takes a little leaven to leaven a
whole batch of dough?’ Get rid of the old leavened dough so that you can
be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our
Passover lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed.
So let us celebrate the Feast, not with leftover leavened dough, the
leavened dough of wickedness and evil, but with the unleavened dough,
matzah, of purity and truth.”
was speaking specifically about wickedness in the congregation at
Corinth. And he compares the situation to leaven. Just a little bit of
permeates the whole bread. So it is in our lives. We cannot
compartmentalize our sin because sin affects the whole. As holistic
people, every part of our lives is affected by every other part. You can
see this clearly in everyday life. If you are tired, hungry
or ill, you will probably become grumpy. If you are socially isolated,
it is very easy to become depressed. If you are engaged in behaviors or
attitudes that are not compatible with our Lord God, you may become
depressed or irritable or even angry. Every part
affects every other part. So it is with sin. It affects every part of
us. Even small, “hidden” sins leak out and affect the total person as
well as the community.
were certain traditions that were carried out to ensure that all leaven
had been removed as well as to teach the children to remove the leaven.
it is interesting to note the tools that were used and see their
connection to the fulfillment of the Feast by our Lord Jesus. Four tools
were used to ensure that the home had no leaven: a candle, a feather, a
wooden spoon and a linen cloth. The Complete Jewish Study Bible
has an article about Passover: Prophetic Fulfillment and Application on
page 1637. Let me quote it: “The spiritual lessons are quite striking.
The leaven (sin) must be cleansed from our
dwellings (and hearts). The method itself is informative. The light of
the candle (the Word of God) illuminates our sin (Ps 119:11). The leaven
is scooped onto the wooden spoon for removal (like the wooden execution
stake of the Messiah [Jesus]). The following
morning, this last bit of collected leaven is burned outside the home
(in a can or bag) to symbolize its final destruction. This symbolizes
Messiah’s destroying sin “outside the camp” and making freedom from the
power of sin available to all who believe.”
The feather represents the fact that sin was swept on Jesus as he was
nailed to the cross. He carried our sin and was wrapped in linen and was
taken outside the camp. While the people were removing the leaven from
their physical houses, Jesus was making a
way to remove the leaven from their spiritual houses.
the Feast of Unleavened Bread is demonstrating a positive command from
our God – Get rid of sin. The other side of the Feast is celebrating
who was without sin but carried our sin!
May your life be free from sin and full of the joy of the Lord!
Day 2 of the Feast April 10, 2020
is the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This will be a
little bit longer than the last couple of days, but I encourage you to
go all the way to
the end. I promise you that it will be well worth the time!
are two things that I want to bring out today. The first thing is that I
want to go back and pick up some important facts that I didn’t get put
into the email
on Wednesday, Passover. The second is that each day during the Feast,
the people were to present to God an offering “made by fire”.
The first thing:
more we understand our Hebrew roots, the more we see how Jesus really
did fulfill the Feasts of the Lord. All of the Feasts were given to the
children of Israel
so that they would see the reality when the Son of God fulfilled them
all to the day and hour. Jesus died at the same time the last lamb was
being killed in the temple in preparation for Passover. He cried out,
“It is finished” from the cross at 3pm, the same
time the High Priest announced, “It is finished” in the temple. And,
what’s happening behind the scenes from Passover until First Fruits?
After the High Priest and the other priests had completed all their
tasks with the killing of the lambs and had put their
own lambs into the ovens, they would go through the Kidron Valley to
the Mount of Olives and mark 10 standing stalks of mature barley. Then
they returned to eat their Passover lambs. After that, the High Priest
would go into seclusion until after First Fruits
were waved by the other priests before the Lord. Our great High Priest,
Jesus the Anointed One, went into seclusion until the Day of First
Fruits. Please remember that when Jesus died, there was a great
earthquake. And Matthew 27:52 records that graves/tombs
of holy people broke open. Some would say that this breaking open of
the tombs was the marking of those who would be part of the first fruits
on the Day of First fruits.
Now the second thing:
Today is the 33rd day that we have been counting the omer. In just 17 days we will arrive at Shavuot/Feast of Weeks/Pentecost
23:8 “Bring an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days.” What
does it mean to present to God and offering “made by fire”? According to
The Jewish Study Bible, JPS Tanakh,
these offerings made by fire have nothing to do with purification or
sacrifices to bring about a right relationship with God. These
offerings/gifts were to be sacrifices of “food and well-being”. What is
God telling us that we are to do particularly during
this Feast of Unleavened Bread? Food and well-being pertain both to the
physical as well as the spiritual life of the individual. God is trying
to impact the whole person. Moses gave these instructions during the
time of the tabernacle. Later Solomon built
a temple. However, 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that we are the temple
of the Holy Spirit. We don’t bring food and burn it as a gift to God in a
temple made with hands. So how do we keep this part of the Feast? I
think we do this by bringing ourselves to God,
spending time meditating on His Word, and setting aside time so that we
offer ourselves to Him even more intentionally than before. This is
more than just simply reading a Bible verse and praying and then going
about my business. I am giving Him a gift of
myself in complete surrender. Am I willing to give Him the gift of
myself even more intentionally
during this Feast so that I sit in His Presence,
staying there so that He enjoys my presence – even as an earthly father enjoys having his son’s or daughter’s presence?
this time when our lives are, to a great degree, shut down because of
COVID-19, I encourage everyone who claims to be a child of God to
in the presence of our heavenly Father and meditate on Him,
surrendering all of ourselves to Him as never before. The other side of
the coin is that as I am in His Presence, I receive strength, peace,
protection and deliverance! The words of a song by Paul
Wilbur come to mind, “In Your Presence, that’s where I am strong; in
Your Presence, O LORD my God; in Your Presence, that’s where I belong,
seeking Your face, touching Your grace, in the cleft of the Rock – in
Your Presence O, God.” Follow the link and worship
Feast of Unleavened Bread April 9, 2020
was yesterday. I do hope that you all got an opportunity to read the
emails that I sent both Tuesday and
Wednesday but particularly Wednesday’s. And I hope that you were able
to incorporate some of those thoughts into your time of meditation on
and conversations with our Lord. If you have not received the emails,
please let me know and I will forward them to
(yesterday at sunset) starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread. According
to Leviticus 23, this feast goes for
seven days during which the people were to eat no leavened bread, no
bread made with yeast. On the first day of the Feast, Nisan 15, they
were to “have a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days,
present an offering made to the LORD by fire.
On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”
Today, let’s focus on the overall Feast – why seven days? Remember that seven is the number of completion and perfection.
So, when the feast is to last seven days, that indicates that it is whole/complete and perfect.
you know, the rationale for having no leaven/yeast was to remind them
that they had no time to use yeast when
they were preparing their last meal back in Egypt. During this Feast,
they were to remember that God was separating them out from Egypt. He
was taking them away from all that had been familiar and moving them to
new places. So, having to eat bread with no
leaven/yeast caused them to remember that they were taken out of places
and things that would distract them from having intimacy with God.
Egypt was a difficult place for them because of their slavery. However,
Egypt had become comfortable to them because
it was familiar. The term “leaven” has a fermenting
and permeating nature. It is commonly used as metaphor for sin. Notice
those words, ‘permeating nature’.
No wonder it is used as a metaphor for sin in the Bible. Sin is
permeating; it influences and impacts everything it touches. God has
called us to be separated from the leaven of the world, not just a
little bit but completely, not just for seven days, but
for the rest of our lives in order for us to be complete and perfect in
we progress daily into and through this Feast of Unleavened Bread, ask
God to point out things that prevent you
from being complete and perfect in Him. We serve a holy God, and He is
able to make us holy in Him as we intentionally choose to separate
ourselves from the things that have become commonplace and distractions
from intimacy with God.
Praying for you all,
Passover Thoughts April 8, 2020
I found some of this
in an email from El Shaddai Ministries and thought it was very
appropriate since Passover began last night at sundown and will continue
through today until sundown. “As we all huddle together in our homes
this Seder night, knowing that even in Israel
there is a ban on people leaving their homes as well, we can’t help but
see the Almighty’s guiding hand. Historically, this year is also the
very same time as the first Passover in Egypt. Nisan 14 was on a
Wednesday and while everyone was quarantined in their
homes for their own survival, it just so happens pretty much the whole
world is on lockdown…. Only God, the Master conductor, could
coordinate such timing and bring all these events to everyone’s
collective memory. We even have the locust plague recently
in the Middle East. Many are asking, ‘What is the LORD trying to tell
the whole world and His people more particularly with all of this?'”
little statement was written and sent out yesterday evening. It is very
thought provoking, to say the least. I encourage us all to consider
doing a Seder or at least take
the time to re-read the story of the first Passover out of Exodus 12
and recognize how the LORD God protected the children of Israel through
the blood of the lamb. Then
turn over to Isaiah 53 and see the prophecy that was given so that the
people would see their Messiah. But the prophecy tells a sad story. The
Messiah would not be seen for who He was and “we regarded Him punished,
stricken and afflicted by God. But He was
wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the
disciplining that makes us whole fell on Him, and by His bruises we are
healed.” (Is 53:4b-5 CJB) T “He poured out His life unto death, and was
numbered with the trangressors. For He bore the
sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is 53:12b
for the last few days, has been in the Temple daily being examined. No
one can find any fault in Him. It’s interesting to realize that as we
are going through this day,
that Jesus was being tried in the courts. By now, He has already been
tried by the Sanhedrin and sent to Pilate. It is ultimately Pilate who
declares that Jesus is faultless. “I find no fault in this Man.” It is
ultimately Pilate who declares this Man to be
the spotless Lamb of God!
encourage you to read Matthew 27:11-66 and John 18:19-19:30 and weep as
you follow Jesus through His trials and ultimate punishment. Remember
once again what it took for you
to have reconciliation with God. May a spirit of mourning come over you
as you watch Jesus being beaten to within an inch of His life for
crimes that He had never committed. It’s good for us to remember that
our salvation comes to us at the price of the life
of Jesus who had never done wrongly.
He hung on the cross from noon until 3 pm. Stand at the foot of
the cross and watch Him die for you. Consider some of the words of old
hymns – “Jesus, keep me near the cross. There a precious fountain, free
to all, a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s
mountain”, or “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of
Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all
my pride. See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow
mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow
meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
finally, consider also reading, as you sit with others in your home, or
even if you are alone, Hebrews 9:11-15. Then, I encourage each one to
give a testimony of how God’s
Lamb, Jesus, has covered you with His blood. What does that look like
for you individually? If you are alone, speak out your testimony to God.
And, then bring to a close this intimate time with our LORD God by
that the blood of Jesus has been applied to your life!
May God richly bless you as you walk through this day and through this rememberance.
Preparing for Passover April 7, 2020
we move through this very important time of the year, I want us to be
sure that we think clearly, that we don’t just go through this week with
our minds in neutral. So for
the duration of this week, I intend to write daily to us all as a
congregation and challenge us to think.
is interesting to see our current situation through the eyes of
history. What can we learn from the Exodus that can be applied to our
lives today? Although I’m sure that there
are many other things that could be brought out, I think one of the
most glaring parallels is related to the fact that Pharaoh was unwilling
to acknowledge that there was anyone who had the authority to tell him
what to do. In fact, if you remember some of
the Egyptian history, you will remember that the pharaohs were
considered gods by some and/or at least, the access to the gods by all.
So when this man named Moses comes in and tells Pharaoh that another God
said to let the Hebrews go so that they could travel
3 days out of town and worship, this was considered to be a slap in the
face of the Pharaoh himself. How could any God have the audacity to
consider Pharaoh so puny that he would have to bow before this God’s
desire? And because of that arrogance, Jehovah
God had to demonstrate to the Pharaoh that there was no other god that
could even come close to Himself. He had already poured out plague after
plague to convince the Pharaoh that there was one much more powerful
than himself, but Pharaoh would have none of
it. It was not until God had to levy the final plague, the death of the
firstborn in every household, that Pharaoh was willing to concede that
there was someone more powerful than he. And if you remember the story,
you remember that it only took a short time
for Pharaoh, after the death of his own firstborn son,
to be sorry that he had let the Hebrew children go. Then he sent his
army to race after them and bring them back. As a result, God had to
wipe out the whole army to prove His point. There is no god like
is a wonderful time to rejoice in our God, the One who provided our
freedom from slavery to sin. But, as we get ready to remember Passover
tomorrow evening, it is also a
wonderful time for us to examine ourselves. Have we allowed the
arrogance of the world to rub off onto us even as the coronavirus will
rub onto us if we allow ourselves to get too close to it? The world
proclaims that they can do whatever they want and that
no one can tell them what they can or should do even as Pharaoh
we allow ourselves to be friends with the world who arrogantly defy
Jehovah, we must not be amazed when we find ourselves defying Jehovah.
prayed that the Father would protect us since we are in the world but
not of the world (John 17:16). But He also said, “No man can serve two
masters. For you will hate the
one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the
other ” (Matt 6:24 NLT) and,
“If you love me, obey my commandments (John 14:15 NLT).
May God preserve you all and prepare
your hearts for Passover!