UIOF Week 21, Bearing Fruit

UIOF Week 21, Bearing Fruit

rohit-tandon
Photo Courtesy of Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” — John 15:5

Stop Thinking Like the World

Are you being transformed? Transformation is what happens to a person when she gives her attention to something that changes her thinking. The word transformation means “a thorough or dramatic change.” 

So what is transforming your thoughts, words, and actions?

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When our thoughts are obedient to Jesus’ words, we are not only transformed, but we begin to bear fruit by causing a transformation in others.

If you want to see disciples for Christ on your watch, you need to begin with your own thoughts.

Since Jesus’ purpose was to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:8) and to save every person who calls upon His Name (Romans 10:13), we must be very careful to continue to be attached to the vine. As soon as we begin giving our time and attention to the world more than to the Light of the world, we begin the transformation that will conform us to the world’s way of thinking and viewing everything. We will begin following our prince. And who is the prince of the world? John 12:31 tells us that it is Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the world of unbelievers are in bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2) and speak his lies.

Not all of the world’s ideas are wrong. However, a half-truth is a total lie. So we must ask the Lord our God to shine His Light into every facet of our being to expose those things that have been tainted by the world so that they can be replaced by the Lord’s thoughts about what is happening around us. Put on “the mind of Christ” and go out and bear much fruit for the Kingdom of our Almighty God!

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Hebrew WOW: שְׁאוֹל

Hebrew WOW: שְׁאוֹל

A Jewish Perspective on Sheol

Did Jews in the time of Yeshua believe in hell?

Do you? 

Ancient thought about sheol (hell) was quite different from Western (Christian) thought, yet Yeshua was a Jew. What did He think?

שְׁאוֹל

(Sheol)

sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

the underworld

Sheol-the OT designation for the abode of the dead

place of no return

without praise of God

wicked sent there for punishment

righteous not abandoned to it

of the place of exile (fig)

of extreme degradation in sin

The word sheol, or שְׁאוֹל, in ancient thought meant the world where bad people, or all people, or maybe only some people went after they died. There were so many different thoughts on what happened when you died that you could write a whole book on that subject alone. It has been described as a deep, dark region, as a pit, and as “the Land of Forgetfulness.” Human beings after death, they thought, went to a netherworld called Sheol, cut off from God and man, but still “alive” in some shadowy existence. However, there is no judgment, whether reward or punishment there.

Pessimism was the rule of the day when it came to life after death. Most Jews were “here-and-now” focused and all people came to the same end.

After the destruction of the First Temple, however, the prophets began to speak with more hope about the future.

When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70AD, a theological crisis occurred. It was one thing to claim as the rabbis did—when the Lord’s sanctuary was destroyed and His people were scattered—mip’nei hataeinu, “because of our sins” but it was very difficult to give reasons that good, pious, individual  Jews should suffer also.

Rabbi Ya’akov said: This world is compared to an ante-chamber that leads to Olam HaBa, (the World-to-Come).” In fact, some rabbis taught that the righteous suffered in this world so that their reward in the next world would be that much greater.

So what did Yeshua teach about sheol?

In the Sermon on the Mount where Yeshua’s message was about love, He emphasized that those who were not more righteous than the Pharisees would never enter heaven (Matthew 5:20). He warned that unrepentant sinners would face the fires of sheol. At the end of His Sermon, the kingdom of God and the horrors of sheol are contrasted. Sheol is described as a place of destruction, where the broad road leads. Even professing to know the Messiah, if one continues in sin, won’t save you from sheol. Everyone who does not find the 

“narrow way” will end up in sheol. He compares the lives of the wicked to those who build their houses upon sand.

So, in essence, we know three things about sheol from the teaching of the first century Jews and from the Messiah Himself:

1. Sheol is the place for deserved punishment, comprises real suffering, and is eternal.

2. Sheol is the place of destruction, likened to death, second death, ruin, and loss.

3. Sheol is the place of banishment, where unbelievers actually realize what they are missing—their purpose in life and in life eternal: to love and glorify God.

 

UIOF Week 20: Ride the Wind!

ridethewind

“and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

Apostle Paul

1 Corinthians 2:4

Have you ever gone paragliding? It is touted as the purest form of flying that a human can do. But what it really is, is a partnership between you and the wind. The tiny package in your backpack means that you can take to the skies wherever you go and see the world from a different perspective.

The word for “wind” in Hebrew is Ruach. Interestingly, it is also the name for the Spirit.  John 3:8 says: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

When you step out in faith, you are like the paraglider who harnesses the power of the wind.

Going forward to pick up the reigns of leadership, you absolutely must have power behind you. In Isaiah 55:11, God tells the prophet that His word accomplishes what He sends it to do. That is the ultimate power. He sends His Spirit and we have the power to do those good works He created for us to do beforehand. (Eph 2:10). 

When you are lifted up high above the earth in your paraglider, you see the world differently. You have an eagle’s vision to see what is truly there and to move toward it as you partner with the Ruach. Let Him be the power– the wind beneath your wings– as you step out in faith to help others find the updraft of His love that lifts you higher and higher.

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To God be the glory, great things He has done.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Yeshua still heals. His compassions never fail and they are new every morning. 

Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. – Psalm 6:2

Three years ago, I had surgery to replace my right hip that was bone-on-bone due to osteoarthritis that I had inherited from my dad. During the surgery, my femur (the long bone in the thigh) fractured. My doctor stopped the surgery and prayed for me. Then he set titanium rings around the bone so that it wouldn’t shift or get worse while it was healing. After the surgery, I went for a bone density test and was told that I had osteopenia. Though not as severe as osteoporosis, it does make it easier for bones to fracture. And mine had.

Unfortunately for me, the femur didn’t heal. Instead, it fractured into many more pieces. So six months later, I went under the knife to replace the femur. And six months after that I had my left knee replaced, followed by a revision to replace the faulty implant in that knee. During this time, I also had two surgeries to resection bladder cancer and two more for tumors on the vascular system in my bladder. Meanwhile, my diplopia (double vision) seemed to be worsening by the day. 

 

I was in constant pain. My bones hurt and my whole body ached. But I wanted to see God glorified through my suffering, exactly as Christ was glorified through suffering.  My doctors sent me to be fitted for a knee brace that kept my knee from buckling as I walked with my walker. They said, “Get used to it.”

And I replied, “You don’t know my God!”

In my daily quiet time with God, I was learning to pray in Hebrew. I found a prayer based on Jeremiah 17:14 that said “Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed. Save me, and I will be saved.” I made that one of my special prayers that I offered up to God every day. Why, I wondered, is it so easy to believe Him when He said that I am saved but so difficult when He says I am healed?

I was lifting injured hands up to God. I knew that remaining crippled for the rest of my life was not what I wanted, but more than I wanted healing, I wanted God’s will. If it would bring Him greater glory for me to remain the way I was, I would be content. “Thy grace is sufficient for me,” I told Him.

I was always cheerful and full of joy. I was learning how to draw closer to God and to hear Him more clearly. My relationship with Him became more intimate and I couldn’t wait until morning arrived and I could get up and spend time alone with my gracious, merciful God. I delighted in His light shining on me.

People I didn’t know started walking up to me and asking if they could pray for me. I always said yes. They invariably prayed that God would heal me. But I prayed that He would give me peace.

The day after I had been diagnosed with osteopenia, one young woman prayed that God would make my bones fat. She didn’t know me or anything about me other than what she could see. Yet God directed her to pray for fat bones! I was amazed.

At our church service a week ago, our Pastor said “When you get saved, your body belongs to God. When you get married, your body belongs to your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:4).” I nudged my husband and jokingly said, “You’re not taking very good care of this body! I need a new one.” One of my friends only heard the last part and, filled with compassion for my pain, prayed right then and there that God would heal me.

God had healed me twice before. I had fibromyalgia since childhood. Some days would find me in bed most, if not all, of the day. My husband was afraid to touch me because even the slightest pressure hurt. I couldn’t sleep because everywhere my body touched the bed was painful. I don’t know how many times people had asked me if I had prayed about it. Of course I had prayed about it! And then one day it was gone. Simply gone. I’ve not had a single day of fibromyalgia pain since.

And then there was the day He healed me of depression. If you want to read that story, click here. I was living proof that God still heals. Was that His will for me this time, or would He get greater glory if I wasn’t healed?

Then last Tuesday arrived.

It was just another day. Nothing particularly special. I got up later than usual and my husband was already gone. I took my shower and got ready for the day. Then I went downstairs, poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to meet with God. Suddenly it hit me.

I was walking!

A week or so earlier, I had a dream. In it, I was in a very large warehouse building, all alone. It was rather dark inside, but I was walking toward the open doors at the end of the room. I had my brace on and was using my walker. Then suddenly (as dreams are wont to do) I was much closer to the doors, and I turned to look back. 

Way behind me, in the dark, was my walker. I realized that I had been walking without any aids. When I woke up, I told my husband and said I hoped it was prophetic. I didn’t realize that it actually was, and how soon it come to pass.

 

On that Tuesday, I simply stood up and walked away from my walker.

Now I read Jeremiah 17:14 a little differently. “You healed me, and I am healed. You saved me, and I am saved. And You, God, are whom I praise!”

To God be the glory!

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