UIOF Bible Study # 17 – Share

UIOF Bible Study # 17 – Share

Share Your Testimony

Maybe you never thought about yourself as a preacher. Perhaps you’ve never wanted to stand in front of hundreds, or even thousands, of people and tell them about the Gospel. But you know that the Great Commission says that we are to go to the nations. But what, exactly, does that mean?

You have placed your hope in Jesus Christ. Why is that so? You can look back and see the incredible difference knowing the Savior has made in your life. The one thing skeptics cannot dispute is your testimony. When you say, “Jesus changed my life,” no one can argue with you. I’ve heard it said that a story about a changed life is worth a thousand sermons. I know that it is true because a single individual shared her testimony with me and led me to the Throne of Grace. What about you? How did you hear the Gospel?

My husband is Jewish, so the last thing he ever thought he’d do was claim Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) as Lord and Savior. Do you know why he finally made that all-important decision to surrender to the Lord? Because he saw my life change right before his eyes.

The Amplified Bible sheds light on Jesus’ command for us to be witnessed to all the world.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says,  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age (AMP).”

Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16 TLV).”

Some people have dramatic testimonies, like release from captivity to drugs, alcoholism, or abuse. They were desperate, their time seemingly running out, and then they were rescued by Jesus. When they turned their lives over to God, He actually not only changed their lives, but He changed the lives of those who saw them clean up and walk a path of glory to God.

Many Christians don’t have such dramatic testimonies. Perhaps they were saved as young children and have never really known a day without Him. That’s a wonderful testimony, too, because people with average, everyday lives can relate to their stories.

Regardless of where you have come from, the

story of God in your life, sparing you from the heartbreak and trauma of others can make a world of difference to those who don’t have a rough background.

If you (like I) come from a background that left you spiritually battered and dying, your story will be powerful in its ability to open the door to freedom to others who have almost given up on life. To know that God not only wants to receive and forgive them, but He also wants to use them in His kingdom is amazing! When you are humble enough to share your mistakes without glorifying the sin, people who feel lost find hope.

If your story isn’t so dramatic, the fact is that God saving anybody at all is a miracle in itself. You bring hope to those who feel like their lives are meaningless and that they are worthless people. When they learn that Jesus died for their sins, and would have done the same thing even if they were the only ones on earth, it gives ultimate meaning and purpose to their lives.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us. (Romans 5:8 TLV).”

Many people feel that they are not good enough to share Christ. That’s a lie. Whether it is shame from a sinful past or from hidden sin that they’ve yet to confess, they think God is mad at them or disgusted with them. Neither is true. God can use you right where you are today.

On a scale of 1-10, with1 being “feeling useless” and 10 being “fountains of joy,” how do you feel prepared to share your testimony? What is your next step?

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Hebrew WOW!   ישועה

Hebrew WOW! ישועה

Word of the Week

yeshua

Hebrew

To Christians, salvation comes through Jesus. In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is Yeshua. So is the word salvation.  It looks like this:

ישועה

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means `ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Jews do not view salvation the way a Christian does.

To be a Jew is not necessarily to embrace Judaism so much as it is to identify with Jewish culture. Many current-day Jews don’t even believe that God exists. Those who do often do not believe in an afterlife.

In speaking of Japanese resistance to the gospel message, Peter Lundell introduces the concept of “Nihonkyo.” The concept actually speaks to one’s ultimate loyalty. That loyalty is not to a particular belief or even to a nation, “but rather to one’s identity and obligations as a Japanese person.” Similarly, there is an expectation of loyalty on the part of individual Jews despite their religious convictions. Part of that loyalty is defined as not believing in Jesus. — David Brickner | Nov 20, 1997 referring to Lundell, Peter. “Behind Japan’s Resistant Web: Understanding the Problem of Nihonkyo” Missiology: An International Review 23:4 (October 1995), p. 409. 

Salvation for a Christian rests on the knowledge of original sin, acceptance that we are born with the sin nature, and that salvation is an individual experience that converts our souls. There is no individual salvation necessary to a Jewish way of thinking because they do not believe in original sin.

“O my God, the soul Thou gavest me is pure; Thou didst create it, Thou didst form it, Thou didst breathe it into me. Thou preservest it within me, and Thou wilt take it from me, but wilt restore unto me hereafter.” — Jewish Siddur (prayer book)

In cartoons when you see the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other, you may think that it is a Christian doctrine, but you would be wrong. However, it’s a pretty good representation of how Jewish people think of sin. Believing that each person is born neutral with an inclination toward good and an inclination toward bad, Jews believe that there is nothing to stop us from choosing good.  Their rabbis teach that we have both a yetzer ha tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ha ra (bad inclination). Most will admit to making mistakes and poor choices, but they do not see themselves as sinners.

Therefore, why would they need a Savior?

Salvation, they believe, is not an individual thing but a corporate one. Salvation nearly equals survival in the eyes of the Jew. They see themselves as tikkun olam (correcting the world), in partnership with God to bring about a better earth.

Since the destruction of the second Temple, Judaism has changed out of necessity. With no place to offer sacrifices for sin, the modern Jew uses good deeds and repentance as a substitute. They do not believe they are separated from God and don’t need a Savior to reconcile them to Him.

A common misunderstanding among Jews today is that they think Christians believe that a man became God and not vice versa.

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22

Sharing the Gospel with our Jewish friends may help them see that salvation comes from a very Jewish God Who desires closeness and fellowship with His children: hayeshua bemashiah Yeshua. Salvation in the Messiah, Yeshua.

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Hebrew WOW!  זכור!

Hebrew WOW! זכור!

Word of the Week

Zachor!

Hebrew

This verb occurs 252 times in the Bible.

זָכַר

1 Corinthians 11:24-25: “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (NV)

So if we’re learning a Hebrew word, why are we starting in the New Testament?

Zachar is the Hebrew verb “remember.” It is used as a command (zachor!)ˆ 148 times in the Old Testament, but it was something so important that Jesus used it as one of the last things He would tell His disciples before He died.

“Do this in remembrance of Me” has a couple of alternative renderings that may help us understand more clearly. It can be rendered more literally, “Do this for the remembering of Me,” or “Do this in case you forget.” — John W. Ritenbaugh

Genesis 9:15 gives us an account of God using the verb “remember” for the first time in the Bible.

“and I will [compassionately] remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again will the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15 AMP).”

In Genesis, God tells us that He will remember. In 1 Corinthians, Yeshua is telling us to remember.

Why is this verb so important? Because it is a promise from God that He will remember the covenant He made, and because He wants us to always keep in mind the sacrifice Yeshua made on our behalf, paying with His life for we who were so utterly defiled.

We generally have no problem remembering Yeshua’s personality. We know all the Bible stories. But there is so much more than just the charismatic, itinerant rabbi who did miracles and died on a cross. Yesua was indestructibly connected to the Old Testament through Passover. We are admonished to remember His life that exemplified the way, the horrendous death on the cross for the remission of sins, and that it was He  Who said in Genesis: I will remember.

Remembering the sacrifice of the One Who made covenant with Abraham and went on to die for His children is the foundation for every loving relationship with our Creator and His family. Because He did all of this for us, our lives are not spent in vain. We have this hope, that He Who promised is able to bring to completion all the terms of His covenant in His blood, not to mention all the Old Testament covenants that remain in effect today.

Zachor! Remembering motivates us to recognize that the first sin was one of not remembering Who God is. The “Lord’s Supper” in the New Testament reminds us of one thing: His unfathomable love.

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UIOF Week 16: Listen Up!

UIOF Week 16: Listen Up!

How to win friends & influence people

There’s an old proverb that goes: A wise old owl sat in an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Lord, make me like that wise old bird!”

Dale Carnegie knew that he could walk into any room and convince anyone that he was a good friend just by listening. And isn’t that one of the qualities you look for in a good friend?

Some Christians think that the goal of evangelism is to  “convince and convert.” What they’re missing, though, is that the actual goal is to share God’s love. Since God loves to listen to us, shouldn’t we exemplify His character by listening to others?

God’s love is transforming. He doesn’t depend on your words.

James 1:19  reads: “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; (AMP).”

Romans 2:4 asks, “Do you not know that it is His lovingkindness that brings us to repentance?”

God is less interested in your words than He is your heart.  If you listen with your heart, you’ll demonstrate His love. Listening to people even if they’re not ready to embrace Christ shows genuine interest in them. When they feel loved, they naturally want to know that love deeper. This approach requires time, effort and emotional energy.

When you set your own agenda aside, no matter how noble you see it, and simply listen to the hurts, questions, and arguments of the unbeliever, you earn the right to share the content of the Gospel..

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Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Cooperate

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Cooperate

A Team Effort

W hat feelings come when you think about evangelism? Fear? Anxiety? Intimidation? When someone mentions sharing your faith, do you feel unbearable pressure, as though your actions will make the difference in a person’s eternal destiny? If this is how you feel, you’re in good company.

Especially in today’s “tolerant” atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate talking about anything that might offend someone, it truly is intimidating when you think about the former paradigm of evangelism. So if you feel burdened when the opportunity to share your faith comes, look to Paul. His perspective

1st Corinthians 3:6 says: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”

was completely different. He didn’t find evangelism burdensome, because he didn’t see the outcome as his responsibility. Sharing the joy of knowing Jesus was what he loved more than anything to do. Here’s why.

Paul recognized that sharing the faith is a team effort. He never felt like the Lone Ranger, solely responsible for reaching everyone with the Gospel. He didn’t work alone but partnered with others who knew and loved Jesus as well.

He knew that God was responsible for saving people, not him. He freely and joyfully told others about his Savior as he partnered with God as He drew people to Himself.

“Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?  Romans 2:4 (AMP).”

When my husband and I were missionaries in Russia, we would see churches send over short-term missionaries with an agenda. They thought they had to make a set number of conversions in order to be “successful.” It filled us with sadness because after “saving” a bunch of orphans at summer camp, they would go home full of themselves and promptly forget the children with whom they had “shared their faith.” This pressure to evangelize was rooted in pride, as evidenced by their emphasis on numbers. (It actually had the completely opposite effect, as, after a while, the kids who had been “saved” at numerous camps and then spiritually abandoned didn’t see the benefit of saying the “magic words” that would change their lives.)

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: John 16:7-8 (MP)”

Though some Christians do the work of an evangelist out of pride, revelling more in the fact that they led someone to Christ than the fact that the person is now saved, others have different motivations. Some feel pressure to live up to an ideal that they have created in their minds based upon conference speakers or authors who speak about evangelism. Still, the focus is on themselves. They do not see themselves as part of a team that includes the Holy Spirit, to whom all credit is due.

The kind of evangelism that draws people to God is the kind that develops deep and longstanding relationships. That’s exactly how God draws people to Himself, and when we team up with God, people desire more of that kind of relationship.

What are your feelings about sharing your faith? Pray for God to give you the freedom to work as a team member with the Holy Spirit and with others.

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Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Let’s take a look at an often mistranslated word. Ezrah looks like this:

עֶזתָה

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

Understanding the meaning of Hebrew words is essential to our complete understanding of the Scriptures.

The trouble with reading the Scriptures without knowing how the original writers thought is that the interpretation can leave out much that is essential to understanding the Word of God. Such is the case when we read Genesis 2:18, where “an help meet” makes it sound as though Eve were an assistant, someone sent to “help” Adam, but in a second-in-command role. Nothing could be further from the truth.

וְיֹאמַר ה אֱלֹהִים, לֹא טוֹב שֶׁהָאָדָםצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לְבַדּוֹ אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה לוֹ עֶזְרָה שֶׁתִּפְגֹּשׁ אוֹתוֹ.

v’yomar Adonai elohiym, lo tov sheha’adam tzariykh’ lih’yot l’vado aniy e’eshoeh lo ezrah shetif’gosh oto.

“With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2nd Chronicles 32:8

עִמֹּו זְרֹועַ בָּשָׂר וְעִמָּנוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְעָזְרֵנוּ וּלְהִלָּחֵם מִלְחֲמֹתֵנוּ

Imo zro’a bashar v’imanu Adonai eloheinu l’azerenu uv’lehillachem milchamotenu.

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

נַפְשֵׁנוּ חִכְּתָה לַֽיהוָה עֶזְרֵנוּ וּמָגִנֵּנוּ הֽוּא׃

Naf’shenu, chib’tah laihvah ezrenu uv’maginnenu hu.

I’m sure you would agree that the God who fights our battles is not in a second-in-command role nor an assistant to our own strength and might. Indeed, we know that if victory in the battles we face were up to us alone, we would surely lose (the idiom “crash and burn” comes to mind).

So what was God talking about when He said that He would make “an help meet” for Adam? The Hebrew word ezer is actually a combination of two roots words: one means “to rescue, to save.” The other meaning is “to be strong.” The first root is י – שׁ – ע, which is where we get the name Yeshua. The other root is ח – ז – ק, meaning “to be strong, to make strong, to strengthen.” Together, they embody the essence of the word “savior.” In fact, in eight out of the 22 times ezer appears in the Bible, it is translated “savior.” The rest of the time, it refers to how God strengthens man.

1 Samuel 7:12 says: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

The Hebrew word eben means rock. When ezer is attached, it means “rock of salvation.” So Eve was not just to “help” Adam, she was “to save” him. That paints an entirely different picture of how Eve was to help Adam. 

The word translated “meet” is kind of tricky. Most people think that God was saying that among the beasts, there was none “worthy” of Adam, so He made Eve “worthy” of being a companion to him.  In Hebrew, the word kenegdo only appears one time. It is related to the word neged,  which means “against.” But it can also mean “in front of” or “opposite of.” The best translation, though, means “exactly corresponding to.”  Eve was Adam’s mirror opposite, half of a whole, completing him. What Adam lacked in qualities, responsibilities, and attributes, Eve supplied.

Not only did it require both of their sexual organs created in opposition to fit perfectly together to bring life, but it also meant that they were to “co-steward” the earth and all that was in it. She was his complete spiritual equal and had an essential saving power opposite his but equally as important.

So how does woman save man?

Most obviously, she gives him life and guides him toward the light of the world. Women are a gateway into the mortal world for children and without this saving power, there would be no opportunity for progress toward God. When a baby is born, he or she is ushered into a place of unconditional love. The first thing a baby receives is an explanation of how God loves His creation. The woman is a perfect picture of willingness to give one’s own life for the sake of one you love.

Many people will look at Eve in the garden and say that she brought death to the world. God sees it differently. It was through a woman that the Savior would be born, and without her ability to bear the infant Jesus, mankind would be hopelessly lost forever. Thus, Adam’s “helper” literally saved him from eternal spiritual death.

Perhaps a better understanding of Genesis 2:18 would be:

“It is not good that man should be alone (incomplete): I will make him a strong companion who will have the power to save him and will be his spiritual equal, completing him.”

Now that’s a powerful idea!

 

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Serve

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Serve

Believer as Servant

W hen Jesus came, it wasn’t as a political ruler who told people what to do. Instead, He humbled Himself and because a servant to all to demonstrate how God had designed people to live. He left all His rights and privileges behind and served those who did not deserve Him. Although He knew that His own would abandon Him, He washed their feet. And then, He allowed his broken, ruined body to die so that those who were so unworthy would have a path to relationship with God.

He was the servant who ate with compromisers and rebels. His companions were uneducated and considered low-class by the religious rulers. He allowed His disciples to eat and drink when the Pharisees thought they should be fasting.

His friends were sinners.

How could the opinion of the self-righteous matter? He had already given up His throne in Heaven. There was nothing they could take from Him, not even His life. He reminded His disciples that no one took His life from Him, that He laid it down by His own volition.

Eating with sinners showed that He valued them highly, as it was the custom to only dine with those of high value.

He didn’t require anything in order to serve; He simply served. He poured Himself out for the people He came to save: the lost, the destitute, the sick and the disreputable.

Levi (Matthew) gave a great banquet for Him at his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes [seeing those with whom He was associating] began murmuring in discontent to His disciples, asking, “Why are you eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews]?”  And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].” Luke 5:29-32 (AMP)

An old hymn perfectly sums up what His requirements for association with Him were:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come! I come

He modeled the Great Commission even before He gave it to His followers. He showed them that He loved the unlovable and that while they were still in sin, He gave His life on their behalf.  So what should our response be?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

If you embrace the call of Jesus, then you love your unsaved friends, neighbors, and family members even while they are in sin. You go to them (go into all the world) and don’t present a barricade of your requirements for behavior or belief before you befriend them.

That’s what Jesus did. He demonstrated His love, knowing that His love was all that was necessary for them to believe.

Can unbelievers call you their friend?

How can you serve and share with your unbelieving friends and family in a way that allows Jesus’ light to shine? You should become a one-way-sign pointing straight up by your love.

This week, pray for godly interaction with the lost, whatever their station in life. And petition your Father to have His heart, His eyes, and His hands as you go.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Word of the Week

Shema

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew contains one of the most sacred words in the language:

שָׁמַע

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is thy God, the Lord alone.” Deuteronomy 6:4

In the ancient book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people to understand this concept. He commands them to listen, but not listen alone.

Shama means listen, take heed, and obey. It is the imperative form of the verb listen, and could be rendered in English thus: HEAR! LISTEN AND OBEY! See all the exclamation marks? It is an emphatic verb that goes much deeper than simply listening or hearing.

“In other words, in Hebrew, “hearing” and “doing” are basically the same thing, but what is Israel to do in response to hearing that the Lord alone is their God?” – The Bible Project

Moses goes on to tell the Israelites exactly how they are to obey the commandment to hear. The very next verse explains what they should do.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being].” – Deuteronomy 6:5

Translating Deuteronomy 6:4 is a bit difficult, because Hebrew has no word for “is” in the present tense. Due to the grammatical usage of putting nouns next to each other to express the present tense of “to be,” It could be translated one of 4 different ways.

  1. The Lord our God is one Lord.
  2. The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.
  3. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
  4. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

So in whatever translation we use, the verse proclaims that God is God alone, and there is no other. (We’ll talk about the Trinity in the prayer in another post.)

Though Deuteronomy 6:4 may be a bit ambiguous, Deuteronomy 6:5 is as clear as day. God is to receive our love in all our capacity to love. We are to love Him with all of our being, holding nothing aside, and preferring Him above all else. Our total devotion and obedience is to God and God alone. (I’ve highlighted the word is in the previous sentences so that you can see how common it is in English.)

Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Listen, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

The threat of polytheism

As Moses prepared to die and turn leadership over to Joshua, he was probably very concerned that once the people crossed the Jordan, they would be surrounded by many “gods.” In fact, they were already surrounded by pagan deities. He also knew that he had had a difficult time keeping the people on the right path and was worried that they would quickly abandon God’s commandments after he was gone. So he taught them a prayer that would remind them that they were the chosen people and as such had loyalty to and devotion for one God, the true and only God.

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm), and they shall be used as bands (frontals, frontlets) on your forehead.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-8

Followers of God were to be marked by obedience and love. All paganism was to be strictly avoided because it would cause His people to be separated from Him. In the New Covenant, followers would see God face to face and will know as they are known. This is only possible when one’s whole being is focused on our God, and on Him alone.

“There will no longer exist anything that is cursed [because sin and illness and death are gone]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve and worship Him [with great awe and joy and loving devotion]; they will [be privileged to] see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” – Revelation 22:3-4 (AMP)

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How to Know God

How to Know God

Are you certain you know God?

Belief and faith are extremely important in our life in God, but perhaps there is a deeper understanding to be had in order to know Him.

What does it mean “to know” the Lord?

Belief

that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. – John 3:15

 

Faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him. – Hebrews 11:6a

 

Knowledge

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; – Deuteronomy 7:9a

What does it mean to believe?

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. – John 3:18

The Greek word used in this verse is πιστεύω, pronounced pisteuō. It is defined this way: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

Its Hebrew counterpart is אָמַן, which is where the word amen comes from. It means:to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.

So our first step is to believe. We recognize that there is Someone who is behind all that is. We understand that this visible world is not all there is. It is the “aha!” moment when our perspective changes and we move from unbelief into believe.

However, this is only the first step. Remember, even the demons believe!  James 2:19 uses the exact same word for believe, pisteuō.

We cannot stay here. This believe drives us forward into the next step, faith.

We move from mere belief to faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

The Greek word used in this verse isπίστις, pronounced pē’-stēsIt is defined this way:a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we

obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

Its Hebrew counterpart is אֱמוּנָה, which means:literally firmness; figuratively security; morally fidelity.

Having believed that there is God in heaven, we begin to wrestle with what that means. As we seek God’s face, He promises that He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13). When He is found, we see that we are hopelessly lost from Him, but our hearts yearn toward Him, longing to be in relationship with Him.

That’s why Jesus came. Why He died. Why we can now live. We pledge our fidelity to Him and become children of God (John 1:12).

Like our own children, we must learn to know.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. – John 17:3

The Greek word used in this verse is γινώσκω, pronounced ginōskōIt is defined this way:to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. As a Jewish idiom, to know is to have sexual intercourse.

Its Hebrew counterpart is יָדַע,  which means: to perceive and see, find out and discern, be revealed, to join together.

Like children, we progressively come to know God through the work of His Holy Spirit, whom He sent.

We start by acquiring knowledge, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In the Bible, knowing always involves relationship and commitment. It is a “joining together” of two to become one. You see a temporal illustration in marriage, where physical intimacy is described as “knowing” (Genesis 4:1). But it is so much more than that! It implies taking something (or someone) to oneself to possess it.

Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:5 wanted to “know” good and evil. Knowledge in itself is not bad, but in the biblical sense, it means to become one with it. What we take unto ourselves becomes a part of who we are, and separation requires as it were a “ripping apart,” a “tearing asunder” (Mark 10:9). This is one reason that God forbids sex before marriage. A bond is formed that renders real, permanent harm to both parties when the relationship is broken.

In Amos chapter 3 God declares “you only have I known.” Naturally, He knows every person on earth, not just one family, but He had created a relationship between Himself and Israel. It was a deep, physicla, mental, emotional, and spiritual knowing that set Israel apart as God’s own.

So returning to John 17:3, do we know God in the biblical sense? Have we joined together with Him and have we created a relationship that will last through eternity with Him?

What God has joined together… God does the joining in our relationship with Him. We become His own.

Do you truly know God… in the biblical sense?

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

UIOF: Week Thirteen-Praying for Relationship

UIOF: Week Thirteen-Praying for Relationship

praying for relationship

H ow did Jesus “do evangelism”? Most Christians who consider evangelization think of it as “doing something” to someone else. It’s not something most people look forward to, but in reality, we are being evangelists every time we step outside our doors and into the everyday world.

Perhaps you’re not called to go to the foreign mission field (I was), but that doesn’t mean you don’t do the work of a missionary. Your mission field is your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. We are all surrounded by the lost who are going into eternity completely unprepared.

Are you content to leave them there?

Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote in her book Out of the Saltshaker Into the World that “Christians and non-Christians have one thing in common: They hate evangelism.”

That’s really sad because evangelism is simply loving people enough to tell them who Jesus is. It doesn’t require you to beat someone over the head with a Bible or to push sinners away from your presence. Evangelism is meant for sinners.

Think about it. Who were you when someone introduced you to Christ? You were a sinner. But that person cared enough to share the Gospel and introduce you to the Son who died because you were a sinner.

Mark 2:14-15 says: “ As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.”

Jesus didn’t come to get more people into the Kingdom, His own personal club where the insiders were welcome but the rest were left out. He came to save people from the consequences of who they were. Or are, since He’s still doing it today.

When we look at the passage above in Mark, we see that Jesus loved everyone equally. He loved the sinners despite their sins and He ate with them in their homes. Religious Jews didn’t set foot inside the home of a sinner, lest they become defiled. But that’s not what Jesus did. He went where the people were hurting and loved them there.

What kind of Christianity do you show the lost in your own life? Do they see compassion for them? Or do they avoid you because your attitude says you are “holier than they”?

John 4:37-38 says: “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

When you meet someone new or talk to someone you’ve known for a long time, do you want to know their spiritual condition? If not, why not?

In the movies Schindler’s List, Schindler realizes at the end that he is wearing a ring that had he sold it could have provided money to save even one more. Of course, the movie doesn’t accurately portray Oskar Schindler and

I doubt that the scene depicting this is real. Nevertheless, the point is well made that we all have something that could save someone else.

That something is the love of God. When you share it, people get saved.

So have you prayed about it?

Have you asked God to show you people through His eyes? Have you asked that the love that Jesus shared be evident in your life? Spend some time this week asking God to lead you into deeper relationships with the lost so that you can share the most precious thing you have with them.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week:

עִברִית

Did you ever wonder what the original language was? Many scholars believe it was Hebrew. I agree that it may have been so, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

But first, let’s look at the word Hebrew in Hebrew.

Hebrew is a language based on roots, shoresh in Hebrew. Most roots have three consonants (and no vowels) but a few have two or four. The root for Hebrew is “ayin-vet-resh” and it looks like this:

While roots themselves are not pronounceable as words, the consonants are pronounced. So the root is pronounced ayin-vet-resh. The word derived from that root is pronounced ee-vreet.

I woke up this morning wondering when Hebrew was first spoken, and though of course, we don’t have a written record of who first spoke Hebrew and when it was first spoken, there is good reason that the answer is Adam and in the garden. Here’s why.

We know that at the tower of Babel, all the languages were “confounded.”

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).”

Interestingly, the very next verse introduces the lineage of Shem. As you’ll no doubt remember, Shem was one of the descendants of Noah. It is from Shem’s name that we get the word Semitic. In Genesis 10, he is called “the father of all the people of Eber.” The word Eber is the root ayin-vet-resh with vowels added (the second letter, vet, is also pronounced bet, so it can make the sound “v” or “b”).

The Hebrew verb avar is the same word as eber, and it means pass, cross, traverse, undergo. It implies being nomadic, which the Hebrew people were from the time Abram left Ur until they settled in the Promised Land.

After the tower of Babel, Noah’s three sons went in different directions and established their own civilizations with their own languages. (Apparently, God didn’t even leave Noah’s family speaking the same language!)

But what language was spoken before the flood? What was the original language of humanity? What language did God speak to Adam?

Here’s why it might have been Hebrew.

Despite what you may have been taught in “history” books, language did not evolve from grunts and groans that early cavemen spoke. God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The language of God was the language that Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator. Since one language was spoken by all the world until after the flood, it’s helpful to see what clues we can find in the Bible that would tell us what that language was.

One clue that might help us is looking at names. In Hebrew, every name has a meaning. If we consider the fact that all the names from Adam to Noah were Hebrew names, it follows that Hebrew was being spoken. Look at the following chart to see one of the names of Adam’s children and the meaning behind the name.

(Prophecy was fulfilled. Remember that Methuselah was named 969 years before the flood!)

It wasn’t until Noah’s grandchildren came along that the names were no longer Hebrew. For instance, Nimrod (spoken of in Genesis 11:18) is not a Hebrew name. That makes sense because he lived in ancient Sumer where Japheth’s descendants lived.

According to the roster of ancient names, Adam and his progeny spoke Hebrew!

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week Twelve — The Caring Paradigm

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week Twelve — The Caring Paradigm

The Caring Paradigm

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is known as “the love chapter.” It described what love is—and what it is not—in detail. If you wanted to reduce it to a simple paradigm, it would say something like “love cares more for others than itself.”  Paul recognized that without love, no matter how great his revelations were, he would be useless to himself and to others. Then he went out and lived that paradigm.

What do you struggle with from that list? I know for me, it’s “love is not easily provoked.” The words “easily provoked” come from terms that mean ‘to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger, despise, scorn, make angry, exasperate and burn with anger.” Yet today it seems that everything we think, do, or say has those precise effects on others. Just having an opinion is enough to spark violence from an “offended” party.

When I was in high school, there was a classmate that I loved running into, even though we were more acquaintances than friends. And that was because she always made me feel like I truly mattered. Her demeanor, her words, her kind actions made me want to be more like her.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

In the story of the Good Samaritan, the religious Jews–who should have been setting a good example–had more important things to do than stop and help a hapless stranger.

Yet the God of the universe didn’t have anything more important to do than die for our sins. And you know what? He would have done it if you had been the only person left in the world! Do you know why? Not because He has love for us, but because He is love.

He set the example. Are we following it?

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-8).”

Jesus always put others’ needs before His own. And by setting us an example, He intended that we would love each other with a love so intense that outsiders would want to know about this great love that insiders had for each other.

So where do we get this kind of love? It can’t be manufactured. You can’t buy it. For this incredible kind of love, you have to go to the Source of love. Find time this week to invest in prayer. Ask God to make you an example of His great love so that others will be drawn to what you have.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?