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. About a year after that I had my left knee replaced, followed by a revision six months later 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. You’ll never walk without aid again.”

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 usually 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 stunned.

At our church service a week earlier, 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’d 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!

 

Sabbath Rest (מְנוּחָה לַשַּׁבָּת)

Sabbath Rest (מְנוּחָה לַשַּׁבָּת)

m'nuchah lashabbat

 

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” — Exodus 20:8-11

When God created all that exists, He did it in six days. Yet He didn’t finish until the end of the seventh day. Why was that? Because God wanted man to remember all that He had done and to rest on the seventh day. Imagine. God made man on the sixth day and the first thing He had him do was rest!

There are numerous reasons for the keeping the Sabbath holy (set apart and sanctified to God) and we benefit from every one of them. But to me, the most important one is because it is holy; God made it so.

The time we spend resting on the Sabbath rejuvenates us for the rest of the week. It’s similar to the tithe. God can do more with 90% of your income when you give the first 10% to Him first than you can do with 100% of your money. The Sabbath is time taken out of our 168 hours—24 hours set aside to receive a gift of time. The tithe given in joy to God reaps rewards, and the Sabbath kept with joy reaps rewards, too.

The Sabbath is meant to be a gift. It is not something that should make us chafe, impatiently waiting so that we can get back to what we’re about.

And speaking of that, there is a difference between work that is not allowed on the weekly Sabbath and work that is not allowed on the other Sabbaths and feasts days of the Lord. On the weekly Sabbath, we are to do no labor. That word in Hebrew is melakha (מְלָאכָה), which refers to all forms of human activity that is work.

The work not allowed on the feast days and other Sabbaths is called avodah (עֲבֹדָה), which means any work that is part of your normal labor. My pastor, who is Jewish, likes to mow his lawn on the Sabbath. It is relaxing to him, and he doesn’t do it during the other six days of the week.

Did you realize that most people who say they keep the Ten Commandments rarely remember the Sabbath? For some reason, modern man has simply cut the fourth commandment out. But really, a precious few also keep the first three commandments, either. If you’re not keeping the Sabbath, have you made an idol out of your work? Are you looking to “make a name for yourself” (a graven image)? Are you by not keeping the Sabbath yet calling yourself by His name taking the Lord’s name “in vain”? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think and why.

Korban: A Sacrificial Present

Korban: A Sacrificial Present

What does the Hebrew word korban mean?

Our Hebrew word for today is קֹרְבָּן (korban), which occurs in the Bible with the following translations: offering (68x), oblation (12x), offered (1x), sacrifice (1x).

The korban was presented as a remedy for the guilt of sin. But sin itself has many different translations. It occurs 448 times in 389 verses in the KJV. Translated as trespass, it occurs 82 times in 73 verses. Transgression occurs 51 times in 50 verses, iniquity occurs 278 times in 262 verses.

Then there are offerings, קָרְבָּן. Although translated as a sacrificial present, there was an elaborate system of offerings to deal with sin in the Hebrew scriptures, but just one in the New Testament. That one, of course, was the ultimate sacrificial offering made by God Himself, in the person of Yeshua ben haElohim (Jesus the Son of God).

Let’s look first at the differences among the translations for sin.

The result of continuous, unrepentant sin is a reprobate mind. Here is how reprobate is defined:

noun

a depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person: a drunken reprobate.
a person rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.

adjective

morally depraved; unprincipled; bad.
rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.

verb (used with object), rep·ro·bat·ed, rep·ro·bat·ing.

to disapprove, condemn, or censure.
(of God) to reject (a person), as for sin; exclude from the number of the elect or from salvation.

Romans 1:21

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Now let’s look at the different kinds of offerings.

Colossians 1:19– 20

In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All (Hebrews 10:1-10)

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”a]

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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Shining the Light on Slavery in the Hebrew Scriptures

Shining the Light on Slavery in the Hebrew Scriptures

“And if the slave shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”

Exodus 21:5-6

Exodus 21:5-6

What does it mean to be a slave? According to the Vocabulary.com dictionary, slavery is defined thus: Slavery is the brutal practice of forcing someone to work hard without paying them a fair wage, sometimes without paying them at all. That is a perfectly adequate definition for modern America, but it is far from the reality of slavery in ancient Israel. In fact, the rules and commandments about slaves goes all the way back to Moses, before the people ever crossed into the Promised Land.

As you can see from the definition of avad (above), it actually means doing work that another desires you to do. Moses had just delivered the people from slavery in Egypt; wouldn’t you think they wouldn’t want to subject others to what they just came from? Well, that’s why Moses told them about how they should treat slaves.

The system of slavery in ancient Israel is nothing like the definition from Vocabulary.com. In fact, the word avad was used for both servants and slaves. The difference between the two involved why they were working for their masters. People generally became household slaves because they owed money they could not pay. A thief might become a slave if he could not make restitution. A family who was very poor might sell their young daughter as a slave, but that was the purview of the father alone. The mother had no say in the matter.

In order for a Hebrew to become a slave for debt, a court would have to make an order. The only other way for this to happen was for the slave to voluntarily become a slave. And even then, the period of his slavery could not exceed 6 years.

Reading Hebrew
Photo courtesy of Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Slaves were members of the master’s household. They were fed, clothed, often given education, and had all their needs met. The Sabbath applied to them, too, so one day a week they were not required to work. The males were circumcised and they all took part in God’s appointed festivals. If there was no heir (and sometimes if there were), a slave could inherit his master’s estate.

While they were living in the master’s household, the master only had limited rights over them. If the master mistreated them, they could be set free by the courts. And all slaves, no matter the reason for their slavery, were set free in the year of Jubilee. Anything that originally had belonged to the slave was returned to him at that point, including landholdings of his family.

If the master ignored the law and mistreated his slave and the slave ran away, others were to give him refuge, not return him to the wicked master.

After a slave was set free, he was not sent away empty-handed but was given gifts like a son leaving home.

“And when thou lettest him go free from thee, thou shalt not let him go empty; thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy threshing floor, and out of thy winepress; of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.”

Deut. 15:13–14

When a female was sold into slavery, the son of the master had to marry her. If he refused, she was set free. However, female slaves were only sold into slavery up to the age of 12, and only in the case of abject poverty. As soon as her father could afford to, she must be redeemed.

What about slaves who were not Hebrew? Alien slaves were rarely personal property. They became slaves through war and as such belonged to the king and not an individual. They were in servitude in perpetuity. “Ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession, of them ye may take your bondmen forever” (Lev. 25:46).

Today, slaves are sold, whether male or female, and with indifference to age, all over the world—except in Israel. They are forced to work for others and are often sold to other owners. The things considered “work” that they must do are often horrific. They are starved, beaten, raped, and made to work for long hours without pay and certainly never allowed a “Sabbath.” But one thing is true: human trafficking and slavery today is nothing like slavery in ancient Israel.

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UIOF- Week 18- Be the Invitation

UIOF- Week 18- Be the Invitation

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Jesus Christ

Luke 15:4

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were looking for a Messiah that would reward their supposed righteousness. They saw Jesus as a man who would eat with sinners, and that couldn’t be the Messiah they were expecting. They knew in their “holier than thou” thinking that God wouldn’t relate to someone who hadn’t cleaned up her life. But that’s not what Jesus said!

He showed a completely different paradigm of God’s love! He went to where the sinners were, eating and drinking with them before they changed their ways.

Unfortunately, the church today has acquired a superiority complex. Like the Pharisees, they believe they are holier than others. But are they holier than Christ?

When Christians develop loving relationships with unbelievers, they show themselves to be true disciples of Jesus. How about you? Are you critical of others, like the Pharisees, or do you wee the brokenness of the unbeliever prime real estate for God’s love?

What characterizes the Divine Love? Compassion! Not only compassion for lack of material things (although that also is good), but compassion for the lost sheep.

Have you ever “gone after the lost one,” even if it meant you had to for a time give up your fellowship with friends? Imagine how wonderful it is to hold out an invitation to dine with the Savior!

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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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