A letter from God to ? (is it you?)

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I know you have a thirst, and I invite you to come and drink from me. I am the one who wants to comfort you. I bought you and I will complete the work I began in you. I still delight in you and claim you as my own; I rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. Although you have lost sight of me, I will never fail you or forsake you.

I know your manifold transgressions and pain; I know all of the mighty sins and frustrations you hold on to, yet my grace is sufficient for you. I have cast all your sins and hurts behind my back; I have trampled them under my feet, and thrown them into the depths of the ocean! I have washed away all your sins and pain; I have swept them away like the morning mist, scattered them like the clouds. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.

You are troubled and worried about many things; trust me with all your heart. I know how to rescue my people from their trials. My Spirit helps you in your distress. Let me strengthen you with my glorious power. I have never withheld anything from you—I did not spare my Son but gave him up for your sake. If I have done this for you, can you not believe that I will provide for you everything that you need? March on, my dear one, with courage! Never give up. I will help you. I will uphold you.

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

I will never tire or sleep. I will stand beside you. I wish to hide you in the shelter of my presence. When you are troubled, I will go ahead of you, directing your steps and delighting in every detail of your life. When you stumble, you will not fall, for I promise to hold you by the hand. I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

I will make you fruitful in a the land of suffering, trading beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for despair. I live with the low spirited and spirit crushed. I will put new spirit in you and get you on your feet again. Weeping may go on all night, but joy will come with the morning. If I am for you, who can ever be against you?

Look to me and I will throw my arms around you, lavish attention on you, and guard you as the apple of my eye. I know you feel I have neglected you, but I rejoice over you with singing and great joy every time I hear your name. My thoughts of you cannot be counted; they outnumber the grains of sand! Nothing can ever separate you from my love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. You loneliness can’t, and your confused thoughts can’t. Your fears for today, your worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell that have sought to destroy you can not keep my love away.

You have sometimes said, “The Lord has deserted me; the Lord has forsaken me.” But can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would not forget you! I paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, my sinless, spotless Lamb. No one will snatch you away from me. See Mary, I have written your name on my hand. I will call you my friend. Why, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are valuable to me.

Mary, give me your burdens; I will take care of you. I know how weak you are, that you are made of dust. Give all your worries and cares to me, because I care about what happens to you.

Remember, I am at hand. Come to me when you are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. I delight in you, and I can be trusted to keep my promises. Come and drink the water of life.

You loving Father,

God

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Hebrew Words for Love

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A message for young couples, married folks and those pursuing Yeshua

Over the years I’ve developed quite an appreciation for the Hebrew language, and for fun I re-visited the Song of Solomon to see how using the Hebrew words would alter my understanding of the Song.

If you’ve read my previous study of the Song of Solomon you discovered that I have a slightly different view regarding the Song than many. For me it’s as much a story—a poem—as it is an allegory of our pursuit of Yeshua as our Lover and King. Interestingly, young Hebrew boys weren’t allowed to read the Song, because the images were considered too intense, too erotic.

So I wanted to take a quick look at the Song, but this time view it both from physical relationships—then how it relates to our pursuit of our Lover/King. You see, the Song of Songs, as it was most commonly known, gives us a series of pictures of the relationship between a man and a woman (and as a believer and their Messiah)—not just the joy of the relationship, but also the struggles and complexities. The two, this man and woman in the song, are experiencing a relationship that almost seems to have a life of its own.

What do I mean? Continue reading . . .

Holiness and You . . .

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Over the last few years I have been creating a study—a review, if you will—of the first five books of the Bible, what is called the Torah. In fact, I would have to admit that I have become quite fascinated and passionate (okay, my friends would call it obsessive) about the studies.

Well, when I began Leviticus chapter 21, which is directly connected to chapter 22, I explained that both were directed to the priests of Israel, although much of what the priests were instructed to do was also required of the regular citizens.

So I tried to put things in perspective and make some connections. Of all the goals I was intending to achieve, I hope I gave everyone a better understanding of just how holy Yahweh is; and, how He will take whatever means necessary to protect His Holiness; and that it isn’t just His expectation but His demand that those who claim allegiance to Him are to be themselves holy.

But what does that mean? If you had been reading the studies, you saw a long series of ordinances and rules—typically called laws—that carefully spell out the human behaviors that express holiness, and conversely, those which are against holiness. Of course, what usually impacts the average student most is the severe nature of the consequences, the punishments, for what happens if they don’t exhibit the behaviors, or is disobedient, to what was called for by the Law—that is, when a law is broken. These consequences and punishments are often referred to as curses—and, taken together, sometimes as the “curse of the law.” Read more . . .

Salvation by Works

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In going back though my study on the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and in the 35 chapter of Exodus, God repeated a command he had given several times, and that was that Israel is not to do any work on the Sabbath. Even starting a fire was prohibited, at the expense of death. Why was starting a fire such an issue? The only reason to have a fire was to either keep warm from a chilly evening, or to use it for some form of work. Now there were all kinds of ways they could keep warm out in the Wilderness without fire because, even at night, it simply wasn’t that cold where they were living. But a fire was needed for most types of work; for cooking, for the metal arts, for concocting dyes for cloth, for baking earthenware and a wide range of crafts. For you physicists out there, notice what the essence of fire is: it’s the conversion of matter into energy. Fire is a transforming force, and God was ordaining a state of stillness on Shabbat. The only authorized use of fire on the Sabbath was for sacrificing and the priests performed that exclusively at the Tabernacle.

I know, this is just an interesting tidbit of information, right? But the idea, here, is that no work, a complete rest and dependence on God was to be observed on Sabbath. At this point we have to remember that the Hebrews were still living primarily on Manna. And God instructed them to gather double the amount of Manna needed on the day before the Sabbath so they could prepare it and have it ready and not have to gather or cook on Shabbat.

Hundreds of years later, Yeshua would tell his disciples to rest in him. We’re to rest in, and depend on, the finished work of God. It’s the Sabbath that sets up this principle and gives us a model for what this is trying to communicate. You see, in so many ways in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we’re shown that our works, our efforts, to achieve a saving kind of righteousness before God—believing that being a good person is enough—is worse than useless—it’s offensive.

In fact when God provides the way, His way, for our holiness, that’s what we’re to rely on. We’re not to dismiss it and work towards our own way; we’re not to try to use His way in combination with our work. We can never add to what God has done; to even attempt it is to diminish what He has done. Yehoveh also told Israel that the way to be holy in His eyes was to observe the Sabbath; the Sabbath would clothe Israel in His holiness. He didn’t give Israel a choice “B” or “C.” With the advent of Christ, the way to be holy in Yehoveh’s eyes is to have faith in Christ—and that trust and faith will be our holiness. Yehoveh only “sees” two kinds of people: Righteous, those who accept His work through Yeshua, and Unrighteous, refusing to accept the work of Yeshua. Our personal opinions; our human efforts to be holy, to work our way towards holiness, are as filth to God. They can do nothing but pollute and defile the only means of holiness that He has provided. The Sabbath rest, and Christ’s rest, are one in the same. And the one did not abolish the other; nor is one a substitute for the other.

The Victory of the Cross

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You know, I used to hear Bible teachers, some of the best, I might add, talk about the victory of the Cross. I heard sermons and read books about the great victory won on Jesus’ cross. But maybe we should see the whole thing differently. Easter is coming and our attention will inevitably be brought to our Lord’s crucifixion. What a fabulous weekend for us to celebrate! So, was there a great victory on the cross?

Indeed, there was a victory won by the cross. The Sanhedrin won a great victory; the men who hated Jesus and were jealous of Him, saw a great victory. Certainly Satan and his demons rejoiced from their great victory over the Man who had healed the sick and raised the dead and caused such havoc among the residents of hell. Spiritual death had won a great victory over the Author of life.

You see, what happened on the cross when darkness came down over the cross and Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” is that Jesus had become sin. The Scriptures tell us that “Him who knew no sin, God made to become sin.” No angels from God ministered to Him in that dark hour. God turned His back on Jesus. All creation went into mourning. And the earthquake was creation’s resentment against its Creator being made sin.

Here He was, the Lamb of God that was to bear the sin of the world, and the cross was where that sin was laid on Him. There was no victory there. There was no eternal life given there. There was no victory over Satan there. There was the awful fact that God’s Son was made sin. Continue reading . . .

Why go to church . . .

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I heard a speaker one time preach from Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord build the house, its builders labor in vain.” His exposition was that the verse said, “first the house, then the city,” and he deduced from that, “first the family, then the church.”

My heart was crying out, “Heresy! Heresy!”

Ive received a bunch of criticism for what Im going to present to you. However, if you will bear with me, maybe we can see through new eyes. You see, I contend that the Church is to be second in priority only to God Himself. Look at the first three chapters in Ephesians. I see at least four reasons to support my belief.

Continue reading . . .

Word’s Mean Something . . .

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When my kids were young I used to read them a bedtime story, and afterwards I sometimes asked them “So, what did you think of the book?” More often than not, the answer was a simple “Good.”

I told them that the word “good” was banned. The book could be funny, boring, interesting, scary, lovely, awful, delightful, . . . or a combination of terms. Anything but good. It’s time to give the old and tired words “good” and “bad” a well-deserved rest. (I was such a tough dad).

I think the same applies for people. Not that the old and tired need to be put to rest, but that people are rarely just good or bad. Somebody could be ebullient, which means Bubbling with enthusiasm or excitement; or they could be tremulous, if they are timid or nervous. Some people are pavid (you can look that one up).

I feel the same way about many other words. I will argue that the word “awesome” only applies to Yehoveh. Think of it. Awesome means: amazing: inspiring awe or admiration or wonder . . . that seems to describe Yehoveh quite well don’t you think? I may appreciate Chicago, but I wouldn’t say Chicago was “awesome.”

Did you ever think that God’s name was God? No, Yehoveh (YHVH- יהוה, Yod Heh Vau Heh) is the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Continue reading . . .