No Longer Strangers…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From Ephesians:

Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth–called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised–at that time had no Messiah.  You were estranged from the national life of Isra’el.  You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise.  Your were in this world without hope and without God.

Many times in scripture God instructs us to remember.  Who we were, where we were, who he is, what he does, his works on our behalf, consequences for actions from which he delivers us…

But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood.  For he himself is our shalom—he has made us both one and has broken down the commands which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Word of God, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances.  He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity

Those far (gentile people) and those near(Jewish people) are brought together into one group through Christ.  Something only God could do.  This union brings peace between two groups who were at odds with one another.  This union is made possible in the commonality of Christ.  The commands are also changed from law to the actual new nature.  They are simply what is done as a new creature in Christ for both the Gentile and the Jew.

Also, when he came, he announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby, news that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers.  On the contrary, you are  fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family.  You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua Messiah himself.  In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the Lord. Yes, in union with Him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling-place for God!

No longer strangers to one another the two groups become one group built on a sure foundation.  Before one builds any structure, a firm foundation must be laid.  If not, the strong storm will do much damage, may even bring it down.  Builders today have codes to follow that have been proven to withstand the winds of nature.The fellowship of believers of Christ will stand through the attacks of the enemy if they are supported by a strong foundation.  This foundation is found in the teachings from God put forth by his faithful leaders and through Jesus Christ the cornerstone uniting two worlds into one.  The foundation construction and composition is found in God’s Word and in Christ the Living Word.

For the individual it is the support given by the belt of truth; a belt of truth found in God’s Word and a belt that supports the rest of the armor of God.  Each individual, then, can stand strong and when linked together with other believers can advance against the enemy both corporately and individually, providing additional strength for one another in the individual walk through life.

What does the believer possess?  What makes their life so rich?  They have the promises found in the Word that are truth, giving strength to the spirit in its battle with the natural, the flesh.  They possess unity where once there was division; resulting in peace rather than strife.  They possess the spiritual benefits found in this unity that permits them to grow in their spiritual walk with God.  They are no longer strangers or foreigners to one another but have a common ground in Christ and that is a strong foundation upon which to build the house of God.

Pray – We are built together, two worlds once separated now joined in Christ, to become a spiritual dwelling-place for God!

Repent – I repent for the times I look on others as different without accepting them as fellow believers in Christ causing a separation in my mind where You want unity.

Ask – Keep deceitful ways far from me, and favor me with your Word.  I choose the way of trust; I set Your rulings[before me].  I cling to Your instruction; Adonai, don’t let me be put to shame!

Yes – I will run the way of Your commands, for You have broadened my understanding.

Source:  Ephesians and Psalm 119

Praise commensurate with His glory…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Ephesians 1

Furthermore, you who heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance, and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh, who guarantees our inheritance until we come into possession of it and thus bring him praise commensurate with his glory.  

Three times God tells us through Paul, we will “bring him praise commensurate with his glory.”  How do I love you, O God?  Let me count the ways and why.  You loved me first.  You planned me long before a world existed.  My heart, my core being fills up with unspoken emotion when I meditate on this.  My spirit continually seeks for more of You; more revealed in Your Word, more revealed in Your creation.  My body gets weak when I contemplate Your greatness and I am left amazed and puzzled that One so much greater than I would consider me let alone know me and love me as You do.  Who is man that You are mindful of him or the son of man that You visit him? I am forever grateful…

For this reason, ever since I heard about your trust in the Lord Yeshua, and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you.  In my prayers I keep asking the God of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you will have full knowledge of him.  I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people, and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him.  It works with the same mighty strength he used when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven, far above every ruler, authority, power, dominion, or any other name that can be named either in the ‘olam hazah or in the ‘olam haba.  Also, he has put all things under his feet and made him head over everything for the Messianic Community, which is his body, the full expression of him who fills all creation.

It is time, past time, to join in prayer.  It is time to pray for all God’s people to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation; to receive the full knowledge of him; to have their eyes opened, the eyes of the heart, to understand the hope they are called to.  It is time to pray they understand the inheritance, that  his great power works in them to accomplish more than they can imagine or ask; this same power able to raise Jesus from death to life.

Pray – Father, who has given every family in heaven and on earth their name and their character, I pray to you asking that you will empower them by your Holy Spirit so that the Messiah may come to live in them through their trust and faith.

Repent – I repent for the times I feel too weary to pray for them.  I repent for the time I want to move quickly through my prayers so I can do what I want to do.

Ask – I pray that I, with all of God’s people, will be rooted and founded in love; that I and they will be given the strength to grasp the length, depth, height and width of the Messiah’s love to know it even though it is beyond all knowing that we may be filled with the fullness of You, God.

Yes – I will ever thank You for Your goodness to all mankind.  And I thank You for the answers to prayer You bring.  O God, You are my God and I will ever praise You…

Perfect needs Practice…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome
Practicing the doing of the Word.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Practicing the peace(shoes), the righteousness (breastplate), the salvation (helmet), the faith (shield), the truth (belt), the scripture (sword), praying (the activator) is work.  When we speak of salvation it is a gift, not of works, lest anyone should boast; we are not saying there is no work.  A misconception that is commonly heard.  What is said is simply the truth that we cannot work to attain salvation; but salvation, the gift, comes with a set of instructions so that it may be complete.  We do the instructions; following them requires practice.  Even in this, God is the enabler, we are not abandoned to a task impossible…

So what does this practice look like?  When one decides to learn a new skill, one first researches it; studies it; asks for a ‘master’ of the skill to help.  Then one begins to practice that skill.  Simply wanting the skill does not make one skilled at it.  The celebrities of the world did not go out onto a rink, onto a court, onto a stage and begin their ‘game’ untaught and unpracticed.

How does one practice a skill of the Christ-like lifestyle?  Not by following a set of restrictions, but by being freed up from fear to continue the practice.  Freedom from fear of failure, fear of inability, fear of inadequacy allows confidence in who one is, the identity in Christ, and what tools are available to use in the quest for an overcoming life full of the blessing found listed in Ephesians.   Who one is in Christ and what is available to the believer is found clearly defined in Ephesians 1-3.

Begin with study.  We have a study guide full of encouragement and advice directly from  God!  Follow with coaching from one already skilled.  We have teachers of the Word and those walking in faith as well as fellow students at different levels of ability.  Pray, asking for that promised enabling that comes from God, keeping the focus on “the ball”, “the light,”  the Lord, not on the circumstances.

In conflict, follow Psalm 62: My soul, waits in silence for God alone; my salvation (from the conflict) comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation (not any other source; money, job, etc.) my stronghold; I won’t be greatly moved.  ( emotions are recognized but don’t rule my actions).  I sit, listen, wait.  I’m gathering information about the other person, about the nature of the conflict, and I’m hearing the voice of the spirit in the Word I’ve already placed in my heart and mind.  I speak only when given prodding to speak by the spirit, not by the emotion.  This is practicing peace(shoes).  Dug in and standing firm, unmoved by emotion or fear.  It is practicing truth(belt), it is practicing the Word in action ( sword and shield).  Activate it all by praying the scripture in the heart and mind; ready for use in deflecting accusations.

Pray – My soul waits in silence for God alone; my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold; I won’t be greatly moved.  Putting on the helmet of salvation and the shoes of peace.

Repent – I repent for those times I have placed my efforts before your instructions came; Moving out in my own strength without waiting for your commands, without seeking Your commands.

Ask- My soul, wait in silence for God alone, because my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold; I won’t be moved.  O God, You are my God, I will seek you eagerly.  My heart thirsts for You, my body longs for You…, my lips will  worship You.

Yes – Yes, I will bless you as long as I live.

Sources: Psalm 62,63; Ephesians 1, 4, 6

Who is God?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From Isaiah 40:

With whom, then, will you compare God?

By what standard will you evaluate Him?

An image made by a craftsman,

Which a goldsmith overlays with gold,

For which he then casts silver chains?

A man too poor to afford an offering

Chooses a piece of wood that won’t rot

Then seeks out a skilled artisan

To prepare an image that won’t fall over.

Don’t you know?  Don’t you hear?

Haven’t you been told from the start?

Don’t you understand how the earth is set up?

He who sits above the circle of the earth—-

For whom its inhabitants appear like grasshoppers–

Stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

Spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He reduces princes to nothing,

The rulers of the earth to emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,

Scarcely their stem take root in the ground,

When he blows on them, they dry up,

And the whirlwind carries them off like straw.

“With whom, then will you compare me?

With whom am I equal?  asks the Holy One.

He’s given us a book of scriptures that reveals who He is and what He does and what He’s like.  There is no use in trying to compare Him to something known by us for He is greater than that.  So we begin to see Him and understand when we acknowledge that He is greater far than anything we know.

Pray – My soul waits in silence for God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold; I won’t be greatly move.  Putting on the helmet of salvation.

Repent – I repent for those times I have placed my efforts before Your instruction came; Moving out in my own strength without waiting for Your commands, without seeking Your commands.

Ask – My soul, wait in silence for God alone, because my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold; I won’t be moved,  O God, Your are my God, I will seek You eagerly. My heart thirsts for You, my body longs for You, … my lips will worship You.

Yes – Yes, I will bless you as long as I live.

Psalm 62,63 source

Giving Thanks for Life…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From Ephesians:

You used to be dead because of your sins and acts of disobedience.  You walked in the ways of ‘olam hazah and obeyed the Ruler of the Powers of the air, who is still at work among the disobedient.  Indeed, we all once lived this way—we followed the passions of our old nature and obeyed the wishes of our old nature and our own thoughts.  In our natural condition we were headed for God’s wrath, just like everyone else. 

We talk of our passion for this or that.  Our words betray us.  We develop habits of behavior that obey our old nature.  To break the habits takes concentrated effort and what is amazing is how God enables us to do it when we ask.  “able to accomplish way more than we can imagine or ask.”  Changing the thoughts that enter the heart and drive the actions and words  is not easily done.  With our willingness, God is able to accomplish just that.  We filled our minds with garbage, the garbage must be replaced with the pure knowledge of God through Christ and that is the purpose for immersing oneself in the scripture remembering that Jesus is the Word; He makes the Word alive and active.

Pray – How can we keep our ways pure?  By guarding them according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; don’t let me stray from your commands. I treasure your word in my heart, so that I won’t sin against you.  Blessed are you, Adonai!

Repent – I am sorry for not asking first what you want me to do  I am sorry for the years spent in neglect of your Word for how then could I know your way except to follow others; not always a good thing…

Ask – Teach me your laws.  I proclaim with my mouth all the rulings you have spoken.

Yes – I rejoice in the way of your instruction more than any kind of wealth.  I will meditate on your precepts and keep my eyes on your ways.  I will find my delight in your regulations.  I will not forget your Word..  Your Word sets me free, your restrictions give release to move forward.  Speaking your Word, which is righteous, over temptations, which are not, places a restriction on the temptations, and releases me to move freely in Your Spirit.  Thank you!

Source:  Ephesians 2 and Psalm 119

A love that transcends all else…

John 19:16-27

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.  Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ”

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.  They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:

“They divided My garments among them,

And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Therefore the soldiers did these things.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

Two things noted here: the fulfillment of scripture and continued evidence of the loving nature of Jesus.  The handling of his clothes provide further confirmation that he fulfills all the statements foretold about him.  Providing for the care of his mother when in the middle of pain, rejection, and shame gives further indication of his deep love.  We can do likewise even though it is easier to focus on our own situation and we want to lash out, or simply draw attention to how harsh we have it; we can love as he loved with a love that transcends ourselves and our personal pain and rejection.  We too can love and care regardless of our own circumstances.  How deep is that love of Christ!

Believe, hear, follow…

John 10:22-42

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’?  If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” And many believed in Him there.

 “…If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” A deceptive request and Jesus sees through it.  “I told you, and you do not believe. …you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Unbelief hinders reception of the knowledge and understanding of God and the things of God.  Jesus says of the miracles…  “The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. ”  In other words, if you won’t believe what is said in response to the question, then believe the evidence in the miracles.  “… believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”  What do we mean when we say we are so ‘into’ someone?  Do we mean we follow them, we watch them, we listen to them, we want to spend time with them?  This Jesus says is the relationship between the Father and he and the miracles are the proof.  He says his sheep, those who believe him, will share this same relationship.  “My sheep know my voice and they follow me.”  We, then, can look into our relationship with Christ and test to see if we have that desire to follow him, watch him, listen to him, spend time with him.  How do we do this in this time?  The scripture is a place to study who he is and what he does, and our time set aside to hear his voice is a time to be still and listen.