The Relationship between Faith and Obedience

We first meet a man named Abram in Genesis 11, where we are told in verses 31& 32::

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

We are not told why Terah left Ur, nor why he took Abram, Sarai and Lot with him. We are also not told why they stopped in Haran, and didn’t continue on to Canaan.

Chapter 12 begins with the Lord speaking directly to Abram, who at this point is 75 years old. Verses 1-8 tell us:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:“Get out of your country, From your family
And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.[a] And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.[b
]

Abram was obedient to the Lord. We do not know how the Lord chose to communicate to Abram, before verse 7 of Chapter 12, We also do not know what form He took when He appeared to Abram in the same verse; for unlike Moses, whose first encounter with God is documented, in Exodus 3:2 “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed” Scripture tells us nothing of Abram’s first encounter with the Lord.

Abram obeyed God, even though he had no experiential knowledge that following God was the right thing to do. This is what faith is really all about. God made some promises to Abram that would not be fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that. . 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

But God also made some promises to Abram that were fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime, which showed Abram that being obedient through faith would bring the blessing that the Lord spoke of. For the next 24 years, Abram lived his life, didn’t always look to the Lord for answers, and sometimes got himself into trouble with God and others. He is a good example of how many Christians live their lives, because most of us do the same thing.

While the Lord interacted with Abram during this time, we are now going to look at a promise that the Lord made, that was partially fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. . Looking at Chapter 17 of Genesis, we find that God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Verses 5 and 6 tell us 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you”. The Lord also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. Verses 15and 16 state:” 15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

A year later, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah as we see in Chapter 21, verses 1-3: “ 1And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.”

In Chapter 22, God decides to test Abraham. Verses 1-3 tells us: “1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham and Isaac continued alone to Mount Moriah. Verse 9 picks up the story:

Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Abraham trusted God. He knew he would be returning from the mountain with Isaac. He didn’t know how God was going to accomplish this, but he had faith in God, for the Lord had promised Abraham that Isaac was the son of promise.

What does this teach us? By being obedient to the Lord and trusting Him with our lives and the decisions we need to make, He always has the best ready for us. It may not be what we want, but it is always exactly what we need. Having faith in what the Lord would have us do, means that we will be obedient to His will. He states in 1st Samuel 15:22  22 So Samuel said“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Additionally, Psalms 25:10 states: All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies”. We can learn from Abraham that obedience and faith are the best way to have a relationship with God. Even though Abraham made many mistakes in his relationship with God, he believed in Him. Genesis Chapter 15, verse 6 says: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” I hope the someday, the same thing can be said about me.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 6/13-6/19/17

The Role of Israel In The Book Of Romans

Many casual readers of Romans believe that Paul’s writing of chapters 9, 10, and 11 is parenthetical, in the Book of Romans; just as Tamar’s story is parenthetical in Genesis 38. While Tamar’s story is indeed parenthetical, Paul’s discussion of the Jews is not. These are the same people who assume that these 3 chapters in Romans are the only time Paul discusses the Jews in the Book of Romans. Galatians 3:28 states: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While it is true that both Jews and Gentiles are equal before Christ, there are lessons that can be learned by looking at Israel’s relationship with God that are applicable to both.
The beginning of chapter 2 appears to be a continuation of Chapter 1, which speaks of the Gentiles and their guilt. Warren W. Wiersbe, however, in his book, BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS), tells us on page 25: “Bible scholars do not agree on whom Paul was addressing in Romans 2:1-6”. Further down the same page he states: “But it seems to me that Paul was addressing his Jewish readers in this section. To begin with his discussion of the Law in 2:12-16 would have been more meaningful to a Jew than a Gentile. And in 2:17, he openly addressed his reader as ‘“a Jew”’.
Paul then admonishes the Jews by saying that they teach the Law, but asks if they follow it. Chapter 2:21-24 states:
21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Paul goes on to tell us in verses 28-29: “28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” In Chuck Smith’s book, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE, he tells us on page 19 that “The Jews were trusting in the Mosaic ritual of circumcision for their salvation, but their disobedience of the spirit of the Law invalidated the ritual.”
Paul starts Chapter 3 by stating “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Paul then goes on to explain why this wasn’t enough.
Paul summed up the argument and refuted those Jews who tried to debate him. They raised three questions. (1) “What advantage is it to be a Jew?” Reply: Every advantage, especially possessing the Word of God. (2) “Will Jewish unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness?” Reply: Absolutely not–it establishes it. (3) “If our sin commends His righteousness, how can He judge us?” Reply: We do not do evil that good may come of it. God judges the world righteously. (Wiersbe pg 29-30)
Scripture tells us that all have sinned and Paul then goes on to quote the Old Testament to show that this is not just a First Century problem.
Although not speaking directly of Israel, Paul uses the Old Testament figures of Abraham and David to show that we are justified by faith, not by works. Abraham is one of the most highly revered figures in Judaism, and considered the father of the Jewish people. Chapter 4 starts out in verses 1-4 to state:
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness” 4Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Paul also quotes Psalm 32:1-2 to show that David understood that righteousness is by faith, not by works.
As I previously stated, many Christians consider Romans 9, 10 and 11 to be parenthetical to the Book. They think that Paul is speaking only to the Jewish Believers in Rome. Without further study, it might appear that way. While Paul is speaking to the Jews, it is not just for the benefit of the Jews but also the Gentiles.
Paul starts out with a very interesting comment in Romans 9:1-5:
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen[a] according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Paul is mirroring Moses’ intercession after the Israelites built the golden calf in Exodus 32:32 “32Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” I have to admit that on a trip to Israel in 2001, I was able to pray the same prayer as Paul. It’s a deep prayer, but I made it in the knowledge that no one can be “snatched” out of Jesus’ hand, according to John 10:28:” 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” I’m not sure that Paul had that same assurance when that he prayed his prayer.
When Romans was written, Israel has corporately rejected God.
At this point in his letter Paul explains that God has removed the national privileges and blessings from Israel. The Jews had enjoyed a most-favored-nation status with God. However, by rejecting the righteousness proved for them through Jesus, the Messiah, the “natural branch” of Israel has been cut off for a time.
In matters of salvation, Israel no longer retains a privileged status. Jew and Gentile alike must come to Jesus, for He is God’s answer to every man’s sin. “All have sinned, and come sort of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption this is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 – Smith pg 77)
Paul goes on to explain that not all the children of Abraham will be considered Israel. The line goes through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (Israel). God uses Chapter 9 to show the different says that Israel has rejected Him. First they rejected Christ, then God’s purpose and justice. He concludes Chapter 9 thusly:
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.[n] 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.[o] For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Chapter 10 reiterates Paul’s desire that all of Israel should be saved and
one of the reasons that Israel has rejected God.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Paul was trying to show his beloved Israel that Christ was the only way to God. Using the Law and being circumcised were never enough to impute righteousness on anyone. Only through Christ, or for the Old Testament Saints, the belief that He was coming, can one obtain righteousness and salvation
This brings us to chapter 11. Israel’s rejection was not total. There was, and still is a remnant that remained true to God. “To be sure, there was a faithful remnant in the nation of that looked for His arrival such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38); but the majority of the people were not ready when He came. (Wiersbe pg 113)” The same remnant has always existed, but until the early 20th century, those who professed Christ as savior were at times required to deny their Jewish heritage Today it is possible to “be Jewish” and accept Jesus as Messiah.
Paul uses chapter 11 to explain his lineage and proclaim that while Jewish, he is accepting of Jesus as Messiah. In verses 1-6 Paul states:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”?[a] 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.[c] But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
This is also the chapter where Paul tells us that Israel’s rejection is not final.
God will restore the Jews to His love and favor when He opens their eyes and they receive Christ. The fullness of the glorious kingdom of God will then come. Zachariah testified to this day, saying, “And one shall say to him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6)…..One day the Jews will realize their blindness and folly. They’ll accept Jesus Christ, and the glorious national restoration of these people will bring in the Kingdom Age (Smith pg 100).
Paul uses Romans to highlight the blessings and follies of Israel as they tried to follow the Lord. He successfully shows that only reliance on the Lord, through faith, brings salvation. By showing what the Jews did correctly and incorrectly, he educated not only the Jews who wanted to believe in Messiah Y’shua (Jesus), but also the Gentiles.

Works Cited

Smith, Chuck, Pastor. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE Costa Mesa CA The Word for Today 1981, Print.

Wiersbe, Warren W. BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS) Colorado Springs, CO, Cook Communications Ministries, 2004, Print

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 3/10-3/14/17

I’m back. The Lord has been moving in my life

It’s the end of March, 2017 and I’ve become used to my “new normal”. I’m not the person I was before my brain surgery last May. I’ve learned to depend on the Lord for almost everything. By doing that, I’ve gotten a much better understanding of God and how our relationship with Him should work. I’ve been going to Bible College off and on for years, and will be publishing more papers as they are written. I will also be updating my relationship with Him, as He leads.

A Loving Christian Response to the LGBT Agenda

We are the first generation of Christians, in this country, who have had to deal with a growing positive attitude towards, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals. The Supreme Court has decided that Gay marriage should become the Law of the Land. Television shows now feature characters who are gay and in committed relationships, or even married. I find it disturbing to hear a man talk about his “husband” or a woman about her “wife”, either in real life or on TV. God created marriage in the Garden of Eden and Gay marriage is really just another ploy of the enemy to counterfeit that which God planned for good. We need to make sure that this loss of morality in our nation does not cause us to compromise the values of God.

How did this happen? Political correctness did not exist when I was growing up. There were clear rules of right and wrong. And even as late as the beginning of this century, I don’t think most Americans considered homosexuality a normal sexual behavior. While lesbians, gays, and bisexuals have existed as long as civilization has been around, until the last quarter of the 20th century, there was no political agenda for acceptance in this country. The LGBT movement simply didn’t exist. Of course, there have always been lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals; people just didn’t talk about it as part of their daily lives. If homosexuality was discussed, there was usually a hint, or maybe more than just a hint, of disgust. The stereotypes concerning gays were never positive. It was a well know stereotype in the 1970’s and 1980’s that if a hairdresser wasn’t married, he had to be gay. My mother would only allow a woman or married man to be her hairdresser. She wouldn’t take the chance that one of “them” might touch her.

If gay couples lived together, people just assumed that they were good friends and roommates. Even today, no one thinks it’s strange for 2 men or 2 women to rent an apartment together. The vast majority of Americans wouldn’t have thought there was anything more going on. Things started changing toward the end of the last century and beginning of this one. Many homosexual couples had been afraid to let it be known they were in relationships. In addition to the social stigma that went along with homosexuality, in many States, sodomy was illegal. In June 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute concerning sodomy. This also invalidated similar sodomy statutes in other States and basically legalized homosexuality in America.

Men have been dressing and living as women and women as men for centuries. There are documented cases of women dressing like men, so they could fight in wars. There are men who dress as women, even to the exaggerated extreme of being Drag Queens. But it wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that surgery was available which allowed individuals, who identified as transgendered, to mutilate themselves so they could have their bodies match their alleged internal gender identity. Most Americans probably became aware of people claiming to be transgendered in the 1970’s when Richard Raskind had gender reassignment surgery and became Renee Richards. She then successfully sued the United States Tennis Association, because they wouldn’t let her play in the US Open as a woman.

So why is any of this history important to us as Christians? I believe it is because in the past 25 years or so, it has become more and more politically correct to accept the homosexual lifestyle as normal. Even in the psychiatric world, where homosexuality was once classified as a mental disorder, it was decided that it was within normal parameters for people to be attracted to the same gender.

As believers, we need to remember that we have to treat Christians and non-Christians who live or promote the LGBT agenda differently. It goes without saying that we can never approve of homosexuality, bisexuality, or those who claim to be transgendered. We must remind ourselves, however, that those who practice this God abhorred lifestyle, and don’t know Jesus, are not going to hell for their sexual sin. They, like all other Christ rejecters, will face the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. “11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (NKJV)”.

We know that the Kingdom of God is the rule and sovereign reign of Almighty God. We also know that God’s Will isn’t perfectly realized today; but will be in the age to come. We have been blessed to be given a taste of The Kingdom; we need to do that which is pleasing and glorifying to God. Rather than condemning those who are confused about their true sexual identity, we need to concentrate on sharing the Gospel with them. It does no good to tell them that they will go to hell for their lifestyle choices. They need to learn that God will accept them as they are. And it is through their relationship with Him, that He will change those things He wants changed.

But what do we do if a Christian Brother or Sister claims to be homosexual? We need to take them to God’s Word and show them, in love, how God feels about this particular sexual sin. Some people even say that God made them this way. We need to show them that it is impossible for God to “make” someone homosexual, bisexual, or anything in between. He tells us in Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination (NKJV)”. The Lord confirms this in the New Testament in Romans 1:27 “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (NKJV)”. God also tells us that unless a man and woman are married, they need to be chaste. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 says “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion (NKJV)”. If a Brother or Sister struggles with same-sex attraction, we need to counsel them to remain celibate, just as we counsel our unmarried heterosexual brethren.

When considering the case of people who identify as being transgendered, I have not found Scripture that specifically covers this situation. However, Psalm 139:13 states “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb (NKJV)”. The Bible also states that God is perfect, and as Bible believing Christians; we need to take God at His Word. If He made someone with the gender of a male and the inner feelings of a female or visa-versa, then we would have to say that God can make mistakes. Scripture tells us that this is impossible. Psalm 18:30 says “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him (NKJV)”. Matthew 5:48 tells us “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Deuteronomy 32:4 states “He is the Rock, His work is perfect, For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He (NKJV)”

Do we try to navigate a slippery slope in our response to the entire LGBT agenda in order to keep to the straight and narrow, or do we just stand firm in our belief that we will follow God and His precepts. As Christians, we need to decide our responses to many issues. We also need to decide if we are willing to be called closed minded, persecuted, sued, or even prosecuted by the Government for keeping God’s Word. Some Christian business owners have been forced to close or change how they do business, because they were not willing to bake cakes, take wedding photos, or arrange flowers for Gay weddings. Are we willing to stand on God’s Word, no matter what the cost?

Many of us have relatives who live or support the LGBT lifestyle. What do we do if we get invited to their wedding? Do we attend? Marriage is a biblical concept, created by God in the Garden of Eden. God’s plan never included the marriage of same sex couples. I would not attend a Gay wedding ceremony, as this is a clear violation of God’s Word. But then you might ask, “Is it ok to attend the reception”?

Do we turn off television shows that promote the LGBT lifestyle? There are at least 2, possibly 3 new TV series being promoted about transgendered people, one of whom is a teenager. Do we not watch TV shows that show homosexuality as “normal”? And what do we do about companies promoting the LGBT lifestyle as “normal” in their commercials? The other day I saw one about a wholesome snack and it showed various types of “wholesome” families. The first family had 2 dads and a kid. I also saw a commercial for a pain reliever that talked about family and showed both homosexual and heterosexual families. How did we go from, I guess it’s ok if someone is gay, to promoting it? Should we stop buying these products? And why have we relinquished the rainbow, which is the sign of God’s promise not to destroy the earth by flood again, to the LGBT cause?

There are many people who believe that they are Christians and have no idea how to follow the Lord. They don’t see the LGBT agenda as wrong, because they don’t really know Christ. We need to start gently and lovingly reminding them that God is not only about love and forgiveness, but also righteousness and holiness. As followers of Christ, we need to stand up for what we believe. We need to emulate our Lord as best we can, as we live our daily lives. We need to say what we mean and do what we say. When people look at our lives, we need to make sure that they aren’t seeing us as hypocrites. But if I go to a gay reception, watch a particular television show, or buy products that support the LGBT lifestyle, am I being hypocritical?

Like many of my Brothers and Sisters, I don’t have the answers to all of these questions. We need to ask the Lord to not only give us the answers that we struggle with, but to give us the courage and the stamina to make the hard choices. We need to be able to say, “No, I will not come to your wedding” to our gay friends and family members. We need to lovingly let those struggling with sexual identity know that God doesn’t make mistakes. We must stand fast for our Lord Jesus, who died for us. Shouldn’t we be willing to pay whatever price is demanded, for sharing His Love and Salvation with a sinful and dying world?

The Most Important Gift Ever Given

I know I haven’t written for a while, but it’s been an interesting time of growth and depending on the Lord for me. I’ve got something kicking around in my head to share about this time, but I wanted to share this with you now.

When I was growing up I had a normal (for the time) nuclear family. Mom, dad, 2 kids and a dog. One Grandma who was still alive, aunts uncles, cousins, great aunts/uncles. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be. I was surrounded by people who loved me because we were related, and it was good.

Then I grew up and my cousins started getting married so there were “others” who were now cousins and this was good. Then I got married and I got “in-laws” and a whole new family to interact and become a part of. I was surrounded by people who loved me because we were related, and it was good.

During all this time, people I grew up with and loved were dying, because of age or illness. I had less people surrounding me who loved me, and this was NOT good,

Then God, in His infinite wisdom, decided to give me a second chance at love. He sent me a man who loved God and loved me. The funny thing is, we did not share a culture. We shared a loved for God and Jesus and that was enough to build a life and for me to become surrounded by many more people who loved me because we were related and it was good.

God took a twice widowed middle aged barren woman, and surrounded me with people who loved me.. Some who have been there since the beginning. Some, like my great-niece Athena who will be one tomorrow, are new. Some are related by blood, some by marriage, some by our mutual love of God.

He gave a woman who never bore a child a stepson, daughter-in-law and grandkids. I have close to 30 nieces and nephews from my marriages to Michael and Bill. And oodles and oodles of great-nieces and a great- nephew or two.

Ok, so you’re asking why are you sharing this today? Well, part of it is that while God always gives us what we need, exactly when we need it. He doesn’t always give us what we want. On this Saturday, as we await the most important Sunday of the year, please remember, that Jesus died and rose so that you can spend eternity with Him in heaven. As blessed as I am that He has surrounded me with a family that loves me, nothing show God’s love for me (and you) more than His Death (on the Cross yesterday) and Resurrection (from the grave tomorrow).Image

Ruach HaKodesh

In Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is actually called the Ruach HaKodesh. HaKodesh is easy to translate. It means “The  Holy”. Ruach, however, can be translated among other things as wind, spirit, breath. So in English, we call the part of God that resides in all believers The Holy Spirit.

Last week, I was in my car and the wind was really kicking up. I saw the clouds moving through the sky very quickly…. Something we don’t really get to see very often. Usually the sky is calm and the clouds are moving slowly or it is too overcast to see any movement. At that moment, I realized that a storm was coming and the strong wind moving the clouds reminded me of how the Holy Spirit can move quickly into our lives. He usually is gentle and caring and doesn’t rush us, but when a storm is coming, He can move more quickly and powerfully than we can imagine.

We usually look at the approaching storm and fret and worry. We forget that the Creator of the Universe, the One who  allows and forms the storms of our life, is also residing within us and is there to be our anchor, our help, our hiding place. 

I don’t like storms, neither the physical nor spiritual kind. I prefer to get out of the rain, because I don’t like getting wet and windblown. While I would love to get out of the spiritual storms in my life, I’m glad the Lord allows them in my life. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to grow in Him and learn to depend on Him. For without His Guidance, His Grace, and His Help, I would surely be lost in the midst of the storm. In Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is actually called the Ruach HaKodesh. HaKodesh is easy to translate. It means “The  Holy”. Ruach, however, can be translated among other things as wind, spirit, breath. So in English, we call the part of God that resides in all believers The Holy Spirit. Last week, I was in my car and the wind was really kicking up. I saw the clouds moving through the sky very quickly…. Something we don’t really get to see very often. Usually the sky is calm and the clouds are moving slowly or it is too overcast to see any movement. At that moment, I realized that a storm was coming and the strong wind moving the clouds reminded me of how the Holy Spirit can move quickly into our lives. He usually is gentle and caring and doesn’t rush us, but when a storm is coming, He can move more quickly and powerfully than we can imagine.  We usually look at the approaching storm and fret and worry. We forget that the Creator of the Universe, the One who  allows and forms the storms of our life, is also residing within us and is there to be our anchor, our help, our hiding place.   I don’t like storms, neither the physical nor spiritual kind. I prefer to get out of the rain, because I don’t like getting wet and windblown. While I would love to get out of the spiritual storms in my life, I’m glad the Lord allows them in my life. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to grow in Him and learn to depend on Him. For without His Guidance, His Grace, and His Help, I would surely be lost in the midst of the storm.