Keep the Light Burning

Hanukkah, Dedication, Festival of Lights

Did you ever wonder about the time period of history between what we know as the Old Testament and the New Testament that is often labeled as the silent period? Well I am here to tell you that it was anything but silent and we know that God is always at work. The enemy is also always at work to destroy what God has set in motion, first to prevent the coming of Messiah (first and second comings) and to blind people to His identity. The traditional Jewish saying about all of the festivals is, "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." That is the general story line. Mazel Tov!

The truth is that without Hanukkah, Yeshua would never have been born and the only mention of the festival being celebrated in the Bible is by Yeshua himself (John 10:22-23), at the Feast of Dedication.

In Old Testament times, the lampstand, called the menorah, was intended by Adonai to be kept continually burning by the priests for a people, called Israel, who were to be set apart and Holy unto the Lord. But over and over again these people were disobedient and allowed themselves to be corrupted by the surrounding nations and cultures including their Pagan gods. Eventually God removed His protection, the light was extinguished and these people, after being continually warned, were taken into captivity in Babylon. After the prophesied 70 years, Adonai brought them back to their land and led them to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem amongst heavy persecution. (Ezra and Nehemiah)

The celebrated Hanukkah story is not part of canonized scripture, but a historical account written in the books of the Maccabees 1&2, that is part of what is called the Apocrypha. On the timeline it is roughly 300 years before the birth of Christ. The world power of the time and the third notch of Nebuchadnezzar's dream statue (Daniel 2) was Greece. The infamous leader was Antiochas Epiphanes, the name meaning "god incarnate" which gives us a clue to his tyrannical rule. Many of the Jews gradually began to blend into Greek culture, again compromising the Word of God and as apostasy increases, even as we can observe in modern times, good begins to seem evil, and evil begins to seem good. The enemy's plan of deception always leads to chaos and confusion.

Eventually it became illegal to have and to study Yahweh's Word and those who did so were persecuted driving them into secrecy. Also prophesied by Daniel, Antiochus, called Epimanes (madman), desecrated the temple by setting up an idol of the Greek god Zeus and sacrificing a pig to him on the alter. This event also foreshadows the destruction of the second temple and city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Holocaust of World War II as well as what will happen in the End Times with the AntiChrist during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation) There is nothing new under the sun.

"But God," (my favorite words), had a remnant and a plan, as He always does. The High Priest, Mattathias and his son, Judah, called Maccabee (the hammer), along with others who refused participation with the evil plans of the enemy, fought back. They eventually took the city and the temple back, and by a great miracle from Yahweh, lit the lampstand for the eight days it would take to produce sufficient lamp oil, with merely one day's worth of oil. The temple was re-dedicated and the Way cleared yet again for the coming of Messiah.

 

Light of the World

The Hanukkah lampstand, called a hanukkiah, is different from a menorah in that it has eight lights with one servant light instead of seven lights with one servant light. The eight lights represent the miracle of the story. The servant light which lights all of the other lights is called the Shamash, and for those of us who recognize the Light of the World as Yeshua, He freely gives His beloved and set apart remnant the oil and the fire of the Holy Spirit to brighten the world with truth in the midst of madness and deception. (Matthew 25:1-13)

"I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have Shalom. In the world you have tribulation. But be brave! I have conquered the world!" ~Yeshua, John 16:33

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." ~Yeshua, John 14:27

Celebrating Hanukkah

The eight day celebration commemorates the eight day miracle and this year 2018, 5779, begins Sunday, December 2 through Monday, December 10. Each day lights are kindled with the Shamash/light beginning at the far left the first day. (the shamash and first light) The second day, using the Shamash kindle the first and second from right to left, the third day first, second and third and so on. After each lighting allow the candles to burn all the way down and start with new candles the next day.

Then there is the Dreidel game. During the times of the Maccabees, Jews played this game as a cover when they really were there to study scripture which was illegal. The dreidel is a top with four sides, each side with instructions symbolized by a Hebrew letter that as an acronym says, "a great miracle happened there (Jerusalem)". The fun is topped off with foods cooked in oil such as Latkes (similar to potato hash browns).

This is yet another awesome facet in the beautiful and complex stone called His Story (history). I have posted two of my hanukkiahs, one made with wire, beads and wooden dowels in a traditional shape and one less so of clay. It is custom that each person light his/her own hanukkiah at gatherings.

Further recommended reading on the story of Hanukkah-

Day of Atonement: A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt by David DeSilva

Further information on Hanukkah and other Feasts:

http://www.hebrew4christians.org

Enjoy the acapella singing of the Maccabeats:

http://The Maccabeats - Latke Recipe - Hanukkah - YouTube

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayers? Part Two

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And he walks with me
And he talks with me
And he tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
(In the Garden. Lyrics by: Johnny Cash)
At first, while it is yet early and we are still young in the Lord, God answers our prayers to teach us about his goodness, his abundance, his loving-kindness. Moses said to God, “Show me your glory,” and God granted his request. The glory of God passed before Moses, but God did not show him his face. He did not stop to embrace him. (Exodus 33:17-23)
But Jesus touches the blind, the lame and the unclean. And he’s calling us to an intimate relationship with himself.
It is more important to Jesus that we know him than it is that we get from the world what we want. Before he tells us to ask, seek and knock, he tells us to seek first and above all things the kingdom of God.
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God (NIV).
Jesus assures us that God knows what we need, and that he will continue to supply us with the necessities. At first, while we are getting to know him, God answers our childlike prayers. Jesus says in Matthew 7:11, “If you then…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (ESV). God gives good gifts to his children who ask him.
Would we rather that our children and grandchildren only come to us when they want something; or that they come to us because they love us want to spend time with us? Which approach is better for the development of their character?
God created all things for us to enjoy, but he doesn’t want us to follow after the creation. He wants us to seek an ever-deepening relationship with himself. He will meet all our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), but our greatest need is not for anything in this world. Our greatest need is Christ Jesus.
Now Beloved, listen! This is where everything changes. This is where God answers our prayers before we can even ask them. This is the economy of the kingdom of heaven.
Ask for more of God. Seek his face. Knock on the door of his heart!
Pursue him! Follow after him! Call out to him! Until your heart says, “I have found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go…” (Song of Songs 3:4b KJV).
When the most intense desire of our hearts is for more of Jesus, when we call out to God for more and more of himself, he who created the universe will also give us all things. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).
God wants us to grow and mature in our relationship with him. When we pray and seem to find no answer, it is because God is weaning us from depending on what the world offers and re-directing our hearts to seek more of him, the Giver.
Every good (earthly) gift, and every perfect (spiritual) gift comes from above, from God (James 1:17). He will not refuse to give us what we need, but at a certain point, he asks us to trust him so completely that all we ask for is more of him. When that happens, he knows that he can trust us to be stewards of his bounty, because our priorities are in an alignment with his heart and not his hands.

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayers? Part One

We received a question from one of our readers: Why doesn’t God answer prayers?
Apprehending the answer is a rite of passage.
In the gospel of Matthew in his beautiful Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us three specific points to consider:
6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light (KJV).
6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (ESV).
7:7-8 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (ESV).
Jesus instructs us to follow a single-eyed point of focus. He tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. He assures us that everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds and to whosoever knocks at the door of heaven, it will be opened.
Yet sometimes it seems as if we are asking and there is nothing to receive; seeking and getting no answer; knocking and nobody’s home.
Don’t be anxious for anything? How do I knock on a door that I can’t find? Where is the kingdom of God and his righteousness anyway? Why does Jesus tell me that everyone who asks receives, but then doesn’t answer my prayers? How can my body be full of light? The struggle is wearing me out!
Remember Beloved, this is a rite of passage; and passage means going from one place to another. It is a journey, a mission, an expedition.
The journey happens on the road from childhood to maturity. It doesn’t have anything to do with how many years we’ve been here, or how many years it’s been since we were saved, or how long we’ve been struggling. It has to do with our relationship with Christ.
Jesus calls us to intimacy with him. He says, “…Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Songs 2:10b KJV).
He calls us to rest in him: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 ESV).
He calls us to talk with him: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).
He calls us to go with him: “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19b ESV).
Jesus says, Rise up! Come to me, talk with me, follow me! I will wash you white as snow, I will give you rest, I will transform you.
…Continued in Part Two…

The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit

Jeanette and I, and our Speak Comfort team, send our loving regards to a young reader who asked, "Are God the Father and God the Son the same? Is Jesus God, God's Son, or both?" We are delighted to receive your question, and Jeanette and I will each post an answer in our blogs.

Let's begin at the beginning! Picture what is happening in Genesis 1:1-3,

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light" (NLT).

In scripture God is referred to by many names, and we'll talk more about that one day in another post. In the very first mention of God in the Bible, in the first verse of the book of Genesis, God is called by the Hebrew name, Elohim.  The name Elohim speaks to us about God in his creative power, and it's important to note here that the word Elohim is plural. That doesn't mean that there was more than one god present at creation. It means that God, as the Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, were all present participants at the creation, as Elohim, God the Creator.

The story of Genesis begins with "In the beginning," and so does the Gospel of John when he describes Jesus as the Word of God:

"In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone" (NLT).

In the beginning of creation, God, Elohim, was fully present in his creative power as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Is there another place in scripture where all three members of the Trinity are present at the same time? Yes!

Luke's gospel describes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river by John the Baptist this way:

"One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, 'You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy'" (NLT).

Jesus was present "in the flesh," as both the Son of man (fully human) and the Son of God (fully divine); God the Father was present, speaking from heaven; and the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a dove. God the Father acknowledged Jesus as his Son, in front of witnesses.

In fact, the apostle John recorded in his gospel that John the Baptist testified, "...'I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God" (NLT).

At Jesus' baptism, God spoke from heaven in front of witnesses to affirm that Jesus is his Son. God also spoke privately beforehand to John the Baptist, giving him instructions on how to recognize the Messiah. God sent his Holy Spirit from heaven, as a confirmation of God's Anointing. 

Are you beginning to see the triune nature of God and how the three members of the Trinity work together? There really are a Father, a Son and a Spirit who are in eternal relationship with each other, and all three are equally Elohim. They are all God. 

The most famous Hebrew prayer is in the book of Deuteronomy, and it's called the Shema prayer:

"Listen Israel: Yahweh is our Elohim. Yahweh is the only God. Love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Names of God Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

and the New International Version translates Deuteronomy 6:4 like this:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."

Therefore we can understand scripture as saying, "Hear, O Israel: Elohim (plural) is one (the Trinity)." Or, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are One.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a place in scripture where we see God the Father and God the Son together in heaven, after the Resurrection? Yes, there is!

Luke tells us the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in Acts 6:8-15 through Acts 7:1-60.  Stephen was full of faith and power, and he did great wonders in Jesus' name among the people. But the people set up false witnesses against him, and after Stephen presented a defense by witnessing for Christ as he was prophesied in the Old Testament, the people became enraged and stoned Stephen to death.

Here is a description of what Stephen saw while this was happening:

"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'" (NIV).

At that moment, Stephen and the Holy Spirit were witnesses to Jesus' presence at the right hand of our Father in heaven. Stephen saying that he saw Jesus as the Son of Man tells us that he saw Jesus in his ascended, resurrected body. Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (KJV). Because God is a Spirit, his form is different than our earthly bodies. Stephen saw Jesus in his resurrected body, and saw God in his glory. We could say that Stephen saw God in his "glory body," so to speak, because although God's form is different than Jesus' resurrected body, Stephen could still see God's glory; he isn't invisible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a place in scripture where we find God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit together in heaven.

The apostle John describes the Throne of God in Revelation 4:2-11. In chapter 4, we see God the Father seated on the Throne in verses two and three:

"At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne" (NIV).

Like Stephen, John is describing God seated on his throne, in his glory. John describes the Holy Spirit as seven lamps of fire - which is an image of the menorah - representing the seven spirits of God - which are the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit:

"From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God" (NIV).

In Revelation 5:1, we see God the Father holding a book: "Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals" (NIV).

Only Jesus is worthy to open the book with the seven seals, and we see him in Revelation 5:5-9:

"Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

'You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation'" (NIV).

We can see, from the first verses of Genesis through the book of Revelation, that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, are One God - Three in One - and that they work together, each operating from a different position and function within the Trinity, to fulfill a single purpose.

Jesus is God; He is God the Son. He is fully Man, resurrected and ascended; and he is fully God, eternal and full of power.

As Paul wrote to Jewish believers in the book of Hebrews 1:1-4:

"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs" (NIV).

May God bless you and keep you, in Jesus' holy name.

The Divinity of Yeshua: Part One

How Can He Be?

Through a precious friend and servant of Adonai, we were posed with an age old question from a 12 year old girl concerning the divine nature of Jesus Christ, "Is He God, God's Son or both?" Oh that I had pondered these things more seriously at that age. It is one of the most profound questions of all time on which many a scholar has spent a life time of study. The simple answer is that He is both, but how can it be? We're going to wade into this gently, Beloved.

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning: All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. ~John 1:1-3

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the One and Only from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14

Don't get worried, we're going to take this machine apart and look at it piece by piece. And then in the next blog we'll begin to break it down further.

  1. The Existence of God is Clear to All: All we have to do is to observe creation, the earth, the mountains, the seas, the skies, animal and plant life, rocks and trees, the complexity of human DNA. If you haven't taken a nature walk lately, it's time. (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:20)
  2. Yahweh is Trustworthy: He is perfect and He keeps His promises. (Psalm 19:7-14) Those who have trusted in Him have been blessed as we can see from the "hall of fame" witness of Old Testament saints known as the Faith Chapter. (Hebrews 11) And we can also observe throughout history (His Story) that promises and prophecies have and are being fulfilled to this day. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen. For by it the elders received commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen did not come from anything visible. ~Hebrews 11:1-3 Faith is the key- they believed, they obeyed, and good fruit came forth.
  3. God has Always Been: The Hebrew name of God, Yod Hey Vav Hey (there is much discussion on pronunciation, but simply Yahweh) literally means, "I AM," forever present. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting YOU ARE God. ~Psalm 90:2   God presented Himself to Moses on Holy ground as, I AM WHO I AM. (Exodus 3:14)
  4. There was a Beginning: At some point God chose to bring the heavens, the world, time, space and all of the elements into existence through creation. (Genesis 1, John 1) In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. ~Psalm 102:25
  5. His Spoken Word Created: Yahweh literally spoke everything into being, separating light from darkness and earth from waters and skies with the sun, moon and stars for signs, time including night, day, seasons, days and years, plants, trees and swarms of living creatures. (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6-9)
  6. The Word Is God: From God Himself, we have a written description (scripture) available to us that is all about Who God is, how He made us, where we have failed (sin) and how it separates us from Him, one solution to the problem: Faith in Yeshua as the perfect Lamb of God Who was sacrificed on our behalf for Salvation, and then what His will is for us as His redeemed people. (1 Timothy 3:15-17)
  7. With God from the Beginning: In the beginning God created "aleph/tav" (see photo) the heavens and the earth. ~Genesis 1:1  An often ignored and left out Hebrew word that simply means beginning/end as it is the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Greek it is alpha/omega, whom we can recognize as Jesus Himself. (Revelation 1:8,10,11,  21:6,  22:13)
  8. The Word Became Flesh: In the Old Testament God physically appeared in human form (walking, standing and wrestling are physical activities) to faithful servants: walked in the Garden (Genesis 3:8), walked with Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and with Noah (Genesis 6:9), stood before Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3), wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:24-25, 28-30), ...etc. These theophanies or Christophanies (visible manifestations of God/Christ,) cause much debate among scholars, but we're going to keep it simple. Then the New Testament writings are the eyewitness accounts of the physical birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection of Christ in the Gospel of Salvation, the Acts of the Apostles and the prophesied future Second Coming and New Jerusalem. One of my favorite verses that shows the power of the spoken Word by Yeshua is when the Romans came to arrest Him and they asked if he was the one whom they were seeking, He replied, "I AM HE" and they (sturdy Roman soldiers) drew back and fell to the ground. ~John 18:6  I just want to dance and jump for joy.

 

 

Count Your Blessings

I took this photo on our building site of the colorful dirt layers.

In the process of building our home we were supposed to pour some concrete this last week, but it didn’t happen, pretty much again. My husband had some health issues and had to spend a few days in the hospital, but praise Yahweh we are home now. Sometimes it seems that just when things are going fairly well, something unforseen happens. That is life though, isn’t it? Home building is one obstacle after another. This is a great lesson in patience, so I am giving thanks for the many blessings that I do have.
Here is another excerpt from the book, Then Sings My Soul, 150 of the Worlds Greatest Hymn Stories, by Robert J. Morgan. This hymn is Count Your Blessings, (1897) by Johnson Oatman:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. ~James 1:17
It’s impossible to be thankful, and at the same time, grumpy, cantankerous, critical, or ill tempered. That’s a lesson Johnson Oatman wanted to teach young people in his song, “Count your Blessings.”
Johnson was born in New Jersey just before the Civil War. His father had a powerful voice whicj some people claimed was the best singing voice in the East. That’s why as a boy, Johnson Jr., always wanted to stand beside his father in church.
When Johnson was a young man, he stood alongside his father in another way. He became a partner in Johnson Oatman & Son, his dad’s mercantile business. At age 19, Johnson joined the Methodist Episcipal Church and was ordained into the ministry. He often preached, but Johnson never entered the full time pastorate, for he enjoyed the business world and found it paid his bills, giving him freedom to minister without cost.
In 1892, with his fathers voice undoubtedly ringing in his memory, Johnson began writing hymns. He averaged 200 hymns and gospel songs a year—5000 during the course of his lifetime, among them, “Higher Ground,” “No, Not One,” “The Last Mile of the Way,” and this one, “Count Your Blessings,” which was published in a song book for young people in 1897. It reflected Johnson’s optimistic faith, and has been a lesson to many ever since.

                              …………….

Martin Luther wrote in his book, Table Talk: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” We tend to exhibit a degree of thanksgiving in reverse proportion to the amount of blessings we’ve received. A hungry man is more thankful for his morsel than a rich man for his heavy-laden table. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a popular woman with a party thrown in her honor.
If the birds only burst into song once a year, we’d all pay close attention. But because they are singing every morning, we scarcely bother to listen.
 Now is a good time to lay this book aside and deliberately thank God for something you’ve never before mentioned in thanksgiving. Count your blessings. Name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
(Right now I’m thanking Him for healthy teeth. I don’t know, it was the first thing that popped into my mind.)
Count Your Blessings
When upon life’s billows  you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care,
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear.
Count your many blessings Every doubt will fly
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their land and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings Money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven Nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged God is over all.
Count your many blessings Angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Guy Penrod sings it well.

Count Your Blessings

Pray for Thousand Oaks

“No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.” Charles H. Spurgeon
Our prayers are with the families of all those whose lives were lost in the shooting in Thousand Oaks, California overnight. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Our prayers are with you, all over the world, who weep and mourn. God will restore all that the enemy has taken, in his time, for our blessing and his glory. In Jesus’ name.

 

 

 

In the Hands of the Potter

“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NLT).
 As a widow, a teacher and counselor, the disciplines of silence, solitude, prayer and study are the spiritual foods that nourish me, every day.  It is upon the rock of these disciplines that the foundation of my life and my spiritual practice are established, because these are the pathways that I inhabit that lead me into fellowship with my Lord and Savior.
Over the years these disciplines have formed me, and I realize that they are for me, but the re-formation of my mind, heart, soul and spirit does not come from me. God is the Potter and I am the clay. As my relationship with Christ has matured, I have come to understand that, as a lump of clay in the hand of God, every event and experience in my life is being used by him to shape me into the woman of God that he originally intended me to be; for his glory, not my own.
Through his Holy Spirit, Jesus is teaching me how to be the clay. How not to be hard or brittle. How to be soft and pliable in the Master’s hands. He is teaching me that even if the world seems to be spinning out of control, it is the Potter who has command of the wheel, and all that he is asking me to do is trust him.
When my soul is dry, Jesus says, “’Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” ( John 17:37b-39a NIV). He fills me with Living Water, when I come to him with an open heart and empty hands.
I have discovered that when I do not spend time in the presence of Jesus, when I neglect his word, if I am too busy to pray, my spirit becomes faint from hunger. When I am no longer too busy or too distracted and I remember my Savior again, he feeds my spirit with bread from heaven, and my strength is renewed. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John 6:35 NIV).
The world can be a turbulent and frightening place, but the Holy Spirit has taught me, over many years and through the trials of every formative experience, how to be content in all circumstances. The disciplines of silence, solitude, prayer, study and fasting are methods that the Lord supplies so that we may experience the blessing of boldly approaching his Throne of Grace, casting all our cares on him, the Lover of our souls.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”(Philippians 4:11-13 NIV).

Be Good Bereans

We have a world of wealth in Christian teaching these days as prophesied by the Lord to the prophet Daniel, that in the end times, knowledge will increase. (Daniel 12:4) We also know that Satan prowls around looking to destroy (1 Peter 5:8) and to outwit (2 Corinthians 2:11) us with deception using the concept of "Did God really say.....? (Genesis 3)". If we listen to more than one teacher we can learn and get better understanding in some ways, but we will likely find some contradiction in theology.
We know that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) neither that we need to call out all those whom we disagree with as false teachers. As followers of Christ we should all be encouraged to make sure that whatever we are being taught and whomever we are learning from; local church, online teaching, small Bible study, prayer group, trusted friend, that we should always be good Bereans, study scriptures for ourselves, test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), ask for wisdom (James 1:5) and understanding (Psalm 119:125) and remember that the Holy Spirit will never teach us something that is contrary to scripture.
Listed below are some important verses from different translations, so look them up. The free online Bible links allow you to see one passage with several translations side by side as a handy study tool. Remember that warnings are not meant for condemnation, but to show us truth and strengthen us in our walk with Yeshua.

Be Good Bereans

Now the Bereans were more noble minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures everyday to see if these teachings were true. ~Acts 17:11, Berean Study Bible

Be on Your Guard

Therefore, loved ones, while you are looking for these things, make every effort to be found in Shalom, spotless and blameless before Him. Bear in mind that the patience of our Lord means salvation---just as our dearly loved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these matters in all of his letters. Some things in them are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist (as they do with the rest of Scripture)---to their own destruction.
Since you already know all of this, loved ones, be on your guard so that you are not led astray by the error of the lawless and lose your sure footing. Instead, keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua the Messiah. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity! Amen. ~2 Peter 3:14-18, Tree of Life Version (TLV)

Beware False Teachers

False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~Mathew 24:24, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Then finally they realised He (Jesus) wasn't talking about the yeast found in bread, but the error of the teachings of the Pharisees and Saducees."(the well respected religious leaders of the day) ~Matthew 16:12, The Passion Translation, (TPT)
But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to the Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. You seem so gullible; you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all. ~2 Corinthians 11:3-4, The Living Bible (TLB)

Study the Whole Word

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. God said let there be light and there was light. ~Genesis 1:1-3, Modern English Version (MEV)
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~2 Timothy 3:16, New Living Translation (NLT)
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. ~Psalm 119:11, English Standard Version (ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.... And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ~John 1:1-3, 14, New King James Version (NKJV)

Recognize the Holy Spirit

The helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you (scripture). ~John 14:26, Good News Bible (GNB)
Dear friends don trust every spirit. On the contrary, test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Here is how you recognize the Spirit of God: every Spirit which acknowledges  that Yeshua the Messiah came as a human being is from God, and every spirit which does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God---in fact, this is the spirit of the Anti-Messiah. You have heard that he is coming. Well he is here now in the world already! ~1 John 4:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Note: The true Holy Spirit agrees with the Word and not the world.
This is a mere sampling. Find a good reading plan or make one. Phone Bible apps usually have them: Read the Bible in one year. The best ones use scripture from 2-3 sections each day. There is the Old Testament: Pentateuch (the Law), history, poetry, major and minor prophets and the New Testament: Gospels, epistles, prophecy. It's okay to take longer than a year to get through it all, but well worth it. When you finish, start over as there is always something new to learn. Use a real book with real pages from time to time as well and highlight verses that speak to you personally.

http://www.biblegateway.com

http://www.biblehub.com

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-books-of-the-Bible-and-their-divisions