Tag Archives: bible

O Love that will not let me go

One of my favourite verses in the bible is

1Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

This verse has stuck with me since child hood. But I have only come to understand its poignancy in the last couple of years.

Spending my early mornings before primary (elementary) school reciting all of 1Corinthians 13 with my family, my tired eyes and immature brain could hardly comprehend the magnitude of God’s love buried deep within this scripture, let alone in this single verse.

Firstly Charity means Love, but not the kind of love that we use to describe our affinity for ice cream. It’s agape love. The highest form of love possible. It’s the love that God has for us, and it’s the love that we are to have for Him.

Love is so important. Because God is love.

1 John 4:8 KJV

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

And because God is love, you can swap out the word “charity” with God in the verse (1Corinthians 13:1).

Thus, it doesn’t matter if I know every language in the world, and if I have the gift of conversing with angels. If I don’t have God in my life, and if love is not the reason behind this gift, then I may as well be making nonsensical noise that no one can understand.

God does everything in love, because He is love. There is no other possible way for Him to act.

So let love be your motivation behind everything you do. And in doing so, you give God permission to perform miracles in your life.

And the more love you give, the more that love comes flooding back in waves of godly strength that uplift you, and give you courage to love the unlovable, and to show them Christ.

Life with God, is to have life with love, and I pray that it’s a love that will not let me go.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 KJV

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you

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Follow the Leader

Psalm 18:32-33

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

How great are the mountaineering skills of deer and goat alike? Their ability to climb high up into the rockiest terrains and down into the deepest valleys, leaves you in awe. They do not fall, for fear does not shake them; they remain calm and at peace with their path.

They understand that they have to take this tumultuous journey to get from A to B. But it doesn’t detract them from putting forth their hooves and soldiering on.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

The way they walk is key to their survival. Wherever their front hooves have stepped, their back hooves will also step, in exactly the same spot. They know if their back legs just follow their front legs, they will be able to travel safely through the dangerously steep mountain sides.

God is to be our front legs. Wherever He steps, we must follow, for we are on our rocky mountains of pain, hurt, and heartache. But if we trust in Him, and allow Him to lead, He will get us through it, and bring us peace.

We will not shake in fear, we will not look down, we just keep going forward following His steps as He weaves us through the dangerous terrain.

When we leave His path, we risk falling, we risk death. But so long as God is our leader, He is also our strength, and He will get us through the hard times.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So follow the Leader, it’s life saving.

Preservation of Faith and Law

Key texts: Heb. 11:29; Gen. 6 & 7; Ex 14:13-31; 1 Cor. 10:1-2; Ps. 23; Josh. 24:5-7; Ps. 136:10-16

A reoccurring theme, that I have found in the bible, is one of preserving faith and law. Law without faith means nothing, and faith without obedience to God’s law is pointless too. When you have faith in God and truly love Him, you’ll want to keep the ten commandments, it will become a natural desire to do so. Faith and law are so intertwined, and important to God, as it leads to salvation. Thus the preservation of it is also His priority. Hebrews 11:29 speaks of one of the most recognised faith and law preserving acts, where God used Moses. However, to fully understand Moses’ story, we must look at other people that God used to preserve  faith and law too.

Noah was used in a mightily way. Genesis 6 & 7 tells us of the evil wickedness that had consumed the world population all over, and how this caused God to regret the creation of man. But He remembered Noah, and how he stayed true to God and His law through his faith. In a world that told him “no”, Noah said “yes God, use me”. God sent a flood to cleanse the world, in a sort of baptism, and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.

The monotony of falling rain surrounding you non-stop for 960 hours, seems crazy, but what makes it even more difficult to conceive was that it had never rained before – truly an exercise of faith for Noah. This can create a real soul searching time that causes you to seek God and His wisdom. Noah had the law in his heart, and God preserved it and his faith. Psalm 40:8.

Jesus and His life was a testament to God’s love that pierced and weaved through the law from the first commandment to the last. His era was a self idolatrous misrepresentation of God and His law, by the Pharisees and Sadducees. And yet, though He was without sin, He allowed His cousin John to baptise Him. Afterward, He was carried to the wilderness to spend time alone with God for 40 days and 40 nights. At the end of His wilderness experience, He was tempted, but because He was so in tune with God, He won. He then went to the top of the mountain to present the law to the great multitudes, (Matthew 5). He presented it to spread the truth and to preserve it with the many people.

In each of these events, God was rejected, then there came a cleansing, afterward a 40 day experience of spending time with God, and then a preservation of the law and faith.

Moses’ story historically fits in between Noah and Jesus (a vast time span), but the exodus events follow the same pattern as both of them.

Moses was called to save God’s people from the land of Egypt, where they were bound to slave labour by the oppressive Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s ideology made him a god before God, and he had hardened his heart towards the true creator and provider. Upon leaving Egypt, and hence escaping the Egyptian army, Moses and the Israelites were met with the Red Sea, and God parted it for safe travelling across. 1 Corinthians 10:2 depicts the event as a baptism for God’s people. A cleansing from the old Egyptian sinful life and into the new. As we know, the people were saved, and the following Egyptian army drowned.

Then, when they made it to the other side, Moses went up Mt Sinai where he spent 40 days and 40 nights with God. There, God wrote down on the tablets of stone the 10 commandments. From which, Moses taught the people. Thus the law and their faith were preserved.

I think a lesson to take away from their stories of faith, is the great need to spend time with God before sharing His message. We need to make sure that we are in tune with Him, and we are adapt to His voice so that when we give advice from the bible, or if we want to share scripture with others, it isn’t misconstrued or misleading.

Isaiah 50:4

The Sovereign LORD has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.

This is just a quick study on the exodus of Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea, but I pray that you will take the time to diligently search it and let God interpret it to you.

 

As sticks and stones

Sticks and stones. Three words that are used to denote teasing as a supposedly lighter option to physical harm. But this blog post isn’t about these playground nuances. Instead, this is about God’s purpose for your life and how being called to be as “sticks and stones” gives a more powerful and spiritual meaning.

I say sticks, but the bible says branches. In John 15:5, Jesus speaks to His disciples on the night of the last supper; “I am the vine, ye are the  branches he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.”

Thus if Jesus is the vine, He is then the life source, from which all sustenance flows and keeps the branches (sticks) alive. And if we have Him as our life provider, then His fruits will be evident in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.

These are like aspects of God’s character, and how beautiful they all are individually, but even more so – all together.

In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that you cannot receive good fruit from a bad tree, nor bad fruit from a good tree. Therefore, how important it is that we choose the right life source, for our foundations will be shown in our character (our fruits).

Isaiah 51:1,2

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him."

To be a stone is to be cut from a larger rock. To be carefully hewn out of something larger and greater, inherently imparts the characteristics and features that the original piece possessed. As in Isaiah, he referred to Abraham as the rock of which all the descendants – the Israelite people – were cut from. He pleaded with the people to not forget who their ancestor was, and who he was blessed by, God.

Stones were used in biblical times to build homes, but also altars. Elijah rebuilt the Altar of the Lord using 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Each upholding a life of sacrifice that pointed towards Jesus. Do our lives do the same? Or have we fallen into the same trap that Peter did when he was called a stumbling stone? Placing our own agendas, and our own precepts before God’s will.

As stones cut from the Rock of Ages, we are to live as altars to God. Living a life of sacrifice that just over spills with love that flows from our Heavenly Father.

As newborns, our parents would earnestly study our facial features, seeking any resemblance of their own traits. The same eye colour, shape of ears, dimples, the same nose and eyebrows. Anything that proves their ownership of this child that they have long awaited to meet. As growing children, reflections of behaviour and attitudes start to come through.

And while parents hope that their offspring receive all of their good features and desirable habits, their main priority should be that their children’s character will reflect God’s character. That their fruits will be His, and that they are hewn from His rock.

As sticks and stones, we are called to glow. Not of our own light, but the light that God shines upon our face (Numbers 6:23-27).

 

Thus in everything we do, and with every inch of our being, we are called to reflect God's love and light to others, as sticks and stones.

Jacob’s faith

Hebrews 11:21
By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

 Genesis 48:13-20
Before he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, he adopted them Genesis 48:1-6. God wants to adopt us into His family and bless us as His children. We are not to be so enamoured with the offers of this world, that we lose sight of the bigger picture, and the bigger family that we are called to be a part of. 

He adopted them so they fully receive their blessing, as they had an Egyptian mother, and were born in Egypt, they may not have been considered viable options. But as adopted sons, they were eligible to receive all that he had to give through the promises of God.

“A patriarch’s final blessing was important in biblical times as a practical matter of inheritance rights. In addition, some final blessings included prophetic statements that reveal God’s supernatural power through the men of His choosing.” {Got questions}
Jacob adopted two rich princes into his lowly shepherd estate. He then blessed them with a dry desert land that he didn’t even own (Acts 7:5), except for a burial cave. There was no inkling of evidence that God would fulfil His promises, (consider Abraham who did not allow a Canaanite wife for his son, which would have provided a family connection to the land), and yet by faith Jacob gave both Ephraim and Manasseh a full and complete portion of blessings. 

How fortunate, for the two boys, that they had a grandfather that saw past the great and highly esteemed Egyptian abundance; but rather he valued Abraham’s spiritual blessing above worldly fame. That is faith, to not fall for all the world has to offer, however present it may be, and to fully believe that God will provide a way, though you cannot see it. 

Psalm 27:14 

Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord .

Being on the cusp of death is hardly a reason to be joyful. It is notably a time of sadness and of questioning. But Jacob worshipped God. With every last beat of his weak pulsing heart, and his physically failing body, his need and desire to worship his Creator, and Merciful Forgiver, grew immeasurably. 
How often do we let our circumstances dictate our relationship with God? He is ever patient with us, waiting on us to commune with Him. In every situation, God wants us to worship and praise Him. This allows us to be free to receive the blessings and provisions He is longing to give us. 
Though we have faith our whole lives, or at least endeavour to, perhaps the most vital of times to express this faith is on our deathbed. It is how we finish, whether we die believing in God’s promises, that speaks volumes to those that catch us in our last moments. And the best way we can show this, is by singing the praises of the One who brought us through, and by blessing the generations that succeed. It takes great courage to die in faith, but when we honour Him with our patience, our hope, and our joy, God ensures that the promised blessings are sure to be fulfilled.
It was not by his own strength by which he gave his blessing, but rather God’s strength, and Jacob’s faithfulness to Him. 
Exodus 14:15-16 

 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

By faith Moses obeyed God and used a rod, an inanimate object made of wood, to part the red sea into two. Generations before, Jacob divided Joseph’s inheritance blessing into two, and gave it to Manasseh and Ephraim, whilst leaning on top of his staff. 

It’s not the stick that parts the seas and it’s not the stick that holds us up to give us strength. It’s our faith in God that He will make a way. Just like the serpent on the rod that cured the Israelites from their snake bites. The wood did not save them, it was their faith. It’s God asking us to be obedient, even when it seems crazy and beyond understanding. God is saying “Trust Me!”
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith and hope are interlinked. You cannot have one without the other. 
Even though Jacob was sick and harbouring a physically failing body, he still leant all that he had onto his staff and worshipped God. And even though Moses was drowning in the inches of the Red Sea water of which he dared to dip his feet into, and although the prospect of a multitude of deaths was but a gentle wave away, he still trusted God. 

The same faith that portioned a double blessing to two Egyptian royalties, is the same faith that lead Moses on that great exodus expedition, that did eventually see the results of God’s promise to Jacob in the land of Canaan (Genesis 28:13).

Jacob’s eye sight was nearing blindness, thus Joseph was troubled when he realised the swapped positioning of his father’s hands. But Jacob let God lead, and knew what he was doing (Genesis 48:19).

The positioning wasn’t convenient, it was purposeful. Sometimes we like to make provisions for God to bless us, in the way that we see fit. But God knows better, and we must allow Him to bless us, in His way.

 
According to Jewish Sages, growing up, Ephraim was solely focused on doing God’s will. While Manasseh did go according to God’s will, he also concerned himself with the matters of the world. He balanced both, while Ephraim was solely God’s. Much like Jacob and Esau. Jacob was more interested in being a spiritual leader, and Esau was clearly not (as he sold his birthright). Jacob wanted that position as patriarchal leader and a strong pillar for God, and attained it through means of deceit. By blessing Ephraim, he showed God that he had come full circle and that he allowed the younger brother to become the spiritual leader through an honest practice. Jacob had bought his birthright, and Joseph earned it. 
Jacob had faith that the blessings would fall upon Ephraim and Manasseh, and not to Reuben. This was against tradition, but it wasn’t against God’s will. 

Jacob vs Israel
 

{why was the name Jacob used in Hebrews 11:21, and not Israel?}
Jacob represents his timid and passive self. As we can see when Jacob wanted to keep Benjamin back with him in their home, rather than save the family from starvation. But it was Israel that eventually let him go to Egypt (Genesis 42:36-43:13). 

It was Israel that allowed for the destruction of Shechem; and it was Israel that sent Joseph to find his brothers, though he knew that they hated him. Jacob would have kept him home, and hoped from afar that his sons would be ok. But Israel was determined and put it into action. 

So it was Israel that sent Joseph away, but it was Jacob that called him back. In his timidness and frailty, Jacob knew the time had come to pass on his blessings.   

In the first 17 years of Joseph’s life, his father raised him to be a God fearing man and equipped him with strong values that saw him succeed in Pharaoh’s command, which saved the people from the famine. In the last 17 years of Jacob’s life, Joseph cared for him and provided for his needs. Their last 17 years together was a testament of their faith in God that had brought them back together, it was this faith that paved the way for Joseph and his two sons to be blessed. 

He died a poor man in a foreign land, but he died in the faith of God’s promises {Dying faith}. 

A worthy investment

As a former business studies student, the idea of investing in something (i.e. a new venture, shares, partnership, etc.) appeals to me. Or I should say, investing with a guaranteed prosperous return. No one wants to lose when they put in. No one wants to waste their time, energy, and money (life savings), on investments that never pay out.

But what if there is an investment, that is guaranteed to create a return that will be a million times more than what was put in? 

A deal like that can not possibly be fashioned up by mere humans, but rather it takes a powerful and almighty God to make an offer of such proportions.

God wants us to invest in Him. To wisely spend our time, energy, and faithfulness, in seeking Him diligently.

Hebrews 11:6 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. 

2 Chronicles 31:20-21

And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. 

This investment requires a dedication that only gets stronger with every day. With Him, the “dollar” never weakens, it never dips, and will never lose value. There’s no risk of the bank going belly-up, and you can be assured that your investment is in the safest hands ever possible. 

However, your desire to seek God first, needs to immeasurably outweigh your need to seek a reward. Meeting God is the ultimate prize, and everything else falls afterwards. 

Genesis 15:1

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” 

Matthew 5:12

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 

Dedicating your life to seeking Him, is the most worthy investment that could ever exist. 

So sign me up!

Hold on

A verse was shown to me today. It’s a verse I have read before, but never really took the time to try and understand. But I’m glad I did, for I feel that it’s message has become clearer and I have since realised its importance.

Hebrews 12:3 

For consider Him that endures such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest Ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 

When you start to feel tired and exhausted in your walk, consider Jesus who, the sinless one, bore our sins. Who had every right to give up. Who has every understanding if He chose to not go through with the great sacrifice.

Yet He endured, He conquered, and He won.

All to save us… you and I. All with the weight of everyone’s sin and guilt on His shoulders.

So don’t give up, though the world seems against you, remember that the world was against Him. When you feel broken and battered, that’s how Jesus felt; and when you feel like letting go of Him, remember that He clung on, for His life and for ours.

So don’t lose hope, just remember that our life here is “but a stepping stone”, life in Heaven is eternal, and anything we endure here will be rewarded more than ten-fold in Heaven.

Endurance is not easy, but the reward is far greater than anything suffered here on Earth. So hold on and remember Him.

Jacob wrestles 

Based on Genesis 32-33, and The Story of Redemption, Chapter 13 by Ellen G. White 

In a sleepless night, Jacob spent time on his own, and prayed. He prayed for the overdue meeting with Esau and the wrath he was sure to meet. He prayed for the sins of his past and repentance. The answer to his earnest prayers came under the guise of an angel, but it was Jesus Himself, who wrestled with Jacob all night. 

As the morning rays were forcing its way into the abyss of the desert night, an exhausted Jacob realised his true need. When the sun peeked over the horizon to illuminate the land, clarity was brought to his mind. “Let me go, for the day breaketh!” the angel pleaded, but Jacob matched Him with a request of his own, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” Then he asked his name, and this time it was his Heavenly Father asking, and Jacob knew why. Before, Isaac asked his name and he answered “Esau” in order to deceptively receive the blessing, but this time Jacob was honest and full of repentance so Jesus blessed him with a new name, Israel. 

Jacob wanted the assurance that God really had forgiven him for his sins of deception. It was only then that he could pursue on with his journey to reunite with his brother Esau and encounter his army of 400 men. His fear had caused him to doubt that the God of his father Abraham and Isaac had the power to truly forgive and bless him. When he was saved from the wrath of his father in law, Laban, it was still not proof enough that God loved him so dearly, despite his wrong doings. 

So God had to wrestle with him on a personal one on one level, to finally cause Jacob to realise that he had not forgiven himself, and how this placement of power on his behalf had caused a 20 year gulf between he and his home. 

When we pray and ask for forgiveness, Jesus places the petitions before His Father, and for our sake He pleads for our case. It’s His eternal love for us that paves the way for this most special and kind act of grace. Yet, despite this, we are unable to forgive ourselves, thus planting us firmly in a stronghold of regrets and transgressions. 

However, we often become comfortable in this destitution, we adapt to the situation and we let it put limitations on our relationship with God. 

It becomes such a problem that Jesus Himself comes down to pull us out and we wrestle with Him, not knowing why, until the light comes on and we realise that we need to let go in order to earnestly and sincerely ask God to bless us. 

Satisfied 

A little nugget to think on today…

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind’s feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. 

We should be so satisfied and spiritually filled, with just the presence of God, that any blessings He bestows are the cherries on top. Our faith, and relationship with God cannot be dependent on how blessed we are, but solely dependent on whether we have humbled ourselves enough so that we can allow God to fulfil our spiritual desires, and grace us with His presence. 

So no matter if our ventures fail, if our health gives way, if our loved ones go, and our finances plummet; our praises to Him should never cease. Easier said than done, I know, but try, every day, to be satisfied with His presence alone. 

In Good Company

John 15:17-20

“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hate you. Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his lord’ if they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

There will be those who accept the truth you present, and there will be those who don’t. They will hate us for it, but we are in good company, because Jesus was also despised for presenting the truth, and shedding light that exposes sin.

Colossians 4:5-6

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

But we need to strive to make the most of every opportunity that God gives us. It is by no accident that we come across the people that we do. Be kind and loving in your conversations, so that others can see that you are different to everyone else.

We are to be in, but not of the world.

1Peter 2:9

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” 

We are not called to blend in, and neither did Jesus blend in and conform to worldly ways when He was here on Earth; and if we are persecuted for this, we are in good company.