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I Got Shoes


Strong Shoes for Strong Paths by Flickr User Corrie ten Boom Museum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Strong Shoes by Flickr User Corrie ten Boom Museum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
I recommend a visit to this Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/corrietenboom/ It is filled with inspirational quotes from Corrie ten Boom.

“I’ve got shoes, they’re made of plywood…” is the beginning of a misheard lyric line from You’re the One that I Want out of the movie Grease. It’s only one of many misheard lines from songs that you kind find in books and online searches. But not all songs about shoes are misheard. There’s an old Johnny Cash song that says “all God’s children got shoes,” and then it says, “Gonna put on my shoes and walk all over God’s Heaven.” It’s a catchy tune, and you’ve probably heard it once or twice. If not, you can listen to it at YouTube, and you might even recognize it.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 2:31 through Deuteronomy 3:14, we won’t read about shoes, but we will read about what happens when God tells you where to walk. Moses is talking about when God prepared Israel to overtake Sihon, King of Heshbon. He relates how the king and all his people came out against Israel, but because Israel was acting in obedience to overtake the land as God directed, they defeated him, his sons, and all his people. Moses tells them how they took every city and utterly destroyed every city and its inhabitants, and that no city was too strong or walled high enough because God handed it all over to them.

There were cities that God said to stay away from because He had plans for them, so Israel obeyed and did not attack those places. But then God told them to turn up the road to Bashan and go against Og, the king of Bashan. Again, the king and all his people came out against them, and again Israel defeated them because God gave them victory. Israel defeated all sixty of the king’s cities even though they were highly fortified with walls, gates, and bars. In addition, they took many unprotected cities.

At the end of the battles, Moses tells how he divided the possessions of the cities among the tribes. The territory from Aroer at the edge of the valley to half the hill country of Gilead Moses gave to the sons of Reuben and Gad. The rest of Gilead he gave to the half tribe of Manasseh. The kingdom of Og was called the “kingdom of giants” because when they found Og’s iron bed, it measured about thirteen and a half by six feet. Now that’s one huge guy, and you better know that God is with you before you go after someone like that.

Life is filled with giants and battles that God wants to give us victory over, but we must trust God to arm us, train us, and suit us up for battle before we can fight effectively. We can’t look at our own weaknesses because it will turn our focus away from God and toward our situation. It’s just like when Peter obeyed Jesus and walked on the water; he didn’t start to sink until he took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on the waves instead. The world is God’s to give, so if He says to do battle and overtake the enemy, it’s only because He has already planned our victory and the enemy’s defeat.

The song says, “I got shoes, you got shoes,” and we do. Ephesians 6:14-16 (in the Common English Bible) says it this way…

So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

We have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and we can walk through (and out of) any valley of defeat on this earth and keep walking until we’re stepping on Heaven’s streets of gold.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soldiers of Praise


Fort Rucker National Prayer Breakfast Feeds Bodies and Souls by Flickr User Fort Rucker, CC License = Attribution

Fort Rucker National Prayer Breakfast Feeds Bodies and Souls by Flickr User Fort Rucker, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

For some reason, there are certain people whose praise touches me more deeply than others. Maybe it’s because I can see more sincerity in the praise of some, such as those who have struggled in life. Maybe I’m just sensing or discerning sincerity at times, and it’s just a coincidence that I notice it with people who don’t have it so easy. Whatever it is, knowing what soldiers go through and knowing the risks they take for my freedom, when I see them thank God for their lives and their victories, it blesses me. Because God is the giver of life and victory, I imagine it greatly blesses God as well.

In today’s reading from Numbers 31:42 through Numbers 31:54 (the end of the chapter), we begin with the tribute Moses takes from the spoils that were divided among the people. Moses gave one-fiftieth of the materials, animals, and people to the Levites for the continued operations of the tabernacle, and since just in sheep alone there were 337,500, it was a pretty big tribute.

The reading continues with the commanders giving Moses the report that all the returning troops have been counted, and not one man has been lost. The commanders then announce they have brought an offering to Moses and Eleazar, and since it says that each man decided on his own what to give, it appears this is above and beyond the tribute of one-five-hundredth that was taken off the top as a tribute to The Lord. When all the gold and jewelry was counted, it totaled over 420 pounds that the soldiers brought to the Tent of Meeting as a reminder of Israel before God.

What I see here is a gathering of soldiers who are grateful for their lives and for their victory, and they have chosen to thank God for these gifts by voluntarily offering gifts of their own. Because God showed them favor and there was literally no man left behind, the soldiers were able to offer that much more of a gift of praise.

God loves to show us His mercy, grace, and favor. I think He shows these things because He loves us, but I also think shows them because He wants the praise they should generate. If a person does something just for praise, it is arrogant, but when The God of All Creation pours His gifts out on us, He is more than deserving of our thanksgiving. In this lifetime of battle for our souls and the souls of others, we will have victories because God will give them to us. We may stand in our armor (also given by Him) and fight the good fight, but the victory always belongs to The Lord, so the praise always belongs to Him as well. Let us bless God in every battle and in every victory by becoming soldiers of praise.

July 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Frog and The Scorpion


The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

There’s an old fable about a scorpion who asks a frog if the frog would carry him across a river. The frog is wise enough to know the deadly effect of a scorpion’s sting, so he tells the scorpion he won’t carry him. But the scorpion tries to reason with the frog by reminding him that if he stings him while they are in the water, both will die. The frog is convinced and lets the scorpion climb onto his back while he swims across. But just as they are halfway across, the scorpion breaks his word and stings the frog. The frog immediately feels the paralysis start to set in, and he begins to sink. Just before he goes under, he asks the scorpion why he would do something like that when it would kill them both. The scorpion’s dying declaration was simply this: It’s in my nature.

In today’s reading from Numbers 31:13 through Numbers 31:24, we have the men and leaders coming back from war with the Midianites and bringing the prisoners and the spoils to Moses and Eleazar. As the commanders came in from the battlefield, Moses got angry with them because of the women he saw with them who were being held as prisoners of war. He told them they should have killed the women because they were the ones that, because of Balaam’s suggestions, were tempting the children of Israel and causing them to transgress God’s law. Moses then instructed the leaders to kill every male plus every female who had slept with a man. They could keep the young virgins alive.

Moses then told the men to pitch their tents outside the camp, so they could complete all necessary cleansing rituals. They would have to stay outside the camp for seven days, and then they were to purify themselves on the 3rd and 7th days. Because of their proximity to corpses, it was also required for them to purify every garment, whether made of skin or goat’s hair, and to purify all wood. In addition, even though gold, silver, brass, and other metals had already been purified by fire, because they were spoils from the enemy, Moses told them to purify them under water. Anything that could pass through fire would be put through fire and water, and anything that could not pass through fire needed to be cleansed with water. After seven days, the soldiers were to wash their clothes and be clean, so they could enter back into the camp.

Sometimes, seeing people killed even if they’re the enemy feels harsh. It’s an especially harsh feeling when we stop to think of God’s grace–and of Yeshua’s words to love our enemies. But remember, these instructions were given even after the commandment that said “Thou shalt not kill,” so as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to kill. Are there people who refuse to discard their old nature and will continue to attack and sting even to their own detriment? Ask a suicide bomber. Even when someone seems like an innocent woman or child, if they are from the enemy’s camp, they are not friends, and if we do not handle the battle correctly, we will become casualties of war.

Remember these things when you fight battles in the spirit realm as well. We know, as Scripture says, that our weapons are not carnal because most of our battles are not in the flesh. That said, the enemy will try to convince you to fall for some kind of trickery in an effort to destroy your soul, and you have to arm yourself with wisdom and preparation, so you won’t give in and end up paralyzed as you press your way to the other side. Don’t fall for sin just because it looks pretty or innocent, and always remember that you are a soldier for God. The good thing about this fight, however, is that both the battles and the weapons belong to The Lord, and the end of the war promises victory.

As for the physical battles in this life, most of us won’t have to fight them, but we should have compassion and love for those who do. God will lead those who need to fight for us as He would have them to fight, and the rest of us can support and uplift them. If you know a soldier who fights for the good, pray for him or her, and ask God to protect that soldier from attacks of our enemies. If you don’t know any soldiers, pray for all of our U.S. troops. Also, pray for the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) to prosper against all advancement of their enemies and the weapons of their enemies. Pray that only those in the perfect will of Yahveh Almighty will prevail.

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mustard for War


The Condiment War by Flickr User Bill Keaggy, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Condiment War by Flickr User Bill Keaggy, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What goes through your mind when you read today’s title? Mustard gas? Food fights? Whatever it is, I’m going to guess it’s not homophones (words that sound alikebut are spelled different and mean different things). But that was the first thing that went through my mind as I read the portion to prepare for tonight’s reading. I’m always on the lookout for more words to add to my list of now over 450 sets of homophones, and I will soon be adding “mustard; mustered” to my list. So now you know that tonight’s post doesn’t have anything to do with mustard the condiment, but I became certain I would use this title when I found the cute image to go with it.

In today’s reading from Numbers 31:1 through Numbers 31:12, God speaks to Moses about the Midianite people. He tells Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites on behalf of Israel, and He tells him that after it is done, Moses will be gathered to his people. At this point, I’m wondering if Moses moved a little more slowly to prepare the troops since it would be his last battle, and he was still concerned about the people. Then again, maybe he moved even more quickly because it would be his last battle, and he looked forward to the relief his death would bring him.

Fast or slow, we don’t know, but we know that Moses obeyed God and gathered the leaders of all the tribes of Israel. Moses told the leaders to equip 1000 men from each tribe for battle, so all together 120,000 men were mustered for war. (Now you see where I got my title. :-)) Moses sent the men out, and along with them, he sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the high priest, with holy utensils and with trumpets to sound the alarms.

Israel fought against Midian, as God ordered Moses, and they kills every male. They also killed the five kings of Midian (Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba) along with all the others who were slain. They used a sword to kill Balaam the son of Beor, but there’s nothing in today’s reading that says what happened to Balak. The Israelites then took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, plus they took all their cattle, flocks, and goods as spoils of war. On their way out, they burned all the homes and encampments, and then brought the spoils and captives to Eleazar and the congregation camped on the plains of Moab, by the River Jordan across from Jericho.

I’m not a big fan of war, and if I thought it was possible to live in total peace and not have war at all, I would most certainly be one of the first to protest the idea of war. Unfortunately, I am wise enough to know that some people cannot be stopped except by an act of war. There are people who wage the first wars either blatantly, by doing something like attacking the “twin towers,” and there are those who wage war more silently by kidnapping young girls and using them as sex slaves.

There are many wars against the innocent that too many of us are unaware of, but God is watching them at all times. He knows when people are destroying or damaging that which is made in His image, such as the destruction of innocent babies just because they are too young to speak for themselves. I don’t know what all Midian did against Israel or against God, but it was enough that He both declared war and strengthened soldiers to fight it. He knows what He is doing when it comes to war, so that is why He told us to let Him take vengeance when it is necessary. And, if there comes a time when He wants us to fight, He will give us the instruction, the tools, and maybe even the mustard we need to do it.

July 6, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare to Let God Fight for You


Territorial Battles by Flickr User Thomas Izko, CC License = Attribution

Territorial Battles by Flickr User Thomas Izko, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

In Proverbs 21:31 (AMP), we are given the following wisdom…

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and victory are of the Lord.

So we do all we can to prepare to take a stand and to fight if necessary, but in reality, the battle against sin truly belongs to The Lord. Paul said he kept doing the things he didn’t want to do, and he kept failing when he tried to do the right things, because sin reigned in his mortal body. That doesn’t mean we quit fighting, but it does mean that it takes something (or Someone) greater than our personal self-control to wage and win this war.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:25 through Leviticus 16:34, we are still reading God’s instructions for the priest making atonement for the sins of Israel. We’re told that the man who takes the scapegoat outside the camp must wash his clothes and bathe before he can return to the camp. And then we’re told that the person who takes the hides and dung from the offerings and burns them outside the camp must also bathe and wash his clothes before he can return to the camp.

I see the verses above as a sort of physical representation of the symbolic steps we take as we change from who we are without Christ to who we will become with Him. These steps include confession (we saw that over the head of the goat yesterday), repentance, sending our sinful behaviors away from us, burning up any remnants of sin, and then washing our bodies and clothes (baptism) to show that we are fresh and new without even the smells of “old goat” or “smoke” of sin remaining on us.

And this walks us perfectly into the next part of today’s portion where we learn about The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. We learn that the community is to take a complete Sabbath on this day, and that atonement will be made to purify them. While this high holy day is prepared for with fasting, self-assessment of sins and weaknesses, confession and repentance, the day of Yom Kippur is a day of complete and total rest, and a day of self-denial. It is the actual day when the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, and the congregation would wait in silence to see if he would come back out to them alive to declare their salvation.

In our lives today, we should not enter lightly into the atonement we have under the blood of Yeshua. Yes, He does all the work. Yes, His blood completely cleanses us. But to say we should not prepare for that holy moment would deny us of the knowledge of the awesome work Christ (our High Priest) does on our behalf. How can we value the depth of what He has delivered us from if we go in with our eyes closed and never look at the pit? How can we even know which side we’re on until we understand where the enemy occupies in his stand against our souls? Yes, Yahveh Almighty is The One who will win the victory for us; who has already won the victory through the blood of Christ, but let us prepare for the battle to stand for Him that we can cheer with everything in us when we hear His voice as He declares our salvation.

April 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sibling Rivalry To Die For


Today, we begin Parashah (portion) number six for the year. It is the Hebrew word “toldot” and it means “history.” Our verses today run from Genesis 25:19 through Genesis 26:5, and they begin the history of Isaac and Rebecca.

We learn from the beginning that Rebekah was childless just as her mother-in-law Sarah was. I’m sure Isaac had heard the stories of Sarah’s pain in that, and I’m sure he heard about the failed attempts to do things man’s way instead of God’s way, so he sought God on behalf of his wife. God blessed Rebekah and allowed her to become pregnant, but it was a hard pregnancy. Not only was she pregnant with twins (and without an ultrasound or a gynecologist to explain it all to her), but the twins inside her were already rivals. They fought so much that the story says she wondered if it was even worth living through.

Rebekah made it through her pregnancy, and the children became what the Lord told her they would right from birth. The first to be born came out covered with hair and not at all delicate, so he became his father’s favorite. They named him Esau. The younger must have been fighting to be born first and came out holding onto the heel of his brother’s foot. They called him Jacob, meaning supplanter, and he was happy to hang around the house and spend time with his mother rather than living the wild life of a game hunter. She was happy with that. And I’m sure she also remembered God’s words to her that the older would become the servant to the younger.

The word supplanter also means usurper. It is not necessarily a complimentary name as it describes someone who unlawfully takes or steals something that was not meant to be his. And since Jacob was not the warrior type, he had to grab what he wanted by more subtle and conniving means. You’ll see this played out more than once as we read his story.

So, Jacob not only likes to hang around the house, apparently he also likes to cook. And apparently he does a good job of it. So, he decides one day to go sit outside and make a stew that everyone around could smell. I imagine it was one of those aromas that makes your mouth water even when you have just finished eating. Oh, but to someone who is hungry… And Esau was hungry. He came in from hunting and was tired and hungry, and he smelled that enticing aroma. He probably thought that just by asking, his loving brother would give him what he wanted. Not so. Instead, Jacob told Esau that if he wanted some of his lentil stew badly enough, he would trade his birthright as the first-born son for a bowl of it. And Esau was somehow so hopeless that he said his birthright would mean nothing to him if he died of starvation, so he made the trade. Scripture tells us that this shows how little Esau’s birthright meant to him.

The first time I read all this, I felt sorry for Esau and a bit frustrated with Jacob. But now it makes me wonder if Jacob was supposed to be the first-born from the beginning, and the fight in the womb came from Esau being a bully and pushing his way to the front. I’ve seen too many take something they were sure should belong to them and then not respect it, so I know it can happen. And I know Esau could have sought God to sustain him until he was able to eat if his birthright meant anything at all to him. And now I’m ready to see all the blessings that come from one who values what he has and what he will do with the blessing of the first-born. Stay tuned.

P.S. I placed a NaNoWriMo widget at the top of my page, so you can always keep track of my word count. I was out most of the day, but I am happy to say that I added over 1800 more words to my count today. And I’m even feeling good about my character’s day of time travel.

November 2, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Battle in Clay


I know some things may seem to just be things, but I am one of those who believes that everything and everyone has a purpose. In today’s reading from Genesis 14, verses 1 through 20, we find a battle among kings. Five kings to four kings to be exact. And if you want to read all their names and such, just click the link since The Complete Jewish Bible has them listed mostly phonetically. Anyway, in this battle of kings, they are fighting in a valley filled with clay pits where many fall in.

When I read of clay in the Scriptures, I always think of the flesh. So, here are a bunch of kings (people with authority–some to do good and some to do evil) fighting not to fall into clay pits (flesh). And I don’t think it’s just chance that this valley is near the Dead Sea. The evil kings have kidnapped Lot, the nephew of Abram who we introduced in yesterday’s reading. Abram calls on those born and trained in his own household to go out to battle with him and rescue that which belongs to him (Lot) who is likely in the valley of pits himself. They succeed and bring back Lot, his possessions, and all the women and children that were taken with him.

Not only is this a battle with which most who serve God and reject the flesh are acquainted, it ends with the kind of victory most of us seek. They get help from like-minded soldiers, and they take back what the enemy has stolen. When it is all said and done, Abram goes to meet the King of Salem (later called Jerusalem), aka King of Peace, and the King, Melchizedek, blesses him. When we get victories over the flesh, we praise God for His mercy and deliverance, and since Melchizedek was a high priest for God, it was a similar action. As part of their meeting, they shared bread and wine, and at the close, Abram gave the first recorded tithe (tenth) I’ve read about.

So next time you feel like you are in a valley of pits, gather some prayer warriors and fight to win. Scripture tells us that we have more who stand on our side than we have who stand against us. It also says that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world. We can win in our battles if we open our eyes and take care not to fall into the pits of flesh. Oh, and when we win, we can offer our praises to Christ our King of Peace.

And here’s a nice chorus about the subject from the song, He Brought Me Out of the Miry Clay

He brought me out of the miry clay,
He set my feet on the Rock to stay;
He puts a song in my soul today,
A song of praise, hallelujah!

Also, if you’d like to read some interesting information about the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus, check out an article from Hebrew for Christians where you can also find more commentary on this Torah portion.

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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