Crystal Writes A Blog

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Ready or Not (Ready)


Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution

Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream on Flickr.

So, if you’re one of those who stays up late, you might be wondering why you didn’t see the blog before midnight. First, I was out at a wonderful planning meeting for the next year in our Christian writer’s group, Louisville Christian Writers. Well, the meeting didn’t go that long, but it was followed by the kind of fellowship that makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t get how great it is to be a Christian. But then, it’s those times when we visit with friends who cherish the presence of God the way we do that help us get through those times that make it a bit harder to be a Christian.

Anyway, I’m going to change the time of this to show a post by 11:59pm on January 11th, just so it will archive correctly. But so it doesn’t look like a lie, here’s my confession. After getting home at 5 til midnight, I forgot for about 20 minutes. Then I was like “EEK, I forgot!” and quickly plugged in and started my laptop only to have it get part way and refuse to totally boot about three times. I finally got it going, and since then I have struggled with the picture to go with it. I wanted to use something about being battle ready, but no pics or videos really fit what today’s reading from Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:8 was really saying.

As our newest portion begins (Parashah 16, Hebrew B’shallach meaning After he had let go), God is leading the newly delivered Israelites away from the land of the Philistines because He thinks they may see war and turn around to go back to Egypt. Combining this with a few verses later where the Scripture says the people of Israel went up from Egypt fully armed, and then the last verse of today’s reading that says they went out boldly, I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of messages just in this.” But the one that really strikes me is that when God saves and delivers us, He gives us a full armor and His Spirit gives us the tools we need for boldness. Many people even start out going boldly to others to share what they have gained and from what they’ve been set free. Still, when we see things get tough, signs of war like God knew the Israelites would see in the land of the Philistines, do we consider going back into bondage just so we won’t have to fight?

As the reading progresses, we have Moses keeping his promise to carry the bones of Joseph, and we are told of the pillars of cloud and fire that follow Israel by day and by night to guide and protect them. And then God tells Israel to repent–literally. He tells them to turn around and backtrack, to go the opposite way they were traveling. But God does it for a purpose. He wants Pharaoh to think the children of Israel are lost and wandering in the desert so Pharaoh will come after them. And He plans to use that against Pharaoh and his armies to show Egypt that He, Yahveh, is truly the Lord.

Pharaoh fell for the trap and began to question why they were so stupid as to let their slaves go. Actually, it says Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart. Yeah, I guess as soon as they had to make their own cup of coffee, they were reconsidering the loss of all those obedient and subservient people. So Pharaoh prepared 600 of his chariots and his people plus all the other chariots in Egypt along with their commanders. And God made Pharaoh hard-hearted so he pursued Israel.

And so we come to an end with Israel leaving Egypt boldly but God knowing their hearts might shrink if they see war, so we can’t be sure if they were ready. And then we see Pharaoh following after Israel, also boldly, but for stupid reasons. And we know Pharaoh isn’t ready for what is to come, but he doesn’t know that yet. Ready or not, God’s got a plan, and He’s got a place within it for whosoever will make themselves ready to follow Him. Will that be you?

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Curse in The Blessing


Our reading is from Genesis 27:28 through Genesis 28:4, and it tells the rest of the story from the deception that was begun yesterday by Jacob and his mother, Rebekah. Isaac showered great blessings on Jacob, including passing along to him many blessings from Abraham like “those that curse you will be cursed, and those that bless you will be blessed.”

But right after giving him the blessing, Esau showed up with the meat he had hunted for and prepared especially for his father. When Isaac realized what was done to him, he cried out because he could not take back his word even though he was tricked. Esau cried out and said that “supplanter” was a great meaning for the name Jacob because he had stolen from Esau twice. One thing I was apparently wrong about was that the blessing accompanied the birthright. I thought that when Esau gave up his birthright, it meant he was giving up whatever blessing would automatically go to the firstborn, but the way Esau has a fit and claims that Jacob stole both things, apparently they were two different blessings. Of course, I don’t know that Esau would have valued the 2nd any more than he valued the first, so I’m certain God allowed things to happen as they did to keep the blessing in a place of value.

Esau was so angry that he planned to kill Jacob as soon as they were done mourning their father. Rebekah heard him making his plans, so she advised Jacob to go back to his mother’s homeland to hide from Esau. She told him how much she despised the Hittite wives taken by Esau and forbade Jacob from marrying from among them and advised he go get a wife from her brother’s children. So, while Jacob had wonderful blessings from his father, he would be cursed to be in hiding until his brother’s anger waned away. We who know the rest of the story, though, know that even what could have been a curse in his running away will turn out to be a blessing in the end, even though Jacob will have to endure being tricked himself. Oh, and if I don’t remember when I get to that part of the story, someone please remind me to attach a funny video by the band, ApologetiX, that demonstrates that trickery. In the meantime, how about a cute video about Jacob and Esau called “Twins Came Out.”

Finally, at the end of his begging, Isaac did find a blessing for Esau as well. Isaac told Esau that he would reap the fruit of the earth, but that he would be a servant to his brother, and that he would live by the sword. He also told him, though, that a day would come when he would break loose from being his servant and in so doing, would break Jacob’s yoke from off his neck. Knowing what I know about the future of Jacob, I’m not certain that breaking that yoke off is truly a blessing. But, since God has opened the door to bring even Gentiles to His throne of grace, He has made it so that we can all partake of His blessings if we choose Him.

P.S. I was a bit low on word count for NaNo today and wrote only 1400 of my planned 2500 per day. I wrote after I posted this, so I’m having to come back and add this note later. But, you know, if I added all the words I wrote in e-mails to the writing group and comments on blogs to other writers I support, that would’ve made my word count–LOL. Anyway, today’s total is 16,106 so I’m still ahead of schedule for finishing with 50K by the November 30th deadline.

November 7, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So Many Laws


Heart and Kaleidoscope Mosaic

Pretty Mosaic with Flowered Heart in the Middle

Genesis 18:19a has The Lord talking to the angels about Abraham and says, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.” (Complete Jewish Bible translation.)

The first time I read this Scripture, my only thought was, “Can God say this about me?” How blessed to have God testify to the angels that He has found a subject He knows well enough to know the subject’s future holds not only personal lawfulness but also that the subject will teach lawfulness to others.

Today, my husband and I were in our Torah studies in Leviticus. (We’re a bit behind in the actual portion we should be reading, but we don’t want to skip around and miss valuable information.) For a few weeks now, we’ve been reading about the building of the wilderness tabernacle (also called The Tabernacle of Testimony). As I was listening to my husband read the words about all the laws concerning the tabernacle, sacrifices, offerings, etc., I remembered the words I had read earlier from Genesis. Then, something hit me; these laws came well after God called Abraham “one who would keep the Way of The Lord” (aka law keeper). And then I questioned in my mind, “I wonder what ways and laws of God Abraham was keeping?” I understood, even as I asked, that Abraham was not keeping specific laws, but he was keeping a lawful heart.

So, here we are in our current society looking to create law after law after law. Now (in April 2013), the focus is on gun laws and whether they violate our country’s foundational Constitution. But the gun laws, like the many other laws constantly in motion or discussion these days, are just a thin bandage. They will not create the answer so many hope they will because they do not fix the real problem: they do not fix what causes the need for laws in the first place—a need that comes from a general spirit of lawlessness.

So, Abraham not only had a lawful heart, but even before there was a law given, God knew he would teach those of his household to keep the way (law) of God. Already, he was teaching others to have a lawful heart and to yield to the instruction of God from pure obedience. Later in Scripture, we will read how it was necessary to create a priesthood and over 600 Levitical laws to direct people because their hearts had become lawless. As many have noted about these laws, and even several laws of our land now, they come with a big dose of bondage.

However, just imagine if we all strived to keep in our hearts the laws of yielding to a Higher Authority. We would automatically think of others before ourselves. We would not require instruction to not lie, not steal, not cheat, not murder, etc. We would not purposely do things to others that we would not want others doing to us. And if everyone lived that way, we would not need any other laws either from God or from man.

There is freedom in having a lawful heart because it releases us from falling under the bondage and condemnation of many external laws. Though we will not be perfect until we get to Heaven, just as King David was not perfect and failed God multiple times, we can be called a people after God’s own heart. In that way, each of us will not only be able to say we know Him, but He can testify to the angels, “I know that one!”

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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