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Moses and His Sunrise Serenade


At every time and in every place
    from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets—
    may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people. (Psalm 113:3 VOICE)

A serenade seems to be the perfect way to use song for a blessing. It comes from the word “serene” and usually means a song sung in the open air–often from a man to his lover. The big band leader, Glenn Miller, called many of his songs serenades. Having watched the movie, The Glenn Miller Story, and having seen the beautiful love he had for his wife, I’d guess they were likely all tunes he wrote for her. Sunrise Serenade is one of the most famous, and you should recognize the tune on the video above where you will also find beautiful sunrise and sunset images. (By the way, I would highly recommend this movie starring James Stewart and June Allyson.)

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:1 through Deuteronomy 33:7, we begin a new week and a new portion of Torah. Parashah 54 is V’Zot HaBrachah in Hebrew and means “This is the blessing” in English. In this portion, Moses will bless the tribes of Israel before his upcoming death. He begins here by blessing the Lord and speaking of his love, his power, and his holiness. And, since we’re talking about sunrises, Moses makes an interesting statement here in speaking of God as if He is the sun. He says, “Adonai came from Sinai; from Se‘ir he dawned on his people, shone forth from Mount Pa’ran.

I think Moses was a poet at heart since now he speaks again in a poetic form. He speaks of God truly loving His people, and He says God is holding all His holy ones in His hand. He sees them sitting at God’s feet and receiving His instruction. And then Moses begins speaking the blessings to the individual tribes. He speaks of all Israel in Jacob and blesses them with an inheritance and a king. He says the leaders will gather all the people together. He asks God that Reuben would live and not die even though his numbers have become few. And finally, for today’s reading, Moses blesses Y’hudah (Judah) this way…

“Hear, Adonai, the cry of Y’hudah!
Bring him in to his people,
let his own hands defend him;
but you, help him against his enemies.”

We know that Judah received these blessings and brought forth our Messiah from their tribe. God Himself helped Judah against his enemies, especially since those set against that tribe are against the tribe of King David and King Yeshua. God robed Himself in flesh to help fight those enemies with His own blood, so we have victory against those enemies now by simply resisting evil in The Name of Yeshua.

We have so much to be thankful for in all the battles God has won for us since the beginning of time. He has proven His love for us over and over, and He is worthy of the song of our love toward Him. We can serenade our loving God in praise for His mercy and grace in our lives. We can lift Him up in our hearts from sunrise to sunset and every moment in between. May the people who love and follow Yahveh Almighty bless His name in their hearts and with their praise throughout our every moment. Each day when we rise, may we offer Yahveh our own Sunrise Serenade.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moses Starts A Poetry Journal


Poetry and Dreams by Flickr User Cher Amlo, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Poetry and Dreams by Flickr User Cher Amlo, 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.

I imagine a majority of my readers are writers. I know that many are anyway since I post links to my posts in my writer’s group. For you writers who include poetry among your styles and genres, I’m sure you remember when you first began to gather your poetry into some type of compilation. You may have even started it like a journal with subject matter based on the events of the day. I began my foray into poetry as cathartic exercise in a class of young girls who were invited to use poetry to deal with some issues in teen life. The active writing of poetry made me fall in love with it.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:1 through Deuteronomy 32:6, we begin a new week and a new portion. In this one, Parashah 53 called Ha’azinu in Hebrew and “Hear” in English, Moses begins writing the song that God has asked him to write as a testimony against the rebellion of Israel. Since we don’t have music, we can see the lyrics as poetry. And, while I may not post all of them each day, I do want to post the beginning so you can see the flow. So, here are the first three lines of The Song of Moses from The Complete Jewish Bible

Hear, oh heavens, as I speak!
Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth!
May my teaching fall like rain.
May my speech condense like dew,
like light rain on blades of grass,
or showers on growing plants.

For I will proclaim the name of Adonai.
Come, declare the greatness of our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect,
for all his ways are just.
A trustworthy God who does no wrong,
he is righteous and straight.

He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children,
a crooked and perverted generation.
You foolish people, so lacking in wisdom,
is this how you repay Adonai?
He is your father, who made you his!
It was he who formed and prepared you!

I love how Moses starts this with the poetic blessing on his words; asking that they would fall to the earth like rain, dew, and showers. Then, as soon as he sets up how he wants others to hear his words, he begins to lift up The Lord with wonderful poetic description. He proclaims His name, declares His greatness, and calls Him “The Rock.” Just in that statement, he shows what his own heart is toward his Creator. And then he goes on to say God is perfect, just, trustworthy, and that He can do no wrong.

It’s all so flowing and beautiful, and then we get to the third stanza. There’s a twist in the first line: “God is not corrupt; the defect is in His children.” Boom! The truth that underpins all our lives on this earth. God is perfect and we are not. God is God and we are not. And then Moses asks the question we should all ask ourselves when dealing with our failures: Is this the way to pay back the God who loves you? The God who is a Father that made you His own?

If we can come to the reality that God deserves more than our present behaviors, we can come to a place of repentance, and that’s when life changes for the better. That works from the first time we repent to every time we fall to our knees in repentance before God after that. Remember this…God is more interested in our repentance than in our perfection!

If you battle with your imperfect and defective form, first, remember that God knows your form, and that’s why He paid the price in the blood of Yeshua. Next, humble yourself before God to confess and forsake those defects and imperfections with your whole heart and with the best of your ability. Then, trust God to take them as you rise to walk in the newness of life. Read the praises recorded in the Torah and other places in God’s holy word, and repeat them from your own mouth as you read and learn them. If it helps, consider writing your own thoughts (and maybe poetry) to God to lift Him up in your own words and to chronicle your experiences as a testimony to others with similar events in their own lives. May God bless your words as you write for Him.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joy to the World


Not of This World by Flickr User Sharon at Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Not of This World by Flickr User Sharon at Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, 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.

This world is not our home, so it’s not always comfortable. Sometimes, though, our homes here become a place to hide. Sure, home may be where the heart is, but home is not the place to keep our salvation. And neither should we keep ourselves holed up like rabbits only hopping from fellowship to fellowship between church friends and church services. We will have a chance to fellowship and rejoice together when we cross over into eternity, but right now, we have a gift of joy we need to share with the world. We are not of this world, but we can’t forget that we are in it.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 12:10 through Deuteronomy 12:28 (the portion starts at 11, but it’s in the middle of a sentence, so I’ve included what I left off yesterday), we read about God’s place in the midst of Israel’s new place of inheritance where they will have peace and safety from their enemies. (Now I see why the old hymns compare Heaven to The Land of Canaan.) Their place in Canaan was more like our place will be in Heaven–their reward for their journey through the world so far. Moses tells them to remember to bring their offerings, sacrifices, and promised gifts to God at the place God chooses within their new land. He tells them to be careful not to take their offerings just anywhere they choose, but to go to the place God designates within one of their tribal communities.

Because of God’s blessings, they can slaughter and eat meat whenever and wherever they want, even to the point of both clean and unclean eating it now, but they must not consume the burnt offerings and the tithes on their grain, new wine, and olive oil, at their own homes. They must eat them in the presence of The Lord. After God expands their territory, however, if it causes the place of His name to be too far away from them, they can slaughter and eat all the meat they want on their home property. As before, they can serve both the clean and the unclean, but they are not to eat anything still alive or eat any of the blood. Moses also reminds them to never forget the Levites since they do not have their own shares in the new land. (Boy, if that’s a type and shadow that says preachers won’t get their own mansions, but will have to live with others in eternity, I wonder how many would still want to be preachers.)

So, Hebrews 13:10-16 (NLT) talks of Yeshua being crucified outside the camp and how God’s people should be willing to go outside the camp and bear the disgrace with Him. It says we do this because this world is not our permanent home. It goes on to say we should bring a continual sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming allegiance to His name. I see this as comparable to Israel being outside versus inside their new land. (Anything in the book of Hebrews is speaking to Messianic Jews, so they understood this comparison.) I think it means that while we live on this side of Heaven, it will feel like a sacrifice to proclaim The Lord, but when we move into His permanent presence, we can praise Him right where we live, and it will be out of desire instead of by requirement.

Our meat for sacrifice is no longer one with blood since the perfect blood of Yeshua finished that work for all mankind. Now, we bring a sacrifice of praise, and God’s designated place for that sacrifice is outside the camp since we still live outside of “Canaan.” We take our sacrifice into the world, so we can lift Him up where He will draw all men to Himself. And even though people in the world may try to disgrace us for our stand (that’s part of what makes it a sacrifice after all), we can still give that sacrifice as a blessing of thanksgiving to the One who promises us eternity in His holy presence.

I’m just going to change one word in the first line of a popular chorus…We bring sacrifice of praise OUTSIDE the house of The Lord. And when we bring our sacrifice of praise to the world, we bring His joy to the world.

August 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 Sacrifice of Holy Praise


Altar of Incense by Flickr User Michael Arcand, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Altar of Incense by Flickr User Michael Arcand, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have always loved to sing, and more than that, I have always loved to sing songs that I could feel in my heart. When I stand with a congregation to sing praise songs to God, I look for the deepest meaning I can find in the song, and I try my best to sing it to Him directly. It’s a struggle for me to sing something I cannot feel. I have often stood crying when it seemed the music around me was just cluttered noise. Sometimes I would cry because I felt the presence of God by seeking God in the midst of whatever was going on around me, and sometimes I would cry because I was hurting over the shallowness I felt in what should have been the holiest time of our fellowship together.

Long before King David and the Book of Psalms he filled with praises toward Yahveh Almighty, God taught men how He wanted praise to be delivered to Him. In today’s reading from Exodus 30:1 through Exodus 30:10 we learn about the Altar of Incense which represents praise. Beyond offering a regular sacrifice twice each day, God also commanded the priests to offer fragrant incense twice each day. He gave instructions for an altar that would be used specifically for this purpose.

The most important instruction about the Altar of Incense is where God said to locate it. He said to put it in front of the curtain by the Ark of the Covenant. Remember that the priest, and only the high priest, could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once per year. Many layers of drapery separated that area from the rest of the tabernacle. But, while men could not go beyond the curtain, the smoke that ascended from the incense would be able to penetrate the material to reach the ark that represented God’s presence.

Because this smoke went directly into God’s presence, God was very specific about what to burn on the altar and how to burn it. Unholy things cannot dwell in God’s presence, so anything not created by God’s exact instructions was considered “strange fire,” and should never be put on God’s altar. He said to offer no grain offerings on it and to pour no drink offerings on it. In addition, God told Aaron to put the blood of atonement on it once per year to keep it holy because, according to God, that altar was especially holy to Him. Imagine, something that represents praise being called “especially holy” to God then and throughout all the generations of His people.

Since we are now able to come boldly before the throne of God and into His presence, it might be easy to forget just how holy praise is to Him. We sometimes sing songs because they sound good or because a certain singer or band does a good job with their performance. I know how hard it is to lead music and remember that it’s not about performance at the same time. But I also know the experience of how I’ve heard my own voice, as if it wasn’t even coming out of me, somehow sound better than any practice or performance because my heart went to a place of true worship as I sang.

While we often start services with praise because we want to change the atmosphere by ushering in the presence of God, I love the times where we sing to change ourselves and usher our own spirits into His glorious presence. Since the smoke of incense rises, and since incense represents praise entering God’s presence, I feel like praise is a way to rise up out of our flesh and actually send a part of ourselves into the holy presence of our Holy Creator. Sometimes, it may even take a sacrifice–a break away from our own thoughts and ways–but to me, there is no greater joy than to lead my heart into a place of worship that God can receive as a holy and acceptable offering to Him. And on that note, enjoy this video with lyrics of the song Heart of Worship by Matt Redman.

February 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Jacob Prayed


Today we begin a new portion: Parashah (portion) 8, the Hebrew “Vayishlach” meaning He Sent. It runs from Genesis 32:4 to Genesis 36:43, but today’s reading is simply from Genesis 32:4 through Genesis 32:13. Jacob is on his way back to the home of his birth in obedience to what God directed. He knows Esau still lives there, and he is sure Esau is still angry, so he sends men ahead of him to let Esau know that he is coming to him with gifts of cattle and flocks as a peace agreement.

The men came back and told Jacob that Esau was coming out to meet him, but they also said he was bringing 400 men with him. This made Jacob fearful and distressed, so Jacob created a two-fold solution. First, Jacob split his people and possessions into two camps. This way, he said, if Esau comes to destroy a camp, one camp of people will still get out alive. That was good preparation, but the second solution was the best.

Jacob prayed a beautiful prayer to God. He first reminded God that it was His idea for Jacob to return, so he showed he was being faithful. He then showed humility and thankfulness by telling God that he knew he was not worthy of the love and faithfulness He had shown him since he first crossed the Jordan with nothing but the staff in his hand. And then he asked God to please deliver him from the wrath of Esau and to keep His promise to make his seed abundant. He even repeated God’s promise to him and to Abraham and Isaac as it had been given to them by God.

I believe that prayer showed a relationship with God that was built on more than just a “gimme” game. I love the faithfulness, thankfulness, humility, and praise that came before the requests. And as we continue into this portion, we will see the wonderful things God did as a result of that prayer.

November 16, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Time, I Will Praise God


SPOILER ALERT! FIRST, read today’s commentary before you watch the video! This is the video I promised I would look for back when I told you this story was upcoming. It’s by my favorite parody group, ApologetiX, and this is their official video for the song, “Downer of a Sister” which is a parody of the song “Chop Suey” by System of a Down. If you would like to read the lyrics and learn more about this amazing band who writes and sings Christian parodies of songs from a variety of genres, visit this song’s lyrics page on their site at http://apologetix.com/music/song.php?freebie=true%20&song_id=383 Once you watch the video, I would love to hear your thoughts about this song, and other ApologetiX songs you may have listened to, in the comments below. Thanks.

Now, today’s reading comes from Genesis 29:18 through Genesis 30:18, and it continues the story of Jacob’s love for Rachael. Jacob loved Rachael so much that when Laban asked him to work for seven years in order to have her as his wife, he worked happily and said the years were like only a few days. And then the wedding and feast were set in order.

On the wedding night, Laban snuck in Leah because she was the first born, and Jacob did not know until the next morning that he had slept with (and therefore married) the wrong sister. He was angry at Laban, but Laban explained it was just the way they did things. He promised he would give him Rachael at the end of the marriage week if Jacob would promise to stay and work for another seven years. He wanted Rachael enough that he agreed to the request.

When he took Rachael as his wife, he was much more in love with her. Yahveh Almighty saw that Leah was unloved, so he made her fertile and Rachael unable to bear children. Leah bore 4 sons to Jacob before she gave birth no more, and each time she was certain that having the children would cause her husband to love her. She named her first three sons Reuben (see, a son), Simeon (God hears), and Levi (companion). But when she had a fourth son, she turned her praise toward God instead of hoping that her husband would love her, so she named him Judah, meaning praise.

Rachael was still infertile, so she gave her handmaiden to Jacob who bore him two more sons, Dan (he judged) and Naphtali (my wrestling). Leah, unfortunately still struggling to feel loved, then gave her own handmaiden to Jacob who also bore him two sons, Gad (fortune) and Asher (happy).

I truly feel compassion for both of these women. I am sad for Leah in feeling unloved, and having plenty of experiences to push her to feeling that way. I wish, for her sake, that she would have been able to have a relationship with God the way people these days are able to, with His Spirit of Comfort able to dwell within us, but somehow, she did know that it was God who was hearing her needs, and that is why she named her children as she did. I think when she named the last one Judah, she was giving praise directly to God, and maybe that’s why the lineage of our Messiah comes through that one.

I also felt bad for Rachael because of being childless. I know that feeling from my own childlessness. I know there is comfort in having children by proxy, and I love the nephews I was privileged to raise for a few years from the depths of my heart–even when they have hurt me. But I also know that there is a part of me that will always wonder what it would have felt like to have known a maternal bond from conception and birth. And yet, as Leah when she had her fourth child, I can still say, I will praise God.

Oh, and just to keep with the NaNo updating, my word count today is 22,731

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Blessings Flow


Flowing Waterfall

Flowing Waterfall by Crystal A Murray
At Papa John’s Corporate Park in Louisville, Kentucky

So many things in life are linked together. I love in today’s reading from Genesis 24:53 through Genesis 24:67 how the original blessing for Isaac multiplied to bless more than just Isaac. I believe that all started with the servant who took the time to praise God and acknowledge Him as the provider of the blessing.

First, the servant was blessed. He blessed Rebecca with jewelry, clothing, and a promise of a good future. Then he also blessed Rebekah’s family with jewelry, clothing, livestock, etc. The family blessed the servant and the men he traveled with. Rebekah blessed her family. Her family sent her away with blessings like, “Our sister, may you be the mother of millions, and may your descendants possess the cities of those who hate them.” And when Isaac saw her as they arrived near his tent, it says he took her to be his wife, and it comforted him from the grief he was feeling over his mother’s death.

The Bible has so many promises of blessings from God, and they are all set to multiply. He gives to us with the purpose of our sharing it with others, but we have to see it and be thankful for it before we will be able to let go and share. Oh, but once we let God take over, it can go so far. It’s like the boy who gave the two fish and five loaves of bread in John 6:1-14. What started as a small offering that fit into a lunch box filled thousands and provided 12 baskets of leftovers after Jesus touched it. If we will remember that old hymn, Count Your Blessings, and sing it to ourselves often, we can lift God up in a way that He can multiply the blessings in our lives. Sing with me…

Count your blessings, name them one by one.

Count your blessings, see what God has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

May the blessings flow abundantly into and out of your life, and may you never become stagnate in receiving but always give as freely as you receive. Amen!

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Well, Since God Said So


Yellow Rose in Green Frame by Crystal A Murray (with the help of Fractalius)

FAITH–Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Photo of yellow rose in green frame by Crystal A Murray
(Edits with Irfanview and Fractalius)

Yesterday, we read about God giving Abraham’s servant a sign that he was moving in the right direction, and through it, the servant found Rebekah as a future wife for Isaac. Today, we read in Genesis 24:27 through Genesis 24:52, and the story is almost exactly the same except that it is being retold by the servant to Rebekah’s relatives.

In verses 47 & 48, the servant begins to share his personal reaction to being shown a positive sign about Rebekah. He tells the family how he put the gifts of jewelry on her, and then he describes bowing before Adonai and worshiping Him for bringing him to the right place. In verse 49, he gives his audience the chance to make a decision about whether or not they will believe and adhere to the direction that has been shown to the servant and confirmed by the sign, and I love their response.

In verses 51 & 52, the two men respond by saying (my paraphrase), “Well, since this is obviously from God, we can’t say anything good or bad. Since Rebekah is here before you, take her and go, and let her become your master’s son’s wife…since God said so.” And at that point, the servant again bowed on his face to worship Yahveh Almighty.

If only we could all respond as calmly and without argument, right? I know I have thought for sure that God said things, but then I waited for a person to confirm what I knew in my heart. When I didn’t get the human support I felt I needed, I backed down only to find later that I should have listened to that still, small voice in my spirit. If only I would always understand that His ways and thoughts are above my ways and thoughts and, with or without human support or understanding, move forward in obedience just because God said so. There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end leads to destruction. And then… there is God’s way.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When God Stops to Visit


Today’s reading begins Parashah (Portion) Four, which includes Genesis 18:1-22:24. Part 1 of this portion is Genesis 18:1 through Genesis 18:14, and it tells the story of when God stopped by Abraham’s house. It says that when Abraham looked out his door, he saw three men standing under the Oaks of Mamre, and he knew immediately who was on his property. The picture below from Wikemedia Commons, can be found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abrahams_Oak,_1880.jpg.

Abrahams_Oak,_1880.jpg (400×290)

So, here’s Abraham just going about his daily routines, having many of the same needs we all experience on a daily basis, and suddenly he looks outside and sees God. If that happened to you, what would you do? How many people do you suppose would say something like, “Oh, hey God. I’ve been meaning to talk to You. I’ve got this list of things I’ve been needing from You, and, well, since You’re here anyway.” I grieve that many would see it as the magic lamp is here. Let’s rub it.

But not Abraham. He ran–not walked–from his tent door and fell at his feet in humble worship. He asked these visitors to be his guests; to wash their feet, have some food and drink, and to rest before they traveled on. He was beside himself trying to give to them and do FOR them rather than trying to get something FROM them.

This has always meant something special to me. I have asked myself more than once if, when I am in the Presence of the Almighty, am I more concerned about what I can get or what I can giveSo many altar services are all about coming forward to receive something from God. We have services and gatherings centered around gifts and getting. Even Christmas, a time when people claim to be celebrating the birth of our Messiah, is more about getting gifts from each other than giving gifts to the birthday child. And whether it’s in the natural or the spiritual, this taking more than giving breaks my heart. And I wonder, after all God has given us in creation and salvation, does it break His heart too?

See, Abraham knew that the Creator of the Universe didn’t have to bless him as He already had. He knew God didn’t even have to stop to visit. Thankfulness exceeded his desire to request things from Him. His biggest request was that he would find favor in God’s eyes, so that He would stay and visit for a while. In return, God reminded Abraham once more that his wife Sarah would be having a baby soon. This time, it was Sarah who laughed, and I love today’s final verse in response to Sarah’s laughter: Is anything too hard for the Lord? The Amplified Bible adds “or too wonderful.”

I want to go before the throne in thanksgiving and humble adoration proclaiming how great is my God and praising Him that He reigns supreme in my life. I want to praise Him because I know that NOTHING is too hard or too wonderful for Him. And I pray this blesses Him so much that he will want to stop by and visit often.

October 19, 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

Thanks A “Lot”


Maybe my title should actually be “Thanks Á la Lot” since the story, from Genesis 13:5 through 13:18 is the story of Abram and his nephew Lot, but I just couldn’t pass up the pun. 🙂

In today’s part of Torah portion three, Lot and Abram were both so abundantly blessed that they began to overrun each other. Their servants even started fighting with each other. So Abram, ever a fan of peace and family, decided that it would be best of they put some space between them. Because Abram was the one with the blessing, and because he was the elder, he could have chosen the land he wanted and given Lot the leftovers. Instead, he told Lot to choose whatever he wanted, and he would be the one to take what was left.

Lot decided to take for himself the land that looked the best. The well-watered plains of what we now called Jordan. He did not seem concerned about the inhabitants who already lived there–in Sodom and Gomorrah, and we will see in later chapters how that should have been a top concern for him. Still, because Lot took Jordan, Abram took Canaan.

Starting with verse 14, we find Yahveh talking with Abram and making him some more promises. Now, in addition to the promise of making a name for him, God tells Abram to look around him and see if he can count the grains of sand because his family of descendants will be just as innumerable as the sand. With that, the Lord also tells him to look around at all his eyes can take in and to walk the length and breadth of it. Yahveh promises Abram it will all belong to him.

So, because Abram put love, peace, and family first, God added to his blessings. And Abram knew these things were gifts from the Almighty and built an altar of thanksgiving. To those who are the type to count their losses, having to give up land to Lot may have seemed like a sacrifice too great to pay. But because Abram knew where his blessings originated, he willingly did what was needed and was rewarded for a heart that counted blessings instead of troubles. And what was left for Abram to do after God rewarded him? Offer a sacrifice of praise for God’s abundant blessings on his life in spite of any loss–and he lost “a Lot.” (Sorry, I can’t help it. But laughter is good for us, so I hope my silliness makes someone smile.)

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Covenant God


The reading for today is all in Genesis 9 and is a very short set of verses from 8 through 17. Noah, his family, and the animals are off the boat. Noah has offered the first sacrifice to show his thankfulness for their salvation. And now, with this family ready to replenish the earth, God has made a promise, and he has given a sign for that promise that we still see today; the rainbow.

I downloaded an image I really like by rwangsa at Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwangsa/452128709/)…

Image

You know, there are many gods out there that people try to please with various works, but most of them are just trying to get those gods to carry them to an eternal paradise. They will give it all for a promise that may or may not be true. But our God and Creator, Yahveh Almighty, has promised us so much more than an eternity in paradise. He has plans so awesome that He says they haven’t even found a way to enter into our thoughts or imaginations.

I was talking with a friend today, and we were discussing what we have with God that so many others do not have with their gods. The greatest thing we have of course is His Love. It’s not just an end game, but a gift He desires to shower on us in every moment. He wants us to trust Him so much that you will see many covenants He makes with His people throughout Scripture. This covenant in today’s reading is not only a promise, but a promise that comes with a sign both to us and to Him. He says that when we see it, we can remember His promise to us. And He says that whenever He brings clouds upon the earth, He Himself will see the sign and remember His promises. It’s like two best friends that tie a string around each others’ wrists or pinky fingers to remind the other that they will be best friends forever. God is our best Friend, a covenant Friend and a covenant God, who will be there for us…forever! Hallelu-Yah!!!

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Aroma


This is my first post from my phone app since I know I will not get home on time. I’m thankful I have this option.

Now, to continue on with the story of Noah. In today’s reading from Genesis 8:15 through Genesis 9:7, he and all living things from the ark are finally getting to come out and restart life on earth. I don’t imagine life trapped inside the ark for almost a year was pleasant. Yet, the first thing Noah did when he exited the ark was to build an altar and give an offering to the One who saved him and his family. There’s no record of what Noah thanked God for, but I imagine it was an extensive list. If I were Noah, just some items from my list would be…

  • Thank You for looking at me with grace;
  • Thank You for saving me from destruction;
  • Thank You for being my Provider and sustaining me for all those months;
  • Thank You for saving my family;
  • Thank You that I know You Yahveh Almighty.

Whatever Noah thanked God for, that smell of his thankful offering went up as a sweet aroma to God and was pleasing to Him. And I believe that sweet aroma was more about the offering of thanksgiving that came from Noah’s heart and mouth than it was from anything that burned upon the fire. I believe this because of the new testament verses that tell us that the sacrifice of our praise goes up as a sweet-smelling aroma to God. I can compare this to how I respond to the smell of something grilling on a barbecue. Even when I’ve just eaten and am full, I could sit downwind of the aroma of a barbecue and just enjoy it as it wafts in my direction. If our praise smells even close to that good to God, no wonder He is enthroned on the praises of His people.

October 8, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only Evil Continually


I mentioned one of today’s verses in a previous post when I talked about it being strife for God to dwell within man because of our flesh. To clarify, it is because of the evil of our flesh using the definition of evil to mean “minus God.” The whole of today’s reading is from Genesis 5:25 through Genesis 6:8, and it tells about the multiplication of mankind which includes the multiplication of evil because of the sheer abundance of flesh.

While I’m not sure what is meant here by the “sons of God” vs. the “daughters of men,” I wonder if God created more men from “scratch” than just Adam. And then in chapter 6, verse 3, God says, “My Spirit will not live in human beings forever, for they too are flesh.” I think it’s talking about the “oil and water” mix of flesh that yields evil and God’s Spirit that yields good.

In verse 5, we find that men are filled with wickedness and that all the imaginings of the hearts of mankind are of evil only. The King James Version states it as that their thoughts were “only evil continually.”

Some years ago, I was told that the truest definition of evil is, as I mentioned above, “minus God.” Another statement I read states that evil is a living thing with all of its molecules flowing in a direction that is opposite God. That makes sense when compared to Genesis 8:21 where it says that men’s thoughts are inclined toward evil from their childhood. The flesh by itself is minus God. So, while wickedness is not the definition of evil, it is caused by evil; by those whose thoughts are always in and on the flesh instead of in and on God.

So in chapter 6, we read that it was a constant state of mind–always thinking of self and never thinking of God. In the new testament, in Luke 17:26-27, we read that in the days when Christ returns, things will be just like they were here in Chapter 6. And the thing is, that doesn’t just mean what we would consider to be wicked men. The idea of men thinking more of themselves than thinking of God happens plenty with “the church” as well. When men pray, worship, preach, etc., just to be noticed, they’re thinking of themselves. When men think more about what they can get from God instead of what they can give to Him, they too are thinking of themselves. And when men worship the creation more than the Creator, well, that’s definitely thinking of self.

I asked someone one time, after they told me about an altar call where almost every person in the congregation went forward, “Would the same number of people move to the altar if the preacher asked how many wanted to give something to God as did when he called to everyone who wanted to receive something special?” The thought that fewer are willing to give than receive grieves me because I feel that God is worth more than a “genie in a magic lamp.” If the last thing we received from God was our salvation, it’s still deliverance from eternal death, and that makes it worth more than anything else–especially considering that it is a gift of God’s love to us.

I desire to worship God for who He is more than for what He does. I believe that will keep my thoughts from resting in the thoughts of the flesh, whether those thoughts lead to wickedness or just self-centeredness. For those who are followers of Christ, I find this perfectly summed up by author Chip Brogden from The School of Christ, in the following statement: “What is greater than the work of the Lord? It is, the Lord of the work.” May we always keep it in this perspective.

October 4, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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