SHARING A HEBREW PERSPECTIVE! GOD BLESS

English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902...

English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 7 7/16 x 11 1/4 in. (18.9 x 28.6 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dealing with Discouragement

December 23, 2013

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” — Exodus 6:9

The Torah portion for this week is Va’eira, which means “and I appeared,” from Exodus 6:2–9:35, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 28:25–29:21.

If you’re like the rest of us, no doubt you have experienced discouragement, maybe even today. It could be a goal you never seem to reach or an expectation that didn’t come to fruition. Sometimes it seems like things will never get better and it’s all too easy to give up and despair.

This week’s Torah reading picks up the story of Israel’s redemption. Just a few verses earlier, the process had already gotten underway. Moses accepted God’s mission to free the people and went to speak to Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh’s response was less than encouraging. Not only did he answer Moses’ plea to “Let my people go” with an emphatic “no,” Pharaoh also made the Israelites’ conditions even harsher and impossibly demanding.

At that point, Moses was extremely discouraged. He said to God: “Ever since I went to Pharaoh … he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people …” (Exodus 5:23). In other words, things are only getting worse, God! Last week’s reading ended with God encouraging Moses with the promise that everything would work out in the end.

This week’s reading begins with an encouraged Moses who returned to the Israelites to tell them that redemption is near. However, “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” Once again, Moses was left feeling deflated and discouraged.

What a disheartening section. However, within this tale of discouragement, we can find a cure for the ailment of despair.

First, let’s start with the cause. The verse tells us the source of the people’s inability to embrace hope. The cause, which is translated from Hebrew as “discouragement and harsh labor,” literally means “short spirit and hard work.” In other words, the Israelites suffered from a crushed spirit because of how hard life had been. In addition, they suffered from physical exhaustion due to overworking. Both of these factors kept them mired in despair.

However, there is a way out. The first step is to rest. When our bodies are physically strong, our spirits are stronger. We need to take care of our bodies with proper nutrition and sleep. The second step is to believe in God’s promises for the future. God reiterated His promises to Moses, but in time, Moses had to learn, and we all have to model, how to remember God’s promises and trust them on our own. We can reinforce our faith through daily prayer and study.

Once we nurture our bodies and spirits, we can leave despair behind – and turn our discouragement into the courage to persevere and be redeemed.

With prayers for shalom, peace, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Founder and President

LAMB OF GOD AND LION OF JUDAH-PRAISE YOU FATHER! THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT!

Morning

EPHESIANS 6

EPHESIANS 6

 

“But who may abide the day of his coming?” Malachi 3:2

His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.

Evening

Father, You Always Said...

Father, You Always Said…

 

“But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck.” Exodus 34:20

Every firstborn creature must be the Lord’s, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption–the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

Reflect

Be A Bearean Acts 17:11-Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Be A Bearean
Acts 17:11-Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

August 19, 2013
Turning Point
Judges 2:1-5
Read

The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”

When the angel of the LORD finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they called the place Bokim (which means “weeping”), and they offered sacrifices there to the LORD. (Judges 2:1-5)

Reflect

This event marks a significant shift in Israel’s relationship with God. At Mount Sinai, God made a sacred and binding agreement with the Israelites called a covenant (Exodus 19:5-8). God’s part was to make Israel a special nation (Genesis 12:1-3), to protect them, and to give them unique blessings for following him. Israel’s part was to love God and obey his laws. Because they rejected and disobeyed God, however, they would face severe consequences related to their disobedience. This was just what God had promised would happen (Deuteronomy 28:15ff).

But God wasn’t going to abandon his people. His promise remained valid: He would continue to make Israel a nation through whom the whole world would be blessed—fulfilled in the Messiah’s coming. God still wanted the Israelites to be a holy people, and he often used oppression to bring them back to him, just as he warned he would do (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). The book of Judges records a number of instances where God allowed his people to be oppressed so that they would repent of their sins and return to him.

God invites you to be part of his work in the world, and one big way is by obeying his word and the leading of his Spirit. Jesus was the perfect example of what that kind of life looks like. He accomplished what Israel could not. His life reminds us that we will not always be comfortable or safe from harm, but we will be given new bodies and new lives. And we will be with God forever.

Respond

Are you living in harmony with God’s word, his work, and his world? Is there something in your life that you’re still holding onto, afraid to give up, or not wanting to miss out on? Remember God’s promises of what is to come. Take time to read Isaiah 65:17 and think about all you could miss out on by not obeying God

Source:  http://www.newlivingtranslation.com/05discoverthenlt/lasb.asp

What River Crossing are you at?

images

 

River Crossing
Joshua 3:1-17
Read

The priests will carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”

So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground. (Joshua 3:13-17)

Reflect

The Israelites were eager to enter the Promised Land, conquer nations, and live peacefully. But first they had to cross the flood-level waters of the Jordan River. God gave them specific instructions: in order to cross, the priests had to step into the water. What if these priests had been afraid to take that first step? Often God provides no solution to our problems until we trust him and move ahead with what we know we should do.

The Israelites crossed the Jordan River in the spring, when it was overflowing its banks. God chose the time when the river was at its highest to demonstrate his power—parting the waters so that the entire nation could cross on dry ground. Some say that God used a natural occurrence (such as a landslide) to stop the waters of the Jordan; others say he did it by a direct miracle. In either case, God showed his great power by working a miracle of timing and location to allow his people to cross the river on dry ground. This exhibition of God’s supernatural power served to encourage the Israelites’ hope in God and to gave them a fearsome reputation among their enemies, who greatly outnumbered them.

God had parted the waters of the Red Sea to let the people out of Egypt (Exodus 14), and here he parted the Jordan River to let them enter Canaan. These miracles showed Israel that God keeps his promises. God’s presence among his people and his faithfulness to them made the entire journey from Egypt to the Promised Land possible. He was with them at the end of their wanderings just as he had been with them at the beginning.

Respond

What obstacles are you facing in your life? What is keeping you from moving forward? Is God calling you to take a step of faith? God may clear your path only after you begin to walk forward in faith. Remember how he has been with you in the past, and trust that he will continue to go with you

(Credit:  http://www.newlivingtranslation.com/05discoverthenlt/lasb.asp)

 

 

ONE DAY AT A TIME, ONE STEP AT A TIME

God has wonderful plans for your life

What’s in store for you?

The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too.

Isaiah 58:11 NLT

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more,
Feed me till I want no more.

ABOVEEARTH

A step at a time

 

Wouldn’t you like to know now what is in store for you a year from now? God leads us a day a time, a step at a time. No need to worry about distant events. The Welsh hymn writer William Williams compared the Christian life to the Israelite‘s trek through the wilderness. We may not know the route by which God is leading us, but we humbly count on His guidance.

As a college student, Williams prepared for a career in medicine. But one Sunday morning he heard a man preaching in a Welsh churchyard. Williams responded in faith, and his life was radically changed. For forty-three years he preached and sang throughout Wales. “He sang Wales into piety,” said one writer. He was the poet laureate of the Welsh revival. Soon, all of Wales was singing their way to the coal mines and soccer matches. And their favorite hymn was this marching song by one of their own: “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah.…Songs of praises I will ever give to Thee.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Bible Prayers (Tyndale House) entry for January 12

 

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

 

July 6, 2013 God’s Word

JOHN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

JOHN 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

July 6, 2013
Strained Devotion
Deuteronomy 1:6-18
Read

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions—the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain. Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.'”

Moses continued, “At that time I told you, ‘You are too great a burden for me to carry all by myself. The LORD your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the LORD, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised! But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering? Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.'” (Deuteronomy 1:6-13)

Reflect

As Moses looked back on Israel‘s history, his summary of their 40-year journey begins at Mount Sinai, not in Egypt. Why did Moses leave out the first part of the Exodus? Moses was not giving an itinerary—he was summarizing the nation’s development. In Moses’ mind the nation of Israel began at Mount Sinai when God gave his covenant to the people (Exodus 19–20).

Along with this covenant came knowledge and responsibility for Israel. After choosing to follow God, they had to know how to follow him. God, therefore, gave them a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines that stated how he wanted them to live: These instructions are written in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The people could no longer say they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Now that the people had promised to follow God and knew how to follow him, they had a responsibility to do it.

Like Israel, we too have a knowledge and a responsibility. We don’t just have God’s law, we also have God’s Spirit. But God has given us his own Spirit for knowing and responding to him. Together with the Bible, God’s Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 14:17). It’s our responsibility to listen to and obey the Spirit’s leading (Galatians 5:25).

Respond

If you feel like it’s hard to hear and know God’s Spirit, be confident that God’s Spirit is in harmony with God’s Word. If you are looking for a way to tune in to what God is saying, you can start by really listening to and obeying the Bible. As you do, you’ll develop an ear for the voice of God in your life.

 

 

HE HAS YOUR BACK

PSALM46-1

June 9, 2013
Got Your Back
Leviticus 25:35-55
Read

“If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative. Remember, do not charge interest on money you lend him or make a profit on food you sell him. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:35-38)

Reflect

The Bible places great emphasis on assisting the poor and helpless, especially orphans, widows, and the handicapped. In Israelite society, no paid work was available to women; thus, a widow and her children had no livelihood. Neither was work available for the seriously handicapped in this nation of farmers and shepherds. The poor were to be helped without charging any interest. God said that neglecting the poor was a sin. Permanent poverty was not allowed in Israel. Financially secure families were responsible to help and house those in need.

Many times we do nothing, not because we lack compassion, but because the size of the problem overwhelms us and we don’t know where to begin. God doesn’t expect you to eliminate poverty, nor does he expect you to neglect your family while providing for others. He does, however, expect that when you see an individual in need, you will reach out with whatever help you can offer, including hospitality.

Respond

Ask God to open your eyes to the desperate needs of people in your world. Consider what you can do to help alleviate those needs, to show compassion in Christ‘s name. Then pray for the courage and wisdom to respond to the needs you see.

Credit: tyndale.com

ISAIAH 52:12

But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.