Not a Spirit of Fear and Timidity, but of POWER!

I get it. I really do. I understand the uplifting power of wanting so badly to read a verse on it’s own to make me feel better. I get the idea of a pastor using a verse in his teaching to encourage and bolster up his congregation. However, I don’t get why plucking one verse out of context is OK in any way at all. It does not glorify God, it only glorifies self. Yesterday I wrote about several verses that are taken out of context an used for selfish gain or selfish pats on the back. Today in my daily study I came across yet another verse used by a pastor who has taken this verse way out of context. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV) He used it in the sense of when you feel powerless to overcome a situation or to keep going when times get hard and more specifically how to take control of your weight and what you eat and how you exercise. This pastor, as many do, is using this verse to tell us to have courage, have faith, and be bold in striving toward creating better habits. It is basically self-help while using God’s Word to support his views. This broke my heart when I read his devotional. If you read 2 Timothy, Paul was writing to Timothy and was encouraging to remember when the Holy Spirit entered him and the power that was behind it. To not have a spirit of fear in regard to preaching the true gospel. Paul wanted Timothy to not give up on spreading the Word. He was not encouraging him to be a better person or to be bold in things such as being healthy, he was encouraging him to SPREAD THE WORD OF GOD. God DID give us a Spirit of power and love and self-control in order to spread the word. So, that begs the question… Are you afraid or timid when it comes to sharing the gospel with others? Do you have self control in being purposeful about spreading the Word? Are you intentional and bold? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you powerfully and loving when you talk to others about Jesus? Read the verse again, in fact, read the first part of 2 Timothy. Don’t let me tell you, let God’s Word speak for itself.

I can do all things! OH REALLY???

One thing that has upset me to no end is the way in which pastors and most people take the Bible and use verses to support their theology rather than allowing the Bible to stand on it’s own. Did you know that most of the verses you hear thrown around are taken way out of context? Like “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) so let’s just add “In Jesus’ name” to the end of every prayer. Asking in his name means in his WILL. Do you think the things you are asking for are in his will? Who are you to presume you know his will. HE IS GOD! Or how about the prosperity gospel of “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV) The Greek translation means life upon life or eternal life, not that you are going to have great things here on THIS earth. These are all mistreated, misunderstood verses. The one that is currently on my mind is “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, ESV) This is always fully taken out of context. Read Philippians 4. Paul was in prison, wrongly accused, and beaten to almost death, but he was still content. He was content in ALL things, when he was in good times and in bad, no matter what. This is what that verse means. In context, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (to take another translation) really means I can be CONTENT in all things no matter what situation I am in. It is not a call to “go for it” or “work tirelessly until you obtain your goal” or that Christ is going to give you strength in every area of your life. This is NOT what Paul is saying. One of my favorite quotes from my pastor, Pastor Mike Fabarez is “The best way to guard against heresy is to read the Bible thoroughly and often.”

A Crushing Kind of Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world. He loved the world. He loved you, he loved me! Think about that for longer than just a passing moment. Yes, he loves me. How did he love me?

I have a son. He is 6. As a parent I am confident that I would do most anything for that child. I love him unconditionally. He is in my care. How could I even fathom putting him purposefully in harms way? That is exactly what God the Father did. He loved me so much that he personally came down to earth and went through a brutal, humiliating, excruciating death. For me! For you! He did not have to do that at all. We should all perish. But in his perfect love, his crushing love, he chose us over his own comfort. That kind of love can only be described as a crushing kind of love. Why crushing? It is the only word I can think of that even comes slightly close to what that kind of love actually means. Think about it. No really… THINK about it.

When you think long and hard about the sacrifice he made it will crush your heart. When you really ponder who he is and what he did you will instantly slam your body and face firmly on the floor laying prostrate in thanksgiving and worship. That is what I mean by crushing. There is no other way I can describe it. It crushes who we are in light of who he is. It crushes our motives and selfishness and brings forth a desire after his will. It crushes everything we once thought was important and demands our full and utter devotion to the One True God.

Believing in the Son is the first step towards fully accepting that love of grace and mercy. Fully understanding that love is the beginning of a life in which is no longer our own. It is a life that we gratefully and willfully hand over to God as his servant. “Use me, use me!” should be our daily cry. “Shake me out, clean out my sin, make me a tool worthy to be used!” Our deepest desire, that stems from that crushing love, should be that of servanthood. We should long to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Imagine getting to the beema seat of God and hearing him say “Well, you made it, but really by the skin of your teeth.” You will suffer loss. I don’t know about you, but I am a people pleaser. I like it when I do a job well done. I like being praised for the things I do right. God instilled in us that desire. He wants us to please him like we please others. He wants us to desire after his heart. What are you going to do about it? No really, what are you going to do about it?

Are You Knowledge-Hungry or Wisdom-Hungry?

All over the Bible it tells us to ask for “wisdom.” You might be interested to know that the way Jews understood the meaning of the word “wisdom” is not how we use the word today. “Chokmah” is the Hebrew and “sophia” is the Greek word that is translated “wisdom.”  The people of Israel all knew that when learning from the Bible or anyone teaching on things of Yahweh, then fully understood and appreciated it’s deeper meaning. Wisdom is the practical application of God’s will. So while you may be a knowledge seeker or someone who is the consummate student, always learning and taking classes, even on things of God, I encourage you to take a deeper look at your motives.

When you study, is it to gain greater understanding and greater knowledge? While knowledge and understanding of the Bible is a crucial part of the Christian walk, the more important factor is it’s practical life application. Do you pray for wisdom to understand the things of God or do you pray for wisdom to act on His will; to do what he wants and not what you want? Think of it this way: we are all selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical, self-centered humans. Right? That is really the top thing you are an expert on… you. So, when you fall in love and commit to another person, what happens? It becomes all about them and what they want (at least during the honeymoon stage). That is kind of how it is with God only it is permanent. Once you are His, fully and unconditionally His, your understanding of the word “wisdom” will come to life. Your prayer life will change. Your motives for your life will change. YOU will change.

This is another beautiful fruit that you will bring forth when Yahweh makes you His… A-men and Halleluyah!

For more on this topic check out these posts:Wisdom
The Power to Do God’s Will

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Are You Allergic to Sin?
Audit #8: Are You Knowledge Hungry or Wisdom Hungry?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

Fruit Audit – Are You Allergic to Sin?

To sum things up from yesterday’s post on being a lawbreaker, remember at the beginning I stated “I used to be such a lawbreaker.” The important phrase in that sentence is “used to be”. OK, no, I am not perfect, however, now that I am a child of God, the Holy Spirit literally dwells inside me. Every time I mess up or break a law, aka sin, my heart instantly tugs at me. I am instantly convicted by the Holy Spirit. Did you know that convicting us of sin is one of his jobs? He came to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgement. John 16:7-11 It is a pure wonder and something that takes some getting used to. The best way I can describe it is I now am allergic to sin. If you have allergies this will make sense. Sure, I can play with a cat, but I will pay instantly if I touch my eye and I will pay in the long run with itchy skin if I play with the cat for a while. This does not mean I don’t ever touch a cat. I just know what will happen and it is very uncomfortable. There is no controlling the reaction I have. It is the same with the Holy Spirit. He convicts me on the spot every time, and like playing with a cat, his conviction is very uncomfortable. It is wild, and awe-inspiring, and now I FULLY understand why he is called our Helper.

If you want to see more on this topic check out this post:
God’s Law is Written on My Heart

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Are You Allergic to Sin?
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

Consider Reading Matthew 23 with a light on YOUR life. Is it possible that it is a “Woe to you!” ???

We often read the Bible from the perspective of “that is antiquated and it doesn’t apply today”, or “God is talking about those people, not me”. I love what my pastor, Mike Fabarez wrote for yesterday’s Daily Bible Reading in light of our read in Matthew 23.

“Today we finish reading what is arguably the most scathing recorded indictment by Christ. Here Jesus shows his deep disdain for the hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another. May we avoid reading the remainder of Matthew 23 with someone else in mind. Instead may God’s Spirit bring conviction where it’s needed, and may there be a new passion to shrink the gap between our godly reputations and the reality of our lives.”

Pastor Mike

Generation System Busters… Throw the Rules out the Window

Are you usually the one who questions the status quo or always bucks the system? Are you considered a system buster, looking for better ways to do things? Do you not always follow the rules? Many younger generations in their teens, 20s, and 30s, are this way. They were almost raised this way. Consider these two verses. While system busting is not all bad, don’t get caught in the trap of turning into a complainer and an arguer.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16, ESV)

Worse off would be if you became that person in church who is always complaining about how loud the music is, or that so-and-so did such-and-such. Grow in your walk with Yashua and remember to try to go with the flow of your leadership Yahweh has put in place. Man is fallible but you will be responsible to Yahweh as well based on how well you obeyed your leaders. They will be accountable for how well the led.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

Maranatha!!!!

My Journey in Learning Hebrew: Finding Tools to Learn the Basics

Daily Blessings AppWhen you want to learn a new language there are several options: immersion or foundational. My issue with immersion is that I am not learning Hebrew to only speak it. My main goal is to read, write and understand it and also speak it. Most apps and learning tools just want you to speak and understand, not read or write. The Hebrew alphabet (aleph bet) is very different than the characters used in the alpha bet I am used to. Even learning Spanish or French uses the same alphabet so figuring out pronunciation is somewhat easy compared to learning a full set of new characters.

So that is where I started. I needed to memorize the new characters, their sounds, as well as the vowels and other accents. There are a lot of similar sounds, similar looking letters, and exceptions to rules, as well as very different looking fonts for the same letters that will all make you say Oy Vey! Once I fully got used to a font set my teacher would introduce another font of the same letters and I would mix them up. Back to the drawing board. I needed to find as many fonts of the aleph bet that I could so I know the variations and can spot them so I know the letter. It is like our capitals, lower case, and script. They all look different. Take our letter “Q” and how different the upper and lower and script fonts are from each other. At least with Hebrew there are only 22 consonants, 8 vowel markers, and 5 final consonants.

Now that I have all the letters figured out (for the most part) I am now learning simple words and phrases to start pulling all the letters and sounds together. It has been super fun and exciting to see it all start to make sense. Below are some tools I have found helpful along the way. I have looked into a lot of language tools but the best ones are the ones that include the Hebrew text along with both the translation and the transliteration (how to pronounce it) as well as a recording of the phrase so you can hear the pronunciation. I have looked and looked for tools that do all 4 and there are not that many out there.

Ma Kore Hebrew Good but the fonts are a bit off because they need base and x height lines to indicate what you are looking at. Also the pronunciation is a bit off such as the letter “tsadi” they pronounce it with a g sound at the end and that is incorrect (per my teacher saying that is a common error.)

Daily Blessings App (By far my favorite) An App that gives you all the traditional blessings with the Hebrew text, transliteration, translation and audio version of the blessing. Great learning tool.

The Mishkan T’filah App (I recommend buying the book) The app is a bit pricey because you have to buy each set of prayers separately. This is also great because it includes the Hebrew text, transliteration, and translation.
The Mishkan T’filah Book

I hope this helps if you are interested in starting your own journey to learn Hebrew.

Shalom!

To see this thread from the beginning click the below links:

My Journey in Learning Hebrew PART 1
My Journey in Learning Hebrew: How I Got Started
My Journey in Learning Hebrew: Finding Tools to Learn the Basics

“Ask and it will be given.” ~ Why the Secret and the Law of Attraction are Wrong!

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

There are so many passages in the Bible that are misinterpreted. They are interpreted based on what we want them to say rather than what they actually say. I got caught up in the “Secret” and the “Law of Attraction” several years ago. Even my Christian friends were suckered into it because it is touted as being Bible based. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think of how Satan takes truths and slightly (really slightly) modifies them to make them not true anymore but really easy to swallow as truth. You know how GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms, aka “food that is not really food anymore”, aka “you can eat it but shouldn’t”) are just like the original only better? They grow quicker, yield more, taste richer, have less waste, etc, etc. That is what Satan hopes his “version” of the Bible does for each and every one of us. Pick and choose what we want and throw out the rest. blueletterbible

So, back to the above verse and why our friends who teach the Law of Attraction really have missed the whole point of this passage (and other verses in the Bible that seem to say the same thing.) There are some helpful ways to interpret Scripture through the hermeneutical process. Three main areas to always consider are: Biblical Context, Historical Background, and The Bible as a Whole.

Biblical context is simple. What context was the passage in question relating to? Read the verses surrounding the verse in question.

Historical Background may take a bit longer to discover through commentaries and other historical reading. What did the passage mean to the people it was written to? What was going on in their time? What historical events surrounded them at the time of the writing? Why was it written, for what purpose? Who specifically was it intended for? It is important here to look up multiple translations as well as the original Greek or Hebrew words used in the passage.

And lastly, understanding the Bible as a Whole can also take a while. This is often referred to as “Scripture Interprets Scripture.” You need to see where else in the Bible there is use of phrases or specific words that come up in the passage. One of my favorite resources is Blue Letter Bible. See image above. It is important to research words and what they fully meant, not how one translation has decided to translate it. It is also important to find out if the specific meaning you think it means is taught anywhere else in the Bible. If it is not, then perhaps you need to rethink your understanding of the passage.

So, let’s take a look at our passage in question (Matthew 7:7-11) and dissect it a bit.

What is the Biblical Context? Please read all of Matthew 7 right now if you have not yet. In reading the verses before and after it seems clear they are talking about how we live our lives and how that pertains to the glory of Yahweh, our personal salvation, as well as our deserved judgement. If our relationship with Yahweh and salvation is what is in context then it would make sense that the passage is telling us to ask for salvation and the things of Yahweh. Let’s dig a bit deeper by looking at the Historical Background.

What was the Historical Background? Jesus is at the end of his now famous ‘Sermon on the Mount” as read in Matthew 5-7. It is probably one of the most well know passages in all the New Testament. However, when he was giving it, and even when it was written down or passed along via pure memorization, the text in the early church was not well known like it is today. The last verse in chapter 7 states the people were amazed. What Jesus was saying was not only counter intuitive and somewhat odd at the time (in some cases very odd and downright heretical) the people were astonished. First because of what he was saying, but second because of how he was saying it. Think about it. When you hear someone speak about something they have studied, there is a sense of humility in that knowledge. It is like your pastor preaching from the Word of God. Now think about when you have heard someone talk about something they have discovered or created, like a scientist or book author. They speak with a much greater sense of authority (authorship). That is exactly how Jesus was speaking because he has authored it all! Everything. Every last word, note, hair, syllable, brick, dot, iota, cell, molecule, star, planet, you get the idea. EVERYTHING. So he has a right to speak with complete authority. People just did not talk that way back then, not even the scribes or the pharisees. There was great power behind how Jesus spoke and the people sat up to listen.

So, think about this. Jesus goes from “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” straight into the idea of “asking”. Then he states “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” If I look at this from the audience of the time’s perspective I would not think to my self: “Wow, you mean to tell me I can ask for anything I want and I will get it?” As I would say to my child, “Sorry, that is not correct.”

Finally let’s take a look at other passages that can shed some light on this one.

Scripture Interprets Scripture. Below are a list of verses similar to Matthew 7:7 and are the ones most brought up in the discussion of the Law of Attraction. Before moving forward here is a simple definition of the Law of Attraction: Like attracts like. If you think it, you will be it. If you ask for it you will receive it. HERE ARE THE VERSES: “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22, ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24, ESV) Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14, ESV)

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7, ESV)

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (John 16:23, ESV) Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24, ESV) You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly (James 4:3, ESV)

When we look at all these verses that seem to imply that we simply need to ask God for our desires and he will give them to us it can be very enticing to go down that rabbit hole. However, when you use the above two steps to find out what the Bible is talking about in each verse you will quickly find out that they are all talking about God’s will and not yours. It is not about your job, your bank account, the school your kids go to, your retirement plan, or even the simple day to day things that we want and desire. Yes, God wants good things for his kids but when you really study scripture as a whole, cover to cover, you will see that there really is no promise of good things on THIS earth in THIS lifetime. He is talking about your salvation and what amazingly great things (and I mean uncomprehendingly GREAT things) he will be giving you then, not now! Take a look at this verse: I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b, ESV) This is quite possibly the MOST misinterpreted verses in the Bible when it comes to the Law of Attraction. People say, “Check this out, God WANTS you to have an abundant life!” I like how they take out the first part of the verse, because it is a bit confusing when it is put in the context they want it to be in. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV) Using hermeneutics, you will discover that Jesus is talking about salvation. You will also see that when you interpret this passage based on other scripture, the word abundant is used here to describe life upon life, or eternal life, or everlasting life, not a full and abundant life now.
So, what should you do with all of this? Here are 5 Simple Steps.
1. Read the Bible fully and often.
2. Utilize your brain by looking at the complete context of a passage in question.
3. Use tools like a concordance, lexicon, and Hebrew/Greek dictionary to understand the words better. Here are a couple good ones online: Bible Study Tools or Blue Letter Bible.
4. Find a church that has great Bible based, expository preaching and teaching. Check out 9Marks to find a church in your area that professes this as one of their goals.
5. Read the Bible fully and often.
Maranatha! P.S. ~ All of the above is one of the main reasons I am learning Hebrew and Greek. It is that important!

I just got unfriended on Facebook because of Jesus!

Recognize that we haven’t really dealt with the same kind of persecution that the martyrs underwent. When we think about our own persecution we are lightweights. Imagine the martyrs in heaven looking down over the rails at how pathetic we are when we complain about people unfriending us or the loss of a client because of our Christian faith. ~ Mike Fabarez