I was heading home after dropping my son off at school. I pass by Temple Beth El every day. On this day I thought, “Why not give them a call and ask about Hebrew lessons?” So I quickly mapped the location on my phone and got their number while at the red light in front of the temple. I called and the receptionist exclaimed “Perfect timing! We only do one or two adult Hebrew classes a year and we have one today at 4:15!” I told her, “Sign me up!” I laughed most of the way home as I knew it was not my perfect timing but God’s.
I went to the first class armed with my note pad and pen, early as usual to anything academic related. Once the class started the teacher announced that anyone interested in taking more classes outside of this class that she would love to “give back” to the community by offering her tutoring services for FREE!
WHAT?!!! Again I said, “SIGN ME UP!” Yet another gift from God!
It turned out that I was the only student interested, so my lovely friend Barbara has been tutoring me for the past 2 and a half months. What a blessing she is and as I look at how it all came to be, the clear hand of God has been on everything related to this Jewish Temple allowing me, a Christian into their world to teach me the things of our Elohim. Amazing!
Your name is the most important word you know. It is the first word you fully understood and continues to be an integral part of who you are. When people call us by another name or mispronounce our name or misspell our name it is offensive to us. My son’s name is Jacob Timothy O’Sullivan. He goes by Jacob. Some people choose to call him Jake even though we have never told them that is his name. He gets angry and a bit sad when he tells them his name is Jacob and not Jake and yet they continue to call him Jake. Because his middle name is Timothy, we sometimes call him JT. That also upsets him to no end. These are variations on pretty much the same name. The word God is not even close to Yahweh’s real name.
Imagine, for a minute, how Yahweh feels when we call him God. It is a translated name but the origin is a bit obscure. Did you know that the English word for יהוה (which is the tetragrammaton of YHVH) is Yahweh, which is what most feel the pronunciation might be? Yahweh is the actual transliterated name of God. Did you also know that the word God comes from pagan origins as noted in the Bible? It’s root is actually found in the Bible in Hebrew text as GD or “gimel dalet” (גד). Vowel pointers in Joshua 11:17, 12:7, 13:5 create the word to sound like “Gawd” or our present day “God.” You can see more on this topic HERE or see below for more links to interesting studies. Why do we assume that God is not offended by what we call him if we are so vehemently offended when others mess up our name?
So, is this a real issue? That is up to you and your own walk with Yahweh. The argument could be made that if YHVH/Yahwey/God were upset he would have done something about it. Instead he has allowed millions of Bibles to be printed without his original name spelling. We live in a fallen world, however my goal for my walk with Yahweh is to do all I can to honor Him so I have been practicing and slowly but surely changing my verbiage in my mind and prayers and writings over to YHVH (Yahweh). Please share your comments on this topic as it can get a bit controversial and I know you have an opinion. I encourage you to take a look at some of the writings below.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:16 (ESV)
This short verse is a transitional verse, however, there is much to be learned from it. “Deceived” in Greek expression means to go astray or wander. Deceived in our present day language seems to have less impactful weight than it did in James’ time. They may have thought of Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A sheep wandering off for me today has less weight than a shepherd of James’ time because I don’t fully get the scary thought of that. I suppose I need to consider what they considered and fully understood: if I wandered off I would get slaughtered by a fox. It was my choice to wander. Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to blame God for my sin.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:15 (ESV)
Desire is used in the feminine way here based on the Greek word and therefor closely relates it to that of a mother. In Proverbs the loose woman who lures her prey into the depths of shoal is set in contrast to the wisdom also depicted as a woman. See Proverbs 8:32-35 This goes to James writing style to relate back to verse 5 which helps tie it all together. He leans heavily on his readers intense Jewish knowledge of the Old Testament to catch his every meaning. This allows him brevity. To put it simply, desire itself is not a thing to fear, however protecting yourself from conception is key.
And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, – Proverbs 8:32-35 (ESV)
As James relates this female analogy, I cannot help but expand on it. Conception only happens when we get in bed have sexual intercourse. That is the most intimate form of communication known to humans. Outside of marriage it is a sin, so looking at it from that perspective how do we “protect” and “shield” ourselves from sin? Looking back on verse 14, I know to understand myself first and what makes me want something or causes me to react. When I know my triggers, I can stave them off more readily. This means staying out of certain circles of friends, not going to certain events, reaching out to different people, and constantly asking myself to be quiet and humble.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:14 (ESV)
We find in verse 14 that again James uses common language that relates to people’s every day lives with fishing terms and hunting terms. It is sort of like our thousands of baseball analogies. This adds to his personable nature and ability to relate to his reader. The word “lured” was a word at that time meant to describe the idea of an animal being lured into a trap. The word “enticed” was a fishing term which meant to catch with bait. To put this verse in different words, everyone has their own personal struggles and desires. We need to be aware of our triggers and not fall into the ideas and thoughts and things that look too good to be true.
So, that leaves me to answer a very important question. What do I struggle with? What am I easily lured and enticed with? For me it’s the need to be right. The desire to “know better” than everyone else. The desire to be perfect. God has been at work chipping away at these things in my life. What are your struggles? How do your stay true to who you are and more importantly to God in the eyes of the world? How do you keep your credibility with people and also show them God through you? How do we stay salty to those around us. Salt when it looses is saltiness is useless, but also consider that salt when it is too salty is detestable.
Lord, in every need let me come to You with humble trust saying, “Jesus, help me.”
In all my doubts, perplexities, and temptations, Jesus, help me.
In hours of loneliness, weariness, and trials, Jesus, help me.
In the failure of my plans and hopes; in disappointments, troubles, and sorrows, Jesus, help me.
When others fail me and Your grace alone can assist me, Jesus, help me.
When I throw myself on Your tender love as a father and savior, Jesus, help me.
When my heart is cast down by failure at seeing no good come from my efforts, Jesus, help me.
When I feel impatient and my cross irritates me, Jesus, help me.
When I am ill and my head and hands cannot work and I am lonely, Jesus, help me.
Always, always, in spite of weakness, falls, and shortcomings of every kind, Jesus, help me and never forsake me.
Your love is so crushing when I think deeply about it. Who would do what You did? You did not have to solve our problem. We were the ones who disobeyed You! But You came! You came and lived a perfect life among us. There was no fault in You at all. I could only imagine being Mary when you were a child; a confusingly perfect child. Your solution is humanly unthinkable. You did no wrong and yet You took the ultimate punishment. You died a horrendous humiliating death on a stake; fully beaten, bloody, and naked. You were innocent and yet You kept silent because You had a plan. A plan that no one would ever, ever conceive. But You did. Because You are love. That kind of love is crushing. It crushes my heart. It overwhelms me. You are not just loving, You are the epitome of love. YOU ARE LOVE!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
God Is Love
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-21, ESV)
Sometimes I need my 5 year old to just simply obey something I ask him to do: Don’t cross the street yet… Eat your veggies… Go to bed… Don’t eat the entire bag of Halloween candy at once. While his little 5 year old mind cannot fathom any good reason to follow any of these ridiculous rules, he does. Why? Somehow in his 5 long years of life he has figured out that going against what I say as a direct command usually goes badly… sometimes very badly. So, here I sit. Almost 40 years old, still whining to God about this rule and that rule. “Why can’t I just…” on this command and that command. In my bible study today, I was reading and dissecting one verse in 1 Peter. Yes, sometimes it is important to dig into the Bible one verse at a time and digest it fully before moving on. So, here is what I studied this morning:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, (1 Peter 1:14, ESV)
God is commanding me to not be conformed to all the things of this world that are sin and that are against His law. But get this, the first part of that sentence is “as obedient children.” This context is like a child is obedient to his father. Like my child is obedient to me. Blind obedience at times. Kicking and screaming but still obedient obedience. I hung my head low this morning as I reflected on my desire to mature in this one point. With the help of the LORD I will prevail!
God Is Omnipotent (He has infinite and unlimited power.)
How precious is your power. How it is needed every second of every day it is! I am weak but you are all powerful. I ache and have pain yet you have power. I long for the day when I get to see you and your power. For now I am thankful for your power thorough my life. Through your Holy Spirit I am able to gain access to your power. Please Lord give me your power; even just a grain of sand worth. I cannot seem to make it through this day without you. I fumble even when I am obedient. I am saddened by my lack of power. Please give me a tiny piece of you to get me through today.
Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us. (Psalm 68:28, ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)
How is it possible that we can try our hardest and work at keeping all our ducks in a row and balls in the air and then all it takes is a simple breeze to mess us up. Satan relentlessly pursued Jesus with temptation after temptation after temptation. All he needed was for one small tiny mess up and the entire plan of God would be finished. Jesus did not mess up even once. He is my example. Yet here I sit. A failure… broken… a mess. I hang my head at my mistakes knowing there is always tomorrow.