Showing posts from 2013

The Book of Ruth Series - The Return - Lesson 8

Ruth 1:19-22: It was April and the beginning of barley harvest when Naomi, with Ruth, returned to Bethlehem.  The whole city was excited. They hadn’t seen Naomi in years and the women of Bethlehem almost didn’t recognize her. So, they asked, “Is this Naomi?” Over time, everyone changes, but Naomi’s grief had greatly altered her countenance. Her face did not express the pleasant, delightful and lovely person she was when she left.  Quickly Naomi retorted, “…Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara [meaning bitterness], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

The Book of Ruth Series - Three Women - Three Souls - Lesson 7

With hearts entwined by love and sorrow, three women embark on a journey. The first, Naomi, an Israelite widow living in the pagan country of Moab, knows and loves YHWH, the Lord God of Israel. Grieving the loss of her husband and now also her only two sons, she decides to return home to Bethlehem, Judah. Captivated by the goodness and love of Israel’s God visible in Naomi, our second woman, Ruth, desires to know Him. This young Moabite widow, even when faced with certain adversity, chooses to forsake her life in Moab and live by Israel’s Law. The third, Orpah, also a young Moabite widow, loves Naomi. Orpah begins the journey to Bethlehem, but keeps looking back. The relationships and memories of happier times tear at her heart. Although she will miss Naomi and Ruth, Orpah just can’t leave Moab. Heartbroken, she returns home.

It's Christmas, But Easter Is Coming

Another  C h r i s t m a s  season is upon us and at least for northeastern Ohio, our weather has done its best to cooperate. With a snowy wonderland outside, my home has a different feeling. I can’t explain it, but there’s an unusual quiet and calmness not present at any other time. Peering through the window at the deep snow stirs within me a momentary vision:  A cold winter night, a crackling fire, steaming hot cocoa and no other light except that of my twinkling  C h r i s t m a s  tree. Then in a flash, my dream is gone, because  C h r i s t m a s  is full of necessary activity.  Shopping, cleaning, baking, wrapping presents and holiday parties are all a part of the excitement of  C h r i s t m a s  and what makes this season fun.

Book of Ruth Series - From Heartbreak to Faith - Lesson 6

Naomi “…arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.” (Ruth 1:6) The people of Judah had repented and humbled themselves. They called upon the Lord God of Israel and He sent rain. Once again, Bethlehem was a bountiful house of bread and the news spread even to the country of Moab. When it finally reached Naomi’s ears, she realized all her reasons for moving to Moab were gone. Now only painful memories tied her to this place.  So, in the wake of great heartbreak, Naomi chose to go home.

Book of Ruth Series - Tragedy Strikes - Lesson 5

In a place outside of God’s will, tragedy struck the family of Elimelech. “…they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.” (Ruth 1:2-3) As a woman, I can imagine Naomi’s pain. Not only was she grieving the loss of her husband, her lover, friend, and provider, but now she is the breadwinner needing to stay strong for her sons. Unfortunately, a single mom's life is hard in any time. How did Naomi feel about the move to Moab in order to feed her sons? Was she excited for the new adventure, or was there extreme conflict in her soul, anguish and apprehension?

Book of Ruth Series - Arriving In Moab - Lesson 4

Moab’s bountiful marketplace beguiled these hungry travelers and immediately they felt as if they had made the right decision. Sure, crafted altars with a graven image of Chemosh adorned almost every corner, but what did they care as long as they had food. Every new place takes a little getting used to. They’ll find a house with the money they have left and just live. If Moab doesn’t work out, they can always go back to Bethlehem.

Thanksgiving of Your Own Free Will

T H A N K S G I V I N G O F Y O U R O W N F R E E W I L L Last week I became nostalgic, thinking of Thanksgivings past. I remembered the song we always sang at this time of year “ Over the River and Through the Woods ”. However, as I reviewed the lyrics in my memory, I found it hard to relate to Thanksgiving. Turns out, I only remembered the first verse and I bet you do too. Verse 1   Over the river and through the woods, To grandmother's house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, Through (the) white and drifted snow! Over the river and through the woods, Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes and bites the nose, As over the ground we go. I thought it strange a song we sang at Thanksgiving seemed better suited for Christmas, so I did some digging. The second verse actually mentions our wonderful holiday and the third pays homage to the one dessert everyone in America associates with Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Pie

Book of Ruth Series - A Serious Decision - Lesson 3

Ruth 1:1-2 :   “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion--Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.” (NKJV) Bethlehem, Judah, was their home, their God-given land and to leave was a serious decision. Judah, meaning “Praise”, was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. His descendants, including Elimelech, filled this territory. Bethlehem, or “House of Bread” also known as Ephrath, was the burial ground of Jacob’s                                      most beloved wife, Rachel.

Book of Ruth Series - A Way That Seems Right - Lesson 2

Ruth 1:1 :   “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land…” Think for a moment about what you would do as a farmer, a husband, and a father of two ailing sons, when no rain has fallen for a year or more. You have a good size field, but crops don’t grow without rain. Irrigation would be an alternative if water weren’t so scarce. You’ve sold everything of value except your field. But, even if it were to rain this moment, it would take months for crops to grow. How did drought and famine happen in a place whose names literally mean “House of Bread and Praise”? Moreover, how can you let your children and wife die of starvation? Today you take your final trip to town where you will fight the crowds and use the little money you have left to buy a meager food ration. Still, this will last only a short time and then what. What would you do?

Book of Ruth Series - Setting the Stage - Lesson 1

  Are you ready to see how God works in the midst of rebellion, pain or anger, and are you ready to learn of great love and redemption? Fabulous, because today we begin the study of the Book of Ruth, a touching and true story much better than Cinderella. Ruth, a Moabite, lived in the time when Judges admonished Israel, approximately 1100 BC. So, to begin, we need to set the stage.

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 25 - The Voice Of God In Ten Commandments

It was the 6 th day of the month Sivan, exactly fifty days after Israel slew the lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts and lintels of their homes in Egypt. This lamb’s blood had caused the destroying angel to pass over their homes when delivering God’s last plague. Now, here they are standing at the base of Mount Sinai anxiously awaiting God’s commands. Out of the billowing smoke and fire boomed the voice of The Almighty, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (#1 – Exodus 20:2-3)

Think On These

October is the time of year when thoughts, conversations, theater, TV movies and even commercials revolve around the macabre. Lately, I’ve actually turned my television off because the commercials are so disturbing. Occult themes seem to be increasing in popularity, spilling over into other months and sadly even dominating television networks geared to the Tween and Teen genre. Where and when did all this originate and why oh why is it so enticing?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 24 - Israel At Mount Sinai - Part 3

“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (Exodus 19:16) Moses constructed boundaries, consecrated Mount Sinai, and sanctified the people, meaning he called for repentance of sin and humility of heart. Their inner man needed to be as clean as their outer. He instructed them to bathe, don clean apparel, and abstain from intimate relations with their spouse, all in preparation for this third day. Soon Israel would hear the voice of God.

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 23 - Israel At Mount Sinai - Part 2

Exodus 19:1-15: As Moses descended Mt. Sinai with the message from the Lord, below the sea of Israelite tents grew larger with each step. The Creator of the Universe had chosen this place and Israel from among all the people of the earth. Will Israel  ever comprehend the magnitude of this moment? If he reminds them of how the Lord God Almighty sustained them in the wilderness, almost as if He bore them here to Himself on eagles’ wings, then will they understand? Surely, by now all Israel recognizes His hand. But, will they accept God’s terms? Will they humble themselves and truly become His special people, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 22 - Israel At Mount Sinai - Part 1

It was the third month since Israel had left Egypt. At the foot of Mount Sinai, six hundred thousand plus Israelites set up camp according to tribes and families. They had heard about this mountain since Moses returned to Egypt and now they see it with their own eyes. The topic on everyone's lips must have been Almighty God appearing to Moses in a burning bush on this mountain. Did God live here? What does He look like? Would they see God and hear Him speak? Would this be their permanent home? In the days to follow, all Israel would have their answers.

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 21 - God's Ideal Government Pictured

With Amalek defeated, Israel gladly left Rephidim and the bloody memories of battle. Almighty God, in the Pillar of Cloud led them to the Wilderness of Sinai and the mountain where He first appeared to Moses. This was familiar land and a place of safety, because Sinai was nearby the country Moses called home after he fled Egypt forty years earlier. Israel arrived here three months to the very day, since they had escaped. In the shadow of this great mountain, God gave them rest and peace.

The Feast of Tabernacles

The year is 5774 according to the Jewish calendar, and the month is Tishri.  From the 15 th to the 21 st of this month, Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, coinciding with our calendar for sundown September 18 th through sundown September 25, 2013. The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths (Sukkot) and the Feast of Ingathering is the seventh and final feast God gave to Israel in Leviticus 23. It is also the third and final feast to span a seven-day period. After the ingathering of their crops, this seven-day feast begins with a holy convocation or sacred assembly much like a Sabbath for they were to do no “customary” work. As commanded, on the first day of the feast, Israel would take the harvested items and rejoice before the Lord. What a merry time for the Children of Israel. In fact, they refer to this feast as the “season of our joy”. Together they praise God for His bountiful creation and supply. Matthew Henry quotes Psalm 24:1 and comments

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 20 - Amalek Fights Jehovah-nissi and Loses!

“Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim…” (Exodus 17:8-16) In the shadow of the Great Rock, joy came to Israel.  The gush of miracle water enveloped them in a sense of comfort and safety. With their needs met they settled down to everyday life. However, an enemy lurked in the shadows. Sneaky, vicious, battle-trained Amalekites began by attacking Israel’s rear flank, picking them off one by one. Heartbroken families begged Moses to do something. But, could Israel fight back when they had lived in slavery all their lives? What chance did slaves have against a brutal enemy? Still, at Moses’ command, Joshua prepared an army. Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed a hill overlooking the battlefield. When Moses lifted his hands and staff, fighting would commence.

Miracles In the Wilderness Series - Lesson 19 - Water From a Rock - Part 2

“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock , and water will come out of it, that the people may drink...” (Exodus 17:6) In the hot, sun-baked land of Rephidim, Israel once again found no drinking water. At God’s command, Moses and the elders traveled the short distance to a rock in Horeb. With rod in hand, Moses struck the rock and out poured water. Enough water surged from this extraordinary rock to quench the thirst of all the children of Israel and their livestock. But, how could this happen? I believe the rock was supernatural. In fact, Numbers 20:1-13 records a second encounter with this one-of-a-kind rock, in a different location and much later in Israel’s journey. Still, how do we know it was the same rock and not another?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 18 - Water from a Rock - Part 1

With the Lord’s command, the children of Israel left the Wilderness of Sin. Arriving at Rephidim, they set up camp, but found no water to drink. In anger, Israel blamed and accused Moses of trying to kill them with thirst shouting, “Give us water, that we may drink.” When he tried to reason with them, the conflict grew so great he feared for his life. Then Moses cried to the Lord. Israel may have lashed out at Moses, but in their hearts, they doubted the Lord was among them. Again, I have to say, it’s a good thing I’m not God. I mean, the pillar of cloud and fire were there constantly and manna still appeared each morning. Hadn’t Israel already seen enough jaw-dropping miracles to last them a lifetime? Shouldn’t they have cried out to God themselves instead of yelling at Moses? Why are they still questioning God’s presence?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 17 - Bread From Heaven - Part 2

“…And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:15) Each morning when manna appeared, Israel would emerge from their tents. God’s instructions were clear:  Gather one omer of manna or about two quarts per person per day, and no more. The exception came on the sixth day of the week when they would need to gather double, because no manna would fall on the seventh day of rest or Sabbath. With these instructions, the Lord tested them. Would they truly walk in His law?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 16 - Bread From Heaven - Part 1

“I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread ...’ “ (Exodus 16:12)      The Lord sent quail that evening.                     In the morning, He provided bread from heaven. When Israel saw what remained when the dew had lifted they asked, “What is it?”

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 15 - Complaints Against God - Exodus 16

Israel’s supplies had dwindled. The desolation of the Wilderness of Sin was almost unbearable. In every direction, edible plants were sparse and any wild game to feed this great multitude had departed with the thunder of a million feet. Famished, Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron saying, “ Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! “For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Talk about unfair. Did Moses twist their arms and force them to leave Egypt? Slavery is a brutal way of life. God heard Israel’s cries for deliverance and He rescued them. Now extreme hunger distorted their memory. The “pots of meat and …bread to the full…”  eaten as slaves, were not as good as they remembered and in blaming Moses and Aaron, Israel's complaints were really against God.

Miracles In the Wilderness Series - Lesson 14 - Looking Back

Reluctant to leave the refreshing of Elim, Israel traveled to the Wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Sinai. Arriving on the fifteenth day of the second month, thirty days since they left Egypt, the oasis of Elim seemed a faint memory. Hungry, weak and irrational, they complained, longing for the days of slavery. At least in Egypt there was enough food. (Exodus 16:1-3) Was hunger really worse than slavery? Without God, maybe, but sadly in only thirty days of travel, Israel had become so accustomed to seeing the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire, they forgot the King of the Universe was present. Hunger pangs cramped their stomachs, blinded their eyes, confused and muted their senses, making the dreaded oppression of slavery better in comparison. Has that ever happened to you?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 13 - Bitter Water, Bitter Trials, and A Time of Refreshing

Seriously, are we still talking about the undrinkable water at Marah? Yes, and I’ll tell you why. This miracle marks the beginning of Israel’s new life, as the cross marks the beginning of our new life. After their symbolic death and burial, three days later Israel emerged from this grave and the bondage of Egypt, to face toxic water. Drinking poisonous water would send them back to the grave forever, so they complained against Moses and he cried out to the Lord. This grace-filled God heard their cry and ended their pain with Tree-healed, sweet water. Even though the bitter waters of Marah may have represented Israel’s attitude, scholars believe they also signify life’s “bitter” trials.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 12 - An Order, a Regulation, and a Test

“So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them,” (Exodus 15:25) Helpless and angry, Israel berated Moses because Marah’s water was toxic. He cried to the Lord for help and at the Lord’s command, Moses tossed a Tree into the water and it became drinkable. Tell me, once the Tree submerged, how did the Israelites know the water was pure? Did God use special effects like Hollywood? Was there a magic wave that changed the appearance of the water?

Miracles In The Wilderness Series - Lesson 11 - Three Days?

Three hard days of trekking in the wilderness had depleted Israel’s water supply and when they finally found water at Marah, it was bitter and undrinkable. Being three days without water and on the verge of death is something no one wants to encounter. However, this time-period is very significant for Israel because it pictures resurrection – the final portion of the baptism they experienced in the cloud and in the Sea (I Corinthians 10:2). Baptism has three components:  Death, burial, and resurrection. In the whole of scripture, all things point to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Cloud separating the Israelites from the Egyptians on the shore of the Red Sea pictured death – light to Israel (believers) and darkness to the Egyptians (unbelievers). Then, descending into the Red Sea and walking through it on dry ground to the other side, symbolized burial. Finally, these three days of waterless travel, dimly foreshadowed the three days and nights Jesus spent in the

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 10 - Tree-Healed Water

“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea…out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.” (Exodus 15:22) In the dry, barren, sun-baked land, Israel traveled three days without water. Remember, it was not only men, women, and children, they also had livestock. No water meant death. Even if they found enough for the six-hundred thousand plus people, would they be able to save their animals? In this barren wilderness, probably not. Finally, they came upon the bitter waters of Marah, so named because the word Marah actually means bitter. Water normally preserving human life, here caused death. Frustrated, “…the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” (Ex. 15:24) Let’s take a step back for a minute.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 9 - The Red Sea Crossing - Part 2

“By faith they (Israel) passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.” Hebrews 11:29 The descendants of Abraham had just participated in God’s great miracle and final act of judgment, fulfilling His ancient prophecy (Genesis 15: 13-14). This morning, joy gushed from their hearts in a song of praise. Songs, music, don’t we love it? Musical instruments, radios, CDs, MP players, and iPods are everywhere. But did you know God created music? Yes, He set seven notes in place and we named them. Seven, the number God uses to indicate perfection and completion. Now, although an octave has eight notes, notice the eighth goes back to the first and all others are only variations of the original seven.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 8 - The Red Sea Crossing - Part 1

Pharaoh and his army trailed Israel into the wilderness and overtook them camping by the Red Sea. As the sound of crashing waves echoed in the ears of the lead Israelites, those in the rear heard only the pounding of hooves. Screams of “the Egyptians are coming,” rippled up to the front ranks. With night creeping in, the ominous deep waters of the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind, Israel had nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. Terrified, the descendents of Abraham cry to the Lord, “ Jehovah, save us ,” and because our God sees all and His ears are attentive to our cries, He heard Israel. Nevertheless, in their distress they lash-out at Moses accusing him of leading them into the wilderness to die. But Almighty God had led them to this place. In his spirit, Moses knew God would save Israel. Here God would show His magnificent power.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 7 - So Egypt May Know

In Exodus 14:1-5, the Lord again spoke to Moses instructing Israel to camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon. Considering the perils of the wilderness, evidently, this was not the expected way to travel and God knew it. F or reasons unbeknownst to onlookers, He wanted Israel by the sea and He deliberately led them in a round-about way. However, what’s intriguing is why. Our God has a plan and purpose in everything and here His plan was for Pharaoh to think this vast wilderness confused Israel. Pharaoh’s misconception would then cause him to forget the power of Almighty God, and all he had learned from the pestilence plagues and the death of his firstborn. Pharaoh’s heart would harden and he would chase Israel, in order to return them to slavery. But God would not allow the enemy to enslave Israel again.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 6 - Pillars of Cloud and Fire - Part 2

Not only were these pillars the assurance of God’s presence and leading, but also protection. Danger lurked at every turn and the barren desert wilderness threatened the life of a foot-traveler. Hot sun baked the land. What would it do to a human body? Did the cloud provide shade? At night, enemy forces looking to obliterate this traveling nation, and/or hungry, wild animals looking for an easy meal, would have found the light from the miraculous fire pillar a deterrent. Think for a moment about the people who called this region home. What was it like for them to witness such a phenomenon? The gods they worshiped couldn’t do this. Clearly, Israel’s God was El-Elyon, God Most High.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 5 - Pillars of Cloud and Fire - Part 1

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” (Ex. 13:21-22) Last lesson we saw how God leading Israel the long way, gave them time to see His mighty power and learn to trust Him. In this lesson, we’ll discover the daily phenomenon the Lord provided for Israel, is also for us. The pillars of cloud and fire were the constant sign of God’s presence. Throughout Israel’s forty-year journey, in times of disobedience, doubt, grumbling and complaining, this evidence of God’s presence never left. However, Israel became complacent to this miracle. Tell me, how could a person ever tire of seeing something so amazing? In our time, when we are pushing God out of everything, wouldn’t we love this kind of concrete assurance of His leading, guidance, and presence? S omet

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 4 - The Journey Continues

With Israel’s deliverance secured and their memorials in place, the journey continued. “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…” (Ex. 13:17-18a) I’ve heard the walking distance from Egypt to Canaan could have taken only eleven days. If true, Israel might have been in their new home in less than two weeks.  However, God knew war and giants awaited them and they were not ready. So God lead them the best way, the way He wanted them to go.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 3 - Spiritual Pictures

On the fifteenth day of the first month, the month of Nisan, the children of Israel departed the land of Egypt. They traveled from Rameses to Succoth where the Lord instituted three ordinances. The Lord God commanded Israel to remember and perform these throughout their generations:  The Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Consecration to the Lord of the Firstborn. Together, these were Israel’s first sign (Ex. 4:1-8) fulfilled in the latter sign (Is. 7:14, Matthew 1:18:23, Luke 1:26-35, Luke 2:8-14, Luke 2:25-35), awaiting the Tribulation or time of Jacob's trouble when water will once again become blood (Revelation 11:1-6, 16:4). Although the Lord’s feasts are not our focus, we will touch on the spiritual aspect of the first two. Since I Corinthians 2:14 tells us it takes the Holy Spirit to unlock the treasure of scripture and don our spiritual glasses, let’s take a little quiz. We’re looking for the spiritual equivalent or representation of the memorials Jeho

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 2 - God's Deliverance Begins

Many generations have passed. God’s promise to Abram has now happened. God took Abram from “Exalted Father” and gave him a name befitting His promise, Abraham, “Father of a Multitude”. Abraham’s wife Sarai, now Sarah, meaning Princess, bore a son at age ninety by a miracle of God. This son of promise, God named Isaac. Isaac and his wife Rebekah, after twenty years of barrenness, bore twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The younger, Jacob, as prophesied, received the birthright and blessing. Almighty God blessed Jacob with twelve sons and chose Judah, the fourth son of Jacob’s wife Leah, to carry on His promise to Abraham. However, it was Joseph, the first-born son of Jacob’s most beloved wife, Rachel, whom God appointed to save many people alive.

Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 1: God's Prophecy to Abram

In the hushed calm of twilight, Abram contemplated his life in this new country where the Lord had led. His call out of Ur of the Chaldeans with the promise of many children was years ago, and today he remains childless. As leader of his wife, Sarai, and a multitude of servants numbering many more than three hundred, the weight of responsibility crushed his shoulders. Questions swirled in his mind and fear for their future gripped his heart. He had not heard the Lord’s voice in a very long time and this night, he was desperate for reassurance. In his dimly lit tent, Abram prayed. Out of the silence, a still small voice resounded like thunder. “Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Why Should We Study the Old Testament?

For me, studying the Old Testament is like solving a mystery. This is because the Old Testament contains the same lessons, promises, and warnings as the New Testament, but somewhat encrypted or hidden. When the Holy Spirit unlocks the treasure, we see shadows, types, and pictures of God’s plan for the ages fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. How do I know this? I rely on scripture, because it originated with God. He is the Author and He says He does not change.  Then comes Jesus, God the Son, no less authority. He said Moses and the Prophets wrote of Him. Since Moses penned the first five books of the Old Testament, and the prophets essentially wrote the rest, I know we can trust its words. In Romans 15 and I Corinthians 10, God said things happened to Israel as examples, written for our instruction and learning. If this is true, and I know it is, then we can learn much.

A Prayer for The National Day of Prayer

O Lord my God, by reading, two hearts gather in the name of Jesus Christ. Because we believe Your Holy Word, we know this moment You are in the midst of us and we trust Your promise for the prayer of a righteous man to avail much. As You, O Lord, said to King Solomon, if we truly humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, pray and seek Your face, then will You hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. (II Chronicles 7:14) Lord God Almighty, our land, our nation, does need healing. Nevertheless, it is the hearts of the people that need changed the most. Some of us honor You with our lips, but our hearts are far from You. Other hearts are clothed in filthy rags and don’t even know it. Most go about doing that which is right in their own heart, not realizing this end is the way of death and destruction.

Candlelight Vigils - A Light In the Darkness

Candlelight pierces the blackness of night creating a comforting glow in the darkness of heartbreak. The warm flicker of a single candle soothes our soul and symbolizes hope. Hope for a missing child, a killer convicted, a social injustice righted, or that someone somewhere will make sense out of a senseless tragedy. I don’t know when candlelight vigils and memorials first began or even who invented the concept, but I know a feeling of hope washes over us as we gather together with candles. Have you ever wondered why? Not why do we gather, but why do we use candles in the night?