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Lenten Journey Day 32; People Believed

*image source: google.com/images

 

24-Mar-12:  John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarius and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

 

http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/7454/

http://cloakedmonk.com/2012/02/20/join-me-in-a-lenten-journey/

Lenten Journey Day 19; Wise

*image source: google.com/images

11-Mar-12:  1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

 

http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/7454/

http://cloakedmonk.com/2012/02/20/join-me-in-a-lenten-journey/

Lenten Journey Day 9; Atoned

*image source: google.com/images

1-Mar-12:  Romans 3:21-31

1 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/7454/

http://cloakedmonk.com/2012/02/20/join-me-in-a-lenten-journey/

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch: Correcting Misperceptions

Correcting Misperceptions

Lesson 25 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder
The Ranch

The way we perceive things isn’t always the way they are.  Yet those misperceptions can persist for years, causing us to miss the truth of what God might be trying to say to us.  But God has a way of bringing the truth into our lives, if we’re open to it, in a way that can renew our minds and change our perspective on everything.

 

I had an email from a woman who wondered if Jesus could possibly love her–not because of something she had done, but because of who she was:  a Jew.  She had always been told that Jesus doesn’t love Jews.  Yet after reading some of the stories on my website, she was confronted with a new truth.  Was is possible that Jesus might love a Jew?

 

I don’t want to betray her confidence, but I would like to share a portion of her heartfelt letter with you because I feel that her words express something that we all wonder about at times:  whether God really loves us or not, too.  Here’s part of what she said in her letter.  How would you answer her?

 

I was sent your site by accident, and have been reading the stories.  The more I read the more questions I have.  I’ve never seen Jesus portrayed as this site does.  I should tell you that I’m Jewish and I believe in the one true G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

 

I’ve read some the stories on your site and have to wonder how they could be true, but I can’t stop reading them either, something just feels right about them.  My heritage has ingrained in me that Jesus isn’t for my people.  I can’t explain why, but I find some of the stories making me cry and I’m not one that cries easily.  It doesn’t make sense.  I don’t even know why I’m writing.  I’m just really confused.  How can this G-d of yours, be the G-d I’ve grown up with?  Would Jesus love someone who hasn’t been faithfully reading the Torah for a long time? 

 

I’m sorry, I know this doesn’t make any sense, and I’ve always been told that Jesus doesn’t love Jews.  But after reading some of the stories I just don’t know what to believe.  Is it possible he might love a Jew?

 

How would you answer a letter like that?  Could you find enough evidence in the Bible to show that Jesus really did love this woman?  And even if you could, how could you convey it to her in a way that she would believe it?

 

As for me, I shared with her that I could understand why she might wonder if Jesus loved the Jews.  But the truth is that Jesus was a Jew.  His own twelve disciples were Jewish.  And the whole New Testament-which talks about Jesus-was written by Jews.

Jesus Himself never left the land of Israel to go to any other nation, except for a brief time as a child when His parents took Him to Egypt to avoid being killed by King Herod.

 

Does Jesus love the Jews?  Absolutely!  But sometimes it’s hard to see the truth through all of the misperceptions that we’ve been taught or believed for so many years.

 

The Apostle Paul faced similar misperceptions among the people that he ministered to as well.  Some of them believed that God had finally given up on the Jews, because Paul and others were now taking the gospel to the Gentiles.

 

But nothing could have been further from the truth.  In Romans 11, Paul said:

 

“I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah-how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:1-5).

 

God’s heart still beat with love for the Jews, and the Apostle Paul was one of many of them.  Paul  himself regularly preached and ministered in the Jewish synagogues first whenever he arrived at a new town, just as Jesus did (see Matthew 4:26, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54, Acts 14:1, 17:2, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8).

 

But Paul, like Jesus, faced a fair amount of opposition in the synagogues, and when they were thrown out of them, they took their message just as zealously to the Gentiles in those areas.  After several years of this, it seems that some of the Gentiles began to think of themselves more highly than the Jews around them.  But Paul gave them this warning:

 

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

 

“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either” (Romans 11:13-21).

 

Paul wisely warns the Romans not to be arrogant about God’s love for them, but to remember that they were grafted into the root because of their faith, and to stand firm in that faith to the end.

 

We all have misperceptions at times.  Whether we’re Jewish and questioning God’s love for us, or whether we’re Gentiles and becoming arrogant about His love for us.  In either case, God wants to bring His truth into our lives and clear up any misperceptions we might have.  He wants us to know that He loves us deeply, and to respond to that love in faith.

 

I was talking recently to a father and his college-age son who felt a barrier had grown up between them.  The father seemed to feel the son wasn’t interested in a relationship with him because of some of the things that had passed between them, and the son felt that his father was no longer interested in a relationship with him because of the distance that he felt.

 

During our talk, the father said that not a day went by when he didn’t think about his son, and the son said that he wished he could find ways to spend more meaningful time with his father.  Yet these thoughts had gone unspoken for so long that both of them felt the other no longer loved or cared about the other.  It was only when the Holy Spirit brought out these deep truths through their conversation that they realized that they both eagerly wanted their relationship to be restored, but didn’t know how to express it.  Tears flowed as they prayed together, having come face to face with the truth.  I pray they’re on a new path in their relationship with one another.

 

I also pray for the Jewish woman who wrote to me, that God would continue to speak His truth into her life, and help her to respond to that truth in faith.  I know He can do it, for He has done it for me and for many, many other people throughout history.  I believe He can do it for you, too.

 

At the end of Romans, chapter 11, Paul breaks out into one of the most beautiful doxologies in the Bible-an eruption of praise to God:

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 

   How unsearchable His judgments,  
   and His paths beyond tracing out!  
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?  
   Or who has been His counselor?’ 
‘Who has ever given to God,  
   that God should repay Him?’ 
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  
   To Him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

 

 

If you need some of God’s deep wisdom and knowledge in your life this week, I’d encourage you to call out to Him and ask Him to reveal more of His truth to you.  Ask Him to correct any misperceptions you may have about Him, or about your relationships with those around you.  Ask Him to guide you and direct you and point you in the direction He wants you to go, trusting that He will always lead you along a path that is absolutely the best for you.

 

Then, when He reveals His wisdom to you, I pray you’ll respond to it in faith, taking the steps that He wants you to take.  When you do, I hope you’ll find yourself like Paul, erupting in praise and saying:

 

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  … To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.”

 

Will you pray with me?

 

Father, thank You for reminding us that we don’t always have the fullness of Your truth, but that if we come to You, You can pour it out on us in abundance.  Lord, reveal Your truth to us this week so we can clear up any misperceptions we have about You and about those around us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

P.S.  I’ve begun a new prayer team for our ministry in recent weeks, and would love for you to join it if you’d like to pray for us on a regular basis.  While it may seem self-serving to ask others to pray for us, it’s actually just the opposite!  By having you pray for us, we’ll be able to reach out farther and do more than ever before!  We all benefit when we pray for each other.  If you’d like to be on our prayer team and receive an update of our prayers and praises every month or so, just send me a note at eric@theranch.org.  Thanks so much!

 

Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 11:1-32.  In verses 13 and 14, what does Paul say is one of the benefits he hopes will result from his ministry to the Gentiles?
2. What would you say to someone who’s Jewish who wonders if Jesus might possibly love them?
3. In verses 17-21, what reason does Paul give for why some branches were broken off, and why others were grafted in?
4. What misperceptions might you have, whether about God’s love for you or about your relationships with others, that God might want to correct?  Call out to Him this week and ask Him to reveal His truth to you.

 

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:
The Romans Study

 

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A Religious Debate – Via My Brother

image source: google.com/images

Religious Debate

Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy . There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal.

He’d have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy ; if the Pope won, they’d have to convert or leave.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they agreed that it would be a ‘silent’ debate.

On the chosen day the Pope and rabbi sat opposite each other

The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

The rabbi looked back and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.

The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.

The rabbi pulled out an apple.

With that, the Pope stood up and declared himself beaten and said that the rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy .

Later the cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened.

The Pope said, ‘First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs.

‘Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.

‘I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.

‘He bested me at every move and I could not continue.’

Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the rabbi how he’d won.

‘I haven’t a clue’ the rabbi said. ‘First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy , so I gave him the finger.

‘Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I told him that we were staying right here.’

‘And then what?’ asked a woman.

‘Who knows?’ said the rabbi. ‘He took out his lunch so I took out mine.’

British Television Interview With Netanyahu (during the retaliation against Hamas’ shelling of Israel) – From Colorado

Shalom,

         Even those who aren’t particularly sympathetic to Israel ‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could get a good measure of satisfaction from this interview with British Television during the retaliation against Hamas’ shelling of Israel.

        The interviewer asked him:
“How come so many more Palestinians have been killed in this conflict than Israelis?” (A nasty question if there ever was one!)
        
        Netanyahu: “Are you sure that you want to start asking in that direction?”

        Interviewer: (Falling into the trap) Why not?
        
        Netanyahu: “Because in World War II more Germans were killed than British and Americans combined, but there is no doubt in anyones mind that the war was caused by Germany ‘s aggression. And in response to the German blitz on London , the British wiped out the entire city of Dresden , burning to death more German civilians than the number of people killed in Hiroshima
.

        Moreover, I could remind you that in 1944, when the RAF tried to bomb the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen, some of the bombs missed their target and fell on a Danish children’s hospital, killing 83 little children. Perhaps you have another question?”

        Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about Israel ‘s occupation of Arab lands.

        His response was, “It’s our land”. The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned

Read below “It’s our land…”  It’s important information since we don’t get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in the jumble of daily events.
        
        “Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict.”
        
        Here are overlooked facts in the current & past Middle East situation.

        These were compiled by a Christian university professor:
     

  BRIEF FACTS ON THE ISRAELI CONFLICT TODAY…(It takes just 1.5 minutes to read!)
        
        It makes sense and it’s not slanted. Jewand non-Jew — it doesn’t matter.
        1. Nationhood and Jerusalem –  Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
        
        2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.        3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
        
        4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.        5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital.   Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem , they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

        6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

        7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem . Mohammed never came to Jerusalem .
        
        8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem .  Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem .
        
        9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews .  Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.

        10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

        11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.

        12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel , a country no larger than the state of New Jersey ..

        13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians.  There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost.   Israel defended itself each time and won.

        14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.

        15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

        16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel .

        17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel .

        18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.

        19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives .
        
        20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
        
        Israel is the center of Bible Prophecy, and God Blesses those who Bless Israel – Genesis 12:3

This message was sent from:Bibles For Israel | P.O. Box 8900 | Pueblo, CO 81008

This Day’s Thought For Wednesday

This Day's Thought

Prayer Requests

Let us see God before man every day.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne


This Day's Verse

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Chirst.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes- the Jew first and also the Gentile.  This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Romans 1:16-17
The New Living Translation 


This Day's Smile

The devil enjoys hearing a prayer that is addressed to an audience.

Unknown


Covenants And Promises

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10
The New International Version

The other day I spoke of the covenant that God made with Israel, the Jewish people, the 12 tribes, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This morning, the above verse from Isaiah 54 was on my Today’s Thought e-mail.  I immediately felt that God was affirming what I stated.

We Christians believe that you must receive Jesus as the Messiah to receive salvation.  The Jews don’t accept Him as such.  Therein lies a dilemma.  How do we reconcile the two things, God’s Old Testament covenant and the New Testament (Christian) requirement?  I was talking to my mother about this very thing last night.  She had to agree with me because, if God were to break His covenant of old, how could we believe in any covenant that followed?

We tend to look at everything in human terms since, naturally, that’s all we know.  We cannot and will never know the mind of God until we meet Him face to face.  The Bible states “His ways are not our ways…” therefore, I will not show disdain toward Judaism or the Jewish people ever.

Human beings make and break promises every day.  It’s shameful of us and I’m just as guilty of having done it (more so in the past) as anyone else.  Please don’t think that I have a “holier than thou” attitude about this.  I am just stating my own thoughts and observations for your consideration.

I know that the Christian Old Testament is not the same as the Jewish Tanakh.  It is a Christian version of it.  I did not live in the time before Christ or during His ministry.  I didn’t learn the Jewish faith in grade school.  I went to Catholic school all 12 years and graduated there.  I recently learned, again, that the Catholics have their own version of the Bible.  With all of the different denominations there are within the Christian faith, I wonder just how different each one’s Bible is.  I guess we all must decide as individuals what we will believe as the truth and try our best to follow it.  Human beings are not perfect, I know that I’m far from it, but we can at least attempt to live together in this world by the one concept that I think is in every version, both Christian and Jewish, and that is loving compassion for one another.  Just a thought…

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

Humbly yours,
Teresa Marie

My Friday Thoughts – What is Blasphemy?

 

Have you ever thought much about what that word means?  Well, since receiving that unpublished comment where it was stated that my belief in Jesus Christ as God‘s Son was blasphemous, I have considered that word more closely.  I looked it up in my Webster’s New World Dictionary – Fourth Edition, copyrighted in 2003 and this is what it says:

blaspheme – 1) to speak profanely of or to (God or sacred things) 2) to curse

blasphemy -  profane speech, writing or action concerning God or sacred things

After I read what was said to me, I was quickly offended.  Then, in my response, I said that I could probably say the same thing about that person’s belief but that I would have refrained from doing so.  Later on, I began my consideration of the word.

I suppose that, should they care to, one religion could easily accuse another of being blasphemous.  Jews don’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah so the Christian religion could be considered blasphemy and, in the reverse, their denial of His Divinity could be called the same.  Muslims don’t believe either of us and would call us both blasphemous, etc.

The thing that bothers me most about the whole the whole situation is why would I want to do that?  It is such an inflammatory word, to begin with.  Although we each believe that we are right in our beliefs, I would not and have never pointed my finger at the Jewish faith and called it blasphemous.  Don’t we have enough animosity and hatred in the world as it is without jumping on any and every opportunity we may find to spread more?

Therefore, ATW if you’re reading this, that was highly uncalled for!  That is mostly the reason that your comment was not posted.  I don’t know what religion you are nor do I care, all I can say is shame on you!  You said that your God is a God of love, but was what you wrote loving in any way, shape or form?  You’ve accused me of ulterior motives and questioned my beliefs.  How dare you!  Go back to the start of this blog and read everything that I have been through, then you’ll have no doubt about what and why I believe.

I am not here to debate religious beliefs with anyone.  You have yours and I have mine.  I would never go onto a blog written by a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. and denigrate them.  I do worship a loving God and do my best every day to act like it.

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

With His love,
Teresa Marie

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