Why Giving is Taking

by Anna Epshtein-Rudnitsky | Feb 28, 2020 | Israel

This week’s portion of the Torah deals with God’s detailed instructions to Mozes on how to build the Tabernacle – a portable sanctuary where the Almighty could dwell while the Israelites were travelling in the desert after they left Egypt. The chapter opens with His commandment to all of the Israelites to contribute materials needed for the building of the Tabernacle. The phrasing of the commandment, however, is weird: It is said “take for Me a contribution”, not “give Me a contribution”.

Why “take” instead of “give”?

It is known that wording in the Torah is never arbitrary; every letter, not just every word, is meaningful (Jewish mysticism teaches that God created the world while playing with the letters of the Torah. So why this choice of words? Is it some Freudian slip? Or does the phrasing imply that when we give to Him, we actually take, get something for ourselves?

Later in the Torah we hear God commanding to all of the Israelites give certain (really small) amount of silver to the building of the Tabernacle. There, He orders taxation – contribution to a common cause that should be paid by everyone. As opposed to it, in the opening phrase of the chapter He stresses that contribution of the materials should be voluntary and only from the people “whose heart wants it”.

Let us ask ourselves a question: Why at all donations are needed? The Almighty, who needs help of His creatures to build Himself a home, – is not the whole idea kind of weird?

The meaning of the Hebrew word “contribution”, used in this chapter, is “elevation”. The idea is clear: When we contribute to a holy cause, we elevate – both the part of the material world that we give and our own soul. Maybe that is what God really wants from us: Not wood, silver, or linen, but an elevating act. He wants us to be partners in creation. By asking us to help Him, He gives us a chance to leave the physical realm and join Him into the Holy.

However, you need “to want with your heart” to give this contribution. What distinguishes an elevating act of donation from a merely physical act of transfer of goods or money is the intention – the intention to become the Almighty’s partner.

But how exactly “giving” is “taking”?

One of the ancient Jewish sources (the Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 30:13) takes note of this strange phraseology and comments, “by donating towards the Tabernacle it’s as if you are taking Me!”

In the Proverbs (19:17) a similar idea is expressed in almost businesslike terms: “One who gives graciously to the poor becomes God’s lender”. We kind of strike a deal with God: by giving money to charity, we lend Him money, helping Him take care of the needed. So, one of the ways to explain how “giving” is “taking” is this: God will pay off His debt to you, and pay off generously.

Jewish sages also explain, that since everything in this world comes from God, you need to give Him His part in order to be able to use – to take – yours. Now, when the contribution is done, you can take the rest.

One of the forms of the Hebrew word “give” in the Torah – “ונתנו” – is a palindrome, it reads the same backwards and forwards. Giving is a sort of action that contains the opposite – receiving – in it.

Lev Haolam is an organization that supports local Jewish business owners in Judea and Samaria who are suffering because of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Lev Haolam gives the opportunity to support these Jewish pioneers and their families through our Surprise Monthly Package Project. Our members receive monthly packages filled with goods produced by the families and small businesses of Judea and Samaria.

https://www.levhaolam.com/blog/company-news/why_giving_is_taking

VIDEO Franklin Graham to lead prayer march in D.C.: ‘Only hope for our country is God’

By Randy DeSoto, The Western Journal

The Rev. Franklin Graham plans to lead a prayer march in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, saying the only hope for the United States is God.

Asked what prompted him to call for this event, Graham told The Western Journal, “I think the chaos we see in our country. The anarchy that we see in our streets.”

“The coronavirus has put fear in people’s hearts, anxiety,” he continued. “And we’ve seen the injustices that have taken place on some of our city streets. And all of this is just boiling over.

“And it seems like our country is out of control, and I feel that the only hope for our country is God,” Graham said.

Though the evangelical leader is a supporter of President Donald Trump, he doesn’t believe any one politician is going to turn the U.S. around.

“I think God can use a politician to turn this country around, but we have to have God,” Graham said.

The Christian argued the efforts of politicians and educators to keep God out of the nation’s affairs and mock people of faith have contributed to the current state of affairs.

“It’s not getting better; if anything it’s worse than it’s ever been. And the only hope I see for this country is God,” Graham said.

He explained that Prayer March 2020 will not be marked by glitz and worship bands but will be focused on prayer.

People will gather at the Lincoln Memorial, where the two-hour event will kick off at noon Eastern Time, with prayer focused on asking repentance “and asking God to forgive our sins and heal our land,” drawing from the famous words found in the Bible passage 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelical Association

Five stops will follow during the 1.8-mile walk to the U.S. Capitol, including the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House, the National Museum of African American History and the National Archives (where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are housed).

Each location will have a different prayer focus.

For example, at the World War II Memorial, people will pray for those in the military, police and other law enforcement, as well as for the security and peace of the nation.

Some leading in those appeals will be Graham’s son, Col. Edward Graham, a West Point graduate who served 16 years in Special Operations in the U.S. Army.

Edward left active duty in 2018 to join Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief organization his father heads.

Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, the former president of the National Rifle Association and a Vietnam War veteran, is also slated to pray at the World War II Memorial.

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the petitions to heaven will center on racial reconciliation and the healing of communities that have experienced violence and injustice.

Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, will be among those offering prayers.

Prayer at the Capitol will focus on Congress, the Supreme Court and those who serve in state and local governments.

“The Bible tells us to pray for those that are in authority. It commands us to do that,” Graham noted.

The preacher says the prayer marchers will be praying for Trump, whom he gives high marks in his handling of the office to date.

“I think he’s probably the best president we’ve had in my lifetime,” Graham said.

“He’s had incredible mountains that he’s had to climb, constantly attacked by his enemies, but yet he’s been able to accomplish a peace agreement, which is incredible.”

Graham also pointed to Trump’s handling of the economy and how he has navigated through the coronavirus pandemic as many voices argued over the best course to take.

Trump has also kept his word to evangelicals, according to Graham.

“He’s the most friendly president in the history of our country to people of faith,” Graham said. “And it’s all people. He respects people who have faith.”

“And he’s been very supportive of evangelicals,” the minister added. “He likes having evangelicals and people of faith around him in the White House. And he wants their input. And we’ve never had that before like that in my lifetime.”

“I’ve never known a president that has been this open with evangelicals.”

For those who cannot attend Prayer March 2020, the event will be livestreamed.

Learn more here.

Franklin Graham to lead prayer march in D.C.: ‘Only hope for our country is God’

How Can We Come Close To God?

May 26, 2020 hephzibahgarden

Honestly speaking, the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 is surely a replica of our own lives; referring to the times we had gone away from Jesus, did our own will and lost everything we once had! This parable narrated by Jesus Himself is quite thought provoking and very much applicable, even till date! The story is about the return of the Lost Son to his dad, a boy who took all his wealth and went away to a far country. There he wasted his wealth with riotous living and became miserable; until one day he decided to COME BACK TO HIS DAD!! ❤️

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you… James‬ 4:8

Well, the verse itself specifies clearly that when we take that one step of Faith and draw nigh to God; He will come running to us like this dear dad! Let me take you to the 5 ways how we can draw close to God.

  • By the Blood of Jesus – But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians‬ ‭2:13‬. We have redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. Colossians‬ ‭1:20‬. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
  • By Him – Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Therefore all those who come to God by Him, He is able to save them to the uttermostLets therefore run this race patiently, looking into Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John‬ ‭14:6.
  • By faith of Him – Refers to the faith of the Son of God. We must NOT have little faith, nor worry, or fear, or doubt, or reason among ourselves seeing the circumstances that arise against us. Jesus overcame the world promised us that we can also overcome the world through Him. Let’s believe and press forward. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
  • Access by His Spirit – For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Ephesians 2:18. The Lord has poured His love into our hearts through the Anointing of the Holy Spirit. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 1 John 2:27
  • By Hope – Hope on God, never puts a person to shame. All those who put their trust on God are made steadfast and immovable by Him. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. Hebrews 7:19.

Be blessed 💕

 

Original here

VIDEO Responding To The Riots – Color, Communism, and Common Sense

BENHAM BROTHERS

This isn’t a rant. It’s just a few thoughts I (Jason) jotted down on Facebook this morning as I tried to make sense of the craziness I saw in the streets of America last night.

This also isn’t about how broken I felt for George Floyd and his family. I posted my thoughts on that the day after he died. I still can’t stop thinking about how he called for his momma moments before he passed. Gut-wrenching. So if you wanna un-friend me because I’m writing about the riots please be my guest. But read my last paragraph before you go.

My brain can’t handle all the big words and articulate arguments I see on TV, so I have to boil things down very simply before I can understand stuff.

What I saw in the streets last night was not just a clash between angry people and the police – it was a clash of worldviews. What I know from studying history is that the only way one worldview can overthrow another is for two things to happen:

1. History must be rewritten
2. Words must be redefined

Neither of these are good, but they are strategies used in effort to topple truth throughout the centuries.

Socrates said, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.”

If he were alive today, his response to these riots would first require us to define some terms. So I’m gonna give this a stab.

Emotion is an impulse to act.
Anger is an emotion with a purpose.
Anger’s purpose is to see that justice is done.

Justice means “to make right.”

You cannot have justice without first defining what is “right.”
You can’t define what’s right w/out a basis for truth.

Today, we see people fighting for “justice” who have different definitions of what’s “right” because they don’t agree on the standard of truth.

One side says, “Truth is what I want it to be.”

The other side says, “Truth is defined by a higher power (God).”

Separating the two schools of thought is one very important word – ACCOUNTABILITY.

For those in the first camp, they’re accountable to themselves to help themselves….to whatever they want.

For those in the second camp, they’re accountable to God to help others.

Problem – so many people today were taught that truth is relative (there’s no real right or wrong). But when they live out this worldview on the streets they seek for justice by destroying things. This, in their minds, will make “right” what happened to George Floyd.

But for there to be true, lasting change – the kind of change we’d all like to see – we have to first agree on the standard of truth (God), let Him define for us what is right, and operate our lives by His power so we can control our emotions.

Then, when something evil happens – like what happened to George Floyd – our anger will cause us to RESPOND in love with a heart of compassion rather than REACT in hate with a heart of destruction. This compassion will move us to action so we can help the people who are being mistreated.

This was lived out in the 60’s when you saw the difference between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Both men were just as angry and emotional about the racial inequities in culture, but their responses were vastly different. Why? Because they had different standards of truth.

MLK held a Bible. MX held a Quran.

I’ll let you guess which one’s worldview was better. If you’re not sure, it’s the one who has streets all over the country and a Holiday named after him.

We can make things right. But it will require us to first do business with God. As Dr. Tony Evans posted, “This is a time for a national reset…based on a spiritual foundation influenced by a repentant, obedient, and unified church…Pray for peace. Pray for unity. Speak truth, in love, but still speak. Then, act. Together, we can effectuate positive change if we pursue it with wisdom, tenacity, and strength.”

Oh, and one more thing. For those who are going on an “unfriend” rampage, it’s time to move out of the 7th grade and jump onto a field where ideas can clash and hearts unite at the same time. If you’ve ever been married for longer than a year you’ll know this is entirely possible, but only when you control your emotions and operate out of….wait for it….a heart of love.👩‍❤️‍💋‍👨

Responding To The Riots


Color, Communism, and Common Sense by Manning Johnson


Manning Johnson Exposes Communism, Farewell Address 1959


Racism, Color, Communism, & Common Sense: 619-768-2945



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Two Brands of Bread- Seeing vs Believing

AUGUST 14, 2020 / MULYALE MUTISYA

During Passover, God instructed the Israelites to eat ‘bread made without yeast’ (Exodus 11:8). The Feast of Unleavened bread lasted seven days and ‘whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel’ (v19). In the same Chapter and in other subsequent Chapters, the Lord insists that they must eat bread without yeast, unleavened bread, as they observe the month of Abib- the month the Israelites made exodus out of Egypt. The Israelites, not fully knowing why they had to do this, did it anyway. As I also wonder why, the Lord reveals that He did not prohibit the Israelites to eat bread with yeast because of an allergic reaction, but as a symbolic revelation. No wonder the ordinance was to last generations to come. However, when Lord himself came down, all He did was talk of yeast.

In the third Parable Jesus gave according to the Gospel of Matthew, He talks of the mustard seed and the yeast. Jesus likens the Kingdom of heaven like ‘yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough’ (Matthew 13:33). One quality of yeast is that it ought to be given time until it works through the dough. In a yeastly manner, the Kingdom of God works the same way, in its due time. During the Passover which the Lord instructed to ‘Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover’ (Exodus 12:11), shows the Kingdom of God was not yet. God displayed His great miracle saying ‘I will make a distinction between my people and your (Pharaoh’s) people’ (Exodus 8:23). To the Israelites, this signified that the kingdom of Israel would be established, but God had a bigger picture in mind.

So when Jesus came talking about yeast and the Kingdom of God, it took aback the Jews who were avoiding yeast and anticipating their own kingdom. On one occasion when Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God, the chief priests and elders asked, ‘And who gave you this authority?’ (Matthew 21:23). Unlike the unleavened bread eaten in a time of miracles and wonders, the Kingdom of God seemed unpalatable for the Jews, because they could not see that the Kingdom of God was among them and that it was starting to work as in yeast through a dough. This was because they were spiritually blind and bound by the tradition of their forefathers in eating bread without yeast physically, and now took it further and did the same spiritually.

After Jesus had fed 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, ‘the Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven’ (Mark 8:11). The Pharisees, like their forefathers who ‘were a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God’ (Psalms78:8) and ‘wilfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ (v18-19). Even after God miraculously provided for them in the desert, ‘In spite of all this, they kept sinning; in spite of wonders, they did not believe’ (v32). In the same way, the Pharisees after seeing Jesus’s miracles, still did not believe of who He said He was and when they asked for another miracle, ’Jesus sighed deeply and said, ‘why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?’ (Mark 8:12).

Sometimes like the Pharisees, we ask God for a sign in order to believe in Him. In our ignorance we say, if God is real, why is there…why am I…why can’t He… why did He and so we continue to harden our hearts to receive the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. ‘Be careful, Jesus warned them (his disciples). ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod’ (v15). The disciples were clueless of what Jesus was talking about prompting Jesus to ask, ‘Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? (v17-18).

‘And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’

‘Twelve’, they replied.

‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’

They answered, ‘Seven’

He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’

(v19-21)

Some, instead of partaking of the Bread of Life partake that of the Pharisees and wait for world peace or some other miraculous phenomenal before accepting to believe in God. However, the Kingdom of God is based on faith. In fact, to top the Word becoming flesh, the air we breathe and everything around us is a miracle. Paul writes, ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse’ (Romans 1:20).

We receive by faith through believing in Jesus, whom ‘though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy’ (1 Peter 1:8). No wonder the Israelites ate bread without yeast because the yeast had not yet been revealed to them and so they lacked faith which can only come through accepting the Bread of Life. Once we receive Jesus, we are saved by faith and the faith works in us the Kingdom of God like yeast works through all the dough. In the same way, like yeast working quietly in a dough, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength’ (Isaiah 30:15). Once we follow Christ, miracles, signs and wonders follow us and not the other way round- for Christ did not accompany miracles but miracles accompanied Christ. (Mark 16:20)

https://carolynemutisya7.wordpress.com/2020/08/14/two-brands-of-bread-seeing-vs-believing/

7 Qualities In Abigail’s Life!

April 23, 2020 hephzibahgarden

 

Abigail was Nabal’s wife.

They lived during the time of King David, in a town called Maon. This man Nabal, was a very rich person. He owned a large number of sheep and goats (in 1000s) 😄 [1 Samuel 25:2] Those were the days wherein — the more a person owned sheep, goat, camel, asses; basically farm animals, the more wealthy and famous he was. Abraham and Job were also of the same kind!!!

Alright….!! Now, Nabal’s wife Abigail was a very beautiful lady. She was INTELLIGENT as well!!😇 A deadly combination indeed! 1 Samuel 25:3. But, her husband Nabal did not have a good name among the people – he was mean and bad tempered.

7 Good Qualities in Abigail:

  • She was a woman of good understanding, basically, she was a wise woman. 1 Samuel 25:1. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. Proverbs‬ ‭31:11-12‬ ‭NASB‬
  • She was beautiful to look upon – had a lovely countenance. 1 Samuel 25:3. I believe she was more beautiful inwardly; that’s why she was beautiful outwardly as well! Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬.
  • She pacified the King’s heart of wrath because of her good character. 1 Samuel 25:25-27. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs‬ ‭31:26‬
  • She had a humble heart — readily bowed down and worshipped the king! She was a God-fearing woman. 1 Samuel 25:23,24. She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust]. Proverbs‬ ‭31:18‬ ‭AMPC‬.
  • She readily took others blame upon herself. 1 Samuel 25:24 — And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
  • She was quick to reconcile and make peace with those who went against her. 1 Samuel 25:28-31. I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days. 1 Samuel‬ ‭25:28‬
  • She had a meek spirit within her. 1 Samuel 25:33-35. So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person. 1 Samuel‬ ‭25:35‬

Tried drawing a comparison between Abigail and the Virtuous Woman mentioned in Proverbs 31; and we can safely say that, indeed Abigail was a Virtuous Woman, who had many beautiful characters in her 🙌. After all, we are called to become the Bride of Christ and it is imperative for us to have such amazing qualities in us too! May the Lord help us! ❤️

Original here

Why Do I Need to Be Saved?

John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

On this podcast we frequently return to fundamental realities, essential truths, things most precious to us, like the glory of God and the cross of Jesus Christ. If you get these fundamentals right, everything else eventually falls into place. Get the fundamentals wrong, and nothing will fall exactly into place. Something will always be off.

In light of this, some of the most essential questions include these: Why, in the first place, do I need to be saved? Saved from whom? Saved from what? What is my problem? And how does God, and specifically Christ, address my problem? To explain, I love this following sermon excerpt from a 2009 message delivered at a Campus Crusade event in Minneapolis. There Pastor John expounded Romans 3:23–26, in which the apostle Paul says this:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

A glorious text of essential, must-know truth. Here’s Pastor John to explain it.

“Whom [referring to Christ] God put forward as a propitiation . . .” (Romans 3:25). Propitiation means a sacrifice that removes wrath. So, the wrath of God is absorbed by Christ when he dies in our place. Propitiation is the removal of the wrath of God off of us, though we deserve it.

“Condemnation happened at the cross. Whose? Mine. In whose flesh? Not mine.”

“Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood [his death], to be received by faith.” That’s how you receive a gift: faith is a receiving; it’s not a doing.

“This was to show God’s righteousness . . .” Oh, really? Really? This putting Christ forward “was to show [God’s] righteousness, because in his divine forbearance [patience] he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25–26).

I don’t think there’s a more important paragraph in the Bible than that right there. I mean, there may be some competing, but that’s just about as close to the center as you can get.

Cursed for Us

Take it apart for just a few minutes with me. God put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood. Romans 8:3: “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

Whose sin? Mine. Whose flesh? Christ’s. That’s an amazing statement. Condemnation happened at the cross. Whose? Mine. In whose flesh? Not mine. This is propitiationPropitiation is the drawing away of condemnation from me. How can this be? How can it go there, on Christ? It belongs here, on me.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Whose curse? God’s curse. He’s the one who backs up the law. The law is his word. If there’s a curse in the law on me, it’s coming from God. And Jesus becomes my curse.

So all that to say yes to propitiation; don’t translate it some other way. Don’t use expiation, which simply means “removal of guilt.” Don’t translate it merely as living sacrifice or sacrificial offering. It’s the removal of God Almighty’s just, holy condemnation and wrath, which belongs to me.

Glory Is Gone

Why did he need to do it that way? Why did Christ need to die in order to placate God’s wrath?

“This was to show God’s righteousness.” So, Christ died; God put him forward to die. This was to show God’s righteousness. Why did he need to show his righteousness? That’s a pretty high price for a demonstration of righteousness. Why did he need to show his righteousness?

“Because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Well, why does passing over sin make it necessary to demonstrate righteousness? Now we’re ready to see verse 23 and the nature of sin: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like I want you to feel now about the connection between sin and the glory of God. “All have sinned and fall short.” Fall short is an old-fashioned translation. The literal meaning is “they lack,” “they’re without.” In what way are we without? Romans 1:23 says we have exchanged the glory of God for the glory of created things. So, we had it; it was our treasure. When Adam and Eve were created, it was our treasure: we loved God, we cherished God, we esteemed God, we respected God; we were in awe of God and worshiped God and praised God and glorified God. And then we traded God.

“In that very moment of upholding his glory, God made it possible to save sinners.”

You’ve all done it; you do it every day. We embrace other values, other treasures, other desires that are so much stronger in our hearts than God is. We traded him, and so we lack God’s glory. It’s not our treasure; we’ve just thrown it away. And sin is anything you do in that process. Anything that reflects that God is not your treasure is sin. So, all have sinned and lack, throw away, exchange, demean, belittle, trample the infinite value of the glory of God.

Guilty Go Free

Now, why does that call the righteousness of God into question when he passes over such sin? Because when God, as he does for all of his people, passes over — does not condemn — sinners who have trampled his glory and demean his glory every single day of our lives, it looks as though he thinks that’s no big deal: to trample the glory of God is no big deal.

It would be like a judge sitting at a bench who’s got a murderer and a rapist in front of him. He says, “We’ll just let it go. We’ll just pass over the murder and the rape this time; we’ll just pass over it.” And everybody in the courtroom would say, “No way! You can’t do that and sit on that bench and be a just judge and say you’re just going to pass over this thing.”

And so, God knows that he would be unrighteous, he would be wrong, unjust, if he treated his glory as though it were so worthless that he could just pass over the trampling of his glory in his people. And so he doesn’t just pass over it; he sends his Son into the world to demonstrate his righteousness.

You see, if you understand Romans 3:23–26, what happened at the cross was the loudest statement imaginable: I love my glory. And in that very moment of upholding his glory, God made it possible to save sinners: “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The Unthinkable for the Undeserving

So, in John 17, Jesus expresses this idea: “I want them to see me — I want them to see me risen, triumphant, glorious, all-satisfying in my glory, so that my glory will continue to be exalted forever, and their joy would be full” (see John 17:24).

And at the center is the cross, making that possible for sinners. As God says, “I put my Son forward to demonstrate my righteousness. My righteousness is my unwavering commitment, always and everywhere, to uphold the infinite worth of my glory. And if I am bent on saving sinners who have trampled my glory, which I most certainly am, I will not do it in any way that calls my love for my glory into question. I will do the absolutely unthinkable. I will put my Son on the gibbet, and he will be tortured, and he will bear my wrath to make plain: I don’t sweep God-belittling sins under the rug of the universe when I save sinners.”

VIDEO The War on Religion, War Against Christianity

Richard Land  Nov 07, 2019

The War on Religion

There is a coordinated and powerful assault on religion in America from modern secularists and progressives driven by the complete moral relativism that defines their worldviews. This sustained assault was recently described eloquently by Attorney General William Barr in a wonderful speech delivered at the Notre Dame Law School: “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values. These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.”

One of the most destructive and comprehensive results of this massive assault on religion in America is that according to an August Wall Street Journal poll, only 30% of 18- to 30-year-old Americans listed religion or belief in God as very important, compared with 50% of Americans overall and two-thirds of those 55 and older. In other words, today’s generation of young people is the least religious generation that America has ever seen.

Ideas have consequences; bad ideas have bad consequences. The secularist attack on religion has hollowed out the faith of our nation, especially among the young. We must respond with a clarion defense of the Gospel of life in Jesus Christ.

The attorney general helped in this effort by starting his address to Notre Dame students by enunciating an eloquent defense of religious liberty—what my Baptist forefathers called “soul freedom.” He pointed out quite correctly that our founding fathers believed emphatically in religious freedom for many reasons, perhaps chiefly because they believed religion was indispensable in sustaining a new and unique free system of government articulated in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution. Our founding fathers called our Constitution “the great experiment.” Placing their trust in the American peoples’ self-restraint, doing the right thing because a higher power expected them to do so.

As Barr pointed out in his speech, “This is really what was meant by ‘self-government.’ It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.” As John Adams, our second president and a chief architect of the Constitution put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

Without a religious people voluntarily obeying the law, our freedoms will wither into license and lawlessness and die and will in all probability be replaced by a far more restrictive and oppressive government presence in order to restore “order” over chaos.

As the British philosopher G. K. Chesterton observed in “What I Saw in America:”

“America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived.”

Back to Barr’s speech—the attorney general went on to say that “one of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunications. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake, social, educational and professional ostracism, and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

In other words, the new irreligion is terribly intolerant. The attorney general points out as well that as the social consequences of this moral relativism pile up, today “instead of addressing the underlying causes, we have made the State in the role of Alleviator of Bad Consequences,” calling “on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility. … The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection site. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as an ersatz husband for single mothers and an ersatz father to their children.”

Barr goes on to explain that Judeo Christian moral standards “are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.” As religion has come under unprecedented assault from secularists and progressives in America over the past half century, the results have been catastrophic. As Barr concluded, “The campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage and misery.” He then asked the progressives rhetorically, “Where’s the progress?”

The attorney general then pointed out that secular religion is very intolerant of any dissent and is weaponizing law and government to coerce people of traditional faith to violate their deeply held beliefs and consciences. He also points out that irreligion and secularists are forcing their values and their beliefs on people of traditional faith, seeking to coerce them under penalty of law. Mr. Barr then pledges to defend freedom of conscience as long as he is the attorney general of the United States.

Barr identifies and unmasks the unprecedented secularist onslaught against traditional religion in America and the dire consequences it has brought upon our society. The attorney general points out that as Christians, we need to promote renewal by making sure we are putting our spiritual beliefs into practice in our own lives and the lives of our families. “We understand that only by transforming ourselves can we transform the world beyond ourselves.” He closed by promising that as long as he was attorney general, the Department of Justice would vigorously defend religious freedom.

I, for one, am very grateful to God that he has raised up Attorney General Barr to defend freedom of conscience and religious liberty in time of great peril.

Predictably, the reaction to Bill Barr’s speech was swift, apoplectic and shrill. As my East Texas grandmother used to often say, “You throw a rock into a pack of dogs. It’s the one that yelps that got hit.” Well, the yelping was loud, frantic and immediate. A few examples: The infamously wrong Paul Krugman accused Bill Barr of “religious bigotry.” Richard Painter tweeted that Bill Barr sounded like Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister. Meanwhile, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that Barr is “Torquemada in a business suit,” a reference to the Spanish Inquisition’s infamous grand inquisitor.

It sounded an awful lot like yelping to me. Thank God for Bill Barr.

(Dr. Richard Land is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and serves on President Donald Trump’s faith advisory board.)

https://townhall.com/columnists/richardland/2019/11/07/the-war-on-religion-n2556059


War Against Christianity


Yeast Yeast Yeast!

AUGUST 16, 2020 ~ HANNAH

For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15)

Yesterday I went to Wingstop to get some chicken wings, and my husband pointed out a picture on a wall of these yummy looking yeast rolls. “We must get this!” We ordered 2 of them, but for some reason the word “yeast” reminded me of unleavened bread in the bible. And today when I was reading through Exodus, I kept on seeing “yeast” EVERYWHERE! I was really surprised at how many times it was repeated in the scripture.

Why so many times? And why such significance?

Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. (Exodus 12:17)

God called this the Festival of Unleavened bread. I bet the main thing they ate was Lamb that was slaughtered, but why was the bread emphasized more? The fact that the bread was Unleavened seemed like the most important thing, but I couldn’t tell exactly why. As I kept meditating on the verse, something interesting hit me.

On the first day remove the yeast from your houses

It was not just about avoid eating the yeast, but also removing yeast from your house altogether! It almost sounded like ridding ourselves completely and cleansing ourselves from sin. Do not even let the trace of sin be found anywhere. Also eating the leavened bread resulted in being cut off from God, just like sin causes the separation between us and God.

or whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.

That’s a serious consequences for just eating some sort of bread, isn’t it? This all represents and symbolizes something more significant.

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:9)

It is quite true that even a slight trace of unrepentant sin can affect the whole body. It quickly spreads to the whole batch before you know it. I got curious about yeast, and started to research a bit more into it. Scientifically speaking how does yeast affect the dough and what’s the optimal state for it to work and make the whole dough rise?

That’s when I found something even MORE interesting.

The optimum temperature range for yeast fermentation is between 90˚F-95˚F (32˚C-35˚C). Every degree above this range depresses fermentation. While elevated temperature is problematic in all phases of ethanol production, it is specifically hazardous during the later stages of fermentation.

Basically yeast thrives and grow the fastest (just like how sin spreads fast) at a certain temperature. That’s between 90 and 95˚F, and you know what that is?

That’s a lukewarm temperature.

So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

Sin thrives in lukewarmness. Lord, I repent for all the times I was lukewarm and complacent. I want to do a thorough search within myself to find if there is even a small trace of sin hidden, and get rid of it. With a pure and clean heart, I want to run after you with passion, Amen.

Yeast Yeast Yeast!

The School Of Mercy

When it comes to learning Christlikeness, the lessons are inexhaustible—and the teacher will never give up on us

BY CHARITY SINGLETON CRAIG

The office I worked in had an employee manual as thick as a phone book. During my first week on the job, I read the whole thing—attendance policies, dress codes, work-station guidelines—and like all the other employees, I signed the first page, attesting to the fact that I had understood the rules.

“Maybe you could just give the guy a break.”

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw coworkers eating entire meals at their desk, wearing jeans on days other than Fridays, and chitchatting in the copy room when there were strict policies against these behaviors. Another teammate arrived a few minutes late almost daily, and I wondered why she hadn’t been written up, in accordance with the attendance policy. And when I heard the man in the cubicle next to mine making and receiving personal calls throughout the day, I was incensed. Why can’t they just follow the rules?

One day I was complaining to friends about work, feeling outraged over the latest policy violations.

“Basically, this one guy just stands around talking all the time and never actually gets any work done,” I said.

“Could you talk to his supervisor?” Kelly suggested.

“I guess,” I said, nodding slowly. “I could probably talk to my supervisor, even.”

I turned to Erik to see what advice he might have, but he simply said: “Do you know you have a high justice quotient?”

I stared at him blankly.

Most of the times that the word mercy is used in Scripture, it refers to God extending a hand to those in need. But God also desires mercy from us.

“You seem to take it personally when people don’t obey the rules,” he explained. “Maybe you could just give the guy a break. What if he had to arrange child care?”

When Jesus delivered His famous Sermon on the Mount, He told the crowds that the merciful are blessed because they’ll receive mercy. I imagine at least some in the audience wondered, as I do, how regular people like us could extend mercy in a meaningful way to others. We have such little power over other people. Few of us are owed serious debts. And certainly none of us have the power to exonerate criminals or excuse offenders. God is the merciful one. He alone ultimately holds the power of pardon and forgiveness.

To be sure, most of the times that the word mercy is used in Scripture, it refers to God extending a hand to those in need. But God also desires mercy from us. When Jesus told His disciples and the Pharisees to “go and learn what this means” (Matt. 9:13), surely He was making a way for us to learn mercy as well—including the lesson that mercy prioritizes compassion over strict adherence to rules.

 

I don’t ever want to hear that you’re short-staffed,” I snapped at the nurse and case manager of my mom’s nursing home not long ago, “because that’s not my problem.”

“We understand,” one of them replied softly. Tension hung thick in the room.

“I don’t actually care whether you are short-staffed or not,” I said, repeating myself, “because Mom still needs to be cared for.” I felt my throat catch but was determined not to cry. That was last summer’s approach to helping mom navigate the new world of assisted living and skilled nursing. This was the year of strong and firm. Confident.

“You’re absolutely right. Staffing is not your problem,” the case manager said. “But when someone calls in sick at the last minute, the staff just can’t get everything done. They have to decide what’s most important at the time.”

I felt myself softening.

In a place where compassion should be everyone’s first order of business, occasionally needs get overlooked and tasks go undone. No one likes it—the nurses and aides least of all. And often it seems easier for me to get mad and lash out than to work toward a solution. But when the work of compassionate care falls short, shouldn’t I set things aright with more mercy and not less?

We see Jesus address this issue more than once with the Pharisees when they find Him breaking the Sabbath (Matt. 12). According to The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, the conflict over what it means to rest from work illustrates Jesus’ model for interpreting the law, which differed from the Pharisees’. Whereas they built “an ever tighter fence around the strictest interpretation of the law to keep from breaking it,” Jesus “instead pursued the point of biblical texts in the situation in which they were written.” And when it came to human need versus adherence to rules, He said over and over, quoting the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6 NIV). Or, as the IVP Commentary suggests, “Human need in general takes precedence over regulations.”

On the other hand, mercy doesn’t eliminate the need for justice. In fact, Jesus said we need to learn the difference between mercy and sacrifice, not mercy and justice. God’s kingdom operates on the principles of making things right. If that didn’t matter to God, He wouldn’t have sent His only Son to mend what had been broken by sin. But the rule-keeping of justice is different than the rule-keeping of sacrifice, or ritual. In the former, we uphold a standard of fairness for both ourselves and our communities. In the latter, we cross t’s and dot i’s in trying to please God yet fail to realize what He really wants is for us to love Him and each other.

When it came to human need versus adherence to rules, He said over and over, quoting the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

It’s the principle Micah explains to Judah, a nation who kept God’s rituals but lacked both compassion and principle.

“Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil?” Micah asks. And in the next breath, he answers: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:7-8).

Jesus says the same thing to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23You’re great at the easy parts of the law, like tithing, but when it comes to the weightier matters, like justice and mercy and faithfulness, not so much. “These are the things you should have done without neglecting the others,” He says. In essence, Jesus actually does want our sacrifices, but He just doesn’t want us to prioritize them above what really matters.

 

In Matthew 9:10-13, we find the Lord reclining at the table with “tax collectors and sinners”—possibly friends of Matthew, the tax collector whom He had just invited to be a disciple. When the Pharisees saw Jesus with unsavory people, they asked His disciples why a so-called teacher would associate Himself with such a crowd? I’ve often wondered what the disciples would have said if Jesus hadn’t stepped in and answered the question Himself. Did they understand, as He had told them, that it’s the unhealthy who need a doctor, and not the well? And perhaps more importantly, did they realize that disciple, Pharisee, and tax collector alike were equally sick?

In other words, to receive mercy, people need to realize they’re sinners, but they also need to see their own sinfulness in order to extend mercy. It’s like a doctor who suddenly practices medicine more compassionately after he finds himself on the other side of the scalpel. Over the years, I’ve read dozens of these stories, like the one about Kamal Malaker, a clinical oncologist in Antigua, who suddenly needed heart bypass surgery. After decades of treating others, Malaker said finding himself in the vulnerable position of patient gave him more empathy and helped him “exchange shoes with [his] patient[s].”

“I now spend a lot more time … when they come asking for help,” he said. “Whatever they want to talk to me about, I listen.”

 

What’s more, in the school of mercy, facing our own sin teaches not only humility and empathy; it’s also a beginning-level course in the arithmetic of spiritual debt.

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant, who, after being forgiven a large debt, refuses to extend even a little mercy to a fellow servant owing him much less. When the master finds out, he chastises the wicked servant: “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matt. 18:32-33 NIV).

Of course, the master doesn’t mention the size of either debt, but the amounts owed don’t really matter—at any level, forgiveness comes at a cost. Mercy also can never be paid back; it doesn’t create a new layer of debt when we give it away. Instead, it’s like an investment: With each act of forgiveness, we give and receive the mercy we need in order to pardon the next debt that’s owed.

But like the unforgiving servant, I sometimes feel as if I’ve come to the end of my capacity to forgive or am facing a debt too large to pardon. In fact, it seems Peter was getting close to that point himself when he asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him—the very question that prompted Jesus to tell the parable in the first place.

By the end of the story, though, Jesus’ point is clear: Others’ debts don’t determine how much compassion we should show them. God’s lovingkindness does. And perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn in Jesus’ school of mercy is simply this: Though we can never “out mercy” God, He invites us to keep trying, as often as it takes—seventy times seven, and beyond.

 

Illustrations by Ilya Milstein

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/features/the-school-of-mercy