The Genesis Question: Where Are You?

Genesis 3:9
Genesis 3:9

The very first time that God asks man a question is found in Genesis 3:9. Genesis 3:9 reads But the Lord God called to the man “Where are you?”

The reason the Genesis question is so notable and beautiful is because this question is regarding the broken fellowship that has occurred between God and humanity. This question occurred immediately after the fall when Adam and Eve chose to take a different route apart from the path God had chosen for them. Adam and Eve decided to separate themselves from the Lord.

It wasn’t just a physical distance that had occurred, but a spiritual one. Their sin had distanced them from God, and God in His mercy and intense love for Adam and Eve called out “Where are you?”

This question in Genesis is a question that confirms that God wants fellowship with us. God loves us, He cares about us, and He wants to know where we are. Yeshua reiterated an identical question to His disciples in Matthew 18:12 which states:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?

If you are far from God, He is asking the question “Where are you?”

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On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24)

emmaus

Several weeks ago, I had a dream, and at the end of the dream, I heard one word.

It was the word Emmaus.

When I woke up, I immediately went to the Greek to discover the meaning. But the technical definition of the word didn’t resonate. I was missing something.

Just two weeks after searching fruitlessly for the meaning, I discovered what the dream meant. The word Emmaus is found in Luke 24. In the passage, Yeshua appears to two disciples who are talking about the crucifixion. The disciples aren’t quite sure how to piece everything together. They understand that Yeshua was supposed to be the Messiah, but His death on the cross was a point of sadness and confusion.

On the road to Emmaus, Yeshua opened the scriptures to them and showed them everything about Himself that was found in the scriptures and explained how all the scriptures and everything that took place was part of God’s plan.

The eyes of their heart and understanding were enlightened.

The journey on Emmaus concluded with them having a deeper understanding of the scriptures and deeper revelation of who God is. The trip also ended with them seeing the risen Christ with their own very eyes.

Emmaus is the journey of discarding your religious, theological and philosophical ideas of who you believe Christ is and then searching the scriptures for the Truth. Emmaus is the journey by which we allow Yeshua to reveal Himself to us.

This should be the prayer of every Christian: that God would reveal Himself to us as He did on the road to Emmaus.

Waking at 3AM – A Spiritual Phenomena

Waking in the middle of the night
Waking in the middle of the night

During a period when I was seeking God, something strange was beginning to happen to me. I was starting to wake up during the middle of the night – specifically at 3AM.

It was odd because I was waking up at exactly 3AM. Not a minute before or after. So, I googled to see if anyone else was experiencing this weird phenomenon. Of course, I learned that thousands of people were going through the same thing, and as I suspected there was often a spiritual reason that this was occurring.

There seemed to be scores of people who were experiencing the same 3AM awakening that was happening to me. One man admitted that as he was preparing to become a priest, the 3AM phenomena started to happen in his life. Among Christians, there seemed to be a consensus that waking up at 3AM was a nudge from God to be with Him and take the time to make it sacred – by prayer or worship – or lying still as Samuel did and saying “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

One thing I’ve learned in my spiritual walk is that if I wake in the middle of the night, I assume that it’s time to pray. I assume that it’s time for worship. I assume that there is a spiritual battle that has intensified around me, or that there is a unique anointing present in the atmosphere. And I take the time, even if it’s for a brief moment to pray because God has me up for a reason.

* If you have more interest in this subject, an article here or here on prayer watches may be helpful to you.

Does God Cause Sickness? The Real Meaning of Hebrews 12:7-10

potter

Hebrews 12:7-10 –  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

A couple of years ago I found myself on the phone with a security alarm company. I had signed a contract which I believed to be one year with the company, but the contract was actually for much longer – three years. I was upset. I questioned the company’s ethics. I argued back and forth with the customer service rep on the phone, but stopped when I heard the Holy Spirit say “Apologize to her.” All fell quiet.

I resisted for a fraction of a second because I didn’t want to apologize to anyone. I was adamant that I was right. But God was right. And I was wrong. I apologized to the representative on the phone. I felt like an unruly child who had misbehaved. I realized I was being reprimanded. I was experiencing Hebrews 12:7-10.

Some people believe that sickness and accidents are the disciplines of God. Some people actually believe that God disciplines his children with diseases and terrible accidents. Lies. All lies. God is a good, loving Father.

In Hebrews 12, it tells Christians to endure hardship as discipline. The Greek word use for discipline is the word paideia. Paideia is an easy word to define. In ancient Greece, paideia referred to the education and instruction of Greek citizens. It was a practical, subject-based teaching. Paideia included instruction in everything from liberal arts and medicine to music and gymnastics. The Greeks used the training to help each citizen understood their role in society.

The word paideia has nothing to do with destruction or punishment. The word means chastening, instruction and nurturing. It’s training that cultivates the soul, the morals, and the mind.

God tells Christians to endure instruction.

And instruction doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t feel good to have your views challenged. It isn’t easy or painless to surrender every area, desire and will for your life completely to God. It never feels good to get confronted by your iniquity or have the Holy Spirit tell you that you need to change something – your behavior, your viewpoint, your personality, your relationships.

As you walk the narrow road, things will get increasingly difficult. It will be hard, and you will grieve, because whenever a person suffers loss, it’s grievous. As you allow God to instruct you, you will lose things.

You will lose friends.
You may even lose family.
You should expect to even lose pieces of yourself as God transforms you into a new creation.

No chastening in the present moment feels good but grievous. Nevertheless, if you allow God to instruct you, then it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

When Hebrews 12 tells us to endure chastisement, it’s not talking about enduring what the devil is trying to use to destroy you. If you are going through something terrible, rough, or tragic, know this: God is a Good Father. He is never to blame. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But God comes to give life, and He gives it more abundantly.

Understanding John 1:48 from a Hebrew Perspective

figtree

The New Testament is filled with rich, enigmatic stories that can only be properly understood if kept in their cultural context. John 1 contains one such story.

After Yeshua called Philip to follow Him, Philip immediately became a fisher of men himself and went to share the news of the Messiah’s coming with Nathanael. When Yeshua saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael’s response was one of surprise. He realized that Yeshua had an intimate knowledge of who he was. Yeshua saw beyond his exterior; Yeshua read his heart.

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Yeshua answered Nathanael with these words:

I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

This verse may lead one to believe that Nathanael was doing something very secretive underneath that tree. Something he didn’t want anyone to know anything about. However, this isn’t the case at all!

If one dives into the Hebrew roots and culture of that time and understands this passage from a Jewish perspective, John 1:48 makes beautiful and perfect sense.

In those days, it was customary for rabbinical students to pray under the fig tree. Those studying the law under the fig trees were taught to pray while they were under the tree. They were also taught to pray for the coming of the Messiah because the rabbis believed that if one hadn’t prayed for the coming of the Messiah under the fig tree, one hadn’t prayed at all.

Nathanael knew that Yeshua was Who had been praying for under that tree.

For more insight on the Jewish roots of the scripture HERE is a great resource!

Why I Don’t Judge Others

judgy

I’m sure that you’ve heard the adage judge not lest you be judged – which is a verse often cited by people who are good at deflecting guilt. With that said, people who recite this verse have a point. And that point is that we shouldn’t judge other people and the reason why is simple. We don’t have a right to judge people unless we are perfect. Until we have perfected our own life and live in complete purity, it’s simply not a good idea to judge people.

There are several reasons why I don’t judge other people. One of the reasons I don’t judge others is because I am too busy trying to get myself together. I’m tending my own garden. I’m busy washing the dishes in my own sink, and simply don’t have the time to chastise someone for the dirty dishes in their sink. I’m busy trying to remove logs out of my own eye so that I can see clearly to remove specks out of the eyes of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m simply not in a position to judge.

It’s said in the scripture that eventually Christians will judge the world and even angels. However, this occurs at the end of the age, after Christians have been transformed and made new. We don’t have resurrected bodies just yet. When we are made perfect and whole (at the end of the age) we will judge angels… but not before then. If we try to judge before then, we will (naturally) have flawed judgment. It’s not possible to judge without flaws in a flawed body. I’m not flawless. Therefore I do not judge others.

The second reason I don’t judge others is because Scripture says that man judges by human appearance but God judges by the heart. I’m guilty of making assumptions about a person based on what I see on the outside (their circumstances and situation, what I may perceive as their morals and values), but I can only psychoanalyze to a certain level. I cannot see a person’s heart. I don’t know what’s going through a person’s mind.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. The truth is – things are not always as they seem. This is the reason God tells us that you can’t judge based on what you see.

Since I don’t know a person’s struggle and what’s happening in their heart, it’s not possible for me to make an accurate judgment – in fairness. Flawed judgment is another reason that Christians should walk in continued forgiveness towards others – because we don’t always know about the internal struggles of a person.

There are times when we might find that we aren’t even intimate with our own heartaches and pains. It’s possible (and common) to have emotional wounds within that you are unaware of. Many of us have little understanding of our own emotions and the complexity of our thoughts. Millions of people still haven’t figured out what makes them tick. They don’t know why they have the desires and vices that they have. They don’t know why they have certain habits or think certain thoughts. If it’s possible to not (fully) understand the contents of your own heart, how can you know the heart of a stranger? How can you judge?

We are Made in His Image (The Trinity)

beautysunset

The Trinity is one of the most controversial and misunderstood subjects in theology. It has divided many Christians and even separated us into factions between those who believe that God is three and one and those who do not.

However, I think that the evidence for the Trinity is seen in man himself, whom God made in His own image. In man, we have three parts  – spirit, soul, and body. And in God, we see three manifestations -a spirit (the Holy Spirit) – a soul (the Father) – and the body (the Son).

We see throughout scripture that often the word used for spirit and soul are used interchangeably. However, we know that there is a distinction between the two. The word for soul in the Hebrew is the word nephesh. This word is best described as the literal soul and is a representation of a person’s life, emotions, desires, mind, and passion. It is the activity of his will.

However, the spirit is a different word in the Hebrew. The word spirit is ruwach. This word spirit is described as wind or breath. I believe that the spirit (or ruwach) is simply the energy or force that emits from the soul.

We have a spirit, a soul, and a body. We are triune. We are made in His image.

God has a spirit, a soul, and a body. He is triune. This is the nature of the Trinity.

Is a Competitive Spirit a Good Thing?

running

When we ask if a competitive spirit is a good thing, the first thing I think we should ask ourselves is which word is more important in the phrase “competitive spirit”? Is it the word “competitive” or the word “spirit”? I think it’s the word spirit because that is precisely what it is. And any spirit that doesn’t quite resemble the Holy Spirit is a spirit that you don’t want to have.

Is the Holy Spirit competitive?

When you compare the difference in characteristics between the Holy Spirit and a competitive spirit, you’ll find that there is a stark difference. A competitive spirit is prideful, it always strives for more, it’s greedy, it’s not content or satisfied, it grasps for the wind.

The Holy Spirit, however, is humble. The Holy Spirit is peaceful and fulfilled, joyful and content. The Holy Spirit doesn’t grasp for the wind because the Holy Spirit is the Wind. There are stark differences between a competitive spirit and the Holy Spirit.

Competition isn’t encouraged in the Bible – not in the Old or New Testament. Ultimately, the Christian’s goal should be to look like Christ.

Is Christ in competition?

When Christ walked the earth, the Pharisees and religious authorities were in competition with Christ, but Christ wasn’t competing with them. Christ didn’t compete with anyone. Christ was the very nature of God, but did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; instead, he emptied himself, and took on the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.

When the disciples of Christ displayed a competitive spirit and quarreled about who was the greatest disciple, Christ rebuked them and told them that the greatest among them should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. They were not encouraged to compete for the title of super-apostle. Instead, they learned the highest form of power is servitude and humility.

2 Corinthians 10:12: We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.