Archive for My Faith Journey

Behold the Lamb!

Introduction:

This blog post is different from any I have ever posted. This is a study and I decided to share it with you. It is long but it is not a difficult read. Just before Easter I was preparing a Sunday School lesson which I never got to teach because of Covid-19. I became intrigued with John the Baptist’s profound proclamation, “Behold the Lamb” and Isaac’s heartfelt question, “Where is the lamb?” I decided to follow the theme of the lamb through scripture.

This became more than just a Sunday School lesson for me. I became intrigued with the intrinsic detail, planning and structure to the work of God in and through 8,000 years of history. It is not by chance. No human could have put together a puzzle with such interlocking details. I have really appreciated the writings of Jonathan Cahn and some of puzzle pieces came from his book, ” The Book of Mysteries.”

Messiah, the Lamb of God, is the center and foundation of my faith. Jesus is the only way to God. If you are struggling to believe, I pray that this will touch your heart. There are probably aspects of the sacrificial lamb that I have missed. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Behold the Lamb

John 1

One day when Jesus was around 30, he went out into the desert to find his cousin, John the Baptist, who was preaching. Jesus knew his time had come, the time for his ministry to begin and he wanted to be baptized. John was preaching repentance from sins and that one mightier than he was coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. The people were wondering and discussing whether John was the Messiah. John tried to put that narrative to rest. John didn’t feel worthy to baptize Jesus, He wanted Jesus to baptize him. John did baptize Jesus and while Jesus was praying the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and rested on Jesus while a voice said, “This is my beloved Son. I am well pleased with Him.”

It is interesting that Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the baptism of Jesus, but John records another part of the story that the others omit. (John 1:19-36)

The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him as he was preaching and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

John knew he was not the long looked for Messiah nor did he pretend to be. He was a forerunner, a revealer, of the long-awaited Messiah.  John’s exclamation was a divine revelation and deeply symbolic of the mission and purpose of Jesus coming to earth. In verse 31, John admits he did not know Jesus but knew that the Messiah was coming very soon and would be revealed by the Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Jesus was indeed revealed by the Spirit in the form of a dove, and John introduced him to the world, as the Lamb of God.

Why is this significant and what does it mean? I discovered this is a theme that runs through the complete Bible, from beginning to end. It is the foundation of our faith and the only way to have forgiveness of sins. Meet the Messiah, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of me and you, and all who receive him as that sacrifice.  

Abraham and Isaac

(Genesis 22)

Two thousand years prior, Abraham woke his son Isaac early one morning to go on a three- day journey to a place that God would show him. God had revealed a message to Abraham-a message that was unimaginably difficult. God had said, “Take you son, your only son Isaac whom you love, and go to a place I will show you and offer him there as a burnt sacrifice”. Abraham heard and understood what God said. He knew Isaac was the long-awaited promised son. Did he lay awake all-night fretting and worrying? Probably, Abraham was human. He knew that sacrificing children was a heathen practice. Did it take a day, a week or a month to act? Somehow, I think he responded in obedience within hours. He was up early in the morning, loaded his donkey with firewood and provisions for the journey, awoke two of his young men and Isaac, and they hit the road.

On the third day, God showed him the mountains in the distance, the mountain range that was called the Land of Moriah. As they neared the mountain, Abraham asked the two young men to wait with the donkey. As father and son were walking in silence the last distance, Isaac, who was carrying a bundle of wood on his back said to his father who was carrying the pot of hot coals for a fire, “Father, where is the lamb”?  Isaac knew the routine. He knew when an alter was built, something had to die. Abraham simply and quietly responded, “My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering.”  You know the story. Abraham built the alter, place the wood and fire on the alter and tied up Isaac. Abraham knew, that he knew, that he knew, he had heard from God and did not question how God would solve the problem, he just knew he would. Hebrews 11:19 reveals that Abraham knowing and understanding the promises of God, believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Just as he raised his knife to plunge into the heart of his son, God called out from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham.”  God said, “Do not lay a hand on your son. Now I know you fear God, seeing that you were willing to not withhold even your son from me.”

This story is a foreshadow of Jesus, the only begotten beloved son of God, coming to earth to be that lamb, to become the sacrifice for my sin and your sin. Abraham did not know that, but we understand it looking back at history and through the continued revelation of scripture. From the beginning of time and through the Old Testament prophets, God revealed more and more of “the lamb” to us. Isaac’s question echoed through the years as faithful men and women watched and waited for the Messiah. “When will the Messiah come?” “Where is the Lamb?” 

Where is Lamb? Let’s follow the scarlet thread of redemption, the meaning of the sacrifice of the lamb through scripture and exclaim with John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb!”

Sacrifice and The Shedding of Blood

Genesis 3:20

After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. They were suddenly acutely aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. God came looking and calling for them as they feared. God made tunics of skin and clothed them before he chased them out of the garden. The covenant love of God required that innocent animals be sacrificed to provide garments of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. The first blood was shed to cover the first sin. The flimsy covering of fig leaves that Adam and Eve attempted to make were not adequate or sufficient. Man’s own works could not cover his sin. An animal had to die; its blood had to be shed to provide a covering for their sin. Was it a lamb? We do not know, but an animal was sacrificed.

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4.

One day the two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, had a worship service out in the field. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the soil. Each brought an offering or sacrifice to God. Abel’s was accepted but Cain’s was rejected.  Why? Because Cain had disobeyed God. God had already revealed to man the need for an animal sacrifice in the garden. Cain became so angry at God’s rejection of his sacrifice that he kills his brother. Blood sacrifice was essential for right standing with God. Cain’s self-righteous, deliberate disobedience separated him from the presence of God. Right standing before God, obedience, was shown to be a matter of life and death, not merely a matter of one’s good efforts. The theme of the lamb begins in this chapter and go all the way through scripture to the grand climax in Revelations.

Why is the blood of special value to God?  When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And God said, “The voice of Abel’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).

In Leviticus 17: 11, God gives us the significance of the blood, saying; “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life”.

Genesis 8. When Noah left the ark after the flood, he offered a sacrifice of burnt offering from the “clean” animals that God had commanded he take into the ark for this purpose. Noah’s sacrifice was pleasing to God and God made a covenant with Noah-the first mention of a covenant- and it was established with blood.

The Institution of the OT Passover

(Exodus 12)

We know the story of Israel’s bondage (slavery) in Egypt and how after 400 years, God visited his people and sent Moses and Aaron to set them free. There were ten plaques, the last of which was the slaying of all the firstborn males of the Egyptians, man and animal. It was at this point that God instituted the sacrifice of lambs and the shedding of blood as a covering for sin. It also started a new calendar for the Israelites. It was Nisan, what we call March-April, and this would now be the new first day of their calendar year to signify a new beginning of Israel’s life as a people.

  • Exodus 12
    • On the tenth day every man shall take a lamb from their herd of sheep. A young Tamin lamb is chosen and taken for the household. Tamin means without spot, unblemished, undefiled, innocent, and perfect, a male of the first year.
    • Four days later, on the fourteenth day, they were to kill the lamb at twilight and the blood put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house.
    • They were to eat the lamb in haste, all of it and not one of its bones was to be broken. (verse 46). They were to have their clothes on, shoes on their feet and a staff in their hand so that they were really to flee.
    • Only unleavened bread was to be eaten.
    • Blood will be a sign signifying where you live.  God said, “When I see the blood on the door post, I will pass over you.” (verse 13)
    • Obedience to the instructions of the Lord regarding the sacrificial blood of the Passover lamb brought deliverance from the wages of sin and death for those within the house (Exodus 12). The lamb died in their place that they might be saved.
    • Verse 26-27 “And it shall be, when your children ask, what does this mean that you should say, “it is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord.” It is to remember, to remember what God did for them and how the blood saved them.

The Lambs of Bethlehem

Jesus grew up in Nazareth but he was born in Bethlehem. Did you ever wonder or consider the significance of Bethlehem? 

“In the writings of ancient rabbis it is recorded that in the days of the second temple, the only place where one could shepherd a flock was in the wilderness. But there was one exception, the flocks or lambs that were specifically appointed and destined for the Temple sacrifices, the sacrificial lambs. They needed to kept in close proximity to the Holy City (Jerusalem).”  Bethlehem is undoubtedly the place were the temple lambs were raised.” (Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 125).

Sheep by nature are helpless, defenseless animals and need the constant watch of a shepherd. It was shepherds who attend to the birthing and care of lambs. The natural birthing season for lambs is in the spring and it was often still cold. Crudely made shelters and caves were used to help protect the sheep. When a lamb needed extra warmth or care, the shepherds would wrap the lambs in strips of cloth called swaddling cloths and lay them in the manger of hay for protection from the other sheep. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

Luke records the story of Jesus birth. Joseph and Mary needed to travel to Joseph’s ancestral home, Bethlehem, to register for the census. There was only one way to travel, by foot or donkey. It was a 90-mile grueling and dangerous trip south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. For Mary who was nine months pregnant and heavy with child it must have been almost unbearable. No where in scripture does it say that Mary rode a donkey. We like to think she did, but in reality, she very possibly walked every step of the way.

God’s timing was perfect. Jesus would not be born until they reached Bethlehem. He had to be born where the sacrificial Tamin lambs were born. Joseph and Mary arrived to discover a city full of other travelers coming for the same purpose. There was no place to stay, all the inns and homes were full. A compassionate innkeeper allowed them to sleep in his stable. That night, in the stillness and quiet of a humble, smelly stable, the Lamb of God was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Who were the first visitors?  During the wee hours of the night, shepherds who were caring for their sheep in the fields outside of Bethlehem had a divine appointment with angels telling them of the birth of the Messiah and where to find him. Their clue; “You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” These were the shepherds appointed to care for the Tumin lambs of Bethlehem and they knew exactly where to look. They hurried to see the new born baby. Was this coincidental? I hardly think so.

The NT Passover: The Death and Crucifixion of Jesus

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover celebration. On the 10th day of Nisan (our March-April) Jesus entered Jerusalem. We know it as the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday. On Friday he was crucified, buried, and on Sunday he rose from the dead.

Jesus, the Tamin lamb, enters the city-where the house of God was, and would be killed.

Jesus was the first born, a male, without spot or blemish. He knew no sin. He had to be unblemished so that the blemishes of our past could be removed. He had to be spotless so that the stains of our past could be undone. He had to be innocent and undefiled to take away all the defilements in our lives. And so it is from the Passover Lamb, Messiah, that we are given the power of Tamin, the miracle of Tamin, by which the guilty can become innocent again, the defiled can live an unblemished life, with an unblemished record, and an unblemished conscience and with unstained memories. The blood of the Passover Lamb must also be applied to the doorposts of my life.

Jesus would observe the Passover with his disciples on the fourteen day, a Thursday. He broke the bread with his disciples. This had deep meaning for Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem, known as the House of Bread.

Just as Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice, so Jesus was forced to carry his cross for his sacrifice.

And to fulfill the requirements of the Passover Lamb, none of his bones would be broken.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

The is the first mention of the word “love” in scripture.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 79, 85, 95, 227)

Day of Atonement

(Leviticus 16)

The Holiest day of the Jewish year was called the “Day of Atonement” or Yon Kippur where an incredibly unique ceremony took place.  Yon Kippur means “covering over”.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would stand before the people with two goats before him. The priest would reach into an urn and pull out two lots. One was placed on the head of the goat on the right and the other on the head of the goat on the left. The one was chosen by lot to be the sin offering for the people and the other as a scapegoat.  The one chosen as a sin offering will be a burnt offering. The one chosen as a sin offering or scapegoat will be present alive before the Lord to make atonement and then let go into the wilderness.

What took place before Jesus’ sacrifice? Two men were presented before the High Priest. Jesus and Barabbas for the determining of two destinies. One would be chosen for the sacrifice and the other let go. Only one could be the sacrifice.

According to the requirements for the ancient sacrifice, the two goats had to be identical.

  • Messiah was the Son of God, the Son of the Father.
  • Barabbas comes from two Hebrew words; bar which means son and abba which means father. Barabbas means the son of the father.

Here we have two men, each bearing the name “The Son of the Father”. The one sacrificed and the one set free must in some way be identical. If God were to die in my place, he had to become like me, flesh and blood, in the likeness of man. He would be my identical and take my place.

The lot was cast. The people shouted set Barabbas free. Jesus was the one sentenced to judgement so that I could be set free.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 29.)

Jesus Became Sin

II Corinthians 5:21

“For God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Jesus)”

The Scriptures concerning the sin offering were written in Hebrew. In Hebrew, sin offering is called the Khataah. The Messiah became the Khataah. Khataah has a double meaning.  On one hand it means the sin offering or sacrifice, and on the other hand, it means the sin. The sacrifice and sin both bear the same name, Khataah. Since the sacrifice is the very thing that takes away sin, Jesus had to become sin itself, even though he never sinned. In Hebrew that is basically saying …”every one of your sins bears the name of the sacrifice, Every one of your sins is written (covered) with His Name, His blood. They all belong to Him. We no longer possess them. To keep them is keeping stolen property, an act of theft as they were given to Him.”

 We need to let go of our sin and live in the righteousness of God.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 233.)

The Suffering Savior Led as a Lamb to Slaughter

(Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The Suffering Savior was led as a lamb lead to slaughter. Jesus understood his mission and work as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The ProphecyThe Fulfillment
52:13 He will be exaltedPhilippians 2:9
52:14 & 53:2  His visage was marred more than any other manMark 15: 17, 19
52:15 He will make a blood atonementI Peter 1:2
53:3 Widely rejected and despisedJohn 12: 37-38
53:4-5 Will bear our sins and sorrowsRomans 4:25; I Peter 2:24-25
53: 6,8 Will be our substituteII Corinthians 5: 21
53:7-8 Will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishmentJohn 10: 11, 19:30
53:9 Buried in a rich man’s tombJohn 19: 38-42
53:10-11 Will save those who believe in HimJohn 3:16. Acts 16:31
53:12 Will die on behalf of transgressorsMark 15:27-28 & Luke 22:37

What scripture was the eunuch from Ethiopia reading when Philip was led to his chariot?  Isaiah 53. Philip explained the verses, and the eunuch understood and was convicted. He asked for baptism. Philip said, “you may if you believe with all your heart.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:26-40

The Second Coming

Matthew, Mark, and John refer to the site of crucifixion as Golgotha and Luke calls it Calvary. There is some difference of opinion as to the location of the exact spot but most scholars believe that Golgotha was actually on the Mount of Olives in the area known as the Upper Land of Moriah, which was just east of the city of Jerusalem. Remember where Abraham went with Isaac. Could it have been the same spot? The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mt. of Olives.

The prophet Zechariah adds another interesting tidbit to the narrative:

“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:3-4)

The Mount of Olives was also the location from which Jesus ascended to heaven after being resurrected from the grave and appearing to His disciples (Acts 1:9-12). Jesus will return to the same location from which He previously left the earth and where he offered His life as the ultimate sacrifice.

The Revelation Lamb

A number of years after Jesus returned to heaven, severe persecution attacked the believers. Many were killed and even some of the disciples. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to the island of Patmos for his unrelenting faith and open witness of Jesus.  God revealed to him in a vision what is going to happen at the end of time and in heaven and told him to write it down so that it could be given to the churches.

Someday Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, will be revealed to all whose sins have been covered by his blood. We will see and know and understand the full impact of the sacrifice he made, in love.

 Rev. 5:6:  “And I looked and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” and verse 12 is a scene beyond our comprehension. “And I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousand of thousands (literally gazillions) on their faces saying “worthy is the Lamb who was slain….”

What a scene!  In this scene the lamb, the most defenseless of all creatures, so weak it must be protected by shepherds is on the throne. The lamb is king and reigns over all. The Lamb, the symbol of the Messiah.

  • Revelations 5:9
  • Revelations 6: 15-17
  • Revelations 7: 9-17
  • Revelations 17:14
  • Revelations 21:7-9, 22-27

Forgiveness of Sin

Hebrews 9:22 “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”

At the time of God’s choosing, Jesus, who was without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19), became the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice; meeting all the requirements set forth by God for a Passover lamb to fulfill the blood sacrifice requirement for the remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). His blood sacrifice was made so that when we believe and obey; accept the substitute shedding of blood for our sins, we will be saved from the wages of sin and death. God made a way for mankind to enjoy Him forever, establishing a new covenant with man for the remission of sin, by giving us His son (Luke 22:19-20), the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice.

I Peter 1:18-20 “We are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

The entire purpose of Jesus life, from the moment of his birth to his death was to give Himself, to give His life as a sacrifice. What a gift of love!

These facts were revealed, not hidden, to John the Baptist. When he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world” it was loaded with significant and meaning.  John knew Jesus was “the Lamb of God.”

John was born into a priestly family.  The priest were the ones who ministered in the temple and were in charge of the offerings and presenting the sacrifices. A priest had to be thirty years old to perform the duties of a priest. If you remember, John was born about six months before Jesus. (Luke 1) making him eligible to perform priestly duties. John the Baptist, a pure-blooded priest of the lineage of Aaron presented and identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the acceptable final sacrifice to Israel. God made sure to have a priest of Aaron certify the Lamb according to the Old Testament requirements to fulfill the New Testament covenant. That means your sins are completely and certifiable taken away forever by the Lamb who came with priestly certification. There would now be no more lamb sacrifices to take away sin. It is done, once and forever for all who repent and let the blood of Jesus take away their sin. In the Old Testament the blood covered everyone. In the New Testament it is by choice. Your choice. What will you choose?

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 66, 130.)

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God took what was not his-our sins

so that we could have what was not ours-love.

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Resources:

  • The Bible (Word of God)
  • “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Days 16, 29, 37, 61, 66, 79,85, 95, 125, 130, 223, 227, and 233.
  • Picture came from pixabay.com a website for free pictures.

By Pat Hertzler, September 12, 2020

When Your World Is In Turmoil

I was watering my plants this evening and my mind was thinking about the crazy, upside down world and the violence, tragedy, and turmoil that has seeped into every aspect of our existence. I was thinking about the recent sudden death of Gene’s first cousin from a massive stroke and the cancer diagnoses of someone very close to me. Some of my friends and friends of friends are going through difficult stuff. My world is in turmoil.

All of a sudden I became aware of the stillness and beauty of the evening. The sun had dropped over the western horizon and in its wake left a soft pink and yellow sky. I glanced to the east and it was aglow with a huge fluffy cloud that reflected the after glow of the sun’s rays. It was a stunning, brilliant pink and yellow. I was standing and working in the midst of it all and almost missed it. I was so focused inward with my mind churning with the weight of many problems and failed to see God’s hand painting the the massive sky canvas in front and behind me with the glory of His presence.

Today the message at church spoke to this very need in my soul. In the midst of a very trying time, the Psalmist cried out to God four times, “How long?” How long will you feel so far away? Forever? How long will my prayers be unanswered? How long will I be overwhelmed with sorrow? How long will I feel like the enemy is winning this battle?” (Psalms 13).

The circumstances did not change between verses 4 and 5 but something changed inwardly for the Psalmist. He stilled himself and remembered God’s work in the past. He remembered God’s mercy. He determined to be joyful in his salvation. He declared that he would sing as he remembered God’s bountiful work in his life.

In the midst of his turmoil, he almost missed seeing the canvas of life God was painting.

Following the sermon we sang the words to an old familiar hymn written by Katharina von Schlegal in 1752…. the words may reflect an old English way of speaking, but the words are still true and powerfully speak to the deep need in our heart.

Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still my soul: the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend. Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know, his voice who ruled them, while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul. The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief are gone; sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past. All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Amen.

When Unexpected Things Happen

I was jolted awake at 3:15 Sunday morning by a crash in the bathroom. Normally I am a sound sleeper and miss such things as thunder storms, phone ringing and all sorts of night-time doings. Gene had fallen. He didn’t think it was his heart. He wasn’t nauseated or light-headed, just extreme pain in his ribs. His skin was cold and clammy and he was sweating profusely. I helped him up but he immediately “crumbled” to the floor, three times. The last time I couldn’t get him up and had to call 911.

It is a terrible feeling watching your loved one leave in the squad and you can’t go along. They did an EKG and ruled out his heart. We figured the root of the problem was the big bruise on his back. They told me to stay at home, if I went to the hospital, I would be turned away at the door because of covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Earlier in the week we had a bull get out and as Gene was putting him back into the pen, he slipped and fell as he jumped a ditch and fell on his back on a piece of angle iron. He heard a crack and figured he had either cracked or broken a rib.

He didn’t feel it was necessary to go to the doctor because he knew they would say there is nothing they can do, just be careful. (Just like a broken nose or toe). He developed a big bruise on his back and had to be careful how he turned, but after a few days felt really good. On Saturday, he put forty acres of hay on the ground. He knew he had a narrow window with the weather but because he wraps his bales, he planned to rake and bale on Monday (Memorial Day) and Tuesday. At supper Saturday evening, he commented on how good he felt.

Little did we know the unseen danger that was lurking. It didn’t take long at the hospital to discover that he had blood in his chest cavity. He was bleeding internally. They inserted a drainage tube and drained off over a liter of blood. They ended up moving him to a different hospital that could handle a trauma injury.

I had to take some things to Gene before they moved him and I was allowed to speak to him as they loaded him onto the ambulance.

The next two days were excruciatingly painful but on Tuesday evening he was able to come home. He is resting and on the road to recovery. Today I took him on a “field trip” to check on his cows and see the hay fields that had been baled, without him.

Gene basically makes the hay by himself. He has a friend (Wray) who helps some with the raking when needed. Suddenly we had a big problem. We had 40 acres of really nice hay that needed to be raked, baled and wrapped before the tropical storm comes in Wednesday night. Not just anyone can do it.

It is really neat to watch God work. God specializes in the miraculous, the big stuff, the tough and overwhelming, the seemly impossible. Gene was stressing big time, trying to solve his problem while dealing with unbearable pain. I made a few calls and soon the phone was ringing. Within a few hours I had Wray lined up to rake the hay, Steve to bale, Keith to wrap and Sam to go for more plastic wrap. Luke had volunteered to bale but he had never run our equipment or a computer controlled baler. I called Steve, a good farmer friend and past employee who knew our equipment, and asked him if he could come for an hour or so and help Luke get started. Luke is a farm guy and no stranger to baling hay, just not using our equipment. Steve had his own hands full as he had sixty acres of hay on the ground. He said, “if Luke tedded his hay, he would bale ours”. Steve’s hay wasn’t ready to bale until Tuesday. Suddenly everything felt right and good. The heavy bag of worry I was carrying just rolled away.

Sunday evening Keith got all the tractors filled with fuel and attached to the proper equipment so that everything was ready to roll. Some of the equipment was moved to the field. Monday I just watched the day unfolded. I took pictures and kept saying, “thank you, Jesus”. At 9:05 p.m. the last of the 200 bales rolled from the baler and the tractor parked. About fifty bales had to be wrapped on Tuesday morning. The job was done, thanks to family and friends.

After hearing the many phone calls and texts from concerned people and hearing the offers to help, our grandson who had watched an amazing thing unfold said, “I can’t BELIEVE how many people have offered to help.” He had witnessed what seemed impossible as a community of friends, family and church friends rallied to help. When the unexpected happened, the unexpected happened. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. God is good.

Raking

A beautiful sight.
Baling
A beautiful field.
Wrapping
Just checking on things!

They Sang A Hymn

My thoughts and pondering this Easter morning……

Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 add an interesting tidbit to the story of the Last Supper. “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. Have you ever wondered what hymn they sang?  No other place in scripture records that Jesus or his disciples sang. What do you think they sounded like?

This song was at the end of a very troubling, sorrowful, unsettling, full of questions, Passover meal. Jesus had shocked their social culture by washing their feet. They could hardly bear it. He served them bread and wine and said that this was his body and blood. He revealed some troubling news about his imminent death and asked if they had a sword. They swore that they would die with him. Judas had been singled out as the one who would betray their beloved friend and teacher and fled into the night to do his evil deed. And so they sang. There is no explanation of significance for us Gentile believers decades later.

I suspect it was mournful, sad and subdued. But when we dig a little deeper, there is a little more to this hymn that just the statement “they sang a hymn”.

The Greek word used for this word hymn is “humnos”. Humnos was used to speak of the Psalms of Israel. From ancient times it was ordained that the Passover Seder would always end with the singing of songs, specifically the Psalms, and a very specific set of Psalms called the Hallels. The Passover would end with the singing of the last of these, Psalms 118.

Take a few minutes to read Psalms 118.  Verse 22 says “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  Rejected also means despised. Who was to become the despised, rejected stone? Isaiah 53 says, “He (Jesus) was despised and rejected by man….”. For two thousand years that song was sung, the song of the rejected stone at the end of every the Passover meal. On this very Passover, within hours of singing, it would be fulfilled.

Immediately after singing that hymn, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives where in great agony of prayer, he yield to the will of his Father. Soon afterwards, Jesus was arrested, despised, and rejected. Jesus, “the stone” was cast away to be crucified. The despised, rejected man on the cross would end up becoming the “cornerstone of faith” for all people, all civilizations and all of history. In God, the object of man’s hatred becomes the center of His love, and the object of man’s despising becomes the vessel of His glory. How amazing is that? And it was all there that night in the song of the stone, sung by Jesus and his disciples at the close of the Passover Seder.

(Thoughts and some direct quotes were taken from “The Book of Mysteries,”  Day 99, by Jonathan Cahn).

Note: I have been using “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn this year for my devotions. It is a powerful study of the words of scripture making them come alive, just like this example of the hymn. I had never given a second thought that there was meaning and purpose behind it. Pat

Fence Walker

I noticed this dirt path all around the fence behind the house and when I mentioned it to Gene he said, “It is the bull, he’s walking the fence.” I began to watch and sure enough, every day the bull spends a good portion of his day walking the fence. Today I went to take his picture and caught him resting on his walk.

Now you have to understand, he is not a slighted or mistreated bull. He has his own green, grassy five acre paddock with a harem of ladies at his bidding with no competition. But, up and down that fence he paces with his gaze fixed on the other side of the fence.

I wonder what he is thinking. Does the grass look greener on the other side of the fence? Is he not satisfied with his group of heifers? Does the pasture on the other side look lest restrictive? Is there not enough activity for him? Is he just plain restless? Or, does he not like the restrictive fence?

He just looked at me with his big, sad eyes.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from Mr. Bull.

I wonder….am I content with my lot in life? Does the grass look greener on the other side of my fence? Do I wish for what is not mine to have?

What about the restrictive fences in my life? Do I resist the fence thinking that there is more freedom is on the other side without stopping to realize that I would be looking a the same fence, just from the other side.

We all have restrictions and boundaries in our lives but when we push on them we almost always get in trouble and create chaos. If we move the boundary fence on our property, the neighbor will get upset. If we take what does not belong to us, it is stealing and we are in trouble with the law. If our eyes lust after another partner, we break our marriage vows and destroy relationships. If we do not obey the laws of the land, we will end up in jail. If we do not follow the moral code of the Bible, our lives are filled with destructive behavior and conflict with God and neighbor.

One evening about dusk, King David took a stroll on his rooftop and peered over the fence to his neighbor’s place, a trusted official of his army. He saw Uriah’s wife taking a bath. As he gazed, lust filled his heart and he desired what was not his to have. He summoned Bathsheba to come for a visit and then he violated moral law. Bathsheba became pregnant which cause a downward spiral in David’s life. (II Samuel 11).

Fence walkers see the fences as restrictive. Pasture dwellers are contented and free because they only see the fences as boundaries.

Are you a fence walker or a pasture dweller?

I Am So Grateful…

This morning as I was praying, I found myself expressing my gratitude to God for who He is and what He does. I am so grateful……

  • For the variety, intricate detail, and exquisite color of creation (Psalms 8).
  • For giving us the Bible, His inspired, living Word, so that I can study and more fully know him (II Timothy 3:16).
  • For not only forgiving me (Romans 10:9, 13) but also removing my sins as far as the east is from the west. We can plant our feet on the North and South Poles but we can never catch up with the east or west (Psalms 103:12).
  • For His faithfulness that is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22).
  • For His tender mercy and steadfast love (Lamentations 3:22).
  • For hearing and answering my prayers (Matthew 7:7-11 and James 5:15-16).
  • For being willing to give His only son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for my sins so that I can have forgiveness of sins and live in relationship with a Holy God (John 3:16).
  • For feeling my sorrow and grief (James 5:11).
  • For always walking beside me in my times of testing and walking through difficult times (fire & water). (Isaiah 43:1-3 & Psalms 66: 10-12).
  • For being my refuge and strength in times of trouble (Psalms 46:1).
  • For being my strength when I am weak (Isaiah 40:29).
  • For never tempting me but when I are tempted by the evil one, provides a way of escape (I Corinthians 10: 12-13, II Peter 2:9 and II Thessalonians 3:3).
  • For desiring a relationship with me as my Father (James 4:8).
  • For knowing me as a unique person, created by God himself (Psalms 33:13-15, Isaiah 43:1, 7).
  • For holding the hearts of kings in his hand (Psalms 33:10 and Proverbs 21:1).
  • For being my rock, my shield, my hiding place (Psalms 18:2).
  • For being with me in my darkest moments (Psalms 40:1-2)
  • For being my refuge and strength in times of trouble (Psalms 46:1)
  • For promising to be with me even in death (Psalms Psalms 23:4 and 48:14).
  • For being a God of peace and speaking peace to his people (Psalms 85:8).
  • For living in me in the form of the Holy Spirit (I John 4:13).
  • For providing angels to guard and protect me (Psalms 34:7).
  • For preparing a home in heaven for those who love you so that I can spend eternity with you (John 14: 1-4).
  • That one day you will say, “enough is enough” and crush the head of the serpent (Satan) and win triumphantly over evil (Revelations 11:15 and 12:9-12).

The message at church today focused on Psalms 91. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty God”. The Hebrew word for Almighty is “El Shaddai” which means God-the enough.

What an amazing God we serve. He is Almighty God-the enough and I am so grateful.

Red in the morning….

"Red in the morning, sailors take warning. 
Red at night, sailors delight." 
(Ancient rhyme often repeated by mariners)

I knew it was falling weather and probably going to rain today and I didn’t need Jim Duncan (channel 12 news) or the Weather Channel to tell me. Monday morning the eastern sky (above & below pictures) was a canvas of brilliant colors. I love taking pictures from my kitchen window with my proud, crowing rooster silhouetted. Red in the morning means in three days there will be falling (or a change in) weather. This morning (Wednesday) started out as a warm and spring-like sweater day. It didn’t take long until gray clouds hide the sun and a gentle breeze brought in cooler temperatures.

Did you know that long before the above quip was penned, the Bible revealed how to discern the same truth. Jesus himself told the Pharisees and Sadducees one day when they came testing him by wanting a sign from heaven, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening’ (Matthew 16: 2-3).

There are many weather signs in the heavens. The Jewish calendar is based on lunar months, while years are based on solar years.. The rotation of the moon and sun determines day and night. Tide is determined by the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun, and the rotation of the Earth.

The direction of the wind determines whether it will be hot and dry or whether rain is coming. Luke 12:54-55 “When you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say; ‘A shower is coming’ and so it is’. And when you see the south wind blow, you say ‘There will be hot weather’, and so it is”.

A funnel cloud and an eerie green tint to the sky means a tornado is imminent. Menacing dark, swirling clouds warn a storm is brewing.

The stars can be used for navigation. Remember the wise men who came looking for baby Jesus by following a star.

It is so fascinating and amazing to me how God created the world with precise detail and even signs so that we can know and understand the weather.

Jesus also lamented that people can discern the face of the sky and of the earth and yet refuse to discern the signs of the times in which they live (Matthew 12:56). Just as he gave many clues and signs about his coming as a baby, so he has given many clues and signs about his second coming. We can’t know the day or hour, but we can understand with clarity many clues to his second coming if we know how to read the signs.

Take heed to Jesus words, “Watch therefore…. for the Son of Man is coming…” (Matthew 24: 42 & 44).

What If?

What if God is real?

What if God created the world in six days?

What if Jesus truly is the Messiah?

What if Jesus is the only way to God?

What if the Bible is true, trustworthy and relevant for our time.

What if the Bible is a true narrative of history and God’s work through the ages to bring people into a relationship with Him?

What if God is involved in the world, holds the hearts of the kings in his hand, and controls the rise and fall of nations?

What if living in sin separates us from God?

What if sin can be forgiven?

What if there is a real heaven and a real hell?

What if Jesus really returns again?

What if what happens to you after death depends on whether or not you have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior?

What if how you live matters?

What if you do not have a second chance after you have died?

What if eternity last forever and ever and ever and never, never stops?

What if you ponder your life and the lifestyle you are living?

What if?

10,000 Hours

Have you ever considered how long 10,000 hours is? And you may wonder, does it even matter?

My employee had heard the song “10,000 Hours” written by Justin Bieber, and it got her intrigued with the numbers (math) and she started relaying it to me. It made for interesting conversation.

Fun with the math:

  • One day=24 hours
  • One year: 365 days x 24 hours=8,760 hours
  • 10,000 hours=416.7 days
  • There are 60 minutes in an hour or 1440 minutes in a day. One year is 525,600 minutes.
  • If you sleep an average of 8 hours a day that is 2920 hours a year or by the time you are 70, you will have slept 204,400 hours.

If you are 20 years old, you have lived 175,200 hours. By the time you are 70, you will have lived 613,200 hours or if you are interested, that is 36,792,000 minutes!

In some ways that is staggering and in other ways I am amazed that it doesn’t add up to more.

Did you know the Bible has something to say about our years (time) on earth?

  • Psalms 90:4 For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. (A watch is a four hour period of time).
  • II Peter 3:8 Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  • Psalms 90:10 The days of our lives are seventy years or even by reason of strength, eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we fly away.
  • Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.
  • Matthew 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
  • Psalms 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
  • James 4:14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
  • Psalms 90:12 Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

We count our years, celebrating each one with joy. Our days are metered by minutes and hours. We work, play, rest, sleep, eat, watch TV, travel and shop all by the clock. We allot time for worship, travel and visiting with family and friends, all by the clock. Time dictates and controls our day. If things go as we plan, we feel in control, but if we are late, we feel like we have lost time. Inconveniences mess with our time.

When we are little we can’t wait to graduate from high school and be an adult. Then we can’t wait to be married, buy a house, have kids. It isn’t long until we can’t wait until we can retire and suddenly the golden years don’t feel so golden. We wish life away and remember with longing the past. Where did life go? Time can not be put on hold, retracted or relived.

What have you accomplished that has eternal value? Have you taken time to know God? Do you take time each week to rest and worship with a community of faith? Do you spend time each day praying and reading God’s word? Has anyone been impacted and changed by your faith because you cared enough to share with them?

God is eternal and He has put eternal spirits within us. Our destiny is determined while there is time. When we die, time will have no meaning as eternity has no time; no beginning, no end. Our finite minds can not grasp the infinite.

613,200 hours or 70 years is the allotted average lifespan God has given man. We do well to heed the words of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. (Psalms 90-12)

He Does What?

Who is God to you? Is he some illusive being out in the universe or is he a personal God who knows your name?

I’ve been thinking recently about the names of God: Jehovah, All Mighty, Ancient of Days, I AM that I AM, LORD, Lord God, Most High, Lord of Hosts, Everlasting God, and there are more. These names reveal His character;  righteous, all powerful, all knowing, ever present, love, holy, creator, healer, just, merciful, truth, forgiving, compassionate,  sufficient, faithful, judge of sin, and He never changes.

God is our shield, our rock, our hiding place, our fortress, our peace, our strength, our sure foundation, our shepherd. He can be trusted. He loves and provides a way of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.

God hears our prayers, cares about our needs, grieves when we hurt, heals our wounds, forgives our sins, and when invited, lives within us. God desires a personal relationship with us.  One of the most precious things that God does is walk beside us. You may say, “He does what?” 

Visualize for a moment a father walking up a mountain trail with his young son walking beside him. When the journey gets rough, the father reaches out and takes the child’s hand to provide comfort, strength and safety. When the child says he is too weary and exhausted to go any more, the father picks him up and carries him on his shoulder.

When God walks beside us, it is an intimate relationship. He is a father who loves and cares deeply. He is close at hand, experiencing the journey with us just as the earthly father cares for his child.

This my friends, is my ever-present, Father God, who walks with me.

A few verses about God walking with us.

  • Deuteronomy 1:31 Moses is reminding the children of Israel how God cared for them as they wandered in the wilderness after leaving Egypt… “…you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.”
  • Psalms 23:4 “when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me. Your rod and staff they comfort me.” This is a picture of God as a shepherd walking with his sheep in a very difficult place.
  • Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand.”
  • Isaiah 42:6 “I the Lord, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand…”
  • Isaiah 43:2 “I have called you by your name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…..when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned….”

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