Pentecost. A Jewish and Christian Holiday that Points to the Voice of God.

 

You may listen to today’s audio devotional message here.

I haven’t always understood how Pentecost was a holiday for both Jews and Christians. It took me five trips to the Southern Steps in Israel for it to really sink in. The most recent visit to Jerusalem was just a few months ago.

Christians celebrate Pentecost seven weeks after Resurrection Sunday. Jews celebrate it seven weeks, or 50 days, after Passover. It doesn’t always work out this way because the Jews operate on a lunar calendar, but this year it falls on the same weekend. This weekend.

God asked the children of Israel to come up to Jerusalem three times each year. Passover is one of those times. It celebrates the Exodus and how God delivered His children through the Red Sea and the oppressive Pharaoh of Egypt. A second time is at the end of the summer. Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and how God provided for the children of Israel as they wandered through the desert, living in tents. We sometimes call this the Feast of Tabernacles. Many Jewish people today still set up small sukkahs, or huts, in their backyard to commemorate the holiday.

The third celebration is called Shavuot, meaning “weeks,” for it was exactly seven weeks after the Exodus when the people of God found themselves at the base of Mt. Sinai. This special time is a celebration of the giving of the Law, the Torah, to Moses (beginning in Exodus 19). Then (Moses) read aloud the Lord’s commands and promises, and the people shouted, “We will obey the Lord and do everything he has commanded!” (Exodus 24:7, CEV).

Now, fast-forward 1200 years. The children of Israel have returned to Jerusalem to celebrate this Feast of Weeks, Shavuot. They bring offerings of grain to honor God for these first fruits of the new harvest season. This year is different, however. At Passover just two months prior, Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again. He visited with the disciples for 40 days before He ascended into Heaven.

While he was still with them, Jesus said: Don’t leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. (Acts 1:4, CEV).

The disciples had been waiting days for the Holy Spirit. While they waited, they watched as the city population tripled, when the children of God arrived from the Judean countryside, and even from foreign countries, to celebrate the Feast. And then, just as Jesus promised, on the very morning the Jews were to celebrate the Law, God showed up in Spirit and in power! As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (Acts 2:2-4, TLB).

Here’s where it gets amazing! The Good News was being proclaimed to people from at least 15 different lands by strangers who didn’t speak those languages. And everyone heard, and understood, the voice of God in their native tongue.

The Law brings death. But the Spirit brings life.

It was into this cacophony of noise that Peter stood up to address the crowd. It was likely near the top of the Southern Steps that lead up to the Temple –the same steps that I visited just a few months ago. At that time, there was an open plaza where a large crowd of people from 15 different nations might gather. You remember Peter… the fearful yet rambunctious disciple. When he tried to walk on the water, he sank. When he was confronted by a young girl if he knew Jesus, the fisherman issued a strong denial. Yet now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke with boldness and with power! This was his first public sermon and the message cut to the hearts of all the listeners.

Peter pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. (Acts 2:40-41, CJB).

Three thousand people were baptized in water that day, taking a step of faith to follow the Messiah. There is something amazing about that number.

Let’s go back to the first Shavuot. Do you recall what happened when Moses came down from the Mountain with the tablets of the Law? His brother Aaron had formed a golden calf and the children of God were worshipping it. Yes, these were the same people who shouted “We will obey the Lord and do everything he has commanded!” (Exodus 24:7, CEV). And they were disobeying the very first command! As a result, God released His wrath.

Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, and he said to them, “The LORD God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.” The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about three thousand men. (Exodus 32:26-28, CEV).

Would you look at that? The Lord was so angry that He had 3,000 people slaughtered on the original day of Pentecost, the first Shavuot, the giving of the Law. Disobeying the Law leads to death. Now, on the day of Pentecost celebrated here in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit comes and gives life, and 3,000 people were baptized on that day! God symbolically redeemed those caught in His judgment 1200 years earlier, on this Day of Pentecost when He gave the Holy Spirit!

The Apostle Paul says it this way: The Law brings death. But the Spirit brings life. (2 Corinthians 3:6, CEV).

God calls out to us through the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate today. Do you hear His voice, His Good News? It is life!




(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com.




Romans 14. Never Be Without Love.





Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.


You may listen to today’s devotional blog by clicking the link above.



Romans 14.

Paul is such a great orator, even with his pen.  He gives multiple sides of a situation, then brings the final decision to the place that lines up with the Scriptures. Eat this or that. Take this day for a sabbath or that one. Don’t judge your brother. Don’t be condescending to your sister. For, in the end, we will each stand before God. HE is God! He’s got this. He is worthy to be worshipped!

Here’s the passage of his conclusion, from the prophet Isaiah:

God, Creator of the heavens— he is, remember, God. Maker of earth— he put it on its foundations, built it from scratch. He didn’t go to all that trouble to just leave it empty, nothing in it. He made it to be lived in. This God says: “I am God, the one and only. I don’t just talk to myself or mumble under my breath. I never told Jacob, ‘Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.’ I am God. I work out in the open, saying what’s right, setting things right. So gather around, come on in, all you refugees and castoffs. They don’t seem to know much, do they— those who carry around their no-god blocks of wood, praying for help to a dead stick? So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence. Put your heads together. Make your case. Who told you, and a long time ago, what’s going on here? Who made sense of things for you? Wasn’t I the one? God? It had to be me. I’m the only God there is— The only God who does things right and knows how to help. So turn to me and be helped—saved!— everyone, whoever and wherever you are. I am God, the only God there is, the one and only. I promise in my own name: Every word out of my mouth does what it says. I never take back what I say. Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me. Everyone is going to end up saying of me, ‘Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!’” All who have raged against him will be brought before him, disgraced by their unbelief. And all who are connected with Israel will have a robust, praising, good life in God! (Isaiah 45:18‭-‬24, MSG). For more on Isaiah 45, go here.

Three times in Matthew 6, Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV). Sarah Young’s interpretation of Jesus’ words, from Jesus Calling: “You need not fear the future for I am already there.” Wow! Such a powerful promise!

God is God. We need not worry. But you say, “I’m sick.” Or “I lost my job.” Or “My marriage is a wreck.” Or… I will say it again, as Paul did. God is God. Turn to him and be helped.

As you do, be sure to do so with love. In another letter The Missionary says it like this:  So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  (Colossians 3:12‭-‬14, MSG).

The way we live is to be consistent with what we believe.

Just like in Romans 13, Paul continues to encourage love over all else. Many in that day were holding up their good works, like worshipping on a special day or eating kosher, in a higher place than love. He urges us all the way we live is to be consistent with what we believe. If we believe in grace, have accepted Jesus’ grace, we are to offer His grace.

God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you. (Romans 14:17‭-‬18, MSG).

Love others with His love today. Never be without love.


(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com

Romans 11. Jews And Gentiles are God’s Children.

You may listen to today’s devotional blog here.

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 11.

Paul has an interesting observation about people, specifically the people of Israel. Here they are, God’s chosen children and it seems that most of them didn’t want to be chosen. It’s a burden too heavy to carry. Ah, but the few who accepted it? They are living out their God-given purpose! They let God pursue His interests in them and as a result received His stamp of legitimacy. (Romans 11:7, MSG).

That’s our prayer, isn’t it? I want to be truly authentic in letting God’s grace and purpose be revealed in me and through me. I want to have the courage to always say, as Jesus did in the garden, “Not my will but your will be done.” (Luke 22:42, NASB).

What does the rest of verse 7 say? This means that only a chosen few of the people of Israel found what all of them were searching for. And the rest of them were stubborn. (Romans 11:7, CEV).

That’s really sad, isn’t it? How many people today are so rigid in their beliefs that they can’t see God’s grace? How often am I? Personally, I do not want to be so stubborn or pretend that I’m following God for my own selfish reasons. I want to fully embrace His grace and purpose! Even today! How about you?

Paul continues with a very familiar word picture of how we Gentiles can become as precious to God as His chosen people, the Israelites. It is by being grafted in. The Apostle says we are grafted in to show the Jews the way back to God.

Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous. (Romans 11:11, CEV).

If you were to take a walk just about anywhere in most of Israel, you will see some amazing olive trees. What is really fascinating is that they sometimes send up new shoots far away from the main trunk. And those shoots can ultimately become strong trees, sometimes even stronger than the main tree. Why is that? Even shoots that are far from an existing tree are connected below ground to the main roots. It’s kind of wild to see. There’s also a process called “grafting.” Even different kinds of tree shoots can be connected to an olive tree and given a new life! Paul says this is like non-Jews becoming as close to the Father’s heart as His chosen children. And that will cause the Jews to want to come back to God.

You see, God goes to supernatural means to get everyone connected to His love and life! Both Gentiles and Jews!

I love how Paul concludes this mystifying example:

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Romans 11:33-36, MSG — quoting from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11).

Everything, every person, finds their ultimate fulfillment in and through God and God alone.

 

You might find this blog post of interest regarding Jesus as the “shoot” of Jesse, from Isaiah 11.

 

© 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com

 

Romans 4. Abraham’s Faith Can Be Our Faith Too!

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 4.

Your life is a part of God’s overarching story of Creation to Redemption.  The key players in this real-life journey are not just famous names in the Old Testament. Nor are they acclaimed people of faith who have walked since John penned The Revelation. Nor are they prolific pastors or authors in today’s culture. They are “ordinary” people too. Your brother. Your aunt. Your son. Your daughter. You.

“But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.” (Romans 4:2, MSG).

Read that sentence again and this time, insert your name where Abraham’s name is:

But the story we’re given is a God-story, not a _______-story. What we read in Scripture is, “_______entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. _______ trusted God to set _______ right instead of trying to be right on their own.

Do you see? Your life is a God-story, not merely your story. We are a part of His work in this world. We are part of the story of eternity. Trusting Him is the turning point! Can you trust Him to set things right in your life? Yes, you can!

Hear this: There is nothing we can DO that will make God love us more or less. Faith is not a “doing” thing. It is a heart thing. This grace that Jesus offers flies in the face of all of us who are rule followers. It is merely trust. Can we trust that God has led us to where we are? Can we trust that He will continue to lead us? Yes. Absolutely! I keep returning to the Romans 2:4 passage from last week. “In kindness, He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into radical life change.”


Your life is a God-story, not merely your story.


Look at Abraham’s life. Even when everything appeared impossible, he believed anyway: “God promised Abraham a lot of descendants. And when it all seemed hopeless, Abraham still had faith in God and became the ancestor of many nations. Abraham’s faith never became weak.” (Romans 4:18-19, CEV).

Wow! How do we get that kind of faith? I’m sure I’m not the only one who says, “God, give me Abraham’s confidence.” But yet, he didn’t have it easy. God told him to leave the land of his youth. Even after he believed and was recognized for his faith, he still had trials. He was challenged to lay it all down for God. He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. And God continued to guide him and encourage him and bless him… even through those impossible and challenging seasons.

Do we have impossible and challenging seasons? You betcha! The whole country, even the whole world, continues to face its most imposing age. But God has a plan for each one of us. And it starts with death. When I see all that Abraham had to give up, I ponder these words of Jesus: “If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, CEV). What does it mean to give up your life for Jesus? Abraham did it by trusting God. And God responded.

I believe God will do the same for you, for me, for us. So today, my prayer is this: “God, help me to lay down my life, my wants, my desires. Do what only You can do. I will trust You.”

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com

 

Passover Seder for Believers in Yeshua… a Haggadah.

Unleavened bread, or matzah, and four glasses of wine are key symbols used to celebrate Passover.

Passover begins this evening, Wednesday, April 8th. A Passover Seder (pronounced SAY-der) is a meal and celebration that tells the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from the bondage of Egypt and Pharoah. The Bible’s book of Exodus tells this story.

What follows is a Haggadah — or Story– that affirms Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Some may suggest it is misguided for Christ-followers to celebrate a Jewish holiday such as Passover. But I would say, Jesus is our Messiah. He was a Jew. This meal is likely the “Last Supper” He celebrated with the disciples in the Upper Room. It is very appropriate for believers in Jesus to celebrate the story of the Exodus, as it represents our own story of being in bondage to sin and death and our journey to freedom and life. In the days of Moses, life was given to people of faith by the blood of the lamb painted over the doorposts of houses. Today, we receive life by way of the blood of Jesus “painted” over the doorposts of our hearts.

This Haggadah was originally written for our family twenty years ago, with input from various people including family friends who are Jewish. Note, most of the symbolic items have been a part of the Jewish tradition of Passover for centuries. Many were not a part of the tradition at the time of the “Upper Room” Passover. Our family added the red scarf/red ribbon as a way to visualize the doors of our hearts being painted with the blood of Jesus. Portions have been directly excerpted from the booklet “Passover Seder and Menu for an Observance by Christians” by Barbara Balzac Thompson, published by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, © 1984.

Passover lasts for eight nights. Feel free to celebrate a Passover Seder any night, not just the first night. Make it work for your family. This is a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join you. This year, because of social distancing, maybe you celebrate via Zoom or Skype.

Before you gather, you’ll need a few key ingredients for your table:

Two candlesticks in candle holders.

Wine or grape juice. You’ll be pouring four glasses for each participant, so be sure to have enough on hand for everyone.

Matzah bread. You’ll need at least three full-sized squares on a separate plate wrapped in a cloth or linen napkin. Plus, you’ll want enough for everyone to enjoy as much as they’d like.

The Seder Plate includes items which we’ll feature throughout the evening, including: a lamb shank (you can get this from the butcher at your local grocery store), a dollop of horseradish, a sprig of parsley, charoset (which is a mixture that includes chopped apples, honey, and cinnamon). You will also need in separate bowls/small plates enough horseradish, parsley, and charoset for everyone to enjoy at least a small taste.

For your table, you’ll need a bowl of fresh water (like a cereal bowl) and a smaller bowl (like a ramekin) of salt water (just enough salt to taste salty, maybe 1/2 teaspoon).

A red ribbon, scarf or piece of yarn, about three-to-four feet in length, for each participant.

You’ll also want to have prepared your main course of the evening meal, and keep it warm in the kitchen. You’ll take the first 30-45 minutes of the evening telling the story.

In most families, the father will read through the narrative. There are times when there is a responsive or group reading as well, so it is helpful for everyone to have their own copy, or a shared copy, of the “script” for the evening. Also, this is a very family-friendly event! Children are encouraged to participate. There is a specific place where they are to ask questions, but if you’d like, feel free to allow them to interrupt with queries and laughter. Our Seder is a time bathed in much grace. Sometimes we recline on the floor (more on that later). One year, we actually roasted a lamb on an open pit in the backyard. We often have coloring pages and snacks available for younger children. Feel free to be creative as you like as you demonstrate your love for God’s plan of redemption in the life of your family.

WELCOME

Welcome in the name of Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah! Tonight we will celebrate Pesach (PAH-sach)… Passover. This is the celebration of the most incredible feast on the Jewish and Christian calendars. It intricately weaves a story of God’s power, faithfulness and love for mankind in both the Old and New Testaments. It was celebrated in the Ancient World, in Jesus’ time, and is still celebrated in traditional Jewish homes today.

The first Passover was not a celebration (see Exodus 12). It was a night of apprehension, fear, and expectation for the beginning of a new journey for the children of Israel. The Bible tells us that the Hebrews were to take the blood of a perfect lamb and paint it on their doorposts. By following this command, the Angel of Death which moved through Egypt that night would “pass over” their homes. But since the Angel of Death did not pass over Pharaoh’s house, and his firstborn son was taken from him, his hardened heart was finally softened and the next morning Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go free. This meal that we celebrate tonight, the Seder, is symbolic of the rush to leave Egypt and the bondage it represents.

We also celebrate the significance of Yeshua’s last meal, sometimes called the “Last Supper,” a traditional Passover meal, with His disciples in the Upper Room. There is a lot of symbolism between the Old Covenant meal and the New Covenant meal. We hope you’ll enjoy learning how Yeshua tied the two meals together… and how it is applicable to us all.

Tonight, we tell a story, the Haggadah (hah-gaw-DAH), of how the blood of a lamb saved the people of God in the Ancient times… and still saves today.

John 1:29: The next day, John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Reading: Luke 22:7-20. (This can be read by one of the children).

Let us celebrate the Passover together!

Continue reading Passover Seder for Believers in Yeshua… a Haggadah.

Passover Seder for Believers in Yeshua… a Haggadah.

Unleavened bread, or matzah, and four glasses of wine are key symbols used to celebrate Passover.

Passover begins Wednesday evening, April 8th. A Passover Seder (pronounced SAY-der) is a meal and celebration that tells the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from the bondage of Egypt and Pharoah. The Bible’s book of Exodus tells this story.

What follows is a Haggadah — or Story– that affirms Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Some may suggest it is misguided for Christ-followers to celebrate a Jewish holiday such as Passover. But I would say, Jesus is our Messiah. He was a Jew. This meal is likely the “Last Supper” He celebrated with the disciples in the Upper Room. It is very appropriate for believers in Jesus to celebrate the story of the Exodus, as it represents our own story of being in bondage to sin and death and our journey to freedom and life. In the days of Moses, life was given to people of faith by the blood of the lamb painted over the doorposts of houses. Today, we receive life by way of the blood of Jesus “painted” over the doorposts of our hearts.

This Haggadah was originally written for our family twenty years ago, with input from various people including family friends who are Jewish. Note, most of the symbolic items have been a part of the Jewish tradition of Passover for centuries. Many were not a part of the tradition at the time of the “Upper Room” Passover. Our family added the red scarf/red ribbon as a way to visualize the doors of our hearts being painted with the blood of Jesus. Portions have been directly excerpted from the booklet “Passover Seder and Menu for an Observance by Christians” by Barbara Balzac Thompson, published by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, © 1984.

Passover lasts for eight nights. Feel free to celebrate a Passover Seder any night, not just the first night. Make it work for your family. This is a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join you. This year, because of social distancing, maybe you celebrate via Zoom or Skype.

Before you gather, you’ll need a few key ingredients for your table:

Wine or grape juice. You’ll be pouring four glasses for each participant, so be sure to have enough on hand for everyone.

Matzah bread. You’ll need at least three full-sized squares on a separate plate wrapped in a cloth or linen napkin. Plus, you’ll want enough for everyone to enjoy as much as they’d like.

The Seder Plate includes items which we’ll feature throughout the evening, including: a lamb shank (you can get this from the butcher at your local grocery store), a dollop of horseradish, a sprig of parsley, charoset (which is a mixture that includes chopped apples, honey, and cinnamon). You will also need in separate bowls/small plates enough horseradish, parsley, and charoset for everyone to enjoy at least a small taste.

For your table, you’ll need a bowl of fresh water (like a cereal bowl) and a smaller bowl (like a ramekin) of salt water (just enough salt to taste salty, maybe 1/2 teaspoon).

A red ribbon, scarf or piece of yarn, about three-to-four feet in length, for each participant.

You’ll also want to have prepared your main course of the evening meal, and keep it warm in the kitchen. You’ll take the first 30-45 minutes of the evening telling the story.

In most families, the father will read through the narrative. There are times when there is a responsive or group reading as well, so it is helpful for everyone to have their own copy, or a shared copy, of the “script” for the evening. Also, this is a very family-friendly event! Children are encouraged to participate. There is a specific place where they are to ask questions, but if you’d like, feel free to allow them to interrupt with queries and laughter. Our Seder is a time bathed in much grace. Sometimes we recline on the floor (more on that later). One year, we actually roasted a lamb on an open pit in the backyard. We often have coloring pages and snacks available for younger children. Feel free to be creative as you like as you demonstrate your love for God’s plan of redemption in the life of your family.

WELCOME

Welcome in the name of Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah! Tonight we will celebrate Pesach (pah-SACH)… Passover. This is the celebration of the most incredible feast on the Jewish and Christian calendars. It intricately weaves a story of God’s power, faithfulness and love for mankind in both the Old and New Testaments. It was celebrated in the Ancient World, in Jesus’ time, and is still celebrated in traditional Jewish homes today.

The first Passover was not a celebration (see Exodus 12). It was a night of apprehension, fear, and expectation for the beginning of a new journey for the children of Israel. The Bible tells us that the Hebrews were to take the blood of a perfect lamb and paint it on their doorposts. By following this command, the Angel of Death which moved through Egypt that night would “pass over” their homes. But since the Angel of Death did not pass over Pharaoh’s house, and his firstborn son was taken from him, his hardened heart was finally softened and the next morning Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go free. This meal that we celebrate tonight, the Seder, is symbolic of the rush to leave Egypt and the bondage it represents.

We also celebrate the significance of Yeshua’s last meal, sometimes called the “Last Supper,” a traditional Passover meal, with His disciples in the Upper Room. There is a lot of symbolism between the Old Covenant meal and the New Covenant meal. We hope you’ll enjoy learning how Yeshua tied the two meals together… and how it is applicable to us all.

Tonight, we tell a story, the Haggadah (hah-gaw-DAH), of how the blood of a lamb saved the people of God in the Ancient times… and still saves today.

John 1:29: The next day, John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Reading: Luke 22:7-20. (This can be read by one of the children).

Let us celebrate the Passover together!

Continue reading Passover Seder for Believers in Yeshua… a Haggadah.

Shabbat Shalom. Peace.

“Shabbat Shalom!” This is the greeting each Friday evening by Jewish people everywhere. May the peace of the Sabbath be yours. Maybe tonight, it’s more of a virtual salutation.

Peace. Rest.

There are two candles lighted at the beginning of the Shabbat celebration each Friday evening. Tradition holds that the first is called the Creation candle. The second light is the Redemption candle. Everything God creates, He has a plan for redemption. We can rejoice in His plan of redemption for us all.

May you find His true peace and rest during this very trying season. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

And one of the key blessings of Shabbat: “May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD turn His face towards you and give you His (eternal, loving and grace-filled) peace.” (Numbers 2:24-26, NIV).

Indeed. Let’s pause tonight, open your hands and your heart and find His peace.

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 66. Walking With God.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 66.

The last chapter, the final word from this great prophet, is about worship, how we act and His promises to His children who will worship Him once again in Jerusalem.

“The LORD said, “Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool.” (v1, CEV). The image is that of a great and mighty king, right?

The Psalmist says, “The LORD says to my lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  (Psalm 110:1, NIV).

So, how are we to worship Him? “The people I treasure most are the humble— they depend only on me and tremble when I speak.” (v2, CEV). The Message says “a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.” We worship God not with brash arrogance nor pride that we are called His children. But rather, with our hands and heart open to receive and a posture turned toward honoring our great King.

Listen to the similar words of another prophet: “The LORD has told us what is right and what He demands: see that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern and humbly obey God.” (Micah 6:8, CEV). The NIV says we “are to walk humbly with your God.” I like the picture of walking with God, don’t you?

God promises that the people of Israel will always have a special place in His heart. “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD. (v 22, NLT). What great comfort for the Jewish people, and all of us who have been grafted into this wonderful community because of the resurrection of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, Jesus, the Messiah!

What is the prophet’s final words, the last verse? “My people will go out and look at the dead bodies of those who turned against me. The worms there never die, the fire never stops burning, and the sight of those bodies will be disgusting to everyone.” (v24, CEV).

This is an image of hell, the true image of not walking with God.

But, as for me and my house, I will choose verse 2 over verse 24. Like Joshua rallied the people of God, I, too, will choose the LORD. How about you?

 

Thanks for reading Isaiah with me these past 66 days! I have loved this journey. I trust along the way you have learned a thing or two about God, and His special love for the people of Israel.  I have.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 65. Blessings Abound for the Chosen — Us!

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 65.

Bad news for the sinner — that’s us.

Good news for the chosen ones — that’s us too!

“I, the LORD, will make them pay for their sins and for those of their ancestors… they have disgraced me by burning incense (to idols) on mountains.” (v7, CEV). God calls out those who do religious things just to be religious. For those sins they will have to pay. And, we’re in that category, too, right? Because as Paul notes: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). And that’s precisely why Jesus had to come and had to pay the price for everyone’s sin. Even those whom God is addressing here in Isaiah 65.

But, good news! “I won’t destroy everyone.” (v8, CEV).

“I am God! I can be trusted. Your past troubles are gone; I no longer think of them. I am creating new heavens and a new earth. Everything of the past will be forgotten.” (v16-17, CEV).

God CAN be trusted. I love that He, infinite God that He is, forgets our past when we confess our sin and trust in Jesus. And, even though He forgets our past, He doesn’t forget the pain we may have suffered or the heart-ache we might have endured. His love and grace wrap around us like a comfortable blanket.

Look how Paul says the same thing: “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” (1 Cor. 5:17, CEV). We are chosen because Jesus went to the Cross, and rose again, on our behalf.

Isaiah concludes this chapter with blessings that abound for the chosen ones:

“My people will live long lives and in their own homes.”

“My people will harvest and enjoy their own crops.”

“Your work won’t be wasted.”

“Your children and grandchildren will be blessed.”

“I will answer their prayers before they finish praying.” (parts of v21-24, CEV).

Don’t you just love that? He will answer our prayers even before we finish offering them! What great promises are in store for us, because we are chosen! We are chosen only because of the grace and love of Jesus:

But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven.  God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind He is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.” (Ephesians 2:4-8, CEV).

Can we thank Him for His good gifts to us… the blessings we are promised in Isaiah and receive through Jesus, the Messiah?

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 64. No Eye Has Seen, No Ear Has Heard.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 64.

Three mind-blowing reminders in today’s chapter, yet all three are one basic thought: We are created by God, in His image, and we can’t even imagine all the blessings that He has for us, nor the supernatural work He is doing in us and through us, for the sake of His glorious Kingdom.

One.

“Since before time began no one has ever imagined, no ear heard, no eye has seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for Him.” (v4, MSG).

Paul even quotes this passage in his first letter to the church in Corinth. “As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love Him. These are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor.2-9-10 CEV).

God works on our behalf via His Holy Spirit. And we, in our human form, can’t comprehend the amazing things God is doing for us and even through us. We can’t see it. We can’t hear it. Our minds can’t conceive it. But, we can trust that God works on our behalf. Every minute of every hour of every single day! Sometimes when I stand on the beach and look out into the vastness of the ocean, I just can’t imagine what is out there, below the surface of the water. Yet, we know there is an abundance of life and activity in the sea. The same is true in our lives. We can’t see what God is doing, but there is an abundance of spiritual life and activity all around us.

Two.

How do we know this is true? Because He has created us, He has formed us, in His image. Look at these three verses:

“God, you are our Father. We’re the clay and you’re the potter. All of us are what you made us.” (v8, MSG).

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7, CEV)

“Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22, CEV).

We have been created by the Creator and then breathed into by the Son and we are offered the Holy Spirit! We are mere clay. But we are clay in His image and empowered by His Spirit!

Three.

Finally, Isaiah notes that we are all sinners. “We are unfit to worship you, each of our good deeds is merely a filthy rag.” (v6, CEV).

In our human condition, yes, this is true. But as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), because of Jesus, we can be molded into His likeness and filled with the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. As such, we can live holy lives, new lives, lives capable of working on behalf of the Kingdom. Even Jesus said “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it.” (John 14:11-12, MSG).

Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has given us assignments to accomplish. And James echoes that works are vitally important to the Kingdom. “You can now see that we please God by what we do and not only by what we believe… Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!” (James 2:24,26, CEV).

Isaiah’s encouragement today is that God is amazing and we are loved more than we can ever imagine by this Creator. And as Christ-followers we get to do the incredible work of the Kingdom through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.