If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's in the genes

Have you ever been curious about how many famous people might be part of your family tree? I knew a family who had family pictures with Abraham Lincoln, who was related to them. We are family. If you believe the Bible, then you have to concede that we are all related Noah through one of his three sons. In fact, it logically follows that all of humanity can be traced back, generation after generation to Adam and Eve.
It’s from this perspective of bible genealogy that we have highlighted a special event in the genealogy of the Messiah. When we study the Bible under the illumination of the Holy Spiri,t we discover a finger print left in the text by God Himself. Have you ever taken the time to study the two genealogies in the New Testament? Most of us skip over these long boring sections in favor of more interesting reading; however it’s hidden within these texts that we find a truly amazing scarlet thread that weaves its way all the way through the Bible and right to our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
There were many evil kings both in Israel and Judah during the period that the kingdom was divided. Although, every once in a while a good king came along to turn the nation back to God. King Josiah restored the temple and the true worship of God which began just by dusting off and reading the lost scrolls. Unfortunately, one of King Josiah’s sons Jehoiachin, came into power leading the nation into destruction and captivity.
Jehoiachin was also known as Jeconiah or Coniah which makes this thread somewhat hard to follow. In Jeremiah 22:30  God speaks concerning Jehoiachin “Thus says the Lord: Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.”
Now go back through the genealogy of Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather, which is recorded for us in the New Testament. In Matthew 1:11-12 we find both Josiah and his son Jeconiah listed in the genealogy. “Houston, we have a problem”.  So if Jesus of Nazareth is Joseph’s son, then God has just cursed him from taking the throne of his ancestor King David.
But remember I said there were two genealogies recorded in the New Testament? One in Matthew and the other is recorded in Luke where the Bible writers listed Mary’s, the mother of Jesus, genealogy. Joseph’s genealogy in Matthew establishes Jesus’ right to the throne through his step father while the genealogy recorded in Luke traces Jesus’ biological lineage through His mother Mary all the way back to Adam.
So what’s the big deal? One of the requirements for the Messiah was that he had to be a son of King David, the root of Jesse from the tribe of Judah. Mary and Joseph are both related to King David. But while Joseph is related to David through Jeconiah and David’s son Solomon, Mary is related to David through David’s son Nathan and skips the lineage through Jeconiah thus avoiding the curse God pronounced on Jeconiah’s future family line.
When you take the time to carefully look through the text and fit all the puzzle pieces together, you can begin to see a faint image of God’s own fingerprints. Now, if that isn’t enough to get your head spinning think about this: Mary was a virgin when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her allowing her to conceive. Most women know that a growing baby inside the mother’s womb gets their nutrients through a process of simple diffusion across a cellular membrane or, in other words, the mother’s blood never mixes with the baby’s blood while circulating through the placenta. That is how Jesus could be born 100% man as well as 100% God. His blood is pure, the most powerful thing in the entire universe!
Just as sin entered the world through the first Adam (one man), the curse was broken by the last Adam through Jesus’ victory on the cross. All this information was carefully included in the Bible 1500 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. What man could never accomplish, God has already completed through the blood of His Son Jesus. And that my friend is what we are going to celebrate shortly on December 25th. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.” Isaiah 9:6, 7

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Helping one another

While there is debate about what kinds of foods were served at the first Thanksgiving dinner, there can be no question that the meal was a feast of thanksgiving to our Creator for His provision. A bountiful harvest complimented by gifts from Native Americans set the stage for the very first Thanksgiving feast in America. It was a time when people reached out to help their neighbors survive the harshness of their new situation. 

“And God be praised we had a good increase… Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”  

As Americans we have so much to be thankful for. Even those who find themselves temporary living on the street can find comfort at many soup kitchens operating for the holidays. Once there, volunteers joyfully ladle out the fixings to weary travelers who are treated to several savory entrĂ©es. On one Thanksgiving in Mexico while visiting an orphanage, a child maybe four or five took me by the hand and led me to her only worldly possession, a simple small mattress. She was so very thankful for it that she just had to show me. She was truly thankful for God’s provision and the opportunity to have a visitor in her home.  

The psalmist says in psalm 95 “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Oh, if we only would take time everyday to give thanks, praising our Creator for the gift of His Son, Jesus! Try and take a few moments each day to appreciate the small gifts we are treated to daily; the smile of a child, a kiss from a loved one, the fragrance of a beautiful rose or even just making it through the city on all green lights.   

The creation text in Genesis records that God created the world in six days and then rested from His work on the seventh day. God’s work was completed, lacked nothing and from that time on would continue growing old, groaning as it waits for redemption. Our bodies are growing older too waiting for renewal through our redemption. So as we see that awesome day approaching let us continue giving thanks to God!  

Let us live every day with a thankful heart, always looking for an opportunity to help someone else in need. Not allowing the cares of this world to steal our joy from us but instead keeping our hope fixed on running the race to the finish line. 

So this year before we huddle inside with our family away from the rest of the world,  why not give thanks to God by looking for  an opportunity to bless others. There is no better way to give thanks to God than to reach out to someone with a random act of kindness. 

We can’t be everywhere, but we can be somewhere. We can’t do everything but we can do something. Let’s make a small difference in our world this Thanksgiving by simply being kind to each other. Give of yourself by donating clothes, money or your time to a homeless shelter.  Make a new friend with just a smile or by striking up a conversation with a stranger who passes by. Spend time at a church, local fellowship or youth center. Wherever there are people there are opportunities to serve them. By serving other people we are giving thanks to God.  

Jesus was a servant of all. On the night before His crucifixion He gave thanks then girded His loins to wash all the disciples’ feet. The Creator of the universe humbled Himself to serve the ones He loved. In doing so He modeled for us how we are to love God by reaching out to others. So this Thanksgiving take time to remember that what really matters in life are the relationships we make and maintain. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

In a word

Expressing one’s self in today’s busy world can be a real challenge. Finding just the right word for that perfect moment can be a real challenge. For instance, if I was to ask “How are you doing” you might reply with “I’m Fine, OK, alright, I’m well or things couldn’t be better!” all of which may or may not convey with much accuracy how you are really “doing”. The English language many times comes up a bit short when trying to add meaning to an idea you are trying to communicate.

Ancient Hebrew, on the other hand, was constructed using 22 letters or characters that can stand alone, or express a variety of meanings with very little being lost in translation. Early Hebrew was constructed as a pictographic language with the characters resembling things like an ox head, a house or wind. These Hebrew letters also have a numeric value, can convey complete thoughts, and tell a story using only these word pictures. They also can be grouped into three letter root words that when combined with other roots form complete ideas and thoughts. Some form of ancient Hebrew was most likely the language Noah spoke when he exited the ark and, some scholars believe it to be the language we will speak in the Kingdom of God.

The bible is a message from God sent by inspiration through the Holy Spirit to human writers. The entire collection of 66 books is a love letter from outside the physical limits of time and space. Interestingly, when the bible is studied in its original language it becomes illuminated in much the same way a laser light illuminates holographic film. You have all seen holograms where you are able to “see around” objects located in the foreground of the hologram.

In ancient times, when copying the scriptures, Jewish Scribes labored in their efforts to be absolutely accurate with every word, letter and space. But what about when Hebrew gets translated into another language like English? 

 If you look at the psalm 119, which happens to be the longest chapter in the bible; you will discover something inherent to language translation. Psalm 119 was originally designed as an alphabet acrostic.  It is divided into 22 sections where each section begins with the next corresponding Hebrew letter. The first section begins with the first letter of the Hebrew language; the “Aleph” and each subsequent section use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in each of its stanzas. Each of the eight verses in the first section begins with an “Aleph” then each verse in the second section begins with “Beth” and so on all through the 22 letters of the Hebrew Aleph-Beth.

Open your bible to psalm 119 and you will discover from the text in English that this unique language construction was unfortunately lost in translation. I point this out not to discredit or cast doubt on the validity of our English translation but instead to illuminate a very interesting treasure found in the original Hebrew roots imbedded in each of the proper names recorded in the genealogy found in chapter 5 of the book of Genesis. 

In chapter 5 we have recorded the very beginning family tree of our Savior Jesus of Nazareth. The names are recorded in the birth order starting with Adam who begot Seth, who begot Enosh, who begot Kenan, who begot Mahalalel, who begot Jared, who begot Enoch, who begot Methuselah, who begot Lamech, who begot Noah.

Taking the Hebrew roots that make up these proper names we are able to construct the following: Adam = man, Seth = appointed, Enosh = mortal, Kenan = sorrow, Mahalalel = The Blessed God, Jared = shall come down, Enoch = teaching, Methuselah = his death shall bring, Lamech = the despairing, Noah = comfort, rest.
When you string the meanings of these proper names together in the correct birth order that is recorded in Genesis chapter 5 you discover the following: Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow (but) The Blessed God shall come down teaching His death shall bring the despairing comfort (and) rest.

So here you have the gospel or good news of God’s provision for our salvation written in the book of Genesis. The first five books of the bible including Genesis were written by Moses 1500 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. There is a saying among many Jewish Rabbis that suggests “coincidence” is not a kosher word. 

God’s word is indeed living, active and sharper than a double edged sword. His word pierces our soul and is able to divide the bones from the marrow. Jesus said to Satan when He was being tempted “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” Selah