Friday, February 24, 2017

Push


PUSH

Part three of fourteen in Commanded “Holy Days” Importance Today series

Exodus 13:17:  “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’”

 

            Rushing out of Egypt wasn’t easy for the Israelites.   People get set in their ways.  Although…they hated slavery, complaining about being over worked and crying out to Yahweh for redemption…it is recorded that thousands refused to leave Egypt!

            The opening Scripture hints how well Yahweh knows His kids.

            A more accurate interpretation is the original Hebrew; Pharaoh sent them away.  The people were afraid to leave the only home they knew for generations.   Pharaoh had his army shove the Israelites out!

            Humans resist change.  We fear the unknown.  We often dream of change, but when the opportunity arrives, we flee from it.  A French poet Guillaume Apollinaire wrote: “‘Come to the edge,’ He said.  They said, ‘We are afraid.’  ‘Come to the edge,’ He said.  They came.  He pushed them…and they flew!”

            Pharaoh understood fear and pushed the Israelites out of Egypt.  Mostly, it is God who pushes us to take the first step into new beginnings.  A difficult person challenges us to see things differently.  Demanding situations force change, or surrender.  Most people refuse surrendering at ANY cost. 

            Even Believers resist surrendering our will to our LORD.    

            Relationship break up.  A lost job, or receiving a bad health report can be God pushing us in a different direction.  Evidently we must be pushed before we’re forced to spread our wings and fly.  Stepping out in faith is a flying experience.  The Israelites had no choice except to trust God and leave Egypt.  How awesome things worked out for them: They claimed a new homeland!

            God never pushes people down, preferring that we fly.

Take Home Nugget

            Here’s another paradigm that definitely needs changing:  “God helps those who help themselves.”  Have you heard that?  That paradigm [PARE-a-dime] or idea is NOT Biblical!

            Believers-in-Christ facing hardship is when we certainly CANNOT help ourselves!  That’s precisely where God wants His kids.  In our desperation, He finds us and offers help.  God helps those whose sole source of help is HIM. 

            God wooed Israel since claiming Abraham in Genesis chapter twelve.  When “Israel” became Abraham’s grandson Jacob’s new name in Genesis 32:28, all Abraham’s descendants were labelled Israelites.  Their new home is Israel in Canaan (Genesis 17:8). 

            God woos His kids today.  He longs for us to need Him and call upon Him for help!

            Jesus tells us plainly, “Without Me, you can do nothing!” in John 15:5. 

When will we stop trying to help ourselves, LORD?  Push me, then!  Amen. 


Adapted from www.JosephPrince.org.  February 8, 2017.

“When Push Comes to Shove” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  February 6, 2017.  www.holylandmoments.com

God’s Holy Day Plan, The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.  ©1966, 1998, 2001, 2010, 2013 by the United Church of Christ.  Ohio.  Pgs. 3-6. 

J.D. Griffith

 





                   Written for http://www.Biblestudyforkids.com  


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Passover


PASSOVER

Part two of fourteen in Commanded “Holy Days” Importance Today series
 

Exodus12:8:  “That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.”
 

            Enduring slavery for hundreds of years, we can imagine Moses and Aaron being nervous leading a million Hebrews across the desert.  But first things first.  God was specific.  God is detail-oriented.  Everything had to be perfect.  The first-born lives were at stake.  See the lesson, linked below.

            “On the 10th day of the month”…was today.  Every family selected a one-year-old sheep they kept in house for four days.  Tonight was the slaughter.  Kids who bonded with a pet lost a friend tonight.  Their wails were silenced by anxious parents who were preforming this ceremony for the first time.

            The sheep was roasted over fire, prepared as Yahweh commanded.  The bitter herbs and bread made without yeast is called matzah. The family gave thanks for everything, glancing into one corner where their belongings were piled.  Bitter herbs reminded them that everything can be gone any moment. 

            They wanted to protect what they had.                                 

            We’ve all been taught, “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

            Why were the Israelites commanded to eat bitter herbs along with the festive lamb and matzah?  Both the lamb and matzah are symbols of redemption.  The sheep’s blood would save them from death of the firstborn.  Flat bread reminds them that there was no time to let the dough rise using yeast.  Bitter herbs also reminded them of hundreds of years of Hebrew slavery—often at the hands of tough masters. 

            Even today, matzah is part of the Passover celebration.  We would imagine that the Hebrew people are relieved to put their slavery past behind them. 

            Remembering is good.  African-Americans never forget their roots of slavery—being stolen from a faraway homeland and forced into labor.  Jewish people remember their leaving Egypt in daily prayers.  Remembering joyous and hard times is both inspiring and educational.  Often the best advice we can get in the present comes from voices ringing in our past.

            Believers remember times when God helped earlier that encourages us in today’s trouble.            

Take Home Nugget

            Passover broke Pharaoh’s resolve.  Being clueless about the protection of blood over the doorway signaling the angel of death to “pass over” that home, Pharaoh lost his son.  Egypt was consumed with grief.  In the middle of the night, Pharaoh ordered Moses, “Up!  Leave my people, you and your Israelites!” (Exodus 12:31).

            God knew that the Israelites must flee in a hurry.  And they were prepared, thanks to His advice.

Thank You, Holy Father, for leading us every day in ways we’d never guess must fulfill Your will on Earth!  Amen. 


Adapted from “Remembering the Bitter and the Sweet” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  February 2, 2017.  www.holylandmoments.com

And

God’s Holy Day Plan, The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.  ©1966, 1998, 2001, 2010, 2013 by the United Church of Christ.  Ohio.  Pgs 3-6. 

J.D. Griffith

 




 


                   Written for http://www.Biblestudyforkids.com  

 
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Paradigm


PARADIGM

Part one of fourteen in Commanded “Holy Days” Importance Today series

 

Exodus 23:2a: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” 

 

            Paradigm [PARE-a-dime] is an idea, a concept, or theory.  Once established, many swear that their believed paradigm is true.  Convincing someone to change a paradigm isn’t easy.  People usually cling to a standard from which all other beliefs originate. 

            For example, Acts 12:4b says, “Herod intended to bring Him out for public trial after the Passover.”  The King James Version of the Bible mistranslated the Greek word “Passover” as “Easter”.  From this one mistaken translation, Christians believe that God’s command to celebrate Passover does not mean them.  (After all, Passover is Old Testament). 

            HOWEVER…

            Moses instructs the people in Exodus 12:24-25, “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.  When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as He promised, observe this ceremony [Passover].”

            Leviticus 23:1-3 lists God’s instructions to Moses.  “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are My appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.  There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.’” 

            The USA enacted “Blue Laws” even before becoming a nation.  One state at a time, laws forbade alcohol consumption, sporting events, lewd dress, and stores open for business on Sunday.  Since that beginning, strict religious laws have relaxed.  The Blue Law paradigm was successfully changed and embraced by most people.

            Why not Google “Blue Laws” to see what remains in your state?

            Those who strive to obey God never work on Sundays.  They want to remain positioned under the blood of Christ’s covenant of grace believing that—in Christ—Gentiles (non-Israelites) are included under God’s covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Galatians 3:28).  We look forward to hearing Master Jesus say from Matthew 25:34:  “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”    

Take Home Nugget

            Christians are positive that Christmas and Easter are the holiest worship days of the year.  Yet, neither are mentioned in the Bible.  Now you understand how hard it is to change an established paradigm.  God our Father has a different list of holy days for His kids to celebrate.  See the lesson linked below.   

            Please return as we explore Commanded “Holy Days” Relevance Today series of devotions together. 

Holy Father, Empower us by Your Spirit to learn truths from Your Word compared to our personal paradigms.  We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Adapted from God’s Holy Day Plan, The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.  ©1966, 1998, 2001, 2010, 2013 by the United Church of Christ.  Ohio.  Pgs. 3-6. 

J.D. Griffith
 


 



                   Written for http://www.Biblestudyforkids.com  


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dots!


DOTS!

Part 3 of 3 in What’s the Deal, Pharaoh? Series

Exodus 10

Exodus 10:7:  “Pharaoh’s officials said to him, ‘How long will this man be a snare to us?  Let the people go so that they may worship the LORD their God.  Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?’”

 

            After the frogs, God brought a plague of gnats (Exodus 8:16-18), followed by a plague of flies (Exodus 8:20-24).  Pharaoh lied again that “the people may go to...offer sacrifices to the LORD their God” in verses 25-32. 

            So, God sent a livestock plague in Exodus 9:1-7.  All the Egyptian horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats died.  But every animal belonging to the Israelites lived.  A plague of boils followed in Exodus 9:8-12.  One could say that Pharaoh’s magicians were too “boiled” to show up to work.

            Yet Pharaoh still didn’t give in. 

            So God sent a plague of hail in Exodus 9:13-15.  Every living thing that was outside died—animals and slaves alike.  “The only place where it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.” (Exodus 9:26). 

            “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” God asked Pharaoh through Moses in Exodus 10:3. 

            Then God sent a plague of locusts in Exodus 10:4-6.

            That’s when Pharaoh’s officials demanded answers in the opening Scripture.

            Was Pharaoh’s hard shell cracking? 

            During the plague of darkness in Exodus 10:21-28, Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight!  Make sure you do not appear before me again!  The day you see my face you will die.”  

            Cause and effect.  Pharaoh was warned time and again what WOULD happen IF he didn’t let the Israelites go.  Now that’s arrogance.  The second character trait besides anger that Maimonides—the medieval philosopher introduced in Frogs! devotion—taught that has no middle ground.  Pharaoh saw the plagues’ destruction, yet stubbornly refused to obey God: the Israelites remained slaves.

            Pharaoh was very angry—AND was also extremely arrogant.  Pharaoh held firm on his self-destructive path.

            We would say today that Pharaoh couldn’t connect the dots.  His very officials tried advising him to let the people go.  They couldn’t believe he was so stubborn!  Connecting the dots told them that Egypt is ruined.   

Take Home Nugget

            Pharaoh’s arrogance blinded him to see that he was losing the battle to God Almighty.  His country, his people’s welfare were at stake!  His ego, the great man he imagined himself to be was crumbling before his eyes.  See the lesson linked below.

            Let us learn from Pharaoh.  May we never think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  Perhaps we can learn to listen to people who give us advice? 

Teach me wisdom, Lord, so that I obey wise advice and never plow a path of self-destruction, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

Adapted from “Connecting the Dots” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  January 31, 2017.  www.holylandmoments.com
J.D. Griffith

 



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Friday, February 10, 2017

Frogs!


FROGS!



Part 2 of 3 in What’s the Deal, Pharaoh? Series
 
 
Exodus 8:1-12

Exodus 8:6:  “So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.”
 

            We can see Moses and Aaron getting red-faced when Pharaoh’s magicians performed the same miraculous acts as God commanded they do (Exodus 8:7).  People get embarrassed when something they plan goes terribly wrong.  But God wasn’t surprised, nor was He embarrassed.  We can imagine God chuckling at Pharaoh. 

            People also get embarrassed when made to look a fool, which is what Pharaoh is.

            But Pharaoh thinks that he’s awesome.  Pharaoh thinks that he’s holding the trump card that will keep Israelite slaves in Egypt.  Egyptians never had it so good.  Israelites did the dirty work.  They weren’t paid for their efforts.  They were overworked and abused.  But the Israelites had a trump card that beat Pharaoh’s.

            Their trump card is Almighty God.  YHWH.  LORD.  Elohim. 

            Frogs were the second plague that God sent Pharaoh for another chance to let His people go.  Pharaoh didn’t even blink.  Despite there being frogs in the bed, on Pharaoh’s head, in his nose, on his toes, frogs were jumping everywhere!  In fact, that was a children’s song.

            Cute.

            Not so cute.  The original Hebrew Scripture said, “So Aaron stretched out his hand … and the frog came up and covered the land.”  Frog singular.  One frog.  That one frog covered the whole land somehow!

            Apparently, when the Egyptians struck this frog, instead of dying, the frog multiplied into two.  When two frogs were hit, they became four.  Four became eight…until this one frog covered the whole land. 

            Why didn’t the Egyptians stop hitting the frogs when they saw what was happening?  See lesson linked below

            Anger.

            Anger is self-destructive.  Anger never helps a situation, but works the opposite of what is intended.  Anger didn’t stop the Egyptians trying to kill frogs that they saw were multiplying in front of their eyes.  Anger stops people from seeing truth.  The power of anger is that it destroys everything and everyone that comes in its path. 

Take Home Nugget

            Maimonides was a medieval philosopher.  He taught that every character trait (like generosity) has a middle road.  It’s okay to be generous, but don’t give away everything.  There is a middle ground.

            However, there are two character traits—arrogance and anger—where Maimonides admits there is no middle ground.  It’s best to avoid both at all costs.  In fact, arrogance and anger both reduce people from how they’re originally created in God’s image.  Their anger, their arrogance hurts themselves most of all.

            The answer to “What do I have to lose from being angry?” is EVERYTHING!

Father, warn me to flee from anger and arrogance immediately, I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Adapted from “The Frog that Covered the Land” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  January 26, 2017.  www.holylandmoments.com

J.D. Griffith

 





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