The God of … Jacob?

Jacob, the sneaky, conniving, heel-grabbing trickster is the third and final patriarch included in the covenantal language of: אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק, וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 3:6; Matt. 22:32). Why?

When all of Jacob’s tricks ran out, and he must face his brother Esau, he calls out to the God of his father Abraham, and the God of his father Isaac, in a desperate attempt to find deliverance; only to attempt to assure his own deliverance by dividing his household. Self-reliance clothed in an outer garment of faith (Gen. 32).

Jacob, the one who grabbed, finding himself alone, was then grabbed, wrestled, touched, blessed, and changed by God. Only when Jacob was out of strength, ideas, tricks, and vitality could he move forward with God in faith.

Then, and only then, did the God of Abraham, and Isaac, become of the God of Jacob as well. As it was only when his self-reliance was used up, that he could then rely on God, and become Israel, “God governed.”

So how has the Lord touched you, in order that you, like Jacob, rely on Him, and His governance? What is the source of your limp? It is not a weakness as you might suppose; rather, it is the point where His strength works through you (II Cor. 12:8-10).

Be well. Shalom.

Bring You: 99% Will Not Do

The Lord will settle for nothing less than all of you; 100% of you: yes you.

Messiah calls us to commit to Him, not as a volunteer giving what you can, when you can; but as one who sees no distinction between your work, and “His work” (Jn. 4:24).

A 99% commitment leaves room for “me,” and therefore excuse, and wiggle room to find that excuse.

In Luke 14:33 we read, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

The Greek ἀποτάσσω/apotassō, forsake, means to leave behind, depart, bid farewell. Do we forsake what we have been given to care for and steward? Too many verses in Scripture direct us away from such a conclusion.

Yeshua is giving us the terms of the living in the Kingdom, simply: do not be possessed by your possessions. ἀποτάσσω/apotassō, another way, “set them aside as the motivating factor in your life to be My disciple.”

In that way, we give Him 100% of ourselves, while fulfilling 100% of life. We live more fully, and freely when we are fully aligned with Yeshua: we love, enjoy, learn, help, rest, allow others to rest, work with joy, worship deeply, friendship more completely, etc., life as an act of worship.

100% does not set you in a hermitage, it sets you free from the prison of instability. Popularized, self-help influenced Christianity asks for the leftovers, what you have to spare; the 99% model will always be popular because it leaves room for you; until, that is, you find that the remnants of your former life, and His life renewed in you, are not compatible.

His terms of commitment to Him have never changed; so bring all of you. Bring your problems. Bring your frustrations. Bring your fears. Bring your success. Bring your doubts. Bring your pain.

In short: bring you. 100%, and nothing less. 99% will just not do.

Be well. Shalom.

A Song in Captivity

‎אֵיךְ–נָשִׁיר אֶת-שִׁיר-יְהוָה: עַל, אַדְמַת נֵכָר

“Oh! How can we sing the song of the Lord, in this unrecognizable land?” (Psalm 137:4, translation Elwell)

Having hung their lyres upon the willows, the signers could not sing on foreign soil; in mourning, they could not raise their voices but to weep.

For all their song, singing, and performance, they could not see past their condition and circumstance. Was God not also with them in Babylon? Was He confined by the boarders of Israel?

Their captors wanted song. They should have praised the God who delivered them into captivity right before their captors! Why?

As surely as He delivered them into the hands of captivity, in that same prophetic word of judgment was the word of deliverance: some seventy years off.

It took men of faith like Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zechariah, as examples, to heed the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah while in captivity, to wait for that time, His time, and stand up in faith to act upon God’s promise.

The singers were still God’s covenant people, but in correction. So often our circumstance overtakes His promise, and our weeping, His Word.

Psalm 137 isn’t a codified psalm of sulking, but a correction leading us to Psalm 138, and the promises contained therein:

“I will praise you with all my heart, in the presence of the mighty I will sing praises to You … All the Kings of the earth will praise You … Though I walk amid trouble, You revive me … The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your lovingkindness, Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon the work of Your hands.” Psalm 138

While the Potter is working the clay by the spinning of the wheel, He never takes His hands from the clay. He is always working it, touching it until the clay has reached His desired form.

Correction comes to all of us who are His children, but in the correction is the moment of restoration as well (Heb. 12:7-11). Until that moment, sing in His correction, even before the company of tormentors; and as they mock, praise, for they do not know the day or hour of your release.

He will fulfill His purpose for your life, and in every moment, until that moment, His hand is upon you. A song of captivity is not mourning for the circumstance, but reverence for the King in whose presence you continue to dwell.

Be well. Shalom.

God’s Land Journey

Blessings friends!

I would like to share an inspiring video series produced by my academic advisor, mentor, and friend Dr. Karl Coke, Ph.D. This series visits 52 biblical sites in Israel, and opens for the viewer the geographic importance of each location. Having viewed several episodes, I can confirm that each episode is enjoyable, informative, and opens the text of Bible in a way that only Israel can; at each site, Scriptures are displayed on the screen related to the location. It is simply an amazing production, and a gift to the Body of Messiah.

From God’s Land Journey website:

We invite you to join us on a virtual journey to the place where the Bible and the Land speak for themselves. Dr. Karl Coke and Anton Farah, Senior Israeli Guide, take us on a geographical tour through the most important Biblical sites in Israel. From Mount Hermon in the North, to Eilat in the South. From the Jordan River in the East, to the Mediterranean Sea in the West.”

Visit their website!