If you haven’t yet visited ChosenPeopleMinistries, you should. It is a wonderful place to find tons of resources and information about sharing the Gospel with our Jewish friends. The I Found Shalom section contains video testimonies of Jews who have made the decision to follow Yeshua the Messiah.
The Promise of a Messiah
He will be a Descendant of Abraham
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
He will be from the Tribe of Judah
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (Genesis 49:10)
He will be God Himself
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Read the rest here.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
—2 Corinthians 4:1-18, NIV
Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase “quality of life.” Here are some of the definitions of quality of life, also referred to as QOL:
- Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
- The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
- Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
- BusinessDictionary.com: Dailyliving enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.
As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.
Where is God in all of this?
“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org
So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still be triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 5 or 6 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more joy than I ever thought possible.
What is true joy? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:
“The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE. “It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE).” (1John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2Corinthians 4:17)”
the hope of joy = the joy of hope.
I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the hope of joy because . . .
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
And I can also have the joy of hope because . . .
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13
Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our hope on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much joy that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.
Choose joy. Yes, joy is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain hope of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain hope, how can we be anything but joyful no matter what our circumstances?
My Redeemer lives!
Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much hope and joy as it does me!
If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.
I put my HOPE in You, LORD
Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.
My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction,
and my relatives stand at a distance.
I put my hope in You, Lord;
You will answer, Lord my God.
—Psalm 38:9-11, 15
Has anyone ever questioned the validity of your illness or avoided you because of it? Perhaps they have wondered out loud how you can look so good when you tell them how rotten you feel.
I’m willing to guess that all of us who suffer with chronic illness and pain have experienced these times, because most chronic illness seems to affect us more internally than externally. When we try to explain our pain level to others, they just don’t get it because they can’t see any apparent outward symptoms.
This used to greatly frustrate me until the day one of my neighbors back in California revealed to that she had fibromyalgia too. She always looked great to me and seemed to have so much energy. I couldn’t believe she and I had this in common.
Suddenly I realized a horrible truth about myself: what I was thinking about my neighbor is exactly what is frustrating when others think these kinds of things about me! I finally understood their confusion and impatience with me at times.
When someone tells you they understand your pain because they are going through something similar, don’t you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders? This is the way God feels about us and our pain—He knows all about it and longs to carry us through it.
In these verses, David sounds weary with his situation, yet he also expresses his certainty that God is at his side and will answer his prayers. We can also have the assurance that God is in our corner even when others are not. He is always there for us. All we need to do is look to Him for His quiet understanding and limitless love.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes I get frustrated when people don’t understand what I’m going through. But You know and show me in so many ways how much You care about me and my situation. Help me to never lose sight of that fact, and to always look to You first for comfort and understanding. Amen.
Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Cork
by Patricia Knight
“The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Some of us have experienced the embarrassing situation of borrowing an item and witnessing it break before we return it. The damage must be explained and restitution made. Though all sensible brain cells scream caution when contemplating borrowing an item, convenience usually nullifies any reservations we may have originally had.
Borrowing tools in not new to our generation. The Old Testament prophet, Elisha, was a popular teacher in a theological seminary where young prophets were educated. The students lived in a communal housing structure which was getting over-crowded, so the students invited Elisha to help them construct more classroom space. Each man planned to fell a tree by the Jordan River to use in the building project.
“As one of them was cutting down a tree,
the iron ax head fell into the water.
‘Oh, my Lord,’ he cried, out, ‘it was borrowed’”
(2 Kings 6:5).
Iron implements were extremely rare among the Israelites. Their long-time enemies, the Philistines, controlled iron production, so precious few iron weapons existed among the Israelites. On a particular day of battle “not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son had them” (1 Samuel 13:22). The Israelites commonly fought only with a bow and arrow or a slingshot.
No blacksmiths could be found in the land of Israel, for the Philistines had decreed, “‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears’ So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, and axes sharpened” (1 Samuel 13:19-20). The price was exorbitant for sharpening farm implements. Maintaining such control allowed Israel’s enemy to know the amount of equipment available and its general condition.
When the heavy iron ax head plunged into the river, the borrower responded in horror. He knew instinctively the value of the tool that he would be responsible for replacing or reimbursing. Since he was a student with little income, he could be facing the prospect of becoming a bondservant until he worked off his debt. Imagine the chilling fear and guilt swirling around the borrower’s mind.
The prophet, Elisha, was also aware of the ramification of the lost tool.
“Elisha the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’
When he showed him the place,
Elisha cut a stick and threw it there
and made the iron float.
‘Lift it out,’ he said.
Then the man reached out his hand and took it”
(2 Kings 6:6-7)
It was truly a miracle for a weighty iron ax head lying on the bottom of the muddy Jordan River, to float to the surface like a buoyant cork. What wonder and gratitude Elisha’s students learned outside of the classroom that day as God demonstrated His mercy for the welfare of His faithful ones.
The ax head anecdote preserved in God’s Word, assures us that our Lord is personally involved in our lives without reservations. It doesn’t matter how minor the problem, God always responds to our crisis. He hears our prayers instantly, already aware of our personal needs before we utter the words. Included in His instructions to His disciples about prayer, Jesus said, “’ Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him’” (Matthew 6:8). What comfort!
Our heavenly Father desires that we remain in constant communication with Him, but He realizes when things occur quickly, our prayer tongue is often tied. It is then that the Holy Spirit is available to interpret our needs and to comfort us.
We may never panic in response to the loss of a broken ax head, but each of us can relate to similar traumatic times when we were “on the hook” to someone else, when our well-being or health depended on one decision, or when a situation occurred so quickly, there was no time for thought or action. During each of those scenarios, we need an advocate, a guide, or a miracle worker—perhaps all three. God is delighted to help. He is the one answer to our multiple problems.
Our Lord extends mercy and grace through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who paved the way for us to communicate with His holy Father. If we place out trust in Him, pledge to follow and serve Him, Jesus will enable us with His power, lavish us with His love and grace, and shower us with mercy, regardless of how underserving we may think we are.
Grace is one of the key attributes of God. Grace is His love in action as He passionately shares all of His goodness with believers. “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9), was God’s response to the Apostle Paul when he pleaded for healing of a particularly bothersome physical pain. Few of God’s servants have demonstrated the Lord’s strength as consistently as the Apostle Paul. Similarly, our weakness also provides the ideal opportunity for the display of the Almighty’s power.
The story of the loose, flying, sinking, floating ax head comprises a mere seven verses in the Old Testament, but the message of God’s miraculous intervention and His overwhelming kindness have inspired readers for centuries. Do not be lulled into thinking that any instance in life is too small to attract God’s attention and to activate His immediate action.
The prayers of God’s people invite and assure God’s response. “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:27).
I think not.