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Day forty of Running The Race As a Winner

Lloyd Olgive said in his book You are Loved and Forgiven that the Christian is the dwelling place of Christ. ” … the glorious riverbed of the flowing streams of the living Lord. The experience of the indwelling Christ has transformed both my personal life and my ministry. When I was gripped by this liberating experience it set me free from compulsive efforts to earn my status with God by being good enough. It replenished the parched places of my soul that kept my Christian life a constant dry spell. The indwelling ?Christ gave me all that I had previously worked to achieve, studied to understand, and struggled to accomplish,”

As a winner in the race you have that rest that God promised … the peace that passes all understanding You have been liberated from the struggles and labor of trying to get all the good things that God has promised to those who believe. You know that they are yours and you take them for yourself and use them daily.

As a winner you let the word that can discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart be your guide in all that you do so that you can think with the mind of Christ and react with his emotions. You will follow Jesus as a sheep follows his shepherd until you know his every move – his very thoughts.

Discernment has a price. You must eliminate distractions, practice daily, and train constantly. You will spend your time with your greatest love, and hunger and thirst after righteousness. Forgetting those things which are behind, you press on toward the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus. The difference is worth the distance run. You will glue your eyes to the goal – Jesus – and run with endurance.

Prayer: Teach me your way, O Lord; I will walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O my god, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your mercy toward me, and you have delivered my soul from the depths of hell.

Conversation on The Book of Revelation

Revelation 13.

We know the predictions of Daniel and Yeshua have been partially fulfilled, but the eleventh chapter of Daniel says the king of the north will take up with those who betray the holy covenant and then he will march into the sanctuary and desecrate it and the citadel. He will set up the obscene sacrifice in place of the daily sacrifice. That happened with Antiochus IV Epiphanies but Yeshua said to be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the sanctuary as the prophet Daniel described. If this is not a future event, he would have had to be talking about the Dome of The Rock, which has caused not only Jews, but Christians too, untold misery. If it is a future event, and we don’t know that it is, the temple will be rebuilt soon. Stay alert! Watch and pray. Remember we are looking at birth pangs, not death throes.

The themes of the book of Revelation encourage us because

God is in control. We have access to fearless confidence

We are confident of our Saviors sure return, and wait patiently, watching diligently

We can be sure no one who wants to come to God will be left out.

About the book of Ephesians

Copied from Belief and Behavior, by Allison Kohn , available on Amazon

Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers. His teaching shows us how to repair what has been broken by corruption in our lives, damaging our behavior. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians shows us how to live out the purposes of God in the practical life of a believer. Eugene Peterson said, “He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones – belief and behavior – knit together and heal.” [1]

In other words, he showed them how to practice their position in Christ.

Jesus endowed the members of his church with spiritual “fruit” to enable them to minister to one another and in such a way that will promote unity and maturity. The unity of the church under the headship of Christ pictures the unity of “all things in heaven and on earth” under Christ. Paul pictured the new life of purity and mutual respect opposed to the old way of life without Christ. We see that we who are “strong in the Lord” have victory over the enemy of our souls in the great spiritual conflict.

Ray Stedman says, “Ephesians sets forth what no other book of the New Testament describes so completely — the nature of the body of Christ, which is the true Church. This letter, in many ways, is the crowning glory of the New Testament.”


[1] Introduction to Ephesians, page 1611, The Message Bible, Navpress, 2012

In the Greco-Roman world, letters allowed people to maintain contact with others across the miles. Ancient letters typically began with the identification of the sender and the recipients followed by the greeting. Paul introduced himself as the writer by qualifying his identity with the statement that he was a special agent of Christ Jesus – an apostle chosen by God.

His letter was addressed to the faithful believers in Ephesus and he greeted them with the grace and peace that was poured into their lives by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ[1].

The Holy Spirit of God put the words of this letter in the heart of Paul as he wrote, guarded the letter as it traveled down to you and me through the ages, and speaks to our hearts as we read it. The Holy Spirit of God has always had total control over the canonization of his Word – what we call the Holy Scriptures – so we can agree that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”[2]

A short statement of thanksgiving often followed the introduction. Paul preceded his thanksgiving with praise for the God of our salvation – the reason for his thanksgiving.

He told them – and the Holy Spirit of God is telling you and me – to hold the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in reverence. We are reminded that God has favored us with every spiritual advantage in the sublime company of our Mashiach, Jesus.

He chose us in the Messiah before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love. He predestined us for adoption as sons through Messiah Yeshua, in keeping with the good pleasure of His will – to the glorious praise of His grace, with which He favored us through the One He loves![3]

Long before the foundation of the world God loved us and choose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His plan has always been to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. We praise God because he poured his wonderful kindness out on us and purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son – and our sins are forgiven.

Paul reminded his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God is reminding you and me today – that we have been redeemed in Jesus Christ. We were bought back – from the chains of sin and death – through the Blood of the Lamb.

God showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Paul said, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

In Christ, we find out who we are and what we’re living for. From before the creation of the heavens and the earth God’s plan was centered on Christ. He designed it according to his good pleasure. You and I couldn’t have conceived such a plan, but God planned all along that at the right time he will bring everything in heaven and on earth together under the authority of Christ. Through Christ, we have received an inheritance from God. He chose us from the beginning and everything happens the way he decided it would all along.

Paul told his readers that they, who were the first to trust in Christ, praised our glorious God; and then, the ancient Ephesians heard the truth and the Good News that Jesus saves. When they believed in Christ[4], God identified them by giving them his Holy Spirit just as he had promised long ago.

The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that, when we believed[5], God gave us his Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. That is one more reason for us to praise the God of our salvation.

He said, “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Paul’s thanksgiving for the holy people was for their strong faith and love for the family of God – their reputation that he heard of from others. Everywhere Paul traveled He heard of his reader’s strong faith that resulted in loving acts for other Christians. He told them that was why he prayed for them – with thanksgiving for them – that God would give them spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they could grow in the knowledge of the glorious Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul prayed for his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you an me to pray for each other – that our hearts would be flooded with light so that we can understand the wonderful future he has promised for those he has called. Paul wanted his readers to know – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know – the wonderful inheritance he has given to his people.

Paul said, “That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral[6] to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”

The Holy Spirit of God told his readers through Paul that he wants us to know what the exceedingly great power is toward us who believe in him – us who keep trusting Him—in keeping with the working of His mighty strength[7].That amazingly great power is for us – the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. We are seated with Christ at that place of honor in heavenly places[8]. Jesus is far above any ruler, authority, power, or leader – or anything else in this world or the world to come.


[1] Yeshua ha Mashiach

[2] II Timothy 3:16

[3] TLV

[4] Put their trust in Christ for the redemption of their souls.

[5] Put our trust in Yeshua ha Mashiach for the redemption of our souls.

[6] Secondary, minor, sideline

[7] TLV

[8] 2:6

Running the Race as a Winner – the second thirty days

Day Forty-five

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out[1].”

As winners in the race we will stand our ground against the rulers and authorities of the unseen world of those mighty powers of darkness that rule this world we live in. We have truth to wear like a belt that holds everything else up. We wear the righteousness of Christ like soldiers today wear bullet-proof vests against the “fiery darts” of the Devil – doubt, discouragement, deprecation, disobedience, and despair. We stand in the peace that comes from believing the Good News that Jesus paid it all. He did everything and we are justified by his death and resurrection. God gave us faith and we exercise it continually so that it will stop the darts of disobedience, discouragement, doubt, and despair that the devil throws at us. Salvation covers us and the Word of God is hidden in our hearts because we study it every day. It is full of living power – sharper than the sharpest knife and cuts deep into the innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes every one of us as we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from God – everything in all creation is exposed before his eyes.

We are equipped to be winners in the race. Because we have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel of Peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of Salvation we are strong in the Lord and can stand against the works of the Devil – the enemy of our souls.

War are seated with Christ[2] far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world that is to come: high above all other government, authority, power, dominion, and every title of sovereignty used either in this Age or in the Age to come.[3]

Prayer: Lord, I will use the equipment you have provided me with to reject the darts of doubt, discouragement, deprecation, disobedience, and despair that the enemy of my soul tries to use to destroy me – and my witness that you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I will use your written Word to reject the lies that my enemy throws my way. I will exercise my faith and it will be stronger and bigger than any doubts that my enemy throws my way. I will hang every thought, every word, and every feeling on the knowledge of the truth that is in your word. You have put your law in my mind so I can understand it and written it on my heart so that I will obey it. You are my God and I am a child of your love. You have forgiven my sins and there is no need for me to offer sacrifices to appease you. Jesus paid it all and I am free to live in victory. I am wearing the righteousness of my Savior and I stand firm of the Good News of Peace. I am covered with your Salvation and look forward to what you will do and are doing in this chaotic world of my temporary residence. No matter what is going on around me that scares everyone, I will put my trust in you. You are my hiding place. And blessed be the name of the Lord God from this time forth and forevermore.


[1] Ephesians 6:10-18

[2] Ephesians 2:6 NIV

[3] Ephesians 1:21 NIV

“The Need For Discernment”

STEPHEN C. WEBER

Foggy morning sunrise

Most of our photos are of the sunset to the west but this week we had a foggy morning and saw this sunrise view peeking through the fog. “The Need For Discernment
Message summary: May we not only read about God’s statutes but seek to understand their meaning so that we are very intentional in applying them to our lives.

Listen to this message on your audio player. “I am Your servant; give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes” (Psalm 119:125).

These days we are barraged with information that deals with every subject imaginable. Our increased access to this information grows almost daily. Now we can have the latest news from practically anywhere in the world instantly on our smart phones as we find ourselves trying to keep up with all that’s going on.

The “information superhighway” just keeps getting bigger and bigger and provides an abundance of information that can be very useful and informative. But there’s also lots of information that will confuse or sidetrack the more important message. Not only life-giving truths but disastrous errors crowd the information superhighway.

Psalm 119 is well-known as the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. What is less familiar is that each verse, in one way or another, has a reference to God’s Word; His laws and statutes, etc. I believe the various Scriptural expressions are used synonymously and all reveal the heart’s desire of the Psalmist; to live by God’s revelation.

Another interesting feature in this long Psalm is that it consists of 22 parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet, with the names of which these letters stand for between each part. Each part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter in the Hebrew: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter a, “aleph,” and the second eight verses begin with the letter b, “beth,” and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this Psalm “The Great Alphabet”. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)

In today’s Scripture the Psalmist prays in humility, “I am your servant.” I find blessing in the Psalmist’s humble approach to God. We must always remember who’s in control; He is the Master and we are the servant.

The nature of the Psalmist’s request is urgently needed by those who live by faith today: “Give me discernment”. The Hebrew word for discernment means “to separate mentally.” We need to be clear-minded in properly discerning many things. Certainly each generation needs to have those who are like the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

But the specific request regarding discernment made by the Psalmist is “that I may understand Your statutes”.  God’s statutes, His laws and precepts are intended not only for our good, but He desires His very best for us. The longer we walk with Him the more we come to understand His rules for governing our lives. We need to fundamentally realize that God’s statutes are always for our good. Nehemiah stated, “You gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments” (Nehemiah 9:13).

We do well to oft repeat the Psalmist’s prayer; “Give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes”. May we not only read about God’s statutes but seek to understand their meaning so that we are very intentional in applying them to our lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne WeberDaily prayer: Father, I ask for discernment that I may understand Your statutes. I pray for understanding that I might know how to implement these truths into my life. I also pray that I will grow to love and embrace Your laws so that it becomes a natural outflow of my commitment to love and adore You, and follow after You in all my ways. Amen.

Foggy morning valley

Running the Race as a Winner Day Thirty-nine

I read the words of Habakkuk at the end of his book at a time in my life when the circumstances weren’t the cheeriest. Like Habakkuk I could say, “I have heard all about you, Lord and I am filled with awe by the amazing things that you have done. In my deep need I ask you to help me like you did in years gone by.” God had done wonderful things in my life in the past. He had sent his angels – in human form twice so that I could see them with my physical eyes – to help me out of a tight squeeze more than once and had saved me and my children and grandchildren from physical harm a number of times.

Nevertheless, I was depressed. My writing wasn’t selling and my children were all grown up and living their own lives. My dog and my cat were both dead. I had planned a life where I was living out my life with my husband and frequent visits from my grandchildren. Reality proved to be much different.

Then I read those last verses of Habakkuk’s prayer and decided to adopt his attitude as my own.

Though my books never sell and I never have a home of my own again, though I can never have another dog or cat of my own and my car has to go to a mechanical graveyard I will sing joyful praises to my God. My soul will jump for joy in God my Savior. I will take heart and gain strength in the knowledge that I can count on God’s rule to prevail.[1]

As a winner running the race you can make Habakkuk’s attitude yours as well. You can adopt that joy – the joy of the Lord – and let it be your strength. You can live above the circumstances of your life – no matter how bad the atmosphere is around you. As a winner, you will make the choice to thank God for an empty spoon when there is no food to put in it or a car that has no gas. You can praise God for the sky when it is covered with clouds and pouring down rain. God inhabits the praises of his people and you will feel his presence and grab the hope and peace that permeate God’s presence.

Prayer: Thank you my precious Lord, for your presence. Thank you for the sure knowledge that you will continue to work everything in my live together so that I will become conformed to the image of your dear Son. Thank you for your law – your instructions for living your character out in my life.


[1] Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Running The Race As A winner, The Second Thirty Days

Day Forty-four

I Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith! Take hold of the eternal life—you were called to it, and you made the good confession for it in the presence of many witnesses.[1]

We must wage war against the Devil’s attempts to erect strongholds of doubt and division in the Church. We must be careful not to fight with each other, but for each other.

It is hard for us to be separated because of the corona virus. Christians wonder if it is a government scheme to take away our power by driving a wedge between us. As Christians who are running the race as winners, we know that Satan uses things like this to try to make us weak. He knows that there is strength in numbers. He encourages division in the Church because he thinks it will weaken the power of God. He is a liar and deceiver. He comes among us as an angel of light and tells us we have something to fear – like this virus or other Christians that have different needs and personalities. He wants us to think that we understand everything perfectly so if the conclusions about things that have no eternal significance – like the way we worship when we come together, the type of music we prefer, whether or not we use symbols in our buildings, what we believe about healing, and on and on and on – are different than other Christians that we shouldn’t have fellowship with any of those members of the family of God. We need to cement our relationship with all the other members of the body of Christ. It the members of my physical body were to decide that some of the other members were “out of line” and refused to cooperate with them I would be in a physical mess. That would impede my power to do the things necessary to accomplish the functions of my physical survival. The same is true of the Body of Christ. We have a job to do and when we listen to Satan and allow him to divide us for any reason, it makes the job we have to do less effective. Satan cannot weaken God but he tries to weaken the Body of Christ. We must not allow him to use us in his useless attempt to destroy the mighty works of God. 

We must fight the good fight of faith and use the mighty weapons of God whose word is full of power. God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword. It comes deep into our innermost thoughts and desires and even divides life from the breath of life. With God’s word we can tear down any strongholds that the Devil erects, and with His word we can pour strength into our spirits and live in the realm of eternity.

Prayer: Eternal King of my heart and life, I adore you and worship you. I will remember that you Body is here on this earth and has been for about two thousand years. I will not be intimidated into thinking that a single part of your Body is unimportant or less than any other part of it. My personality may not appreciate one member of your Body as much as another but I will not let that induce me to belittle those that I am not as attracted to. I will love all of my neighbors as I love and care for myself because they are all part of you; and I will bless your name both now and forevermore.


[1] TLV

Reconciliation

Chapter 7

Paul said that, with promises like this – “I will live in them and I will walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people. Therefore, … separate yourselves from [unbelievers] says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty,[1] that the Corinthian Christians should all cleanse their selves from everything that could defile their bodies and spirits. The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that the same promises from God should cause us to make a clean break from everything – both in and out of our bodies – that defiles or distract us from our goal – to glorify God – reflect his glory. We must make our entire lives – everything we think, do, and say – in private or in public – fit and holy so that we are suitable and godly temples for the worship of the living God. 

Paul asked the Corinthian Christians to open their hearts to him and Timothy. He told the Corinthians that as their leaders they had not done wrong to anyone – not led anyone astray or taken advantage of anyone. Paul anticipated the accusations that immediately try to take root in the Corinthian Christian’s hearts and told them that he and Timothy were not defending themselves by reproving the Corinthian Christians. He reminded them that he and Timothy had told the Corinthian Christians that he and Timothy were with them all the way no matter what. He assured the Corinthian Christians that he and Timothy had the greatest confidence in them and were very proud of them even with all their troubles.

Paul told the Corinthian Christians that they had greatly encouraged him and made him happy in spite of all of their troubles. The Holy Spirit of God is telling you and me today that Christian leaders are his servants labouring for his family and need followers’ encouragement and support. Followers don’t know the trails and tribulations that leaders have. They encourage and bless those who follow them and need the encouragement of followers as well as other leaders.

Paul described the atmosphere in Macedonia – northern Greece – where he and Timothy were labouring for the Gospel. They were there to encourage and teach the Christians as well as bringing the Good News to unbelievers.

Paul said, “Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!”

Paul told the Corinthian Christians that he was sorry – for a while – that he had written the letter – that we call I Corinthians – to them because he knew that it was painful for them. However, he was no longer sorry because he knew the pain that he caused them stimulated sorrow and repentance on their part. The remorse his letter caused resulted in the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have. God uses that kind of sorrow to help us humans turn away from sin and seek salvation. Sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. In other words, sorrow that doesn’t cause a man, woman, boy or girl to turn from self to God is destructive.

Paul said, “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

Paul told the Corinthian Christians, “Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.” Paul was a human being and had all the emotional trails that every other human being has. The Holy spirit of God wants you and me to know that those who are responsible for leading and teaching need our understanding, love, and encouragement just as we need theirs.

Paul and Timothy were greatly encouraged when the Corinthian Christians realized their error and drew closer to God, doing everything that they could to make things right. They were more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more passionate, and more responsible. Paul told them that they had come out of the situation with purity of heart and that was what he had hoped for when he wrote the letter of admonition to them. Paul’s primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong – or even the one wronged – but his concern was for the Corinthian Christians as a whole. His desire was for them to realize and act upon the ties between Paul and his associates and the Corinthian Christians. Paul and timothy were delighted and doubly blessed by the fact that Titus – another leader and teacher of the Corinthian Christians – was encouraged and blessed from the spiritual advancement of the Corinthian Christians.

The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that when we yield to the direction of our God and Savior – reflect the glory of our God and enjoy the life and freedom of our life in Christ with its blessed results – we are a source of blessing to the ones who labor to draw us closer to maturity in Christ.


[1] II Samuel 7:14

Running the Race as a Winner Day Thirty-nine

I read the words of Habakkuk at the end of his book at a time in my life when the circumstances weren’t the cheeriest. Like Habakkuk I could say, “I have heard all about you, Lord and I am filled with awe by the amazing things that you have done. In my deep need I ask you to help me like you did in years gone by.” God had done wonderful things in my life in the past. He had sent his angels – in human form twice so that I could see them with my physical eyes – to help me out of a tight squeeze more than once and had saved me and my children and grandchildren from physical harm a number of times.

Nevertheless, I was depressed. My writing wasn’t selling and my children were all grown up and living their own lives. My dog and my cat were both dead. I had planned a life where I was living out my life with my husband and frequent visits from my grandchildren. Reality proved to be much different.

Then I read those last verses of Habakkuk’s prayer and decided to adopt his attitude as my own.

Though my books never sell and I never have a home of my own again, though I can never have another dog or cat of my own and my car has to go to a mechanical graveyard I will sing joyful praises to my God. My soul will jump for joy in God my Savior. I will take heart and gain strength in the knowledge that I can count on God’s rule to prevail.[1]

As a winner running the race you can make Habakkuk’s attitude yours as well. You can adopt that joy – the joy of the Lord – and let it be your strength. You can live above the circumstances of your life – no matter how bad the atmosphere is around you. As a winner, you will make the choice to thank God for an empty spoon when there is no food to put in it or a car that has no gas. You can praise God for the sky when it is covered with clouds and pouring down rain. God inhabits the praises of his people and you will feel his presence and grab the hope and peace that permeate God’s presence.

Prayer: Thank you my precious Lord, for your presence. Thank you for the sure knowledge that you will continue to work everything in my live together so that I will become conformed to the image of your dear Son. Thank you for your law – your instructions for living your character out in my life.


[1] Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Baker Family Saga

The Baker family lived in the Willamette Valley – Ferndale, Oregon to be precise. Way back in 1842 before Linda was born her grandfather, Jonathan Baker, decided that his whole extended family needed to move to the west coast. He bought what he thought was a house big enough to accommodate them all (he was wrong, it turned out to be a log shack) and began the work of convincing his children and their spouses that his plan to plant a town with them in Oregon Territory was a good idea. That was before Oregon was even a proper Territory; it belonged to the country that could populate it first.

Jonathan and Margaret Baker had five children and ten grandchildren when they left for the disputed part of the Louisiana Purchase. The family didn’t want for money or land but Jonathan had always been an adventurer and being among the first families to settle in the west coast would be his ultimate adventure.

Not all of his fellow travelers were as fortunate as the Baker family and didn’t possess the biggest and best wagons for traveling. Most of the families either had nothing because of the Crash, or because they just had never had anything go right for them. The Thomas family was an example of the latter families. But Mrs. Thomas had a scheme that was surely going to pay big dividends – this time. She wanted Jonathan to join her but he wasn’t interested. She took his attitude as a personal insult and had a life-long grudge against “that snooty Baker family.”  She hired a man only known as “the red haired man” in the first book – Sam – and used one of her sons, the poor Chester who is mentioned in the first chapter of the fourth book, to get even with them. So far the only plan that had succeeded was the slow murder of Jonathan. That wasn’t much of a victory since the Baker family didn’t even realize that their beloved patriarch hadn’t just died of old age. But he kept trying until, in Angels, Eagles and Fire the third book in the saga, his obsession drove him into a mindless deviant who did nothing the rest of his life but suck his thumb.

It was in the second book, Day by Day that Mr. Ed, as he told the girls they could call him, came into the story. Eduardo was the law in the Spanish town in Californio where Sam robbed and killed a business-man. He tracked Sam to Ferndale and was there when Chester and Sam kidnapped one of the Baker girls. Linda’s sister Alice Mae – who was a child still in grade school – followed. She intended to save her cousin somehow. Chester tried to shoot her but the lawman got there in time to save her life.

In the fourth book, the family had grown and expanded. The town that Jonathan established had attracted other families, so Ferndale was now a good sized town for that day and time. The boys in the family were all encouraged to go back east and finish their education so they got a taste of cultured society, but the girls were not so fortunate.

The Baker family decided to remedy the situation by exposing three of the oldest girls, Linda’s older sister Alice Mae, and her cousins Donna, and Rose to the culture that they heard was in California.

No one would have believed, in their wildest dreams that Alice, Donna, and Rose would end up in a desert, or as potential wives of a kind Mormon. Or doing washing from a boiling pot, over a fire; and bouncing a fretting baby on a hip; or clothed with itchy wool instead of the satin and silk the girls were used to.

But that was all worked out, and that generation married – some with little ones of their own. The Willamette Valley was growing with the rest of the country.

Alice and Ray were married, Jacob and Donna were happy with their little girl, Darlene and Chad Evert, Daniel and Rose, Gene and Pamela, and Pearl and Eli Thomas all had young families.

Banner of Love started a few months before the start of the American Civil War, and ended after the war came to an end.

Linda and three strapping male cousins had gone to visit their married cousin, Mary, in South Carolina. Linda and her southern cousin and the war were a bad mix – sort of like Clorox and acid, and when the mixture blends, it boils over.

In this book it was 1865; the war was over and most of the family had returned home. Cousin Robert wouldn’t be going home because he was buried in a southern battle field. His brother Wayne was captured by Union soldiers and left in the woods when the Confederates rallied and the Union army ran for their lives, leaving their prisoners behind. Linda didn’t know where he was.

Linda had met Nat Thomas during the war. He was a Union Major who was a close family friend from Ferndale, Oregon. He fought opposite Phillip, who fought on the side of the South in the late war. He saved Phillip’s life and, in the process, caught a ball in his knee cap and was on crutches. Phillip was a Confederate Private who Linda met while she was working in one of the South’s hospitals.

When the war was over Linda, Phillip, and Major Thomas left together for the Willamette Valley on a stage coach. That ended when Nat’s injured knee got jammed up against the door and began to swell and throb with pain. When the three of them started for the west coast in a stage coach, the other passengers pressed against Nat’s leg and his knee was rammed against the door of the conveyance. His leg swelled up and forced them to abandon the stage. That left them with no choice but to buy a wagon and ox to finish their trip.

The man who told them where to get the wagon also reminded them that Linda and Phillip couldn’t go home in a private transport without an older woman for a chaperone unless they were married. When they explained that they were going to her home in the Willamette Valley to get her father’s permission to get married the man just shook his head and led them to his pastor.

From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 19

Yahweh told Moses and Aaron to get a ritually clean cow that had never been in harnessed and give it to Eleazar the priest to take outside the camp to butcher while he watched. Rashi says it was to be a perfectly red cow[1] and David Zucker says[2] parah adumah may have meant “ruddy” and because Hebrew doesn’t have a word for “brown” that is probably what is meant in this context.

The Jerusalem Post says the rarity of finding a cow that meets the stringent stipulations of Jewish law; and the level of required supervision over such beasts makes it challenging to fulfill the law’s regulations and produce a true red heifer[3]. “Some Fundamentalist Christians believe that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ cannot occur until the Third Temple is constructed in Jerusalem, which [would require] the appearance of a red heifer born in Israel. Clyde Lott, a cattle breeder in O’Neill, Nebraska, United States, is attempting to systematically breed red heifers and export them to Israel to establish a breeding line of red heifers in Israel in the hope that this will bring about the construction of the Third Temple and ultimately the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”[4] Hebrew4Christians points out that these things were shadows of things to come and the “red heifer” is a picture of Yeshua/Jesus[5] and the temple[6] is a picture of the Church – including both Jew and Gentile. Yeshua doesn’t need either a cow that meets the requirements of the law, or a physical temple to be built. Only Yahweh knows the day and the hour when the Son of man will return,[7]or the conditions under which he will return. What we do know is that Yahweh has told us what is good and what he requires of us: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. He told us how to do what he requires when he gave us the ten commandments; and he made it possible when he “sent his Son” – came to us in the form of human flesh to defeat sin and death by his own death and resurrection. He is the resurrection and the life, blessed is his holy name.

Eleazar was to take some of the blood from the butchered cow and sprinkle it seven times in the direction of the Tent of Meeting. Remember that seven is a number signifying completion or perfection. The cow was butchered outside the camp[8]. It had to be perfect. The cow was a picture of the one who would restore purity to the world[9]. The symbol of blood is the life of the flesh, so when Eleazar sprinkled the blood toward the Tent of Meeting – the symbol of Yahweh’s presence – it pictured perfect life toward Yahweh – acknowledging that Yahweh is perfect life.

Yahweh told Moses and Aaron that the whole cow – hide, meat, blood, and dung – was to be burned under the supervision of Eleazar.

Cedar symbolizes power, majesty, royalty, and beauty. Hyssop was for healing, and scarlet represented suffering and sacrifice. Yahweh instructed the priest to take a stick of cedar and some hyssop wrapped in a piece of scarlet material, and throw them on the burning cow. These were pictures of the attributes of the one the cow represented – Yeshua ha Mashiach/ Jesus Christ, the one who overcame sin and death when he rose from the dead[10]. Rashi said that the cedar is the highest of all trees, and the hyssop is the lowest of them all. This symbolizes that the one of high standing who acts haughtily and sins should lower himself like a hyssop and a worm [for the תּוֹלַעַת means ‘worm’ as well as ‘crimson.

The people of Israel would have been familiar with ancient Egypt’s approach to cleanliness. The rituals of washing, bathing, and applying cosmetics were very important to them. They believed that the cleaner and better-oiled the person was, the closer they were to their gods. They used a scented paste consisting of ash and clay for soap; therefore, the chosen people would have understood that the ash of the pure young cow was for cleansing.

The priest and the Levite who burned the cow were both unclean. They had to take off their clothes and bathe well with water. When they were washed they could return to camp but were ritually unclean until evening. Remember that death is the result of sin and corruption and; therefore, represents the rottenest evil. Yahweh made special mention of the priest’s condition and the instructions for him because he represented the people to Yahweh and Yahweh to the people.

A ritually clean Levite was to remove the ashes to a ritually clean place outside the camp. The congregation was to keep them for the Water of Cleansing and the absolution Offering.

The man who gathered the ashes was to scrub his clothes because he, too, was ritually unclean until evening.

Yahweh reminded them that the rule about touching a dead body was perpetual and inclusive. The health risks of dead bodies, according to Wikipedia, are dangers related to the improper preparation and disposal of cadavers. When the decomposition and putrefaction of cadavers goes unchecked, it raises a series of health, logistical, and psychological issues. Disease from dead bodies is due to living in harsh conditions with poor sanitation – or when death is caused by contagious diseases. The substances cadaverine and putrescine – toxic in large doses – are produced during the decomposition of animal (including human) bodies, and both give off a foul odor.[11] The ancient Israelites wouldn’t have known any of this, but they would have had some of the same ideas that are held by the Spiritual Science Research foundation[12]. The ceremony that Yahweh commanded his people to go through would elevate these fears; but Yahweh was teaching his people spiritual truths. He wanted them – and he wants us – to realize that death isn’t the result of perfection. Corruption – sin – causes death and Yahweh is the author of life[13]. Death is as sin made visible.[14] Death is the result of sin. Therefore, death is the symbol of sin.

Yahweh repeated his instructions for a person to purify himself or herself after contact with death, and added that the ritually unclean must purify himself or herself on the third day with the Water of Cleansing[15] so he or she could be clean on the seventh day. The water purification ceremony was a picture of purifying the heart by the Word of Yahweh[16]. The number three pictures completeness, but to a lesser degree than the number seven, and points to something that is solid and substantial. Also in Jewish tradition graves were watched for three days. The number three is used in the Torah to mediate between two [2] opposing or contradictory values. The third value mediates, reconciles, and connects the two. Three is the number of truth.[17]

A person who was ritually unclean needed purification, and could not ignore their condition, but was still part of the nation – unless they refused to correct their unclean condition. Today if we are “bathed” by Jesus, we only need to – symbolically – have our feet washed, as they become unclean in the normal practice of life. Yet, if we don’t let Yeshua/Jesus “wash” us, we have no part with him. We must receive a once-for-all cleansing Yeshua/Jesus brings to us when we are born again; but we must also come to him continually to be cleansed of our “day-to-day” mistakes. Under the New Covenant, the Christian also has a special call to purity, because we can also defile the dwelling place of God [18] the ancient Israelite who refused to perform the ceremony of the Water of Cleansing couldn’t be one of Yahweh’s chosen people but was cut off from his people.

Everyone who went into the tent where someone died was ritually unclean for seven days. Every receptacle, without a cover fastened over it, in the tent where someone died was unclean. Anyone in the open field who touched one who died in any way, even a bone of a human, or a grave, was to be considered unclean for seven days. An open container could potentially harbor disease causing bacteria. The lesson Yahweh was teaching his people is that death is corruption at its worst and they needed to avoid it at any cost.[19] Death is our enemy. Yahweh is the author and sustainer of life.

Yahweh instructed that the ashes be put in a bowl and fresh water added, then a ritually clean Levite was to dip a sprig of hyssop into the water and sprinkle the affected tent and its contents along with the people who were in the tent. The ritually unclean person was to be sprinkled on the third and seventh day. After that he or she would considered clean and had to scrub his or her clothes and take a bath to be clean by the evening of the seventh day.

For a ritually unclean person to refuse to go through the procedures set by Yahweh, he or she was desecrating the sanctuary of Yahweh and was to be excommunicated from the community. There were to be no exceptions. It was a matter of believing Yahweh. Uncleanness cannot correct itself. The unclean person must do what Yahweh says must be done in order to be clean. Human plans or schemes for spiritual cleansing are ineffectual. Obedience is the result and sign of belief and belief is an act of the will. The ancient Israelite had to make the decision to believe Yahweh whether he understood or why or didn’t understand. The same is true today. We must make a decision to believe Yahweh whether or not we understand. The natural mind cannot understand spiritual things but when we make the decision to believe Yahweh his Spirit gives our spirits understanding and confidence.[20]

Ritually uncleanness included the one who sprinkled the water of cleansing so he had to scrub his clothes along with anyone else who touched the Water of Cleansing or the ritually unclean person. Uncleanness was easily transmitted, but cleanness had to be deliberately sought.

 

Summary of chapter 19

The Bible Commentary of the United Church of God says that this is one of the most mysterious sacrifices in the Bible. We may not understand all of the symbolism in this most interesting offering, but we do know that we are cleansed by the blood of the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ[21]. The book of Hebrews confirms that this is part of the symbolism here. The heifer was also a representation of Israel in the Scriptures. Perhaps, there is some sense of this offering being fulfilled in the people putting to death their old natures. Indeed, that would seem to tie in with having our consciences purged from dead works. Christ stood in Israel’s place in a number of respects. Besides the spiritual significance, there was a medical benefit to what God was prescribing here as well, just as there was with the laws for dealing with leprosy. Jeffrey[22] says, “The water of purification described in Numbers 19 actually had the ability to destroy germs and infection. The resulting water of purification solution contained ashes from the Red Heifer sacrifice combined with cedar, hyssop and scarlet thread. This water of purification contained ‘cedar’ oil that came from a kind of juniper tree that grew in both Israel and the Sinai. This cedar oil would irritate the skin, encouraging the person to vigorously rub the solution into their hands. Most importantly, the hyssop tree—associated with mint, possibly marjoram—would produce hyssop oil. This hyssop oil is actually a very effective antiseptic and antibacterial agent. Hyssop oil contains 50 percent carvacrol which is an antifungal and antibacterial agent still used in medicine, according to the book None of These Diseases. When we note that the waters of purification from the Red Heifer Sacrifice were to be used to cleanse someone who had become defiled and unclean due to touching a dead body, we begin to understand that this law was an incredibly effective medical law as well as a spiritual law” (p. 153).
Of course, it is not clear how much of the cedar and hyssop oil would remain after burning in the fire. There was probably some. Perhaps God was interested more in the symbolism of cleansing agents here than their actual effectiveness. Burning is itself symbolic of purification.[23]

 

Prayer: Lord, I know that death is the absence of life and you are life. The grave – or Hell- is the eternal home of death. Every perfect gift is from above and comes down from you, the Father of Light. Thank you for going to the extreme lengths that you did to show your creation what is good and right and what you require of us. Thank you for your commandments. They spell out graphically how to be just, how to love mercy, and how to walk humbly with you. Thank you for the pictures in your legal ceremonies that point to ultimate solution of what to do about sin and death – your Son.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Yahweh instructed Moses and Aaron to get a cow without blemish? Why would he specify the color? Why do you think it had to be a young cow that had never been harnessed?
  2. Do you think Israel needs to produce a perfectly red cow before the Mashiach can come? Do you think the temple has to be rebuilt before Yeshua/Jesus returns? What do you think about what Hebrew4Christians’ says about the cow being a picture of Yeshua ha Mashiach and the temple being a picture of the Church?
  3. What does the second coming of Christ – Yeshua ha Mashiach – have to do with the way we live today? Is it more important for us to try to figure out when he will return, or for us to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, Yahweh until he returns?
  4. Why do you think Yahweh instructed for the whole cow to be burned completely? What do you think the consuming fire symbolized?
  5. What did your meditations on the symbols of cedar, hyssop, and scarlet tell you?
  6. Do you think it is wrong for you and me to touch a dead body?
  7. What did our Savior, Yeshua ha Mashiach’s death, burial, and resurrection do about death?

 

 

[1] http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9947/jewish/Chapter-19.htm#showrashi=true

[2] Page 149

[3] http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/Holy-Cow-Biblical-Red-Heifer-in-production-409240

[4]  “Readings | Apocalypse! FRONTLINE”. Pbs.org. Retrieved 2015-06-03. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_heifer

[5] Hebrews 9:11-29 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)

[6] I Corinthians 3”16

[7] Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:36; Revelation 16:15

[8] Hebrews 13:11, 12

[9] Rabbi Chaim Richman, the world’s foremost expert on red heifers and director of The Temple Institute https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/17303/holy-cow-red-heifer-born-us/

[10] Romans 6:

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_risks_from_dead_bodies

[12]http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/spiritualresearch/difficulties/ancestors/deadbody_effects

[13] Romans 6:23

[14] Romans 5:12; 7:24

[15] That has the ashes of the cow in it, combined with the symbols of Yeshua – scarlet, cedar, and hyssop and his work of salvation – For soap Egyptians used a paste containing ash or clay http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/cosmetics.htm

[16] James 4:8

[17] http://www.betemunah.org/three.html

[18] John 15:5-11; I Corinthians 6:19-20; https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/numbers-19.html

[19] Proverbs 8:36; John 5:24; I Corinthians 15:26

[20] I Corinthians 2:14-16

[21] 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:13, 14

[22] https://www.amazon.com/Signature-God-Revised-Conclusive-Teaching-ebook/dp/B0036S4BPS/ref=la_B000APP9Z6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486828217&sr=1-1

[23]http://bible.ucg.org/bible-commentary/Numbers/Red-heifer-for-purification/