Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Advent, part 1

Christmas Advent...

Yes, I know. I know I'm a little late writing about the Advent when the season is almost over. But I can't help but feel like there is something that needs to be said before the season is over, and it's important. So throwing my sense of bad timing out the window, here goes.

The last four (4) Sundays we have been celebrating the Advent season at church, lighting one candle in a series of four. The aspects we have celebrated are love, joy, peace, and hope (not in that order). (If there was a specific order for these and I got it all wrong, please accept my apologies. I'm doing good to remember them in the first place.)

Out of the four aspects that we have celebrated, two are fruits of the Spirit, one is part of the Big Three: faith, hope (hint hint) and one qualifies as both: love.

LOVE

This is probably not the first aspect we celebrated during Advent. But it's the most important aspect. Not our love for others or for God, but His love for us, by sending us in the flesh our only hope for salvation--Christ Jesus. It's the foundation, the underpinning of why He came after us in the first place. Because He loves us so much, and because our sins were so deadly, He had to do something. We were utterly helpless to do anything to save ourselves -- we still are -- but God our loving Father made sure there was a way to escape from sins and to mute the consequences in our lives...by paying our penalties in full for us. That would not have been possible unless a perfect representative of God was sent and fulfilled His calling on our behalf.

Have you ever noticed that doing something is much easier to do if it is born out of love? It's harder to do things because we have to do them, but if we do it because we love someone, the task becomes much lighter and easier. If love is the motivation for action, it gives strength to the person doing it. Love is God's fuel for action.

HOPE

Hope is somewhat different in the English language vs. Hebrew. Hope in our modern day vernacular is more akin to "wishing". To say, "I hope I get the job", is to actually say, "My wish is to get the job I applied for."

Hope is not a wish, but "earnest expectation". I don't know about you, but for me this is a phrase that sort of tunes me out, like some Christian-ese phrase that people throw around to show off their knowledge without really knowing what they are talking about. If hope is an "earnest expectation", then let's break this phrase down so perhaps we can uncover just what is meant, and then apply it to the Advent season.
The word earnest, in my mind, implies sincerity, honesty and a conviction within a person's deepest core. In researching this topic, I found that hope can also be defined as "anticipation of the fulfillment of the promises of God" (refer to http://biblehub.com/greek/1679.htm for more detailed info).

To anticipate the fulfillment of a promise given...just like an engaged woman anticipates the fulfillment of the promise her beloved made to her when he asked her to be his bride, and gave her an engagement ring to show he was serious. She's not just "wishing" he marries her, she's expecting to be married. So we should be towards God and his promises to us. We should expect the fulfillment of the promises because we have the down-payment of the promise to begin with...the Holy Spirit. Anticipation of a promise kept; that's Hope.

So therefore, in applying this Hope to the Advent, Christ is our Hope because He's the fulfillment of the Promise of salvation made by the Father long ago, shadowed in many forms and in many ways through the temple, tabernacle, feasts, festivals, prophecies, psalms, and stories of the old testament.

That's all I have for right now. Next time I will expound on Peace and Joy. Blessings to you and may the Lord keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you (His) peace.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In depth study of...

This morning I was studying 1 Cor 16:13, and examining the Greek words in the verse. It says:

1 Cor 16:13 HCSB
"Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, and be strong."

Here are the notes I have regarding each part of this verse.

Be alert: Stay awake, watchful in the sense of being responsible. (HELPS: 1127 grēgoreúō – literally, "stay awake"; (figuratively) be vigilant (responsible, watchful).) It is also used in the context of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane praying just before the crucifixion and the disciples are nodding off while Jesus is praying in agony.

Stand firm: Be persistent, persevere. [Thayer's Greek lexicon says:  to stand firm; tropically, to persist, persevere (A. V. stand fast)]
  (note from me: I don't think they meant tropically, possibly topically?)

In the faith: Pistis, faith (thorough convincing of God about God for God in you) see http://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm This is possibly the best discourse on faith I have ever read. It defines what is faith, what it isn't, and how it is slightly different than belief.

Act like a man: Grow up, take responsibility and act like a man. This is the phrase that caught my attention in the first place, because in the King James it says, "Quit you like men". I saw that and I was wondering just what the Greek meant when it said that. I looked it up and most other, more modern translations have a better grip on this than the KJV. But in the Greek, which if you were wondering is the word ἀνδρίζομαι or andrizó, it states "andrízomai (from 435 /anḗr, "man") – properly, "to act as a man," i.e. as a full-grown, mature man; (figuratively) to be responsible and courageous by taking the initiatives God reveals through faith (used only in 1 Cor 16:13). Accordingly, 407 (andrízomai) is directly associated with 4102 /pístis ("faith"). (HELPS word studies). Note: I am not a man, but found this quite interesting. I think from a woman's perspective, we can think of it as "putting on our big girl pants" or "act like a grown-up". 

Be strong: (from HELPS word-studies) Cognate: 2901 krataióō (from 2904 /krátos) – to prevail by God's dominating strength, i.e. as His power prevails over opposition (gains mastery). See 2904 (kratos). For the believer, 2901 /krataióō ("attain mastery, the upper-hand") operates by the Lord inworking faith (His persuasion, 4102 /pístis).

In all, this has been enlightening to me, in that the exhortations that are given here are relevant and reminds me of the absolute gift faith is. For that I give thanks to my Lord. Now to grab some coffee... :)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Faith: It's not what you think it is.



As I got the kids off to school and thought about what I would do this morning, I literally had to choose how I was going to spend my time. I spent way too much time on facebook yesterday morning, and that got me off to a not-so-great start for my day. I chose to study my bible instead.

I started off going where I like to go every day (that I remember anyways)...Daily Light for the Daily Path. The entry I read this morning is here.  It started off with Luke 10:19, which states, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you." Next, it moved on to another scripture that related to it (as it always does), and somehow or another I was on my way to discovering what faith really is.

I ended up at discoverybible.com and read their latest study on "pistis", or faith. To quote,

The root of 4102/pístis (“faith”) is  3982/peíthō which means “to persuade or be persuaded”. This points to the core-meaning of faith in the Bible: “the Lord’s inworked (inbirthed) persuasion” (G. Archer).

What really got me, was the fact that faith wasn't the same thing as belief. Faith is God convincing you of XYZ. Faith is a total gift from God because it does not originate from us. It originates from God and when He draws you, He convinces you that He's real and that you want to respond by believing Him. Faith is God's work alone. It's only given to us as a gift--a very precious, life-changing, I-didn't-do-anything-to-deserve-this, but-oh-how-precious-it-is kind of gift. If God didn't give me this faith-gift, I could not be saved.

Another point made in this word study was that faith was not only God's work, and a grace-gift from God, but also an experience and revelation from Him as to what will please him. As I pondered this,
it made the verse "We walk by faith, not by sight" make so much more sense to me. If I were to reword this, I would put it this way: "We walk by what God has convinced us of what pleases Him, not by what we can see or experience through our five senses." (Personal Interpretation Version). :)

Another point: Faith is NOT the same as belief. This is perhaps the biggest revelation I got in studying this. Faith is completely the work of God. Belief happens when we trust God and we do what He has shown us to do. That is what is meant when the Scriptures talk of "walking by faith". If we walk by faith, we are walking by the understanding and revealing of His will for us (yes, even personally), not by what we can see or sense from the outside. Read Hebrews 11 again, with this in mind. It will blow you away. Promise. :)

There is so much more to this than what I have written here, but this is the main point I was trying to get across. And if you want a real world example of faith, you are reading it. This blog was started because I knew this is what God wanted me to do. I only post when He wants me to, when he has something he wants to impart to others. So posts will come as often as He speaks to me (and I have ears to hear...pray that I have ears to hear the "news from the throne" :). It's completely by faith I'm doing this.

Be blessed. :)