Heschel

Heschel

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Giver of Dreams

Dreams…everyone has them; dreams for their lives and the future. Sometimes, those dreams can be snatched away in the blink of an eye. Life doesn’t always happen the way we dream it will (pun intended). Life can throw some devastating blows; and before you know it, everything you dreamed for your life is gone. It takes more than your dreams away; it takes your breath away.

Ruth is a woman whose dreams have been shattered. Born and raised in Moab, she grows up and marries the man of her dreams. Then one day, he suddenly dies. The Bible doesn’t say anything about the husband Ruth lost, but it turns her world upside down.

Ruth finds herself in the company of sorrow. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, and sister-in-law have lost their husbands as well. The three of them are left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Naomi decides to go home—back to the land of Judah—and her daughters-in-law follow. Somewhere along the journey, one of them decides to turn back. However, Ruth journeys on with Naomi. There is nothing left for her in Moab. She no longer has a dream to hold on to and no clue as to what her future holds. She is weary and everything is a blur. What she doesn’t realize is that she is actually being drawn by the God of Israel, the Giver of Dreams.

The journey is long and hard, but these two brave women make their way back to Bethlehem. Ruth, wanting to take care of Naomi, gleans in the field of a man named Boaz. He notices her diligence and faithfulness to Naomi in the face of all she has lost, and he commends her. Boaz implores Ruth to stay in his field; he will provide for her and protect her. Boaz is a near relative to Naomi—a kinsman redeemer. When Naomi realizes this and hears of the favor Boaz shows Ruth, she instructs her to go to Boaz at the harvest, on the threshing floor.


Naomi has a glimpse of a dream for the future; she wants the best for Ruth and hopes that Boaz will redeem her. Ruth is beginning to see a glimpse of her future, too. She obeys the instruction of her mother-in-law and goes to Boaz seeking redemption. He assures her that he will redeem her, but there is one glitch: there is another relative with the first right of redemption. If he will forfeit his right, Boaz will redeem Ruth.

Ruth and Naomi wait. Boaz awaits the other relative’s arrival and offers him the right to redeem the two women. During this time, Ruth must be struggling with insecurities; she is a foreigner, a heathen, and much younger than Boaz. Why would a respectable man redeem her? Why would he want to marry her? What could she possibly offer him for such redemption? Yet when the other relative forfeits his right of redemption, Boaz redeems Ruth. They marry and have a child named Obed—the great grandfather to King David.

Ruth had lost everything before coming to Bethlehem. The Bible is silent about her family, but obviously there was nothing left for her in Moab. So she took her chances and followed her mother-in-law to a strange land. She came from Moab to Bethlehem a poor widow, a foreigner gleaning in the field of Boaz. When she arrived as a beggar, she never imagined she would be the wife of the field’s owner.

God’s grace is unfathomable to us. How He can take what we perceive as a small, insignificant life, and use it for His glory! God had a plan for Ruth, even when she didn’t know Him and life had drained all of her hope. God does the same for you and me. He has a plan for our lives—He gives us dreams, even when we cannot dream for ourselves.

God chose Ruth for a very special purpose. He needed someone to marry Boaz and keep the line of Judah, the line of the Messiah, from ceasing from the earth. He needed the perfect woman to be the great grandmother of King David. He did not choose a righteous Jewish girl like Mary, a princess of promise like Sarah, or a warrior princess like Deborah. He saw and chose an obscure, Gentile widow full of sorrow and grief, and gave her a dream. Ruth has a book in the Bible dedicated to her life; she is one of only four women found in the genealogy of Christ.

Life has many detours and roadblocks, and can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Dreams can vanish in an instant. But God has a plan, a dream to give you. Though everything seems empty now, He is working out His perfect will for your life. Life is a canvas. Sometimes that canvas seems blank. You don’t know where you are going, but God does. His eyes are roaming the earth looking for a daughter to bestow His favor and blessing upon. One day when you least expect it, God will see you and say, “Her! I pick her!” He has a plan for your life; He has a dream for your life. You have caught His eye and now you have a dream.










This article was originally published in SHINE Magazine 9th Edition

Image of Shine Magazine - 9th Edition



Friday, August 14, 2015

Sabbath Sanctuary: Rest in His Resurrection Power

Jesus is alive. No, it is not Easter. The resurrection is not only a message for Easter. It is the Message for all time and all ages. It transcends the chronos—it is the most significant Kairos moment—ever.

I shared a few weeks ago that life seemed dreadfully unfruitful. Barrenness causes a deep wound in the heart; spiritual barrenness is almost unbearable. But God is faithful; He promises that if we remain in the Vine, we will bear fruit.  Though it may seem dark now, God has not finished your story.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

What kind of love is writing my story till the end With Mercy's Pen?[1]


Your dreams are not dead. God’s promises are still yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Cor.1:20). Your barrenness is over. Everything God has promised you is hastening toward you.

Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay (Hab. 2: 2-3).

Do not be afraid though the drought is long and hard; You are a tree of righteousness—not afraid of the dry spell:


They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit (Jer. 17:8 NASB).


Christ is faithful. He is full of grace and truth. He did not bring you this far for you to drown. He is the I AM. He is your Deliverer. Your refuge. Christ is alive! That means you are alive—Christ in you the hope of glory. He is:


Emmanuel, the promised king, the baby who made angels sing, son of man who walked with us healing, breathing in our dust.

The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries, the Lamb of God who rolled away
the stone in front of every grave.[2]

Rest this Sabbath in the arms of the Father. Christ is Alive! You are alive! Your dreams are alive! He is rolling the stone away from the grave of barrenness that has kept you down. The stone is rolled away. Rest in His resurrection power.














[1] Nicole Nordeman, The Story: Mary Magdalene “Alive”: Everything surrounding The Story movement is part of an unprecedented partnership between World Vision, Zondervan, EMI Christian Music Group, Provident Label Group, Word Entertainment, Proper Management and CAA.
[2] Ibid.


Don't forget to check out my book, A Life That Sings: Finding Your Song In The Midst of Brokenness


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Monday, August 3, 2015

Psalms To See Me Through Psalm 18: The Psalm Worth Repeating—Part II


Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it.  He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet
(vv.7-9). 

When first reading this prose, it seems out of place from the first six verses. The poetic praise of David for God’s deliverance begins as a beautiful time of worship. David is thankful for all the deliverances he has experienced from the hand of God. The intro to this Psalm reads; A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul; David cultivated a grateful heart. He abruptly ends his time of worship with a discourse describing an angry God. However, upon deeper reflection, we have insight into who God is angry with—it is not David, but David’s enemies that incur God’s wrath.  

He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind (v. 10).
I searched extensively for an accurate portrait of the cherubim; I searched in vain. The most accurate is the description of them on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The glory of God rested between the cherubim when He spoke to Moses or when the high priest was ministering in the Holy of Holies. They are mostly portrayed as babies with wings, flying through the air with their bow and arrow, likened to cupid. They guarded the Garden of Eden with flaming swords. Cherubim are not baby angels, they are mighty warrior angels;

As is the case with many heavenly realities, their character and appearance is so far beyond human imagination and present comprehension that they must be described in earthly terms obviously designed to convey something surpassingly supernatural (Ezek. 1: 5, 14; 28: 12-14).[1]




It is no wonder then that I could not find an accurate picture (except the Mercy Seat). My imagination is awake with a vision of God riding on a cherub with the wings of the wind to rescue me. He is my Rescuer. My Defender. My Saviour. My Refuge. My Strong Tower.

Your locks will be iron and bronze, And according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.  “There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help, And through the skies in His majesty. “The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy!’  “So Israel dwells in security (Deuteronomy 33:25-28a emphasis mine).

Just as the Lord heard the cries for help from Israel, and from David, He hears you and me. He rides the heavens in all His Majesty and Glory to rescue His people when they cry out to Him. He defeats our enemies and brings us to safety. Trials will still come; enemies will still attack, but God empowers and strengthens us with His grace to defeat them and to overcome.

How can we have confidence like David? David cultivated a grateful heart, and a worshipful spirit. The Psalms penned by David reflect his heart toward God. He worshiped God through every trial; He was the One David called upon at the first sign of trouble. Sometimes the prose of figurative language can cause us to read over David’s poetic praise, and not understand how it can apply to us. David’s description of God’s power and wrath is colorful indeed, but it is important to remember, that David’s words are figurative. He did not actually see God ride through the heavens on a cherub. He did not see the earth shake and the foundations of the mountains tremble. He did not see smoke out of His nostrils, and fire from His mouth. He did not see God come down from heaven with thick darkness under His feet. He did not see these events literally, but through God’s wondrous and majestic creation, He describes God’s character and His deliverance—he sees into the realm of the spirit to describe for us what God is doing behind the scenes that we cannot see. Moses and David both saw God riding through the heavens through spiritual eyes.

Let’s travel to 2 Kings: 6 and meet up with Elisha and his servant. They are taking shelter in a house in a stand-off with the Arameans who aim to capture Elisha. The man of God and his servant are completely surrounded. Elisha is completely confident in God; the servant is petrified. Elisha attempts to comfort his servant with his trust in the Lord to deliver them from this situation, but the servant believes it to be impossible. Elisha prays to God for the eyes of his servant to be opened so that he can see that the army of God’s angels actually have the enemy surrounded; Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them (v.6).

The Lord will do the same and more for us. We may not see mountains tremble, but Christ declared that we can cast mountains into the sea (Mark 11:23). He has given us power to trample on serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19). He has empowered us to have power over the enemy; He said we will have trials, but that He has overcome them all (John 16: 33).
He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them (vv. 11-14).

Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare
At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me (vv.15-19).


The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God.  For all His ordinances were before me,  And I did not put away His statutes from me.  I was also blameless with Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes. With the kind You show Yourself kind; With the blameless You show Yourself blameless; With the pure You show Yourself pure, And with the crooked You show Yourself astute (vv.20-26).

David finishes his Psalm of worship painting a majestic picture of God’s deliverance. Though David’s enemy was strong, and could overpower him, he continued to trust in God’s deliverance. He saw in the natural when he was finally free from Saul.  He saw it spiritually because of His trust in God’s faithfulness, His deliverance, and His nature and character. He Knew God. He knew God intimately because he nurtured his relationship with God in thanksgiving and worship. That is how we can know God intimately too, through His Holy Writ, and by nurturing a thankful heart, and a worshipful spirit.





[1] Terry Law, The Truth About Angels (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 1994), 115.