Everybody goes through tough times in their lives.  Circumstances that are beyond our control impact each one of us, and in the chaos we find ourself in a deep, dark valley.  Some people through their own choices bring trials into their lives, but many times difficulties cross our pathway that was completely outside of our control.

In Psalm 55:6, you can hear the desperate cry of King David, My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me.  Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest. Continue reading 16 – Oh, that I could fly away!

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The Bible goes into great detail concerning how the Tabernacle should be built. In very fine detail it explains each specific vessel that should be constructed and sanctified for service. The details are so precise that here in Jerusalem at the Temple Institute there are scholars that have begun to reconstruct the vessels of the Temple.

In Exodus 25, God gives the details on how the Ark of the Covenant should be built.i

And they shall make an ark of ACACIA wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length, and a cubit and a half the breadth, and a cubit and a half the height.

And thou shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about..” — Exodus 25:10–11

Continue reading 15 – Covered in Gold

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One of the teachers of Torah came to Jesus while he was discussing the text and noticed that Jesus was giving great answers, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

The most important one,” said Jesus, “is this:  ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Continue reading 14 – The Secret to Love – אַהֲבָה

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One of the great experiences as a father is to take your kids on a tremendous mountain hike.  To be able to stand at the base of a mountain and to look up at the peak that seems so far away and insurmountable, and have your kids wonder how they will ever make it to the top.  
In the Bible, Pslam 121 is known as the psalm of Ascent that begins, “I will lift up my eyes unto the mountains – but where does my help come from?”   The psalmist is gazing at the distant mountain peaks and wondering where his strength will come.  How will he ever climb the mountains.  But just as a wise dad assures his kids at the beginning of a mountain hike, the psalmist exclaims: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Continue reading 13 – Overcoming Mountains

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They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips. — Psalm 140:3

Everybody has heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” However, anybody that has been the victim of slander or bullying can confirm that words can be as harmful as physical trauma and deadly as a vipers venom.

Speaking slander, לשון הרע (lashon hara) in hebrew, is a serious violation of the Biblical commands. There are at least 31 biblical commandments that address the issue of slandering.

Continue reading 12 – Slanderous Tongue

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Isaiah 46:4: “And even to your old age I am he; and even to grey hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
Around 600 BC the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  In this captivity,  Nebuchadnezzar removed the gold and treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace.  All the beauty of the temple built by Solomon was destroyed.  He also carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the sick, lame, and the elderly were left behind.

Continue reading 11 – God Will Carry You!

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Writing God’s Story — Deuteronomy 31:19

The last command that God speaks to Moses is to tell him to “Write down this song and teach it and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me…”

The early Jewish teachers explained that the song that God told Moses to write down and to teach was the Bible itself.

They else taught that every person in each generation is required to write his or her own copy of the Torah.

You may wonder why the ancient Torah teachers required this intense and lengthly project of copying your very own Torah Scroll.  Is it not possible to learn Gods song by just studying or reading books about Gods story?

Continue reading 10 – Writing God’s Story

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But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. — Psalm 52:8
Temple Mount is one of the most hotly contested religious sites in the world.  Currently the Muslim Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock stands where the Jewish temples of Solomon, and Nehemiah once stood.  The Dome of the Rock with its ornate marble and stone with Golden dome is built over the place of the temple itself.  Over and over again, there are clashes between the Palestinians and jewish people on who has authority over the area.
Every time I walk on Temple Mount, I stop and am amazed at the beautiful olive trees peacefully growing in the breeze.  Amid the tension and continual upheaval, the olive tree, the long standing symbol of peace and triumph calmly thrives.
In Psalm 52, David finds himself in the midst of turmoil and desperation.  David writes the psalm when Doeg (Do-ayg), an Edomite, and one of King Saul’s officers, has run to King Saul and informed him that David has found refuge in the city of Nob under the protection of Ahimelek.   David has become hated by King Saul, and Saul sends his men with Doeg, and his men slaughter the entire city.  Innocent men, women and children are destroyed because of providing protection to David.  David in his psalm is wondering how Doeg can be so passionate about his evil actions and deceit.  How this man filled with hatred grew strong by destroying others. 

Continue reading 09 – Flourishing in the House of God

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In Matthew 22:37 A student of the law came to Jesus and asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. 
Jesus was quoting what is known in Hebrew as the Shema (Hear).
Shema is pulled from Deuteronomy chapter 6 of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.  It is the oldest fixed daily prayer in Judaism, recited morning and night since before the time of Christ.
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One of the most overlooked topics in christian living is the concept of maturing as a Christian.

Our verse today is 2 Corinthians 7:1

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

This verse should make us all sit up and pay attention.  Do we live our lives in such a way that is focused on “perfecting holiness out of a reverence or fear of God?

Continue reading 07 – Perfecting Holiness

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