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But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 Amp)

With God everything is about motive, about intention, about the heart. Yeshua is warning in this passage those who would seek to serve God while keeping an eye on the world and what it can offer. The divided heart is not a new problem. God, through the prophet Hosea accuses the Jewish people of having a divided heart because of their love of idolatry. (Hosea 10:2). David also speaks of the divided heart in Psalm 12. “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:1-2)

In the Apostolic writings, James offers a stern warning against double-mindedness. “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach; and it will be given to him. But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. Indeed that person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is double-minded, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8) The remedy is offered by James later in his letter. “Therefore, submit to God. Moreover, take a stand against the Adversary, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people!” (James 4:7-8)

Let us consider our hearts before God. Are they divided? Do I hold things in my heart above God? Is He second to my desires, my ambitions, my job, my kids, my hobbies? Search this thing out for it is no small matter. To have a divided heart is to be unfit for the God’s kingdom–the coming kingdom–the forever kingdom.

 

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CJB)

This verse offers insight and encouragement.

If anyone . . .
As many Pastors like to say, “anyone” means “anyone.” Thus, we should not understand this as the passage for the super-holy or the seasoned saint. This can be taken to heart by the recent convert and even the one just plucked from the fire. That “anyone” in Christ is a new creation.

United with the Messiah . . .
In other translations, this phrase is rendered “in Christ.” In the Amplified version, “in Christ” is further explained as being “grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior.”
We are united with Messiah when we believe that Messiah (Christ) is who He said He was (God incarnate) and did what He said He did (provided a once-for-all sacrifice for sin, so that mankind could be reconciled to God through the blood sacrifice of the Messiah (Jesus Christ).

Belief not just in the existence of a historical figure–because that has never been in doubt, but belief in what Yeshua said about Himself and the connection He made between Himself and the teachings of the Hebrew scriptures. One cannot believe in Yeshua without believing and relying on the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament). These were the only scriptures in existence at the time Yeshua said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

New Creation
Being united with Messiah is more than simply a state of mind. This belief must be accompanied by actions that confirm a change has occurred. Being a new creation requires being born again. (John 3) Being born again speaks of the new life or new creation possible when one is born from above–born as a result of the indwelling Spirit of the one true God.

This new creation (birth) should be evident by new life, new patterns, new choices, and other marks that one has been changed from within, not by mere changes rooted in human effort. James said that true faith is accompanied by works. It is a yoke (the yoke of heaven) to be taken upon one’s self. It is a life committed to righteousness–the righteousness laid out in Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). This life now; however, is not lived by obedience to rules, but rather obedience to the Holy Spirit planted within making the creation new and guiding the new creation in the ways of God. This should be evident and should testify of the work of creation in the individual’s life. Being born again, being a new creation–these are not hidden works. They will be evident to all who know us. Even if we are not perfect–we will be different and more righteous than before–fresh and new!

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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As I encounter the Holy God, El Shaddai, Y-H-W-H, HaShem, Adonai . . . call Him by any one of His myriad of names–as many as there are aspects of His character and people who desire to know Him–I’m confronted with unwelcome truths about myself.

I am unholy. I become painfully and shamefully aware of my sinfulness in the presence of his holiness. It is impossible to enter into the divine presence without sensing how unlike Him I am. He is righteous, pure, just, merciful . . . I am not. If I were not to remember the righteousness of Christ that became mine the moment I believed, I would be desolate and inconsolable, eternally separated from the only true and living God.

I am finite. My end is clear and unmistakable in the presence of His infinite nature. I am but dust, like grass, a vapor His Word declares. With Him, I would be insignificant, a dust speck on the face of the sun were it not for the significance He has given me, ordaining my days before the foundation of time, laying paths for me to walk in, calling me by name, collecting my tears . . .

I am temporal. God is eternal and in His presence, I am pulled temporarily into the eternal realm, but my feet are planted here–in the temporal realm. The eternal part of my being calls to me, bids me seek that eternal nature of God. It is only through connecting with God that my temporal nature can be made eternal–it is only through Yeshua and the covenant of His blood that I have the promise of eternal life with God.

My heart isn’t always right. The presence of God reveals the state of my heart. It is the light that exposes darkness, revealing everything that tries to keep secret, hidden. It is impossible to hide from God.

The character of God sometimes frightens me. Sometimes I find that I have taken for granted my relationship with the Creator. I remember His righteous standards, and I fall short. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It is right to fear Adonai. It is right to give honor and glory to the King of Heaven. In His mercy, He remembers that I am mere dust and draws me close. He alone is God. There is no other.

I am not alone in this terror of God. Job experienced this terror. “This is why I am terrified of him; the more I think about it, the more afraid I am.” Job 23:15 (CJB)

Isaiah responds similarly, “Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! —because I, a man with unclean lips, living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot!” Isaiah 6:5 (CJB)

Fear should lead us to worship for surely He is worthy of our praise and adoration.

 

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Psalm 62:5-7

I love this. My own struggles reflected in the psalmist’s description. The psalmist says, “my soul, wait.” He is instructing his soul. He is saying to himself, “don’t become anxious, just wait. God will come through.” He confirms that all that he wants or needs is found in the one true and living God, Y-H-W-H.

Our soul is the entirety of our being–mind, heart, and emotions. I hold nothing back–leave no thought to flutter away to other concerns. Every ounce of my being is focused on, expecting Him–His glory and majesty, His provision, His protection, who He is and what He has done. The Psalmist confirms this when he says, “He only . . .” (Emphasis added.)

The Psalms says, I wait “for God alone.” This single-minded devotion is a natural out-flow of the command in Deuteronomy 6:5 (the Shema) to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” The Psalmist is modeling for us the life lived under the yoke of heaven.

I confess with the Psalmist, I have no other Gods before Him. He is my heart’s one desire. Worshiping God is what I was made for, but it is also what I most enjoy.

And so I wait as the Psalmist waited. In the waiting, God comes. After He comes, I wait enveloped in His presence. His Shekinah glory lights me up!

I wait silently. As Solomon said, “God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.” In the silence, I am filled with expectation–hope. Hope for provision, hope for protection, hope for healing, hope for renewal, hope for revival, hope for the future here and with Him–the endless eternal with God.

The Psalmist gives voice to his expectation in verses 6 and 7. Speaking of Adonai, he says, “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense . . . In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

God is my rock–unlike sand or soil, He doesn’t shift or move. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is my rock of strength–a place where no enemy can reach me. He is my hiding place. In Psalm 27:5, the Psalmist tells us “in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”

My experiential knowledge (not mere book knowledge) of God’s character as my rock and my strength–allows me to say with the Psalmist–“I will not be moved. I will not be shaken.”

 

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Jeremiah chapter 2 lays out the causes of an unfortunately all-to-familiar phenomenon in the life of a God-follower: Falling away. In modern church-speak it may be called apostasy or drifting. Those who fall away lose their taste for the things of God, His Word, His presence, and His people. They are often lacking self-awareness and personal accountability for their conduct. They may seek to blame others for their failures and for their own apostasy.

To “fall away” is really a misnomer. Falling suggests lack of control or choice. Make no mistake, falling away is a choice–a series of little, seemingly inconsequential choices. It may be simple things. For example, Psalm 1:1-3 outlines warns against bad company. Moses warned them about the choices in the wilderness, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

In Jeremiah chapter 2, we are given additional valuable insight into why Israel had fallen away from God, and how He viewed their apostasy.

Falling Away Occurs where there is Ungratefulness

Neither did they say, ‘Where is the Lord, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination. Jeremiah 2:6-7 (NKJV)

God notes that His people either disregarded or forgotten all that God had done or them in bringing them out of Egypt and caring for them the forty years in the wilderness. They have so disregarded what He had given them as to defile it by their worship of idols and other related abominations. He accuses them of being ungrateful for His provision of the land of Israel with its bounty. This ungratefulness has contributed to their falling away.

Falling Away Occurs under Poor Leadership

The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Jeremiah 2:8 (NKJV)

God, through the prophet, describes the situation where the priests, those responsible to teach and guide the people in spiritual things, did not have a relationship with Him. He goes on to say those entrusted with political leadership sinned against His law, and finally, the prophets, who were to speak the word of the Lord to the people, failed and turned to idols. The Israelites didn’t have elections to choose their leaders as we do today in state and federal government, but they did have the ability to speak out against corrupt and ungodly leadership, especially in the house of God. Leaders can be wrong and misleading. It may be intentional or a drifting away from the truth. We must be diligent to always test what is being said from the pulpit or the lectern against the absolute truth of God’s Word.

Falling Away means forsaking God for false Gods and Self-reliance

“Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate,” says the Lord. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:11-13 (NKJV)

This passage is so sad. God counts apostasy as a two-fold offense. First Israel rejects the true and living God, who has been faithful to them–who has given life and sustained life as the fountain of living water. Instead of living water, they choose polluted water, the kind that comes from broken cisterns which cannot even hold the rain water but allow it to be defiled by mixing with the dirt around it. Non-potable, unuseable, unable to sustain life. It is a choice to die, and God says as much through the prophet Jeremiah.

Self-reliance and self-confidence are two enemies of the believer today. It is easy to build up your personal strength rather than your reliance on God. It is a subtle difference, but one which can lead to less trust in God and more on one’s own abilities and resources. Life comes from living water. The living water comes from God–He is the source of living water–the water that brings with it life. We need to come to that fountain and forsake the broken cisterns of our own making.

Falling Away occurs where there is Resistance to God’s Correction

“Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me,” says the Lord. “In vain I have chastened your children; they received no correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.” Jeremiah 2:29-30 (NKJV)

Correction is an essential part of being a child of God. It speaks of a close and ongoing relationship between each of us and God. We know we are loved because He corrects and teaches us. Moreover, one who receives correction is wise. (Proverbs 15:5) When we refuse God’s correction and ignore His discipline, we become distanced from Him and apostasy consequence.

Throughout the writings of the Major and Minor Prophets, God warns Israel about apostasy and falling away from Him. He gives them opportunities to come back and be restored to relationship with Him, but in the end, judgment falls in Israel and they go into captivity because they fail and refuse to return to God. May we learn the lessons taught in the pages of the Hebrew Bible. God is not mocked. What a man sows, that will he reap.

Let us consider ourselves: the company we keep, the hardness of our hearts, our resistance to God’s correction, the weakness of the leaders we follow, and the tendency in our hearts towards self-reliance. Be warned that such attitudes and conduct lead to a falling away from God. Beloved, choose life! Return to your first love.

 

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 Amplified

Why is it important to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean? This verse is familiar to many and often quoted as a means to remind ourselves of our true identity as believers in Yeshua.

If I am crucified with Christ, I share my identity with Christ. I am saying, “What Christ is–I am too.” By identifying with Christ in this way, I am saying to the world that I want to be treated as Christ was–not given any special treatment or benefits not given to Him. It means that I must share in Christ’s suffering including His rejection by His society, His peers. I must not seek to be approved by the world or its religious systems–rather I must seek only the approval of Adonai as Yeshua was approved by Him. (See Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5)

Without entering into His sacrificial death, I have no way to approach God. By entering into His crucifixion, I join myself to Christ–accepting His sacrifice for me–essentially making it my sacrificial offering to God for my sin–past, present and future. As a result, I can enter into the presence of the Holy One, Adonai, blessed be His name.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we are told, He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious loving kindness]. (Amplified)

This verse presents the real reason to enter into His crucifixion–either He died to deliver you and me, or He didn’t. Once I have identified with Christ–it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 5:20)

The reality is that when I am crucified with Christ, identifying with His crucifixion and sacrificial death, I am acknowledging certain truths about God and about myself (as part of the human race):

1. Adonai (the God of the Hebrew Bible, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) exists;

2. Adonai is holy and unapproachable by sinful man, or said another way, sinful man apart from shed blood cannot approach a holy God).

3. The Christ (Jesus of Nazareth), is also God. While he lived as a man, He provided a perfect (complete) sacrifice, acceptable to God for the payment for the sin of mankind–past, present and future.

4. I acknowledge that I am a sinner by Adonai’s holy and reasonable (just) standard;

5. I need and want this sacrifice of Yeshua, made on a Roman cross on a hill in a rock quarry outside the walls of the Jerusalem 2000+ years ago, to be applied to my life, my sins;

6. I accept the lordship of Adonai over my life now and for eternity. (Pictured here is the piercing of the ear of the slave who agrees to stay with his master by choice–I am the bond servant of Christ.)

That is how I die and Christ lives in me.

I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (Amplified)

How will I know I have made this commitment–allowed these truths to bind me to Adonai? It think it will be the distinctive of love that marks my life. Yeshua said this, By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another. John 13:35 (Amplified)

Beloved, as we enter this season of preparation for our remembrance of Resurrection Sunday, let us consider what it means for each of us to be crucified with Christ, and let us live as witnesses of the truth of the risen Christ, with clean hands and pure hearts, awaiting Christ’s soon return.

It is our desire to help you grow in your knowledge of God and His Word. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust [confidently] in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. Psalm 52:8 (Amplified)

How am I like a green olive tree in the house of God?

I am well-watered by the Word of God which washes over me daily as I study the scriptures. I am planted in the fertile soil–plenty of manure has fallen all around me over the years making the soil rich. I live in the glory of the Son which shines perpetually on me. And because olive trees grow wild if not properly tended, Adonai, the gardener, regularly prunes me for better growth and production.

I don’t strive to grow or worry about my leaves being green enough or when the rain will fall or how my branches will be trimmed–I confidently trust in the lovingkindness of my God, my Abba–forever and ever. I am His and He has never forsaken the righteous.

 

Branches of an Olive Tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

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I will give you treasures hoarded in the dark, secret riches hidden away,
so that you will know that I, Adonai, calling you by your name, am the God of Isra’el.
Isaiah 45:3 (Complete Jewish Bible)

This scripture is a reminder that there are times of intimacy with God that can only be understood and received in times of darkness, times of deep testing, seasons of isolation, seasons of sorrow. Times when the enemy seems to be getting the upper hand.

In such times, the believer may slip into what seems to be impenetrable darkness only to eventually discovery they are in a well-lit cave of treasures with Adonai–the King of Heaven. In these one-on-one times with the Adonai, it is possible to enjoy a closeness and intimacy with God. These can be times of great refreshing in the middle of a storm or trial when the believe is hidden in a cloak of darkness with the Light of the World.

So when the time of crushing is upon you and you feel darkness descend, consider Adonai may be leading you to a secret, hoarded treasure of His presence and the secret places of fellowship with the lover of your soul.

 

If you are looking for Bible study resources or other materials, visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Psalm 62:5-7

I love this. I see myself in the psalmist’s description of himself. I wait before God–Adonai Eloheinu–the King of the Universe. I bring everything–all of me–and I wait. The psalmist says, “my soul waits.” The soul speaks of the entire being–mind, heart, emotions. I hold nothing back–leave no thought to flutter away to other concerns. Every ounce of my being is focused on His glory and majesty–who He is and what He has done. It is a natural out-flow of the command in Deuteronomy 6:5 (the Shema) to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

I wait only for God–“for God alone.” I have no other Gods before Him. He is my heart’s one desire.

In the waiting, God comes. So I wait in His presence.

I wait silently. As Solomon said, “God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.” In the silence, I am filled with expectation–hope.

The Psalmist explains the expectation in verses 6 and 7: “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense . . . In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength,
and my refuge, is in God.” Several truths about God are embedded in these two short verses.

God is my rock–unlike sand or soil, He doesn’t shift or move. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is my rock of strength–a place where no enemy can reach me. He is a hiding place. In Psalm 27:5, the Psalmist tells us “in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” The imagery is similar to this section of Psalm 62.

God’s presence–His character as my rock and my strength–allows me to say with the Psalmist–“I will not be moved. I will not be shaken.”

 

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The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1.

Even the psalmist acknowledges the presence of darkness in his life. To expect that in our life with God we will never encounter darkness is naive and foolish. Darkness is the human condition made worse by pride and self-righteousness. (See Romans 1) The psalmist also acknowledges that fear accompanies darkness like a one-two punch.

But God . . . God is light. It is the very essence of who He is. He has control over light–and consequently, darkness. After all, He spoke light into existence. (See Genesis 1:3)

The beauty of light is that it doesn’t compete with darkness rather light banishes darkness. Darkness must flee when light comes. Although often considered opposites, light is so much more powerful than darkness.

That being said, it is important to remember that God is the original source of light. He brings light into me, His vessel, and fills me with it. His light in me represents the work of salvation in me and everyone who is born again. (See John 3:16-21) God entered the dark abyss of my God-less soul and banished the darkness that had been there by bringing the light of His presence. His light–His very essence–dwells within me.

For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. Psalm 18:28.

Fear not, Beloved, God is your light and your salvation. He will not allow the darkness to overtake you. Stand fast.

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