All Israel Shall Be Saved

Romans 11:26
And so all Israel shall be saved:

From the foundation of the world, it was ordained.
Israel will be saved.
No doubt about it. God does not change.

The ironic thing is that the majority of Israelites don’t even know that they are Israel. There were twelve tribes of Israel, and Judah was only one of them. There are many Israelites walking around this planet with no knowledge of who they are, only knowing that they feel drawn to the God who chose Israel in the beginning. And that almighty God has declared them saved! Rebellious or not, they are His children, and He is still calling them back to Him, even down through the generations.

Romans 3:29
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles?
Yes, of the Gentiles also:

The Israelites that were dispersed throughout the world many generations ago may see themselves as Gentiles, but God knows exactly what their family line is. No matter what their lives are now, God has a plan to bring them into His kingdom.

For those who do not have Israelite ancestry, there is a choice to be made. The evidence of God permeates our world, and they are given freedom to choose to believe and follow Him or to turn away.

I think our evangelistic efforts should focus on finding and encouraging those who have God’s calling within them. It is not a matter of introducing the idea of God, but simply giving them a name for the Person they already sense speaking in their hearts and then helping them to know Him better. As those people turn to their rightful God, there will naturally be a reaction among the Gentiles, drawing many to be grafted in alongside returning Israel.
Two House Tree borrowed from JoyfullyGrowingInGrace

1 Corinthians 12:13
For by one Spirit are we all baptized
into one body,
whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink
into one Spirit.

Ephesians 3:6
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body,
and partakers of his promise in Christ
by the gospel:

Israel is the root, and the Gentiles are branches grafted in. Each is a vital part of the tree, and all are equally important. (Rom 11:17-27)

The roots go deep into Christ. They support the branches and send water from the ground to every twig, while the branches seek light, process it, and share that nourishment with the roots.  In Christ, they grow together in love.

What an incredible gift our great Creator has given us that we ALL have access to eternal life in Him through the sacrifice of His Son!

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I Think, Therefore I Create

One thing that I find fascinating is to compare how words are grouped in different cultures.  There are languages which use the same word for green and blue, for instance, and many words simply don’t translate from one language to another.  In Spanish, the verb hacer means “to make” or “to do.”  I would have considered them two completely different ideas, but the same verb works for both.  We differentiate between “his” and “hers,” while in Spanish the same pronoun suffices for both.  On the other hand, the English “we” can indicate either gender, while in Spanish there are two “we” words, one for females only and one used for males or mixed company.

 

The one that struck me today was Creo.  It means “I think” or “I believe,” but it also means “I create.”  Somehow that seemed significant to me.  Sort of a variation on “I think, therefore I am.” 

I think, therefore I create. 

Because really, every worthwhile thought is a creation.  If you are only regurgitating the thoughts of another person, you aren’t truly thinking.  If you are mulling, pondering, considering, contemplating, cogitating…then your thoughts are indeed a new creation.

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Death is Not Goodbye

In Spanish, there are two different verbs, ser and estar, which both mean “to be.”  One is a permanent, unchangeable state, while the other refers to a temporary condition or location.  In English we might say, “I am a woman,” “I am on the beach,” or “I am sleepy.”  They all say “I am,” and don’t differentiate between a permanent and a temporary condition.  In Spanish, the first of those sentences would be expressed using ser, while the others would use estar

It takes a bit of time to learn all the nuances of usage, and a few days ago I learned that muerto, the word for dead, is always properly preceded by the verb estar rather than ser.  Isn’t it interesting that it is imbedded into the Spanish language that death is only a temporary condition?  

So instead of saying goodbye, we can say, “Hasta luego.”  See you later, my friend!

 

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Drunk With the Spirit

And be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit;— 

Ephesians 5:18

What is it like to be filled with the Spirit?  There are several perceptions of that phrase.  We may picture people dancing and babbling incoherently and falling to the ground, or we may see it as simply a silent <whoosh> of peace and joy that settles over a believer when he or she accepts the Lord.

Both of those images may be accurate, because this verse in Ephesians tells us that, rather than getting drunk, we should get filled with the Spirit!  Do we think of it that way?  “Hey, it’s been a rough day…a long week…let’s just unwind and go get filled with the Spirit tonight!”  

Think about what happens when a person drinks.  When alcohol first hits your system, you find yourself relaxing.  All the things that have been causing stress seem to recede.  Your muscles relax and you are able to sleep better.  But this verse doesn’t compare being Spirit-filled with just a few sips of wine—it compares it to being drunk!  So let’s take it a bit further.

As you drink more, you will focus less on yourself.  Your insecurity and self-consciousness will melt away.  You quit worrying about what you look like or whether your grammar is perfect.  You will talk more easily and not be embarrassed.

Another thing that happens with alcohol consumption is that you notice less of the world around you.  Things that may have really upset you when completely sober become nothing more than a minor irritation.  You not only notice less, but you remember less and you actually feel less.  Surprisingly, with all the noise and activity around you diminished, you find you are able to meditate very deeply on the few things that you are still thinking about.  You may find surprising new insights in a very simple idea (or at least, you think that you do.)

You also may notice that your world is rocking.  You might feel disoriented, and things that you thought were solid and dependable may seem to shift as you lean on them.  Eventually, you may actually lose control of what your body is doing.

This is a subject that I’ve never heard a sermon about, but isn’t it amazing to compare these two things?  I’ve heard this verse all my life, but never actually grasped that it was saying that being filled with the Holy Spirit is better than getting drunk!  And by “better,” I don’t mean that Spirit-filling is more calm and dignified.  I think that in our solemn churchiness, we have sometimes distanced ourselves from the fact that this can be a wild ride!  Yes, the Spirit-filled life will calm your anxiety, it will quiet down the noise of the world around you, it will block out the insistent screechings of daily life and allow you to focus deeply on the basic questions of life.  But it will also make you less concerned about what the people around you think and more determined to do what has been put in your heart.  You may talk to strangers more, and you won’t be as upset when you are rebuffed.  You will find that hurts of the past become unimportant.

And sometimes it will completely rock your world.  You may find that being controlled by the Spirit is disorienting, that you will end up in situations that you never anticipated.  You may find yourself doing things you never dreamed of before.  The things that you have depended on for stability in the past may begin to totter.  That’s not always a comfortable feeling, but no one can deny that it’s exciting!  The difference is that, when the Spirit rocks your world and your supports are falling down, there is always a solid Rock underneath. 

This verse says not to be drunk, because when you get too much alcohol…there is no doubt that you’re going to be sorry later.  On the other hand, being filled with the Spirit will never give you a hangover and regrets.  When you are Spirit-controlled, there is no crash when the drug leaves your system, because our Lord has promised, “I will never leave you, neither will I forsake you.” 

The high just goes on and on.

Forever.

 

 

 

Some information on drunkenness for this article was gathered from here and here.

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Diverse Together

While listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss this morning (I highly recommend her current series on the Wonder of His Name) I became intrigued with the fact that our Lord is so diverse, such a study in contrasts.  We hear that He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, and I tend to think of that in relation to time, but even in the Now, Jesus is diversity personified.

One of the elders said to me, “Don’t cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Y’hudah, the Root of David, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the sevenfold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth.
Rev 5:5-6  CJB

I don’t know how I managed to read that passage so many times without realizing how very surprising it is.  John is told, “Behold the Lion,” and he looks up to see…a Lamb.  If you were to happen on that passage by accident, you would assume that either there was a typo or the writer was really confused.  Was it a lion or a lamb?  A lion who had won or a lamb that had been slaughtered?  There’s a pretty big difference!

But, as Nancy pointed out, He is both.  And that’s what makes our God so amazing. 

How can the most powerful Being ever, the one who created the entire universe, completely surrender—actually allow himself to be killed by His own creation?  How can the one who is beaten and slain by His adversaries come out victorious?  How can He be both meek and mighty at the same time?

And then I remember that we are being changed into His image.

So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord; and we are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by Adonai the Spirit.  2 Cor 3:18  CJB

 But that makes it even more confusing.  Am I to be changed into a lion or into a lamb?  Are lamb and lion different degrees of glory?  Is there one time to be a lion and another time when I should be a lamb?  But no, I don’t think so.  Jesus is completely a roaring, powerful, majestic Lion, but at the exact same time, He is absolutely the meek, harmless, gentle Lamb.  It’s another of those conundrums that I simply can’t fold my mind around.  He can be both at the same time, because He is God.

Notice in the 2 Corinthians passage above that all of us are being changed into His image.  It’s not just me who is being changed into his image; it’s all of his children!

Dear friends, we are God’s children now; and it has not yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when he appears, we will be like him; because we will see him as he really is.   1 John 3:2 CJB

And suddenly, it makes sense that WE—the entire body of believers—will be like Him.  I cannot be like Christ on my own.  I am not big enough to encompass such a huge spectrum of perfection.  But His plan is that all His people, together, will be like Him.

When I think of how very diverse my Lord is, how many facets there are to His nature, I realize that we, the body of Christ, will never be just alike.  We won’t look alike, act alike, or think alike.  Some will be lions, some will be lambs, some will be starters, some will be finishers, some are peacemakers, and some are warriors.  Our God doesn’t want cookie-cutter Christians.  Look at the amazingly diverse people He has used throughout time to accomplish His plan—a king, a harlot, a fisherman, a blind man, a lunatic, an adulteress, a shepherd, a businesswoman, a soldier.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:1-5  NASB

Just as a machine has many and varied parts,
so does the body of Christ.  The parts are shaped
differently and function in a variety
of ways,
but all work together to fulfill the end result.

One bolt that anchors the unit is just as important as the most complex gear, and a motherboard cannot function without that one tiny dot of solder.  Every part, however small, is vital.

And what a miracle that it all works together, this body of believers.  All those different shapes, different personalities, different gifts coming together to express the fullness, the all-encompassing, perfectly complete nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are changed into his image…from one degree of glory to the next.

And we are Diverse.  Together.

 

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Broken

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
thou wilt not despise.
Ps. 51:17  KJV

We are to bring our broken hearts and broken spirits, sacrifice them to the Lord.  He doesn’t want us to remain broken.

 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.      Psalm 34:17-18  ESV

What I sometimes forget is that God also breaks.  He does not allow uncleanness and waywardness among His beloved people.  We are all like bones that have healed crookedly, and we need to be broken and straightened.

O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us;
You have been angry; O, restore us.
That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and answer us!       Ps 60:1, 5  NASB

And He listens.  He wants to restore us.  We give Him our brokenness, we are sorry for our sin, and He gives us wholeness.  He creates an entirely new heart, one that is turned toward Him.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.   Ps 51:8-10 ESV

God breaks those things which displease Him, but when we are truly repentant, when we return to Him begging for His favor, He gives it.

 He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.    Ps 147:3

With those who do not see the foolishness of their ways, however, that’s not the case.

Therefore his [the wicked person’s] calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.   Prov 6:15    NASB

No healing.  If there is no repentance, God is not going to fix it.  Praise God that He is patient.  He is always listening, waiting for us to realize that we need Him.  He is here, and He offers the perfect solution.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 
Isaiah 61:1  and confirmed by Jesus in Luke 4:18

He is ready and waiting to give the cure, but I must ask for it.  I must first be broken, and know that I am broken, so that I can ask for His mercy, and He will heal me.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how one responds to being broken.  If being broken leads me to repentance and sorrow for my sin, then God is faithful to bring healing.  If no repentance occurs, the end is disastrous.

And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.   
Matthew 21:44 and Luke 20:18

Let me fall on You, Jesus, my Rock, the Cornerstone of all creation.
Break me, yes, but create in me a new heart, a new spirit—one that is fit to dwell with You.
Make me perfectly, completely Yours, so that I will never need to be broken again.

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Jesus Is My Now

Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”  Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
  John 11:21-27

Martha knew that Jesus could have cured the illness.  Lazarus could have been healed.  Jesus had done it before.  She also knew that the righteous would live again someday.  But she grieved the loss of her brother, because she knew that death was final.  It was over.  Lazarus was dead.

Like Martha, we may believe that Jesus will come again and raise us from the dead…some sweet day.  And that He created us…once upon a time.  But do I believe that He can give me new life Now?  Today?  Do I believe that He can take away my fear, my addiction, my lack of self control… this very minute?   I should believe it, because Jesus is not only the beginning and the end.  He is also the Now.

Why is it so easy to believe that miracles and amazing events have happened or that they will happen, but so much harder to trust that He IS here with me and working in me right now?  That my Jesus can change my circumstances–can change ME!–in the twinkling of an eye?

It’s because we are trusting in our feelings.  I don’t FEEL anything happening within me, so how can Jesus be in control?  I often feel pretty weak, so I think that surely my all-powerful God is hanging out somewhere else today.

Does God tell us to trust our feelings?  Are we to put our faith only in what we can see and touch?  We tend to believe that sometimes it’s just too late, but God doesn’t see things that way at all!  When Thomas heard that Jesus was alive, he was skeptical.  Who wouldn’t be?  We know that dead means DEAD.  But Jesus was alive!  And our Lord gave Thomas a gentle rebuke, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”  He doesn’t want us to depend on our own eyes and our own hands; He wants us to trust.

Martha wanted to believe.  In v. 22 she says, “I know that even now, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  She was trying to talk herself into believing in Jesus in the Now.  But when it came right down to it, she didn’t.  In v. 39, when Jesus told them to take away the stone, she protested– It’s been four days!  By now he stinks.  She knew what happened to dead bodies—they decayed.  She certainly had no desire to see (and smell) that!

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.  And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
John 11:32-37

Did you ever wonder why Jesus wept? 

He surely wasn’t mourning Lazarus–Jesus knew that Lazarus was not gone forever. But He saw the despair around Him.  The people were sorrowing, they wished He had gotten there…in time.   They believed it was too late.  Perhaps Jesus wept for us…for our unbelief.  He wants us to be like Him, trusting completely and resting in the Father, but He also knows how hard it is.  And He wept.

He feels our sorrows.  He understands our grief.  He realizes what it is like to want to believe, to almost trust completely, to tell ourselves that we believe wholeheartedly, while still retaining, somewhere in the depths of our humanness, that little pocket of unbelief.

I think Jesus wept for our uncertainty, for all the pain it causes us.  He bore our pain, He knows all about it.  And with His tears, He says, “Father, forgive them.”

He feels my pain and fear.  Right this minute.
He begs forgiveness for me.  Today.  Right now.
He can change me in a moment.  This instant.

Jesus is my Now.

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