Understanding John 1:48 from a Hebrew Perspective

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The New Testament is filled with rich, enigmatic stories that can only be properly understood if kept in their cultural context. John 1 contains one such story.

After Yeshua called Philip to follow Him, Philip immediately became a fisher of men himself and went to share the news of the Messiah’s coming with Nathanael. When Yeshua saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael’s response was one of surprise. He realized that Yeshua had an intimate knowledge of who he was. Yeshua saw beyond his exterior; Yeshua read his heart.

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Yeshua answered Nathanael with these words:

I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

This verse may lead one to believe that Nathanael was doing something very secretive underneath that tree. Something he didn’t want anyone to know anything about. However, this isn’t the case at all!

If one dives into the Hebrew roots and culture of that time and understands this passage from a Jewish perspective, John 1:48 makes beautiful and perfect sense.

In those days, it was customary for rabbinical students to pray under the fig tree. Those studying the law under the fig trees were taught to pray while they were under the tree. They were also taught to pray for the coming of the Messiah because the rabbis believed that if one hadn’t prayed for the coming of the Messiah under the fig tree, one hadn’t prayed at all.

Nathanael knew that Yeshua was Who had been praying for under that tree.

For more insight on the Jewish roots of the scripture HERE is a great resource!

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Why I Don’t Judge Others

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I’m sure that you’ve heard the adage judge not lest you be judged – which is a verse often cited by people who are good at deflecting guilt. With that said, people who recite this verse have a point. And that point is that we shouldn’t judge other people and the reason why is simple. We don’t have a right to judge people unless we are perfect. Until we have perfected our own life and live in complete purity, it’s simply not a good idea to judge people.

There are several reasons why I don’t judge other people. One of the reasons I don’t judge others is because I am too busy trying to get myself together. I’m tending my own garden. I’m busy washing the dishes in my own sink, and simply don’t have the time to chastise someone for the dirty dishes in their sink. I’m busy trying to remove logs out of my own eye so that I can see clearly to remove specks out of the eyes of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m simply not in a position to judge.

It’s said in the scripture that eventually Christians will judge the world and even angels. However, this occurs at the end of the age, after Christians have been transformed and made new. We don’t have resurrected bodies just yet. When we are made perfect and whole (at the end of the age) we will judge angels… but not before then. If we try to judge before then, we will (naturally) have flawed judgment. It’s not possible to judge without flaws in a flawed body. I’m not flawless. Therefore I do not judge others.

The second reason I don’t judge others is because Scripture says that man judges by human appearance but God judges by the heart. I’m guilty of making assumptions about a person based on what I see on the outside (their circumstances and situation, what I may perceive as their morals and values), but I can only psychoanalyze to a certain level. I cannot see a person’s heart. I don’t know what’s going through a person’s mind.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. The truth is – things are not always as they seem. This is the reason God tells us that you can’t judge based on what you see.

Since I don’t know a person’s struggle and what’s happening in their heart, it’s not possible for me to make an accurate judgment – in fairness. Flawed judgment is another reason that Christians should walk in continued forgiveness towards others – because we don’t always know about the internal struggles of a person.

There are times when we might find that we aren’t even intimate with our own heartaches and pains. It’s possible (and common) to have emotional wounds within that you are unaware of. Many of us have little understanding of our own emotions and the complexity of our thoughts. Millions of people still haven’t figured out what makes them tick. They don’t know why they have the desires and vices that they have. They don’t know why they have certain habits or think certain thoughts. If it’s possible to not (fully) understand the contents of your own heart, how can you know the heart of a stranger? How can you judge?

What Do You Have in Your Hand?

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In some cultures, when a baby turns one they do something special on their birthday. The parents put the baby in a highchair and place different objects in front of them – things like a pen, money, paintbrush, prayer book, hammer and a host of various items needed for different professions. It’s thought that the object that the child chooses corresponds to what’s in their future. For example, a child who chooses money may have a future as a business person. The tradition is superstitious, but it does remind us of one key truth – that what a person has in their hands determines what they’ll accomplish.

When God sent Moses, He asked Moses a question to prepare the prophet for the task ahead. The question was, “What’s in your hand?” God already knew what was in Moses’ hand, but God wanted Moses to have a deeper awareness of this principle. God wanted Moses to understand that God could use something small and insignificant (in this case a stick) to do a great and significant work.

When we give what we have in our hands to Him, He can take something simple and transform it into something amazing. When Moses threw the stick on the ground, he realized that he had more than just a stick in his hand. He had a calling on his life and even more significantly, he had the backing of God.

Everyone has something in their hands. To be a blessing to others, use what you have in your hand. I’ve been using the pen, but some people are given other things. Some people have a beautiful voice, or a good sense of humor, or business savvy, or a knack for encouraging others – if that is what God has given you – then use it. There are a million different gifts and talents – whatever your gifts and talents are, use it for His glory. God has invested in you, and He expects a return.

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace and various times.

We are Made in His Image (The Trinity)

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The Trinity is one of the most controversial and misunderstood subjects in theology. It has divided many Christians and even separated us into factions between those who believe that God is three and one and those who do not.

However, I think that the evidence for the Trinity is seen in man himself, whom God made in His own image. In man, we have three parts  – spirit, soul, and body. And in God, we see three manifestations -a spirit (the Holy Spirit) – a soul (the Father) – and the body (the Son).

We see throughout scripture that often the word used for spirit and soul are used interchangeably. However, we know that there is a distinction between the two. The word for soul in the Hebrew is the word nephesh. This word is best described as the literal soul and is a representation of a person’s life, emotions, desires, mind, and passion. It is the activity of his will.

However, the spirit is a different word in the Hebrew. The word spirit is ruwach. This word spirit is described as wind or breath. I believe that the spirit (or ruwach) is simply the energy or force that emits from the soul.

We have a spirit, a soul, and a body. We are triune. We are made in His image.

God has a spirit, a soul, and a body. He is triune. This is the nature of the Trinity.

Is a Competitive Spirit a Good Thing?

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When we ask if a competitive spirit is a good thing, the first thing I think we should ask ourselves is which word is more important in the phrase “competitive spirit”? Is it the word “competitive” or the word “spirit”? I think it’s the word spirit because that is precisely what it is. And any spirit that doesn’t quite resemble the Holy Spirit is a spirit that you don’t want to have.

Is the Holy Spirit competitive?

When you compare the difference in characteristics between the Holy Spirit and a competitive spirit, you’ll find that there is a stark difference. A competitive spirit is prideful, it always strives for more, it’s greedy, it’s not content or satisfied, it grasps for the wind.

The Holy Spirit, however, is humble. The Holy Spirit is peaceful and fulfilled, joyful and content. The Holy Spirit doesn’t grasp for the wind because the Holy Spirit is the Wind. There are stark differences between a competitive spirit and the Holy Spirit.

Competition isn’t encouraged in the Bible – not in the Old or New Testament. Ultimately, the Christian’s goal should be to look like Christ.

Is Christ in competition?

When Christ walked the earth, the Pharisees and religious authorities were in competition with Christ, but Christ wasn’t competing with them. Christ didn’t compete with anyone. Christ was the very nature of God, but did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; instead, he emptied himself, and took on the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.

When the disciples of Christ displayed a competitive spirit and quarreled about who was the greatest disciple, Christ rebuked them and told them that the greatest among them should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. They were not encouraged to compete for the title of super-apostle. Instead, they learned the highest form of power is servitude and humility.

2 Corinthians 10:12: We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

 

What Every Christian Should Know About Fasting

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Fasting is not an option. If you are a Christian, fasting should be part of your Christian walk. If you have never fasted, I highly suggest you do it. However, before your fast, there a few things you should know.

1. Not everyone is ready for 25 days on water.

When I was in my early 20’s, I could fast for three days (water only) with relative ease. But, my diet was also a wreck so I had extra fat reserves. Now that I’m healthier, older, thinner and have a child,  I’m ready to fall on the floor the second day of water fasting. My husband, on the other hand, could fast 25 days on water with ease, but he’s also a superhero which is another story. I felt guilt about my inability to fast for long periods until I watched Marilyn Hickey speak on fasting.  She explained that three day water fasts don’t work out well for her either, so she lives a fasted life. Each day she foregoes a meal or two. I made a commitment to live a fasted life.

2. A fast from television is NOT a Biblical fast.

With that said, everyone should fast from tv and technology because many people (including Christians) are addicted. However, Biblical fasts always involves food – it never involves entertainment.

3. When you fast you should avoid tv commercials.

The only thing that you’ll see on television during fasts are burgers and pizza. Also, people will invite you to birthday parties and dinner parties. A million people will call you at once to invite you to eat. This happens to me every time I fast. Don’t fall for it. Be socially prepared for fasting and prepare to turn invitations down because whatever you are doing for God is more important than what you were going to do with friends or family.

4. The devil will throw the kitchen sink at you when you fast.

My husband and I went on a forty day fast together several months ago, and the spiritual warfare was intense from day one!! It’s not uncommon to encounter spiritual warfare during a fast – be prepared – wear the armor of God. God knows you are fasting for His glory and He will help you.

5. Fasting breaks chains, demolishes strongholds, and it sets people free.

Fasting provides revelation – fasting can give you answers. Fasting is one of the most beautiful and powerful weapons God has given us. Use fasting to your advantage.

Difficult Season for You? Fast!

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Are things going a little crazy in your life? Are you dealing with confusion? Are you mentally or emotionally drained? If you are going through a difficult time – I have one recommendation – fast!

Fasting exposes the enemy.

I know what it’s like to be in a position where you are wondering “Why God?” “Why is this happening to me?” I know what it’s like to feel stuck. But, I also know that fasting brings answers.

Fasting brings revelation. Fasting brings understanding. Fasting opens your eyes and makes you more sensitive.

Whenever you deny something as essential as food to get closer to God, you become more sensitive to spiritual things and the voice of God. You receive revelation because you’re not focused on yourself – you are focused on Him; and when you’re focused on Him, wisdom and understanding come.

True story: my husband and I bought a beautiful bohemian rug for our living area. We spent a lot of time on the rug. We didn’t know that our rug was leaking dye. The skin is your largest organ and absorbs anything that you place on it – in this case, we were absorbing synthetic dye. We didn’t know it. We weren’t aware of what was happening to us.

For some reason, we felt compelled to go on a fast. During the fast, we discovered that the rug was leaking unbeknownst to us. There was a danger in our home that we were completely unaware of, and I am certain that fasting exposed the danger.

Fasting exposes danger, but it also reveals revelation.

I’ve experienced scenarios like this on more than one occasion, and I know that many, many other Christians have experienced the benefits and power of fasting.

Fasting provides direction, revelation and understanding but another key component of fasting is that it exposes the enemy. If you are going through a difficult season, fast and get answers. If you are enduring hardship, then fast, gain clarity, and get free.

Does God Care About What You Eat?

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Does God care about what you eat?

The short answer is yes!

Food is a contentious subject among Christians. It’s almost as “controversial” as tithing. Money and food are two of the most powerful motivators in life, and people often want these areas all to themselves – completely free of any moral boundaries. But, is this what God wants?

We know a few things from scripture. We know that He speaks of money often. In the Old Testament, money is often connected with one of two things – either blessings or greed. And in the New Testament, we see more examples of money’s profound effect. But money isn’t the only issue that causes some Christians to clash – food is increasingly become an issue, especially as more and more Christians advocate a healthy diet.

The question is: Does God care about what you eat? But I think the question should be: Does God care about your body?

If the answer to the second question is yes. Then the answer to the first question is also yes.

God cares about what you eat.

He wants you healthy, and you don’t have to look far to discover that food has a profound effect on the body. I think it’s important to remember a few things:

  1. God wants you to prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
  2. Gluttony is a struggle for many of us, but nothing is unconquerable with the Holy Spirits’ help. His Grace is sufficient to help you even when you’re weak, and if you have a food addiction, there is hope in Him.
  3. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20