Turn Back

The simple message God wanted for his people to understand was to seek him with their whole heart. They needed to turn back to God and His ways. So when studying through Ezra and we get to chapter 3 we see that in the seventh month it says they came together as one man, they build an alter, and they offer burnt offerings – why? The explanation is in Numbers 29:1

“On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the Lord: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord.” (Numbers 29:1–6, ESV)

Before they could rebuild the Temple, before they could approach the Lord on His terms they had to have a sin offering, in other words they had to Repent and it had to be from the heart as ONE community.

Do we hear that message enough today? I have seen many books and articles now that speak of how the church is becoming more like the world around it and no longer looks separate and holy. So what shall we do? Well we could individually repent, but I think the key is in the first verse of chapter 3 of Ezra – “the people gathered as one man

Not only was there the opportunity for individual repentance, but there was opportunity for corporate repentance. We need to come together in our local communities and repent as a whole.We need to turn back to God’s ways and walk in obedience to the simple idea of “be holy, for the Lord your God is Holy”

Holiness is not some ethereal quality that is beyond our reach, but it is simply to be separated, set apart, and unique. Remember what Deut. 4:5-8 says?

“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5–8, ESV)  

This is a people that are holy, and reflect a Holy God, so that all the nations will look upon them, and see our Awesome, Amazing God and His Awesome and Amazing ways to LIVE!!

Is it no wonder that the first message we hear from both Jesus and John the Baptist is:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” (Matthew 3:2, ESV)

How about when the Holy Spirit came upon the people at Pentecost:

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:36–38, ESV)  

Paul proclaiming to King Agrippa his mission:

 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.” (Acts 26:19–21, ESV)

I like how in this verse something is very clear – why are they to repent? To perform deeds in keeping with their repentance. In other words once when we turn back to God, we are to perform deeds that are in alignment with that turning.

In turning back, in repenting and believing into Christ, is obedience not what is desired?

 “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” (Hebrews 5:9, ESV)

If I really desire to seek Him with all of my Heart, Mind, and Strength, does my repentance reflect that, and does my deeds reveal an obedient heart? So I have to ask the question of myself – How do I know God better – I must first repent personally, and with my community, so we are all in unity before Him as “one man”.


I just started teaching through the book of Ezra, and though I have studied this book before it always amazes me that each time we open a book there are new things that the Lord teaches us.

The southern Kingdom of Judah had watched as her sister Israel refuse to heed the warnings of the prophets that God had sent warning them to turn away from the worship of pagan Gods and immoral practices that went along with that worship. Judah would slip into the same pattern of harlotry and would also be exiled because of their sins. The problem was simple as the prophet Jeremiah details in chapter 25:

 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words,” (Jeremiah 25:8, ESV)

But the Lord has a plan and in Chapter 29 we see a wonderful hope:

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10–14, ESV)

They had learned a great lesson and must have had a change of heart for the promise above had a condition…”You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

I love the word picture that we get from the word Heart. The root Hebrew word for heart is “lev” and in the word picture that we get from the letters of the word form a picture of “that which controls the inside”. Everything about them emotion, thought, and will, which combined, control all that we are and do. These all need to be seeking after the Lord. When our desire is that strong, then we will find Him!

This should not have been new to them or a surprise, for if they had truly desired a relationship with the Lord then His words would have been a great treasure and they all would have a heart like that described in Psalm 119…

 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:9–16, ESV)

Do we love His word that much, how does it compare to the many other things that control our lives like TV, Internet, games etc.. What things in our lives consume our time? It is not that we can’t do those things that are a blessing in our lives to have, but what is the priority, what CONTROL my inside? Do I truly desire to follow our Lord in obedience? Here is the simple plan that God outlined for us..

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, ESV)

This passage is very clear…the Word of God should be the priority in our lives, unfortunately I believe many of us make it a short hobby that we occasionally make time for.

So I ask myself – how can I make God’s word a higher priority in my life…How can I worship more!!! Maybe it’s time to really talk about repentance.

Study and Worship

Dr John D Garr wrote:

“For many centuries study has been at the very heart of the Jewish experience, so much so that much of Judaism has considered study as the highest form of worship. Humbly submitting oneself to the wisdom of God revealed in the Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures) was viewed as worship, which literally meant to “prostrate oneself” before the Eternal. The Hebrew word for worship, dg”s] (segad), means to “bow down or do obeisance to,” and it has the connotation of total submission to a superior (as the king). The Greek translation of this word, proskunevw (proskunéo), is even more graphic, meaning to “kiss as a dog licking its master’s hand.” The decision to study God’s Word in order to do His Word is a meaningful act of submission and reverence–in short, it is worship. Study carried out with this motive is the very essence of Jewish learning. This is not study in order to understand; it is study in order to do. Abraham Joshua Heschel encapsulated this Jewish approach to study by saying that the Greeks study in order to understand while the Hebrews study in order to revere. God’s Word and ways are ineffable: only by doing them does one understand them.Study of God’s Word in order to mold one’s lifestyle to that Word is also worship in the truest sense of the English word worship, which means to “ascribe worth to.” When we fully submit our lives to God’s Word, when we study what he has said with complete devotion and intensity, we do, indeed, ascribe worth to him: we worship him.”

(Full article can be found here: http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/study-the-highest-form-of-worship/)

When I first began to study the Hebrew Language the hardest concept for me to grasp from my noun based American culture is that Hebrew is a Verb oriented language. In other words, it is a language of action. So the comments from Dr. Garr above really hit home with me. We study God’s Word in order to do His Word and in doing His Word we are entering into the Worship of our Lord.

I was pondering this verse in relationship to this action oriented language…

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14:21, ESV)

What do the terms “has my commandments” and “keeps them” really mean?

The word for “has” is the Greek word “echo” and the ESL defines it this way:

“…to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have (hold) possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating emotions, etc.), to hold fast keep, to have or comprise or involve, to regard or consider or hold as. 2 to have i.e. own, possess”. (Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)

This could be the idea that we see when Moses wrote these words: “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5–8, ESV)

Maybe whoever “has my commandments” is one who has been taught by them and they have become so much a part of their life that they possess his mind and mold his life in such a way that we reflect the Lord in our lives. Then we keep them, we act on them, we DO them, why? Because they point back to our amazing God and His amazing WORD.
When we DO God’s word we are essentially saying we TRUST what you have given to us and we are going to ACT on that trust…And that is the one who LOVES YESHUA.
He loved us first, but our love back to HIM is demonstrated in our ACTIONS OF OBEDIENCE!

So, how will I Worship the Lord in my life today?

To Know Him

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:3–4, ESV)

Each year I like to pick a Bible verse that will be my verse for the year, though this one may become my second life verse. My heart so yearns for this verse to be a reality in my life. To know the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah whom you have sent!! So I ask the question daily, how? The answer is so simple, yet in practice it seems so challenging at times. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, so if I really want to know Him then I must study them. But not in a way that I just want to gain knowledge, when I study I am always asking the question of how can I know Him better in these verses, or even sometimes in just a single word. The word “know” in the above passage is a very interesting word to look at. In the general Greek sense of the word ginosko it can be just intelligent comprehension, but the word that corresponds to this word in the Septuagint is the Hebrew word yada which according to the TWOT can be used for the most intimate acquaintance. I like what the Little Kittle has to say about the OT usage of the word

A movement of will is involved which means that ignorance is guilty. Knowledge is acknowledgment of God’s acts (Dt. 11:20), recognition that Yahweh is God (Dt. 4:39), and the honoring of his name and doing of his will (1 Sam. 2:12; Is. 1:3, etc.). Hence knowledge of God is much the same as fear of God” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. )

So in this blog I hope to share in my journey as I walk with my Lord and Savior Yeshua our Messiah.