MORE DEVOTIONALS

December 23, 2016

MORE DEVOTIONALS

 BARZILLAI’S KISS

 

Mention the word kiss and folks' ears tend to perk up.  And if you mention kissing in the Bible, that really gets folks' attention.  Kissing really is an ancient family greeting - most of the patriarchs expressed their devotions through kissing.

 

Some of the different kissers in the Bible include:

 

Orpah kissed Ruth - Ruth 1:4  (a goodbye kiss)

Samuel kissed Saul - I Samuel 10:1 (an anointing kiss)

Jacob kissed Isaac - Gen. 27:27  (a family kiss)

Jacob kissed Rachel - Gen. 29:11  (a love kiss)

David kissed Jonathan - I Sam. 20:41  (a friendship kiss)

False idols kissed - I Kings 19:18 (blasphemy kiss)

Judas kissed Yeshua Jesus - Matt. 26:49  (a betrayal kiss)

The father kissed the Prodigal son - Luke 15:20 (a father's kiss)

 

In II Samuel 19:31 on, we learn of Barzillai.  His name means strong or iron in Hebrew.  He sustained David and his men when they were being pursued by Absalom.  Barzillai was older than David, and perhaps served as a mentor to him, and offered David encouragement.

 

In II Kings 19:31, we read that David met up with Barzillai a second time.  Barzillai was four-score (eighty years old), the Bible tells us that he was 'a very great man'.  David invited Barzillai to return with him to Jerusalem, and David (now the king) promised to take care of him and sustain him there.

 

Barzillai reminded David of his age and of his limited abilities:

     Can I discern between good and evil?

     Can I taste what I eat or drink?

     Can I hear singing?

     Why should I burden you, the king?

 

He implored David to let him remain behind with his family, that he 'might die in his own city and be buried by the grave of his father and of his mother'.  Barzillai then Chimkam (his son or servant), to King David.  All the people went over the Jordan, and when the king came over,

     the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him.

 

Here we see Barzillai, an octogenarian, yet wise in his later years.  He was a great man.  Even though he was old, King David saw value in him and sought him out.  Barzillai sustained David during distress; now King David returns to repay the favor.  Yet Barzillai desires to remain behind with his family, and as he parts from David, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him.

 

Isn't it easy to see yourself at times like Barzillai?  Maybe your senses are getting a bit dull, you now need

reading glasses, or a hearing aid.  Maybe your skill and agility is bit less than it was when you were younger, or your discernment is a bit less.  Maybe you have struggled with an illness lately. 

 

Yet the King delights in you.

The King desires to kiss you with the kisses of His mouth. (Song of Solomon)

You are His delight.

He seeks you out, simply to tell you that He desires to kiss you and bless you.

He longs to provide for you.

You are precious in His sight.

He loves you so much, that He sent His own Son to die for you, that you might live.

 

Think of all His kisses to you:

He redeems your life from the pit

He heals all your diseases, colds, flubugs, etc.

He crowns you with lovingkindness.

He gives you good things.

He renews your youth like the eagle.

He performs righteous deeds for your behalf.

He makes His ways known to you.

He is gracious to you.

He is slow to anger.

He never deals with you according to your sins or iniquities.

His love to you is as high as the heavens.

As far as the east is from the west, that distance He has removed your transgressions

from you.

He has Fatherly compassion on you.

He is mindful that you are dust.

His love upon you is forever.

Psalm 103

 

He has chosen you (I Thess 1:4)

You are His workmanship (Eph 2:10)

He lavishes riches of grace upon you (Eph 1:8)

He makes known to you the mysteries of His will (Eph 1:9)

You are His heir (Gal. 4:7)

 

No eye has seen, nor ear has heard

no mind has conceived

what God has prepared for those who love him.  I Corin 2:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better than Chanel No.5 perfume


One of my favorite parts of Shabbat is the Havdalah service. Havdalah is the closing service, and it ends the twenty-four hour period of Shabbat. The service is short, and its purpose serves to distinguish between the Sabbath and the rest of the week. The word Havdalah is Hebrew and it means isolation or separation. To God, the sacred is always separate from the secular. That is why God's word says that the Sabbath day is holy and the Havdalah service serves to illustrate this separation of the sacred and the secular.

I love this ceremony because of the unusual items used: a double-wicked candle, a glass of wine and a spice box. The spice box is my favorite part, as we inhale the contents of the spice box. This serves to remind us of the sweetness of the Sabbath rest, and the time we spent with God and with our loved ones. The fragrance of Shabbat remains for a while after Havdalah ends.

All through Scripture, we see fragrance depicted two ways - either as an odor (good or bad), or as an aroma that accompanies an acceptable sacrifice. In Ephesians 5:2, we are encouraged to walk in love, just as Messiah Yeshua Jesus loved you, and gave Himself up for as, an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. This is not so great a mystery if we look a bit into nature.

There is a tree called the balsam tree, and it is most special. When it is cut, it exudes a wonderful fragrant oil that has medicinal qualities. Although there are many hybrids of this tree, true balsam trees are found in Peru and in Israel, in Gilead, thus the term the balm of Gilead. The Gilead balsam oils sooth, restore and medicate for the purpose of healing. Only when the axe is laid to the tree do the fragrant oils find their true purpose.

We believers are to model Yeshua Jesus. We are to exude a fragrance, even as the balsam tree. Instead of seeing harm in the affliction, we are to embrace the trial, knowing that the fragrance of Messiah Yeshua will come forth. Rabbi Sha'ul Paul writes of this in his letter to the Philippians, making mention of the gift offered for his work..."I received everything in full...a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice well-pleasing to God." Phil 4:18. The imagery Paul wants us to see is that of a fragrant burnt offering. The aroma of that burnt offering was pleasing to God as it entered His nostrils. Thus it becomes an acceptable sacrifice. (the LORD smelled a sweet savour Gen.8:21, also note a sweet savour unto the LORD in Lev. 1:9,13,17; 2:9,12; 3:5,16; 4:31; 6:15;8:21;17:6;23:13;26:31.)

Fear not the trials that come your way. When God sends the cross into your life, endure patiently, because the cross is also your deliverance. God's no always draws us closer to Him. Every denial, every loss, every frustration and every humiliation is the opportunity to learn new revelations about God's love. Is it easy to be like Yeshua Jesus? NO. Is it easy to be like a balsam tree? NO.

Yet each trial gives birth to new understanding about God, about His love, His mercy, and His power. Trust Him. He will eventually turn every no into His yes.
"Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD."
Ps. 27:14

 

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DESCENT INTO DARKNESS

 

Water is a precious commodity to Israel. Hezekiah recognized this in approximately 700 BC when he constructed an underground tunnel to bring water into Jerusalem:


     2 Kings 20:20 "As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city..."


     2 Chron. 32:30 "It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David."


On my last trip to Israel, our group took the opportunity to walk through this amazing tunnel. This experience was one of the most memorable experiences of the tour, and recently the LORD brought this back to my memory.


We descended down a few steps and entered a dark cave. Some had flashlights, but they were of little use. The entire journey occurred in darkness. The tunnel was just large enough for us to walk through; the tunnel was within inches of my head and on either side of my body. We felt our way along the path in total darkness. After about five minutes, I was tired of this journey. The footing was slippery and rocky. Water depth varied from inches to feet, I could feel the water level at my knees at times. How long had that water been there and how clean was it? The smell was at you would expect - stinky and rank. It was dark, dark, pitch black. If one used a flashlight, it was only to see more tunnel, and only good for a few steps ahead. We knew that the destination would take perhaps a half-hour, but I lost all sense of time. All I knew was to keep walking forward, very carefully, feeling the sides of the tunnel as I walked. I knew eventually we would reach the destination.


Some people sang; others chatted; then silence. We kept walking. It seems as though those in front of us got way ahead of us. At times, those behind us lagged way far away. I had to work at not being fearful. I had to dispel any thoughts from my mind that I would not make it. I had to not think about what was lurking in the stagnant water. I had to trust God.


Sometimes God leads us into a dark place. We know that He had led us to this difficult place, and there is nothing that we can do but trust Him. It is unsettling to us. It is dark. We must surrender all our 'control' to Him, as there is absolutely no one else who can bring us through. Will we make it? Will we cave in? Will the darkness consume us?


We kept walking. and walking. I wish I could illustrate how difficult this journey was for me. I did not like it. It was uncomfortable. I slipped a lot.  I grabbed onto the person in front of me for support. I quoted Bible verses in my head. There was silence at times.


We were all in the same place, progressing in the darkness, one step at a time.
Yet, after perhaps thirty or forty minutes of this, do you know where we ended up?
At the Pool of Siloam.

 The man born blind went and washed there, per Yeshua Jesus' instructions, and he was healed (John 9:1-12). During the last day of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, water was drawn from Siloam. Yeshua Jesus referred to this in John 7:37-38 when He said , "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink...he who believes in Me , as the Scripture has said, 'From his inmost being shall flow rivers of living water.'"

 Siloam-- the place of miracles and blessing.


Are you in a dark place? Has God led you to a place where all you can do is trust Him? are you in a place where all of your controls have been pulled away, and all you can do is go forward, standing on the Rock, progressing one step at a time?
Keep walking and Rejoice. He will bring you to His pool of Siloam, His place of miracles and blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                     GOOD JEWISH EGYPTIAN BOY

 

 

Mention the name Apollos, and some think of the Apollo theatre in Harlem, some think of Apollo Creed from the movie "Rocky", some think of the Apollo moon mission, and others may think of a heathen Greek god.  But Apollos with an 'S' was a good Jewish boy, born in Egypt (Alexandria).  His parents were Jewish.  (Acts 18:24) Some scholars even believe that he authored the book of Hebrews.

 

Apollos was born, raised and educated in Alexandria, Egypt.  Where Saul of Tarsus (Rabbi Sh'aul), or Paul was educated in the school of Gamaliel, instructed in the Jewish schools of thought of Hillel and Shammai, and was raised to be a strict Pharisee, Apollos' upbringing was totally different.

 

Alexandria, Egypt was founded by Alexander the Great 322 years before Yeshua.  Alexandria was a cultural center, and housed one of the finest libraries in the world.  Great thinkers such as Euclid (geometry), great fathers of the faith Origen and Athanasias hailed from there, as did Philo.  The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, was translated there in Alexandria.  It was within this culture that Apollos was instructed. 

 

Acts 18:24 tells us that he was an orator, skilled in Greek, and he was a believer.  He was instructed in the way of the Lord but was acquainted only with the baptism of John.  Perhaps he had just a head knowledge of Yeshua Jesus, we are not told the specifics.  He had a partial picture of Jesus.

 

He was boldly speaking out in the synagogue, and God just happened to have Priscilla and Aquila present to hear him.  They saw his fire, yet they knew he needed a bit more instruction about Yeshua Jesus.  They pulled him aside, these humble tentmakers pulled brilliant orator Apollos aside, and both (man and woman) instructed Apollos about the fullness of Yeshua Jesus.  We see humility in all these folks.  We see an eagerness to teach, and an eagerness to learn.  Apollos' secular education was gained at brilliant institutions; his spiritual education was gained by humility and grace.

 

Whatever Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos sure did take effect, because Apollos became a fiery Yeshua Jesus-man, he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Yeshua Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 18:28). 

 

When Apollos landed on the scene at Corinth, the congregation there loved him, and soon division occurred between factions that loved Paul, and factions that loved Apollos.  Yet Paul would have no division, and he refuted, "I planted, Apollos watered but God was causing the growth." (I Corin. 3:5)

 

It is interesting that within these two good Jewish boys' works for the Lord, we never read of their separate congregations, their separate conferences, their separate authors' rights, their separate denominations.

They were of one heart, echad (Hebrew for oneness, unity).

 

They may have even been each other's greatest fans.  And even if Apollos did in fact write Hebrews (and we won't know for sure until we get to heaven, and then it won't matter), I can just imagine Apollos being so delighted that his brother Paul got all the credit for its authorship. 

 

These men's love for Yeshua and for each other illustrate a great message to us. It's all about He, and not we.

Paul's words to the congregation in Corinth:

 But concerning Apollos, our brother,

I encouraged him greatly to come to you, with the brethren;

and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

 

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

 

Let all that you do be done in love.

I Corin 16:12-14

 

 

Happy B'rit Day!
Thursday 01 January 2004 - 12:59:42

     With the New Year here, I like to remember 1999's New Year's Eve celebration as it unfolded worldwide. Paris, London, New York - every city's celebration was spectacular. Just viewing the excitement on television thrilled me. Since that year, New Year's Eve for me has become just another night, to bed by 10:00pm. Anticipation for the first day in January is better than looking back, in my humble opinion.

     The actual date of Messiah Yeshua Jesus' birth is debated, yet for us who celebrate His birthday on December 25, New Year's Day takes on a special importance. And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was {then} called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21

And in Lev. 12:3, we read: On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

     If you count eight days from Christmas Day, you get New Year's Day. What a different spin that gives to celebrating New Year's, doesn't it? New Year's day can now be called Happy Circumcision day!

     The ceremony of circumcision, also called the B'rit, continues to this day. I have been privileged to attend a couple of B'rits, although the actual procedure was not done in our presence.

 

      The Hebrew word B'rit means covenant. The covenant of circumcision is described in Genesis 17:10-12:
     "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your    

     descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
     "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of  

     the covenant between Me and you.
     "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout 

     your generations, a {servant} who is born in the house or who is bought with money  

     from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.

     God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. It was a God-made covenant and not a man-made covenant. God invoked penalty if this procedure was not carried out. God required circumcision of the secret part of the body. God desires that all secret parts of our lives, including our hearts, be circumcised. True circumcision is of the heart.

     God has made a covenant with us, one that is eternal, an eternal covenant for those of us who are the true circumcision. This covenant was made by the Blood of His son, Yeshua Jesus. Jesus' blood was shed at eight days after His birth to enter into covenant with God the Father; His blood was shed at death to bring us into covenant with God the Father.

     Our circumcision is one that is made without hands (Col. 2:11); it is made by the power of the Spirit. Ceremonial law never keeps us in right standing with God. Only by accepting the vicarious Blood atonement of Yeshua are we able to be in right standing with God. New Year's day reminds me that there is absolutely nothing I can do to gain right standing with God. I can't make any resolutions or promises that can be any better than the Blood covenant God gave to us through the death of His son.

     "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ Messiah, he is a new creation.

       The old things have passed away; behold new things have come." 2 Corin 5:17

 

 

 

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BBarri Cae Seif (formerly Mallin)  is an instructor, author, and theologian. Her experience has led her through opportunities in corporate sales, Sunday school education, travel, Bible college instruction, authoring, conference speaking and twice annual trips to Israel as President of a humanitarian organization. 

In addition, Barri maintains her status as online faculty at several universities, teaching the Graduate level Business classes and undergraduate Bible and Business classes. She also serves as a content chair for several doctoral students. She also is President of Maasay Yahdav, a charity that brings humanitarian aid to Israel twice yearly.

Barri holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Trinity Theological Seminary. Her focus was the Exegetical study of Romans 10:4. She earned an MBA from Amberton University with concentration in General Management. She earned a BA in Psychology at Stephens College.

Her published works include three devotionals, 
Intimate Moments with the Hebrew Names of God, Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1999.
The Name – HaShem Daily Devotional Worship, CreateSpace Publishers, 2010.
There’s Just Something about That Name, Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2011.

Her response to the love of Jesus is what guides her. She currently resides in Ovilla, Texas, with her husband, Dr. Jeffrey L Seif.

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