Is it time for a change of your name?

As you read through your Bible you find that names were changed by God. In Genesis 17:5 You read that God change Abram to Abraham and in verse 15 Sarai becomes Sarah. Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, and Saul becomes Paul are just a few names that were changed by God.

So why the name change? When a woman marries a man she then takes on his family name which identifies her as his wife. Think about that we are called the bride of Christ. Who we were before we came into the knowledge and relationship with Jesus is now a part of our past. That is who we used to be, but now we are made new by Jesus.                 2 Corinthians 5:17  (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.                                       Isaiah 43:18 “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
Ezekiel 36:26″Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Most of us still identify with the person we were and still hold onto the traits of the person we were before we received Christ Jesus as our Savior and repented of our sins. When we repented, we turned from our sinful way of living and turned to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father but through Him.

I can try to change my behavior on my own, but this is nothing more than what is called behavior modification. My actions have changed but the desire to do the things I once did is still there. There are two things that I need, but not limited to, and they are (1) The heart of Christ Jesus.  James 4:8  – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. 1 Samuel 16:7  – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (2) I need the mind of Christ. For how I think and see things are not how God sees or thinks. Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I have to make the decision to submit to God and allow Him to transform me into the creation He wants me to be so that I can better share the love of Jesus and testify what God has done for me through His Son Jesus. How He changed my life in ways that I never could on my own.

Questions;

If God changed your name today, what do you think He would change it to?

What part of the old you are you holding onto? (like an old pair of jeans that do not fit anymore but you hold onto because one day they might fit again)

 

 

 

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Would you die for your enemy? Lessons of love /January 8, 2018

It is written, ‘No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends.’ John 15:13.

Now think about this; ‘Would you die to save the life of your enemy?’

Many would easily give up their life to save their child, their spouse, family members,  friends, and some would do so for a stranger they see in danger. To give up your life for someone who hates you, who despises you, who wants you to you to feel pain, have your life destroyed and even wants you dead, could you sacrifice your life for these people? Would you want to? If we were to be honest our first response is a big fat ‘NO!’.

Yet as I have meditated on the sacrifice our Heavenly Father gave, when He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins and the fact that Jesus did not have to do this but that He loves us as much as our Father does, He surrendered His life. Before He was crucified, He was mocked, ridiculed,attacked, falsely accused beaten and spit upon.then crucified still being mocked, and what were His words? “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’ How much mercy and love He had not only for those who loved and followed Him, but He loved those who were His enemy. He died for to save the lives of those who were and are His enemy. We have all sinned. Those of us who have not only acknowledged our sins and repented, we have also received Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Through His sacrifice we have been adopted into His family and have become children of God, but before this we too were His enemy.

Can we love others as He loves us, or do we continue to only those who love us, and that we feel are worthy of our love?

Is there anything you can do today to show love to someone who has made it clear that they hate you?

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (NET Bible)

December 20, 2017 / What is my purpose?

Tonight I was able to study with some women at church and the study was Rick Warrens ‘The Purpose Driven life’. I have enjoyed reading this book in the past and the Bible studies I had previously done with others. Some may say if you have done this before, why are you doing this again? For me the answer is simple, going back is like hitting the refresh button. It is a good way to remind ourselves of things we have learned and how important those lessons are still today.

I enjoyed going through day one of this book with these wonderful women, and being reminded that the purpose of my life is not for my own self but to serve the One who created me with His purpose. He has already taken care of my needs, and given me more love than I will ever deserve. If I can do anything to show Him my love in return that is a good purpose for my life and that is to serve Him in whatever way He asks. To share His love with anyone I meet, not just friends and family, but my neighbors and the strangers who I meet everyday.

I am thankful for all that the Lord has done for me and for the love Jesus gave to me when He died on the cross to pay for my sins, saving me from myself. I am to lean not on my own understanding but trust God with my entire being.

I am alive so I do have a purpose, thank You God that You have chosen me.

A Rose From My Mother

my mothers rose

Photography by Julie Sheppard

I took this picture after the memorial for my mother in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. She had planted this rose bush in her yard. After the service this beautiful rose stood out against the desert that surrounded it. At that time my heart was broken and my grief was overwhelming. I saw only a rose and knew that she had planted. Today this picture spoke to me. Her life had many harsh times and she survived and even bloomed.

Mom Acton Ca

She was an amazing woman and she made sacrifices that cost her more than I had ever known for most of her life so that I could live and still be here today. Now as I look at this rose I see more than a rose. I am learning a lesson. Life can be harsh and cruel for many of us. Yet no matter where you are or what cruelty may surround you, love and life can still prevail.

I still miss my mom and always will but my thoughts of her bring me joy and she is still in my heart. She was a loving mother and a beautiful and hard working lady.

Being Broken

When you think of the term broken what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Here are some things that came to my mind.

  1. Ruined
  2. Trash
  3. Destroyed
  4. Unusable
  5. Worthless

I could easily list many more things and you might have some of the same things on your list. Yet these are only the negative thought about being broken. Do you like nuts? I love them. To get to the nut you have to break the shell. Some shells are easier to break open than others like sunflower seeds or peanuts. Walnuts or pecans are are not so easy to break open. You need a nutcracker to get to the good part of these nuts, and if you don’t have a nutcracker a hammer works as long as you don’t hit the too hard. It takes effort to break their outer shells to get to the good part that you can eat and enjoy.

So being broken even though painful can lead to something good for you. The process hurts and is not fun. Imagine you are the nut and you can see the nutcracker coming for you. Then you feel trapped in its grip till you crack and break open. Scary thought. Most of us would run from pain if we knew it was going to happen was going to hurt. Yet if we all ran away from the possibility of pain we would cease to exist. Women would not have babies because labor is pain! Life is going to have some very painful moments. Just as a woman who goes from the pain of labor to the joy of holding her newborn baby, life can take your pain and turn it into joy.

Look at the life of Joseph. his brothers hate him and throw him into a pit, and want to kill him. Thankfully one brother suggest they sell him to travelers passing by. Then he is bought as a slave and goes from slave to prisoner. He lived a life under pressure of attack and rejection. Yet in the end he was lifted above his circumstance and placed in a position where he was able to save not only the people in Egypt but his own people. (Look up his story in Genesis.)

Sometimes we have to be broken to get to the good part of ourselves that is hidden deep within.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

 

 

Self Examination / How honest can you be?

If you are a woman you have more than like seen one of these breast self exam cards. A woman will examine herself to check for cancer but how many of us examine ourselves for the cancer of sin that slowly eats way the life of its’ host. We are quick to point out others flaws and report the wrong doings of others but how often do we confess our own sins? Publicly admit any wrong doings on our parts. Yet we publicly point out the wrongs others may be doing. Thanks to the Internet and social media opinions outweigh facts. People write what they want and though each of us can have our own opinion it is just that an opinion not fact. The best lies have a grain of truth. We can ‘t even believe what we see in the news any more. Yet criticism, and judgments are made and the ones doing this believe they are right and just.  The bible tells us that none are without sin.

Romans 3:10 (KJV)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

1 John 1:7-9 (KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

One of the Bible studies called Self portraits discusses how we see ourselves.

https://emotionalpeace.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/self-portraits-bible-lesson/

I have gone back to this lesson to dig a little deeper. To examine myself once again.

IMG_0007

So here is a self portrait that does not show my best side but it is honest look in the mirror. Each picture in this collage depicts a small part of me. It may be incomplete but as I made this and chose each picture as it reflected what I saw in my mirror. In the top row there is a picture of a woman who has a cap pulled down over her face with boss written on it. When I looked at it I saw how pride had blinded me. That I have been stubborn and let resentment and unforgiveness had bound me up like the straight jacket she is wearing. The pink boxing gloves represents the fighter inside of me. Yet why was I fighting and who was I fighting? The picture of a hunter with his bow drawn represents being constantly under attack. The train was my feeling of hopelessness. The ladder in the middle of the painting represents feeling like I am going nowhere. The shadow represents the darkness inside of me. The wolf howling represents like I am being hunted. The whitewater  canoe is me being tossed around by my own emotions. How turbulent they are.  The doll with the key in its back is feeling empty and like a puppet. The winding road is me getting off track. The picture of the woman drinking water is the unquenchable thirst. Looking to have my needs met by that which will never satisfy me truly. The man standing in front of the painting represents the mess my life is in. The scarecrow represents the empty fears I have. The woman hanging off the ledge is me barely hanging on. The black pig is the demons I wrestle with. Miss Piggy is that no matter what I do my past will always be my past no matter how I want to dress it up. The piggy banks in the soil being watered is all that I have wasted. A life of turmoil and under attack. Walking on the wrong road blind. Wasting my life, confused and hopeless. Bitter and filled with hateful emotions. Fighting the wrong fights. This is one part of me in a nutshell. Exposing my underbelly. Being honest with myself and the world.

IMG_2707

Sketch by Julie Sheppard

I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore. Passing judgments on others while ignoring my own sins. So it is time to take the log out of my own eye.A self examination is not something to be done once, but like the breast self exam card says to do monthly, we need to do a self check on a regular basis.   Can you examine yourself honestly and then will you share your results?

Proverbs 1:8-9 Lesson 2

A lesson from Proverbs #2 Instruction and Teaching

Proverbs1: 8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Instruction and teaching are they the same thing?

Instruction / noun

  1. the act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
  2. knowledge or information imparted.
  3. an item of such knowledge or information.
  4. Usually, instructions. orders or directions:

The instructions are on the back of the box.

  1. the act of furnishing with authoritative directions.
  2. Computers. a command given to a computer to carry out a particular operation.

Synonyms directionstar disciplinestar guidancestar informationstar lessonstar preparationstar schoolingstar teachingstar trainingstar apprenticeshipstar coachingstar drillingstar edificationstar enlightenmentstar groundingstar tuitionstar tutelage

Teaching / noun

  1. the act or profession of a person who teaches.
  2. something that is taught.
  3. Often, teachings. doctrines or precepts:

the teachings of Lao-tzu.

Synonyms coachingstar cultivationstar culturestar disciplinestar guidancestar instructionstar learningstar readingstar schoolingstar trainingstar tutoringstar apprenticeshipstar drillingstar enlightenmentstar tutelagestar book learningstar

Looking at the definitions including the synonyms we see that they are the same. Then why in verse 8 is instruction and teachings mentioned?

שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִי וְאַל־תִּטֹּשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּ  1:8 sh’ma B’nimûšar äviykhä w’alTi‡osh TôratiMekhä  1:8 My son, 1121 hear 8085 z8798 the instruction 4148 of thy father, 1 and forsake 5203 z8799 notx408 the law 8451 of thy mother: 517

Musar is the Hebrew word for discipline which is also instruction. Which you read in the English translation of the scripture from the Hebrew translation.  The word used in this translation for teachings is law. So as we go to the root of this scripture we see discipline and law are the original words used for instruction and teachings.

 

Tôwrâh – ‘instruction, teaching, guidance, law’

More than Just ‘Law’

The word  tôrâh (Strong’s #8451) means more than just ‘law’, its usual simplistic translation (always ‘law’ in the KJV 219x). It derives from  yârâh (Strong’s #3384) meaning ‘to shoot out the hand as pointing, to show, indicate’, ‘to teach, instruct’, ‘to lay foundations’, ‘to sprinkle, to water’, ‘to shoot, as an arrow’.

Yârâh begins with the letter ‘y’ yôdh which is the picture letter of a hand whilst another word sometimes used for teaching and instruction lâmadh (Strong’s #3925) begins with picture letter ‘l’ of an ox-goad, used for disciplining and training an animal or soldiers. How much better to be taught by pointing than by poking, by the demonstration of the hand rather than the discipline of the rod.

Tôrâh then derives from a root verb which has more to do with ‘hand’ led instruction than ‘rod’ following legalism. It means:

  • ‘instruction’ as from a parent to a child (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 7:2).
  • ‘doctrine/instruction’ via the prophets (Isaiah 1:10; 8:16,20; 42:4,21)
  • ‘legal instruction’ as in the ‘law of sacrifice’ (Leviticus 6:7; 7:7)
  • ‘the Pentateuch/Mosaic revelation’ (Joshua 1:8)

First Use

Regarding the last definition, it cannot exclusively mean ‘The Law’ as its first use predates the Law and is used of Abraham’s obedience to God’s revelation:

“…And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my torah.” (Genesis 26:4-5)

So Abraham was renowned and the world blessed not because of mere ‘faith’ but, in agreement with the early rabbis and the apostle James, because of his obedience to God’s torah. Torah is not just law and faith involved action and obedience.

It was also broader than ‘a Law’ for Jews only as its second use in the Bible says that there was “one torah” (Exodus 12:49) for the Israelite and for the stranger in their midst.

Summary

Its basic idea, then, is ‘instruction’ or ‘teaching’ to a valued individual rather than to a beast of burden. Even when it is legitimately translated as ‘law’ the emphasis is still on instruction. The Torah/Law of Moses might better be translated as ‘the instruction of God by revelation through Moses’.

In the modern Christian church ‘law’ has become a negative word and ‘revelation’ a positive one. But they are both the same. The famous verse in Proverbs 29:18 is usually quoted as half a verse only. Its second half, written in parallel terminology, says the same thing so that revelation and torah instruction are virtually identical:

So we listen and do not forsake the instructions and teachings of our parents. Continue reading verse 9 and we see that we are to wear these upon our head and around our neck. So what comes to your mind when you read this?

I thought about the Helmet of Salvation. How you wear the helmet on your head and then I thought about how some helmets include a collar. How do we guard our minds? We keep the Word of God in the center of our thoughts. We focus on His teachings and how He disciplines us in His love. Athletes and soldiers discipline not only their bodies but their minds. They train themselves to be able to do what is needed to perform their tasks. When we look to the Proverbs we look to the wisdom of God. For His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 We lean not on our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

There are some who think we do away with the law because of grace and that the law being fulfilled we no longer need the law. The commands of God to me are eternal. Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commands.’ John 14:15. He went further when He added a command. John 13:34-35 (NKJV)  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The 10 Commandments

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

God’s instructions are to teach us how to live life and how to love. We look to His Word for guidance. Jesus is also known as our teacher. John 3:2.  He is also the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1.

Discipline – Law / Instructions – Teachings

What do these mean to you?