(Genesis 27:18; 32:22-32)
We cannot count the many times we were asked this question; either verbally or in writing. A name identifies and defines a person. In biblical times Jewish’s names had meanings, in some cases as signs for God’s coming judgment, as it was the case of Isaiah’s children: Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of host, Who dwell in Mount Zion (Isaiah 8:18). And I approached the prophetess, and when she conceived and borne a son, the Lord said to me, Call his name Maher-Shalalhfash-Baz, for before the child knows how to say My father or my mother, the riches of Damascus shall be carried away before the king of Assyria (8:3-4). Through behavior – good or bad, through fame and many other historical ways, a person is writing his name in the pages of history. So, a person’s name is judged by what is known of him. When we hear the name Judas, automatically we think of the one who betrayed YAHSHUA. Judas’ name carries a bad and unfavorable reputation in our minds that has lasted thousands of years. However, the name Judas means “praise.” Hard to personalize this name as betrayer. Judas, by the evil act of betraying the Son of God, gave his name the synonymous with traitor. A name that carried such beautiful meaning in the past, has suffered deep scars since that act. Scars that will never be erased from the minds of people.
(Ephesians 6: 10-19)
The writer to the book of Hebrews gives the most definite and solid meaning of faith: the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Who can understand faith, when never gone through difficulties? The measure of faith in one’s life is seen through hard times. Everyone has a certain applied degree of faith outside the spiritual. It is an important ingredient essential to life. Faith removes the doom and gloom of today’s when one has faith for a better tomorrow. Faith is a lifter upper brightening hope in whatever we hope for. But faith is much more than that when its shield is taken up in the spiritual battle field. The Bible says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. That is, not against humans. It is against the devil and his forces. Paul uses the Roman armor example to symbolize the armor of God’s proficiency in its use in every spiritual battle.
Faith is used as a shield. A shield means protection. The Roman shield was a very important piece of the armor used for that purpose. But it was not only used for protection, it was also to push out the enemy. It was made of wood-covered in hide. When wet it extinguished flaming arrows. The Roman shield had an impressive size: almost three and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide; its curve provided means of deflection against the enemy’s attacks.
(Matt. 25:1-13; 24:40-41; I Thess. 5:1-3)
Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? and then I will say to them openly, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly (Matt. 7:21-23).
We live in a time of convenience and short cuts to everything. Computers are the master mind of things we used to do yesterday. The age of high tech has indeed handicapped the mind of men. We only have to know how to click or press a button for things to happen. The sad thing about it is not only that our brains have become lazy and shrinking, but it has affected the spiritual side of things too. We can only tolerate teachings that tickle our ears. It has to be convenient for us to follow in line with our life styles. Conviction is a thing of the past. “I am okay, you are okay.” All our sins have been forgiven, no need to cry over them with repentance. The Word of God says that we must be born of the Spirit to be considered being born again. It is the only way that we can receive the image of God. His image is His Holy Spirit, Who is given at that time of our spiritual birth.
We may spend our life in church, teaching Sunday- School, preaching the Gospel, visiting the sick, we may never miss a day going to church, we may perform healing, prophesy, even casting demons out and still not being born again. We may impress the world with our look of humility and sacrificed life, but we can never impress God with all we do outside of Him. YAHSHUA said to a Pharisee, “You must be born again”. He assured Nicodemus that unless a person is born again, he cannot ever see the kingdom God; unless a man is born of water and [even] the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3: 3,4-6). Born of the Spirit, is when the Holy Spirit of God indwells the person. His indwelling is the sign that we are born again. The results are seen in the way we think, act and behave. His indwelling is the Seal, also a guarantee of our inheritance, in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring possession of it (Ephesians 1: 13-14).
(Job 23: 10,14)
Although I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Ps. 23:4). In life’s challenges there is the thought that we are in that situation alone. Everyone around us seem to be indifferent to our cry for help; our voice seemly muffled by their indifference. We pray, but help does not come fast enough for us. To the contrary, we feel that we were not heard, and life goes on in that mode for as long as our trouble lingers. Like Job, we cry, Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat! I would lay my cause before Him and fill my mouth with arguments; I would learn what He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me (Job 23:3-5). In the pages of Psalm 139: 13,15-16 we have a beautiful, significant and trustworthy statement from the Lord to us through David, to assure us of His involvement in our life from the beginning, when He was forming us in the womb of our mother: For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are your works, and that my inner knows well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret intricately and curiously wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
When we read such a tittle, Jonah’s experience comes to mind. Yes, and it is so this time. In his running away from answering the call to Nineveh, Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish, God had prepared to save him from death. For three days and three nights in the living room of the fish’s belly, Jonah had time to reflect on his foolish decision, that of running away from his calling. The fish not only provided safety for Jonah, but also a prayer room. In that uncomfortable environment, Jonah bent his heart toward God and said: I cried out of my distress to the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of Sheol cried I, and You heard my voice (Jonah 2:2). Imagine for a moment how awkward that must have been for him, and for the fish too, not being able to digest him for those three days. He could not burp him; neither release him. And Jonah? well, we can just imagine by placing ourselves in his place. He was probably in a fetus position, not being able to move freely. A nightmare that lasted him like forever, so we would express ourselves. This great fish provided Jonah the means of transportation, too. For God directed it to take Jonah where he was supposed to go. That must have been a bumpy ride for several miles to his destination. But in the darkness of that fish, Jonah learned to call on the Lord for his salvation. The Lord, Who is compassionate and abundant in lovingkindness, heard Jonah’s cry for help. He commanded the fish to disgorge Jonah and it did. That must have caused Jonah to have a change of heart, and when the Lord coming to him a second time saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I will tell you. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord (Jonah 3: 1-3a). Smelling like fish, Jonah sure had a story to tell others and encouraged all not to behave like him.
(Joshua 6: I-21)
Walls are a means of protection, and privacy. In the early days they served well in big cities as Jericho, to mark boundaries, as we read here in the first verse of Joshua chapter one. Now Jericho was tightly closed because of the Israelites; no one went out or came in. They sought protection behind their walls, as usually they did, but this time, there would be no wall that would withstand the power of the Almighty God behind Israel’s strength! Israel’s reputation had reached their ears concerning the places and kings Israel had destroyed. According to Rahab, the people were trembling with fear of them. She said, I know that the Lord has given you the land and that your terror is fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you, for we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted, neither did spirit or courage remain any more in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 1:9-11).
After days of marching around the city, as God commanded Israel to do, the walls of Jericho came down and Israel conquered the city. They were to march around the enclosure, all the men of war going around the city once, for six days, seven priests were to bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horn and on the seventh day they were to march around the enclosure seven times, and the priests were to blow the trumpets, when at the long blast of the trumpets, the people were to shout with a great shout and the wall would fall down (vs. 3-5). The battle to conquer Jericho belonged to the Prince of the Lord’s host. But Israel had to fight against it physically. The victory was certain and powerful. The people had no chance to fight Israel and so, no one escaped besides Rahab and her family, as it was promised her. Conquered in 1599 years B.C., Jericho was visited by the Lord YAHSHUA many years later, this time not as the Prince of the Lord’s host, but as a Savior, bringing salvation to a short Jewish man, called Zacchaeus and his family. YAHSHUA proclaimed, Today, salvation came to this household, since Zacchaeus too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus’ wall came down when he admitted his sinful condition to the Lord. Salvation came to him and to his family as a result.
(1 John 5:4; Hebrews 11:1-3, 6; 4:14-16)
Everything having been regenerated of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith; who is the one overcoming the world except the one who believes that YAHSHUA is the Son of God (I John 5:4, 5)?
Faith is the victory that conquers the world; faith, even the size of a mustard seed, has the power to move the hardest mountain; faith is the most essential ingredient in the recipe for spiritual success, for it is generated from God and it is the foundation and pillar of our belief. When YAHSHUA imparted His Spirit to the believer, He imparted faith, because He is faith. The greater the faith that we have, the more of Him that we have. We can only have the fruit of His Spirit and experience the true joy, and peace through faith, the root of hope, and all that pertains to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the seed of the Holy Spirit planted in our spirit, giving us spiritual life, so we can bear His fruit of righteousness, as in characteristics of joy, peace, love, patience, goodness, kindness, humility, self-control, faithfulness. Using the example of an apple, we see that although it is one fruit, it has many characteristics: it is sweet, or sour, small, or big, ripe or green; it is red or yellow, or green, but only when we eat it we can define its taste. Like all fruit that God created, it has the most important part to reproduce –seeds. The seeds are the life of a fruit; inside that tiny seed there are many possibilities of tall or short trees with many thousands of fruits. Faith is like the seed in a fruit, it is the life, the essence of our belief; the Spirit of Faith is the HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF, giving life to whomsoever will, instructing the believer to bear fruit with the same characteristics of His fruit. We can only experience joy and peace, when we have experience Him in our spirit and soul.
God’s banner- the protecting and comforting covering over us is His love. Under His wings we find a place of refuge and strength as the storm passes by, with faith, believing that He is preparing us a place; and someday, not far away, He will come for us with the loud cry of summons, with the voice of the Archangel and with the blast of His trumpet. (John 14:1-3; I Thessalonians 2:16). Under His wings, oh glorious feeling that is, being covered with His peace! The Lord has promised complete peace for those whose minds are set on Him with trust. In the midst of chaos and confusion, YAHSHUA’S promise is certain and comforting: Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God believe also in Me….I am going to prepare a place for you, come back to fetch you, so that where I am you will be also.(John 14:1-3). The beauty of God’s love through YAHSHUA’S words fills our hearts with peace. Under His presence we find comfort and refuge in times of storm. Only by being close to Him will we be the recipient of His protection. There is no better place to be than close to Him, as we read in Psalm 91:1: those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.
(Galatians 6:7; Numbers 32:23)
. . . But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against God and know that your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).
Life is a tool for planting seeds wherever we go, whatever we do, or say. In fact, we are marked by our past, through the seeds we plant and fruits we harvest- good or bad. It is like nail on a board; although the nail is removed, its mark remains. We plant seeds from the time we know between good and evil. Every seed we plant carries consequences affecting our future. Moses, the servant of God, warned Israel a few times about the consequences of their disobedience, saying: Behold, you have sinned against God and know that your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23). The seed of disobedience is a spirit of rebellion against God. Its consequences will follow us as long as we live, for it will bear fruits of all kinds that will affect our future, if not dealt with. Rebellion is defiance; it is a refusal to submit to established authority. A clear example of it is Satan leading the angels’ revolt against God, resulting in a consequential outcome for mankind, when our first parents fell prey to him. From that time on, mankind has been indirectly planting generational seeds. However, we do plant seeds marked by our choice of decision we make every day. Whatever we sow, that we will reap many times over. We can never plant a seed and gather only one fruit. It just does not work that way in nature; it does not happen in life, either. For this reason, the Apostle Paul instructed us not to be deceived, God will not be mocked, for whatever we sow, that we will harvest. The law of sowing and reaping in life it is certain as it is in nature.
(Isaiah 7: 1-9)
“If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7: 9b). The confederacy planned against Ahaz King of Judah could not succeed because the Lord emphatically had said that it would not happen; It was emphatic because He had it said it twice. Two, or three, even four against one is powerless when the Lord God is not on their side. No king is saved by the great size and power of his army; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength, a horse is devoid of value for victory; neither does he deliver any by his great power. Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him, who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving kindness (Ps. 33:16-18). The Lord assured King Ahaz of his deliverance with a warning: If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (vs.9b). Faith was the factor for King Ahaz to succeed, and it is for us today. Faith, the Word of God says, Is the victory that overcomes the world. It is the victory that overcomes any challenge that comes to us. Standing in faith is having a shield covering to protect us against the enemy. Paul admonishes us to lift up the shield of saving faith, upon which we can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. When the plans from the evil one against us are without basis, they will not succeed, for we are secured in God’s shelter.
The Word of God said, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all!” It is faith that assures us the equilibrium we need to stand firmly in place. YAHSHUA assured Peter His prayer for him, when the devil asked Him permission to sift Peter, as wheat is sifted. He said, I prayed for you that your faith will not fail. These words from YAHSHUAconnect well with the words we read above. Faith is a very important factor in our daily lives for us to see the results we are looking for. When we approach our Lord, we must approach Him in faith, believing that He exists and there is nothing impossible for Him. Faith that moves mountains does not have to be big; YAHSHUA describes it as big as a mustard seed. Faith is very powerful when exercised by the believer in his prayer. The Bible says that the earnest prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available. Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months (James 5:16b-17). Faith is an active part of the armor of God, for it is the weapon that will quench the flammable darts of the enemy. Faith makes things move in direction to God and compels Him to act in our favor. Without faith, we cannot apply the full armor of God, which is essential for us to take the first step against the enemy. And without it, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).