Monthly Archives: May 2016

Lessons from Bees

bees and creationOur Creator God (Yehovah Elohim) has made some awesome creatures, and I’ve written about some of them in previous blogs.  From my vantage point as a human being, though, there is none more awesome than the humble honey bee.  Evolutionary scientists used to describe the bee and their brain and body functions as being very simple.  However, the more that is discovered about these amazing creatures, the less you hear them described in this way.  As recently as 2006, a well-known scientist said this about bees’ brainpower: The brain of the honeybee is “relatively simple.” (Evolution Research – General Evolution News, August 5, 2006).

Let’s look at some known facts from scientific studies of bees and their anatomy and behavior.  A number of years ago a study was done to compare the processing power and speed of a bee’s brain to that of a supercomputer. The findings showed that the bee’s brain was 7-8 times more efficient than the most advanced computer chips, and about 1,000 times faster in processing instructions.  A bee’s brain can process one trillion instructions per second.  With the latest generation of supercomputers, it is now possible for them to process information faster than the brain of a bee, but there is no comparison in efficiency.  The Fujistsu “K” computer runs 8 times faster than a bee’s brain, but it takes enough electricity to power a city of 10,000 people, while a bee’s brain fits on the head of a pin and takes less than a microwatt of power!

Much of the bee’s incredible brainpower is used to control and process information from their two compound eyes, each of which contains 7,000 hexagonal facets.  Using these light-detecting facets, each pointed in a slightly different direction, the bee has an uncanny ability to detect different types and colors of objects, how far away they are, and how quickly they are moving towards them.  This allows them to see flowers quickly (with a built-in mechanism for detecting whether or not they have pollen), know exactly how far away they are and to find them in any type of weather.  The bee’s eyes (and other sensors in their bodies) also allow them to tell if a food source has been moved to a different location.  Being a God of meticulous design and possessing a great sense of humor, Yehovah’s amazing bee creatures are programmed to do a little “waggling” dance to tell their fellow workers how far away a food source is, and when and where it has been moved.

If Abba put so much thought and creativity into making these tiny pollinating creatures, then how much more does He love us, who have far more intricate, complex bodies than our miniature friends?  In a recent Independent news story, a beekeeper in the UK witnessed the most amazing episode of loyalty to a hive’s queen bee.  As the beekeeper was moving a hive, the box she was transporting them in blew over in the wind, and somehow the queen bee was attracted to something sweet in the trunk of a Mitsubishi Outlander.  She then got herself lodged into the back of the SUV.  About 20,000 bees (from her hive that was being moved) attached themselves to the back of the SUV.  When the car drove off, the swarm of bees followed it for over 48 hours, while the SUV was driving around various parts of western Wales.  They were seeking to rescue their queen!

When I thought about the unwavering loyalty of these bees to their queen, I realized that God has put a deep desire into human beings as well to be loyal to their leaders, or to the homeland where they dwell.  On this Memorial Day weekend in the US, I reflected on how this relates to our soldiers’ pledge to fight for our nation under the most severe conditions, risking their lives to preserve the security of our country.  We know from God’s word that “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).  But what about Yeshua and what He did for us – He laid down His life for his enemies; those who persecuted and hated Him and put Him to death in the most brutal, painful way.  He gave up His life willingly – He said: “No one can take My life from Me; I sacrifice it voluntarily” (John 10:18).  While it is true that bees would sacrifice their lives for their queen, and soldiers for their country, they are sacrificing for the one that gives them safety and livelihood, not for someone who beat and cursed them and then put them to death.

If we are loyal to our family, friends and nation, how much more should we be loyal to our Savior.  We should be willing to lay down our lives for our Lord at any time, just as we see modeled for us by martyred believers in terrorized nations across the world.  When we think of our awesome God who created bees and humans, our greatest desire should be to follow Him at all costs, boldly telling others of His amazing love and sacrifice for us, and praising Him for who He is and what He has done for us.

What would you do if you were God (Part 5)

LORD is good“Throughout the earth the story is the same— only a remnant is left, like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest.” Isaiah 24:13 [NLT]

In the previous installments of this series on God’s ways, I discussed why YHVH does things the way He does and why His plan seems so odd to us sometimes but is actually the perfect plan for our lives.  In this final blog of the series I want to look into the future and see why He has prophesied and planned out such a seemingly bizarre sequence of events for the end of this age.

From our limited human perspective, it may seem odd that the Creator of this universe would aim to judge His creation by destroying a large portion of it through catastrophic events.  Let us look in more detail at a sampling of His end-time prophecies which are spread across many of the minor and major prophets in addition to the book of Revelation.  When researching a news story, we try to answer the four “w” questions: who, what, when, why.  The “How” question is not so important to us when it comes to Abba‘s future plan, as we do not really need to know how He will perform His will, but rather how we fit into it and what we should do to prepare ourselves.

The “When” question is also not critical to us, as we have no control over it anyway, and we need to be spiritually prepared, whether the events start to play out over the next few years, further into the future, or beyond our earthly lifetime.  Yeshua said that no person would know the day or hour of the end time, not even the angels in Heaven, so we should not waste time speculating about the timing of these events (Matt 24:36).  The explanation of “What” is going to happen in the final days is somewhat more important to us, but mainly from the perspective of discerning the signs of the end times, as Yeshua outlined in Matthew 24-25.  If we get too concerned with answering the “When” and “What” questions (such as being drawn into the pre-Trib Rapture belief), then we can easily miss the more crucial truths of Yeshua’s message.

In Luke 18:8, He asks “when the Son of man returns, will He find faith in the Earth?”  Why is our Creator and Savior questioning the faith of His saints?  In Matthew 24:12, He goes on to say that “iniquity will abound and the love of many will grow cold”.  This agrees with statements in 2 Thessalonians and Daniel that speak of the Tribulation period and the 3 ½ year reign of the anti-messiah, when there will be a great falling away and the “antichrist” [anti-messiah] will be revealed.  Daniel says in his end-times prophecies that the anti-messiah will “wear out the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7:25) and “scatter the power of the holy people” (Dan 12:7).  In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Sha’ul says “that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed”.

So how can we as Abba’s children keep our faith and not grow weary from the enemy?  I believe Revelation 12:11 provides us a good answer, as this passage explains how the saints persevered to the end during the Tribulation: “And they overcame him [HaSatan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”.  YHVH wants our love and devotion to Him more than anything else – we need to walk with Him constantly and keep trusting Him every step of the way in our lives.

Many of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Malachi, etc.) speak of the believing remnant that will be preserved by YHVH in the latter days to dwell with Him in the Millennial Kingdom.  One of the key underlying themes of Isaiah (e.g. Isa 10:20-22, 11:11-16, 24:13, 27:32, 66:20) is that of the judgment of Israel overall as a nation and people, but the protection and restoration of a small remnant of YHVH’s faithful children (both Jew and non-Jew) to dwell with Him in His eternal Kingdom.  A particularly meaningful passage is located in Malachi:16-18.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and honored His name. They will be My people, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. On the day when I act in judgment, they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

This passage provides us a window into YHVH’s own heart, which is what we desire as His people in relationship with Him.  It shows us that He loves us all, but He especially desires to keep track of the names of those who truly love Him with all their hearts (fear Him & honor His Name).  He wants to draw them near to Him as His special treasure, and preserve them for the last days, when He will reign on the Earth in the person of Yeshua HaMashiach.  When we look at YHVH’s heart from His perspective, we see His overwhelming love for His children, keeping us safe until He can bring us home into His eternal Kingdom.  How could we ever desire or ask for anything more than that – I give thanks and praise to our omnipotent Father who has wisdom and compassion beyond anything we could ever imagine!

 

Abiding (Part 2)

Abiding

Last week, we examined some of the definitions of the word abide (according to merriam-webster.com) and how Scripture verses on abiding in YHVH address each definition. We discovered that there is more to the word abide than is obvious at first glance. Here is a brief recap of last week’s blog. Abide can mean “to await”. We must await, or be on the lookout for, YHVH’s call to us so that we can respond promptly. Abide can also mean “to bear patiently or tolerate”. We must be willing to embrace opposition, persecution and suffering for the sake of our relationship with YHVH. A third definition of abide is “to accept without objection”. We must be yielded unconditionally to YHVH’s will for us.

Now, let us examine the final two definitions of abide to see whether Scripture also deals with these definitions. A fourth definition of abide is “to remain stable or fixed in a state”. In John 15:4-9, Yeshua explains what it means to abide in Him in this way.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Branches on a fruit tree or a vine do not produce fruit by concentrating on the peaches or the grapes they are to produce. In other words, they do not sit on the vine or the tree and repeat “peaches, peaches, peaches, I must produce peaches,” but rather they are so connected to the branch or vine that they naturally produce the desired fruit. If we abide in Yeshua continually, then we will produce the fruit that Yeshua expects from us because Yeshua Himself will supply the fruit in us.

Notice also that the branches that do not produce fruit are gathered up and thrown into the fire. Many of us have the idea that if we have accepted Yeshua, we are “saved” and nothing else is required. If we half-heartedly read our Bible or pray occasionally, we will not produce the fruit that Yeshua is expecting from us. We then become useless branches to be gathered up and thrown into the fire. It is not enough to accept Yeshua once and think that is all that is required. We must continue to abide in Him, which means to be closely connected to Him in an intimate relationship.

In the physical realm, a branch that is separated from the vine or tree cannot be reconnected nor will it produce fruit. It will wither up and die and be thrown into the fire. In the spiritual realm, we may be able to separate from Yeshua for a time and then be re-attached later, but what is the result of such choices? When we separate from Yeshua, we automatically attach to the enemy. We will always produce fruit of one sort or another. The fruit of the enemy is an abomination to YHVH. When we stand before YHVH one day, we do not want to be associated with the enemy’s fruit. The fruit of the enemy is designed to try to undermine or weaken the kingdom of YHVH. We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13).

The final definition of abide is “to continue in a place” or “sojourn”. If Yeshua has returned to His Father in heaven and we are still here on the earth, how can we sojourn with Yeshua?

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Messiah, keep seeking the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of YHVH. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. (Col 3:1-3)

I recently heard a teaching at a class I am attending at Catch the Fire that illustrates how closely we are blended or melded with Yeshua. You are probably familiar with the story of the Israelites in the desert who were being bitten by poisonous snakes. YHVH had Moses make a bronze serpent on a pole. Those who were bitten by the snakes could look at the bronze snake and be healed. Many of us recognize that the serpent on the pole symbolizes Yeshua on the cross, taking on our sin and diseases and putting them to death in His body. But why a bronze serpent? Why not some other metal? Bronze is made by mixing tin and copper together. Once these two metals are united, they can never be separated.

Once we have been smelted with Yeshua, we can never be separated from Him. If Yeshua died on the cross, then we died with Him and we arose with Him triumphant from the grave. We are seated with Yeshua at the right hand of the Father. (Gal 2:20; Rom 6:4-6; Eph 2:6). In Colossians 2:20, we are admonished not to abuse our exalted position in Messiah.  You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world….

We must be ever mindful that we are blended with Yeshua and in Him we are exalted in glory. Therefore, we must live a glorious life as Yeshua did. Yeshua was constantly aware of His Father and saw His Father at work. Yeshua did the works of His Father (John 5:17, 9:4). We, who are seated in Yeshua at the right hand of the Father, must also do the works of our Father.

Scripture shows us that the word abide has much depth and meaning to us who are in Yeshua. It is not a word that we should skim over lightly for it contains a treasure trove of encouragement and instruction for us. Now when we read the word abide in Scripture, we can remember who we are in Yeshua and what it means for us to abide in Him and for Him to abide in us.

Abiding

AbidingLately I have heard many teachings and exhortations concerning abiding, whether it is about us abiding in Yeshua or YHVH abiding in us.  After some thought, I realized that I did not have a clear idea of what the word “abide” means.  According to merriam-webster.com, there are several definitions for the word “abide”.  After consulting the Scriptures on passages dealing with abiding, it seems that various Scriptures deal with one or more of the definitions provided by merriam-webster.com.  Here are my perceptions and discoveries. You may also wish to do your own study. This is rather a lengthy study, so I will present it in two parts.

The first definition means “to wait for” or “await”.  Revelation 3:20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door ….”  YHVH often works in subtle ways, and in order to hear His knock, we have to be listening for it and be willing to respond by opening the door.   Ephesians 3:17-19 explains the reason for welcoming Yeshua into our hearts, so that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Messiah which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”  In order for us to be effective followers of Yeshua, we must first be saturated in His love.  It is out of this abundance of love  that we will be able to do that which He requires of us.

Romans 8:9-10 tells us that we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.  This passage also tells us that “if Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”  We are comprised of spirit, soul and body.  It is our spirit that is born again when we accept Yeshua as our Lord and Redeemer and our spirit is in direct communication with the Holy Spirit.  Our body and soul must learn to submit to our spirit.  Andrew Wommack provides an excellent teaching series entitled Spirit, Soul and Body that provides a clear understanding of how to get our soul and body lined up with our spirit.  The Holy Spirit does much for us, but we must do our part by cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

The second definition of abiding is “to endure without yielding or withstand and/or to bear patiently or tolerate.”  Galations 2:20 says that “I have been crucified with Messiah; it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me ….”  We must daily die to self, to the demands of our soul and body.  “Therefore, as you have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, so walk in Him…” (Col 2:6).  We must be willing to withstand persecution and suffering as we walk in Yeshua.  We must not only tolerate others, but love them with the love of Yeshua.  That does not mean that we must embrace or even condone their choices or lifestyles; often it is just the opposite.  We must love people in their sins as Yeshua loved us in our sins.  This is something that we grow into gradually, as we grow in Yeshua’s love.

The third definition is “to accept without objection”.  In John 8:31, Yeshua said to His disciples, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;”  We must be yielded to Yeshua’s will, just as Yeshua was yielded to His Father’s will.  If we are yielded to Yeshua’s will, we will also be yielded to our Father’s will, for they are echad. In 2 John 1:9, we are warned that “anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Messiah, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”  Yeshua assures us in John 15:10 that “if you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

There is a prevalent teaching today that we live solely by grace and are not required to keep YHVH’s commands, particularly those in the Old Testament, because it is too difficult for us.  On our own, we may very well be too weak to keep every command perfectly, but we are not on our own.   We have the Holy Spirit working in us to perfect and strengthen that which is weak in us.  Yeshua paid for our sins on the cross, but He also sent us His Holy Spirit that we might be strengthened and sin no more.  In order to live in YHVH’s kingdom, we must be able to abide by His rules.

There is much for us to reflect on concerning this simple word, “abide”.  This study has been both enlightening and challenging to me.  Hopefully, it will be helpful to you as well.  Both my strengths and my weaknesses were brought to light as I studied and I clearly see areas where I need to grow.  In next week’s blog, I will present the remainder of my study on abiding.  I pray that it will be helpful to you, as it has been to me.