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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #26

And we’ve made it to Z! The final ‘metaphor’ of God: King of Zion.

Each of these posts was inspired by a cross-stitch made by my Mum. The picture of the ‘z’ square shows: a crown of thorns (although in reality apparently the thorns were approximately 6 inches long!); the phrase ‘King of Zion’; and the verse Matthew 27:37. This verse reads:

Z

“A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Now you’ll notice that the word ‘Zion’ isn’t included. In fact, the word ‘Zion’ isn’t part of this verse in Matthew at all, in any version.

Rather, the designer of this cross-stitch pattern used this verse to emphasize Jesus’ kingship. The bit about ‘Zion’ comes from Psalm 2:6: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” And some translations use the word ‘Jerusalem’ instead of ‘Zion’ as well.

So what *is* Zion?

Well originally, it was a place. A fortress in fact, which David captured in 2 Samuel 5:7, and later built the royal palace there. His son, King Solomon, built the temple there too, and the word ‘Zion’ came to mean the whole temple area. Later in the Old Testament (as in, before Jesus’ birth) the word Zion is used to refer to the city of Jerusalem, the land of Judah, and even the nation of Israel as a whole.

In the New Testament (from the birth of Jesus onwards) the word Zion refers to God’s spiritual kingdom (See Hebrews 12:22 and 1 Peter 2:6).

So the Romans who were crucifying Jesus, and who then hung a sign above his head showing that his ‘crime’ was being ‘King of the Jews’, incensed the Jews watching the spectacle. John 19:19-22 records that the Chief Priests ask for the sign to be changed, from ‘Jesus, King of the Jews’ to ‘Jesus, who claimed to be King of the Jews’. Pilate (the Roman governor) refused.

And so Jesus, the King of the Israelite nation, was killed. His death was sought by the leaders of Israel; and sanctioned by the leader of the Gentiles (non-Jews).

And he died.

And yet, God had decided that He would install his King on Zion, on His holy mountain.

So Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised him from death, thus conquering its hold on us, should we choose to believe in Him and follow Him.

Jesus, is now, and will remain forever, King of ‘Zion’: which is God’s spiritual kingdom.

And I’m a part of that kingdom, if I choose to be.

And I do!

So with that, we conclude the lessons for this month of April, and this, my first attempt at the annual #A-Zchallenge.

What a huge month it’s been!

Thank you to all those who’ve supported me along the way; your company and encouraging comments have truly made this journey a memorable one! I never would have realised how blessed this experience could be. Thank you!

So where to next? Well, back to my regularly scheduled once-a-week blog posts… for the month of May, at least. Who knows where after that; what with #blogJune an’ all…!

Anyway, time for me to stop rambling. Have a lovely day, dear reader – and thanks for stopping by!

May God richly bless you today 😀

— KRidwyn

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #25

Welcome to the second last post of this series on God’s metaphors. Twenty-six different names God uses to describe Himself- all in one handy A to Z cross-stitch that my Mum made for me a few years back. Each letter has a name and a Bible verse… all except this one, Y.

Y is for Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH.

The name of God.

The first time this name is used is the book of Exodus, verses 14 and 15. The version of the Bible verse in the quote below, uses Hebraic language, rather than the Anglicised words. [In the overwhelming majority of English Bibles, the different names of God are translated as the word ‘LORD’ – the capital letters indicated that it is one of God’s names.]

Y“And Elohim said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and He said, you shall say this to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And Elohim said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, Yahweh the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever , and this is My memorial from generation to generation.”

I mentioned just above the Bible verse that God has different names. This can be a little confusing for us Westerners, in modern times, to understand!

But basically, the different names for God refer to different aspects of his character. Thus “Elohim” emphasises His might, His creative power, and His attributes of justice and rulership – whereas in our English Bibles it’s translated to the word “God”. Likewise, the Hebrew scrolls have names such as “El Shaddai” (LORD God Almighty) and “El Elyon” (The Most High God) and “Adonai” (Lord, or Master). Names can also be lengthened, so “YHVH Tzva’ot” means ‘Lord of Hosts’, where ‘hosts’ refers to military groupings.

But this post is about “Yahweh”. And this is the name that God gives of Himself.

In this passage above, we see Moses speaking to God, who has appeared to him in a burning bush, and has told him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharoah to let the Hebrew slaves go. Moses, understandably sceptical, and probably not wanting to go and be laughed at by people when he tells them that he saw a bush on fire that didn’t burn up, and heard the voice of God coming from the bush, he decides to ask God directly, “Who should I say sent me?”

And God replies, “Tell them that  I AM sent you.”

This is the name that He gives himself. Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH. They know it as the Tetragrammaton. And for any readers who are also writers, you may be interested to know that this name is *indeed* related to the verb ‘to be’ (to exist). Cool, hey! This name was incorrectly translated into English as ‘Jehovah’, by a German scribe back in the sixteenth century, and the name has since found common usage. Personally, I prefer the original.

And did you know that observant Jews consider this name to be SO holy, that they don’t even write it out in full? This is why, rather than writing ‘God’, they write ‘G-d’. Some believe that this is to lessen the risk of ‘taking God’s name in vain’ (one of the ten commandments) however it could also be because Judaism prohibits erasing or defacing a name of God. So if the name of God is written out in full, then at some point in the future, this writing could become erased or defaced. And to prevent this situation occurring, they avoid writing it.

So. Quite a bit more information in this post than in the usual, but then again, it *is* Day 25. And it’s such an interesting topic, in my opinion!

So what, then, is the take-away lesson for today? For me, it’s to reflect on the name/s of God, especially the One Name that He gives of Himself. YHVH. “I am”. It reminds me a little of what I was thinking when I wrote about ‘the Alpha and the Omega’.

Writing this post, and thinking on the different names of God, also had me singing the Amy Grant song ‘El Shaddai’, so here it is for your enjoyment too 🙂

So. That’s it for today – and almost for the entire month too! Tune in tomorrow for the final post: “Z is for King of Zion.”

See you then, and have a lovely day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #24

Just three more posts to go in this #AtoZchallenge for April. And today’s letter, ‘X’ has (in Mum’s cross-stitch, picture below) the phrase ‘eXalted one’ and the verse Acts 5:30-31.

It was fairly difficult writing this post. I think that’s because I’m a born and bred Aussie. And although I’m definitely VERY proud of this fact, we truth remains that we don’t do too well with ‘exalting’ things down here. In fact, it’s the opposite which is the cultural norm.

Down here, we’re well known for our ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’.

And I don’t think that’s a good thing. In fact, if you read yesterday’s post, it reflected on how words have power, and we can use them to either heal or harm, build up or destroy. We have the choice of our own words.

Likewise, we have the choice of our own attitudes. Here in Australia, we’re better at tearing the successful down rather than giving them the credit they deserve. That’s not healthy, in my opinion.

And God Himself set the example, too. Those verses in Acts read:

X

“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might being Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.”

In this passage, one of Jesus’ followers, a guy called Peter, was standing with his friends in what was their version of court. Judging him were all the religious leaders of the biggest city in Israel. These were the people EVERYONE looked up too – and here Peter is, accusing them! ‘Whom you killed by hanging him on a cross’! What courage, hey?

God exalted Jesus, so that the religious leaders – and, in fact, all Israelites, and through them, the whole world – could repent (as in, say sorry for sins committed) and they could be forgiven.

Praise God that He did, huh?

And my takeaway lesson from that? If God exalted Jesus, then I should too. And perhaps build up my fellow man, encouraging them and giving them the credit where credit is due 🙂

Your thoughts?

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

x

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #23

Today’s post is ‘W’ for ‘Word of Life’.

I love, love, LOVE being a writer. Playing with words, exploring infinite possibilities with them. With just a piece of paper, a pencil, and time, worlds can be created, rich in detail, full of interesting characters, and scenes full of laughter or nail-gripping tension. What power there is in a string of words!

The spoken word, too, is often more powerful than we realise. I’ve blogged before about my autistic Mr7. He’s the most soft-hearted person I’ve ever met. (And believe me, teachers meet a LOT of people!) So even just a mention of his ‘making the wrong choice’ is enough to bring on the tears and have him self-recriminating-in-spades. And he’s not being melodramatic. It’s all genuine. And it stops me in my tracks each time: seeing so visually how huge an effect spoken words can have.

Words have the power to heal and to harm, to inspire and to destroy. I’ll admit now, I’ve cried twice in the researching and writing of this blogpost, in realising yet again how powerful the wrong words can be. I’d been looking for a quote I’d half remembered, and discovered this image instead:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.52.22 am
[Click on the image to find the original source]
And the second was one of those co-incidental-maybe-perhaps-not-finds, an article from scientificparent.org, which I immediately shared to all my friends via Twitter and Facebook:

(In fact, if you have two minutes, could you also please click through and read this article? I’d really appreciate it!)

So back to ‘W is for Word’ – our words are important. They can give life or take it away: it all depends on how we use them.

And they have this power because of the author of life, God Himself. He calls Himself ‘the Word’ – and rightly so. John 1:1 says:

W“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

God, the creator of life, spoke – and it was so. His words gave life.

That’s something I should try to emulate. Use my words to encourage, to build up, maybe even to inspire.

How about you?

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #22

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 6.49.19 amOne of my son’s favourite books is BASIL THE BRANCH from THE LOST SHEEP series – about a branch who wants to bear fruit.

No matter how hard he tries, he can’t.

It’s only when he gives up in despair that he hears the voice from over his shoulder. It’s the vine. And it’s smiling at him, telling him to relax.

You see, Basil is only a branch. It is *impossible* for him to grow grapes all by himself. That’s not his job.

His job is just to focus on the vine. And *then* the grapes will grow – because it’s the vine that does the work, not each little, individual branch.

So that’s what Basil does. And you know what? After he focuses on the vine – and *does* grow a beautiful big bunch of grapes!

One of God’s ‘metaphors’ is that of being the vine. The cross-stitch picture uses the words ‘the true vine’ (from John 15 verse 1) and shows a picture of a bunch of grapes, with leaves and tendrils. John 15:5 says,

V“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

I find that pretty challenging: I’m one of those people who’s pretty self-reliant with a lot of stuff. ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ kinda gets my hackles up – until I realise that I really *am* just a branch. And I need One who’s greater than me, to be able to achieve anything worthwhile.

So that’s my takeaway lesson fro today. Jesus is the vine: my job is to just focus on Him!

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

 

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #21

I’m an insomniac. Not chronically, but fairly regularly. It doesn’t particularly bother me, most of the time, because I know I’m able to cope with whatever comes my way… but ever so often, the sleepless nights will build up to such an extent that it starts worrying me, and I’ll wonder if I’m ever getting to get a proper night’s sleep again. The sense of relief when that night’s sleep *does* come is just beautiful!

That’s what happened last night.

For over a week now, it’s been Mr7 who’s the main reason for my wakefulness  – he’d have a nightmare, I’d get up to him, and then I’d be unable to fall asleep again for hours and hours.

And yes, last night he also got me up at just gone 11.30pm. But I got back to bed again before midnight.

And at 5.48am this morning, I woke up. I LOVE this feeling of having slept!!!

Now in my opinion, sleep isn’t such a big deal. Not in the grander scheme of things. I know that if I’d had yet another sleepless night, that this morning would still have come, and I’d still have coped with whatever today has in store for me… but it’s lovely that I can face it with a larger reserve of patience under my belt! [Right now I’m reminded of the Robert Ludlum JASON BOURNE series. “Rest is a weapon,” Jason Bourne said regularly :)]

But I also know that God cares about it. Because in the book of Matthew, chapter 10, verses 29 to 31, Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

He knows how many hairs are on my head? He cares about things THAT minutely?

That’s pretty mind-boggling.

Today’s letter in the #AtoZchallenge is ‘U’. And my mum’s cross-stitch shows the Earth being held in two upraised hands, with the words ‘Upholder of all things.”
The verse is Hebrews chapter 1 verse 3. And we’re back to the King James version for this wording:

U“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”.

Modern translations of this verse use the word ‘sustaining’ instead of ‘upholding’: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

He upholds (sustains) ALL things. My sleep included, if I wanted it! A colleague once shared with me, decades ago now, the events surrounding his new-born child’s health. The child had been born VERY sickly (I can’t remember the exact condition) but the doctors were very worried. So my colleague, in great distress, prayed about it. And felt led to pray for very specific things. Instead of ‘please heal my child’, it was ‘ask for her heart rate to slow down’ (the first thing that was needed for her recovery) – so he prayed for her heart rate to slow, and it did. Then the second specific thing that was needed, he prayed for, and her body responded. Then the third thing (I wish I could remember, but it *was* many years ago) and the same thing happened. Several times over, until his new-born child was completely out of danger. The doctors were amazed – as was I, when he told me the story. But that’s God for you: upholder (sustainer) of ALL things. If he numbers even the hairs on our heads, then of COURSE he can work to sustain that new-born’s life.

He could also work in my insomniac issues – if I asked Him to.

Maybe I need to do just that, hey?

God is the ‘Upholder of all things’ – so everything that bothers me, I can bring to Him to deal with. My takeaway lesson for day 21.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #20

There’s a lot to be said for thinking for yourself, in my opinion. I try daily to teach my own three cherubs how to not just blindly accept what they hear, but to test its veracity and decide for themselves.

One of my favourite Bible verses is from Acts 17 verse 11, comparing the Bereans to the Jews in Thessalonica. The Bereans didn’t just accept what they heard Paul (one of Jesus’ followers) say, but they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They checked it out for themselves. I like that.

TIn the book of John, chapter 14 verse 6 says:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Today’s letter for this #AtoZchallenge I’m doing is ‘T’. ‘T’ is for ‘Truth’ – and that, with a capital T.

In this verse, Jesus said that He IS the truth. Also the way, and the life. That’s a pretty radical claim. And me being the type of person I am, I’m not just going to take this on face value. I need to examine this further.

That’s one reason why I agree wholeheartedly with C.S.Lewis’ argument in MERE CHRISTIANITY: that there’s only three options when you come to thinking about Jesus. He’s either a liar, or a lunatic, or He actually is who He *said* he was: Lord.

Warning: long quote alert!

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. …

Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.” *

I’m taking the third option. I believe He’s the LORD. And I’m gratefully accepting His offer to follow Him and His way, and have life! 🙂

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

* Quotes taken from Book 3, the end of Chapter 3 “The Shocking Alternative” and immediately on into the beginning of Chapter 4 “The Perfect Penitent”

 

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #19

I was looking for a ‘Saviour’ analogy for this ‘S’ post in the #AtoZchallenge I’m doing, and went looking for a couple of stories I’d heard: one about a young man throwing washed-up starfish, back into the ocean; and a story about a man buying caged birds, just to set them free.

In the course of my Googling though, I discovered that Leonardo da Vinci himself is reported to have done just that! Well, not thrown starfish (not that I know of!) but he bought caged birds, destined to be eaten or to be kept as pets, and released them. (I also found a VERY interesting passage where he made a rather inappropriate suggestion about who could sit for the portrait of Judas in his painting of The Last Supper!)

Anyway, I was planning on using one of the stories as an example of what Jesus has done for us. But then I looked at the verse used in the cross-stitch, and realised something. This verse happens BEFORE Jesus died!

It’s in the book of John, chapter 4. Jesus was in Samaria, resting by a well, and a woman came to draw water. They spoke, and she believed that He was the Messiah (God’s son, come to save the world.) She went to tell everyone in her town that she’d met the Messiah, and they came to question Him for themselves. Then in verse 42,S

“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you have said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

So that’s a little weird. Why would they think that he’d come to save the WORLD when he hadn’t died yet, to save it? I guess that they knew the Scriptures (as in, the Hebrew scriptures up until that point – what we now call the Old Testament) well enough to realise that Jesus was the one prophesied about. Wow. To understand so clearly… I’d say that they must have had a time of massive celebration – and in fact, John says after, that they convinced Jesus to stay with them for a couple more days.

[Actually, this verse reminds me a little of Luke 9:23, where Jesus says,“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Remembering that he had NOT yet been crucified, and so for everyone who was listening, there was not even a HINT of a ‘cross’ in Jesus’ future! Let alone theirs… just another example of Jesus obliquely telling the future 🙂 ]

But back to the point. I love how the Samaritans KNEW that Jesus was the Saviour – and they celebrated because they had seen Him and met Him.

My lesson from that: do *I* celebrate knowing Jesus? Because if not, then I probably should start!

 

 

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #18

I rarely post video clips, but want to share this one with you.

And although I haven’t yet seen the movie, it’s one that’s at the top of my ‘must see’ list. And not just because I really like Joseph Fiennes’ acting…

The trailer text refers to ‘the biggest manhunt in history’ – and I think that’s a perfect way to describe it. How else would it have felt, for the people living in Jerusalem, in the year that Jesus was crucified, and rose again after death?

RLuke 24:6 –

“He is not here; he has risen!”

Unprecedented. Miraculous. And yet – true, factual, history.

That’s enough for me.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

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26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #17

I live in an area which you could call ‘flood-prone’. My part of the street, although close to a large creek, is quite high above sea level, so our house is always fine. Others however, not so far away from us, are more low-lying, and so bear the brunt of too much water.

Downpours cut roads at least once a year, sometimes more often, and unfortunately, fatalities occur due to cars being washed away by the pressure of the water. Media reports love to show brave emergency service personnel wading waist-high through fast-flowing water, risking life and limb to rescue people. They look so strong, so capable – and yet, make the tiniest of mistakes, and they too will be swept away.

It’s incredible to think that something so innocuous as water, can take lives. Especially considering we usually associate it with its life-giving qualities. But too much of it, and it becomes a disaster.

Song of Solomon 8:7 speaks of God’s love for us.

“Many waters cannot quench your love;                                         rivers cannot sweep it away”

I picture God’s love as strong and steadfast… like an Emergency Service worker, but one who can never make a mistake. One who would never succumb to rising floodwaters.

QThe verse also says “many waters cannot quench your love”. And that’s where the ‘Q’ comes from in today’s #AtoZchallenge: unQuenchable. That’s God’s love for us.

And in my opinion, that’s amazing.

Did you know that there’s NOTHING we can do, that will make God love us any less than He does right now? That’s right – nothing! No matter how badly we stuff up, how many mistakes we make, how many times we ignore Him or disregard Him, His love for us is unquenchable.

How cool is that!

I’m mystified by that. And humbled.

How about you?

 

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn