As the New Year approaches, people start thinking about a new future with new potential, new possibilities. Many will focus on starting a healthy life change. Some will begin a new diet or exercise program; others might try to kick a bad habit or search for a new job. While there are many good new year resolutions, the most important one, our spiritual conditioning, is usually overlooked. Spiritual goals are important to help us discipline our bodies and our minds as well as grow in our understanding of the written Word of God.
Over the past year did you notice a desire to grow closer to God or a distancing in your heart from Him? Perhaps you had a nudge here or there in the busy stream of daily demands urging you to stop and take time for God? As the New Year approaches, consider putting your relationship with God as a first priority instead of treating it like an emergency room visit, stopping by only when you're in critical need.
Statistics confirm less than 10% of people fulfill their New Year's resolutions. Most start out strong, but quit before the month of January has ended. What you need to be successful is a genuine desire combined with a realistic plan. Here are some tips to help you fulfill your Spiritual New Year's Resolution Goals.
Decide on a Specific Goal.
Be Realistic in Your Goal Timeline.
One of the largest obstacles facing goal achievement is unrealistic timelines. A good goal such as reading the Bible in a year is specific and attainable if given a reasonable time frame to fulfill. However, it would be unreasonable to expect to read the entire Bible in one day or even a week. Trying to fulfill a desired goal in an unreasonable amount of time can lead to discouragement, disillusionment, and even failure. If your goal is to read the entire Bible, finding a reading plan that breaks down the Bible into smaller portions of daily reading might be the most beneficial way to read the entire book.
Break the Goal into Smaller Steps.
Having a specific goal and a realistic timeline are the first steps in achieving your spiritual goals. Equally important is recognizing that it's okay to break your goals into smaller steps or actions that you can realistically fit into your daily lifestyle will be beneficial. Desiring to increase your prayer life by praying 25 minutes a day may not actually fit into your schedule until late at night when you'll find yourself dozing off in the middle of your prayer time. Breaking that large block of time into smaller blocks that can easily fit into your day will make your target goal of 25 minutes easier to attain. For example, you could take 5 minutes in the morning before you get out of bed, 5 minutes at lunch, 5 minutes in the afternoon, 5 minutes at dinnertime and 5 minutes before bed to reach your 25 minute goal.
In addition to breaking down 1 large task in time, you could also devise smaller steps for a general goal. For example if your spiritual goal is to increase your time with the Lord each week. Exactly how you fulfill a general goal will be easier to quantify if you brake it down into smaller steps. Some possible actions to increasing your time with God each week could be:
Let me know some of your specific New Year's Resolutions.
As the year comes to a close, I pause to reflect how quickly this year passed. So much has happened over the year. Personally, my family has like most families had many difficulties and triumphs. We've experienced illnesses, surgeries, and healed from some of them. We gained a new four-legged family member and watched 2 others decline due to old age. We also learned of the joy of our granddaughter carrying her first child. We've cried many tears, spent hours in prayer, smiled and laughed often, and rejoiced a time or two with great joy.
The Spring was warm, and I was able to cut and haul home six cords of wood in preparation for winter. It was the first time all our firewood was in before Fall. Then Summer found us tearing down an old building from the 1940s to recycle into a shed for my son to work on his mechanical dreams. I also staked out new mining claims and climbed many peaks to set the posts. Autumn gave way to my daughter's senior year of high school. It was 13 years ago we walked into kindergarten classes; yet is seems like almost yesterday. Now, Winter's dark days are spent indoors with homework, writing, and editing. The solstice has passed, and the days are finally growing longer, if only by seconds each day.
Overall, it was a good year. A year with much to be thankful. It was also a difficult year, with times of struggle. It was a year like many others before it and many others to come. Time brings events where we laugh, mourn, learn, hope, pray, and even celebrate. Through it all, with each new day before me, I prove God's word to be true.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Every Christian has probably heard Jesus is our Redeemer. Many are familiar with the allegory of Boaz in the story of Ruth as kinsman redeemer painting a beautiful illustration of Jesus and the Church. But did you know Redeemer is one of the names God declares Himself to have in Isaiah 44:6? And did you know that “Redeemer” like “Counselor” is can be a verb ? Here are some AMAZING details about God’s name as Redeemer that you’ve probably never known.
The word translated Redeemer comes from the Hebrew word “Ga’al” which means literally ‘to redeem,’ ‘to act as kinsman.’ Ga'al is a femine verb/noun in Hebrew. Redeemer is the word in the Aramaic Gospel of John chapter 14 used to describe the masculine word translated in Greek as "Comforter." Ga’al is made up of three letters which when combined create an extraordinary image of Christ.
Gamel – camel, walking, movement, lifted up
Alef – ox (sacrificial animal), yoke, tame, strength,
leader what is first
Lamedh – staff, cattle goad, authority, to learn,
to study, to teach
God has a deeper revelation behind the Hebrew letter ‘lamed’ than just these basic interpretations. Lamed is unique in the Hebrew alphabet being the tallest letter, towering over all the other letters from its central position in the alphabet. It is said Lamed represents melekh hamelakhim (the King of Kings). The concept of Lamed having this kingly representation is supported by the preceding letter standing for kisei hakavod, "the throne of Glory," and the following letter standing for malkhut, "kingdom." Thus being in the middle, Lamed would represent One who sits on the Throne in the Kingdom of God's Glory. Jewish scholars also acknowledge the three central letters of the alphabet spell the word "melekh," meaning "King." While Lamed is pictured as a shepherd’s staff of old, used to incite or prick the cattle into action, the staff also represents authority. Lamed represents a Shepherd King, out of the lineage of David.
Interesting, the gematria (numerical value) of Lamed represents the number 30, which is the same numerical value as the word “Judah.” This again emphasises the Shepher King lineage of David who comes from the tribe of Judah. Lamed is created by two other letters which combine to make the Lamed. Vav and Kaf blend to create Lamed. Together these smaller parts equal the number 26; the same numerical value as the word “YHVH” Yaweh, the name of God.
Thus, the word “Redeemer” (Ga’al) is a picture of “the sacrifice of Judah, who is Yaweh, lifted up" or "lifts up" for your redemption. How AMAZING is that! The Hebrew word “Redeemer” itself as a noun reveals exactly what it means to be a kinsman redeemer. God as man in Christ Jesus from the tribe of Judah will lift you up.
As a verb, Redeemer represents God who is actively in the process of redeeming people. Hallelujah! Ga’al unveils a deeper meaning of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in John 5:39, when He said, "the scriptures testify of Me." Indeed they do!
Every verse, every word, and every letter glorifies Jesus!
El Gibbor is the name of God from Isaiah 9:6. The word "El" is a common name of God in the Old Testament, a shortened form of Elohiym and refers to Almighty God. The two letters that make up the word El in Hebrew are Alef and Lamed. These two amazing letters are created using other characters in the alphabet.
Alef is made up of three parts which combined have a numeric value of 26, the same numeric value as Yaweh, the name given by God to Moses. The primary value of Alef as it's own unique identifier is #1 indicating there is only 1 God, Master of the Universe. Alef begins the words Abba (Father) and Adonai (Lord). Interestingly, Alef has 3 parts but equals 1... anyone else see the concept of the trinity contained here?
Lamed is made of two parts (Vav and Kaf), which combined have a numeric value of 26, again Yaweh's number. Lamed is symbolic of the King of Kings. Jesus was both God and Man, two parts in one person, just like the letter Lamed. Vav symbolizes a nail or tent stake and Kaf is the symbol for the palm of the hand. Thus, Lamed's 2 parts depict the image of a nail in the palm of the hand as the symbol for the King of Kings.
Gibbor is a unique word, being able to be used both as a noun and as an adjective. In Hebrew, Gibbor means "champion, strong, valiant man, or warrior." Combined the words El and Gibbor together and you get, "Warrior God," "God our Champion," or perhaps "Strong God." With the additional understanding behind the letters creating the word "El," we know it is the King of Kings, who is our champion. Jesus is the Warrior God defeating the enemies of sin and death on behalf of man. He alone is strong to prevail. Jesus is God our Champion; a Strong God delivering His children from the hand of the enemy.
We continue to examine the names for God from Isaiah 9:6. Today we look at "Avi 'Ad," translated as Everlasting Father. As I've been uncovering over the past week, sometimes in bible translations designed for today's modern English, we lose a deeper aspect of God's word by missing the intent behind the Hebrew words. This often happens when one language is translated into another. Even the King James Version of the Bible fails to accurately portray Avi 'Ad, because it only capitalizes the word "Father." As a result, many people tend to read the word "Everlasting" as only an adjective describing the noun "father." However, Everlasting and Father should both be capitalized. They are both nouns for the name of God. The phrase Avi 'Ad is a double noun to reinforce the concept of His name.
'Ad is the Hebrew word meaning eternal, everlasting, continual, and infinity." God is eternal, with no beginning and no end. Time is part of His creation. As 'Everlasting,' God declares by His name He possess a unique characteristic. He alone has the trait of being everlasting, without beginning or end. In Isaiah 9:6, we see a proclamation of God's characteristic of eternity linked with His other exclusive attribute, Father.
God reveals from the name, 'Everlasting Father,' that He from eternity is the only person responsible for creation. Interestingly in the Hebrew language, the word for Father is "Av," pronounced "Ab," from where we get the word Hebrew word "Abba," meaning "daddy." However, in Isaiah 9, the word "Av" has an additional letter. The addition of the letter 'i' transforms Av into 'Avi.' This single letter alters the word 'Father' to become a personal possessive noun. Avi literally means 'My Father.' Using the word Avi, God clarifies He has a personal relationship to us. He is our father.
The name "Everlasting Father" is often understood to be solely the position of God the Father (Yahweh). Rarely is the concept of Father associated equally with the Son, Jesus. However, Isaiah 9:6 makes it extremely clear that the Son who has been given as a child to mankind is indeed the Everlasting Father. There can be no separation between these two identities of God. They are one in the same person. The Eternal Father declared in Isaiah He was stepping into time, taking human form. This is a wonder, an unexplainable miracle. This is why humanity can stand in awe of the great mystery of the child who was born, the son who was given, whose name is the Everlasting Father.
The Everlasting Father was the Son born in Bethlehem.
"Counselor" is a word used in Isaiah 9:6 that many Christians believe is the noun being described by the word "Wonderful." However, as I discussed earlier, Wonderful was not an adjective, It was a noun. Today we explore the word Counselor, which is used as a verb in Isaiah 9:6, not a noun. Nouns tend to passively describe a person, place or thing; while verbs are usually dynamic voices of action.
In Hebrew, the word 'Counselor' is spelled "yo'ats." Yo'ats consists of four letters: yod, vav, 'ayin, and tsadhe. Each Hebrew letter has an image associated with it. The first two letters in the word Counselor are also the first two letters in the name Yaweh. Let's look at the word picture for the verb Counselor below:
Yod - Hand, arm, to work
Vav - Nail, hook, connecting together
'Ayiin - Eye, fountain, to see, to understand,
Tsadhe - Fish hook, to pull forward,
something inescapable, desire
As you might notice the first two letters are a hand with a nail. This is the picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose hands were pierced on the cross. The third letter gives us the concept of knowing or understanding (sees your need). The fourth letter in Counselor gives the concept of a hook and pulling forward. Thus, the word picture for "Counselor" in Hebrew is of Jesus knowing what motivates or hooks us and draws us forward.
Remember counselor is used as a verb in Isaiah. Thus, in describing God, He is always actively drawing you forward. What a great Counselor we have! Yahweh is not a passive psychotherapist to who waits for us to come to Him before He helps us with our troubles. He is an active Savior who knows our needs and is continually seeking us out and drawing us to Himself!
Counselor as a verb combined with the noun "Wonderful," creates the imagery of a Awesome God who is constantly working for us to draw near to Him. The portrait of a Wonderful Counselor (Noun, Verb) reminded me of the bible verse
"how can two walk together unless they be in agreement," Amos 3:3.
Christians walk together with Christ not by their own strength or power, but because Jesus draws them continually. He truly is the Fisher of Men, drawing mankind by a hook unto Himself to save them from their sins.
Today is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. To celebrate, I took several photos from cute, ugly Christmas sweaters on sale at Walmart. Please upload images of your favorite ugly Christmas sweaters and tell me if they are homemade or store bought.
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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