Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Restored relationships (6)

Reconciliation: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

In the previous blog post I wrote very shortly about the system of atonement that God had set up for His people Israel. According to this old covenant blood had to flow for the forgiveness of sins and each time that happened reconciliation between God and mankind was made possible.

In Hebrews 9:7 we can read about the sacrificial services the high priest used to perform under the old covenant: But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

Despite the fact that we mostly don't like all that bloody business, it is interesting to read on in the book of Hebrews. For example verses 9 and 10: This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

The old covenant prepared the people for a new covenant God was going to establish. And this time not just with the people of Israel, but will ALL people! Christ came as a high priest of the new covenant and His suffering, death and resurrection put an end to all the blood sacrifices. In verse 12 we can read it as follows:

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

This is glorious. We no longer have to suffer under sin and guilt and shame. He has set us free, eternally! If we accept and believe that and if we give Him permission to change our heart, our thinking, our talking and our doing, then we will be able to truly live in freedom. There is NO LONGER any need for the shedding of blood. We continue to read in verses 13 and 14:

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

We can serve the living God in freedom. If we would truly understand this, we would be able to live much more relaxed and war and violence would stop... In verse 17 and 18 the writer of Hebrews explains again that a covenant (in this case the reconciliation between God and Israel) was put into effect through blood:

In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.

Under the old covenant cleansing took place by the use of blood. If no blood flowed, no forgiveness took place. That is how it used to be between God and Israel. How different is it now between God and people (yes, we will always come back to the first level of restored relationships: that between God and mankind). Verse 26 says: But he [Christ] has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

As far as God is concerned, the friendship has been restored, with Israel and with all other nations. Now it is up to us... how do we react? How do we interact with each other? That is what the next blog will be about; the reconciliation between Jews and gentiles (non-Jewish people)....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Restored relationships (5)

Reconciliation: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

Restored relationship is really the simple meaning of the word reconciliation and it is the foundation of the Christian faith. The restored relationship between God and mankind is the first and most important level of reconciliation and certainly the most beautiful one. A second level that I want to mention on this blog is the reconciliation between God and His people Israel.

We have already seen in this series that a healthy relationship between God, the Creator of the Universe, and all mankind is possible as a result of the blood of Jesus that flowed once and for all when He was crucified. Colossians 1:19-20 describes it like this: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [that is Jesus/Yeshua/Isa], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross

Blood, that has a negative sound to it, but biblically speaking life is in the blood. Without blood there is no life, even scientists know this :) Keep that thought...

Thousands of years ago God decided to dedicate one nation to be His very own, to set them apart. This is what holy means: to be set apart. Many people today reject this thought and are in disagreement with God (not a good place to be!) But whether people like it or not, it is still a fact. Leviticus 20:24-26 says: you are to be holy to Me, because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

God did not choose Israel because they were so wonderful and so great, on the contrary, it was the smallest nation of all at that time! But He loved them and He had made promises to their ancestors, Deuteronomy 7:7-8: The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers....

It made God sad that they disobeyed Him all the time, for example by worshiping other gods and by neglecting His laws. He wanted to keep a healthy relationship with them, but sin kept defiling their friendship. So He set up a system for reconciliation: blood had to flow (the offering of animals) for the forgiveness of the sins of the people, with an annual summit called the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

In most world religions we still see this: blood has to flow (whether animals or people) in other to please the gods... which we think is horrible. But, wait a minute, wasn't blood offering God's idea? What exactly did He had in mind when he set up the system for reconciliation? Let's take a closer look at that in the next blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Restored relationships (4)

Reconciliation: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

Restored relationship is really the meaning of the word reconciliation and it is the foundation of the Christian faith.

The restored relationship between God and mankind is the first and most important level of reconciliation and certainly the most beautiful one.

God, the Creator of the Universe wants a personal friendship with human beings. Contrary to the gods of other world religions, God is not angry at humanity. He loves people and He longs for a healthy relationship with you and me. A relationship that will not be sabotaged by guilt and shame and does not depend on all kinds of good works. It is a relationship based on mutual LOVE.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Atonement (the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ) has a rich history which has been described in the first books of the Bible: the reconciliation between God and Israel. That is the second level of reconciliation and I will write some more about that in the next blog post.

Jesus said: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Good, better, best news!

Sometimes you see certain video clips come by that just want to make you scream Hallelujah! That's the BEST news I've heard this week. Share it!


This  particular one caught my attention because my husband recently went to Mauritania!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Restored relationships (3)

Reconciliation: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

Restored relationship is really the meaning of the word reconciliation and it is the foundation of the Christian faith. The restored relationship between God and mankind is the first and most important level of reconciliation.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [that is Jesus/Yeshua/Isa], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).

Maybe you are thinking 'what does it matter whether I have a good relationship with God or not, I can do without...' But, you know, a healthy relationship with the Creator is the basis for all other relationships we have. A healthy relationship with God means being sure that you are forgiven and loved. Yes, we can never say that enough: God loves you, He is not mad at you.

Living out of that perspective means we can live without bitterness, hatred, jealousy, fear, anger, doubt and shame. The Bible calls this living in freedom... We do not need to live a day longer under fear and condemnation if we:
  • acknowledge that we have sinned
  • accept His forgiveness and
  • make the decision to turn our backs to our old life
That foundation (the restored relationship with God) will help us on a daily basis in developing and maintaining all other relations we have, whether it is our parents, children, partner, co-workers or friends.

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul (Proverbs 27:9 MSG).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Restored relationships (2)

Reconciliation: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

In the previous blog post I wrote: 'reconciliation basically means restored relationship and that is really the heart of God, the foundation of the Christian faith.'

Often we have (without being aware of it) developed  our own image of God. Some see God as an angry man who sees every mistake and never gives a compliment. Others see God as holy and out of reach. And again, others might see Him as a good old fellow who loves everyone and doesn't judge...

If we want to get to know God better it is important to talk with Him, listen to Him and read His Word. We cannot expect pastors and professors to do that for us. In the same way as we cannot leave it up to others to get to know our lover, friend, child, partner a little better. We must invest time in the relationship!

The Bible clearly states where and how the relationship between mankind and God (the Creator) went wrong. God decided to make mankind according to His image and likeness, thus a living soul with a free will. The first people used that free will to go their own way and to NOT listen to God... well, nothing new under the horizon so far... many people are still doing that today!

The relationship between God and mankind has been distorted ever since. Which, by the way, does not mean that God isn't communicating with people, He does so all the time. But sin (going our own way) stands in the way of a healthy relationship with Him. That is why many people have a love-hate relationship with God. As long as everything is okay, many people believe He is kind of out there, but the moment things go wrong, He gets the blame. Even people who do not believe in God feel deep down inside that He must exist... but are too scared to admit it.

Sin stands in the way of a healthy relationship with God and this often results in feelings of guilt, shame, anger or fear. Well, that is not the way we want to have relationship, right? Not on a human level, not on a godly level. And this is exactly where reconciliation comes around the corner. God offers us restoration of the relationship with Him. In Colossians 1:20 (GNT) it is described like this:

Through the Son [that is Jesus, Yeshua, Isa], then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.

God has offered us peace. The question is how we answer His peace proposal.

Do we keep fighting and struggling... insisting in going our own way? Or do we accept His peace offering?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Restored relationships (1)

A few weeks ago I started a new blog series on my Dutch blog; a series about the four levels of reconciliation. I want to share it on this blog as well, because I believe it will be a great help in building healthy and strong relationships.

Reconciliation is a beautiful topic and at the same time a very sensitive and difficult topic. We all experience disappointment in relationships. We get discouraged, we have too high expectations, we give too much, or too little... well, you name it.

When I started thinking about this topic, I realized that reconciliation is the Biblical basis for healthy friendships and relationships. Reconciliation is kind of an eminent word that isn't used much in our daily language. It means: end of conflict, restoration of friendly relations, reunion, bringing together (again), restoration of peace...

Reconciliation basically means 'restored relationship' and that is really the heart of God, the foundation of the Christian faith. At the beginning of this year my husband and I spoke at a conference in Germany about the theme reconciliation, about the four levels of reconciliation to be precise. The response to those messages was compelling and I think that sharing this topic (in a short version) on this blog will give fresh inspiration to you . The four levels I want to write about are:
  • Reconciliation between God and mankind
  • Reconciliation between God and Israel
  • Reconciliation between Jews and gentiles
  • Reconciliation between you and the people around you
The exploration and better understanding of this theme will contribute to healthy relationships in our lives. I hope you will read along and invite others to join us for this series.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Spanish version of Grace of Giving

Writers and their books... a never ending story :) We write, we struggle, we sweat, we cry.... and start all over again. If it wasn't for the highlights in between, we would have gone fishing a long time ago.

I am delighted to share such a highlight with you all. The Spanish edition of my award winning book Grace of Giving is now available through Amazon, Bookdepository (free worldwide delivery!) and other internet book sellers. How cool is that?

Sometimes readers ask me where I get the translators for my books. Well, in this case I met Martha Steinebach at a weekend conference where my husband and I were speaking, in Lubeck, Germany (not the place where you'd expect to find a Spanish translator). Martha picked up the German version (which is yet another story) of Grace of Giving and came back the next day, all exited!

'I would love to translate this into Spanish', she announced. It turned out she is a native of Colombia, now living in Germany with her husband. So, that's how we met.

As soon as she started with the translation, I began my search for a Spanish publisher. After several months and many emails I came across Libreria Evangelica Logos in Alicante, Spain. They were interested in the manuscript... and well, the rest is history.

La Gracia de Dar is available in paperback, an e-book version will soon be available as well. If you, dear readers, have Spanish speaking friends, neighbors or co-workers who would love to read this book, please consider ordering a copy. Your kindness would be a huge help to get the ball rolling in the USA.

Am I asking you to buy a book and GIVE it to a Spanish speaking friend? Yes, I am... After all, that's really the theme of the book :) Let's call it a new kind of Give-Away.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Think big, start small

The tragedies of this world are coming at us at cosmic speed. Sometimes in such massive waves that it seems impossible to see through it, in search for light. Many people find themselves paralyzed by fear, unable to move on... in search for light.

Images, headlines, words and relief efforts are passing us by in a never ending scream to get our attention. Yet, in the midst of all chaos and disorder  one question remains: how can I make a difference, where do I start?

My answer is simple: think big, start small. Sort of like God. For God so loved the world [now, that's big thinking...] that He... what? Send an army of angels? Organized a massive demonstration? Decided to clean up this planet with one move of His hand? No! He sent one person, His Son. Now, that is thinking big (loving the world and seeing the need) and starting small (one person with  an assignment).

I truly believe it still works like that. We cannot solve all the problems in this world, but each person can do something in order to touch someone else and help that person to get a new life. That is in short the philosophy behind our non profit organisation Traveling Light. Offering help on a small scale basis (one person at the time) and by doing so changing lives, families, streets, villages, cities, nations... and yes, eventually the world, in preparation for the coming King and for the glory of our heavenly Father... who might have more pain about the present state of the earth He created than we can imagine.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

We just finished a fundraiser (two of our volunteers raised almost $5,500) for the construction of a small home for girls and young woman in Moldova, who have been rescued from human trafficking, the youngest girl being only twelve years of age. If you want to know how they did that, check our weblog HERE.

My question for you is: Do you let yourself be paralyzed by fear or do you decide to get up and let your light shine?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prayer for change

One morning, earlier this week, I was reading through the prayer booklet that was published specifically for the week of prayer 2015. I found these words:


God of life, 
Let our strength
not be the result of violence,
but of love.
Let our prosperity
not be the result of possessions,
but of sharing.
Let our path
not lead to ambition,
but to righteousness.
This is what we ask
in the Name of Jesus,
Your Son.
Amen.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Good news blog

Wishing you all a blessed and inspirational 2015 full of pleasant surprises from our heavenly Father!

In a world that seems to continually scream bad news at us, I have yet again made a commitment to write short (I know how busy you all are) encouraging, uplifting and positive blog posts in 2015 and to share good news  items whenever possible. After all, we are called to share the good news, not to spread and repeat the bad stuff (which we will leave up to the secular media).

It is my wish that a visit to my blog will make your day brighter, so you can pass the light on to others... Let's do it!

If you can think of a topic that needs a fresh (biblical) perspective, please do not hesitate and send an email to meijers.marja@gmail.com. Who knows it will turn into an interesting blog series.

Elsie Amata, you have won the December give-away. Please, send me an email with your address and I will make sure the two books will come your way. Congratulations and have fun reading!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Adoration

 Arise and shine
Painting by Mattia Preti (1613-1699)

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord
rises upon you.
See,
darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness
is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory
appears over you.
Nations
will come to your light,
    and kings
to the brightness of your dawn.

[Isaiah 60:1-3]

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

December give-away

Dear readers of this blog,

At the end (almost) of yet another beautiful and inspiring blogging year I want to thank you for reading along, for commenting and for sharing the posts. Your input and responses make each post a valuable interaction about the deeper issues of life.

I cannot thank you all personally, some readers desire to stay anonymous and that's just fine with me, but I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who visits this blog, whether you are a reader, a blogger or a writer (to be)... Without your encouragement this blog would not continue to exist. As a way of saying thank you I will be hosting a give-away this month!

You can win a copy of My Neighbor's House and, as a bonus, a copy of any other book in the Ten Commandments series you desire. The only thing you need to do is to leave your comment underneath this post and describe in six words how you have experienced 2014. (This is a great opportunity for the writers and poets among us to practice writing a six-word-story.)

I'll ask my husband to draw a name, later this month!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit (10)

This is already part 10 in the series on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, as described in Galatians 5:22-23. It is very interesting what precedes these verses:  What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these...

Ouch! I am sure we can all recognize some of this happening around us. Thank God, the word doesn't stop there... But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

In the last part of this blog series we will take a closer look at self-control or, as the KJV says, temperance. Nowadays that is probably a word which will make people laugh or frown. Let's be honest: in the Western world we live in a time and culture of abundance. Eating a whole bag of potato chips or half a box of chocolates, purchasing fashionable purse number twenty, browsing the internet for hours and hours at the time, drinking too much, wasting precious time in front of the television etc. etc. Too much, too much, too much.

Self-control, temperance... not our strongest point. The more we try, the more we fail. And that is exactly why God wants to help us. Without self-control we are weak and an easy target for the enemy. Proverbs 25:28 says: Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

The self-control the Holy Spirit wants to produce in us is not the kind of effort we sometimes undertake, as in 'I can do it if I want to' or 'just a little longer and I made it'. It is self-control at the most unexpected moments. Right when we think we can NOT do it, the Spirit wants to come alongside to help. We can simply ask Him to do so!
Less of our own will, more of His!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit (9)

We are nearing the end of this blog series about the fruit the Holy Spirit wants to bring forth in the lives of believers.

What the Holy Spirit wants to produce in us, is truly beautiful: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Let's take a look at gentleness.

Does 'being gentle' mean that we must be soft? That people can walk all over us? No, of course not. The Lord Jesus is gentle, but I wouldn't dare to call Him weak or cowardly. In Matthew 11:29 He says: I am gentle and humble in heart. Gentleness goes together with being humble: daring and willing to be the last or the least.

Practically, this means:
  • not always wanting to be right,
  • regarding someone else more important than ourselves,
  • extending grace and not being judgmental...
In our efforts to be important, popular, nice and pretty we often forget that this was not the focus of Jesus' ministry. He brought gentleness into a violent world and they hated Him for it. And this is still so today. Being gentle is definitely a way to get noticed in the world today... daring to be gentle in situations where debate is rising and grace is nowhere to be found.

Personally I am not too good at this. That is why I have a big need to see this supernatural (godly) fruit become visible in my life. Gentleness is not a human virtue, it is supernatural character of God Himself... in us.