If the twelfth Hebrew letter, Lamed, meant receiving the staff of authority in our lives, and beginning the most wonderful journey with our creator, this letter reveals to us that now is the right time to grab and hold the staff in our own hands.
Time has come for us to be entrusted with the true power and authority of God. We are to start representing Him, here on earth, the way that He wants to be represented.
''For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. - 1 Corinthians 4:20''
Leadership is not enough anymore, we are to learn from our journey so far, and begin to let ourselves carried away by God's desires for us.
This is the first time in our quest, that God is actually trusting us with something, it is the first time we are ready to experience His perfect will.
A milestone nonetheless, step fifteen on our way back to God must be received with humility.
''And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ''- Matthew 18 -3:4
We must not forget that we have to glorify God only, and unfortunately, experiencing the enormous power of God in our lives, will often cause us to inflate our own selfless pride.
When people associate miracles with us, and think that God is only working through us, it makes us feel special and important. Now we are extremely favoured in God's eyes, if He is working through us, however, we must remind ourselves and everyone else, that we are only the vessel, and they should not look at us differently.
Every person is called for this, unfortunately, there is so much spiritual wealth, and we are living in extreme poverty. Let us ask our King to give us the living water, just like He bids this woman to do:
''Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." -John 4:10
What is the normal Christian life? Are we supposed to be habitual creatures of the day, attending church on time and smiling to everyone we encounter?
Short answer: Yes; Long answer: Of course.
Today's normal is not what it was in the 800's nor the 1600's.
So let's go through a few of the most important habits every Christian must possess.
''Everything is permitted, but everything isn't beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn't build others up.'' - 1 Corinthians 10:23 (CEB)
This should make it pretty clear, we are here to represent God and His image, we must act accordingly. We should not partake in any activity that has a potential to take over us.
Our willpower is undervalued, and not many know that we only have a limited amount each day. If we spend it all on fighting the urge to have one more cigar, one more glass of alcohol, etc, there won't be any left for real life problems, for advancing and getting better every day.
Not partaking in such activities is also essential to upholding the image of Christianity worldwide. When you have the pope saying he can forgive sins, and Joel Osteen preaching money like heaven is winning the lottery and God is in our pockets, it's really easy to get confused.
What is a Christian?
When you say you're a Christian, you have your own version of that in your mind, and the person you're talking to has a completely different one depending on background and life experiences.
Is Christianity a state of mind or is it a feeling of belonging to a community? Should it not be constant conversation with God, rather than looking forward to seeing the people at church?
Someone wise once said that everybody wants to go to heaven, they just don't want God to be there.
It's easy to confuse the outward Christian, the one everyone respects at church, who is financially strong and feared in the community, with the poor guy that sits in the last row, the one nobody notices.
Again, we make the mistake of judging the outward, and miss the true Christians in the congregation, the ones that don't talk to people, but to God.
I'd rather be friends with God's friend, rather than with the people's chosen.
The easiest definition of a Christian is one who constantly keeps God in His mind, and converses with Him every second of the day.
An interesting quote once said: ''It is against my relationship to have a religion.''
First and foremost, we should strongly be aware of our identity above all, so that when we do go out in the world, we do not feel threatened.
Most Christians don't have their core beliefs written down, or they are not even sure what they believe. You might be a true believer, but if a question like, 'How did all those animals fit into the Ark?' makes you uncomfortable, you should look into it.
We have the amazing advantage of Google and a laptop over any generation that ever lived before us. Can you imagine wanting to know an answer and having to ask your 'just as knowledgeable' friends and family around you, and everyone throwing their opinion and trying to make an argument?
That's how pubs started. A bunch of people that don't know much, with a tangible love of debating subjects outside of their area of expertise. Like a wise man once put it, we are all experts in other people's lives.
It's so easy to get distracted, when you don't know where you're headed. You cannot possibly advance without first setting a direction in which to go.
Over time, our mind changes so often that we might just go in circles year after year, not really getting anywhere.
This is one of the most lucrative operations of our nemesis, distracting us with more and more advertisements, making us feel more inadequate, you need this, you need that, look like this, work harder, get more, do more, then suddenly die while on top of the roller coaster, without anything real to show for it.
If you think about it, all you're going to have is your relationship with God, your good deeds, and how many people you turned to Christ. That's about it.
That should give us something to ponder on. Is what you're doing right now worth it? Are you really going to be happy looking back at your life?
Will you stand proud before God, knowing that you've done your best and succeeded? I sure hope so.
The Special Ingredient
All wisdom starts with fear of God, with the understanding that He's not just this all hearts and rainbows, do whatever, I've got grace, kind of guy. He is God of the entire universe, without Him nothing exists.
For a place to be run properly, there have to be rules in place, otherwise it's anarchy. How do you know what you have to do if there are no set laws or rules to begin with?
If there are no set boundaries, and everyone is just to do whatever they think is right, that standard will fluctuate from ''It's ok to misrepresent the truth now and then, or tell a white lie, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone...'' all the way to: ''Listen, I have to steal to provide for my family!''.
People have quite different notions about what is right and wrong, depending on where they grew up, their parent’s beliefs and ultimately education.
That's why a standard set of laws is so important, like the 613 given in the Old Testament. It protects a culture, they don't go into every single minute detail of what's right or wrong, but they establish a solid foundation, on which we can debate.
Thank God for the law, otherwise we would be in horrible shape as everyone just wants to get to the top, regardless of who they step on to get there, only to boast in the gap between them and the ones that didn't make it.
Sure, it's great to be competitive, but at the expense of others?
Why are we not a team in which each individual's job is to provide another service for others to thrive? Why have we arrived at a point where celebrities and their egos are idolized, because they sing a good song? How's that helping humanity?
It just makes no sense that the people who are adding the most value to us as a group, in different parts of the world, would get the least attention and appreciation, while a few that sing a good song and manage to acquire more money than they need, express their extravagance and love of self with such pride, that we are drawn to them without realizing that they don't have what we're looking for.
Do you honestly think that the biggest names on the planet don't lay their head on the pillow at night and just think, 'What on earth am I doing here?' Trust me, they don't have a clue!
Then, as a defence mechanism for all the pressure, their brain will develop ways to make a great excuse, a reason for them to keep on going. That fluctuates from:
''I do it for the fans!'', to 'I do it all for my kids!'' or ''I want to leave a legacy!''
You see, we all need a 'why' to wake up every morning and keep on going. Life is tough, and it's especially hard when you already have everything you need in terms of material things.
This is where many have fallen of the cliff. The realization that money does not provide happiness, that you've got everything you could possibly want and still are not just beaming with joy is incredible.
This depressing revelation combined with a bad entourage gives way to excess of everything, maybe, just maybe that pure joy and peace will be somewhere, we just need to keep looking, right?
Now that the rant has gone on for too long, the point is we need to respect God and be afraid of Him. It's a healthy type of fear, like the kid who wants to punch his sister, but doesn't do it because he knows mum is looking, and he'll get in trouble.
Should mum let him do whatever and then cover it with grace?
Of course not!
But when it comes to us, it's so easy to distort the truth into something that is easier for us to agree with, only to find out at the end that we were wrong all this time. Now that's what I call a bummer!
I invite you to re-read that Old Testament and treat it like the new one, as the weather forecast for your future ranges from 'hot' to 'on fire'. Get out of the marinade and close that grill today!