Episode One of Grafted: Jewish Roots of Christianity.
Introduction: Are you a Christian who wants to go deeper into the roots of your faith? In this weekly podcast, your host Stephanie Pavlantos will explore the Hebraic significance of Scripture with teachers and scholars while providing a deeper understanding of Jesus, the Torah, and the Old and New Testaments. We will help you understand Scripture’s meaning through the Hebrew language, culture, and history.
For the past eight weeks, we have been looking into the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. The other day, I read Psalm 32 and noticed it begins with the same wording as Matthew 5.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psalm 32:1-2 ESV
While looking for a commentary about these verses, I came across an article from “Working Preacher” called The Pursuit of Happiness.
The Hebrew word, ashre, translates into Blessed are. The Working Preacher described it as Happiness is… This is an interesting translation of the word. You can read it here.
What comes to mind when you hear happiness is?
I found these quotes during a quick online search:
Happiness is a warm puppy.
…having you in my life.
…being weird every now and then.
…the privilege of friendship.
…letting go of your worries.
… not out there, it’s in you.
What would you say happiness is? To me, happiness is laughing with my family.
The Bible is full of these Blessed are /Happiness is statements.
There are Beatitudes in Deuteronomy, Job, Jeremiah, Psalms, Revelation, and probably others.
Let’s look at a few other examples I found in the Bible, and my Happiness is interpretation below them.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7 ESV
Happiness is the man who trusts in the Lord…
Isn’t true happiness being able to fully trust in Someone? Knowing our Father will never lie, cheat, hurt, or disappoint us is a wonderful feeling. I was thinking the other day, if I truly believe God can not lie, then everything He has told me is truth. Everything He has promised He will do, because He has to–He. Can’t. Lie. Lying would go against His holy and perfect nature.
Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
Job 5:17 NIV
Happiness is getting corrected by God…
This isn’t exactly a quote we would make into a poster and paste on our wall, right? No one really likes correction or discipline. However, I would prefer the Lord correct or discipline, me now, in this life, rather than in eternity. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
In addition, Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
A number of years ago, I developed a bad attitude with my pastor (Many others saw my poor attitude, as well). It didn’t seem to matter to him what I wanted to teach because he would either say he taught it or he was going to teach it. To me, it seemed as if he didn’t want me to teach at all.
One Sunday morning during worship, I grumbled to the Lord. I complained how my pastor wouldn’t let me teach or lead any groups. As a result, I felt useless and angry. Suddenly, I heard the Lord’s voice inside me, AND it was neither gentle nor caring. Sternly, He answered me, “Your pastor didn’t say ‘No,’ I DID!”
If I could have crawled under my seat, I would have. God made it clear I needed to quit grumbling about the pastor and accept his answer. This was the closest to having the Lord yell at me as I have ever gotten. I won’t forget it either. But God changed my relationship with my pastor for the better through this. I realized all the things I thought he was doing, he wasn’t. I publicly apologized for my bad attitude.
Godly discipline yields fruit–and happy children.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Ps. 34:8 ESV
Happiness is the man who takes refuge in the Lord…
A refuge is “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”
I have a picture my mom took on my fifth birthday. I wore a little flowered dress with a bow in my hair sitting on my dad’s lap. That was my safe place.
My dad died almost thirty years ago. One day as I prayed, feeling lonely and a bit depressed, the Lord reminded me of that picture. He spoke to my heart and told me I sit on His lap in much of the same way I sat on my dad’s as a little girl. My Father sees me as His little girl and He holds me when I am happy or sad. The Lord protects me, comforts me, speaks to me and loves me. He is my refuge. The words the Lord spoke to me gave my heart peace, and also joy and happiness.
Here’s the last one for now…
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 ESV
Happiness is not walking with the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers, but delighting in the Law of the Lord…
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” That’s certainly a good reason not to walk, stand, and sit with people who will corrupt us. How many people have you known who didn’t regret following others into trouble?
I looked up the word happiness online. As I read over the definitions given, I realized God, in His Word, gave us the true meaning of Happiness. It is not following Him in a half-hearted, on-again, off-again, when-it-is-convenient way.
What if true happiness is being poor in spirit, peacemakers, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being meek, mourning over our sin, being merciful, getting persecuted, taking refuge in the Lord, getting corrected by God…#ThisSideofHeaven #Beatitudes #HappinessIs
What if true happiness is being poor in spirit, peacemakers, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being meek, mourning over our sin, being merciful, getting persecuted, taking refuge in the Lord, getting corrected by God…
You get the picture.
We will never find true happiness by looking at the world around us. It comes from looking up.
It comes from gazing past ourselves to the One who is the meaning of happiness.
Are you on Twitter or heard of #Healthyfaith Twitter chat?
You can find it when you click on Explore and enter #Healthyfaith.
The topics on #Healthyfaith vary from night to night, but each leader has a different topic for at least 8 weeks. Recently, on Thursday nights, we led our #Healthyfaith chat on the Beatitudes. For me, it was fun to gather research on Matthew 5:3-12 and come up with questions based on these scriptures.
Since the Twitter chat topic changed to the Names of God, I’d like to share what I’ve learned through my study of the Beatitudes over the next nine weeks on this blog.
I hope you find it encouraging, educating, and even life-changing.
Here we go!
And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 5:10 ESV
Biology was and is my favorite subject. I loved learning about the different plants, animals, cells, and fungi in the world, especially how we as humans fit into it all. This world belongs to our Creator and everything in it He made it with a purpose—except mosquitos….I’m not sure of their purpose other than to feed bats and dragonflies…but that’s another subject.
As a biologist, I have taught many classes on the six different kingdoms of biology. Starting from the smallest single-cell kingdoms like Archaebacteria and Eubacteria up to the largest multi-celled kingdoms of plants and animals—from the mosquito to the Blue whale. These kingdoms represent every life form on this planet.
The largest is the animal kingdom, which includes humans.
Amongst all the kingdoms we learn about, the most important one we will ever know is God’s. He created His Kingdom, and appointed Jesus as King, to represent and usher all humans into it.
Because we can’t see this awesome place God has for us, many people decide to build their own out of their dissatisfaction.
One way the enemy entices us is through our profession. We may be a secular business, a Christian ministry, or even an author—trying to build a personal kingdom of followers to buy our products and embrace our vision. Our kingdom and brand adopt our name.
You are the customer. Everyone we know—from people we worship with to friends and family becomes potential clients and/or purchasers.
We become the king of our kingdom.
This is what others teach us to do.
Now, I’m not saying we are trying to usurp God’s Kingdom and authority. But, it is easy to get caught up in our own kingdom-building.
Even the Pharisees had problems with this. They weren’t all bad either. We see in Luke 17:20:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
This represents a person in absolute need of God to take care of them. This is humility at its best.
A person who is poor in spirit is the opposite of worldly thinking—independent, proud, with an “I have it all-I need nothing” attitude.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus begins with the poor in spirit in the Beatitudes?
Without the knowledge and understanding that we are nothing more than helpless beggars, we will never be peacemakers, we will never mourn, never be humble, or hunger and thirst for His righteousness….get the picture?
But that is only in this world. In the Heavenly places, God will esteem the humble, poor in spirit, peacemakers, persecuted, and the compassionate. God loves these traits in us.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
O the gladness of being poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is a blessing as well as a state of gladness to recognize we are poor in spirit. We will have the Kingdom of Heaven living within us until the day Jesus takes us to Heaven to live with Him forever!
A few years ago, I had some genetic testing done through 23 and Me, a branch ofancestry.com.
In addition to finding out I have a few enzymes missing, I found out I am 87% Irish/English. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the United States, but I had no idea I had that much Irish in me.
Throughout my adulthood, I have been told by complete strangers how “Irish” I look. I have even been asked where I’m from because of my “accent.” When I said Ohio, they laughed and said, “No, it’s not an Ohio accent I hear.”
I have never been to Ireland, but I am dying to go!
I read more about Ireland and things to do there. One interesting article I read had to do with the Blarney Stone found near the top of an old castle. You must hang upside down and kiss it to receive the gift of gab.
The gift of gab is defined as the ability to speak with eloquence and wit.
I need to kiss that rock!
The Irish American Mom, whose website you can visit here,quotes John O’Connor Power, an Irish politician.
“Blarney is something more than mere flattery.
It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.
Those who mix with Irish folk have many
examples of it in their everyday experience”
~ John O’Connor Power (1846 – 1919)
I really love to talk but write, uh, not so much.
I want to speak with eloquence and wit. But, I’m not sure that is me.
Sometimes I write like I talk, too. Ugh!
So, when God called me to write I felt obligated to explain to Him that I was NOT a writer. He seemed unconvinced.
I wrote and taught a Bible study twelve years ago on Revelation. It was okay and my class liked it. Soon after that I felt led to write a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. I included Spiritual warfare since it is covered in Ephesians 6 and I titled it The Few, the Humble, the Church; A Study in the Book of Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare. (You can purchase yours at the bottom of my web site.)
I self-published it eleven years ago. Since I was inexperienced in marketing, I did my best to get it into churches and bookstores. I got very discouraged when it proved to be difficult.
I knew I was to keep writing, but I really had no interest in it. I avoided it for many years until 2017.
The Lord led me through the book of Hebrews during my quiet time. When I wanted to move past it, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write a Bible study on it.
I didn’t want to!
“Who will read it?” I asked. “What’s the purpose?”
He replied, “I can’t do anything with it if you don’t write it.”
It has been quite a ride writing this study. I have learned so much from Him and His Word. I began small Bible studies as well as attending writers conferences, and I have recently become a chapter president for a critique group called Word Weavers, International. My sister was an immense help reading and working through it as I wrote each chapter.
Its title is: The Jewels of Hebrews
Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone, like amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, plus many more. #JewelsOfHebrews #ThisSideOfHeaven #StephaniePavlantos
Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone like, like amethyst, ruby, emerald, oe sapphire, plus many more.
You will also STUDY the Bible!
I take you through the Torah, or Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament as we study Hebrews. It is a mixture of reflection, teaching, and fill-in. I pray God will use it to set people free and reveal His Son to everyone who reads it.
Here is the “back cover” for the book:
You are a treasure hunter on a mission to find hidden jewels. Your guide Stephanie Pavlantos has gone before you and now joins you on an expedition to unearth a hidden gem from each chapter of Hebrews. When you open your beloved Bible and dive deep into the book, you will find a rare diamond, ruby, sapphire, and other gems. You will explore the rich history of the early church and the connections the book of Hebrews has to the Old Testament. The supremacy of Yeshua and his royalty will be revealed as the Jewels of Hebrews are discovered one chapter at a time. Learn about these jewels and the meaning of their color as you find relatable and practical applications for modern times. Get ready for a life-changing journey! Yeshua is eager to reveal the Jewels of Hebrews to you and crown you his prince or princess.
Jewels of Hebrews
It is not published, yet. That’s my next step.
But someday, Lord willing, I will be able to gab with you through my book while you read and study God’s Word.
I may not be the most eloquent or witty, but my desire is to teach you about Yeshua through my studies.
Do you know the meaning of your name? My name, Stephanie, comes from the Greek word, stephanos which means crowned. Revelation 19:12 (ESV) says of Jesus:
“His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [stephanos], and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.”
I really don’t like to be called anything but Stephanie, meaning I don’t like my name shortened. It ends up sounding like stuff or staph…who wants to be called staph?
In English we call the Son of God, Jesus. Messianic Jews call him Yeshua. In Matthew 1:21, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the name for her son.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Yeshua means salvation. In Hebrew, we find his name written as Yeshuah. It is the word for salvation. We see this word many times in Scripture.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation [yeshuah, Jesus].” Psalm 13:5 ESV.
“Behold, God is my salvation [yeshuah, Jesus]; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation [yeshuah, Jesus]. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation [yeshuah, Jesus].” Isaiah 12:2-3 ESV.
There are many more: Exodus 15:2, Psalm 27:1, 62:1-2, Isaiah 49:6, 49:8, 62:11 Jonah 2:9…(Read this in a book called, The Rabbi, the Secret Message, and the Identity of the Messiah, by Carl Gallups, 2018.)
We often refer to the Father as God or Lord. God can be god as well when we are referring to a false god or idol. But, the Father has many names.
Jewish people call him Adonai, which means my Lords or Masters (yes, it is plural). They refuse (out of reverence) to call him Yahweh, which is a four-letter word in Hebrew: Yod Hey Vav Hey = YHVH. Our Bible translates this as LORD. Here is a cool video which explains this better. Please watch it.
Yahweh is also known as Jehovah. Jehovah means (I AM). In her book, To Know Him by Name, Kay Author explains Yahweh or Jehovah means, “I am that I am. I am the self-existent one. I am everything and anything you will ever need.” ( Multnomah Books, 1995, pg. 61).
Then there is his name,Elohim. This is a masculine, plural name as well. From my Bible study The Jewels of Hebrews, I wrote:
God is referred to as Elohim in Genesis 1–the account of creation. This name for God in the Hebrew language is אֱלֹהִים, and it consist of five consonants (read right to left). Hebrew is both a written and pictorial language. Each letter represents a picture or symbol adding to its meaning. The first letter of Elohim is an Aleph, or א. It illustrates an ox and stands for leader or father. The next consonant, depicted by a shepherd’s crook, is a Lamed or ל, and it symbolizes the Son or shepherd. The third character is a Hey or ה, and it portrays a man with his arms raised. It represents the Holy Spirit or revealer. The fourth consonant, signifying a mighty deed or life, is a Yod, or י, while the last letter is a Mem or מ, and suggests separation of the waters. This name for God is a plural, masculine word, and this one name contains the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit pictured as the mighty Creator. [i]
Names are important.
God knows your name, too. He knew it before you were born. He calls you by your name. You are a Somebody. You are known.