We're back! We got home on Thursday and have been recovering from jet lag the last few days. This trip was unlike any I have ever taken in my life. Not because of the culture, landscape, or food, but because God showed up. I've never been on a "vacation" that brought me closer to the Lord before. We have two tour guides, one American and one Israeli. The Israeli tour guide taught us a lot of Jewish history, while our American guide led us through scripture as we hiked to each site.
Out of all of our lessons, the one that stuck with me was from Romans 11. Paul is writing to the gentiles, reminding them that they are "grafted in." We have Jewish roots, and the early church would have understood this. In my life, I know I have disregarded much of my roots as a follower of the one true God. I saw that my Jewish brothers and sisters hold scripture (aka. the text) in very high regard. When they pray, they pray scripture because how could man's words be better than God's? Also, everyone reads the same passage of scripture and memorizes the same "portion" each day. How cool would it be if when we ran into another Christian at the grocery store we could talk about "the portion" (which is what the Jews call it). Personally, it reminded me to be grateful for our loving Father who graciously grafted us into his family.
"17But if(S) some of the branches were broken off, and you,(T) although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[c] of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you(U) stand fast through faith. So(V) do not become proud, but(W) fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you,(X) provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise(Y) you too will be cut off. 23And(Z) even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree." (Romans 11:17-24)
The picture of an olive tree is also cool. The life is in the roots. A branch will only bear fruit for so long, then you cut it off down to the roots and a new shoot will come back. Those are the culture olive trees and they bear a lot of fruit. Wild olive trees (more like bushes) hardly bear any fruit. However, you can graft a wild branch into a cultivated tree and it will bear fruit just like the natural branches. It's a really cool picture of what God does with us (gentiles), grafting us into his family (the Jews). We're his adopted children, but just as much children as those that came before us.
That's all I have for now. Be sure to check out the pictures I've posted on facebook. The following are links to the three albums!
"The Best of the Lands" http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2256957&id=17023332&l=35f5516dc8
"A BIG Day"