One step at time

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13)

This past week I began my my studies for a Master’s Degree. Exciting! For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking how we are all in a race, looking towards a goal. The goal may be different for each one of us. Some of my friends began their studies this year and some are continuing them. They feel the pressure of all the school work and of getting it all done on time and in the best way possible. Some dear people I know have been quite ill and need prayer. They are on the road to recovery now and for them, the goal is getting well and back to themselves – a task which might be just as difficult as physically climbing a mountain. Others are preparing for the army, passing a driver’s test or deciding what to do, now that they have finished a certain phase in life. Whatever the goal may be, for some it is like climbing a mountain – they may not see the top, but rather see all the twists and turns leading to it, wondering how and when they will get there, if at all. A mountain climb can be difficult and exhausting, especially when you are not used to it. However, when you have a strong and seasoned guide taking you up, it becomes SO much easier, because he steers you away from slippery slopes and shows you where to place your foot and hold on with your hand, so you make it safely to the top. All these things might seem overwhelming and frightening, especially when we don’t know what exactly the future holds. However, we need to remember that the Lord Yeshua holds our future in His hands, as Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. We can draw encouragement and just put our hands in His, and let Him lead us just by remembering that He has our best in His plans for us.

As I thought of all this, I remembered this song, which is a favourite of mine. You may remember that I shared another song from Psalty previously in Where has the love gone. I grew up on Psalty songs (Kids Praise! album), and I still love those songs :). This is one of those great songs of encouragement and it has accomplished its purpose many times:

Happy climbing. Some of us will definitely meet along the way. But, we will all definitely meet at the top! (Song lyrics are at the bottom)

© Hannah Kramer

One step at a time

When something seems
Too hard to handle,
Too big to conquer,
Too far away to touch.

When all your dreams
Begin to shatter,
And deep inside you
You’re hurting’, oh, so much.

That’s when it’s time to say

Refrain:

I’m climbing my mountain, step by step,
I’m climbing my mountain, day by day,
I’m climbing my mountain, all the way,
I’m climbing my mountain.
I’m gonna make it!

Chorus:

One step at a time.
One step at a time.
One step at a time.
With Jesus by my side.

One step at a time.
One step at a time.
I’m climbing my mountain,
One step at a time.

Even though you might grow weary,
Don’t be discouraged.
In your weakness God is strong.
Remember this, He’ll never leave you,
He won’t forsake you,
He’s your strength and He’s your song.

So sing and start to say…

By His stripes

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

I have been reading a lot lately about different oils, especially essential oils. It’s been a joy to learn about their different uses, how they are harvested and then produced to make a lovely oil that can be used at home. What caught my attention during this study were two very special oils – Frankincense and Myrrh. These two oils are very well-known for several reasons: First, because they were two of the three gifts (along with gold) given to the Lord Yeshua as a gift by the Magi and Second, they have tremendous health benefits. They were both used as perfume, incense and medicine. In addition, myrrh has analgesic effects. Knowing this, the verse in Mark 15:23 suddenly seemed amazing to me. The Lord Yeshua refused to drink myrrh mixed with wine, a very bitter drink, as he hung on the cross, so as not to dull the pain and his conciousness, demonstrating his willingness to endure the pain of the cross fully, even while He despised the shame (Heb. 12:2). This fulfills the prophecy in Psalm 69:21 “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”. Both oils have been very famous throughout history and at one point, they even surpassed gold by price and value. These two oils, along with gold, were regarded as gifts fit for kings during ancient times. The classic interpretation as to why these particular gifts were chosen to be given is that gold symbolizes kingship, since it is associated with richness; frankincense symbolizes priesthood, since it was used for sweet incense (Exodus 30:34-38) in the Temple and the rising smoke symbolized our prayers ascending to heaven (Rev. 8:3-4), while myrrh was used for a multitude of things, including perfume and for anointing the dead. However, another reasonable interpretation is that frankincense symbolizes worship and myrrh symbolizes priesthood, as it was used to anoint the priests in the temple. The Lord is our eternal High Priest, who “always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25).

Frankincense is a form of gum (secretion) from a very small tree, known as the Boswellia tree. In order to harvest the gum, the tree is either lashed or it’s periderm is cut repeatedly in order to produce a flow of resin from the tree. The resin falls down looking tear shaped, starts out white and then turns a yellow-amber color. The resin cannot be produced during winter, since the Frankincense can be easily damaged by rain. That is why the lashing and cutting of the tree begins at December, and the harvesting reaches its peak in April.

Another interesting fact about the tree is its very unique ability to grow … out of solid rock! Amazing! The tree is able to withstand harsh weathers and environments that are unrelenting, and its attachment to rocks prevents it from being torn away during violent storms.  No one is able to explain how these trees attach themselves to the rock. All they know is that the root of the tree grows to a disk-like shape covering the rock so the rock appears to become part of the tree.

Myrrh is also a gum, but it is produced by the Commiphora tree. Like Frankincense, the Myrrh tree is small and grows in rocky terrain. It is small and has low, thorny shrubs. But, in order to bring out the resin, which like the Frankincense, also is tear-shaped, it must be  struck or bruised repeatedly.

All this “information” seemed  kind of dry at first. But, what fascinated me was the fact that both trees have to be bruised, cut and stripped of their outer bark, so that the inner resin, the gum that is used to make the oils later on, could flow forth. The more they are bruised, the easier the flow of the resin. Knowing this, I thought of the passage at the top of this post. The Lord Yeshua was afflicted, bruised and cut for me and for you. His blood, like the resin of these oils, flowed from his body, to makeatonement for our sins. The resin that those trees produce as they are bruised is sticky. It brings forth not only amazing fragrances, but incredible healing properties. Similarly, The Lord Yehua’s blood covers and cleanses us from all sin. “And by His scourging, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53;5, emphasis added)  The peak-time for the harvesting of the Frankincense is in April, which would be somewhere around Pesach (Passover), the holiday during which The Lord Yeshua was bruised and wounded for our transgressions, then crucified to complete the work which the Father had given to Him. This leaves me at awe at what He has done, being willing to shed His blood for the forgiveness of my sins. Praise the Lord!

“And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). The Lord Yeshua gave Himself as a sweet-smelling savor before God the Father, and “leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place”  (2 corinthians 2:14), and makes us a fragrance to God.

I was also amazed that both trees grow in dry areas, yet are capable of producing such wondrous, healing resins. This reminds me of another verse – “In a dry and weary land where there is no water, thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory” (Psalm 63:1-2). And the Frankincense being attached to a rock! Yet, no one know how that is done. The Lord Yeshua came down to earth as a man, leaving His heavenly form, and being fully God and fully man, was capable of accomplishing the work on the cross. He is our solid rock, and if we cling to Him, making Him “our root”, even the fiercest and most violent storms won’t be able to move us.

I hope this encourages you as it did me. Realizing what the Lord has done for us should keep us thanking Him and desiring to give our best and most precious to Him. Bless the Lord by Whose stripes we are healed!

© Hannah Kramer