Monday, December 16, 2013

Wake Up Call

Sometimes Adonai wakes me up in the morning with a message He wants me to share. I often am burdened and anguished by what I see happening in the "church" today and the watered down gospel that is presented to the masses. 

Honestly, it frightens me. It frightens me that millions of church goers are hearing a gospel message that is antithetical to the Word of God. There is a distinct and overwhelming lack of preaching and teaching that totally leaves out holiness, repentance and the cost of discipleship that Yeshua clearly laid out in the Word. 

Supposedly 1/3 of the world's population is "christian". Hmmm. I find that totally suspect. Yeshua said many would come claiming He is the Messiah and they would lead MANY astray. Matthew 22:4 " And Yeshua answered them, 'See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah', and they will lead many astray."

In many of His parables, such as the parable of the net, Yeshua described a separation between those who are evil and those who are righteous WITHIN HIS KINGDOM. He was not talking about those who are claiming to be unbelievers, but those who claim to believe in His name. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:47-50).

Before Yeshua came on the scene, the soil was being prepped for planting by the message of John the Immerser. What did John come preaching? Did he preach the message we hear today? Did he say, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life if you just say this prayer, you will be saved and go to heaven"? No. He didn't say that. He simply preached a message of repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  (Matt 3:2, Luke 3:2-9) He in fact said some pretty drastic things to the crowd such as "Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire". Let me try to paraphrase this. What I believe John was saying was this..."you can call yourself a lover of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the proof of whether or not that is true is in the way you live your life".  What would happen if preachers in congregations across the land would preach that message? Where's the fruit? We need to do what the Scriptures say and examine ourselves to see whether we are really in the faith! James says clearly that faith without works is dead faith. Faith is NOT assenting that something is true, it is an OUTWARD expression of in INWARD belief.

Why was the Kingdom at hand? Because Yeshua, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was on the scene! You can't have a Kingdom without a King! You can't live in that Kingdom without obeying the rules of the Kingdom.

Yet what I see happening in the preaching of the gospel is only half the gospel. Yes, God loves you and He desires none to perish. But Yeshua came preaching the same message John of repentance and counting the cost of following Him. Often He managed to talk people OUT of following Him. You don't see that much in churches...but the people what they want to hear so that they will sit in a pew.  Messiah Yeshua wasn't concerned about numbers of how many were following Him. He wanted true disciples who understood the cost of following Him.

We have glorified the cross. We have polished the image of the cross and hung them around our necks as an image of beauty...but the cross is really an image of death and torture! What Yeshua said is "take up your electric chair/guillotine/instrument of torture and follow me!" Wow. That is radical. I don't see many people hanging those images around their necks. Now I understand the beauty of the cross in the way that is represents Yahweh's love for me. But if I am to walk the road of dying to my just ain't a pretty picture. I mean, let's be real honest here. Those of you who are walking that road with me can certainly say AMEN to this. It's messy. It involves anguish and tears. Laying down MY will, MY desires, MY wants in exchange for HIS will, HIS desires, HIS wants. Well, that sounds lopsided like I am giving up all this stuff in exchange for what?

How many times does Yahweh lay it all out in the Word for all to see...that the key to a victorious life is obedience to His Word. Plain and simple. Really not complicated at all if we have eyes to see and ears to hear what He is saying. You want to live a victorious, abundant life? Then you have to lay yours down and walk in obedience. This is a major theme throughout the Word from Genesis to Revelation, but let me give you just one passage from Psalm 81:13-14 where Yahweh is pleading with His people to walk in obedience and heed His voice, "Oh, that MY PEOPLE would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes."  Can you hear His heart?

I am involved in several outreaches in the community where there is much suffering. Lack of food, poverty, disease, unhealthy and ungodly relationships, etc. What I think many don't realize is that some of this suffering comes because of a lack of repentance and just a result of natural consequences that come from a life of walking contrary to the Word of God. What grieves me is that often the message that is preached in outreaches is just the love of God. Yes, we need to know the depth of His love for us, but the depth of His love reaches so much farther than we realize. There is incredible blessing when we come under His wings of authority as our true Lord and master and do things His way...that is when blessings really flow and where He is able to show us the love He really wants to shower on us. He won't ever force us to come under that protection that He is longing to provide, but He yearns to do that for us and He waits for us to submit to His Lordship in every area of our lives so we can experience His joy and pleasure of walking in His perfect will.

All sin leads to death in body, mind or spirit. When we walk contrary to God's Word, we are walking in sin. There is protection from our enemies and particularly the enemy of our souls, hasatan, when we come under His wings. Yeshua said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matt 23:37-38). This is the cry of an anguished Father wanting desperately to protect His children from the storms of life but finding His children unwilling to come under the authority of His covering and protection. One of the saddest Scriptures in the entire Word to me.

If my child comes to me and says, "I love you Mom!" But I see that this child is constantly ignoring my words, not doing their chores and generally disobedient, am I going to believe the child really loves me? Or will his actions prove/disprove his words? 1 John 5:3 tells us the proof that we really love God is in the keeping of His commandments and that keeping them is not burdensome. Wow. I think some who see what I do by eating only clean food (no pork, shellfish, etc), keeping a 7th day Sabbath and keeping the Feasts of Yahweh in Lev 23 would say that it sounds burdensome to them. But it isn't burdensome to me! "For everyone who has been born of God OVERCOMES the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith." (1 John 5:4).

In a Kingdom there are rules of the house and the King has a right to make those rules. My job isn't to question that, but to have faith in His Word and simply obey. Noah obeyed and everyone mocked him and laughed at him and thought he was nuts. But his act of obedience, born out of faith in Yahweh's word, saved his family! Yeshua said it will be like the days of Noah at the end. I wonder if part of what he meant is the criticism and mocking I have endured for being obedient to Scriptures most believers say I can now ignore? Being radically obedient will bring persecution by others. That is nothing new.

When I walk in obedience to His commands, the blessings flow and I see victory over my enemies. That is the gospel of repentance and faith that Yeshua calls His followers to preach and teach and make disciples of...commanding them to walk as the Torah observant Yeshua did, not as a lawless one who just "believes" God loves him and now can ignore the commands in the Bible. Did Yeshua suffer and die so we could now ignore His Word and walk contrary to it? Does that make sense? It may sound agreeable...this kind of feel-good-gospel message, but it really is just fashioning a god into our own image of who we want him to be and isn't the true gospel message of salvation.

True salvation, blessing and victory are only found in obedience to His Word.

 Revelation says repeatedly in the letters to the seven congregations that those in the congregations that overcome or are conquerers (these are believers who are radical in their walk of faith and obedience to His Word)...they are the ones that will eat of the tree of life, not be hurt by the second death, be given hidden manna and a white stone with a new name, be given authority over the nations to rule with Messiah, be clothed in white garments and never be blotted out of the book of life, be a pillar in the temple of God in which the name of God, the city of God and Messiah's own new name is written, and sit with Messiah on His throne.

Are you an overcomer? Are you awake and responding to the true gospel message and walking in obedience? May He find us faithful.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Testimony of His Faithfulness

This morning I woke up with a fresh offering of praise to my Abba.  He is so good to me and takes such good care of me! As I was musing and rehearsing in my mind specific events that recently occurred which prompted this praise, He showed me some things which I then had to journal about and so, as a testimony of His incredible faithfulness to me, I offer it here, hoping it will spur you on to give thanks as well. I'm thinking this is a splendid way to start 2013 :)

About a month ago my minivan sliding door got stuck somewhere between open and closed with a strong leaning toward the closed end, thankfully, especially since the youngest sits next to that door. It is one of those automatic doors which you are absolutely not to "help along", as if you do, you will be sorry. (Funny, I know some people like that.) If you do choose to get impatient and do not let the door close according to its own way and timing, a malfunction of some sort will shortly follow. Well, we had an event in which said visiting passenger (who shall remain anonymous) did not understand the intricacies of this door nor did we think to explain it to her. At some point she thought she'd speed the door closing process up and helped it along a bit, pushing it closed. At that point, the door stubbornly refused to budge.

Since I recently had complete brake work done, the last thing I was going to do was to take the van in again for repairs. Can we just say, "ouch"?! I was talking to Adonai about it and basically told Him I wasn't going to take it in as I had no money to spend on it, had no interest (pardon the pun) in charging the repairs and that I was going to trust Him to supernaturally fix the door. Meanwhile my crew still had another side door to load in and out of, no problem. In the meantime I would watch, pray and trust Him to fix it.

About a month after this event I needed to run some errands and it was a very cold day here (20's). When I went to start my van, the battery did not want to cooperate. I was slightly irritated to be honest because we needed to be somewhere at a certain time and I very much dislike calling people to help with these things. Thankfully, I had one of those self-start battery thingamabob's (sorry for the technical jargon) which you can use to jump your vehicle without another vehicle. What a wonderful invention! After finding it and saying a short prayer of "Please Abba let this work and help me not to injure myself or others", I was able to jump start the van without much assistance besides a phone call to a friend for a refresher course in proper jumper cable usage.  I was pretty happy to be on the road again and that my thingamabob worked so well!

Thanking Adonai and driving to our destination, my daughter and I both noticed the broken door was making a clicking sound like it had woken up from its slumber and was trying to move again. A few minutes later when I stopped on my next errand, I decided to turn the power doors on again and see if I could open the door using the switch. To my amazement, the door opened completely and closed completely! I sat in the parking lot of Walmart and cried tears of thankful that once again, He saved the day.

As I reflected on what happened this morning, I realized that what was an inconvenience or interruption in my day (having to jump start my van) seemed to be exactly what needed to happen in order to "fix" the van door. I don't even presume to understand why it happened the way it did, but there seemed to be a connection. Somehow, jump starting the van, caused the van door to start working again. How many times have I grumbled at these things when they were actual blessings, in disguise?

And then I thought of how many times I have looked at different interruptions or inconveniences in my life as things not ordained by His own hand but rather things to be avoided at all costs or darts from the enemy, when really they were often the catalyst needed in order to change something for good, cause me to take notice of something I needed to see or maybe even to save my own (or others lives). I think of things that have prevented me from getting somewhere "on time" such as being stuck in traffic, delayed airline flights, poopy diapers, a water heater leak, missing car keys, dog vomit, and the most infamous watermelon exploding on the counter (yes this actually happened prior to a zoo trip). Don't ask! Just how many of these (if not all, yet I am really struggling with the putrid watermelon explosion....still) were ordained to keep us where we needed to be, even against our own will and purpose? There's a theological question for you! How many accidents or greater tragedies have been avoided because my loving Heavenly Father kept us from getting in the very midst of trouble? I can only guess.

What I do know that this event reminded me yet again, to take each moment, even the so called interruptions of the day and view them from a totally different perspective - knowing that whatever happens, He has my back. I'm His daughter and nothing escapes His watchful eye! He weaves events, people and experiences together like a Master Weaver. I just love it when He draws me higher up to see even a glimpse of the bigger picture, the beautiful design and plan that only He can create. All I can do then, is stand in awe and worship.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose".  (Romans 8:28)
"I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!"  (Psalm 57:2-3, 9-11)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Living Life as a Victor or a Victim?

Once again, I stand amazed at the power of words, thoughts and emotions. How I can, unknowingly, give allegiance to the enemy by thinking negatively or erroneously about myself, which then translate into toxic emotions which then translate to illness in my body. I'm talking about the mind, body, spirit connection.

I don't think I fully comprehend or realize this connection. If I did, I would think about what I am thinking about in a more serious way! I have known that the battlefield is in the mind for many years. Taking every thought captive is a concept I am well familiar with and try to practice daily. But I need a reminder from time to time.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah."
 What I didn't realize until recently is that evidently I have way more to learn in being victorious in this area. I unknowingly have given over ground to the enemy. And it's gonna stop.

One thing that has struck me is how we as believers in general have no problem believing Yahweh can forgive our sin, but we seem to have a hard time believing He can or wants to heal us or has given us what we need already for that healing to take place! There seems to be this mentality that we accept sickness and disease in our lives like it is just part of the program and it is somehow for our benefit, almost attributing sickness, disease and death to Adonai instead of to the enemy. Have you ever had the erroneous thought that it is God's will for you to be in pain or sick? That isn't true. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Sadly, countless believers live captive to this lie every day.

I am struck with how much I have forgotten the extent my enemy wants to harm me, indeed kill me, if I will allow him! Many believers blame much on hasatan, forgetting how much we cooperate with him by agreeing with him, believing his lies, thus opening the door for him to wreak his havoc in our lives. I am convinced he will take us to the point of death, if we give him that permission. And every time we agree with a lie (any thought or word that is not in agreement with His Word) we are indeed giving our enemy permission to do what he wants. We have chosen sides in effect and chosen wrongly!

 The Word clearly states who comes to steal, kill and destroy and it is NOT Adonai! 
John 10:10 clearly says who comes to destroy us:  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
This is Yeshua talking! So, I have to ask myself when I have these thoughts of disease being part of the "will of God"....just who am I going to believe? It isn't Yeshua's will or Abba's will that people are suffering! It doesn't take long to read the gospels to realize that it isn't His will for people to suffer. Yeshua healed ALL that were brought to Him for healing. When the disciples went out in Yeshua's name to do ministry they found that they could not heal one in which could only be healed through prayer and fasting. How often do I give up praying or fasting just at the time when a victory is so close at hand (if I would just believe it)?! Yeshua had such an intimate relationship with Abba that there was nothing in the way for that healing to take place. Wow, do I want to be like Him!

The Word also clearly tells us that "by His wounds we are healed". His death on the cross bought that healing for me. It is done, finished! That is past tense as in already accomplished by Yeshua on the cross! It is a declaration beforehand (as in decreed or declared before it even happened) of what has already been done. WOW.

Are there any diseases in heaven? No. There is no sickness, no pain, no disease. If we are seated with Messiah in heaven (see Ephesians 2:6) as the Scriptures say, then NO diseases are allowed in our bodies! This is a particularly mind blowing thought for me. I'm taking authority and claiming all that is mine in Him because He says it, I believe it! 

I have heard it repeatedly stated that 80% of disease is psychosomatic, which means basically rooted in toxic emotions which start in the mind that then effect your body. When your mind is in agreement with His Word, you are not giving your enemy ANY room to steal your health because you are NOT standing in agreement with your enemy but with the one who set you FREE from sin and death! HalleluYAH!

This topic of sickness and healing has become one that I have been drawn to and caused me to search the Word in effort to more fully understand healing, prayer, power, authority, miracles and the Ruach's role in the believer's life. It has caused me to ask hard questions like:  Why do some ask for prayer and not get healed? If we are not careful, we will live by these experiences of watching others not get healed which will then actually change what we believe to be true (change our agreeing with God's Word to believing the enemy again). What is the root cause of all disease? What role does faith have in healing? Does Adonai ever want anyone to be sick? And probably the most important question of all has been this: How can I more effectively minister and pray for those who are hurting? Starting with myself, family, friends, congregation and whoever else I meet along the way.

I am not saying I have all the answers.  I understand disease and illness can have many causes such as genetics, afflicting spirits, accidents, generational curses, traumatic events/emotions, lifestyle, etc. A book I read recently was so helpful in helping me work through these questions. Randy Clark and Bill Johnson's Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick goes into much detail on this subject. I highly recommend this book to anyone asking the same questions I am!

I have heard stories of those who were miraculously healed from very serious diseases only years later to find themselves back in that wheelchair. Could it be that they didn't identify the toxic emotions or thoughts that made them sick in the first place all because they didn't agree with the Word of Adonai?

The Word is healing! It is a tree of life for the healing of the nations! When we believe, not just in our minds but in our hearts and obey the Word, we are blessed not just in our spirits, but in our minds and bodies as well. When Yeshua said He came to give us life abundantly, He really meant that. Do we REALLY believe that is what He came to do? Wholeness, true shalom with nothing missing and nothing broken. What a Saviour! He is the same today, yesterday and forever and He is no respecter of persons, so what He has done in the past or for someone else, He can do for YOU!

There is power in the Word and there is power in the words we speak. That old school-age rhyme of "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!" is a lie.  Negative confessions like "I am never going to get better" or even jokingly saying "You're driving me crazy!" is a faithless statement in agreement with the enemy. Positive confession always agrees with His Word and goes something more like this: "I am healed in Yeshua's name! I speak health and blessing to my body (and in renouncing the insanity confession...blessing to my MIND as well!)  I am who Adonai says I am. I am a new creation, the old has gone. By His wounds I have been healed. I have the Ruach living in me and His resurrection power available to me!"

Before Yeshua ascended to heaven He gave the famous "Great Commission" to His disciples and said "ALL authority have been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Because we are IN Messiah, we also have that same authority over our enemy and we are commanded to take that authority and use it in our lives, for the sake of our families, our cities, our country and the nations. I shudder to think of how many wimpy, really stupid prayers I have prayed in Yeshua's name that totally lacked faith, Truth or authority.

I was reading another of Bill Johnson's books and he said something that really struck me. He has come to believe that the secret to victorious living is living in denial! (Okay, you counselors out there....just hold on a minute!) What he means is that when the enemy comes at him with a past sin or some lie about who he is in Messiah, Bill just says, "That wasn't me. That man is dead". If a past sin is covered in the blood, it is gone. When your enemy tries to get you to go back in your past and drag something into the present so that you camp there for a while and live there, you can totally and legally deny it! If you are a born again believer in Messiah Yeshua and you are washed in His blood and asked for forgiveness for that sin and repented of it, it is dead, gone and buried. You are a new creation!!

Bill also mentioned that about 90% of all counseling sessions pastors have with their members revolve around their identity in Messiah and grasping hold of the Truths evident in the Bible. In other words, these believers, are struggling with believing what God says about WHO they are! Does that astound you?

Our Creator spoke the world into existence. THAT is power! He defeated hasatan when He died on the cross and rose again! He will finally destroy His enemy by the breath of His mouth when He comes again! Yeshua defeated hasatan when He was tempted by using the Word, which is a powerful weapon! It's time for us to take this battle more seriously and sharpen our weapons! I don't want to have a victim mentality but live with a VICTORIOUS mindset, using the weapon of my thoughts and especially words to be based in His Word, thus doing mighty damage in pulling down strongholds and defeating the enemy of my soul! My words agreeing with HIS Word, by faith!

What about you right now, in this moment? Are you a victim or a victor? Don't settle for a victim mentality and allow the enemy to trample you or your family. The choice is yours today! Choose life and blessing by agreeing with His Word right now and defeat your enemy in His name.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hearing Him Speak in the Night Watch

If I asked you the ways in which Adonai speaks to you, how would you answer? Would you mention the time you are asleep or in your dreams?

I know years ago, I would not have answered that question quite the same. I'm sure my answer would have included hearing His voice through reading His Word, prayer, object lessons in nature, etc., but I doubt I would have included my dreams in that list.

In the last 3 years there has been a noticeable change and increase in hearing His voice, mostly during the night. I have to kind of chuckle at that a little. He knows it's pretty "lively" around here during the day with 6 children home and I can't help but think that the middle of the night seems to be one of the few blocks of time that I am able to hear His voice. I'm thankful for that time for many reasons, but foremost is the opportunity to listen and hear from my Abba (Daddy).

The dramatic increase in hearing Him speak came (I think) because I was seeking Him more than ever during a time of my life that brought me to my knees and kept me there for some time. He didn't disappoint me in the least. He lovingly and faithfully spoke to me, just what I needed to hear, time and time again. Perhaps it is also because we live in what I believe to be the last days and He is pouring out His Ruach.  I believe it could be both!

One of the ways He ministered to me during this time was speaking to me through my dreams. I want to share this because I think overall, we as believers, can forget that Yahweh wants us to listen, even in the night. The number of times He spoke to believers (and unbelievers for that matter) in their dreams is worth noting in the Scriptures. Ya'akov (Jacob), Yosef (Joseph) and Dani'el come to mind. G-d does not change. As I began journaling more and keeping track of what I was hearing from Him on a daily basis, I also kept track of dreams that seemed significant. What I realized was that if I didn't write down the dream immediately upon awakening (often in the middle of the night), then many important details were lost that I wanted to remember and revisit so I could seek Adonai for wisdom and understanding.

Some dreams the L-rd would interpret for me immediately or they were easier to understand. Others took more time, where I would ask others for prayer and counsel if I thought they were significant. In these cases, having a journal was critical. There are several I am still pondering. I have had dreams that were about myself, my family, the body of Messiah and world catastrophic events. Several personal dreams have come to pass which indicate to me that others could be prophetic as well, putting me on watch and on my knees.

Now, I am not saying that all dreams are from the L-rd. Many reveal fears or struggles or weaknesses we have and some are just plain silly. There are many I wouldn't want to waste ink and paper on. But what I am saying, is that the time we are asleep is a very large part of the day, as 8 out of 24 hours is 1/3 of your day!  I don't want to waste it quite frankly, and I don't want to miss something the L-rd is trying to show me because I am not aware of it or am minimizing it's importance.

Being cognizant of this, I began praying specifically for the L-rd to speak to me while I slept and in my dreams. Let me just say, He is faithful! I won't share but a few of my dreams with you, since many are too personal, but I will share a few that have stood out as being significant and healing to me.

Often recurring dreams are significant in our lives. I had one such dream that I had at least 3 times, but which finally resolved beautifully. The dream was this: I was in a play and I was backstage scurrying around with everyone else in the cast, getting ready for the big night. Everyone was getting their costumes and make-up on and seeming to know what they were doing. Except me. There was a huge crowd assembling in the theatre as patrons started filling the seats. The anticipation was mounting and my anxiety level was skyrocketing! Of course, no one could tell me what role I played and I couldn't find a script to even read the story line! The last time I had the dream it ended with me not knowing "who I was" until I came out on the stage where my heavenly Father greeted me with a wonderful embrace and spoke to me as His daughter. I couldn't have wrote that part better if I tried myself!

This dream came at a time when my family and personal life was transitioning. No longer a wife, I was evidently struggling with my identity and "role" in life and this dream basically just simplified it for me. It was Adonai's loving way of reminding me that I am His daughter and that is the most important role in life I will ever "play". No matter how life changes or what events happen, He will always be my Abba. A priceless and unforgettable reminder.

Another dream came that brought healing was this:  I was in a large, empty, rectangular, in ground pool. It walls and bottom where covered in mud. I took a stick and began writing in the mud all the hurt, frustration, questions and pain from the last few years. It took awhile. When I was finally finished, a huge flood of clean water came and washed it all away. I love this dream! Adonai is always so good to tell us what we need to hear! Life is messy. I love that I am writing in mud and I love that the Living Water comes and washes it all away.

A prophetic word was spoken to me that I believe fits with this dream perfectly. I was told that "You are holding on to your pain like a treasure". That kind of shocked and surprised me. Funny how often we don't realize what we are doing! (I know I am only speaking of myself here....).  That day, I spoke to Adonai about it and He confirmed that that was exactly what I was doing. As I reflected, I realized hardly a day would go by that I didn't revisit the past in some way, often times ending in tears with the grand finale- a dramatic questioning of "why, why, oh why?"

I don't know if anyone reading this has ever been in that place before, but if you have, you know how it drains all your energy! I decided that moment that I was going to give all the pain of the past to Adonai and never look back again. I previously didn't want to release my pain to Him because it had cost me dearly and I was gonna keep what I paid so high a price for! Like the over-priced (you fill in the blank) you bought at the store that you refuse to throw away because you paid too much! I now realized this was a treasure not worth keeping. In fact, it wasn't ever meant to be carried. The past had become who I defined myself as (my identity) and I knew if I wanted to move forward with Adonai I would have to let it go. As I prayed aggressively for release, it came and all that was left was Him quieting me with His love. Words can't really express what this experience was like for me as it encompasses so many emotions. I felt like a new woman! In the natural, winter was coming, but in the spiritual, it was spring for me!

I don't know what your story is like and what events have occurred that have brought you pain. I hope you are encouraged to give your pain to Him and let it go so you can experience freedom from your past and move forward with Him today if you are still holding on tight to that treasure. Give it to Him and don't hesitate for one more moment! I remember my Rabbi one Shabbat morning teaching, "Let us put aside every impediment that hinders our forward movement!" I believe he was paraphrasing Hebrews 12:1-6 and it stuck with me. Our past can be one of the greatest hindrances in our forward movement. It can be a huge roadblock, but it doesn't have to be. Yeshua has set us free!!! If we would only believe and walk in that wonderfully healing truth!

I am convinced that the enemy wants us so broken and wounded from our past that we as the body of Messiah can do no earthly good. I've had dreams where I saw the body of Messiah pictured as a little helpless baby, lethargic and limp in a stroller, with its head almost dragging on the ground, waiting to be pushed around by those who were doing the programming in the "Church". It was a dream so disturbing that I will never forget it. Dreams can cause us to pray and give us insight or confirmation of something Adonai is showing us for the sake of the body of Messiah. I'll try not to get to far on my soap box with this dream, but I believe it is an accurate picture of the immaturity of believers, who are not growing up in Messiah, are passively dependent on the leaders of the church and are not healthy or strong enough to even hold up their own heads. Maybe they are so used to being pushed around, that they are not even using their heads (searching the Scriptures for themselves and supported by Truth) anymore, so to speak.

Not only can dreams bring healing or show areas of your life that need addressing, but they can be prophetic or be dreams that show you your destiny or calling. I've had one in particular that relates to my destiny and purpose that He lovingly gave me as He called me out of one fellowship and into another. Interestingly, the Torah portion that week was the Exodus story! It's my belief that we need to know how to interpret our dreams because they can be so significant.

Chuck Pierce in the forward to the book mentioned below, says this, "We are entering a season where the L-rd is 'reordering our day'. If you will remember, the day actually begins at sunset. The Holy Spirit is now restoring the power of the night watch in the Church. We will be arising and praying as well as sleeping and receiving!" I believe that when the Word says to "stay alert" and be watchful, that even includes the night watch.

James W. and Michael Ann Goll have written a fascinating book, Dream Language, on dreams and their importance in a believer's life that I very much enjoyed reading. I have two similar books on my shelf waiting to be read, soon I hope! I highly recommend every believer read this book in order to become more skilled in interpreting their own dreams.

One of my favorite passages is Joel 2:28-29:

"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dreams dreams, Your young men shall see visions, and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
 The time is short. He wants to speak to you through your dreams. Shema (hear) Israel! Are you listening?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sounding the Shofar - Faithfully Waiting for the Return of the King!

Faithfulness. I love that word. I love all it represents. Yahweh's faithfulness is precious to me! I know He keeps His Word and keeps His promises.....always. I never have to wonder or second guess or be afraid that maybe He will forget about me or not do what He says He will do. That's shalom and resting in Him. Priceless.

I too want to be faithful. I am betrothed to Him so I am watching how I can be faithful to Him. A man or woman who is engaged in our culture, hangs on every word the person they are engaged to be married to says, looks for little hints of the slightest kind as to how they can please their future husband or wife. Not out of some kind of obligation mind you. No, it is out of the incredible intensity of love for that person that we seek to do whatever pleases him or her. I feel the same way about my soon coming King, Yeshua.

Are you sensing in your spirit that we are in the last days and the time is approaching soon when Yeshua will come again? I am! The "Arab Spring", earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, all the nations turning against Israel, signs in the sun, moon and all is pointing to a soon return of Yeshua the Messiah and this is what all the fall feasts of Adonai are all about! If you are pretrib, midtrib, postrib or pre-wrath, either way you are looking forward to His soon return. (If you want my view on it read What Could Be the Greatest Deception of Our Time).

In thinking about what celebrating the Feasts of Adonai mean to me, especially the fall Feasts of Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot, I think of celebrating His faithfulness. That may seem strange to some considering these days represent so many things.  But when it comes down to it, I am, through my actions in keeping these moedim (appointments) being faithful because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that HE IS FAITHFUL and HE will keep these appointments! In keeping these appointments with Adonai, I am telling Him, "I believe you. I believe your Word is true and you are coming again when you said you would come." What we believe shows in our actions and what we don't believe shows too.

Yom Teruah is of course the next feast to be fulfilled in the future, so it is this feast that excites me the most of all of them! In great anticipation, each year I look forward to celebrating and blowing the shofar, knowing my Bridegroom is coming for me to take me to the Wedding celebration!

These feasts are rehearsals of things to come and remembrances of what he has already done. If you're wondering what I mean by that, see my post "Why Celebrate Passover or Any Biblical Feast", as it explains all the feasts and what they each represent. These feasts are not "Jewish Feasts" as in Leviticus 23 it clearly states these are Adonai's Feasts for all His people (yes, even the grafted in Gentiles as Romans 11 says) and are to be kept forever, throughout your generations no matter where you live (not just those in the land of Israel). I'd encourage anyone new to these Feasts to read Leviticus 23 in it's entirety and notice how many times Adonai also says these are to be kept throughout your generations or forever. It is my firm belief that the restoration of these biblical Feasts of Adonai to ALL of  Yahweh's people, Jew AND Gentile, is a move of the Ruach haKodesh in getting His Bride ready in these last days. We are repenting of our pagan holidays and returning to those that Yahweh has ordained for us and in obedience we are finding incredible blessings!

The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah this year (the dates change from year to year) is Sept 28-30, depending on the sighting of the new moon. These feasts are all connected together with Yom Kippur coming 10 days after Yom Teruah followed by Sukkot 5 days after Yom Kippur. If you want to celebrate but don't know how and don't have a shofar, come join us at Sar Shalom if you are local, where we will be celebrating at 7pm on Sept 28th followed by a midrash into the wee hours and also a service on the 29th at 11am. Click here for details.

If you don't know much about a betrothal or the ketubah or a Jewish wedding celebration, then when Messiah says in Yochanan (John) 14:2-3, "In my Father's house are many places to live. If there weren't, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you.  Since I am going and preparing  a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also", it won't make much sense.  Yeshua spoke these words to comfort His disciples after he celebrated Pesach (Passover) with them because He was preparing them for His death. What does Passover have to do with the Feast of Trumpets? What is not commonly understood is that in a Jewish wedding the prospective bride and groom are betrothed to each other which is much different in many ways to the Western way of engagement. During this betrothal ceremony (which is actually much more serious and more like a wedding ceremony as they are considered husband and wife at this point) a cup is shared and the moment the woman drinks the cup she accepts the man as her husband. The ketubah is the written and signed agreement between the husband and wife listing their commitments and responsibilities to one another. When the Israelites said to Yahweh before Mt Sinai that they would obey whatever He commanded, they were entering into that covenant agreement or ketubah with Adonai. Similarly, in the New or Renewed Covenant with Yeshua, we enter into covenant with Him and come under His headship. When the disciples drank the cup with Yeshua that is exactly what they were doing.

I am not an expert on Jewish weddings (and I am thinking this is in Messiah's day, not the typical Jewish weddings taking place today in the 21st century), but have found what I do know to be absolutely fascinating as it relates to Yom Teruah. Traditionally, after the betrothal, the groom takes off! Yes, you read that right. Not what most brides would like to see happen! Yeshua went away as well when He died, rose and then ascended to heaven, didn't He....hmmmm. Let's keep going as it gets better. During this time, the bride and groom are considered married, but not together and not to be physically intimate with each other. The bride prepares herself during this time, making herself ready, and keeps watch for the bridegroom to come and get her and take her to the wedding chamber.  She keeps her eyes and ears peeled, because, yep, you guessed it....she is waiting for THE SHOFAR to sound alerting her that the bridegroom is coming for her, which is known as "the day and the hour that only the Father knows". Okay, this should be blowing you away by now if you know your Scriptures!!!  This is known as the day and the hour that no man knows, only the Father, because it is the FATHER that tells the Son to go get His Bride!!! All the time they have been separated from each other, the bridegroom is preparing a place for his bride in his father's house. For believers, it's been about 2,000 years, but hey, who's counting? Well, that's 2 prophetic days, so that makes me feel better. I digress....What typically was done is adding on to the father's house (remember when Yeshua said, "in my Father's house are many rooms") and when that was ready, the Father would make sure all the preparations were done and tell the son, "Go get your bride!"Then and only then, the son would go get his bride and bring her to the place prepared for her in his Father's house.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:36 says concerning when Yeshua is coming back for His Bride, "But when that day and hour will come, no one knows - not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father." 

A few verses later in Mattityahu 25:1-13 Yeshua says this:  "The Kingdom of Heaven at that time will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. The foolish ones took lamps with them but no oil, whereas the others took flasks of oil with their lamps. Now the bridegroom was late, so they all went to sleep. It was the middle of the night when the cry rang out, 'The bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him!' The girls all woke up and prepared their lamps. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, 'Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.' 'No', they replied, 'there may not be enough for both you and us. Go to the oil dealers and buy some for yourselves.' But as they were going off to buy, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. Later, the other bridesmaids came. 'Sir! Sir!' they cried, 'Let us in!' But he answered, 'Indeed! I tell you, I don't know you!' So stay alert, because you know neither the day or the hour."

Is it some kind of coincidence that Yeshua is using this as an illustration for His second coming to get His Bride? I don't think so at all. Now, before you say we can't know the day or the hour because the Word just said so, I will say, "Yes and No!". We do not know the EXACT day or hour, but we can know the season, and we can know which Feast represents His coming. Interesting that Yeshua uses 10 bridesmaids to illustrate this idea of watching and being ready, knowing the season. Oil can represent the Ruach haKodesh. So the wise virgins/bridesmaids are listening to His voice and know when the time of His coming is near enough to not be asleep when He comes!

Listen and consider seriously what Paul writes to the concerned Thessalonians about the Lord's coming and the rapture/resurrection here in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:
"But you have no need to have anything written to you, brothers, about the times and dates when this will happen; because you yourselves well know that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people are saying, 'Everything is so peaceful and secure,' then destruction will suddenly come upon them, the way labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there is no way they will escape. But you brothers, are not in the dark, so that the Day should take you by surprise like a thief; for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We don't belong to the night or to darkness, so let's not be asleep, like the rest are; on the contrary, let us stay alert and sober."
To those who are in darkness, He will come like a thief in the night. These are like the foolish virgins without oil in their lamps. To those who belong to the light in Yeshua and have an intimate relationship with Him, He will NOT be coming as a thief in the night...because they will be busy watching, staying alert and making themselves ready!  That is what Shaul (Paul) is saying here, yet most take the verses out of context to say that we cannot know the timing of His return. We cannot say what exact year or exact day He will be coming, but we can know when the season is, and that season is now!

So many passages of scriptures make more sense when we understand the Hebraic culture and context in which they were written! This whole Pesach celebration was like a betrothal ceremony and what Yeshua said totally mirrored the Jewish wedding customs of the day. When He said He would come again, He is speaking of Yom Teruah as the exact day in which He would come. It is the FEAST OF YOM TERUAH that we anticipate Him coming to get His Bride...or what we would call His second coming/rapture/resurrection depending on your eschatology! It is the day and hour that only the Father knows! Yom Teruah is the ONLY feast that can be called "the day or the hour that no one knows" because it is the only one on a "new moon" where the sliver of the moon has to be cited and seen before it is even declared.  So, this feast is known by that same description.

This will be my 4th year celebrating Yom Teruah and I learn more each year. This year we are blowing the shofar in the morning and reading Psalm 27 each day during the month of Elul. Elul is the Hebrew month (30 days) leading up to Yom Teruah, then there are 10 days (the Ten Days of Awe)  between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement which is a fast day, a very solemn day when historically the High Priest would (once a year) make atonement for the sins of Israel. This is a season of time where "the King is in His field". Elul is a time of reflection, repentance and reconciliation where we examine our hearts and make ourselves ready. Of course, we should be doing this all the time. But isn't it true that there are seasons for certain things? Isn't it true that when we get closer to an appointed time, a "deadline" if you will, that we start to get more serious about preparing and getting ready for it? I know I definitely feel that way with all the the prophetic shaking going on in the world today. Time is short!

One of these Yom Teruah's in the future, when the shofar sounds and we are rehearsing, it will turn into the real deal! Do you hear the sound of the shofar? The shofar says the King is coming! The shofar says repent, and shema (hear and obey) the Word of Yahweh! The ram's horn is a symbol of our faith and the ram Yahweh provided in place of Isaac (who is said to be 37 by the way) when Abraham went in obedience to sacrifice his only son. The shofar says....WAKE UP Bride of Messiah!

Here is an incredibly gifted shofar player.....

Elul is an Hebrew acronym for "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine" straight out of Song of Solomon! I have this very inscription on a purity ring I wear on my wedding finger. It proclaims that I am betrothed to Him, I belong to Him alone.  I may not have an earthly husband any longer, but I have a Bridegroom who is Faithful and True and He is El Shaddai, the One who is all sufficient. This is a time of intimacy with Adonai, not a sad time, but a time to be sober minded and hear Him speaking to us about where we are in our walk with Him. If there are areas of our lives that need addressing, it is the time to do it. If there are relationships that need to be restored, now is the time to make things right if you can.

I don't know about you, but I am rehearsing this very important day when Messiah comes for His bride, the remnant. Just like a wedding rehearsal here on earth, we need to be prepared for what it will be like and what will be happening. That is one of the purposes for this wonderful feast day!!!  The day of the Wedding is coming soon because we are prophetically at the end of the 6th day and soon the 7th day Shabbat, the Millennium reign of Messiah will commence. Are you ready to meet your King and Bridegroom? It isn't too late to enter into that covenant with Him and be betrothed to Yeshua! Soon the door will be closed and the foolish virgins who didn't keep oil in their lamps will not be invited to the wedding celebration. Those are some of the saddest words in all of Scripture. The time for repentance or teshuvah is NOW before it is too late!

May you be ready for the soon coming King! Blessings to all of you celebrating the Feasts of Adonai!

"Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun, at the trumpet call! Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee! Out of Zion's hill salvation comes!"   - Days of Elijah by Robin Mark

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Law and Grace - Are They Antithetical?

Are Law and grace opposites? Are the Jews saved by obedience to the Law and those under the New Covenant saved by grace? Are there two ways of salvation? Was Torah (law) replaced by the "age of grace"?  If these questions stir in your heart the desire to understand the answers to these questions, like they do mine, then you may want to keep reading.

In the past few years I have felt compelled to understand the relationship between Law and grace.  It seems to me the modern day church has fully embraced a sort of easy believism which is devoid of obedience and offers a false gospel of freedom and assurance of salvation that does not line up with Scripture.  One of my passions over the years has been to counter this with biblical acumen whenever possible. A similar false antithesis seems to exist with works and faith. There seem to be believers who are focused on either one or the other to the extreme and to the neglect of the other. The Word of Elohim is hardly silent on this topic.

The Hebrews were redeemed first out of bondage and slavery BEFORE receiving the Law. Okay, we have a pattern here, woven throughout Scripture! Thank you Father! The pattern is never law first, then grace. Surely the Law's role in our age is to be a measuring stick to show us our need for Yeshua. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim. There is a missing element in most of today's evangelism that forgets to use the Ten Commandments, the Law to show others what Elohim's standard is so that only then, can they see their need for a Saviour. Most of the people in the world are in a burning building and no one is telling them that it is on fire much less taking the energy needed to rescue them or show them the Way to the Rescuer! But we wouldn't give people the Law or commands of Yahweh and expect them to be able to live them out without FIRST coming to faith in Yeshua and receiving the Ruach haKodesh! To present it that way, surely leads to legalism and a false sense of salvation.  That would be absurd! 

There is no salvation apart from faith demonstrated by our obedience. We are called, chosen, drawn, redeemed, saved and then given our marching orders. Why are we redeemed? So we can continue to be slaves to sin? No! (Does this sound a little Pauline?) So we can be slaves to righteousness! We are free FROM sin and death and now are free TO obey by the Spirit as we have His Word, literally Messiah Himself, living inside us and teaching us daily. There is not a separate plan of salvation for one people (the Jews) and another for the rest. By faith Avraham (Abraham), by faith Noach (Noah), by faith, by faith, by faith! But was this faith just believing some kind of head knowledge that never impacted them to the extent it showed in their actions? No! Faith apart from works is dead. Read the book of James (Ya'akov). It doesn't exist. It isn't real. Even demons "believe" but they will be in torment for eternity! Read the gospels and how many times demons identified Yeshua correctly as the Son of Elohim!

Ya'akov (James) and Yeshua's half-brother, clears the issue up quite well when he sums up chapter 2 of his missive with this declaration, "Indeed, just as the body without a spirit is dead, so too faith without actions is dead." In Hebrews we read of those of great faith. Avraham, Noach, Yitz'chak (Isaac) ....they all demonstrated their faith through their actions and it was credited to them as righteousness. We could talk about love and obedience in similar terms as 1 Yochanan (John) says that we demonstrate our love for Elohim by obedience to His commands. He says something quite radical, "The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands. Anyone who says, 'I know him,' but isn't obeying his commands is a liar - the truth is not in him." Similarly, Yeshua said there would be many declaring they are His followers, but Yeshua will respond, "I never knew you." Yeshua is from the beginning, the Aleph Tav as Revelation says, so it cannot mean knowing in the sense of existing. To "know" means to be a follower of Yeshua and to be under His authority, not your own.

One of my favorite pictures of how law and grace interact can be seen in the ark of the covenant. Inside this wooden box overlaid with gold were the Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone, Aaron's rod that blossomed and the jar of manna. Oh, there is so much here! The ark is also a picture of our hearts and the New or Renewed Covenant can be seen as the law written on our hearts just as Jeremiah 31:31 prophesied. But what is covering this box? It is covered inside and outside with pure gold. We are to be pure on the inside as well. On the cover of the ark where the two golden cherubim with wings outstretched toward each other in the center, what is called the "mercy seat". Two in agreement, two is a witness and they are facing each other but looking down, where? Their attention is on the Word/Law.  So we have the law inside, but mercy covering. If you have the Word living in you then you also are a literal walking, talking ark of the covenant! I guess those archaeologists can stop looking for the Ark now, huh?

It's laughable to think or suggest that the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt had earned their salvation by obedience to Yahweh's commands! I mean, if we read the Book, we see the disobedience continually, the punishment and consequences of their disobedience but also the mercy and grace continually as well. There were consequences for disobedience and it was all ROOTED in their LACK OF FAITH! Why didn't they go into the Promised land and had to wander 40 years, dying in the desert? Because their lack of faith was demonstrated by their lack of action in taking the land Elohim said to take! Herein demonstrates the relationship.

The Law is good, perfect, holy. Sha'ul is clear on that in Romans. The problem isn't with the Law, it is with sinful man! Yeshua came to remedy that problem. The blood of lambs sacrificed on altars only covered sin, it didn't get rid of the problem. If we have trusted in Yeshua as Messiah and Lord and are walking (that's an action) in faith in His death as a payment for our sin, we are set free from the law of sin, the sinful nature of the flesh and now can be governed by the law of the Ruach HaKodesh, where the law is written on our hearts increasingly as He teaches us and empowers us to obey. We can as believers in Yeshua quench the Ruach and act according to the sinful nature/flesh as the sanctification process is a working (there's that action word again!) out of our salvation. This is a journey and we have choices to obey and listen to the Ruach or not.  He will NEVER tell us to do anything contrary to His Word. Please notice I didn't say we are saved by our works, we are saved unto (so we can do) the works He has called and ordained us to do! Big difference.

I'm going to say something radical sounding to some. But if we think we believe Him and His Word and our actions show otherwise, we are lying to ourselves. If we think we can fool the Creator by reciting some creed and go on living however we want to live, apart from His teaching and instruction, going our own way, then we most likely do not have the Ruach. One of the tests of knowing who is a true believer is that they have the desire to read and study the Word of Elohim and obey it (that's action oriented). This is clear from Scripture! I'm not talking about perfect obedience, as that was only demonstrated by Yeshua. What I am talking about is a desire to obey, and a life characterised by that which shows outwardly what one believes inwardly. Two is a witness, and your faith and works must agree!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "law"? If you are like most, it would have some negative connotation for you. Perhaps in your mind's eye, you see a judge with a gavel or worse yet, you equate law with legalism and not simple obedience. So much of our understanding of the scriptures is how we define the words in them. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "grace"? Most likely, you have a favorable reaction and feeling about that word. It is important to recognize these things because they DO have a great impact on how we interpret scripture that contains these words. Words also evolve and change over time. What connotation the words had when they were written may be different than what it has today. More important, is the task of making sure we define law and grace as Elohim does in His Word, not as we want to define it in our own minds.

What is also critical, I think, to remember is the Word of Elohim is consistent from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation. The "law of first mention" applies here. What this means is that how a word is initially used and defined in the Bible is critical to understanding it's use in other passages. I always note in my Bible when a word is used the first time and take notes. For example, if the word "law" was defined as evil or bad in the Tanakh, then it would continue to be so in the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament). If Yahweh's laws are seen to be holy, righteous and good in the Tanakh, then it would not be considered the opposite in the B'rit Hadashah. This law of first mention, by the way, makes it absolutely critical to study the Torah (in this case I am referring to the first 5 books of Moses) as so many words are defined in these foundational books.

Brad Scott, in his book, The Tanakh: The Dictionary of the New Testament, expounds further, "The modern church approaches the Scriptures by beginning in the New Testament, forming an understanding of those teachings, and then going back to the Tanakh to understand its meaning. This denies the plain cultural meaning of the text, and conforms the Scriptures to the ever-changing ideology of the church, rather than forming the ideology of the church based on the solid, consistent rock of Scripture. When you read the book of Acts, you see that, historically, the followers of Yeshua did not simply accept whatever new teaching they heard. They could not have tested established revelation (the Tanakh), which they knew to be true, by a new revelation which they did not know to be true."

Most of us have used the titles "Old and New Testament" for the front and back end of our Bibles. But have you ever stopped to consider what connotations the words "old" and "new" have in your mind and how these affect your interpretation of Scripture? When you hear the word "old", what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of outdated things like 8 track tapes or antique cars. Maybe you think of things that are passed, gone and lost forever. Ha, I am starting to think of myself when I hear that word! Oh my. What about the word "new"? Ah, commercials abound with the phrase "new and improved" and pretty much anything new is seen as better. Old is to be discarded in the trash and replaced with the new! Hmmmm. It seems to me that our ideas of what is old and new have impacted the way we view His Word. That is one reason I prefer not to use the titles Old and New Testament, but rather like Tanakh (which stands for Torah, Nevi'im or prophets, and K'tuvim or Writings) and B'rit Hadashah instead.

Psalm 119 is one of my most favorite chapters in the entire Word of Elohim. Why? It is a devotional on the Word using the Hebrew alphabet and over and over it expresses how I feel about His Word to me.  I LOVE the Word of Elohim!!!!! It's my life, my food, contains everything I need to know all in ONE amazing, living and active book. I admit I can't get enough of it/Him! "The sum of your Word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever." Yahweh's Word is eternal, unchangeable. Yeshua came as the Word or Torah made flesh. He was a walking, talking demonstration the Word of Elohim, because they are one in the same (John 1:1).

There are many misunderstandings among believers in Yeshua when it comes to the Law, what it means to be "under the law" or "under grace".  Sha'ul (Paul) spends a considerable amount of time expounding on this subject in Romans and other passages. The phrase "under the law" is found ten times in the New Testament. But before we even get to understanding that phrase, we have to understand the word "Law" in itself.

The English word law is translated from the Greek word "nomos". Dr. Ron Moseley in his book, Yeshua A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church, explains that the Greeks had only one word for law, nomos, which "tended toward the negative and lacked the ability to convey the depth of the concept of Torah. He also agrees that in the second and third centuries, as the ekklesia (church) began drifting from their Hebrew roots, misconceptions developed concerning aspects of Yahweh's Law, the Torah. Greek philosophy (which if you have ever studied it is in marked contrast to Hebrew philosophy) played a role in this, as well as pagan ideas that infiltrated the church.

What is Torah? Many when hearing this word think of the first 5 books of the Bible and that is one definition or understanding of the word.  But the word "Torah" is much more than that. To the Hebrew mind, "the primary purpose of Torah is to teach humanity how to hit the mark in life, as opposed to committing sin, to miss the mark" (Moseley).  Torah is instruction and teaching, much like what you would think of as a parent instructing a child in the way they should live and behave. The picture here is a bulls eye, a target to aim for. Yahweh's teaching, instructions and commands are for our welfare and good! His ways are always higher (better) than our ways. Obedience brings blessing, long life and the pleasure of knowing we are walking in His ways. These blessings have not ended. Torah is a boundary for His people, all His people, for there is only One Seed from whom all of faith come. Most do not like the word "boundary" as it feels constricting. But it isn't that at all! It is LIFE and life abundantly! Think of it as a fence and you are the sheep and the fence is what keeps you alive and well, dwelling safely in your Abba's pasture.

The concept of law became more and more negative over time in our Western culture. Scott explains,""The scriptural concepts of law and bondage were reversed. Law, rather than sin, was associated with bondage. Certain cliches and phrases were adapted to express this concept of bondage. What began in Yahweh's Word in the Tanakh as light, life, righteousness, the Way, walk, truth, goodness and holiness, soon became something to be disdained, loathed and despised. It's the law!  Law and order! That's against the law! He broke the law! I fought the law and the law won! Law is no longer seen as good and righteous, but rather connotes fear and punishment. This is because the scriptural concept of law has been so twisted and redefined that it is virtually unrecognizable."

What did HaSatan do in the garden? He twisted and redefined Elohim's Word! Tampering with the Word is what destroys us as Hosea declares, "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge". Israel didn't want to hear the Words of Yah, much less obey them. Actually the word "hear" or sh'ma, means to hear and obey. There is another word that has been redefined and diluted, with many consequences.

In the Tanakh, the law was always seen in a very positive and reverent light. Historically, this changed, seemingly around the 3rd century AD, as a heretical teacher, Marcion, taught that the entire Tanakh should be removed as well as other portions of scripture which put either the law or the Jews in a positive light. Marcion was greatly influenced by the Gnostics and taught that the G-d of the Old Testament was cruel and totally different than the one revealed in the New Testament. Moseley explains, " He was so consumed with the belief that Paul's message of G-d's grace opposed G-d's Law that he kept only an edited portion of Paul's writings that agreed with his theology. Marcion's view was so contrary to G-d's Word that Polycarp, who was a student of John, called him "the firstborn of Satan." There is much more to the story, involving Marcion being excommunicated and founding his own church, but much damage was already done to the way the Tanakh and the law was viewed. Similar to what has happened with Darwin in our age.

Obedience to Elohim's Word is not legalism. Legalism is believing you are saved apart from faith/grace and only by your works. The Law was never meant to redeem man but to sustain and prosper man.  In interpreting Sha'ul's writings we have to be careful we understand what he means when he says "law". He contrasts being under the law (of sin) with being under grace. Romans 6:14-16, "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." Believers in Yeshua are dead to sin and alive to Messiah. The body of sin was crucified, not the Law! If you are not under grace, then all you have is being under the law of sin and death and are not saved and are under its (sin's) dominion. The letter of the law is the Torah without the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Sha'ul concludes by saying that "where the Spirit of Yahweh is, there is liberty". What are we free from? We are not free from obedience, we are free from our bondage and slavery to sin! Yet, how often is this verse quoted out of context as saying the believer is free to do whatever he or she wants? That is not real freedom.

"For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law (the law of SIN and DEATH), but under grace."(Romans 6:16). What is the context here? Sin, not the holy, perfect Law of Elohim! Let's read the Word with discernment, not preconceived ideas of what Shaul is saying based on our ideas that Elohim's Law is bad! Here is another Scripture that is often twisted to mean you don't have to obey His Word/Laws but can now just walk in freedom doing, eating, celebrating whatever and however you want. Is that really what Paul is teaching? NO! Shaul was not anti-Law. He was anti-legalism and against those Jewish believers who taught that Gentiles could not be saved until they FIRST obeyed certain laws. He wanted to correct that. Law doesn't come first, grace by faith and then works. Shaul was a Torah observant Jew until the end.  His ministry to the Gentiles had to address Judaizers who tried to make certain Jewish customs (some man made and not even commands of Elohim) a prerequisite for salvation. He wasn't against anyone keeping the laws of Elohim (not the traditions of men) as long as it didn't distort the gospel of salvation!

Law is not bad and grace good. To believe that is a lie and does not line up with Scripture! Law and grace work together much like faith and works or love and obedience do. So, when I say that law and grace are in fact NOT antithetical, I am saying law (as in obedience to Yahweh's instructions) and grace go hand in hand. Believers need to stop throwing out the baby (Law) with the bathwater (legalism). It's way past time to separate those two out. I praise Adonai for His wonderful Truth, His Law in my heart! I will never obey perfectly, but I enjoy walking in His ways. His grace is sufficient!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Journey from Sunday to Saturday

The words of Yeshua kept ringing in my ears, "You nullify the Word of G-d for the sake of your tradition." Adonai was pressing in hard and teaching me daily that some of the things I was doing as a believer were traditions of men, not commands of Scripture.  This was one of those "aha moments" (more like days and weeks of moments!) where things come into clear view and you see them as they really are. It was unsettling, but it was good. Adonai has a way of fine tuning your vision.

In the midst of my studying Hebrew versus Greek thinking, the Jewishness of Yeshua and delving deep into the scriptures, I came to the place where He was showing me His heart concerning the Sabbath. To be honest, it took months of reading, praying and searching this out to come to the place of peace that I am at now, which is fully embracing a 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath with complete conviction. Here is a description of this process of moving my Sabbath from Sunday to Saturday, the questions I asked, observations I made and their resulting conclusions in this area.

I was taught in the Roman Catholic Church that I grew up in as a child, as well as in Protestant churches as an adult, that the Sabbath was "changed" to Sunday because that is when the Messiah rose from the dead and that the early church met on Sunday. I just accepted this without really thinking them through or giving it much serious thought. So much for being a Berean! The Bereans searched the Tanakh to see if what Shaul (Paul) was saying was true. Hmmm. Right there, I should have wondered how G-d's Word from the beginning can be altered and why it isn't consistent from beginning to end. (It is in fact VERY consistent and it is this very fact that helped me to understand and identify commonly held misinterpretations of scripture).

 Did Elohim change His mind and declare that all the commands to keep the 7th day holy (set apart) in the Tanakh are now null and void?  Why do we seem as believers to keep the rest of the Ten Commandments but have altered the 4th? Are His laws eternal and unchangeable? These were a few of the important questions I was asking and I wasn't content unless I found out the answers from both history and scripture. I wanted to understand why and how after thousands of years and scriptural commands to keep a 7th day Sabbath, this changed.

It's kinda funny that you never hear preachers in the Christian pulpit say that tithing is a command nailed to the cross or it has been "done away with" because it is in the Mosaic (read archaic) Law and we as "New Testament" believers don't have to follow that. Interesting how that works! Reality is, many believers pick and choose the laws they want to obey no matter what part of the Bible they are written in.  Whether we want to own up to that personally or not, is another thing.

Did you ever have the experience of reading the scriptures with your children where you are reading aloud yet thinking quietly to yourself, "Wow, how do I explain what we do in practice when it doesn't coincide with scripture??!" Yeah. That is a really fun (sarcasm here) thought to have. Actually, it is quite disturbing. As a mother who is trying to teach her children the Word of G-d and practice it, it is more than disturbing. As we were reading through the whole Bible this year, we had ample time to discuss scriptures regarding the Sabbath as they are plentiful! It was in these moments of not wanting to explain away these Sabbath scriptures that the Ruach started to whisper to me, and all I could do was to follow Him.

Right in the beginning at creation Elohim set up a 6 day work week and the 7th day was set apart and made holy. It was from the very beginning to be a Sabbath unto Adonai. Later as Moshe (Moses) journeyed in the desert with the mixed multitude that went out of Egypt, they received miraculous provision of Manna which they were not to gather on the 7th day or it would rot. They were to gather a double portion on the 6th day. Yahweh, in giving Moshe His commands for all Israel (the native and the stranger) gave specific instructions that even the land was to have a Shabbat (Sabbath) rest once they entered the promised land. Every 7th year was a sabbatical year of rest for the land. Of course the Ten Commandments were given in which the 4th clearly commands us to rest from our labors on the 7th day. Yeshua kept a 7th day Sabbath as did His followers, as He never transgressed the Torah. The Sabbath is a command and spiritual truth present throughout all of Scripture. If Yeshua didn't want His followers or disciples to keep this command, wouldn't He have made that very clear that it was to be changed? There are NO DIRECT STATEMENTS in the entire Word of G-d that dismiss or change the 4th commandment.

 Many spiritualize the 4th commandment and say, well, Messiah is our spiritual rest as He paid the price for our sins on the tree. Now, we have spiritual rest in Him. Yes and Amen, we do! But we cannot spiritualize commands which He gives explicit practical ways we are to obey them! Yeshua's sacrifice as the perfect Lamb of G-d doesn't mean we now can go our own way, quite the opposite. The Sabbath is such a major theme throughout the Scriptures with so many scriptures related to the blessings of keeping it and illustrations of what happens when we don't, that we cannot take it lightly and flippantly (as I did for many years!).

Why would Yeshua, when He spoke of the last days, tell us, "pray that your flight not be on the Sabbath" (Matthew 24:20). Why would he say that if He knew that this command would be done away with?  In Matthew 5:17-20, Yeshua also said that He did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (make them real...the Word made flesh!) and that as long as heaven and earth are here, nothing in the Torah will be done away with. Not only that, but in Isaiah 56:3 and 58:13, passages which are clearly referencing the time of the Millennium in the future (soon approaching), the Sabbath is clearly in force for not only Israel but also for all the foreigners who attach themselves to Israel. All these observations I was making were linking together to form a clearer picture of the fact that Yahweh's command to keep a 7th day Sabbath is still indeed very much a command, just as all the other 9 words of the 10 are commands. We cannot slice and dice up the Word of Elohim and pick and choose, yet, that is exactly what I was doing in this regard.

There are only 2 references in the entire New Testament (Acts 20:7-12 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-3) in which the first day of the week (Sunday) is mentioned in regard to Yeshua's followers. In the second of these, there is no clear evidence that they even met together. In the Acts passage they had a picnic (broke bread) but I hardly can think that just because they ate together, justifies a changing of the Sabbath on that day. Another very important point to consider is the Hebrew reckoning of a "day" which is very different from our reckoning of a day. In our western world a day begins at midnight and ends at the following midnight, but more so is thought of in terms of the daylight hours or from morning to evening. The Hebrew reckoning and indeed Elohim's reckoning of a day based on "and then there was evening and morning, the first day" in the creation account in Genesis is sunset to sunset, or evening to the next evening. SO, when we read a passage with this understanding and it says "on the first day", what is that referring to? We have to remember the cultural context here and not Westernize the Scriptures or make hasty assumptions! The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday night and ends on Saturday at sunset, SO the beginning of the "first day" or Sunday actually begins on Saturday evening! Tim Hegg in his book, It Is Often Said, explains that it was the custom of the early followers of Yeshua to gather together with the Gentiles after the Sabbath to celebrate their life in Messiah. The Gentiles would be finished with work. Remember (not unlike in our day), their masters were not worshipers of God and thus would not have honored the Sabbath by giving their slaves the day off. It was at this kind of a meeting that Eutychus, sitting in the window, fell to his death. In 1 Cor 16:1-3, Paul is giving an admonition to the congregations to gather money for the relief of the believers in Jerusalem. Gathering money would not have been appropriate on the Sabbath, so a different day was chosen." So it seems to me that Shaul was preaching on a Saturday late into the night when this poor fellow fell to his death. IF we read the Word with a Hebraic understanding we can understand it's true meaning better. Sadly, I didn't have that understanding for much of my believing life. Now that I have recognized and corrected that and taken off the antisemitic glasses I had on, I can see much clearer. I'm so thankful!

At this point, and after doing a lot more investigation into many scriptures related to the Shabbat (I won't get into here as it would make this post a BOOK), I was convinced that from beginning to end, G-d's Word was consistent and that the Sabbath command was to be on the 7th day, or our Friday eve to Saturday eve. Now, I wanted to know how in the world things got so messed up and it changed to Sunday. Honestly, it bothered me and I just wanted to know how it happened! If you want a very in depth look at this subject, see my page "My Favorite Books for the Journey", and read Samuele Bacchiocchi's books as well as Dr. Ron Moseley for starters.

Enter Constantine, the supposed "Christian" Roman Emperor who in 321AD formally changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, "in veneration of the Sun" as it was a very common pagan practice to worship Zeus, the sun. Actually this sun god worship goes all the way back to Nimrod and it is seen throughout history and in every culture. Is this the changing of the times and seasons that Daniel prophesied about when the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday and biblical Feasts were banned/changed to match the pagan festivals? I do believe it could be. Have you read the Council of Nicea and the anti biblical, antisemitic tone it takes? Read Ezekiel 8:16-17 for a reference to worshipping the sun and what Elohim thinks of this if you like.

 Of course, over time, worshipping the sun wasn't enough, the rest of the planets were feeling neglected I guess, so the Romans named the 7 days of the week accordingly, and in honor of their pagan deities. Does this nauseate you as it does me? Therefore, the day of the sun became Sunday; the day of the moon became Monday; the day of Mars (the Roman god of war) became Tuesday (after Tiw, pronounced too, the German god of war); the day of Mercury became Wednesday (Woden's Day, the Germanic version of Mercury); the day of Jupiter became Thursday (Thor's Day, the Germanic version of Jupiter); the day of Venus became Friday (after the Germanic female god Frigg or Freyja - pronounced note...which is exactly what is gonna happen to her!); and last but not least, as we wouldn't want to offend Saturn, it became our Saturday. The day of the Sun, dies Solis, or Sunday was preeminent over all the other days of the week, long before it became a Christian institution and it was proclaimed "holy" or set apart from all other days. No where in Scripture does Yahweh indicate that Sunday or the 1st day of the week is to be set apart!

I am not going to comment here too much on when Yeshua resurrected. I will say I am not convinced it was on Sunday and very well could have been on Saturday evening. I have done some reading and thinking on this and several scriptures seem to conflict. However, if you take into account the Hebraic accounting of days and when the Sabbath begins and ends, it can truly make a difference. Study this out for yourself and show yourself approved!

After Constantine issued the decree, the Catholic Church reinforced the act in one church council after another. That's a whole history lesson in itself which I won't delve into. But being an ex-Catholic I was very interested in this part of the puzzle. What I found was disturbing in that not only are the Ten Commandments of the Catholic church massively messed with, with commands changed, deleted or majorly truncated, but that there are numerous bold statements claiming that they were the ones responsible for the change from Saturday to Sunday based on their own authority, not based on scripture. By the way, no one has the authority to change the Word or Laws of G-d!  The Catholic version of the 4th commandment conveniently reads as this, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day." doesn't read that way in my bible. This is what mine (KJV) says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God:  in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your  cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." It is actually one of the longest commands of the ten commands.

Here are some interesting quotes from the RCC in regards to their observance of a 1st day Sabbath: 

"For example, nowhere in the bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the (Roman Catholic) church outside the Bible." -Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, p. 9, article, "To Tell You the Truth".

"Question: Which is the Sabbath day? Answer- Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer- We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (AD 364) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."  -Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 3rd edition, 1957. 

"But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specifies in the Bible, isn't it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistency but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text from the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock or her hair."  - The Faith of Millions, p 473.

I left the RCC because of the unbiblical practices they promoted when my eyes were opened by the Ruach HaKodesh as a born again believer. I ran to the Protestant church thinking it was different. In my opinion, while yes, there are very important differences, the reformation didn't go far enough. It wasn't able to break with all the man-made traditions and mixing of paganism by exchanging not only the true Sabbath for a man made one, but also in replacing Elohim's holy days with pagan counterfeits! So much deception and the church follows blindly along, most not even wanting to consider they could be wrong. Do you hear Rome's challenge to the Protestants? They basically are saying, if you really believe the Bible, Sola Scriptura, you would keep a 7th day Sabbath as G-d commands! Okay, here is a point that the RCC is making that I believe is true! The Sunday observance of the Sabbath is a man made tradition and not a command of Yahweh.

I realize there are other factors in why the Sabbath was changed, perhaps even by some before Constantine. Although as Dr. Ron Moseley states in his book on the first century believers that there is scanty evidence for that time period, making it difficult to research. However, we do know there was persecution from the Jews toward those recognizing Yeshua as Messiah, forcing them out of the synagogue. There was also persecution of Jews making followers of "the Way" distance themselves from all things Jewish in order to survive.  So much to consider here, but for the most part, it appears from Scripture and other sources that believers in Yeshua kept a 7th day Sabbath until the 3rd or 4th century.

Getting back to more questions I asked myself....

Are all the laws in the Old Testament only for the Jew? Who was at Mount Sinai?  A "mixed multitude" left Egypt (Exodus 12:38). Several scriptures declare one and the same law for the "native born and for the foreigner (stranger)" such as Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; 15:29.  Yes, the covenant was made with Israel and is nationalistic, yet also extends to all who attach themselves to Israel through faith in her G-d (of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Isn't that what Ephesians 2:12-13 is about? Abraham is the father for all who believe as Romans 4:16 states.  We are grafted into Israel (Romans 11) and that root is grounded in the Torah!

In Zechariah 14:17-19 we have an interesting passage where Elohim says He will punish the nations (not Israel) in the Millennium if they do not keep the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Tim Hegg in It Is Often Said, "Yet, they did not enter into the two-sided covenant between Israel and Yahweh. Yet they are held to the standard of Torah. This being the case, one cannot argue that present day Gentiles are exempt from the Torah on the basis of covenant ratification, for if such were the case, the same would apply to Gentiles in any era. That it clearly does not is evident from the prophetic texts, which consistently portray righteous Gentiles as observing the Sabbaths given to Israel (Isaiah 56:1ff; 58:13, 14; 66:23)." To me, this is a very compelling argument.

The more I study the scriptures the more I see the consistency from beginning to end. The 7th day is the Sabbath. From beginning to end and forever, because that is what our Creator decided it to be and His laws and Word are eternal and unchanging! When we alter the commands of Yahweh, there will be negative consequences. He isn't pleased when we make up our own rules. And every time I see inconsistencies in my life from what the Word says, I pray He will help me to align myself with Him and His Word. No matter how much it goes against man's traditions, church traditions, my warm and fuzzy feelings, or the culture around me. Not easy, believe me, I know. But the wonderful thing about obedience is, there are so many blessings! I can't tell you the sweet words He has spoken to me when I took a stand in this area as it is too personal. But I will say this. He confirmed to me that what I was doing, He was pleased with and He gave me marching orders in a way only He could do. He encouraged me, strengthened me and told me to persevere and to not be afraid. Fear of man or what people think is a snare! And many fall into it.

Really, I don't want to live a life in fear of man or my friends or family or whomever. I want to live knowing that it is only His opinion of me that matters. I want to live life in the light of eternity as KP Yochanan would say. Even if all my believing friends think I have gone off the theological bandwagon, that is okay. I want to live a life of obedience in response to what He is teaching me.

I hope this post has piqued your interest in this topic or at the very least helped you to understand why I and other believers celebrate a 7th day Sabbath. Isaiah 56:6-7 speaks of Gentiles who keep the Sabbath and refers to the coming Messianic Kingdom..."And the foreigners who join themselves to ADONAI, to serve him, to love the name of ADONAI, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

Shalom and Todah (thanks) for reading!

Note: During this time of transition from Sunday worship to Saturday, Adonai kept speaking to me words related to the Exodus out of Egypt. I didn't understand it at first, as I was studying prophecy as well and thinking He was drawing my attention to a future Exodus. What I understand now, is that it was personal, for me, in that season. The Torah portion during that time frame in January was also centered on the Exodus passages! He indeed very clearly and specifically called me out of a fellowship I had been a part of for 6 years that I had dearly loved. There were many tearful nights of prayer and being ministered to by His Ruach. It was difficult, but there was complete peace because His Word was very clear to me and His will made known that He wanted me in another fellowship of believers (a Messianic fellowship) that kept the Sabbath holy. Sometimes following Adonai's voice can have aspects that are painful, yet there are no regrets when we stand for Truth and obey His voice and follow Him. There isn't any other place in this world I would rather be than in the center of His will for me.