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)