Monday, May 29, 2006

Bless The Lord, O My Soul

Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits!

I had one of those "ah, HA!" moments this morning. I was thinking about some email and blog posts I've read lately and realized something that I think is most interesting. When Christians pray, they mostly pray, "God, bless me." When the Jews and those who practice the Hebraic roots of our faith pray, they mostly pray, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has...(you fill in the blank)." Where's the focus? In the first instance, the focus is all on self--bless me: bless me with food, bless me with health, bless me with wealth, etc. In the second instance, the focus is on the LORD: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has filled our lives with all good things, Who renews our lives like the eagles, Who healeth all our diseases, Who redeems our lives from the pit, etc.

It's as if in the first instance, we really don't trust the LORD to provide our needs or even trust Him to know what our needs are, so we have to remind Him. In the second instance, it seems that the trust is implicit, we know that He knows what we need and we trust that He is providing, so we bless Him for the provision that we may or may not see already.

If you'd like to learn more about blessing God, you can find many of these kinds of blessings at Hebrew4Christians. This is a great site. I also want to state up front that the man who runs that site does not believe that Christians need to keep the Torah. That should be reassuring if you are a Christian who doesn't understand what value keeping Torah has for you and are not interested in becoming Torah observant. For those believers who do want to keep Torah, don't let this put you off from utilizing the wonderful resources available at this website.

A Blessing Or A Blot?

This morning in one of the devotionals I read, it focused on this Memorial Day and whether our lives will live on after we're gone as a blessing or a blot. You can find it to read at RBC-Our Daily Bread for Monday May 29. Here's a quote from that devotional:

On Memorial Day in the US, we pause to honor those of past generations. While many stirring recollections flood our minds, we realize that the time will come when each of us will also be a memory. What will others recall of our words and deeds when they think of us?

What will your memorial be? Determine by the grace of God to live for Him and give yourself to the needs of others. Then your testimony will become a blessing and inspiration to all who follow in your steps. --Richard De Haan

What have you written on memory's page?
Deeds that were done in the Master's name?
Words that were spoken to spread His fame?
What have you written today? --Anon.

This follows closely on the heels of my previous post about the Bibles I received over the weekend. Not only should I consider what my Bible will say about me after I am gone, but what memories will I leave behind? Will my children and grandchildren remember me as a blessing, as someone who loved them unconditionally and was there for them, as someone who encouraged them and prayed for them, as someone who had time to listen to them and to spend with them? Will they remember me as someone who loved unselfishly, who had a servant's heart, who walked in the ways of Yeshua to the best of my ability? Will they remember me as someone who refused to compromise with the world, who refused to compromise the Word of God? Will they remember me as a woman of integrity, honesty, loyalty, humility? Will they remember me as a woman who loved not the world or the things that are in the world, but who gave all that she could, whose affections were set on things above and not on things of the earth? This is definitely something that is worth taking the time to ponder and consider and make any necessary adjustments to obtain the desired end result. Do I want my life to be a blessing or a blot?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Family Treasure

Yesterday my husband Tim & I visited my mom. Before we were ready to leave, she asked me if I wanted this old trunk full of books that she'd gotten from her uncle's estate. She took us into her bedroom to show it to us and after seeing the treasure contained within that trunk I said, Yes, I certainly wanted it! We didn't have room to bring it home with us yesterday so will have to get it at a future time, but I did bring home two of the books that had been in that trunk. What treasures they are to me! The first is a hardbound copy of the Bible printed in 1888 by the American Bible Society and with my great-great-grandfather's name written inside the front cover. It's in pretty good shape for being so old so I suspect it didn't see a lot of use, but there are a couple of interesting things tucked between the pages. There's a gospel tract titled, Have You Believed?, which clearly lays out that salvation is by faith in the Son of God. There's an old newspaper clipping of a letter-to-the-advice-columnist kind of thing seeking Biblical references for the evils of drunkenness (with references given). There's a poem about having courage. There's an old pressed carnation (at least I think that's what it is). There's a snippet of paper with a recipe written down for homemade silver polish. Then there are family record pages between the Old & New Testaments with the marriage of my great-great-grandfather recorded: "William H Wilding married to Elizabeth A Vine in the year 1870, Dec 24." Then there's a listing for their deaths: "William H Wilding died Feb 5, 1899 at 4 in the morning" and "Mrs Lizzie Wilding-Benedict died Jan 14th 1933 @ 2:30 o'clock, funeral Jan 17, 1933, Paul White, minister."

The second book is a leatherbound Bible, KJV published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, presented to Ida Wilding (my great-grandmother) by her father, William H Wilding, on June 20, 1898. This Bible is in pretty bad shape, with lots of the pages falling out and tattered, so I suspect it saw a lot of use. Again, it has lots of interesting things tucked between the pages. There are a couple more gospel tracts, the tip of a peacock's feather, some cherished momentos from children and grandchildren, a lock of someone's hair, a couple pieces of poetry, and an obituary for a 17 year old young lady that we think is the girl my great-uncle was going to marry, but then she died and he never did marry; he died a bachelor. My great-grandmother also recorded her birth, her husband's birth, their marriage, and the births of their 5 children, which includes my maternal grandmother. This Bible is also most interesting because of all the Bible study helps contained in the back of the book: The Illustrated Bible Treasury.

Looking through these two family treasures fills me with awe. Since I am the only believer in my birth family, though my mother and siblings have some religious understanding, I am encouraged to think that perhaps if I could go back a generation or two I would find that my forebears were people of strong faith in the LORD. Makes me also wonder about my father's family tree, if they were people of faith.

It also makes me stop and think about the spiritual legacy that I am building to leave for my children, grandchildren and beyond, should the LORD tarry that long. When my grandchildren look in my Bible after I am gone, what will they find? I believe that they'll find ample evidence of my faith in the LORD. My Bible is underlined, highlighted, with margin notes, with poetry copied onto pages, with words of wisdom written on blank pages, etc. Maybe I will even write a short letter to my descendants to leave behind with my Bible, expressing my hopes and prayers for them to follow the LORD with all their hearts and to be people of faith. Interesting possibilities!

So what will your Bible say about you and your faith in the Son of God, should you die and your Bible ends up in the hands of a great-grandchild some day? Will it just be another carefully preserved book or will it bear testimony to your love for the Master and His Word, of your faith in Him? Think about it!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Believe...

I thought I would take a little bit today to try to put what I believe into some kind of defined statement. I'm not sure where this is heading exactly, so come along for the ride.

1) I believe that God (YHWH) exists and has existed from the beginning, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, that He is a compound unity expressing Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that He is personally interested and involved in my life.

2) I believe that sin entered the world through God's first created man, Adam, and that all men since have inherited a sin nature. I believe that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I believe that sin separates us from God and that the wages of sin is death. I believe that I am a sinner also, deserving of death (eternal separation from God, Who is Life) and that there is NOTHING I can do to save myself.

3) I believe that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Yeshua the Messiah, the Holy Sinless Spotless Lamb of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary into the tribe of Judah, to suffer & die, shedding His blood, in my place and in the place of every other person, that whoever would call upon the name of Yeshua would be saved.

4) I believe that I am redeemed from sin's penalty, not by my own efforts, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Yeshua the Messiah. There is not one thing that I can do that will save myself or ensure my place in eternity with God, except to confess my sins to Him, repent (turn away from my sins), and believe that His blood makes a covering for me to be washed clean of my sins. I believe that as I do this He is faithful and just to forgive me of all of my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

5) I believe that as I take this step of faith and believe in Yeshua as my Messiah, my Savior from sin, I am adopted into God's family, grafted into His family tree (the olive tree, as Scripture calls it). I believe that He becomes not only my God, but also my Father, my Abba. I also believe that with this adoption there comes responsibility to learn my Father's Will and to do what pleases Him.

6) I believe that the Bible is wholly true, wholly the Word of God, and wholly to be followed. I believe that there is not one word of the Bible that has been done away with or that is not valid for my life today. I believe that I need to read, study and meditate on that Word daily so that I can learn more about my Father God, Yeshua, and how I am to live so that He is glorified in me.

7) I believe that my Father God is holy and that I must be holy, as He is holy, because He has so commanded it. I understand from His Word that He abhors worship that is polluted by idolatrous practices, that my worship must be in spirit and in truth, and must be holy, according to His commands. I believe that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" and that I need to be very careful not to mix worldly or idolatrous practices into my worship of the LORD, thinking that it's made okay by being given to Him. To obey is better than sacrifice, the Word says, and I need to remember that.

8) I believe that Yeshua is returning soon, perhaps in my lifetime, and that I need to be busy about His Work, redeeming the time because the days are full of evil. I believe that He is coming to give to each person according as his work is and that there will be a judgment. I want to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the LORD."

9) I believe that in the world we will have tribulation and that we may well be called upon to live through the time of tribulation that the Bible portrays in Revelations and elsewhere, but that He will return for His own before God pours out His wrath on the unbelievers and disobedient. I believe that we need to be prepared to persevere through tribulation, to hold fast and not fall away.

10) I believe that He Who calls us is faithful and true, that He can be depended on in every circumstance of life, that there is no need to fear because He is always with us, His children, and He will never leave us or forsake us. I believe that His compassions fail not and His mercies are new every morning. I believe that He cares about every detail of our lives and that we can wholeheartedly cast every care that we have on Him because He cares for us.

I think I could probably list an even dozen easily, if not more, but will stop with this. I think these are the basics anyway.

I also wanted to clarify something I wrote in a previous post. In my post Just Like Ruth, I wrote: "So have we--have I--left behind all of my Gentile culture, traditions, and "Christianity" to embrace Yeshua's people and His God?." When I put the word 'Christianity' in there, I was referring to all the traditions of men that have defined Christianity over the centuries, most of which are not Biblical and would not have been practiced by Yeshua or His disciples. So yes, I guess you can say this is another "I believe..." statement. I believe that the Christian church today bears very little resemblance to the community of believers who followed Yeshua in the beginning and that we need to return to the same walk that they had if we are to really "walk in the same way that He walked." I believe that involves obeying Torah because Torah is the foundation of the Gospel. I believe that you cannot separate Torah from Yeshua or from a walk of obedience to Him. I believe that Yeshua was the Torah made flesh and through His life, we can understand how to live a Torah obedient life, a life that brings our Father God great delight and fills us with joy. I believe that walking in Yeshua's ways, studying and obeying Torah, will enable us to fulfill the two greatest commandments, to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind & strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe that we need to seek out and study the Hebraic roots of our faith in Yeshua, to learn to understand the Scriptures from the historical, cultural, and Torah context that Yeshua taught them in and His disciples understood them in, so that we can be workers that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, being do-ers of the Word and not hearers only.

Check Out This Post

I'm hoping that you'll take a minute to go read this post, Requests or Commandments, at TorahBlog. I thought it was good enough to save a copy of it. I also recommend Alan Gilman's TorahBytes weekly commentaries on the scriptures. I've been getting them in my emails now for over a year and really appreciate his insights. I think you might also.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Having A Form Of Religion?

I've started reading another Christian fiction book, A Season of Grace, by Bette Nordberg. It's the story of a Christian woman whose twin brother is dying of AIDS and how she deals with the situation. It's proving to be a very thought-provoking book--the kind I like to read best. I have to say that this author is not afraid to tackle difficult issues head-on; I've read another book by her in which she tackles domestic abuse which was also very thought-provoking. At any rate, I find myself identifying with her female character in this current book I'm reading, in that I am the only believer in my family and have been told by a sister-in-law that I am too religious. Let me share a quote from Bette Nordberg's book:

My aching had a spiritual dimension as well. While my brother had moved away from the religious training of his childhood, I had moved toward it.

As children, our parents insisted we attend church. Though we went to Sunday school and services, they made it clear that faith belonged only in the context of the church building. In college, I'd begun attending church again, beginning my faith journey during my senior year. I'd bought it all--the whole thing--hook, line, and sinker. I believed in Jesus. I believed in his sinless life, and his death in my place. My decision amused mother. She thought I'd grow tired of living the zealous life. "Church is a fine thing," she told me. "But you can overdo it, you know. I've seen it happen."

I've already shared how I am also reading a non-fiction book titled Living On Purpose by Christine & Tom Sine. This morning, as I read, I came across this:

One of the major reasons for our compartmentalized faith is that many of us have unwittingly bought into a faith in a Jesus who only inhabits a small spiritual part of our lives. Somehow we haven't grasped that the Bible teaches that Jesus is not just interested in a spiritual corner of our lives or in hanging out at church with us for a couple hours on Sunday. Jesus Christ is interested in seeing the gospel transform every part of our lives and every dimension of God's world. Jim Wallis explains our disconnet this way: "The gospel message has been molded to suit an increasingly narcissistic culture...modern conversion is about bringing Jesus into our lives rather than bringing us into his...conversion is just for ourselves, not for the world. We ask how Jesus might fulfill our lives not how we might serve his kingdom." (Jim Wallis, The Call to Conversion: Recovering the Gospel for These Times; San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1981; pg 28)

You've probably heard people say that following the LORD is more than religion, it's relationship. And I think that's very true. Religion can be very comfortable. We can define how much it will impact our life, how much of our time and attention it will get. We give the LORD two hours on Sunday morning and that's about it. It's like an obligation and once it's met, we go on about our lives without giving it another thought.

2 Timothy 3:5 (Amplified) For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].

Somehow, I don't think that the LORD is too impressed with our religion. Religion will not "save" us. Only a relationship with the Savior will do that. Relationship requires commitment and intimacy. Think about it in terms of a marriage. Marriage is a relationship. It colors every moment of every day. I can't give my husband two hours of my time once a week and call it good. We are interacting with each other daily--and often throughout the day. We continually express our love for each other with words, touch, acts of devotion. We try to please one another and build each other up. That's what it's supposed to be like to have a relationship with Yeshua. A relationship with Him will color every moment of our lives. We'll think, talk, act differently because we love Him and are committed to Him. We'll know intimacy with Him through prayer and His Word and walking in His ways.

All of us can probably benefit from some spiritual self-inventory, taking a look at how much intimacy we have with the Savior and how much our faith impacts our life. Do we have faith that impacts our whole life or is it a Sunday-only thing? Having a form of religion but denying the power of it to direct our lives won't cut it.

Being a believer isn't about ourselves, either, and how much we will be blessed. In my marriage, I am to be a helpmeet to my husband and to bless him. My focus isn't supposed to be on what he does for me or brings into my life. My focus is supposed to be on my husband, what I can do to bless him and build him up. As believers, we need to focus on how we can serve Yeshua and lift Him up. Afterall, we are to be the Bride of Christ; seems like maybe we ought to be preparing ourselves now for that future reality. In the process, we will be blessed, but being blessed isn't the goal.

Philippians 3:8-15 (Amplified) Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law's demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Just Like Ruth?

One of the "arguments" that I have heard used to promote believers in Yeshua/Jesus keeping the Torah is the story of Ruth.

You know the story: there was a famine in Israel so a Jewish man named Elimelech took his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and moved to Moab where there was food to be had. While they lived there, Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Then Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion died, leaving Naomi a widow and childless. Naomi decides to return to Israel, to Bethelehem, and tells her two daughters-in-law to return to their fathers' homes and find themselves new husbands. Orpah does so, though with tears, but Ruth implores Naomi to let her stay with her.

Ruth 1:16-18 And Ruth said, Urge me not to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts me from you. When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said no more.

So the two women return to Bethlehem, Ruth gleans in the fields to provide food for the two of them, and through a course of events, Ruth ends up married to Naomi's kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, and becomes the mother of King David's grandfather.

The critical part of this story that is used to promote Torah observance is Ruth's words to Naomi, "Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God." Ruth was a Gentile, NOT a Jew! She didn't have to worship God or keep Jewish traditions, but she chose to do so out of her love for her mother-in-law Naomi. Likewise, most of us who are attempting to keep Shabbat, observe the commanded festivals, eat kosher, and follow as much of the rest of Torah as possible would also say that we choose to do so out of our love for Yeshua.

But in thinking about this and reading Beyond Lox and Bagels on another blog site, I had to wonder if we are really doing what Ruth did. Ruth was a Moabitess. Her culture and traditions would have been quite different from Naomi's. The Moabites were idol-worshippers, not worshippers of the One True God, YHWH. They did not have the Torah and did not walk in the ways of YHWH. Ruth probably never saw her mother, father, or any other family member ever again. She left her home, her family, and everything she had ever known or loved in Moab to go with Naomi to Bethlehem. Jews didn't think too much of Moabites and Ruth would not have found a hearty welcome in her new home. The only person in Bethlehem that Ruth could depend on for kindness was Naomi. Not only was she virtually cut off from people who loved and cared for her, but everything--the culture, the traditions, the religion, just everything, was different from everything Ruth had grown up with. And yet, she embraced it all, starting from square one and learning everything all over again so that she could embrace Naomi's people, Naomi's land, and Naomi's God.

So have we--have I--left behind all of my Gentile culture, traditions, and "Christianity" to embrace Yeshua's people and His God? Do I really walk in all of His ways if I do not also yield my "right" to my Gentile identity and traditions and learn to walk in His Jewishness and all that is entailed in that? It's something I will have to think about for awhile and pray about, for His guidance and direction. I have embraced keeping the Biblical Torah to the best of my ability, but I have balked at the rabbinic or Oral Torah, even though Yeshua kept much of the Oral Traditions. In Romans 11, I read that I, a wild olive branch, have been grafted into a cultivated olive tree, whose roots reach back to Abraham. The roots and sap that should be nourishing me spring from the Hebrew Scriptures and are the same that nourished Yeshua and His disciples as we read in the New Testament scriptures. But maybe I should also pay a little closer attention to the extra-Biblical writings and traditions, so that I can say, as Ruth did, "Where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God." Hmmmmm...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Books, Books & More Books

This will be a short post as I don't have much time available today to write, but did want to take a couple minutes to let you know about some really GOOD books that I've been reading.

First, there was Christianity Is Jewish by Edith Schaeffer. I read this right before Passover and it was SO appropriate! It's been around for awhile, but I'd never heard of it til recently and decided I needed to read it so bought a copy on eBay and made time during my morning devotions to read a chapter a day til I finished it.

Second, there's Restoration, Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus by D. Thomas Lancaster and available from First Fruits of Zion. This book is just SO good! I highlighted lots of passages in this book and will be sharing some of it in an upcoming post here (when I have more time).

Third, a real eye-opener was Where Was Love & Mercy? Christian Anti-Semitism:Overcoming the Curse by Clarence H Wagner and available from Bridges for Peace. Any Christian that believes the Church has only love for Israel and the Jewish people really owes it to the LORD, Who was a Jew Himself, to read this book and find out the truth. You might just get a rude awakening and realize the Church has a lot to answer for at the judgment.

And now I am reading two books during my devotional time. Living On Purpose: Finding God's Best For Your Life by Christine & Tom Sine deals with the hurriedness of our lives as believers and how we can take a step back, find God's purposes for our lives, make a missions statement based on that understanding of His purposes, and live happier, more fulfilling, less stressful lives. Yes! Though I chose to walk a path outside that of mainstream America a long time ago, I do still get stressed and am appreciating what I am reading in this book. The second book I'm reading is The Jesus Habits: Exercising the Spiritual Disciplines of Jesus by Jay Dennis. I've only read the first discipline so far, which was Seclusion and which went hand-in-hand with the intro and first chapter of the Living On Purpose book. I have always enjoyed and needed quiet time alone each day and often felt guilty for it, but after reading this chapter and understanding how much Yeshua/Jesus sought that quiet time alone, I am not going to feel guilty any more!

At my desk I have a good-sized stack of books waiting to be read. I love to read and always have a good Christian fiction book that I am reading. One of the last ones I read was in the Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson and is really good reading! It will make you think, too! Those are the best kind of fiction books. They don't just entertain; they inspire. Now I am reading a book titled Fire By Night by Lynn Austin, who is one of my favorite authors. This story is set during the Civil War. I borrowed it through interlibrary loan and have to have it back by Thursday so will have to do some focused reading in order to finish it in time. I won't even tell you about my list of Christian fiction I want to read! Every time I get a fiction catalog from Christian Books, I find more great books to add to my wanted-to-read list. And I keep track of the books I've read, too. I have a notebook where I write the date I completed a book, it's title, author, series # if part of a series, and give it a rating from one to five stars, with 5 stars being an excellent go-out-and-buy-it book and 1 star being a real dud. Over the years, I've only had a couple of books that rated less than 4 stars. Most of the books I read rate 4 stars and a few rate 5 stars. So if you ever want some great book recommendations, I can provide some. I think one of my all-time favorite author teams is Bodie & Brock Thoene. Their historical fiction just cannot be beat, in my honest opinion, and their latest series, the A.D. Chronicles, really brings the pages of the Gospels alive. Check them out if you are interested in quality historical fiction. Of late, I have really been enjoying Karen Kingsbury's books, too. Her characters are so real and their stories are so compelling that I have a hard time putting her books down.

Well, I see by the clock that I'd better wrap this up for today. I work on 3rd shift so need to sleep during the day, which has been really frustrating me lately. I have so much I want to do while I am at home but keep running out of time every day. I've been working outside our home for the past 6 years now; before that I was a fulltime homemaker whose days were filled with gardening, sewing, cooking, baking, canning & freezing, crafts, writing letters, reading books, caring for small livestock, raising my children, homeschooling, church activities, etc. But then the children grew up and left home for homes of their own. I began working fulltime (after my husband became unable to continue to do so) and the homestead got downsized. But I still long to be home fulltime and doing all the things I was active with before, as well as being an active grandma to my 7 precious grandchildren. But as much as I long for that, I know in my heart that the LORD has a plan and a purpose in my being in the workplace fulltime. It's opened my eyes to so much spiritual need and to the pervasiveness of sin in our society. And I know that He wants me to "bloom where He has planted" me, to be His light and show His love to the people I work with. So once again I submit my will and my desires to His Will and yield to the disciplining of my flesh, praying that my attitude and actions and the words that come out of my mouth will bring Him glory and lift Him up. Catch you later...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Observe All My Ordinances

I was just reading through the Torah commentary for Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27) in Torah Club Vol. 2: The Shadows of the Messiah from First Fruits of Zion and just had to put this final bit here so I won't forget it.

Observe All My Ordinances

You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:37)

The laws of holiness end with a final stipulation: "You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them." (19:37) Messiah kept all the statutes and ordinances on God. He walked the commandments out. His obedience to the commandments availed perfect righteousness, a righteousness that God reckons to those who place faith in Him. But beyond righteousness, there is also this matter of holiness. Yeshua's obedience resulted in perfect holiness.

Now, as His disciples, we walk in His holiness, which we share by virtue of our identification with Him. After all, "we are members of His body." (Ephesians 5:30) Paul explains this principle with a vivid illustration:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Messiah? Shall I then take away the members of Messiah and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says [in Genesis 2:24] "The two shall become one flesh." But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)

The same point should be made in any matter of sin. Shall I take the members of Messiah and violate the holiness of Messiah? For He is the Holy One of God, and as members of His body, we share in His title. Therefore, we, the body of believers, are also the Holy Ones of God. We are all holy ones.

The word for holiness and holy ones in Hebrew is K'doshim, but in Greek it is hagios, which translates into English as the word saints. The Apostles applied the term saints to all believers in Messiah. It is the title for believers. We are the "holy ones" because we are believers in the Holy One of God. Having joined ourselves to Him, we are one with Him in spirit. And He walks in unity with and in imitation of His Father, the Holy One of Israel, blessed be He, whom we bless thrice daily with the traditional blessing:

You are holy, and your Name is holy, and holy ones will praise you every day, blessed are You, LORD, the Holy God.

Which calls to mind the following scriptures:

James 1:21-25 (Amplified) So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls. But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (Amplified) Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

Trust and Obey; Just Do It!

Sanctified By His Commandments

I came across this Torah commentary again this morning and decided to post it here, so I won't forget this message. This is from First Fruits of Zion.

Sanctified by His Commandments

Kedoshim : קדשים - “Holy”
Torah : Leviticus 19:1–20:27
Haftarah : Amos 9:7–15
Gospel : Luke 16,17

Thought for the Week

In his first epistle, the Apostle Shimon Peter quotes this week’s Torah when exhorting his readers to “Be holy.” It is a commandment to ‘be holy.’ Being ‘holier than thou’ is a good thing in as much as we are to be set aside as a holy people. If that requires being different than one’s neighbor, so be it.


Leviticus 19. Here is the riddle. To be made holy, a thing must be separated from its context, clearly defined and demarcated, by God. He is the sanctifier. Yet somehow, we are to contribute to that holiness. We are to 'be' holy. The answer to this riddle is in the curious and oft repeated liturgical formula, "who has sanctified us with His commandments."

In Jewish practice, it is customary to preface the performance of a mitzvah with a brief blessing. For example, one who is about to put on the tzitzit is to say, "Blessed are you LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the command of the tzitzit." Brothers and sisters well-versed in the Apostolic Scriptures might well object to a blessing like this by saying, "I am not sanctified by the commandments; I am sanctified by Messiah’s blood."

We are sanctified by Messiah,[1] by faith in Messiah,[2] by the sacrifice of Messiah,[3] by the blood of Messiah[4] and by His Holy Spirit.[5] These are all true and marvelous statements. Our separation is not by virtue of our own heroic achievement. Rather we have been set apart by Messiah. He is the one who sanctifies, sets apart and makes holy.

Yet sanctity is a cooperative process. God sanctified the Sabbath, and yet He tells us to keep it holy. Sanctity is definition. It is borders. It is limits. We have a role to play in maintaining sanctity. For example, the sanctity of the Sabbath is not dependent upon us at all. Though we profane her for 24 hours, her actual sacred status is not at all diminished. She has been declared sacred by God, and there is nothing we can do to disrupt that sanctity. But we can profane her in regard to our own participation. By profaning the Sabbath, we rob only ourselves of experiencing her sanctity. So too with our sanctity. We are declared holy and separate on the basis of our redemption in Messiah. Our sanctity arises from Messiah’s righteousness, His sacrifice and His blood. Yet we can rob ourselves of experiencing that sanctity by stepping outside of its bounds. If we cross the boundaries and demarcations of our own holiness, we rob ourselves of the sanctity with which Messiah has invested us.

The boundaries of sanctity are none other than the commandments of God. To cross them is to step outside of sanctity. To keep them is to remain within sanctity.

Endnotes1. Corinthians 1:2, 6:11, Hebrews 2:112. Acts 26:183. Hebrews 10:10, 144. Hebrews 10:295. Romans 15:16 Copyright © 2005 First Fruits of Zion, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Separated Unto God

I have not been able to let this thought alone, that the Torah teaches us how to be holy or separated unto God. I had to do a Strong's search for other scripture references for 'separate' and this is what I came up with. I found these scriptural connections to be exciting! First, from the Torah reading for today:

Leviticus 20:22-26 (Amplified) You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out [as it did those before you]. [Lev. 18:28.] You shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I was wearied and grieved by them. But I have said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God, Who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean beast and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable with beast or with bird or with anything with which the ground teems or that creeps, which I have set apart from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

Now a verse from the New Testament:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (Amplified) So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, [Isa. 52:11.]

Jesus our Messiah prayed for us:

John 17:17 (Amplified) Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

And Paul prayed thus:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (Amplified) And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you].

Holiness is important. It is written in Hebrews:

Hebrews 12:14 (Amplified) Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.

And 1 Peter repeats the exact words that are given to us repeatedly (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26) in Leviticus:

1Peter 1:14-16 (Amplified) [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. [Lev. 11:44, 45.]

I think it is SO neat how the New Testament refers back to the Old Testament and builds on the foundation that God laid from the very beginning! He's told us that He is the LORD and changes not. He's said that forever His Word is established in the heavens. Therefore it stands to reason to me that ALL of His Word is still valid, still important for us to study and obey. Yeshua/Jesus kept the Torah; He was without sin so He could NOT have violated even the least of the commandments. The Word tells us to follow in His steps. Therefore I believe that I need to keep Torah also, to follow in His steps. I think that if we think a scripture in the New Testament invalidates even the least of Torah commandments or in some way contradicts what God has told us in the Old Testament, in the Torah, then we are not understanding something somewhere because God does not contradict Himself and what is written in the New Testament has to uphold what God has commanded in the Old Testament. What did Yeshua/Jesus Himself say?

Matthew 5:17-19 (Amplified) Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished. Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

You know, when I was reading through Leviticus 16:1 - 20:27 this morning I was struck by how many of the commandments contained in that portion the church actually upholds and teaches us to uphold. So it makes me wonder: why does the church seem to pick and choose which commandments it will keep and teach people to keep? Why is it wrong to have sex with your sibling or parent or aunt or a person of the same sex or an animal, for instance, but okay to violate the commandment about keeping the Sabbath or which kinds of animals God gave us for food? It seems to me that if we are going to obey, we need to obey all of God's commandments and not just the ones that it seems good to us to keep. Some people like to find 'reasons' why God gave certain commands and therefore justify obeying them. For instance, some claim that eating pork is unhealthy for you and that's why God commanded us not to eat pork, and so that's why we should obey the command. I don't think it has anything at all to do with whether eating pork is healthy for us; I think it has to do entirely with God, our Father, wanting us to be obedient to Him because we know He loves us and tells us how to live for our good, to bless us, and because we love Him in return and want to bring Him pleasure by our obedience. As parents, we give our children commands. We don't always explain those commands to them; they don't need to know our reasons for the commands. We just want to see them obey without questioning us. And so it is with our Father God, I think; He has given us commandments and has not explained the 'whys' and 'wherefores' behind them, desiring that we will obey without knowing His reasons for each command, desiring that we will trust in His love for us enough to obey without having to have a reason for obeying.

I also believe that if He has given us a command, He has also given us the means to obey it. So when He tells us to be holy, as He is holy, there must also be a way in which we can fulfill that command. Yeshua/Jesus made that way when He suffered and died in our place, shedding His innocent blood on the tree, that we might die to sin and be made alive unto righteousness. Yeshua/Jesus shows us how to keep Torah without all the weight of men's traditions that had built up around it; as He said,

Matthew 11:29-30 (Amplified) Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.] For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

Blessed are You, Lord God Heavenly Father, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Guardian and Shepherd of my soul, Who has called me to be holy, even as You are holy and Who has given unto me the Word of Truth so that I can know how to conduct myself in holiness and sanctification, for Your glory and honor. Amen!

You Shall Be Holy

This morning, as I read the Torah portion for this Sabbath, I realized something. Torah teaches us how to walk in holiness, how to be holy; it's about santification and being set-apart unto God. I know that there are those in the church who tell you that desiring to follow the Torah commandments means that you are falling away from grace and are trying to earn your salvation, denying the blood of the Messiah by which we are saved. But I disagree with that. I desire to follow the Torah commandments because I am saved and because I want to be obedient, to be holy as He is holy, as He has commanded all of us who follow Him to be.

1Peter 1:14-16 (Amplified) [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. [Lev. 11:44, 45.]

Hebrews 12:14 (Amplified) Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.

Leviticus 20:26 (Complete Jewish Bible) Rather, you people are to be holy for me; because I, ADONAI, am holy; and I have set you apart from the other peoples, so that you can belong to me.

The following Torah commentary comes from First Fruits of Zion, from their e-Drash mailing. I felt that I should share it with you here.

Parashat Hashavuah
Kedoshim - קדשים :

“Holy”Torah : Leviticus 19:1–20:27
Haftarah : Amos 9:7–15
Gospel : Luke 16–17

The Holy One of God

Thought for the Week:
The commandments of Leviticus 19 are called the commandments of holiness. God is the source of holiness, and He is the definer of holiness. These commandments are the definitions of holiness.

All of the commandments of Torah, in some aspect or another, reveal Messiah. They each reveal some essential element of His person or character. The commandments are the very will and wisdom of God. Messiah speaks, saying, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) In another place He says, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (John 8:28) And again he says, “I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10) Therefore, in that Messiah keeps the commandments, the commandments teach us about His behavior.

There is a direct relationship between the commandments and the person of Messiah, because the commandments are a direct revelation from God. They are a revelation of godliness. To see a commandment performed is to see something of God. Therefore, the Master tells his disciple Philip, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

When Yeshua came to us, He came as the Holy One of God. The disciples of Yeshua called Him by this title. (John 6:69) Even the demons recognized Him as the Holy One of God. (Mark 1:24)
Yeshua is called the Holy One of God because His holiness is derived directly from God. He is holy by virtue of His divine nature. His essential being, beyond the flesh, is the eternal Word of God, the very essence of God. In this respect, He is utterly unique, utterly different, utterly set apart, and holy. In addition to this, the holiness of Yeshua results from His conception and birth. No other man has been born of a virgin. Yeshua is different, even on a flesh level. His holiness is also manifest in the complete anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Him.

We have already learned that the Dwelling Presence of God will reside only in a holy place. The Master’s power was derived directly from the Holy Spirit; that is, the Spirit of the Holy God, which rested upon Him and moved through Him without measure. Finally, the Master’s holiness is derived from His imitation of the Father. Inasmuch as the commandments are the definitions of holiness, Messiah is likewise defined by the commandments because He kept them.

Therefore, He is able to fulfill the commandment “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) His holiness is a complete holiness. There are no holes in his holiness. For us, sin is a hole in the holiness. Each sin is an area of life where we have failed to uphold the standard of separation from the world.

Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Harness of the Lord

The following article was written by a gentleman named Bill Britton. I received this in tract-form from him years ago and always loved it. Then after we began learning more about the Hebraic roots of our faith in the Messiah and the importance of keeping His commandments, this 'vision' took on a whole new meaning for me. I still think that this 'vision' which Bro. Britton shares is perhaps the best illustration I know of to explain what it means to be trained by the Word, the Torah, of God. Remembering what Yeshua said:

Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJ) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing the teachings of Bro. Britton; I am only sharing this article because of the value of this vision.
_______ ______ _____ _____ _____ ______ _____ _____

The Harness of the Lord

There is a terrific operation of the Spirit going on today to bring the Sons of God into an absolute confinement to the perfect will of God. This is the Day of His Preparation, the day in which He is preparing the channel through which He shall pour forth His Glory for all the world to see. This channel is His Body in the earth, that glorious company of people who are being conformed through much tribulation and fiery tests to the Image of the Son of God. This is His "battle axe and weapons of war" with which He shall subdue kingdoms and overcome all His enemies. This is His "mighty and strong One" to whom He shall commit the work of judging this world. This is His Overcomer, His "Great army" with which He shall bring the nations into submission. The weapons of their warfare are not carnal, natural weapons, but they are mighty weapons, mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. These are those who shall "be strong and do exploits."

But before God can commit this great and tremendous ministry into their hands, they must submit themselves to the discipline of the Lord, letting Him truly be the Lord of their entire lives. We have long since dealt with the question of open sin, but now God is dealing with the inward rebellion of our own wills. Some good Christians are not now being so dealt with, for they are not in this Firstfruits Company, but nevertheless there is a real dealing of God going on within those who are called into the High Calling of God. This is a very real thing, and is the work of the Refiner's Fire. To those who are going through it, some of its aspects are horrible, but very necessary, and the end result thereof is glorious as we are brought into absolute and complete submission to the will of our Lord.

It was in a minister's conference and convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma that God gave me a vision which I want to share with you concerning this harnessing of our own wills. There were more than 30 ministers present in this particular Thursday morning service, and God, the Father of spirits, was present to deal with His sons, to correct them and discipline them to absolute obedience to His will. There was such a stern dealing in the Spirit that no one could go to the pulpit and minister, there was a reluctance among the ministers to say anything except that which was directly ordered by the Spirit. And as those men of God sat there in the awesome presence of Almighty God, some of them having many years of ministry, some missionaries, all of them capable of getting up and preaching a powerful sermon, I was impressed by the way they responded to the discipline of the Spirit. And in the midst of this terrific dealing of God with out spirits, the Holy Ghost gave me a vision.

I Saw the King's Carriage

On a dirt road in the middle of a wide field stood a beautiful carriage, something on the order of a stagecoach, but all edged in god, and with beautiful carvings. It was pulled by six large chestnut horses, two in the lead, two in the middle and two in the rear. But they were not moving, they were not pulling the carriage, and I wondered why. Then I saw the driver underneath the carriage, on the ground on his back, just behind the last two horses' heels, working on something between the front wheels of the carriage. I though, "My, he is in a dangerous place; for if one of those horses kicked or stepped back, they could kill him, or if they decided to go forward, or got frightened somehow, they would pull the carriage right over him." But he didn't seem afraid, for he knew that those horses were disciplined and would not move till he told them to move. The horses were not stamping their feet nor acting restless, and though there were bells on their feet, the bells were not tinkling. There were pom-poms on their harness over their heads, but the pom-poms were not moving. They were simply standing still and quiet, waiting for the voice of the Master.

There were Two Young Colts in the Field

As I watched the harnessed horses, I noticed two young colts coming out of the open field, and they approached the carriage and seemed to say to the horses: "Come and play with us, we have many fine games, we will race with you, come catch us." And with that the colts kicked up their heels, flicked their tails and raced across the open field. But when they looked back and saw the horses were not following, they were puzzled. They knew nothing of harnesses, and could not understand why the horses did not want to play. So they called to them: "Why do you not race with us? Are you tired? Are you too weak? Do you not have strength to run? You are much too solemn, you need more joy in life." But the horses answered not a word, nor did they stamp their feet or toss their heads. But they stood, quiet and still, waiting for the voice of the Master.
Again the colts called to them: "Why do you stand so in the hot sun? Come over here in the shade of this nice tree. See how green the grass is? You must be hungry, come and feed with us, it is so green and so good. You look thirsty, come drink of one of our many streams of cool clear water." But the horses answered them with not so much as a glance, but stood still, waiting for the command to go forward with the King.

Colts in the Master's Corral

And then the scene changed, and I saw lariat nooses fall around the necks of the two colts, and they were led off to the Master's corral for training and discipline. How sad they were as the lovely green fields disappeared, and they were put into the confinement of the Corral with its brown dirt and high fence. The colts ran from fence to fence, seeking freedom, but found that they were confined to this place of training. And then the Trainer began to work on them, with his Whip and His Bridle. What a death for those who had been all their lives accustomed to such a freedom! They could not understand the reason for this torture, this terrible discipline. What great crime had they done to deserve this? Little did they know of the responsibility that was to be theirs when they had submitted to the discipline, learned to perfectly obey the Master, and finished their training. All they knew was that this processing was the most horrible thing they had ever known.

Submission and Rebellion

One of the colts rebelled under the training, and said, "This is not for me. I like my freedom, my green hills, my flowing streams of fresh water. I will not take any more of this confinement, this terrible training." So he found a way out, jumped the fence and ran happily back to the meadows of grass. And I was astonished that the Master let him go, and went not after him. But He devoted His attention to the remaining colt. This colt, though he had the same opportunity to escape, decided to submit his own will, and learn the ways of the Master. And the training got harder than ever, but he was rapidly learning more and more how to obey the slightest wish of the Master, and to respond to even the quietness of His voice. And I saw that had there been no training, no testing, there would have been neither submission nor rebellion from either of the colts. For in the field they did not have the choice to rebel or submit, they were sinless in their innocence. But when brought to the place of testing and training and discipline, then was made manifest the obedience of one and the rebellion that lay hidden in the heart of the other. And though it seemed safer not to come to the place of discipline because of the risk of being found rebellious, yet I saw that without this there could be no sharing of His glory, no Sonship.

Into the Harness

Finally this period of training was over. Was he now rewarded with his freedom, and sent back to the fields? Oh no. But a greater confinement than ever now took place, as a harness dropped about his shoulders. Now he found there was not even the freedom to run about the small corral, for in the harness he could only move where and when his Master spoke. And unless the Master spoke, he stood still.

The scene changed, and I saw the other colt standing on the side of a hill, nibbling at some grass. Then across the fields, down the road came the King's carriage, drawn by six horses. With amazement he saw that in the lead, on the right side, was his brother colt, now made strong and mature on the good corn in the Master's stable. He saw the lovely pom-poms shaking in the wind, noticed the glittering gold bordered harness about his brother, heard the beautiful tinkling of the bells on his feet. and envy came into his heart. Thus he complained to himself: "Why has my brother been so honored, and I am neglected? They have not put bells on my feet, nor pom-poms on my head. The Master has not given me the wonderful responsibility of pulling His carriage, nor put about me the golden harness. Why have they chosen my brother instead of me?" And by the Spirit the answer came back to me as I watched. "Because one submitted to the will and discipline of the Master, and one rebelled, thus has one been chosen and the other set aside."

A Famine in the Land

Then I saw a great drought sweep across the countryside, and the green grass became dead, dry, brown and brittle. The little streams of water dried up, stopped flowing, and there was only a small muddy puddle here and there. I saw the little colt (I was amazed that it never seemed to grow or mature) as he ran here and there, across the fields looking for fresh streams and green pastures, finding none. Still he ran, seemingly in circles, always looking for something to feed his famished spirit. But there was a famine in the land, and the rich green pastures and flowing streams of yesterday were not to be had. And one day the colt stood on the hillside on weak and wobbly legs, wondering where to go next to find food, and how to get strength to go. Seemed like there was no use, for good food and flowing streams were a thing of the past, and all the efforts to find more only taxed his waning strength. Suddenly he saw the King's carriage coming down the road, pulled by six great horses. And he saw his brother, fat and strong, muscles rippling, sleek and beautiful with much grooming. His heart was amazed and perplexed, and he cried out: "My brother, where do you find the food to keep you strong and fat in these days of famine? I have run everywhere in my freedom, searching for food, and I find none. Where do you, in your awful confinement, find food in this time of drought? Tell me, please, for I must know!" And then the answer came back from a voice filled with victory and praise: "In my Master's House, there is a secret place in the confining limitations of His stables where He feeds me by His own hand, and His granaries never run empty, and His well never runs dry." And with this the Lord made me to know that in the day when people are weak and famished in their spirits in the time of spiritual famine, that those who have lost their own wills, and have come into the secret place of the most High, into the utter confinement of His perfect will, shall have plenty of the corn of Heaven, and a never ending flow of fresh streams of revelation by His Spirit. Thus the vision ended.

Interpretation of the Vision

"Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it (Habakkuk 2:2)." "Harness the horses: and get up, ye horsemen (Jeremiah 46:4)." I'm sure that many of you who can hear what the Spirit saith to the Church, have already seen what God was showing in the vision. But let me make it plain. Being born into the Family of God, feeding in the green pastures and drinking of the many streams of the unfolding revelation of His purposes is fine and wonderful. But it is not enough. While we were children, young, undisciplined, limited only by the outer fence of the Law that ran around the limits of the pastures (that kept us from getting into the dark pastures of poison weeds), He was content to watch us develop and grow into young manhood, spiritually speaking. But the time came to those who fed in His pastures, and drank at His streams, when they were to be brought into discipline or "child-training" for the purpose of making them mature Sons. Many of the children today cannot understand why some of those who have put on the harness of God cannot get excited by the many religious games and the playful antics of the immature. They wonder why the disciplined ones run not after every new revelation or feed on every opportunity to engage in seemingly "good and profitable" religious activities. They wonder why some will not race with them in their frantic efforts to build great works and great and notable ministries. They cannot understand the simple fact that this Company of saints is waiting for the voice of the Master, and they do not hear God in all this outward activity. They will move in their time, when the Master speaks. But not before, though many temptations come from the playful colts. And the colts cannot understand why those who seemingly appear to have great abilities and strength are not putting it to good use. "Get the carriage on the road," they say, but the disciplined ones, those in God's harness, know better than to move before they hear the voice of the Master. They will move in their time, with great purpose, and great responsibility.

And the Lord made me to know that there were many whom He had brought into training who had rebelled against the discipline, the chastising of the Father. And they could not be trusted with the great responsibility of mature Sonship, so he let them go back to their freedom, back to their religious activities and revelations and gifts. They are still His people, still feeding in His pastures, but He has set them aside from the great purposes for the end of the age. So they revel in their freedom, feeling that they are the Chosen ones with the many streams of living water, not knowing that they have been set aside as unfit for His great work in this end of the Age.

And He showed me that though the chastising seemeth grievous for the time, and the discipline hard to endure, yet the result with all the glory of Sonship is worth it all, and the glory to follow far exceeds the suffering we endure. And though some lose even their lives in this training, yet they will share alike in the glory of His eternal purposes. So faint not, saints of God, for it is the Lord that doth bring thee into confinement, and not thine enemy. It is for thy good, and for His glory, so endure all things with praises and thanksgiving that He hath counted thee worthy to share His glory! Fear thou not the whip in His hand, for it is not to punish thee, but to correct and train thee, that thou mightest come into submission to His will, and be found in His likeness in that Hour. Rejoice thou in thy trials, in all thy tribulations, and glory thou in His cross, and in the confining limitations of His harness, for He hath chosen thee, and He hath taken upon Himself the responsibility of keeping thee strong and well fed, so lean thou upon Him, and trust not in thin own ability and thine own understanding. So shalt thou be fed, and His hand shall be upon thee, and His glory shall overshadow thee and shall flow through thee as it goes forth to cover the earth. Glory to God! Bless the Lord, He's wonderful! Let Him be Lord of your life, friends, and complain not at that which He bringeth to pass in your life.

Plenty in the Time of Famine

For in the hour when famine sweeps the land, He shall feed by His own hand those who are submitted to His perfect will, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. When terror stalks the land, those in His harness hall not be afraid, for they shall feel His bit and bridle and know the guidance of His Spirit. When others are weak and frail and fearful, there shall be those who shall be strong in the power of His might, and shall lack for no good thing. In the hour when the traditions of the religious systems have proven false, and their streams have dried up, then His Chosen ones shall speak forth with the true Word of the Lord. So rejoice, Sons of God, that you have been chosen by His grace for this great work in this last hour.

The fence which kept the colts in their own meadows and their own pastures mean nothing to the team in the harness, for the gates open to them, and they go forth pulling the king's carriage into many strange and wonderful places. They do not stop to eat the poison weeds of sin, for they feed only in the Master's stable. These fields they trample under their feet as they go forth on the King's business. And so to those who are brought into absolute subjection to His will, there is no Law. For they move in the Grace of God, led only by His Spirit where all things are lawful but not all things are expedient. This is a dangerous realm for the undisciplined, and many have perished in sin as they leaped over the fence without His harness and His bridle. Some have though of themselves as being completely harnessed and submissive to Him, only to find that in some avenue of their life there dwelled rebellion and self-will. Let us wait before Him until He puts His noose around us and draws us to His place of training. And let us learn of the dealings of God and the movings of His Spirit until at last we feel His harness drop about us, and hear His voice guiding us. Then there is safety from the traps and pitfalls of sin, and then shall we abide in His house forever!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thinking About Life

Below is a post I wrote this morning to share with an internet group that I own. I felt this message needed to be shared here, too, and so here it is:

Good morning, sisters! I've been tumbling some thoughts around in my head this morning and decided to put them down in written format to share with you. I hope no one here thinks I'm pointing a finger at them, cause I'm not. This topic comes up at work a lot, so these are thoughts I've had before but never shared. I'm thinking about life: what we have, what we want, what we should be looking for. I've heard people say, "I ain't got nothin'." Then they go on to compare what they have with someone else--and of late, that someone else is often a recent immigrant to this country. In our area, it's the Hmong refugees that got pointed to a lot. Of course, now there's all this talk about the Mexican immigrants, particularly the illegal ones. And yes, we do have a sizable Mexican population here in Wisconsin, too. But what does Yeshua/Jesus want us to do? What priorities should we have according to the Word of God?

Matthew 6:30-34 (Amplified) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJ) "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

1 Timothy 6:6-11 (Amplified) [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.

Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified) Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] [Josh. 1:5.]

Philippians 4:6 (Amplified) Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Philippians 4:9 (Amplified) Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

Philippians 4:11-13 (Amplified) Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].

Colossians 3:1-4 (Amplified) IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [Ps. 110:1.] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.

Lest you think that all of that is easy for me to say cause I've never been as financially strapped as you are and I don't drive a "rent-a-wreck" or whatever the details of your financial circumstances may be, let me share a little of my history with you. In my first marriage, we had very little money. We lived in a mobile home that was sadly in need of repairs. The last winter we lived there, we had no front door, just a blanket nailed over the doorway because the door had fallen apart and we had no money to replace it. We'd lost most of the basement wall under the north side (long side) of the mobile home the previous fall and could only afford to cover it with plastic and sheeting boards, so we couldn't keep the house above freezing even with the wood stove burning red hot. We had ice under the Christmas tree that year and I would take the girls to my parents' house all day, then at night my husband & I and the 2 little girls (Venetta was almost 4, Lois about 18 months) would all crawl into bed in their tiny bedroom with the electric space heater going and the door closed. We moved out of that home on our 5th wedding anniversary in Feb 81 as we had declared bankruptcy and decided to let the loan company have the mobile home and the 2 acres it sat on since we couldn't afford to fix it. The years following that we moved repeatedly, mostly because we couldn't keep the rent paid. In 1983, we had our electricity disconnected for 13 weeks in the fall, into late October with temps down to 18° above zero. By then I had 4 little girls. We'd all sleep together in our big bed with all the blankets piled on in order to stay warm. It was during this time that I was told by the county nurses that my children were undernourished. At that point, we applied for aid from AFDC and began getting welfare & food stamps. Things were better after that, but then in April 1989 my husband left our family. Now I had 6 children, with my youngest just about 3 yrs old. We lived on welfare til 1996, shortly after Tim & I married and Tim began supporting all of us. I didn't get child support because my ex got on SSI and the state cannot take child support from SSI payments. I always drove old, beat-up cars. I drove on bald tires and even drove without brakes for awhile in a couple of the cars we had. I never had car insurance--couldn't afford it. Lots of times the Lord used people in the church to help meet our needs. And even during the worst times we faced, the Lord was always there, always providing though it might not have been in the way or the time I thought He should. He provided the finances for the divorce so that I didn't have to pay anything to fight to keep my children. He provided so many times, in so many ways. I KNOW He is faithful! He has proven it to me over and over again! Then in 1995, the church gave us a Ford van to replace the station wagon I was driving, in which I picked up a couple of other kids besides my 6 to take to church; that car had holes in the floor-boards and only 3 brakes that worked (supposed to be 4). Another sister in the Lord paid to put insurance on the van. By the end of 1995, Tim & I had married. In 1996, we stopped getting AFDC and before too much longer we stopped getting food stamps and medical coverage, too. Along the way, the Lord enabled me to buy our house--me!, who had no credit and a bankruptcy and all kinds of small claims judgements. Things have not been easy even after Tim & I married. On paper, in black & white, the numbers never added up, yet each week, each month the bills would all get paid. My kids had to help. I made them give us 50% up to $300/month of whatever money they earned. I also made them tithe 10% to the Lord--and yes, I tithed 10% of what we earned, too. And slowly, through the years, the Lord has blessed us financially so that now we don't have to worry about whether or not we can pay the bills. I have excellent credit now--ten years ago I would never have believed it! We aren't rich by any means. I earn a little over $20,000 a year and Tim gets Social Security Disability, but it sure beats living on $849/month which is what I remember getting on AFDC at one point. Yes, we live in a big old farmhouse and have lots of room, but it needs plenty of money spent to refurbish it, too; I just ignore the holes in the carpets and the cracks in the plaster walls. They add character. :o) By my tax statement, I could not sell this house, with 3 stories and 6 bedrooms on 2 1/2 acres of land and get enough for it to buy a little one story 3-bedroom house on 1 acre in town. So I thank God for my old house, with a house payment of $230/month and taxes of $850/year. We couldn't afford to live anywhere else. God has blessed us so much with this house and property! And even in the worst of times, I have NEVER thought I was poor nor have I envied those who had more because I knew just how rich I truly was.

Sisters, it isn't about the size or condition of the home you live in or the clothes you wear or the possessions you own or the car you drive or how much money you make in a year or how much you have in savings (we basically have none) or how much you have invested for the future (we have none) or which side of town you live on or how you compare with anyone else in these areas. Our wealth does not consist of such earthly things. Our real wealth is measured in Jesus and all that He blesses us with. What did Paul say? "For we brought nothing into the world and obviously we can take nothing out of the world." This world is NOT our home; we're just passing through. Hold the things of this world lightly and keep your affections set on things above. We have a fantastic future to look forward to! We have all of eternity with Jesus to look forward to! There is NO one on earth who has money or material goods that we need to envy; we have all the riches of glory in the Messiah Jesus to look forward to! What does it matter if my carpet has holes in it when I am going to be walking on streets of pure gold? What do I care if there are cracks in the plaster walls of my house when I will be entering His new Jerusalem with walls made from precious stones and gates made from single pearls? So what if my clothes come from KMart or GoodWill? I will be clothed in a robe of white then. And all the money I earned here will mean absolutely nothing there. I won't need savings or retirement accounts or investments. In fact, the Word says that I should be laying up treasure in heaven where neither moth or rust consume. And so that is what I strive to do, giving thanks for all that the Lord has blessed me with and being truly thankful for what I have, content in the state I am in, looking forward to the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I hope and pray that you will also and that these thoughts encourage you (not condemn or criticize) to lay hold on that eternal life to which we are called and that all these earthly things that surround will become shadows in the light of Jesus.

Take care, dear sisters, and may the grace of our Lord Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah be with you!
Love in our Messiah,
Cindy in Wisconsin

<°})>< <°})>< <°})>< <°})>< <°})>< <°})>< <°})>< <°})><
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my songI give thanks to Him. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all thatis within me, bless His holy name. Yeshua the Messiah, He is LORD!