Saturday, April 19, 2014

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.
                                                   Ps. 119:32

I am currently "Counting the Omer".  The spring feasts begin with Passover, which we celebrated this past Monday evening.  Just a glorious picture of not only God's deliverance of the Israelites, but our deliverance from the bondage of our sin through the blood of Jesus!  This year I even made my own matzah, which I would highly recommend as it gives you a picture of preparing in haste.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs for seven days following Passover.  The Israelites were instructed to remove all the leavening from their homes and not eat anything with leavening for the following 7 days.  Leavening is a picture of sin in the Bible.  Sadly, most Christians miss out on the blessings provided in keeping this feast (or any of the others).  Keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread provides us with a picture of just how easily sin creeps in.  You have to keep yourself aware of what you are doing and what you are eating.  We have routines, habits, and even muscle memory that we tend to fall back on in our daily lives and when we keep the Feast, we have to wake ourselves up from our daily lives and look at everything we do.  You can't become legalistic about it though, when you slip and fall, and most likely when you first begin this journey, you will, you also get to see a picture of the bounty of God's grace and forgiveness. 

The Christian life is exactly the same way.  We must guard ourselves minute by minute from the gentle creeping of sinful attitudes and actions. We must guard ourselves from our enemies schemes. Ephesians 6:11-12 says, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Satan is out to destroy us and he can use the tiniest of things. Just as faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, so a sin as small as a yeast-filled bread crumb can begin a slow fade to full-blown sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). The Feast of Unleavened Bread helps us to see that in a way that the man-made tradition of Lent never can.  

In the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Counting of the Omer is to begin (also called the Feast of Weeks).  The Israelites were commanded to count down to Shavu'ot (in Greek, Pentecost).  An omer is a measure of weight in the Scriptures.  The Israelites were to take an omer of manna each day for each person in the desert following their deliverance from Egypt. It's equivalent to about 2.3 quarts. That particular measurement obviously held great significance for the Israelites.  The Counting of the Omer was to conclude on Shavu'ot, the day that the Torah was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  

As I studied this for the first time last year, I was struck by the fact that no one had taught me about Shavu'ot and Pentecost and the parallels between the two.  The written Torah was given to Moses and the Holy Spirit, which was promised to the Israelites, was given on the same day!!

In Hebrews 8, beginning in verse 8, we see this promise, "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in MY covenant, and I did not care for them, says the LORD.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be MY people, and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,and everyone his brother, saying, 'know the LORD,' for all will know ME, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8:8-12, NASB, my emphasis).

What a glorious promise to the people of Israel.  A promise given to them beginning in Jeremiah 31:31.  Now the promised Messiah had come.  He had shown them that keeping the Torah, and in particular, adding to it so many things that it became a burden to the people, was not the way to eternal life (Luke 10:25-28), but was, in fact, always, simply, loving God and looking forward to His redemption and deliverance.  It is throughout the "Old Testament". 

The Torah was God's way to live here on earth, but it could not and cannot save (Romans 8:3). It was written on tablets of stone and scrolls of parchment.  It was not accessible to the average man or woman and was taught to them by the priests and teachers.  But they had a promise beginning in Jeremiah 31:31, it would be written on their hearts!  Pentecost brought that to fruition!

Jesus spent the first 40 days of the Feast of Weeks with His disciples following His glorious Resurrection.  They were Counting the Omer together, looking forward to the remembrance of the giving of the Torah, but Jesus said that they had something else to look forward to...

Acts 1:4-5 says, "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

The time was coming for the fulfillment of the promise and it would come at the end of Counting the Omer!

What an exciting thing to take part in!!  Oh how keeping the Feasts has enlarged my heart!!  

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

Other versions say, "when You give me a heart that is willing (AMP)," "for you have broadened my understanding (CJB)."  

My understanding of the Scriptures has broadened so much, my understanding of what my Savior did for me has deepened!  The gratefulness that I feel some moments is almost too much to bear! Oh that we would all desire to know Him more, to live as He lived, to love Him will all our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (and as He did!).

Enlarge my heart, O Elohim!!  May my life be a reflection of Yeshua and His love! As we celebrate the Resurrection, may we look forward to His giving us the Holy Spirit so that His Word would be written on our hearts! Halleluyah!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How do you make them stop?  How do you make them realize that you used to think just the same as they did, but that the Holy Spirit changed all that in the blink of an eye?  How do get them to sit down and read the Bible for themselves and realize they have been filled with nonsense by those who are blind?  How?

Isaiah 55:11
"So will My word which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."

God's Word never returns empty.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 

Trust--firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

I spent 29 years of my life trusting in my own reliability, my own version of the truth, my own ability, and my own strengths. I didn't know the LORD and I thought my heart was fine....or did I?

For years, from the time I was a small child, I knew that my heart was not right, but I didn't know why and it wasn't something I voiced.  I kept it to myself.

My grandmother was a very self-reliant woman.  She worked extremely hard and was a great role-model.  She didn't go to church and didn't really have time for those who did, but she was "spiritual".  She believed her mother was psychic and she felt she was to a certain degree.  She was also into astrology and doing "charts".  Much of what she said made all kinds of sense to my young seeking heart.  I believed what she said about god being in all of us and that he was out there, but didn't care about the little things in our lives.  He wasn't really there to guide our destiny, that was really up to us as individuals. 

I went about my own way, then, fairly certain that I was okay. Sin didn't matter.  God, if there was a God, (and my heart told me there was) didn't care about my indiscretions, He understood the changing times and surely He adapted to those!

My grandmother pushed education.  She saw in my chart that I was going to be a journalist, maybe even tv.  I enjoyed writing and did well in school, so it didn't seem to far off.  I could do this.  My aunt and uncle were also very well educated and they encouraged me to continue my education past high school.  Since I because estranged from my grandmother late in high school, I decided that journalism wasn't for me and that I was going to go for early child development.  My aunt had her masters degree in learning disabilities and so I should begin the process of working towards that goal.  

1 1/2 years in, I changed my major.  I decided I wanted to be a NICU nurse.  Then, no.  Changed again.  Went back to writing and pyschology.  Finally, firmly, I decided on computer science.  It was a growing field.  I was accepted to ISU.  I went for orientation and never went back.  

What held me back?  Life.  I decided to get married.  I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted to study and I knew that I didn't really want to work outside the home once I started having children.

I didn't stop learning, though.  I am an avid reader.  I love to read history, biographies, cultural studies.  I'm a people person.  I love to think about what makes people tick, why they choose certain beliefs or actions.  I still wasn't satisfied. Something was missing in my learning and seeking.

Finally, after years of the Holy Spirit's pursuit in my life, I turned my life over to God's hands.  I trusted in what His Son, Jesus, did for me on the cross.  Those things that I thought He just didn't care about, my little sins, even my giant sins, He did care about and He would punish me because the wages of sin is death....but, He sent His Son to pay that price.  He gave His life so that I didn't have to.  And in so doing, He gave me life!

Suddenly, all those worldly pursuits that didn't work out made sense.  They weren't suppose to.  They weren't the direction the LORD had for me.  I stopped trusting in myself, my abilities, my strength. I started trusting in the God who made me, knows me far better than I knew myself, and who loves me with a love that is beyond my comprehension.

I began acknowledging Him in every area of my life. Not just on Sundays when we went to church, but every day, in every decision.  

He turned my life completely around.  I saw things fresh and new.  I saw things from His perspective because I dug through the Bible in order to understand.  

He took some things out of my life, but He added in so much more!  

My paths are getting straighter. There is less veering to the right or the left.  My vision is better.  Answers are clearer.  

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Time is Now!  I'm reaching the point where I am done trying to talk to "them" on their terms. 

Psalms 14:1
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.