Studying a book of the Bible

Using A Study Bible

The most broad, yet rewarding way to study the Bible for me is to study a book. if you are going to study a book I recommend using a Ryrie Study bible to assist you. The Ryrie Bible includes all necessary information for a book study including; Author, date, outline and timeline. each book is broken up into parts and sub-parts which makes book study easier. The Ryrie also contains comments on most verses in the Bible. With much of the work for a book study already done, you will have more time to devote to study itself.

What to Look for

When studying a book of the Bible it is important to make note of key words and themes throughout the book. Studying is not a quick thing, nor is it meant to be done in a day, take your time and absorb the message of the book.  

What to use

  • Study Bible
  • Notebook specifically for the purpose of your study
  • Concordance (to look up words and find definitions). the Strong’s Concordance has an edition for most Bible translations.

Tips for Study

Start with a small book first, they are easier to study and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time which can give you a sense of accomplishment before you begin with longer books. James and First Thessalonians are short books that do not have much deep theology so i would start here before attempting a study on the book of Ephesians.

Always pray before you get started and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the truth in the book you are studying and how to apply it to your life. The life Application Study Bible is also helpful in this area.

I do recommend both the Ryrie and Life Application Bibles because they have two different purposes and have proven immensely helpful in my own studies. I use my primary Bible and these two as a help when I need an outline or practical application of a verse or verses. You can never have too many tools when it comes to helping you study the Bible.

How to Study    

Read the book through once.

Identify main themes as you read through the second time (This will take several days for longer books). Underline or circle key words.

Pick a key verse in each chapter.

Summarize each chapter in your own words and write a paragraph on how it applies to your everyday life.

Write a positive confession based on the theme of the book.

Write out a prayer based from the theme of the book. (Some books have prayers in them you may want to adapt for your life.)

3 Keys to Building Faith

Have you ever had the thought ‘is my healing ever going to come?’ or ‘am I ever going to receive a breakthrough’? Sometimes we can find ourselves discouraged when what we are believing for doesn’t come in our timing. There is a truth for us concerning this in Mark 4:16-17 AMPC “And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; 17 And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.”

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God.” When we hear the Word faith will come but that faith is not without opposition. Mark 16:17 says trouble arises on account of the Word. We have an enemy who is going to fight the process of building our faith every step of the way. This is why we must determine at the outset of whatever we are believing for that we will not be denied and we will not back off of our faith.

Something from our thoughts to our circumstances will always try to knock us off our faith, so how do we stay in faith? The following are three keys to building your faith and keeping it strong all the way through to manifestation.

Proverbs 4:20-27 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Keep your eyes on the Word

The Message Bible says, “keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions”. When thoughts come that say you won’t get what you are believing for, that is a sideshow distraction, it is something to be ignored!

Matthew 6:22 KJV “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

When we are singularly focused on the Word, the Word will produce results. It goes back to what we read in Mark chapter four a moment ago, we can’t allow the Word to be stolen from us through wrong thoughts or hardships. The Bible says persecution comes because we decide to grab hold of the Word, to stay with that Word we must focus on it and keep our eyes off of anything contrary to it. We must take the full Word, we can’t wonder about God’s will. His Word is His will, when we allow doubt and unbelief in, the light in us actually becomes darkness. Stay singularly focused on the Word and it will begin to bring forth results.

Keep your ears on the Word

Proverbs 4:20 NLT “My Child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.”

Mark 4:23-24 AMPC “  If any man has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him perceive and comprehend. 24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.”

When we hear something the first time it is seed, every time after that it is being watered and when we’ve heard it enough to take root we will have results. We can’t just hear teaching on healing once, faith comes by hearing and hearing. We must continually hear the Word for our faith to be built. The Woman with the issue of blood heard the things Jesus had done. Not one thing but things, when we continually hear the Word faith comes alive.

The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear is what you receive from. If what you hear is contrary to the Word and faith that is what you will receive from. I can’t spend my nights in front of shows that don’t build me up and expect to be strong in faith. We must give our ears to hearing the Word and good and positive things that are in line with it to see our faith built up.

Speak the Word

Mark 11:23 KJV “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Our words are so important and so powerful, they are a key component to our faith. This verse says we can’t doubt, we must believe. This goes back to ignoring those sideshow distractions. When we speak the Word faith is built, when we speak things contrary to faith doubt and unbelief are built.

2 Corinthians 4:13 KJV “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believe and therefore have I spoken; we also believe and therefore speak.”  We train ourselves in negativity by thinking it, hearing it and speaking it, we train ourselves in faith the same way.

Let today be a new day, let today be a decision day that from today forward you will keep your eyes on the Word, you will listen to the Word and you will speak the Word. When we give the Word first priority it will produce the promises of the Word in our lives. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged, when we mess up, we simply repent and get back to the Word and get in faith. Get in faith, let’s stay in faith and let’s watch faith produce in our lives.

Benefits of Bible Study

Many of us, no doubt as we sit and read our Bibles each day desire to find deeper meaning in what we read. I’m sure, like me, you have sat and wondered how exactly does this apply to my life? My desire is to answer that question as we discuss different methods of Bible study.

When it comes to our daily reading most of us will read a chapter or go through a plan on our Bible app and that’s great but when we take the time to study the Bible we see the depth of it and learn how it applies to our everyday life.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s kingdom first and everything we need will be added to us. The word seek in the Hebrew means to research and study. When we research and study the Scriptures we learn how to apply them and walk in the benefits and blessings promised in them.

God’s will for us is to be blessed in every area of our life; to have good friendships, a good family life and to be happy, healthy and whole. The Primary reason to study of course is to develop our relationship with God and become closer to Him but as we get close to God He wants to bless us. Remember Jesus saying, if you know how to give good gifts, doesn’t it stand to reason my Father gives great gifts, (my paraphrase). We will not walk in blessing if we don’t see it as God’s heart for us to be blessed. Studying the Bible brings not just spiritual blessing but mental, physical and financial blessing as well and those are just as much benefits as spiritual growth and God does not want us to shy away from that.

Studying the Bible brings success

Joshua 1:7-8 NLT “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”  

God intends for each of us to fulfill our God given purposes and each of us have a great purpose to fulfill. Everyone is important, everyone has a purpose and god’s plan is for everyone to succeed but a key to succeeding is spending time Studying the Bible.

Studying the Bible brings about a good life and health to our bodies

Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh.”

The first promise of healing and health came when the Israelite’s left Egypt. God said, I am the Lord who heals you. In order to walk in the promise of health we need to know what the Word says. We know what the Word says by studying it. We often quote that the truth shall set you free but the verse actually says, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. To know truth means to own it and apply it. We can only own and apply what we know and that knowing comes through study.

A closing thought

Psalm 119:9-11 NIV “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hid your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We learn the word, we gain victory through the word by studying it, the Amplified Bible says conforming our life to it. As much as I believe in reading, we can’t conform our life to something we have read but something we have studied and as earlier Scripture pointed out studying and meditating has to be a daily thing. In the beginning your daily study may only be fifteen minutes and that is great. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. As you look at different study methods start with an easy, short book, start with an interesting character or a favorite subject. It’s important to build up to the longer books and the deeper subjects.  

Check the recommended reading page for Bible study materials. If you don’t have a study Bible my first recommendation would be the Life Application Study Bible because of all the practical helps. As you look at the different study methods don’t rush through your book, chapter, or character study. Bible study is meant to go more in depth than your reading, allow it to go slow in the beginning and enjoy the learning process. The more efficient you become with different methods the quicker you will be able to spot the different key things in each.

I believe studying the Bible can be and is a very rewarding experience, you just have to find your niche and that’s what I want to help you do.

Walking in the Power of the Spirit

In this last post in our Pentecost series we will be talking about walking in the power of the Spirit. To talk about walking with the Spirit we need to first look at what Jesus said about the Spirit.

John 14:16 KJV “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever.

John 16:12-13 KJV “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he shall show you things to come.”

Understanding the Scriptures

When Jesus talked to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He never mentioned a supernatural prayer language, although that is important and is addressed in the New Testament, Jesus focused His attention on the Holy Spirit as our teacher.

It is little benefit to have a prayer language without understanding the Scripture. We wage our warfare, we pray, we receive, everything about our lives is based from our understanding of the Word of God. When we begin to read and study the most important thing we can do is invite our teacher the Holy Spirit to come instruct us.

1 John 2:20 and 27 HCSB “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”

We can always count on the Holy Spirit to lead us on the right path, show us and correct error, and lead us away from false teachers. In order to walk in power and be witnesses we must first have a strong foundation in God’s Word and that is the first priority of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to teach us the truth of God’s Word.

Power to be a Witness   

Acts 1:8 KJV “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

If the disciples were known as the people who turned the world upside down, how much more could we with cars, planes, television, podcasts, social media and so many more avenues to quickly spread the gospel change our world for the better! Part of being baptized in the Spirit is being empowered, receiving a supernatural boldness to tell the story of Jesus and the goodness of God. Scripture says that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance. When we allow ourselves to receive and walk in the boldness of the Holy Spirit we can see our world change for the better, one person at a time.

Praying in the Spirit

One thing that is commonly misunderstood is that the gift of tongues and praying in tongues is not the same thing. The gift of tongues is for the edification/encouragement of the body and requires an interpretation. Praying in tongues is personal and is between us and God.

When we pray in tongues the Spirit is praying through us. We have all been faced with or will be faced with a situation at some time that comes from nowhere and takes us completely by surprise to the point where we are at a loss for words when it comes to prayer. The Holy Spirit is there for us in those times. Romans 8:26-27 from the Wuest New Testament says, “And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know in an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings. Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.”   

Praying in the Spirit also builds up our faith. Jude verse twenty in the King James says, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” We can build up our faith by praying in the Spirit! There are many types of prayer in Scripture but only one is connected to building your faith and that is praying in the Spirit.

We end where we began, the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. If the Holy Spirits primary job is to teach us the Bible then it stands to reason that when we just begin to pray in the Spirit we are building ourselves up in the Word!

One Final Thought

A Rabbi was studying one day and found a connection between the Torah, Prophets and the Writings and fire danced around him. When he was challenged he responded, “I was only linking up the words of the Torah with one another and then the words of the Prophets, and the Prophets with the writings. And the words rejoiced as when they were delivered at Sinai, and they were as sweet as their original utterance. Were they not originally given in fire, in accordance with the text, ‘And the mountain was burning with fire?'”.

Could it be that the cloven tongues as of fire on the day of Pentecost is not the representation of the Spirit but of the Word. The wind was the Spirit and the fire was the Word. Could it be that when we allow Holy Spirit to teach us the Word will burn in our hearts and change our lives?

When we are filled with the Spirit we open ourselves up to deeper revelation, bigger boldness, and a more intimate prayer life. A Spirit filled life is a full life. If you have never been baptized in the Spirit ask the father to send Him. If you haven’t been refilled in a while ask to be refilled, the disciples were filled in Acts chapter two and refilled in chapter four, when we use power we need to be refilled. The ministry the Holy Spirit wants to have in and through our lives is powerful but we have to be open, we have to walk the path, hear the instruction, we have to ask. I encourage each of us to engage in conversation with our teacher daily and allow the prayer language of the Spirit to flow freely through us.  

Preparing to Receive Power

In the last two posts we have looked at the beginning of Pentecost and receiving and walking in new revelation from the Word. Today we will look at preparing and receiving the power of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 1:4-8 KJV “ And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

The disciples were told to wait until they receive power, the old-timers of Pentecost called this tarrying or praying through, we have lost that in today’s church. I’ve grown up Pentecostal/charismatic and I’ve heard stories about this but I don’t think I have actually ever seen it in a service. I have heard stories of great prayer meetings where people were overcome by travail (a deep prayer) and prayer meetings lasted for hours. I have heard and read many stories but I am not seeing this in our Pentecostal churches (and by the way, no, I don’t handle snakes).

The General Overseer of the Church of God, Dr. Tim Hill at the Ministerial Intern Commissioning Service last weekend said, “Pentecost – put up or shut up”. This may sound in your face but his point was right on. If we claim to have power, this deeper experience with Holy Spirit, we should have something to show for it.

I believe we have lost our passion and our patience.   

Our passion has been replaced with routine and rutted services. Our patience has been reduced to we want to be out by 1:00pm and wanting to see people hurry out of the altars and moving to the closing prayer. I’m not saying every service needs to be wild and crazy, there are times when God wants to come down in his peace and dwell with us as we sit quietly (with no tongues to try and break the uncomfortable silence). True Pentecost is both still and moving; loud and quiet, concert prayer and personal prayer.

When I look back at my Pentecostal heritage I see founders who loved and taught the Word of God, I see people passionate and long in prayer time, I see people who had a heart for worship and lived empowered by the Spirit. True Pentecost is all these things. When  we look at the Scriptures and our heritage we see both instantaneous receiving of power and those who had to seek for it more than one time. I don’t believe this is because God was holding back or because the persons didn’t have the faith. If we are truly hungry for the infilling of the Spirit, as the old-timers we will tarry, we will pray through.

Like the disciples who were filled in Acts chapter two, they were refilled two chapters later. Some of us who were filled ten or forty years ago need to receive a fresh baptism. Ask Holy Spirit to give you the hunger, the desire, the passion you once had. Let us not look to our heritage as the good ole days but let us see it as an example and say their ceiling is our floor, we will see more salvations, more baptisms, more infillings, more churches built, more missionaries sent. Pentecost is not a onetime historical event, it started with Moses, it culminated in the giving of the Spirit and now we have the privilege of celebrating both the Word and power of God.

This Pentecost, let each of us read and receive new revelation in the Word, receive the baptism or a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Spirit is given freely to those who ask. Ask to be given the power to witness ask for your personal prayer language that builds your faith according to Jude twenty.

We are under the open window of heaven right now, today can be your receiving day, all you have to do is believe and take it – open your mouth and let a new language come out. Take the step and witness to someone, you have received boldness to witness! The Bible says we receive when we pray, now it is up to us to act on what we believe.

Resources on the baptism and ministry of the Holy Spirit can be found on the bookshelf.

The Freshness of God’s Word

Centuries ago Moses was given the Torah on Mount Sinai and every year since then the Jewish people have celebrated. That same day after the ascension of Jesus and His instruction for the disciples to wait for power, the Holy Spirit came.  The celebration of Shavuot and Pentecost are one and the same. Shavuot is the second of three appointed times on God’s calendar. Each year at the appointed time we get to receive the freshness of that event.

Today’s post is about receiving the freshness of God’s Word in our lives. Each feast has a purpose of causing us to remember and bring us up higher. We are familiar with the giving of the commandments in Exodus 20 but it was more than just the Ten Commandments, it was the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). When we think of Jesus, we often think of Him in “New Testament” terms. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, He fulfilled the law and did not come to destroy it but to fulfill it and show us how to live it. From the very beginning God has always been about a heart of obedience. God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 10:16 to circumcise their hearts. Jesus said if we love Him that we will walk in obedience to Him. The Holy Spirit was sent when Pentecost was fully come so that we would be able to live out the teachings of God’s Word and be empowered to witness.

The day begins at sundown according to God’s time. It is customary for Jewish people to stay up all night studying the Torah and the next morning go to the Synagogue for prayer (this is the day fully come). At Pentecost the disciples would have been up all night studying the Bible before going to the Synagogue for morning prayers. If we will receive the fullness of Pentecost, includes a fresh perspective and understanding of the Scripture. We have always hear it said and it’s true, we can never reach the end of studying and understanding God’s Word.

If you have ever found yourself at a loss when it comes to getting in the Word, Shavuot is a Moedim, an appointed time, for you to connect with God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit teaching you, to gain fresh revelation during this feast.

Next Tuesday (May 30) set aside a few hours of your night to read and study the Bible. You can study alone or with friends. It is customary to read the book of Ruth because it takes place during harvest time and she converted to God’s ways. It is also customary to read the accounts of creation, the exodus, giving of the Torah as well as the first and last chapter of each book. This is probably a different form of study than most of us are used to but do it in faith believing to receive revelation and new insight because that is what this holiday is all about. As part of the celebration it is also tradition to eat cheesecake as you study because the promise land flows with milk and honey.

Each feast is an open window for different things, Shavuot is our open window to receive a deeper understanding of God’s Word and financial breakthrough. Take the next few days and ask Holy Spirit to show you what to read, if you’re needing a specific need met, find verses on that issue and believe God during this open window to meet that need. As Deuteronomy 16:16 says, we are not to come before the Lord empty handed during this time but to give according to the blessing on our life. Give your firstfruit offering and believe God for your harvest.

The Beginning of Pentecost

When we think of Pentecost most of us automatically think of Acts chapter two. The events in Acts two were actually not the first Pentecost, Moses going up Mount Sinai and receiving the Ten Commandments was the first Pentecost. Pentecost is actually a Greek word that means fifty, the Hebrew word for this celebration is Shavuot, meaning feast of weeks. The importance of this is noted in John 14:26 NIV “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 16:12-15 NIV “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” 

When Jesus walked on this earth He expounded the truths of the Scripture. He said in His sermon on the mount, I have not come to do away with the teaching of the Torah but show you how to live it. In the two passages above we see the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the truth of Scripture, which is why He was sent when the day of Pentecost was fully come. It is customary on the night before Shavuot to stay up all night studying the Scripture and for everyone to gather the next morning and present their firstfruit offering to the Lord. This provides a new light on exactly what was going on for the Holy Spirit to come at that time. We will get into this later in the series, today we will focus on stepping in to the season of Pentecost.

Shavuot is also known as the feast of weeks because there are seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost. The time in between was used for God to prepare them for receiving the Word. They had to go from a slave mentality to a free mentality.

Ephesians 4:23 tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Ephesians 5:26 tells us to be cleansed and renewed by the washing of water by the word. The Word of God is our path for life. In our English translations we see the word law in the Old and New Testaments; in the Hebrew it means pathway or teaching and in Greek it means legalism. When we think of the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament in general it is not ‘old’, it is still the Word of God and should be followed. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial elements but showed us how to walk out the teaching in the Torah.

Paul said all things are permissible but not everything is profitable. God, each year gives us the appointed times of Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles for us to connect with Him and see the windows of heaven opened over our lives. The rabbinical teaching is that God invited several different people groups to receive His law and finally the Hebrews did.

Galatians three tells us that we are blessed with believing Abraham. Romans nine tells us that we who believe in Jesus are grafted in to a Jewish root. Pentecost for us is a two-fold celebration of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. When we begin with the giving of the Word of God we prepare ourselves to receive the full capacity of Holy Spirit to teach us the mysteries of God’s Word. Each year as we come to the different feasts it is an invitation to experience things again like when they first happened. During Pentecost we can receive a fresh joy and new insight about the Word and as Israel went from a slave mentality to a free mentality we too can come into a mindset of prosperity and see the curses of lack and debt broken off our lives.

As we continue in this series we will look at how to prepare ourselves to receive the fullness of Pentecost, including what books and chapters to read in Preparation. We will also look at how the Holy Spirit teaches us the Word of God and the power in the supernatural prayer language.

We are entering into the second of three appointed times that Scripture tells us not to come before God empty handed. Shavuot is a season to receive revelation and prosperity so ask the Lord what ministry you are to sow in to and what amount to give.

My prayer as we go through this series is that each of us will receive new revelation in the word of God and of the power of the Holy Spirit. I may do some extra posts in the coming weeks as part of this series so if you are not signed up to receive updates, get signed up so you don’t miss anything.

Giving in Worship

In the last three weeks we have looked at the Word and prayer as it relates to spiritual warfare. 2 Corinthians 10:4 KJV “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;” Ephesians tells us that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness. Part of our warfare is worship and giving. Many times we have a tendency to separate these two things, yet Scripture says God loves a cheerful or worshipful giver. In the Jewish culture, giving was a very intentional part of worship.

The Church also sees giving as worship but in many cases giving has been removed as a part of actual worship, through online giving, boxes in the back and other things, I think we have lost a worshipful expression in giving. Look at Malachi 3:11 KJV “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake…” When we give, God Himself does battle on our behalf. This is a key element of our warfare.

Worship defined in the Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary is extreme submission. Yes, worship is singing, clapping, raising our hands, etc. it is also giving and much more. James 4:7-8 KJV ” submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Part of our warfare is submitting to God. We cannot resist the devil if we are not first submitted to God. Part of that submission, our worship to God is found in Malachi chapter 3:8-11 KJV “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Before we break this down, notice it is tithes and offerings. When we give our tithe so that the house of God is taken care of but it is our offerings that open the windows of heaven and get the devour rebuked. many of us have wondered why we give but are not prospering, the key of prosperity is not found in the tithe but the offering. Each of us will walk in a level of blessing when we tithe, giving offerings take us to another level.

The Lord works with each of us where we are at; if you’ve never tithed to your church, start there. If you’ve tithed but have never consistently given offerings, begin to give. If your church has a missions program, begin giving to it. If a particular ministry is a blessing to you, sow into them. If your city has a food bank, take some can goods. Giving is not always money. We can give of our time, our talents and monetarily. Giving, true giving from the heart and not out of compulsion is joyful, we will enjoy giving if it’s in our hearts to do so. When we give out of guilt or pressure there will be no harvest that comes from that. If we are giving with no joy but only to receive, there will not be anything coming back to us.

Worship and giving are weapons in our warfare but in order for them to be effective we must use them properly and that means worshiping and giving with a right heart. Let’s take a moment today and examine our motives in giving and in our worship. Let’s look at the regularity of our worship, is it a church thing or a daily thing? Is our giving regular, are we praying about what and where to give? are we doing both of these things with joy in our hearts?

Prayers That Produce Results

The last couple of weeks I have been praying/telling allergies to leave me and I have continued to deal with them. This morning the Holy Spirit said, the reason you are still dealing with these allergies is because you address them once a day and you are not in the Word concerning your healing. Needless to say, I paused after hearing this and the verse from James, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much came to mind. I wondered what the words effectual and fervent really meant so I a grabbed my concordance to look them up.

The word effectual is Strong’s #154 and means to be active, efficient, to be mighty, and to show forth self. The word fervent is Strong’s #2205/2204 to be hot. It wasn’t heard to see that my believing for allergies to be gone was not falling into this category. I share this story because it is easy for our prayers to become routine and to actually lack any faith being behind the words we are speaking. To be active and efficient in prayer means not to give up, to constantly speak the Word over a situation. To show forth yourself is to continue believing and speaking no matter what things may look like.

Prayer is a spiritual weapon that many of us don’t use. many are familiar with the armor of God in Ephesians chapter six but many times we stop with the sword of the Spirit but Ephesians 6:18 KJV says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” The heading in my Old Scofield says, “The warrior’s resource”. Prayer is a resource in our life. The Amplified Bible says praying with all types of prayers. There are different levels of prayer and different ways to pray. We shouldn’t pray the same way over our food as we wood someone believing for healing of an incurable disease. We don’t use the same Scriptures believing for finances as we do family. The verse also says praying in the Spirit. Many of us don’t use the gift of praying in tongues as we should.

So how do we keep from having a mundane prayer life? One thing I suggest is having a designated time of prayer that is separate from your morning prayer time which for most is during your ride to work and that is great. Along with that we need a time set aside for deeper and more concentrated prayer. I’m not saying you have to start off with an hour start with thirty minutes, which is split with fifteen minutes; five spent in worship, five spent in reading a couple verses and five praying. Pretty soon your fifteen minutes will become thirty, becomes forty-five, becomes an hour.

The reason I suggest worship and reading as part of our prayer time is because worship slows us down and gets our minds set on God. Reading a few verses refreshes our minds and puts us in a place of faith which lends to more faith filled praying.

I know I have caught myself even when I have put specific time aside when I pray that at times I will ramble and not know the direction I need to be going. It helps to focus our prayers by having Scriptures that pertain to that area so we can pray the Bible. James says we can pray amiss, when we are basing our prayers from the Scripture it guards against that as well as helps provide direction in our prayers.

I want to close out this post by talking about a form of prayer that is not utilized among many of us as believers. Jude 20 KJV “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost”.

Praying in tongues and speaking in tongues are two totally different things. Speaking in tongues requires an interpretation and is meant as edification and instruction for the church. Praying in tongues is personal, private and builds up our own faith. When we pray in the Spirit we are causing the Word in us to be built up and come alive.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation not knowing what to pray or how to pray? Romans 8:26-27 in the Amplified Classic has the answer, “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer, nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings  too deep for utterance. 27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.”

For us, prayer should never become mundane, boring or “routine”. Our prayer lives should always be fresh, praying in the Spirit helps keep a freshness to our prayer lives. As the Holy Spirit reminded me today, there has to be faith behind prayer. My prayer for healing of allergies was just words, I didn’t have my eyes on the Word, I wasn’t feeding on healing Scriptures. As Brother Jesse Duplantis says, “faith doesn’t store up, once you use it for a situation, you have to get back in the Word and get more.” Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by God’s Word. In order to have a producing prayer life we must have faith and there is great faith, little faith and no faith. To have great faith we must be in the Word.

This all sounds so simple because God made it so, it’s just at times we forget the simplicity. Let’s be reminded of basing our prayer on the Word, being in the Word so the Word can come out of us and produce prayers that see answers.

 

Resources to develop your prayer life:

Prayers that Avail Much by Germaine Copeland

The Power of Your Words by E. W. Kenyon and Don Gossett

Putting The Word to Work

Last week we talked about how the Word will work for us in any situation and how it is important that it is a revelation in our own hearts and minds and not just something we heard from someone else or read in a book. I enjoy listening to good Bible teaching and reading books but unless I am in reading and studying the Word for myself, taking what I learn from others and studying it out it hasn’t become revelation it’s just information and it’s revelation not information that leads to transformation.

Ephesians 1:17-18 KJV says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”

Let’s break this down. The spirit of wisdom and revelation – In the knowledge of Him.

Why? That the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened.

For? That we know the hope of our calling and our inheritance.

This is a snapshot of the Christian life. We grow in wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus who is the word of God (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13) and in knowing the Word and applying it in and to how we live we can know our calling, fulfill our destiny and have an inheritance now and in eternity.

The Greek word for revelation in this verse means an uncovering, a manifestation, a coming to light. As we read and study there needs to be an uncovering of truth that produces light in our lives that causes transformation which leads to the manifestation of the goodness of God in every area of our lives.  Many believers though can have a hard time knowing where to start, what to do and how to apply what they read. This is the reason why so many of us at times have tried to copy our favorite teachers and wonder why it doesn’t work. Copying what someone else did does not necessarily mean we have a revelation of what we’re doing, we could be doing something without understanding the why behind it.

The Apostle Paul commended a particular church group for studying out what he taught. Paul would come in and preach but in turn the congregation would review their notes, study and apply the teaching to their lives. We can be great note takers but unless we’re reviewing our notes and studying them out during the week it does us no good. Today I want to help us put the Word to work in our lives by talking about how to read, study, confess and pray the Word of God. I also want to end with an ancient secret in the Bible about a very special portion and promise in the Word of God.

Reading a chapter a day

The easiest way to develop the habit of Bible reading is to make a quality decision to read a chapter of the Bible every day. Proverbs is a great place to start; it has thirty-one chapters and can be read through each month. There are many daily Bible reading programs available on the Bible app you use. While it is good to read through the Bible at least once, I personally do not encourage it yearly because if you miss a day or more it can get frustrating and often times we can tend to hurry through the reading.

Reading and studying are not synonyms, when reading make note of things you would like to study later.  It is also good to read through the gospels, Paul’s epistles (excluding First and second timothy), and first five books of the Bible, this gives you 364 readings.

The benefit of developing and maintaining a daily reading habit is found in Proverbs 3:-2 AMPC “My son, forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you”. And Proverbs 4:20-22 AMPC “My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.”

Studying the Bible

In the summer we will do a series covering each Bible study method, today, we will do an overview of how to study the notes we take from a message and/or study the message of a book or devotional you may be reading. Many pastors provide outlines of their messages so it makes studying a bit easier. if your Pastor does not give out outlines make note of the title/topic, each Scripture reference and main points.

To study read the chapter of each text. It is important to note that studying isn’t done in one day but it is done continually over several days. Some studies will be short and others will take more time based on the interest you have in the subject. It’s important not to rush studying but take your time and allow yourself to dig in to the material.

To help you study I recommend:

A Bible with cross-references, if not a study Bible

Concordance (Strong’s Concordances come available in many translations

Pen and highlighter(s) – I color code by subject.

As you read write down words that stick out to you and look them up in the concordance (find the word and the verse, and look up the number next to it in the back of the concordance, Old Testament is Hebrew and the New Testament is Greek. Example: (Faith – Mark 11:22 – 4102, I’ll flip back to the Greek and look for 4102). This helps understand the deeper meaning of words in the Bible, the Amplified Bible is also a good tool to help you dive deeper.

Bible study can sometimes feel like you are chasing rabbits with going from verse to verse using cross references and looking things up in a concordance but we are actually following the thread of Scripture connecting one verse to another and one promise to another. You can study a chapter, a verse, a book, a character, or a subject and we will go over all of these in the summer. Using your pastors notes or a devotional to base your study off of will help guide you in what to study and give you deeper insight into the message, so take the verses and look up key words and find others that relate to it. This brings us to the next area.

Confessing and Praying God’s Word

When something sticks out to you in a message, relates to something in your life, or just encourages you, take that verse and make it into a confession.

Psalm 107:20 says that God sent His word to heal and deliver us. Mark 11:23 and 24 says we have what we say and what we pray. It is important for us to speak the Word over our lives and pray the Word of God into situations. If you don’t know where to find a verse on a particular situation look up the subject or word in your Bibles concordance, get a book of Bible promises at your local Christian bookstore or visit the Real Help section of Kenneth Copeland Ministries website .

find a verse or two and make it part of your prayer life and confess it over yourself. For example if you need healing take Isaiah 53:4-5 in the Amplified and make a confession like this, “Jesus bore my sicknesses and weaknesses, He carried my sorrows and by His stripes I am healed and according to Mark 11:24 I am praying in faith and I believe I receive my healing and I call it done.” no matter what the situation is you can find some verses to pray and make a confession with. When we speak God’s word instead of negative things we get good results.

An Ancient Secret, An original Bible Teaching  

All the Bible is available to us but like we talked about in the beginning there are things that must be revealed to us. Just as Jesus taught in parables because it was given to the disciples to know mysteries, they had to search out the meaning of the parables. many things in Jesus day were understood so Jesus didn’t go into a lot of detail but we have a Western-Greek mindset while Jesus and his listeners had an Eastern-Jewish mindset so much of what was known then has become lost to us, so many of us are rediscovering the Bibles original teachings for the first time. One of those teachings is the Mezuzah.

In Deuteronomy chapter six the Hebrews were instructed to teach the Word to their children at home, on the road, when they wake up and when they go to bed. They were also instructed to put the Word on their doorposts. Today this is observed with the use of a Mezuzah a container that is attached to the door frame of the doors of the home (all except the bathroom). The Mezuzah contains a parchment with the words of the Sh’ma of Deuteronomy 6:4 CJB “Sh’ma Yisra’el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad (Hear, Israel! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one).

Moses received the Torah (first five books of the Bible) on Mount Sinai, this is the written Torah, but there was also the Oral law which taught how to live the Torah which was not officially written until the destruction of the Temple, these writings are known as the Talmud. The teaching is, the home is a mini sanctuary and by placing the Mezuzah on your doorpost your home is dedicated to God and the enemy is not allowed to enter. It is also customary to put the Mezuzah on every door frame inside the home except the bathrooms. this is a reminder of the Word and presence of God in the home. You attach it slanted as a sign of love, compromise, and that differing opinions are both correct in some manner.  Think about this, if every time we walked in and out of a room we paused for a second and honored the Word (you do this by touching your fingers to your lips and then touching the Shaddai), how much more peace would we experience in our home? How much less strife and anger would be present if we were constantly reminded of the Word and presence of God?

This is not a legalistic thing, God intended for this to help remind His people of His Word and presence not just in the Synagogue but in their homes as well. Just as the blood stopped death at the door during Passover, so dedicating our homes, placing Mezuzah’s and making the quality decision for God to be the center of our homes stops the enemies plans in his tracks. All this because we devout time to reading, studying, speaking and praying God’s Word.  

The Word Works

Today we’re beginning a new series on spiritual weapons. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

Since the Scripture says our weapons are not carnal that means we have spiritual weapons, our first thoughts probably include the Bible, prayer and worship; all these are weapons that we will be talking about in the coming weeks along with some others.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures about the Word;

2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Proverbs3:1-2 AMPC “My son forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you.”

John 15:7 NKJV “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

There are many more verses we could get into but for the sake of length we won’t. Many of us have probably heard messages on these Scriptures, have confessed Scriptures, take copious amounts of notes in church but don’t see the Word working for us, I want us to address that for a moment. I truly believe the title of this post, the Word works, but honestly, sometimes we don’t work it correctly.

I listen to some really good preachers, I go to a good church and I read books but that can’t be my word supply. If I am not in the Word for myself, if I’m not reading and getting my own Scriptures to stand on the Scriptures aren’t going to work for me. Almost all of us have probably heard the verse, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. This is a false statement because the Scripture is out of its context.

John 8:31-32 NKJV “Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.””

We cannot know the truth if we are not abiding in the word. The word abide in the Amplified Classic is defined as, hold fast to my teachings and live in them. The word know means to own the truth, to apply it in every instance and area of life. There was a moment when I realized that just because I listened to someone, took notes and quoted the verses they gave didn’t mean it was a revelation to me. The Word has to be alive to us, we need to dig out the deeper things from notes we take. Devotionals and reading plans are good but unless we develop our spirit man to come to a place to be able to make our own reading plans, finding verses on our own to pray from we are not abiding in the Word. if I rely on my pastor for all my daily reading material I’m only alive (and even then, just barely, only because of him). Many of us have done things we have heard taught that just haven’t worked for us, I submit to us that it didn’t work simply because, yes, it is true, but, no, we didn’t own it.

I believe the Word works, it’s just that many times we don’t work the Word. So how do we get the Word to work for us? I have a challenge for each of us, let’s take the notes we’ve taken over the years find some that really speak to us, read the Scriptures slowly, take them in and study them out. If you don’t have a concordance (a dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words) I would encourage you to get one from a Christian bookstore or online. Most people use the Strong’s Concordance, it is available in many translations. You will look up a word and it will list all the Scripture references, next to every reference is a number that either goes with a number in the Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) in the back of the concordance. Look for the number and it will give you the definition. You don’t need to do this for every word, just the ones that stand out to you.

If you need healing, a financial breakthrough, family restoration, whatever you need just do a search and go through the Scriptures that come up. We know the Word is alive, but it is truly only alive in us if we are spending time in it.

This may sound very basic to some but I think after a few years of walking with God we can forget the basics and need to be refreshed. We can get in the routine of doing church and see that as our relationship with God, when it is actually our relationship with the rest of the body of Christ.

The Word works, sometimes we don’t work the Word, sometimes we just don’t know what we need to know. Hosea 4:6 says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Just as ignorance of the law won’t get us out of a ticket, ignorance of the Word does not get us out of the issues of not obeying it. We are also responsible for what we are taught, if we are taught a truth and do not obey it, we can hold up the blessing in our lives until we walk in the truth. yes there is grace, but grace does not excuse disobedience. Like the Scripture says, the truth, the truth that you own and do makes you free.

I Know I have made some hard statements in this post, before I write them, I get it for myself. Proverbs says the ones God loves He corrects, let’s take what’s been said and examine our lives and our doings. Many of us have faith, but James says faith without works is dead.

Ask yourself this week, am I working the Word or am I hoping it will work by osmosis?

Next week we will specifically look at how to put the Word to work in our lives.

Resurrected & Rejuvenated

When we think of the resurrection we typically just think of Jesus coming out of the tomb, but the resurrection is so much more than that. The resurrection of Jesus is not just Him coming out of the tomb but us coming into new life.

Romans 6:3-11 KJV “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.For he that is dead is freed from sin.Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus did not rise from the dead for Himself, He rose for us, so that we could live a life free from sin, shame and bondage. Just as God lead the children of Israel out of Egypt so they could inherit the land of promise full of milk and honey – so the resurrection of Jesus is for us, going from bondage to the land of promise.

The death on the cross forgives our sins and the resurrection frees us from the bondage to them. We can live free, that is what the new creation is all about! 2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature all together); the old (previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” Now, this doesn’t mean everything is easy, there will be a spiritual fight, that’s what Romans chapters six through eight are about. Our next series will deal with how to do spiritual battle and win but before we can engage in the battle we have to know and understand who we are.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is all about us becoming like Him! We can be like Jesus, it’s why He came, to reconcile us to God and help us live a victorious life. I season let us grab hold of the truth that we are new creations and we can live the good life God intends for us!

Resources for helping us grow in the understanding of the new creation:

Gone – One Man, One Tomb, One Sunday: Rod Parsley

New Creation Realities: E. W. Kenyon

Your Best Life Now: Joel Osteen

The Blessing of the Lord: Kenneth Copeland

Crossing Over & The Cross of Christ

Exodus 14:13-15 KJV “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you this day: for the Egyptians ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward…”

I am so excited for Passover on Monday! During this season each year God, as the Scripture says, tells us to go forward. No matter where or how we may have missed it, Passover is our opportunity to go forward on the path God has for us!

In the story of Passover, the Hebrews were told to put the blood of the lamb over the doorpost so that death would passover them. After this event they were released from bondage and look at what the Scripture says;

Exodus 12:33-36 HCSB “Now the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, “we’re all going to die!” So the people took their dough before it was leavened ‘ with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their clothes on their shoulders. The Israelite’s acted on Moses’ word and asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD gave the people such favor in the Egyptians’ sight that they gave them what they requested. In this way they plundered the Egyptians.”

Just as the Israelite’s plundered the Egyptians, so, Jesus, plundered the enemy for us:

 Isaiah 53:4-5 NLT “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” The words of verse four also mean griefs, weaknesses, sicknesses, and distresses, sorrow and pains.

Psalm 103:2-5 AMP “Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits – Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [ each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity, and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming and soaring]!

For Some of us to move forward, we will have to grab some things from the past and pull them forward, others will have to let go of the past to move. Ask Holy Spirit what needs to go and what needs to stay.

We need to get these passages deep in our hearts; copy them to our phones notepad, put them on index cards around our houses and highlight them in our Bibles. In order to cross over from defeat to destiny, from doubt to declaration, from fear to faith and from passivity to possession we have to have in us and coming out of us what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. The crossing of the red sea is a picture of going from bondage to freedom. The cross is about the same thing and going from darkness to light!

No amount of teaching in and of itself can change us, we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind and our minds are renewed by the Word of God. Instead of expounding on what has already been said I want to encourage us that from today till the next post that each day we will review the following portions of Scripture:

Exodus 12-14

Romans 6-8

and at lunch, Psalm 10:2-5 and Isaiah 53:4-5

I know six chapters is quite a bit of reading but I believe if we will commit to read them for the next eight days the truth found in these portions of Scripture will come alive in us. In fact, that is my prayer for all of us who will commit to reading these sections for the next eight days, that the truth will become revelation to us and that we will see ourselves as living and able to walk out its truth on a daily basis.

Along with reading these sections, study a chapter a day, dig into the Word, let it get deep into your heart and mind and watch a transformation take place.

If you need some help digging into these truths the following books have really helped me dig in and I know I’m still not walking in the fullness of this revelation but I am believing for greater growth in my understanding in these eight days!

New Creation Realities by E. W. Kenyon

The Crucified Life by A. W. Tozer

The Cross by Rod Parsley

We believer’s can tend to relegate the crucifixion and resurrection to once a year in our thoughts, but the power, the gospel itself hinges on these events, we would do well to visit them often. I pray your reading of Scripture is blessed and if you get any of the books I mentioned that they will be a great help to you. Next week we will talk about the resurrection!  

Feasts Giving Produces a Full Harvest

No doubt the title of this post makes some people uneasy and gives the feeling that I’m trying to get your money. I can put you at ease and say I’m not asking for your money. Giving has always been about God trying to get something to us, not trying to get something from us.

Many in the Church today have an adverse reaction to a health and wealth gospel yet so many struggle with debt and have health issues, we are so willing to go to financial advisors and doctors and these are great tools yet we won’t go to the Scriptures and tap into our covenant benefits.

Before we get into this teaching; yes, I am going to suggest you find a ministry or organization to give an offering to. No, offerings don’t have to be money, we can give of our time, but we are willing to spend our money on so much why not give into the Kingdom. With that being said, God has never been about or required people giving big offerings.

Deuteronomy 16:17 KJV “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”

1Samuel 15:22 says that obedience is better than sacrifice. It’s not about giving a huge amount but being faithful in what God asks of us.

Remember in Luke twenty-one when Jesus said the widow woman’s two coins were more than the abundance of the others? Giving is a motivation thing, not a means thing. Our giving, obedient giving is the key to releasing God’s blessing in our lives. God’s not trying to get something from us, He’s trying to get something to us.

Malachi 3:7-11 KJV “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of thy ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Many of us can say, but I give my tithe and I’m not seeing the windows of heaven open and the enemy is not being rebuked on my behalf. I believe this is because the Scripture says we have robbed God in tithe and in offering. Many of us have left out the offering part, and this is not talking about special speaker or missions offering but feasts offerings.

Let’s go back to one of the first verses we talked about and back up a verse. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 KJV “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread (Passover), and the feast of weeks (Pentecost), and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”

Notice once again, it’s not about giving a large amount but giving according to your means. This was not just an old covenant thing. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and Paul said let us keep the Passover by celebrating Christ, our Passover lamb.

When Jesus mentioned 30, 60, 100 times that which was sown in the parable of the sower, His Jewish audience understood the double meaning of giving during the feasts; 30 (Passover), 60 (Pentecost) and 100 (Tabernacles).

We can  all get off track in our walk with God throughout the year, that’s why God instituted the feasts, to help provide away at specific times to get back to Him. Remember in Isaiah it says, come to Me while I am near and in James it says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. This is what these three feasts are about, coming near to God and unlocking the windows of heaven through our giving and receiving what God has for us during these three specific times each year.

God said in Malachi that we could test Him in this, so if you’re a little skeptical I would encourage you to pray and ask God what to give and where to give during the three feasts this year and see what God does. I specifically sow my feast offerings into one of the ministries I know who gives to Israel, but step out and ask God what to give if you would like more info on the feasts click the feasts and festivals category and study out the Word and see how God speaks to you. If you don’t feel right in this, don’t do it – I am sharing this because for me it has been revealed as a key to receiving from God and it may be for you too.

For more information on the feasts and giving:

Larry Huch Ministries (Learn and give.)

God’s End Time Calendar (previously published as Divine Encounter): Rod Parsley

Jesus and the Jewish Festivals: Gary M. Burge

Give to the Church of God Israel Initiative  

Passover 2017: Open Door to Freedom

The word I have received for anyone who follows this blog or reads this post is that in 2017, the Passover window for you will be a time to walk in freedom. This is the message of Passover, yes, but some of you have prayed for years to be free in a certain area, you have gotten in every single prayer line but nothing has never seemed to work – The Lord says, for those willing to walk out of bondage, you can receive complete freedom!

The Hebrews chose to come out of Egypt but there was a point in the wilderness when they said, have you brought us here to die? Let’s go back to Egypt and they listed the benefits of Egypt. It was because of this a few days journey took forty years. This is the area that we as believers can fall back into bondage’s we have been freed from. Freedom isn’t as quick as we thought, we find we have to war to stay free and instead of enduring the fight and winning victory we decide to be captured again back into the bondage of the enemy.

Passover is a spring feast because spring is the time when kings went to war in the Old Testament. God is saying I have provided your freedom through the death and resurrection but you have to be willing to face down the enemy – sometimes, if we are honest with ourselves, we are simply not willing to face down the enemy to gain victory.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of are warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

After Passover we will do an in-depth series on our spiritual weapons but for this post we can all acknowledge that prayer is a weapon, worship is a weapon, the Word of God is a weapon and the words of our mouth is a weapon. We know these things, we know truth and we quote the truth shall make you free but actually the full translation in the original language is the truth that you know and that you apply will set you free. Even before that though we are missing something.

John 8:31-36 KJV ” Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

First of all, lets point out that Abraham seed was in bondage for years, that’s why God had to raise up Moses, so on that point alone they are wrong. Spiritually speaking though, they had taken the beauty of the commandments of God and made them a heavy burden. This is why Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. A rabbis teaching was a yoke and how he taught his disciples to live the teaching was called the burden. Take that in view of what Jesus was saying. Jesus came for us to experience freedom and to be sons of God not servants.

To enter freedom we must allow ourselves to change the way we view how to walk holy before God, it isn’t a hard thing, Jesus said, yoke = easy and burden = light, so come follow me.

The first step to walking through the door of freedom is to believe that one statement. We are not called to be Pharisees that manipulate and pervert the scriptures we are called to be the Pharisees that walk in the spirit of the law which is love. If you are uncomfortable being called a Pharisee, we shouldn’t be, In Jesus time that just meant someone who carefully observed the teachings of God . Yes, some people took it to extreme but don’t we have people in our day who do the same thing? When I look at the meaning of the word I would hope people would say of me that I carefully observe the teachings of God. Now, I’m not saying we need to start calling ourselves Pharisees, my point here is that we have been empowered to obey what Jesus has given us, it’s just that many of us have the wrong impression of what Jesus intended, to clear this up lets look at a few more scriptures.

Matthew 5:17-20 KJV “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Messianic commentary on verse seventeen says that Jesus fulfillment of the law which in the Hebrew means teaching of God, is to show us how to live it. With this understanding when we look at verse twenty where it says our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees can seem pretty intimidating. That is until we look at Romans 13:8 which says love fulfills the law. many religious leaders in Jesus’ day did not walk in love and they made the teachings of God hard things to do. For our righteousness to exceed the Pharisees al we have to do is walk in love.

Now what does all this have to do with Passover being the open door to freedom? Jesus loved us enough to give His life. Do we love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves for always turning back to bondage? Do we love others enough to forgive them of their wrong doing towards us? The first step of freedom is believing that we can do what Jesus said, the second step toward freedom is forgiveness; for yourself or for others. As we continue on our journey towards Passover ask yourself, who do I need to forgive and forgive them, when we do that we are taking a necessary and huge step towards our freedom.

Last week and this week both dealt with love. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand. Next week, we will talk about giving. Don’t worry I won’t be asking you to send me an offering. Giving is key to unlocking what God has for us, especially giving during the appointed times, the first of the three, which is Passover. Giving does so much, not just to the ones we give to but for us as well. So be looking forward to what God has for you next week as we continue preparing for Passover.

Following Jesus – The Way of Love

Many believers are participating in the Lenten season going up to what is called Easter but the Bible calls Passover. Lent is a forty day period of time when you give up something you normally do/partake in and participate in fasting, giving and doing charitable acts. While it is wonderful to have this forty day emphasis, it should not be the only time believers are known for giving and charitable acts.

We are a little under a month away from Passover so I wanted to take that time to prepare us for the holiest and most celebratory time of year. Whether you are doing Lent and ready to celebrate Easter or you are doing Passover, or maybe you are doing Lent and will be doing a Passover meal as well (I am). I am praying this short series will be a encouragement to you.

If you have followed the blog over the last couple of years you have probably noticed I have started teaching from a Hebraic perspective, I shared how that came about in the last series. You may be wondering why I would then say I am participating in Lent. As I said in the last series, it’s not about becoming Jewish but walking in the fullness of our faith by understanding the blessings in the feasts, the Sabbath, and understanding God’s timing. The same is true with things like Lent and saints that have been considered Catholic. Saints were made saints by the Catholic and even some Protestant churches like Lutherans and the Episcopal Church. Before they were “saints” and “off-limits” to Protestants, they were just God fearing, Jesus loving people whom were used mightily.

Ephesians 2:14-22 NIV “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ever since Jesus tore that wall down the enemy has been building hundreds of new walls that divide the body of Christ; Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic, Evangelical and Mainline, Baptist and Pentecostal, Wesleyan and Calvinist, and on and on we can go. Do you remember the story when the disciples got mad at John the Baptist because he didn’t send his followers over to Jesus, Jesus responded if they aren’t against me they are with us. Are there certain beliefs we shouldn’t bend on, yes. Jesus said the world we would know we are His followers by our love for each other, but today’s Church is divided along so many spiritual, social, economic, race, and political lines that it is hard to see the love.

Before we can go far down the path of following Jesus we have to make the decision to love. Over the past several weeks I have been reading and studying on the Love of God. God spoke to me on a Tuesday and the following Monday I was at a Kenneth Copeland tapping where he was going to speak on miracles and the supernatural and he ended up speaking on love all three nights, confirmation.

America and the Church in America is more divided than ever. How can we walk in love towards one another if we won’t talk to one another, read books of other view points, and even make a point to understand our brothers and sisters of different denominations or political beliefs.

I am offering a challenge to each of us if we will take it:

If you’re of the conservative Christian realm, read books by progressive Christians and vice-versa, not to get mad and argue but pray a heart of love and understanding before you read. You might be surprised how much we actually agree on.

If you’re Protestant go to a place like Half-Price Books and pick up a Catholic book that peaks your interest and pray you have a heart to learn and understand as you read. If you’re Catholic find a Protestant book to read. If you’re anti-pentecostal find a book and pray for understanding, or go to a service with an open heart.

The body of Christ will never fully walk in love if we continue to allow all the enemies walls to keep us away from each other and misunderstanding one another because we won’t talk, read other books, or even visit another church from time to time. If we are to be known by our love, we have to love and we can only love if we put ourselves in that position and that begins with each one of us taking down our own walls of pet doctrines, stereotypes, racial prejudices, misunderstandings and political view points.

Will you take the challenge, will you step out of the box and ask the Lord to help you understand another part of the vast body of Christ? I have begun doing that and I can tell you it’s been transformative and some people aren’t as bad as I have been lead to believe.

Part 7: Tabernacles, Sabbath & One New Man

crossdavidAs I prepared to write the post on Tabernacles I looked at the outline for this series and felt that Tabernacles, Sabbath and One New Man needed to be combined.  Tabernacles is about entering God’s glory, Sabbath is about entering God’s rest and One New Man is about the love and unity found in Jesus the Messiah.

From the beginning of this series we have talked about how understanding the roots of our faith is not about becoming Jewish but embracing the fullness of God’s Word and God’s blessing. God is God all the time but there are specific benefits given in the Word of God about participating in the appointed yearly feasts and the weekly Sabbath rest. This is not a legalistic thing, that’s why Jesus got mad at certain Pharisees, they made the teaching of God into legalism and made it a burden instead of a benefit. The entire aim of this series is about going from seeing a burden to seeing the benefits. This is why I have grouped the last three topics together. 

Tabernacles:

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Look at that last line again, and your joy will be complete. Our joy is complete in Jesus. John 1:14 in the Tree of Life version says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is Tabernacles, being with Jesus and experiencing the glory of God. In Exodus thirty three Moses asked to see God’s glory, the response was, I will make my goodness pass before you. The three feasts are all about the goodness of God and they culminate in tabernacles which is the head of the civil year and conclusion of the feast calendar.

God is God all the time but in certain seasons He wants to bring about certain things and that is why the feast calendar is set like it is. There is sun in March and in June but the heat in those months is vastly different here in Texas, why? Because of the season. It is the same way with God. Each feast brings us into another realm of experiencing God’s blessing.

Tabernacles, like Passover has other feasts incorporated with it. The Feast of Trumpets which is the sounding of the Shofar to awaken the people to celebration, the Days of Awe are days of seeking God and then the Day of Atonement which is when the High Priest went in to make the yearly sacrifice for sin which lead to the celebration of Tabernacles. The prior celebrations are designed to get us ready for us to go into God’s presence in a special way. We all have access to God 24/7 but how many times have we said it is hard to consistently make time for prayer and Bible reading and spending time with God, that’s why God instituted the feasts, so that we can have times each year that keep us on track and bring us to a higher place of relationship with Him as we progress in our lives and callings.

Sabbath:

The Sabbath is another time God has set aside for us to keep us on track to walk in His ways. God instituted a rest, a Sabbath, at the end of creation. On the seventh day God rested because He finished His work. Like many things God has blessed us with, overtime the meaning and purpose of the Sabbath rest was corrupted and made into a burden instead of a blessing. Many of the miracles Jesus did happened on the Sabbath, I believe, because Jesus wanted to reclaim Sabbath back to its purpose.

Jesus had confrontations with certain legalistic Pharisees about the Sabbath. One such event was recorded in Mark 2:23-28 NIV “One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” It is important to note that in order for Jesus to fulfill the law He couldn’t have broken it. Jesus offended their legalistic interpretation, not the biblical guidelines of Sabbath.

Many of us have viewed Sabbath through the burden of legalism and not the blessing of rest. One day a week (in Scripture, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) God has blessed us and has intended for us to rest and be with Him and our families. The Scripture sets out very few guidelines for Sabbath, mainly do no regular work because it is an appointed day to rest. Sabbath rest usually includes a nicer meal than the rest of the week, the blessing of the wine and bread (many use two loaves to signify blessing) and family praying over one another. As Jesus said the Sabbath is for man, not man to observe legalism that steals rest.

Look at the new covenant rest in Hebrews 4:1-16 NIV “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

One New Man

The Sabbath rest, the Feasts of the LORD, understanding Scripture through the eyes of a Jewish Jesus and Jewish apostles lets us know how to use God’s Word effectively as a sword and approach God’s throne with boldness. This is the essence of one new man. Jesus tore down the wall of separation and ever since then the enemy has been trying to build it back up. But look at these words from Amos 9:11-15 NKJV

“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing.

13 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.”

In the tabernacle of David it was open, nothing separated Jew and Gentile and anyone could go into the holy place – that is one new man. It is at the time of this understanding that the increase of God begins to flourish! This one new man is about love and unity whether we’re talking Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant, Pentecostal or mainline. When we come into the one new man revelation and understand the roots of our faith and even when denominations see how they began and become unified and loving towards other groups, we will see the Spirit of God break forth in the earth like never before. I am ready to see those days! I am ready for the body of Christ as a whole to return to how we began, for the Catholic and Protestant Church to throw off legalisms and falsehoods that have developed over the centuries and return to the faith they once knew. I am ready to see both conservative and liberal believers come to a place of loving one another and desiring to understand one another and truly believe in our hearts neither political side has all the answers, only Jesus, only us, His disciples, and the world will only know we are disciples by loving one another and fully becoming One New Man in Messiah Jesus.

Part 6: Pentecost – The Word and Spirit

shavuotPentecost is a Greek word meaning fifty. The Pentecost Celebration is fifty days after Passover. In the Hebrew it is called Shavuot, “feast of weeks”. Each feast finds its fullness in the new covenant, that being said we cannot ignore the foundation in the original covenant. The Power of the Spirit without a foundation in the Word will lead to error. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us in all truth, and the Word is truth. Acts chapter two says when the day of Pentecost was fully come, what does that mean? For the believer it means a double celebration, the Word and the Holy Spirit.

It was fifty days after the Exodus that God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and gave him the Torah (Exodus nineteen and twenty). Deuteronomy 16:9-12 NIV “Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place He will choose as a dwelling for His name – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless, and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees”.

You’ll notice not a lot of instruction is given as to how to celebrate these feasts, I believe that is because God wanted us to enjoy these appointed times and receive them and participate in them according to the purpose of them and not have them become legalistic observances. There have been helpful books written in both the Jewish and Messianic communities to help guide our celebration, but the moment things become ritualistic or legalistic they have lost purpose and power.

Look at Psalm 91:14-16 in The Message, “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care, if you only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you long life, give you a long drink of salvation.” This is the feasts – this is God throwing parties every year! We go from faith to faith and glory to glory, this is the cycle of the feasts, to bring us higher every year and keep us cleaned up.

Pentecost has three areas of celebration; celebrating the Word, celebrating increase, and celebrating the Holy Spirit.

  1. Celebrating the Word of God

Many of our translations use the word law in place of Torah but the word in Hebrew actually means the teaching of God rather than the law of God. The word law for many as they read the Bible carries a negative connotation since the new covenant says we are not under law. Law in this sense means legalism. The teaching of God in both covenants still very much are applicable to our lives. The feast of Pentecost is a celebration of the Word. Reading Psalm 119 is great during this celebration, have a Bible study with friends, dig into the Word of God as part of your celebration. Psalm 119:10-16 in the Amplified gives a wonderful picture for this celebration. “With my whole heart have I sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh, let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments. your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. With my lips have I declared and recounted all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to your ways [the paths of life marked out by your law (*teaching)]. I will delight myself in your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”   

There is awesome power in the Word of God. Hosea 4:6 NIV “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” I know many will say we are under grace so this doesn’t apply to us but Jesus’ grace does not do away with God’s teachings. The sermon on the mount reiterated the ten commandments on a heart level. Now grace does allow for freedom to celebrate or not to celebrate the feasts but there is blessing that comes in the celebration. Yes, you can be blessed outside of these feasts but the blessings in the celebration are clearly given in Scripture.

  1. Celebrating Increase

Deuteronomy 16:10 NIV “Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing the LORD your God has given you.”  At Passover everyone gives an equal offering but at Pentecost the offering is based on increase and when you give in a mindset of increase, you increase more and more.

Psalm 115:14 in the Amplified says, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children”. The NIV says, “may the LORD cause you to flourish”.  Provision and increase is not just a financial thing but a physical thing as well. God instructed, remember and celebrate coming out of the bondage of Egypt. Exodus 15:26 KJV “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

In the season of Pentecost give. Give and it shall be given unto you. Receive increase, receive finances, receive healing, health and divine life. Claim increase as yours based on how you’ve sown into others and given to God.

  1. Celebrating the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:1-8; 2:1-4 KJV “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

We cannot look at this even apart from the festival context they would have been participating in. The night before Pentecost had fully come the disciples would have given offerings joyfully in the temple and stayed up late into the night studying the word of God. To see the Holy Spirit’s coming purely through the lens and purpose of tongues is to miss why Jesus said the Spirit would come. John 16:12-15 KJV “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine, therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

It is interesting that in the three chapters Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit, He never mentions tongues. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe in tongues and I do pray in tongues, however, the fullness of the feast is not found in a prayer language or tongues and interpretation but the Spirit revealing the truth of the word to us and empowering us to witness. If we dismiss these two things from our understanding of Pentecost, we have truly lost its power and only have a form in the manifestation of tongues.

Pentecost for the believer is a celebration of the word and the power of the word through the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the continued celebration of the provision of healing and finances. When Scripture talks about receiving thirty, sixty and one hundred fold, I would submit that it has something to do with celebrating Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; thirty, sixty and one hundred. At Pentecost gather with some friends; give joyfully, study the Scriptures and ask for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.

Harvesting in the ‘New’ Christianity

christianity To be a Christian means to be one who follows the teachings of Jesus. Christianity is defined as the Christian religions including Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches, I would also add Messianic churches to that list.

Jesus said in John 4:34-38 NLT “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Jesus also said in Matthew 28:18-20 NLT “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus was all about harvesting, it didn’t matter what political party you were affiliated with, it didn’t matter what religious sect you were, Jesus wanted to harvest everyone and everything and He taught His disciples to do the same. In America today the nation and the Church are divided by political lines and this should not be so, especially in the case of the Church. See the truth is, even though most of us wouldn’t be able to admit it, the republicans, the democrats, and independents each have issues they are correct on and others they are wrong on. There are good and Godly people in all parties but the church has been split by donkey and elephant and it’s time we acknowledge while legislation helps it does not produce everything that is needed, only the Church can do that.

The Church has also allowed itself to be divided by denominations and while some will work together, many choose to keep themselves separated. I agree with the definition of Christianity; the Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Messianic churches. Are there areas where I disagree theologically with these groups, yes, but they all believe Jesus is the only way to God, I can get onboard with that. Jesus said in John 13:35 NLT “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

The ‘new’ Christianity that will bring in the harvest is not really new but the original teachings of Jesus. The series I’ve been doing on Jewish roots is not about becoming Jewish, but becoming more like Jesus by reading and understanding the Bible through the eyes of a Jewish Jesus. I believe there is great benefit in celebrating Passover and I also believe there would be great benefit in walking the stations of the cross from the Catholic Church and experiencing the power and freedom as we reverently walk the path of the seven places Jesus shed His blood.. These two things seem opposed to each other but Jesus can be experienced in both of them, so why not experience both traditions?

I believe in order to continue harvesting as Jesus commanded we have to become a more unified group of Christians, we have to redo the way we do church and no, I’m not saying become a loony liberal but a loving person, it’s not about being a crazy conservative but a Christlike individual. It’s time we get back to our roots and surprisingly that actually includes a Hebraic element, a catholic element, a orthodox element, and a protestant element.

The ‘new’ Christianity that is on the rise in the millennial generation is a Christianity that actually longs for tradition but that tradition experienced in love, not force. Hymns are beautiful in the right spirit, just like Passover, the stations of the cross and confession. You don’t have to confess to a priest or pastor, the Bible says confess faults to one another that you may be healed.

The ‘new’ Christianity has elements of all denominations and all ‘political philosophies’ applied in the right context, that is unity, and that is love.

When we walk in that unity and that love, we won’t just see people saved, but they will become healed, free and prosperous in every area of their lives! – This is the ‘new’ Christianity, this is the ‘new’ Church – it’s the original Church. Let’s read the gospels and Acts with a new frame of reference, let’s see the Old Testament in the eyes of a Jewish Jesus. – Let’s see another book of Acts revolution where we turn our world upside down through the message of love, freedom and healing that is found in Jesus.

Part 5: Jesus – Our Passover Lamb

passover-crossThe events leading up to and the story of Passover is found in Exodus six through thirteen and has New Testament counter parts in Luke 22, John 6, 1 Corinthians 5 and 11. In this post I am going to do my best to hit the highlights, expound on certain points and show us how Jesus is the fulfillment of Passover and the joy of celebration. I want to say at the outset, you do not have to celebrate Passover, I am not getting legalistic and I am not trying to put us back under law. We are free to celebrate or not to celebrate The Feasts of the Lord. This year will be the first year since I first learn of the Jewish roots that I will be participating in a Passover celebration and I am excited about it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; (8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The Passover, for the believer is a double celebration. As ones grafted in we celebrate the children of Israel being freed from bondage and also being free from the penalty, power and pollution of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus! As mentioned last week, God is God all the time but He has set up three celebrations each year for us to take part in and Passover is one of those celebrations. Passover begins the feast calendar which is in spring, the civil calendar starts at Tabernacles which is in the fall. It is interesting to note that God’s calendar begins with seasons that represent life and the Gregorian calendar begins in the deadness of winter.

Before we get into Passover, we first must recognize the man God raised up and how he set the path for freedom.  God never does anything alone, He always raises up a man or woman to partner with Him. In the case of the liberation of His children that man was Moses. Just as it will be with Jesus so it was with Moses, Jewish boys were ordered to be killed and Moses’ mom put him in a basket and Pharaoh’s daughter found Him in the river. Moses was raised Egyptian but always knew who he was. After it was found out he murdered an Egyptian he fled to the wilderness. After God set him apart he left to go face Pharaoh and God appointed his brother Aaron to speak for him. As the story progresses Pharaoh would not listen to Moses so God released a series of Plagues on the land of Egypt; water turns to blood, frogs, lice, flies, death of cattle, boils, hail and fire, locusts, darkness, and the death of the first born. It is important to note that God made a distinction between the land of Goshen where his people resided and Egypt, none of the plagues came to the land of Goshen (Exodus 8:23; 9:4, 6, 26; 11:7). The very first mention of healing in the Bible is found in Exodus 15:26 KJV “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee; which I have brought on the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

Passover is a season of the beginning of miracles the month of Nissan and Iyar are both months where the manifestation of physical and emotional healing are very present. Passover is a time to receive and walk out freedom and receive new levels of freedom from bondage and to be healed. Scripture says that we go from faith to faith and glory to glory, the feast calendar is set up to facilitate that rise each year. There are always new levels of freedom, revelation and healing to receive each Passover and it’s not always something for us, we also receive to be able to minister to others and that’s what the feasts are about.

Each plague represented God’s authority and dominion over the Egyptian gods. Each god was a protector of something each plague from God destroyed. This shows the love God has for us and His desire to see us be free.

As we get into the Passover, we aren’t given much information in Scripture as to the order and formalities of the meal, these came around 70AD. Jesus’ Passover meal constituted the four cups, bitter herbs, matzo (unleavened bread), and haroset (a mixture of apples, nuts and honey) and the singing of Psalms 113-118 known as the Halel. If you choose to celebrate Passover be free in how you choose to celebrate it and what you incorporate, my only admonishment is that you make sure to include both the Jewish and Messianic symbolism’s as this is a double celebration.

[Exodus 12:1-28 KJV ] The Passover happens in the first month, the month of Nissan and it is observed on the tenth day. Verse seven says, “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two sides of the posts and on the upper door post of the houses where they shall eat.” Every Jewish man made the sign of the cross on his doorposts, a foreshadowing a Yeshuah, Jesus the Messiah being our final Passover lamb, it is because of Him that we celebrate the feast. Verses eight through ten speak of roasting the lamb and not leaving any till morning, this is a sign of prosperity. You boil food for leftovers, you roast to eat now and not worry about tomorrow. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew six, take no thought for tomorrow, for what you shall eat or what you shall wear. Verse thirty-three, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. Celebrating the Passover and partaking of roasted food breaks of the poverty spirit that is present in the people of God. As you eat, as you fellowship, allow the poverty mindset to be broken from you and ask God to rework your mind to a mindset of increase and provision!

The blood over the doorposts kept the children of Israel safe from losing their first born and the blood of Jesus is a seal for not only our salvation but our healing, prosperity and family life as well. Verse 24, “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. (25) And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. (26) And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service? (27) That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. (28) And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”

John chapter six is set at the time of one of Jesus’ three Passover celebrations (2:13; 6:4 and 11:55). Passover centers around bread, getting the leaven out is a picture of getting sin out of our lives. But in John six Jesus feeds five thousand in a green pasture, this is a picture of Jesus as shepherd, just as Moses watched over Israel, it is also during this time Jesus says He is the bread of life. Many of the key events and key teachings of Jesus’ ministry happened in line with celebrating the feasts.  There are four cups at Passover; sanctification, plagues, redemption (our communion cup), and praise. Jesus prayed in John 17, sanctify them with your truth, your Word is truth. John 1:1 and 14 KJV, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jesus is our sanctifier, redeemer, and the object of our praise. The entire Passover meal is a celebration of our great savior Jesus Christ.

I encourage us, not in a legalistic observance but in a spirit of joy and celebration to get a Messianic Passover Haggadah, prepare a feast and invite friends and family over to celebrate Jesus our Passover lamb. As Jesus was crucified at Passover, He was resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits, which is why He is called the first born (or firstfruits) of many brethren.

There is so much rich symbolism in Passover especially with what has been added since 70AD but one of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus is found in the Afikomin. The Rabbis don’t exactly know how this tradition got started but this is it, you break a piece of Matzo and put it in a folded napkin and the leader of the meal hides it. Whoever finds it gets a prize and enjoys the last piece of Matzo as their dessert. The broken piece of Matzo symbolizes Jesus, whose body was broken for us, the napkin is the empty tomb and finding it is the resurrection. The death and resurrection of our Messiah is pictured in a wonderful celebration, so why not reclaim this feast of the Lord as our celebration of our savior?

Resources to help prepare for Passover:

The Messianic Passover Haggadah

Passover Seder Plate

*Also see the Jewish Roots section of the bookshelf