Tabernacles 2018: Stay connected and reap your harvest!

 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. These words in Hebrews chapter four have given all of us encouragement at one time or another. It is so wonderful knowing we can go to God at any time for anything.

As amazing as that is, there is something more incredible. Three times a year, we are not only invited to come away with God but He promises to come to us. These three times each year are known as the Feast of The Lord. (You can learn more about the three feasts by clicking on Feasts and Festivals or Hebrew Heritage Series in the sidebar). This week we are in the Feast of Tabernacles.

Leviticus 23:33-44 NKJV “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.

37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord. 39 ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ ”44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.””

What does all that have to do with us? As Christians we have been grafted in to Israel. The root of the tree is Jewish, we are branches (Romans 11) and as believers we are blessed with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people (Galatians 3). These are not feast, celebrations for the Jews alone, they are the Feast of the Lord and as Christians we have an open invitation to join the celebration.

John 1:1-3, 14 TLV “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. 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.”

Jesus said if we would abide in Him and His word abides in us we would be His disciples and we could ask anything in His name and the father would hear us.

Tabernacles is a time to draw closer to God. As the last feast on the calendar, everything has been building up to this moment that God has set aside for us to come tabernacle with Him. This is a week to hear His voice and receive revelation.

Tabernacles is also about harvesting. We can harvest finances, we can harvest people, even nations. This Tabernacles the word I have for you is get deep into the Word, make it your life source so that as we enter 2019, a year of faith, you are prepared to stand, believe, harvest and receive.

Make giving a priority, both financially and with your time and ability to help others. Set aside special time to be with God this week apart from your normal devotions. Take communion, read Scriptures and hear God’s heart.

Regain focus this week and build your faith through the Word of God. When Jesus told people they had little faith it meant they had underdeveloped faith. We can’t receive if our faith is underdeveloped. Get in the Word, hear God’s promises for you and reap your harvest in the areas you need. If things seem slow in coming, don’t give up, that is a sign of underdeveloped faith. Grow faith, become strong; read the Word, listen to good teaching and put it into practice.

Joshua 1:8 NLT “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.”

Harvest is coming to those who are in the Word and walking in obedience to it. A harvest of souls, a harvest of health, a harvest of finances, a harvest of every promise you have been believing for. Don’t lose heart and don’t faint in your faith, continue to build it and know in your heart of hearts that harvest is not just on its way, it is beginning to manifest now in Jesus name.

Advertisements

Step into a new place of maturity

Yesterday the Lord began speaking a word that I believe is for anyone in the body with ears to hear. There has been division in the body lately; denominations, theologies, emphasis, etc. but I heard the Lord say, “for those willing to enter a new level of maturity I will show how their stream connects with others. I will show individuals how they can receive and progress forward in revival in discipleship by reading books from other theological perspectives.”

It is important to know which stream God has us in, when the Lord gave me this word I also heard him encourage me and I believe will encourage others that as we step into this new place of maturity we will be able to receive from voices and teachings that used to trip us up.

Ephesians 4:11-16 NASB “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

I believe those who are willing to step into a new level of maturity and begin receiving from different streams will see a great wave of revival, healing and deliverance in their circles and in their churches. The days of secondary distinctives are coming to an end for those who want to be part of the next move of God.

If your heart is for revival and discipleship, ask the Lord to begin a maturing process in your spirit and to begin to lead you in receiving from different streams. Listen carefully for the Lord to begin to direct you to specific books or teachings. Part of this maturity is understanding God is not calling you to leave your stream or discard the anointing and call He has given you but allow that call to be furthered and the anointing strengthened by receiving from others in this next season.

The Purpose and Power of a Prophetic Word

Today I want to look at the purpose and power of the prophetic word being spoken in our lives. I want to begin with three Scriptures.

Amos 3:7 NKJV “Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets.

2 Chronicles 20:20b NKJV “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Proverbs 29:18 TPT “Where there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray. But when you follow the revelation of the word, heaven’s bliss fills your soul.”

It is important to acknowledge the vast depth of prophetic that has come on the scene in the body of Christ and for that I am thankful. It is also important to recognize not every prophetic voice is one for you. There are even times when a prophetic voice that is assigned to your life may give a word that is not for you. each of us is still responsible for knowing the place and season God has us in. The prophetic word is designed to help give us direction in something we have already received, it is confirmation of where we are heading.

In my life the prophets that speak into my life are Kenneth Copeland, Chuck Pierce, Ryan LeStrange and Lana Vawser. There are other prophetic voices that associate with these people but God has not connected me to them, so I do not follow their ministries.

Before we continue, let me make a quick side trip. Unity in the body does not mean you listen to everyone or do ministry with everyone. Unity is my ability to stay in my lane and not criticize the person next to me for doing something differently. The river of God is made up of many streams. We are all in the river of God but we are not all in the same stream, we don’t all flow with the same current, that is the way God designed it.

Each year I get a word or theme from the year that is the umbrella for everything that happens that year. Kenneth Copeland gives a Word each year and I run with that Word, praying and declaring it, expecting it to be fulfilled in my life.

Ryan LeStrange operates in the prophetic by giving Monday Words for the week. There are times when I know a Word is for me and I run with it. Other weeks, it’s not in season for me.

It is important for each of us to have our own relationship with God and to know the season we are in. Every prophetic voice speaks to the larger body of Christ. Even those who flow in a specific stream are still speaking to a large number of people. I can’t say it enough, each of us must know the place and season we are in before we grab hold of a Word.

Chuck Pierce is a Apostle/Prophet who oversees Glory of Zion and Global Spheres. His prophetic words are released on national levels and corporate levels to certain parts of the body of Christ. Sometimes words fit with my season and other times that are for a different segment of the body of Christ.

Lana Vawser releases intimate directive words from the heart of God. They are very encouraging and help give direction and strength to keep going.

I mention the types of words these individuals give because the Lord uses them in different ways in my life. It’s important that you don’t just go “pick a prophet” but you allow Holy Spirit to lead you in connection to the prophetic voices you need to be connected to.

It’s also important to understand God may connect you to someone you may never personally meet or have any interaction with but that does not lessen the connection God has given you in the realm of the Spirit.

One key of spiritual warfare is using prophetic words. 1 Timothy 1:18 NKJV “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,”. Notice the phrase, “prophecies previously made”. Never let go of a prophetic word. God is a God of continuation. If there was a Word given in 2012 about financial increase and you haven’t seen the fullness of it yet, keep declaring it, don’t stop using the weapon of a prophetic word.

Along with that, keep the prophetic words in your thinking, read and re-read them, declare them and make them part of your prayer life. Prophetic words are not to be shelved they are to be believed and received.

Some people have the mindset that prophetic words will fulfill themselves but many times they require action on our part. Prophetic words are like the if/then statements of the Bible; if I do this, then God will do that. Timothy was told to wage a good warfare with the prophetic word, that took action on his part.

Look once again at the latter part of 2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you will prosper.” We could say this is God’s prescription for us to have 20/20 vision. What did Proverbs 29:18 say? “Where there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray.” If you find yourself off of the path God has for you, look at the prophetic words from the prophets God has placed in your life.

The prophetic words in your life are to be coupled with your reading, studying and meditating on The Word. they are to give confirmation to the direction you are going and the things you are pursuing. Believe God first and His prophets. If you’re spending all you time consuming different prophetic words and no time in the Bible, that’s not going to work for you. Chances are you’re confused because you’ve “cross prophesied” in your life and one word contradicts another. Remember, the body of Christ is big, not every prophet, not every teacher, and not every book or conference is for you.

To believe God, you have to know Him and you have to know His Word. Only then will believing the prophet bring prosperity.

The purpose of the prophetic word is vision and encouragement. The power of the prophetic word is it is part of producing your prosperity. Don’t take words lightly and don’t give yourself to every word. A quick comment about personal prophecy, test the spirits to see if they are from God. That is Scriptural. If someone says the Lord said you need to enter the mission field and the Lord has spoken to you about business and things are lining up in that, DON’T OBEY THAT WORD. That would be a false prophecy. At the end of the day you have to know something bares witness with your spirit.

On the other hand if a known prophet gives a word of direction or instruction and it doesn’t witness with you, that doesn’t make them a false prophet, it just means it wasn’t for you. One last thing on prophetic words. If a word of correction or judgement is given and it includes stipulations as to how the word will play out, pay attention to those things. many prophets have been labeled false because people haven’t paid attention to the entire word given.

Be encouraged today. If you aren’t connected with a prophetic voice ask Holy Spirit to connect you to the prophet or prophets that need to speak into your life. If you do have prophets that speak into your lives, don’t just hear the words, act on them. One other key to having access to receiving manifestation is to not just be a consumer of their gift or office but to sow into their ministry into your life. Pray for them on a daily basis. If they speak a word that brings about change in your life, send them an offering. Be active in every way of receiving a prophetic word. Don’t give up if a word takes time, keep warring with it and watch it come to pass.

*The prophets mentioned in this post have no affiliation with me, nor have they endorsed my blog or this specific post.

2019: Jesus! And The Spirit of Faith!

I know you may be looking at the title and saying to yourself, ‘it’s only mid August and he is already posting the word for 2019?’ Yes, I’m posting it early and this post will explain why. If you follow the blog you know I haven’t posted regularly this year, I can already tell you that will be different in 2019. 2018 was a year, the Hebrew year 5778 was a year to revisit firsts and walk through new doors. For me it was also a year to focus on Jesus. Many of us have felt delayed this year but the year isn’t over yet. Prophets have been saying over the last couple of months that things are beginning to accelerate. This post is proof of that. Before we get into the word for 2019, I do want to say that 2018 isn’t over yet and if there are things you haven’t received stay on your faith, we still have four months to go and now is not the time to give up.

The Lord usually gives me a theme or word for the year in October but on July 25th (Christmas in July), the Father woke me up and said, I have a present for you. I am giving you the word for 2019 today. Needless today, I was shocked. So the day I normally focus on Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel became about hearing and writing down the word and beginning to process it. I still assumed I would post it in October but after hearing words from two prophets I knew I needed to post it earlier.

This is the word the Father gave me. “2019 will be a continuation of the word for this year. You will continue seeing and seeking Jesus in 2019. Double your time learning and being with Him. 2019 is a year to get back up on your faith. You faced a lot of distractions this year. You pretty much spent half of the year distracted. I am giving grace and extending your doors and adding that to 19. It’s another Jesus year, it’s the year of faith.”

Before we continue, you may have noticed I said the Lord usually gives me and when I wrote the word I said this is what the Father gave me. Normally, I get the word from Jesus but this year it came from th Father and a conversation followed the paragraph you read. We won’t get into this today but we can and should talk with all the members of the trinity not just the one. Anyway, I knew there was something specific about why I was hearing from the Father and not Jesus.

As 2019 gets closer we will dive more into this word but today will mostly be background and the word itself. I am a huge Christmas fanatic, it is my favorite holiday, I love everything about it. I enjoy Christmas so much I want to have a Christmas room in my house one day (crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Absolutely). It is my absolute love of the Christmas season I think the Father cane to me on Christmas in July. I also knew that with what I was hearing from the two prophets I follow that this word to me was also a word for others.

After the initial paragraph Father told me to take my Hebrew book and look up the letter with the value of nine. The Hebrew letter TET has the value of nine and means goodness and the opening of the funnel. There are three dimensions of goodness in the Hebrew:

1. In the presence of God we bring our best gifts and rejoice.
2. God judges and gives us the next set of circumstances designed to best help us on our path.
3. We develop the understanding of our heart.

He then said search out what faith is and how to apply it.

I don’t necessarily think this word will click for everyone but if you’re reading this and it does, start today. I believe because of the words about acceleration this needed to be posted now and not late fall. I believe God is allowing such a flow from 2018 into 2019 that words are just coming together. In September we enter the last 70 decade, the decade of seeing, this is amazing. I believe we are in a time of seeing the Holy Spirit restore the Word and the moving of His Spirit to the Church.

This word, Jesus and The Spirit of Faith points to two things; Jesus, the Word and the Spirit of faith, seeing the Holy Spirit move and bring manifestation of what each of us has been believing for.

2 Corinthians 4:13 MEV “We have the same spirit of faith. As it is written, “I believed, and therefore I have spoken.” So we also believe and therefore speak,”

Jesus 2018 was and is the preparation for Jesus and the spirit of faith in 2019. I know I haven’t done any in depth teaching on Jesus, I think if you grabbed hold of the word for this year that Jesus had something specific for each of us in mind which is why none of the post were directed towards that. Looking to 2019 and even 5779 in a few weeks, whatever you saw about Jesus this year has prepared you to walk in a new level of faith next year!

Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word. I heard a minster say that faith comes by hearing not having heard. Jesus is The Word. As much as 2018 has been about becoming closer with Jesus it has been about becoming more aligned with the Word. This leads us back to the conversation I had with Father.

“Become a full fledged Word person in 2019! Jesus! And the spirit of faith! Ask for specific books to dive deep into. 2019 and even now is as about faith becoming second nature to you.”

That was the last sentence of the word. I want to close out this post by looking at faith and what it means for faith to become second nature.

The best definition of faith is Hebrews 11:1 AMPC “NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses].

Faith, (assurance, proof and reality) must become second nature to us. For something to be second nature means a characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often. Abraham, in Romans four was not moved by anything, he stood strong in faith. Take some time and read Romans four. How do we develop that find of faith? By the Word, be meditating on the Word (Joshua 1:8).

I am looking forward to personally diving into faith in 2019 and being able to share with y’all and having conversations that build our faith and encourage one another. Faith is only faith if it carries us through delays and hard times. 2019 will be a year of developing strong faith.

Look at the word in full:

“2019 will be a continuation of seeing and seeking Jesus in 2019. Double your time learning and being with Him. 2019 is a year to get back up on your faith. You faced a lot of distractions this year. You pretty much spent half of the year distracted. I am giving grace and extending your doors and adding that to 19. It’s another Jesus year, it’s the year of faith.

The Hebrew letter TET has the value of nine and means goodness and the opening of the funnel. There are three dimensions of goodness in the Hebrew:

1. In the presence of God we bring our best gifts and rejoice.
2. God judges and gives us the next set of circumstances designed to best help us on our path.
3. We develop the understanding of our heart.

Search out what faith is and how to apply it.

Become a full fledged Word person in 2019! Jesus! And the spirit of faith! Ask for specific books to dive deep into. 2019 and even now is as about faith becoming second nature to you.”

2019 and even now, take what you have learned from Jesus this year and get started on your faith.

Here are some things I have started doing since July 25th to help get my faith in gear:

1. I am continuing to read the gospels so I am constantly thinking about how Jesus walked.
2. Look up Scriptures pertaining to things you want to see in 2019. If you want to see a loved one or friend saved, look up Scriptures on salvation. Wether you’re believing for family restoration, freedom, a better job, healing, increased finances, whatever it may be find the Word on it.
3. Pastor Keith Moore’s series, “True Faith” has been an absolute eye opener on what true faith is. How do you walk in faith, some of what we call faith is just pretend, how to stay in faith and more. This series is a must listen. I have already listened to it multiple times and will continue to help keep me on track.
4. Pastor George Pearsons and Gloria Copeland did a series called “Bulldog Faith” where Pastor George talks about a time in his life when he got off his faith and how the Lord instructed him on how to stay in fath. If you have been discouraged about something this is a series for you.

* The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters: Robert M. Haralick

** Both series can be found on YouTube as well

From Revival to Discipleship

The last few weeks the Lord has been talking to me about my desire and my prayer for this generation and the next. I have said the last several years that I am a person about revival, I want to pastor a people of revival. The Lord began to speak to me and say you are not a person of revival, you are a person of discipleship.

To be clear, I love revival, revival is necessary at times and revival is biblical. What the Lord showed me though was, revival without discipleship will not produce lasting fruit. Revival has the root of revive. Revive means to restore to life or consciousness, to give new strength or energy to, and to restore interest in or the popularity of.

revival is necessary, but if we are constantly needing to be brought back to life or to be given new strength every week, or need our interest restored in the things of God we are missing it somewhere. this is when we need to go from revival to discipleship.

We can all hit dry times, miss some days of bible reading and things like that, but that is not fixed through revival it is fixed through discipleship.

To be a disciple or be discipled means that we are a follower of Jesus, one who follows His Word and lives how he lived. When we become a people of the Word, when we study the life of Jesus, when we study the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament we learn what we are to live as, we discover who we are in Christ and we discover the path to victory laid out in Scripture.

There are always needs and times of refreshing, but to try to live from a place of revival instead of the place of daily following Jesus, is to miss the beauty of the Christian life. Revival is wonderful but revival achieves its purpose when it leads to discipleship. A daily time of prayer, worship, reading and a deep study of the Word. Reading Scripture is great, we are changed when we study it and allow its truth to take deep root in our hearts and spirits.

Ephesians 4:21-24 NASB “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Romans 12:2 AMPC “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

I love revival and moves of God. I love great worship services. Let passionate worship cause you to pursue the person of Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation the Word reveals Jesus because the Word is not a book it’s a person.

John 1:1-5 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

If you have been a person of passionate worship, don’t lose your worship ask Holy Spirit to add to worship and unending hunger for the Word of God. If you are passionate in prayer, begin praying passages of Scripture. If you long for signs, wonders and miracles, remember the foundation of those things I’d the Word of God.

I am a very passionate person, I love the passion my generation walks in. I am someone who is quick to follow where I see God moving. I’ve also learned I have to be careful. The river of God is made up of many streams and just because God is moving in amazing ways in one stream does not mean I am supposed to be over there. Unity in the body of Christ does not mean we all do everything. True unity is me operating in my call and gifting so and celebrating the guy next to me who is doing something completely different.

The disciples came to Jesus one day and said that a group of people were baptizing but they didn’t walk with them. Jesus’s response was let them baptize, if they aren’t against us, they are with us.

Regardless of what stream you are in. Whatever your passion and call is, make the Word the foundation of your life and what you do. When revival happens, praise God and flow in it but move into discipleship at the right time.

There have been many discussions and books written about why particular revivals died, stopped, or gradually dissipated over time. I believe the answer in a nutshell is that those revivals became about the revival and not about discipleship. Many revivals have in turn lead schools of revival, when really we need to lead schools of discipleship.

The Apostles didn’t go spread the fire of Pentecost, they spread the gospel and made disciples. Love the move of the Spirit and remember the Spirit was given to us to help make disciples.

If we put Mathew 28 and Mark 16 together, we make disciples through teaching and that leads to new tongues, laying hands on the sick, and casting out devils.

Today’s ask for a new desire for the Word of God and to hear the Word taught, ask for a hunger. Spend time in places like Psalm 119 and Proverbs three and four. Develop hunger by reading the portions of Scripture that talk about its power and promise.

I do pray that you are revived today if you need it and I pray that the reviving will lead you to the Word so that you can be sustained and begin to grow. Become a healthy believer with a steady diet of the Word.

Pentecost 2018: Build A Bridge

The celebration of Pentecost was a few weeks ago but I am just now getting around to posting. At Passover we talked about tearing down walls; tearing down walls between Jew and Gentile, tearing down walls of racism, and more. There have been several things on my mind for Pentecost since Passover all these things have an over arching theme of building a bridge from one thing to another.

Pentecost is not just a New Testament thing, Jews had been celebrating Pentecost for years. Let’s build a bridge.

 

From Old Testament to New Testament

Jesus is the bridge between Old Testament and New Testament. A bridge connects two things together. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it, to show us how to live it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the things that happened in the Old Testament are an example to us and were written down for our instruction.

James 5:10-11 MSG “Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.”

There is so much for us in the Old Testament, Jesus is on every page! We can’ truly understand the New Testament without understanding the Jewish customs of the Old. We can’ tree the completeness of the Old without the person of Jesus! As we talked about tearing down the walls between Jew and Gentile at Passover, let Jesus be your bridge at Pentecost.

In the Old Testament Pentecost was a celebration of the giving of the Torah, the Word of God. In the New Testament a new dimension was added to the celebration, the coming of the Holy Spirit! Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us into all truth and bring to remembrance the Things He said.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Let Jesus be your bridge. See the fullness of the Scriptures, learn from the stories in the Old and the parables in the New.

 

From the Founding to the Future

It’s easy for any of us to look at what God is doing right now and get so focused on that we forget where we have come from. In recent years we have heard of things like worship wars and the divide between the older and younger generations. What does a bridge do? It connects one generation to another. Yes, God is doing a new thing and it is springing forth. Yes, the message is the same and yes, the methods are totally different.

We need to be thankful for broader Christian history. Specifically each of us needs to be thankful and look to our denominations or movements history. We are only where we are at because of the people before us.

Today’s Church is dealing with the newly wrapped and presented heresies of the past we need to cross the bridge back into the past and grab the creeds, and theologies of our fathers and stand firm on the Word of truth. No matter how new something may look, universalism is still false teaching and saying we don’t need the Old Testament is a lighter version of the Marcion heresy that says the Church has replaced the Jews. When we don’t know history we are doomed to fall at the same places our fathers did and possibly even fall in places they did not.

Wether your Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, whatever stream God has placed you in, don’t forget your founding. Honor your fathers and mothers, hold to the truth, correct errors, and keep building.

 

From One Move to the Next

In that same line of thought, as the body of Christ, we need to continually move forward. We remember what God has done, we walk in what God is doing and look forward to what He will do next. The downfall of every great revival is that it wasn’t passed to the next generation. The loss of great ministries is when a leader doesn’t raise up a successor.

We become so worried about preserving a system or a style that we lose sight of why we were doing things in the first place. We do well to remember two things about Israel, they always followed the cloud when it moved and they never did well with blessing.

We need to be thankful for everything God has done, yet, the same disciples that were filled in Acts two were refilled in Acts four. When Israel was blessed they took their eyes off God and put on what He was doing or what He was giving them. How many times in the Church have we put our eyes on the miracles and the money and taken them off the Master?

Let’s remember the purpose of the bridge. To move from one place to the next and to be connected so if we forget something, we can go back and get it.

Theowhat?

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a mocha and a water, staring at this screen with my heart full about what I want to write today but I cannot come up with a good opening to capture your attention. I’ve been a Charismatic Christian all my life. I believe God still speaks today, in healing, prophecy, even unusual feelings such as goosebumps, falling down, etc.

With this wonderful introduction I am just going to state what’s been on my mind the last few days concerning my tribe in the body of Christ. I think many in the charismatic, prophetic, healing and such streams have become focused on experience to the point we have a lesser focus on Scripture and making sure our experiences are theologically sound.

I am all about experiences, I believe in experiencing God but I have watched some services lately that have had little Bible teaching in them. There has been round about talk from Scripture but no direct teaching. On the other side of this coin there is much Scriptural teaching on all that God will give you but little emphasis on magnifying God in our hearts, daily worship of Him, and the importance of delighting in God for God Himself.

Charismatics tend to dismiss theology, saying just focus on Jesus. But if your understanding of Jesus is simply based from experiences at events and not firmly based in Scripture, the “Jesus theology” you have may not be biblical.

The New Testament warns us about false teaching, false prophets, and other wrong interpretations of Scripture. While we like to focus on our experience and experience is good our first priority must be the Word of God, the Bible.

Theology is good! Let me say it again, theology is good. A right and thorough study of Scripture is important, it is the thing that will keep us from false experiences. The devil comes as an angel of light to be able to deceive. That deception will be easy if your relationship with the text of Scripture is shallow.

We know that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that should mean the written Bible is of utmost importance to us. If you see theology as dead and dry it isn’t. Men like Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards reached thousands in one service in the days before technology and social media. Those men walked in power that our generation hasn’t touched. Charles Finney who is known for theology and lectures would walk by people and they would cry out in repentance. When was the last time one of us had that happen?

Reading theology, old books, and even old sermons have the ability to draw us closer to God unlike the books of our day. With all due respect to our generations, books of old carry more of a weight and honor of God than the vast majority of our books. The books of old and book today written in that same manner go to the deep places of the Bible.

Encouragement is important but so is challenging ourselves and searching out the deep things of Scripture. It is just on my heart this week to encourage us all to go deeper in our relationship with God. Go deeper in knowing the person of Jesus. Get a book of sermons by Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards. Ask Holy Spirit to take you to deeper places in the Word. A experience of feelings is wonderful but nothing compares to the deep study of the Word of God. Scripture can touch the believer deeper than any feeling in a worship experience.

Understand, I’m not against experience, we just need to be based in the Word not experience. When we have a solid Biblical foundation, alarm bells will go off when we read a book that doesn’t line up with the Bible. Jesus is first experienced in the depth of His Word. Take time today to read Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about the Bible. The Word of God is eternal and will change our lives. A deep understanding and study of the Word (theology) will lead to a fuller, deeper and more stable experience.

Challenge yourself this year to read a deep book, don’t go fast with it, read it slowly, study it, read it with your Bible. Go deeper in God by going deeper in His Word.

Soon, I will be starting a series called Jesus Series 2018. In this series we will be looking at the theology in the life of Jesus. I believe it will give each of us a deeper love and understanding of our savior.

Walking with Jesus

It’s a funny thing being a Christian. You get saved and you start this journey of living like Jesus. The Bible calls this being a disciple but it seems as time goes on we tend to forget Jesus. I know we would say that’s not true but if we’re honest at one time or another all of us would have to admit that we’ve fallen into the trap of just going through the motions. We do our checklist: go to church, pray, read the Bible and maybe a few other things.

Martin Luther once said “Everyday we need to be reminded of the gospel because everyday we forget it.”

Matthew 13:52 NLT “Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.“”

As Christians we can develop a mindset that the gospel is basic, it’s the beginning and once we grow a little that the birth, death and resurrection is just something we know. When it comes to our daily walk with Jesus, the life of Jesus and the major events of incarnation (the birth of Jesus), His death and resurrection need to continually be a source of meditation and comfort.

When we read the words, new gems of truth as well as old, there are multiple meanings we can see there. Old and New Testaments, Jewish roots and in Christ realities, reformed theology and charismatic renewal, and on and on this list could go.

As we walk with Jesus we need to pray that we don’t just see black and red words on white paper but that the words we read become alive to us.

John 1:1-5, 14 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

When we grab a hold of the truth in that passage our Bible reading will never be the same. Our relationship with Jesus will never be the same.

God is so vast, Jesus is so vast that no matter how many years you have read and studied the Bible there is always more to learn. When we are firmly planted in Truth – God’s Word – our growth will never get off the right path. There are new things to learn and those new things will always line up with Scripture.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will connect things that we have been taught don’t go together. I have really been seeing that the last few days in my own walk with Jesus. We have to be willing to get out of our natural minds and see the unity in the spirit.

We all find ourselves at times going through the motions. We find ourselves reading and not getting anything out of it. We find ourselves praying and feeling like our prayers are hitting the ceiling.

Take a moment today and pray the two passages of Scripture I mentioned. Pray that how your relationship with God started will be connected to your present and that joy would rise in your heart. Pray that it would no longer be words on paper but you would receive life when you read the Bible.

One of the keys to getting out of a spiritual slump is to not give up. Go revisit the gospels and Paul’s letters again. Pray that as you read it would be life and encouragement. Ask and receive understanding and strength.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will have ups and downs. The important thing is we don’t give up in down times and in good times we still move forward with tenacity.

Passover 2018: Tearing Down Walls

This year as I have been praying over my Passover post, one scripture has come over and over in my mind. Ephesians 2:14 NIV “For he himself is our peace, who has made two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

Passover is all about freedom from bondage and a shift in thinking. For the Hebrews to come out of bondage, it wasn’t enough to just physically leave Egypt, they had to mentally leave slavery.

The Church and our world today are both bound with wrong thinking and wrong perceptions. During this cycle of feasts in 2018; the Hebrew year 5778, a year of new beginnings, a year of war. This is also a seventy year, seventy meaning a choice between unity and disunity. Israel’s seventieth anniversary is this year! I want to focus on tearing down walls in the church world and in the world.

ONE NEW MAN

From the very beginning God intended for Jew and Gentile to be one. Even in the Old Testament (First Covenant) Gentiles connected with the Jewish people. Moses father-in-law was a Gentile who said, “I will follow you, but let me first go get my people and then come back to you.” It wasn’t until Acts ten that Gentiles first heard the gospel. From that time the enemy has pulled out all the stops to keep Jews and Gentiles separated. The truth is we as Christians have a Jewish Savior, a Jewish Bible, we have a Hebrew heritage. Wether you want to call it Hebrew heritage or Jewish roots, the New Testament (Renewed Covenant) is clear, Jesus never intended to start a second group divorced from the first.

Galatians 3:9 NASB “So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

Romans 11:13-24 NIV “13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

There is much talk about end times and rapture and how almost all signs are fulfilled. Forget natural signs. Scripture is clear that Jesus is coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle. The Christian Church even among people in the same denomination are so divided we are not close to the Lord’s return. Even with how far off we are with that, Jesus is not stopping in Jerusalem to get the Jews and then stopping at denominational headquarters to get the Christians. He is coming back for one new man. We Christians are called to provoke the Jews to jealousy. That isn’t going to happen because we have big bank accounts, that is going to happen because our relationship with Jesus produces revelation of the relevance of the first covenant and obedience to the Word of God including participating in the joyous feasts each year, resting at Shabbat each week, doing acts of kindness and sharing the Jewishness of Jesus, Yeshua, the Messiah with His chosen people. To the Jew first then the Greek.

There is more that can be said on this subject but for all that see my Hebrew Heritage Series along with the Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles teaching series.

The last several years have seen a surge in a love for Israel among the Church and I praise God for that! Along with that though, we must begin reading the Bible with Hebrew eyes and a Hebrew understanding. We must love and share the good news with our Jewish brothers and sisters and become one new man.

If this portion of the post has stirred something in you, I want to encourage you to read the other series I have mentioned and to sow a Passover offering to bless the Jewish people. There are a number of great Christian ministries that are blessing the Jewish people and sharing the Messiah with them. If you do not know of one, I encourage you to give to Larry Huch Ministries. They support a hospital, have an olive grove, help Holocaust survivors and more. If you would like to learn more about the Jewish roots of your faith, also check out the recommended reading page.

TEARING DOWN RACISM

America almost seems more divided than ever when it comes to racial issues. Wether it is gun control, cops and communities, all out Twitter wars, our country needs a healing and the root of racism needs to be plucked up. We all know this is true, yet many in the Church, myself included have been drug by the political spirit into nasty divisiveness. What is more, most churches in this nation are still divided by color. It is time for us to overthrow divisive politics in our own individual thinking. Yes, we all have positions and thoughts and that is fine but the Church isn’t helping heal a broken world right now.

My prayer during this Passover season is that we in the body of Christ would have eyes to see. That we would come out of bondage to political ideology and reach out to those we disagree and hear their stories and learn how to pray with and for one another. It sounds cheesy but it’s true, there is only one race and that’s the human race. Examine your heart today has a political spirit taken root in your heart that has put you on sides concerning racial issues or issues made to be about race? Do you hear someone you disagree with and automatically boil with anger? Remove the roots of anger, bitterness, hatred and anything else that does not belong in your life. Take back control.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I try to keep these posts somewhat short and I’m already at length. Even though there is much more that can be said on these and other topics, I want to leave you with one thought. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb out of the hand of the enemy. That is Passover in a nutshell. Thanks to Dr. Robert he idler for that phrase.

Four years ago at this time, the Lord brought me back to the teaching on Jewish roots that I didn’t understand when I was twelve. It began changing my life four years ago and this year God accelerated that. If your heart has not come alive to that, that’s ok. I hope you will still be encouraged through the teachings on this site. If something has awakened in you, please don’t ignore it. Search things out, read books, listen to teachings and pray that Holy Spirit would give you direction.

Pray for your nation, wether you live in America or somewhere else. Pray that bondage of your fellow Christians would be broken and that the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus will be open to Him. Recommit yourself to the Lord on this Good Friday. Ask for a fresh revelation of the cross and resurrection. Set aside time to take communion today and reflect on our wonderful savior.

Growing on Your Path

It has been a couple of months since I have posted but that has not been due to a lack of things to talk about. Since beginning #Jesus2018 it has been an everyday thing to hear and receive and as a result grow and gain revelation for my path, especially in the last four or five weeks. This is not going to be a post on what I have been hearing but my thoughts and observations of how we typically hinder our own growth and how to move forward.

One of the things Holy Spirit has been using to teach me lately is how the Hebrews moved in the wilderness, they moved when the cloud or pillar moved – they remained mobile. We need to do the same thing in our relationship with the Lord. Another thing I have seen is following in new obedience and going on a new path. One time Moses was told to strike a rock, the next time he was told to speak to it. Moses chose not to speak but to strike the rock as before and because of that decision Moses did not enter the promise land (Deuteronomy 20:11-12). Moses tried to operate in this season with last seasons word. As Christians part of our growth is changing seasons. Many times when the Lord begins to do something new in our lives it is easier to run to something comfortable, to the last revelation we received.

This has been a hard thing in my own walk with Father. Last season is so comfortable, an initial revelation or understanding is comfortable but a deeper understanding is unknown and at times scary. This is what has been revealed and is still being revealed to me. A few weeks ago Holy Spirit showed me that I was in a stream I was comfortable with but it wasn’t my stream. A message from Benny Hinn that was on YouTube confirmed this. As the weeks progressed I was also shown that the different streams I have been a part of formed the river that flowed out of me. A few days ago as I was catching up on some shows I heard the Lord say, Casey, it’s not healing that you are called to but deliverance and healing will be part of that.

In these last weeks the Lord has been making it clear who I am! Not what is comfortable, not what is easy, but WHO I AM! And I believe that is a word for many in the body and that has been confirmed through words from Chuck Pierce and Lana Vawser. We are in a season of finding our identity.

I have seen my foundation as who I am but you build on a foundation. My passion has always been for a continual revival and I am gifted and trained in the ministry of deliverance. These things are streams in me that make up the river. This has been growth. I have always heard and talked about the stream and BAM! A few days ago Holy Spirit says, let the streams in you make your river.

I discovered that I was trying to fit a mold, multiple molds actually – We have to stop! Jesus made each of us different for a reason, He used no mold. Denominations, movements, associations, they are to be vehicles not molds. Each car manufacture makes many different models under the same name, this is how we need to view the body of Christ. So many times we are running a race against each other, all trying to one-up the other and appear more spiritual and have the latest revelation. We are running the same race, we are a team, not competitors.

I am going to start posting on a regular basis again but I know these first two months have been important for me to become who I am and many people I walk this journey with are saying the same thing for themselves. Many are facing battles, keep your eyes on Jesus! Allow not only a shift but a complete new beginning in this year of 8! Get away with the Lord and ask for your identity to be revealed. As we are in this season of Passover and resurrection draw nearer to Jesus and see Him, hear Him and know Him in a new way.

I am praying that each of us grow beyond anywhere we have ever been and more than we could dream. I pray that each of us be willing to throw off old seasons and old identities. The Lord would urge you now to let go of past hurt and rejection, throw off bitterness and embrace the new identity He has for you. We are close to the beginning of this years feast cycle, take advantage of this time, draw close, Hear Father’s heart for you and receive your new identity.

Jesus 2018

This has always been my favorite picture of Jesus

It may sound funny declaring 2018 the year of Jesus (and no, this has nothing to do with the rapture) because everything is about Jesus after all. That’s the thing, everything is so all about Jesus that it’s not. I have become so accustom to Jesus, He’s not Jesus anymore.

We’ve read (I’ve read) the stories so much, I’ve become so used to them that I catch myself many times skimming and not reading. Every year around October I pray and ask the Lord for a “theme” for the next year. He spoke quickly, 2018 is the year of Jesus, a year to get to know me, personally, who I am, what I’m like, the point behind my miracles, get to know my Jewishness, get to know me through other traditions. As funny as it sounded I knew 2018 was the year of Jesus for me.

I’m the type of person that I get tunnel vision easily, the Lord can speak and I focus on that one thing. When it comes to Jesus, I know that I am called to read, study, understand and teach from a Hebrew (Jewish) perspective but yet in 2018 I will be looking at Jesus from many angles including the catholic view of communion and prayer. This is something the Lord has been slowly moving me towards for a year, being able to see Jesus through many different perspectives. No Christian group has everything about Jesus down, we’ve missed the biggest part by divorcing Jesus from His Jewishness. Anyway, as I have prayed and talked with the Lord these last few months I have been asking for fresh insight, a reintroduction to Jesus if you will.

Ephesians is my favorite of Paul’s letters, yet in Revelation it is the Church at Ephesus that is told that it had left her first love. Paul hardly issues any corrections in Ephesians, they are a model church. Now I wouldn’t say I left my first love, it’s not something Holy Spirit has said I’ve done but I have let Jesus, I have let the stories become usual to me. My prayer during these last few months has been that 2018 will be a year that I fall back in love with Jesus, that the joy of my salvation will be restored.

As part of the year of Jesus, I will also be reading one biography a month of a minister that has had a great relationship with the Lord and an outstanding ministry. I will continually read Isaiah, Proverbs, the Gospels and the Books of Moses all year.

the Hebrew year 5778 is the year of the door, it is the year of new beginnings, wisdom (thus reading Proverbs continually) and financial prosperity. 2017 for me has been very much about preparation, going through the most rewarding, yet the most warring season I’ve been in. Jesus is the door of salvation, we now that, but He is so much more and 2018 is a year that I will be discovering Jesus all over again. If this interests you, join me on the path of rediscovering Jesus in 2018. I will be posting here throughout the year, but much will be posted on Instagram and Twitter as well, so if you don’t already follow me go ahead and join me on the journey there.

I am looking forward to an amazing year of knowing Jesus better.     

The Lost Key of Personal Growth

In today’s society of microwave mentality and (the new and improved) 280 characters or less Twitter world, many of us have lost the ability to read anything longer than one page long. As much as we have access to in this digital age, if we are honest with ourselves we would say most have become lazy, lies on all sides of media, group think, and lives of running around like a chicken with our heads cut off have robbed us of personal growth.

I am a firm believer in reading books. Even though e-books have become popular I still believe it is more beneficial to hold the book in your hand and have a pen in the other to make annotations. It is necessary in our day to encourage us to become readers again and specifically readers of three types of books; books that encourage us, books that cause us to think deeply and biographies.  

Many people are able to read for pure enjoyment or as an escape of reality, there is nothing wrong with that but along with that, if we want to grow personally, if we want to learn, if we want to become better people we will read good books, books that make us better people.

Most of my reading as you can imagine centers around books on the Bible and theology. While I believe it is important for all believers to read these type of things from time to time, if you are not a minister, things that make you think deeply may be a book written by someone who has a different political opinion that you, or a book on psychology. if you have an interest in science or another field of study read those kind of books to help stimulate your thinking.

Biographies are amazing, we can read the good and bad in peoples’ lives. Reading biographies of great leaders also fit within the bounds of encouraging reading. I have found biographies to be inspiring, challenging and some are even very entertaining. Start with a historical figure you admire, and then move on to a biography of someone in your field that has accomplished great things.

If you are not a reader start by reading a book a quarter and as you become accustomed to reading move that up to a book a month. Once you have done this for a while you will develop an appetite for reading. You may even find yourself reading multiple books at a time. Next year I will read one biography a month along with whatever other reading I find myself doing. As you get in the habit of reading, make a list of books you want to read and maybe even the order you would like to read them. it can also be beneficial to set aside an extended period of time just to read books on a certain subject.

Even when you read for information you can find it to be relaxing. Why don’t you make an early new year’s resolution, whatever fits you, to read, whether it be a book every two or three months, or a book a month. Do yourself a favor in 2018 become a better person, become a more knowledgeable person, become better informed on things that interest you by reading more books.

Developing Unwavering Faith

Do you ever find yourself wondering why something hasn’t happened yet? Do you struggle from time to time wondering if what you’ve been believing for is going to come to pass? We all have thoughts of doubt at times but it’s what we do with those doubts that matter. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 in the Amplified Classic Bible tells us how to manage our thought life. “For the weapons of a warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, 5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Our faith can’t afford negative thoughts running freely in our minds. Romans 4:19-21 NKJV “And not being weak in faith, he [Abraham] did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He promised He was also able to perform.” Abraham did not waiver because he strengthened himself by thanking God in advance. Hebrews 11:6 says that we must have faith and believe that God rewards those who seek Him. Faith first and foremost isn’t used to get us stuff but to help us seek Him. When our faith only becomes about the getting of stuff you better believe you will get discouraged. Our faith must primarily be based on and in our daily relationship with God just because of the fact He is God.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” Proverbs 4:24-25 in the Message Paraphrase, “Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.”

When we keep our focus on Jesus and the Word of God and couple that with speaking things that are in line with God’s Word our faith will stay at an expectant level. A negative thought left unspoken dies. When we speak the thought of doubt is when the seed is planted and weakens our faith. To keep our faith strong our praise needs to be strong. Abraham thanked God before he ever saw the promise come to pass and we need to do the same.

It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to change our faith but when we have those thoughts we literally need to speak to them. Jesus spoke to the fig tree and it died. If we will speak to doubt and negativity it will die.

Faith is strengthened through time in the Word, praise, and helping other people. If you are believing for something, find someone believing for the same thing and sow into them. If you are believing for a family member to get saved, begin praying for a friends unsaved family member.

Faith only produces when it is firing on all cylinders. Get in the Word, start praising God, and sow into someone else and you will walk in an unwavering and immovable faith!    

Reformed and Always Reforming

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of what’s known as the Protestant reformation. I thought about doing a series of posts on the history and the theology that developed from the reformation but I will leave that to Ligonier and Desiring God. Instead I want to focus on why the reformation still matters, my connection with the theology, how certain things from its beginning need to be corrected and how we can walk in the spirit of the reformation today.

WHY THE REFORMATION STILL MATTERS:

Martin Luther and his 95 Theses are known as the catalyst of the reformation. The interesting thing is Luther wasn’t looking to start a new church, just reform the Catholic Church. When that didn’t go as Luther planned things progressed from there. Luther ignited a Biblical resurgence that was later carried by John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and my personal favorite, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and many others. I know many probably don’t read thick theological books or listen to theologically oriented sermons but we cannot have the practical without doctrine being established first and that is why the reformation still matters. Even if your church is Arminian/Wesleyan you still owe gratitude to Luther because without him, we would all still be in a system which base is not the Word of God but man-made extras. Yes, we have gotten off in areas as well, which we will address latter. There is no denying that through that point in history and the resurgence of the new Calvinism we began seeing in the early 2000’s hasn’t helped realign the Church doctrinally. I know the Church of today is all about practicality but if you don’t know and understand doctrine you will not know how to practically apply the Bible. You may not dive deep into the thick books but there are easy reads out there to help any level of study.

MY INTRODUCTION TO AND JOURNEY IN REFORMED THEOLOGY

My journey in reformed theology also known as Calvinism began in 2008. It actually began a little before that but I didn’t know it at the time. I had been listening to a radio broadcast from Pastor Steve Solomon since probably around the age of twelve. When I started driving I would go to his service on Saturday night then my church on Sunday mornings. in 2008 he started a series called Romans 8 in 2008. By late February of that year Riverwalk Fellowship became my home church. As Pastor Steve taught through Romans eight he mentioned two books; God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper and The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. I got both books from the church bookstore and that was the beginning of my discovery of Calvinism. This lead to reading more books by John Piper and Charles Spurgeon and listening to Mark Driscoll and Dr. James White. I began following The Gospel Coalition and its writers. Pastor Steve gave me Charles Hodge’s three volume Systematic Theology and for the three years I was at Riverwalk I dove head first into Calvinism. I left Riverwalk to move to Houston which lead me down a path of joining the Nazarene Church and studying Wesleyanism for three years. You may be wondering how I could go from a solid three years of Calvinism to the opposite view, my answer, the sovereign plan of God to expose me to both understandings. It is interesting that one of John Wesley’s closest ministry friends was a Calvinist. Jacob Arminius said Calvin had written the best Bible commentary. We can allow ourselves to become so easily divided. John Wesley said if it wasn’t for the belief in predestination he would be a Calvinist. There are parts of both theologies I agree with but when it comes to Christian beliefs I am Calvinist in theology and Word of Faith in practical application. These two things seem opposed to many but I have come to understand that the truth of God’s word is not relegated to one group. We all understand in part and we need each other. I got away from theology for more practical application in the last few years but recently the Lord called me back to refresh myself in my theological foundations so I am revisiting those first books recommended by Pastor Steve.

CORRECTING SOME ERRORS:

Martin Luther and some other reformers should be honored for how they helped move the Church forward but we should not celebrate them because they have also hurt the Church as much as helped it. Later in life Martin Luther became vehemently anti-Semitic which is a problem. We have a Bible because of the Jews, our savior is Jewish and while we are not called to be Jewish, Paul wrote in Romans nine through eleven that we should not forget we have been grafted in to a Jewish root and the root supports the branches. If you have read this blog for a period of time you know that I embrace a Hebrew understanding of the Bible and I love Israel. All of us can make mistakes in our beliefs, hating the Jewish people was one of Martin Luther’s and it spread throughout Church history but in our day we are seeing a number of believers begin to love Israel and the Jewish people again and for that I say praise God.

Many of  the early reformers were not known for embracing the move of the Spirit but what has been termed the “new Calvinism” has. Pastors and teachers such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms and Mark Driscoll have been able to open up many in Reformed churches to the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that as time goes on many who hold to Calvinist theology will also see the truth in Word of Faith teachings as well.

WALKING IN THE REFORMATION TODAY:

While the reformation did give rise to a specific theology it must be that and more to us today. The reformation happened because things in that day needed to come back into focus, just as things in our day and in the past have needed to become re-centered on Biblical Truth. We have a tendency in the Church world to disregard the last move with each new move, that’s why a reformation becomes necessary. As we continue to get new light on the teaching of Scripture let us remember we cannot build anew if we get rid of the foundation.            

Brought out and taken in

Do you remember the old song, He brought us out to take us in….though there be giants in the land I will not be afraid, so let us go at once to our inheritance? This is what I think of when the feast of Tabernacles comes up. Tabernacles is a celebration commissioned by God so that Israel would remember their time in the wilderness.

The Children of Israel were not supposed to spend forty years in the wilderness, it was supposed to be a short trip through the wilderness to the promised land. How many times do we all do this, stop longer than we should or not heed instructions? But that is not what Tabernacles is about. Tabernacles is about God’s grace, God’s Provision and God’s nearness. Many of us start our walks as Jesus followers excited and then slow down due to distractions. God led the Hebrews the long way so they would not be tempted to turn around and go back. Why? Because the short route included a couple battles along the way, that alone is a message in itself.

The root word for wilderness and the Holy of Holies is the same word. It’s when we find ourselves in desert places that God is so close. We have misunderstood wilderness in our western culture. We look at wilderness as a bad thing, yet it was the wilderness where God spoke to Moses and let His goodness pass him. It was the wilderness where God’s presence first came to the Children of Israel, it is the wilderness where Jesus was filled with power, and it is the wilderness of life where many of us have found God and move forward.

Now grant it we should never live there but we should understand what the wilderness is, it is not a bad place but a meeting place with God for transitional time. Think about the instances mentioned, the wilderness catapulted those individuals into a completely different realm of life. Tabernacles is a celebration of God being with us.

Leviticus 23:33-44 gives us the outline of the celebration of Tabernacles and there are two things I want to look at. First, the giving aspect. Leviticus 23:37-38 NKJV “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day – 38 besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.”

Now before we get into the giving aspect I want to share a quote from Tiz Huch, “God is not trying to get something from us, He is trying to get something to us”. The enemy has convinced so many believers that giving is a taboo subject and that all the Church is about is money. I’m going to have a moment of blunt honesty with us, we are willing to give money for game tickets, willing to give money to eat out, watch movies, and more why aren’t we willing to give to God, the one who has given us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). We must break out of this anti-giving, anti-prosperous mindset the enemy has over much of the Church. We are blessed to be a blessing and if we only have enough for what we need we cannot be a blessing to others.

Verse thirty eight says besides Sabbaths, gifts, vows, and freewill offerings. Giving during the Feasts is what opens the windows of Heaven. Malachi three says we rob God in tithes and offerings. If we are not givers, why should we expect the blessing of God? God loves a cheerful and prompt to do giver. We sometimes hear, that’s Old Testament, tithing and giving isn’t mentioned in the New, we can just give whenever. Jesus and all the disciples were Jewish, there was no need to go over things that were already established and Malachi three and four were written to Gentiles, it is for us. Giving is what unlocks the door of blessing. These are not celebrations relegated to the Jews, they are God’s feasts and we are grafted in to the root and invited to join the celebration. Do as Malachi says, give and see that God will open the windows and rebuke the devour. And give with expectation to reap a harvest.

The second thing I want to draw our attention to is found in verse thirty nine, on the first and eighth day there shall be a sabbath rest. Hebrews four tells us that a rest remains for the children of God. It is good, it is biblical for us to have one day each week that is set aside for rest, especially with the kids of lives we live today. The rest of God, can be present everyday for those of us who will be willing to walk in that rest.

Tabernacles is a reminder every year that we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and have open and free access to a relationship with God. One last Scripture in closing, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 NKJV “and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

Bury your poop because God doesn’t want to step in it. Yep, that’s in the Bible. Sin is poop and God doesn’t want to see or smell it. That’s why Romans six through eight is all about how we are free from sin and how to continue to live free from it. It’s Tabernacles, check your toilets, make sure they’re flushed and spray some Febreze, God is coming to hang out.

Atonement

To atone means to cover and every year the people of Israel collectively repented and the High Priest would go in to the Holy of Holies to atone for Israel’s sins. Then one day after hundreds of yearly sacrifices Jesus came and was the final sacrifice and we now have free and open access to God. That is the short version of the story but let’s look at the details, where love Himself is found.

Too many times as Christians we make an unnecessary division of Old and New Testament. The God of the Old is the God of the New and the law of Old was the grace of its time. When you look at the regulations in context of that time period it was God’s way of giving and showing His love. He made a distinction between His people. We read over and over God made a distinction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians during the plagues. Until the ministry of Jesus was accomplished the law represented the way of grace, when the sacrifice was completed we were able to enter fully into that grace. We must make a distinction between Galatians and Hebrews. Galatians tells us as Christians we are Blessed through Abraham and the book of Hebrews written to the Jewish people tells them it is no longer about a system of sacrifices but trusting Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.

This brings us to what we as Christians can gain from acknowledging the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-32 NKJV  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

  To afflict your soul means to humble yourselves. Leading up to Atonement are the Ten Days of Awe where you seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, extend forgiveness towards other and do acts of charity. All of this prepares you for the ceremony of the Priest sending the scapegoat into the wilderness as a symbol of sin being far from God’s people.

We no longer need a scapegoat and we don’t need to sacrifice every year, Jesus is that final sacrifice. Jesus has provided us with the open access the people of Israel longed for in the Old Testament. Let us follow the words of Scripture and humble ourselves and prepare to enter Tabernacles with a pure heart and clean hands.

The last thing that is done on Atonement is you go through the Mikvah, you are baptized. Baptism is not a Christian thing, it is a Bible thing and every year on Atonement Jews enter the Mikvah to be immersed in water symbolizing newness, that the mistakes and sins of the previous year are gone and that they are offering themselves anew to God.

We can all get off track in our lives, we can miss the mark from time to time and that is why God set up His feast calendar. the Feasts are like a guardrail so to speak, to keep our relationship with God on track. So while you may not do a traditional fast or choose to be baptized, or other things associated with Yom Kippur, all of us can take time to humble ourselves before God, repent, spend time thinking on the goodness of God and renewing our dedication to God, His Word and His ways.

None of these feasts are about rules, they are about loving God and setting aside specific and special times to be with Him. This is why God classified the Sabbath as a Holy Day (holiday), so that one day each week would be specifically set aside for you and Him. To set aside the busyness of life and say God this day is for you. It refocuses us and calms us. Take advantage of the calendar God has set up, humble yourself, refocus yourself, and prepare your heart to enter in to Tabernacles, a time when His presence can be more real to us than any other.

Reflection, Repentance and Reconciliation

Between Rosh Hashanah (New Years) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is a ten day period of time known as the Days of Awe. This is a time of introspection, repentance and reconciliation known as Teshuvah. We can repent any time we need to but the Days of Awe can still be good for believers to search our hearts and make sure our attitudes and actions are right.

In Deuteronomy 16:16 we are instructed to bring a special offering to God three times a year; at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Before Tabernacles it is customary to make sure you are walking rightly with God, part of this is making things right with those you have wronged in the previous year. As stated earlier, we can do this any time but God is specifically giving us an opportunity once a year to make sure we are right with those around us.

Matthew 5:23-24 MEV “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Scripture says god loves a joyful giver, we can’t be truly joyful if we are angry with someone. When we are right with others, we are also right with God. We are not saved by good deeds, we are saved by grace. Grace when it is truly received does lead to good deeds. We are not saved by works but blessings in both the Old and New Testaments have conditions on them.

The days of Awe are about honoring God by respecting our fellow man and making things right with people we have wronged and this is good for everyone. We’ve all probably made New Year’s resolutions in January, with the Hebrew calendar, the days of Awe is your resolutions; you right wrongs, you forgive and you do good to your fellow man. This prepares you for the day of Atonement that leads into the Feast of Tabernacles.  

Take some time during this period to search your own heart and actions; is there someone you need to forgive, someone you need to apologize to? Can you brighten someone’s day by giving them a compliment, give an offering to charity, volunteer at a community center. these are days to get our focus back. Jesus went about doing good it tells us in Acts 10:38. Use these days to be Jesus to someone and do good.

Joy: The Purpose of God’s Presence

What is the purpose of knowing God, the purpose of relationship with Jesus? in a word, Joy!

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.”

Be joyful at your festival. For the LORD your God will bless you…and your joy will be complete.

Sometimes the man developed systems can suck the joy right out of serving Jesus and that’s unfortunate. E. W. Kenyon said just as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the expositions of how to live the instruction of Genesis and Exodus, so too are Paul’s letters the explanation of how to live out Jesus teachings in the new creation.

Look at Galatians 5:22-23 NLT “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

I’ve always found it interesting that it’s called the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruits, with an s. Think about this when we walk in love, we will be joyful, we will be at peace (things won’t bother us like they used to), we will have patience, be kind and good, be faithful to our friends and our calling, reply gently and exercise self-control. Am I the only one that looks at that and says, ‘Jesus I need help’. This is the purpose behind Rosh-Hashanah, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

Rosh-Hashanah, the celebration of a new year and victory. Jesus of course is our atonement, this is a good day for self reflection, repentance, and fresh commitment (this is why the Jewish people go through the Mikvah (baptism), a symbol for new life. Tabernacles is a remembrance of dwelling in tents and entering the promised land, which is why on Rosh-Hashanah people eat an apple with honey.

Even in the midst of atonement and a time of reflection, we pass through the waters of baptism and enter into new life as we progress towards tabernacles and a celebration of harvest!

Let tabernacles be a time when the joy of your salvation is renewed. Receive fresh vision! Make a new dedication and go forward in the goodness of God!    

Jesus – Our Water & Our Light

The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) is the last feast of the festival year and the beginning of the Jewish new year. There are three holidays associated with this feast; Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). This feast, like Passover has feasts within feasts.

Before we get into different aspects of the feast, I want to jump right to Jesus. There are two main ceremonies during Tabernacles, the water ceremony and the light ceremony. Late Autumn is typically a season of drought in Israel, so each day the priests would ceremonially pour water on the altar. People would chant Isaiah 12:3, “Then you will joyfully draw water from the well of salvation.” It was on the last and greatest day of the feast, when the largest amounts of water was flowing behind Jesus we read these words in John 6:37-38 NASB “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water‘”.

Remember when Jesus said to the woman at the well, if you drink of me you will never thirst again? Jesus is saying on this last day of the feast, I am the answer to the prayer you pray at this time every year. I am the water you are praying for, I am the salvation the Bible speaks of. Water is sustainment, Jesus is our sustainment. At Passover we discovered that Jesus is our sacrifice, our doorway into the presence of God. At Tabernacles He is our continual refreshing, our strength, our joy.

The second major ceremony is the light ceremony that took place in the women’s court. The story from rabbis is that the oil for the lights were of such quantity that when the lamps were lit the entire city of Jerusalem was illuminated. It is with this backdrop Jesus speaks the words of John 8:12 NASB “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In one celebration we see Jesus as our salvation, our constant refreshing and the ever giving light of the path of our life and we haven’t even gotten to the glory part of this feast yet. Every Feast points to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus which allows for the fullness of its joyous celebration.

In the coming weeks we will look into the glory side of this feast. With this feast and every feast, with every aspect of our lives, we can celebrate because Jesus is the door to our Father who only desires good for us.

Psalm 91:14-16 MSG “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’ll 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 a long life, give you a long drink of salvation.”    

Love: A breakdown of 1 John 4:9 – 5:21

Instead of writing a full blown post on God’s love and us loving others, I decided to let a particular passage, 1 John 4:9 – 5:21 (NIV) speak for itself, with a few thoughts from me.

 This is how God showed his love among us:

A –  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

[Because of salvation we have the ability to live as Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit. We may mess up from time to time but forgiveness is there and strength to keep going].

B – 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

C – 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

D – 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

E – 19 We love because he first loved us.

F –20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command:

G – Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

H – This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

I – In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

J – This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

K – For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

L – We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

M – 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

N – 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

O –12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

P –13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Q –14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

R –15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

S – 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

T – 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

U –19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

V – 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.

W -And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

X –21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

[anything we put before God is an idol. Whatever we put first, whatever we think most about, that is the god of our life. If we set aside devotional time or prayer time for something else, that thing is an idol].

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: