Resurrected & Rejuvenated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Creation Realities: E. W. Kenyon

Your Best Life Now: Joel Osteen

The Blessing of the Lord: Kenneth Copeland

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Crossing Over & The Cross of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus 12-14

Romans 6-8

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

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

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

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

New Creation Realities by E. W. Kenyon

The Crucified Life by A. W. Tozer

The Cross by Rod Parsley

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

Feasts Giving Produces a Full Harvest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on the feasts and giving:

Larry Huch Ministries (Learn and give.)

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

Jesus and the Jewish Festivals: Gary M. Burge

Give to the Church of God Israel Initiative  

Passover 2017: Open Door to Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following Jesus – The Way of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 7: Tabernacles, Sabbath & One New Man

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

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

Tabernacles:

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

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

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

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

Sabbath:

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

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

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

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

One New Man

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

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

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

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

Part 6: Pentecost – The Word and Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Celebrating the Word of God

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

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

  1. Celebrating Increase

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

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

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

  1. Celebrating the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

Harvesting in the ‘New’ Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 5: Jesus – Our Passover Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources to help prepare for Passover:

The Messianic Passover Haggadah

Passover Seder Plate

*Also see the Jewish Roots section of the bookshelf

Part 4: Linked with God’s Timing

timingHave you ever been in a service and someone sitting next to you was clapping off beat? That can drive you crazy. Have you ever mixed up a date or time when you were supposed to be somewhere? Being out of timing can really mess things up at times. We’ve probably all heard the phrase, ‘God’s never early, He’s never late, He’s always right on time’. We don’t really need to worry if God is in the right time, it’s us that needs to make sure we are in His timing.

God set timing in Genesis 1:5 and 14 NKJV “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (14) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years;””

There are two calendar systems today; the sun calendar that has a 365 day year and the moon calendar that has a 360 day year. The Bible calendar is a lunar calendar. Each new month in the Bible calendar begins at the new moon. The Feast Calendar begins in the spring with Passover and the yearly Calendar begins in the fall at Tabernacles. Each of these beginning points signal new life. Now I’m not saying we have to do away with the Gregorian calendar, just as you can operate on a fiscal calendar and a yearly calendar, we can go by the Biblical months and seasons while still living on the worlds calendar.

The purpose of this teaching and the three posts following it, is to help us become more in line with Gods time and His way of thinking. This series has never been about becoming Jewish but understanding we have been grafted in and that the root of this tree is Jewish. The Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles are not Jewish Feasts, they are the Feasts of the Lord. Purim, which will be celebrated next month, Esther says, all your generations and those aligned with you shall celebrate this feast at this time each year. As one grafted in, I am aligned with the Jewish people.

The thing we must receive is that with each new month Father is offering us an invitation to come into His plan and assignments for that month. The tribe of Issachar is the tribe that understands the times and the Torah, this was key as Israel moved forward and it is key for us today. The three feasts are part of Gods timing. Leviticus twenty-three outlines the feasts; The Sabbath, Passover and Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Feast of  Weeks (Pentecost), Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. These feasts and notice Sabbath is included all allow us access to God in a special way. This is not a legalistic thing and yes we have access to God 24/7/365 because of Yeshua, that does not change the special invitation extended three times each year to come into a special presence of God and receive from Him.

Paul told the Corinthians that because our Passover Lamb, Yeshua was sacrificed we celebrate the Feast. You do not have to celebrate, this is not a salvation issue but we get to participate in the celebration as we have been grafted in. The next four weeks we will get into these in depth and explaining the meaning and how Jesus is present in each one, this week we just want to recognize the calendar and timing of God.

Each of the twelve months of Gods calendar is associated with one of the Tribes of Israel. When I began to study this, things that went on each month began to make sense because it lined up with what God does in that month. God never changed, He never switched calendars we did. Jesus didn’t institute Christmas and Easter, Constantine did. I am not saying don’t celebrate those holidays but understand the death and resurrection of Jesus is present in Passover and Firstfruits and the birth of Jesus is symbolized in Hanukkah.

While there is blessing from God in many areas He did set up special blessings associated with the feasts.  Nehemiah 12:44 NKJV “And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes…” this is also a picture of Gods timing, we see three types of giving, there is thirty, sixty and hundred fold. To receive hundred fold return we must have all types of giving and giving is more than money, I have given books, paintings, and bought meals as firstfruits and offerings. Just as the Children of Israel were to obey in giving we need to listen closely to the voice of the Lord in how we are directed in our giving. Proverbs 3:9 tells us to honor the Lord with the firstfruits of increase, this is different from tithe and brings about a different blessing, it’s all about the timing!

We are all familiar with Malachi three, “prove me that I will not open the windows of heaven and poor out blessing”, if we want to walk in a different level of blessing we need to get in Gods timing. Hosea 4:6 says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Jesus said, you shall know the truth and that truth shall make you free. Truth does not free us, the truth we know, the truth, we understand makes us free. The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver, this series is not to bring about legalism but to expose us to the joy of walking in our roots. We are talking about Gods timing in feasts, feasts are celebrations, they are parties. God throws three major parties a year, each week He provides us with a day of rest, let’s take Him up on these wonderful invitations – when we do this, let’s watch how much deeper our relationship goes, let’s see how much our joy increases and let’s watch the blessing flow unhindered in our lives!

Part 3: Renewing the Mind

hebrew-mindRomans 12:1 NIV “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” But how do we do this? Look at verse two in the Amplified Bible; “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].”

In the last few weeks we have been talking about the roots of our faith and the importance of being connected to the root. Looking back at Romans eleven we remember that the root of the tree is Biblical Judaism, the natural branches are Jews who believe in Messiah and the grafted in branches are Gentiles that come to faith. We have been grafted in to a Jewish root through the Jewish Messiah, Philippians 2:5 says we have the mind of Christ, a Hebraic way of thinking and not a Greek way of thinking, this is our topic for this week. We have talked about Constantine and how he bribed the church with stopping persecution if they allowed him to make changes but look at Scripture itself, Pharaoh said just worship here, don’t leave Egypt. Pharaoh provided a stipulation that would have kept them in bondage and would have eventually taken away worship again.

During the time of Jesus the Greek and Roman way of life was beginning to heavily influence the Jewish people. Antiochus endeavored to spread Greek culture everywhere; he did this by robbing the temple, suspending Jewish worship and forbidding Jewish ceremonies. Gymnasiums were erected and many priests neglected duties to play in the games. Look at these words from A History of the Jewish People in the times of Jesus Christ by Emil Schurer:

“Antiochus directed his energies immediately to a war of extermination against the Jewish religion. Throughout the whole land the Jewish religion was to be rooted out, and worship of the Greek gods instituted. The observance of all Jewish rites, especially of the Sabbath and circumcision, was forbidden on the pain of death; the Jewish mode of worship was abolished. In all the cities of Judea sacrifices were to be offered to heathen deities. Officers were sent into all the districts, charged with the duty of seeing that the commands of the king were strictly obeyed. Wherever anyone showed reluctance, obedience was enforced with violence. Once a month a rigorous search was instituted: if a copy of the book of the law were found in the possession of anyone, or if anyone had his child circumcised he was put to death. In Jerusalem on the 15th of Chislev of the seleucid year 145, that is, in December B.C. 168, at the great altar of burnt-offering a pagan altar was built, and on 25th Chislev, for the first time, a sacrifice was offered upon it (1 Macc i. 54, 59; this is “the abomination that maketh desolate of which the book of Daniel speaks). This sacrifice according to the second book of Maccabees, was rendered to the Olympic Zeus, to whom the temple of Jerusalem has been dedicated. The Jews were also compelled to keep the Dionysiac festival, crowned with ivy, marching in procession as devotees of Bacchus”.

 Three years later at the same time we have the revolt and victory of the Maccabees which leads to the institution of the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) that Jesus celebrated in John chapter ten. The purpose of all of this was to introduce and make normal the pagan practices of the Greek and Roman culture among the Jews. Fast forward to after the time of Jesus to that of Constantine and we see how and why the Church stepped away from her roots. The aforementioned quote is hard to read but it is the truth of that time and shows us why Constantine was able to do what he did.

Let’s look again at Romans 12:2 AMP “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 new attitude,…”

2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature all together); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the new and fresh has come!” Jeremiah 31:33 tells us that the new is the Torah being written on our hearts.

In light of the history we have discussed and the Scriptures we have read we can see that from the very beginning the enemy has desired to change the understanding and mindset of the Church. Amos prophesied that the tabernacle of David would be restored in the tabernacle there is no wall separating Jew and Gentile. Jesus came and took down the middle wall of partition and for centuries the enemy has built it back up and kept it in tact.

Jesus said the first commandment is to love God and the second to love our neighbors. The only way we can fulfill these commands is to know the Word and to teach it to our children. Our minds are not renewed by reading the Bible but by doing what it says. Over time in history everything that had been laid out by God was taken out of the Church. We quit celebrating the Feasts of the Lord, we quit honoring the Sabbath, our worship has become something it never was, we have by and large lost the biblical expression of dance. As we saw historically the desire to spread Greek and Roman culture in falling in line we have lost biblical expressions and holy days.

We need to renew our minds and recover the Hebraic way of thinking, The Scriptures lay out home life in a way that is lost in the Greek mindset. In Jesus day, the religious life was centered in the home not the Synagogue. The Mezuzah adorned the entrance of every home, the first thing you saw was the Word of God on the doorposts. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9 parents were instructed to teach the Word to their children to talk about it when they woke up, went to bed and when they ate. The Greek/Roman culture under Constantine made the newly built churches the center of religious life and banned meeting in the home.

As our minds are renewed in the Word we must recover a Hebraic view of God, standing in amazement of who God is. The Greek way of thinking launched the Church into theological debate which lead to the dark ages and the creation of countless denominations. Instead of trying to comprehend God’s vastness through our mere human intellect like Greek thinking has taught us, let’s once again embrace the majesty and mystery of God. Let’s put aside old church councils that outlawed the roots of the Church and once again embrace the root that we are connected to. The Jewish people also have an amazing reverence for the Scriptures. Something that is definitely lost in the theological books of Christianity. You can have a three volume theology that totals over 1,000 pages and only have twenty pages devoted to the Bible itself. The Synagogue was a school, everyone was taught and learned the Scripture. Each year the Jews celebrate Simhat Torah (Rejoice with the Torah) in this celebration the people of the congregation take the scrolls and dance around the sanctuary with them to joyful music. At age six Jewish children start daily study of the Torah in classes and by the time of bar mitzvah, most observant Jews are expected to have the Torah memorized and have a pretty good understanding of it.

Think about how far we the Church have come away from such respect of the Bible. Let’s say that we were to teach our children in this way and by time our sons and daughters turned thirteen we expected them to have memorized the four Gospels and Acts. Let’s say at age six we started daily taking them to another few hours of school before or after school to study the Bible. This is hard to imagine isn’t it? I can tell you that after reading on what a Jewish boy must accomplish before he can be bar mitzvahed I clearly don’t have the knowledge of the Word I should and that I want to have.

It is these types of things we, the Church, have lost in separating ourselves from our roots. I encourage all of us to take The Word of God more seriously than we do. We shouldn’t be letting our pastors study the Bible for us. A love for God should also mean a love for His Word. This week let’s continue the process of receiving what is being presented in this series. Father I ask that our hearts and minds would be open to seeing and reading the Word with a Hebraic understanding, as Scripture says we are new creations, help us go from a Greek and Western world mindset to a Hebraic understanding. Help us to read the Bible through the eyes of a Jewish Jesus. I ask that as we continue to go through this series you would break off old ways of thinking and renew us to our roots in the name of our Messiah, Yeshua we pray.

In the coming weeks we will look specifically at the Hebrew months and the Feasts of the Lord and how they relate to us as believers in Jesus. These posts will go in depth on how we think in a Jewish understanding, operating on God’s calendar and walking in and receiving the blessing from celebrating the Feasts that are found in the Torah, the five books of Moses.

I hope this series is being a blessing to you and along with this I will be posting on the Hebrew months as we enter them as well as doing other posts on the different feasts as we come to them. If you have a question or comment please leave it in the comments section. If I don’t have an answer I will tell you that I don’t know and hopefully I’ll be able to point you in the right direction. As we go through this series I encourage you to do some reading and studying of your own using the recommendations on the bookshelf page and using the resources available in the links.      

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A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ by Emil Schurer, Translated by John Macpherson; First Division, Volume I. pgs. 206-208.

Part 2: Seeing the Bible as One

bibleLast week we talked about the Jewishness of the New Testament, this week we are continuing the teaching on the Bible and talking about viewing it as one complete book and not two separate teachings with two different God’s. Many Christians see the Bible as God changing between Old and New Testament; going from anger to grace, from hate to love. Malachi 3:6, Jeremiah 4:28, Hebrews 7:21, 1 Samuel 15:29 and Psalm 89:35 are just a few Scriptures that speak of how God does not change.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 CJB “But you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it; (15) and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah. (16) All scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; (17) thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.”

 I want to highlight a few things from these verses; we must be convinced of what we have learned, we are to recall those whom we have learned from, wisdom leads to deliverance through trust in Jesus and Scripture is valuable for multiple reasons and equips us to do good.

The truth does not set us free, the truth that we know and apply sets us free. When we look at the Bible we must remember that the Old Testament says of the New Testament in Jeremiah 31:27-40 that the New Covenant is the Old written on our hearts. In our Bibles there is a since page separating Malachi from Matthew, it’s a page that says New Testament. Our perception would be better served if we tore that page out. There may have been no prophetic utterances in-between the time but God was still on the move. It was during the inter-testament period that the celebration of Hanukkah was instituted, which Jesus celebrated in John chapter ten.

Jesus came to fulfill the sacrificial law and he carried forward the teaching of the Torah in His Sermon on the Mount. It is crucial to our understanding of Scripture to see it as one book that has one teaching and not two separate systems of following God. As we go throughout the rest of this series we will see the keys and values in the feasts of the Lord, walking in the understanding and timing of the Hebrew months, the blessing of the Sabbath rest, and the importance of the One New Man.

In order to progress forward we must renew our minds concerning God’s Word and as we began to see though they eyes of a Jewish Jesus last week, this week we must understand we are talking about Biblical Judaism, not following man made ordinances, that is the very thing Jesus had against some of the leaders of His day, that they taught man made rules as the law of God.

All things written in the TANAKH (The Torah, the writings, and the prophets) was given for our understanding and instruction. four hundred and eighty four passages from the Old Testament are repeated multiple times in the New Testament, this shows us the connectedness of the Testaments.

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds and many of us as believers in Jesus need to have our minds renewed in seeing the Bible as one book and not two separate accounts of the nature of God.

As Jeremiah prophesied, let us allow God to write His Word on our hearts, let’s apply it to our lives and let it renew our minds. As Jesus taught and instructed from the Old Testament, let us receive it in our hearts and lives.

I pray that as we continue to progress through this series our hearts will be open to seeing the beauty of the roots of the faith, that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit has for us – the understanding and realization of the beauty and roots and the oneness of faith, the truth of knowing we are grafted in to the wonderful roots of Abraham.

Part 1: The Jewishness of the New Testament

jewish-jesusLast week I introduced a series on the Jewish roots of our faith, we will continue that series this week by talking about the Jewishness of the New Testament. The New Testament is founded on the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus). Jesus was not a Roman, He was a Jew, dressed like a Jew, taught and reiterated the teaching of the Torah to His followers. The only “sermon” Jesus ever gave was what we call the sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus reiterated the Ten Commandments.

To establish the Jewishness of the New Testament we must first find out the purpose of God for this new covenant. We find that purpose in Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – (32) “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them says the Lord. (33) but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.””

Law in this passage is the Torah which means teaching. As we looked at last week, we must distinguish between the teaching of God and the law of God found in the sacrificial system. Jesus came and fulfilled the sacrificial system but taught that the teaching of God is beautiful and should be followed. We can find legalism in both Judaism and Christianity. Any form of legalism and religion out of force and not love is gross to us and gross to God. Biblical Judaism, the Judaism that Jesus taught is beautiful and is for us. It is important to note that Jesus and His disciples were all Jewish, His audience was Jewish. We don’t even see Gentiles having an active role in the Church till Acts chapter  ten. Next week will look at seeing the Bible as one but for now we will establish the Jewishness of the new covenant.

Again going back to the sermon on the Mount, Jesus took each of the Ten Commandments and made them about the heart attitude and not action alone, this is what Jeremiah was speaking of when he said the Torah would be written on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.

The New Testament must be a Jewish book based on Jesus being a Jewish rabbi, the books being written by Jews and Luke if he was not born into Judaism was a convert. Many scholars have said that Jesus only read a Greek Bible and spoke Greek so He really didn’t embrace Judaism, this is false, whether He read a Greek translation of the Bible or not does not negate the fact He was a Jewish rabbi and taught the Torah.

It is also important to note that as we read the New Testament we remember that Jesus and the disciples never broke an instruction of the Torah. When religious leaders got mad at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath or for the disciples plucking grain, or for eating with sinners, the only thing that happened was that Jesus violated a personal interpretation not the actual Torah.

Mark 2:27-28 NKJV “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (28) Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” It is interesting to note how many miracles were done on the Sabbath, I believe this is because Jesus wanted to show how much He cares as well as draw a connection point to God’s command of rest which came from love and the healing of the body.

When new wine and old wineskins are talked about in Scripture Jesus is making Judaism not about ritual but relationship. At the time of Jesus everyone was still relying on Priests to make sacrifices, Jesus was saying there is coming a time when it will no longer be about sacrificial ritual but open relationship with God.

Look at this prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 NKJV “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which had fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up the ruins, and will rebuild it in the days of old; (12) That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the LORD who does this thing.” This is what Jesus did through the death and resurrection, He restored the tabernacle of David. In the tabernacle there was no middle wall separating Jew and Gentile. Jesus, the Jewish rabbi came to restore the unity of nations and bring back free access to God. This is why the veil in the temple was torn in half, this is why Paul said because Jesus our Passover lamb was sacrificed we celebrate the feast in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.

Paul was accused of forsaking the Torah and they both said he had not offended in one area; Acts 25:8 NKJV “while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended at anything at all.”   

No Jew forsook the Torah when they followed Messiah and Gentiles who were converted attended Synagogue and celebrated the feasts. This is not about legalism but receiving the beauty and blessing of Biblical Judaism in our lives, receiving the very things Jesus taught. For years all the early Church had was the Old Testament, it was their Bible. Even our New Testament contains 484 passages from the Old Testament cited a total of 695 times. Think of that. We wouldn’t even be able to have a New Testament without the first covenant and as Galatians says, we have been grafted in to the seed of Abraham, Romans tells us the root supports us we do not support the root.

The New Testament is thoroughly a Jewish book and next week we will look at how the Old and New Testaments are connected not separated. As we read the New testament let’s see the beauty of God’s teachings through its words. Let’s remember Jesus made it about the heart, let’s remember that is what the New Covenant is, not a doing away with the Torah, but the writing of it being placed upon our hearts and in our minds.

Introduction: Reclaiming What Was Lost & Stolen

eggThe tenth chapter of John tells us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. One of the biggest ways the enemy has done that is rebuilding the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile.  Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of  commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Jesus did not come to start a new religion, He came to point the way back to God and create open access to Him. Jesus came to end the sacrificial system and uphold the teaching of the Torah. This is why when He gave what is known as the sermon on the Mountain He affirmed the Ten Commandments and brought it into the heart attitude, He didn’t do away with them.

Today, I am starting a series on the Jewish Roots of our faith. There is too much to get into to cover in one post, so if you have questions keep tracking with the series as we will cover different topics and go more in depth as we go on.

We know Jesus was Jewish and He came to fulfill the law but that doesn’t necessarily mean He came to do away with what we call the Old Testament. Both Old and New Testaments in the original language make distinction in teaching, law, and legalism. Our modern translations translate all three words as law. With this understanding we see as we approach Scripture Jesus came to do away with the sacrificial system, being a once and for all sacrifice. We will get more into this when we talk about Passover in a few weeks and He sent Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out the teachings of Scripture, we will get more into this when we talk about Pentecost.

What I want us to see this week is how the Church went from being one with Jewish people to being against them. Even after the Ascension of Jesus, for many years the Church stayed connected to its roots, the feasts were celebrated, even by Gentile converts, believers went from house to house and to Synagogue. In the midst of this, the early believers suffered major persecution for following the teachings Rabbi Yeshuah (Jesus).

Fast forward to A.D. 312 during the reign of Constantine. Constantine was a power hungry ruler and he could not gain control over these Jesus followers so Christian history has it that in the midst of battle Constantine saw a cross come from the sky, gave his life to Jesus and won the battle. There is a historical problem; the monument to that victory does not contain a cross. Constantine made a deal with the believers, I’ll make the persecution stop if you allow me to make some changes to the way ya’ll do things. This was the beginning of the end of the power in the Church.

The ridding of the Jewishness of the Church began with the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. If you have heard of the Nicene Creed, chances are you haven’t heard of the Council that proceeded it.  There were other Councils as well; Antioch, France, Toledo and others. These Councils outlawed celebrating the feasts of the Lord and called them Jewish feasts, instituted Easter to replace Passover and banned honoring the Sabbath. Anyone caught violating these Councils would be punished by death. Constantine kept his position as a Priest in Paganism and ruled the Church, he converted many Pagan temples to churches, thus the design of our churches today. He outlawed home meetings and changed worship style. Thus the Church early believers knew was no more. As time went on the divide got worse. When Martin Luther restore the understanding of justification by faith he also saw one new man in Romans and zealously tried converting Jews, when it did not work he became angry and filled with hate towards the Jews, and the divide between Christians and Jews continued to worsen.

There is too much history to go in depth on a single blog post, if you would like to read further I recommend Dr. Michael Browns book, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. Paul said in Romans 11:18 that we don’t support the root, the root supports us. We have been grafted in to Israel. Galatians three tells us that those who believe are blessed with believing Abraham, Abraham the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus comes from the Tribe of Judah and is the lion of the tribe of Judah.

This series is not about legalism, Jesus was against a legalistic understanding of the teaching of Scripture. Jesus never offended one part of Torah, yet, some teachers of that day got mad at Him for healing on the Sabbath, it wasn’t a violation. As in that day, so it is in ours that people have taken the joyousness of the Torah and the Prophets and made them all legalism and have wrongly said they do not apply. Many say we are not under law but grace, this is a false understanding, we are not under legalism but Jesus carried forward the teaching of the Old Testament.

The phrases Old and New Testaments aren’t accurate, it is more accurate to say First and Renewed Covenant. Jeremiah wrote that a day was coming when the Torah would be written on the hearts, that’s what Jesus spoke of in Matthew five through seven.

As David said restore unto me the joy of salvation, that is the aim of this series; to restore the joy in reading and studying the entire bible, to understand and restore the joy of feasts and Shabbat, to understand and align with the blessing that comes in participating in God’s calendar of Firstfruits as well as laying the foundation to understand the Hebrew weapons of spiritual warfare.

In wrapping up this introduction, I bring us back to John 10:10 CJB “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.”  The lie that the enemy has presented to the Church is that Sabbath rest is a burden, celebrating feasts is legalism. Think about it, how can God throwing a party be legalistic. There is no difference in legalism of Jesus’ day and that of ours. We need to shun all forms of legalism including the lie that the Torah which means teaching of God is legalistic.

My prayer for us is that as we go through this series a joyous fire is ignited in us to return to the roots of our faith and that we see these things for how God meant them and not what the enemy has turned them into. I pray that you will have eyes to see the joy as I began to see it in 2014, I pray you don’t have the blocks I did when this was first introduced to me in 2012. I encourage you to read Romans nine through eleven to help set a foundation for where we will be going in these next weeks. You can also check out the bookshelf that has a section of material on Jewish Roots. I pray this series will be a blessing to you, cause hunger to rise in you and that you would have a desire to start your own journey in this area. If you have questions as we go along, ask in the comments, let’s learn on this journey together.    

Believing for More in 2017!

dtProverbs 4:20-27 NKJV “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet , And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

I posted back in October that 5777/2017 would be a year of awakening and miracles. In order for us to see that personally and in our churches we must be in the word. I am normally not a proponent of reading through the Bible in a year, I think most people can become to rushed and miss most of what they are reading but in 2017 I feel like I need to read through the Bible so I have decided to read through it chronologically.

Proverbs 4:20-21 in The Message says, “Dear friends, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart!” We must fully give ourselves to the word in 2017; reading, listening, thinking and speaking it. The Pastor of the church I am a part of has declared 2017 a year of the word and anyone in our services can tell his excitement has been building for 2017! But whether you attend Harvest Christian Center or not, 2017 can be a year you fully immerse yourself in the word!

Proverbs goes on to say in The Message, “Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul they’re bursting with health.” 2017 is the 70th anniversary of the start of the healing revivals of the late 40’s into the mid 60’s. I believe this 70th anniversary year will see a revival of that movement to those who give themselves to the word on healing and live in the manner in which those revivalists lived. As Paul said follow the faith of those, so we should follow the faith of them that walked in healings and miracles.

Believe for BIG things in 2017! Believe for your greatest dreams to come to pass! As Proverbs four ends with talking about our words and being on the right path, purpose in your heart to speak faith and speak nothing contrary to the Word. Purpose in your heart even now, before January first that 2017 will be a year of the Word, it will be a year of victory and a year of more of God’s goodness than you have ever experienced before!

The Word In Our Words

mouthsProverbs 18:21 NIV “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”.

Matthew 8:8 NIV “…But just say the word and my servant will be healed”.

Our words are powerful. Our words are so important James devotes the entire third chapter to the power of the tongue. The books of Psalms and Proverbs alone have twenty five plus verses dealing with the words we speak.

God created the world and everything in it except man with words. Jesus calmed the storm by speaking to it. Proverbs 6:2 NIV tells us “you have been trapped by what you have said, ensnared by the words of your mouth”.

The word ensnared is Strong’s #4334 meaning to be captured, seized, trapped, or taken prisoner. It’s clear to see that the words we speak are serious business.

Matthew 12:36-37 in the Wuest Expanded New Testament says, “Moreover, I am saying to you, Every word which men shall speak which has no legitimate work, which is inoperative and thus morally useless and unprofitable, they shall give an account of at the day of judgment, for by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned“.

The gravity of our words is astounding. When we speak death over our finances, I can’t afford that, I always have more month at the end of my money. When we speak death over our health; I get the flu every year, yeah such and such is going around and I always get what goes around. Instead of saying you always get what goes around, say, yeah that’s going right around me and I’m not catching it. When you start to develop symptoms speak the word. If your child is struggling with grades speak life into them don’t speak the bad grades they get. Pray they will retain what they study, tell them they can learn the subject they are struggling in.

Matthew 12:34-37 MSG “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

The words we speak are directly related to what we allow ourselves to think about. The saying goes garbage in, garbage out. If we allow ourselves to think negatively, if we feed on TV shows that aren’t uplifting, that are full of negative talk we will begin to speak those things.

Just like we choose what we watch we can and we must choose to speak words that line up with The Word. None of us became negative overnight. We didn’t learn to speak ill of our bodies overnight, and we won’t change our speech in a day. We must purpose to speak the word and we can only speak the word if we are in the word. If we aren’t reading our Bibles, reading good Christian books and not just the novels how are we going to get in the habit of speaking the word?  If you only hear one or two sermons a week how are you feeding your spirit man? Find some good Bible teaching to listen to on the way to work. DVR some broadcasts to come home and watch and not just four hours of all our favorite weeknight dramas.

Take the last two months of the year and make a quality decision, for the next 61 days I’m going to read a chapter a day, I’m going to listen to teaching as I drive to work, I’m going to DVR or watch online faith filled teaching. Do small things that help change your thinking, when your thinking begins to change your mouth will follow.

If we will do this consistently till the end of the year I can say I believe each of our attitudes and lives will be dramatically different and we will go into 2017 completely different people and next year will be a full year of nothing but speaking the word and seeing it produce results.

The bookshelf has resources to help change the way you think in different areas and help change the way you talk.

Finding Your Stream

streamThe body of Christ is large and diverse, as it should be. There are many different parts of the body, what I and others call streams and it is important to find which stream you are called to. It’s easy to see streams as denominations and that can be part of it but there is also the prophetic stream, word of faith, holiness, charismatic and many more.

The truth is there is overlap in many of these streams which I believe is purposed by God because there is much to Him and no one group has a corner on who He is.

1 Corinthians 12:14-20 NKJV “ For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.”

Now it goes on to say one part cannot say to the other part I don’t need you. This is where I have missed it in my own life. Over the years I have tried to be many different parts, I’ve tried to be in more than one stream. I grew up Pentecostal, found word of faith, charismatic reformed theology, back to word of faith, holiness, charismatic-Jewish roots and now I have finally found my place in the Church of God and in the word of faith stream.

While we all need each other I do believe we each have a place where we fit and when we try to be fully in more than one stream we cause confusion to our own function in the body.

My early Christian walk was founded in the teachings of Rod Parsley, Kenneth Copeland and Jerry Savelle. As I came across other streams I jumped in and swam around always finding my way back to word of faith. The word of faith stream is where my flow comes from. I’m not writing this to convince anyone that this is their place. I want each person to find where their gifts and callings best function, regardless of what stream that happens to be.

I agree with the prophetic and there is prophecy in the word of faith, yet, I am not called to the prophetic movement. My life message is healing and I fit specifically in the healing flow of the word of faith stream.

I wish I could put into words the freedom and fullness and honestly how settled I have become over the last two weeks in embracing my home.

Each of us have our place and when we find that place and quit jumping from stream to stream we can begin to fully walk in our calling and receive everything that God has for us.

I am grateful for everything I’ve learned on my journey but if I can help one person not take the same amount of time I did and find their place sooner that would make me very happy.

If you’re reading this and you have found yourself wondering throughout the Church trying to find your place, I encourage you to take some time and get still and quiet before God and ask what your call is and which place is yours. When you find it immerse yourself in it and walk in truth.

When it comes to recognizing your stream the only advice I could give is what message makes your heart come alive, what speakers truly stir your heart? That is the stream you are called to.

I learned much from other speakers, books and conferences but those never felt like home to me. I always felt more at home listening and reading Gloria Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Keith Moore and Bill Winston. When I asked the Lord a couple of weeks ago where I fit the answer was healing is your life message, Kenneth  Copeland and Oral Roberts are your mentors in that area and this lead me to the realization that the word of faith had been my home all along.

None of these other movements are wrong, neither are the speakers or books, it just wasn’t my place.

Exodus 23:20-25 AMP is a very interesting portion of scripture. “Behold, I am going to send an Angel before you to keep and guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Be on your guard before Him, listen to and obey His voice; do not be rebellious toward Him or provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgression, since My Name (authority) is in Him. 22 But if you will indeed listen to and truly obey His voice and do everything that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 When My Angel goes before you and brings you to [the land of] the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, I will reject them and completely destroy them. 24 You shall not bow down to worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do [anything] in accordance with their practices. You shall completely overthrow them and break down their [sacred] pillars and images [of pagan worship]. 25 You shall serve [only] the Lord your God, and He shall bless your bread and water. I will also remove sickness from among you.”

Yes, this passage is about Israel and it applies for us as well. The Lord will make sure each of us gets to the place He has prepared for us and as long as we obey instruction we will get there and nothing will be able to stop us. When we follow the instruction we will be blessed and sickness will be removed from our midst.

The enemy would like nothing better than to make sure we don’t find our place so that we cant walk in God’s plan for our life. I believe the reason why I have gone to so many other parts of the body is because the enemy wanted to lead me away from God’s plan and he knew the only way he could do that is by showing me other streams. When I embraced my place a couple weeks ago the enemy came against me in ways of intimidation he never has before but as believers we have victory over every attack!

I know now that I have fully accepted my place the plan of God can fully begin to take place in my life.

Could it be the reason many believers are not prospering is simply because we are not in the stream we are called to be in?

Find your place and receive everything God has for you. Find your place and watch the hindrances against you begin to fall so that you may fulfill your destiny.

5777/2017: Letting the Word Shift us into Awakening & Healing

5777 – Ayin Zayin: The Sword of the Lord

bibleandswordOn the Hebrew Calendar we are in a decade of seeing and revelation and a specific year of the sword of the Lord. Zayin is represented by the picture of a sword and has a numerical value of seven. When you put two sevens together that means shifting or movement.

While many are focusing and rightly so, about the movement of governments and particularly the elections in the United States we must also remember the sword is also a picture of the Word of God. I will allow others to focus on the governmental aspects of the year because the Lord is speaking to me concerning the shift, awakening and renewal coming to the Church.

While I was focused on the elections beginning in 2015 the Lord reminded me my call is not to focus on the political realm but the Church and seeing heaven come to earth.

The Hebrew year starts on Rosh Hashanah (October 3-4, 2016). As this year is marked by double sevens (5777) we need to pay close attention to how the Lord is leading us to shift and in what areas we need to move forward in. This being the year of the sword of the Lord we must remember that part of our armor, the Word of God. It is important to be in the Word, that is where our direction comes from.

Psalm 119:105 NKJV “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”.

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

2017: The 70th Anniversary of the Start of the Healing Revival

Cover of The Voice of Healing Magazine - edited by Gordon Lindsay

Cover of The Voice of Healing Magazine – edited by Gordon Lindsay

While the Hebrew calendar is primary God also uses the one our year is based on and in Hebrew there is no word for coincidence. So it is not a coincidence that in the seventieth decade on God’s calendar we are celebrating the seventieth year anniversary of the start of the healing revival.

William Branham and Oral Roberts were the first on the scene in 1947 with healing crusades under big tents by 1950 you had other well known evangelists flowing in healings, miracles, signs and wonders; A. A. Allen, Jack Coe, Gordon Lindsey, Kathryn Kuhlman and others.

The signs and wonders movement ended in America the same year Roe V. Wade became law. As the Church has become serious about repentance in this area and not just made it political but has acknowledged the sin and repented on behalf of the nation through ministries like The Call, I believe this young generation of thirty and younger have opened ourselves us to walking in the flow of the healing revival again.

For any of us who will pursue the heart of God in 2017 and contend once more for The Voice of Healing we will see it in this 70th Anniversary year. I believe where they stopped is where we will pick it back up. While some of these ministries did not end well, we need to learn from their mistakes yet still pick up the torch they left.

Healing Race Relations in America

handsThe growing racial divide in this country will not be solved by our politicians but by pastors, churches and individual believers. There is no black church, white church, Hispanic church or any other kind of church. There is one Church, the Church Jesus is the cornerstone of.

In 2017 the Church needs to rise up. It doesn’t matter who becomes president or which party controls what, for too long Christians on both sides have been co-opted into believing the parties can fix these problems. The only thing that will fix race relations in America is the love of God and it must begin in the Church and flow out from us.

I am praying and believing that in 2017 America will see a supernatural healing of racial divisions, and that communities will come together and that the hash tags will end. Every life matters regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else. Jesus died for everyone. That fact alone is the only thing that will bring healing to this nation and to the world.

Final Thoughts

I do not know what will happen politically or economically in 2017, in the end it does not need to concern us to the point that we forget we are Kingdom representatives on this earth and regardless of what goes on; good, bad or indifferent we have a mandate to make disciples of nations, bring heaven to earth, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out devils.

That is the mission of the Church – That is where our focus needs to be. We need to be awakened to our commission, return to the word and bring healing to our land.

Living Your Passion

Blog notes on LaptopEach of us have something in life we are passionate about, something we can talk about 24/7. That is the thing God has called us to. While it may not be our full time job, that thing is most likely our Kingdom purpose. If you’re a sports fanatic, use that passion to coach or assist in a youth league. In that environment you can be a father figure to a kid who doesn’t have one and make a lasting impact on his/her life.  

Being a follower of Jesus and being a part of a local fellowship is not about us packing out our building but changing the lives of those in our community be getting involved or starting a food bank, helping out the schools without pushing our church. If we serve well those in the community will take notice.

Whatever your passion is, I want to challenge each one of us to ask God how we can use that passion for a Kingdom purpose. Too many times we over involve ourselves, become over committed, and do so much we really don’t accomplish anything. Each of us needs to find that ONE THING we are most passionate about and pursue it. There may be a couple of other areas you are passionate about as well but I believe you will find that everything else stems from that ONE THING.

Take some time today, this week, this month and ask God to help you discover your passion and show you how to live it for Kingdom purpose.

When you find that passion, get some books that will help equip you to live it out, start an outreach in your church or get involved with a community organization. When we live out our passion, we change our community and our world, one person at a time.

The Person of the Word

bibleOne of the most amazing Bible passages to me is John 1:1-5, 14. The Wuest Expanded Translation really puts things into a new perspective. “In the beginning the Word was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father. And the Word as to his existence was absolute deity. This Word was in the beginning in fellowship with God the Father. All things through His intermediate agency came to being, and without  Him there came into being not even one thing which was come into existence. In Him life was existing. And this aforementioned life was the light of men. And the light in the darkness was constantly shining. And the darkness did not overwhelm it.”

Before we read verse fourteen, let’s look at Genesis 1:2, 3-5, 14-19 NKJV “…and darkness was on the face of the deep…And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

Before there was ever sun, moon and stars there was light and the light was the pre-incarnate Jesus.

John 1:14 (Wuest) “And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent [His physical body] among us. And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

This just makes my brain go crazy, the bigness of our savior Jesus is amazing. Too many times when I pick up my Bible I treat it like a book and not the living person that the book is. When I sit down with my Bible I am actually sitting down with Jesus himself.

It is too easy to just mentally agree with the verses in John, we must do more than that. We must receive the reality of the person-hood of the Bible into our lives.

Many times we can pick up our Bible read and not receive anything from the reading. I believe that happens because much of the time we pick up a book and don’t enter a conversation with the person.

Scripture says Jesus was tempted in every manner we are yet did not sin, that tells me there is victory in the Word to defeat every temptation. Just reading Romans six helps us to develop a mindset of victory.

When he have difficulty getting in the Word we need to go to prayer and ask that the Person of the Word would come alive to us.

If we want to develop the love of the Word Psalms 119 talks about we must approach the Word as the Person of Jesus our savior, redeemer, healer, and teacher.

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