#FaithGoals

Today is the first in my five post series about being RENEWED in the new year. I will be writing about each in order of importance in my life. (Faith, Marriage, Children, Outreach/Others, Self.) While praying over these areas and the ways I need to change in accordance to each, I realized 3 distinct sections in each area and came up with 2 or 3 attainable goals. Here is what I have settled on for my Faith Goals:

img_4749

1. PRAYER

In order for my prayer life to be transformed into the vibrant, passionate, interactive thing that it should be, I first realize that I need to be COMMITTED to prayer (not merely petition for others and myself, but also thanksgiving and adoration). If I am committed then I will be CONSISTENT in praying for the needs of others (not once or twice, but until we see an answer). To really follow this call, I know that playfulness must be CONSTANT in my life (the Spirit is living and active inside me and I will strive to be conscious of His presence every moment)

My first baby step in accomplishing the above goal is to keep a regular, detailed list of my prayers in a small notebook that I will have with me everywhere so I can have specific prayers at my fingertips any time. Another immediate change is to start my daily quiet time with prayer. Typically I wait until after I am done studying because I am itching to get into the Word, but many times the timer goes off and I haven’t prayed.

2. THE WORD

My favorite part of the day is the 30 minutes we all spend individually with YHVH. It never seems long enough. This season finds me constantly yearning for more time to just sit and soak up His teaching. My three sections of focus in this area are: TORAH STUDY (I use many resources in my personal study through each week’s portion, but my main one is Hoshana Rabbah. When our group meets to study on the Sabbath, we use the studies on Restoration of Torah.) SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION (too often I know what the Word says but I can’t site it for others. I hope to remedy this by focusing a lot more on memorization, starting with my 2 theme verses for the year: Romans 12:2 and Isaiah 43:18-19). BIBLICAL HEBREW (I have been interested in Biblical Hebrew for a couple years now and have dabbled in learning it. Now is the time for me to get serious about learning it so I can have a deeper understanding of the original words used in the Scriptures I am studying. I plan to use free resources from Hebrew4ChristiansAncient Hebrew Research CenterAnimated Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew. obviously not all at the same time 😉 )

3. WORSHIP

When I think about worship, two things come to mind: PRAISE and FELLOWSHIP. Praise because singing and lifting our hands in adoration is a typical picture of worship. Fellowship, because what a beautiful picture of our unity with Yeshua is our communion with other believers! My goal to incorporate worship into my daily life will start with the baby step of playing praise music throughout the day whenever possible (Messianic Radio and Joshua Aaaron are two of my favorites).

As of right now, our family has three regular weekly times of worship through praise and fellowship. Friday evenings, we observe the beginning of the Sabbath as a family (you can read more about that Here and Here). Saturday afternoon we have a group that we study, eat and fellowship; and Sunday mornings we attend a mainstream church. These are three very distinctly different ways to worship the Lord with other believers, but all three are rooted in Yeshua HaMashiach as the reason for our meeting. My goal in this area right now is just to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading on where, why and how we worship in each of these venues, and to be submissive to His prompting of any changes that may need to be made.

Advertisements

Sabbath (part 2)

Sorry for the long wait for my follow up post on Shabbat. Between weddings, homeschooling and sicknesses, I have been otherwise tied up. I wanted to be sure to get this out there before another Sabbath passed though. So here it is!

 

img_3859-1

How?

How do you observe the Sabbath?

The Rabbi’s have added many, many stipulations to God’s word over the years. Although I understand what they are trying to do by interpreting their own rules into the Law, I am not looking to conform to man. Sola Scriptura.

From what I have found in my study of Scripture, everyone who wants to observe the Sabbath should:

1. Not cook or gather (purchase) food (Exodus 16:23-29)

2.Keep the day holy (Exodus 20:8)

3.Do no work (and don’t cause others to either) (Exodus 20:9-10)

4.Don’t make a fire (Exodus 35:3)

5.Remember (Deut. 5:15)

6.Do good (Matt. 12:12)

Beyond that, and including that, I believe that the Lord will convict you about how and what your and your family should do. And as I have said before, It’s a process.

As for our family, here is what we do accordingly:

1.I do not cook and make sure all of our food is purchased and prepared ahead of time. This is where a couple loaves of challah and a slow cooker come in handy.

2. We study the Word. Either personally, as a family, or with a small group of other like-minded believers.

3. We don’t preform the work that we do as our normal occupation. As a homemaker, that means I do not cook, clean, plan or homeschool.

4. No fire? This isn’t a usual thing in our house, so no big deal.

5. We remember by observing a Christian Erev Shabbat ceremony on Friday nights (I will explain more below.)

6. We are still working on this part and would like to start doing some sort of service or outreach as a family on this day.

It is important to keep in mind that Jesus said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). This is a gift to us. It is a way for us to grow closer to Adonai and walk more like Jesus (who clearly observed the Sabbath all throughout His time here). It is not a legalistic burden. It is a joy!

Our family has really grown and we so look forward to Sabbath Eve (Erev Shabbat) every week. We have taken some traditional rituals and made them our own. Each week is a little different, but these things always stay the same:

1. We light 2 white candles. One symbolizes creation (when Shabbat was instituted) and one symbolizes redemptin (when Christ bought us back).

2. We read the Scriptures that tell us to remember and observe the Sabbath.

3. We have communion. The challah (one three braided one for the trinity and one seven braided one for the creation week) is blessed and used as Christ’s body which was broken for us. The grape juice (and wine) which symbolizes Yeshua’s blood poured out for our sins.

4. We pray. Each of us takes a turn praying for friends, family, neighbors. We give thanks and adoration.

5. We sing a hymn. Each week one of the children picks a song from the hymn book we have and we sing it as a family.

6. We sing and dance to Shalom Aleichem.

7. Saturday is often different but as often as possible we meet up for fellowship with other believers.

8. On Sunday morning when the kids wake up I have cleared away the burnt candles, vase of flowers, challah plate, etc. and placed a bowl of something sweet for them. Jesus’ resurrection is a sweet gift!

There you have it! Nothing fancy. Very personal. Poignant when you think about everything it means. When you realize people all over the world are doing the same thing. Resting in Adonai. Finding peace and strength for the week ahead. Why would we not?

img_3639-1

 

Sabbath (part 1)

I took a series of polls on facebook today asking people three questions about the Sabbath:

When?

Why?

How?

It’s my intention to share my answers to all three of those questions in two blog posts. This one will cover the when and why. The next post will cover the how.

First the WHY:

As a Christian, I have always observed (and thought any real Christian observed) the Sabbath (or at least MY version of the Sabbath) on Sunday–the first day of the week. “The Lord’s Day.”

Imagine my shock as I began to read the actual text of the Bible and find that this is not true.

I have been lied to.

Deceived.

Led astray.

I have been taught (and very happily practicing) traditions of man. I have been forsaking the teachings of YHWH from His own Word.

Some people (professing Christ followers) may say (and have actually said to my face) “What does it matter? If we go to heaven through faith in Jesus alone, why does it matter?”

Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I get to heaven (on the blood of Yeshua alone), I want my Abba to look at me and proclaim “Well done good and faithful servant.”

I believe that when we really and truly see our Messiah’s sacrificial love and redemption, we will do anything in response to that gift. Even if it means questioning the ways of man.

So here I am.

Questioning the ways of mainstream, western Christianity.

My first area of scrutiny has been the Sabbath because it was one of the very first things that YHVH blessed.

 “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:3

Contrary to popular belief, the Sabbath was not first commanded in “THE LAW” (I write it that way because people use that term very, very loosely without even clarifying what it means). Between the above passage and the passage about not collecting manna on the seventh day (Exodus 16:23-30–also PRE-LAW), I believe it is clear that even if nothing in THE LAW is binding today, the Sabbath is exempt from that because it came about before any of the Mosaic covenant. (Not to mention the many biblical references to the fact that we will be celebrating the Sabbath when we live in the New Jerusalem)

 

So it is my conclusion that the Sabbath is still a valid and current commandment from the Lord God.

Now the WHEN?

And the Sabbath (literally meaning the seventh) is (even on our modern calendars) Saturday. Being that YHWH always counted days as evening to morning, I would carry with the idea that evening Friday through evening Saturday is Sabbath.

Our family has been studying and learning together how to walk in obedience to the Word in this area for about a month now. It has brought us closer to one another and to the Lord. I’m excited to share some ways we have been doing that in my next post!

In closing I want to be sure to re-emphasize what I said in my previous posts (It’s a processThe beginning of the journeyUnwavering beliefs). I am not trying to sway anyone, judge anyone or cause division. I am simply sharing truths that YHVH is opening our eyes to at this time. Partly as a journal to look back at and see where He has brought us and partly for reference for those who may already be searching out these things.

Here are a couple of links I found useful in my study:

The Lord’s Day?

Word search for Sabbath on blueletterbible.org

Sabbath study

Video refuting some common objections

img_3626

 

 

 

Unwavering beliefs

As I start this journey, I have an open mind.

I don’t want to build my faith on man made beliefs.

I want to be firmly planted on the pure and unchanging Word.

So I am trying to UNlearn things I have read, been taught or picked up in some other way over the years.

Making room for the Spirit to teach me straight from the Scriptures.

However there are some things that I want to make clear from the very onset.

Unwavering beliefs that I know will not change because they are clearly stated in Scripture.

Truths that are true regardless of what else comes to light.

Hopefully these are the things that I can use as common ground with friends, family and acquaintances who don’t agree with changes I may make down the road because of my studies.

I BELIEVE

Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah.

He is the second person in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He came to earth (born of a virgin) and lived a perfect, sinless life.

We are all sinful and separated from God because of that.

Christ willingly gave His life on the cross to reconcile mankind to their Creator.

Our salvation and eternal life is found only through the blood of Jesus. We can not earn our way to heaven by good works, obedience or keeping the law. 

God’s grace and redemption are not something to be squandered by living our lives for ourselves (or our family, friends, church, etc) We are called to make changes in response to our belief in the sacrifice of Christ.

As new creations, we are called to continually grow in our relationship with God– through prayer, worship, study of His word, etc. And this would manifest itself in outward changes  (behavior, lifestyle, interactions, serving…) as well as inward changes (renewing of our minds, deeper understanding, being more sensitive to the Spirit….) and is an ongoing process until the day we die (continual sanctification).

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is unchanging. Since Jesus is God, the same holds true for Him and thus anything God has said, He agrees and vice versa.

The Holy Spirit is alive in believers, moving and guiding as God wills. Therefore, we can learn and understand His Word without interpretation from other people (although learning from others is not BAD, it should be supplemental.)

I think that is a pretty good outline. Basically I am saying that I still hold fast to the basics tenants of faith that most Christ-followers do. I am just digging deeper to see exactly how God wants us to live by studying what He has said in His Word and the way that Jesus lived while He was on earth.

I have a strong suspicion that things just aren’t as they should be and I’m on a mission to fix that in my own heart, mind and life.

 

The beginning of the journey

I’ve asked myself what started this process for me. What drove me to start digging in deeper to what God desires from us? I know that I have been prompted by the Holy Spirit, because He is always the One who nudges me to do anything that is right and good. I am an analyzer though. Constantly going over and over things in my head. And I have come to the conclusion that there were two distinct occasions that I can say led me to this point. (although I can’t recall the exact order they happened in)

I was doing an in depth study of the book of Proverbs and ran across this verse:

“For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Proverbs 1:32-33

The word complacency gave me pause. Where was I being complacent? Where would God have me be more in tune with Him and less under control of the status quo? This line of thinking led me to meditate more on this verse:

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

Mark 7:8

I was starting to feel very convicted, as I inspected my life, that most of what I believed and adhered to were things I had been taught along the way. Learning from others is not a bad thing. I know iron sharpens iron and God gives us other believers to help us out. As I observed my life though, I could see how so much of it was man made and I realized I needed to get back to what God intended. I just had to figure out what that was….

The other point that strongly stands out to me, was a sermon at my church one Sunday. I’m not even quite sure what the sermon was about. I just remember one very significant part. The person preaching quoted this passage:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Matthew 7:21-23

And he pointed out something that had never occurred to me until that point. Those people saying “Lord, Lord” are not unbelievers. They are people who thought they knew Him. They thought they were working for Him. They were “Christians” who spent their lives (at least outwardly) serving God. Prophesying, casting out demons, doing mighty works IN HIS NAME. And yet God says to them “I never knew you.”

Wow.

These two points have led me to really start investigating for myself, with the guidance of the Spirit, what the Lord says in His Word to us about how we should walk in His ways.

I don’t want to be complacent.

I don’t want to blindly follow what man has decided God means when He says this or that.

I don’t want to cling to the doctrines of men.

I don’t want to waste my life doing what I WANT to do for God, but what HE MADE me to do for Him.

I don’t want to hear “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

img_3626