Saturday, March 21, 2015

Connecting the Dots

I consider myself to be a pretty transparent person in that I freely share the struggles and the victories that I have experienced in life.  My overall struggle in life has been with depression, which, praise God, I have been delivered from resulting in victory! (search my blog for posts specifically related to this)

However, my transparency isn't limited only to my experience with depression.  I now want to open myself up to others as the Lord is leading me through a time of spiritual understanding like I have never experienced before!  He is giving me a fresh look at His Word.  I have been having more "Aha!" moments in the past two months or so than I have had during my 30+ years as a follower of Christ.

Over the years as I have read and studied my Bible, there have been nagging thoughts in the back of my mind.  Some things that I was being taught just didn't seem to line up with God's Word, but because they were being taught by people with more education than I have, I just took their word for it.  I would skim over the troubling passages and assume that once I got to heaven, I could ask Jesus about them all.

Some of the things that bothered me were:

  • Why did Jesus say to keep His commandments if He was going to "do away" with them?
  • Why does Paul seem to contradict what Jesus said, AND even himself at times? 
  • Why do some people say we need the Law to show us our sin, but then after we're saved, we no longer need to follow the Law?  For instance, why is the commandment concerning the Sabbath overlooked?
  • Why did Jesus say He would be buried for three days and nights, but we're taught that He died on Friday and rose on Sunday?  
  • Why did Jesus talk so much about persecution if we're going to be "raptured" before the Tribulation?
  • Why are we to "die to self" and "take up our cross daily"? What does this even mean? I don't feel like I have had to deny anything so far! 
These are just a few of the things that nagged at me.  Until...

...this is where it becomes more challenging for me to share my thought process, because there has been no one thing that led me to where I am today.  God has placed dots in my life - people and things - and now He is helping me to connect them.

One dot came in the form of home schooling my children.  When my daughter was in the first grade, my husband and I enrolled her in public school.  I strongly believed that we needed to home school her, but my husband was not in agreement with me at the time.  However, after only six weeks of her being in the public school system and seeing the amount of work she brought home with her to do after being in school for six hours already, and after hearing some of the things that her innocent eyes were seeing and ears were hearing, and after I continually prayed for God to help my husband be in agreement with me about home schooling, we pulled her out.

So now that I was responsible for her education, I began doing a ton of research.  I  determined that unit studies were the way to go.  A unit study is simply taking a certain topic and tailoring all the subjects around that topic.  Since I was the teacher, I got to choose the topics.  History is my favorite subject, so I decided to research the historical roots of things. I also wanted to make the learning process for my kids applicable to life, so I used topics that would (hopefully) interest them as well.

I said all of that to lead into why I began researching the holidays that we celebrate.  I'm not going to lie (that would not be transparent of me, would it?) - what I discovered made my heart sink!  The origins of Halloween was a huge eye opener.  Although when you think about it, it really should not have been surprising to find out the evil roots of that holiday.  It is really extremely obvious if you are willing to admit it.  What really shocked me and rocked me to the core was what I discovered about Christmas and Easter!  I'm not going to go into detail here, but let me just say that most of the resources I used at the time were secular, so it's not like I was taking some radically misguided, legalistic Christian's view point of things at face value. The things I discovered were definitely a big dot!

Year after year of home schooling requires continued research.  It seems like I have always been looking ahead to the next school year, so I am pretty much always trying to find what curriculum I should buy next.  I can't remember exactly when I discovered a curriculum that was based on the Hebrew roots of Christianity, but that is another dot the Lord placed in my life.  This was a dot that intrigued me, and I really wanted to use this curriculum, but for whatever reason (probably fear and doubt), I did not.  This is one of those things that if I could do all over again, I would!  But one of the things I did pull from that was teaching the Biblical Feasts.  That was a very exciting topic for me!  I was amazed at the details that pointed directly to the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  I began to see just how deliberate God is in everything that He does!  Sadly, the significance of this did not really take root in my heart just yet.

If a person reads the Bible, it is not difficult to see that God has a special love relationship with Israel.  I have always attributed my love and affection for Israel as simply an extension of my love for God.  In a way that is true - but that is not all there is to it.  Another dot.

I have always been drawn to the Old Testament.  The prophets fascinate me with their ability to hear from God and to speak with such confidence, "Thus sayeth the LORD".  I used to think this fascination stemmed from having the spiritual gift of prophecy and my desire to understand that gift, but now I see that it was just another dot.

For as long as I can remember I have been a rule follower.  I was almost always the teacher's pet in school because of it!  But that was also a dot placed there by my Father.

Another dot in my life is the fact that I tend to see things as black or white - no grey, much less fifty shades of them!  (sorry, I couldn't resist)

And then there is my favorite chapter of the Bible - Psalm 119.  This chapter talks solely about God's laws, precepts, commandments, precepts, ways, etc. (all of which mean the same thing) and how they are life, light, truth, freedom and so on. It also happens to be the longest chapter in the entire Bible!  Coincidence? I think not! I now see it - you guessed it - as another dot! (hey, that rhymed!)

And finally, for the past two years or so whenever I wanted to study something in particular, I would pray about it and ask God where I should start.  Every time He told me, "In the beginning", so I would start reading in Genesis in search of the topic I was interested in at the time.  I actually began a Youtube channel and have shared some things on Genesis 1-7. 

So what picture am I describing as a result of connecting these dots?  I wish I could attach a visual (I did look for a picture, but didn't find one that I liked), but unless you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about how as a Child of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I am to obey His commandments out of love for Him.

I can't really point to one specific person, date or event that occurred to help me connect the dots in my life, but I will share with you some of the things that God has used to help me.  
I'll share them in the order in which I found them (at least the best my memory allows):

The history channel is where I learned a lot about the pagan roots of the holidays.  I started looking into this a long time ago, so I don't remember all of the resources I used.  However, some resources I found for other things also talk about this.  They are listed below.

The Fuel Project on Youtube, in particular the Know Your Enemy and Revelation series was an eyeopener.

119 Ministries at www.testeverything.net (also found on Youtube) explains about the perceived contradictions of Paul and many other misconceptions.  This ministry has played a very large role in helping me (and my husband) to connect the dots!

Passion for Truth is another very influential ministry, and I highly recommend the Identity Crisis video.  Talk about WOW!

And then there are people whom God has brought into my life - friends who are a bit ahead of my husband and myself on this path, but who are so patient and understanding and eager to help us, and people who I "just happened" to meet without even looking for them, also trying to live according to Torah (God's instructions). 

So, now what?  Well, like it says in Psalm 119, God's Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).  With His help, my family and I will take one step at a time to walk according to His precepts (1 Kings 2:3).  I can't say that it is going to be easy, because I don't think it will be - at first.  After all, we have a lifetime of false teaching to undo! So far I feel like I'm going through the stages of grief:

1. Denial - this is why it has taken me years to get to this point.  I didn't want to admit that I was misunderstanding God's Word.

2. Anger - I go back and forth at being angry at myself for not following up on my doubts sooner and being upset with the teachers who have continued to hand down the misunderstandings of God's Word.  Overall, I feel cheated.

3. Bargaining - I guess this is an overflow of the feeling cheated.  I think, "If only" this and that, then I wouldn't be here.

4. Depression - Again, the feeling cheated aspect has been huge.  But I have to remember that God will restore what the locusts have eaten, and now that my husband and I know, God will help us from here on out.

5. Acceptance - I think I am finally at this stage.  I, along with my family, am looking in the Scriptures very intentionally to see what changes need to be made in our lives to be more in line with God's will. 

I know this is a lot to take in!  Trust me, I know! I'm sure that once we start making these changes, there will be people in our lives who will not understand (and this has already started).  I get that.  But, I agree with the psalmist:

In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11) 

Some of the changes we have already implemented are: not eating pork or anything that God calls unclean (my daughter and I have been vegetarians for over two years now, so this one wasn't hard for us!), doing our best to observe the seventh day as commanded by God to be our sabbath rest, and we are also going to keep the LORD's appointed feasts the best way we know how.  

All of this is foreign to us simply because we were not raised this way ,but we truly desire to please our Father.  I remember how when my children were little and their dad and I taught them how to do things for themselves, like make their bed, fold their clothes, etc., we didn't expect them to do everything perfectly the first time.  Some things take time, practice and patience.  We trust that our Heavenly Father, who is long-suffering, compassionate and kind, will understand our learning process.

I strongly encourage you to search these things for yourself.  We are told to "test everything and hold onto the things that are good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you don't want to look into the ministries that I mentioned above, then do a word study on "sabbath", "commandments", and "laws".  Be sure to find out the Hebrew or Greek meanings for these words and others.  Unfortunately, the translation process of the Scriptures has twisted many things.  Thank God for the internet and having resources literally at our fingertips now!  I highly recommend biblehub.com for this.  Also, remember to keep things in context as you read.  Reading an entire book through at one sitting really helps. 

Perhaps you have all sorts of questions for me and maybe even some Bible verses to share.  I would actually like that.  One of my passions is examining the Scriptures to see if what I'm being told is true, just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).  I only regret that I didn't do this sooner as thoroughly as I should have.  Just remember that the Scriptures the Bereans examined were the Torah (in case you aren't familiar with that term, the Torah is referring to the first five books in the Bible).  


Psalm 119:1-8 

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—

they do no wrong
but follow his ways.You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.

Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!

Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.

I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.

I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.



Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Whatsoever Filter (Not settling for less)


The other night my daughter and I watched an episode of Once Upon a Time from season three.  In this episode, the evil queen talked about using "blood magic" that only she (supposedly) was able to undo.  However, (spoiler alert) unbeknownst to her, she has a half-sister - the Wicked Witch of the West (yes, the one from Oz). She also had the ability to use and undo this "blood magic".  

Now this should have been (and to be completely honest it was) a major red flag!  However, I let it slide and continued to watch the episode.  That night I had a demonic dream (nightmare), and when I awoke from it I knew exactly why.  By simply watching that show, I opened the door to demonic influences.  I immediately renounced watching the show and reclaimed my spiritual ground through the authority of Jesus Christ.  I informed my daughter that we would no longer watch Once Upon a Time

I KNEW BETTER than to watch that show, but I lowered my standards and gave the devil a foothold.  I know that I'm not the only one.  There is so much garbage out there that we are exposing ourselves to and calling it "harmless entertainment"! It's Eve and the serpent all over again!  "Did God really say?", the devil asks us, but we ignore it.  We're bored, we need something to pass the time, and besides, "It's just a show", so it won't harm us.  Psalm 84:11 says: "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." Every time we choose to watch, listen to or read something that is not pleasing to God, we are basically saying to Him that His best simply isn't good enough for us!

We wonder why we struggle with the same sins day after day.  Well, it really should not be that difficult to figure out!  We turn on the TV show or go to the movie theater where we expose ourselves to profanity, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, murder, lying, cheating, blasphemy, etc..  Every time we choose to participate in those things, we harden our hearts against (or grieve) the Holy Spirit, and the door is opening wider and wider for the enemy to have access to our lives.  

I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them.   
Psalm 101:3 

Again, let me remind you, Child of the Most High God, that the King does not withhold any good thing from you, if you walk uprightly!  So why do we settle for so much less?  

Genesis 4:6-7 

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Before you continue watching that beloved series on Netflix, before you go to the theater to watch the next blockbuster, before you purchase the latest recording artist's album, stop and ask yourself if the One Who formed you and knows what is best for you, would wrap it up, put a bow on it, and personally hand it to you for your enjoyment.  If He would, then by all means unwrap it and delight in the gift!  If you know that He would not, but would rather throw it to the swine, then don't indulge in it!  Don't roll in that muck and dirty the garments of righteousness that Christ gave to you.  Trust in Him and trust that He wants to lavish you with good gifts!  

Matthew 7:9-11
 Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 God has told us to use a the "whatsoever" filter: 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 
Ephesians 4:17-23
 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Youtube Channel

Well, God has told me to do something that I was not really comfortable with at first.  He told me to start a youtube Bible study of sorts.  I posted my first video today.  I know there is much room for improvement, and hopefully future videos will reflect some improvement.  I hope you are blessed by watching!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Life Matters

 Here is a continuation of my summary of Genesis. I apologize if it sounds rambled. 


I love that first verse in Genesis 8: "God remembered Noah..." Who doesn't want to be remembered?  

I can't imagine being shut in that ark and floating and drifting for all those months!  But just as God sent the rain, He sent a wind over the earth to recede the waters.  I wonder if it was a violent wind that rocked the boat just as much as the waves must have. 

After everyone was off the ark and back onto dry ground, Noah presented an offering to the LORD.  This pleased God.  Finally able to leave the ark after all that time and the first thing that Noah did was to sacrifice an offering to God. I want that to be my mindset after I go through raging storms! It is recorded that God, "said in His heart: 'Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood...'" After reading that, I thought, "God talks to Himself!", and for some reason this made me smile. 

The other thing from this verse that made me smile is that because of one man - Noah - God determined not to curse the earth again.  The righteousness of one person has a huge impact

1 Samuel 26:23a 
The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness.
  
Psalm 18:20   
The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.

 Psalm 33:5
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Proverbs 13:6
Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
    but wickedness overthrows the sinner.


 Again it is recorded that God blessed Noah (and his sons).  The whole earth has been destroyed because of man's wickedness.  God provides for Noah and his family by giving them permission to now eat meat.  But there are restrictions.  God instructs them not to eat meat with its lifeblood still in it because He wants to point our that life - especially human life - matters! God then distinguishes that humans are more important than animals that every life will be accounted for! Why? Because man was made in the image of God

Genesis 9:4-6
 But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
“Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
    has God made mankind.

God then makes a covenant never to destroy the earth again by flood.  And to give Noah and everyone after him a reminder of this promise, God provides the rainbow as a symbol. God gives us signs.  God is a covenant maker and a covenant keeper.  



God remembers
God is pleased with the righteous
God is a covenant maker


God blesses
God provides
God restricts
God distinguishes man over animals
God gives signs 
 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Coming Waves

Genesis 6-7 

God sees the wickedness of man and is grieved over it. It hurts His heart! (Genesis 6:6) Because God is HOLY, RIGHTEOUS and JUST, He will not tolerate sin forever.  God is compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalms 86:15). "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) but God has His limits!

In the middle of all the evil, God sees the righteousness of Noah.  God speaks to Noah, and like Enoch in chapter five, Noah "walked with God".  God warns Noah and instructs him on how to prepare for His coming judgement.  God gives Noah specific instructions and establishes a covenant with him.  God provides for Noah's (and his family) physical needs and He gives them plenty of time to prepare.  Then God shuts the door of the ark.  (Genesis 7:16) I was reminded of Isaiah 22:22, "...what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

The flood waters came and covered the earth. 

The description of the waves was particularly interesting to me this time because just this morning I dreamed of being in a boat out on the ocean.  I couldn't see anything but the massive waves on which my boat was floating.  The waves rose extremely high and I was carried on them until they crested and I plummeted into a narrow gorge.  I landed safely, having only hit a few tree limbs on the way down. 

The similarities of my dream and the description of the waves of the flood in Genesis 7:17-20 were so strikingly similar, I couldn't help but think that God was telling me something.  I believe He is reminding me of exactly what is recorded in Genesis 6 and 7: God sees the wickedness of man and He has about reached His limit.  His judgement is coming and only those who are in the boat with Him will land safely. The tree limbs represent the tree on which Jesus was crucified. The narrow gorge represents the narrow gate/way that Jesus Christ talked about in Matthew 7:13-14                        

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

John 14:6  
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.

God has limits
God grieves over sin
God judges sin
God shows the righteous favor
God sees all
God speaks
God warns of judgement
God prepares the righteous
God establishes a covenant with the righteous
God is a refuge for the righteous
God provides
God secures His children 




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Apology to Eve

I want to take a slight detour from my study of God's ways and share with you what I saw in the life of Eve. While reading through Genesis 4 and 5 this morning, I was struck by a couple more mentions of the "mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20).  For the most part I have held a grudge against her. After all, she fell for the serpent's lies and has given women a bad reputation ever since then for being gullible.  Not to the mention the whole pain in childbirth thing that every childbearing woman has to now endure! Well, I guess I just mentioned it. 

Anyway, this morning I took notice of Eve's response to God - after being expelled from Eden, told of the ramifications of her sinful choices, I read in Genesis 4:1, "Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.  She said, 'With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.'" And then later in the chapter, in verse 25, I read, "Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, 'God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.'"

Instead of blaming God, she praised God!  

I was quite humbled when I realized this.  I have shared in past posts about how I became angry with God during trying times.  There are many examples in the Bible of showing better responses than the one I had, and now I can add Eve to that list. Although, she has been on God's list all along. 

So, Lord Jesus, please pass on this message from me:

Dear Eve, please accept my apology for holding your sin against you.  Thank you for being an example of humility and grace.  I hope that in the years to come when I face more challenges, I will exhibit the same attitude of praise to God that you did. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Genesis 2 & 3


Again I see that God is intentional in what He does.  He began a good work (creation) and He finished it (Genesis 2:2), just as He finishes the good work of redemption and sanctification in each heart that chooses Him (see Philippians 1:6).  He is our example of how to work and how to rest (Genesis 2:2).  God was intimately involved with Adam, which was reflected in how He "formed" man and "breathed life" into him (Genesis 2:7).  God gave clear instructions (Genesis 2:16-17). He also gave man and woman special attention and a unique purpose (Genesis 2:18-22). 

God completes
God rests
God blesses
God makes holy
God breathes life
God plants
God instructs
God directs
God is aware
God provides
God gives purpose


God's initial desire was to walk with man and woman and openly communicate with them (Genesis 3:8).  Even after Adam and Eve sinned and failed to show up to meet with God, God called out to them (Genesis 3:9)!  Already knowing what they had done, God still asked them where they were and what they had done - holding each of them responsible for their own actions (Genesis 3:11-13).  Because God is holy and just, He had to execute judgement for their sinful, rebellious choices (Genesis 3:16-19).  God also cursed the serpent (the devil) for deceiving Eve, and He prophesied the redemptive plan He already had in place (Genesis 3:15)! 

After everything that Adam and Eve had done against Him, God still loved them enough to provide a covering for their nakedness (Genesis 3:21).  Which reminds me of how I would always hug my children after I had to spank them.

Psalm 25:7  
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Even though God's love for man had not changed, sin had severe consequences.  God banished Adam and Eve from the very place He intentionally created for them, separating them from the tree of life.  

God communicates
God is just
God redeems
God disciplines
God is love 
God covers