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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Don't Presume on God's Grace

This song is based on Paul's warning in Romans 2:4-5 "Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed."

Why does Yeshua rebuke five of His seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3?  These are His redeemed people, claiming to be saved by His grace and yet He rebukes them that they still have not repented.  And He warns that if they won't repent, He will war against them and come upon them as a thief in the night.  This reminds me of Jude's warning in verse 5 "Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Yeshua, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, AFTERWARDS destroyed those who did not believe."

First of all, how awesome that Yeshua was there in the Exodus?  Stephen confirms this in Acts 7:38, when he tells us Yeshua Himself delivered the Law through Moses at Mount Sinai to a people redeemed by His GRACE (Israelites AND mixed multitude of gentiles - see Exodus 9:20 & 12:38).  Secondly, harsh judgment came upon these people AFTER their redemption through Grace from Egypt.  There was a separation of the goats from the sheep, so-to-speak, from among His redeemed people.  Many perished for their rebellion to God's Torah including Korah.  

We are told in Romans 15:4 that "whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction."  And 2 Timothy confirms this by saying that Scripture (being the Old Testament - because the New Testament was not canonized til hundreds of years later) is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for our correction and for our training in righteousness.

So what does scripture teach us on what true repentance is?  Let us turn to the Scriptures, to our instructions, and find out what the Bride is still missing regarding true repentance.

Grace first, followed by God's Torah (instructions on how to live as a people set apart by His grace) and in the end, a war against those who accepted His Grace and then trampled upon it by refusing to submit and believe His Torah as holy, righteous and good.  After all, this very Torah became flesh and blood and dwelt among us.  These are those whom Yeshua will say "as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them [because they thought me harsh], bring them here and slaughter them before me."  (Luke 19:27)

So my darlings, let us not presume on God's mercy... but let us bear fruit in keeping with our repentance.  True scriptural repentance as defined by God, not man.

(as a side note, I apologize for the shaky video footage.  I am an amateur of amateurs! ;)

Open Their Eyes That They May Turn

These past twenty-four hours, there's been what feels like an inundation of scripture songs pouring into and out of my heart.  The theme is certainly a call out for repentance.  I'll share them as they come and as time permits me to upload them.

This song is in regards to Acts 26:18.

The setting?  The Apostle Paul (or Shaul) is pleading his case before King Agrippa in Rome.  He is relieved because this King is acquainted with the Law of God and so Paul is certain he can explain why he is wrongfully accused by the unbelievers of Jewish descent.  Paul is at the part where he explains how Yeshua (Jesus) appeared to him in a bright light and spoke "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?  It is hard for you to kick against the goads."  (How beautiful is our Messiah's love that even in our ignorant zealousness that blinds us to the very blood of saints upon our hands, He cries out to us patiently?)  This song is Yeshua's call to Saul: "I am Yeshua whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles - to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may TURN (repent) from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

Isn't it fascinating how scripture defines rebellion to God as one and the same for Israel and for Gentiles?  And that turning back, repenting, is one and the same?  There is no partiality with God.

My darlings, may His Spirit anoint us all as His witnesses... to empower us to "open their eyes" so that they may repent and turn back to our merciful God who forgives abundantly for His name's sake!  Blessed be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob... our Righteous Law-Giver to a people redeemed from Egypt, who saves us from ourselves!  God bless you all out there! ((HUG))

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Circumcise the Foreskin of Your Heart

Yep, I just used the word "circumcise" and "foreskin" in my title... anyone else feel uncomfortable?  LOL!!  Are you crinkling your nose?  Well, me too!  My husband joked with me and said "hey, you should submit this song to the local Christian Music Station."  He found that way more funny than I care to admit.  Sigh.  But he's right.  This is tough putting some of God's words to song, because let's face it, it does not tickle the ears.  Maybe we've got foreskin on our ears, too then!  Let's just squirm in our chairs a little more at the notion, shall we?  Ok, ok... I'll quit pushing the envelope here.  I'm already asking a lot from you so God bless you for reading this far and sticking this out.

So why this verse put to song?

Too often I hear people say that the Old Testament (OT) is about the flesh and the New Testament NT) is about the Spiritual.  OT was about circumcising the flesh and the NT is about circumcising our hearts.  But a circumcised heart is what God has been asking of us from the beginning!  By no means is it a NT concept, it is only confirmed in the NT.

It is a call to repentance... shedding our old self and turning back to His ways.

Deuteronomy 30 is where YHWH lays out His standard of repentance and forgiveness.  This is where He explains a circumcised heart for the first time and that He alone is the one to perform the "surgery" when we return to Him...
And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live... And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today.  (Deuteronomy 30:6 and 8)
But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes.  (Leviticus 26:40-43)
We are warned over and over again to return to the LORD and to stop being rebellious and stubborn towards His righteous Law.  Remember how Yeshua warned that as the world was judged by water the first time, so are the heavens and earth stored up with fire for the 2nd and final judgment?  Well, our heart's yucky foreskin is still an issue today!
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it.  (Jeremiah 4:4)
Did you notice in Deuteronomy 30 how a truly repentant heart returns to obedience?  Paul confirms that joyful obedience from the heart is what determines a true state of circumcision.  It's like a medical doctor is "cloaked" in his physician skill sets whether he's wearing a white lab coat or not.  Anyone can look the part outwardly by wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope walking around a hospital, but which guy would you call upon for help if you started having a heart attack?  The one who looks the part or the one who IS the part?
So, if a man who is uncircumcised [not wearing his white lab coat] keeps the precepts of the law [practices his PhD], will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised [not wearing a lab coat] but keeps the law [practicing physician skill sets] will condemn you who have the written code [Physician manual] and circumcision [labcoat] but break the law [no PhD]. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly [wearing a lab coat doesn't make you a Dr], nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly [what you know, study, believe & do], and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [God gives the PhD, not man].  (Romans 2:26-29) - please note all words between [ and ] are my additions
And now watch how Stephen rebukes the Pharisees who were merely wearing white lab coats to boast in the "appearance" of righteousness while having none of it within their hearts:
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”  (Acts 7:51-53)
And that, my dear ones, is why you get to read the words "circumcised" and "foreskin" way too many times today in a single post!  You still with me?  Well, then you just rock!  So just to make you hear it a few more times before the end of the day, here's a song to get stuck in your head...

Do Not Think I've Come to Abolish the Law or Prophets

Matthew 5:17 is a powerful statement by our Redeemer that whoever does the Law and Prophets and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom, whereas those who take away from it even in the slightest and teach others to do the same will be called least.  No partitioning His law into parts (moral, civic, ceremonial) nor justifying being rid of some/most of it!  If we want to be walking in faith, that means walking in faithfulness to every word what has proceeded from His mouth!  YHWH called heaven and earth as His two witnesses to His Law in Deuteronomy 30:19 hence Yeshua standing firm on its validity here and in Luke 16:17.  Given that 2 Peter 3:13 confirms we are still waiting for this new heaven and earth, let us rejoice in the Truth of His Word and let us stay awake to test those who call themselves Apostles and yet are false because they altered YHWH's law, His appointed times and New Moon calendar!  (2 Corinthians 11:14-15, Revelation 2:2, Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 11:30).  We are still waiting for the fullness of restoration to come hence Yeshua's words: "Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."  (Luke 24:44)  Let us hold dear the Law and Prophets and the Psalms like a love letter from our Beloved... every promise of His yet to be fulfilled are like a tender comfort as we persevere in patient endurance for His return.

What is Written in the Law? HOW Do you Read it?

Luke 10:25-28 is a great example of Yeshua (Jesus) confirming the words of the Father. He points us back to words of Life (which He embodies/manifests) and makes sure that if we are reading the Father's instructions (Torah/Law) with a heart that earnestly seeks to love Him and our neighbours, we will find ourselves graciously inheriting eternal life. "For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3). So let us draw near to the mount of our Redeemer and learn His Ways! God bless you out there!

New Covenant Promise - Law in our Hearts

The gospel message of our Hope can be summarized in the New Covenant passages such as Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 36:26-29. Paul echoes the voice of the prophets in Romans 8:7 when he confirms that our fleshly/earthly nature is at enmity with YHWH because it refuses to submit to His law. Praise be to God who sent His Beloved Salvation, Yeshua (Jesus) to show us joyful and perfect submission through a love so powerful that not even death could contain it... and then He put that into the hearts of those who believe His promises! We have been saved from our rebellion against His righteous, spiritual law! God bless you all out there!

Do & Observe Whatever is Read from the Seat of Moses

Matthew 23:1-3 are words in red. Our Redeemer, Yeshua (Jesus) taught that whatever is read from the seat of Moses (where Torah/Law) was supposedly read from, is to be done and observed. He then commanded in Matthew 28:20 to teach the nations to observe everything He taught. This sure explains why in Matthew 5:19 Yeshua proclaims that those who DO and TEACH the Law & Prophets will be called great in His kingdom someday!  Hooray!  But we are not to be hypocrites like those who are hearers of the Word only! So I do my best to do and observe the Torah because my Redeemer commanded me to. I believe Him! May it glorify our righteous Law-giver by pointing right to Him!  Hee hee!!  And don't mind the freeze frame for this video... super unflattering!  But so are my humbling mistakes on this walk... there's a true-to-form, less-than-flattering summary of who I am!  LOL!!

I found this interesting article/summary on the topic of Moses' Seat:
Eleazar L. Sukenik, in his important study published in 1934, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece, provided several examples of “Chairs of Moses” found by archaeologists. The one at Hammath-by-Tiberias is most interesting, because the back of the chair faces towards Jerusalem, picturing the law going forth from that direction as the synagogue audience is facing Zion. Stone seats positioned so that their occupant sat facing the congregation have been found in synagogues at Chorazin (cf. Matt. 11:21, Luke 10:13) in 1962, in En Gedi, and two Diaspora synagogues, (1) in Delos, the marble seat found in its ruins is probably the oldest example of a seat of Moses known (ca. 100 BC), and (2) Dura-Europos. Noel Rabbinowitz says this evidence taken together bolsters our conviction that the “Seat of Moses” was a physical seat upon which the Pharisees sat.[1] He goes on to explain that most of the synagogue furniture was made of wood, which is why so few of these objects have survived. 

If You Don't Believe Moses' Writings, How Will You Believe My Words?

John 5:46 are powerful words spoken by our Redeemer Yeshua (Jesus). In John 14:24, He confirmed that the Word He was teaching was not His own but "His who sent me." This is in fulfillment of YHWH's promise to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18 that someday He would raise up a prophet like him from among his people to speak these words (His Law). Therefore, the people were to store up the Word in their heart and teach it diligently to their children in order to recognize this promised Prophet. Peter confirmed in Acts 3:22 that this was referencing Yeshua and Stephen also confirmed it in Acts 7:37. Moses, an earthly man, warned us to delight in the Torah of YHWH and now we have been warned from Heaven (Hebrews 12:25)... will we finally believe Moses' writings and consequently finally believe the teachings of Yeshua? May it be so! May He "open your mind to understand the scriptures" so that "beginning with Moses and the Prophets", He can fully reveal Himself to you! (Luke 24:27, 32 and 44-45). God bless you!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Feasts of YHWH vs Traditions of Men Part 2: What is Deception?

Good morning!  I feel giddy.... like I've just walked over to your place and knocked on your door asking "Hey!  You wanna come out and play?  You wanna go for another walk with me?  That's the beauty of a testimony, isn't it?  You don't have to subscribe to it and/or believe it.  There is zero expectation, only the question: do you want to hear a story?  Do you want to go for a walk?

Well, had I asked you that question after I addressed my #1 Stumbling Block in part 1 (do I want to know if I am wrong?), it would have been a treacherous walk!  I would've told you "wear your helmet cuz there's going to be a lot of stumbling... I'm BLIND now!!"

Yep.  That's what overcoming stumbling block #1 feels like.  You go from thinking you saw everything clearly to suddenly realizing you're blind!  Pitch black darkness.  How scary is that?  I absolutely understand why so many of us look at stumbling block #1 and go "um, no thanks!  That looks like it's going to suck... and hurt... and be scary.  I'll keep things just the way they are, thank you very much."

Because it does hurt!

Have you ever been deceived by someone you completely trusted?  Do you recall how the unexpected betrayal felt at the very core of your being?  Do you remember the inconsolable pain that nothing of this world could touch or reach?  That is the power of our Adversary.

Just as Love (what IS good) is the power of God, Deception (what SEEMS good) is the power of Satan.  Take a moment and read that sentence again.  After all, Eve did not partake of the forbidden fruit because she thought it was a bad thing to do... she partook only when Satan deceived her to believe it was a GOOD thing to do.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  (Genesis 3:6)
And so it was with what I believed as my sincere devotion to God.  I genuinely believed it was good, that it was a delight to Him and I thought myself wise in His ways.  Nowhere did I realize I was ignorant!  Because nowhere in my devotion and worship did I intentionally seek "hey, how can I act wickedly against God?  What abominations can I commit towards Him?"  I was sincere in seeking what I thought was good!

But so was Eve.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 11:3)
But here's the good news... do you know what the surprising thing is about finally realizing you're blind?  You start feeling your way around desperately... you start looking/seeking for what is solid... you start looking for what is TRUTH.  It's like being born again... vulnerable and having to re-learn everything from scratch!  Until that point, there is no seeking, only assuming everything we're doing is "good".
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn [repent / reject old ways / do a 180] and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:3)
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance... Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth... since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.  (1 Peter 1:22-23) 
And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth... that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel their way towards Him [like a blind man] and find Him... The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.  (Acts 17:26-27 & 30) 
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the LORD is good.  (1 Peter 2:2-3) - please note that Paul refers to this spiritual milk as the oracles of God in Hebrews 5:12-13 which Stephen equates to the Law of Moses in Acts 7:38

I struggled with admitting I was blind!  Oh how humbling!!!  How can the LORD love me when I have been blinded?  But in His great mercy and comfort, He showed me why my blindness was beautiful in His sight and why it was necessary:
"For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."  Some of the Pharisees [prideful teachers] near Him heard these things, and said to Him, 'Are we also blind?'  Yeshua said to them, "if you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'we see,' your guilt remains."  (John 9:39-41) - Had these teachers tackled stumbling block #1 of 'could I be wrong?'
"I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to these things... delivering you from your people [Israel] and from Gentiles - to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me"... that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance."  (Acts 26:16-18 & 20)

So deception is the conviction that something is good, when in truth, it is evil.  That is the true blindness.  That is the real darkness.  Therefore, the weapon of warfare for deception is ignorance!!
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?"  (Mark 12:24)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.  And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.  (Hosea 4:6)
Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge.  (Isaiah 5:13)

YHWH has revealed to me that Deception is a beautiful broadly-paved road with twists to the right and to the left, winding and curving, distracting its wanderers from the sudden last turn that ends in death.  Deception is a death whose tombstone reads: "Ignorance is Bliss."

So Stumbling Block #2 for Rita:
1.  Have I been deceived?
2.  Have I been ignorant?
3.  Am I blind?

With this, my spirit cried out "if ignorance is the weapon of our Adversary that ensnares us into a blind slavery, what can be our only weapon in fighting back?  How do we fight with wisdom and discernment to breaks off the bonds of deception?"  The Father answered me:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)
"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  (John 8:31-32) 

With that, my dear ones, the LORD revealed to me that there is a war happening.  It is not a war where I am looking outside and around me for some evil red-horned being whose wickedness can be seen from a mile away!  No.  The war is spiritual and it is within me... it's within all of us... in our thoughts, in our heart (which is deceptive above all things)... therein lies the spiritual realm and it is at war.
Put on the full armour of God for His precepts are like the splendid armour of a heavily-armed soldier, so that you may be able to successfully stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood... but against the rulers, against powers, against the world forces of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places... Above all, lift up the protective shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  (Ephesians 6:11-12 & 16-17)

Praise be to God!  My fighting back began when I was finally willing to look at Stumbling Block #1 of 'could I be wrong?' and not walk away!  Praise be to God who revealed to me my blindness and caused my spirit to cry out to Him and to finally start seeking for Truth as if it's a treasure hunt for my life!!  He has caused me to hunger and thirst after Him!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  (Matthew 5:6)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the LORD.  (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Who shall ascend to the hill of the LORD?  And who shall sit in his holy place?  He who has clean hands [repented] and a pure heart [circumcised], who does not lift up his soul to what is false... He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  (Psalms 24:3-6) 

Now, my dear ones, we have walked together and here we are back at your doorstep.  Thank you for walking with me... thank you for listening to a story.  I pray its words be a blessing to you, a comfort and a hope in the face of its terrifying possibility of being true.  But that will be your journey, your walk... one I hope and pray unites us at a doorstep knocking and asking "Do you want to go for a walk?  Do you want to hear my story?"

I have not met many of you, and yet I love you so deeply.  I am with you in your warfare!  I pray for your protection, for the armour of God to protect you!  Fight, my dear ones!  Fight and win!  But begin with the biggest battle of all:  asking yourself "have I been deceived?  Am I blind?"

God bless you all and see you in part 3!