Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesdays Together- Deuteronomy 17:18-20

Sorry for those of you who read this post earlier with its MANY typos....too much in a rush. Ahhh....what a bad example from a former teacher!

While enjoying the Ultimate Blog Party I came across DeeDee's, I Have No Greater Joy Blog. Weekly she hosts a gathering place for us to share "nuggets" from God's Word. What a joy to teach each other and hear the Word. Today I felt led to join in. If you'd like to see her post or others simply click on the button above!

My nugget:

My reading today was in Deuteronomy, and while there I found this.

"When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of this law. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. This will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel." Deuteronomy 17:18-20

These were guidelines for Israel's future king:
The king was to copy the laws in the presence of the priests. He wasn't supposed to have someone make him a copy, or even use the ancient xerox machine. No, he was to write the copy himself. Do you get why? Don't you learn better when you need to copy it by hand? Doesn't it seem to get your attention more? How much of God's Word have I copied? How much do I pay personal attention to what God has given me?

The king must keep this copy with him and read it daily. The Law wasn't supposed to be hidden somewhere or kept in a place where the king had to consult someone else in order to know what it said. He was supposed to have a personal copy and USE it. It wasn't to be kept in a fancy shrine, but rather where the king would have daily access to it. He was supposed to keep it in his mind and on his heart with daily doses. Where's my copy of God's Word? How often do I turn to it?

If the king writes a copy of the Law, keeps it with him and reads it regularly, what will be the result?
He will learn to fear God. God's Word reveals God to us. When we see God as He is, we will be in awe and have a proper respect for him. What's my view of God?

He will obey God.
Obedience isn't because one is afraid of being punished by God, but rather that one loves God and wants to show that He deserves to be Lord and Master. If I have the right view of God I will know that His ways are far better than mine and I should walk in His path. Why do I obey God? Am I obeying Him?

He will have humility. Yes, he is the king and in a place of leadership, but reading God's Law will allow him to keep things in proper perspective. He is who he is because of God's work and not because of any merit he has on his own. How do I view myself in relation to others? Do I keep in mind that I am blessed not because of anything I have done, but rather because God choose to bless me? Do I remember that God loves each and every person with a real and personal love? Do I remember that I am called to serve?

He will keep to the right path. Keeping God's Word in his heart will keep him from taking steps off the path. Even in little ways he will remain on the path. God's Word works in our hearts and produces holiness. The more we are with God, the more we bear His image. The more I know God, the more senstive I am to ways my heart strays from Him. Am I pursuing God's holiness and allowing His Word to change my heart?

If the king was supposed to follow these guidelines, surely they are words that do my heart good as well? May you enjoy time in His Word on a daily basis!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Wedding- Part 2

Now that we know more about weddings in Jesus day, let's look more at what John 2 has to say. There was a problem at this wedding. They were out of wine. That wasn't good! They were lacking and in great need, because you didn't want to be known as the family that didn't throw a good party! Our pastor used this to make the great connection that we are also in need and have to admit that need. We need Jesus to fix the problem.

What I love is how Jesus goes about fixing the problem!(I have some questions about his response in vs 3, but that's probably just something to investigate another time!) Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars with water. Those jars were used to contain the water for purification. The Old Covenant or Law required that things be purified by washing them in water. It's these jars, that Jesus has filled with water that is then turned to wine. The servants obeyed, but God's power transformed what was there into what was needed. We needed reconciliation to God. We were separated because of sin. AND God provided the way to be reconciled through Jesus blood. Is it really a coincidence that the miracle is water becoming wine, if wine is a symbol of blood? Jesus offered us the New Covenant, and even from his very first miracle he was announcing it!

When the wine is tasted by the master of ceremonies he comments that usually people share the best wine first and then slip in wine of lesser quality. However, at this wedding, the best wine was now being offered. Isn't that just like our God. He gives us good things, like His Law and his teachings, but then He gives us even better things in His Son!

I have one last little nugget to share. In vs 11 it says that the miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. Turning water into wine was a miracle. It would surely get some attention and make us think that this man wasn't like all the others. But if what I've been thinking and writing about has any truth, than Jesus revealed a whole lot more of who he was than just a miracle worker. He truly did reveal his glory as our Groom and our Bride Price.

Don't you love a good wedding?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wedding Thoughts- Part One

On Sunday I had the privilege of witnessing a wedding ceremony during our worship service. (Congratulations Steve and Victoria! May God bless both of you in this covenant!) Our pastor has been preaching a series about Jesus called “One Extraordinary Life”. Our text was John 2, which tells us about a wedding that Jesus attended as a guest. Besides the things I learned from our Pastor, some other things jumped out at me in the text.

The first of these was the phrase, “On the third day.” I've heard those words before. Is there significance here? What else has happened on the third day? When Jesus was telling his disciples about the events that would soon be occurring, he told them that he would be killed and on the third day raised to life (Mt. 16:21). Is there a reason that Jesus first miracle and the beginning of his public ministry also occurs on a third day?

Then I pondered why his first miracle was at a wedding. Was this important? As I thought more, tears formed in my eyes. A wedding? Isn’t Jesus whole ministry really about a wedding? Didn’t Jesus come to find his beloved and bring her to Him? Isn’t a wedding a natural place to start? (I still have questions regarding Jesus’s words in vs. 3, but I think I’ll save that for a little later.)

I wanted to know more about weddings in Jesus’s time, so I did a little digging. (I’m beginning to love digging!) At this time when a man found his beloved, he wrote a marriage covenant. He proposed the Ketubah, or marriage covenant, to his beloved and her father. Included in this proposal was a “bride price”, which was intended to cover the cost of raising his beloved. It also spoke of his love for her. Our Savior paid for us with His own blood. Surely we are precious to Him!

Next, the young man poured a cup of wine. If the beloved accepted the offer, she would drink this cup. The covenant was thought of as a blood covenant. The couple was now betrothed and bound by a covenant that can only be broken by divorce. Jesus has offered us a cup of wine. We find this cup being offered at the Last Supper in Mt. 26:27-28. Jesus said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people.” When Jesus offered this cup he was saying, “Will you marry me?”

At this time the young man gave his beloved gifts and left her. The beloved waited for him to return for her. During this time she prepared herself for that day. The young man was also making preparations. He went to his father’s house and prepared a room in it for his bride. He could only return for his bride when the father approved of his preparations. If someone asked him what day he would be bringing her home, he replied, “Only the father knows.” Are there some tingles in your toes as you read this? Our groom has gone to prepare a place for us. He told us so in John 14:2. Jesus has gone to His Father’s house and is busy preparing a place for us. Can you imagine what He’s up to? And he will return for us. He’ll return when the place is approved by his father. Only the Father knows when that will be, but we can be sure it will happen!

Finally the day came for the groom to bring his bride to his father’s house. The bride and groom went to their room for a honeymoon that lasted seven days. It was at this time that the covenant was consummated. The guests in the house celebrated for those seven days. Talk about a party! At the end of the seven days, the husband and wife would join the guests for a wedding supper. What a time it will be when Jesus returns for His bride!

We'll return back to John 2 and the wedding Jesus was attending in the next post.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hard Thinking

Recently I started reading Cultivating a Life for God, by Neil Cole. It's making me think. I like books that make me think. I don't like books that make me think. You know what I mean?

I'm still thinking, but I wanted to process a bit now, so you get the joy of reading a "processing post". Cultivating a Life for God is a book about discipleship. It's not just about a formula per se, but it does examine how the church in the United States handles discipleship and the ways it is lacking. It also shares principles that can be put into action to lead to growth in making disciples.

A primary principle is that growth of any kind comes from God and not by the efforts of anyone else. I can't make myself grow, nor can I make anyone else grow. God is the source of life transforming power. The best way I can reach out to someone is to tell them about how God's life transforming power has worked in my life. It's simply sharing what has happened in my life. AND simply sharing that with people I'm in contact with.

Take a look at the ninth chapter of John sometime. It's the chapter that tells us about a blind man that was healed by Jesus and then brought to the Pharisees because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. This man's life was touched by God's life transforming power, and because of this he could see for the first time in his life. And he could probably see many things clearer than those that had been "seeing" for all of their lives. This is the type of man that Neil Cole says has a great opportunity. He simply has to tell people the people he hung out with the way that Jesus changed his life.

But why does what is simple seem so hard? When have you last shared with someone how Jesus changed your life? Does anyone else struggle in this area? Are any of you like me- You know you were blind, but God's grace reached you at such a young age that it's hard to remember what it was like to be blind and your world was so small anyway that the blindness didn't seem so crippling? I know I have a great story, because it's God's work and what was once dead is now alive, but it just doesn't seem to have the punch that other stories have. I don't really want to trade my experience, but at the same time, I wish I could better express to someone just how life transforming Jesus is with some pretty exciting black and white examples.

To make the simple seem even less simple, I seem to have created a "Christian" bubble around me. This is even more true since becoming a SAHM. It's hard to find someone to share with in the context of a meaningful relationship.

As I share all this, I know that God has given me a story nonetheless. It is a story that is amazing because the main character is about this incredible God who blows your mind away with the way He works. The story includes me, but really I'm not the main character. I'm there as Ephesians 2:7 says, "So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all that he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. (NLT). AND I know that He brings people my way and will continue to do so if I'm intentionally seeking to listen to His plans and obey Him.

BUT I'm still thinking and examining my heart. I hope my hard thinking will prompt you to do some hard thinking, too.

I'd love to know how God's story includes a chapter with your name on it. Feel free to tell that part of the story as a comment and let's give God all the glory!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Different Kind of Celebration

I know if you've been reading my blog I told you I'd get off the celebration theme, but this kind of celebration is different!

Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Party, 2009! The ladies at 5 Minutes for Mom's have created a great way for people to connect in the blog world. Click on the banner to learn more and join the party.
Ultimate Blog Party 2009
If you've joined me from the party, welcome! Let me introduce myself. I'm Melissa, the wife of Dear Husband, the stay at home mom of almost two year old Little Man, and a woman who desires to follow after God with all her heart. Since I stay at home a lot, blogging has done much to help keep me thinking and stay connected to people. I started blogging when Little Man was about to make his grand entrance to the world. Just this year I began this blog because I wanted a place where I could process and share what I was learning. I belong to a great body of believers, but felt that God was leading me to share in this arena. This blog is still growing; you might want to think of it in some kind of caterpillar stage. It's also a pretty serious site...sorry no giveaways, no cute themes yet, and lots of reading. Regardless, of how it changes, I want it always to be a place where you can find some encouragement by connecting to someone who's trying to be the woman God sees her to be.

You might want to check out these posts if you're interested in learning a little more about the site.
Servant's Heart
Something To Share With A Mom
Book Chat
Let's Celebrate

Back to the party! There's nothing like having a reason to celebrate. Here's what I'm celebrating today:
1. I can see some brown grass and not just a foot of snow in my Maine front yard. AND the calendar says it's spring.

2. Little Man can say Thank You and said it to me on his own without any prompting when I have him some yogurt today.

3. Ice Cream---and the opening of our local ice cream location

4. My God who hasn't given up on me even when He needs to keep repeating the lessons He wants me to learn.

5. The Internet, which allows me to keep in touch with family and friends, and meet new folks like you!

Before you leave, I'm curious. What are you celebrating right now?

Watch the Lamb

Thank you, my dear Jesus.

Festival of Harvest-Pentecost

Thanks for sticking with me as I've looked at the celebrations spoken of in Leviticus 23. I know it's been a little tedious, but I've learned much. I'm going to wrap up this thread of posts though, by writing about the final spring festival.

The Festival of Harvest is celebrated 49 days after the Feast of First Harvest. (50 days total, which is where we get the word Pentecost.) The Festival of Harvest was a time when the spring wheat harvest was being gathered.

Historically it correlates with the Israelites receiving the Torah, or Law. When the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai, they purrified themselves for 2 days and were to receive God's word on the third day. They were not to approach the mountain. It was covered with dense clouds, fire, smoke, and there was thunder and lightening. God wrote his commands on 2 tablets of stone. It's also significant that when Moses came down from the mountain and found the people worshipping a golden calf, God judged the nation and 3,000 people died (Ex. 32:28).

God used this festival to point to the giving of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus's resurrection and the beginning of a harvest of believers. God offered a new covenant through Jesus and the Holy Spirit was given as a promise to those that entered the covenant. Acts 2 tells us about the Holy Spirit's arrival at Pentecost. When Peter, who is filled with the Spirit, speaks to the crowd gathered to celebrate Pentecost, 3,000 people believe and enter the new covenant.

Pentecost was celebrated by offerings, one of which was a new grain offering. They were to offer 2 loaves of bread. These were not unleavened loaves, but rather loaves made with yeast. This is very different from the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. Why the differnece? My readings told me that Christ was represented by the unleavened bread in the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. He was without sin, so therefore, the bread was without yeast. However, the bread at Pentecost represents the nation of Israel and the church. Both contain sin, so the bread contains yeast.

The Festival of Harvest was the last of the spring festivals and the beginning of the gathering of grains. In the fall, another set of festivals would be celebrated that correlates with the gathering of the fruit harvest. We are living in the times of plentiful harvest. Let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest and ask him to send out workers. Let us also be about the work that God has given us. The fall festivals give us information about Jesus second coming and the Final Harvest. I'll be studying, but unless I find something that I just have to share with you, I think the blog will take a break from all this celebrating. (I know some of you are dancing with joy!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Festival of Unleavened Bread

Exodus 12:14-17 gives us background information about the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The feast lasts 7 days, during which no one is to eat bread made with yeast. In the Bible leaven or yeast is a symbol for sin. The Israelites were to be a people set apart from sin. This was symbolically seen during this celebration. The festival also gavem them a remembrance of their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

Digging a little deeper I found some more insights. Before Passover (the day before the festival begins) the wife cleaned the home thoroughly, removing all leaven. However, she purposefully left 10 small pieces of bread containing yeast behind as part of a teaching tradition. The father of the family would take a candle, wooden sppon, feather, and piece of linen cloth and go with the children throughout the house looking for any missed leaven. At nightfall on the day before Passover a final search was made using just candles. When the Father found the last piece of bread, he would put the candle down and lay the wooden spoon next to the bread. Using the feather, the father would sweep the bread on to the spoon. Without touching the bread, the father would wrap the spoon in a linen cloth and cast the bundle out of the house. The next morning the father would burn the linen and its contents in a fire.

This tradition speaks of how God removes sin from our lives. Scripture (the candle) is one of the elements that reveals sin in our life. When sin is found the Holy Spirit (feather) is an instrument in bringing sin to death. The spoon (cross) bears the sin away. The linen (burial wrapping) covers death. The sin is condemned and punished (fire).

How grateful I am that God has provided the way to remove sin and its power from my life! I am no longer a slave to sin! Thanks be to God I am free indeed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


For me, the celebration of Passover was the most familiar of the feasts spoken about in Leviticus 23. The first Passover celebration is recorded in Exodus 12. The easiest connection for me to make between the Passover and Jesus's work of redemption centered on the blood of the lamb. A lamb was killed on Passover to provide the blood and the Lamb of God was killed on Passover to also provide the cleansing blood. It was the blood of the lamb, when applied to the doorposts and lintel that gave the message that death would not claim anyone in this household. Jesus blood when applied to our lives through faith in him prevents death from continuing its work in our life. Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb.

Further study, however, has given me some new insights about the lamb. The Passover lamb was selected or chosen five days before Passover. How fitting then, that Jesus should come to Jerusalem on lamb selection day. The Passover Lamb was present and waiting for the sacrifice.

God certainly is a God of the details! The throat of the Passover lamb was to be cut at 3 pm. It was at this time that the shofar was sounded and the people were to reflect on the sacrifice. In addition, the priest said the words, "It is finished" when he sacrificed the lamb. Do you already see the connection in the details? Jesus, The Passover Lamb, cried, "It is finished" when he gave up his spirit at 3 pm on the day day of Passover. Amazing!

There are still things I'm sorting out as I learn about the connections between Christ's life and the Passover, but I'm learning more and more. I'd often wondered how the Last Supper could be a Passover meal (seder) AND yet Jesus could die on Passover. Part of that is resolved with learning more about a day in Hebrew life...it's actually sundown to sundown. But what clears up the question even more for me is that traditionally at the time of the temple there were often 2 seders. The first Seder occurred on the 14th and the second on the 15th. So, Jesus was able to share the Passover meal with his disciples and then become our Passover Lamb.

The Passover Seder is another celebration packed with meaning and symbolism. Seder means order and God certainly uses the order found in this 15 step celebration to teach us. The meal begins with Kaddesh. The first cup of wine, the cup of sanctification, is presented and the blessing, "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine," is given. Remember that in John 15:1 Jesus tells us he is the True Vine.

If you'd like to read more about the Passover meal, I'd encourage you to. I'm going to highlight several steps in the seder that have special meaning.

The Yachatz, or breaking of bread is of particular significance. During this part of the meal the focus is on 3 pieces of bread. The middle piece of unleavened bread is ceremonially broken in two. The larger of the two broken pieces is wrapped in a napkin and set aside for later in the meal. Did you catch the number of pieces of bread? Three. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are represented. The Son of God, or Bread of Life, is broken for us.

Near the conclusion of the meal things get more interesting again. At the Tzafun the piece of broken unleavened bread that was hidden in a cloth (afikomen) is found by a child. A ransom is paid for the piece of bread. This bread is then eaten. Loads of importance here. First, the broken bread is brought out into the open. Our broken Savior was laid in a seplecure and then resurrected. A ransom was paid for us to receive life from God.

After this the Barech, or grace after the meal is said. A third cup of wine is celebrated. This cup is called the cup of redemption. It is a cup filled to overflowing. It was probably this cup that Jesus shared with his diciples as a sign of the New Covenant.

The Passover provides us with much food for thought. I hope as Passover and Easter draw close you will have new insights into God's amazing love for us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Overview of the Spring Festivals

Here's what I've learned in an overview of the spring festivals. Remember, this is an overview, so later I'll go back and give more meat to what I've learned. I hope you find this interesting, too. If not, I'm sorry, because I think I'll be camped out on this topic for a while.

The spring festivals are remembrances of God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land. These celebration closely parallel events in Christ's first coming and works of redemption.

The first of the spring festivals is Passover. It is celebrated on the 14th day of the first month of the religious calendar with a special meal, and reminds us of the first Passover meal the Israelites ate while in Egypt. Remember, God told them to slay a lamp and then put the blood on the doorposts of their homes. That night the Angel of Death would 'passover' any home that bore the blood of the sacrificial lamb. The parallel to this feast is that Jesus is our Passover lamb. His death and blood allowed God to passover us and not punish us in the way that we deserve.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the day after Passover and lasts for 7 days. During this time, the Exodus is remembered. The Israelites left Egypt so quickly that they did not have leavened bread. There are some things during this feast that tie in closely with Jesus being in the tomb.

During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits (Feast of First Harvest) is celebrated. It's the first of the barley harvest and is the first day of the week (our Sunday). In Exodus, the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea 3 days after the Exodus. Exodus 14:13 in the New King James Version reads, "And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever." Remember, the Hebrew word for salvation is Yeshua.
Even here, we find our Deliverer at work! From what I read, the Feast of First Fruits is celebrated on the 17th of the month, 3 days after the Passover meal. That's right, 3 days later. The Feast of First Fruits gives us information about the resurrection. When Jesus rose from the tomb he accomplished great things for us.

The final of the spring festivals is the Festival of Harvest or Feast of Weeks. It takes place 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits. In my reading, I discovered that the Israelites received the Law from God 50 days after the Exodus. The Greek word for 50th is Pentecost. Sound familiar? In the New Testament, believers received the gift of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus death. It's also noted that the Season of Passover is not totally over until Pentecost. Now, don't you find all of this just a tad bit interesting?

God is Amazing!

Have you ever discovered something in Scripture that just blew you away? Has it ever been a small detail, so small, and yet so significant? I've been amazed by God as I've begun digging deeper into Leviticus 23. I AM SO EXCITED! Leviticus---EXCITING????You know it's God when that's happening!

The Thoenes say in their books that everything means something. Oh, my gosh is that true as I'm discovering in my studies. I wish I could walk in the culture of the Books of the Bible. There is so much I just don't get because I'm not from the culture. I want God to show me more and more of Him and His ways. Slow down and study...everything means something.

So, what am I so excited about? Let me share just a bit, and I'll try to keep sharing as I'm learning. (I would love to us this material to teach a class. We'll see how God leads.)

First, Colossians 2:16-17 says, "So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality to come." What we find in Leviticus is a shadow of something else. The feasts are to teach us about Christ.

There are seven feasts. That's right, seven, a significant number in the Bible. It signifies perfection. The seven feasts create a gathering of the Israelites three times during the year. The number three in Scripture refers to completeness, a perfect testimony and witness. So these gatherings are a testimony or witness of Christ. Are you finding this interesting yet?

Hang on, I'm still contemplating this next one. The Hebrew Civil Calendar (based on the moon) was given in Genesis and used through Exodus 12. In Exodus 12, God gives them a new calendar, the Religious Calendar. Two Calendars...two covenants...two testaments.... AND the new Religious Calendar simply renumbers the months so that what was the SEVENTH months in the Civil Calendar is now the FIRST month in the Religious Calendar. Why does the renumbering start with the seventh month? Everything means something. Isn't God amazing? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll be back.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let's Celebrate!

As I've completed reading through the book of Leviticus recently, I found myself thinking a lot about celebrations. In chapter 23 God reminds Israel that they are to keep a weekly Sabbath day. They are to set aside a day for rest and holy assembly- a day that due to its difference is to turn them from the daily grind of life and lift their hearts heavenward. (The Sabbath is something I'd also like to delve into more, especially after reading ch 25 which talks about the Sabbath Year and Year of Jubilee...so you may find more musings on this later.) After reminding the people that they are to have weekly opportunities to refocus their lives, He then describes several important festivals that they are to celebrate each year.

Passover--------------------celebrated sundown on the 14th of the first month;
special meal
Feast of Unleavened bread-- celebrated 15th of the first month; Lasting 7 days
Eat no bread with yeast, special gifts presented each day, first and last
day no work and official day for holy assembly

First Harvest---------------celebrated first Sabbath after first harvest--special
gifts to God
Festival of Harvest(or Festival of Weeks)-- celebrated 50 days after the First
Harvest Offering--special gifts to God and no work, official day for holy

Festival of Trumpets-------celebrated first day of the seventh month-- special
gifts, no work, official day for holy assembly
Day of Atonmement---------celebrated 10th day of seventh month-- offerings made for
purification, no work, official day for holy assembly
Festival of Shelters (Festival of Booths or Tabernacles, Final Harvest)-- celebrated
five days after the Day of Atonement-- last 7 days, first day no work,
official day for holy assembly, special gifts for 7 days, eighth day
special gifts and no work

As I thought more about these special celebrations, I began to see that God regularly provided His people with celebrations to remind them of Him and their relationship with Him. There are many things in the celebrations that also point to Christ. (So many little things in Scripture mean something, and I'm yearning for God to show me more about what significance these celebrations held.) We are to take time out ROUTINELY to do things that are NOT routine. We are to cease our normal daily running around to be still and know that He is God. We are to seek to understand His ways so that we may know Him and continue to enjoy favor with Him (Ex. 33:12-13).

So what application are we supposed to make of this? Do we have celebrations that allow us to know Him and to learn about our relationship with Him? Do we really celebrate as God commanded his people to, or do we celebrate based on the direction of Hallmark and our culture?

Interesting that God should be speaking about all of this to me last week, because He showed me a bit of application this past Sunday. My family and I had the privilege of being part of an Ordination Ceremony for a couple that we are friends with who will shortly be taking on the roles of Pastor and Pastor's Wife. Our Sunday Worship service became a time to remember what God has already done in their lives and to look forward to what He will continue to do. What a joy it was to hear the words of a charge from a mentor of theirs who spoke with God's wisdom and great love. There were words of encouragement for all of us from our Pastor who reminded us of the responsibilities we all have to be ministering and going about the work that God has prepared for us. And what a time of blessing it was to gather in prayer and pray over this dear couple. This time reminded us of the eternal things of life and took us out of our normal routine. We were refreshed and uplifted as we also thought about God's work in our own lives and focused on Him.

I think I understood a little bit of the reason why God wants us to have celebrations in our lives that are centered around Him as I enjoyed this past Sunday. I am challenged to think of other times that I celebrate and allow him to reveal himself to me. What about you? When will you take sometime to celebrate?

For more study: http://www.mayimhayim.org/Festivals/Feast1.htm

(I'm currently working through this...it's truly wonderful how God has given us so much meaning if we'll only dig deep enough to uncover it.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Book Chat

One of the things I loved about teaching was sharing great books with my students. I still love reading, but find I don't work through the books as quickly as I did my pre-Little Man days!

One of my favorite authors is a husband/wife team, Bodie and Brock Thoene. They write Historical Christian Fiction, and their writing is incredible. One of their series is the A.D. Chronicles, which takes you back to the walk with Jesus as he journeyed on this Earth. It's an amazing series, because it takes the Truth of God's Word and brings new things to light as you ponder the REAL people who walked with Jesus. I just finished The Seventh Day. The major story line centered on Lazarus.

I found many connections with people in my life who I know are struggling with some of the very questions Mary and Martha must have had as their brother grew sicker and died and Jesus stayed away. Can you imagine what they felt? They were close to Jesus, they loved him and were loved by him. They watched their dear brother grow sick and weaken to the point that death was breathing in the room with them. Jesus could have come. He could have been there and said one word and health would have returned instantly. He could have just spoken a word from far away, just like he had to bring healing to the Centurion's servant. But he didn't. Death won.

Have you been there? Have you been in a situation where death was about to strike? Death of a loved one, death of a dream, or death of hope? Did you ask the question- Why--- why didn't you stop it, God?

The thing about Lazarus's story is that we know the ending. The story doesn't stop with death, it keeps going to life. Jesus delays his journey to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but finally does travel to Bethany and there further reveals who he is by bringing someone back to life who has been in the grave for 3 days. His Father receives even GREATER glory and His identity is further revealed.

So, how does this speak to these dear people who have had their hopes die? Our God is the same God. He has a purpose. He hasn't lost control of any situation. We aren't abandoned and alone. Like Jesus who wept when he came to Bethany because of the sorrow of those he loved, God weeps at our pain. AND He is still at work. Priscilla Shirer writes in He Speaks to Me, "Trials and challenges are inevitable. We must learn to expect them, submit to them, and learn from them. However, rest assured that behind every challenge we will find God orchestrating the circumstances to build us up and bring Himself glory."

This is the message my heart is holding to and the message I want those that are grieving to cling to: He's at work to bring himself glory and to further build our relationship with Him, even when we ask, "Why did you allow that to happen?"