A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

April 16, 2018

More Revelation On My True Identity

     How many of us Christians have been living our lives, feeling like we've got a pretty good handle on who we are, both in the physical and the spiritual? Then, all of a sudden, a situation arises that sends you to your knees, and you feel like you have been knocked off center? It can be a reminder of something from your past, an unjust accusation, or as in my case, a family secret revealed that has you questioning even the people you thought your parents were.
     Whatever the case, it should be no surprise to us that the Enemy will do everything possible to stall this life of Freedom that Christ has brought us to. I have spent the last couple of weeks in a battle with my flesh, and after much spiritual introspection, I believe I have loosed the tethers that the devil used to keep my spirit tied to my flesh and this earthly realm. I hope that what I have discerned can be of value to you.
     In my case, I learned that the circumstances of this life do not define who I am. Yes, in the physical sense, I am a product of my parents and all that has happened to them in their lives. But this physical identity is not my TRUE identity! Whatever lies the Enemy is using to try to tell me who I am is not how Jesus identifies me. It doesn't matter what my parents might have done, or the mistakes I have made, or the accusations and judgments of others -- that is not my real identity. The Word of God says Jesus chose me and joined me to Him before He created the foundations of the world. So He knew me before He combined my mother's egg with my father's sperm and knit me in the womb. And since man wasn't formed into flesh until after the seven days of the creation of the world, it makes sense to me that Jesus knew me as a spirit. And with my rebirth into faith in Him, my spirit is now seated with Him in the Heavenly realm.
     Whether you agree with me or not that Jesus knew me as spirit before I was born into this flesh, it cannot be disputed that He knows my spirit now, which is in communion with the Holy Spirit here, and with Him in Heaven. Again, whatever lies the Enemy whispers to my flesh does not change who I am in the Kingdom realm. At my very core, I am not who this world says I am!
    Jesus declares [on my behalf] that I am a child of God; a Daughter of the King; a fellow heir of the Kingdom with Christ. I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God. I am God's workmanship and I am complete in Christ. And more importantly, I am His light in this dark world. In essence, I am all the things the devil in not!!!
     But what does he try to do? The Enemy tries to convince us we are a product of this world -- our bloodline; our reputation; our past and present sins; the sins of our forefathers; what others think of us. We are none of those things! Our faith in Jesus has set us free from all that! Not just partially free as long as we can hang on to a sense of freedom -- but wonderfully and completely free! And our spirit lives that life of freedom when we are united with the Holy Spirit. We shouldn't use this spiritual freedom to set up a base of operations in this natural, fleshly realm. We should be living out of the spiritual realm where our new identity is. Remember, when we become joined with Christ, we are a new creation and the old order is gone. Since my flesh didn't change when I accepted Christ as my Savior, the new "thing" created was my spirit. The old order of living through my flesh was replaced with living in my spirit.
     But, oh how the devil tries to keep me earthbound! He throws up mirrors that reflect the darkness of my old self, or sound and light barriers that block God's voice and Light to my spirit. If I am not diligent, he will try to keep my spirit restrained within this flesh, unable to be joined with Christ's Holy Spirit and therefore subject to my human mind. Because here is what I have come to realize: The devil is afraid of us when we walk in our true spiritual identity. He wants us to think and act like a human, so he can remind us of what we were. But when we realize that our true identity is not found in these earthly circumstances, but rather, in who we are in the Kingdom realm, we shift our focus from this world and our spirit becomes engaged with Christ, and we begin to participate in His plan for our life according to the Father's will.
     The devil wants our lives to be impacted by our flesh; to keep us in this realm where he can influence our minds and hearts. But when we are walking in our true spirit identity, we are joined with Christ in His realm and the devil can't reach us or touch us. I know this is easier said than done, because I struggle with it often, as do most humans! But I have determined that I will set this goal for myself: to engage with my spirit and to transcend this flesh, being willing and expectant of an encounter with God and Jesus. When my spirit is working with the Holy Spirit, I will not be affected by my circumstances in this world. I will be able to remain joyful, loving, patient, at peace, kind, gentle, good, faithful and my spirit will stand in strength as I wait to engage with the realm where my spirit abides with Christ. This is my hope and my desire, and I believe the desire of my Father's heart. May it be so for you, too!

Galatians 5:17     For your flesh craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder Him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old flesh from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your [self-life of the] flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.

April 13, 2018

The Whole [And Complete] Counsel of God

     Recently, I have been contemplating all the various theological differences among us Christians. And it saddens me that we can become so separated by our misunderstandings of Scripture. I will admit that I have had to stop and ask myself, "Do I believe ____ because the Bible says so, or because I have heard it preached from the pulpit, or taught by a Sunday School teacher, or because a well-known theologian or scholar has proposed it"?
     It's amazing how the different translations can influence our understanding of God's Word, too. But perhaps more than anything else, I am amazed at the number of Christians who don't really read the Word. And I'm not talking about just following along with the two or three verses your Pastor bases his Sunday morning sermon on. I'm talking about spending hours each day immersing yourself in God's inspired revelation to us; going back and forth between the Old and New Testament, verifying God's continual theme of relationship with His creation; studying historical documents to understand the cultural context of what a Biblical writer was referencing.
     I find it quite arrogant for us to think that we, as 21st Century Christians, are the ultimate authorities on what God meant to be revealed through the Biblical writers! How many Westernized Christians give credence to the fact that the Bible's roots are Hebraic? That Jesus was a Jew, and so were all the Apostles? How is that we try to mold what the Bible clearly says into something that makes sense to our modern minds?
     Today, I want to examine two very common doctrines that seem to increasingly divide the Body of Christ. They will not be new to those of you who read my blog. You will recognize them as a common theme of my writing, but I want to show you just how important it is that we read and examine our Bibles for God's Truth. When the Word is not our primary Source for Truth, then we prohibit the Holy Spirit from helping us to grow into the image of Christ as exemplified in the Divine revelation. What a clever way for the Enemy to keep us from walking in our true identities!  
     Take for example, the modern doctrine of Replacement Theology. If you're not familiar with this term, it is essentially a Christian doctrine that teaches that "the Church" has replaced Israel in God's plan of redemption. In other words, this doctrine purports that with the rejection of Christ as the Jewish Messiah, the Biblical people of Israel are no longer God's chosen people, and the modern Church now holds that coveted title. Furthermore, adherents believe that not only has the Church replaced Israel in God's plan [and heart], but all the promises made to Israel are now fulfilled in the Christian Church.
    But this doctrine cannot be substantiated by Scripture! And in order to "prove" the doctrine to be true, the concept of "replacement" has to be interpreted or represented symbolically, or allegorically. Why don't we just read what the Bible says? I challenge anyone who upholds the doctrine of Replacement Theology to read Romans, Chapter 11. And if they only consent to read one or two verses, then let it be verses 11 and 12. It's as though God inspired the Apostle Paul to be as clear as possible, speaking down through the centuries, as he declares: So, am I saying that Israel stumbled so badly that they will never get back up? Certainly not! Rather, it was because of their stumble that salvation now extends to all the non-Jewish people, in order to make Israel jealous and desire the very things that God has freely given them. So if all the world is being greatly enriched through their failure, and through their fall great spiritual wealth is given to the non-Jewish people, imagine how much more will Israel’s awakening [full restoration] bring to us all?
     Then, if there is any doubt left at all in the mind of the modern Christian, I would point them to Romans 11:15, For if their temporary rejection released the reconciling power of grace into the world, what will happen when Israel is reinstated and reconciled to God? It will unleash resurrection power throughout the whole earth!
     After reading this passage, how can anyone assert that God is through with Israel, or that we have replaced them? Where do they get the idea that "Israel" can now be understood to be "the Church"? It simply doesn't exist in Scripture! We should be thankful for God's mercy towards us, allowing Salvation to become our inheritance; while praying for the restoration of Israel so that Jesus might return and the fullness of the Faithful be resurrected to eternal life!
      This is just one example of the modern Church getting it wrong! It is so important that we know what the Bible says, rather than relying on our denominational interpretation, or even the scholarly opinions of our favorite evangelists or teachers. Everything should be verified by Scripture. And we must be careful not to define our theology based on one verse or passage, but seek to discover God's whole counsel on the matter. Again, Paul warned that Even some from among our very own ranks will rise up, twisting the truth to seduce people into following them instead of Jesus.
     I have found this to be true when attempting to discuss the concept of our Power and Authority as disciples of Jesus. Rather than reading what the Word (Jesus) says about it, I have encountered many faithful Christians who refuse to consider this truth because it is unfamiliar to them. But instead of seeking the revealed counsel of God through Scripture, they cling to their lack of knowledge [or the teachings of their particular church] as their basis for denial. 
     Even a cursory examination of the Bible should reveal enough affirming Scripture to cause one to seek the full counsel of God on the matter. Matthew 10:1 says, Jesus gathered his twelve disciples and imparted to them authority to cast out demons and to heal every sickness and every disease. To "impart" means to "give, confer [on], bestow".  Later, in verse 8, Jesus tells those same disciples, Freely, you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others". There is so much here to glean, that it should illuminate our spirits! Scripture tells us that Jesus passed on (imparted) the authority He was given by the Father to the twelve disciples so they could join in doing the work the Father told Him to do. Then He makes it clear that with that authority, they have been given the power to do the work, and that power came directly from the Kingdom of God in Heaven! Furthermore, the power was the same power that worked through Jesus (the man) -- the power of the Holy Spirit!
     But remember, this is the first time He is loaning His authority and the power of the Holy Spirit to them. He only has three years to train them up and prepare them to carry on His work and establish the Kingdom power and authority of the Believer [until the time He returns]. They are only apprentices at this point, and they are not ready to receive their full commission. They weren't ready to walk in their full power yet, so in essence, Jesus lent them His, while He oversaw their education, so to speak. Three years later, they would be instructed to go to Jerusalem and wait for their own mighty power of Heaven to fall upon them. 
     A careful study of Scripture will confirm this revelation: Jesus came not only as the Son of God to redeem us from God's righteous wrath. But He came as our role model to show us how to live as Sons and Daughters of God on this earth. The following Scriptures verify this truth:  Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, Luke 10:19, Matthew 16:19, Luke 4:36, Ephesians 1:19-20, and Colossians 2:9-10.
     Can you see how important it is to know and study the Word -- every page, and verse, and word of it! We cannot rely on someone else to teach us. Yes, we have pastors and teachers and prophets and evangelists to enlighten us, but they are to equip and train us to become MATURE Believers --- so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves [novel teachings] and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). We are to experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God and the Father. And that is only revealed when we spend time with Them. I know it sounds trite to implore that you "spend time in the Word". But it is the one place you will encounter the fullness of God -- where you can receive the undefiled and pure revelation of the One who loves us perfectly. Know Him from His Word first, and then let all other authorities measure up to His absolute Truth.  

Psalm 119:130    Break open Your word within me until revelation-light shines out! Those with open hearts are given insight into Your plans. 

April 10, 2018

Unity In The Midst Of Diversity

     I am privileged and blessed to walk among a wide range of Believers. And because of the path the Lord is taking me on, I want to appreciate and love them all. And I am finding that one of the easiest ways the devil has to take our focus off the One we proclaim as our Savior is to tempt us to look at our fellow Christians and judge their belief systems regarding the nature of God.
     Mind you, I am not advocating that we accept all the beliefs among our brethren; especially if we discern that they are counter to God's core principles of loving Him and others. And I do not think that it is necessary to accept a particular doctrine or precept just because we call each other "Christian". It is up to each Christian to determine his own theology --- hopefully based on a sincere and thorough immersion in the Word.
     When I use the word Unity, I am not referring to a "one size fits all" understanding of everything about God. Since I believe that He uses each of us for His own divine purposes, we may each possess a unique understanding of a part of His sovereign character that calls for us to walk a different path than another. That's where the Diversity part of my title comes in.
     No, what I am talking about is walking that tightrope of maintaining what God has revealed as His Truth to you, while continuing to love and respect another's different Truth -- realizing that both are coming from our Heavenly Father for His purpose, not ours. Speaking to this concept, Paul says in Romans 14:4, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand".
     Can you see that we are all servants in the Body of Christ, and He is the Master of us all? We each belong to Him -- even if we are different! The problem begins when we judge each other for our opinions on Scripture, or something as mundane as our preferences in how we worship. Paul goes on to say in subsequent verses, "There is nothing wrong with having different personal convictions about such matters". He tells us that if our fellow Brother or Sister in Christ is doing something different than us, yet doing it to honor the Lord, who are we to judge that? Because when we judge those matters of opinions or preferences, aren't we taking the role that belongs to Jesus alone?
     As Paul reminds us, we will each have our turn to stand before God's judgment seat. We are each going to have to give a personal account of our own life before God. And we are going to have to listen to all the times we spoke in dishonor to another of our brethren. And it doesn't matter if our Sister or Brother sparked the division with a raised voice, or questioned our theology, or accused us of embracing a false message -- we are obligated to walk in love and honor the Body of Christ.
     I will tell you that it is not always easy. I'm sure each of us can recall at least one event when a fellow Christian offended us. And it's easy to only focus on their actions or words that insulted us. But if we can stop and honestly reflect on the bigger picture, we can usually see where they could say the same thing about that event. If we truly have the Holy Spirit in us, then we should be able to see that hurtful words are not spontaneously borne out of a vacuum. That would be the action of a person belonging to the devil. 
     While it has been extremely disheartening to see my fellow Christians judge each other because of their differences, my spirit rejoices when I am in the company of Believers who can honor the value of each other in the Lord's Kingdom, as they accept the diversity among us.  Have we forgotten that the Bible tells us we can't all be hands, or feet, or eyes? That there are many differing parts and functions, but one body? 
      And have we stopped to think that perhaps by listening to our brethren, that we might learn of a new aspect of our Father's Nature and Character? If we limit our understanding of Him to only what we have been taught in our denominational buildings -- or even from what has been revealed specifically to us -- then is it possible that we are missing out on a valuable component of who God is, and how we might grow our area of service to Him? Is it possible that someone else's experience with God might show us a perspective of the Godhead that has not been revealed in our history with Him? And why should that be seen as so harmful to the Body? 
     If we are truly Spirit-filled, then why the fear of something that sounds new? Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 2, "Those who live in the Spirit are able to carefully evaluate all things, and [those things] are subject to the scrutiny of no one but God". In other words, we Christians need to be careful that we are not evaluating our brethren according to our own human wisdom/teachings/knowledge. Who are we to question what has been revealed to another by the Spirit? It is important to understand that True Believers possess the Holy Spirit, who is the presence of Christ in us, and who reveals the thoughts and purposes of Christ to us.  

     It has been true ever since Jesus walked this earth ... the revelation of the Kingdom of God [that our Lord preached] has not been understood by men who declare themselves as the arbitrators or judges of truth, but by those who welcome His truth.  So, no man can humanly understand all the mysteries and character of God, without the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit now possess the ability to perceive Christ’s mind [in all its various and different manifestations] and can enact His purposes on the earth.
     So the next time you disagree with a fellow Christian, stop and discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Is there evidence and fruit of the Spirit in their words and actions? Then consider that Christ is using them for a different purpose for the Kingdom. Don't judge them by human standards, even if those standards carry the Christian label. And if either of you have offended each other, repent to the Lord and ask Him to show you how to love them as He loves them. Even if you are struggling with accepting the journey they are on, love them... simply love them. Don't assume Jesus's role as Judge, but join Him in accepting them as part of His Body, then re-focus on His purpose for your life. I truly believe we can be unified in the midst of our diversity -- and it will strengthen and increase God's Kingdom on earth!

Psalm 119:110-112  The ungodly have done their best to throw me off track, but I'll not deviate from what You've told me to do. Everything You speak to me is like joyous treasure, filling my life with gladness. I have determined in my heart to obey whatever you say, fully and forever!

April 7, 2018

Spiritual Warfare: The Power Of God's Table

     The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in Ephesians 6 that spiritual warfare is an important reality of the Christian life. In fact, in the Aramaic translation, he tells us in verse 10 that he has saved the most important truths for last. We are to "be supernaturally infused with strength through our life-union with the Lord Jesus. We are to stand victorious with the force [or weapons] of His explosive power flowing in and through us".  He tells us that we will be fighting hand-to-hand combat, but not against human foes; rather against "the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. [Furthermore] they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage".
     I think this translation of the familiar "spiritual warfare passage" lends a much stronger warning about who our enemies are, don't you? And we are all familiar with the subsequent verses that speak of the spiritual armor that we must put on, as we prepare for battle.
      But I recently listened to a teaching by Ian Clayton, an itinerant pastor who travels the globe teaching, ministering, and equipping the saints to become Sons of God. He gave me a completely new paradigm for warring in the spirit, and it isn't about waging a conventional war. It doesn't focus on battling in the physical sense that we usually picture. Mind you, I am not negating the importance of our spiritual armor or those times when we must engage the Enemy and his demons from a battlefield stance. But Mr. Clayton presented a whole new approach to warfare that focuses on rest and celebration. Follow along as I describe a new battle plan that is just as effective and powerful...
     I believe you will agree with me that Psalms 23 is one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. It is the ultimate testimony from a young sheep herder, who would become King, that we are not alone in this world and do not have to face the dangers of living behind enemy lines without Someone who provides for us and protects us. The Psalm declares that the Lord is our Best Friend and our Shepherd. His love offers us a resting place and an oasis of peace. This oasis provides a place where my life can be restored and revived; where He opens pathways to the joy of the Lord, which becomes my strength and my pathway to increasing righteousness. [NOTE: It is a common trait for sheep on the hillsides of Israel to circle their way up higher. They eventually form a path that keeps leading them higher. This is what David is referring to here. Each step we take following our Shepherd will lead us higher, even though it may seem we are going in circles].
     Then there is that valley of the shadow of death verse that speaks of fear and deep darkness of soul and spirit. But then David reminds us that we don't have to fear death or darkness because our Shepherd is right there with us with His rod and staff to give us comfort. It's all about recognizing that the Shepherd uses His rod to prod us forward [to look at the future of what the Kingdom government will do on the earth], while His staff is used when the sheep lag behind [a picture of us looking back to see what the government of the Kingdom has done in our lives]. The devil wants us to focus on the valley of the shadow of death because it is his ultimate weapon to get us to engage with him at his level (darkness and chaos). 
     But what is God's counter move? He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies! That's right! We don't suit up in our armor and ride forward into battle with an army of warring angels -- we sit down at the Lord's table and feast on the testimony of what His Kingdom has established... and right under the nose of the god of this world! 
     When you feel surrounded with the demonic armies of the devil, and chaos is reigning in your life, instead of gearing up for a strenuous battle, try this instead: ask the Lord to prepare His table for you right in front [and in the midst] of your enemies. Then have a seat at the table and have a celebratory feast of the goodness of God in your life. And the devil can't do a thing about it! Because when you are seated at God's Table, you are under His Banner of Love. The Enemy knows that you are seated under a covering of the Government of God and if he touches you, that Government is going to reach out and touch him! 
      One of the most profound elements of this kind of warfare strategy is that the Table of God is not a PLACE of war, but an ACT of war! It's about the influence and position I have as a Daughter of the King in the midst of Satan's evil chaos and darkness. As I engage in feasting at the Table [and in the midst of the Enemy's sphere], he can no longer stand there. I am building a platform to become the footstool for God to step down and manifest His Presence there. I am bringing my testimony of God's goodness in my life and His Government to the Table. As I feast and celebrate, it cultivates an atmosphere that brings in a different realm; God's Light begins to permeate the dark. It's as if a magnetic environment is created, drawing God's footstool to the Table, so He can step down into my situation. 
     Can you see the difference in this kind of strategy of warfare? My focus is not on the Enemy but on the Table of God. I don't need to bind demonic spirits in the Name of Jesus, but ask my Heavenly Father to bring His Banquet Table and place it in the midst of that territory where I am being attacked. I need to be cognizant that this is not my table, and it doesn't need me to protect it. It is God's Banner that comes over His Table [which is me]. My role is to visit the Table and celebrate at it! If I must do battle, I can engage the Enemy from the Table --- after I've feasted on God's goodness!
     The ultimate message of this type of warfare is that we need to return to that Table time and time and time again. We need to engage with the joy and peace of God at His Table. That encounter at the Table changes the atmosphere by changing the frequency of Light in our body, and this along with the harmony we share with God will destroy the darkness of the Enemy. 
     Feasting at God's Table brings you into alignment with the desires of His heart. He desires that we live in victory over everything in our lives. And when we feast on His Goodness and thank Him for all He's done in our life and throughout history, we are filled to overflowing with His joy and His peace and His Holy Spirit. And one day, when our days are finished here on this earth, we will return to dine with Him in His House forever. And I can only imagine the banquet hall in Heaven where I will celebrate my victory and feast upon His glorious Presence for all of eternity! 

Thank you to Ian Clayton for his refreshing teaching on rest and feasting as a spiritual weapon.

Psalm 91:15    I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel My Presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

April 4, 2018

Hearing The Voice Of God

     Contrary to what a certain daytime talk show host declared, it does not mean you are mentally ill if God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit talks to you. In fact, it is a healthy part of our relationship, to be in communication with Them. Throughout the Bible, we are given encouragement to talk to, and to hear from God.  Jeremiah 33:3 says, Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. John 10:27, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 8:47, Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. Acts 13:2, While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
     These are but a few of the examples that show us we can [and should] be hearing from God. And as always, Jesus is our example. He says in John 5:30, I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me. Jesus is making it clear to us that hearing from God is a vital component to living a life that pleases the Father and satisfies ourselves. But how do we do that? And how can we trust that what we are hearing is actually God's voice and not our own, or even the devil's?
     I believe that God is always talking to us, but our lives are so busy and hectic that it is difficult to hear Him. We have so many distracting "noises" in our everyday life that they drown out the sound of His voice. I contend that it is important to quiet ourselves in the presence of the Lord. However that looks like to you, it is necessary if you are going to hear Him. Whether it is closeting yourself in your prayer room, or by going to the garden of your heart, or making an appointment with Him in the dark hours of the early morning, you must find a way to meet with God in order to hear what He has to say to you. And I believe that the more you do this, the easier it will be to hear [and recognize] His voice in the midst of your daily noise.
      And I will tell you that I am jealous of those who hear the audible voice of God. There is no mistaking it for your own voice, and of course, there is no doubt as to His will or direction in that moment. I will tell you, that for me, His voice often comes as spontaneous thoughts; or as an idea, a word of knowledge, or a feeling. In other words, if I am in a quiet place, meeting with God about a specific situation, I will suddenly have a spontaneous (unrehearsed, unforced) thought that will give me an answer or a direction. It won't be something that I have analyzed and dissected beforehand, but will be clear and precise and will sound like my own thoughts, but not analytical or well-organized from prior examination.
     These thoughts will sound like me, but actually be wiser, more loving, more healing and more intentional than my mind's thoughts, which can randomly wander. I instinctively know where they come from; that it is Jesus flowing through my heart and combining with my mind to present His and the Father's will.  And more often than not, this sudden spontaneous thought will illicit a reaction in my soul-- a sense of excitement at recognizing His voice; a heartfelt conviction that I am hearing His truth; and a sense of awe or peace. And the more I have trained myself to get in that quiet place, the easier it has become to hear Him.
     As I mentioned before, I have learned that if my thoughts run towards the analytical or overly organized and structured, then they are most likely my own thoughts, and I need to re-quiet myself and re-focus on Jesus. And if my thoughts tend towards the negative and line up with the characteristic names of the devil -- such as Liar, Accuser, Thief, or Adversary -- then they are thoughts that have crept in from demonic influence. If I am hearing God correctly, my thoughts will be positive and spontaneous; corresponding to the characteristic names of the Holy Spirit as my Counselor, my Comforter, and the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom.
     But the key to effectively hearing from God is to focus on Jesus's heart -- to get my heart in alignment with His. And how do I best do that? By fixing my spiritual eyes on His heart. Whatever I am focusing on will effect the accuracy of what I am hearing from God. Let me give you an example: If I am praying about a financial need and asking God for direction or a word of encouragement, and the eyes of my heart are fixated on that need, or the hardship I am suffering, or the fear that accompanies the consequences of that need not being met, then what I hear from God will not be His pure Truth, but will be muddied by my vision of that need. His response will most likely be unclear or confusing, and I will remain in a state of anxiety, while trying to convince myself everything will be OK.
     But if I fix the eyes of my heart solely on Jesus and His heart, present my need, and remain focused on Him, I will hear Him loud and clear -- a spontaneous reminder of Jeremiah 29:11 will come to my mind: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I instantly know that came from Him; that I was not trying to remember Scripture or searching my mind for an appropriate verse that I could attribute to Him.
     Let me give you another example. If I am praying for someone's headache to go away and the eyes of my heart are fixated on the headache and what I am doing, and not focused on Jesus, then I am, in effect, making that headache an idol -- I am fixated on it, instead of Jesus. What I should be doing is the following: watching and seeing what Jesus is doing in that moment. Is He laying His hands on the person's head? Is He rebuking the spirit behind the headache? Is He asking the person to repent of bitterness or anger? What is He doing and saying?
     So, if you are not hearing from God when you are praying to Him, then might I suggest that you examine the way you are praying and where the eyes of your heart are focused? If I am suffering through a season where I do not hear His voice, then I know it's time to evaluate. When I am praying about a specific situation, am I focusing on the person who is frustrating me, instead of on Jesus? Am I looking at my sin, instead of the One who takes away my sin? Am I centering in on those who have hurt me, rather than He who heals my wounds? If the answer is yes, to any of these questions, then I must repent for having the eyes of my heart fixed on what I'm praying about, rather than the One I'm coming to in prayer.
     When I am seeking the voice of the Lord, I am only to be fixated on His heart! That's when the spontaneous flow from His heart to my mind occurs and I hear Him! And there isn't a sweeter, more soothing voice in all the universe than the voice of the One who loves me and desires to answer my call. And it isn't all that hard to hear Him. It just takes practice and a willingness to spend the time in learning to recognize His voice. As Jesus so often said during His short ministry, He who has an ear, let him hear....

Deuteronomy 4:12     Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.


April 1, 2018

Life Is In The Blood!

     Blood is a very important topic in the Bible. From the moment sin entered into the Garden, blood was shed to cover the effects of separation from God. YHWH took the skins of animals that He sacrificed in order to cover the nakedness that Adam and Eve experienced because of the shame and guilt caused by their sin of disobedience. In this sovereign act, God established the principle of blood sacrifice to atone [pay] for sin. One life had to be sacrificed to save another.
     And the Bible makes it clear that "in regard to the life of all flesh, its blood is [the same] as its life" (Leviticus 17:14). Furthermore, as part of the Law God established through His covenant with Moses, He stated, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents]" (Leviticus 17:11). This principle is further upheld in Hebrews 9:22, which states "under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins". 
     By now, it should be clear that God required a blood sacrifice in return for the forgiveness of sin. Blood as the means of atonement for sin is then firmly established in the Mosaic Law. Once a year, the priest was to make an offering of the blood of animals on the altar of the temple for the sins of the people. But this was a blood offering that was limited in its effectiveness, which is why it had to be offered again and again. Plus, it was temporary until God could carry out His ultimate plan for the redemption of mankind. These animal sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the “once for all” sacrifice which Jesus offered on the cross. Once that sacrifice was made, there was no longer a need for the blood of bulls and goats. 
     When Jesus shed His blood on the Cross, He did away with the Old Covenant requirement for the continual sacrifices of animals. Their blood was simply not adequate to cover the sins of the people, except on a temporary basis, because sin against a Holy and Everlasting God requires a Holy and Everlasting sacrifice. The yearly sacrifices by the Priests of Israel served as a "reminder" of the nation's sins and their need for forgiveness, but they did not remove the sin, nor the consequences of the sin. The precious Blood of Christ removes our sin from before God forever, and once and for all, so that there is no more payment due from us. 
     Christ's willing sacrifice of Himself for us paid the price required by a Holy God, and gave us eternal redemption. We are not only forgiven of our sins, but we are free from the captivity [and bondage] that sin held us in.  We say that we are "washed by His Blood", meaning that we have been cleansed of our sinful nature, having received a new nature that is as pure as His. We can say we are "covered by His Blood" because we know that the shedding of Jesus's blood on the Cross protects us from the death penalty that our sins deserve. In point of fact, Jesus has us "covered". These are the results [or fruits] of accepting Jesus's substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.
     But there is more! Not only does the Bible tell us that the Blood of Christ redeems us [we are free from blame]; it also atones for us [our debts were paid]; justifies us [declares us righteous in the sight of God]; and sanctifies us [sets us apart unto Him]. But Jesus's Blood also purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God! Remember the shame and guilt that Adam and Eve experienced after they willingly disobeyed God in the Garden? The Blood of Christ takes away the spirits of shame and guilt that plague our consciences from past sin, and cleanses our minds so that those memories can no longer condemn us. We are able to experience renewed minds that think thoughts that are in alignment with God's will on earth, and which serve His purposes.
     Furthermore, we are conquerors against the Accuser because we can trust in Jesus's righteousness that His Blood has afforded us. We know that we don't have to rest on the merits of our own deeds, and that it is the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony that will clear us of any charges the Enemy brings against us. Ponder upon these words by Charles Spurgeon, and the glorious benefits of our Savior's Blood: I know what the devil will say to you.  He will say to you, ‘You are a sinner!’ Tell him you know you are, but that for all that, you are justified.  He will tell you of the greatness of your sin.  Tell him of the greatness of Christ’s righteousness [which covers your sin].  He will tell you of all your mishaps and your backslidings, of your offenses and your wanderings.  Tell him, and tell your own conscience, that you know all that, but that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that, although your sin be great, Christ is quite able to put it all away. And it was all accomplished by His selfless act of shedding His blood!
    So, I hope in this season of Passover and Easter, you are able to contemplate upon the momentous power and significance of the Cross and the Blood. We should never take them for granted, or lose sight of what they cost our Lord. In this day of Bible apps and "pre-packaged" Sermons, why not spend some time and take note of all that God has to say about these important issues. After all, Christ suffered greatly for us and we received immeasurable benefits from His agony. I, for one, want to honor all that He has done for me and all mankind. Happy Passover and a Blessed Easter!

Ephesians 1:7    "Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by His blood—the total cancellation of our sins—all because of the cascading riches of His grace".

March 29, 2018

Don't Lose Sight of the Cross!

     This weekend we find Believers celebrating both Passover and Easter. There is so much significance in these holy days. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the most important event in human history, yet I wonder what people really focus on when they contemplate those events?
     For many, I suspect that Easter means their sins are forgiven; or that it is a picture of their own resurrection into eternal life. The Body of Christ certainly celebrates that Christ rose from the dead, making way for us to enter the heavenly realm and presence of God, the Father. And in this present day and age, we are recognizing that His substitutionary death not only paid the debt for our sins, but allowed for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that by His power we could live in victory over the Enemy's attacks upon our souls.
     More Christians, every day, are living in the power and authority Christ transferred to us, so that His Father's Kingdom would come on earth, as it is in Heaven. That knowledge of our power and authority has led to redemption and freedom for many Christians locked in spiritual prisons created by the lies and deception of Satan. That's a good thing. But we must not become so consumed with the "show" of that power if it diminishes the Source of the power, or what it cost our Lord to give it to us.
     So, that's why, as we get ready to celebrate this weekend, I want to make sure we don't lose sight of Jesus on the Cross. Remember, Jesus was one of probably tens, if not hundreds, of thousands crucified throughout history. There were 6,000 crucified on a single day in 71 BCE, in the aftermath of Spartacus’ rebellion. So, as horrific as the act was, it is not the crucifixion itself that we should be focused on, but what was accomplished by it.
     The power of the Cross is this: in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God conquered death, hell, and sin! At the Cross, Jesus paid a tremendous price for every person on earth to receive Life and Glory and Freedom. The Cross should be at the center of our faith! Without the Cross, our power and authority would have no spiritual muscle behind it. We would be locked in continuous spiritual battle without any assurance of victory. But at the Cross, Jesus guaranteed our victory!
     The Cross opens the way for us to be reconciled to God, or as the dictionary defines reconciliation, to restore friendly relations. Before the Cross, we were estranged from our Father; separated by a debt we could never pay. But Jesus agreed to pay that debt by going to the Cross; it was the only way to regain our position and status as children of God. 
     I think you would agree that it is difficult to wrap our heads around the concept that Jesus came to earth to die. That was His ultimate goal. Along the way, He proclaimed that His Father's Kingdom had come to earth; He established the rules and government of that Kingdom; and He displayed the power of the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit. That was part of His mission, too, so that when He accomplished His goal of dying on the Cross, we would have a Kingdom model to live by. 
     But I don't know how many Believers understand all that the Cross represents. Put very simply, the Cross is the doorway to a life with God. Sadly, it can become overshadowed by other Godly principles such as Grace and Judgment. As important as those concepts are, ultimately, all other foundational truths of our faith rest upon the existence of the Cross. 
     Today, we must be careful of becoming so focused on, and infatuated with, the latest "movement"; the expression of power; or of looking to the future for the next great revival. There's nothing wrong with looking towards the future and yearning for the glory of the riches in Christ to come. But until that moment, perhaps we should never forget to take a look back at the Cross -- all that we need and desire is there! There we will find our redemption; our promise of victory in this life and the next; and the restoration of our relationship with our Father.  
     Jesus's act of dying on that Cross offers us a way to be transformed into a new nature and a new life; for with His death on the Cross, I have died to this life, yet am fully alive with Him. I am being transformed into learning to trust in the Word of God, seeking a way to live a righteous life, finding joy and peace in the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, and enjoying the entire journey all along the way. 
     When Jesus declared on the Cross, "It is finished!", He set empowerment in motion for every Believer -- empowerment to walk as He did; empowerment to declare victory over the god of this world; empowerment to set the captives free; and empowerment to overcome the obstacles in sharing the Gospel message.  In other words, the Cross is the ignition point where God’s power becomes operative [and real], with the ability to convert, transform, and save [for both ourselves and others]. And that power is available to us because of what Jesus and God achieved at the Cross! So, let us focus on the power and the glory of the Cross this weekend. When we understand what was accomplished for us over 2000 years ago, we will see the magnitude of the glory of God and the greatness of our inheritance. Praise Jesus, the Light of the World!

1 Corinthians 1:18    "To preach the message of the Cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us". 

March 26, 2018

The Flesh vs The Kingdom

   This is going to be a very personal blog post. I just want to reveal some truths that I know my Father in Heaven wants each of us, whom He calls His children, to grasp. My testimony today involves what I have been experiencing in these last few days, and what I have seen people whom I am close to experience. Furthermore, I know that so many other followers of Jesus can identify with what I'm about to share...
     To begin with, it has been nearly two weeks since my precious father-in-law began a journey into, and through, a serious health episode. He has been experiencing the increasing ramifications of rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, and various other health conditions.  He has valiantly and bravely endured a loss in the quality of his life, and as hard as that has been to watch, I have witnessed a growth in his spirit and relationship with the Lord that might not have occurred without him experiencing a decline in his health.
     No one wants to face a serious health situation, and our family is facing a very high risk surgery today. The last two weeks have seen an acceleration towards this life event and, as scary as it has been to experience, there have been so many blessings as I watch this man who loves his family and his Lord have supernatural encounters with Jesus all along the way. Jesus has helped him get through an exhausting and painful MRI, counseled him on critical surgical decisions, and calmed him during frightening realizations of the fragility of this human life.
     I have also been a party to the opportunities the Holy Spirit has given my husband, Mark, and I to lead our family from inexperience and indifference about the importance of spiritual warfare into dynamic participation on behalf of our patriarch. So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are His lovers who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose (Romans 8:28). 
     I had once prophesied over my father-in-law, [who questioned why Jesus had not healed him from all his infirmities], that God had a purpose for him. He wanted him to help his daughter grow her relationship with Jesus in the spirit. And here we were, witnessing her praying in the spirit for Jesus and warring angels to protect her dad! 

     So now we wait to see what God's designed purpose is tomorrow for this life-saving surgery. No matter the outcome, we know that my father-in-law will be in Jesus's hands -- whether he still has time to serve God here on this earth, or he enters into eternity with his Savior. In addition, we now, as a family, are using our power and authority to see our own spirits work in union with the Holy Spirit.
     On top of dealing with the emotional and spiritual aspects of this family event, my husband and I had to attend an art event in the middle of this situation. We always approach this business side of our life with the knowledge that God will provide our needs as He also works His sovereign will. The outcome may not always be as profitable for our fleshly needs, but He has never disappointed when it comes to meeting the needs of His Kingdom. 
     These events are always stressful, because the world tells us to focus on the outcome -- paintings sold means bills are paid. And you are in the midst of 60 or more artists whose own anxiety over sales adds to a rather secular and ungodly atmosphere. It can be difficult to take every thought captive and shut out the lies of the Enemy. Plus we were operating under emotional and physical exhaustion from making long trips to the hospital to see Mark's dad.  But the Holy Spirit woke me up in the early morning hours of the day of the Show and told me that I needed to make sure that I ministered to an artist's wife who was having to fill in for her husband because he was back home fighting a very serious bone infection after back surgery.
     So when we arrived at the event, I sought her out, but she had not yet arrived. I had hoped to find her before the buying public showed up and the chaos of the night ensued. It wasn't until a couple of hours later that I even spoke of this Holy Spirit prompting to Mark and he immediately said, "Go now! Find her and pray with her". So I left in search of her and this time, I found her. I explained about my early morning prompting and told her I knew this wasn't a very convenient time, but she stopped me and said, "No, now is the perfect time!" So we stood there in the midst of the crowds swirling around us, holding hands; two women believing that I could lay hands [in the spirit] on her husband's back while he was receiving treatment back home in Arizona, and that the healing power of Heaven could do a supernatural work in the flesh of her husband. I will tell you that I felt the power of her faith in that moment, and as I finished praying, she ended our time together by declaring that Jesus was Lord and Savior, and "By His stripes, her husband would be healed!" We didn't notice what the crowd thought about our spiritual warfare, and frankly, we didn't care. We were just obedient to do what Jesus commanded us.  And I am standing on God's promise that when two people are in agreement over what they ask for in prayer [in His Name[, that it will be received.
     And previously, Mark had prayed over a Board Member of the Museum, who was incapacitated by herniated discs in his back, and would be having surgery in a few days. As I returned to stand [in the physical sphere before the paintings we were exhibiting], all the anxiety I had been feeling disappeared. I told Mark, "You know what? I don't think this Art Show is about whether we sell paintings or not. What if the reason we are here tonight is to be the conduit between Heaven and Earth? What if the primary reason we came to the Show was not to seek provision for us, but to pray over those two men and release the power of the Holy Spirit into their situations and see them healed?" Mark just looked at me, and I saw the exhaustion of the last couple of weeks slip away, and the strain of the evening disappear. He said, "I think you're right. It's about doing Kingdom work; not about us".
     And you know something interesting? As soon as we put the Kingdom first, the atmosphere changed, and people began bidding on his work, and the Lord surpassed any expectancy we had about receiving His provision! And the joy at the end of the evening was not about number of dollars, but that we had been willing to hear the Holy Spirit and help Him invade that event with His Presence! 
     But it doesn't stop there! I have heard testimonies from my Brothers and Sisters in Christ of the opportunities they are receiving -- and acting on -- to minister to people; to heal them and to share the gospel. We are all discerning that the Holy Spirit is active and zealous for partners to work with. We are sensing He is on the move in the Body of Christ for those who are willing to hear Him and respond! The opportunities to do Kingdom work abound, and I pray that your heart and spirit are sensitive to hear the Lord calling, even as you answer Him, "Send me!"  

Ephesians 3:20     "Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you".   

March 23, 2018

Oh, The Glorious Richness Of The Word!

     For the last few days, I have been meditating on the Word -- namely, what does it mean to attain "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ"? I have spent many hours reading through different Scriptures, trying to receive the revelation of God and His understanding of what it means to have the fullness of Christ. And here is what I have discerned....
     When it comes to "fullness", that term refers to completeness, thoroughness, all-inclusiveness. And Colossians 2:9-10 says, For He (Christ) is the complete fullness of deity living in human form. And our own completeness is now found in Him. We are completely filled with God as Christ’s fullness overflows within us. He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe! We have been made complete in our stature as spiritual beings when we overflow with the knowledge of who Christ is.    
      And as I contemplate what "knowing" Christ means and involves, I am cognizant that seeking to know Him more has become a battleground within the Body of Christ. Because I have a hunger to know Jesus as much as I am spiritually able, there are those of my fellow believers who caution against being deceived by false teachings. It's almost an indictment of my faith if I am not content to be dependent on traditional doctrine, but rather have a heartfelt desire to seek more revelation than the institutional understanding that has come down through the centuries in the Church.
     But when I read what Paul expresses to the body of believers in Ephesus, I am convicted that my hunger is Spirit-led. In Ephesians 1:17-21, Paul writes, I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know Him through your deepening intimacy with him.
18 I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of His calling—that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that He finds in us, His holy ones!
19 I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power 20 that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm! 21 And now He is exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence! He is gloriously enthroned over every name that is ever praised, not only in this age, but in the age that is coming!
     It is clear to me that Paul is hopeful that the body of believers will receive wisdom and revelation from the Holy Spirit in order to know Jesus through a deepening relationship that is growing in intimacy.  In fact, in the Aramaic "revelation" means "discovery". We are to be active in seeking and discovering knowledge of the Lord we serve! Furthermore, Paul prays that the light of God will illuminate our imagination, which in Aramaic, was understood to be the innermost heart of a person. His prayer is that we will receive a full revelation [or discovery] of all the hope that is in God's calling on your life.

     So why is the Church so afraid of a desire to be in a more intimate relationship with Jesus; to know Him more? All I ever hear is a fear of being deceived, which usually comes attached with a stigma of being a false teacher if you try to share what the Holy Spirit imparts to you through His wisdom and revelation. I will refer back to my husband's favorite verse: God conceals the revelation of His Word in the hiding place of His Glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says (Proverbs 25:2). And remember, we have all been made kings and priests because of God's grace and Christ's redeeming blood.

     Therefore, we are called to serve the Lord in the Kingdom of God, which Jesus instituted when He was incarnate. We all have a particular calling. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:10-13 that Jesus ascended above the heights of the first and second heavens, to sit enthroned in the third heaven in order to begin the restoration and fulfillment of all things. 11 And He has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. 12 And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ. 13 These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness in the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed in the abundance of Christ.
     When we are obedient to our callings, we have what Paul calls "grace ministries", and we are to be occupied with "nurturing and preparing all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, enlarging and building up the body of Christ".  And notice what else Paul says: these grace ministries will exist and function until we ALL experience "the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God!" In the Greek, that means until we have the full knowledge of Jesus. So, the pursuit of knowing more of Jesus, and the teaching or sharing of the revelations about Him from the Holy Spirit, are important to establishing a strong foundation within the body of Christ. 
     God, the Father, wants everyone to be filled with the complete knowledge of His Son, in turn becoming the complete image of His Nature to all we come in contact with. We are to live new lives empowered with the fullness of Jesus in us -- As Galatians 2:20 says, And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! 
     And that brings me back to my post of several days ago, titled "Does Jesus Know You?" There were disciples who were going around doing the work He asks us to do... prophesying, casting out demons, healing the sick, or as they said, "doing many miracles"; and they did it all in His Name. But what does Jesus say? ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you!’  In other words, they were not living in union with Him that a new life [in Him] would reveal. They had His power and authority to do the miracles, but it was not from a heart joined to His.
     Can you see how this all ties together? And can you see that seeking to know more about Jesus and to receive wisdom and revelation from the Holy Spirit is not a bad thing? And how can I be deceived if I know --- TRULY KNOW --- my Lord through the Holy Spirit? And if one thinks I'm being deceived, there is another Scripture that comes into play... Look at the obvious fruit of their lives and ministries, and then you’ll know whether they are true or false.” (Matthew 7:20). 
     In the end, we all must make a decision whether our heart hungers to know more about Jesus than what our traditions have taught us, and whether we trust the Holy Spirit in us to reveal Him to us. And that trust will make us bold witnesses and unafraid of condemnation and skepticism. I don't know about you, but I want to live in union with my Lord and be joined Spirit-to-spirit with Him!

Ephesians 3:19    "... to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God".


March 20, 2018

Our Own Passover Celebration

     As promised, I am sharing the particular way that our Home Church celebrates the Lord's Feast of Passover. I could never find any definitive commentary on how a Christian should celebrate this important occasion, so I guess you could say that the way in which we observe Passover is Spirit-led.
     But it is important to note that this is both a solemn observance and a joyous celebration. We are recognizing the tremendous sacrifice the Lord has made on our behalf and celebrating the freedom from sin that His sacrifice has afforded us. We have everyone bring their own lamb and a side dish. You can easily find traditional Jewish side dishes or start your own traditions. Mark and I provide the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs (horseradish) and the wine (or grape juice). 
     We incorporate solemn prayers, borrowed from the Jewish faith, while pointing out the significance to our Christian faith.  In no way, do I maintain that all Christians have to celebrate Passover -- that is a decision that you must make on an individual basis. But I simply offer the following to you as a guideline for your own celebration, should you decide to observe this holy Feast. We begin by making a statement about the significance of this Feast and then proceed to honor the traditions of the Jewish faith, while identifying with the meaning and importance for us, as Christians. And I would love to hear from others how you honor the Lord's Feast in your Christian observances.
     Our Statement of Faith: The Passover Festival is a call to REMEMBER what God has delivered us from; a call of GRATITUDE for the work He is doing in our lives today; and a call to look forward to the HOPE of our Resurrection into Eternal Life.
      The Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits all foreshadow the work God would do through His Son, Jesus Christ. Within these eight days of Passover, Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and each Feast speaks of Him and His redemptive work on our behalf.
      We are gathered here today to REMEMBER Jesus as our Passover Lamb, sacrificed to deliver us out of the bondage of sin. He is the Unleavened Bread of Life – without Sin; unblemished and spotless – and He is the First Fruit of God’s Harvest of Souls.   
     Today, we will eat a meal of Lamb, Unleavened bread, and Bitter Herbs as God instructed the Israelites to do in Exodus 12:8.  We will share in the cups of wine that Jesus partook of in His last Passover meal. And we will celebrate His Life and His Blood, which were poured out for us.     
     Before the first Passover in Egypt, God told Israel, “Remove the leaven from your homes.”  Leaven is a symbol of sin.  Let us take a moment to remove any leaven that hides in our hearts and minds.  Let us remove any sin that would separate us from God. 

     MOMENT OF SILENCE AS WE CONTEMPLATE.  Pray (Together):  Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my thoughts.  See if there is any offensive thing in me that needs to be removed, and sweep me clean of leaven.  Lead me in Your way everlasting. Amen. 
     This day, we will drink 4 cups of wine to recall God’s four promises to Israel in Exodus 6:6-7.  Jesus, along with His disciples, drank two cups before their meal.
     (Pour the First Cup):  The Cup of Sanctification I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will free you from their bondage. (Exodus 6:6)
     This first Cup of Wine sanctifies our meal.  Let us LIFT UP the first cup, the Cup of Sanctification and Pray (Together):  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. Thank you for the blood of Yeshua that was shed for us. Amen.
     Now, as we pour the Second Cup, everyone should take a piece of the unleavened bread and a spoonful of horseradish on their plate. We recognize the symbolism: The Lamb is Yeshua, our Passover Lamb; Matza is unleavened bread; pierced for our transgressions; bruised for our iniquities;
Horseradish is the bitterness of our bondage to sin; and Wine is Christ’s blood, shed for us to redeem us.
     (Lift Up The Second Cup) The Cup of Judgment:  I will rescue you with an outstretched arm, and by mighty acts of judgment. (Exodus 6:6)
     Let us raise the Cup of Judgment, and remember that Yeshua delivers us from the slavery of darkness and brings us into the kingdom of Light.
     Pray (Together):  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, our Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. Amen. (DRINK).
     Everyone should now hold up a piece of matza. Pray (Together):  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.  Thank you for Yeshua, the Bread of Life, who rose from the earth. And thank you, O Lord, that by His stripes we are healed. Amen.
     The Lord Jesus ate His Passover meal on the night when he was betrayed.  He, who is our Bread of Life, gave thanks, broke the unleavened bread, and said to His disciples, “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (EAT BREAD).

      (Pour Third Cup) The Cup of Redemption.  I will take you to Me for a people. (Exodus 6:7)
      The blood of the Lamb on the doorposts saved Israel. The blood of Yeshua on our hearts saves us, right here and now. As Scripture tells us, God will redeem our life from the grave, and take us to Himself.  No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.  He will write His law on our minds and hearts.  Everyone will know Him, from the least of them to the greatest.
      Lift up the Cup:  At the last Passover Supper, Yeshua took this third cup, the Cup of Redemption, and said, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.
 Let us Pray (Together):  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.  Thank you for the Blood of Yeshua that was poured out for us. Amen.  (DRINK).
      (Pour Fourth Cup) The Cup of the Future Kingdom.  This will be a kingdom of truth, peace, and freedom… I will be to you a God. (Exodus 6:7)
      During Yeshua’s last Passover Supper, He did not drink this fourth cup.  He said, “I will not drink this cup now until that day when I drink it with you in My Father’s Kingdom.”  As we drink the fourth cup, we look forward to a future kingdom, when we drink this cup with Him.  He will return, and there will be a better feast to come, the Wedding Banquet of the Passover Lamb.
     Have each of the men read one of the words of Gratitude listed below:
    •  In praise of the Lord’s salvation in the past and the future, we raise the Cup of the Kingdom.  O Lord, You redeemed us and brought us to this night.  Bring us also to Your Holy City, the New Jerusalem.
    •  You have put a new song in our hearts, a song of praise and thanksgiving for the redemption of our souls.  Blessed are you, O Lord our God.
    •  Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who gives eternal life.  Eternal life is that we might know You, the one true God, and the Messiah, Yeshua, whom You Sent.
    •  I know that my Redeemer lives.  He will stand on the earth in the latter days, and I will see Him as He is.
    •  Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive glory and honor and praise.  Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
    •  O God who dwells on high, we are free on a day like this.  Raise up Your numberless congregation.  Soon, and with rejoicing, lead us to Zion.  Praise and Glory and Wisdom and Thanks and Honor and Power and Strength be to our God forever and ever.
    •  These are the words of our Lord: Fear not for I am with you.  Be not dismayed for I am Your God.  I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand! 
     Let us all lift up THE CUP OF THE KINGDOM.
     PRAY (TOGETHER):  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.  Thank you for Your Coming Kingdom.  Amen.  
    When the Lord returns, the survivors from all the nations will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles and God dwelling with us. Let us declare (SAY TOGETHER):  Next year in Jerusalem!  Amen.  (DRINK).

     So, this is just a suggestion of how to observe the Feast of Passover as a Christian. It is by no means a definitive way to celebrate, but as I said earlier, we have tried to be Spirit-led in honoring the redemptive work of our Lord and Savior on our behalf, while honoring the roots of our faith and the Jewish traditions. May you be blessed and encouraged during these holy days, and may your assembly know the pleasure and favor of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5:7    So remove every trace of your “leaven” of compromise with sin so that you might become new and pure again. For indeed, you are clean because Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.