Our Ability to Create

While riding my bike I pray and ponder. Sometimes my husband and I can get into deep theological discussions. Yesterday when we stopped for got a drink we discussed the wonder of our Infinite Creator. I was struck by all the plant-life visible before me, more than a dozen distinct plants. My husband went on to add the myriad of bugs and creatures we couldn’t see living within those plants. My eyes looked to the cars and buildings just beyond the narrow patch of plant-life before us.

What an incredible reality that God would intentionally place within us, His creation, a part of Himself, the ability to create. Yes some animals use tools but none create them. Monkeys use tools of opportunity to break open a seed pod to satisfy their bodies need to eat. Most animals will build a nest to give birth to their young. But they don’t build lasting structures like we do. Things humans create are novel and designed to last.

We not only create homes from resources like wood, we combine substances to create new materials for our creations. Bricks, steal, and plastic are all formed from naturally available substances man has mixed and worked into something new. Animals don’t do that. Humans are touched with the fingerprint of God and entrusted with the incredible ability to create.

There are somethings we create that serve an important purpose for a season and are eventually discarded for an improved version or something entirely new. Horse and buggy for primary transportation has been replaced by the automobile. The airplane is preferred to driving or boating for long distances. But we all have our preferences, Amish don’t own cars but will ride in one. There are several different manufactures of automobiles and people will readily tell you they prefer XYZ brand. Does it matter if you need a ride and your friend shows up in his ABC model? No.

I don’t know anyone who refuses to ride in a different brand of car, or would refuse to accept a car given to them for a gift. I have preferences for my home but if I got one as a wedding gift I would have moved right in and enjoyed it. I think most people would agree with me. So why do we become so divisive about other things?

After our discussion about creation, man, responsibilities, and being good stewards of the earth while not falling into worshiping the creation we continued our ride and my pondering continued on worship. Believers worshiping the Creator. Yet, Sunday morning continues as the most segregated times in America. I’m not talking about race, although that remains an issue within the church it is lessening. The more disturbing division lies in denomination.

I don’t consider myself non-denominational because that has become a denomination defining a specific group or type of church. I am Anti-Denomination. This is new for me and I know God has directed me to this place. Several years ago I heard a Baptist pastor speak on this and called denominations divisions. I have begun to see denominations as man-made brokenness. Can we speak about loving your neighbor, those who hate you, or the person who strikes you, while at the same time declare my church is better than yours because we are XYZ and you are ABC? I know people who will refuse to enter an ABC church, even with family while visiting their home! I used to be one.

Let me clarify, I am not saying one must attend a service for a non-Christian faith. Nor am I saying it is a sin or forbidden to attend one either. If Jesus went to bars and hung out with the prostitutes and crack dealers of His day, if Paul, Peter, and other disciples attended Jewish Synagogues where they did not believe in Jesus, then what are we to do? They all faced criticism for their actions, Jesus was condemned for being with the lowly and Peter was attacked for teaching truth. Yet we can’t even get over a church if it sprinkles or dunks.

Revelation chapters one through three are letters to churches. Churches that existed then but are also representative of churches today. John, the Disciple Jesus loved, was still alive so this was not long after Christ Himself taught. Yet not one church is without fault. Are we so arrogant to believe that two thousand years later one denomination above all others has it perfectly correct? Do you really want to know the Family of God? Go visit a different church or a denomination you left years ago. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear. If you seek, and call out to Him, God will answer no matter where you are, a jail cell, boardroom, mosque, even an XYZ church.

Has God led you to visit other churches? Have you resisted when invited? I would love to hear your stories and what you have experienced. Comment below and like me on Facebook.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Charlie is

Charlie is smart!

Many years ago I took a job at a small branch of a large corporation and was told Charlie is an addict. Charlie is actually a funny, intelligent, and wise man. One day Charlie mentioned his soon-to-be-ex-wife wanted to take one of his paintings he was reluctant to give her.

My Christian neck-hairs stood on end. Not because he was an addict but because he was getting divorced. I’m frustrated because good people seem to throw in the towel because marriage is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or they just don’t feel it anymore. UGH

So of course I stepped through the door he opened and asked why he was getting divorced. I wasn’t prepared for the answer. He was divorcing the wife he loved deeply, to save his life. It took some time for me to fully grasp his reasoning.

Charlie was relatively fresh out of rehab and working to stay clean. I had no understanding of that. Oh I know my share of addicts but none who were in this stage of recovery. Past admitting there is a problem but before fifteen years sober. In fact about eight months later he gave me a 1 year coin celebrating his first year clean-and-sober.

How does an addict move from user to fifteen years clean? One day at a time. I know it sounds cliché but watching Charlie at work taking hundreds of one-day-at-a-times impacted me in ways I am just now realizing.

Charlie is taking control

So what did he do?

Charlie went to rehab and took an account of his life, his trajectory, and confronted himself. He had the added encouragement from work that said this is your one-and-only chance with us. External motivators can have some influence but ultimately change only lasts when it’s internally driven.

Charlie returned from rehab and started the real work of living without hiding behind drugs and alcohol. This is where life happens, daily choices really matter. You can drastically change your trajectory by making one tiny shift today then adding to that shift by agreeing with it tomorrow. Then increase the shift by adding a little every day.

For an addict the first day without using feels like an extreme shift. Extreme because they’re out of their comfort zone, but the zone is very close at hand. All their friends, contacts, sources, and enablers are right there. They don’t like the change because it’s their comfort zone too.

Charlie is wise

Charlie recognized his circle of influence would impact his success.

Work became a safe place for Charlie because one person who partied with him was fired and another quit because of his behavior. When he returned from rehab two of the three other employees were new and had no reference to his old habits. He was honest and open about his history but he worked clean and sober. I only knew the true Charlie, not Charlie the addict.

Home life was not as good. Charlie’s wife insisted she didn’t have a problem and she should be able to drink or use drugs if she wanted. Charlie agreed. But her choices impacted him, so he filed for divorce. He knew he had to take responsibility for who he allows to influence his life. The risk was too great to stay. His life was more valuable than his marriage.

That was hard for me to wrap my head around.  

Charlie is
When you let life control you it can define you but you always have the option to take back control of your life and change.

All the time I say “nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” This is one harvest I am reaping years after it was planted. I still have that 1 year coin that has the serenity prayer on one side. On the other it states “To thine own self be true; recovery, unity, and service. It’s one of my most treasured possessions reminding me I must be my true self, made in the image of God, for His good service.

I am responsible for me and my choices. What I allow to influence me impacts my walk with God. Every knee will bow before him and all the finger pointing ended in the garden. Spring is a great time to confront myself, look at my trajectory and take an account of my life.

  • Where am I headed – what’s my trajectory?
  • Am I an influencer where I need to be?
  • Who or what influences me?
  • What influences positively impacts my relationship with God?
  • What have I allowed in my circle of influence that negatively impacts my relationship with God?
  • Have I elevated something above my relationship with God?

Charlie’s wife was a type of idol to the god of addiction. He knew if he remained with her he would bow his life once again to addition’s will. Things that we can’t live without sit on the throne of our heart. These are idols and we weren’t created to worship idols. Idols can be people, activities, and things.

It’s your turn. Share how you have taken back control of things in your life. What type of things get in the way of growing your relationship with God?

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Cultivating a Worship Lifestyle

Worship Lifestyle

When a person first comes to Jesus, it can be compared to the first blind date in a new relationship; the history is short, but the future is bright and promising. Corporate worship at church is a platform for believers to communicate with God and to learn how to hear Him communicate with us.

Creating a personal attitude of a worship  lifestyle is how we give thanks in all things and in all our ways acknowledge Him. The more history we have with Jesus, the more we are able to know the love He has for us. The more we love God, the better we get at loving others. A Worship lifestyle is acknowledging God in all things, His “worth-ship.”

Your body is called the temple of God because when you trust Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit to live within you. The Holy Spirit speaks with your spirit, the part of you that desires a relationship with God. The Holy Spirit interacts and can influence your soul, the human part of you that is your thoughts, will, and emotions.

The Holy Spirit also gives each of us gifts. The first gift He gives each of us is the sense of completeness as that missing piece, the God-shaped hole in our spirits, is filled. The Holy Spirit assists you in living the Christian life. The evidence of this is a more keen awareness that some of the things that you enjoyed now seem wrong; that is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Another is in the fruit of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, mercy and other responses seem more authentic than they did before. As you learn more about God’s character through worship, the Spirit’s fruit will become more abundant and effective in your life. Challenging situations become less challenging when you know more about trusting and depending on God through the Holy Spirit.

worship lifestyle
“In response to all God has done for us, we worship.” Wounded Church

In response to all God has done for us, we worship. The worship lifestyle we develop as a result of the relationship we cultivate with Him. Some of the sweetest ways we communicate to God is when we acknowledge the abundant, expansive blessings and love that He has shown us. When the presence of God becomes profound, the cares and thoughts of life flee and the abundant grace of Heaven fills every space. Worshiping God for all He has done for us is not just an event but a mindset and a way of life.

Exposing a Worship Lifestyle

  • When you accepted Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live within you.
  • When you go about your day and realize God does not ever leave you because He lives within you, you develop a lifestyle of worship.
  • When you go to work and do what needs  done, you worship by using the skills and abilities He has given you.
  • When you come home to your family and love your spouse and children, you worship.
  • When you collect your pay check, acknowledging God’s provision and gifts, you worship.
  • When you honor and acknowledge the gifts and talents of others, you worship.
  • When you do things for others or give your offering, you worship.
  • When you sing praise to God, you worship.
  • When you take time to learn about God and listen to His small voice within, you worship.

So as you prepare to attend Sunday Service keep in mind that you are in training to see and hear what God has for you. Then use the rest of the week to acknowledge God in all things, Worship!

Excerpt from my book Wounded Church to be published soon! Stay connected to read more about it.

Share your worship by commenting below a way or two you live out your worship lifestyle!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Be My Vision

Opportunity fuels a vision, you do your best then wonder was it good enough.

Have you had the privilege of having God stir your heart? It sounds profound and it was, it is. Who am I that the creator of the universe would reach out and so clearly remind me I matter to Him? Wow, God touched me!

Over the last two weeks I have studied to facilitate a lesson for my life group. Ordinarily Sam, a gentleman twenty years my senior and even more in faith, fills that roll. Yet, he asked if anyone would like to lead a lesson. I love the opportunity to study and share, noticing one lessons was Esther, I volunteered.

He was pleased and I was excited.

On Saturday my excitement turned to unrest. It was the day of the meeting. I tried to go over my notes, seek God’s direction, and be well prepared. It didn’t go unnoticed I was a woman facilitating a group of couples from a conservative denomination. When I offered, I rejected the gender issue because the topic was Esther. Whispers of doubt and rejection flitted through my mind trying to discourage me. Music soon took over my thoughts.

During the week I had heard a hymn I wanted to share. I hadn’t heard it in a long time but it constantly came to mind. On Saturday I saw how it reflected Esther. She must go to the king, uninvited, and plead for the life of her people.

I felt an anxiety I haven’t felt about teaching for a long time. I have grown to love and respect these people, would they – did they – hold enough favor for me to show up, respond, or participate? As my husband drove I found the song on my phone and my nerves settled immensely. Pulling into the drive I knew it was time to step out and just do it.

We were a minute late and only one other person had arrived. Discouragement tried again as Sam offered me his seat at the head of the table. More arrived, we filled our plates and cups and I began with the hymn. Be thou my vision performed by Rend Collective. A determination to finish filled me even while a constant awareness of who participated and who didn’t kept picking at me through the evening.

Vision
When God uses a song, over and over again He is trying to encourage you or direct your path. Stop and seek Him in prayer.

When all was finished, I closed the meeting with prayer. Doubt dance through my thoughts. ‘Should I have had Sam or Bryan close the time of prayer?’ I responded thinking “I drew out the important points, made applications to life, and many people participated.” I had completed the task yet …

I realized it wasn’t her, or any persons approval I was seeking but God’s.

As we drove home my husband said we could attend Sam’s church. We had visited a few times but still had our own home church.

I have to admit I wondered if anyone would mention how I did. I didn’t want approval or praise as much as I didn’t want rejection even if it was just through silence. When I approached Jeanette and she told those with her what a great job I did I realized it wasn’t her, or any persons approval I was seeking but God’s. Had I completed the task I volunteered for? Was Father God pleased with how I shared His truth for us today?

The service got underway and I felt calm but not an assurance. As the intro to the second song started my heart leapt. I knew immediately what the song was and assurance was mine. At some time the music director planned this hymn, and God knew it. God touched me with an ‘atta-girl’. Even the sermon resonated with God being there when we need Him.

Keeping my vision in line with His

I try to keep the Lord ‘my best thought in the day and night, His presence my light.’ I want Him to be my “inheritance now and always; the first in my heart; the Sovereign of heaven my treasure, not man’s empty praise.’

  • High King of heaven, my victory won.
  • May I reach Heaven’s joys, O heaven’s bright sun,
  • Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
  • still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Have you had an opportunity you turned to a vision you executed but needed assurance that God sent? Have you had God send several versions of a similar verse or song that increased your courage and strength to carry on? Comment below I would love to hear your story. If you like this or it has encouraged you share it with a friend or share on Facebook.

©2016 Elayne Cross

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Day 25 Glory to God on High

Advent Journey Day 25

Glory to God on High

God has met with us and the first reaction of the Israelite’s is fear and trembling, their hearts are torn, their wretchedness exposed. God’s Mercy is true. He had no higher expectation because He knew they were evil from their youth. But God loved them anyway, He gave and continues to give His Grace. Our only response can be worship! Glory to God on High “the Lord God , compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and faithfulness; who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave guilty unpunished” Exodus 34:6b-7a New American Standard Bible.

Word of God

Moses wrote out all that God had directed him to, but God didn’t end there. God inspired many others through His Spirit to write the history, prophecy, and poetic worship for many hundreds of years. Joshua, Samuel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Esther, Isaiah, and Micha and many other books continue to reveal God’s Plan and God Himself.

The Bible is a compilation of love letter to the soul and spirit of each person willing to read them.

God’s Faithfulness

God’s faithfulness ensures the Advent Son, the Promised Son would come. Some believe He has come, others still wait, while the multitude have not yet confronted their own wickedness. God’s Word continues to be preserved and proclaimed with 2 goals.

  1. Reveal the sinfulness of every individual. When we see God’s standard we stop looking to the left and to the right but rather into His Word of Truth that cuts to the root and exposes the darkness within with a promise of hope.
  2. Introduce you the God with a Plan. It’s as simple as the Exodus. Slaves to sin and wretchedness at the basal human state of survival are redeemed through the Blood of the Lamb, given Living Water, and transformed through Spiritual Leaven. The broken are made whole, the old new, the darkness bathed in light.

Individual Faith comes through the Word; hearing, reading, following. Our response is Worship and Praise.

Glory to God on High
Individual Faith comes through the Word; hearing, reading, following. Our response is Worship and Praise.

Worship by Following His commands, Love God and Love Others

Zechariah 7: 8-10 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

Praise with Thank You and Amen

Exodus 15 Rejoice – “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. … Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? … The Lord reigns for ever and ever.”

1 Chronicles 16 People Praise – “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always…. He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;”

Isaiah 6 Heavens Praise – “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Luke 2 Glory to God – “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”… “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Sing Praises to the God who Saves! This song of Worship is very profound, enjoy! WOW! Hebrew Worship with English Subtitles

Joyeux Noël

 

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

©2015 Elayne Cross

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Day 24 Word of God

Advent Journey Day 24

The Word of God

A forty day journey brought Moses and the Nation of Israel to Mount Sinai to receive the Word of God. Moses would go up the mountain three times. Each time lasting forty days. The little they had learned is tested in Moses absence. The leadership, priests, and judicial system caves to the demands of the throng, a gold calf is created and worshiped.

Word of God
Above all God meets us personally and individually. This starts with the Word of God.

Progress depends on knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable, just and unjust, holy and abominable. The Word of God is the key to success, for the Nation, Leadership, Priests, Judges, and Prophets. Ultimately each individual’s success is dependent on following the Word of God. To follow you must hear it, learn it, read it, and discuss it.

Write it Down

Yesterday we read that God told Moses to write down what happened with Amalekites at Rephidim. That was the first mention of a written memorial. It was just days before they arrived at Mount Sinai to listen to God. We know they spoke a different language than Egypt but this is the first mention of a written language, it had been verbal.

An oral conversation has limitations for accuracy and longevity. A simple game of telephone reveals the limits of accuracy for a statement. The depth and complexity of what God was going to share needed to be exact. God dictated and Moses wrote. Still great discussions and debates rage over what God was implying or meant with specific words or phrase structure.

Sharing stories and expectations from generation to generation depends on faithfulness. Just one generation, unhappy with the expectations or the previous patriarch can modify or omit portions. If one generation turns away and doesn’t share the whole of the Word of God could be lost. Man is not faithful or consistent. God’s way of preserving His Word required a written account.

The Word to Moses

Moses wrote the first five books in the Bible, called the Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is sometimes referred to as the Law because it does include the Ten Commandments, the Temple protocol, and Rules for Society. It’s much more.

It also contains many stories, of where the world began, the promises, and covenants. It details moments of great success and righteousness alongside acts of faithlessness and failure. The choice between good and evil at all levels, individual, family, cities, and nations. No perfect people can be held up as the one to replicate. Each protagonist has moments of utter failure, a nemesis, and clear consequences or mercy.

Simple Complexity

It is commonly referred to as the Torah; instruction, doctrine, and law. This is a limited view of the Word of God. The ancient term Yarah reveals the life within the text; show, direct, instruct. It is more than objects, it’s actively showing, directing, and instructing to the reader and student of the text. Simple enough for a child to understand but complex enough to challenge the lifelong student. It’s a verb not a noun.

Israelite’s refer to the time on Mount Sinai as God giving the Word. Not Moses receiving it. This shows the continuing action of giving to any individual at any time in any location. Not just to Moses. When you begin to study the Word of God for yourself you learn and grow. In time you encounter the same passages you studied before only there is new insight, relevant and timely Wisdom.

Word Preserved and Expanded

Over the next several thousand years God’s Word was followed, lost, and found. God was faithful to hide it when some tried to destroy it. God inspired others to write other books to expand the breath while slowly revealing more of His plan. Some books are historical or poetic worship preserved to continue the Journey of Israel toward the Promised Son. Other books are written as accounts of specific Prophets of God, some for specific times and others to restore hope in God’s Salvation at the fullness of time.

Lamentations 3:22-26 New International Version (NIV)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Advent Journey

Our Journey has come almost exclusively from the Pentateuch, or Torah. A few exceptions include Jonathan, Samuel, and the Girl with purple hair. These all have roots in the first five books of the Bible. God told Abraham from His seed would come Nations, and Kings – One of his descendants would be David. Foretold in Genesis and revealed in 1 Samuel.

The Word of God is an Advent Journey. As we draw closer to God, His plan and His will for our life, He draws closer to us. His Word shows, directs, and instructs us in how the world works, how to interact with others, and how to be the best individual we can be. But the Word of God shows, directs, and instructs is about Him.

Above all God meets us personally and individually. This starts with the Word of God.

It’s your turn. What has God shown you over the last twenty four days? Do you know more about Him? Do you know more about yourself? Has the Word of God spoken to a deep or dark place and brought light or peace? I would love to hear about it. Comment, like, and share. Your words may be exactly what the next person needs to hear.

©2015 Elayne Cross

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Day 23 Time – Mount Sinai

Advent Journey Day 23

Mount Sinai – Mount of God

From the moment God appeared in the form of a pillar of cloud/fire He was leading the Nation of Israel to Mount Sinai. This is the mountain that Moses had seen the burning bush. Therefore it was also the region where Abraham’s ancestors dwelled. It is referred to as The Mount of God for good reason, He met with Moses there a second time.

Time to Mount Sinai
Time is God’s Mercy till we are better prepared to face Truth.

A Season in time.

Egypt.

The first month is Nisan, on the evening of the fourteenth is Passover, the fifteenth beginnings the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the sixteenth (or after the Sabbath) is First Fruits when a sheaf of new Barley is waved. All celebrations reminding Israel the power of God and the slavery both physical and spiritual He was saving them from. Then a block of time, seven weeks, seven Sabbaths, counting each day toward the seventh.

  1. Red Sea. This time was part of Israel’s actual journey into the wilderness and toward Mount Sinai. Soon they arrived at the Red Sea and God intervened. By allowing the Israelite’s to remain dry, God revealed their spiritual state, equally dry.
  2. Marah. They traveled for 3 days without water. Finding water became another disappointment because it was bitter and undrinkable. An elm branch thrown into the water and it was good, or healed of bitterness. God reinstated the Sabbath and tested with a proposition, ‘serve Me, do all I command, and I will protect you from all the plagues and disease because I am the Lord who Heals.’
  3. Elim. The next stop had, 12 streams of water, 70 palm trees, equals water, healing, and rest.
  4. The Desert of Sin. The fifteenth of the second month brought grumbling and God sent manna, Bread from Heaven. God was testing their resolve to follow everything He commanded. Would they obey the Sabbath? It was a struggle to remove the human instinct to hoard, slavery was self-preservation. Manna was trusting God.
  5. Rephidim. No water again, only dry desert and rocks. Testing and quarreling. God tells Moses, take some elders and before the people strike the rock and I will send water. Water from a rock and the beginnings of leadership through the elders. Israel is beginning to form a government structure beyond Moses.
  6. Amalekits wage war at Rephidim. A Nation at war with General Joshua. Moses, with the staff of God in his hand, takes Aaron and Hur to watch from above. Abraham grew weary and Aaron and Hur supported him until the war was won. God tells Moses to write it down and ensure Joshua knows. Moses built an altar to God, our Banner.
  7. Near the Mountain of God. Jethro, Moses father-in-law arrives with Moses’ wife and children. Jethro had heard what God had done. Jethro now sees all Moses is trying to do on his own. Advice given; choose men of God to help. Leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens to judge the people and their disputes reserving the difficult cases for Moses. Advice received; A Judicial System is established.

Mount Sinai.

  • God Calls Moses. A choice; ‘Tell the people you saw all I did, how I protected and provided for you, If you will do all I command, keep my covenant then I will make you a treasured possession in all the earth, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.’
  • Israel responded. A decision; ‘We will do everything He says.’
  • Moses leads. A preparation; ‘Ready yourselves, wash, abstain from sex, God will speak from His Holy Mountain. 3 Days’ time.
  • God Meets with His people. Thunder, lightning, smoke of a furnace, a trumpet sounding louder and louder. Don’t come near, only Moses should come up the mountain and hear my Word for you. It’s almost as if God is asking are they ready to be watered, anointed with His Wisdom?

Between Egypt and Mount Sinai there are seven distinct events each moving Israel from an enslaved nation to a Nation of God. They had to learn to trust God for their physical needs, spiritual needs, and direction. They established a leadership and judicial structure. They waged war. All because of God’s care and keeping.

Four hundred years were not rectified in forty days. They were ready to begin the real transformation process, “Doing all God said.” First they must hear the Word. Moses went back to camp, reminded them to not go up or touch the foot of the mountain. He would be back, in time. How long? Forty days.

Time and Time

Time to Mount of God
Time passes for us, but God is outside of time

This initial period in the wilderness took forty days. A long and difficult journey recognizing their absolute need to hear God’s Word. They were so ready they agreed without knowing what the commands or covenants were. The Promise of a son, still waited in time, the right time, the fullness of time. They had reached the time when God would give His Word to His people.

Time waiting, getting ready, working on yourself, relationships, connection with God all can seem daunting. Time is God’s grace and mercy. We are never fully ready, but with time we can be better prepared. Time to grow, time to forgive, time to love, time to remember. God offers opportunity in time. We learn to trust and lean on Him. In time we gain Wisdom.

It’s your turn. Have you believed for something but had to wait. Then when the time seemed right to you troubles and trials seemed to abound. Can you relate to the Israelite’s forty days in the wilderness? I would love to hear your experiences. Leave a comment below.

©2015 Elayne Cross

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Day 22 Forty-nine Days

Advent Journey Day 22

Starting the day after the offering of First Fruits counting begins and continues for forty-nine days, or seven full weeks. This time is also known as counting the omer. It is the time between the first harvest of the early grains and the full harvest of harder grains. An omer is simply a unit of volume that God commanded for both the First Fruits and the Festival of Weeks.

forty-nine days
From the First Fruits they counted toward becoming fully free, body, soul, and spirit

Forty-nine plus one

The Israelite’s were to count for forty-nine days, seven complete Sabbath’s then on the next day, present an offering to God. Seven is the number of perfection. This represents perfection squared and is directly linked to the offering tied to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Removing the leaven was about a purification from the slave mentality based in the basic physical need to survive. When survival is the foremost in your thought, righteousness falls away and sin becomes comfortable.

The blood of the lamb is applied to the door, death passes over, and a hasty exodus designed to redirect the focus from the physical needs and limitations back onto God who redeemed and preserved them. Immediately a wave offering is brought to bring favor on this year’s harvest – the First Fruits are now revered and hope is restored. Now the counting begins for the next Feast.

Festival of Weeks

In Deuteronomy 16 this name is given. However some Jewish groups call it counting the omer, others shorten it to Shavu’ot or Weeks. The First Fruits was very first crop of the growing season and looked forward to the harvest. A beginning with a promised ending, if blessed would also be bountiful. Unlike the green sheaf if grain for First Fruits, this celebrates the full harvest. Gathering in all the crops till the next growing season.

Bread

What is a festival without food? The offering brought for the Feast of Weeks is bread, two loaves. This is a significant statement related to the positive nature of leaven. Most things can be used for good or for evil and that includes symbolism. To bring bread to the priest not only did you need to plant and harvest but grind, thresh, mix with other ingredients, and wait for it to rise. Then you bake it, in an oven heated with fire.

Removing the leaven was a purging of banal survival instinct, immorality, sin, and idolatry. Baking bread is an intentional, time consuming, process of creating something that satisfies the physical needs of the body while embracing the spiritual light. Bread is a spiritual food. There is no nutritional difference between a bread made with or without leaven. The time and skill needed to bake bread are gifts from God who blesses us with more than the basic needs of human life. He lifts our countenance, lightens our burdens, and is a sweet smell when we are trusting in Him.

Forty-nine days Spiritual Journey

The counting represents the spiritual journey the Nation of Israel took. From the moment they left Egypt, the evidence was clear. They were in the basest human state, a nation without God, full of sin, idolatry, and immorality, seeking salvation through their own wits and will.

God purged them first with a test, slaughter a lamb and do as He says and be saved. Then flee and leave all sinful leavening behind. Confront your weakness through trial and set back while eating the fruit of your wit and will, unleavened bread then manna.

In the fullness of time, God would visit them and restore the counterfeit leaven of the human flesh with His love, justice, and unity. A nation of God sustained, protected, and blessed by His hand. When the Nation of Israel trusted God He would provide for them better bread than they could produce without Him. As the Nation began to see fulfillment of some of God’s promises, the Promised Land and the Promised Son would also come.

©2015 Elayne Cross

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Advent Journey Day 21

three in one
Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits – Three celebrations form one standing reminder of God’s Grace and God’s Plan

Three in one

Israel’s Exodus was a three in one event. God completed and established three distinct and important statutes. The history and background of the feasts and convocations can be confusing. We have looked at each of these individually. Today we are going to bring the three together as God intended.

Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits

  1. Passover marks the beginning on the fourteenth of Abib (Nisan). The night when the Spirit of God moved through all Egypt and killed every first born of man and beast. The only ones to live had followed God’s command and sacrificed a lamb, without blemish. They put the blood of the lamb on the door post and lintel. Then they were to roast it over fire and eat it being careful not to break any bones.
  2. Unleavened Bread began at sunrise on the fifteenth of Abib. The next morning. This signified the haste of their exit. They could not wait on bread to rise but rushed out. Leavening produces a chemical change, a transformation of the flour, oil, and water into an airy bread and the rotting of fruit. This represented many things most notably the distance from God. The Israelite’s had become united as people but were spiritually flat. Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days. No leaven is to be found in their homes.
  3. First Fruits takes place on the day after the Sabbath that occurs during the seven days of Unleavened Bread. It relates back to Cain’s offering to God of grains he had cultivated. It was not revered, or looked upon favorably. We are not told the specifics, only that God encouraged Cain to choose, good or evil. Cain very soon chose evil in the form of murder. The parents who brought death into the world now had a son who took life. God redeemed this attempt at the first Passover and sealed it with the offering of First Fruits. At the start of the first grain harvest Israeli farmers are to bring a sheaf of grain to the priest as a wave offering to be accepted by God, along with a 1 year-old lamb for a burnt offering.

Redeemed

God pronounced He redeemed the first born of man and beast, representing those who were at risk the night of Passover. Those He redeems willingly follow Him into the physical wilderness where they received spiritual blessing and provision. God met them there and He became their God and they became His people.

These three in one events begin and end with a Holy Convocation. A gathering of the Nation of Israel. These convocations are like book ends to the process of moving away from the physical and toward the spiritual. Becoming more than a nation of people but a Nation of God, set apart, guided, and protected by their King, the King of the Universe.

This is the new beginning, the journey had begun. The Promise still waits for God’s timing. God is still preparing His people for the Advent Son.

It’s you turn. Join the conversation. Do you see hints of God’s Promised Son in these three statutes? When you pass fields full of fresh crops, what comes to mind? Leave a comment below.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

First Fruits

Advent Journey Day 20

First Fruits
The first born of man was Cain, The hope of promise in Cain was lost. But God had a Plan, He redeemed the First Fruits

First

It took the death of the first born of man and beast for pharaoh to finally release the Israelite’s. The significance is celebrated for every first born Jewish son for all time. Does the significance of first born relate to the Promised Son?

First Son of Man

The first born son of Adam and Eve was Cain. The second son was Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd. In time they both brought a sacrifice to God. How the offerings are described reveals some interesting things. Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. Abel brought from the firstlings of his flock. If we read that and the following verses that say God regarded Abel’s offering but not Cain’s the first thought would be – Abel’s was of his first born. Yet I left out the word ‘also’. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock.

Able also brought an offering or also brought of firstlings. Whenever something is or isn’t noted in the Bible that causes you to stop and wonder, it’s intentional. We know they both brought offerings to God. We know Abel’s was from his firstlings. We know God had respect for Abel and his offering, and none for Cain or his offering. Cain was sad and God went to console him.

God Speaks, Cain Speaks

God went to Cain and explained although he failed, God was still there for him. Cain needed to choose to do right because sin wanted to control him. Cain held the power to choose good or evil.

Cain went and spoke to Abel. We don’t know what he said, but we know he chose evil and killed Abel.

Adam and Eve brought death into the world, their first born brought murder. Cain was comparing himself to Abel and struck him dead. The hope of promise in Cain was lost. Another son, another time.

First Born

When they left Egypt God told the Israelite’s the first born belong to Him. He had redeemed them, purchased them when he passed over the doorways with the blood of the lamb on them. Every first born is to be devoted to God and every first born that is male belong to God. The first born male beasts had to be sacrificed or redeemed with a lamb. All sons must be redeemed with a lamb.

For whatever reason Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted, Abel’s was a firstling and this is significant. First born sons became so honored within Israel they received the majority or all of an inheritance, and were the next patriarch of the family. Any deviation from this protocol is significant and like any anomaly in Scripture worthy of a closer look.

First Fruits

When God commanded the feasts and convocations they included an offering of First Fruits. The first day after the Sabbath of Passover was the day to offer First Fruits at the temple. This was when the first crops of grain were coming green.

The Israelite’s were to take a sheaf of new grain and present it to the priest at the temple. The priest is to wave it before the LORD to be accepted. A male lamb, one year old and without defect was to be offered as a burnt offering. No new grain or crop was to be consumed before the offering of First Fruits. This was to take place after Passover but before the seven days of Unleavened Bread was complete.

Fruit of the Ground Accepted

Now for a perpetual statue the First Fruits of the earth could be accepted and revered by God. The act that was not revered led to disappointment. The disappointment let to a choice – do good or do evil. Sin waited anxiously for Cain’s decision. The choice was murder. When God redeemed the first born, He also rectified Cain’s fumblings with the grain offering.

God revealed the importance of Feasts, convocations, and sacrifices. These elements must be critical to His Perfect Plan for the Promised Son. Would He be the first born? How much longer would it be? God was not done laying the ground work for the Plan. Israel was still lacking the wisdom and relationship with God they would need. BUT God is faithful and God’s timing is perfect.

It’s your turn; Are you a first born? Have you dedicated your life or some part of it to God’s service? Did you struggle thinking what you offered to God wasn’t good enough? Share your thoughts. Like it and share with your friends. Share the Journey with me to learn more about this Advent Son.

©2015 Elayne Cross

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest