James says in 1:22-25, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after he looks, goes away and forgets what he looks like. However, the one who looks intently into the perfect Law/Torah that brings freedom, and continues in it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he shall be blessed in what he does.”
We are not free from the Law/Torah, the instruction of God in how to hit the mark, we are free from sin, which is the breaking of the Law/Torah. Psalms 119:44-45 says, “That I may always keep Your Law/Torah, for ever and ever, and walk about in freedom. For I have sought Your precepts.”
Did you catch that both James and the writer of this Psalm are calling the Law/Torah freedom? Let us live in that freedom!
Most of us know Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God/Elohim not of works so that no one can boast.” Then immediately following that is verse 10 that states, For we are God’s/Elohim’s handiwork/masterpiece created in Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus to do good works, which God/Elohim has prepared in advance for us to do.”
In these three verses we have the good news of both justification and sanctification. God/Elohim did not just save us by His grace through faith so that we could not boast that we did it ourselves, it was His gift to us. We did not earn it or deserve it. We did not deserve for the Son of God to die for us. We did not deserve Him taking the punishment for every single sin we have all committed, we did not deserve it in the least. Elohim’s mercy is greater than we can even imagine. He is the consuming fire and in His mercy chose to spare us.
This is our justification, our initial point of salvation. This is when God justifies us in His presence because of the work of Yeshua/Jesus. This is when He redeems us from a life of sin and death. However, is that all He has for us? Of course not!
If that was all He ever did for us it would have been sufficient/Dayenu. But He did not stop there. He tells us of the things He has prepared for us. He gives us the instructions on how to live this redeemed life in the power of His Spirit. He did not just leave us alone to figure it out by ourselves. He gave us His Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh to teach us how to follow Him. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says this, “I (YHWH) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will take away your heart of stone and put in you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit/Ruach in you and move you/cause you/teach you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Therefore, part of the job of the Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh is to help us be obedient to His ways and His laws that He prepared in advance for us to do.
We are to do the good works of the Law so that we may walk in the blessings of obedience. Just like the children of Israel was redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb and then shown how they were to live, so we are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb and then shown how to live. Yet this way we are to live, the things we are to do and obey, were prepared in advance so that we might walk in them. The Spirit/Ruach teaches us how and it is our job to listen and obey, to shema to the Word of God who told us we are to observe all things that He has taught us.
I don’t typically get personal on this site, but today I am. God has been working in an awesome way in my life for the past 10 years and I wanted to share some of that journey with you.
Ten years ago I began asking the crazy question of why do we really get baptized. Here I was a Baptist Pastor’s wife no less with a seminary degree of my own asking this question as if for the first time. It seemed to be so superficial and ritualistic with not much meaning behind it. I know what I had heard all my life, “it is the first act of obedience”. Was that it? Did God ask us to do it just to see if we would do it? I could not find that in the Bible! I knew it represented our Death, Burial, and Resurrection with Him, but was there something more? I knew John the Baptist baptized for the remission of sin, so why did Jesus get baptized? I had all these questions and more reeling in my head. I wanted answers, answers I never got in four years of seminary study. So I began to search and ask.
That led right to the mikvah, which led to the Jewish wedding, which led to the Feasts then out of no where we, this Baptist family, began to celebrate Passover in our home as a family. That was about 2008. That same year I led some ladies in a Jewish wedding study. I was learning so much and I wanted to tell everyone about what God was teaching me.
Then through the circumstances of life we moved in with my parents in 2009. We ended staying there for three years. In those three years we continued to practice Pesach (Passover) as a family only now my parents were doing it with us. I am not to sure what they thought about it at first, especially my father. Truth be told I think he was tolerating it at first, but then God was working.
When my husband took another church position again in January of 2013 at a small east Tennessee Baptist Church we had no idea what God had in store for us. We had no idea what He was going to continue to teach us. We started out at our new church as normal, getting to know and love the people. I did not even think of teaching for quite a while and did so even earlier than I had planned. I began to teach the ladies that fall using the Beth Moore study: A Women’s Heart: God’s dwelling place. It is a study about the Tabernacle and was her first (we did the remake version) study she wrote. I know she has written many more, but I continue to believe that this one is her best.
Then the next Spring I began to teach from what God had taught me. We studied Esther and then the Jewish Wedding. I also began to teach a Sunday School class where we started in Genesis, now over two years later we are still only in Exodus. We are going slowly, but we are all learning so much, at least I hope we are, I know I am.
God just began to show my husband and I so much. We continued to learn about the Creation account and Answers in Genesis was so helpful in that. We both continued to have a growing love for Israel and the Jewish people. One the first things we did for us here in east Tennessee was find a local Messianic Congregation and found a wonderful one in Shomair Israel in Knoxville. They have become family.
Last year we did our first Jerusalem Marketplace and we are about to do it again. We have people not only from our church helping, but from area churches as well and even some from Shomair Israel. We are so excited about what God has been doing in our lives and church.
Last year we began to be convicted about the Sabbath and started having a Sabbath study in our home. This study moved into our church a few months ago. I have so enjoyed the journey of faith God has us on and look forward to what He will teach us next. We have seen His hand time and time again move Mountains we know we could not move. Our children are learning to take the whole Bible seriously and it is such a blessing to watch them learn and understand that if God has spoken on a matter than that is the end of the matter.
God continues to connect us with more and more of the Messianic Community and the connection is real. Our love for Israel and the Jewish people and the Church has grown tremendously. We are seeing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes and we long to be a part of it.
God sent me to seminary 20 years ago on John 17 and Biblical Unity of the Body. Little did I know then that what He had in mind was the One New Man, Jew and Gentile being one in Messiah. I used to think in terms of denominations, but not anymore. God’s plans are so much bigger than we can imagine! God’s plans are for the mystery to be completed and it will be in the days before the seventh angel sounds His shofar (trumpet) – Revelation 10:7. He announced this plan to His prophets with the life of Joseph and His brothers, with Ezekiel 37 and the two sticks of Joseph and Judah and then even Paul with his discussions on the mystery in Ephesians. What an awesome God we serve!
I hope I did not get too personal, but I felt the need to today. I am now happy to say that we and my parents are now seeking to obey the whole word of God out of love for our God, Savior, Lord, Master, King, Father, and Bridegroom for the wonderful salvation He has provided by the blood of Yeshua. It is an honor to serve our King!
I hope no one sees this as bragging, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It is nice to take an assessment of one’s life from time to time and remember what God has done. To see how far He has brought us. I am so overwhelmed at what God has taught us and is still teaching us. I know we have so much more to learn and I look forward to learning more with you. Thank You God For The Things You Have Taught us!
Tonight begins the three days before Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Esther asked Mordecai to have the Jews fast for her for 3 days and that she and her maids would do the same. Let us consider starting a three day prayer and fast for Benjamin Netanyahu beginning tonight. Pray that he would come to know his Messiah and that God would grant him wisdom, discernment and the proper words, as well as, praying for the men and women of our Congress that God would give them ears and hearts to hear along with wisdom and discernment to do what God tells them to do. Let us Pray!!!!!!!!
At the end of our last post Xerxes’ anger was subsiding and Haman was dead. However, the real work was yet to come. At the beginning of chapter eight, on the very day that Haman was hanged, we find King Xerxes and Queen Esther in court together and Esther officially presenting Mordecai to Xerxes and the court. Xerxes not only accepted the Jewish girl as his wife, but also publically as his Queen in the full knowledge of what that meant.
A tremendous shift in power was made in this moment. Mordecai becomes the King’s new confidant and trusted advisor. The deceiving one is dead and the child of God takes his place. The king no longer trusts the forces of evil, but is putting his trust and his confidence in the people of God. Xerxes makes this change having all the information. His wife is a Jew and the man who raised her, her adopted father, also a Jew, is now the one whom the king will rely on and trust.
Mordecai is also given great wealth. The estate of Haman was given to Esther and she in turn gives the responsibility of the estate to Mordecai. Mordecai is also robed in princely attire and given great honor. This is the Great Reversal within the book. Mordecai, the Jew, becomes everything that the enemy had been and more. He is not only given great honor and responsibility, but is publically seen as a member of Xerxes’ household. Or should I say that Xerxes is publically seen as a member of Mordecai’s household, the very household Haman had sought to destroy.
However, even though Esther and Mordecai are now safe from danger there is still the matter of the people throughout the kingdom and the king’s edict. Her people were still in danger because the edict was still in effect.
To address this, Esther once again finds herself on her knees before the king. She would have had to step down off her throne as Queen and become just another subject to make such a request. This time anger is not motivating Xerxes, but the cry and the heart of his wife. She is begging for her people. Her heart is exposed for she cannot bear to see her people suffer.
She does not want to be like the last king of Judah, Zechariah, who was forced to see the death of his sons before losing his sight at the command of Nebuchadnezzar. She wanted her people to be spared including those back in the land of Israel that Cyrus, Xerxes’ grandfather, had allowed to return. She wanted her people, whom Darius, Xerxes’ father, had allowed to rebuild the temple to be able to protect themselves and all they had built. After all, how could she stand by and watch all that be wasted? How could he? There was still so much at stake.
So Esther humbles herself before her king and husband in order to request the lives of her people. She knows that he does not have the authority according to the laws of Persia to reverse the last edict, but she also knows there must be a solution.
Let us also remember that presenting herself in this way without an invitation would once again require the lowering of the king’s scepter. However, this time there does not seem to be any hesitation on her part to do so. Xerxes had proven himself to her and she was confident in his love for her. And the scepter comes down and she stands to her feet.
She makes her appeal by saying these words, “If it pleases the king,…,and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me,…”(NIV) She is reminding him once again that she does please him, that he does regard her with favor, or said another way, that the grace of the king is on her and that she pleases, pleases him.
There is also the issue that the matter at hand is about right and wrong, good and evil. She knows it pleases him to do the good and she trusts him to do it. She is again showing her confidence in him as her king and her husband.
Xerxes gives Esther and Mordecai the authority to set things right and even hands over his signet ring to Mordecai. I love the significance of that scene. The King’s ring goes to the one whom God had intended it for. Mordecai is given the seal of the king. I cannot help but think of the seal that the Messiah has placed in us, The Holy Spirit. With His seal in us our security is fixed in Him and cannot be reversed anymore than an edict of the Persian kings that had been sealed with the king’s ring could be reversed.
Esther and Mordecai set out immediately to overcome the first edict with an edict of their own. This new edict was to give the Jews the right to protect themselves against anyone who would follow the first edict and attack them, either as individuals or as armies. They were also given the right to take the plunder of those who attacked them. The latter is a privilege that they did not use.
This edict was also sent out on a specific date, Sivan 23. This is important because it was shortly after Pentecost, the feast of the first harvest of the year. Remember that the first edict went out at the time of Passover. It had been about 2 months. All of this had taken place in a little more than two months. There was still about 10 months left to get the word out and for people to prepare, either way.
Her people were saved that day and Mordecai leaves the court in royal robes. God is glorified by it all even though the book never mentions Him. It is completely understood that the hero in the book is God Himself who reveals His power and plan through the orphan girl turned Queen and her adoptive father. It pleased our King to save His people.
Romans 11:25 “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,…”
My family and I once again celebrated Passover last night and once again God revealed Himself in a very powerful way. It makes the communion that we as Christians celebrate make so much more sense. To go through the four cups and their meanings and read from the New Testament of how Jesus spoke of them and fulfilled them and will fulfill the last and to see the middle bread pulled out of the cloth and hearing the words of Jesus saying this is my body is an illuminating experience, what light He sheds on His Word. Our God is wonderful and I think Him for His festivals that reveal Yeshua to us in a live and vibrant way. May we as Gentile Christians never forget where our faith comes from and that our Lord Himself was a Jew who celebrated and fulfilled Passover.