Monday, September 14, 2015

Ten Days of Turning Back - the Days of Awe

The "Days of Awe" are also known as the "Ten Days of Repentance".  These are the days between Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  They are set aside as a time for self examination, to right wrongs against others and to turn back to God in areas that we have gone in our own ways.

I have included a VERY brief summary of the Fall Feasts in order to set these "Days of Awe" in their context, hoping it will help guide you as you listen to the Lord for how you might apply the principles to your own spiritual life.

The Feast of Trumpets is recognized for its sin offerings and the awakening blasts of the shofars.  It is a time for rest and sacrifice.  The blowing of the shofar (trumpet) is a central feature and calls the worshippers to turn to God. This Feast is also known as "the Day of Remembrance" (Leviticus 23:24).  The blast of the shofar is to jolt us from our slumber and to remember who we really are by remembering that the LORD is our King! 

What the "Days of Awe" can mean for believers
Though the next ten days, the "Days of Awe" are not identified in the Old Testament as special days, the activities of introspection and repentance would certainly be appropriate as the people looked towards the second great feast of the season, the Day of Atonement (also known as the Day of Judgement.)  This is the one day out of every year that the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies and offered the sin sacrifice before the mercy seat and represents the atoning work of the cross that Jesus has accomplished for us.   Every part of each Feast is embedded with layers of meaning - and even the number of days between each one can have significance...for instance, ten happens to be the number that represents testing, responsibility, government and restoration.  The five days between the Day of Atonement and The Feast of Tabernacles is associated with the idea of grace, atonement and life.

The progression of the fall feasts also tells a story. Rosh Hashanah, on the 1st of Tishri, focuses on sin and repentance, and is followed by the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishri, and then Sukkot or the Feast of Booths on the 15th of the month, which focuses on God's providential care of his people.  

It is said that there are three types of "turning" associated with the Fall Feasts: 1) a turning inward for self examination; 2) a turning toward God in repentance; and 3) a turning towards others in charity.

Why would I entertain the idea of using these days as a springboard to "Turn Back to the Lord"?

The answer is quite simple...because every day we have many opportunities to turn around (repent) and return to Him! Notice that the definition of "repentance" is to have a change of mind, yet the command is not completed until the returning to the Lord happens... (Mark 6:12, Acts 3:19).

Now, with this seasonal focus to using these days to "turn back to God", we can use each day to explore ways to experience His rest and turn away from seeking this rest and His approval in our own strength.

Let's begin today by finding that special spot in your home that will be your "sanctuary" with the Lord.

What should this space be?  Where should it be?  

Begin by simply, slowly and intentionally, walking through your home. 

Ask the Lord to show you where He would like to meet with you. 

Is there any place that is drawing you?  

Do you need to rearrange it; 
                   add some things to it?

It may be a place you are already using. 

Or it may be a space you would never thought of before.

When you have found your spot, mark it in some specific way.  Make it attractive and appealing.  This doesn't need to take any money.  Move things that you like or even cherish into the spot.  Make a little "still life" arrangement.  

Ask yourself what you might need, physically speaking, in order to set time aside to "rest in Him".  (A timer?)  A fine teacup that you reserve for special occasions?  A soft throw to signal you mind "this is a restful space".

When you have this space set up and set aside...celebrate a job well done!  

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Fall Holidays, Days of Awe
Rosh Hashanah

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The High Holy Days in Israel - a brief overview...

The High Holy Days in Israel - here is a brief overview...

Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah) starts at sundown tonight. Rosh HaShanah a time of remembering. A time to remember what God has done for us. A time to remember the creation. And with that, a time to remember that we are the created and God is the Creator (Isaiah 64:8). It is a time of giving and receiving forgiveness.

Rosh HaShanah begins the 10 Days of Awe, the ten-day period of repentance. This is a time of making sure that we are right with God and with man. And it culminates with Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the year. This is a day of fasting and prayer, seeking God's forgiveness. God’s ways are so amazing that He takes us from this most solemn day with fasting and prayer and leads us straight into Sukkot filled with joy and thankfulness! He wants us to spend time in fasting and prayer but He also wants our lives to be filled with joy in His presence!!

Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles. The Sukkot/booths (tabernacles) that are built remind us of God's provision during the 40 years in the wilderness following the Exodus from Egypt. During the 40 years in the wilderness miraculous clouds of glory hovered over the children of Israel, shielding them from danger and discomfort in the desert. Since that time we remember God’s kindness and we reaffirm our trust in HIm and His provision by living in a sukkah for the duration of Sukkot. This lasts for 7 days and nights. We are reminded that we are sojourners and pilgrims on the earth. Heaven is our home. We are in temporary structures just as the booths are temporary. The sukkah must have a roof of branches that can be seen through… so that the stars in the sky can be seen and to remind us that it is a temporary structure. Most Israelis eat in their sukkah and many even sleep there (children love to sleep in the sukkah. Most restaurants build a sukkah so people can eat in them. This is traditionally a time of celebration and hospitality. A time of joyfully remembering God’s protection and His provision and being grateful that He still protects and He still provides!! Sukkot is a holiday of great joy and rejoicing - it is even called ‘The Time of our Joy’! So let us rejoice and tell God how much we love Him and appreciate His protection and provision!!

This post was originally found on "Lovers of Israel" facebook page. 
(Click to be taken to the original posting)


I am sure you can find the analogies of these feasts with our life in Christ!

New Beginnings, New Hopes, New Starts, New Chances!

Today, September 13th, 2015 (at sundown), the Jewish New Year begins.  Called Rosh Hashanah, it is a time of new beginnings, new hopes, new starts, new chances!  Every one looks forward to the chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.  The celebrations are happy and infectious!

As believers in Jesus Christ, we get to experience this "new beginning" at the moment of our salvation:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old things have passed away; behold, the new has come into being.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Berean Literal Bible

And every day after is a new beginning!

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 English Standard Version 

Sometimes the familiar becomes mundane, and we no longer recognize the prize at our fingertips.  This is why it is good to visit the reality of the greatness deserving such celebration as a way to energize ourselves!  So lets refresh our precious promises with the celebratory ways of Rosh Hashanah!
 May your new beginnings open the doors to the richest blessings!

Enjoy this delightful musical parody by the fun and talented Israeli group, the “Fountainheads.” The song includes all the symbols of Rosh Hashana like blowing the shofar and dipping an apple in honey for a sweet new year! Lyrics below the video:

Tekia, shevarim, terua x2  (sounds of the shofar)
A new year rising
A new beginning
Lift your heard up, turn yourself ‘round, the world is spinning
Feel the magic of a new day
Open your heart to a fresh start, send your fears away
You’ve made mistakes- you feel it
You’ve got what it takes – believe it
Any wrong can be made right
Just forgive you need not fight
Shana tova u Metuka – its Rosh Hashana (Good and sweet year)
Shana tova, u’metuka
Dip your apple in the honey, on Rosh Hashana
It’s Rosh Hashana

So many new hopes
Waiting to find you
Open your eyes
The dreams you prize are all around you
The smiles are hiding
No use in guessing
Make up your mind, go out and find
That simple blessing
This is your time – you feel it
How sweet it is – believe it
Any wrong can be made right
Just forgive you need not fight
Shana Tova u Metuka – its Rosh Hashana

Aneinu – shana tova

Shana tova, u’metuka
Dip your apple in the honey on Rosh Hashana
Shana tova, u’metuka
Hear the sounds of jubilation – its Rosh hashana

Yehi Ratzon shenihiyeh – rosh- lo zanav (May it be Your Will that we will be like the head and not the tail)
Filling life for those around us with joy and love
Avinu malkeinu chaneinu veanaeinu (Our Father, Our King, Have mercy on us and answer us)
Hear our prayer Oh Lord
Inscribe us in the book of life

Chaneinu vaeinenu, shana tova

Shana tova, u’metuka
Dip your apple in the honey – on Rosh Hashana
Hear the sounds of jubilation – its Rosh hashana

Give us life Lord
And sustain us
Oh deliver us
To salvation

It is New Year
On Rosh Hashana
Make your loved ones smile
It’s Rosh Hashana
Open your hearts to one another its Rosh hashana
It’s Rosh Hashana

Lyrics found on Your Jewish Speech

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Get Ready For The Coming of "The Days of Awe" - 2015

The Fall Feasts of the Lord are almost upon us! The ten days between Rosh Hashanah (September 13th) and Yom Kippur are also known as "the Days of Awe". We will be exploring more about what we can do to make these ' Days of Awe'  meaningful in our western spiritual lives, but for today I want to highlight how special these particular Fall Feasts are. It is likely you will never see these exact feasts again, in this way, in your lifetime! These are exciting days! These are days with spiritual realities embedded in them, and it will fuel your spiritual life to come to an understanding of these climatic events!
The "Joyful Sound" was the sound of the ram horns blowing the start of the year of Jubilee:  release of the captives, cancellation of debts, inheritances restored!
 (You can download a high resolution file of the above image for personal use at this link.  
Just right click the image and select "save to computer".)

The world over, but especially the Jewish people, both Messianic and those who have not yet embraced the Lord Jesus, are preparing for Rosh Hashanah (September 13th)—the beginning of  the year 5776. (In Jewish thought this is the number of years since creation.)

According to Hebrew numerology, 7 signifies perfection or completion in both the spiritual and natural realms. God created all things in 7 days. There are 7 days each week and the Sabbath is on the 7th day. Likewise, the number 6 is associated with mankind and human weakness. It is “the number of man” as man was created on the 6th day.(1)
The number "5" is the number of grace - God's goodness at Christ's expense.

5776 will be a year for our weaknesses to be exposed, but also for God’s perfection to shine brightly through. This is a year to surrender our weakness for His perfection of grace—that is true Jubilee!(1)

Why is this year so special and yet so foreboding?

Let’s look at the signs and the numbers through the filter of the Holy Spirit:
1.  5776 is very significant because it is a Jubilee year and the 70th Jubilee year since Joshua and Caleb crossed the Jordan River!

2.  A Jubilee year comes after 7 sabbatical cycles of 7 years… that is 7 sets of 6 years, plus a Shmita year… 49 years, and then a Jubilee release!

3.  The four Blood Moons that have received so much press coincide with the Shmita year 5775, and our Jubilee year 5776.*

4.  This year, the last blood moon is coinciding with the end of the Shmita year and the beginning of the Jubilee year—truly amazing!

5. At this special time of Jubilee, every 50 years, ram’s horns are blown on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) to announce the beginning of Jubilee. This is important because during the days of Joshua, the land of Canaan was dispersed among the families and tribes, and the land permanently belonged to that tribe or family.

The land was a permanent inheritance that was given to the family.

You can lease it, or temporarily sell it, but ultimately the land is returned to your family during the Jubilee year. The land reverts to its original owner.

6.  When the ram’s horn was blown on the Day of Atonement, debts were released, land was returned, and men and women were freed from slavery!

Has your inheritance been lost or stolen? 
This is the year to spiritually move forward and claim that return!

We are no longer slaves to situations and circumstances—
this is our year of freedom!  

(1) All information in italics is adapted from My Olive Tree 

* If you would like to read more about the significance of 4 blood moons that each coincide with a major Jewish Feast Day, I recommend this article (links to scientific and Christian commentaries on the events are listed at the end of the article)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You need only to be still...

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still..."
~ Exodus 14:14

One of my "go to" worship songs speaks of "Being Still"...

and what does one do, when standing in the stillness? 

 You praise Him, you remind yourself of His wonderful deeds and power. You declare along with the young men of Israel who were slaves in a foreign land: 

"...If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, 
the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, 
and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. 
But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, 
that we will not serve your gods 
or worship the image of gold you have set up." 
{Daniel 3:17-18}

Answer these questions as a prayer or praise:

What has He done for me in the past?
What has He done for others that can fuel hope and confidence in myself? 
What promises has He given in His word? {Both to me specifically and to His people as a whole.}
What can I be thankful for right now?
What is my favorite characteristic of Him?
 How can I make these things (in this list I am making) a declaration of my faith in Him?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Divine Nature - Abstract and Cruciform #10/100

Lot's of deep texture in this close-up

You may remember that I became intrigued with the cruciform style of art - and I am in my "literal" interpretation stage, exploring letting crosses emerge from the brush strokes.

I started with large, loose brush strokes of black, in sort of a cross hatch pattern.  These strokes spoke to me of that darkness that masquerades as strength, that stands out boldly in the midst of purity and holiness. Over these I painted in my "gold gesso - imitation of the old masters" - the glory of God emerging through all the darkness and chaos...The panel was just flat canvas at this point and I began to imagine layers of texture built up around the black strokes...that is when I "saw" that white texture pushing back the darkness, till all that was left was the cross shape with streaks of gold throughout.  The holiness of God will always reveal our need of the cross to us.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, 
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Dimensions: 7" x 14" x 0.5" gallery wrapped canvas - sides are painted white.  Ready to hang.

Black spatters show the penalty of sin bursting away at the presence of His holiness (all the white texture).  God's glory and divinity permeates it all (gold and gold splatters).  Finally, a rough golden circle encompasses the point of intersection - the heart that has the "mark of the cross" glows with His divine nature:

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, 
through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, 
so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, 
having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, 
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control, 
and in your self-control, perseverance, 
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, 
and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, 
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful 
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
2 Peter 1:3-8 NAS

(This art piece is for sale - $100)