God’s great mercy………

chesed love

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.  ~  Genesis 1:27

That has become one of my favorite verses lately.  It’s our blueprint… our original design.  No matter what mankind may look like on the outside, no matter what sins we may commit, this is truly who we were created to be and how God sees us – because He always sees us according to our potential in Him.   The very first man walked in that design, and all mankind afterward were supposed to walk in the same pattern.  But although Adam was created in that design and walked in it for at least a few days, he sinned and introduced sin and consequently death into the world.

All men born after him were born in Adam’s likeness and image instead of God’s.  Genesis 5:3 “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth”.  All mankind was born into sin. Made in Adam’s likeness and image – one of sin and death. Romans 5:19 “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners….”  Man isn’t a sinner because he sins, he is a sinner through birth.   Sin in the Greek is hamartia and means to miss the mark.  To sin is to behave out of tune with God’s original harmony.  It is to believe a lie about ourselves.  It is to miss out on sonship.  Sonship is our blueprint… our true, original, chosen design.  Ephesians 1:5 “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…”

Even when the Law was introduced, mankind was still a sinner.  No matter how good he was morally, he could never fulfill the requirements of the law and be made righteous.  The Law simply revealed sin and made mankind aware of his lost state.  Man was unable to save himself — the Law revealed that he needed a Savior! God’s timing was absolutely perfect.

He always had a plan to redeem us.  He had found us in Christ before He lost us in Adam!  Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”  He always loved us too much to leave us in such a wretched state…. He never abandoned His creation!  Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God’s great mercy is far reaching and ALL encompassing.  Just as it took Adam’s one act of sin to condemn all of mankind, it only took Jesus’ one act of righteousness to completely declare all mankind innocent.  Romans 5:18  “So here is the result: as one man’s sin brought about condemnation and punishment for all people, so one man’s act of faithfulness makes all of us right with God and brings us to new life.”  Freely acquitted in the sight of God.  Through Adam we were ALL declared sinners and death reigned in us BUT through Jesus we are ALL declared righteous and life reigns in us.

Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciled us back to God and to our original design of sonship.  Now we are no longer made in Adam’s image and likeness – one of sin and death.  The sin nature has been completely removed and we received a new nature.. a new spirit… His Spirit.  Ezekiel 36:26-27A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.”   

Jesus defeated sin and death ONCE and for ALL.  God did not love us more once we were reconciled.  Reconciliation simply made us free to realize how much He has always loved us and free to enjoy our redeemed original identity — made in His image and in His likeness.  To see ourselves as He sees us — IN CHRIST.  Free to enjoy sonship and all of it’s joys and privileges.  And not just to see ourselves, but our old ways of seeing others is over as well (2 Cor 5:16).  We are now to see everyone through the eyes of our Redeemer.

He has made us ambassadors or ministers of His reconciliation with the world.  Our lives are now to exhibit the urgency of God to persuade everyone to be reconciled to God because Jesus took their life to the Cross in exchange for His resurrected life in them.  He did a finished, completed work on the Cross for ALL mankind.

The language of the Old Covenant… of the old written code was “Do in order to become”.  The language of the New Covenant is “Be, because of what has been done.”  It’s simply a matter of saying yes to God through faith in the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus.  It’s simply a matter of them awakening to their righteousness… of seeing themselves as God already sees them…. IN CHRIST.  So that then they will be able to say “I once was blind, but now I see.”

God’s great mercy for mankind is seen in the riches of His goodness toward us and His absolute passionate refusal to let us go.  His Covenant love for us is because continues to hear the echo of His image and His likeness in us.

I love the Mirror Translation of Romans 3:23-26:

Humanity is in the same boat; their distorted behavior is proof of a lost blueprint. (24) Jesus Christ is proof of God’s grace gift;  He redeemed the glory of God in human life; mankind condemned is now mankind justified!  (25) Jesus exhibits God’s mercy.  In His blood conciliation God’s faith persuades mankind of His righteousness and the fact that He has brought closure to the historic record of their sins (not by demanding a sacrifice, but providing the sacrifice of Himself).  Jesus is the unveiling of the Father’s heart toward us.  (26) All along God refused to let go of mankind.  At this very moment God’s act of righteousness is pointing them to the evidence of their innocence, with Jesus as the source of their faith.

It is the revelation of God’s goodness that leads men to repentance, not our repentance that leads to God’s goodness.

~ Robin

Hebrew month of Tevet 5777 (2016)

god_is_good

Today we enter in to the Hebrew month Tevet.  Tevet is the 10th month of the year on the Hebrew Biblical calendar.  10 is a number of divine order … 10 is also 5 + 5… five being the number of grace or in this case a double grace…. multiplied grace… abundant grace… dare I say it?… hyper grace!  😮

Tevet is a month full of the goodness of God.  The first two letters in the word Tevet is tet and vav.  Tet and vav make up the word “tov” which means good.  The first time the letter “tet” is used in Scripture is Genesis 1:4 …. and God saw that it was good.  The final letter in Tevet is also “tet”…. so the whole word Tevet from beginning to end is a word full of God’s goodness.   A month beginning with goodness and ending with goodness.  

I’m a lover of all things good.  I’m an incurable optimist.  I like looking for redemption and goodness….in people and all things in general.  I do believe it’s a gift from God… I’ve always been like that.  My mom nicknamed me Pollyanna Sunshine when I was little because of this abundance of optimism and hope.  Though, these past couple of years, there have been a lot of personal challenges that would try to produce a critical spirit instead of seeing the good.

Sometimes it is going to require more effort than usual to find the good in something…. thank God for His grace to help in those times.  Especially today when we are inundated with bad news from the media, bad attitudes from people, etc.  It’s a choice we have to make.  And when we make the choice, God will be faithful to open our eyes to see something good… even if it’s just hidden potential…or buried treasure in someone.  Then we get the privilege and joy of co-laboring with Him to pull out that potential and treasure in those around us.  

If I want to be like my heavenly Father then I need to make that choice to look for the good in everything around me daily.  Because He is good… ALL THE TIME!  In fact, good isn’t just a description of Him… it’s who He is.  1 Chronicles 16:34  O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  Good in this Scripture is called an absolute noun, meaning it follows another noun forming a single idea. “Good” and God are one single thought. There is no “good” separated from God and then associated with Him. “Good” and God are the same thing (see my blog post on Goodness and Goodness and Grace)

I’ve been teaching weekly Bible studies this past year and I’m always amazed when I teach on the goodness of God, how some people will adamantly argue against it.  They prefer to see God as judgmental, harsh, punishing and while they’ll see Him as sometimes good it’s based on only if they’ve done something to deserve it.  Sadly, their interpretation of Scripture is in light of that perception of God…. and their representation of Jesus and of the Father is also through that perception.

There is nothing I can ever do to deserve His goodness.  He is not good to me because I’m being good and “obeying” His Word (for a definition on obeying see my blog post on No Hebrew word for obey).  Goodness just overflows out of Him in my life because it’s who He is.  He can’t help Himself.  He’s not angry with us… He’s not angry with the sinner who is unsaved either.  That’s the good news of the Gospel.  Jesus satisfied the wrath of God, the punishment we deserved for sin, and He reconciled us to God.

Then He made us ambassadors of that reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20).  It’s going to be hard to be an effective ambassador for Christ if we fail to see the goodness of God in the land of the living (Ps 27:13).  2 Cor 5:19 says “He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” We have been anointed to preach the good news just like Jesus (see my blog post on Jesus is our JubileeThe widow of Sidon and one of my favorites Naaman the Syrian).  No one wants to be reconciled to an angry, harsh, God who is only going to breathe down our necks and punish us every time we slip up….. that’s not the good news of the Gospel.  

This month of Tevet, I encourage you to dig deeper into the Word and find out about the goodness of God… to quote Bill Johnson, “He’s better than you think”.  We have a responsibility to re-present Him correctly.  The more we begin to see Him as good in the Word, the more we will begin to see the goodness in the people around us and in this beautiful world of ours.

Then our co-laboring will be a joy to us and we will become true ambassadors of Christ…. running after ALL people, begging them to be reconciled to God because He is GOOD and wants to overflow that goodness into their lives.  

~ Robin

New Covenant lens….

hebrews

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  ~ Hebrews 13:4-5

I’ve been studying and teaching Hebrews for the past 4 months. We are on the last chapter … and I have learned so much. It was not an easy book to study or teach and has stretched me and challenged me outside of my comfort zone.  But it is definitely a book that has helped me understanding the benefits of the New Covenant more than anything else I’ve read.

Hebrews is such a fitting name for this Epistle.  Not because it was written to Jews, but because of what Hebrews means.  The word comes from the Hebrew verb ivri meaning “to cross over”

The very first Hebrew was Abraham and there were 2 ways in which he “crossed over”… first, he crossed over from Mesopotamia into Canaan and secondly, he crossed over from the world of idol worship that was familiar to him and his family to a new realm, one in which the One True God was worshipped instead. In both senses Abraham became forever an “ivri” – a Hebrew, one who crossed over.

That fits this Epistle so well — crossing over.  These Jews had crossed over from the familiar realm of the Old Covenant to life in the unfamiliar but liberating, grace filled New Covenant.  They were under intense persecution and were being pressured into returning to the Old and this letter was to encourage them to remain in Christ.  This letter presented to them  a contrast of the old and new covenant — and the supremacy of Jesus and the New Covenant… a far better, superior covenant.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness;

Our study of this book was verse by verse, always keeping it in context of who it was written to and why.  When I came to chapter 13, specifically verses 4 and 5, it just seemed so out of context to command them to keep the marriage honorable and the marriage bed undefiled with the warning that God will judge the immoral and those who commit adultery.  And then in the next verse he’s telling them to live free from the love of money and be content with what they have.  Sex and money…. were those the two biggest concerns the writer of Hebrews has for these believers?

Of course we are to live holy, pure, godly lives.  Of course we are to be faithful in our marriages and sex is wrong outside of the marriage relationship.  Of course we are to not be covetous, greedy, or lovers of money.  And of course we are to be content with what God has given us.

But is that all this verse is saying?

Remember, the book of Hebrews is about the contrast of Old Covenant and New Covenant.  The writer has explained theses contrasts to us for the last 12 chapters and has warned us several times throughout this letter to not fall from grace, to not turn away from Christ (apostasy), to steer clear of idolatry and going back to Judaism, and to enter into the rest of the finished work of the cross.

So, with all of that in mind, we don’t want to look at these 2 verses through the lens of the Old Covenant pattern which is…. if I am not faithful in my marriage or if I sleep around — if I mess up!  If I sin in this area!  If I do those things, then God is going to judge me.  The problem with that “Old Covenant” lens is that He already poured out all of His judgement for my sins on Jesus.

  • Isaiah 53:5: The punishment that brought our peace was upon Him
  • 2 Cor 5:21:  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 
  • Romans 5:8-9:  But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!

This letter was written to believers (believing Jews) not unbelievers/unsaved.  So, even if I did do those things after I’m saved, God doesn’t call me an adulterer or a whoremonger.  He calls me righteous!  He sees me as I am… not by what I do or have done.  

So who does God call the adulterer and the whoremonger?  Who does He refer to as covetous?

  • several verses in the other epistles mention sexual immorality as a false teaching — Eph 5:3-7; Jude 1:4; 1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2:14; 1 Tim 1:3-10; 
  • Jeremiah 23:10 also talking about false prophets and calls them adulterers.
  • Sexually immoral in Heb 13:4 is the same Greek word used in Heb 12:16 to describe Esau as a fornicator.. an idolator.  — The root word is porne which means an idolatrous community.
  • Adulterers in Heb 13:4 is “moichos” which figuratively means an apostate
  • In the Old Testament, whenever Israel went into idolatry, God called it “adultery.”
  • Idolatry is spiritual adultery
  • Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry
  • 2 Peter 2:3  By covetousness they [the false teachers] will exploit you with deceptive words;

Historically, at the time this was written (and the other epistles), there were false teachers that had infiltrated the churches and were attempting to turn the believers away from the grace of the New Covenant…. away from it’s teachings… away from Jesus.  

What were some of the strange, false, demonic doctrines that these false teachers were teaching?

  • There were those who were forbidding marriage, believing celibacy was purity and pleasing to God (1 Tim 4:3)
  • There were those who were perverting the grace of God into a license for immorality (Jude 1:4)
  • Of course there were the Judaizers who were encouraging them to go back to the Law (which is adultery/idolatry – Romans 7:1-4)
  • All of these false teachers were motivated by greed (covetousness – love of money)

….and be content with such things as ye have:

Be content in the original language is “with the things that are present.”  Present = right now.  So, what was “present” for these Believing Jews the writer was talking to?

  • They had put their faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
  • And because of it, they were suffering intense persecution and the reality of having to flee Jerusalem and everything they had previously known
  • From all that was familiar… the temple, the priests, the sacrifices.. their family and friends.

Remember they were feeling the pressure to return to Judaism and they were being influenced by false teachers.  This is an encouragement to them not to fall back into idolatry (the Law/Old Covenant) but walk free of that because Jesus is enough.

For hasn’t He promised you that “I will never leave you; never will I forsake you  

1 Kings 8:57 — Part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple was that the Lord would never leave them nor forsake them.  He was declaring that God had kept His promises and not one word had failed which He promised through Moses.

What a fitting thing for the writer of Hebrews to remind the people of…. he’s already told them that the New Covenant is far superior to the Mosaic covenant.   Now, he’s encouraging them that if God kept His promises and not one word failed which He promised Moses, they can trust Him to be with them and never leave or forsake them because “Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Heb 8:6). 

Then he reminds them that their response because of that… because Jesus is enough…should be “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Heb 13:6)

When you begin reading the Bible through the lens of the New Covenant you begin to see things in Scripture that you never saw before…. and you truly begin to find the Father’s heartbeat.  This grace filled New Covenant is liberating!

~Robin

Chanukah 5777 (2016)

Chanukah-Picture

Chanukah is on the evening of the 24th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar.. on our calendar this year it begins tonight Christmas Eve.  Our family began celebrating Chanukah 3 years ago as well as the other Biblical feasts.  We celebrate this in addition to Christmas.  Our family loves both celebrations.  Chanukah is the festival of lights and is a beautiful reminder to us to shine in the darkness.  I love Matthew 5:14-16 in the Message Translation “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  Let’s go public with it… shining as such  bright lights in this world.. not keeping God as a secret.. opening our homes, being generous with our lives (being open and giving with others)

As I was preparing my study notes on Chanukah to share with our kids, I decided to study each individual letter in the word Chanukah. I love studying the Bible in Hebrew.. it’s a rich and beautiful language full of layers upon layers of meanings.  The Hebrew letters in the word Chanukah are chet, nun, vav, kaf, hey.  The Hebrew alphabet (or as it’s called in Hebrew alef-bet) is full of meaning. Each letter is not just a letter, but a number and a picture.. with layers of meanings.  I love something Billy Graham said, “The Bible is big–so big that even the greatest scholar will never exhaust its riches.”

Chet, Nun are the first two letters of Chanukah and spell the Hebrew word grace.   Vav is the next letter and the first time “vav” is mentioned in Scripture it is as a word, not just a letter.  It is in Gen 1 “heavens and (vav) the earth.” It is a word connecting Heaven and Earth.  Grace always connects us to the Heavenly realm…. it enables us to live on earth as it is in Heaven.  It is the empowering Presence of Holy Spirit in and through our lives.  “Vav” is also the number 6 which is 5+1… 6 = 5 (grace) + 1… an abundance of grace.  Romans 5:17 tells us that those who receive an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in this life through Jesus.  That is just the first two letters of Chanukah… grace! An abundance of grace poured out from Heaven upon us.  

The next 2 letters or the 2nd half of the word is Kaf, Hey.  Kaf is a picture of an open hand… an open hand speaks of blessings.  In Ex 33:22, when Moses asked God to show him His glory, God covered Moses with His hand… that word hand is kaf in the Hebrew. Kaf is a picture of God’s open hand, specifically His open hand of blessing.  One of the meanings of Hey is behold!  or revealed.  The 2nd half of this word is speaking of God’s open hand of blessing being revealed (in this season).  

Studying the word Chanukah by breaking it down letter by letter shows us a beautiful picture of what God is wanting to pour out on us in this season… His grace multiplied to us and His open hand of blessing revealed to us.  

John 1:16 (amp version) sums it up so beautifully…  For out of His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace, and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.  

Merry Christmas and Chag Sameach!!

~ Robin

Distorted view of the Father

luke 15

What a beautiful description Luke 15:24 is of the Father’s love for us… truly His heartbeat is restoration and His response to our being restored to Him is to celebrate over us!!  Zephaniah 3:17 in God’s Word Translation says “The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.”  I love that.  Psalm 91:15 He says He will rescue us and then throw us a party.  The more I meditate on His goodness, the more I see Him in this light…. rejoicing over me, renewing me with His love, celebrating over me and throwing me a party!!  I begin to see Him as Love… extravagant, lavish, outpouring, overflowing Love towards me!  This is the picture of the Father that Jesus is showing us in this parable… a picture of a Good, Good, Daddy.. full of chesed (Covenant Love) toward us (for more on chesed see my post Goodness and Grace).. a love that just won’t let us go!!

Both sons had a distorted view of their father…..

Both sons had a distorted view of their father and therefore a distorted view of themselves…. this identity problem made them unable to walk in the fullness of their positions as “sons” and enjoy the benefits of their inheritance.  They couldn’t see themselves the way their father saw them… accepted, loved and favored.

The Greek word for son is ‘huios’ and means son… a son having the nature of the father; a son representing the father — this is a word of position….a word of maturity.  As opposed to the Greek word ‘teknos’ which means child… one not fully grown or mature, still needing to be under tutors and governors (Galatians 4:2).  God has called us as sons…. Ephesians 1:5  Having predestinated  (in Greek:  proorizo…determined our destiny) us unto the adoption (in Greek:  huiosthasia… declaration of sonship) of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”.  How awesome and powerful is that truth!!  Before the foundations of the world, He determined and established our destiny as sons of God… being conformed to the image of the Firstborn Son.  

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons.  ~Luke 15:9

He had 2 sons… both were huios.  We are first introduced to the elder son as a huios (Luke 15:25)…  meaning having the nature of the father; one representing the father — this is a word of position and a word of maturity.  But his distorted identity was based on works… on what he did for the father instead of who he was.  Verse 29 gives us a glimpse of how this son saw himself.  “But he answered his father, ‘Look, all these years I have served you and never disobeyed a commandment of yours. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”  The word served is douleuo which means “to serve as a slave” — slave was “doulos”.  This was a distorted the view the son had of himself.  He was a son not a slave but he saw himself serving as a slave…. not as a representative of the father.  And the rest of the verse gives his distorted view of the father… not as an extravagant, generous father but someone withholding from him — even something as small as a goat to celebrate.  

The younger son is introduced in verse 12 as a huios…. again meaning having the nature of the father; one representing the father — this is a word of position and a word of maturity.  His distorted view of his identity was based on his inheritance.. what he would possess at his father’s death —  his priority was on his inheritance instead of relationship.  Although even after he leaves with the inheritance, he is still called a “son” (huios).  His position hadn’t changed even though he walked away from it.  Later in the story he comes to his senses and realizes he has sinned against heaven and against his father and decides to tell his father he is no longer worthy to be called “a son” but instead a hired hand (with no inheritance).  But the father’s response is one of love and although the son no longer sees himself as a son but a servant, the father sees him the way he always has… as a son… his son. 

He always makes grace available for us…..

Redemptive grace was offered to both sons to see themselves as they truly were and to see the father as he truly was.  While we know the younger brother repented and began to see clearly who he was, sadly we never know if the elder brother repented and if his heart was healed and he embraced his sonship.  But we do get a glimpse of the condition of his heart in looking further into how the father referred to him.  In verse 31 the father calls him son but the Greek word used is teknos instead of huios;  Teknos means child — a member born into the family but immature; not yet transformed into mature sons, able to inherit and to administer the father’s house and his belongings.

We are sons of God.  And our Father is a good Daddy to us.  Ask Abba Father today to reveal this truth to you…. begin to see yourself in Christ… as joint heirs with Him, carriers of His glory, made in His image and as a representative on earth of all that He is and all that He is… and then begin releasing that to those who have lost their way!

~Robin  

Hebrew month of Iyar

Jehovah rophe necklace

Last night we entered into the Hebrew month of Iyar.  This is one of the three Spring months…. Remember that each month is a progressive blessing – the blessing of the Spring months are:

  1. Reconfirm your covenant with God at Passover in the first month (Nissan)
  2. So that, He can reveal secrets of His covenant in this second month (Iyar)
  3. And then He will bring you into a whole new level of Pentecost in the third month (Sivan)

Spring is a time to plant…. as you sow this month declare that your harvest is being secured and that every seed will prosper.  Biblically it is the “New year of Kings”… a time of counting the years of the reigns of kings in ancient Israel.  It is also the month when kings go to war (2 Sam 10:1)… This is a time to reign as kings and to use your authority…. to war for your covenant promises.  Zech 10:1 tells us to ask the Lord for rain in the springtime…. this month is a time to ask for the rain of His presence.  

After coming out of Egypt, Iyar was the transition month between Egypt and Mt Sinai.  It was a transition to a new level in their relationship with Him from being one of deliverance to one of covenant.  The rabbis have traditionally taught that this new level was actually a marriage covenant between the Lord and Israel… He became their Husband. During this transition time He began revealing His covenant secrets to them in the Wilderness – in Ex 15:26 He revealed Himself to them as their Healer, Jehovah Rophe.  In fact Iyar is actually an acronym meaning Ani Yaweh Rophe.  In Hebrew it is spelled:  Aleph, Yud, Yud, Resh….. “Ani Yahweh Rofecha.  Aleph – stands for Ani,  Yud – 2 yud’s next to each other always represent God’s name and Reish – stands for Rofecha.  In Ex 16:12 He revealed Himself as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord their Provider as He sent in quail in the evening and rained down Manna (angel’s food) from Heaven.  Another covenant secret He taught them was the Sabbath (Ex 16:26)… He was trying to teach them to rest in Him, that He would provide everything they would ever need.  This provision was given even in their grumbling (Ex 16:2).  In Ex 17 He revealed Himself as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord their Banner after their victorious battle against the Amalekites.  This battle was only victorious because He was their banner and fought for them…. later after the report of the spies and they are judged to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years, they realize their sin and decide to go up and take the land against Moses’ counsel and are badly defeated by the Amalekites and Canaanites.  Our victories are only guaranteed when God is with us…. Psalm 108:13; Psalm 60:12;   How do we learn His secrets?  Simply when we ask!  Dan 2:21-22, Mt 13:11, James 1:5.

 Iyar is often called the month of Ziv, meaning radiance.  It is linked with light or increased revelation.  It is the opposite of darkness….Isaiah 60:1-3.  This is also the month the disciples were taught many things about the Kingdom by Jesus during the 40 days after His death and when they waited in the upper room to receive the promise from on High.  Just like every year before, as tradition dictated, they spent the night before Shavout (Pentecost) first taking an offering to the temple and then staying up all night studying the Word. But this particular year on Shavout, He fulfilled the prophecy in Joel 2.  He poured out His Spirit upon them and they became changed men and women who went forth changing the world. This month we are still in the period of what is called counting the Omer.  Omer in the Hebrew is to form and utter speech!  This is a time to speak out the promises of God… releasing words that will help propel us into our destiny and transition us successfully into this new season!

The tribe associated with Iyar  is “Issachar”, this is probably one of my favorite tribes.  Jacob prophesied over Issachar in Gen 49:14-15 and Moses prophesied over them in Deut 33:18-19.   Issachar was the 5th son of Leah.  Five represents grace, goodness and favor of God.  Remember that this is the month of transition through the wilderness before Mt Sinai.. In the wilderness they received grace – the word encampments translates “grace was available”.   This month grace is available as we move towards the month of Sivan, as we learn the ways of God, the secrets of His covenant.  Issachar was a man of strength that would not hold back from hard work to establish a secure place to rest.  He was a burden bearer… this links the anointing to intercession.  Men of Issachar were also prophetic people…. they not only had an understanding of the times and seasons, but also knew what Israel should do… 1 Chron 12:40.  Deut 27:12… an Issachar anointing understands the timing of God and the government of God, carries the burden of the Lord, and releases the blessing of God into the earth realm at the crossroads of every season.  Lets ask Him this month for this Issachar anointing of prophetic intercession!

Nisan – a time of revival

barley yeshua

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.  ~ Exodus 12:1-2

Last year as we entered into the Hebrew month of Nisan I woke up to a song in my heart and on my lips… “it’s a new season, it’s a new day.  a fresh anointing is flowing my way.  a season of power and prosperity. it’s a new season coming my way.” And in prayer I kept  hearing God say “new day, new day!!” where He led me to Joshua 1:2 ““Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.” This happened in the Hebrew month of Nisan.  A new day had come for the children of Israel…  the old way of living (in the Wilderness) was over and it was now time to cross over into the Promise Land and receive all that God had promised them.

On this past Friday evening we entered into Nisan… on Sat morning I woke up with an expectancy of something new.  It felt as if something in the atmosphere had shifted.  Saturday was also the day of Azusa Now in Los Angeles (which marked 110 years anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival) as well as United Cry DC in Washington DC.   East coast and West coast worshipping together and crying out to God on the same day for revival in our land!  A day of unity in the Body.  I believe we have entered into a new day… Saturday marked a day that everything changed… an historic day for us!

And not coincidentally it happened as we entered into the Hebrew month of Nisan.  The month of Passover… a time of liberation, personal change, going from slavery to freedom, and the emerging out of the old.  Saturday I believe we “passed over”into a new season… a season that has shifted us and positioned us for the next Great Awakening and a New Jesus Revolution.  Rev. William Seymour, the leader of the Azusa Street Awakening, prophesied that in 100 years there would be an outpouring of God’s Spirit and His Shekinah Glory that would be greater and more far reaching than what was experienced at Azusa.

Revival is defined as to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.  Another great definition I read is “The Spirit of God working through the Word of God, in the lives of the people of God.” Passover (which is in Nisan) is a time of revival and spiritual renewal, a restoration of the Power and Glory, a renewed interest in God! In Nisan the children of Israel shifted into a new season… a season of liberation as they followed Moses, the revivalist, out of Egypt.  The children of Israel had been enslaved for 430 years and in Exodus 6 God told Moses that He heard their groanings….and He responded to their prayerful cries and to the hearts of His people… there was a revival of His covenant with Abraham.

Nisan is also a month of Repentance, Redemption and Miracles.  It’s called the season of the ‘miracle of miracles’ and your appointed time for great blessing!  Nisan has within it the word nes, which in Hebrew is miracle.  It is also the month that the King had favor on Nehemiah and granted him permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  Again, another time of revival for Israel…. in Nehemiah chapter 8 the people gather as Ezra reads the Word of God.  They stood listening to the Word for about 6 hours!! Then they began weeping, because they realized how much they had sinned against God…. they were repentant…  and worshipping God after it was read…. their hearts were revived and turned back to God.    Again, this happened in the month of Nisan.

It is also month to watch your speech.. be aware of what your confessions are.    If you speak negatively during this month, it will adversely affect you months down the road.  The seeds of negativity take root and will pull you backward. Your positive confessions should “grab the wind” and change the atmosphere. Speak forth revival… in your life, your families, your city and your nation!  This is also a month assigned to the right foot.. a time to step out….. and step forth in strength and consider where the Lord is leading you this year.  Move ahead confidently in God. Numbers 33:3 “They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians”.  In the Hebrew the word used is “rum” (pronounced room)… it means exalted.  Psalm 18:4 says God exalts us above our enemies.  Step forth triumphantly… in victory this month!

The letter “hei” is assigned to this month.  Hei is my favorite of all the Hebrew letters.  This letter is for behold!….it speaks of revelation and light.  It is wind, breath, the Spirit of God blowing on us…. it is the divine breath of God’s creative power breathed into Adam.  It is the number 5 which speaks of God’s grace and goodness.  It is the transforming power of Holy Spirit that changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah.  This blessing of the letter “hei” is available to us in the month of Nisan… His grace and goodness, His redemption, revelation and light, and of course the wind of His Spirit transforming us and making us fruitful and productive.  Ask the Holy Spirit to blow upon you for a fresh revival in your heart, for new revelation, and for a quickened understanding of what God is doing.

Nisan is the month of Judah.  It was the kingly tribe, the tribe of Messiah.  Judah represents apostolic leadership… they were the warring tribe who knew how to operate with sound.  They were the tribe that went out first in battle (Judges 20:18)…  they were also the first tribe in the order of procession when Israel moved in the wilderness (Num. 10:14)  Judah also means “to cast a smooth stone against your enemy”….  that is what David, who was of the tribe of Judah, did to Goliath… praise will bring your enemy down. Biblically praise and warfare are always connected.  Psalm 149:6 describes the high praise of God in our mouths and as a double edged sword in our hands.  Praising God is an act of war!

Judah’s symbol is the lion… Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  Judah comes from the Hebrew word “Yadah”, which means to praise God with lifted hands, to give thanks, to glorify or to acknowledge God.  They were a people of praise…. praise was their identity.  This tribe camped to the East of the tabernacle.  The entrance to the tabernacle was on the East…. likewise, the way into His presence is with praise.  God assigned a portion of land to all the tribes…. Judah was given Jerusalem.  God told them that He would choose one location that would be His holy place, where He would manifest His presence, this place was Jerusalem.    For us to dwell in His presence and experience His blessings, we must be a people of praise.

Nisan this year is April 8th – May 8th on our calendar.  Nisan is also called Aviv which means Springtime.  It is a time of coming out of a dead winter and positioning yourself to bring forth new life and flourish…. a time of rebirth and a fresh start.  This month sets the course for your future. Spring is a time to plant…. as you sow this month declare that your harvest is being secured and that every seed will prosper.  Another Hebrew word for Spring is tishuvah… tishuvah means repentance.  It is a month to repent… turn away from.. to change your mind from anything that held you back in the previous season, so you are free to move forward with God in this new season.

Biblically it is the “New year of Kings”… a time of counting the years of the reigns of kings in ancient Israel.  It is also the month when kings go to war (2 Sam 10:1)… This is a time to reign as kings and use your authority…. to war for your covenant promises with praise.  Zech 10:1 tells us to ask the Lord for rain in the springtime…. this month is a time to ask for the rain of His presence.  I loved that on Saturday the 8th (Azusa now and United Cry DC) it rained here in California and also in DC…. in fact my Facebook post that morning was Hosea 6:3 “He comes like the rain”.  That day on Facebook I saw two different photos of rainbows… one over the colosseum in LA and two double rainbows a few days before over the Washington monument and the US capital.

Nisan is a time God has scheduled on His calendar for a a powerful outpouring of salvation and deliverance for our families, breakthroughs in our business and finances and the miracle of a new beginning in every area of your life! It’s a time to align yourself for abundant harvest!  It’s a window of opportunity that’s passing by right now, so press in with faith and lay hold of every blood bought promise of God, paid for in full by Jesus Christ our Passover Lamb.  This is a time to expect miracles not only in your life but also to expect signs, wonders and miracles working through you.

~ Robin

 

The widow of Sidon

pot of oil

“But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25-26

 Yesterday my blog post was on Luke 4:16-30… Jesus is our Jubilee.   When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27 He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:3 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth”  It’s important when we read Scripture that we really read it with the heartbeat of our Father.… a heart that beats with restoration and love.  

In Luke 4 the people expected God to judge their enemies… to have vengeance on them.  Truth be told, sometimes we all feel that way…. so angry with someone or tired of their treatment of us that we cry out like David “slay the wicked Lord!” or like the disciples “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”.  We tend to like the scriptures like the one in Romans 12:19 that says “vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay”…. of course the next part of that scripture is if your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a drink.  And Jesus rebuked His disciples telling them they didn’t know what kind of spirit they belong to because He didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them….. sozo – to heal, deliver, rescue, make whole… nothing missing, nothing broken in their lives.  Remembering Romans 5:10 that we were once enemies of God and yet Jesus laid down His life for us.  Our hearts need to beat for our enemies the way God’s does… with love, restoration, being ministers of reconciliation.  Overcoming evil with love – not judgement.

God’s heart has always been for ALL people, every nation… Jews (believers) AND Gentiles (unbelievers).  Rahab, Ruth and the people of Ninevah are examples of God’s saving grace in the Old Testament.  Psalm 2:8 says ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance.

In Luke chapter 4 Jesus was giving them examples of the Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among… and this widow woman in 1 King 17:8-16 is one of them.  We don’t know the widow’s name, but we know where she is from, her circumstances and the circumstances of the nation at that time.

The land was in a middle of a drought and the brook that Elijah was at was dry. The drought had been for 3.5 years.. meaning the people of Israel could not grow crops and in turn they could not feed and take care of their own widows.  The verses before that tell us that Ahab was Israel’s king and he had married Jezebel.  And Ahab built altars and groves for her god Baal.  And in doing so angered God more than any of the Israelite kings before him.  And during this time Ahab commissioned the rebuilding of Jericho through Hiel, the Bethelite…. although God had ordered through Joshua that it never be rebuilt (Joshua 6:26).  This is where the widow resided… a place that was full of idolatry and rebellion… and yet it was just the place where God was going to pour out His grace and extend His love to this Gentile woman.  Luke 4:26 says there were many widows in Israel at the time but Elijah was sent to none of them…. he was sent to this widow only.. a gentile widow.

But God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there because He has commanded a widow there to supply him with food.  God chose her… she didn’t choose Him (John 15:16).  She had no idea that God had commanded her to feed Elijah.  Ephesians 2:8-10 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.  God prepared her good works in advance… long before she had the opportunity to do them.

Even though there were 7000 in Israel who were still faithful to the Lord… and many would’ve considered it a great honor to help Elijah.  Instead God chose a widow in Zaraphath… a foreigner outside of Israel’s borders.  God chose a Gentile to take care of Elijah…. she didn’t have the priviledges that Paul talked about in Romans 9:4-5….. the people of Israel, chosen to be adopted to sonship, God revealed his glory to them, He made covenants with them and gave them his law, He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned.   Not only did she not have that great heritage…. she had a distinctly ignoble one.

But she did have one thing going for her… in 1 Kings 17:12 she acknowledges the “Lord, God of Israel lives”.  She is a pagan Gentile widow in the midst of a pagan godless area but acknowledges the true and living God. And then she did what the prophet… the man of God asked her to do.  She added faith to her acknowledgement. She believed the word of the prophet and gave ALL that she had. She gave everything… the last little bit to God.   God also later raises this woman’s child back to life.  Faith pleases God.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.. healing, deliverance, rescue, making whole… to ALL who believe (Romans 1:16).

Next blog post we’ll look at Jesus’ other example, Naaman the Syrian…..

~ Robin

Jesus is our Jubilee

Jubilee 1

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  ~ Luke 4:18-19

2016 is a Jubilee year (see post 2016 year of God’s manifested goodness).  In Leviticus 25, Jubilee has promises attached to it…. Liberty for the captives, restoration of family, land, and possessions, increase from your field, freedom from oppression, safety and triple blessings!   

In Luke 4,  Jesus  goes into the synagogue… which was his custom to read and teach the Word.  The Word was teaching the Word!  This time He went to the synagogue in Nazareth, His home town.   Jesus had just begun His ministry and was becoming pretty well known for all of the signs, wonders and miracles that He was doing in Capernaum and the rest of the Galilee of the Gentiles.

The synagogue was an intimate place that allowed the Jewish people to gather in a less formal setting than the Temple itself. There were no high priests, no Levites, nor any standard liturgy. Anyone was allowed to get up and read from the sacred scrolls.  The reader stood and the rabbi sat. They stood up to read the Torah, and they sat down to teach to Torah (Matthew 5:1-2:; Luke 5:3; Matthew 26:55;Luke 10:39;) In ancient times sitting was the posture of authority.   Here, after reading the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2,  Jesus assumed the position of a rabbi….sitting while teaching.

The rabbis taught that these two verses were a messianic prophecy…. and everyone in that synagogue knew the acceptable year of the Lord was the great Jubilee of Leviticus 25. Jubilee was always a symbol of salvation.. this was the hope of Israel… that there would come a final Jubilee.  When the Messiah would arrive and all the promises to Abraham and David would be fulfilled.  They knew this passage well… it was their hope.  So all eyes were fixed on Him as they waited until He sat down to teach on what He just read.

The only thing He said upon sitting was “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  What a short teaching… but so life changing for the people listening!  Everyone else whoever read and taught on that scripture said “someday”…. but Jesus said TODAY!  Jesus was saying everything you’ve been waiting for is here!  The Jubilee you’ve been hoping for stands  before you…. I AM your Jubilee… I am your Messiah…. the Messianic age (the age of Salvation) has begun… it is no longer a future hope.  Your Messiah is here!  Salvation has come!  That they no longer had to be poor, broken hearted, captive, blind or bruised.  That day Jubilee became a person…. not just a year in time!

Jubilee was a time to sound your trumpet of freedom!  Freedom from slavery to Satan (Ephesians 1:17, 2:17; Colossians 1:12; Romans 6:14).  Freedom from sickness and disease (Deuteronomy 28:61; Galatians 3:13).  Freedom from debt to Satan and the World’s system (Colossians 2:13-14).  Freedom from fear (1 John 2:5, 4:17-18).  And a time of the commandment of blessing (Leviticus 25:20-21; Deuteronomy 28:8; Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:13-14).

He closed the Book….He left on the 2nd part of Isaiah 61:2 which was to proclaim the day of vengeance for our God.  Jewish expectation was that when Messiah arrived, He would not only restore the fortunes of Israel, but would do so by destroying her enemies.  They expected a Messiah who was a Warrior King!  Such an exclusion from this reading of Scripture was unthinkable for most Jews.

Deliverance from captivity always included destructive judgement upon the enemies of God who enslaved or oppressed them…. the deliverance from Egypt…. the entrance into the Promise Land…. deliverance from the Babylonian Empire…. from the Medo-Persian Empire… why should the Roman Empire be any different.  But God was doing a new thing!!  Isaiah 43:19 “”Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

He also gave them examples of Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among.  When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27 He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:2 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth”  In verse 23 Jesus indicates that they are asking for signs and for the blessings to flow in their own town because so far Jesus had been doing miracles in Capernaum which was city of both Jews and Gentiles.  Jesus was indicating that He had come also to be a light and a blessing to the Gentiles.  This would include their Roman oppressors… unthinkable!  Were they offended that He had taken a passage of vengeance and judgement upon the Gentiles and turned it into a passage of mercy and blessing?  Were they offended that His gracious words…. or words of Grace were towards the Gentiles?  He reminds them of Elijah and the widow from Sidon.  He also reminds them of Elisha and Naaman the Syrian.

More on both of the widow and Namaan next time…. 

~Robin

 

Christmas Reflections

seashell ornamentsThis morning I sit here in my favorite room of the house enjoying a chai latte and reflecting on Christmas yesterday.  4 kids, 2 dogs and 4 cats usually take over the entire house!  But I have one room that is mine…. they are all welcome in it, but they know it’s my sanctuary.  It’s the place I come to write, pray and enjoy my morning coffee.  It has a comfy red sectional, all of my favorite furniture, and a gorgeous view of our orchards.  And most importantly it’s quiet 🙂  

This was our first Christmas back here at the farm in 4 years.. we’ve been in San Clemente building our business and spent Christmases there… a So Cal Christmas is pretty hard to beat… the weather always cooperates and we can usually spend Christmas afternoon at the beach, wonderful neighbors who bring all kinds of yummy baked treats or great wine to your door,  no family drama to deal with 😉, great friends filling our home and celebrating with us… but this year we decided to spend it here since we’re up here taking care of things around the farm.  I can honestly say this was the best Christmas we’ve ever had!  In fact, we were enjoying the moment of opening gifts so much that we forgot to take pictures… I think I have pics of the kids opening gifts every year except this one.  We just savored the morning filled with joy, peace and love.   It has been a challenging year and we just wanted to spend Christmas quietly together with no drama… no conflicts.

2015 began for us with a move from Southern California back up to Northern California (to our farm) and as soon as we got here,  Steve’s dad became sick and unexpectedly died in April.  Because neither of us have ever lost a parent, we had no idea just how hard it would be… how emotional and how deep the grief would be.  Thank God for eternal hope, knowing that we will see his dad again one day and that for now he is in the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on!  What comfort.  We also went through a very horrible church split and an extremely painful close family split.  It has definitely been one of the hardest years of our married life. Although looking back on it… isn’t hindsight a wonderful gift…. God’s grace was so abundantly supplied to us.  He took our hands and hearts and led us through all of it.   

I was re-reading my blog from last year around this time (2015….will be a good year) and truly 2015 was a year of “grace upon grace, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, even favor upon favor, and gifts heaped upon gifts”… a year of multiplied grace to us amidst the challenges and hurts.  It was also a year of refining… although last year I didn’t realize that was what this year was going to hold for us.  We definitely went through a refining process this year… hurts and disappointments being healed, seeds that had been sown over the years by well meaning loved ones being dug up, and over all just unlovely attitudes rising like dross to the top and being scooped off by such a loving Father!  We’ve had to realign and readjust this past month… purposing to position ourselves to further walk out God’s plans for us… letting go of things He is telling us we don’t need and things that will hinder us… and grabbing hold of by faith all that He has promised us.

Last month we were on vacation in San Clemente and having dinner with great friends and one of our friends, who is also our pastor in S. Ca, spoke these words over us that He heard God saying… he said he saw God standing with His arms upraised cheering us saying, “Yeah!!  You did it… you passed the test”.  Ahhhhh we passed the test!!  What a great feeling.  It wasn’t the test of going through a family death, church split, or family loss.  Rather, it was a test of standing still…. trusting Him during the refining process.  The test of yielding over to Him the pains and disappointments… the dross that had risen to the top.  Allowing Him to mold us this year and to allow Him to lavishly pour out His grace upon us…. breathing His life into us.  Holding fast to our confessions of faith of who we are in Him…. even when it looked like things were falling apart all around us.

Allowing Him to prepare us for what I believe will be one of the greatest years of our lives.  So although I was really just looking forward to getting through Christmas and starting a new year fresh.. one full of new hope and possibilities.  God truly gave me exceedingly above and beyond that… this Christmas was in a word “full”.   That “fullness” is spilling over into the new year… it’s like a sneak peek at what He has for us.  I am so excited for 2016!  This week, every year, is my favorite time of the entire year.  I spend it seeking God and listening to His heartbeat about the coming year.  I can’t wait to hear what He has to say this week…..I know it will be good because He is good!

I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas… but if not, don’t lose heart.  God has some great things planned for you this coming year … get ready for your best year yet ❤

Now to Him Who, by the power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams—  Ephesians 3:20

~ Robin