Echad: Many Communities, One People

Echad. United as one.

We hear this phrase used a lot when we talk about the Church or the Bride of Messiah. We stress the importance of being united in Christ and in being one body. But oftentimes, we don’t really understand the meaning of this.

As those of you who follow me on social media know, I recently moved to a new state. Everything is new and every day is an adventure and I navigate through new streets, meet new people, learn a new job, and create a new normal for myself.

Part of all the newness also means searching for a new congregation to call home. I’m always nervous when visiting new groups – you never know what you’re going to find! But so far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the groups I’ve attended. But visiting new groups has opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of what it means to be echad.

Oftentimes, when we think of being echad or “one,” we think of being one with Messiah Yeshua or one with those in our congregations. But it also means being echad and united with other believers around the world.

I realized something beautiful as I’ve visited new congregations: we are many communities, and yet we are one people.

Each congregation may do things a little differently, but we are all doing the same thing. For instance, one group may sing the Shema in a different tune than another, but they are both singing the Shema. Another group may meet at a different time but we all gather on Shabbat. One group may say the prayers in a different order but we are all saying the same prayers. It was a beautiful sight to see!

This past weekend, I fellowshipped with a group that welcomed me in as if I had always belonged there with them. As worship began, I felt so excited to hear songs I was familiar with and loved being sung. It was comforting to see tallits being put on; to see the menorah being lit. It made me feel at peace to hear songs welcoming the Holy Spirit and worshipping Our Heavenly Father. And it made me realize that even though we are different congregations, we are all one people when we come together to worship our Father.

So let’s not let the little things get in the way of being echad. In the end, the little things are important, but they’re not the most important. In the end, all that really matters is bringing glory and honor to YHVH. And that can only be achieved when we are echad with one another.

Resting with God: Filling Our Empty Cups

I have never understood the importance of resting in YHVH more than in the past few weeks. It is here, in this place of stillness and rest that He restores my soul; that He refreshes my being.

“YHVH is my Shepherd; I do not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my being, He leads me in paths of righteousness.”

Throughout the week, we empty ourselves to our work, family, friends, volunteering activities but on Shabbat YHVH refills our cups. If we never let Him lead us to these still waters and lay in green pastures with Him we miss out on having Him refill our cups. And if we go several weeks without being made whole and rejuvenated, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.”

If we don’t rest in Him, eventually you reach a point where you can’t go on anymore — and this is not the best plan YHVH has for us. He has so much He wants to bless us with and so much love to fill our cups with. But do we let Him?

What does it mean to rest in Him? It’s not just about not going to work and sitting home and doing nothing all day. Resting in Him means connecting with Him. It means establishing and cultivating your own personal, intimate relationship with YHVH. It means taking time away from work, the stressors of the week, our to-do list and even all our godly work to simply be with Him. If we don’t actually connect with Him, we’re not really being filled by Him. And if we’re not being filled by Him, we will remain empty. When we are empty, we have nothing to give to Him or others.

Unfortunately, I’ve found this out the hard way. Even though I observe Shabbat and take time to read the Torah portion each week and study His word, I wasn’t doing the work to really connect with Him — and that’s the real key to unlocking the mystery of Shabbat.

No other people or religion has anything that compares to the beauty that is Shabbat. It’s called the weekly festival; a special time between YHVH and His people. It is on Shabbat that we are given a gift — the gift of connecting with our God and King in a way not possible during the rest of the week. A time where we can cast our burdens on Him, let go of the cares of this world, and lean completely on the One who holds the universe — and our lives — in His hands. But if we aren’t taking the time or putting forth the effort to connect with Him, then we miss this precious gift from our Father.

I’ve missed the fullness of this gift and have felt the emptiness as a result. But this week, I commit to drawing close to Him and just being with the lover of my soul. What about you? Do you hear Him calling to you? He desires to be with you. He longs to love you and be loved by you.

“You have anointed my head with oil, my cup runs over. Only goodness and loving-commitment follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the House of YHVH forever!”


 

“And Enoch walked with YHVH…”

Genesis 5 gives us the genealogy from Adam to Noah. This might have been one of those chapters you read through really quickly without giving it much thought. But if you read too quickly, you will miss something important in those verses.

For every single man that is mentioned, the Bible tells us he lived a certain amount of years, brought forth sons and daughters, and then died. Except for one man.

And after he brought forth Methushelaḥ, Enoch walked with Elohim three hundred years, and brought forth sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with Elohim. Then he was no more, for Elohim took him.

Enoch didn’t just live; he walked with Elohim.

What does it mean to “walk with Elohim?” Think about going for a walk with someone. There are times when you both are talking with one another but there are also times when it is quiet; peaceful. There are times when you both might face a fork in the road and must decided which path to follow. Even though you might change direction, you always go together. There might be times when the road before you narrows and one must go in front of the other. One time you might follow and another you may be in front.

The same is true when we walk with YHVH. There are times in our walk through life when we hear YHVH clearly. And then there are times when there is silence. Neither is wrong, they are just different seasons. We must know and trust that even when He is silent, He is still walking with us.

There will be times in our walk when we face a fork in the road. We might face this fork in a time of talking or in a time of silence but we know that YHVH will always guide us…if we allow Him. His guidance may look different depending on the season we find ourselves in. Sometimes His direction is Him audibly telling us which direction to go; other times, it’s the gentle hands on our shoulders that point us in the right direction without a word being spoken.

And then there are times when the road in front of us narrows and one must walk in front of the other. When YHVH walks in front of us, we see Him paving the way and fighting our battles and all we must do is follow and keep up with His pace! It’s a glorious time of seeing Him working in our lives and it’s so easy to trust Him and see how He is working in our lives!

But then there are times when He tells us we must go in front and allow Him to be our rear guard. This is when we are facing the battles head on and when it sometimes feels as though YHVH has left us. We can’t see Him because He is behind us but we must trust that YHVH has never left us. He is still working in our lives. He is still our shield and our strength. He is still there fighting with us. It simply looks different than when He was in front and we were following.

So here is the question: Are you going to just live and get through life or are you going to walk with YHVH?

Happy New Year: 5775

In my last post, I talked about YHVH’s timetable and how the Biblical New Year has begun! In this post, I would like to tell you a little bit about what we can expect from this coming year. The information from this post comes from the Hebrew numerology system called gematria.  This system assigns numerical value to letters in a word. Hebrew is a very intricate language. Along with having numbers assigned to each letter, there are also word pictures that correspond to each letter. So when you put the numbers and the word pictures together, you get a fuller picture of the word, or in our case the year, that you are studying.

Now that the new moon has been spotted and the month of Aviv/Nisan has begun, we have entered into the Biblical year 5775. Below is the gematria for this year. At the very bottom is the summary of the numbers and the word pictures.

50: faith, grace & mercy, ten times over

7: completeness; spiritual perfection

70: completeness; spiritual perfection, ten times over

5: faith, grace & mercy

“Complete completeness and spiritual perfection through faith, grace & mercy, ten times over.”

 

נ (nun): sprout; continue, heir, offspring, to continue

ז (zayin): weapon; to cut off, to cut

ע (ayin): eye; to see, know or experience

ה (he): man with raised arms; to look, reveal, breath

“The heir that continues despite the weapon that tries to cut off and keep the heir from knowing or experiencing completeness by being the man with raised arms.”

This is a year where the heir will reach the goal and YHVH’s plan for completeness only through complete surrender and worship. This is a year for praise and worship of our Father YHVH; of El Elyon (The MOST HIGH GOD). This is a year for spiritual victory. It is the fifth year in the decade and marks the half-way point. It is a year of faith, grace and mercy where YHVH gives us a respite from the battles and turmoil before we prepare to reengage with the enemy and finish the race set before us. It is a year to rest and regroup.

Just like the above picture, “The Winds of Change are Blowing!” Get ready to feel the Spirit move!

A Sabbath Prayer: A Quiet Pool

“Quiet Pool” is from Frances J. Roberts’ book Come Away My Beloved. God has been showing me these past few weeks that I need to lay aside my worries, fears, doubts, questions, and anything else that keeps me from Him and His perfect peace…His shalom. This is really a great devotion any day but I thought it was especially perfect for ShabbatI pray this Sabbath you will enter into His rest. Enjoy and be blessed!

Wait upon Me.

Let your life be as a deep, quiet pool. Let your heart rest in My hand as a bird in a nest. Let your eyes be still. Let your hands be free. For then I shall fill all your vision, and then I shall take your hands into Mine and My power shall flow forth into you.

If you would only make yourself a place apart, yes, removed from the pressure and turmoil, and there I will meet you. Yes, I wait for your coming. For I long to pour out My blessings upon You, and I long to give you My fullness. Only be still before Me. Never let the toils and cares of the day rob you of this sweet fellowship with Me.

For I know what you need, and I am concerned about your duties and responsibilities. You will find your cares vanish, and your load is lightened by an unseen hand. I would have you bring Me your love, and even as you are bringing Me your love, I shall in turn bring to you My power, so that I work for you in a twofold measure.

I will give you the power to discharge your duties with greater efficiency. I am actively engaged in working for you in ways you cannot see, to make your path clear, and to bring about things you could never accomplish, and which would otherwise absorb your energies and wear out your patience.

So I say again…Rest in Me. Wait upon Me. Come apart with Me. Seek My face. Seek My fellowship.

O YHVH, what shame that You should need to beg us thus! Better that others might find us unavailable because of our occupation with You, rather than for us to be so slow to come, so dull to hear, so cold of heart, so indolent of soul.

O God, spare us Your wrath! Do not let Your anger be kindled against us. Let us ask only one thing more, and do not turn away.

Grant this one prayer more, O YHVH, that You would give us all that is lacking in us; intensify our hunger and fire our devotion; take the indifference from our spirits; and have within us Your wonderful way and perfect will, O YHVH, we pray. Amen

 

Conquering the World

I hear it calling me. Beckoning me to answer it’s call. Judging me for all the unfinished tasks I have to do. It’s my to-do list….and it seems like it will never end. All the things I have to do. All the things that need cleaning or fixing or hanging. The clothes that need to be washed. The errands that need to be done. The food that must be bought and subsequently cooked. The miles that must be run. The floors that need to be swept.

But then I hear another voice calling to me. Drawing me to Itself. It’s the voice of my Father. “Come to Me all who are weak and weary and I will give you rest.”

“But I don’t have time”, comes my response. “I’ll never get everything finished if I stop now.”

“Come. And draw near to Me. Let Me help you carry the burdens.”

I push on, never answering His voice.

Days go by and the list keeps growing instead of shrinking and I am more tired and weary than ever before. The Voice calling to me remains unanswered: “Come to Me and I will refresh you. I will make you whole and complete again.”

I hesitantly put my to-do list down. I choose to ignore the dishes in the sink. The piles of laundry that are still unfolded (I meant to get to that). I choose to ignore the unswept floors and the nagging feeling that I’ll regret not going to the gym.

And as I choose to ignore the other voices calling out to me, His voice becomes a little louder. Soft and gentle but louder.

“I will fill you up. I will give you strength. I am all that you need.”

And in that moment, nothing else matters. The other voices have died away. The other pressures have faded and the only weight I feel is His glory as it rests upon me. When I allow Him to hold me in His arms, the world around me fades away. There is no to-do list. There are no worries. There are no fears. My confusion and questions all fade away and it’s just me and my Savior….standing face-to-face.

“Who am I that You should take notice? That you should care about me?”

“You are My child. And I love you. I have sought you and found you. You are Mine….and I will never let you go.”

In those tender moments with My Creator, tears are shed, laughter is heard, and quiet songs of praise are sung. My hands are lifted in surrender. His praise is lifted to the heavens. And I am made whole again. In those moments of stillness, not a single thing from my to-do list gets done, and yet, we have conquered the world.