Tuesday, September 28, 2010


We cannot talk to God strongly when we have not lived for God strongly. The closet cannot be made holy to God when the life has not been holy to God.

Our praying, to be strong, must be buttressed by holy living. The life of faith perfects the prayer of faith.

~ E.M. Bounds

For the past two or so months, my thoughts have continually turned to set-apart, holy living and how it is kept and maintained in all the day-to-day, practical, nitty-gritty details. Just to emphasize: my use of set-apart and holy are radically opposite from the works-based mentality that modern Christianity often assigns to those words (nor am I determining to jump head-first into a Messianic-Hebraic lifestyle and lay on my shoulders all the customs and traditions of the Jews). I speak of a life that is built around Christ, constantly pursuing Him with holy fear, trembling, and sweet delight! A life that is showcased in Scripure and all throughout historic Christianity. A life that is completely purified and dead to self that it will not seek after those innocent fleshly indulgences for comfort, rest, or energy.
The hebrew word for holy is qodesh which means apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness, set-apartness, consecrated. I love the word qodesh, mainly because I grew up listening to the well-known Messianic praise-song, Kodesh (which I highly encourage all to listen to). But the full weight of qodesh in relation to my Lord has only become a greater reality to me since last year at this same time. I've had a great amount of struggle transitioning from a life of self-importance to Christ-importance (being at Ellerslie: School of Honor this summer really equipped me with that which I had been missing by turning me to cultivate a deeper, prayer life, thanks be to God!). Perhaps one of my greatest wrestlings has been with "holy" decisions made out of my own will and strength. As the Lord began to show me the beauty of a set-apart life and a pure heart, I was deeply convicted and immediately felt compelled to completely change my lifestyle (what I listen to, what I watch, what I spend the majority of my time on, where I choose to veg-out or escape to when I'm stressed/tired, etc.). To be honest, it's not like I was into a bunch of blatantly terrible, bad things. But oftentimes, even the good, innocent things in our lives aren't doing anything to build us in Truth or turn us to Christ. If we are all honest ourselves, we would admit that those innocent, "neutral" things are often a huge hindrance in our spiritual lives because of the amount of time, thought, or energy we place into them. Not to mention, they do not feed or purify our souls. And so it was in this area that I've greatly strugged and desperately sought to give up all at once. However, at times I couldn't give them up, despite my self-resolve, or I'd find myself terribly confused and questioning myself on many areas. I also fought arrogance and pride on these decisions by anticipating how those closest to me would react or say. In fact, I felt really sour towards them because I knew they'd question and not understand. I found myself living by man's opinion and, thus, it led me to hold back on making certain decisions for fear of their opinions.
I needed His will to replace my will in this decision-making or else it would have been merely the result of legalism. The Lord does call us to a full surrender of our lives (even those innocent and good parts of our lives) but He doesn't ask us to surrender without Him first enabling us (heart, soul, strength, mind) and purifying us so that we're not in an attitude of arrogance, still looking towards man's approval, or doing these things because we will it out of our own desire for holiness. I needed His desires and love for purity and holiness to become mine. When we have His will and desires working through us, we're able to pursue a set-apart life with purity of heart and joy - no pride, no fear, no arrogance, no confusion! This is what Jesus spoke of:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ~ Matt 13:44

The man gave up his things in joy. And, no doubt, we can assume that this man was not defensive or turned to self-pity when those around him did not understand and questioned him. The joy of the Lord was his strength!

These are some verses that have spoken to me in times of meditation on holiness:

God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. ~ 1 Thess 4:7-8

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 2:21

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. ~ 1 Cor 6:19-20

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. ~ 2 Cor. 7:1
- The Hebrew word for spirit in this verse is pneuma, which is defined from Blue Letter Bible as: the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated
the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides
the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one
the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.

Therefore, it's not just about living lives pure of physical defilement but also pure of everything that can taint or influence our spirit - our feelings, thoughts, decisions, etc.
These verses from 1 Cor. 4 made me think heavily on the fact that the Lord has entrusted us with something great and precious and we're not to squander His high gifts:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. ~ 1 Cor 4:1-2

May we be brought to a place where we can honestly say by the Spirit of our Lord that dwells within us:

There was a day when I died; died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will;
died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God. ~ George Mueller

And lastly, an entry-post by Steve Gallager:
“O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
This world is a dry and weary land. Nothing will deaden a person’s spiritual appetite like the spirit of this world. Even believers with the best of intentions find that their passion for God wanes in the spiritually polluted atmosphere around us. And the more immersed we become in it, the more dry and weary become our souls. Every minute we spend watching television, listening to secular radio, surfing the Net, playing video games, reading newspapers & magazines, strolling through the mall—and a thousand other activities which beckon us—the more barren we become spiritually.

The deception of it all is in the innocuous nature of these different pastimes. While many TV shows could have a quick and powerful effect on me spiritually, watching a segment of Headline News is not going to drive me away from God. Reading the Sports page—in itself—is not going to make me spiritually dull. The problem is how much accumulated time people spend in these different pursuits. By the end of any given day, it is not abnormal for a believer to have spent two or three hours filling his mind, in one fashion or another, with the voice of the spirit of this world.

Most believers understand from past experience that the more time they spend in worldly activities, the more difficult it will be to break into the presence of God during their devotions the following morning. They will have to fight through that fog Jesus called “dissipation:” the spiritual hangover that comes from being drunk with the things of this world. It is simply a fact that the world deadens spiritual sensitivity.

One would think that spending time in the world would create a great thirst for the rivers of life, but actually it has the very opposite effect. The things of this world give a person a false sense of fulfillment. It’s like filling up on soda pop when the body needs pure water. The more cola a believer drinks, the less thirst he will feel for the real thing. I made this same point in an article I once wrote regarding the place of pleasure in the life of the believer:

Making pleasure the most important aspect of one’s life could be compared to a teenager who thinks he can live on candy bars and soda pop. True, he won’t drop dead within a few days of such an unhealthy diet, but his quality of life will be seriously impaired. The constant intake of sugar will gradually rot his teeth, deplete his overall energy level, and could even lead to something serious such as diabetes. Worse than that, by substituting healthy food with sweets, his body will not receive the nutrition that is required to ward off sickness and to sustain life. Undoubtedly, over a long period of time the results of such a lifestyle would be a sickly life and an untimely death.

May we have a constant joyful, sacred regard and delight for the Spirit of the Living God which dwells within us.

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. ~ Exodus 3:5

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Sukkot to Come

It is unfortunate that I've yet to write an actual post on here. Life does not seem allow the opportunity as of late. So many things to share and never enough time! For now, another post from the R.C. Sproul Fellowship will have to suffice since tonight is Sukkot! Praise Yeshua!
Oh, in addition, I've included a post by Jon Bloom (Desiring God) on Yom Kippur at the bottom of this post. Good, good stuff.
The photo to the left is a Sukkah, the traditional booth used to celebrate the Jewish feast, Sukkot. Sukkot is the Hebrew word for Tabernacle or Booths. It symbolized a dwelling with the Lord and pointed to the coming Messiah who would come to dwell within His people by the Holy Spirit as well as to His second, final coming.

The Sukkot to Come

“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths” (v. 16).
- Zechariah 14:16–19

Following the restoration of the Israelites to their homeland after the exile, Ezra and Nehemiah led the people in renewing their covenant with God, and part of this covenant renewal included celebrating the Feast of Booths, or Sukkot (Neh. 8:13– 18). Since the feast celebrated the Lord’s guidance during the wilderness wanderings after Israel’s redemption from Egypt, it was appropriate to commemorate this deliverance once again after the nation was rescued from exile in Babylon.
On account of the people’s impenitence, the glorious restoration promised to Israel did not materialize after their return to their land (Mal. 1–4), so God sent the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi to urge the people to repent and purify their worship so that the restoration could come. Speaking to His people through Zechariah, the Lord promised that restoration was, from a human perspective, delayed but not cancelled. Instead, the Creator would establish His people in glory once more after that day when He destroyed His enemies. This is the point of Zechariah 14.
Israel’s final restoration includes the celebration of Sukkot, as seen in today’s passage. All the survivors of the nations will go up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Booths, and any who refuse will not receive the blessing of rain (vv. 16–19). Many believers expect this to be fulfilled explicitly as written — one day people from all over the world will make pilgrimages to a newly built temple in Jerusalem each fall to celebrate Sukkot. Yet this interpretation misses the point, for God is only describing the salvation the earth will enjoy in a manner understandable to old covenant Israelites.
Sukkot was a celebration of God’s salvation, so to promise that non-Israelites would join in this feast is to say that non-Israelites will be incorporated into Israel, the people the Lord has saved. This makes sense only if God saves Gentiles as well. In other words, the covenant Lord of Israel will redeem a large number of people who are not ethnic Israelites. Sukkot was also the time when Israel looked to the Almighty to bless them with winter and spring rains that would meet their needs for irrigation and thus provide them with the food they needed to survive. To say that the nations who do not celebrate Sukkot will not receive rain is simply another way of saying that those who will not follow Israel’s Lord will not receive His blessing.
Coram Deo
John Calvin comments on Zechariah 14: God subdues “all the enemies of his Church, and in two ways, for some he would destroy, and he would humble others, so as to make them willing servants and ready of themselves to obey his authority.” We should be grateful to God for every material blessing we have, but we should especially express gratitude and humility for His work of salvation in joining us to His covenant people (see Rom. 11:11–24).
Passages for Further Study
2 Chronicles 7:11–14
Job 5:10
Zechariah 10:1
James 5:7–8

Yom Kippur: It is Finished ~ Jon Bloom

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement ~ R.C. Sproul
“This shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once a year because of all their sins” (v. 34a).
- Leviticus 16

Continuing our focus on worship as we look at how the old covenant is fulfilled in the new, we will now spend a few weeks looking at the feasts and festivals that were integral to ancient Israel’s liturgy. We begin today with the Day of Atonement, that one day of the year when the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place.
Even though God ordained regular burnt offerings and sin offerings to atone for the sins of Israel, propitiate His wrath, and cleanse the people of their wickedness (Lev. 1; 4:1–5:13), it is clear from the book of Leviticus that even all these rituals were not enough. Sins could be forgotten and not confessed when laying hands on the offerings. The ultimate inability of the blood of bulls and goats to deal with sin (Heb. 10:4) meant that animal sacrifices did not go far enough but were only a temporary measure to cover transgression. Finally, the repeated sins of priests and people alike could build up to the point where not only the tabernacle but even the throne room of the Lord — the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies — would also be contaminated. The Day of Atonement was designed to deal with all these realities.
Most of the procedures followed on the Day of Atonement were similar to those followed for the other offerings except that the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place as well (Lev. 16:14). This was done lest the accumulated sin cause God to immediately punish the high priest and the people. Aaron and the later high priests also had to throw incense in the air (vv. 12–13) in front of them as they approached the ark of the covenant so as to keep them from being able to see the Lord; otherwise, they would have died (Ex. 33:12–23).
Besides the sacrifice of a bull on behalf of the priesthood, two goats were brought to the tabernacle/temple to deal with the sin of the entire nation (Lev. 16:6–10). One goat was killed and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (vv. 15–19). This sacrifice on the Day of Atonement resulted in propitiation — the satisfaction of God’s wrath on a substitute in place of the people. The other goat, after hands were laid on it, was sent to Azazel in the wilderness and freed, probably meaning it was taken to a desolate mountain and killed (vv. 20–22). Here it is clear that expiation was accomplished. The sins of the people were taken away from Israel and away from the holy camp.
Coram Deo
The requirement for the people to afflict themselves on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29–34), a shorthand reference to self-examination and repentance, was a clear sign that the sacrifices on that day would be effectual only when the people were contrite. Similarly, our sin has not been dealt with if we do not live a life of repentance and faith. Let us be ever repenting of sin as we trust in Christ, whose sacrifice on the final Day of Atonement has saved us.
Passages for Further Study
Leviticus 23:26–32
Isaiah 1:18–20
Daniel 9:24–27
John 19:16b–30

*The eve of Yom Kippur is known as Kol Nidrei, which is taken from the famous Jewish prayer.
* The Book of Jonah is typically read on Yom Kippur in keeping with themes of repentance, atonement, mercy, and forgiveness.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
~ Hebrews 4:14-16

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
~ Hebrews 7:26-27

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Telling

One of the many reasons why I love Messianic worship. This song is called The Telling by Zemer Levav. Their music has traveled through many places and memories with me. Listen very closely to the lyrics; it's quite excellent. I have a great admiration for those who can place Scripture into song WITH (and this is key!) the correct musical style, instrumentation, and mood. And I love the hallelujah-transition at the end of the song. They beautifully weave together the Exodus story with the Gospel!

**The Playlist at the bottom of my blog should be shut off before you listen/watch this....just as a reminder! :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rosh Hashanah

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation” (v. 24).
- Leviticus 23:23–25

Kosher laws (Lev. 11), rules for intermarriage (Neh. 13:23–27), weekly Sabbath observance (Ex. 20:8–11), and more were all rituals that were part of the warp and woof of old covenant life, serving to remind Israel of the nation’s special status as the people of God. The Lord, however, knowing that His people were weak, added several feasts to the regular rituals prescribed in the Mosaic law so that the Israelites would have extra occasions on which to recall their salvation and thank God for His goodness. The call to remember and praise the Lord for His beneficence was one of the reasons for the Feast of Trumpets outlined in Leviticus 23:23–25 and Numbers 29:1–6.

Since the Feast of Trumpets marked the beginning of the civil calendar in ancient Israel, the Jews eventually came to refer to the holiday as Rosh Hashanah, which in the Hebrew literally means “head of the year” or New Year’s Day. This day began the seventh month of the religious calendar (Tishri), a month in which the solemn Day of Atonement and the festive Feast of Booths were also celebrated (Lev. 23:23–44). In addition to a day of rest and special food offerings (Num. 29:1–6), all that Scripture prescribes for the Feast of Trumpets is a “blast of trumpets” (Lev. 23:23–25). While trumpets were blown on other occasions, it seems that at the Feast of Trumpets the instruments were sounded continuously from morning until evening.

What was the purpose of the trumpet soundings? One answer is that the trumpet blast was a call for the people to assemble to hear the voice of God just as it was at the foot of Mt. Sinai. (Ex. 19:13). Given that the feast was celebrated even during the times God was not actively providing new revelation, it would seem that at every Feast of Trumpets there was an anticipation that the Lord might reveal Himself in power once more, especially to consummate the salvation of His people (Isa. 27). Seven is the number of completeness in Scripture, and the fact that the Feast of Trumpets was held in the seventh month of the year confirms this idea.

Silver trumpets and the shofar (ram’s horn) were blown at the Feast of Trumpets, and ancient Jews also read Genesis 22 on this day. Each of these acts helped the Israelites to see God’s mercy in substituting a ram for Isaac and to anticipate the end of days when a greater lamb would be slain on their behalf.
Coram Deo
As we will see, Christians are waiting for the Feast of Trumpets to be fulfilled in its entirety. But Christ the Lamb of God has come and by His death has inaugurated the last days, which comprise the entire period between His first and second coming. Since we are now in the last days, the call to spread the good news of salvation is more urgent than ever, so let us preach the gospel to friends and family before the final trumpet blows.
Passages for Further Study
2 Chronicles 15:1–15
Ezekiel 33:1–9
Matthew 24:29–31
Revelation 8:6–9:21

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Words from Eric Ludy on Ellerslie

Summer 2010 Student & Staff Body

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is Ellerslie?

This video explains it all. I had the honor of being a part of this wonderful body of brothers and sisters this summer. I also had the blessed opportunity to be there the day this was recorded.

Oh, that in ALL things He might be preeminent!

O for grace to love Him more!

Ellerslie...has been an intimate abiding with the King of kings, hidden away with Him in the secret place and communing with Him in the prayer closet. This set-apart season at Ellerslie has been strengthening and healing. It has ever increased my faith in my precious Lord. It is here that I’ve truly come to know the reality of what it means to be a bearer of His name and to tremble with adoration and holy fear before Him. The Lord has used this time to strip me of self’s agenda and given me His heart and mind for His high calling of forging saints for His kingdom. My love and understanding of the Gospel has deepened as well as my reverence for His sacred Word. Here, you are encouraged and trained to be a Berean, searching the Scriptures daily. I’ve never felt so hungry for His Word before and it’s truly a delight! Every morning, I awake with a great expectancy and a quiet joy for how He will unfold each day for His glory. By the end of each day, I’m left very humbled and greatly dependent upon Him, knowing the significance of His claim on my life and in need of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power to carry out His work and life in and through me as His surrendered vessel.

This was a description I wrote while at Ellerslie this summer. It was part of the student "homework" during one week in July. I've had a terrible time trying to summarize Ellerslie and what it is and what I experienced/learned there; I think I end up on long, incoherent rambles whenever I do start to talk about it. Haha! This summary still fails to grasp the fullness of it. *sigh*

Ah, my heart could burst!

Jesus, Jesus, how I love You - how I've proved You o'er and o'er - Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for grace to love You more!

*Photo of me by the lake next to Ellerslie - taken by the incredibly beautiful and humble Brooke B., my fellow Ellerslie-sister! :-)