Living With Intention in 5775: Week 6

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

The evidence of a spirit-filled life is made manifest in the fruit of the believer. Sadly, in western society, we have begun to walk by feeling; we do what makes us feel good, and not necessarily what is best for us and/or our spiritual growth. We take the verse in 1 Corinthians and make it into an excuse to do whatever feels right, whatever seems good in our own eyes.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

But when we look more closely at the context, Paul is speaking about having temperance or self-control over our flesh’s appetites. Our flesh desires things that will keep our bodies alive and satiated; the four main appetites are food, shelter, sex, and relationship. These things are good and permissible and even needful for sustaining life, BUT when left unchecked, we inevitably open the door to become every ungodly thing that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10. By this, we can know what Paul means when he says all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. We are, as Paul states, not to be dominated by anything, but we are to exert power (presumably the power of the Holy Spirit within us) over our fleshly desires bringing them into submission to the Holy Spirit.

It is so important in the life of the believer to learn to discern between need and want. So this week, we are going to focus on self-control. There is nothing Hashem has commanded us to do that He did not give us the ability to do, so if self-control is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the life of the believer, you can be sure that He will empower you to accomplish it so that it will be made manifest it in front of your fellow man.

If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.

It is not good to eat much honey,
nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:16,27-28)

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of G-D and of Yeshua our Master. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, ls specific to and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Master Yeshua Messiah.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:2-10)

Shalom and blessings for a good and fruitful week!
S~

Living with Intention in 5775: Week 5

Ever since yesterday afternoon, the phrase “Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents” keeps coming to mind. It just so happens to be in this week’s Torah portion. What is this phrase saying exactly? Well, the Jewish sages believe that Jacob was studious in the teachings of God.

So this week’s challenge is going to involve being more intentional in focusing on bible study–maybe try for at least 30-min. to one hour per day. Pick a topic you have been wanting to learn more about and do research and listen to messages that will help expand your understanding.

Hashem has been teaching me that I can no longer listen only to men, but I must sit at His feet daily and learn from Him directly; all we have to do is ask with open minds and hearts. I leave you with some encouragement from the man after God’s own heart. Have a blessed week!

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:73)

“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.” (Psalm 119:99)

“Tav. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.

Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.

My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:169-176)

Lying in Wait

The birds of prey circle one last time. They’ve feasted on my flesh and cleaned my bones. The sun will bleach what is left till the remnants are as white as snow.
I am a valley of dry bones.
Is all hope lost? Where is my Lord, my Rock, my Redeemer?
For two long days, my bones have lain in this deep valley–nothing. Can these bones live again?
The third day arrives like the dawn of a new day.
The Spoken Word–shaking, rattling these bones. They connect with sinews and are covered by muscles and flesh, still I lie here lifeless.
The Wind blows through me. A stirring awakens me; I can now hear the voice that’s been calling out my name. “Isha! Rise up! Awake from your slumber! Arise, my Love, my Beloved One! Put on your beautiful garments; join me for the Wedding.
“You are now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; no death will ever separate us again. My Bride, We are One.”
I look into the eyes of my Beloved, and I see Truth staring back at me.

Living with Intention in 5775: Week 4

Yesterday, at Shabbat service, the congregational leader was talking about “doing well”.
The verse he gave was from Genesis 4:7,

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

The problem with the translation of this verse, is that it doesn’t quite convey what is truly being said. A better translation would be,

If you do well, [the result is] elevation. And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

Does this remind you of Week one when we talked about bringing up the level in our homes?

To get a better idea of what this week’s challenge is, read what this orthodox rabbi has to say about fulfilling the commandments of God.

Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill them.”

Christian theology generally interprets this as meaning that, “he fulfilled the Law, therefore the Law has been done away with.” This conclusion is formed despite the fact that a double statement of non-abolishment of the Law precedes the statement of “fulfillment”.

In Hebrew, the word “fulfill” (Greek: perosai, as used in the Gospels) does not mean: “…now that you’ve complied with the Law, you don’t have to do it any further.” It means that you complied with and satisfied the legal requirements of Torah for that specific requirement, at that specific time, in that specific circumstance and that you are entitled to the eternal reward associated with that Commandment. That means you bring down G-dly light into this lower world, thereby elevating it to a higher plane. It means you did an act or had a thought that allows you to participate with the covenantal faith community’s destiny. ~R’ A. Feld

I see more and more everyday, that this life is not about me, my life is just a part of something bigger than myself. I am a part of a covenental faith community, and it is up to me to elevate my soul and the world through fulfilling the commandments of God, just as Yeshua did. When we are truly abiding in Him, then we will want to emulate Him and walk as He walked.

So this week, our goal is to focus on walking in God’s commandments with the intent to elevate our souls and the world around us. In the most practical of ways, this would be best exhibited in loving and serving others.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

Yeshua gave His life, His all–He did well, in order to show us that we, too, can do well.

Have this in your mind, which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider it robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

God bless you all, and have a good week!
S~

Stuck in the Middle With You

I feel like I have been in a proverbial “tug-of-war” in my spiritual life as of late. This is the song that popped into my head this morning. Thank you, Abba.

You see, dear reader, Abba speaks to me most often through songs; it is our own special communication system. Basically, I’m stuck in the middle, but I am not alone; He is stuck there with me. So instead of fretting about walking the knife edge, I’m gonna be thankful He’s still holding my hand and leading me on the narrow path.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

Living with Intention in 5775 : Week 3 | Guest Post!

It is my pleasure to bring you a guest post; my thanks goes out to Laurie L., for writing about this week’s challenge!
 I’m here to share with you the challenge for the week.  Our Torah portion this week is Vayera. The section that struck me was in Genesis 18:16-33 where Abraham is pleading with Hashem to spare the cityif there were found to be any righteous in it.  Abraham begins with 50, then 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and then finally 10.  And our gracious Father says each time that He will spare it if there be found that many.
A favorite book of mine called, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg, has a chapter called “Praying with Chutzpah,”  in which she shares the boldness of prayer that Abraham had with Hashem.  She also lists other examples of people who ask with, what she calls chutzpah, and calls their boldness in prayer a sign of their tremendous trust in Adonai.
     G. shared with me this week a teaching she watched on fear, I watched it and began to think…what is it that fear does to me and the relationships in my life?  Here’s what I wrote in my journal, “Fear keeps me from doing what Adonai wants me to do in love, it keeps me from being obedient, it prevents me from being who I am or want to be; fear hurts those around me.  Perhaps that is something I need to look at this week?  Proper fear of Adonai and proper love, obedience, faith, and emunah? –Cut the fear and pray with chutzpah!”
      Today I looked up the word chutzpah and Google defines it as “shameless audacity; impudence.”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to pray like that…isn’t there another way to be bold but humble in prayer?  So I found this article that I really liked and they said in Hebrew there are 2 definitions of the English word “courage” one being chutzpah which they defined as “pushing your way to the front of the line” and the other being ometz lev or “stength of heart.”  Here is a link to that article: http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Real_Courage.html

As we dove tail off of the previous weeks from bringing up the level of our homes, work on our speech, and stepping out in faith, i.e. doing something out of our comfort zones, this week, we could work on being fearless; instead of being afraid of what is going on or not going on around us, we could focus on learning to pray and fully engage our Father on behalf of those around us.  I don’t know about you but if I was in Abraham’s shoes I would have been so emotional thinking of my nephew Lot!  I would have been praying for sure, but would have been afraid and worried and had no peace!  But when we read about how Abraham prayed he had emunah (faith) and really knew how to speak and plead with the right attitude with Hashem.  My prayer is that through this week and this journey of life, that I (and all of us) would learn to quit with the “fear” thought process–no matter what comes our way and stop those thoughts of fear immediately–and instead think on truth and pray with ometz lev (strength of heart) just like our father Abraham.

There are so many examples beside the story of Abraham that we can glean from in the Scriptures, for instance, the woman who pleaded with Yeshua for healing for her daughter in Mathew 15:21-28.   I hope our lives this week are deepened and enriched through prayer and emunah and that this expands our relationship with our Father and deepens our peace and relationship with those around us as we trust Adonai and His workings in the lives of everyone in our path.
Sarah and Laurie send you blessings and Shalom for a good week!

 

Oriah

Out of the darkness–
“Let there be Light!”
Shining down from above
Separating Day from Night.

If the eye be single
Then it is full of Light,
No sin can enter in;
No darkness can mingle.

“Touch not, taste not,
Handle not” men say.
“It’s not for you;
Stay away.”

But to the pure of heart,
All things are pure.
For in every thing
There’s a thread of truth.

All things were made good
In the beginning,
Thus the Father of Lights
Gives good gifts to His Children.

Arise and shine
For your Light is come.
If you are in Him,
Then you and He are one.

Living With Intention in 5775: Week 2

This week we’ll be taking a cue from our Father Abraham.

In Genesis 12, it says:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Like Abraham, our challenge this week is to step out in faith in some way and/or to step out of our comfort zone to do something we wouldn’t normally be inclined to jump up and do. The goal of this challenge is, ultimately, like our Father Abraham, to be a blessing to those around us.

Note: These weekly challenges are not about getting the concepts and executing them perfectly everytime. It is about your intentions.

I shared last week with a group of friends that I think the proper perspective is to recognize when we’ve not lived up to our best intentions, repent and move on to the next opportunity. If we think about it, there is no real failure. Every test from Abba is meant to teach us, about ourselves, about Him, and about how much we need Him to empower us to live godly lives. The key is “selah”–pause and reflect.

I think author Randy Pausch explains challenges very well when comparing them to brick walls:

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

So will you take this week’s challenge? I hope you will.

A good and intentional week to you all!

Shalom and blessings,
S~