I am always grateful for the blessed people Yahweh places in my life to reinforce scriptural lessons. This spring was another one of those humble moments.
It was a lovely morning in spring-time where I had every intention of just taking time for myself to re-focus - outside in the warm sunshine & fresh mountain air. After so many days of clouds and rain, the sun was a welcome change. I fixed my coffee, grabbed both my nature journal and my prayer journal then sat out on the front steps. I had a few days that week where I wasn’t feeling quite so connected to Yahweh as I normally feel, and all my personal plans were to just sit and listen for His impressions to rain down on me.
The neighbor down the way was out mowing his lawn, but other than that, the world was miraculously quiet. Even his mower sounded oddly softer that morning than most mornings. And that was okay with me. I couldn’t seem to concentrate much on prayer time, but finally a wonderful relaxing song came on my tablet, and I closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, there was that mower sound, getting closer and closer and closer. I opened my eyes, and don’t you know it!!! There was the neighbor, mowing OUR lawn for us! He has done this several times for us since we moved in, and in fact, he had mowed our lawn all last summer and into the fall last year. He knew we were waiting on mower parts to arrive, which they did - finally - right before the snow hit late last fall! A little late, but we tucked them away and just had not taken the time in the spring yet to put the mower together.
Our lawn is not a small 1/4 acre city lot, but is over 3/4 an acre, with probably about 2/3 of that all out front. And the grass grows very quickly and thick here. This was no small feat he was undertaking as it had been over two weeks since his last service to us because of all the rain we have had. Knowing that we had not had time yet to repair our own mower, I was actually quite grateful for the sound of his during prayer time.
I watched as he mowed right across the front of the lawn, up the side, then pulled up right out front of the porch to stop and talk with me a bit. He surprised me when the first thing he said was the most heartfelt apology for disturbing my devotional time! I was so taken aback - first, because he recognized why I am often out front sitting in the sunshine, and second, because here he was doing us a service yet he was apologizing to ME! I could not thank him enough for the mowing, and he remarked how he was pleased with just a simple thank you. We got to talking for a bit, and he asked several questions just to catch up on things: if we had found a church or assembly to attend, where we were going if we had, how the ministry is doing, etc. All topics we had not been able to discuss over the cold winter months.
I had the opportunity to explain that we hadn’t found a church here yet, and I felt impressed to share with him how difficult it is for us to “fit in” with a particular denomination. I told him we are Torah observant, and he asked me to explain that. I talked about the Feast days, the Sabbath, the Torah. He asked what exactly the “Torah” was, so I explained the first five books of the Old Testament, and then about how we seem to fit along the lines of Torah Observant, Pentecostal, Word of Faith believers in Yahweh. He laughed then said, “Yup - ya’ll won’t fit in anywhere ‘round here!!! Not at all!” I laughed. He understood completely as we are in an area heavy with religions that are set in their ways, and who wouldn’t quite understand our Torah observance. They are lovely, kind and beautiful people, but a very heavy “The law is dead” community.
He did say, though, that he didn’t realize how much he and his wife seem to share similar beliefs as what my husband and I have. Things like the Old Testament is the foundation and the rest is built upon that; that the modern holidays have gotten away from what God would have us honor, as well as several other basic beliefs. He brought up again how they are still looking for a new place to worship because they just haven’t found where they feel ‘right’ either. This was something he had also mentioned when we first moved in almost 2 years ago.
We then talked about some of the blessings Yahweh has been working in his life. He talked of things he has been led to do, dreams that helped their family get through different challenges, impressions he gets while he prays and even answers to prayers he has gotten while riding his mower! He said how much he appreciates having the extra lawn to mow because it gives him extra quiet time to spend with God. I asked him if he writes any of those dreams and impressions down, along with the results that happen. Does he make a record for himself and family. He mentioned he used to, so I took the chance to share with him about my prayer journals. I encouraged him to write them down - record every one he can because one day they may come in handy for him, his wife, or the children.
After he started mowing again, I couldn’t help but think of how Yahweh blessed us both that day. How I needed to be encouraged by his visit and to see that there ARE people here who are seeking a more biblically centered life, and how our neighbor needed to be encouraged by the same things. I absolutely love when Abba moves in our lives like that. Some days it’s the littlest things that show how much He loves us.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Love your neighbor
For some time now I have been writing in Prayer Book #2 and keeping track of the things Yahweh would have me write down. It contains records of dreams I have had, inspirations, impressions, blessings and guidance. Everywhere He is a part of my day I try to record so that I can look back and see the role Yahweh plays in my personal life and in ministry.
It has been a great blessing to also listen to the Spirit pressing me for the last month to go through my Book #1 and take a tally of all that has transpired. What an awesome spiritual experience I have had this past year and a half and most of the times I did not even realize what was going on.
Dreams - there were dreams and visions I wrote down that were explanations of things that were about to happen in life, whether personal or ministry. At the time, I did not quite understand the scenes that played out but recorded the dreams anyway. Then, as time went on, I was able to connect and record those events that ended up being the scenes that played out in dreams - often times it was a forewarning of someone who was going to do something negative, yet each dream contained a positive to counter act that person’s attempts.
I recall one vision in particular that had my husband and I running through a thick jungle, fighting back vines, trees, bushes, shrubbery, everything was in our way. We didn’t have any tools to cut through it, and we were fighting every bit of the way. Suddenly Yeshua appeared in front of us, and it was as if he had a huge machete, yet there was nothing in his hands. As he went before us, everything fell in his path. Every vine, every branch, every bush or plant moved out of his way and left a clear and open path for us. Nothing was in our way, nothing was stopping us, or trying to prevent us from going forward on the path He was laying out before us. And Yeshua was clearing that path. As I look back now over the past year or so, I see how, so many times, the pathway has been wiped clear ahead of us in ways we never could have done on our own. People moved, hearts changed, miracles happening, all through our prayer, and dedication to the path He said to stay on.
There are prophetic moments I recorded which my husband stated or I was impressed to record - which completely came true in our own lives.
My favorite part, though, is where He has told me over and over again my importance as a daughter of Yahweh. His encouragement, compliments (not in an egotistical way, but in an uplifting way), and how HE sees me. Things I know I could not have come up with on my own. He has given me information to lead me in teaching, to strengthen me in trials, direction in ministry. I find times when I was aching and He lifted me higher than I could have imagined. The best part is that each thing in the book lines up with The Word, there are no conflicts with his word. I test every impression, every dream or every prophecy against the written words of Yahweh.
Just so you know, there are rebukes and corrections, too. When I didn’t handle something right, or needed to refine something in myself. I recorded those things, too, even though I didn’t want to. There were times along the way when I balked at the idea of continuing in writing everything down, but as I look back at the record He has had me keep I have come to appreciate how far I have come, how far I still may need to go, and how much Yahweh has carried me through.
Thank you, Yahweh, for everything.
Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (also Deut 5:7)
Each of us has come a long way on our journey through man-made doctrines until we reach the pure Word of Yahweh. Along the way, we could claim various denominations as our spiritual “home”, albeit a temporary one. One common thread I see is that not long ago, 3-10 years ago, a movement was afoot. Many of the women I speak with regularly left the “comfort of their customs and religion” to forge a new road for themselves, their families, and friends. Along the way, as far as people go, they have lost some and gained some. I am no different in my search for Truth - family and friends have come and gone.
At one point in my life, I was Catholic. Having gone through their classes and ceremonies, I became a full member in “good standing” at the parish closest to my home. I loved the people. They gave me the community, acceptance, and love I had been searching for. There were gatherings, and festivals, prayer meetings, and even the need for a women’s auxiliary. With writings going all the way back to the times of the apostles, church history provided me with the historical background I was seeking in a church.
I learned the prayers to recite and even memorized the Rosary. I had several sets of beads to use and prayed it often in the beginning because I was under a lot of stress at the time. I found that, when I prayed, it brought me comfort and calm that I felt I wasn’t finding any other way. Although for decades I had been praying directly to the Father, I felt some kind of comfort believing that the rosary prayers were “interceding” for me. Almost as though praying for “intercession” gave you that extra power boost you needed to get the desired answer to prayers.
As time went on, I discovered the more I prayed, the more “it” brought me peace, comfort, direction, answers to prayers, even healing. Everything I asked of God he delivered and, oddly, I still continued to believe it was because of my rosary prayers.
Until one day I noticed I would get a few words into the rosary “prayer," suddenly stop saying the repetitive words, then pray directly to The Father. This was just as I had done for so many decades before. I realized how all those blessings and every prayer answered was not from the intercession of some string of beads or a methodical prayer to someone else. I had been giving power to an idol (the Rosary) in the beginning. Over time, though, my spirit recognized that I needed to break free from that idolatry and pray, speak, praise, and ask Yahweh directly. Without my knowing it, I had escaped man-made religion and slipped right into what was right and true - A relationship with Yahweh. I was praying to Abba, and he was blessing me.
Knowing this story about my past, it seems strange that I now get condemned by people who are doing the same thing I once did, using different objects of idolatry. Over the last several years, I have seen both men and women give a similar power to “things” they own, just as I had done with the rosary beads. Like them, I initially believed it was my praying through that string of beads that gave me healing, strength to fight, ability to overcome, personal comfort, just as they believe it is in their particular “item” that they have power. I have witnessed people make the same kinds of claims about healing, comfort, and power that I once made about the rosary prayer. However, their idol is not a set of beads, but instead, their idol is a head-covering, a tallit, a kippah, or even a pile of balanced rocks.
No matter what your item (idol) is, you need to learn that the power is not in that physical thing. In fact, the power given to an item only lies in the mind of the one worshipping the item. The key that we have to learn is that the power of Yahweh lies with Yahweh, and not in some object we turn into some idol.
Now, before you deny you worship idols, ask yourself if you could live days, weeks, or months without that object. If you find an attachment to that object and believe your life will not be the same without your head-covering, kippah, tallit, or another item, you are attributing power to that item. You are caught up in a form of idolatry.
Sometimes it doesn’t appear we take this issue personally enough. We ignore the obvious and we may even think we can’t “have” some of the promises from Yahweh unless we earn them. For whatever reason, inside our heads, we believe we are supposed to suffer, be anxious, wear an object or perform some man-made ritual, to get answers. Yet Yahweh has told us many times that those things are not of him. In the scriptures, we witness Yeshua’s miracles and the power of Yahweh at work throughout every event. We marvel at His amazing acts portrayed right before our eyes. We know that Yeshua promised we would do greater works than what he did. Yet people seem to be unable to fully believe in these things and they are unable to put their full stock in the promises from Yahweh. People find it easier to believe that a Tallit, a kippah or a head covering will bring more comfort and blessing than Yahweh will, while at the same time claiming Yahweh used that fabric or that item to bring them blessings. It’s like people need an earthly object they can touch and see in order to fool themselves into believing they are connecting with Yahweh.
In our book, “The Headcovering Dilemma - SOLVED!” we address this topic of idol worship with some questions you can ask yourself to help clarify and understand if you have placed an item before, in front of, or even in the way of Yahweh, therefore making it an idol in your life. These questions can be used by both men and women to help in understanding their relationship with Abba.
There are scriptures listed to guide and direct you as well. I recommend each person pray so that your relationship with Yahweh will be what it is meant to be, and then read the book. Take the time to do a self-checkup on idol worship. Before writing this message, I took the "check-up." It helped point out a few things to me that I don’t worship, but that I was at risk of elevating to a position they don’t deserve. It was a good personal examination, and I pray you will give that time to yourself as well. Don’t get caught up in idol worship and especially don’t do that idol worship in His name.
May you be blessed.
Isaiah 42:8 KJV “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Judges 10:14WEB “Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen. Let them save you in the time of your distress!”
I have learned in recent months that people often express several different “types” or “levels” of what we call faith. As we experience each one, our Father asks us, even expects us to reach for the higher ground, pushing and prodding us upwards in our faith walk. Through inspirations and our time we spend with him, he reveals to us scriptures and teachings that will help us reach those new heights, if we are willing to accept his influence.
1. There is the faith that we have that says, “Ok, I THINK he will help/bless me. But I am not sure, but I will pray anyway, let’s see what happens. . .”
2. The faith where we think he might bless us, but where we don’t believe we are worthy of His blessings or his protection, because in our mind we just are not “good enough" to receive the things we are believing for. Although Yahweh, through his love and mercy, sees us worthy to receive his blessings:
Ephesians 2:4-10 WEB
But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, . . . For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
-- There is the faith where we grit our teeth and say, “Ok, God, it’s yours!!!” But in the back of our heads we are thinking, “it’s not like he is going to really help me, he never has in the past!” This is the one where we are plagued with doubts because we are looking back at our past experiences and past failures instead of focusing on his word. In this kind, we often fail to see the times when he has pulled us our of our own messes and saved us in spite of ourselves.
-- Then there is the faith we use when we get angry that things have not happened on our time table and we throw our hands up in frustration and call out, “FINE!!! If YOU think you can do it, go ahead! I put it all in your hands!” Here we become weary in the midst of the battle and give up, because we don’t see things happen we we thought they should happen.
Galatians 6:9 WEB Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up.
-- And finally, the faith where we say in humility, “Ok, Yahweh, first let me apologize for all those other things I did and said. . . . Please forgive my impatience, my frustration, anger, my pride, my weariness, and even my doubts. You said to give it to you – it’s yours. I love you and trust you to take it from me - burden and all. I also know you love me and you are faithful to your promises. I am just going to let you handle it while I go on with life and follow the directions that you have laid before me. You know what directions I mean: those instructions you have given me a thousand times, but I wasn’t paying full attention. You said you have got this and you have made promises in your Word, so here it is. I will be over there working on the other things that need to get done. Oh, and Yahweh? Thank you for your loving kindness and especially your forgiveness.”
This is the better form of faith, the one that will, in the end, get us through while we grow and learn. It is the stronger faith, the humbling faith. Having faith in his faithfulness and love.
A great example of this would be the story of Jonah. When he realized he could no longer hide from Yahweh, and that he could not fight against Yahweh’s calling. Once Jonah realized his attitude was wrong, Jonah prayed for forgiveness and deliverance, which Yahweh granted.
Jonah 2 WEB Then Jonah prayed to Yahweh, his God, out of the fish's belly. He said, "I called because of my affliction to Yahweh. He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried. You heard my voice. For you threw me into the depths, in the heart of the seas. The flood was all around me. All your waves and your billows passed over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The waters surrounded me, even to the soul. The deep was around me. The weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. The earth barred me in forever: yet have you brought up my life from the pit, Yahweh my God. "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Yahweh. My prayer came in to you, into your holy temple. Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to Yahweh." Yahweh spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land.
In the end, I believe Yahweh wants us to develop the ultimate form of faith, where we don’t put ourselves and Him through the first several so-called faith scenarios. We need to break our bad faith habits and skip right to the last example by simply saying, “You said to give it to you – it’s yours. I love you and trust you.” We need the kind of faith were we say: “YUP! I know that I know that you’ve got this one, so guide me, direct me, lead me through it! I am ready Lord!!! Let’s do this!”
Just a little random thought for the day. . . . Shalom!
Other scriptures on Faith:
Psalm 4:1 WEB Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness. Give me relief from my distress. Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
Genesis 25:21 KJV
And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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