The second day of January, 2014... what will the New Year bring?
So far, lots of snow and dark, gloomy skies. But... God!! Here, in the midst of snowy, freezing weather with no sunrises or sunsets, the Lord brought a spot of brightness into the early dawn with this gorgeous feathered creature! Even in the dark, with system snow coating the air like waterfall mist, the birds need to eat to stay alive. Rain or Shine. The Lord said they don't worry about anything, for our Heavenly Father takes care of them, and we are even more important to Him. So, whatever this new year brings, we have this confidence: God will take care of us...even in the dark, even in inclement weather, even in 2014!
I have no life apart from the breath God graciously gives me. He sustains me through the day and safeguards my being through the sleeping hours of night. Without this nourishment, I would become lean, spiritually, and perish. Yeshua (Jesus) said in John 6:35... "I am the bread, which is life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty."
Gaining the trust of birds, so that they come to the feeders or allow me to stand close by and photograph them, is a source of limitless pleasure. I love the 3rd dimension they bring to my reality, and watching them is a never-ending classroom. Each species has an attitude or mannerism that endears them as I observe and contemplate their habits. From my fearless Groucho Nuthatch, to the Sassy Chickadees, the Grumpy-Faced Chipping Sparrows, and Teasing Hummingbirds, my world is never dull or without a measure of self examination. I'm so thankful for them. There is a joy that birds can bring into our lives, if we stop "the merry-go-round" for a while and let them alight on our hearts, and we just might learn a thing or two while we're sitting still.
A White Tailed doe watches me walk the Michigan Lake shoreline and take sunset pictures. These beautiful creatures are always around, and although not shy, they keep their distance. Somehow it makes me feel secure... not like human creatures who are watching me and whose intentions are not so pure. The Scriptures say I have nothing to fear from man. God watches over me as I put my trust in Him and in His promises, and like the gentle deer, He is always around when I need Him. The only difference is, He is not distant... He is as close as my heartbeat~my very next breath.
Early morning sunrise...pretty, but dull, boring and with nothing happening. It will become another sunny day with no clouds, no rain or storms, and basically produce a lifeless wasteland. No worries, no cares, like our hearts when there are no trials or struggles to go through, and we become unproductive and complacent. Why would we need to pray or run to the Lord when everything is just fine?
By contrast, this morning is alive with intense colors, motion, excitement and the promise of life-giving rain! The threat is real and takes us to our knees in prayer. Our faith is tested, our hope is challenged, and the storm produces patience, and perseverance as we drop to our knees and trust in the One who stills the storms.
The difference between the two is a barren desert...or a garden of beauty and abundance.
Maybe we should look at our trials in a different light!
You stand against the wind, wrapped in a cloak of love,
an awesome power building within to silence the roars
of the nations surrounding. With the eyes of a dove and
the teeth of a lion, barred in righteous anger, You summon
the hosts of heaven into a fierce and mighty army with
but one purpose~that of defending Jerusalem.
Come, King of Kings, hear the cries of Your people...
Your scepter awaits.
Tonight, at sundown, (Tishri 9 or September 25, 2012) Israelis will humble themselves before God in prayer, fasting and abstaining from any kind of work or personal pleasure. All forms of entertainment shut down, restaurants and businesses close. It is the highest Holy Day of Israel, Yom Kippur, and the nation of Israel observes it together as one people. While it leaves them vulnerable, I believe God surrounds them with His hand of protection, and we have the privilege of covering them with our prayers.
Leviticus 16:29 "It is to be a permanent regulation for you, that on the tenth day of the seventh month, you are to deny yourselves and not do any kind of work, both the citizen and the foreigner living with you. For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins. It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves.
Leviticus 23:26-32 Adonai said to Moshe, "The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening."
God was emphatic about denying oneself...it was to be a day of repentance and seeking forgiveness for ones sins. Jews today fast, do not bathe or use personal cosmetics of any kind, engage in marital relations, or wear leather shoes. This is to show a sincere, humble attitude toward God. No food or drink keeps ones mind focused on God and fosters sympathy with those who are poor and without basic needs. Refraining from bathing and using personal body and beauty products is a reminder of those who do not have such comforts. Denying marital relations lets one feel for those who are lonely and without someone special or family. Refraining from wearing leather, which comes from a slaughtered animal, shows a respect for God's creation while seeking His forgiveness.
At the time of the giving of this commandment until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies through a heavy curtain of separation and make atonement for the nation of Israel.
As true Believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Messiah), we know His death on the crucifixion stake (cross) rent the veil of separation, and with His resurrection from the dead, we now have Yeshua as our High Priest, who made a way for us to enter the Holy of Holies into God's presence. For us, observing Yom Kippur is not a matter of works for salvation, but rather a celebration of a righteous holy God accepting the sacrifice of His righteous, holy Son, Yeshua/Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.
May it at least be a day of intense prayer for our nation and for the nation (not state) of Israel. Shalu Shalom Yisra'el/Yerushalayim~Pray for Israel, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem ✡ In His Love, ✡