We have been praying for you for many years. We have often wondered where you lived? Who were your parents, siblings, and grandparents? Who were your friends and what activities did you enjoy? Did you play tennis, soccer or did you like to water ski or snow ski? We prayed for your family that raised you and for your friends and for your protection. We prayed that you would come to know the Lord at an early age and be growing in your faith. For the Lord is raising up a child in another home that will someday be the perfect mate of our own child. You are another daughter or son that will someday complete our family and grow the next generation.
On a ski trip with friends in Utah, our firstborn son, Drew, proposed to Sydney. They met at Auburn University and have dated for 5 years. This past weekend we had the opportunity to meet the extended family. We had so much catching up to do! I was so excited to see the home Sydney grew up in, to stay at her grandmother, Nana’s, home and look through all the family pictures. It was “the great reveal,” revealing the life of this little one who was raised in a small town in Georgia among a loving family. We were welcomed by her entire family including her aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family members. We ate at their favorite restaurant and saw the high school where she played on the tennis courts and photos dressed in Roaring 20’s for the Great Gatsby. Nana showed us the land where she and her husband Russell lived, the church they were part of founding, and provided the back story to all the family photos. I saw the photos and heard the stories of their trips in the RV with she and Russell, their Disney cruise together, a ski trip in Colorado, the Auburn football games with painted faces, and many more memories. We saw the pictures of her father Mark’s many dad and daughter dances as Sydney grew up. We heard about weekends at the lake and got to meet and hear stories of time with her cousin, Keely, who was like a sister.
What a joy and blessing it was to see, hear and experience the life that the Lord was preparing all along. “The great reveal.” The Lord answered our prayers. May we all continue to pray for the next generation that the Lord will guard, protect, and prepare to proclaim His goodness and His Name.
VIDEO Celebrating Sukkot 2020
In 586 BC King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and conquered Jerusalem. He destroyed the temple and removed the Israelites to Babylon where they remained captive until the Persians under King Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 BC. As recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah, King Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem over a period of time where they rebuilt the temple in 516 BC and later under the leadership of Nehemiah rebuilt the walls to Jerusalem. Is it possible that the Israelites could have forgotten the Law during the years of exile living with the Babylonians?
Following the completion of the wall, the Israelites were gathered together where Ezra read from the Book of the Law. Nehemiah 8:5-9, Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. Ezra praised the great Lord God, and the people shouted, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord. After this, the Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah went among the people, explaining the meaning of what Ezra had read. The people started crying when God’s Law was read to them. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who had been teaching the people all said, “This is a special day for the Lord your God. So don’t be sad and don’t cry!”
Generations had passed away, they had adopted the Aramaic language of the Babylonians and mixed with the Persian culture. Could the Israelites have forgotten the promises of God during the years of exile?
Before God created the universe and and stars He had a plan to create man in His own image and in His great wisdom gave man free will to choose Him. He meticulously laid out the stars and the sun and moons and ordained the cycle of new moons that mark the months and seasons. God instructed Moses to assemble the people on appointed days marked by the calendar He created to celebrate His provision and establish a plan of redemption.
Leviticus 23:1-2 “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.”
The Hebrew word for “feasts” (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. The seven annual feasts of Israel were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God. They are still celebrated by observant Jews today. But for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, these special days demonstrate the work of redemption through God’s Son.
The first four of the seven feasts occur during the springtime (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Weeks), and they all have already been fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. The final three holidays (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall, all within a short fifteen-day period.
Many Bible scholars and commentators believe that these fall feasts have not yet been fulfilled by Jesus. However, the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) for all believers in Jesus Christ is that they most assuredly will be fulfilled. As the four spring feasts were fulfilled literally and right on the actual feast day in connection with Christ’s first coming, these three fall feasts, it is believed by many, will likewise be fulfilled literally in connection to the Lord’s second coming.
In a nutshell, here is the prophetic significance of each of the seven Levitical feasts of Israel:
1) Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover was observed (Mark 14:12). Christ is a “lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19) because His life was completely free from sin (Hebrews 4:15). As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2).
2) Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life (as leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible), making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.
3) First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10) – Pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.”
4) Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) – Occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and pointed to the great harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit for both Jew and Gentile, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age (see Acts 2). The Church was actually established on this day when God poured out His Holy Spirit and 3,000 Jews responded to Peter’s great sermon and his first proclamation of the gospel.
5) Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) – The first of the fall feasts. Many believe this day points to the Rapture of the Church when the Messiah Jesus will appear in the heavens as He comes for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52).
6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27) – Many believe this prophetically points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth. That will be the Day of Atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).
7) Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34) – Many scholars believe that this feast day points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again “tabernacle” with His people when He returns to reign over all the world (Micah 4:1-7).
As Paul concludes in the last chapter and verse of his epic letter to the Romans he references this “mystery that has been kept secret”, but is now revealed. We know the secret! We know the final answer to God’s plan to redeem man to Himself. It is not just for a select race, but for all nations for the purpose of bringing glory to Jesus.
Romans 16:25-27 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
God has a redemption story that began before He set the stars in their place. There is a redemption story for you and for me that is bigger than we can imagine. God created appointed times for us to remember and proclaim to the next generation. Let us not forget but let us celebrate our God and His great redemption story through the appointed times that He has ordained for us to remember, celebrate, and declare to the next generation.
I started writing blogs related to leading our families as I was in the midst of raising my three children. In the many years since I began writing, my children have grown and moved away from home. My recent posts have been related to a variety of topics that the Holy Spirit have put on my heart and reviews of books that I have read. This past weekend I returned to an activity that I wish I could have shared with my children, but is another great activity and gift that you can share with your family.
Last year while visiting the home of one of my close friends, he gave me a jar of honey that he had harvested from bees he kept in his suburban back yard to help with his allergies. I was so impressed with the idea of learning about keeping bees and harvesting honey I had to get a box of my own. With the help of Ed “the Bee guy”, I got a box of Italian honey bees that we placed at the edge of the trees in our back yard. For the last year I have visited my bees each weekend to check on their activity anticipating the day that we could open their box and see the gift that they have been working on for so many months. I learned that bees can travel 3 miles foraging for pollen and nectar. We have many tallowwood trees and many in our neighborhood have flowering plants and fruit trees. My neighbors see our bees visiting their gardens and know that they are working to pollinate and produce a harvest of honey.
The harvest day was June 20. I have not experienced the excitement and anticipation of this day since I was a little child looking forward to opening Christmas gifts. What would we find after all these months of waiting and watching these little guys do their miraculous work? I did not expect that we could just open the box, pull out the frames, shake off the bees and not be stung or bothered by the bees. We were in shorts and T-shirts with bees flying all around, but no one got stung. We cut the wax caps off the honey frames and let the wax and top layer of honey cells drop into a box. To tear off a piece of honey soaked wax and eat it was a heavenly experience. The taste of fresh warm honey harvested from our own back yard was amazing! With no children at home to share this experience I had to call my neighbor. As a young girl growing up in Iran she had the experience of eating the wax and honey from the harvest. As she took a bite tears filled her eyes remembering her youth. She took out her phone to take a video and share the experience in Farsi with her father back in Iran. Technology is so amazing! We took the screens up to the honey extractor and watched it pour out of the bottom as the screens were spun in the extractor by a small motor. The honey passed through a filter and into a bucket where we filled small bottles with God’s miracle food and love to give to our friends and family.
Expand video to see better.
Next harvest I will be sure to gather the children in the neighborhood and share this experience. To experience the delight of opening the box, cutting off the wax caps, tasting the sweetness and sharing with others is a great privilege. I encourage anyone with even a small back yard to share in this experience with your children, neighbors and friends. Honey never expires and there is nothing sweeter than giving the gift of honey harvested from your own back yard.
As the full moon marked the beginning of Passover on April 8, 2020, America and the world was sheltered in their homes praying for the plague to pass over. I have been praying that God would use this pandemic to do a great work through the Holy Spirit to call individuals and our nation to Him. Today we celebrate Pentecost and our nation is in the midst of another crisis. A Houstonian, George Floyd died in handcuffs as Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes while Mr. Floyd gasped “I can’t breathe.” For those of us that saw the video or heard the story we are disgusted, disturbed, heartbroken and angry. Protesters march while rioters and violence has engulfed our nations cities. The truth is that no protest, no rebellion, no amount of violence and destruction, no passionate rhetoric, no national debate or no new legislation will ever solve this problem. There is a spiritual darkness covering our land. For decades America has exchanged truth for a lie and has invited sin to infect our lives. We have pushed God and truth from our public places and this infection has spread to be a pandemic of the heart. Mark 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
BUT, our LORD reigns and we know that He is working through these tragedies to accomplish His great work in the hearts of men. An excerpt from Robert Sloan’s message to Houston Baptist University: “The central work of Jesus, carried on by Jesus’ followers through worship, service, and the preaching of the Gospel, was to form a new world, beginning with the unity of people of all ethnicities, races, nationalities, economic strata, and gender (Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 3:9-11). All those who embrace Jesus by faith are brought together in one body, a living, serving, and worshiping fellowship, that rejects all dehumanizing divisions. That is the central goal of the transforming power of the message of Jesus when applied to life in everyday flesh-and-blood people, families, and communities.”
50 days after Passover as prescribed by God, Jews celebrated the giving of the Law called the Feast of Weeks. On this day as told in Acts 2 when the believers in Jesus gathered together they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit that resides in those who believe in Jesus is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Today, as we celebrate Pentecost, it is my prayer that the Holy Spirit would move in the hearts of every man and woman in our nation to open the eyes of their heart to recognize the evil that infects them, that they would desire to turn from their sin, believe in Jesus as their savior and rise to walk in a new life in Jesus. It is only the power of the Holy Spirit that will truly change the hearts of men and cause them to turn from their wicked ways so that God would heal our land. Jesus said “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.“
To learn more how the Holy Spirit works to battle the desires of the flesh in the lives of believers read Romans 8.
I am writing this post at the peak of the Covid-19 virus in America and finishing up a paper on the church history for my class at HBU. While writing on the persecution of the early church, I was encourage by their response to challenging times.
During the period of the early church at the height of the persecution of Christians in the Roman empire, Emperor Galerius in 311 ordered the cessation of the persecution. It had been a failure, and had merely hardened Christians in their resolve to resist Roman pagan religion. At the peak of the suffering, Christians were hardened in their resolve. James 1:2 – 4 tells us “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all in the midst of a trial. It may be relations at home, uncertainty about the economy, our finances, fear of the virus or simply boredom. It has been my prayer that Christians around the globe will rise up and recognize this trial as an opportunity to conform us to the image of Christ and be “that light” that attracts, inspires and proclaims the joy we have in knowing Jesus. In this brief period of time, may we harden in our resolve to resist fear and proclaim the Joy and hope we have in Jesus.
I have been praying that God would use this pandemic to do a great work through the Holy Spirit to call individuals and our nation to Him. We entered this pandemic at the time of the passover. A little more than 3,000 years ago families were sheltered in their homes with their families praying that the plague would pass over their homes. For the first time since then our world has been ordered to shelter in their homes with their families while a plague goes through our world. We are all familiar with the verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How did the nation of Israel get to this point of praying, seeking God and turning from their wicked ways? The preceding verse (13) says “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,” It is during times of trouble that people return to God or seek Him for the first time. We have been watching the worship services of Passion City in Atlanta Georgia online during this time of social distancing. Today the pastor mentioned attendance had increased as much as 50X during this pandemic. I consider it all Joy to go through these trials knowing that the testing will conform us more to the image of Jesus. I also consider it all Joy to know that these trial are being used by God to call His people back to Him. Join me in praying for revival in our nation and world.