~I am no longer a slave to fear~

Fear. I have always been the type of person who has struggled with fear and anxiety. It could vary from work related things, to relationships, to finances, to family. Something that I thought about the other day is how just within the past 6-7 months, I haven’t been as fearful and I have had an easier time trusting the Lord. When I looked back on how afraid I was of practically everything, I noticed that it began to trickle into my spiritual walk with the Lord as well. Or vice versa — my spiritual doubt and worries began to become evident in my every day, causing my fears and worries to overcome my everyday life. So I wanted to talk about fear and how I am going through the process of overcoming my fears and trusting in Christ.

I used to be afraid of things and literally refuse to be around anything that related to the things I was scared of. For example, I was, and am to some degree, terrified of heights. I wouldn’t go around hot air balloons, I wouldn’t travel because I hated how high the airplane got, I had a hard time hiking because of the height of the mountains. I would just avoid things that involved anything I was afraid of. I realize now that I was not doing things to honor or trust the Lord, but rather, I was lingering in my fear instead of giving it to the Lord and just facing it. Now that is not to say that I have absolutely no fears whatsoever; I definitely am still afraid of the dark (as silly as that sounds) and I am not fond of dolls either. But I can honestly say that after many months of praying and spending time in the Word, I have realized that there is truly nothing to fear. Back in August, I traveled back East to visit family, and rather than being terrified to the point of exhaustion, I was able to enjoy the plane ride and the beauty I saw right outside my window. 

It is natural for human beings to have fears and worries, that is part of how we are made, and God understands that part of us, which is why there is are abounding verses throughout Scripture that pertain to fear. For people, some more than others, it takes time to train ourselves to trust the Lord rather than worrying or being afraid. I dont know about you, but I tend to be an over-thinker. This is one of my big downfalls; rather than praying about a situation and leaving it in God’s hands, I’d worry, I’d stress, I’d think over and over about all the different things that could take place and how I am going to react in worst-case-scenarios. I am the one who would worry about all the “what-ifs” in life and I noticed it caused a lot of unnecessary weight in my life that I walked around with every day. Although I do believe it is smart to plan ahead, worrying is not the right way to do things.

Fear is one of the most popular tactics the enemy uses against us, and throughout the majority of my life so far, I was allowing him to have a stronghold over not just the things going on in my life, but also in my walk with the Lord. I was allowing a rift to form within my trust in Christ, which began taking a tole on me in many aspects of life. There are so many things that we could potentially be afraid of, the list is quite extensive, and the enemy loves to feed off of that list, magnifying all the things we could be scared of. Something that I realized has been helping me lately is to read the truth God has provided in the bible and read them so often, that I consciously replace my worry with the beautiful truth of the Scripture. Here are some of the verse the Lord used to bring the truth about trusting the Lord to my attention.

  • Deuteronomy 3:22 ~ “ Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”
  • Isaiah 41:10 ~ “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  • Psalms 56:3 ~ “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
  • John 14:27 ~ “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 ~ “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
  • Psalms 94:18-19 ~ “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
  • Isaiah 43:1 ~ “But now, this is what the Lord says he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'”
  • Proverbs 12:25 ~ “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” 
  • Joshua 1:9 ~ “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Psalms 27:1 ~ “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?”
  • Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • Psalms 118:6-7 ~ “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.”
  • Psalms 34:4 ~ “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” 

Now, I know that this is a pretty long list of verses, but this is only a small hand-full compared to how often the Lord speaks about the topic of fear throughout the Bible. We have the assurance that God is right there, strengthening us, supporting us, helping through all our struggles and transgressions. Something for me that is hard to do is to walk in this truth, rather than just know. It is easy to know what the truth is, it is more difficult to act upon the faith we claim. Believe me, I am still working on this, and will continue to work on it for the rest of my life, but something that brings me so much joy is knowing that we know and serve such an intimately loving and protecting God. Even when we are afraid, He never once lets us out of His sight or care.

God is stronger and through Him, we have been given the spirit that allows us to be bold, fearless, courageous! When you have things running trough your mind that cause you to panic, to worry, to become fearful, give it all to Him. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Rather than allowing my anxiety or fear overcome me, Christ calls me to turn to Him in prayer and submit the things I am afraid of. 

All of your fears, your worries? Give it the Lord, over and over again. Time after time and moment by moment. I can’t say that this transition has happened for me over night; it has taken weeks, months, years for me to come to the place God has brought me to now, and I still have so much learning and growing to do. Although it is not every day, but I am able to sleep peacefully knowing that He knows the concerns of my heart, and He is fighting for me every day. Rest in the peaceful assurance that the worries you have been burdening yourself with are in God’s hands. He is in control. We can take comfort in the words of the Lord and that with Him, all things are possible. Don’t allow the enemy to plant seeds of doubt, but rather, allow the Holy Spirit to blossom a faith in Christ within you that is stronger than anything else we could worry about or fear. Pray and allow the Lord to take control over the weight of fear and anxiety. I am praying for each of you, as we battle through this as brothers and sisters in Christ! I hope this brought you some encouragement and comfort today! God bless!

 

~Chaya

Goel: Redeemer, Deliverer

I am currently doing a study on the book of Ruth and something was brought up that I am so extremely excited to share with you all today. I want to warn you, this blog is probably going to be a lengthy one, but I promise you that this is something worth reading. You will discover the value of not only the story of Ruth, but also God’s romance in redemption through Christ Jesus. I pray that this not only makes you smile, but that it gives you a true understanding of what Christ did for us and who He really is in our lives.

Goel: What does it mean?? So I want to dig into the background on what a goel is before I start making connections. The term is used often throughout the bible and even throughout history. I came across it while reading the book of Ruth and so that is where a lot of this information is going to tie into. “If one of your fellow Israelite’s becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold.” Leviticus 25:25. In the Hebrew Law, the goel is is a person who as the closest living relative of another is charged with the duty of restoring the rights of another and avenging his wrongs. He was a kinsman, but also a redeemer or deliverer, someone who fulfilled or paid in full a debt which their kinsman owed. This particular individual had certain obligations or duties to perform in the event of his next of kin dying or becoming very poor and that is what we are going to talk about: what the duties are for a goel, what the requirements are and how they would go about fulfilling these obligations.

Duties ~ The goel has a specific amount of obligations that they can choose whether or not to fulfill. One of them is restoring or redeeming the land of their kinsman. Often times, we see a person who is forced, whether by man or circumstances, to sell all their belongings and are left in poverty. It is the duty of a goel to provide and redeem their next of kin in order to keep them from starvation. Another duty is the law which deals with continuing the family line. They would take their kinsmans childless widow and allow the family to be fruitful. This allowed for that widow to have children and it is still apart of the biological line within the family. The last duty was to be a blood avenger. If their kinsman was murdered, it was the obligation of the goel to avenge the blood of their relative by justly killing the murderer. Now, there was a trial that was conducted and many different things that must take place in order for this to happen, but it was their job to be the avenge the murder of a relative. I could go into so much detail on each of these, but then that would be a place to write a book, not a blog.

Requirements ~ In order to be a goel and fulfill the duties laid out before them, they had to be the closest living relative. There has to be some kind of relation between the deceased and the redeemer. Another is that the goel needed to have the means to redeem their next of kin. You cannot go to the closest living relative and tell him he must preform the duties of a goel if they did not have the ability to act upon the calling. Lastly, the deliverer needed to have a desire or willingness to redeem. Please note that they had to be in that order. You could have a kinsman who is very eager and willing to redeem, but if he does not have the means, he is not able to provide the protection and support they need.

Fulfillment ~ The biggest part of fulfilling the duties of a goel is being willing or having the desire to be a redeemer. It is important for them to do it out of compassion for the people and honor to the Law and this is very evident throughout the book of Ruth. If the goel was unwilling in any way, the duties would pass on to the next closest relative and on from there. There must be a desire to accomplish and fulfill the process of redemption and to nullify the debt.

Now onto the miraculous correlation between Boaz in the book of Ruth, and Jesus Christ. In Ruth, we see a woman named Naomi, who moved from Bethlehem with her husband and two sons to the land of Moab due to a famine in their land. While in Moab, her sons married and then later died, along with her husband. Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, went back to Bethlehem with Naomi, to a home that was in disarray. Naomi and Ruth were now in poverty; working in the fields in order to get enough food for herself and Naomi to eat. Boaz, who was the next of kin to Naomi, was the goel in this story, and his life will give us an example of exactly what Christ did and how He is our redeemer and our deliverer.

Throughout this story, we see that Boaz restored the name of Ruth (I would encourage you to read more about who the people of Moab were and why Ruth had things so hard when she moved into the town of Bethlehem in the book of Judges.) He not only paid their debt in full, but Boaz went above and beyond the call of duty. He didn’t just provide, but he also loved and protected Ruth. There was redemption, there was restoration, and there was fulfillment in the duties he was called to. He did it joyfully, willingly, and at the end of the story, Ruth becomes Boez’s wife.

So how does this connect to who Christ is for us? Christ has given us a new name, very much like Ruth. She was a descendant of the house of Moab, who were very sinful people. They were “those who did what was right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25. She came from a background of people who were saturated in sin, lust, and selfishness, and yet, Boaz changed her name. She no longer wore the label of a Moabite, which is just like us. The children of God no longer are branded by the sin in our lives, but have been given a new name in Christ; His children. Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Jesus fulfilled His righteous purpose and was able to pay our debt in full. Through His death, we have been freed from the bondage of sin and separation from God and brought into a new life, a new creation, who is alive in Him. And something I love is seeing Ruth become the bride of Boaz, just as we are the bride of Christ.

Christ came to earth in order to fulfill the duties as our goel. he fulfilled this so perfectly, it is absolutely incredible! He became a man, born into humanity, which meant that He was now our kinsman. Hebrews 2:14-15Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” His perfect, sinless, spotless blood was the only means that would bring redemption to us.  1 Peter 1:18-19For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” Jesus willingly laid His life down, sacrificed Himself in order that we may be able to live! John 10:18 “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 

Christ is our goel! Our redeemer, our kinsman, our deliverer. Very similar to Boaz, Jesus doesnt just take the punishment for our sins but He also goes above and beyond! He desires not only that we are redeemed, but that we have the opportunity to personally know Jesus Christ and His never ending forgiveness is new every morning. This wonderful truth brings me to tears seeing the way this is laid out for us in the story of Ruth and Boaz. I know there are a lot more details that can be shared that deal with this topic, and maybe I will do another blog post about it. But for now, I pray that you find joy in hearing this and seeing the beautiful outline for us in the Word. When I truly think about things, I realize how much we resemble the story of Ruth, and Christ as Boaz. I love how intimate the romance of redemption is and praise God for the unconditional love and compassion that Christ has for us, His children.

I pray and hope that this brings you encouragement and peace knowing that Christ loves us on such a personal level. When we lay our life down and submit it to him, just a Ruth did, broken and hopeless, we will find that our perfect goel, our Lord and Savior is right there to give us forgiveness, redemption, and an unconditional love that we cannot even comprehend. This is what Christ has done for each of us, and we have a choice to believe it and live our lives for Christ, accepting the selfless gift He gave us. Praise God for our amazing redeemer!! If you would like some more detail about the background of Ruth, who the people of Moab were and even more verses about the context of goel throughout the bible, please leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to continue this little study together. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blogs, I pray the Holy Spirit uses it to encourages you as much as it does me. God bless!

 

~Chaya

 

 

 

 

When we become distracted.

In the society we live in today, we are surrounded by distractions and things that keep us preoccupied. We are always looking for something else to keep our interest, and even when we don’t, it is offered so freely that it becomes near impossible to refrain from these little distractions. To be completely honest, I have been very distracted lately. I’m not sure exactly why, but my thoughts have been on so many other things, I haven’t set aside time  for the Lord lately. Just the other day, the word distracted came up in conversation and it rang in my thoughts the whole rest of the day. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but after going home and praying about it, I realized that the Lord was speaking to me on an intimate level.

I do not want to use this time to make up excuses for myself or try to explain why I haven’t been blogging as often as I would like and have communicated. The truth is, I have become distracted and therefore have not made this a priority nor have I set aside time to pray about this blog either. After the Lord had revealed to me what it is that I need to work, I began to think about how it came to be like this. The bible warns us about becoming distracted and how we are able to keep from getting that way. So I believe that not only am I going to be able to use this and learn from this blog, but I am praying that those of you who may also be struggling with becoming distracted may be encouraged and able to fight this with me.

I want to ask a question first before I start getting into the Word and what it says about distractions; Have you become distracted? Some other words for distracted are preoccupied, inattentive, absentminded, worried, anxious, troubled… Do any of these words describe how you have been lately? I know I personally qualify under some of them. When the Lord revealed this truth to me, it became evident that I was able to see where my focus is just in evaluating my day and where things have been. That does not mean that you are wrong for getting busy at work or kids or get caught up in our own crazy lives, but I think that it is clear when we see ourselves putting time with the Lord aside in order to do other things. In my own life, this happens to be my blog and bible study.

A passage I want to touch on before I get into more direct verses is when Jesus calls the disciples out as He was walking on the water in Matthew 14. Peter stepped out of the boat and begin to move towards Jesus, walking on the water. But as soon as Peter took his eyes off of Him, he began to sink, and was afraid. It is like this in our lives as well. We are able to do the impossible when we fix our eyes on Christ and on His will, but it is when we take our eyes off Him, when we become distracted by the storm around us and the waves beneath us, we will begin to sink into the distractions.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:35  “I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”
  • Romans 12:2 ~ “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
  • 1 John 2:15-17 ~ “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
  • Colossians 3:1-2 ~ “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Another passage that really stuck out to me is Luke 10:38-42. “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” I can empathize with Martha on many levels. She wanted the best for the Lord; the tastiest food, the best dishes, the perfect display. She truly wanted to serve her Lord, but she became distracted by things that truly don’t matter. Rather than sit and listen to the teaching, she became preoccupied with other things and she was not able to hear what it was Jesus was saying to them. 

Who else gets to be like this? It is so important to truly devote time to the Lord and be able to go to Him in prayer and humility. Just like Martha in the example above, we can become so distracted with doing things for the Lord, we neglect the necessary time that should be spent in prayer. The enemy is so good at giving us things that will cause us to be inattentive to what the Lord is calling us to do. Similar to Peter on the water, I can imagine the water raging beneath his feet, rain pouring down, the wind tossing and turning him back and forth. I am sure he felt every raindrop against his skin, every shift in the water he stood on. Just like the enemy tried to throw distractions at us, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally… Satan wants to knock us off our feet and cause us to drown in the violent storm. But we have Jesus, the lifeguard who is there to catch us before we fall into the waters.

So how are we to keep from becoming preoccupied, worried and absentminded? Praise God that He has given us instruction on that as well! Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we become distracted with things, good or bad, it is important that we remember to be in prayer and communication with the Lord. If we become distracted and worried, or preoccupied and loose focus on the Lord, He is right there to pull us back, to pick us up and he will give us not only peace, but He will also guard our hearts and help to keep our eyes on Him. 

I pray that this was encouraging to you and not only that, but also a learning tool. Trust me, you are not the only one who needed this today. I most certainly did. I personally do not want my life to be filled with distractions that cause my thoughts, my heart, my actions to be focused on something other than the Lord. I know that it is easy to get caught up the things of this world, good and bad, but whether it is something honorable or sinful, God desires our whole hearts and our full attention. He wants our entire heart in a relationship of trust and obedience to Him, because He loves us and wants nothing more than to have us be with Him. Stay strong, my brothers and sisters, and remember that even if we look at the things around us, like Peter in the storm, Christ is right there to draw our gaze back to Him and catch us if we fall. God bless you all!

 

~Chaya

Who do YOU say that I am?

Who do you say that I am? This is a vital question I believe we all have to ask ourselves when it comes to where we are with the Lord. I was reading in Matthew this morning before work and came across a passage that the Lord used to tug on my heart. It is when Jesus is talking with Peter and He asks him “Who do you say that I am?” This is such a powerful encounter between Jesus and Peter, His disciple, and I believe it is so important for us to ask this question on a regular basis; Who is Christ to us, in our lives?

Matthew 16:13-20 ~ When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” 

Mark 8:27-29 ~ Jesus and his disciples went on the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do the people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, on of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.'”

Something I have always loved is the person that Peter was. Yes, he made mistakes and even denied the Lord, but he had a very intimate understanding and love for Jesus. And when Jesus asked all the disciples this question, the Holy Spirit was present and Peter was the one to speak and answer the Lord. I can’t stop thinking about that; how would I react if I was sitting before Christ and he asked myself and a group of others who we say that He is? Would my life, my heart, match up with my answer? This is what I want to communicate today through this blog.

Whenever I ask myself this question, I will first ask it, most times out loud, and then let it sit for a moment. I think on it, I pray about it, and try to answer it with both honesty and clarity. It allows me to evaluate my thoughts, my desires, my actions, and my life in order to truly see if my answer is genuine or if it is something that I like to say rather than live. This does not mean that we will ever be able to say that we are 100% in line with Scripture or have a perfect relationship with the Lord, because that indeed is not possible. Truth is we are sinful, selfish beings who, apart from Christ, have no way to have any sort of fellowship with God.

This is where the hard part comes in; Does the answer I gave align with the truth of what the Word says? In order to know if it does indeed line up with the Word, you have to look through it and observe what the bible says about this subject. So upon looking this over and praying about what scriptures to include here, the Lord revealed some verses that would really cause a heart check in myself and those reading this blog today. They deal with God searching the hearts of His people, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and so much more that are so extremely important in realizing the subject.

  • Jeremiah 17:9-10 ~ “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their conduct according to what their deeds deserve.”
  • Proverbs 12:2 ~ “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (I would highly suggest reading all of chapter 12).
  • Romans 10:9-10 ~ “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
  • Matthew 7:21-23 ~ “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
  • Mark 7:6 ~ “He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.'”
  • Luke 18:9-14 ~ “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.'”

It is important to remember that the Lord looks at the conditions of our hearts, where our hearts are when we do things and how our relationship is with Him. So when we are examining our lives, we ought to think about these things in order to see if our answers are honest. Who do I say that He is? Think about that for a moment. Think about where you are in life. Do you have a strong relationship with the Lord that is not only real, but constantly growing? Are you humble before the Lord, rather than being self-righteous? Do you look at those around you and think higher of yourself just because of your actions? Are you honoring the Lord with just your words or does your heart align with the things you say? Do you do things for your own praise or do you do them for His? Are you in constant prayer and examination of your heart, yearning to surrender it all the Christ?

These are just some of the questions that I ask myself when I read this passage in Scripture. Who do I really say that Jesus is? Is He indeed the Lord of my life, or is He just something I use as “insurance” to get to heaven? Believe me, I know how difficult this topic is. I know and understand how hard it is to read this because most times the bare and unfiltered truth is not fun to hear. But truth is truth, and it needs to be not only spoken, but God-willing, heard.

Something else that I wanted to mention in today’s blog is the verse in Matthew with says “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Discernment and understanding of the Word is completely influenced by the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with us, and even Jesus Himself had told that to Peter. That he was blessed because of the influence of the Spirit; the answer that Peter gave was inspired by the Lord. This also shows Peter’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as well. He was the one who heard the Spirit and spoke from that. 

Who do you say that He is? I ask myself this question often and I believe that it is so important to do this kind of evaluation often in our walks as Believers. I know that this blog may not have been the most encouraging, but remember that His mercies are new every morning and when there is repentance, He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. Take a look at your life, at your heart, at your thoughts, and ask yourself this question; Does your life and your heart reflect the question asked before?

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this blog today, it means so much to me! I pray that the truth spoken today in the blog did not come across as criticism or hypocrisy. This was also something I personally went over and ask myself as well. As my brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe the Lord calls me to speak the truth to you, rather than hearing these words and keeping silent in that. If there is anything that you need prayer for, please feel free to contact me via email or in the comments below. I would love to pray with you. Thanks again so much! God bless!

~Chaya

Scripture, Observation, and Application

I personally believe that there are many wonderful ways to study the Word of God; reading the bible on your own, intimately with the Lord is the most important way to read the bible. It will allow for more spiritual growth within you and the Holy Spirit speaks on a more personal level. But today, I want to talk about bible study when it comes to having fellowship with other believers and growing together as well.

When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a high school girls bible study. During the course of this bible study, we all had a specific way of reading the Word and then discussing it with each other and I really wanted to share with the you outline we used. It was so effective and I believe that it truly helped me break down the passage we read to further my understanding.

When we did this study, it was broken up into three different categories; Scripture, Observation, and Application. So although I dont really have any context to use, I thought I would grab a passage from what I was reading last night and share that with you in the way of using the study outline. There will also be an explanation added to each category to help give a little more information. Something that really helped me look at what we were doing was when our study leader really went through and explained what each category was for. 

Scripture. In this section of the study, it is very important to write down word-for-word the passage of scripture that is being studied. Not only does it help with memorization, but when looking back on the study, you have a direct source of scripture. Now, it is very important not to paraphrase or change the Word at all. You are really just trying to document what it is in the bible that you are learning and allow the scripture to be more evident. As an example, I will use the passage that I was reading last night: Psalms 130:1-8. 

Scripture ~ Example. Psalms 130:1-8, “Out of the depths I cry to you, LordLord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Observation. After writing down the scripture, what I would do is read it through a few times in order to ask certain questions and observe what the Lord is communicating through the passage. Now this does not necessarily mean that you are only looking for personal connections, although they are very important. A lot of the times, especially in the Old Testament, there is information that cannot be fully understood without further investigation. This section is mostly used for questions and answers. After reading the passage, you ask multiple questions about what has been read and then take the time to search for the historical and biblical answers.

Observation ~ Example. What is the Lord communicating? Are there warnings, principles, instruction? What does it mean when it refers to Israel? Where were they at in their walk with the Lord? What is the overall message being shown here? I believe the Lord is communicating our need to wait on Him and His faithfulness to see us through. Verse 5 says “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waitsand in his word I put my hope.” This shows the intent decision to wait and trust in God and then at the end of the passage, it says “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Cause and effect. (This is also where I would research the definition, synonyms, and antonyms for certain words that stand out to me. Such as “wait” and “redeem”.) The overall theme here is waiting and redemption. Instruction to wait on Him, on His direction and Word. Israel during this time had been going back and forth with the Lord. Living to serve Him wholeheartedly and then serving only themselves. But the grace of the Lord is there when we find ourselves repentant and surrendering of our will to His

Application. This is where the self-evaluation comes into play. You ought to ask yourself the deep questions; only you and the Lord truly know what is going on in every part of your life. This allows you to dive even deeper into the scripture. I usually ask very vague and broad questions to start, and then I slowly get deeper and deeper with every application. Here is the opportunity to ask the Lord to show you how this passage can be used to further your walk and strengthen your relationship with Him. 

Application ~ Example. How does this passage apply to my life? What is the Lord trying to speak to my heart where I am right now? How does the light of truth presented here provide a way for me to live differently? Am I truly waiting on the Lord to guide my life? Like Israel, am I crying out to the Lord in humility and brokenness, ready for Him to lead me? Am I able to recognize the fact the I am in need of a redeemer, a Savior? That there is nothing I can do to save myself from sin and destruction?

Again, these are just examples, so they will definitely vary by person and passage. There are some passages that I find myself writing pages on, getting into very detailed and deep questions and often find myself answering them on paper as well. Other times, it is very informational and something that is important to know historically and as biblical content. The most important thing that I have found about this entire bible study outline is prayer; praying before the study starts and praying after in closing. And especially at the end of the study, it is important to turn the verses into prayer if possible. Especially in verses like the passage used as an example today. Something we should remember is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead the study. Yes, having a bible study leader is almost critical, just to keep things from becoming too chaotic. But that leader should genuinely be seeking the guidance of the Spirit and should be looking out for the spiritual welfare of those in the study.

A verse I almost always think of when doing a bible study or small group gathering that is centered around the Lord is Matthew 18:20, which says “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I believe that it is crucial for us to read the Word and pray on our own, because the relationship we have with the Lord is very intimate, very personal. That should be our top priority, but it is also so important to have fellowship and communion with other believers. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is a very good representation of why it is so important to be able to have times like bible study or just fellowship with one another in Christ.

I pray that this was encouraging to you. Please know that I did not come up with this lay out, but I have personally used and experienced how beautifully it works and thought it would be wonderful to share with you all. Also, I am thinking about changing my blog days from every 3 days, to Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Things have been very chaotic and these are the days that I believe will be the best to post. Still three times a week, but I want to try and have set days. If you have any advice or thoughts, please feel free to comment or email me! I would love to hear what you think about that! Thank you all so much for taking the time to read the blogs i post and for being so patient with me this week. God bless!!

 

~Chaya

Strong Foundation

A couple months ago, I decided that it was about the time in my life that I should move out on my own and buy my first home. A year ago, I had a very different idea of how this stage in my life would have looked like, but I realize now more than ever just how sovereign God is and how His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine. He has given me the opportunity to do this with Him and I have found so much joy in this process. While I have not decided on a home yet, something I keep in mind while looking at the various possibilities, is how strong is the foundation and how safe is the neighborhood. Of course, I want it to look a specific way and have specific amenities, but the main importance is will it be a strong enough house to withstand storms and such, and is it in an area where it is not at risk of being broken into.

This process of looking for a new house and keeping an eye out for important qualities made me think about a parable that Jesus once told about wise and foolish builders. I want to break down the very words of Jesus and give a deeper look at the importance of a strong foundation, both in a home and in our walks with Christ. This incredible illustration given by Christ was documented in both the books of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament. And though they are both very similar, I think it is important to read both and understand just what He intended in both accounts.

  • Matthew 7:24-27 ~ “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
  • Luke 6:46-49 ~ “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Now there is a lot to be taken from both these verse and I would love to talk about every single message being portrayed here, but that would be something to write my own book about, not a blog. I really want to break this down into four different categories in order to try and organize the correlations a little more fluently. 

  1. “Put them into practice” – Something that I find very interesting is that in first part of this parable, on both accounts, Jesus talks about hearing His words and “putting them into practice.” Putting something into practice is to use something in an actual situation(s) or to apply something in a necessary circumstance. When we hear the Word of the Lord, Jesus says we are called to not only hear it, but also put what is being told into practice, or action. It is not enough that we just hear the Truth, we need to walk in it, live in it. Our actions are examples of the fruits of the Spirit, and we can only obtain those through the Holy Spirit. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22. This is not a direct correlation to a house and its foundation necessarily, but it is rather a deeper explanation as to what Jesus intended to explain through this parable. We are called to put the Word of God into practice, into action! The rest of the parable is a cause and effect of what happens when we do or do not put the Word into action, not just thought.
  2. “Laid foundation on the rock” – Now we start to get deeper into the house and its foundation. When building a house, the first thing you must do is build a proper, sturdy foundation for it to sit upon. After doing some research, step one is to investigate the conditions of the place you are building on. Well, in this parable, it talks about building your house on the rock. Now this struck me as very familiar and upon investigating, I came across Psalms 18:2, which says “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Throughout history it has been known that castles and kingdom were often built on a strong rock or hill that gave them an advantage over their enemies. They could see the enemy coming because of their strategic location and it gave them a stronghold. That is what God is in this parable. He is our fortress, our place of refuge. He gives us an advantage over the enemy by telling us in scripture when he will strike and how we can overcome him through Christ! After examining our foundation, being God, He proves over and over without fail to be the only foundation we can truly rest on.
  3. Storms; “Rain, wind, & flooding” ~ In both verses, the reasons for building the foundation on the rock is because that is the only place the house can withstand the storms that would come. It talks about how the “rain came down, the streams rose, and winds blew and beat the house… floods came and the torrent struck the house.” How often do we go through these kinds of “storms” in our lives and throughout our walks with the Lord? I was praying the other day about the victims of hurricane Harvey and Irma, and how absolutely devastating the storms were. The houses are mangled, uplifted, dragged away by the many feet of water that came from the storm. And it kind of sounds like that is the illustration in these verse. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…” Isaiah 43:2. The house on the rock, which has a sturdy foundation, did indeed get hit by the winds and rain and flooding, but since it was established on the Lord, it “could not be shaken.” When we are firmly founded on the Lord and His Word, though we will most certainly have storms crashing against us, we will not be destroyed by them. We will endure the storm and still stand strong with Him as our rock, our solid foundation!
  4. Building “on sand” ~ So now that we see what it looks like to build on a strong foundation, lets look at how Jesus says we will be if we build upon shifting sands; an uneven ground. “…The moment the torrent struck the house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete… it fell with a great crash.” Notice how it says “the moment..” when it is struck, not after a while of withstanding the waves. The very moment trials come our way, we will be destroyed, and will collapse if there is not a strong foundation built on the Lord. We are unable to withstand that kind of devastation if we do so outside of the presence of God. It is so easy to be swept away by sin and wickedness when we aren’t allowing Christ to be our foundation, and Jesus clearly warns against this as well.

You know it is funny how God works, while walking through my current home, I noticed a crack in the grout line in the kitchen and realized that it was due to the foundation cracking. Just in seeing that, God erected the thought of the verses of the wise and foolish builders and I am so grateful He did! I pray that this is used as not only a warning against being someone who builds their home on sand, but as encouragement to those who have indeed built upon the Lord, a firm foundation and mighty stronghold. When, not if, the storms come, trust Christ when He said that “…the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” God is our rock and we will not be swept away, destroyed, or brought to collapse because of Him and Him alone. Be the one to build your house on the rock; be the one who hears the Words of the Lord and puts them into practice! God bless, my brothers and sisters, and know that I am praying that your week goes well!

 

~Chaya

Fasting and our walk with Christ

I was very indecisive about whether or not I should blog about my first real fasting experience after reading the passage in Matthew 6:16-18. I don’t want this blog to sound or be self-righteous, legalistic, or prideful in any way. But I believe that what the Lord revealed to me this week through my fasting is something that should be shared with the body of Christ. So before I get into this blog, please know that fasting this week has been a very intimate experience between myself and the Lord; no one else. What He brought to my attention is something that is very important to me and my walk as a Christian, so I am going to share that with you and explain the correlation between fasting and our spiritual walk. 

To start, I want to make clear exactly what fasting is and how it was used throughout the bible. Fasting, by definition from Dictionary.com and Google’s definition, means to abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observation. Growing up, I had the idea that you can literally fast from anything; movies, TV, sweets, events, communities, etc. And in some ways I believe that you can and should still do this. But something I have learned is that in saying I was going to “fast from social media for two weeks”, I was in a way lessening the value of what true fasting is. Now, that’s not to say that fasting from things such as social media is wrong, or sinful. I don’t believe it is sinful at all, but I think in order for us to truly value and understand the meaning of fasting, we must consider what it really is.

Reading in Matthew chapter 4, it talks about how Jesus himself fasted for 40 days and nights in order to resist temptation. Righteously, He gave up eating in order to dedicate His thoughts and prayers completely to the Lord. Fasting is such a powerful tool in our spiritual arsenal, but it is to be done with discretion and not be something that we boast about to others. I wanted to bring this up not only to show His perfect example of fasting, but to remind us that Jesus didn’t just say “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16) referring to us, but He also fasted Himself, which shows the importance of what fasting does for our spiritual growth. He desired intimate time with the Lord through prayer as well as fasted in order to accomplish this.

This week, I fasted from food for the first time in my life and let me tell you, it was a powerful experience. Again, I do not want to boast about it, nor do I want to make myself look good or righteous in doing so. During my fast, I never once told anyone that I was doing it, because it truly was a time that I wanted to spend in prayer and in communion with the Lord. And the last few hours of fasting, I believe the Holy Spirit awakened me to the reality of how closely related fasting is to our walks with Christ and it nearly brought me to tears.

I would love to do a side by side comparison between both fasting and our walks as followers of Christ in order to give a better representation of the two.

  1. Decision and action – I believe that in both cases, fasting and our lives as Christians, it all starts with the conviction of the Holy Spirit that prompts us to make a decision and to take action. “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8. With me, I had been struggling with a lot of temptation and was also faced with a decision I had no idea how to handle. I had be reading about fasting in the Word and it allowed me to remember the importance of it. I felt convicted to do so in order to focus my thoughts and heart on prayer and on the Lord. This applies to our spiritual walk as well. When we are faced with trial or difficulty, the Holy Spirit is quick to remind us of God’s love and power, and often is what leads us to not only repentance, but a change of heart.
  2. All around me – During the period of fasting, I noticed that the choice I had made to give up eating and substitute it with prayer became a lot harder to do when I saw so much food around me. Smelling the food cooking or seeing food commercials, it really made my stomach growl and I craved food that much more. I believe that this is the same with sin. We live in a sinful world that openly embraces the things that those who are in Christ desperately try to refrain from. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33. I have noticed that, similar to the food during fasting, since we are surrounded by sex-saturated media, by gossip, by drunkenness and openly accepted disobedience to God, it definitely makes it harder for our flesh to refrain from engaging in the sin that is all around us.
  3. Physical craving – I have been hungry before, but during this time of fasting, I don’t think I have experienced my body aching for food quite like that. Again, this is so similar to the spiritual battles that war against our flesh. The fleshly desires we go through, especially when they are sexually related, cause us to literally yearn for “pleasure” found in sin. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Just like my stomach desperately wanting food, our flesh does this with sin. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are able to conquer our flesh and triumph in Him.
  4. Just a little taste – Towards the end of the time I had been fasting, I began to look at foods on a scale of worst to best and think to myself, “Well its only a little.” But when I made the commitment to the Lord to refrain from eating for a certain amount of time, I was talking about all food. Eating one small chip is still food, no matter the quantity, and it was going back on what I dedicated to do. This is one of the biggest correlations I found between both fasting and sin. We tend to toy around with sin, entertaining those thoughts and we begin trying to convince ourselves “Well it is only a little.” And like I thought to myself, “it is just one chip, it’s not like I am eating a double-cheeseburger with bacon and all the helpings, its one little chip.” Sin is sin. In the perfect eyes of the Lord, it doesn’t matter what sin is committed, it is unholy and unrighteous. “All unrighteousness is sin…” 1 John 5:17. Now, I know that sometimes we can think things such as “it is just a little lie…. I only gossiped because I really needed to vent … I only looked at them with lust, I didnt actually do anything…” Small things we so easily dismiss is held just as poorly in the sight of the Lord as any other sin. 

I could keep going about how similar the two are, but that is not the point of this blog. I believe what the Lord was gently speaking to my heart through all of this is our desperate need for prayer and fellowship with Him in each and every aspect of our lives. Whether that be fasting from food and instead of eating we commit that time to praying, or if we are struggling with temptation and sin and need to fall to our knees in prayer, it is all about intimacy with the Lord and dependency on Him. How amazing is it to see the outline laid before us through the image and reality of fasting?

Scripture also gives warning against fasting for ourselves instead of to pray and commit time to the Lord. It should not be a ritualistic practice or done out of obligation, but truly led by the Holy Spirit and should be a complete dedication to prayer and communion with God. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18. This is the reason I didn’t know if I should post this blog or not, because I truly do not want to boast at all, but, rather, share the experience on a biblical standpoint and prayerfully speak wisdom to you the way the Holy Spirit did for me. 

I would encourage you to pray about the subject of fasting and really wait for the Lord to guide you to do this. I pray that if this is something you decide to do, that you find a closeness with the Lord through prayer like you never have before. Please know that this blog was indeed meant to shine light on the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit. The connection between fasting and sin was really an “ah ha!” moment for me and though I still have a lot to work on, this helped me to understand sin and how to overcome it a little bit more. I pray it does the same for you. Have a wonderful day everyone and be reminded about the power in Jesus’ name and how much of an impact prayer truly has. God bless!

 

~Chaya