The Magnitude of Christ’s Suffering

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. – Revelation 21:21

“Each of the gates of the city is a single, almost 1,400 mile-high pearl. Even as earthly pearls are formed in response to the wounding of an oysters flesh, so these gigantic, supernatural pearls will remind saints throughout eternity of the magnitude of Christ’s suffering and its eternal benefit.” – MacArthur

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My Journey in Learning Hebrew: How I got Started

Pray for the Peace of JerusalemI was heading home after dropping my son off at school. I pass by Temple Beth El every day. On this day I thought, “Why not give them a call and ask about Hebrew lessons?” So I quickly mapped the location on my phone and got their number while at the red light in front of the temple. I called and the receptionist exclaimed “Perfect timing! We only do one or two adult Hebrew classes a year and we have one today at 4:15!” I told her, “Sign me up!” I laughed most of the way home as I knew it was not my perfect timing but God’s.

I went to the first class armed with my note pad and pen, early as usual to anything academic related. Once the class started the teacher announced that anyone interested in taking more classes outside of this class that she would love to “give back” to the community by offering her tutoring services for FREE!

WHAT?!!! Again I said, “SIGN ME UP!” Yet another gift from God!

It turned out that I was the only student interested, so my lovely friend Barbara has been tutoring me for the past 2 and a half months. What a blessing she is and as I look at how it all came to be, the clear hand of God has been on everything related to this Jewish Temple allowing me, a Christian into their world to teach me the things of our Elohim. Amazing!

Maranatha!

My Journey in Learning Hebrew

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Over the past few months I have had a deep unexplainable urge to learn Hebrew. My journey has been so fascinating that I would like to share with those of you who might be interested in some things I have found to make my journey immeasurably fruitful.

Everyone from my Jewish step-mom, to my sister, to the secretary at my church have all asked “Why?” with some confusion laced in their expression. My first thought was “Why not?” But to say that would be disrespectful. I honestly had no idea. I know if you asked me 6 months ago what my interest in Judaism, Israel, and the Hebrew language was I would have said “slim to none other than the fact that my Christian roots come from Jewish history and that my step family is Jewish.” Fast forward 3 months and all I can think about is Israel. A whole section of my day is reserved for praying for Jerusalem. I am enamored with learning about Jewish tradition and their language. So the question still stands… Why?

I know for sure that one reason I desire to learn to read, write, and speak Hebrew is a need to understand what God meant when the Bible was penned. The words in Hebrew have a much larger breadth of meaning than the translated English words do. Therefor, passages are often literally lost in translation.

The reason for learning the traditions and cultures as they relate to “now” and to the historically understood “then” is to be able to understand the context in which it was written as well as how Jews translate or keep those traditions today and how that applies to me as a YHWH worshiping soul. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.) 🙂

Those two reasons are the only way I can explain it, but deeper than those is something I have no way of explaining. I just feel called to learn and to pray for Israel. As a side note, I am praying for the FINAL peace of Jerusalem, not a “peace treaty” or anything other than the revealed glory of God through the revival of his people.

Over the next few days I am going to delve into my journey and show you YHWH’s guiding and providential hand in it all.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3, ESV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6-9, ESV)

Maranatha!

Did your money just go right down the drain? Merry CHRISTmas!

Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. – Haggai 1:5-6

In light of Christmas this hits home. It is hard to watch people get so greedy at this time of year wanting more and more and for me not to get wrapped up in it all. Forgive me Lord on this day for taking even the slightest amount of glory away from You. Help me to give you praise today and great thanks for coming to this earth as one of us, to die for us. Help me to remember the reason for this day and to give and receive with gladness in the spirit of your love because you loved me first and gave me the most precious present in all the world. Thank you!

Merry CHRISTmas and Maranatha!

Do you Keep Stuffing your Hole?

jenosullivan_20131103_0025_webIt’s Christmas time and under our tree are a ton of wrapped presents. Our 5 year old is going out of his mind every day wanting soooo sooo badly to open his presents. He is so present-crazed that when we go to the store to pick up bread or other items we need he is willing to spend his saved money from past birthdays to buy small items to ease his discomfort. The desire is so strong I almost feel bad for him. Almost.

My pastor, Pastor Mike Fabarez, used this sermon illustration this past year about babies and I think it is so relevant to this topic. Have you ever seen a baby suck on anything that comes near their mouth? They will suck on anything. Your hand, your keys, the pillow, the floor, your nose. They are looking for the thing they desire most: milk. It is instinct. We have a same guttural desire that we were all born with whether we like it or not. We were all made in the image of God and we all desire him at our core even if we do not know what to call it. I have heard it said to be that we all are born with a “God-Shaped Hole” in our hearts and that until we find God, or more precisely God calls us, we constantly stuff other things in the void in our lives. Think about it. Are you ever really truly satisfied?

Do you find yourself saying to your friend, spouse, parent, or self “If I could just have that (fill in the blank) then I would be happy.” I hear it all the time and used to say it all the time. I always desired the next great purse or car or home. I remember being a kid wanting this or that and seeing that as I got older the items on my list grew bigger and bigger. Have you ever gotten caught up in the “Secret” craze, creating “vision boards”? Mine had a private jet, a butler and chef, a huge estate, and all sorts of other items that I truly believed if I obtained those things THEN I would be happy. Guess what? If you go ask someone who has all those things on the surface they will say they are happy, but if you knew them well they most likely would still feel like something is missing.

Are you able to honestly asses your desires? What gifts are you getting this year for the holidays or your birthday? Would you be willing to give them up? Do you need them so badly that you would justify keeping them? I am not saying the items themselves are bad and that if you do have a private jet then you are not saved. What I am saying is that if your desires for those things or the things themselves become idols in your heart (meaning you are desperate to have them or keep them) then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with God.

The phenomenal thing about having a true relationship with God is that you feel utterly complete. You lack nothing. There is nothing in this world that you need anymore. Literally. Your lifestyle, your things, your relationships, even your own life becomes inconsequential to God’s will. To put it plainly would you be willing to do any or all of the following if God asked you to. Remember, these are just hypothetical but please make an effort to fully visualize each scenario.

  1. You are called to quit your job and work at an orphanage in the inner city.
  2. You are called to sell your house and move in with a family member to donate most of your money to charity.
  3. You are called to sell your entire shoe (or bag, or baseball card or whatever you collect) collection to help a family down the street who lost their job.
  4. You are called to leave your kids and your spouse indefinitely to go on a mission overseas.
  5. You are called to go to a country and spread the gospel where Christianity is outlawed and punishable by death.

If you are justifying these examples by saying something like, well my husband would never let me do that and God tells me I must obey my husband then you are putting God in a box. Believe me, if God wanted you to leave your kids and husband to do something for him, he would sanctify the decision by making your husband desire you to do it too. God lines up peoples hearts even if they are not his. He uses and animated every single person on the planet. You may also say you are too afraid. Well, read Jonah and see how things turned out for him. His heart was truly messed up and he battled God the entire way even after he relented and did what he was told.

Be honest with yourself and test yourself. Determine what you are unwilling to give up. Ask God to help rid these things and that he would reveal himself to you. What a joyous release it is to not have to ever try fitting anything else into the God-shaped void that was in my life. My heart is overflowing with joy and true life-breathed completeness that I never thought possible!

Shalom!

Have you ever really counted the cost?

Follow MeHave you ever counted the cost? Did you find your “faith” in one of the following ways?

  1. I grew up in the Church so I have known God and loved Jesus since I was a child.
  2. I gave my life to Christ in Junior High at a camp. It was very emotional and a wonderful “mountain top” experience.
  3. I prayed the “sinner’s prayer” with someone to have Jesus come into my heart.
  4. I was baptized as a child so I’m covered.
  5. I raised my hand at the end of a sermon when the pastor did a call to salvation.
  6. I walked the isle at a church when I was in college and gave my life to Christ.
  7. I had hands laid on me and was prayed over to receive salvation.

These are just a few ways people in the 21st century tend to “find” Jesus. Your salvation may, in fact, be true and you have lived a change life ever since. However if you fall into the category of “I gave my life to Christ but never really saw a change because I’ve always been a good person” you may want to do some digging or even just a simple look into how you live your life. Here is a list of what the cost is to follow Jesus as it states in the Bible. The gift of salvation is free, we do not have to pay a penalty or work to get salvation, however there is a worldly cost, or rather loss to us if we are true followers of Jesus.

  1. You must deny yourself. (Mark 8:34)
  2. You must be emphatically, overwhelmingly, and fully in love with Yahweh (God). (Matthew 22:37-38)
  3. You must love Jesus more than you do your kids. (Matthew 10:37)
  4. You must love Jesus more than you do yourself. (Luke 14:26-27)
  5. You must consider what you spend your money on. (Luke 9:56–62)
  6. You must consider your comfort compared to the comfort of others. (Luke 9:56–62)
  7. Do you look like everyone else on the planet? Could anyone look at your life who is not a Christian and say, “Now there is a follower of Jesus!”? (Romans 12:2) (James 4:4)
  8. Does anyone literally hate you because you are outspoken for Jesus? (John 15:18-21) (2 Timothy 3:12)
  9. When we sin as a child of Yahweh (God) we will get disciplined. (Revelation 3:19) (Hebrews 10:31)
  10. Do you suffer more now that you are a Christian than when you were not? THIS IS BIG FOR TODAY’S “CHRISTIANS” AND IS OFTEN WHY THE COST IS TOO HIGH. (1 Peter 1:6-9) (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) (James 1:2-4) (Romans 5:3-5)

Below are some great articles for further reading:

The Cost of Being a Disciple

The Cost of Following Jesus

Snowfall in Israel, a plea from God?

Today’s Daily Bible Reading in Amos chapters 4-6 is so relevant in light of what is happening this very day in Israel. With the worst snow fall in over 50 years and many being evacuated from homes not prepared for weather like this I wonder if Yahweh (God) is trying to, yet again get the attention of His people. I pray every day for revival in Israel. With over 6 million Jews living in Israel and an estimated mere 20,000 Messianic Jews let us all pray for Yahweh to continue to reveal himself to His people and that they would soon find their Messiah in our Lord Jesus Christ! Revive your people O Lord!!! Bring them back to you!

לחשוף את עצמך לבני עמך יהוה

(Reveal Yourself to your people O LORD)

Maranatha!

Face Down Before the Living God

By Alyssa Cuccia
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

This is one of my favorite chapters! What a beautiful picture it gives us of the glory of God and the words of worship that we will proclaim to Him! I cannot wait to join the saints around the throne and worship our holy Creator together! May we worship Him now through the way that we live our lives and may all that we say and do be reflective of a heart that is face down before the living God, in complete submission to His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Our God is so much more worthy of our praise and worship than we could possibly fathom. God, grant us true hearts of worship and let us look forward to the day where we will truly and fully worship you as saints without sin. Maranatha!

He is our Healer

By Alyssa Cuccia
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.” Hosea 14:4

In the reading in Hosea and Revelation, there is this constant willingness of God to receive back the people who turn from Him time and time again. Israel had rebelled against the Lord big time, turning to idols and forgetting their God, yet the Lord continued to be gracious to them! This steadfast love is unimaginable and yet this is the same love the God extends to His people today! Once we have been saved, we are secured in the family of God as His children and He will not let us go, despite our wanderings. May we cling to this promise today and remember that the Lord is gracious to us when we rebel against Him (as our hearts so easily wander) and He wants only that we will come to Him in humble repentance and turn from our sin so that He might cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If there is anything hindering us from closeness with God today, may we repent of it, knowing that our loving Father welcomes us and will love us freely and gently. What a wonderful Father and friend we have in the Lord! He is our Healer!

Bright Light, Bright Light

LightThis morning I woke up much too early, but alas, I was awake. In the darkness I felt around on my night stand for my iPad to do some reading. Yeeouch!!! Bright light! Bright light! The light radiating off the screen was too much for my tired darkened eyes to handle. It took several minutes of warming up before I could stop squinting at the screen with one eye closed and the other half open.

When we live in sin, it is like living in darkness. The light actually hurts so we stay away from it. Consider things you are doing “in the dark” and if light were shed on them how would you feel. Consider re-adjusting the “eyes of your soul” and do whatever it takes to live in the light. It is much harder to do as all our wrinkles and defects then show, however I promise, once you get used to it you will never want to go back. Jesus is the light and the one who takes away the sins of the world.

Maranatha!