Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dance with me

During this season of worship, please enjoy a beautiful depiction of the love between Yeshua and His bride.  My heart overflows with joy as I draw close to Him and glory in the love of my Beloved.  He has truly captured my heart.  There is no joy like the joy He gives.  I pray you know Him like this. 

Shalom and blessings to you and yours.
I'm sharing this at Spiritual Sundays, Something Beautiful, Grati-Tuesday, and  a Holy Experience

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas - unplugged

As I said in my last post, I am blessed to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.  I celebrate Christmas very differently than most, and very differently from the way I did it in years past.   I read a quote this week that sums up my outlook on Christmas celebrations.

"Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ."

Years ago, I read the book  Unplug the Christmas Machine that had a profound impact on me.  I was a young mother at the time, and completely worn out by "Christmas".  I ran myself ragged shopping, decorating, entertaining, being entertained...and you know the rest of the story.  After reading the book, I decided to do Christmas differently, and it has evolved over time.  Slowly, I began to do gifts differently.  I shopped, spent, and decorated less, and began to worship more.

Who is Christmas about, after all?  Isn't it about Yeshua?  Weren't the first gifts brought to Him?  I can remember, as a small girl, feeling like something was missing at Christmas.  Yes, I knew and read the story of His birth...but what was I giving Him?  My little girl heart knew He was being ignored... in spite of all the decorations, presents, parties, and hoopla.  Even as a small girl, I sensed He was grieved.

Somewhere along the line, in my desire to love Him and honor Him, I read about the pagan basis for Christmas.   I learned that Yeshua was most likely not born in the winter because the shepherds were tending their flocks in the hills.  I learned that the Bible says not to put a tree in your house and decorate it (Jer.10:1-5).  And don't even get me started on Santa Claus.  I had to ask myself if G-d is pleased by telling children that lie.  I have a grandson now, and I much prefer that he learn about G-d's appointed feasts and festivals than the world's.  I'm thankful that his parents feel the same.

Yeshua celebrated those feasts, including Hanukkah.  He also said, "I have not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it."  I don't think He meant to stop celebrating His feasts, but to realize in celebrating them that He is the fulfillment of them.  They are all tactile, hands-on lessons that teach us about His character and about our relationship to Him.  Yeshua is, after all, the G-d of the Old Testament, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If he said we would observe His feasts forever, shouldn't we be doing that and follow His example? 

For that reason, I celebrate Hanukkah - with Yeshua as the Light of the World.  I observe Christmas as the fact that  He was born as a man.  I worship Him - not the Christmas tree, or the presents, or the whole machine that Christmas has become.  I'm much happier doing it that way.

For me, Christmas is a time of peace and of drawing close to Him.  I thank Him that He was willing to become a man and to suffer as we do in this earth, to understand our frailty.  I thank Him that He didn't give in to sin so that He could be that perfect offering for sin.  I thank Him for His light that has shone in my heart and taken root there.  I thank Him for the blessing of being in His family and for the gift of His Word to guide my life.  I thank Him for the Ruach Hacodesh living inside me. I am so glad He came.

What's funny about being a Messianic Jewish believer is that sometimes Hanukkah comes before Christmas, and then sometimes it's just the opposite.  So, mostly, we celebrate all month long -  that Yeshua was born and that He was the Light of the World.  We put up blue and white lights and listen to Hanukkah music as well as songs of Christmas that celebrate our Savior's birth.  We make special foods and fellowship with friends.  Yes, I do give gifts, but they are quite minimal.  No more pushing myself to keep up with the Christmas machine.  I play music, and go to free concerts that focus on Yeshua.  I ride around and look at the lights and worship my Savior.  My heart is so full of gratitude and worship.

This video is so wonderful.  I hope you'll watch it, and stand up with me and praise and worship Yeshua - the King of Kings and L-rd of Lords.   Halelu-jah!  (a great Hebrew word that means Praise G-d!).  I'm shaaring this at           Spiritual Sundays

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yeshua is the Light of Hanukkah

Let the candle-lighting begin!  Yes, Hanukkah started Wednesday night at sundown...and a delightful holiday it is. 

I am so blessed to be able to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.  Granted I don't celebrate Christmas like most people do, but it is a joyful time for me as a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. 

As Messianic Jewish believers, we celebrate this holiday in remembrance of a great miracle God performed for the Jews.   Each night for eight days, my husband and I place colorful candles in a Hanukkah menorah in remembrance of God’s miracle working power. 

The holiday originated when Judah the Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the temple from Syrian King Antiochus IV. The temple was cleansed and prepared for rededication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means "dedication." When the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was relit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. Yet,  the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found.  Hence, the expression: “A Great Miracle Happened There”. 

Yeshua observed Hanukkah, as recorded in John 10: 22-23:  “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the Temple, in Solomon’s porch.”  He was there, in His Father’s House, to observe the Feast of Hanukkah.  It is also significant that in John 8:12  Yeshua declared, “I am the Light of the World”.  This statement would have great impact during the Feast of Dedication.  The Jews knew exactly what He was saying.  He was declaring Himself to be G-d. 

This week,  my husband, Rabbi Jem and I along with the members of our congregation, celebrate Hanukkah together with  singing, dancing, food, drink, and much talking together.  We remember that our God is a miracle working God. Not just in the Bible, but in our own lives today.   It is traditional to sing the song Rock of Ages.  Most Christians don’t know this Jewish song which commemorates Hanukkah.  As we sing it, we also remember that Yeshua is our Rock of Ages who saves us from sin’s power:

Rock of Ages let our song
Praise thy saving power
Thou amidst the raging foes
Was our sheltering tower.
Furious, they assailed us,
But thine armour veiled us.
And thy word broke their sword
When our own strength failed us

The light (Yeshua) has come into the world, and that flame never dies in the hearts of believers.  That holy oil continues to burn and give hope to those of us who have accepted Yeshua into our hearts.  I can testify that a great miracle happened in my life when Yeshua came in.  In spite of trouble or hardship or conflict, my hope never dies.  That oil just keeps on burning, just as it did at the first Hanukkah. 

As we remember the traditions of this Feast of Dedication, we have also added a new one:  to take this time to rededicate our lives to let the “Light” shine through us.  We possess the message so needed by the world. 

Tonight, during our service, we will also sing the song "Yeshua is the Light"  by Zemer Levav.  I hope you will take the time to listen and to remember that His Light can overcome any darkness in your life.  

Linked to Spiritual Sundays (Thanks, Charlotte and Ginger!)
Also linked to Sunday Song, and Seasonal Sundays