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Day 49 WAIT

Today is the 49th day of counting the omer! And tomorrow is Shavuot/Pentecost! It has been an exciting journey, getting ready to see what great things that God has in store for us!

As Jesus prepared the disciples for His departure, He gave them one last command. “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the Gift He promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5 NLT) Notice that this was not a casual statement or simply a request. This was a command. They had a choice, but as far as Jesus was concerned, it was a command. And they all obeyed His command.

Besides the fact that they had to be in Jerusalem through Shavuot, why else would you think that Jesus told them to stay there until they received the Gift? Perhaps verse 8 of the first chapter of Acts gives us the answer. “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There was a specific reason why Jesus told them to wait, and that was so that they would be empowered to be witnesses. Jesus knew that if they were not filled with the Holy Spirit, they would not have the courage to endure the persecution and death that was coming. They would not be able to remain faithful to Him when they were being thrown to the lions, burned at the stake, starved, beheaded, or persecuted in any other way.

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that provides everything needed to make it through extreme times. It is also the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to stay true when nothing is challenging us, and life settles into a sweet little normal rhythm. At either end of the spectrum, it is easy to let go of the most precious Person in life, Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. On one end, we are terrified; on the other end, we are lulled to sleep. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit and intimacy with God that we will be able to endure.

There was urgency in the voice of Jesus that day as He spoke for the last time to the disciples. And He would say the very same thing to us with the same urgency in His voice. “Wait until the Father baptizes you with the Holy Spirit.” May we take His words as a command and ask the Father to send His Holy Spirit and fill us over and over again, empowering us to go everywhere and make disciples!

Pastor Ann

May 30, 2020

Boldly seeking; Boldly connecting; Boldly Discipling

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The PURPOSE OF PENTECOST

The purpose of Pentecost

by Board of General Superintendents | 29 May 2020 Image

BGS pentecost letter

We have been on a journey from Easter to Pentecost. The first Pentecost following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus is the birthday of the church. The events of that day are vividly described in Acts chapter 2 and reveal the purpose of Pentecost through the powerful images of wind, fire, and tongues.

Wind is descriptive of power. Fire is descriptive of purity. However, it was not power for the sake of power or purity for the sake of purity—it was power and purity given to do something. That purpose is revealed in the image of tongues: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:4).

The last words Jesus said to His first disciples are known as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you”  (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet, how were they going to do that? They did not have the power, courage, or passion for that assignment. They needed something they did not have to fulfill the missionary mandate given by Jesus: they needed a gift. Therefore, Jesus gave them this promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It is interesting that in all three of these Pentecost images, there is a reference to speaking or hearing. They “heard” the sound. They were given the gift of language to proclaim. Even the flames of fire looked like tongues. This is no accident. The Church was born to give witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gives the Church a voice to share the gospel to every generation, even to the ends of the earth. 

God does not pour out His Spirit to make us a holy huddle—God moves on His Church to make us a mighty army. Pentecost gives us the passion to care, the power to speak, and the boldness to move out. Pentecost is what purifies us, sets our hearts on fire, and enables us to communicate the unquenchable love of God and the restoration of all things through Jesus, who is making all things new. 

Not even a global pandemic can prevent the purpose of Pentecost from being fulfilled. Let us be a church on mission, empowered by the promise of the Father, purified by the sanctifying Spirit, and boldly proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

–Board of General Superintendents

To view a video devotional of this message, click here.

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Day 47 HUNGER AND THIRST

Today is the 47th day that we have been counting the omer.

Shavuot was and is the last spring Feast of the Lord. It was one of the three Feasts in which all the Jewish men were required to be in Jerusalem each year. It was a time when God gave gifts to His people.

The first Shavuot, Yehovah gave the gift of His commandments. He wanted them to know how things were done in His Kingdom. He had just asked Israel to be His bride, and they had agreed. So He gave them the wonderful gift of His commandments. He wanted them to be different from all the other nations because they loved Him and belonged to Him. They would demonstrate through their lives the original plan that Yehovah had when He created the world. Unfortunately, before they had been engaged to God for forty days, they turned their backs on Him and began worshiping other gods. However, He continued to provide for them.

On the Shavuot that occurred ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, God gave another gift. He poured out His Gift upon the disciples, baptizing them with the Holy Spirit.  Now Yehovah had not only told His bride how things were done in His Kingdom, but He had also given His Spirit to them so that they would be able to live according to His character out of a heart of love. No longer would it be difficult to keep His ways. Now their hearts would be soft to Him and they would long to know Him even more.

God has given us His commandments. Jesus boiled them down to two. We are to love the LORD our God with all our hearts, souls, and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In His Kingdom, that is the standard. He baptizes us with His Holy Spirit so that we are continually drawn and empowered to reflect His character. The truth is that we must be intentional on a daily basis, to grow in our intimacy with Him if we are going to be prepared to be His bride. It is one thing to say that we are part of His Kingdom, but it is quiet another thing to be so in love with Him that we want to be in His Presence all the time. The greatest life is promised to those who have that deep love for Him!

What will we choose? Will we struggle and frequently be unsuccessful in keeping Him first in our lives? Will we find ourselves routinely drawn away from Him because our focus is on ourselves? Or will we ask Him and allow Him to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and nurture that relationship so that our hearts are continually yearning to know Him and be in His Presence? May God help us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, for Jesus promised that if we do, then God will fill us with His Holy Spirit.

Pastor Ann

May 28, 2020

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Day 46 Nearing Refreshing

Today is the 46th day that we have been counting the omer.

It is almost Shavuot! We are almost there! Just three more days of counting the omer. The next day is Pentecost! I do hope that you can sense the excitement in the air today. And I hope that the excitement continues to build until we reach our goal on the 50th day!

What was the purpose of Yeshua pouring out the Holy Spirit and baptizing the disciples on the day of Pentecost/Shavuot? According to John chapters 14, 15, and 16 the Holy Spirit is to be our Counselor. He is the Spirit of truth and will guide us into all truth. He will only point us to Yeshua and will teach us all things, connecting the pieces together that Yeshua taught. The Holy Spirit prays for us because sometimes we do not know what to pray for. Jesus says in John 16:8-11 (NLT) that the Holy Spirit also comes to “convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.” All these are essential responsibilities of the Holy Spirit.

But there is something more that Jesus knew would be required. The Holy Spirit could do all those things, but if humans were to be the physical instruments, continuing the mission of Jesus after His departure, those humans were going to need more than just their own abilities and memories of experiences with Yeshua. Memories fade with time and human abilities will not complete the mission. Therefore, Jesus commanded His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NIV) The New Living Translation says, “fills you with power from heaven.”

It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Kingdom of God will be expanded on earth. Nothing else will do. It is not by charisma or eloquent speech or powerful personalities that the Kingdom will be expanded. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Are we ready for a fresh outpouring, a fresh baptism with the Holy Spirit? May it be so today!

Pastor Ann

May 27, 2020

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Day 44 THE HOLINESS TRAIL

Today is the 44th day that we have been counting the omer.

Have you ever been walking down a trail and suddenly the trail splits? Maybe you were not expecting it. You try to see around the next corners to determine which way to go. There are no signs posted, and you do not want to get lost. Neither direction, as far as you can see, gives you a hint about which one you should take. I have been there, and despite the beauty and tranquility of the trails, a question always arises in my mind about which way I should take.

I think that is something like what the children of Israel came to in Deuteronomy 11. And as Moses laid it out for them that day, they had a choice to either follow God and receive the blessing or follow other gods and receive the curses. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the commands of Yehovah your God that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the commands of Yehovah your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

In the verses above, notice that Moses told them that he was setting a decision before them “today”. Every day, continually, we have decisions to make regarding our relationship with God. Each day and throughout every part of the day, we have the opportunity and responsibility to make choices that impact our relationship with the King of kings.

Today I am wanting us to look at a higher choice than simply choosing a blessing or a curse. I want us to see that God gives us the choice to come up even closer to Him than when we first believed. Which trail brings us toward that goal? I will tell you that the trail is the one called “Holiness”. Intentionally choosing to seek the Lord daily, listen intently, and follow His ways radically, brings us to another split in the trail. There, we have the opportunity to commit ourselves totally to Him and ask that Yeshua, Jesus, baptize us with the Holy Spirit even as He baptized His disciples on the day of Pentecost almost 2000 years ago. It is certainly not the easiest trail to walk on. It will bring us to places where we must build an altar and give God things that hinder us. As we walk with Him, He shows us things or areas of our lives that we never saw before, things that cause Him pain. It requires a dedication in the strongest terms possible. However, the rewards are the highest, for it brings the greatest intimacy with the Holy One of Israel!

Are you ready to choose the trail of Holiness?

Pastor Ann

May 25, 2020

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HAVE YOU RECIEVED? Day 43

Today is the 43rd day that we have been counting the omer.

I’m reminded today of an account we find in Acts 19:2-6 (CJB). Paul has just arrived in Ephesus and met with a few disciples. “He asked them ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you came to trust.’ ‘No,’ they said to him, ‘we have never even heard that there is such a thing as the Holy Spirit.’ ‘In that case,’ he said, ‘into what were you baptized?’ ‘The baptism of John,’ they answered. Paul said, ‘John practiced a baptism in connection with turning from sin to God; but he told the people to put their trust in the one who would come after him, that is, Yeshua’. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Yeshua; and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; so that they began speaking in languages and prophesying.”

These folks were followers of the teachings of God and were conducting themselves in a righteous manner. They were keeping the commandments and had turned away from their sins against God. Now Paul entered the picture and discovered that although they were really good people and were trusting in God, they had never heard that the Messiah Yeshua had come. He asked them a huge question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you came to trust?” Another translation (KJV) wrote it this way, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?

I think this is the question that God wants us to ask ourselves today. Jesus told His disciples to stay put in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit so that they would be empowered to do the will of the Father. So many times, we find ourselves spiritually anemic, not having the power or maybe even the desire to accomplish what Jesus commanded us to do. Sometimes we make excuses for ourselves saying that it is not our personality to do or say certain things about our relationship with God. And certainly, God gave each one of us our personalities so that we are able to reach individuals that no one else would ever be able to impact. But if we take that to the extreme and allow it to be the door behind which we hide, then we must examine ourselves to see if we really have been changed inside. Probably none of us will ever be a second Billy Graham, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, or any of the other great preachers of the past. However, that does not relieve us of the responsibility to be intimately involved in our Lord’s command – “Go and make disciples.” But we must know that it is not through our own power or ability that the expansion of His Kingdom is accomplished. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit! That is why it is so critical for us to completely surrender ourselves to God and ask Him to come cleanse us and fill us with His Holy Spirit! There really is no other way to do the work except through His power!!

As we expectantly look forward to Shavuot (Pentecost), I hope that the thing that has steadfastly stuck in your mind throughout these weeks of counting is that you want to have such a relationship with our God that you are excitedly carrying out His commands and looking forward to His soon-coming. I hope that your intimacy with God has blossomed into a beautiful reflection of Him. Ultimately, this is only possible through the infilling of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?

Pastor Ann

May 24, 2020

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Day 41 HOLY SPIRIT POWER

Today is the 41st day that we have been counting the omer.

Luke 24:49-53 (NLT), “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, He blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped Him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the temple, praising God.”

Acts 1:8-11 (NLT), “’But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’. After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him. As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday He will return from heaven in the same way you saw Him go!’”

Jesus had done all He could do to ensure that the disciples were convinced beyond any possibility of a doubt that He was alive. He had meals with them; He continued to teach them about the Kingdom of Heaven. He connected the dots for them from the prophets and through all the writings found in the Old Testament. He proved to them that He was the Messiah and would return to be the King over all the world. He knew all the persecution that would follow. He knew who would be the first to die for proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. And, He already knew who will be the last to die for faith in Jesus. For 40 days, He worked diligently to confirm His Father’s truths to them. He knew that they would be put on the witness stand and would have to be convinced beyond convincing that what He had told them was true. And now, He was leaving.

He commanded them to return to Jerusalem and stay there until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. He did not ask them if they wanted to do that. He commanded them to do it. According to Jesus, it was essential, not optional. He knew that despite the fact that He had just spent 40 days confirming and reconfirming, teaching and reteaching, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was the critical piece that would be required if they were going to ready to be put on the witness stand of the world. He knew that the methods that would be used to bring about their deaths would require the indwelling of the Holy Spirit if they were to stand firmly. So He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem.

If it was essential for them, it is essential for us. More believers are dying for their faith today than at any time throughout history. We in the United States have not been persecuted like those in the rest of the world. But as we come down to the end of this age, it would not surprise me if we begin to see terrible persecution. Will we be ready? Only through the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to stand! This was His last command, the last thing on His mind before He left. We must not ignore this command. It is ESSENTIAL.

Pastor Ann

May 22, 2020

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Call to Duty

Memorial Day is a unique holiday.  Every year it gives Americans an opportunity to reflect on the cost of answering the call to duty.  Whether you or someone you know is military, a first responder, or even a parent you recognize what that means.  When you respond to that call the outcome is not cut and dried.  You don’t know that all will end well.  There is no guarantee that everyone will survive to tell the tale.  When the call to duty is answered sometimes people die. 

Now I know some of you are saying, “REALLY? A parent?”  Yes, really.  Parents have a duty to their children that exceeds the call of our country or our community.  As a parent, protecting one’s child is the primary call.  Does that mean a person will die because they are a parent?  No.  But it does mean that if they love their children as God planned they are willing to die for them.  

God knows this price and understands this call to protect His children.  Jesus paid the ultimate price when He answered the call to protect all of God’s children by accepting responsibility for every sin ever committed.  He took that burden with Him to the cross.  By nailing those sins on the cross, Jesus protected us from eternal death and provided us the opportunity for eternal life.

We need only step out in faith.  Our call to duty is to believe that God is.  That Jesus is His son who died for us.  Our call is to faithfully proclaim our belief in Him and follow Him all the days of our lives.

If you are hungry and want to know more, PLEASE join us in the parking lot at 964 W Hwy 190 this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m.  Pastor Ann has a special message she’ll be sharing with us that you don’t want to miss.

For those of you unable to join us please check us out on FB livestream at 9:20.  You can also find us on YouTube and at our website: www.covenazarene.org

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Day 40 ASCENSION DAY

Today is our 40th day counting the omer.

In some places, today is called Ascension Day because 40 days after Jesus rose from the grave, He ascended from earth to heaven where He “sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Mark 16:19 NLT). Jesus had been with His disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time after His resurrection, “the majority of whom are still alive, though some have died.”

What a day that must have been for the disciples! They had been following Him through all the days of ministry and had been so elated when they discovered that He really had risen from the dead. To have Him there with them for another 40 days must have been the icing on top of the cake! But now they have come unknowingly to the day that He would leave them, never to be physically seen again in their lives. Jesus took them over to Bethany, just a bit less than 2 miles from Jerusalem. There He finished reinforcing the most important things about the Kingdom of heaven. Suddenly, His feet started lifting off the ground! Maybe it was slow at first, but He just kept going up and up.

I do not know how long they stood and watched Him ascend. Evidently it was long enough for two angels to come and stand among them. They were probably still looking up when the two angels began talking to them. “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 CJB) I do not know what the disciples were thinking as they walked back to Jerusalem. Perhaps they were mulling over all the events in their minds. At some point, they remembered what the angels had said, “This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” They had so much work to do to proclaim to all the world that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but the promise was forever in their minds – He’s coming back just like He left.

We most certainly would have been right with them staring up into the sky and outer space. Our thoughts and emotions would have probably been a very mixed bag. But as we stand here, almost 2000 years after He ascended, may we never forget that He will return in the same way that He departed. May we be so convinced that He will soon return that we will work harder than ever before to expand His Kingdom using all means possible! And, may God help us not to be caught flat-footed when He returns.

Pastor Ann

May 21, 2020

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HIS PRESENCE on Day 39

Today is the 39th day that we have been counting the omer.

The fourth chapter of Joshua has a very interesting statement found at the end of the crossing of the Jordon River. Twelve men have just picked up stones from the middle of the riverbed and brought them to the west bank. Joshua tells the people, “In the future, when your children ask, ‘What do you mean by these stones?’ you will answer them, ‘It’s because the water in the Yarden was cut off before the ark of the covenant of Yehovah; when it crossed the Yarden, the water in the Yarden was cut off; and these stones are to be a reminder for the people of Israel forever.’” (Joshua 4:6b-7 CJB)

The statement that jumps out to me the most is, “It’s because the water in the Yarden was cut off before the ark of the covenant of Yehovah; when it crossed the Yarden, the water of the Yarden was cut off….” Stop for a moment and read that verse again. Notice that the water was not cut off because of Joshua, it was not cut off because of the priests. The water was cut off because of the ark of the covenant! I do not know how long Joshua thought about what he was going to say, but what he did say was very profound.

His statement reinforces to us today the fact that it is not by might nor by power that things are accomplished, but “it is by My Spirit says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies” (Zechariah 4:6 NLT). If we ever get to the place that we think it is by human strength, force or ingenuity, our plans, or our great brainpower, we will fail. The Presence of God is what stopped the water in the Jordon just as His Presence stopped the water in the Red Sea, opening both so that the people could cross on dry land. Oh yes, people had their roles to play. Moses had to hold up his staff; Joshua had to give the order; the priests had to step into the water and stand firmly, but it was God’s Presence that commanded the water to move out of His way!

And it will be the same for us today. We will see Him work as we do exactly what He says. We cannot make it about us. It is simply us doing what He tells us to do. It is not about us doing something that we have thought up. It is about Him! My challenge to us today is that we carefully listen to Him and follow Him precisely. This requires an intentionally intimate relationship with the God of Heaven’s armies. Then, we can expect Him to show up and demonstrate His power and majesty to all who will have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Pastor Ann

May 20, 2020

POURING OUT Day 48

Today is the 48th day that we have been counting the omer.

God called to the children of Israel at Mt Sinai saying, “I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am Yehovah your God, who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:7 CJB) Many years later, Jeremiah prophesied that Yehovah would someday put His Torah (instructions) within the people and write it on their hearts. Again Yehovah said, “I will be their God and they will be My people.”

The first covenant was made between God and the children of Israel at Mt Sinai. Unfortunately, the children of Israel did not remain faithful to the covenant. The fault was not with the covenant but with the people. According to the footnotes in my Complete Jewish Study Bible, “the only ‘fault’ in the first covenant, if one should even call it that, is that it does not contain in itself the power to keep the people faithful.” (p 1739)

Yehovah was looking forward in time to the Shavuot following Jesus’ ascension when He would pour out His Spirit upon all mankind who would love Him, and He would put His “Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they will be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 & Hebrews 8:10) Then the prophet Joel, quoting Yehovah proclaimed, “I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity” (Joel 2:28). Peter quoted this same portion in Acts 2:17 on the Day of Pentecost/Shavuot.

God pours out His Spirit on Shavuot in part to provide the power the people need to remain faithful. If the children of Israel could be drawn away very quickly in a time when life was much less complicated, how much more do we need His Holy Spirit to be on the thrones of our hearts in these times of technological advances that allow each of us to carry in the palms of our hands computers called ‘smart phones’, giving us access to everything in the world and viewing anything we desire with one tap on “go”? John was not wrong. We are like the Israelites and are drawn away from God by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16). Therefore it is imperative that we ask the Father to send His Holy Spirit, not only to cover us but also to reign in us, teaching and empowering us to be His people so that we may continually live according to His commands.

I encourage us all to eagerly implore Yehovah to pour out His Spirit once again and baptize us as He did on the Day of Pentecost almost 2000 years ago!

Pastor Ann

May 29, 2020

Day 45 NOT BY BREAD ALONE

Today is the 45th day that we have been counting the omer.

God fed the children of Israel for more than forty years during their trip from Egypt to the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses said, “He humbled you, allowing you to become hungry, and then fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to make you understand that a person does not live on food alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of Yehovah.” (CJB) God allowed the people to come to the place that they were not able to provide for themselves. They could not figure out a way to provide the food needed to keep themselves alive. It was at that point that God did something for them that they could not do for themselves. He provided manna.

Do you remember the story of Jesus being tempted after His baptism? Jesus had fasted for forty days. He had to be very hungry! It was then that Satan came and tempted Him, telling Him that if He really was the Son of God, He could turn the stones into bread. Jesus replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of Yehovah.” (Matthew 4:4)

Although the trend in our world today is that the government will provide for us, traditionally, we have been taught that we can only rely upon ourselves. If we refuse to acknowledge that God is the One who provides, we will ultimately end up worshiping ourselves or the government instead of God. If we choose to use our own abilities to provide, we should not be surprised if God humbles us as He did Israel.

Our challenge today is to depend upon Him at the deepest level of our lives. Those deep levels are where we develop intimacy with Him, as we chew and meditate upon His word. The closer we draw to Him, the more our lives are filled with His Presence, and we realize that everything we need in all aspects of life comes from Him.

What do you need today? What are you hungry for? God wants to provide for you what you cannot provide for yourself. The more you know Him, the more you want Him and the more you will receive from Him.

Pastor Ann

May 26, 2020

Day 42 SET OURSELVES APART

Today is the 42nd day that we have been counting the omer.

Throughout the Old Testament, God highlights the requirement to be different from all those around us. This is evident as He requires Abraham, his household and all his male descendants to be circumcised. It is seen again as God verbally gives His commandments to the Israelites at Mt Sinai and then in written form to Moses. Each one of God’s commandments reflect His holiness and His standard for living. He wants a people set apart. He not only desires but requires that they serve no other god. They were to have no other god in His face. They are to only worship Him, Yehovah. He wants a “different” people so that they stand out from all those around them.

As His people, we are to imitate Him by sanctifying ourselves, setting ourselves apart for Him alone. We are to choose to more accurately reflect Him by sanctifying things in our lives such as our possessions so that even those things are holy in His sight. We are to make sure that the things we own are not used in ways that are unholy. Maybe that means what is viewed on our TV or what our vehicles are used for…. Our time is sanctified when we set apart time to be in His Presence, drawing closer and developing intimacy with Him. Adherence to His commands hopefully is the fruit of sanctifying ourselves and living in a loving relationship with Him.

Leviticus 20:23-24; 26 (English Standard Version) “You shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am driving out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them…. I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples…. You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

It is very easy for us to forget how adamant Yehovah is about living and being separate from the world in which we live. I am not talking about going and living on a mountain top, having no contact with others. I am talking about choosing to live our lives in such a way that we refuse to pick up the habits of this world in which we live. Our language, what we watch or bring into our being through any of our five senses, what we approve, where we go, our behaviors, and our attitudes are to reflect our God. Yes, He knows that we are human, but that does not give us license to do things that do not reflect His character. We cannot think and act in this manner: “well, this might be wrong, but God will always forgive me”. He requires us to be different from those who do not believe in Him. We are “to walk in humility and obedience and in the beauty of holiness – the beauty of His Presence – because He wants us to be His own. He desires for us to be consecrated and devoted in love to Him alone.” (A Taste of Torah, A devotional Study Through the Five Books of Moses, Keren Hannah Pryor, 2016) He wants so much for us to grow in intimacy and oneness of heart and mind with Him, sanctifying ourselves for Him. He wants the world to look at us and know that we are different even as He wanted the children of Israel to be different from the rest of the world. Through their difference, they were to proclaim to the world that there is only one God, and His Name is Yehovah.

Our challenge today is to do even as Paul tells those living in Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:17 NLT) “Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.” Will we choose to be like Yehovah, or will we choose to be like the world in which we live?

Pastor Ann

May 23, 2020