Most of us know the story of Jacob in Genesis 32:22 where he wrestled with someone until he received the blessing he was hoping for. There are many different ideas on who he wrestled but the Scriptures mention God. One interpretation is that he literally wrestled with God, hence getting the name Israel, which means "one who struggles with God". "Struggles with God" doesn't seem like a positive thing to do. As I studied and as I look at my life and how I walk out my faith, I'm seeing that it is a healthy thing to struggle or wrestle with God.
At one point in the story, Jacob was not going to let go of the person until he received the blessing. When two people wrestle there is always contact of some kind, whether it's their whole body or even just parts like legs, arms, shoulders, etc. Jacob did not allow separation of their bodies until the blessing was received. His wrestling was essentially the SEAL. His wrestling was the seal before the blessing. Future blessing, the promised land, could not be separated from the struggle that they went through to get there. There was struggle before the blessing.
In Job 41:15&16 it says, "Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between." No air can pass through because of the seal. They are tightly together. When two people wrestle they are tightly together. When we wrestle with God, we should be tightly together with Him seeking to know Him more and seeking to understand His Word more. We are so tight with Him that no air can even pass between us. That's the seal. As we wrestle with God a seal forms, never to be broken. It draws us closer to Him. It blocks out germs, evil, and untruths.
Why do we think that we must be confident in the Scriptures and have answers to everything? Wrestling with God in the Word seals us for blessing ahead. Seeking the truth of His Word, wrestling with what it says, with what He's speaking to us that our flesh wants to ignore, is showing our love to Him. Isaiah 8:16 says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." I can picture wrestlers getting bound up together as they wrestle. Bind up the testimony. Wrestle with it. Study it. Prove it over and over from one portion to another, and as that happens, the seal that takes place will be the law among His disciples written on their hearts in love.
He wants us to give all of ourselves to Him. If that means wrestling what He's trying to teach us or with what His Word really says, than that's what He wants. He will not stop putting things in front of us until He has all of us. He will not stop pursuing us until He has all of us. He will not stop.
This song has touched me and spoken to me and caused me to pursue my search on what Yahweh wants me to see in this word SEAL. I hope it blesses you and encourages you to give it all to Him. Let Him seal you, so nothing comes between you and the Father. You Won't Relent by Jesus Culture
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Friday, November 24, 2017
"Work on your relationship with God, and everything else will fall into place."
We all know that there is strength in numbers. What if we actively pursue Him in numbers. Even if it's just within our family? Do husbands and wives pursue God's calling as a couple? Do parents pursue God's calling for their children? Might sound strange, but let me explain. If we see a gift or talent that our children have that can be used for the kingdom, shouldn't we encourage and help them pursue that as a way to minister to others? Instead we let them experience many things, that they choose they want to do, and we bounce around from activity to activity, outside the family unit, with parents separated trying to support each child. Separation. That's what the enemy loves in a family and uses for his purpose. When a family isn't keeping God focused, then it allows the enemy to creep in and steal peace, faith, joy, contentment, a bond, and many other things. Are we pressing toward the mark of the higher calling or pressing toward our own mark? Are we teaching them to press toward the higher calling or their own satisfaction and achievements? I love seeing youth serving together and ministering together. In our family, we've incorporated our gifts into ministry as a family. Some of us do music, give food, send encouraging cards, plan kid's activities, etc. We all work together at serving. We take our children along and be the example of serving in our gifts. This keeps the family together, pressing toward the higher calling and seeing results of our faithfulness to God. Such a greater reward than personal achievements.
We are finding that as we serve alongside our children, we are teaching them respect for others, team work, putting others first, real life pain and struggles that we can help and pray people through, how to serve as one body, putting aside personal beliefs and/or opinions. When we serve together as a couple, we are finding that we are growing together beyond what we imagined. We are finding that the bond of marriage grows stronger, not allowing room for the enemy to creep in. The areas that we longed to be changed in the other, just naturally does because God is our focus, and HE is changing that within us as our relationship with HIM grows.
Our family isn't perfect! We are still learning, being disciplined, growing, and hopefully taking strides forward of making changes for the good. Some things that we've chosen to make a regular part of our lives are:
~Discussing Scripture (even if it's one verse)
~Pray blessings over the children every night
~Encourage open eyes to see who needs help
~Not forgetting the importance of the elderly
~Using gifts to bless others (even when it's uncomfortable)
~Expressing daily what we are thankful for
I want to encourage you to serve together as a family. Decide what you want your family to represent to those around you, then set out to live that way, bringing your children up with hearts focused on serving and loving in that manner. Here are some ways you can do that, teaching, instructing, and serving alongside your spouse and children:
~Make and send cards to the sick or shut ins
~Prepare and deliver food to someone with a health challenge, new parents, or elderly
~Volunteer to watch a single mom's children
~Visit a nursing home
~Help at a homeless shelter or food bank
~Collect coats for a winter coat drive
~Rake leaves for someone
~Shovel snow for someone
~Be friendly to neighbors
~Smile at everyone you make eye contact with
~Pray together for certain needs and watch them be answered
~Walk your neighborhood as a family and pray for those who live in each home
~Talk over the dinner table of ways you served or encouraged that day.
Maybe you can use some of these ideas in your own family or come up with others that fit your family and where you are at in your journey. As Christ followers we can get so complacent in our every day life that we miss the real battle going on for each soul out there. It's real. No matter how much we go to church, read our Bible, pray before every meal and at bedtime, or sing a hymn or chorus in praise, there is still a battle to take over the souls that are doing that. The fight is real. Take it seriously, brothers and sisters. We wrestle not with flesh and blood but against principalities. It takes numbers to fight for each other. It takes intentional living at following God's plan to have victory over sin and darkness. Won't you join us? Won't you step your faith up a notch and get out of your comfort zone to reach the hurting and broken, or to reach those that HE is calling you to reach? Maybe it's the widow next door. Maybe it's the orphan child that lives with grandparents. Maybe it's a couple from church that needs encouragement. Maybe it's the drunkard within your own family. Maybe it's your children that need to have the continued teaching and example of godly living. It doesn't matter who it is! Be warriors and fight the battle with boldness, with His strength, with relentless love for the Almighty, the Creator of all human kind and with love for all people.
All of the photos were taken at the community event with Your Life Speaks and the Night of Community Worship at Prairie Heights. Our family has been ever so blessed to be a part of both of these events. Reaching out and serving our community in the giftings He's blessed us with to bless Him and others.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Another year of celebrating with friends the wonderful feast of tabernacles or sukkot. Sukkot in hebrew means "booths", which describes the aspect of this feast of dwelling in temporary tents for all seven days of the festival. Leviticus 23:33-36 and Deuteronomy 16:13 talk about the feast and what it entails. Further into Leviticus 23 it speaks of the offerings that were required during the feast. There are always lessons learned or challenges faced during Sukkot that help us grow as individuals or as a group. This year I really felt some heart tugs in regards to how I serve my fellow brothers and sisters and those surrounding me. Not how I do the act of serving but how my attitude is when I do it. What am I offering. During this feast they were to bring extra offerings in addition to their normal offering. What was I bringing in addition to what I was already offering?
Deuteronomy 16:14 "Be joyful at your festival- you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns." God wasn't simply directing this to jews only. He even included the widows in their town to be celebrating this. This is why we keep this feast and celebrate it. Besides, in Zechariah 14 it talks prophetically about this feast happening again. Some how our brains can't wrap around the idea that it happened in bible times, He will have it happen later on according to the prophetic writing in Zechariah, but we shouldn't be doing it now? It just doesn't make sense to us, so we observe this feast and practice the joyful celebration of our King coming (this just might be the actual time of Jesus' birth too if you look into it a little) to dwell with us as we camp out in temporary dwelling places. After all, isn't this earth our temporary home? I sure don't plan on being here forever. Waiting for that day when HE comes back for us to tabernacle with us for eternity.
Every year it looks a little different for us as far as where we are and who we are camping with. Every year is a blessing no matter who we're with because it's the joy and the remembrance of Him being with us and rejoicing in the blessings that He pours out on us. Here are pictures from this year's celebration. We camped with 5 families, but we had so many other families trickle in to visit, study, eat, play, sing, and enjoy each other's fellowship. If any of our readers are interested in this feast and keeping it with us, let us know. We'll keep you posted in the coming year.
You can watch Alegra's vlog here of our week or continue to scroll through my view of the pics she took. :)
We all love some good hikes during the week.
The children played lots of games all week.
The first and last day of the feast are to be high holy days or a special Sabbath. On the regular Sabbath, the families enjoyed doing their own thing, children played, and we had a long time friend and teacher from Valpo come share a teaching he has done in the past called Moshiach (Messiah) in the Feasts.
A group of us went horseback riding at the park. It was a gorgeous morning to ride and stroll the trails on horse back.
We loved having friends come hang with us.
The Danberry and Ferris families came to enjoy a hike and visit.
Lots of 4 square happened.
Alegra had fun doing a photo shoot with her friends.
We had some random people end up in our camp for some medical needs. We hoped that we were the servants Yahweh needed us to be for them. We had various health issues within camp- poison ivy, blisters from walnut juices, bee stings that kept us all caring for one another and each other's children. Those things bring us together. We had meals together. We played together. We sang together. And we sat around enjoying each other's company, encouragement, and gifts that they could offer during the week.
We each had offerings that were brought to the table that weren't planned ahead. The paramedic in the group was of great help to our group and others in the campground. Different ladies had ointments and oils that came in handy for children and dogs who were in need. Ladies who opened their arms to hold little ones so mamas could shower or prepare food or put other little ones to bed. Knowledge of RVs came in handy for those who needed help. Bringing together the food we had prepared always made for more than enough food for us and others visiting. Even the spilling of popcorn all over the ground resulted in a fun opportunity for the children to see how an accident can be used for the good and as a blessing as they put the kernels from the ground in a paper bowl to cook over the fire. What delight they had as they watched the kernels pop all over the place.
A week of joy. A week of rejoicing. It went too fast. We didn't get everything in we wanted to. But the love and celebrating was filling and hopefully glorifying to our Saviour.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Sometimes we go into feast days/weeks prepared and ready for all that the Father has for us, and other times, we go into them unprepared and just barely being ready to participate. This year we didn't feel entirely prepared but open to what He wanted to show us through it. Our hearts have been preparing but last minute preparations and gathering everyone up sometimes gets me.
We usually celebrate the Feast of Trumpets with City on a Hill in Sturgis. They start with a Mikvah (baptism) service, then continue celebrating at the house with food, dance, and games. We've been going through such an amazing time spiritually right now, we were ready for whatever He wanted. We went to the Mikvah not feeling the need to participate, but once I got there, I felt this huge urge to go into the water. I typically prefer doing it with my husband's covering alongside me, but he wasn't planning on doing it, so I thought I'd just let it be. Then Benaiah nudged him and said he wanted to to start a new chapter. Then Alegra went to him and asked if he was going to because she felt like she needed to. Sooo, right away I said, "Yeah, I'm supposed to also". We often times think of baptism as being a one and done kind of thing, but Peter said, "Repent and be baptized". We are continuously repenting for sins, sometimes daily, so why would it mean that we would only need baptized once. We can often times think that it's just for making the decision to walk in faith, believing in Jesus as Saviour, and publicly demonstrating that through being immersed in water. A mikvah was done for that and also for a renewing, cleansing, starting over, etc of life. It also wasn't necessarily done with one person dunking another into the water but with a witness to their profession and action.
We started the time off with worship, then began taking turns, sharing why we decided to participate, then entered the water.
Some entered by themselves...
Some entered as a family...
Some entered as a first time profession of wrong in their life and wanting to be made new...
Some entered, wanting to wash away the old and start over with whatever Yahweh has for them...
For me, I entered to continue my journey forward of walking and living for Him. My spiritual growth has been so great this past year, but I know that there are things that are holding me back, that I'm not letting go of, that need to be gone in order for me to move forward in my growth and in serving and helping others. I entered to be washed of those things that are holding me back. I entered to be made clean, becoming wholly devoted to Him and the work He is calling me to for His kingdom.
The rest of the evening continues with food, fun, games, dance, and lots of fellowship. It's all a reminder of when He will return, coming for us, His bride. I want to be ready. I want to be made new, clean and pure for my groom. I rejoice that He will be coming one day for me.
Leviticus 23 speaks of the command to observe this feast.
Matt. 24 speaks of His return.
1 Thess 4 speaks of His return.
Friday, September 8, 2017
The very next day we were all busy about with jobs. I sent Benaiah out to take some food garbage to chickens when he came back in and said, "Uh, Dad, I think Iris has a baby out there". Our first reaction was to ask him if he was telling the truth. Rosie and Iris look similar but that boy knows his animals and keeps good track of the farm right alongside his dad. Then Josiah said that he thought he saw one too. We scurried around getting boots on and headed out to the field. Sure enough, a sweet little bundle lay out there next to her mama, Iris.
We missed it by a short bit because after birth was still hanging out and there was still a lot of cleaning that needed done. Iris sure did a great job and took care of her new baby. Iris was the one who was always nannying the other calves when they were born, not wanting to leave them by themselves in the field when their mama's would go up to the barn. She has been such a great mom, staying right close to her precious, white faced babe. Since the other white faced calf was named Eclipse I guess the children decided to go with sky names and named this one Moonlight.