Breaking Away From “Religion”

Breaking Away From “Religion”

In this new season, the Lord has instructed me “Come out of religion and refocus on Me.”

What is religion?

Earlier this year the Lord showed me that when we do anything regularly we’re in danger of doing it without any heart connection; and coming under a “religious spirit,” which is dead and lifeless. He challenged me that my weekly congregational attendance had become just that – a burden; dead and lifeless. Once I repented and put my focus back on loving God and loving People (everyone – Believer and Pre-Believer) I experienced such joy and life each time I joined my brothers and sisters in fellowship and worship.

So what does coming out of religion mean to me in this new season? I believe it refers to “…a particular system of faith and worship.” Each of us has built preconceptions about the systems of our faith and worship that have been influenced by our experiences. I think God wants to erase those experiential foundations, or at least the ones that aren’t pleasing in His sight.

The beautiful thing about new seasons, whether they come from a big move, a new year, or just a conviction in your heart, is that newness gives us the opportunity to make changes in our lives that can draw us nearer to God and His perfect plans.

Now don’t get me wrong. By “coming out of religion” I’m not talking about pulling away from the Body of Messiah in isolation. I believe it’s very important to gather as often as possible with God’s people for worship, fellowship, prayer and Bible study. By doing so we remain protected in the strength of the “flock.” And while no “flock” of humans is perfect, it also gives us opportunities to exercise real love, humility, grace and forgiveness; thereby making us more like Yeshua/Jesus in the process. But I think what the Lord is trying to show me is that there are “man made” traditions in our “religion” that actually separate us from God and People.

So what does coming out of “religion” look like? I’ve been letting God lead and teach me in that regard and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Coming back to the simplicity of developing a hunger for God’s Presence, Love and Voice.
  • Worship (devotion and obedience) to the Word of God as first priority; not to what we’re doing for God.
  • Cultivating true bridal love and passion for God in our souls by spending time with Him.
  • Lining up and participating with all of God’s Scriptural times and seasons.
  • Acting in obedience to God’s Voice and Word even when we’re hurt or disagree; and in so doing, laying down our own opinions, thoughts, likes and dislikes, thereby cultivating true humility.
  • Seeing/judging others through eyes of love and compassion vs. criticism and accusation.
  • Desiring to grow in God’s spiritual gifts to build up the Body and bring unbelievers to Messiah, and ultimately to God.
  • Seeking unity.
  • Continuing to grow in our understanding of heavenly things; and knowledge of God.
  • Truly being believers based on the Mark 16:17-18 definition.
  • Demonstrating our position as Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom on earth, everywhere we go.

 

This morning I was reading Psalm 135 in the Passion Translation.  Take a look at verses 15-18.  These jumped out of the page to me concerning this topic.

“The unbelieving nations worship what they make. They worship their wealth and their work. They idolize what they own and what they do. Their possessions will never satisfy. Their lifeless and futile works cannot bring life to them! Their things can’t talk to them or answer their prayers. Blind men can only create blind things. Those deaf to God can only make a deaf image. Dead men can only create dead idols. And everyone who trusts these powerless, dead things will be just like what they worship – powerless and dead!” 

God help us in the Body of Messiah to not worship what we make and idolize our work and what we do, even when we say we’re doing it for You! Open our eyes and our ears to You, God.  Restore our passion for your Presence, Love and Voice. Help us walk in the simplicity of pure devotion to You; and give us life and power, as we put all our trust in You!

Other Scriptures for consideration:

Psalm 133

Revelation 2:1-7

2 Corinthians 11:3

Mark 16:15-18

Psalm 16:11

1 Corinthians 12 – 14

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

 

Names of God

Names of God

As I was sitting at my desk today I sensed the Lord’s Presence in a very beautiful way.  Have you ever felt His Presence?  It’s euphoric! In that moment I looked in front of me and my attention was drawn to the print of a painting by Amy Sheetreet that sits on my desk. It’s a beautiful mosaic of a Menorah with God’s names in Hebrew and English.

  • God my Righteousness
  • God with us
  • Angel of the Covenant
  • Prince of Peace
  • My Redeemer
  • God my Healer
  • All Sufficient God
  • The Light of the World
  • Wonderful Counselor
  • God who is There
  • God who Sees
  • Lamb of God
  • My Rock
  • The Resurrection
  • Keeper of Israel
  • The Way
  • The Truth
  • The Life
  • Yeshua – Salvation

 

We find such strength in meditating on the Names of God. (Proverbs 18:10) Spend some time today delighting in who God is, as revealed by His Names.

Red Alert

Red Alert

I arrived in Israel one month ago and this morning I heard my first “red alert.”  Red Alert is an app that provides real time alerts every time a terrorist fires rockets, mortars or missiles into the State of Israel. It happened at 8:03 a.m. just as I had finished journaling these words.

Lord, in praying with Ruth yesterday You revealed something to me.  In my mind I’ve been battling…

I was shocked in that instant to hear the siren go off on my phone.  I looked and found out that the rockets were only 37.2 miles from where I was.  Having absolutely no fear, I looked to God and discerned the truth of the “battle” we are in, both in the natural and spirit realms.

Here’s what I’ve been seeing and wondering. Many mature believers have been experiencing severe spiritual and physical attacks in the last month, bringing hospitalizing sickness, disease and even death. Why?

For quite some time I had been experiencing an onslaught of negative thoughts toward my brothers and sisters in the Lord. I continuously fought them with the Word and with truth.

Could the enemy be seeding our minds with thoughts against each other? Could the thoughts that we entertain and agree with (that line up with an “accuser of the brethren”) ultimately give the enemy legal rights to attack our brothers and sisters, doing them and ultimately the entire Body of Messiah harm?

Whether or not this is true we must always fight to take those kinds of thoughts captive and renew our minds with God’s Word.  Here are some Scriptures the Lord has encouraged me to read, ponder and take to heart on the matter.

Philippians 4:4-9; Philippians 2:1-5

1 John 3:14-19; 1 John 4:20-21

1 Cor. 13:1-7

2 Cor. 10:3-7

Romans 8:1-14; Romans 12:1-5

Please take time to read and meditate on these scriptures so we can press forward, together, in love, unity and victory – in Yeshua’s/Jesus’ Name!

Another Advocate

Another Advocate

A few posts ago I talked of a friend who had told me to look for advocates along my journey into Israel.  Well, I found another one.  Last weekend while at the local congregation, during the after service lunch we had together, a woman came and sat down to eat with me.  She introduced herself and we began chatting.  I offered to give her a ride home and felt led to ask if she wanted to come over for tea.  She invited me to her apartment and I found out that she was called to Israel to help people navigate the red tape and bureaucracy involved in moving here. She had wondered why God had called her from Jerusalem down south into the Negev.  When we met me she was excited to be able to fulfill her calling by helping me. She even agreed to let me use her address for my application which was something that I had been prayerfully waiting for God to provide. She sent me off that day with different pieces of literature to inform me on the various stages and benefits of obtaining Israeli citizenship.

I was introduced to another advocate that day when the leader of the congregation gave me the name of a doctor I could go to in order to get a medical certificate proving I was in good health.  This is a document needed for citizenship application and I’m happy to report that the doctor was extremely helpful in providing the examination and medical certificate.

Advocate: a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.  God is our ultimate advocate, but it’s nice to know that He has people to help us too!

Psalm 23

Psalm 23

God isn’t looking for “super-saints” as much as He’s looking for humble and honest ones. (1 John 1:5-10) The month prior to going to Israel I have to admit I had a continuous battle with anxiety – something very unusual for me!

What was I anxious about?  Everything!

  • Would I get through passport control and customs?
  • Would my suitcases make it safely?
  • Would I get help with my bags?
  • Would I be able to get everything packed up in time before leaving?
  • Would the car rental be reserved?
  • Would everything fit in the car?
  • Would I make it safely to my destination?

Oh my – the enemy and my brain were both really messing with me.

To battle the anxiety the Lord introduced me to a song by Jason Upton covered by Juanita Bynum called Psalm 23, which of course uses the lyrics from the famous Psalm.  Even upon landing in Israel I found myself needing to listen to that song over and over and over again to calm my nerves, and my soul.

God gave me peace through that song and allowed all the circumstances I was so worried about to all work out flawlessly, and without a problem.  Again He proved in my life that He is faithful to handle the things that concern me.

As a beautiful reminder of His care to lead me beside still waters, I realized a few weeks into my journey that the green pastures He had arranged for me to stay at during my first 6 months in Israel had the street address of 23. The picture on this post is the front gate.

What a joy to realize that, and be continually reminded that the Lord is our Shepherd, and we shall fear no evil!

Angels Unaware

Angels Unaware

A friend sent me a word via text a few days before leaving for Israel mid November.  The word was “advocate.”  I asked her what that meant and she said to look for advocates everywhere I went in Israel.  God was going to provide them! An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

OK, here was the first test.  I was arriving in Israel with 9 suitcases; a mountain bike and an electronic piano.  My prayer request to everyone was that I would be able to find a porter at the airport to help me with my load of stuff; and that I’d be invisible to the customs agents when leaving the baggage claim area.

I got off the plane and found the counter where I could hire a porter. I nice man (Mayer) came up and asked me in Hebrew what I would like.  I mustered up as much Hebrew as I could and the two of us headed off to the conveyer belt to retrieve my bags.  Actually I had quite a fun time making small talk in Hebrew with him as we waited for the bags.  I think he too enjoyed my humble attempts at using a language that I had studied as a young girl, but only use when in Israel.  It’s amazing how words never thought of just pop into my head when in Israel!  It’s actually quite astounding!

We got the bags and he agreed to take them all the way to the rental car for me.  He seemed empathetic and genuinely nice and I promised him a good tip to help make matters more palatable. I walked ahead of him going through customs and ignored the fact that the heavy loaded down trolley was all my stuff, hoping the officers wouldn’t associate the two of us. We made it!  No one stopped us.  Next stop was the ATM machine to get money to pay for the trolley rental. The first machine would give me no money.  I was sweating.  How would I pay for Mayer’s help?  He didn’t take credit cards!  I prayed – dear Lord – help!  Mayer was patient as I walked to another ATM machine.  Thank God it gave me cash and we proceeded to the rental car counter on another floor.

While I was waiting in line to get the car Mayer received a phone call from his boss down in the baggage claim wanting him to return and help someone else.  He said something to me to communicate his disdain for his boss and out of my mouth came the words – lev lo tov (meaning heart no good).  Mayer agreed with me, telling me that his boss in fact had no heart and for him it was all about the money.  Mayer reassured me not to worry and that he would help me all the way to the car.

I had found my first advocate!

Please pray blessings on Mayer and his family.  Truly, I wonder if he was an angel sent by the Lord and in a way, I guess he was!

mayermayer2