Joy In The New Year

In the middle of 2020, I had a very significant dream that has carried me through the rest of the year.

 There is a part of this dream that I believe carries a significant key for the beginning of 2021.  That key, I believe, is JOY.

The dream, there were two tall mountains with a deep gulf between.  On one mountain was a large group of the Church-at-large; ministers, leaders, pastors, and just sons and daughters.  They were all standing shoulder-to-shoulder, covered in armor, looking intently at the mountain top on the other side of the gulf.

The other mountain, however, had a demon of darkness on it.  It was taller and broader than any of us on the “Church” side, and it had the most intimidating demeanor that I have ever encountered.

There are several details that I will not share here, but the few details that I found most noteworthy would be, firstly, that the “Church” people – although feeling the emotions of fear, intimidation and even for some, despair – did not run. They bravely stood ground, and not one of them flinched.  Secondly, and most noticeably, they began to throw their heads back and LAUGH.  The Church had their armor, were ready to swing swords and shields were indeed in place, yet they began to laugh and laugh.  And with every roar of laughter from the “Church” side, the demon of darkness began to SHRINK.  In fact, the darkness shrank until it was no longer even there.

When I woke up, I felt such an intense sense of urgency to learn to walk in this inherited fruit called joy.

The Lord showed me that joy is a language from Heaven, FOUND IN HIS PRESENCE, and it cannot be comprehended by the enemy.  How can he understand joy, especially since his heart is so filled with hate?

Joy is a frequency that fills up the airways, meaning it blocks out all the noise of the enemy.  Joy is louder than the attack, and therefore diminishes the attack’s power and its ability to intimidate.

We know that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and we know that we can have the fullness of it in His Presence (Psalm 16:11), but I feel that in the coming days JOY will be a great tool to destroy the demons of darkness.

During worship one night while pondering JOY and this dream again, the Holy Spirit asked me the question: “What happens with fruit?” Fruit is sweet and meant to be consumed and enjoyed.  But it also turns into wine.  I feel like there is a new wine of joy and celebration coming to the Church in the coming days, as we become inebriated by the fullness of the Presence of our wonderful God. I am convinced that this is a new facet of Kingdom that the Lord wants to pour out afresh!

I believe that JOY is no longer going to be a buzz word or something to work toward in 2021.  JOY is a fruit, and our absolute inheritance as sons and daughters that can come boldly into the Presence of the King.

Intimidation and darkness will shrink at the sound of our joy, and it will become louder than the darkness.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

— Mandy Woodhouse


Today is Christmas and I realize that the color blue is not really considered part of this holiday… I choose to celebrate the birth of Christ during the Fall Festivals, so Christmas has become a different sort of holiday for me.

With the significance placed on the “star of Bethlehem” that appeared in the night sky many years ago, and the lining up of Jupiter and Saturn this year to produce something many believe is similar to that bright light, we must realize that BLUE is important in the Kingdom of God.

I chose a picture of a night sky for this reason. We need to “LOOK UP” to be reminded of the greatness of God. We must see HIM in the heavens and stand in awe of His creation. The color blue is significant in the Word of God. It brings many reminders to us of His commands and teachings. I pray that as you SEEK HIM in Spirit and Truth in new ways this year, that you will be drawn to a new understanding of the roots of our faith. We need to see His commands and teachings with eyes of grace and mercy. He truly does LOVE each and every one of you.

As I am going through these colors of the rainbow I am finding out that colors in the Bible are not what we think of today… The color blue is another example. I have learned the word for blue in Hebrew, and when I looked that up, I found out that it is not in the Bible. There are verses that use the word blue, but it is a different word. Most times the word used in the Bible means more of a sapphire blue color.

What I do know, this color has to do with garments worn by the priests, and a blue thread added to their prayer shawl.

Exodus 28:31-35 -31 “You are to make the robe for the ritual vest entirely of blue. 32 It is to have an opening for the head in the middle. Around the opening is to be a border woven like the neck of a coat of mail, so that it won’t tear. 33 On its bottom hem make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet; and put them all the way around, with gold bells between them all the way around — 34 gold bell, pomegranate, gold bell, pomegranate, all the way around the hem of the robe. 35 Aharon is to wear it when he ministers, and its sound will be heard whenever he enters the Holy Place before Adonai and when he leaves, so that he won’t die.

The ritual vest is made entirely of blue… Do we really need to know the exact shade for today? Maybe it was more of a sapphire blue than we would think of today. Maybe it was more of a royal blue… One article I read suggested that the snail the blue dye comes from produced a different color in the North than it did in the South. I could see that happening based on climate or other factors in the area.

Anyway you look at it, blue was a significant color. It became a part of the hem of pomegranates put around the bottom of the garment. There were also bells, and they have actually found a bell that was part of one of these robes. The bells were worn into the Holy Place so the sound would be heard and so the priest “wouldn’t die.”

Here is a verse from Ezekiel 1:26

Above the dome that was over their heads was something like a throne that looked like a sapphire. On it, above it, was what appeared to be a person.

Sapphire is a shade of blue. This vision Ezekiel saw was one of high importance. The person on the throne spoke to Ezekiel and had a message for the Children of Israel. They had become a “nation of rebels” and God was sending a messenger to teach them.

In the book of Esther we see “blue” again:

Esther 8:15 Meanwhile, Mordekhai left the king’s presence arrayed in royal blue and white, wearing a large gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan shouted for joy.

Royalty… Once again we do not know the exact shade of blue, but we do know that it was defiantly considered a royal color. If the king of Susa gave Mordechai a royal robe of “blue and white” there was something significant for this color.

One other way that the color blue is remembered is in the “fringes” or “tzitziyot” on the prayer shawl.

Numbers 15:37-41 37 Adonai said to Moshe, 38 “Speak to the people of Isra’el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. 39 It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai’s mitzvot and obey them, so that you won’t go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; 40 but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God. 41 I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am Adonai your God.”

This blue thread in the knots made from the fringes was to be a reminder of God’s teachings and commands. They grabbed these and saw that blue thread to “REMEMBER that Adonai is God.”

For a period of time, the snail which produced the blue dye to color the wool went extinct. They did not make blue tzitzit for many years. It has just been since Israel became a nation in 1948 that this snail was found again and they began to produce the blue dye and are making blue tzitziyot once again.

Significant? Some may say no, but I see it as a way of God reminding ALL of us that HIS commands and teachings are important. We are not to stray from them. We are not to demean them. We must recognize God for WHO He is and remember all He has done.

We are part of a royal priesthood and family. We need to remind ourselves daily, through prayer and communion with Him, that HE is our God. We must LISTEN to Him.

I pray that the color blue becomes a reminder of that today. I pray that when you look at the sky, a sapphire, or simply a blue thread, that you will REMEMBER His commands and teachings and be reminded of HIS LOVE that will carry you through.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Adarsh Pv on Unsplash

Taste and See and Never Return

The scripture from Psalm 34:8 has been in the back of my mind for months now.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good….” (ESV).  I also love how The Passion Translation words it: “Drink deeply of the pleasures of God.  Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives to all who turn to hide themselves in him.”  

Drink deeply of the pleasures of God……wow.

What does that even look like?  

I have had glimpses of this truth, as I’m sure we all have, but I believe that I have only just slightly begun to scratch the surface of what it actually means to feast upon His Presence.

I cooked a Cajun delicacy for my friend a few months ago.  Fortunately, even while living in Australia, this little Cajun girl has a Daddy who still lives in South Louisiana and is able to ship all of my favorite local seasonings to me.  My friend had always wanted to try chicken and sausage gumbo, so we used my special home-grown seasonings and she got to have a true, authentic gumbo.  She tried to make one herself later, without the true seasonings that I had used, and it just didn’t taste the same.

She said she’s tried several local restaurants around the Brisbane area and she felt slightly disappointed each time because her pallet was ruined for anything other than the TRUE and AUTHENTIC taste.  My Dad sent her some of her own seasoning recently, and she happily is now able to make the real deal for herself.  

The Lord used this to remind me of His Presence.  The purity and authenticity of going deep with Him is something that CANNOT be “unseen” or “untasted.”  What a person experiences in the depths of the Father’s heart cannot be explained away, nor can it be understood at times.  And it cannot be conjured up by anything counterfeit!  

Being able to drink deeply of the pleasures of God is the one, true thing that exists, and everything else pales in comparison.  

Likewise, when a person truly SEES God, the eyes of their hearts are fully opened.  God’s Presence and His heart are imprinted upon a person’s memories, and upon the internal screen of the mind.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says that when I look at Him, without the veil (thanks to Jesus), I can reflect Him like a mirror.  I get to go from glory to glory as I gaze at His reflection and see myself IN Christ, and Christ IN me.  

This is something that I can’t unsee, and therefore becomes something that I am most aware of.  It overflows out of me.

As Bill Johnson says, “We always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of.”

To be most aware of Christ in me and me in Him, drinking deeply of the pleasures of God – tasting and seeing – is the only way.  I can’t untaste, and I can’t unsee what I’ve seen and experienced.  It ruins ME…it changes me forever. And I know that there is so much more!  

— Mandy Woodhouse


Orthodoxy is having the right religious doctrines; Orthopraxy is having the right religious practices.

We need both; the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy to take care with both his teaching and also his life so that he would save himself and those who heard him.  He also wrote to Timothy to keep faith and a good conscience.  Good doctrine produces faith; a good life produces a good conscience.

Herein lies the challenge—how do we line up our behaviors with our beliefs?  This is a lifelong challenge with ever changing landscapes.

New friends, new churches, and new stages of life all require a reassessment of our beliefs and a new commitment to put them into practice.  Our relationships—both inside and outside of church—are in constant flux, and they continually remind us of the challenge to keep short accounts with our maker.  Are we being faithful to Jesus?  Are our lives bringing pleasure to Our Father?  Only we ourselves can answer those questions; nobody can do it for us.

The secret to a life of integrity is to maintain our “devotion to Christ.” That means that he is the umpire, that he is calling the balls and strikes.  When he says proceed, we proceed; when he says stop, we stop.  This sort of life is both an art and a science.  We have both his sure Word to keep us inside correct boundaries and also his Holy Spirit inside us to inspire us to keep in step with him.  We must be practiced in the Word and in the Spirit.  

The correct combination of these two aspects of spirituality will bring success every time.  An incorrect combination will bring legalism (obeying certain laws without love) or licentiousness (proclaiming our freedom even as we live outside the limits of the Word.)  Praise be to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit who alone know the paths that we take and how to negotiate all obstacles to our progress!

— Brad Heilhecker