Holy Bride

What do men desire in their choice of life companions?  

What is Our Father looking for in his church, his chosen life companion?

Is it intelligence, giftedness, or beauty?  These things are not to be despised.  However, are they the key ingredients that one looks for in a life companion?

Is it not rather humility, fidelity and a kind heart that are the chief characteristics that one needs in a lifelong friend?  

These things are precious in Our Father’s eyes, and they are highly valued among men.  For a proud spirit is not easily cared for, unfaithfulness is hard to live with, and meanness is heart wrenching. But a humble, faithful, good hearted person is invaluable as a friend.

These characteristics of humility, faithfulness, and goodness are the building blocks of a loving, holy life, and they contribute mightily to loving, holy relationships.  

Beauty, intelligence, and giftedness are natural endowments, but humility, faithfulness, and goodness are supernatural endowments.

Natural endowments may open doors for us on earth, but supernatural endowments open up doors for us to celestial mansions and, also, to heavenly vistas of usefulness and favor in Our Father’s eyes.

~ Brad Heilhecker

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Sukkot

Sukkot…. Feast of Tabernacles…

Do these titles mean anything to you?

Leviticus 23:33-36 Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to Adonai. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai ; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.

This festival began Sunday night and it continues for seven days (plus one). Monday will be the final day of celebration and then Monday night they will re-roll the Torah Scroll and begin reading from Genesis again. This holiday was given to the Hebrew people when they were wandering in the wilderness. God gave them this one so they would remember.

“Remember what?” you may ask.

I have found that as much as God wants us to move forward and let go of the past, He wants us to REMEMBER what HE has done for us. The appointed times that He set up were for His people to do exactly that – Remember Him.

Many of us know how to do this during Passover. Most of us are not aware of how we can Remember Him during the fall festivals. I have spoken about Rosh Hahshana and Yom Kippur. Let’s take a look at Sukkot.

During these seven (plus one) days of celebration, we are to remember all He did for us while we were in the wilderness. He provided places to live, food to eat, and even the shoes did not wear out while the Hebrew people were wandering for 40 years. Most of us have probably not faced a wilderness season in our life quite like the Hebrew people did, but we have experienced struggles and trials and our own form of a wilderness. Sometimes they feel like they are going longer than we want. The days of this festival we are to take time to be thankful for His provision during those times. We are to take time to tabernacle with Him. We are to take time to REJOICE!

This festival is the only one that God commanded the people to be JOYFUL.

Deuteronomy 16:14 Rejoice at your festival — you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L’vi’im, and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you. (CJB)

Today, following the command given by God, the Jewish people build a “sukkah” which they use for meals, and some even sleep in them. They are to be three sided, and the top is to be covered with something like palm branches (open to be able to see through) so they can see the majesty of God in the heavens.

Sukkah means “covering.” God wants to be their covering. God wants His people to recognize that HE is taking care of them and that all they have need of is in HIM. As they eat and fellowship in their “temporary dwelling” they remember that God is majestic and watching over them.

There are other significant pieces to this holiday. When you are in Jerusalem you see them carrying a “lulav.” There are four pieces they carry and wave each day. Each has its own spiritual significance. It is easy to google and read about this. Some of this is tradition, but it is based on the verse:

Leviticus 23:40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of Adonai your God for seven days. (CJB)

Our family has always found Sukkot to be fun. Rosh Hahshana has been celebrated as a remembrance of WHO God is and that He will be coming back as KING over all the earth. Yom Kippur is our reminder that HE is our atonement and we are forgiven when we TRUST in Him.

Sukkot is now our time to FELLOWSHIP with Him and ENJOY all His blessings! It is a time to GIVE THANKS and celebrate meals together and FUN. Do you realize that we will have a table feast with HIM someday when we tabernacle with Him forever? What a day to look forward too!

In Zechariah 14:16 it is prophesied that one day ALL nations of the world will be in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. I believe this is something to ponder on…

Finally, everyone remaining from all the nations that came to attack Yerushalayim will go up every year to worship the king, Adonai-Tzva’ot, and to keep the festival of Sukkot. (CJB)

If you have not taken the time to learn about these appointed times and seasons that HE has blessed us with, I encourage you to read and ask Him to show you the secrets that can take you deeper in your relationship with Him. Take time to sit and REMEMBER all that He has blessed you with. Tabernacle with Him. Feast with Him. Let Him be your covering.

As you discover His secrets, you will find REST in Him. You will RESTORE yourself to Him. You are then REFRESHED to walk forward day to day.

 

Love and blessings,

Rose Horton

 

Sober Minded

For a few weeks now, I’ve been pondering the phrase “sober-minded” from 1 Peter 4:7 and 5:8 (and several other times in the New Testament).  1 Peter 4:7 says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (ESV).  What a statement to remain sober-minded for the sake of our prayers!

I’m a teacher so I love getting stuck down rabbit trails as I research and learn more about things that stand out to me in scripture.  I found at least 9 other references to being sober-minded, and they are not just talking about not drinking alcohol!

Titus, one example, is full of “sober-minded” challenges: Wives are to be sober-minded to love their husbands and children better.

Young men are to be sober-minded so that they can maintain integrity, dignity and sound speech.  Elders are to be sober-minded to better serve.  Older men are to be sober-minded to better teach sound doctrine.

Looks like perhaps being “sober-minded” is an invitation into something better.  

I looked up 1 Peter 4:7 in the Strongs, and the word for sober-minded is S3525 (nēphō) which means not only to abstain from wine, but also to be calm and collected in spirit, to remain dispassionate and to keep watch.  In fact, the King James Version uses the word “watch” instead of “sober-minded.”  The Passion Translation says to be “intentional and purposeful” when we pray.

How interesting that in 1 Peter 4:7 we are asked to stay calm, collected, even intentional and purposeful, and to keep watch immediately after Peter states that the end of all things is near!

Here’s what the Holy Spirit challenged me on regarding all this:  I must remain sober-minded.  In the current climate of the world, I cannot afford NOT to.  I am a child of God who carries the authority of Christ, and my words build worlds around me.  

I have the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4) and my NEW NATURE no longer operates in the world’s view of the natural.  I am not a mere human.

The world around me needs me to be sober-minded – clear headed – enough to pray and intercede with power.  Politically correct spirits thrive on perverting people’s passions and twisting them into outrage and anger, so God needs me to remain calm and collected in Spirit so that I can respond like Christ and not out of my flesh.  

False doctrines are flooding society and even infiltrating the Church, thus future generations need me to remain on watch and be clear minded enough to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, without cloudiness or distraction, to be able to teach soundly.

1 Peter 5:8 says it best: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  We don’t want to focus on the devil, EVER, but we cannot be “unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).  He will lie, distract, cause a spirit of heaviness or sickness or whatever he can to keep you from hearing the voice of your Father clearly.  The enemy will keep you from prayer, keep you exhausted, keep you unwell and even keep you battling offense just to keep you from being fully sober-minded.  

We have Jesus, so we have the ability to stay one step ahead of him when we can remain clear-minded and self-controlled.

Friend, you are more powerful than you know.  And eternity needs you to be sober-minded, without distraction.  If that looks like subtracting some things from your life – or adding others – then do it!

Learn to be intentional and purposeful to hear Him clearly.  Start now, so that you can have “20/20 vision” in 2020! You have the backing of Heaven and the grace of God on your side.  

 

~ Mandy Woodhouse

Righteous

Through our faith in the sin atoning death sacrifice of Christ, we have been declared righteous in Our Father’s eyes.  

Nothing is lacking.  

We have satisfied his requirement for right standing in his presence.  

Now, we must hold on to our faith until the end.  If we do, there will be a great celebration throughout the corridors of heaven.

The temptation is to give in to our fears and start a desperate search for another source of strength and power.  

There is none.

 “We will stand by our faith, or we won’t stand at all,” – Isaiah 7:9.

 “‘Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord of hosts,” – Zechariah 4:6.

Everything that our eyes see can tempt us to try to rely on our own strength instead of waiting on the Lord to deliver us.  

Everything that our heart knows tells us that Our Father is trustworthy.  

So, we must trust our Spirit inspired heart and not our fear inspired sight.  

This is our mandate; these are our marching orders.  This is how we will please Our Heavenly Father and prosper in this life.  This is how we lay up treasure in heaven.

~ Brad Heilhecker

Blessed

Is there any difference between being happy and being blessed?

Merriam-Webster gives one definition of blessed as “enjoying happiness or the bliss of heaven.”

Undoubtedly, heaven will be a blissful, happy place, and, since it is our aim to bring heaven to earth, we strive to stay in good graces with our Heavenly Father, and to encourage others in this same pursuit.

The apostle John records the account of Jesus serving his disciples by washing their feet and then telling them to imitate him, stating “blessed are you if you do these things.”  Sometimes, we find happiness in the last place that we think to look: humble service to our loved ones.  

The world has an abundance of those who seek to be leaders, and Godly leadership is a good thing.  However, only Jesus can give us the grace and wisdom to lead others to him by our humble service.  

The world can ignore our words, but they cannot ignore Christlike service, for it stands out uniquely in this fast paced, fame crazed world of ours.

Quiet, humble worship of God and Christ by simple obedience.  That is the path to bliss, happiness, and joy. There is no other.  All other substitutes crumble under the pressures of life.  Come what may, Christ is always near for those who will seek his face in humble obedience and service.  

We may remember that the call to faith is a call to surrender and service.  Christ cannot be our savior if he is not our Lord.  It is a package deal.

~ Brad Heilhecker

Forgiveness And Yom Kippur

Forgiveness… a word we often hear, but often don’t want to hear. What does it mean to forgive? Why should we forgive?

Numbers 14:19-20 Please! Forgive the offense of this people according to the greatness of your grace, just as you have borne with this people from Egypt until now.” Adonai answered, “I have forgiven, as you have asked.

 

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now,” says Adonai, “let’s talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow;even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool. (CJB)

Luke 17:3-4 Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Also, if seven times in one day he sins against you, and seven times he comes to you and says, ‘I repent,’ you are to forgive him.” (CJB)

Colossians 3:13 Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive. (CJB)

If you notice in the picture, the young man is holding a sign that says, “Forgiveness.” However, on his t-shirt there is a sign that says, “I’m sorry.” Both of these aspects need to happen within the realm of forgiveness. At times we might not be able to receive forgiveness as we would like, and we must realize that God asks us to forgive no matter how the other person responds.

 

Israel is a key to understanding our Bible. Israel is a land that holds many insights into the Word of God. As I mentioned last week, they just celebrated Rosh Hashana, which is considered the “Jewish New Year.” Two days ago (Wednesday) the nation observed their most High Holy Day of the year, Yom Kippur. For those who have visited Israel during this time, you know that the whole country shuts down, even the airport. There are no automobiles, no stores open, no places to eat etc… Can you imagine the United States, Germany, or any other country being able to do this?

This is the day they have anticipated all year. This is the day they know their sins have been forgiven. This is the day they are released from all the wrongs they have committed. This is the day they can be released and walk forward in freedom because they have asked God to forgive them. Forgiveness… obviously an important part of God’s plan!

From the day of Rosh Hashana, they begin special prayers every day for 10 days. Our last several days in Israel we were awakened at 5 am when the shofar would sound in the small synagogue below our apartment. Then their “singing” of prayers would begin. During this time they ask God for forgiveness and ask family and friends for forgiveness. We have received texts and messages from others asking us to forgive them if they have done anything to hurt us. When handled properly, this can be a powerful time of year.

For those of us who believe that Jesus is our Messiah, we can be THANKFUL that He removed our sins when He died on the cross for us. We can walk in FREEDOM every day because HE has already removed our sins. We just have to BELIEVE!

This knowledge, however, does not give us the right to sin and choose to disobey. We all understand that yes, He has forgiven us, but we all know that we need to walk in RIGHTEOUSNESS because of this knowledge. We should DESIRE to walk in HIS ways and repent when we disobey.

So why would a “holiday” like Yom Kippur be important for those who follow Jesus? Because it can be a day of remembering what HE has done for us. It should be a day of THANKSGIVING for KNOWING that HE forgave our sins so many years ago and now desires a RELATIONSHIP with us. It should be a day that we REJOICE in the FREEDOM that we have because we have chosen to follow Him.

Yom Kippur has now passed. Have you taken the time to forgive those who have wronged you? Have you reached out to those you have hurt and asked them for forgiveness? Both of these things need to happen in order to walk in the LOVE and LIGHT He has blessed you with.

Will you take the time to reflect on forgiveness today? What do you need to do in order to be RELEASED into ALL that HE has called you to do?

When we come to the realization that forgiveness brings FREEDOM, than we can find REST in Him. We will RESTORE ourselves to Him. We are then REFRESHED to walk forward day to day.

Love and blessings,

Rose Horton

 

Shaking

For weeks now, I have been thinking about an old friend of mine who had grown up Buddhist. I had shared Jesus with Him, and it actually brought him great confusion as he saw Jesus undeniably at work in my life yet, had grown up with certain family and cultural traditions and a religion that was just comfortable for him.  

One day after a long conversation about the transformation of Christ in a born-again believer’s life, my friend felt God’s Presence but was still unsure of what to do with his Buddha.  He went away to a small Buddhist temple to get his head straight because he felt as if he was betraying his family and his beliefs by accepting Jesus as his Lord.  

I remember him telling me about how he walked into a small, empty temple just outside of Sydney and he laid out on his face in front of the Buddha statue, crying out in frustration.  He remembers saying the very words, “Jesus, if YOU are real and Buddha is not, then you’re going to have to prove it to me!”

I still remember the look on his face as he recounted his story of how, that the very moment he spoke those words aloud, a giant city bus went screaming past the small temple and shook the building to its core.  

Within a second, the shaking was so great it caused the Buddha statue to fall and decapitate itself on the floor just in front of where he was laying.  Needless to say, my friend gave his everything to Jesus that day and I had the privilege of helping to disciple him for sometime after that.

This story has been playing in my head over and over, and I feel like the Lord reminded me of this glorious testimony as an invitation to embrace the SHAKING that is taking place right now.  

As daunting as the shaking can be, it’s actually not to “punish” us but to bring us back to what is best so that we can absolutely shine for His glory.  

When a child does something wrong, a father doesn’t shake him, but lovingly corrects and realigns the child’s thinking back to what is best.  This shaking is a realignment to what is BEST, and it is an invitation to expose and demolish any idols that may be present. It is also a way for Jesus to show up, show off and make Himself known.

Personally, I have been experiencing shaking for a few months now, and although it’s uncomfortable and emotional, I can feel the Father’s heart for me in the process.  

Isaiah 54 speaks of stretching and enlarging the tent; and we know that every time we stretch the tent out further, we have to actually unpeg the tent in order to stretch and repeg it into stability.

Unpegging can be shaky, but it just means the stretch is going to be so much wider and cover so much more territory.

If you are experiencing a shaking right now, don’t fret or fear.  Accept the invitation into greater levels of intimacy with Jesus, and allow Him to cause the things that are not for your BEST to fall off of you.  

He is a safe place (Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 91; Psalm 32:7), and in that safe place you can allow everything that has tried to put itself higher than Jesus to fall into pieces.  

Go deeper with Him when you feel the shake and let Him love on you until you feel the freedom.

Hebrews 12:27 (TPT):  Now this phrase “once and for all” clearly indicates the final removal of things that are shaking, that is, the old order, so only what is unshakeable will remain.

 

~ Mandy Woodhouse

Hidden Word: Conversational Christianity

How do you carry on a conversation with The Almighty?  

The psalmist wrote: “I have hidden thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”  

Not a bad place to start, for if we do not know what Our Father likes and what he doesn’t like, then our relationship with him is going to be very unstable.

However, if we are diligent to learn his word and his ways, then the path is smoothed for us to approach him, to converse with him, and to walk with him.  When he knows that our hearts are set on obeying him, then the sky is the limit; there is nothing that he won’t do for us.

This is the key to intimacy with The Almighty, Our Father.  

People talk much these days about how we are “broken” people.  

The only brokenness that Our Father cherishes is a surrendered will, a humbled heart, and a sincere devotion to Christ.  

In the world that we live in, there is much hurt and pain and there are many broken hearts.  

However, in Our Savior’s loving arms of forgiveness and redemption, there is found healing for broken hearts and comfort for all of life’s life’s hurts and pains.

~ Brad Heilhecker

Faith, Hope, And Love

Faith, hope, and Love are the building blocks of the kingdom.

They stand right alongside mercy, grace, and peace and wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  And they all have to do with The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  “Our faith and love come from our hope in God.”  

Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hope is our undying desire to be blessed by God.  Love is our high and holy calling—to become like the one who made us.

To appreciate these gifts of grace, maybe we should consider their opposites—doubt, despair, and hate (or indifference). Without hope in God, this unholy trinity can swallow us up and consume our lives.  Our God is faithful and he will deliver us from all the powers of darkness.  With his help, we will “soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, and walk and not faint.”

It is no exaggeration to say that a life lived with faith, hope, and love will be a successful life.  You are a success if you can keep your faith when you feel all alone.  You are a success if you can maintain hope when all of your plans have failed. You are a success if you can love even when surrounded by hatred.

Even Christ lived by these essentials while he was here on earth, though he was God in the flesh and heir to the kingdom.  He set the example that it is possible to live a victorious overcoming life by the diligent application of these precious graces.  And we have not only his example, but, also, he himself living in us to accomplish his heart’s desire—our perfection!

~ Brad Heilhecker

Happiness Or Joy ?

Perfect circumstances or a perfect heart?  Desires fulfilled or hope ignited?  

We work for happiness, but joy is bestowed as a gift.  Happiness is of earth, but joy is of heaven.

Happiness is often temporary, but joy is eternal.  People, possessions, and achievements often bring happiness, but only God can bestow joy.  It is his prerogative.  It is his honor and pleasure to rejoice the hearts of his children.

It is nice to be happy, and it is wonderful when everything is going well.  But to know that our eternal future is secure and that we will be cared for come what may—this excels all other pleasures.  

We know what makes us happy—a good job, good friends, good health. Often we don’t know exactly where joy comes from and for what reason. We are just walking along, minding our own business, and then we are surprised by joy.  It seems to be the counterpart of contentment.  As it is written: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Maybe joyful moments are the only glimpse that we have of heaven this side of eternity.  We all want rousing revelations and awesome utterances from the throne, but maybe Our Father wants us to appreciate the subtleties of his presence rather than the glories of what is not quite yet.  

To be sure, grandeur and ecstasy are waiting for us on the other side, but quiet joy, restful peace, and obedient contentment are ours now. They are the building blocks of our eternal homes.  They are the stepping stones to the throne.  They are in fact “God with us”—Emmanuel!

~ Brad Heilhecker