GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are John 3-4
As I’ve mentioned, we will see three separate Passovers celebrated in the book of John. With that in mind, I want to talk for a moment about the Fall Feasts. So the thing is, even in this time period we are reading about, different sects were possibly working on different calendars. This is not uncommon, even in our time. In our earnest effort to keep YHWH’s feasts we search Scriptures to determine how the calendar advances and often well meaning groups can come to different conclusions. Even in our time, this is commonplace. For example, we are able to plan our Sukkot trip a year in advance due to the Biblical calendar we go by.
But some other people must wait and see when Sukkot will be because they use a calendar that is dependent upon sighting the new moon for a new month to begin. I don’t currently believe that either of these approaches are wrong, it is simply a matter of doing the best we can to honor YHWH with the information we have. We do the best we can with what we know and once we know better, we do better.
At this point, exact dates for each feast is a bit of a gray area for us. I know of three different calendars and they are all close in the dating of events but that is why you may see some people keeping the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in September, some in early to mid October, and some even later. This year’s Passover celebrations were all over the calendar but it was fun to see folks still celebrating weeks after we had kept the Feast and it was just a wonderful reminder that warmed our hearts and brought special memories to mind again.
When scribes assign YHWH’s feasts to our Jewish brethren and identify it as “their feast”,they are doing so because our Jewish brethren were the ones known for faithfully keeping this feast. After having read the word of our Father and knowing that He proclaims these feasts to be His, I see this as a great honor and testimony to their continued faithfulness in an area where we have not only fallen short, but missed the mark entirely.
As I’ve mentioned, whenever the Father refers to these feasts, He calls them “MY Feasts” and our Messiah, who we can all agree is the perfect example to follow, honored His father in keeping them as well. Whether or not we choose to keep them is up to us (free will and all), but I will tell you that since we have been keeping the feasts (this is our fourth full year of keeping them) we have learned so much about the Father and they have come to be the holidays we look forward to and enjoy the absolute most. There is a deep and abiding joy that can only be found in the days He sets apart for us.
“Christy why do you keep talking about the feasts so much?” Because the creator of the universe, our Father, throws parties throughout the year and you’re on the invite list so I want you to know about them!
Life becomes 10,000 times easier when we follow His ways instead of our own. How we do that is gonna have to be worked out between us and Him, but His word is a great place to start.
John 3:3-15 – The concept of being born again bears some resemblance to the old Hebrew concept that a new believer was like a newborn child, at the very beginning of the learning process.
It is interesting to think of our Jewish brethren as having new converts, though, because theirs is not a faith that seeks converts in our time. Think about it, have you ever seen a Jewish person on the corner handing out pamphlets? Their goal, rather, is to walk in obedience to the Father and thereby shine a light for their fellow man. It should come as no surprise at this point that I have a deep love for our Jewish brothers and sisters and am grateful to them for doing all they have, throughout history, to protect the Word and walk in obedience to the Father. I’m looking forward to prophecy being fulfilled when we will all worship together again! Guess what? That is actually happening in this group!
Speaking of Converting others…
I’ve mentioned before that I was once trained and well practiced in door to door evangelism, something which I have actually repented of – Hear me out. We were trained to visit people, explain the gospel to them using a series of illustrations and a couple of verses from the Bible, then we would lead them up to this crescendo where we confronted them with the impactful statement of asking if they died tonight did they know they would go to Heaven? And then we would offer them that. We had them say a prayer (that isn’t in the Bible) and we declared them eternally saved. I doubt we left the house having read more than one or two Bible verses total and we sure didn’t give them a Bible or instruct them to read, study, or even prepare to follow the Father.
We just congratulated them, said a few hallelujahs, and left with a religious high that we had helped win one more soul for the kingdom.
I have no idea how many people I left feeling alone after that, not knowing what to do next, thinking that there wasn’t much more than what we had shown them because we made it more about quotas and winning one for the team than encouraging people to have a one on one relationship with the Father.
Y’all, I’ve said it at least a few times but I’m going to say it many more: I’m not seeking to convert anyone to my own walk. I don’t have the answers and I don’t want you to walk in my footsteps. I don’t need you to worship like I worship or live as I live. I just want to ENCOURAGE you to remain in the Word because THAT is our open line to the Father. I want to help you form a daily relationship with your Creator because I love you and I can think of no greater way for me to demonstrate that love than to lead you to the Father’s feet every chance I get.
And when it comes to encouraging you to follow anyone, I hold up and present the Messiah as our ultimate example in all things. Let’s both chase after Messiah so closely that we’re covered in the dirt from His wake!
Okay, I’m going to really get into John 3 now.
We come upon the famous John 3:16 which is probably one of the most well known Bible verses in our time. (I’d like to add to our arsenal Malachi 3:6-7). You’ll notice, time and again, John stressing who Messiah truly is to the reader.
With regards to YHWH loving the world so much that He gave His only begotten son, Charles Spurgeon had a poignant quote. He began by asking “What was there in the world that God should love it?” and goes on to say “Enmity to Him, hatred to His truth, disregard of His law, rebellion against His commandments.” All of this, and yet He still loved us. Why? How? Because His love is so great that He gifted us with this Grace. Grace upon grace.
In reading this quote, I couldn’t help but see how seamlessly it applies to our time. I know I talk a lot about returning, about the state of our true selves, about our rejection of the commandments and you may think “Not me, not my church, why does she keep saying that?” It is because we live in a world that tells us that YHWH’s commandments, His laws, are not needed and that world, all too often, finds accomplices in the church who not only agree but help to disseminate this message. Many of us were raised swimming in this errant teaching, those who were not are still surrounded by it in this world, and the few who do not see any evidence of this in their sphere still need to hear the alarm bell so that they are caught with armor on rather than off when the enemy inevitably makes its way to their doorstep.
But I’ve seen it. I’ve heard it. I’ve sat under that teaching and I’ve lived the consequences of the slow but certain spiritual starvation it brings. As a result, when I have an opportunity to encourage you in the Word, I would be remiss, sinning even, if I did not love you enough to warn you, if only to lessen the temptation that may come to lead you away from this meat before us to side dishes and empty calories.
And so, as we near the end of reading this blessing of a book (the Bible), you will see me continue to speak of this and I hope you know that it comes from a place of me crying out in the wilderness, in my earnest hope to use whatever small influence I have in your life to help you focus all the more on the Father and to see the love He has lavished on us.
Maybe you’ll never face this side of the adversary as I have. Maybe you’ll never have a Christian look you in the eye and tell you that the old testament is “done away with” or “we don’t have to keep all those commandments anymore”. Maybe you’ll never have a cherished friend tell you that they are worried for your soul because you’re studying the whole Bible. Maybe you’ll never quote Messiah and have someone shake their head and tell you that his words are outdated and we just have to trust our hearts now.
I have prayed for that. But maybe someone you know will face these things as I have and you’ll have a little wisdom from my shared experience to help them on their journey. Either way, may we never tire of hearing any voice that calls us to return to the Father daily – as our human state can always benefit from any reminder that brings the love of our Father fresher to our minds.
I saw something interesting in John 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Interesting reminder, the “name” of the son of God literally means “YHWH saves”. I think that adds more facets to this statement that are very much meant to be there.
Read it again with that in mind and see if you see it.
In John 4 we see the Samaritan’s surprise that a Jew would drink water she had drawn. With a better understanding of the relationship between Jews and Samaritans, this stands out all the more.
John 4:13 – Reading about Messiah speak of the living water and being thirsty after regular water but never being thirsty again once they drank of His water reminded me of the satisfaction, satiation, and joy I finally found once I dedicated myself to reading the whole word of YHWH and, further, to trusting in His ways over my own.
For most of my life I kept thinking there had to be more. There was a hunger that escalated to a spiritual starvation until the Father finally showed me what was missing in my life – His Word and real submission to Him. I had neglected to truly make Him Lord over my life. Instead, I was letting Him appear as a guest star from time to time while I maintained that lead role in between His appearances. Of course, I can testify that it never has worked that way.
But when you find this living water, and have your first long drink, all you want to do is help as many people as possible find the well.
LET US DRINK DEEPLY TODAY!
I cannot do the book of John justice on my own and so I’m praying that the Father helps me to show you what He would have me show you and that He fills in the gaps, as His ever present generosity of Spirit always does.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!