Flame of YAH

Normally I would be attempting to sleep at this hour (nine thirty in the evening to be exact). Mom life demands such ridiculous things, but tonight was my husband and I’s first night of our young adult marriage group. Disclaimer: no one actually showed up to our group. So we dropped our kids off at our church’s childcare, twiddled our thumbs for exactly five seconds in the lobby, and decided to go to the coffee shop a few blocks away. So you see, my late night espresso is the culprit for my delayed bed time. And yes, I pray that I do not regret my rebellious caffeine choices tomorrow.

As odd as it may sound, I am grateful for our marriage group currently consisting of just my husband and I. I don’t think it is a coincidence that our first official group’s semester would start out this way. The Lord set apart a good hour and a half without distractions (children) in order for the two of us to sit knee to knee, whispering to each other our passions and fears, dreams and goals, scriptures and prayers. We were able to focus on one another and our partnership with God for an unhindered minute, and it was perfect. The love scripture we discussed was so relevant it would almost seem like we planned it this way, but we didn’t. The Holy Spirit is just cool like that.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.” (Song of Solomon 8:7 NKJV)

Love is a vehement flame. The word vehement used here literally means “the flame of Yahweh” or “flame of the Lord”. I believe this principle of love equating God is parallel to 1 John 4:7-19 (definitely give it a read). God is love. We can only love because He first loved us. This love was made manifest through the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah! The world is seeking true love, but we are looking to create something that only lives in one place: the flame of Yahweh.

Quite often we find ourselves burning out or running on empty because we are pouring out our love. That sounds very self-sacrificial and religious, but the emphasis is on our love when we should be pouring out God’s love. Yahweh, the only everlasting flame of love, exists outside of any shadow of love that mundanes could ever attempt to create. True love is God! Yahweh must be our source and the rest will flourish from Him. God is the fire burning in our veins! Everything else is just a spark, a flicker, a shadow of the flame of Yahweh. God must be at the very core of our relationships or they will burn out.

God’s love for us becomes jealous when we play the harlot. The Hebrew word for jealous used in Song of Solomon 8 is qinah and it translates to zeal, anger, envy, passion, and rivalry. God does not like it when we try to be Him. When we attempt to love others with our wooden carvings of what we think love is, we are saying that His vehement flame is not enough. We are saying that Jesus, God’s Love incarnate, is not enough.

God has no rival. Therefore, all mock idols of mankind’s prosthetic love will fail. God is love and His love never fails.

So what now? Dive into the vats of your soul and find the places untouched by the love of God. Let Him fill you completely with His love. Constantly look to the cross to see what love looks like. Root yourself in God’s love, and all of the rest will overflow.

Set Him as a seal, a sign, an imprint on your heart and arm. Put Him everywhere you can think of so that you are constantly reminded of your First Love, Yahweh. Personally, I have key scriptures that point me to God written on little note cards and placed all over my house. It’s not exactly glamorous, but it’s my battle plan to continue having the mind of Christ.

My friend called me today with another example of setting God’s love as a seal in our lives. (I won’t share her name, and will use ‘P’ for the example). P and her husband have been dealing with a hurdle in their marriage. Yesterday they decided to write out a battle plan for the upcoming week: what they will do and what they won’t do in order for their household to serve the Lord in unity. Then they signed the bottom and prayed over it. P told me that she put this written vision on her bathroom mirror and also set it as her screensaver on her phone. P and her husband plan to do this once a week as they work on this hurdle and as they develop new goals so that they will stay rooted in God’s love. I believe this is P and her husband’s seal. Isn’t that amazing?! What a story of victory!

 

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV)

 

I do not believe that this is a to-do list. I think this is our Table of Contents of the fruit that will spring forth in our lives once we allow the vehement flame of Yahweh to burn within us. We can only love because He first loved us (1 John 4: 19) and we must stay in His love if we hope to love others with true love. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

 

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One of the worship songs that really spoke to me this week is Unstoppable Love by Jesus culture; listen to it here.

Slay like Shamgar

My writing has been a mostly private passion these past weeks. Just God and I. Pouring out my praise, crying out my complaints to Him, and then listening for His response, which usually sounded something like, “This too shall pass”.

Now I am trudging out of the valley with new battle scars and strengthened spiritual muscles. My vision is clearer, heart humbled, and newborn fawn legs remembering how to walk again. Helping my kids (ages 2 and 11 months old) battle the flu for nine days was not easy. Especially not as I endured my own draining, cold sickness. By day five I had finally thrown in the towel on my hopeful outlook and laid on the ground crying in defeat. I didn’t even have the strength to try to have hope. I was expecting hope to be a feeling, and I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. It took me 2 hours of laying on the ground in physical pain and spiritual desperation to really learn what hope is.

That morning of day five my dear friend, Katelyn, texted me and told me to try singing out to the Lord to get healing. Something about her text made me mad. Probably because a part of me was throwing a pity party and Katelyn was wanting me to trade my self-pity for praise. I thought she was crazy. But then as I laid there on the floor and realized nothing was changing (if anything the situation was getting worse because mommy lost her hope), I decided to open my mouth and sing out to the Lord. As my scratchy, painful and completely out-of-tune voice sang the words, “Whatever has come, whatever will be I’m held by the One who’s Name is Perfect Peace” a stirring began within me.

I sang it again.

I started to feel it that time.

The peace of God, like a wave washing over me slowly at first, and then- whoosh – a tidal wave. I was swept under and into the Lord’s current. An infilling of peace provided the perspective to see/taste/touch/feel the hope. It was like God put His hands on either side of my face and said, “Look me in the eyes”. As I stared with silver lined eyes, I could see the endless promise land of my hope fulfilled in the reflection of His eyes. See I think that hope is not an emotional feeling. I think hope is an action. Hope is an arrow soaring through the sky until it meets its target. We can only have hope, we can only be hopeful if we continuously see what we’re hoping for.  The moment we lose sight on that which is hoped for, the moment we lose our hope.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)

I was trying to feel hope, I was trying to be hopeful but I could not see the end in sight. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel gives us the hope to move forward. We have to fix/glue/stick our gaze on to the absolute truth that is Jesus Christ in order to walk out life with the action of hope. Hope is more than a mindset, it’s a way of living.

Here we are 48 hours post-fever and completely healed. Thank you Lord! Two lessons  were taken from this nine day illness:

  1. Do not lose hope in your desire’s fulfillment
  2. Use the weapons you have been given

“After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.” (Judges 3:31 NKJV)

An ox goad is similar to a cattle prod, a big stick with a sharp spur on the end to get the animal to go where you direct it. This Shamgar, I don’t really know who he was or what he did for a living, but he managed to kill 600 Philistine men with a pointy stick! There could have even been some giants in that band of men. All I know from this one verse about the guy, is that Shamgar grabbed what he had, something not typically used as a weapon, and did what he had to do to get to the other side of his problem. We think we need shiny swords and golden shields, we think we have to muster up something fancy that looks good on the outside to others. But I’m here to tell you that all David had was a sling shot and some stones. All Shamgar had was a oxgoad. And there is something in your reach as well.

I don’t know what enemy you’re facing this week, but we all have something before us whether it be a trial, goal, dream, etc. If you feel like you don’t have what it takes to fight through it, look around. The Lord has given you weapons for your warfare and spiritual gifts to glorify Him with. Grab what you have and annihilate the task at hand! Not only did Shamgar save himself, but he delivered an entire nation from captivity. For me, it was singing during the storm. Ephesians 6 gives us the armor of God to battle spiritual warfare. 1 Corinthians 12 gives us a list of spiritual gifts imparted with in us to glorify God, build up ourselves, and build up His people. Build relationships with godly friends to uplift you and speak truth to you. Find your weapons, hone in on your gifts, and live out your hope. Get off of the ground and slay 600 enemies. Today is the day for victory, my friends!

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Check out the song quoted in this blog here!

Our daily bread

Today, like every other day, has been long and eventful. It’s only 1:30 p.m. and I’ve already been “Ninja Turtle Mommy”, master Lego architect, peek-a-boo professional, cleaned the entire house twice, and wrestled two children in to bed for their unwanted (but desperately needed) naps. Days as a stay-at-home mom are busy. I’m sure all of us have different forms of action-packed days that can drag on and leave us feeling as though we are running on empty fumes once mid-afternoon rolls around. What if there was a sustenance that could keep you filled up regardless the circumstances and busy events?

I come with Good News, such fulfillment exists.

One scripture has continuously been showing up in front of my face recently, The Lord’s Prayer:

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV)

Jesus gives us an outline for how we should pray to God. This prayer sounds simple, and it really is simple but powerful. I think that because it is simple, the Lord’s Prayer can often be over looked or watered down. I grew up reciting it before every intake of communion at my family’s small Baptist church in North Texas, and sometimes before meals. My memory knew the words but my heart only scratched the surface of the meaning. Over the past month, this prayer began appearing either in song form or just simply when I’d open my Bible up only to find the prayer miraculously within the paragraphs on the page. It was obvious that God wanted to teach me something deeper  within Jesus’s words.

The entire prayer is full of nourishing meat, but one part in particular really stuck out to me in relation to where I currently am in life.

“Give us this day our daily bread”

I always thought that meant God was giving me today, a day not promised but given. Or possibly meaning that my daily bread is a day provided to me with everything I need to get by in. But this time there was more for me to see. What triggered in my mind while reading those few words was the question,“What is bread?”

God’s response to me was as it usually is,“Well what did Jesus say?

“And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” (John‬ ‭6:35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Jesus is the bread! Jesus is our daily bread! He is our sustenance that gets us through the day, that gets us through life. Jesus is our manna provided by God for us to get our fill everyday. Only after we have had our fill of Jesus, can we give Jesus out to others without running empty. I have found myself ministering to people, my children included, and feeling so frazzled or drained afterwards. Why?

I was loving people with my own counterfeit version of love. My love runs out. My love is a shadow of the real deal. God’s depthless river of love made manifest through Jesus never runs dry. We must dig our wells in His love before pouring out into others.

We are intended to continue filling up even while we are already full, so that everything we give is merely an overflow of what has been given to us. Jesus is our overflow. Think about the story of Jesus’s first miracle. The wedding guests had already drank all of the expensive wine and were full. They ran out of the drink and Jesus miraculously changed the water in to wine-and better tasting wine at that! The guests already had wine, it wasn’t as if Jesus was supplying a need. Jesus was giving out extra. Jesus was providing an overflow. Now how can we press into this and receive our daily bread?

“She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.” (Proverbs‬ ‭31:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

This scripture provides us with the practical method of getting up in the early hours of the day, when the rest of the household is still sleeping, in order to provide food for both her household and the other people in her care. We can only provide to others that which has first been given to us.

“We love each other because He loved us first.” (1 John 4:19 NLT)

We must really and truly look to Jesus daily to see God’s love before we can pour out to others. We have to stay in a constant state of consenting to God’s love if we are to love others.

It’s a process. One I am journeying forward on. I want to share my amazing friend, Katelyn’s, testimony in regards to her own journey of setting apart time to receive her daily bread:

“It has been nothing short of easy to set apart this time. It truly is something I’m having to train for just like running a race. Right now I wake up 5-6 a.m. and read… take my notes then go back to bed until around 9 a.m. when my kids get up. Yes, I know that’s not exactly the way I think it should be but I’m training myself to be able to stay up and just not go back to sleep. Through me doing this it’s felt like I’ve been under more attack with the devil with the kids a lot (not even going to lie). But the awesome part is even though I feel the devil is running right behind me all day , God is right in front of me, cheering me on, reminding me what I’m training for, what I’m learning, and guiding me on how to use it! Honestly it’s hard some days, it seems easier to get that extra hour or two of sleep, but then I have to remind myself of the things that I have defeated because of doing this… Outside of my household, I truly feel like I am remembering His word even more than ever now that I rise early to provide the food (spiritual) for my family and friends. I used to always felt timid on saying stuff because I didn’t know what I was talking about. But now it’s like verses come to me on what I’m reading and I’m remembering them! How great is our God. Through believing Him, in faith that this would turn out for the better, He’s helping me with things I wasn’t even focused on. I can’t give that glory to anyone but Him. Because of rising early I now feel more confident and comfortable sharing his word!

“I rise before dawn and cry [in prayer] for help; I wait for Your word. My eyes anticipate the night watches and I awake before the call of the watchman, That I may meditate on Your word.”
‭‭PSALM‬ ‭119:147-148‬ ‭AMP

I challenge you to prioritize a time in your day to receive your daily bread, Jesus Christ! Whether it be the early dawn or the late evening, commit to finding the moments of stillness before God and receiving His love through the reading of His Word. Jesus is the Bread of Life and Jesus is the Word of God. Setting apart a slot of time to read your Bible and communicate with God (praying) is how you will apply this to your daily routine.