The Feast of Tabernacles

Last year I shared a little bit with you all about Sukkot, a season of drawing near to God as He draws near to us. This is my favorite Biblical festival. Every year the Lord does amazing things with and in my family during this time! This is day two of Sukkot and God has already moved mountains for my family. My husband is so on fire for the Lord, I can’t even describe how amazing it is to witness. My kids are loving being out in our sukkah (temporary dwelling) or more technically, our tent set up in our back yard. Camping out in a tent in your backyard, doesn’t seem glamorous from the outside looking in. Who would willingly choose to endure mosquito bites and Texas humidity when they have a perfectly good air-conditioned home? We are those seemingly crazy people.

Why, you ask? When we take the leap of faith to come out in nature, set up a temporary home, and expect the Lord to show up with us, He does. Every time. This is our fourth year to do Sukkot, And each new year is even more miraculous than the last.

Our very first year to celebrate Sukkot was in 2014, and it was just Brenner and I. We were in the middle of planning our wedding which was only two weeks away, and I started feeling really bloated and sick. We were living with my mom, Stacy, and stepdad at the time. Stacy had pregnancy tests on hand and encouraged me to take one. Five tests, several lines and plus signs later, and they all showed the same result: I was pregnant. I immediately fell into condemnation. All of the voices of shame and rejection flooded my mind. That’s the real reason they’re getting married. What a sinner! She’s not a real Christian. And so on. Every lie pointed to my pregnancy being a mistake, and even deeper, to me being a mistake. Honestly, yes, it was sinful for us to not wait until our marriage to be intimate. The Lord commands us to wait for marriage to have sex for a reason. Wait because of all of the pain that can come with wholly giving yourself to someone outside of marriage that you were never meant for. Wait because there is miraculous value in a covenant between God and man. Wait because God is good and His plans are good. It’s true and I don’t deny it. The sin was a mistake, but the little baby in my belly was not and neither were we. Believing that truth took a lot of time spent dwelling in the grace and mercy of the Father and a great deal of life spoken over us from my team of encouragers. God redeems even the worst of the worst like me.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s get back to my family’s first Sukkot. We found out we were having a baby. Rewind to the year before, I laid on a doctor’s medical table and heard the words, “you had a miscarriage”. At eighteen years old in the heat of my dark past, that sent me off the deep end. So fast forward back to finding out I was pregnant again, that fear was a steady pulse in my heart. Still, because of my relationship with Christ, I let the joy flood me and was excited as Stacy took us to a pregnancy center to receive a free sonogram. Again I found myself on a table with eyes filled with tears as I refused to search the screen any longer for a missing heartbeat. Again I heard the words, “you had another miscarriage”. It shattered me, but this time I had my future husband and my reconciled relationship with my mom to speak truth and hold up my broken pieces. I signed the paper stating that I had a miscarriage, prayed with the nurse that took care of me, and left feeling empty. We got back to their house and my family instantly went to battle for me. They prayed life over me, rejected the death report and spoke life over me. They believed, and that helped my unbelief. Later that night the nurse who took care of me at the center called me. Her alias can be, Cher. Apparently Cher took my number off of my paperwork and called me personally. Which is totally unheard of, and still I’m so glad she did. I’ll never forget it. Cher sounded almost frantic as she immediately asked me if I had gone to the E.R. to have the miscarriage removed through a D&C. I told her about our choice to believe life over the baby and that I hadn’t gone to the hospital. Cher was so overjoyed because she said that she just didn’t feel peace about the miscarriage. Cher felt like it was wrong too. Wow!

So we set up an OBGYN appointment for the next business day, which was 4 days later (note: The story of Lazarus in John 11) and we prayerfully waited. Brenner worked late nights at Walgreens and I spent time with God and my reconciled family in their sukkah as we waited. Before I knew it I was laying on a new table with a new doctor, staring at a ceiling because I couldn’t bear to witness my empty womb again. Yet this time I heard the room gasp. Stacy cried out with joyful tears as the Doctor countered my worst fear and told me that my baby was alive. My shattered heart both healed and burst a thousand times in one moment of joy. That was a day our lives changed and has continued to since. One miraculous Sukkot, one beautiful covenant marriage, and two children later, here we are on year four. By the grace of God, our lives just get sweeter ever day. What a blessing it has been for my family to celebrate the Biblical Hebrew festivals. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful! I wonder where we will be next year?

Here are a couple of scriptures that will shed some light on Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus‬ ‭23:33-34‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John‬ ‭1:10-14‬ ‭NKJV)

  • In this one, the word ‘dwelt’ actually means ‘tabernacled’! So cool! Jesus was actually born during Sukkot! Powerful stuff!

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” (Zechariah‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • I love this one so much because it shows that we will all be celebrating Sukkot with the Lord after He returns!

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.””(Revelation‬ ‭7:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • This is our hope! This is what Sukkot foreshadows, our joyful expectation of what’s to come!

Whether you celebrate the Biblical festivals or not, I pray that you would draw near to God as He is drawing near to you in this season and expect miracles from the Miraculous One! Be blessed,

Lacey


Want to learn more about Sukkot and your faith in the Messiah’s Hebraic roots? Check out this great resource!

Message of Ashes

Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes that Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty.

I have sang the sweet words “beauty for ashes” in worship many times. I have prayed those words over people crying out to God for deliverance, “trade your ashes for Christ’s beauty!!” I’ve prayed that great exchange from Jesus to myself many times. But today it was as if the words became a little more tangible; the Word of God cut into my bones a little deeper.

This morning I was reading about burnt offerings in Leviticus. The priest would perform the offering and then take the ashes of the burnt offering out of the camp (Leviticus 6:11). There was no reason why this stuck out to me, except that the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me something. I tried to read on, but the word ‘ashes’ became a ringing bell in my head. Therefore I proceeded to use my favorite biblical study tool, a concordance (through biblehub.com) and look up the root meaning of ‘ashes’. As I read that this specific Hebrew word, דָּ֫שֶׁן or deshen, means ‘fatness, ashes of fat, abundance’, I wondered if the same version of the word was used in the ‘beauty for ashes’ scripture I knew and loved:

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”” (Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

To my amazement, the word for ‘ashes’ in the Isaiah passage was different from the Leviticus one. ‘Ashes’ used here in Isaiah 61 is אֵ֫פֶר or epher, and it is used in several other scriptures meaning: ashes of the red heifer which was an offering for purification, ashes put on the head as a sign of humiliation, ashes representing contrition (self-reproach, repentance), ashes for mourning, ashes meaning filthy or loathsome, ashes meaning worthlessness, sorrow and distress (all taken from Brown-Driver-Briggs). Wow, isn’t that powerful? These are the ashes Jesus wants us to give up to Him so that He can exchange them for His beauty, the beauty of the Bridegroom! Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty. That’s astounding. That kind of pure love makes no sense to the human mind, but it doesn’t have to because God just is who He is and does what He does despite our level of understanding.

I very briefly studied out this message of ashes before going about my day. Around mid-afternoon I found myself in a situation where my past sins and mistakes were being kind of..rubbed in my nose. A conversation that was intended to be redemptive, forgiving and freeing, had felt shaming, accusatory and enslaving. A list of mistakes I made (4 years ago and very early in my walk with Christ) were being thrown at me in detail and it hurt to revisit those dark places in my life. I could literally feel the spiritual cuffs of my past being clicked onto my wrists and ankles and could hear the enemy’s excitement that he had captured me again…but God.

God wouldn’t have any of that, no sir. He caught me as my mind tumbled into that pit and He fought His way out with me in His arms. After much prayer, repentance and seeking His counsel, I saw the situation for what it really was: An invitation from Jesus to trade my buried, old ashes for His fresh and new beauty. Jesus wants to be the king of my entire heart..not just some of it. Even the most dark and infected spaces within me-especially those places. The devil wanted this conversation to harm me, but God used it to take me back into that sinful time in my life and totally annihilate that darkness with His glory light! His light always overcomes the darkness (John 1:5). Instead of wearing those past sins and allowing shame and regret to control my mind in that moment, I allowed Jesus to take those ashes of humiliation and give me His beauty-His grace, His mercy, His love, His peace. These are the things I am called to meditate on. Not who I was then, but who I am now in Christ Jesus! Today is the day of salvation and today I am sold out for Jesus. God is renewing me into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus. I’m not perfect, but God is and He will complete the good work in me that He started.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

Ask God if there are any ashes you are still wearing on your head in humiliation or despair from past regrets or present mistakes. If you’re feeling worthless, shamed, impure, or filthy there is an invitation from Jesus to you. An invitation to trade all of that pain and heartache for His beauty and resurrection which can be received through accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and surrendering all of yourself to Him!

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

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.