Happy Rosh Hashanah beloved!
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish new year. It is a time of reflection and repentance of sin for the Jewish people, but also a time of great joy, celebration and new beginnings. The shofar is sounded on the morning of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, which this year, starts on the morning of Sunday, October 2 and goes through the evening of Tuesday, October 4th. If you have a shofar, I encourage you to get up early Sunday morning, pray for your area, the nation and the church and blow your shofar!
A friend of mine sent me this wonderful article from “The Times of Israel” that you might like to share about sounding the shofar on Rosh Hashanah:
– Renee McCormick
Rosh Hashanah: Do we Dare to Blow the Shofar?
Something strange happens on Rosh Hashanah. We spend hours declaring God’s majesty, using poetic and unique phrases. We refer to Him as the Ultimate King and Mover of this world. We ask Him to strengthen and reinforce His relationship with us and show us His omnipotence.
But the ultimate prayer of this day is a sound that carries no words, and it is the only biblical commandment of the day: the blowing of the shofar.
What is there in a sound that words cannot express? And why do we have this sound only once a year, on Rosh Hashana, when we remind ourselves of the Creation and of the radical new beginning in our lives; when we repent, turn over a new leaf, and recreate ourselves?
The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound – a terrifying penetrating resonance. People can scream, howl, and wail, but nothing more than that. Their reach is limited. Alone, they cannot produce a sound that comes close to the piercing and penetrating heavenly voice of the shofar, which can cause human beings to break down, pick themselves up again, and transform into new individuals.
Not even a chazan’s liturgical solo, or an opera singer’s aria can touch us where the shofar’s vibrations do. The shofar carries us to places unreachable by the human word. It ignores walls and other obstacles, simply forging ahead, long after the human sound has come to an end.
The shofar and the human voice are completely different from each other. The shofar, like a knife, tears our hearts open – just as when the Children of Israel encountered the original shofar sound at Sinai, before God introduced the Torah to them. An experience beyond.
No voice can produce this sound or deliver such a powerful resonance. The only way a person can do it is by blowing a not-too-strong puff of breath into a small hole at one end of the shofar, which widens to a larger opening at the other end. This produces a sound of overwhelming power that pierces the heavens.
Suddenly, we are able to reach unreachable heights, when we are humble enough to admit that we cannot do it alone and we need help. But it is we who must activate this help. The shofar will not blow on its own. It needs the human’s puff – our participation and our effort – before it can move mountains.
Whether or not the shofar will blow is up to us, but whether we can reach our own potential will be up to the shofar. Our humility, combined with our capacity to move beyond ourselves, is what makes us exceptional.
This is our great challenge. Will we remain complacent and stagnant, letting the shofar sit in the cupboard, and never daring to go beyond ourselves? Or, will we have the nerve to blow the shofar and produce something more that will move us and the world forward?
Will we leave Judaism where it is, or will we constantly blow new life into it, impelling it to surpass itself and open new horizons?
On Rosh Hashanah, when we recall the greatness of God and the Creation, the shofar challenges us to dare and go beyond, creating ourselves and Judaism anew. If we don’t respond to the challenge at this crucial hour, the sound will fall flat and die before it reaches its destination.
Tizku leshanim rabot!
-Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardoza
A friend of mine sent me this article by Kenneth Copeland. It encourages us to use our God given authority in the earthly and heavenly realms. We are victorious in Christ Jesus in all circumstances!
You Hold the Key
|I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
– Matthew 16:19
|The Greek text of that scripture would literally read, “I give you the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you declare locked on earth is locked in heaven and whatever you declare unlocked on earth is unlocked in the heavenlies.”
The heaven Jesus was talking about there isn’t the heaven where God resides. He was talking about the battle zone, about the heaven where Satan’s forces are operating.
He was telling us that God has given us power to bind the wicked spirits in heavenly places and to loose the angelic powers of God to work in our behalf.
Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Where? In heaven, in earth and under the earth. That covers it all!
As believers, we have total authority over the powers of Satan. We can take authority over the evil spirits that are trying to destroy this nation. We can take authority over them in the Name of Jesus and pull down their strongholds.
It is time we began to realize how important we are to world affairs. Since the day Jesus gave us the Great Commission, the life or death of the world has been in the hands of the Church. We are the ones who have the mighty Name of Jesus and the awesome strength of the gospel to bring life and abundance to every creature. We are the ones whose prayers can change every office of authority in this land.
It’s up to you and me to begin to intercede right now and use the power God has given us. We may come from different lands with different backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common—Jesus Christ is our Lord. And that alone is enough to alter the spiritual complexion of this earth.
|– Kenneth Copeland|
A few years ago the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman was published and has become a staple resource for churches and relationship counselors nationwide. The five love languages include: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. The book talks about how we, as individuals express and receive love. By learning our own and other’s love language we are able to experience and express love at a deeper level.
When my husband and I got married, my love language was acts of service and his was physical touch. After eighteen years of marriage our love languages have changed, matured and grown as we have grown in relationship with each other and with God.
But what about our relationship with God? In Mathew 22:37 Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” But what does that look like on an individual basis? How do we as flawed, fallen human beings, express back to God the love he shows to us? If there are different ways to express and receive love as human beings, aren’t there different ways to express our love back to God?
The way we worship God in our everyday lives is our love language to God. God is the very essence and definition of love. The only way to effectively worship and love God back is to desire, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be more like his son Jesus every day. Worship is not just what we do on Sunday, the Lord loves our clapping, dancing, singing and rejoicing in his name on Sunday, but he desires a much deeper response. True worship is our response to what Jesus did for us on the cross. It encompasses and transforms the way we live our lives every day. Nothing can replace the intimate time we spend with him in our daily devotional time, but here are five practical ways we can worship the Lord throughout our daily walk: practicing forgiveness, being grateful, sacrificing, giving and obedience.
Forgiveness is a really big deal to God. It is the reason he sent Jesus to suffer and die to ultimately pay the price of our sin so that we can be forgiven and reconciled with God. Some people have a false perception of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person who committed the offense, but for us. It does not excuse their behavior or let them “off the hook”, but takes us out of the equation and lets God deal with them on His terms. Holding anger, bitterness and unforgiveness is like taking a poison pill and expecting the other person to suffer. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, which can make us physically ill, poison our perspective and block our relationship with God. Choosing to forgive others and ourselves is a great way to show love to our heavenly Father.
Be grateful! No matter how bad your circumstances may be, there is always something to thank God for. There is an old hymn that my grandmother used to sing to me. The refrain says “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings and see what God has done!” God loves us right where we are but loves us too much to leave us there. Growth and change can be painful, but He is doing a mighty work in us. Trusting him and maintaining a mindset of being grateful for what we have, frees us from comparing, coveting and envying others. Having a grateful heart reminds us of the great things he has done and allows to feel rich in our blessings. Give praise to God and thank him daily for the many blessings in your life.
In a culture steeped in entitlement and materialism, sacrifice is a difficult concept. To live a life devoted fully to our Lord and Savior will cost you everything. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeits their soul?” Mark 8:36. Some people choose to believe the gospel and just be saved or as some might say have “fire insurance” and go on with their plan for what they think is “the good life.” When we fully place our trust in Jesus and allow him to be the Lord of our lives, a divine exchange takes place. We take all of our hopes, dreams and desires for our lives and place them on the altar as a sacrifice to God. In exchange, God replaces our flawed plans with his divine plan for our lives.
Like a master builder, God creates each one of us with a special plan and purpose to take part in building his kingdom. You would not use a screwdriver to dig a hole any more than we can function in a way that we were not made for. Following God’s blueprint for our lives is so much better than anything we could ever come up with on our own! It is His grand adventure that he had planned for you since before time began. When we sacrifice our lives to God and follow his plans for us, we show him that we truly love and trust him.
Giving is another way to show God that we love him. When we come to understand that everything we think we own is simply on loan from God, we begin to let go of our false perception of having control. None of us drive a U Haul to heaven; it all belongs to God! “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matt 6:20. It makes God smile when his children share their blessings.
Giving doesn’t always mean money or material things. Tithing is important, not because God needs our money, but because it keeps us from making it an idol. God wants us to give in other ways too. It can be time, knowledge, talents, skills, encouragement, your life experiences or your testimony. There are two things that will endure through eternity, the word of God and the love we share with the people he puts in our lives. When we invest in others through giving, God feels our love.
Obedience is a key element in our Christian walk and our relationship with God. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28. If you are a parent, you can relate to how important it is for children to obey. When my daughter was a toddler, she loved to run everywhere, even if it was out into the street! As a result, she wore a harness to restrain her until she understood the danger and demonstrated some self-control.
As children of the living God, we must trust the boundaries that God set for us in his word. He does not give us rules and commands because he wants to “ruin our good time”, but because he loves us and in his infinite wisdom is trying to protect us. Obedience gives us joy, confidence and freedom to operate and to grow in our relationships with others and with God within safe boundaries. The Bible is a great reference manual how to handle anything that life can throw at you. Playing the game by the rules makes God proud of his kids!
When you love someone you express that love in many ways. Not because you feel obligated or coerced, but because you want to warm their heart and make them smile. Our relationship with God is the same. God loves us with an infinite and immeasurable love. The bible says that there is NOTHING that can separate us from his great love for us. As his children, it can be overwhelming to think about how we can express such a love back to our heavenly Father. We can get caught up in doing something for God out of obligation, to try and win his approval or because we think we “should”. Our daily acts of worship should be a response to his great love for us.
These are only a few suggestions of how we can express our love back to God. The five love languages are all about how we like to be loved and how others like to be loved. God encompasses all these and more. As an act of worship, you can choose to forgive someone, count your blessings, sacrifice your time, give to a needy family and obey God’s word. Have you considered how you can bless God’s heart and make Him smile today?
– Renee McCormick
Over the past 20-30 years worship has become increasingly feminized. With dance and flagging becoming more popular and acceptable forms of worship in church services, the men in our worship services have been left on the sidelines. They sit by stoically lulled by the “soaking music” while the women dance and express their devotion to God, but are rarely encouraged or made aware of how important their worship is. The music is often soft and lilting or played in a range hard for them to sing, which makes it hard for a manly man to even engage. As a result, the Holy Spirit is grieved and the Church does not function in its’ full power and authority.
Men are key participants in bringing in the holy presence of God through their worship. When the men choose to sit on the sidelines of worship, the church is missing half of the necessary components to function as a whole body in worship. God made men and women distinctly different to fulfill different roles and assignments. In the natural men are leaders, warriors, protectors, etc., and so it is in the supernatural. Men carry a powerful anointing and authority that women simply do not possess into their worship.
It is important that men actively lead and participate in worship because of these preordained areas of authority that only they can fill. There is nothing sissy or feminine when men gather to lead worship. When it is time to take new territory or to war for their church or family the worship team should follow their lead! The sound of men clapping, stomping, dancing, flagging, whooping and taking authority puts the enemy on the run! The conferences that I attended where the men lead the worship are some of the most powerful worship experiences I’ve ever had!
Men were originally commissioned to carry the presence of God and to transport our worship to new places. In 2 Samuel, King David gathered all of Israel together to celebrate the Ark of the Covenant returning to the people of Israel. But, he then commissioned 30,000 men to transport the ark and offer worship and sacrifices every six steps along the way. Later, when the Tabernacle of David was established, King David commissioned 4,000 Levitical priests (all men), utilizing 16 different forms of worship, to worship 24/7 seven days a week, and for the next 33 years Israel enjoyed a golden age of prosperity and peace.
Worship, like anointing oil, flows down from the head to the hem of the garment. The churches who have pastors and leaders who demonstrate passionate worship have congregations full of passionate worshipers. Passionate worship brings the presence of God and in the presence of God, we experience healing and miracles. I was on a mission trip in Guatemala, where the Pastor led worship like King David. He sang boisterously, danced, ran the aisles, wept and lay prostrate before the Lord during the service and as a result, the congregation followed. When people came up for prayer sweaty and disheveled, we experienced amazing miracles! Some of these included hearing being restored and seeing a leg that from birth was 4” too short, grow to match the other leg!
When David danced before the Lord with all his might, Michal, David’s bride, scoffed at David’s undignified worship. She was ashamed of David’s behavior and worried about what the King’s subjects would think of David’s embarrassing demonstration of worship. As a result, the Lord struck Michal barren. Perhaps this is a prophetic warning to the churches. Are we experiencing barrenness in our churches and our ministries as a result of our mighty men not being encouraged to worship in abandon?
As the bride of Christ, we desperately need our men, leadership and otherwise, to take up their masculine mantle of worship and demonstrate sincere, passionate, undignified and yes, even humiliating worship before the living God so that we can operate as the powerful body of Christ the Lord is calling us to be!
Mighty Men of Valor Arise!!!
– Renee McCormick
How I Started Hearing From God
*** Devotion in Motion ***
Some of my earliest memories of attending church were with my Grandparents and Great Grandparents at the First Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. I was dressed in my “Sunday clothes” which consisted of a dress, usually with an itchy crinoline underneath, tights, gloves and patent leather shoes. I guess the concept of air conditioning a church in the Deep South at the time was considered revolutionary and costly so they kept it at a minimum. It was a stifling, smothering hot with humidity that you could cut with a knife.
In those days, children were seen and not heard and expected not squirm. My Grandmother always sat right beside me and if I attempted to chatter with my sisters or move around, I would be painfully chastised with Mimi’s vice -like pinch to my leg. There was no escape to Sunday school to while away the time playing with the other kids, just the long endured hour (or two) of endless singing and preaching of “grown up” church that seemed to yawn out before us into the even hotter Sunday afternoon.
Church was not fun and I did not look forward to being there. The only conversations I had with the Holy Spirit at that time were about my growling tummy and when I could escape. More than anything, I wanted to shed those uncomfortable clothes and that stifling, restrictive environment so that I could run, play and be free to be me.
Growing up with the false perceptions of God being restrictive and boring with our only way of connecting with him was by “being still”, created a real rift in my relationship with Him. I became a very physical and athletic person, but never really thought about talking to Him or actively listening to him while I was performing physical activities. I would do my devotions and pray, but would never really expect to hear back from God.
Much later in life, I needed desperately to hear from God and did not have time to just sit still and pray. I asked and begged God to talk to me as I went about my daily activities. The people in the bible heard directly from God, why couldn’t I? It became a passionate pursuit of me chasing God to get him to answer my cries. Then, I began to quietly hear from my heavenly Father. Not in my “prayer closet”, but when I was moving! When I was dancing, gardening, folding laundry and engaging in repetitive movement is when I began to hear my heavenly father speak to me. At first, just in bits and pieces here and there and then much clearer. I had finally made the connection of how I am wired to hear and receive from God!
It is crucial that we all find our way to connect and hear from God and everyone is different. The key is finding what works for you. When I am doing physical work or exercise, I can completely clear my mind and flow in whatever activity I am engaged in. This is when God speaks most clearly to me. Whether it be through movement and artistic expression, observing Him in nature, or just “being still” we all need to hear from our creator. I encourage you to think outside of the box of traditional mindsets and explore new and different ways to connect and hear from God.
God wants us to enjoy our relationship with him. He is always speaking to us, but often we are not listening, or we simply do not know how to listen. Like a tuner on an old radio, we all have to find the correct station to be able to tune in to his voice and be able to hear what he is speaking to us.
God never wants us to feel restricted, stifled or uncomfortable with him. He wants us to enjoy our relationship with him. I think back to that little girl trying so hard to sit so still in church and I think that she was not at all missing the mark. The Holy Spirit was calling her out into the bright sunshine to run barefoot in the cool green grass with him, to play, dance, laugh and connect with Him in just the way he created her to.