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Two Sisters

In Ezekiel 23 (read it here for NIV or here for KJV), the chapter talks about 2 sisters – Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah is, metaphorically, Samaria, while Oholibah is Jerusalem. Getting deep already, aren’t we?

To summarize the chapter: They weren’t the most well-behaved ladies, and this chapter refers to them repeatedly as harlots. They ‘played the harlot’ in Egypt, getting fondled and caressed even as young girls. They became children of God eventually, but didn’t stay faithful to Him. Instead, they lusted after and gave themselves to all kinds of other men from all different lands. The younger sister is worse than the older, not only lusting after the men who crossed her path but also the ones she saw drawn on the wall. In fact she went out of her way to send for them, based on these pictures, so she could give herself to them too. Naughty, naughty. Eventually, the things and people they lust after turn against them, expose them for the bad girls that they are, and destroy them. Painfully, I might add.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most uplifting chapter, but God spoke out to me about a couple of things. First, these girls started doing sexual things at a young age. The bible mentions them being young girls, and the men of Egypt ‘fondling’ ‘their virginal breasts’. On the one hand, this certainly isn’t demure behavior. On the other, how much control over their environment do young girls have? They may well have been forced to do this. Or perhaps, if they did indeed enjoy it, they enjoyed it only because it was all they knew. But then things changed. They went from living in the darkness to being children of God. Daughters of God. Knowing God, they now knew better. Yet, they didn’t change. They had a chance at redemption and forgiveness, and had they taken that chance this might be a very different chapter. The Bible, after all, is full of redemption stories. But they didn’t. The older sister, Oholah, upon becoming God’s, lusted after new men. The other, Oholibah, lusted after both new men and her past in Egypt.

The message is clear: once you know God, you know better. Yesterday’s events, however traumatic or beyond your control, do not justify today’s sin. Your environment is not and will never be an excuse – not once your environment also includes God (which it already does, thanks to a little something inside of us called the Holy Spirit). Have you made any excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”?

Then there is all the men they lusted after: idols. False idols. You know the list – money, attention, notoriety, material things. Maybe you lust after them too. And Oholibah lusting after her past life – the life before God entered it. With God is great freedom, but also great responsibility to uphold His standards and righteousness. There is joy in Him, greater than any joy that this earth can provide, but to the casual observer it looks like a lot of rules. To someone who hasn’t experienced Him for themselves, the list of standards is long and the payoff is short. To someone who doesn’t know God, Oholibah’s life before Him probably looks a lot more fun. And that was her line of thinking too. The things of her past that were sinful, were fun for her. And she missed them.

This is why Christianity goes so far beyond saying the words. We can’t just pay lip service to the idea of belonging to God. We need to actually abide with Him – to desire His heart as our own. When a person lives completely led by the Holy Spirit, they can do anything they want. Why? Because their genuine and deep desires line up with the pure and righteous desires God has for us. If you desire things outside of Him, you need to seek Him out a bit more and let Him draw you closer. Oholah and Oholibah clearly failed to do this, ,and so their lusting continued. They remained spiritually immature. They never grew. Growing in God means realizing this: there is a cost to walking with Him and belonging to Him. The cost is great – but so worth paying. And as soon as you pay it, you realize just how “worth it” it is. That IS partly why we call it faith, no?

But Oholah and Oholibah missed the boat entirely when it came to actually growing in God, and so they floundered. Without seeing the Glory and Majesty that were right in front of them, they chased after other things. And random calamity doesn’t befall them. Lightning doesn’t strike them down. What happens is that the things they were chasing turned against them. The men weren’t who they seemed to be at first. They looked better from a distance. Up close they didn’t make the girls any happier or more satisfied than they were before. In fact, they caused a lot of pain and torment for these ladies. Again, the message is clear: these other things just aren’t worth the chase. Where God is eternal, these things don’t stand the test of time. Where God is more beautiful and more miraculous and more faithful and just better the more you get to know Him, these other things don’t even stand up to close scrutiny. Where God is constant and dependable, these other things are fickle and untrustworthy. They just aren’t worth much in comparison to God.

Our walk with God is not meant to ever be stagnant, and so today I ask you to take a deep look at your journey with Him. Where do you stand today? Have you made any spiritual excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”? Desire anything lately that went beyond God? More money, a better job, a big promotion? A bigger house? Missed your ‘old life’ when you were ‘allowed’ to do other things? Once we’re His we’re always His; sinning and desiring these other things is essentially cheating on Him. So ask Him today – are there areas where you’re cheating? Areas you hold back from Him?

Maybe you do have some of these issues and maybe you don’t. Either way, Ezekiel 23 clearly shows us it’s not worth it. So let Him in today, to examine your heart and show you all the little ways you can deepen your relationship with Him even more. It’s worth any price, and God is just – He’ll never ask more of you than you can pay. So take the plunge!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

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When God Searches

“The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they afflict the poor and needy, and oppress the resident alien without justice. Thus I have searched among them for someone who could build a wall or stand in the breach before me to keep me from destroying the land; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out my fury upon them; with my fiery wrath I have consumed them; I have brought down their conduct upon their heads.” ~ Ezekiel 22:29-31

I was reading Ezekiel yesterday and this passage really stuck out at me. First of all, look at the list of sins in the first sentence. That sentence could have been written about biblical times, it could have been written a century ago, and it could easily be written about today. Easily. We see such things happening all around us. Then there’s the part that ultimately God has no choice but to pour out His wrath. Ultimately, He is too righteous to let such conduct slide, and His judgement results in action. But notice how that action was a last resort. He didn’t jump straight from observance to wrath; His fury was poured out when He was given no other option.

What was His first choice? Us. The middle sentence says that He searched for someone to step in, to stand in the breach and petition for mercy. God was searching for an intercessor.

That’s such a cool concept to me. God searches for intercessors. Many Christians think that intercession is us petitioning God to move against the forces of evil. That we seek Him hoping He’ll hear and see fit to answer. That it’s us being God’s hands and feet and voice and engaging in spiritual warfare. What so many forget is that God sees the brokenness way before we do. He sees the brokenness, sees the underlying cause of it, sees all possible end results of it. He sees it and wants to fix it, with the love and mercy He has towards us all. We might petition God when we intercede, but He petitions us first. He petitions us by putting the burden on our hearts. And then He waits, hoping, for someone to act on it – to stand in the gap and cry out to Him. To be the voice that opens the door for His mercy. To come before Him with the mustard seed of faith that He is bigger than any situation, so that He can move mountains.

It brings a whole new level to keeping God in our every moment, our every encounter. We never know when we are being asked to stand for someone we’ve just interacted with casually. If our hearts are closed to those we pass, we won’t be able to receive God’s petition.

And so I ask: Has God petitioned you today? Is He petitioning you now? So many people think that spiritual warfare is extreme. It’s radical. It’s intense. It’s something they’d rather not touch. In truth, though, it’s just what God is searching for.

And of course, if you want prayer over some of your petitions or just to say hi, feel free to email me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

Sandcastles

sandcastle

As I grew up, I grew more and more reluctant to build sandcastles. “I’ll get sandy”, “they won’t last anyway”, “I’ll have ridiculously uneven tan lines”, “They take so long”……but in the end, despite my adolescent logic saying I ‘knew better’, my childish desire would win out and off I’d go. It’s no surprise – as a child I used to build major castles in the morning, and go to show people later in the day only to have them say “what castle? Where? I don’t see what you’re talking about.”

I’d start out with just a lump. I was reluctant, remember? Then the lump would take shape into an actual rectangle (the main castle), perhaps because I got on a creative roll, or perhaps just because I was way too old for just a lump to be acceptable and my friends were with me. I’d add a tower or two, maybe some designs on the walls or battlements on the top. I’d try to make my towers end in a point and I’d find a piece of seaweed or driftwood to stick in as a shell. Of course I’d build a moat – as deep as possible. And then the inevitable would happen – no matter how elaborate or large I’d built my castle, no matter how deep the moat, the tide would still rise and I’d watch my creation be swept away without a trace.

When I think of sin, I think of these sandcastles. We may start out reluctant, but in the end the desire wins out. Then we get swept along, either by peer pressure or just by ourselves. Our basic sin expands, gets fancy, gets more elaborate. Soon it’s part of our lifestyle – we’re fully embracing it and sticking a flag in the turret to claim it as ours.

We’ve all had these sandcastles within us. Maybe we still do. They are our imperfections, the things we harbor that God doesn’t like, the parts of ourselves that we hold on to, that we haven’t submitted to God yet and we don’t necessarily want to. Sandcastles can be pretty, after all. Granted, they can also be ugly and misshapen, but they’re still ours – cultivated and created by us.  Maybe we fear His judgement, maybe our flag is staked in so deep we no longer know who we are without it. Maybe we just know that refinement often hurts. And our first instinct is to protect it. To protect ourselves. “Nothing to see here, Jesus!” We change the spiritual subject to more comfortable ground (“I read my Bible today, Jesus!” = “look at the whole rest of the pristine beach, Jesus!”) and meanwhile build our moats as deep as we can; we thicken the walls. We hunker down.

Maybe we realize that enough is enough, or maybe God tells us. But either way we have a moment where we’re done. We want out. And then our very human panic sets in as follows: But look how much we’ve built. Look how elaborate it is. Look how deep the moat around it is. Look how thick the walls are. We made an effort to protect it, even though we knew better. How can something that big just disappear? We’ll be living under the shadow of that thing for the rest of our natural lives and God will never look at us the same way again and we probably just forfeit our treasure in heaven and now our souls are going to be living in a spiritual cardboard box for all eternity.

Here’s the thing – the amazing, merciful thing about Jesus. He gives us grace. When we repent, and give our sin to Him, when we turn our hearts from that part of ourselves and our lives and give it to Him for His will to be done, that act of repentance lets the tide come in. And if you think for one second that sand can stand up to the power of the living water of Jesus Christ, get yourself to the nearest beach before high tide and give it a try yourself. No chance. While you’re there, you’ll also note how wood, rock and glass get broken down and smoothed over in time. So…sand? I repeat: no chance.

When you repent, you invite the waves that break down those fragile walls. Sure, it can hurt. Yes we have to leave the castle, to get displaced and sent to a new home Jesus has for us. Yes, a part of us has to stay behind in the castle to face destruction.

But you know what? When it’s done, it’s done. Every grain gets washed away, the moat gets filled back in. The very flags that marked it as yours disappear. You will look back, from your new house on the rock, and see pristine beach. With no trace of your self-made castle. Maybe you’ll tell Jesus about it someday, in hindsight or in fear of going back there. And Jesus will look out at the beach and say “what? Where? I don’t see what you’re talking about.”

Jesus took the hit for our sins already. He bled for them and suffered for them already. The wrath was poured out. Forgiveness was earned. The only reason the sins still exist is because we are engaging in them. So when we repent, when we turn from it in our heart of hearts, it leaves. Stricken from the books. When you let God take it away, it goes away. And all that’s left is the beautiful, pristine, pure beach.

So today I ask you readers to talk to God about your personal sandcastles. Let Him point them out to you, let Him guide you to a place of submission and repentance. Give them to Him, and let that tide wash over your heart. Cry the tears, delve deeply into the reasons behind it, whatever it takes. Then, go ahead enjoy your beach.

If any of you need prayer today, or just want to say hi, feel free to email me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Honor Thy Father

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. ~Ex 20:12

fatherSo I have a confession to make: in everything that has happened in my life I’m pretty successful on paper, but I have had one HUGE, MAJOR flaw. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but I’ve treated him pretty horrible in the past.  I just have this pre-set tendency to be angry and to yell at him.  Do I have reasons for this- yes. I honestly feel like he doesn’t hear me. I’m not even talking physically, I mean I feel like he shuts me out when I’m speaking.  So earlier this morning, my mom sat me down and we had a discussion about it. With tears in her eyes, she was pleading with me to treat my dad right.  For anyone who knows me, they know that I love my parents SO much. I praise them often and, in my mind, I think respect them. God has used my mom (and kind of my brother) to open my eyes to the fact that I haven’t been. Of every one in my life, my mom is THE person to get through to me and for God to have her essentially crying before me… it ripped up my heart a little.

angryIt is never right for a child to yell at her father. Even if she’s saying “Mashed potatoes. Hey dad, I want mashed potatoes. Just tell mom I want mashed potatoes! DAD, TWO WORDS- MASHED POTATOES YOU CAN SAY THAT TO HER! WHY WON’T YOU JUST LISTEN AND TELL HER THOSE TWO WORDS?! MASHED. POTATOES.”  lol At the end of the day if I had just opened the car door and said it to my mom versus yelling at my dad (who was getting out of the car) to relay those words when all he kept saying in response was “tell your mother,” what’s the difference?

I realized the difference and why I didn’t just go the more peaceful route is because I just feel unheard. And in thinking about it, I realized that I HATE feeling like I’m not heard. For so long, a huge part of my life, I felt SO ignored and looked down upon. Not necessary by my parents, but I have had moments where I felt I had no voice and the memory of that feeling has never left me.

So as time has gone on and more and more incidents have occurred that left me feeling like I’m not heard (not always by my dad), it caused me to become quick to anger and yell at my dad. Was it right? NO. A big “N.” “O.” Am I justifying my actions? No because I have truly broken one of the 10 commandments.  I have endeavored from this day forward to honor my father even when I feel like he doesn’t hear my words.  However, I am saying that the biggest key in everything that happened today was to recognize within myself the “WHY” behind my actions.

I sat down with both my parents earlier today to talk things through and my dad actually literally did EXACTLY what I said was the reasoning behind why I acted the way I did- he shut me out. He literally would not hear my words. I was saying “I’m sorry for how I acted, it was unacceptable behavior and I’m sorry. I reflected and realized it was because for so long now, I have felt as if you don’t hear me and I’m sorry that my frustration about that has come out as yelling.” His response? To say that I’m moving in a few short days so it doesn’t really matter and all I was saying to him was that yet once again, it’s his fault- always his fault- none of mine.  Miracle of miracles though- even though he was literally proving my point- I didn’t yell. I actually prayed. “God, give me wisdom to know how to reach my dad. Help me mend this bridge that I have broken with my anger and yelling. Forgive me and help me honor him.”

Sometimes we’re called to swallow our pride and just keep apologizing until the other person accepts it. If that never happens though- I know that today, I honored my father like I never have before and I know that God is smiling. So dear readers, pray for my dad? I know he loves me, but I also know that he has SUCH a weight on him from everything else going on and this only added to it. I allowed myself to be an instrument of further burden to my dad. My brother’s job has been in the balance lately, my “sister” has been in a spiritual battle, I’m moving away officially… there’s a lot weighing on his heart. He needs God’s peace. He needs God’s love to shine on him more than ever.  So in advance, I thank you for your prayers for peace over my dad and I pray you all do a better job at honor your parents than I have done in my past 🙂

In Him and to a new future of truly honoring my parents,

Rebekah M.

Are You a Goat?

goatAnd before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. […]Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. ~Matt 25:32, 41-46

As I was driving earlier today with my God-sister, we started talking about how our church had such a tendency to focus on some really important truths, but one BIG lacking thing we noticed across the board was reaching out to the needy in our communities.  It is SUCH an integral part of why I want to be a doctor- “I was sick and you visited me.” When I think of how so many churches don’t focus on that it breaks my heart. Where are the soup kitchens? Where are the can drives? Where are the coat drives? To have so many things right but not have any real community outreach just seems so wrong.

There are other churches with the flip side- they have tons of community outreach, but forget fundamentals of salvation or a true Christian walk. They’ll have soup kitchens galore, but people lack daily prayer lives. Anyone who needs an extra coat in winter will find one there, but saints don’t daily read their Bible.  We can become so busy in doing things FOR Christ, we forget HIM.

We’ve got to find a balance. We cannot forsake the foundations of faith and once we have an established daily foundation for our faith we must extend and grow. So my question to all of you (and to myself) is on judgement day, will He find you a goat or a sheep?

Lord Jesus, 

Help us be Your sheep. Help us walk where You lead us. Let us visit those who we should visit and minister unto others as if we are ministering unto You.  May we look into their eyes and see Your reflection there realizing it is a mirror of ourselves when we are allowing YOU to work through us.  Let me be Your hands and Your feet. 

Rebekah M. 

Restoration (Part III)

“So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19).

Four years ago I went through a very trying time in my faith. My spiritual family and I were hurt very deeply during this time. My godparents were falsely accused of many terrible things. Through much prayer, I eventually made the decision to leave that church and within a few days my god-parents were asked to leave as well. By the end of that year I had lost several close friends.

frriendsOne of these was a dear friend to me that I had defended repeatedly in her time of trouble. Yet when my time of trouble came, she turned her back on me. She sent me disparaging emails, unfriended me on facebook, and disconnected from me socially and spiritually. I was heart-broken.

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

All communication between us stopped – with one exception. Every year on her birthday I sent her a one line email wishing her a good year and a happy birthday. Occasionally, I also tried to encourage her in other more subtle ways; for example, leaving uplifting comments on a mutual friend’s post in reply to one of her comments. We were no longer “friends”, but by way of mutual contacts I knew that she could see some of those things. For the most part, my efforts were ignored.

I admit it was difficult for me. I was hurt that she rejected me. I was angry that she was judging me without knowing or understanding what had really happened at the church. I was sad that we were no longer friends. I missed her.

It took me some time, but eventually I forgave her. She was doing what she felt she had to. In shunning me, she was following the direction of her leadership. I understood that to go against the church leadership is rebellion; she was trying to do the right thing. Yes, I had defended her vehemently to that same leadership when they were falsely accusing her of things, but she never knew that. Yes, she believed the false reports spoken about us, but they were constructed in such a way as to be very convincing. In the end I felt badly for her that she was still in that situation when I had found my way to freedom.

Indeed, while that was the most difficult time I have had to endure since becoming a Christian, it was also the catalyst for helping me to grow in Christ and to dig deeper into Him. I have been incredibly blessed in this last four years. I now attend a wonderfully loving church with very supportive leadership. I have been able to attend Bible College, coach the youth in Bible Quizzing, be involved in a Chinese Home Church and meet many wonderful new friends. Everything that I lost was restored to me and then some! Is the church I attend now a perfect church? No, of course not. But it is exactly what I need in my life and it has afforded me many opportunities that would have been closed to me at my old church.

“For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you an outcast saying: This is Zion; No one seeks her.” (Jeremiah 30:17).

I have learned that truly all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and that going through that time helped to bring me to where I am now.  I also have a greater love and appreciation for those around me because I understand that things can change at any time and I know what a blessing it is to have them in my life.

Today, my dear friend that I lost four years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, this is no small thing! Tears instantly welled behind my eyes when I saw it. Perhaps we will never be able to recover a friendship like the one we used to have, but I gladly welcome her back into my life. I pray she is well and that God is blessing her.

We truly serve a God of restoration!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Related Posts:

 

The Lord Fights Our Battles Pt 2

champion

About a year ago a guy messaged me multiple times trying to make a case for how I could not possibly be in the will of God because God would NEVER call anyone to do anything besides being a saint of Christ and that a woman’s place is in the home while her husband’s place is to work outside the home. That He would never call anyone to be doctors, lawyers, or policemen.  He did this knowing that I was in medical school, soon to be a doctor, and unmarried. I posted about this a year ago and how he never responded when I said that God cares even about our professions for everything can be used as an opportunity to witness. Last night, I received an interesting message from him on Facebook:

I need to apologize to you for being judgemental and critical of you. I was wrong and I am sorry for that. Sorry to cause you any stress or anxiety. I hope you can forgive me and you don’t hate me.

My reply:

I don’t hate anyone and of course you’re forgiven. God’s Word says that we should pray that God would forgive us as we forgive others, so to be freely forgiven we must freely forgive. I do have a word of caution for you for the future though.

One of my best friends actually recently asked who you were since they noticed that we were linked on facebook and according to them, you were telling their cousin they were going to hell for liking sports. Whether or not that is Biblical, the biggest problem with all of that was that his 11 year old daughter was dying of cancer. He is now a heartbroken man because she died and yet in the middle of the time of her dying, it is said that you were telling him he was going to hell.

I honestly told them you were the same person who told me I wasn’t in God’s Will and my friend then wrote you off as judgmental and urged me to speak with [Bro. ____/Bro. ____] about you. They said that someone who would say something like that to a man who’s daughter was dying of cancer must be brought to the attention of the pastor. I did not feel like it was my place to say something to the pastors, but my family did put you on our prayer list for a week for God to give you more wisdom with your words.

We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Use wisdom and love when seeking to help people on this path towards Christ. Remember that Paul said (I Cor 12:31) to “covet earnestly the best gifts [of the spirit]: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” He then went into the love chapter (I Cor 13):

1.Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Your words will never be heard if you don’t temper your wording and timing with love. Christ does want us to be a witness to all, but we must make sure what we say is based on scriptures and can quote their locations in the Bible. We only drive others away from Christ when we forget to temper the truth in God’s Word with grace. For the Bible says that Jesus Himself was full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and we must follow His example.

He replied

Thank you for your forgiveness. I never said though that [the father of the girl who died of cancer recently] was going to hell. I never would tell anybody that. But I did write back to [him] as i did you and asked him also to forgive me for being judgemental and critical of him. I also wrote [his wife] also and asked her the same things. The Lord did show me I was wrong just as in your case. [He] said as you did that he also forgave me. So the Lord himself corrected me in the error of my ways. 
And yes I also felt even worse because I knew his daughter was sick with cancer and he was going through alot then.
So I hope all is well with you concerning these things. 
Also thank you for putting me on your prayerlist. That is very much appreciated.

It is amazing how God works.  My friend was pushing me pretty hard at the time to say something so I started to say hello to this guy’s pastor’s wife and maybe say something, but no message would go through to her, THREE TIMES.  I knew it was God saying to let Him do it.  It’s amazing to see God convicted this man in His way in His timing. I’m kind of curious to hear the story but honestly, human as I am, I would rather just keep my interactions with him limited.

Thank You Jesus for fighting my battles for me- even if the fruit of the battle is seen a YEAR later! 

Rebekah M.

Related Posts:

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/05/28/judgement/

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/05/31/submitting-it-all/

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/06/04/the-lord-fights-our-battles/

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/08/20/a-call-to-christians-being-on-your-guard-part-2/