Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What I Believe

One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep far-away friends and family informed about what is going on in my life.  This way, since I don’t see them every day, at least they can have a little taste of what’s going on with me and my family through my descriptions and photos.  It has come to my attention that some of those friends and family may have some questions about some of the things I believe.  If that’s you, then this post was written for you.  If that’s not you, feel free to read on anyway if you’re interested.

A few years ago, my husband and I made some changes in the way we live our lives.  Those changes came about through a series of conversations with each other, through a book we happened to be reading at the time, through a lot of searching and studying the Bible, through fasting (we happened to be participating in a fast at the church we attended), and through much prayer.  I believe that these things all worked together to bring us to the point we are now.  I think God was trying to tell us something, and we have tried to listen and adjust our lives accordingly.  Our fundamental beliefs have not changed.  The way we live out our faith certainly has.

So, here is a simple statement of my basic beliefs.  As you read these, keep in mind that I am not a theologian or a Bible scholar.  What I am is an imperfect human being on a constant search for the truth.
I BELIEVE that the God of the Bible is the one true God, the creator of the universe.  He is unchanging and everlasting, and has revealed Himself to us in the form of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4;  Isaiah 43:10-11; Hebrews 13:8; Matthew 28:19)
I BELIEVE that the Bible is the inspired word of God, infallible and without error in its original form.  The scripture is God’s revelation to us, and is the authority by which we should live our lives.  It should be interpreted with the original context in mind.  (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21)
I BELIEVE that Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) is the one and only Son of God, born of a virgin.  He is a man and yet fully God at the same time.  He lived a life without sin, and is the promised Messiah, Savior of the world through His death and resurrection. (Matthew 1:23; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Corinthians 15:3)
I BELIEVE that mankind was created good, in God’s image, but chose to sin, bringing physical and spiritual death upon himself.  Every person (except Yeshua the Messiah) has sinned.  Because of this, God sent Yeshua as the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins.  Salvation from our sins is a gift to anyone who will receive it.  If we believe in Him, repent from our sins and turn toward Him, then we will have eternal life. We are only saved by grace, through faith, and the only way to have a relationship with God the Father is through his Son, Yeshua.  (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 3; Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12-19; Romans 6:23; John 14:6)
I BELIEVE that today Yeshua sits at the right hand of God.  Someday He will return in a physical and visible way, and will raise the dead (of which He is the “firstfruits”).  There will be judgment for all, and all whose names are found in the Book of Life will remain with him forever, where there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (Acts 1:9,11; Acts 2:33; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 3:13; John 3:36; Revelation 20, 21)
I BELIEVE that Yeshua has sent us the Holy Spirit from the Father, to live within the believer to convict, teach, guide, sanctify and empower us to live and minister for Him. (John 14:26; John 16:5-15; 1 John 3:24; Romans 8:12-17)
Pretty standard, right?  Nothing new here…these are the same truths I have believed for years.  As I said, what IS new is the way we live out our faith.  Here is what is a little different now:
We try to follow God’s instructions.  Commands, laws, Torah, whatever you want to call it…we try to follow it.  God’s laws are perfect, righteous, and eternal. We show our love to God by keeping them. They are there for our own good, and it is a benefit to us if we follow them.  Yeshua never abolished these commands, but urged us to keep them.  If we follow them, we will have no problem loving God or others.  We follow these commands NOT to attain salvation, but BECAUSE we are saved.  Salvation comes only by grace through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, and not by anything we can do.  Because we are saved we want to shine our light so others will see our good works and glorify the Father (Psalm 19:7-8; Psalm 119:160; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 5:16-18; 1 John 5:2-3)

Some of the new ways my family and I follow God’s commands are:
We worship on the Sabbath (7th day).
We celebrate the Biblical Holidays. They are all beautifully symbolic of Messiah, and they are reminders of God’s love for us.
We no longer celebrate holidays that are only traditions made by men and/or that are based on or had their beginnings in ungodly or pagan concepts and beliefs.
We try to eat according to God’s instructions for eating. He created us, so He knows what we should eat!

None of these “new” things have any bearing on our salvation. It is a matter of living how we believe God wants us to live, and showing our love to God and others by living this way.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings and answers any questions or concerns about our beliefs.      

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hidden Meaning

Tonight at sundown, Purim begins.  Purim is a holiday that celebrates the story of Esther, a Jewish young woman who became Queen of Persia and risked her life to save her people.  To learn more about Purim, see my post from last year, "Why I Love Purim".  This holiday is full of joy and celebration, with parties, costumes, parades and fun.  It is also a holiday full of hidden meaning. 

At Purim we wear masks and costumes to symbolize the hidden meaning of the holiday.  The Hebrew meaning of Esther's name itself is "hidden".  She was urged by Mordecai (her guardian and relative) to hide her true identity, which she did until the time came when she revealed who she was in order to save an entire nation. 

The Book of Esther is the only book of the Bible that never actually mentions the name of God.  His presence is "hidden" from the reader, but it is very evident that He is working behind the scenes in every little detail of the life of Esther and those around her to achieve His intricate plan.  The story is full of hidden miracles: things that seem to be coincidences, but that work out miraculously in the end.

Thinking about hidden miracles and hidden meaning reminds me of the Hebrew alephbet (no, that wasn't a typo. The first letter is "aleph", and the second is "bet", therefore "alephbet").  This language is absolutely amazing to me.  Did you know that each Hebrew letter actually has a meaning?  Words are formed by putting together letters which have specific meanings.  Not only that, but each letter also has a numeric value as well, and these numbers also have meaning!  It all works together to make words and sentences that have deeper meaning than I ever imagined!  This is the extraordinary language that most of our Bible was originally written in.  The more I learn about it, the more I wish I was fluent in Hebrew so that I could fully grasp the meaning in the scriptures more easily.

Hidden meaning is a little bit foreign to us Americans, I think.  We live our lives on the surface, getting caught up in the day to day things, and we don't always notice the unseen hand of God working miracles all around us.  When we read our Bibles, it seems that often we are just reading about people and events, and not always searching for the truth and meaning that God placed there for us to discover and apply to our own lives.

This holiday of Purim is a reminder to me to be on the lookout for what God may be trying to tell me, and that He is at work in circumstances around me even if I don't always notice those hidden miracles at the moment.