Fruit Audit – Do You Hear God Speak to You?

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Audibly? I haven’t and I can bet you have not either. There is no Bionically sound doctrine out there that states God will personally, audibly talk to you in this day and age. I am not saying it is not possible as that would be like trying to fit the Grand Canyon into a water cup. I would never try to put God in a box. I am going off of what he has decided to allow us to know about him through the only source he has given us: the Bible. So, when we talk about “listening to God” or trying to “hear God” what does that mean? It can be summed up very simply like this: We talk to God through our prayers, thoughts and actions and God talks to us through His Word, others, and our circumstances.

God can be blunt. I have found Him to be blunt when he desires you to not mistake his “voice.” I will hear a sermon on a specific topic, then it will pop up in my daily Bible reading that day or possibly the next, then a friend will bring up the exact same topic randomly at lunch the next day. That is what most people call coincidence or providence. When you are fully and truly saved there is no mistaking when God wants you to know or learn something.

God can be subtle. He sometimes wants you to be sensitive to his promptings. He is not always going to hit you over the head. In fact, usually he is subtle, drawing you close to him and desiring for you to desire his will and not your own. Do you respond to his promptings? When you sense the urge to pray, do you drop to your knees or do you finish what you are doing and then pray? When you feel the urge to help a stranger do you do so or do you continue on your way not wanting to impose? When you feel in your gut that you need to say a word of encouragement do you speak up or do you say the opposite or nothing at all?

When is the last time you tried to lift a thousand pounds? Probably never. Do you know who Paul Anderson is? He lifted 6,270 pounds. Do you think he woke up one day and said to himself “I’m going to lift up a truck today!” No! He worked at it, practicing every day, getting stronger every day, and focusing every day on lifting more and more. That is what hearing God is all about. Day by day, getting stronger and stronger at reading and memorizing his Word. Day by day, getting more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s moment by moment promptings. Day by day, lifting a little more weight until we finally see the prize. The day when we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior to hear those amazingly heart-crushing and soul-longing words “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Well done!”

To go deeper with this topic, check out the below post:
Do You Love God’s Word?

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?

Week 1 (DEFINING FRUIT)
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Week 2 (GOD’S LAW)
Audit #5: Do You Hear God Speak to You?
Audit #6: Are You a Lawbreaker?
Audit #7: Is God’s Law Written on Your Heart?
Audit #8: Do You Grow in Wisdom?

Week 3 (LOVE)
Audit #9: Do You Love Others?
Audit #10: Do You Love the One You Hate?
Audit #11: Do You Have a Love Affair with the World?
Audit #12: Who is Your Jesus?

Week 4 (TESTS & DISCIPLINE)
Audit #13: Do you Have Chronic Sin?
Audit #14: Are You Convicted by the Holy Spirit?
Audit #15: Do You Get Disciplined by God?
Audit #16: Do You Get Tested by God?

Week 5 (CHANGE)
Audit #17: Do You See a Radically Changed Life?
Audit #18: Is Your Spiritual Life Different from Last Year?
Audit #19: Do You Find Assurance or Conviction When You Read the Book of 1 John
Audit #20: Christian: Guilty As Charged!

FRUIT AUDIT – Does your life reflect the first and greatest commandment by God?

Do You Love God the Most?
When you look at your daily spending, your daily activities, and your daily interactions, it may become clear who your god is? Take an honest assessment of your day. While most of us spend the majority of our day working, which God calls us to do, are you the type of person who makes your career your life and keeps church and state separate so to speak or you the type of person who tries to bring God into your career? Are you the type of person who spends 10 minutes in God’s word in the morning and then spends 2 hours on Facebook during the day and another 2 hours watching TV at the end of your day and then cap it all off by another 5 minutes in prayer before bed time? Just sayin’. Be real and be honest and figure out who your god is. I hope it is the one true God that you love with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

Here is a more in depth audit on how you feel about God:
Are you a Politically Correct Christian?
Who do you Love?

Maranatha!

FRUIT AUDIT PREVIOUS POSTS:
Introduction: Have Your Ever Taken a Fruit Audit?
Audit #1: The Fruit of the Spirit
Audit #2: Do you Walk by the Spirit?
Audit #3: Do you Actively “Make Disciples”?
Audit #4: Do you Love God the Most?

Our Deep Desire to Feel Forgiven

jenosullivan_20131126_0001I was on a walk with my son and he mistakenly tipped over the Bob stroller while I was washing my hands because he was leaning out of it to the side. He is 6 so he’s a bit big for the stroller but he likes the ride. (Personally I would love to take a ride in the Bob too! ha!) So, in the tipping over, everything fell out of the cup holders onto the concrete: my iPhone and my brand new Bluetooth speaker. Both got a bit scratched up. He was horrified. The look on his face was such deep remorse. He knows the value of things and is a very careful child. I scrambled to pick everything up and to check if all was still working. Check. Then I looked back at him. “Sorry mom.”

I knew it was an accident, but when I went to wash my hands I gave him specific instructions to stay seated. He did not. I told him as much. I knew it was an accident but he also did not listen to my instructions. I said a short “OK” that meant I accepted his apology. It was not enough for him. For the next 10 minutes as we walked up the hill, he kept saying he was sorry, really sorry. I had forgiven him. We talked about it and all was done. Then why was he still pursuing my forgiveness? It dawned on me. I do the same thing with God! I know in my head that I am forgiven the moment I ask to be. Even my sin nature (not my actions but my sin being) is fully forgiven. But still, I bring things up over and over again. “I’m sorry! Really really sorry!”

My son needed to “feel” forgiven. The idea that he knew in his head that he was forgiven was not enough. I stopped our walk and went around to talk to him to let him know that I fully forgive him. I fully love him. I know he made a mistake. I gave him a hug. That is what he needed. He is my child. I am the child of God’s. Sometimes I need a hug. I need to be told in several different ways that I am forgiven. But how do we get to the point where it is not just head knowledge but we actually feel forgiven?

I remember asking a friend of mine a related question when I was in High School. “How come I cannot feel God anymore and how do I get that feeling back?” I’ve asked that question multiple times over the years to multiple people, pastors included. It always boiled down to something I was doing wrong. Sadly that is just not true. We speak to God through prayer and He speaks to us through His Word and circumstances. If you are not in His Word daily, and I don’t mean reading a verse or two, I mean really IN His Word, studying and learning, then what makes you think you are going to have any sense for what He wants to tell you?

I have heard of the Scriptures being the Living Word of God. What? I never fully understood that. Being a highly churched person, the concept went right over my head. Now, however, I get it. We, as humans need life. We need living interaction with others. God is so distant at times. Well, Biblically He may be testing you, but naturally He wants to have you seek Him and He wants to be known. His Word is life and to us who follow Jesus it is also alive! If you claim Jesus as your savior I challenge you this year to read the Bible cover to cover plus do a study of a couple books over the year. My pastor, Mike Fabarez says “One of the greatest ways to guard against heresy is to read the entire Bible often.”

I know a lot of you may say, “Sure, I’ve read the entire Bible.” Really? Every Year? Maybe you have. I can tell you that I used to say that all the time. Then I actually did it. All the way. Cover to cover. It changed me. God changed me. It is amazing and I highly recommend you start today. Check out this very easy Daily Bible Reading plan. I love it because some days when I am in my car I can listen to it on my phone or even through my Bluetooth. No longer can the excuse be made to not read your Bible as I am giving you a link to LISTEN to it every day.

If you want to read more on my thoughts about why reading the Bible as well as wanting to read the Bible may in fact prove or possibly even disprove your salvation, check out this post: DO YOU LOVE GOD’S WORD?

No judgement, just a call to do a spiritual check up. :)

Shalom! (I’m learning Hebrew, yippee!)

My Journey in Learning Hebrew: How I got Started

Pray for the Peace of JerusalemI was heading home after dropping my son off at school. I pass by Temple Beth El every day. On this day I thought, “Why not give them a call and ask about Hebrew lessons?” So I quickly mapped the location on my phone and got their number while at the red light in front of the temple. I called and the receptionist exclaimed “Perfect timing! We only do one or two adult Hebrew classes a year and we have one today at 4:15!” I told her, “Sign me up!” I laughed most of the way home as I knew it was not my perfect timing but God’s.

I went to the first class armed with my note pad and pen, early as usual to anything academic related. Once the class started the teacher announced that anyone interested in taking more classes outside of this class that she would love to “give back” to the community by offering her tutoring services for FREE!

WHAT?!!! Again I said, “SIGN ME UP!” Yet another gift from God!

It turned out that I was the only student interested, so my lovely friend Barbara has been tutoring me for the past 2 and a half months. What a blessing she is and as I look at how it all came to be, the clear hand of God has been on everything related to this Jewish Temple allowing me, a Christian into their world to teach me the things of our Elohim. Amazing!

Maranatha!

My Journey in Learning Hebrew

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Over the past few months I have had a deep unexplainable urge to learn Hebrew. My journey has been so fascinating that I would like to share with those of you who might be interested in some things I have found to make my journey immeasurably fruitful.

Everyone from my Jewish step-mom, to my sister, to the secretary at my church have all asked “Why?” with some confusion laced in their expression. My first thought was “Why not?” But to say that would be disrespectful. I honestly had no idea. I know if you asked me 6 months ago what my interest in Judaism, Israel, and the Hebrew language was I would have said “slim to none other than the fact that my Christian roots come from Jewish history and that my step family is Jewish.” Fast forward 3 months and all I can think about is Israel. A whole section of my day is reserved for praying for Jerusalem. I am enamored with learning about Jewish tradition and their language. So the question still stands… Why?

I know for sure that one reason I desire to learn to read, write, and speak Hebrew is a need to understand what God meant when the Bible was penned. The words in Hebrew have a much larger breadth of meaning than the translated English words do. Therefor, passages are often literally lost in translation.

The reason for learning the traditions and cultures as they relate to “now” and to the historically understood “then” is to be able to understand the context in which it was written as well as how Jews translate or keep those traditions today and how that applies to me as a YHWH worshiping soul. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.) :)

Those two reasons are the only way I can explain it, but deeper than those is something I have no way of explaining. I just feel called to learn and to pray for Israel. As a side note, I am praying for the FINAL peace of Jerusalem, not a “peace treaty” or anything other than the revealed glory of God through the revival of his people.

Over the next few days I am going to delve into my journey and show you YHWH’s guiding and providential hand in it all.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3, ESV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6-9, ESV)

Maranatha!

Baby InstinctIt’s Christmas time and under our tree are a ton of wrapped presents. Our 5 year old is going out of his mind every day wanting soooo sooo badly to open his presents. He is so present-crazed that when we go to the store to pick up bread or other items we need he is willing to spend his saved money from past birthdays to buy small items to ease his discomfort. The desire is so strong I almost feel bad for him. Almost.

My pastor, Pastor Mike Fabarez, used this sermon illustration this past year about babies and I think it is so relevant to this topic. Have you ever seen a baby suck on anything that comes near their mouth? They will suck on anything. Your hand, your keys, the pillow, the floor, your nose. They are looking for the thing they desire most: milk. It is instinct. We have a same guttural desire that we were all born with whether we like it or not. We were all made in the image of God and we all desire him at our core even if we do not know what to call it. I have heard it said to be that we all are born with a “God-Shaped Hole” in our hearts and that until we find God, or more precisely God calls us, we constantly stuff other things in the void in our lives. Think about it. Are you ever really truly satisfied?

Do you find yourself saying to your friend, spouse, parent, or self “If I could just have that (fill in the blank) then I would be happy.” I hear it all the time and used to say it all the time. I always desired the next great purse or car or home. I remember being a kid wanting this or that and seeing that as I got older the items on my list grew bigger and bigger. Have you ever gotten caught up in the “Secret” craze, creating “vision boards”? Mine had a private jet, a butler and chef, a huge estate, and all sorts of other items that I truly believed if I obtained those things THEN I would be happy. Guess what? If you go ask someone who has all those things on the surface they will say they are happy, but if you knew them well they most likely would still feel like something is missing.

Are you able to honestly asses your desires? What gifts are you getting this year for the holidays or your birthday? Would you be willing to give them up? Do you need them so badly that you would justify keeping them? I am not saying the items themselves are bad and that if you do have a private jet then you are not saved. What I am saying is that if your desires for those things or the things themselves become idols in your heart (meaning you are desperate to have them or keep them) then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with God.

The phenomenal thing about having a true relationship with God is that you feel utterly complete. You lack nothing. There is nothing in this world that you need anymore. Literally. Your lifestyle, your things, your relationships, even your own life becomes inconsequential to God’s will. To put it plainly would you be willing to do any or all of the following if God asked you to. Remember, these are just hypothetical but please make an effort to fully visualize each scenario.

  1. You are called to quit your job and work at an orphanage in the inner city.
  2. You are called to sell your house and move in with a family member to donate most of your money to charity.
  3. You are called to sell your entire shoe (or bag, or baseball card or whatever you collect) collection to help a family down the street who lost their job.
  4. You are called to leave your kids and your spouse indefinitely to go on a mission overseas.
  5. You are called to go to a country and spread the gospel where Christianity is outlawed and punishable by death.

If you are justifying these examples by saying something like, well my husband would never let me do that and God tells me I must obey my husband then you are putting God in a box. Believe me, if God wanted you to leave your kids and husband to do something for him, he would sanctify the decision by making your husband desire you to do it too. God lines up peoples hearts even if they are not his. He uses and animated every single person on the planet. You may also say you are too afraid. Well, read Jonah and see how things turned out for him. His heart was truly messed up and he battled God the entire way even after he relented and did what he was told.

Be honest with yourself and test yourself. Determine what you are unwilling to give up. Ask God to help rid these things and that he would reveal himself to you. What a joyous release it is to not have to ever try fitting anything else into the God-shaped void that was in my life. My heart is overflowing with joy and true life-breathed completeness that I never thought possible!

Shalom!

Snowfall in Israel could be a plea from God

Today’s Daily Bible Reading in Amos chapters 4-6 is so relevant in light of what is happening this very day in Israel. With the worst snow fall in over 50 years and many being evacuated from homes not prepared for weather like this I wonder if Yahweh (God) is trying to, yet again get the attention of His people. I pray every day for revival in Israel. With over 6 million Jews living in Israel and an estimated mere 20,000 Messianic Jews let us all pray for Yahweh to continue to reveal himself to His people and that they would soon find their Messiah in our Lord Jesus Christ! Revive your people O Lord!!! Bring them back to you!

לחשוף את עצמך לבני עמך יהוה (Reveal Yourself to your people O LORD)

Maranatha!

Are you a “Politically Correct Christian”?

Yeshuah Jesus Yahweh is SalvationHow do you feel about Jesus? While this may seem obvious, let’s unpack the idea a bit more. OK, so you are a Christian. What does that mean, exactly?

  1. You love Jesus.
  2. You believe in Jesus.
  3. You have put your faith and trust in him.
  4. You have turned from your sinful ways and toward righteousness.
  5. You go to church.
  6. You volunteer.
  7. You pray.
  8. You read your Bible.

That is great! Welcome to eternal salvation. Well… hold on. We have been going over in our Friday discussions, week after week specific things that may or may not validate your salvation even if you do all the above mentioned “Christian” activities. So, this one is simple. How do you feel about Jesus? Your first thought might be, “I love Him.” Now put yourself against these scenarios:

  1. You are at work, you are on your break at your desk reading your Bible. How do you react when you hear someone coming?
  2. You are at a restaurant with friends. Do you pray before a meal or do you pass it up for lighter conversation?
  3. Do you ever pray for an extended period of time with another friend out in public?
  4. You are at work in the lunchroom. Do you pray before your meal in front of everyone or do you quietly pray in your mind without anyone being the wiser?
  5. You are at a social event and someone you have never met asks you what you do. Do you bring up your reason for living by bringing up Jesus or do you talk endlessly about what you do for a monetary living?
  6. You are at the park with a friend who is definitely not a believer (make it more real and imagine your Muslim, gay, lesbian, or outspoken atheist friend), and you casually tuck your cross necklace into your shirt before you see them.
  7. You are at your kids school picking them up and you get into a conversation with another mom. Does the name of Jesus ever come into your conversations day after day?
  8. Generally speaking how often does the name Jesus enter into your daily conversation with everyone around you? Never I bet if you are honest. A very few of you will answer “All the time.” Praise YHWH for you and your boldness!

We sing songs about “Jesus, only Jesus” but then are afraid to mention His name in mixed company for fear we will lose our jobs or lose that friend or lose respect. We think in our hearts I cannot wait to see the face of Jesus shining like the sun, but then can’t seem to say his name to others during our day.  Is this how someone treats someone they love? When you are in love you want to shout it from the mountain tops. When you find your spouse you cannot wait to introduce them to everyone and anyone. When you have your first, second, third, twelfth grandchild how quick are you to whip out those photos of them even to perfect strangers? But Jesus? No, that is not politically correct. It’s sad. More importantly it may mean eaternal damnation.

Ask yourself: “How do I really feel about Jesus?” The world sends thousands of signals to us like little darts all intended for us to dislike or even hate Jesus. We are in a literal battlefield. If only we could see what the angels can see. Take a look at what the Bible says about it.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5, ESV)

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33, ESV)

Based on personal experience, I thought I was a Christian but realized I was actually ashamed of Jesus. I was the politically correct “Christian.” I praise YHWH for showing me my folly. Pray about this one, my friend. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus! If this convicted you even a small bit, please read through the other Fruit Audit topics to the right.

Maranatha!

What’s in a Name?

Your name is the most important word you know. It is the first word you fully understood and continues to be an integral part of who you are. When people call us by another name or mispronounce our name or misspell our name it is offensive to us. My son’s name is Jacob Timothy O’Sullivan. He goes by Jacob. Some people choose to call him Jake even though we have never told them that is his name. He gets angry and a bit sad when he tells them his name is Jacob and not Jake and yet they continue to call him Jake. Because his middle name is Timothy, we sometimes call him JT. That also upsets him to no end. These are variations on pretty much the same name. The word God is not even close to Yahweh’s real name.

Imagine, for a minute, how Yahweh feels when we call him God. It is a translated name but the origin is a bit obscure. Did you know that the English word for יהוה (which is the tetragrammaton of YHVH) is Yahweh, which is what most feel the pronunciation might be? Yahweh is the actual transliterated name of God. Did you also know that the word God comes from pagan origins as noted in the Bible? It’s root is actually found in the Bible in Hebrew text as GD or “gimel dalet” (גד). Vowel pointers in Joshua 11:17, 12:7, 13:5 create the word to sound like “Gawd” or our present day “God.” You can see more on this topic HERE or see below for more links to interesting studies. Why do we assume that God is not offended by what we call him if we are so vehemently offended when others mess up our name?

So, is this a real issue? That is up to you and your own walk with Yahweh. The argument could be made that if YHVH/Yahwey/God were upset he would have done something about it. Instead he has allowed millions of Bibles to be printed without his original name spelling. We live in a fallen world, however my goal for my walk with Yahweh is to do all I can to honor Him so I have been practicing and slowly but surely changing my verbiage in my mind and prayers and writings over to YHVH (Yahweh). Please share your comments on this topic as it can get a bit controversial and I know you have an opinion. I encourage you to take a look at some of the writings below.

Yahweh

Other Relevant Studies

Knowing the Bible: The Meaning of Yahweh
Truth of Yahweh
Scriptural Truth 101: Origin of the Name God
Eliyah: Importance of using Yahweh’s Name
Kosher Messiah: What’s in a Name (drop down to page 19 to get the commentary.)

James 1:16 “Wanderer from God”

Wanderer from God

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:16 (ESV)

This short verse is a transitional verse, however, there is much to be learned from it. “Deceived” in Greek expression means to go astray or wander. Deceived in our present day language seems to have less impactful weight than it did in James’ time. They may have thought of Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A sheep wandering off for me today has less weight than a shepherd of James’ time because I don’t fully get the scary thought of that. I suppose I need to consider what they considered and fully understood: if I wandered off I would get slaughtered by a fox. It was my choice to wander. Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to blame God for my sin.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15
James 1:16