Now that the celebration of the Passover drama is complete, the annual march to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot) commences. For fifty days, the command to daily Count the Omer, creates an excellent roadmap to encourage communion with the Lord through prayer, Bible reading and study, and meditation upon the Holy One of Israel and His majestic ways:
“You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-16, NASU).
While true followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do not necessarily require specific commandments to frequently communicate with the Creator God, the promptings of the indwelling Holy Spirit literally compel intimacy despite the distractions of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. As a result, the Comforter’s voice can be discerned—especially if something is incessantly repeated, and the mind is drawn to contemplate upon a subject matter multiple times. In my case, for a variety of reasons— including a congregational focus on evangelism, and my personal attempt to ask wealthy individuals to financially support humanitarian aid in Israel—the “words” that have scrolled up in my spirit in recent weeks are succinctly the notion of “THE BIG ASK!”
This is not a reference to the words of Yeshua that can be easily remembered by the acronym A.S.K. (ask, seek, and knock) when He stated the following:
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, NASU).
No “THE BIG ASK” is much more than simply requesting something tangible or even intangible from the Savior in order to fulfill a perceived need of the moment. Instead, “THE BIG ASK” is actually the Messiah asking, indeed requiring ANYONE who wishes to follow Him, to literally offer their very life in exchange for “eternal life”… which obviously is a far cry from a simple prayer request:
“Then Yeshua said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:24-27, NASU).
Now when you contemplate these difficult to comply with words of the Messiah, is a perfunctory nod of agreement sufficient to satisfy His challenge? After all, Yeshua stated without reservation that in order for one to have eternal life, he or she must (1) deny their dreams, ambitions, goals, wishes, etc.; (2) take up the walk of the cross or execution-stake (an implied substituted crucifixion in Yeshua’s death per Galatians 2:20); and (3) follow Him by His leading of the Holy Spirit. In other words, according to this rather elementary statement, one must categorically “exchange” his or her life for His life indwelling in a redeemed heart of flesh. “Wow!” one might say. “What percentage of my life does that require?” Well, the simple answer is this 100%.All or nothing, because a partial percentage just equates to double mindedness, and the Scriptures are quite clear about how unstable a double-minded person becomes (James 1:5-8).
Recall that earlier while sharing during the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua emphatically made it clear that human beings have only two stark choices when determining who or what they will serve during their time on Earth:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NASU).
In the context of this declaration, the Messiah first introduced His Lord’s Prayer, and then described some of the pitfalls of anxiety derived from worry about having needs met, because of the demands of serving and perhaps coveting the perceived security of money, replace dependence upon our Heavenly Father:
“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34, NASU).
Of course, the solution to this binary choice is to not only serve God, but to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness without falling into the cleverly concealed trap of attempting to serve both Him and money. Nevertheless, I must confess from personal experience, arriving at the point where the cares of this world are eliminated, rarely occurs on Day One after our experience of being born from above!
Providentially, this recollection occurred to me the other day when during a phone call to a contributor to humanitarian relief efforts, who happened to live less than 500 yards from the physical place on Earth where I had my “born again” encounter with the Living God. So, I was reminded of where I was before and after that revelatory experience. I flashed back on the 180 degree change in my life trajectory, and how my fervent and thankful response was to simply begin to immerse myself in the Scriptures in order to know the Savior of my soul. However, it was not until over thirteen years later that the circumstances of my life revealed to me a passage of Scripture, which in many ways summarized what I longed to know and do when it came to pursuing knowledge of the Holy One of Israel:
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Messiah, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 3:8-12, NASU).
Strategically speaking from the Lord’s perspective, He was allowing me to suffer the failure of a “Christian” marriage that literally brought me once again to the death of who I thought I had become in the Messiah. Through a combination of relational, financial, and physical difficulties, I was finally able to come to the end of my meager attempts to be what I perceived to be a good Christian man, husband, and father. Lamentably, from certain accounts, I had failed miserably, and of course, I blamed myself for the lack of success. Thankfully through some excellent counseling, I was led after two days of concerted prayer and reflection, to sign a “total commitment” pledge or vow which foundationally relied upon Romans 12:1-2, confessing Yeshua’s Lordship over my life:
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NASU).
In the list of “rights” I consciously and faithfully conceded to God, I ultimately agreed to “give God permission to do anything He wishes to me, with me, in me or through me that would glorify Him.” Quite frankly, this was a sober but deliberate choice to relinquish my entire life to His service. Gratefully, I had earlier in my pursuit of truth come upon a definition of “success” that wholeheartedly described where my emphasis would be going forward through time:
“If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of His purpose and will.” (Anonymous).
By the grace of God, and through His mercy to eventually reunite me in marriage with Margaret after a twenty-one year hiatus since our college days, the marital bliss and union with the Messiah was achieved. Thankfully, God gave Margaret an incredible gift of faith, and because our mutual respect and love for each other has led us on “our spiritual scavenger hunt” in order to discover what the Holy One is doing during our Earthly sojourn, we have been faithful to follow His cloud and returned full circle to the area where we were first led to relocate back in 1996. Amazingly, due to the call upon John McKee and our ministry efforts to “cross examine” much of the noise resident in God’s prophesied goal to restore the Jewish people to the Messiah Yeshua, we are fully engaged in Messianic Judaism, Messianic Jewish congregational life, and work centered on the restoration of Israel both spiritually and physically.
Nevertheless, you might query what all of this personal and familial reflection has to do with “THE BIG ASK” referenced earlier in this update? Everything—because after all is said and done, we each are going to be accountable for how we individually responded to Yeshua’s offer of grace and salvation through belief in His atoning work at Golgotha. Then, when by faith in the blood sacrifice is hopefully accepted, one can take up His yoke and learn more about Him, in order to “know” Him intimately:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NASU).
But further “asks and questions” about who or what we are going to serve during our lifetime spent on Earth must be answered and acted upon. Of course this is where we each need to search our own hearts to determine exactly who or what we are serving. It’s a dicey question. But we do have the Word of God to help each of us get to the bottom line in our heart of hearts:
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NASU).
So without belaboring the point, ASK yourself in the quiet time of your day: Who or what am I serving? Am I double minded? Am I seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in all that I am doing? Have I taken up His yoke? Am I anxious? What kind of witness am I for the Kingdom of God? Am I being and doing what God created me to be and do? Who do I look for protection and provision? Am I a pleasing aroma, and just what is my “spiritual service of worship”? And the list of questions could go on and on. And in so doing, we should each have the assurance that the Lord would be pleased with this self examination and judgment. Do you want to please Him? Ask Him if you are pleasing Him with your thoughts, words, and deeds. He will let you know. After all, He gave His all that we might be used by Him for His glory!
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:8-11, NASU).
May He bless you during your walk to the Feast of Weeks this Shavuot/Pentecost, and reveal just how you have answered the questions the Holy Spirit continues to ASK!!