Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans! It being Thanksgiving today for my American friends, I felt God’s prompting to take a break from our book and return to His One Word to me for 2021. I longed to openly give thanks to God for this Word’s (continuing) fulfillment. It’s now been almost eleven months into the year my God invited me to celebrate Him.
When He gave me that Word for 2021, He had sent me to Nehemiah 8:12:
So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
This celebration came in the wake of a wave of repentance, after God’s people had listened to Nehemiah read the Word of God aloud. The Israelites were heartbroken, as they suddenly became aware of all the ways they had broken God’s laws and His heart. But rather than allow them to sink into shame, God commanded them to celebrate. He turned their focus to His steadfast love and mercy, just as He has repeatedly been doing with me too, in each and every conviction of sin.
But Chaim Bentorah’s beautiful Word study on the Hebrew Word “asah” – the very Word that is translated as celebrate in my Nehemiah 18:12 – gave me an even deeper understanding of my One Word. Interestingly Chaim explains: “Asah means works, produce, and creations. Asah refers not only to physical acts but spiritual acts. This includes the creations of our imaginations. ” (Source: Word Study Our Gift to Create). This showed me that when we celebrate Jesus with great joy, we are in fact living out our God-given purpose. For, as we celebrate God’s grace to us in all that we think, do, say, create and build, as He continually leads us to openly confess our weakness and sin before others, we are glorifying Him and His labor of love through us.
Interestingly, Chaim speaks of acts that are “alam” in this same study- the Hebrew Word that was in my verse to pray through today. It means both “hidden” and “everlasting”. In my verse to pray through it was translated as “forever”, in that God’s grace to us continues “forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34 CJB).
Chaim shares of how God promises to judge the (hidden) intentions of our heart. As I reflected on that, I was reminded of other verses I had prayed through recently and how God had shown me that this judging of our (hidden) intentions comes through the Holy Spirit in us, as He acts as the umpire between the two spiritual forces at work in us (good: the Spirit of God; evil: our accuser). As we pray about the decisions before us, God lifts up His harmonious leading thought, laying to rest all divisive thoughts that are trying to steal from us, destroy and kill us and others through us.
Now, as I look back on the celebration that God has been reaping in me, I can see that it has come – and still is coming daily – through that very transformation of my thoughts and emotions. For, God has been uncovering and taking away the tangled up, confusing, fear and shame-fed intentions and giving me back His pure, clear and joy-filled purposes that are born in His love for me and for His Body as a whole. He has been making room in my life, heart, body, mind and soul for celebration, through continually inviting me into His cleansing. He is taking the brokenness I see and opening my eyes to the wholeness that is mine in Christ Jesus and His sacrifice at the Cross for us all.
The name and prophetic Scripture (Ezekiel 47:12) He gave me for this blog are just growing in depth and beauty for me. I couldn’t help but sit down and pen a new poem of celebration in response. May it bless your heart as well, and may the Holy Spirit bring to remembrance all the ways Jesus has been leading you too into a celebration of His grace for you and others:
In the shedding
For the healing
In the shedding
For the hidden
Beauty of Christ's
In each leaf
In each confession
Of weakness and sin
And His love
For us all.