“The Law of Life or Death: Romans Study Chapter 9.”

Hey you all! So I need to admit something…I was supposed to have had finished this Romans study series back in the spring…. I got a little side tracked! Yet, here I am! Excited about the words God provided for me to type and for your eyes to read intently. This chapter is a full one, so brace yourselves. It is also a deep root chapter about His deep love for us, and Paul’s prime example of “love thy neighbor more than yourself.” So, let us get started then 🙂

The opening of Romans 9 is a soul jerker for sure. We see instantly Paul’s deep sorrow and grief for the people of Israel. So many (leading up to modern day) have shunned God’s name and have chose to live life according to their beliefs and pleasures. Paul takes his grief, however, to a higher, rarer level. He goes on to say in verse 3, “I would be willing to be forever cursed — cut off from Christ! –if that would save them.” (NLT). Let’s all catch our breath here for a second….Paul stated, with full confidence and integrity, that He would have been WILLING to separate Himself from Heaven and Jesus, in order for someone else to have a chance to be born again. I cannot even fathom those words, it left me speechless. We all know of course that the only one who can truly save in the act of death, or crucifixion, is of course Jesus Christ Himself. However, what we are seeing here is a true lover and believer in Jesus extending His love with the act of selflessness. That leaves us the question for us who are active in The Way: “Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, effort, and even your own faith to see someone come to know Jesus?”

Now, going deeper into this chapter, we begin to understand our true relationship identity in Christ. The Jews viewed God’s choosing of Israel as adoption.  They (and we) are undeserving of such kindness and mercy, yet God carried through and chose to take us in as His own children. In the Old Testament shows God’s beautiful promises for us through Abraham. His word proved faithful for him and his descendants. After Jesus’ death, His blood ran over that covenant, which was the key to the pathway of God. We are ALL his descendants. (Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7 NLT) The importance in this is, yes God did choose the timeline to Jesus through the lineage of Issac (Sarah’s son) and not Ishmael (Hagar’s son), however, God does not look at good or bad, He looks at those who prove faithful to Him. God has the choice to choose whomever He wills. The doctrine of God’s choosing is based on His mercy and kindness, not of our merit.

The very last part of this chapter exemplifies what is going on today.

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that causes people to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Romans 9:33 NLT) 

The “rock’ that is placed here is referring to our stonemason, Jesus Christ. The Jews chose not to believe in Him because they felt like He did not exceed their expectations as the Messiah. This is still going on now… many, including myself at times, stumble again and again over Jesus because let’s all admit, faith does not make logical sense. That’s it though… it is not supposed to. We think we are supposed to be perfectionists and strive to do good deeds, when in spirituality, God does not look at that. He looks at the heart, and what its intentions are to serve Him selflessly and humbly. He loves us for our brokenness and weaknesses. Many will not partake on this calling, but all will fall before the Heavenly Throne when He comes back to take His children home.

 

 

What Forgiveness is Not.

The word forgiveness, in my own opinion, is the second most overlooked word in English language (right behind love). We often face this word through actions on a daily basis. We forgive the barista who made our coffee wrong. We forgive (and maybe after some repenting) the man/woman who cut us off while we were in a hurry the yellow light on a busy Monday morning. Some of those are quick, mindless, and excusable circumstances on some cases. Then, there are the situations where we allow our hearts to be blocked and choose not to forgive. Maybe your mom or dad walked out on you when you were incredibly young. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend verbally or even physically abuses you, and you feel trapped and afraid to stand up for yourself. On a more serious matter, maybe you have some forgiveness avoidance against Abba Father. Whatever it may be, I am here today to kindly explain not what forgiveness is, but what it exactly isn’t.

  1. Forgiveness is not the absence of anger.

This is crucial to understand in your grievance with forgiveness. God does not want you to be oblivious against “justifiable anger.” We are not expected to feel good about any hurt or bad feelings that has been created in our situations. God wants you to hand it over to Him, not take upon yourself to seek out revenge. He is the one, and the only one, who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23).

2. Forgiveness is not the absence of serious consequences of sin.

Take it from me, my friend, sin is exactly this: “you reap what you sow.” You may think the person or thing that create brokenness in your life will reap goodness, well in fact, they will reap their own punishment. God calls us to be merciful to those who have done us wrong. Take heart, God sees and knows. He will seek judgement on our behalf. He loves us that much. (2 Corinthians 5:10).

3) Forgive even if they are not repenting towards you

This one here, I am still facing until this day. Someone marrying someone you once loved and not confronting you about it nor caring. Having to leave a family and seeing that you truly did not belong and was replaced. Committing a hurtful sin and refusing forgiveness towards yourself. It’s a full circle. God understands we are human. We constantly have to turn to Him when we feel blocked up and ashamed. He carries our burdens, so we don’t get sidetracked towards home. Forgiveness is even more difficult when the other does not want to repent as well. God pours out His heart to fill that hurtful void so we will remember forgiveness first started with Him, because He first loved us. (see Luke 6:27 for forgiving our enemies).

I hope this reading today gives you hope and assurance that forgiveness comes from God, the one who created time and everything under the sun. We must carry our cross and show the world a love that is not of it. Forgive an enemy today, even if its your own self.

Stumbling Progress

“A person’s steps are directed by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.” “When he falls, he will not be thrown down headfirst because the LORD holds on to his hand.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:23‬-24

I am sure you find joy as much as I do when admiring a beautiful young child earnestly wanting to walk. They may not be graceful about it. They may fall face first or become weak in the knees very quickly, but yet again and again they just keep on trying. Does that ring a bell when it comes to our personal, spiritual walks?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus (Hallelujah) then you have felt the fire burning passion when you were once first saved. Every where just seemed to be a bit more clear, for a moment. We would tackle some scriptures, walk around public with our tabbed saved bibles, and speak to homeless Joe on the street corner about the “everlasting life” we just found.

Then… BOOM! CRASH! Like takes a swing at our souls and shatters it like a crystal mirror. Each shard cutting us deeply, until we only can feel and think about our pain. We slum around, frantically searching for that spark we once had.

My friend…. this is how our walks are supposed to be down here. It’s not supposed to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. We’re going to have times where we have droughts, and times we have harvest.

But one thing to remember is: God is still God. He understands that we will falter and cannot possibly respond to life with “God abounding” reactions. But… in the times we do, He called that Stumbling Process.

So… if you’re stumbling right now, just keep on stumbling. You’ll make it with God. He directs our lives and lights the way for us. We need not to be afraid.

Out of the Depths.

Tonight I was reading some wonderful insights on how to cope with anxiety through a spiritual sense when I read within the article this verse: With you [God] there is true forgiveness, so that you may be held in awe,” says Psalm 130:4. I was drawn into that verse deeply so I wanted to look more into it and the title of this beautiful song is called, “Out of the Depths.” I started to tear up a bit because that is exactly how I have felt the last through days. God has led into some deep waters, just watching me treading and freaking out basically. I have developed an irrational amount of anxiety and I have felt like there has been no escape.

I really would like to break this psalm down piece by piece so I can vividly express to you exactly how my life, and maybe even yours relates back to it.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

So I can imagine you must have read this with a stabbing feeling straight to the gut, right? This is kind of  what happens when we allow sin to overlap the presence of our Lord. Sin lures us deeper and deeper into dark waters; our eyes are not even paying attention to what our feet are cutting on as we shed our Saviors’ love he willingly poured out into our dying souls. Then once we realize we have ventured off too deep, we begin to panic. Our hearts become weak, our minds begin to wander off into millions of directions.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

We lose sight of God, when in reality He never leaves our sides. EVER. I had this happen to me….I had to allow so much pain and fear fester into my heart, so I could completely surrender it over to God and allow the proper healing to start in my life. I needed His relentless mercy.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

I love this imagery used by the psalmist about how our souls earnestly wait for the Lord as the watchmen wait for the morning. This is an example from the Elliot Commentaries for English Readers about watchmen waiting for dawn:Watch for the morning.—Comp. Psalm 123:2 for another figure of the same earnest upward gaze. In the “watcher for the dawn” there may be an allusion to the Levite-sentinel whose duty it was to signal the first ray of dawn, and the moment for commencing the sacred rites of the Temple (Psalm 134:1), but the figure if general, as marking the impatience of a deeply agitated soul—a sufferer waiting for relief, a contrite sinner for forgiveness—is as striking as graceful. (See Deuteronomy 28:67.)”  

We all go through the season of waiting. Our souls long for the things we think we desperately need in this EXACT moment, when in reality God’s timing is higher, better, and will last forever. Take heart my friend, God is carrying you out of the depths.

 

 

Embracing the Gift of Singleness.

On May 20th this year I will have been single for two years. I have only managed to date one person out of this long gap and to be quite honest, God has shown me that I certainly am not looking at relationships through “spiritual lenses.” When I first entered into the season of singleness, it was not glamorous or exciting at all. It was pretty dark and terrifying actually.

I vividly remember driving home from that empty Kohl’s parking lot with the same empty feeling in my heart. My head was pounding and my eyes were blurry from the endless tears just flowing down my cold cheeks. The roads were not lit at all, just how I viewed my life in that moment. The only thing I had left to hold onto was my faith in Christ. When I arrived home that painful night, feeling nausea and fear, God revealed to me a verse that shaped my relationship with Jesus: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7. I read that verse with complete trust and faith. I knew that God was leading me out into the wilderness, ready to explore His raw and wild being. I will not lie, I had to go through some pretty devastating days.

I remember my mom gave me some advice that helped me through the bitter feelings I had: “you have to grieve this person as if they died. If you need to cry or scream, then do it. Do not hold any emotion back.” Well, my friend, that is exactly what I did. I would scream until my lungs gasped for air. I would lay on my bedroom floor just simply repeatedly saying Jesus’ name over and over until my mind went numb. I had to go through the emotions the way God wanted me to. We cannot skip any process of grief, or hurry it per se. I would venture out into nature and worship God with reckless abandonment because that is where I found my refuge.

Up until today I am still struggling. I fell deeply for a man who never returned the feelings back to me. Every day I questioned my worth because of this ones’ person rejection towards me. The man I dated ended up leaving me because he thought I was too “emotionally intense.” I would cry, have anxiety attacks, and allowed my spirit to flow downwards because I have always sought to find my image in a man, not Jesus. God shows me this verse two years later with a gentle kiss: “We must keep our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:2

My dear brother or sister, if you are in or have just entered the season of singleness, do not look at as a prison. Do not think of it as a place of rejection to the worldly values of relationships. We must take heart that in our singleness, we are to build, grow, and be rooted with our true love. I have heard that if we are in the season of waiting, we are in good company. Everyday you feel unloved, God’s love grows deeper for you.

Pursuing Christ.

The dictionary defines pursue as (of a person or way) continue or proceed along (a path or route. That is the core statement in our daily lives of pursuing the call of Christ. I know we all go through our seasons. A time to thrive, and a time to wither. I have had that very thing happen to me. I deliberately wrapped my arms around temporary satisfaction and turned my back against God. The more my soul was being sucked by sin, the less I began to pursue call and I suddenly began to feel at lost of my purpose.

Months and months I awoke in a frantic on dark nights just entrapped by the heaviness of guilt and shame. When the sun finally rose in the morning, it still felt as if the night never left. I began to feel hollow on the inside, ashamed to even call myself a Christian for all the mistakes I have made. I almost was tempted to turn away from God because I felt like I had ran my course with Him and there was just no hope in Him still using me as a vessel of His own heart. The voices of the Liar began to overpower me. I believed I was not good enough. I believed there was no way I could even enter church or sit with a Christian friend because of the sin still encrusted beneath the surface of my skin. My vision, passion, and just soul felt dry and meaningless. I could not find a possible way to escape this endless cycle of despair.

Yet, my friend, Jesus was there all along. The nights where I felt like ice, His loving light burned brightly to satisfy my warmth. The days where I sat in quietness of my car or laying naked in my bathroom tub, God stroked my hair and whispered sweet melodies to try to entice my broken heart. Each day Jesus pursed me, because He will never abandon or give up on me. Jesus saw my agonizing weakness as biblical value to my personal relationship with God.

For it is through human weakness that God’s strength upholds us and is displayed for the world.”

God compares us to a jar of clay. Before we are made into His perfect mold, we need to understand that our clay is a brittle, easily broken substance. Through that, though, He makes our clay into jars–designed to hold the most valuable treasure: the Holy Spirit. God places His treasure within our clay selves so that we can withstand the damaged, broken cracks life causes toward us.

God still uses us in the midst of our wandering. There is a requirement of focus: We need to seek things of Heavenly value, not Earthly value. This is to be a continuous act of never taking our eyes of the Cross. The word is our instructions to a heavenly life and to live righteously.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

“Sometimes Stars Fade”

It begins unexpectedly.

Sometimes things break. We strive to protect our desires, basking in the euphoria we feel when our needs are met. But once those desires become flat, we feel deprived.

Sometimes stars fade. We see the light. We know the path, it’s lit for us. No stumbling, just smooth sailing. The wind is blowing in the right direction, no clashing thunder tries to rattle the mahogany boards that make up our ships. It feels safe, comfortable, and secure. That is, until the stars start to clash down abruptly from the heavenly skies, making our clear path ambiguous. We begin to panic. Chests tighten, palms shake, hearts race.

When I put my hope and trust into things that are earthly, I’m choosing to quench my spirit with temporary water. I get flustered when I’m constantly thirsting for more earthly values. I shame God, and turn my bare, cold back against His warm, immeasurable embrace. I cut my feet constantly onto my shattered dreams, expecting to escape the bloody chaos. He still rescues me… because He knows that I don’t belong in the ground, I belong on the clouds.

Sometimes things break, but He chooses to fix our undoings over again. Sometimes Stars fade, but His ceaseless light burns my unlit eyes so I can see life through a perspective of the Savior, not the Serpent.