How Do I Have Faith in the Uncertain?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 ESV

The call came. The words that came from the other side of the phone rang loudly in the silent room I was in. My heart sank, my head became faint, and my vision became blurred from warm, salty tears. I remember asking this question in that dark moment: “Why God?”

I am sure most of you who are reading this have experienced a moment of betrayal, defeat, or rejection. We praise God and raise our open hands to our Father when He bestows good gifts in our fruitful seasons. Yet, we clenched them tight and allow our hearts to turn cold towards Him when we get the news of a returning cancerous spot, a co-worker obtaining the promotion you have worked endless hours for, or the endless bills that keep piling onto your life, with no end in sight.

I have not written in awhile, but today I felt the Lord push me towards Hebrews today. This book is full of knowledge and wisdom about the prospects of faith, and how it surpasses all human understanding. Today, I am writing straight from Hebrews 11: “By Faith.” In this chapter, what we can take away is that, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out things that are visible.” Hebrews 11:3. This verse bursts with such spiritual truth! Faith is trusting in the invisible. The author of this chapter gives vivid examples of those who chose to have faith in what seemed to be humanly impossible.

Abel had faith when he gave God a sacrifice more acceptable than Cain. He was commended by righteousness. Though he died physically, he is forever alive spiritually and speaks forevermore to God’s people.

Enoch had faith when he walked closely with God (Genesis 5:24) and was taken up to be with God, not through normal human death, but through a state of blessedness because he had pleased God so much. There is no possible way to have faith in God without pleasing him or believing that He exists and that there is a reward for those who seek Him.

Noah had faith when he heeded God’s warning about flooding the Earth, he had constructed the ark. Noah condemned the worldly ways and sought to have faith in God. Noah became an heir of righteousness because of his faith.

Abraham had faith when he obeyed by going into the unseen to receive such an inheritance God had promise him. He had no idea where he was going, but his faith led him the Promise Land, and his offspring. Sarah had faith in the birth of her son.

All of these biblical examples died in faith, not by receiving what they wanted, but seeing things far beyond their comprehension and that they were strangers of the world. We are promised such a faith if we choose to believe and accept it.

I do not know what valley or season you’re in, but I do know this, we follow a God who is ever merciful, ever faithful, ever seeking our hearts. He will close doors that our hearts want desperately opened so we can walk through His already proclaimed promises. “Let us hold unnervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 ESV.

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV.

“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.

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

“Submit To God.”

Hey guys! So…. I totally get that I am jumping ahead just a tad bit in James, but James 4 was laid out completely by God into my heart, so I need to share with you all what I took from it.

I have been in such a dark place these past 5 months total. I’m going to be straight up: I have been consumed with sexual sin. It almost got the best of me and destroyed me, but God prevailed and is saving me daily. I have to die to my flesh every morning/night, but I am on the road to recovery. It’s been so comforting knowing God doesn’t just walk away when we chose to deny Him, instead of submitting to His presence. Hey… kind of what today’s topic is? Well, now that I have settled that, let’s get started!

James 4:1: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Okay, so when I first read that, something within me struck like lightning in my chest. Basically what James is discussing with us here is that the “quarreling” we sometimes enter into with one another does not necessarily mean that other person did us wrong, it’s our flesh that’s blinding our eyes. We live in a narcissistic place where it’s all about me, me, and me. A envious life is a lonely life, my friend. It will leave you always feeling unsatisfactorily and deprived of the lack of “materialistic” pleasures that seem so spectacular. My friend, we need to grasp that fighting against our brother because they have what we have been praying for is not only wrong, but it can cause a void between you and God. Ouch!

James 4:3: “You ask, but do not receive because you ask God with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

Friendship with the world is hatred towards God! Our hands were created to work for God’s kingdom! We are his craftsmanship! What good is it that the beautiful gifts He has given us be thrown away for flesh, sinful desires? Why drink from the mud when God offers eternal, spiritual waters that will let us be thirsty no more?

Let’s all take away this: God is a jealous God, meaning NOTHING shall separate Him from us. He cannot stand the fact of anything keeping us from His presence! So when He countlessly rescues you and I from sin, it’s because He wants to! He loves us that much! Wow….

Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

“No Partiality.”

I absolutely love James 2 because this chapter is basically about one main thing: FAVORITISM! I do not know about you, but I cannot stand favoritism! Even if I am the one being favored! There is no joy in it! I’ll explain why I feel this way.

A few years back I was extremely involved in my youth group. I was very close to my youth leaders and a bunch of the girls in the same group I considered my best friends. Every Wednesday our youth leader put us on a rotation on who would open up the night, pick the worship music, or even do the lesson. He would sometimes ask for the following week and my hand seemed to always be raised. I did not think much of it. I have always had a passionate heart for serving. It brings me great joy to serve and bring others joy. Week after week though, less volunteering hands were raised and it began to become repetitive of me being in the spotlight. My mind slowly realized that I was being “favored.” After I left that youth group, I completely stepped down from serving. I was doing it out of self ambition, and reputation. Like, a slap on the back or a “good job!” I wasn’t really giving back to the One who deserved all the praise. James talks about favoritism in all levels, as well as faith with works. We cannot possibly

Another story I have is when I was getting back from working out at the walking trail I usually went every evening, I noticed this family of 4 was standing on the curb right outside a Subway, while holding a sign that said a dialogue of hopelessness. I began to feel led to serve them. I went inside Subway and bought two plain subs. As I walked outside to greet the family, I witnessed them all getting into their car and driving away. I began to feel a little angry because I realized that they mostly likely con people into thinking they’re dirt poor or just want “handouts”. I stated to walk back to my car when I glanced over at a nearby trash can and an old man was digging desperately through the trash. My heart felt heavy for this man. I looked down at my subs and immediately knew what I had to do. I bravely walked over to the man and said, “I’m not hungry. Please take these”. The man graciously took them and said a prayer for me. I knew in that moment God was acknowledged, and I served the humbled heart.

“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” James‬ ‭2:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬