“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.

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.

“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.”

I Will Let the World Reject Me.”

This, by far, has been one of the most painful, eye opening, and raw gutting seasons God has lead me through. Every single morning since December I have awoken to feel inadequacy, guilt, and depression. It’s been exhausting trying on different emotional masks that can cover only a small percentage of my exposed weaknesses. I have, regretfully, shunned God and allowed a dark hole suck me dry. I feel as though a light within me has almost gone completely dim; drowning in my own agony.

But…. a voice calls to me, so softly.

A voice that sees my despair, yet can still reach into my cracked soul.

A light that outshines the deep trenches my own sin had created, pulling me out piece by piece.

A love that shows me that I am a sinner, but I’m also deeply treasured. A love that saw me from my mother’s womb and calls me by name. A love that knows my inner thoughts more than anything, and still called me “chosen.”

This is what I will cling to. I will let the world reject me. I will let myself be thrown into the streets, left physically naked and cold. But… I will not reject my Father’s love. I will not turn away from the cross that set me free. The cross has the final word, I will listen to that voice, even if the world’s deceiving tongue shouts lies into my bleeding ears.

“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