“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.

“Spiritual Wounds: Cleansing.”

I remember being a kid. Yeah, I know I’m technically still a kid (just a bit taller, and more developed). But the days where I woke up with massive “bed head syndrome” and wore the same pair of shorts and play T-shirt 3 days in a row, excited to discover some new grand adventure just awaiting for me in my own back yard. I can recall always grabbing the nearest rugged bag and packing a few snacks, a flash light, and a book. I would then venture out the old tree house and camp out for the most of the day, creating some sort of story and escaping my own little reality for awhile. I also can recall in my so called “adventures” I ended up getting scraped up by falling, jumping, or climbing onto our “Climbing Tree” that was just outside my window. My mom or dad would have to examine my wound, disinfect it so all the damaging bacteria would be cleansed out, and bandage it right up. I felt so comforted and healed after each wound I developed was properly taken care of.

But sadly, here I am. An actual adult facing my reality adventures. Whether it’s going to work and being yelled at by a rude customer or getting onto for not executing my job properly, or to many broken end relationships. I have dealt with many wounds. The sad thing is, not each one did I properly clean. Each one I would face the pain very briefly, and cover it up with temporary, sinful pleasures or another relationship. I just reached a climax into these “uncleaned wounds” pattern and it broke me entirely. I discovered that God has been trying to tell me something all along: “Covering up infected wounds won’t provide any healing, just more collateral damage for the next wound.”

I have always been the kind of girl who HATES pain. I try to avoid it at any cost. I stay away from dangerous sports or drinking parties because I am afraid my life will be in fatal danger. Which, that is a good mind set to have. But when it comes to facing our wounds developed into a broken relationships, secret sins, or self loathing, I have been even more eager to avoid facing pain. Instead of living in fear, God DESIRES us to face our pain and work through it. I know He understands everyone’s healing process varies, but through God’s grace and the strength He provides, we can persevere and gain in what is called a “once-and-for-all-healing.”

“If we confess out sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

I am not saying at all this is easy. It took me YEARS to finally accept that pain is apart of our lives, especially in the walk of Christ. Jesus endured all of this kind of pain, and was incredibly faithful. Why? Because He trusted in the One who knows all, sees all, loves all. Our cleansing starts when we reach the end of ourselves. When the wound grows deep into our veins, throbbing deep and we feel our souls dying. Jesus wants you to be healed. Will you do the very hard thing and just letting go and trusting?

“He heals those who have a broken heart. He heals their sorrows.” Psalms 147:3

“As We Forgive Our Debtors.”

“For is you forgive men for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive them, then your Heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Last month, I was really stumped with emotions. The full time job I signed onto caused me a great deal of stress, to the point my health was being affected. For the past few years I have been dealing with a great deal of pain on the top of my right rib. I was working my first job right after high school at a coffee shop when I realized it was time to start the closing procedures. I finished resetting the cash register and ran to the back to grab my items when I completely disregarded the bold black letters on the yellow sign, “CAUTION: FLOOR IS WET.” As I glided past the sign, my foot slipped right in front of me and fell right side first onto the concrete floor. Up until this day, I have been to a few doctor’s appointments, one trip to the hospital, and an X-Ray exam. All to find out I have a hairline fraction on the 11th bone. It is not really a big deal, but it made me think and reflect about my body and how to take care of it.

Just like how Jesus wants us to take care of our hearts when He sees damage or pain starting to inflame. Jesus really made me take a step back and examine the word forgiveness. I have done several posts on forgiveness, but I really want to share with all the importance of it, how it affects our lives, and how to react when we are struggling to forgive each other and ourselves.

One statement that I wrote is the utmost important when it comes to forgiveness: our greatest risk when we choose not to forgive = losing heaven.

If we hold fast to an unforgiving spirit, we will be handed over to our tormentors. We will lose heaven and gain hell. “Forgive each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Here are 4 reasons to forgive and how it will affect your life and relationship with Christ:

  1. Resist Thoughts of Revenge: Never take revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God. When we try to get even out of spite, we dishonor God and create a longer distance to the path of forgiveness. The enemy loves when we take our pain into our own hands because that is how he will use them to only destroy. Leave your ill will where it should go, at the root of the cross. Let God handle the other person they only way possible. Begin to pray for that individual and start the process of reconciliation. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Says the Lord. Romans 12:19.
  2. Don’t seek mischief: This ties along for the number one reason. We think getting back by spreading rumors, spatting out a few mean texts to get our point across, or jumping into a new friendship/relationship is the answer in hurting that other person. By doing this, we dragging some innocent outsider into our vengeful chaos. Seek the kingdom of God, not the next hateful text that you’re dying to send. “See that no one repays evil with another evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:15. 
  3. Grieve at their calamities: This may be the toughest one yet. God literally want us to pity on those who have betrayed us. When we hear our “enemy” has fallen short or “reaped what they sowed” the first initial action we take is: “YES!” That is not how Jesus wants us to react. There is a famous verse where Jesus says, “if your enemy slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other.” Basically, when someone we know who has hurt us tremendously, instead of getting glee when the storm crosses their way, we need to love and pray for them. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” Proverbs 24:17
  4. Pray for them: I have found this from personal experience the most effective way to a path of forgiveness. Last summer my heart took a huge blow when it came to forgiving someone I sadly truly hated. I asked God, “seriously? There is no way I am doing this.” But God pressed more and more onto my heart, so I began first with prayer, then I began to email this person for 10 weeks straight different lessons in the bible. The person was very intrigued and stated he was experiencing the love God had for them. It was a very humbling experience. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.

Choosing to forgive shows that God is evident in our lives and that we trust Him.

So the question to ask yourself is: “When do we forgive others?”

The answer is when we strive against all thoughts of revenge. When we will not cause any mischief against our enemies, but instead grieve for them when adversities strike and to wish them well when they are having high peaks in their life. When we begin to pray for them, seek reconciliation, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relive them. That is what forgiveness looks like.

 

“Being Alone Can Be a Good Thing.” By: Melodie Rose Jordan. 

I already knew this season for me was going to be rather rough. This holiday time is where commercial ads and stores really promote “relational love” and “meet me under the mistletoe” themes. I know that through this time I have to endure couples every where buying each others presents, getting engaged, and holding hands. I knew I would be feeling that stinging pain in my chest and yearning for that as well. It’s been a constant battle of reminding myself that I am a single woman right now for a reason and this season that I am alone is my time to be only with God. It’s important not just for me, but for any of you who just lost someone you care about that this is the time to be intimate with God.” I read a quote a few weeks ago that stated this: “Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.” It’s crucial to understand that even though I would love to be drinking a warm cup of coffee right now with someone special, I have to understand that God’s love is so much more. He is going to bring to me my Boaz one day, just in His perfect timing. I know that if I give into my own selfish desires, I am going to see right past the best opportunity God has already planned for me. I know that if I only dwell on the fact that I’m going to be alone relational wise this season, I’m going to miss growing in Jesus and becoming like Him. There is no point in worrying about things I cannot change. Being a single woman that I am should be a good thing. I am free to be fully surrendered and vulnerable to Jesus. This is the time I have for Him to completley change me and help me to love like He does. I am now fully attentive to be a vital part to build His kingdom. He brings us out of places we once desired to enter into His place. Here are some scripture to uplift you if you feel this way as well. Just know that God knows this season for many people, and now me, is so difficult. Remember that you are not alone and there is such a glorious Someone who loves every piece of you. ❤️

“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. John 14:18.

“Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe in me also. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭25:16-17‬