Tag Archives: judgement

Finding Light in the Dark

9 Jun

As we hear about so many suicides, I think about all that I have walked in the nearly 8 years since my overwhelming experience with God; The night that changed everything.  July 9,2010.

What if?  What if I had not decided to go to Friday night church. What if I hadn’t told Pastor Jeff my plan. The plan I made earlier that week. What if Sue and Jeff hadn’t spent the evening talking with me, and praying with me? What if God had not intervened.

What I understand is the blackness. I understand the desire to not feel so much pain any longer, to not feel like a burden or invisible. To not feel so wrong and out of place. To not feel plastic in a plastic world. To not feel discardable. (is that a word?). I understand the isolation of being strong and not telling. No one knew.

What I found was an eye opening, amazing love from and for a God I finally believed was real. Everything crashed down around me and I had nothing left. I was at rock bottom. What I found there was Him. In all His sweetness and love, I found the beginning of a love for a creation He called Beckie. I found a purpose.

What I found was a peace that settle so completely on my soul that night. By morning I was walking on sunshine; From the pit of despair to pure joy. Free.

What felt like a bottomless black, a pain-filled nothingness; morphed instantly into a joy beyond measure. I found my redemption, my forgiveness, the promises of true forever. Hope.

God breathed new life into my weary soul.  I am one of the blessed ones. Blessed to be a blessing.

My sweet friend committed suicide when we were 19. I loved Julie and it broke my heart when she left us. I  still talk to her, still think of her so often. My friend Ron, just took his life 4 years ago this summer. My son, who loves Jesus deeply, through his own journey with coming to terms with his homosexuality, walked a depressed and difficult path. He didn’t come to terms with his own path until he was 31 and it has cost him much in this world. He once told me “if you knew who I was, you would hate me”.  He had his attempts, and many trials. This world is sure unkind to those that don’t fit the world’s view of “acceptable”, those who’s sin is obvious. Especially the saved only by Grace,from their own ugly sin” Christian world.

As christian’s, there is a disparity between being the judgmental harm-doer’s and walking as the truth tellers, not so much in word but in action. If our judgement is keeping someone from seeing God, then we are not walking in truth, nor with Him. I don’t want to be known by the rules I keep, I want to be known by The One that keeps me. Period!

God gave us a perfect savior; A hope despite this broken world. He makes us righteous. I really can’t even make it a day without sin. Sin is between God and I and in the end, all sin is equal. It all drives a wedge between us and Him, but at the end of the day, He loves us anyways. Submission isn’t free from sin, it is an act of surrendering your pride and self sufficiency and acknowledging that “I can’t achieve Heaven without you Lord. Embracing Christ and His death as your only hope.” Hard and easy to do all at once. But He is very helpful. Yes. He is.

Scripture states that we are saved when we proclaim and believe that we are set free by the blood of Christ. Once saved, always saved. It is a very dangerous place to dwell, inside a kind of “judge and jury” of other’s. I choose to take a more humble approach and know that even strong people, even excellent people stumble. Every day.

We have to stop with the right’s and wrong’s and get back to truth. Christians need to LIVE The Word of God in “transparent, less than perfect, need a savior  every single day of my life -because I stink at achieving perfect sin-less-ness without Him” Spending time in The Word, being transparent with God and allowing Him to change us. For His glory!

We need to look beyond the pointed fingers to see the need. To see sorrow in eyes that are haunted. To see anger in eyes that are weary, sick of how hard this world is. See into the eyes that can’t look at us, Eyes that are afraid or ashamed.  We need to be so apparent in our humble (not of our own making) loving kindness (because He has loved us so much) that people are willing to share with us. Willing to trust us.

This world is out of control in many ways, Our world is spinning so fast now. Pain and suffering all around us.

Seriously,  Be a light. Be hope for those that are grasping for a reason to hope.

Be the one that saves the one, like me. God leaves the 99 for the 1. Because the 99 already have a future with Him. He already has the 99 beheld. The one that wanders is more passionately desired and pursued by God than those of us already in His loving Grace.

When you sit in a judgement filled world, trying to protect the values you say you believe in, while you use your words as weapons, as unleashed punishment and sit on a bit of a higher plane, thinking you have this Christianity right, just know that I pray in earnest for you. For you to find the truth.

We need be truth tellers, absolutely. Mostly in our actions. Our tongue is too unpredictable.
God says: Ask, Seek and Knock!

Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Matthew 7:7-8 

He loves us. He loves us so much. He loves us in our broken down yuck. He loves us in our prideful state. He loves us regardless of how far off the path we have gotten. That is the God I found at the pit of despair. A loving, kind, strong, protective, never-ending presence, pursuing, giant of a God.

Blessings are not financial, they are Him. His peace. Grace and Mercy. Remember…”If it isn’t true for the believer that has to beg for food, or seek to find water for her child, then it isn’t true.” That is the God that is truth. The God that is beyond our circumstances, beyond what is here and now. He is every present, ever knowing, ever loving, always.  He doesn’t change. Not ever.

I don’t know why we reject Him. I know I sure did!  I think it’s partly because we think God makes life rosy, ( His own son suffered terribly, so no, that isn’t truth) I believe it’s because people have really messed up the image of Him. People have done horrible things in His name. But that isn’t God. That isn’t Christ. That is just additional people that need Him, need to really understand who He really is.
Being self reliant lead me down a dark path. Eventually, I had to come to the place where I knew I needed Him, being made whole has changed my world.  It is still changing me. I am still growing and learning and becoming a better Christ follower. But don’t look at me, look at Him. He is the model. I am the one running all over the place!
If you are that one, the one that is hurting and thinking that the way out is death, please seek Him first. Please see that it’s all lies. The idea that it will never get better, that you can’t get through this, that this is too hard. Please talk to me or someone like me. Try God!

“Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door Matthew 7:7-8 TPT.

[a]Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock andkeep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 AMP.

 

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The Human Condition

21 Apr

There are times that I sit in total awe of God and His power, trusting fully in Him, humbled, peaceful, knowing He is in charge.  There are also times that I wonder at His [perfect] wisdom in giving us free will, knowing that we would spend our entire relationship with Him in battle over it. Our struggle to be close to Him will be daily working to overcome our human condition and free will.

As we seek to stay in obedience, we will struggle with our thoughts, our emotions, our pride, our ego, our fears , and all of our sin nature. So much to overcome! But, He shows us how simple it really is, when we are humbled, in awe of Him.

We will walk a constant battle between trying to be mini-Gods, thinking we are part of God and the humbling truth that we are merely His creation, meant to submit and walk the path He planned for us, for His Glory and not just for our good but the good of His chosen people.

God shows us in 1 Samuel 25 the perfect example of the human condition with the story of David, Nabel and Abigail.

Nabel  in his time of excess, refused and mocked David and his army for asking for provisions. This is the world and the people we come across every day. This is the one that is rude or selfish, the one that hurts, harms, or attacks us. This is the consequences of our own choices or the consequences from other’s free will; the one that lies about us, or simply cuts us off in traffic.

David, the man after God’s heart, shows his heart also had the human condition. He reacted with “righteous”, justifiable anger with plans to kill Nabel and his family.  David was going to make things right, on his own terms.

Abigail (Nabel’s wife) upon hearing of her husband’s foolish arrogance, responds immediately with wisdom. She showed strength in her response. Her faith becomes obvious as she plans to face head on, the leader of an army that plans to kill her and her family.

She sends ahead of her the provisions and gifts David had requested of Nabel.  As she faces her enemy, she shows great courage and humility, taking the full blame for Nabel’s foolishness and begs for mercy. She acknowledges righteousness and God and that David is surely a man that also knows and loves God.

Nabel displays the selfish, cruel world we live in. David showed our weakness in his human struggles with his temper and emotional reaction. Was it justified and righteous? David thought so in that moment. The world would probably agree. Abigail shows the humility and strength that comes from trusting in God’s righteousness.

Abigail’s obedience and truth convicted David. He realized his folly; pride had caused him to stumble and take matters into his own hands. He reacted to the rejection and who would argue? He was justified by human standards, but God intervened. Abigail knew the greatness of God and faced her enemy with the courage of faith, humility and strength.  The call to retaliate was an emotional reaction that was all David’s, not God’s, plan. Abigail’s obedience and humility in turn humbled David and softened his response. He realized his own foolishness.

When we walk with God, no matter how closely, we must remain aware of our human condition to take matters into our own hands. We must remind ourselves constantly to humble ourselves, to seek God’s plan for each day.

In adversity, when we have our emotional reactions,no matter how obvious right and wrong are, we absolutely need to humble ourselves, stand before Him and seek His will. We can’t be mini-God’s, acting on our own, no matter how justifiable we or the world, thinks we are.

All too often I put on God’s shoes ,all too often I react and respond from my own limited human condition.
Learning to submit all matters to His hands before I take them into my own hands is a learning process and a building, maturing faith. Seeing all people and circumstances including the enemy through God’s eyes, diminishes our reactions and reminds us not of how small we are, but how big He is.

We are not God and we are certainly not God-less.

From Redpath “If you begin with God, your enemies grow small. If you begin with the enemy, you many never reach God. “

Father help me seek your ways long before I think or speak from my human condition, remembering in humility, that my ways are not your ways, and Your way is always good, always right. Help me to be like your humble servant Abigail with righteous response to all circumstances

Amen

33 “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. 34 Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” Matthew 6:33

Harbor

5 Apr

No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30

I am sitting in meditation after my morning readings. I am completely blown away that God still even wants us. These Israelites are so evil. As I walk through Judges, it consists of these cycles of breakthrough, strength and redemptive faith, restoring what was promised only to fall away to sin and worship other God’s again. It cycles over and over. God never wearies, and we never stop messing up!

As I look at my own life, the choices I have made, and will continue to make; the times I have been so devoted to seeking truth and wisdom, rather than thinking I had the answers, to the times that even within minutes my mind (my heart) betrays me.
Isaiah 6 starts out with Isaiah standing in the presence of God himself. He is overwhelmed with his own dark heart,

5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

God doesn’t just hear what we say outloud, he is aware of your heart and intentions even before your words are ever spoken, even if you never speak a word.

4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD. Psalm 139:4

 

Our hearts are full of corners and closets. Like Isaiah, we will stand before the King one day. What is in our hearts will be revealed to us for all that it is. Sometimes I get a glimpse, when I am feeling close to God, when I feel I am being obedient, I get that glimpse of the dark that still hides in every corner. This is why we need our precious Jesus. These things are not a surprise to God.

45 People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit. But out of the evil hidden in their hearts, evil ones will produce what is evil. For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words. Luke 6:45 (TPT)

We can’t fool God. He knows if we are being lead by right or wrong motives; jealousy, encouragement, judgement, love or hate, lies or truth, peace or war. He sees it all.

He knows before we say a word if we intend to honor, respect, guide, or build others up and He knows when our heart wants to harm, derail, disrespect, undermine or hurt others. Even if our words are unspoken, even if we never act on these things.

“Harbor in your heart” means you keep it safe within your heart. What do you shelter in the corners? He tells us to ask Him to show us:

Psalm 19:14  (TPT)
14 So may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts,
and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing,
acceptable before your eyes,
my only Redeemer, my Protector-God.

The promise is given to us, from Him, Ask and you shall receive: Matthew 7:7. We can ask for God to show us everything that lies in our hearts and to help us remove it. But I warn you, it is not always pleasant, but always, so very worth it, so redemptive, so healing.

Christ takes away the sins power to grow and fester inside of us.  Like with Isaiah We will never have to fight this battle alone. We just have to spend time before Him, honest with ourselves that He already knows every single thought dwelling in our hearts. Standing before Him with complete willingness to change and be transformed. Humility like that is hard! Because from that request comes truth and it can be painful as He pulls the rooted weeds from deep inside of you.

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”

Isaiah 6:6-7

Other Gods

2 Dec

“If God isn’t enough, more than enough, no one and nothing ever will be”  

I have repeated this thought, that came from prayer time, several times lately; To myself and to the way too many discarded or left behind people I have come to know.

When we are faced with being alone (it can feel pretty awful, right?) it shows our faith by who or what we fill that space with.

Do you fill it with God, or do you fill with something else? Another person/relationship, or do you drink more, or maybe you fill it with busyness.

Maybe you have been brave or like me, simply kept apart. In that time of loneliness, of being set apart; did you rekindle the love you first had with the one Who loved you first? Did you seek to fill that empty space with your perfect Creator, Father, and with his Son, the Bridegroom?  Did you allow Him to minister to your heart, He whose promises never break, He who’s greatest desire is to know you intimately.

As you sought the distraction of anything, of others, instead of Him, who is enough, did you pray about something? As you ignored His request of you, did you petition your own requests of Him?

If you keep trying to fill the place He is trying to fill – you’re missing out on so much. He is enough. He loves us beyond measure.

Just a couple of His love letters to us:

Jeremiah 31:3

 The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying: 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 

Psalm 91:14-16 (MSG)

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

When you spend time in the hurt and loneliness with Him, you gain the perfect comfort of Him, the lasting confidence in Him, you heal and grow in His unfailing, abiding love and from there – He brings you “THE people” the ones to walk beside you, and the ones to share His light with.

Beloved, you must guard your fears as much as your heart. Trust in Him with your fear. Tell Him you are lonely, tell Him it isn’t fair, tell Him you are afraid. He minister’s to your obedience with peace.  You are His and you were bought for a high price. All He wants in return is your whole heart.  From that intimate relationship, He can bless you to be the blessing you are called to be.

When you can’t be alone it simply means that God is not enough for you. It may not feel great at first, but it is the most obedient, healing, protected place you can be. If you fill that gap, You are worshiping another God, You have an idol and a faith issue with Him.

What you chase after is your God.

The beauty of this amazing, perfect, loving God? As soon as you put Him back on the throne of your desires and seek Him again, you are right back in His perfect path. Welcomed with loving arms.

Psalm 23 (TPT)  

The Good Shepherd

 David’s poetic praise to God[a]
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
    I always have more than enough.
 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.[d]
    He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
    and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[e]
    so that I can bring honor to his name.
 Lord, even when your path takes me through
    the valley of deepest darkness,
    fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
    Your authority is my strength and my peace.[f]
    The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
    I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
 You become my delicious feast
    even when my enemies dare to fight.
    You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[g]
    you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
    For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
    Then afterward, when my life is through,
    I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Grace

19 Sep

Grace. What a powerful word.

There is a calling on each of our lives, plain and simple.

When we mature in our faith, and walk in Grace, we walk with The Lord and we are the light that shines hope. When we forgive, (because we are instructed to forgive), and offer grace to someone that by the worlds standards, we should despise and reject, we are heeding our call to  ‘lead like Jesus’.

In the process of grieving my short marriage, I often asked God why?  I have grown to understand, what He reminds me of; There is not one moment in our lives that has not come through God’s hands. Even betrayals (and hurricanes) have been allowed for reasons only He knows and understands.

Only because of His incredible mercy towards me, His healing in my heart, have I found peace.  Grace and Mercy through forgiveness that is not really possible without the fullness of God in our hearts.

There is something about seeing the full power of God coming straight for you that changes everything. What is good and righteous, surfaced within me.  It was purged through raw grief which poured from the deepest part of me. As quickly as it began, it healed, and it healed swiftly. My soul was raw and opened up to His final healing.

When you extend mercy and kindness to someone that caused anguish in your heart it is obviously God. Knowing Him, seeking Him, being surrounded by wise women that walked with me through the valley, all pointed me straight on the path He laid before me. I am so grateful for the peace found there.

Here is the important lesson: as with all trial, this wasn’t just meant for me.  As we grow in our faith, we realize that whatever we walk through, truly is meant to shine the light of Hope to one or many. My grappling attempts, my moments of humanness, are elementary, as common as the darkness in this world and they don’t heal.

But God! He placed his supernatural healing in my broken heart because He needed me to be the light for a soul that is lost.  Grace shown and shared with someone that harmed us is a powerful healer. For both.

In the end, nothing we endure is just meant for us. With God leading us, we will be shown beautiful mercy in our trials when we focus on shining His light. What we journey through is meant to bless the broken with hope, to be the beacon of possibility to a lost and broken world.

When we are well on our journey of faith, we know our lot is already secure and we know who has us, who holds our future. We may get tossed a bit, but we remain steady in the end. We know the outcome.

When we let that Grace fill us to overwhelming joy, it spills over and pours out on everyone. No matter the circumstances, no matter the trial; That just builds more joy.

Thank you, Jesus.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deedsand glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  Matthew 7:1

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14

Time For Grace

3 Jul

The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. ~Jesus

The past year for me, like most, has been extremes of trials and blessings, but for me,  the lessons of grace and mercy have taken my heart captive.

I have such strong feelings when I feel my fellow believers are being religious, legalistic, unkind or in my opinion, standing in the way of true evangelism. Yet, as soon as I think that way, The Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my own sin. My own pride. My own legalism in my judgement.

We are supposed to love God, love our fellow Christians and mostly, love our neighbor. This is the fulfillment of the law.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:4-14 

Loving your neighbor doesn’t just mean those that are in your inner circle but rather this includes those that are different from you- the atheist, homosexual, abortionist, muslim. This also includes the guy who disagrees with you, or the guy that just cut you off on the freeway, the girl that was rude to you, the boss that screams at you. It also includes your husband when he is unloving or your wife when she is disrespectful. This is agape love. This is grace. This is where I sin most.

Grace is essential in every single aspect of our journey to become Christ like. Without grace, you truly are not aligned with Christ and your faith is not evident.  If we seek it, we need to give it. Your walk should embrace grace and be evident.  Jesus warned us about Spiritual pride. 4″ Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4, 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10 

So before we can walk in grace, we absolutely must humble ourselves. God teaches us in His own way, in His own time, and The Living Word breathes truth into us, over and over again, we grow, we soften, we learn, as that knowledge is shown to us, by the Father.

Humility is essential to growth, to love, to grace, to salvation. Without it, we can’t possibly understand how to love as Christ loves us; Our ego fights this, our free will fights this.

We are sinners. If we are judging the sin in other’s, we take a step away from humility,  from grace and from Christ. Before you hate the sin in other’s you must first hate your own sin and your own sin nature. Ask forgiveness for your own sins. Let Him walk you through your own refinement. This is faith. This is how God can begin to change the world, first within us. Then through us.

After all, He loved us first. All of us.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I have recently had my own major lessons and convicted misteps in grace. Being hurt by family and/or family of believers,  I being shocked by the dishonor, blatent unkindness and later, the untruth and slander that was exposed. responded with protective anger. Especially at the cruelty that crushed the spirit of someone I care about.  There is a hurt that goes so deep when the hurt comes from family and/or our family of believers. It is more unexpected in some way. We walk more transparently with our fellow believers, or we should anyhow.

But Christ himself walked everything before us and he expects us to stay focused on him and on grace.

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

He teaches us how to stay focused on what truly matters in our journey to eternity. We can’t care about what others think of us. God has a different expectation. His approval is all we truly need.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26  

As with all scripture, you must read the whole in which the context is taken Jesus didn’t mean to “hate” your family but rather this is a warning that walking a Christian life is difficult. We must love God first and be willing to lose all the rest, in the end, for that love. Jesus loved the law, including to honor your mother and father. but He was very clear:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

In the end, humble, forgiving grace is essential to our journey. Grace doesn’t approve of, enable or minimize sin. Grace doesn’t decide forgiveness of sin, Jesus did that on the cross for us. It is not our job to convict, nor judge. That is the Holy Spirits job. Justice is not ours. Humility says, if justice were served, I would be unworthy to receive the mercy and grace of our Lord’s crucifixion.

When our fellow Christian sins, (not the unsaved), like we do ourselves…we must help them back to God’s truth, even if it is our spouse. We submit to God first. If our fellow believer, whether friend, child or spouse is hurtful or walking away from alignment in Christ  we lovingly speak truth, sometimes it is a must, but it also must include acknowledgement of forgiveness, and our own need for forgiveness and grace.  Ultimately, it can cost rejection, but if it is in line with Christ, it is worth it.

When the world walks in sin, like we do ourselves, we must step out of discipleship and into evangelism. Jesus was a revolutionary teacher of peace and of LOVE in a time of arrogant legalism and religious politics. Truth be told, times were very politically extreme like it is today. If we aren’t perfect, like He was, which we are not, we can’t have the same righteous anger. If we aren’t transparent and humble, walking in grace and love, then we are not following the words of Christ. Our words and actions at all times are our evangelism. If they aren’t in line with scripture, we have too much work to do on ourselves before we put ourselves in a role of leadership. Period.

In the end, Grace wins.  I think The Message version sums it up best.

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

 

Works?

21 Mar

One of the craziest, most mind blowing change that happens when you begin a walk with Christ, is this:  The more you know-the less you know; The stronger your faith becomes, you grow more and more needy for His direction, HIS wisdom, HIS approval, less concerned with your place in the world but rather, your place in His heart and His Heaven.

“He must become greater;I must become less. John 3:30 NIV”

As the years creep by that I have been making notes and highlights in my bible, I often revisit the same scripture that was so powerful before and maybe this time, it is just as powerful but in a different way, or today, it may just be a Good Word.  The Living Word, (*insert big sigh…) I gain new knowledge, new application, new wisdom every single time I open my bible. Every sermon, lesson, even a song, will lead me to the Word.

I didn’t always believe the bible. Well, I didn’t actually ever read it. I honestly didn’t really understand much more than Psalms. I figured it was man’s interpretation. Nature was my bible, my church. I had my own opinion of faith, prayer, and what Christians looked like.  I judged a relationship with Christ by those that went to church. I expected them to be perfect, and because none of them were, I judged them as hypocrits. I didn’t need to go there, and I didn’t need to read the bible. Until I broke; Until there was nothing left but God and I.

In the depths of my despair, He rescued me. He didn’t just make it all better, he filled me with unspeakable hope, he began a ‘good work” in me. What a fantastic journey it has been! And! …the Bible came alive for me. Understandable, expressive, moving, it truly sustains me.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Now it makes sense. It isn’t “magic”-it’s just a wisdom that comes with growth and communion with the Holy Spirit.  We don’t begin our new or renewed faith knowing the bible either, nor does God expect that from us. You only need to know this truth. That Jesus died for you and has been waiting for you to follow Him ever since. That begins the relationship. God takes us through our very own journey designed just for us, full of mistakes and love and forgiveness and healing. He will bring those along side of you to help you along.  And you will want to know Him more. You will read the bible and it will begin to make more sense than you ever imagined.

You see this all the time…John 3:16 but there are so many more!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7 [Full Chapter]

Now, if you know me at all, you will agree that I am absolutely not legalistic.  I would describe my walk as a bit of ‘Grace and Mercy’ rebel.  I fight hard against any words that direct me to “DO” rather than “BE”.  Those that declare (which is grave sin) who is saved and who is false or heretic or unsaved, also push me away. I have been so hurt in my life by those faith talkers which is probably why it has taken me three different studies of James to fully embrace His writing.

Things are getting a bit shaken up and stirred out in a different way for me. I have gone toe to toe against believers that will disagree with my mercy belief; I always felt wrong because they were more studied than me, I never knew how to answer them. I just held hard to my hope that the Love He filled my heart with, was the same love He would pour out on all who seek Him. So I set out upon truth (growth leads to growth). I wanted to fully understand a more DO book, like James.

In my studies, which I now thirst after- *Psalm 42:1 (how did He know that about me?) I have grown beyond reacting to the legalistic undertones of some of our scriptures, to understanding rather our human journey to holiness. This is not something we do because scripture says to, we do it because as we begin to embrace our salvation and walk in it, we long to become more like Him. I have realized in my own journey that to understand what that looks like,  you first have to understand the entire journey from Genesis to Revelations, that includes the journey of the law (Torah).

First, lets define who is going to heaven. If you say everyone, do you truly think Hitler will? Do you truly think a child molester will? If you drew a line and labeled good and bad on either end, where is the line that says, too bad. Crazy as it seems, truly there is no stopping point of grace or mercy on that line for those that are in Christ.

Our salvation is bought and paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross.  In my journey, I hung so tightly to that point and understood that the change that took place in my heart, is still taking place, every day, is Him, not me. It isn’t me being a “Good Christian”. I am on a journey of becoming holy, I am still changing. That said, here is the change in verbage for me….   even though you are saved, if you start at the ‘bad’ end, shouldn’t your salvation and hope move you a little closer to the ‘good’ end?

I remember hearing Francis Chan years ago, as he demonstrated faith as a balance beam exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y46YoVzX0VM   I liked it, it made sense. I read Kyle Idleman’s “Not a Fan” four years ago. I remember really enjoying it, but at the same time, not liking the legal tones echoing within my own heart!

It wasn’t the author, nor the scripture becoming legalistic, it was my difficult journey to know my worth to God. To understand ‘Agape Love’.

The truth is so crazy! ~ To fully understand what freedom we have in our salvation, we have to submit completely.

“Submit yourselves, then to God.” James 4:7, “in all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:6

In the end, the legalism is to know where we have come from, who to turn to, submission, hope, trust…faith. To know the importance of submission to Him. Faith without works is dead. If we believe that Jesus died for us, and we are forgiven, this should shake our world! This should overwhelm us with repentance, hope, and a desire to “pay forward” if you will, that amazing gift. It should begin to change us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the DO part! Let HIM do!

If you read the Sermon on the Mount, it is all there. The sermon on the mount is my “go to” I find all I need to know, right there in the words of my Savior. Unlike the teachings of “The Secret”, the need for total perfection of thought and words, putting things or not putting things in the universe (where does that go?)~  Christ achieved that for me.

My goal is not perfection, my goal is obedience. Always has been. It is not a place you arrive at; It is a place you seek. He calls us to desire to live in a submissive longing to please God. To stop assessing (judging) how well other’s are doing in their walk, to come along side those that need help back up in their walk, gently, with love and humility. Not from a knowing better, but a place of “there but the grace of God go I, point of view.

Christ followers are called to Seek Him in all things. Seek the truth. It doesn’t matter what we DO, it is the very core of our faith that becomes the truth. Only God knows this place in us. What good is anything we DO if our hearts have any form of judgement, jealousy, envy, anger (same as murder) insecurity. That is the DO part of our walk. Cleanse our hearts, our minds and our spirit by meditating on Him at all times. (It is truly the only way).

Truth is humbly being transparent.  Truth is loving at all times the entire body of Christ. Truth is loving our neighbors, no matter their color, their faith, or how they sin. Truth is not pretending to know God, but seeking to know what He desires for us. Truth is submission. Truth is forgiving everyone, including ourselves, everything. Truth is not self seeking. Truth doesn’t reject or boast. Truth is not about anyone else. Truth is the humble understanding that He is the only one that truly knows our heart, our life, our walk, our sin nature, our journey. Truth is love in action and mercy towards others. Only He knows your neighbors heart. Truth is that it is from fear or ego that we judge. Judgement is not discernment and conviction is not condemnation and the anger of man can never truly be righteous. Watch that you are not representing God, but actually following Him. Submissively.

James 4:12 “But who are you to judge your neighbor?

If His words are not honing you, building you up, tearing you down, healing you, teaching you, preparing you, softening you, strengthening you, removing pride, arrogance, judgement, if His words are NOT creating your next steps to walk in His plan for your life, to share in His wisdom through your own testimony, then you aren’t doing it right!

This is the works. Submission and mercy. Gentle mercy towards all. Especially your body of believers.

In the end, my issue has not been with legalism.  My issue was with man’s (including my own) interpretation of what that meant. Jesus fulfilled the law so we could live with God forever. He did this because there was no other way.  God knew this. Truth…That takes but a mustard seed. However, that mustard seed should change you atleast a little bit, should it?

We will still have an accounting for our journey. If the world holds more value to us than pleasing God, then it is time to really assess what our true belief is.

Works: Acceptance that I will never be perfect but that I can embrace and openly admit my arrogance, my lies, my hypocrisy and doubts and fears, and submit to Him to heal and be healed is freedom. To allow him to hone me even when it hurts.  It allows for true relationship free from ego.That is what faith with works looks like. Because from that place, He shines so brightly within us. We give Him Glory.  We hear His calling, His prompting.

We become strong.  We can say to that mountain move, and it will.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV