Tag: yeshua

The Law and Grace: Not What You Think

The Law and Grace: Not What You Think

When you hear “The Law” mentioned in Christendom and Judaism, people are referring to the sum of about 600+ laws given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. God gave them numerous laws, rituals, and regulations, meant to keep them pure and holy.

Many have created resources that attempt to provide understanding of the functionality of the Law and Grace in our lives as believers today. It is a point of great spiritual and doctrinal controversy.

Some believe we ought to still keep the law as strictly as the Israelites of old. Some postulate that because of the Messiah’s sacrifice, we are no longer under law, but under grace; and are free from the requirements of the Law.

What makes these conversations so difficult to process is because of the various verses that speak to how the Law and Grace operate in our lives today. It can be difficult to interpret them.

One of our biggest obstacles for understanding Law vs. Grace is our desire to believe a specific thing. Some WANT to believe we have to follow the Law in the specific way in which the Israelites did. Some WANT to believe that GOD’S grace cancels the Law.

For some, following the Law seems to be too oppressive and it doesn’t sound like God to them. For others, Grace seems to offer more freedom than they could fathom God giving.

This is proof that we take our perceptions of God into conversations like these and refuse to expand our view of Him.

No matter where you fall on the proverbial spectrum of this idea, choose to lay down your preconceived notions to perceive God in a new way. Allow God to reveal Himself afresh to you. There are some things we believe because they’re true. Then, there are things we believe because we’d prefer to believe them.

It’s dangerous to get to a place in which God doesn’t surprise you anymore–or God agreeing with EVERYTHING you do, say, or think. At that point, I’d begin to question whether or not it’s God you serve–but you.

I’ve been craving depth in my relationship with the Most High and understanding of who He is. I’ve prepared myself to think and live differently depending on what He reveals about Himself, me, and others.

I don’t want to believe what I believe because it’s comfortable for me. I want to believe what He says is true. Sometimes, that will put me in a position to look foolish to the world and that’s okay; because I’m not living for them.

I live for God in hopes that others would see and know Him. But He is my Authenticator, my Refuge, my Father, my Friend, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Judge, my Answer, my Everything.

My prayer is that if you’ve made it to the end of this post that you receive the blessed opportunity of knowing Him.

You can pray this prayer below and continue on a journey of knowing Him. Once you pray this prayer in belief and faith, there are some things that will automatically change. You may not feel it, but it has.

There are other things that will require a journey of becoming in relationship with Most High (God). Have faith and be encouraged.

Most High,

Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. I believe what you’ve shown me. I believe that You sent Your Son to Earth to die to reconcile me to You. I believe He resurrected in victory over sin and death — the very things that separated me from having relationship with You. I have faith and believe that You are the one true God. Thank You for saving me. I ask that You continue to show me who You are and teach me Your ways. My heart will never be separated from You. I ask that You connect me with people who will help me grow in my relationship with You and knowledge of You. Thank You for loving me.

In Your Son’s Name,
Amen.

Scriptures to study: (the whole Bible…but here’s a few to get started)

  1. John 1-3
  2. Romans 6-8
  3. Genesis 1-3
Hang In There

Hang In There

“Have the kids drove you crazy yet?” she asked. “Absolutely.” I replied.

“Hang in there.”

Those three magic words calmed and reassured me as my coworker with great empathy encouraged me. I didn’t even know I needed to hear that or that it would have the kind of effect it had.

The beauty of those three words strung together is that there are no empty promises or frilly pretenses. It means what it says. “Hang. In. There.”

No one tells you to ‘hang in there’ when things are easy. The very reason for which they’re saying that to you is because things are NOT easy. ‘Hang in there’ means:

  1. You may not have much left to give, but give anyway.
  2. You may be tired, but press anyway.
  3. You may not be noticed, but serve anyway.

The Bible says, So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit” (Galatians 6:9 MSG). Paul is specifically addressing believers and how they engage with other believers and those who do not share their faith. This response is important because it’s not a response to humans, but a response and result of relationship with God.

Paul is teaching the church at Galatia that God does not ignore our efforts, hard work, good intentions, good deeds, etc. While those things are no good in and of themselves to save us, God still recognizes them and responds to them. 

The verses before verse 9 explain a basic principle that most people believe regardless of religious or cultural background. Some call it karma. Some call it ‘energy’ or ‘vibes.’ Some call it the power of positive thinking. We call it many things without fully understanding the weight of it.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reapFor the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life(Galatians 6:7-8).

Basically: whatever you plant, grows. Whatever you put in, you get it back. The beautiful thing about God is when you choose to plant according to His desires, His nature, and His will, you don’t just get back what you put in. You get a HARVEST. You get MORE than what you put in. Unfortunately, some of us feel as if we haven’t seen anything that looks like a harvest.

Some of us are frustrated right now because we don’t feel like our efforts are being noticed by the people we’d like to notice. Some of us feel God doesn’t seem to care about the pain, discomfort, or difficulty we may be walking through. Know this:

The Bible also says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

If there is anything that you take away from this, let it be this: God sees. More importantly for some of us, God sees you. Specifically. Clearly. Lovingly.

So, whatever you’re going through, know that God has a beautiful plan for you. It may not be easy or comfortable; but it’s worth it. God never promised we wouldn’t suffer; though He did promise that He’d always be with us (Deut. 31:6). So, hang in there. Better yet, rest in the One who is holding you.

The Danger of Comparison

The Danger of Comparison

You don’t even think about it. You walk into a room; it happens. You scroll on Instagram; it happens. You go to the mall; it happens. You enjoy a family holiday; it happens. You breathe; it happens. As much as you may tell yourself, it’s not just you. We all do it; whether or not we’d like to admit it. What is this thing we all do? Drumroll, please!

Compare.

We compare ourselves to anyone and everyone. Comparison is almost as first-nature as breathing. We don’t even have to think about it.

It’s not anything new. It is natural for humans to desire approval from other humans. Therefore, we examine what is ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ and we model ourselves after this.

It’s interesting though. In a culture in which this idea of ‘living your own truth’ is so prevalent, comparison is still so high. We encourage people to be unique and individualistic no matter the consequences. Still, people find themselves comparing themselves to others.

What makes us do this?

Well, there is an inner moral system within every human which governs their ideas about the world and the decisions they make. Some call it our ‘conscience.’ C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, supposes there is a sort of universal law. This universal law is a preset standard against which all humans examine human behavior.

We have evidence of this in our natural inclination toward saying things like, ‘He shouldn’t have done that,’ or ‘that’s not fair.’ There is this natural belief that there is a specific way to behave even if there is no law or rule to indicate this. These thoughts often come from a natural preference.

While our culture or religious beliefs may largely influence these ideas, there is evidence that this natural inclination toward an invisible universal law exists beyond these contexts. In other words, your religious beliefs or culture upbringing are not the exclusive influences on what you deem right or wrong. Moving on.

The existence of a universal law in and of itself does not explain why we compare ourselves to others. Let’s look deeper. Let’s go back to the beginning.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, provides an account of the creation story in which God created what we see and what we don’t see (Genesis 1:1). You can follow the beautiful story from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 which goes into greater detail.

Chapter 3 records the story popularly titled as ‘The Fall.’ It’s the story of how man went from having this perfect intimate relationship with God to running away in shame due to their sin. Prior to the fall, we discover this beautiful relationship between God and humans. God gave humans dominion (authority and ownership) over the earth. God blessed them and all was well.

Unfortunately, the fall distorted everything. Where wholeness and perfection once rested, brokenness entered. We began to seek our own which is always less than what God has and had given.

Before, our image and identity was found in God. After, our identity was being shifted and conformed to other broken images. We gave up the image of God and elevated created things rather than the Creator.

We think that when we compare ourselves to others, we’re just trying to dress like them, talk like them, or have friends like they have. There’s so much more to comparison than that.

Comparison is a thief of joy.

Comparison is a thief of identity.

Comparison kills.

Comparison works against the intimate process we find ourselves in.

The Bible says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

This reveals that God is trying to shape us to look like His Son, Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ. We are to look so much like Him because we are of the same lineage; “firstborn among many brothers and sister.”

You don’t usually know what comparison is robbing you of in the moment; but rest assured, the loss is great.

It will never truly benefit you to measure or compare yourself to others. They’re broken also. God is still conforming and shaping them to look like His Son. Why compare yourself to an unfinished product who’s comparing themselves to another unfinished product?

Make sure your foundation is built on and rooted in Christ. Anything else will fail. Christianity will fail. Religion will fail. Looks will fail. Riches will fail. Relationships fail.

Only the WORD of God will last forever.

 

 

*I do not own (or the rights to) the featured image.*

I Just Can’t See It

I Just Can’t See It

One of the most clever tricks the enemy (Satan) plays on us is encouraging a system of belief built on sight. It’s quite dangerous to do everything based on what you can see. If you make decisions based on what you can see, you’ll almost always choose incorrectly. When we make decisions based on what we can see, we choose selfishly. We make decisions whose benefits don’t have longevity. 

Our belief system cannot be built on sight. This is not a sustainable culture and it is not the culture of the kingdom.

The ‘kingdom of heaven’ I’m referring to is not a physical place. The kingdom of heaven is the rule and reign of God. It is God’s authority in any place. “But seek first the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 6:33).

Like any kingdom or government, the kingdom of heaven has a culture. Faith is a part of that culture. Faith is believing in what you cannot see. “Now faith, is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the thing.  This means your faith is evidence that what you do not see is real.

Faith isn’t faith if there is sight. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). If there’s sight, then it’s belief. (I’m not going to get into that. If you’d like to learn more about faith and belief and the difference thereof, read this awesome book, “Believe You Can” by Pastor Marcus Howard.)

Faith does not require sight. Therefore, it allows you to believe and manifest what is not seen. It allows you to believe for things unselfishly. For sight chooses for now. Faith chooses for the future.

Now, here’s the thing. Sure, we could believe for just any old thing and it would come about. However, it’s important to seek God about what to believe. Sometimes, we’ll believe God for something we don’t really need or isn’t His best for us. He’ll give it to us so that we would know that it wasn’t what He had for us.

Don’t simply desire the thing you think you want. Seek the kingdom of heaven so that you’d know what you should want.

This will cause your heart to be aligned to desire the things God already desires to see in your life and the lives of those around you. A belief system built on sight can only desire based on what they think is right.

Due to the growth happening in my life right now, there are some things up in the air that cause me to doubt everything. However, oddly, when my thoughts are quieted, I find that I truly believe that a resolution will come. I believe clarity will come. Even though I just can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

So, have faith. Eventually, it will all make sense.

Happy reading!

Over and out.

When Pain Is Your Mistress

When Pain Is Your Mistress

I don’t always know how to be happy and I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one.

Happiness is one of the most elusive concepts humans pursue. Most of the time, we’re mistaken about what will actually make us happy. We get it and are abysmally disappointed. More money, a relationship, new job, influence, power, etc., are just a few things we often believe will bring us happiness. (Mo’ money, mo’ problems).

Interestingly enough, we don’t have to desire things that are inherently bad in order to be disappointed once we get them. The reality is, nothing on this earth could ever or will ever satisfy the longing for fulfillment. Only God can. Some things seem to get really close, but fall short every single time. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire things, relationships, money, or influence. Instead, we must remember that in all things, we must ask, ‘why do I want what I want?’

Many of us have no trouble desiring things. For some of us, however, desiring anything good is an arduous task. Life experiences and disappointments have taught us not to expect anything good or for it to last very long. Our inner system of belief begins to tell us, ‘don’t get too attached,’ or ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ These thoughts come when your belief system is being run by doubt and fear.

Pastor Marcus Howard says, “Fear is not an emotion. It is the absence of emotion; because you don’t know what to expect, you fear. Fear is a toxin eating up the core of your belief.” I’ve heard him expound further saying, “fear comes because of a lack of expectation.”  

Our life experiences teach us what to expect or what not to expect. Painful experiences teach us it’s not worth hoping for something better. Sometimes, we become so familiar with our pain, that we forget how to be happy. We forget to receive the joy that’s been given to us through Christ.

Let’s talk about joy and happiness. If you ask a random person, they’ll tell you that joy and happiness are one in the same. I understand from where we get this idea. However, let’s look at Scripture for a second. Many of the verses that mention joy speak of it in spite of something.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

We don’t experience joy because things are going well. We experiencing joy whether or not things are going well. Happiness is different. Happiness requires a particular condition. ‘I’m happy because _______.’ This means: if the reason for which I’m happy changes, so does my happiness with it. If I’m happy as long as I’m in a relationship, then the moment I’m single, I cease to be happy.

Joy is different. Joy is an assurance, a steadfastness, being immovable in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. This kind of joy is only possible through knowledge of the One in whom there is assurance: Christ.

Oddly, joy is more natural than depression, anxiety, worry, doubt, or fear. It’s who God is. When you choose to have relationship with God through Christ, you choose everything that comes with Him. You marry (figuratively and spiritually) yourself to Him and the two of you become one.

Similarly, when you are friends with someone, the two of you begin to share the same vocabulary, ideals, and gestures. When you accept Christ, you begin to share in who He is.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).  What is Christ’s is ours. (What’s mine is yours. What’s your is mine. Marriage.)

Joy is a result of that relationship. Peace is a result of that relationship. Patience is a product of that relationship. Galatians 5:22 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

Christ teaches that we will go through difficult times (John 16:33). Don’t marry yourself to your pain. It’s not a healthy relationship. It doesn’t serve you the way a husband and wife serve each other in marriage. It only weighs you down. Nevertheless, realize you will experience pain, but remember what the outcome ought to be. It’s there to perfect your faith.

For further study: 2 Timothy 1:7, John 16:33, Romans 8

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo. I made small edits for the sake of the post.*

What Would Christians Do? Pt. 2

What Would Christians Do? Pt. 2

If you’re even remotely familiar with Christianity, you may have heard the phrase W.W.J.D. What Would Jesus Do? In part 1, we explored the origins of this phrase and the implications of it. Is it more than a phrase or is it a personal conviction? The answer? It depends on the person.

We may not find this specific phrase in the Bible; but we do find various verses that encourage us to live like Christ and as an example (Ephesians 5:1-17, 1 John 4:7-21, Acts 1:8, John 14:12, 1 Timothy 4:12).

Oftentimes, in the process of living like Christ, we equate Christianity with Christ. Our hearts begin to believe ‘Christianity is the Way’ instead of ‘Yeshua (Jesus) is the Way.’ There is a difference in believing ‘Christianity is the Way’ as opposed to ‘Yeshua is the Way.’

If we pour all of our energy into following after Christianity, we’re no different than the Pharisees. Oftentimes, Christians demonize Pharisees as these historical enemies of Christ. The heart of the Pharisees is not specific to the Jewish culture or the time period in which Yeshua walked the earth. Many times, we are the Pharisees. We don’t want to believe that because we’re upholding what we believe Christ has required us to uphold. Isn’t that the same issue the Pharisees had? They were more concerned with upholding traditions and ideals, that they missed the more important truth and gift presented to them: Yeshua Christ, the Messiah.

There is no one expression or way to live like a Pharisee. (Disclaimer: Pharisees were not innately bad. They were leaders in Jewish culture and the temple. I’m specifically referring to their mindset and lack of precedence on what was most important.) For to live like a Pharisee, we would seek to justify ourselves because of the expectations and rituals we maintain.

For some of us, it’s our service to our church, our ability to pray, or memorizing Scripture. For others, it’s all the ‘bad’ things we don’t do. For many, it’s all of the ‘good’ things we do. There is no ‘amount’ of bad that you can do to keep you from being accepted by God. There is no ‘amount’ of good that you can do to cause you to be accepted by God.

It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a good person. Good is relative in our eyes. Good is holy in God’s. We don’t come close to God’s standard on our own. Your attempt at doing “enough” good stuff is empty religion.All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There will never be enough on your own. That’s the equivalent of believing ‘Christianity is the Way.’ ‘If I’d just attend church service every week,’ ‘if I’d just not do this,’ or ‘if I’d just read my Bible enough’ or ‘if I’m seen as a Christian by other people,’ are all traps.

It’s the trap of self-sufficiency. It’s when we move from ‘Yeshua is the Way’ to ‘I can provide my own way.’ This proves to us, more than anything else, that we don’t really understand what Christ did before, during, and after the Cross. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).

This means: there is and never will be a way in which we can save ourselves.  Only Christ can. Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us.. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Hebrews 10: 19, 20a, 22).

Your religion will not save you. The rituals you participate in will not save you. The traditions you uphold will not save you. They were never given the power to do that. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship (Hebrews 10:1).”

We don’t truly know how much power and freedom we strip from our lives when we try to live as our own savior. 

When Christ died, He didn’t just die for the Christian. He died for the world (John 3:15-17). He died for those who wouldn’t even accept Him. While they may never receive the beautiful gift of salvation because they never accepted it, the gift of salvation is for anyone who would believe (Romans 1:16; John 3:16).

So, let your salvation be found in Christ, not in yourself. For you can’t bear the weight of salvation on your shoulders. Christ already did.

I wasn’t planning on going this direction with this post, but I felt led by the Holy Spirit and was given revelation as I wrote. So, I hope this truly blesses and challenges you to rest in the grace and salvation provided through Christ, not your ‘Christianity.’

To further understand some of the ideas I alluded to in this post, check out two previous posts. I’m Not a Christian Pt. 1 and I’m Not a Christian Pt. 2. It may offend you, but may be exactly what you need to hear.

Let me know what you think and how this blog is impacting you personally! Like, comment, share, or email me. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*The featured photo belongs to http://www.mercworks.net. I do not own the rights to or the photo itself.*

 

 

What Would Christians Do Pt. 1

What Would Christians Do Pt. 1

W.W.J.D.

What Would Jesus Do? In the 1990’s, this acronym became very popular in Christendom. For some, it became more than a cool catch phrase and more of a personal conviction. It encouraged Christians to respond in the same way they presumed Christ would respond.

You can read further about this acronym and its effects on Christendom here or here. Funnily enough, UrbanDictionary.com had a definition of its own. They have some pretty hilarious examples of how this phrase could be used. “WWJD? Well for starters, he probably wouldn’t purchase and wear tacky jewelry.”  “I’m not sure if I should write this webpage script in Perl, Java or PHP. Hmm, What Would Jesus do?”

With any catchphrase or cliche, the effect wears off eventually. Maybe, it should. I believe there comes a point at which you don’t have to ask ‘what would Yeshua do’ anymore. Instead, we ask ‘what will Yeshua do’ through me. The word ‘would’ implies a condition. “I would do this if ______.” It provides space for excuse. Instead, as a believer, I say, “I will do this because _______.”

What’s your ‘because?’ The Bible says, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Cor. 5:20).

If your ‘because’ is anything other than the fact that God desires to reconcile others to Himself through you, refocus on what is important. It’s not about having the best ministry. It’s not about having the most followers. It’s not about being well-liked. When people encounter you, you ought to be a ‘deflector’ and ‘reflector.’ Before people can become enamored by how great you are, you ought to point them to the Source: Christ.

So, what will you do? What will you say? What will you think?

This is not to promote condemnation, comparison, or competition. This is not a question to answer based on how others are answering. This a question to open up a dialogue between you and God. ‘God, what would you have me to do?’ ‘God, what will you have me to do?’

I believe at the heart of this phrase (WWJD) is a need to acknowledge God in our decisions. It reminds us to be sensitive to the heart and will of God. We can’t go on living like what we do, say, or think doesn’t matter. Everything you do is perceived as a direct representation of who God is. The moment you say, “I’m a Christian,” you’re being watched. You’re being examined. People can’t help but to examine you. Don’t let this scare you. At best, let it be a sobering wake-up call if you’ve been thinking your life and how you live it doesn’t matter. Don’t be worried. The Spirit of God will empower you to live in a way worthy of the call you’ve accepted.

Further Study: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Currently, at my church, we’re going through a series called DETOX. Week Two’s message really speaks to some of the things written in this post. Watch the video here. Skip ahead to minute 37 and continue from there. Pastor Marcus Howard is a man well-studied on this subject and provides a comprehensive and practical training on this topic.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! This post was meant to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series.

We’re going to continue this series by answering some questions about the Christian’s lifestyle. Two questions will include: ‘Should Christians Go to Secular Parties?’ and ‘Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?’

So, stay updated.

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*The featured photo is from http://www.mercworks.net I do not own the rights to the photo or the photo itself.*