Community

I’ve been working my way through Kelly Minter’s study, “Encountering God,” for a few weeks on my own. I don’t work on it daily, because I also like to read my Bible, journal, read additional books, and I’m often interrupted by littles. But I have been enjoying it and chipping away at it little by little. The study is on “cultivating habits of faith through spiritual disciplines,” and I must admit, one of the lessons that really challenged me, is the one on worship through celebration.

She began this lesson reviewing some of the feasts that the Israelites would have celebrated in Old Testament times, the why and how they were celebrated: The feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Booths. She then goes on to say:

As we turn our attention to the New Testament, we see that the Jewish holidays of the Old Testament are no longer prescribed for followers of Christ–they have been fulfilled in Him. The body of Christ can now celebrate at any time and in any place–the most significant celebration being the weekly gathering of the church. Yearly feasts were incredible, but regular community in Christ is better. The party can now be cued anytime believers are present with one another celebrating the shared life of Christ.

Kelly Minter, “Encountering God,” p. 105

Her main point in this lesson is about celebrating the Lord with our lives, together as a family of believers! We’re talking not just in church but living our lives like the early New Testament believers. Dining with each other, celebrating with each other, mourning with each other. Encouraging one another, discipling, doing ministry alongside each other, and just walking and talking through life’s joys and difficulties.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some who have neglected returning to Church because of their fear of COVID, and I just want to point out that you’re really missing out. We can read our Bible all we want at home, and worship on our own. We can work through Bible studies, and read all the books, but we’ll be missing out on the celebration of the Lord in doing life with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” And let’s not forget Proverbs 27:17, which states, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” We need each other to grow in our faith!

Paul David Tripp, in his devotional, “New Morning Mercies” also reminds us that “We were not wired by creation or re-creation to live on our own. Independent, self-focused living never goes anywhere good. We must all come to understand and accept the truth that our walks with God are community projects. We were not designed to live the Christian life on our own. The reason God calls us to this high quality of relationships is because relationships are an irreplaceable tool in his redemptive hands.”

Lastly, if there are any who are still using fear of sickness as an excuse to return to community. My question is this…How can we trust Christ with our souls, but not with our lives on the earth? Our number of days on the earth are preordained! That’s why the Word say “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27; Luke 12:25).

Don’t forsake your community. We need each other.

Truth, love, and grace!

Life, Undervalued

I know it’s been a couple weeks since this occurred, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. Part of me doesn’t want to think about it because it breaks my heart, but I can’t ignore it as though it didn’t happen, because I think that’s why our nation is where it is today. Often, I hear people from other countries ask why things like this are so common in the U.S. but not other places, and I have to stop and think, and ask why? First, I know that terrible things such as this DO happen in other parts of the world, in the middle east, parts of Africa, China, and south America, for example, murder, genocide, and religious persecution run rampant. Even slavery continues globally! It just doesn’t always make the news.

The reason for all this wickedness is obviously sin, but a related issue I find particularly disturbing in the U.S. is the lack of value we have for human life. From the first heartbeat to old age, those with sickness or disability, as well as the perfectly healthy, we are made in the image of God and are precious to Him. We’ve talked about the Imago Dei in previous posts, and about how we are to show care and respect towards all for this very reason. But I feel we’ve lost sight of this fact.

There’s been a serious attempt to de-humanize people, across the globe, but especially in the United States. I’ve seen it in social media posts about people being undeserving of life because they’re poor, sick, elderly, or even because they think differently from you! It’s disheartening; and I believe this undervalue of life, only adds fuel to the mental health crisis and increased suicide rates in our country.

Granny and baby feet, taken from istockphoto.com

We may not be able to control what unbelievers think, or do, or say, but as believers we must stand firmly upon the Word of God, and God says, in no particular order…

  • We are created in His image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, ESV).
  • We are created with intention and purpose. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • Children are a blessing. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
  • God cares, and therefore, we should care, for the poor, the sick, the oppressed, and even imprisoned. Read Matthew 25:31-46! I won’t write it all out here, because it is pretty long, but we will be judged for how we treat “the least.”
  • God cares, and we are to care, for the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner. ‘The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9).
  • We are to respect those who’ve come before us. “If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth'” (Ephesians 6:3).
  • Young or old, man or woman, as believers, we are valuable in the kingdom of God. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). Also check out 1 Timothy 4:12.
  • Christ loves and died for all people. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

God values human life, and we are meant to be His hands and feet on the Earth. We are to be kind, show love and grace and respect, regardless of whether we receive the same in return. We are to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect life; to support, encourage, and teach those who feel ill-equipped to parent. To take care of our elderly, foreigners, orphans, ill, and prisoners.

I fear that, too often, we affiliate  Christianity–especially in the United States–with a particular political view point and miss out on what the Word actually says. In heaven there will be no American, democrat or republican…there will just be Children of God! There’s no leader, or government, or any amount of money or prepping, that can save us from sin, except the One Who shed His blood on the cross for us. And that’s what truly matters…eternity.

The words “eternal perspective” have been speaking to my heart, lately. We need to stop wasting our time and energy worrying over things that aren’t going to last! This world will fade away, this government will end, the things that will last are not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. As Paul says in Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” So let’s be the hands and feet of God, let’s live keeping eternity at the forefront our minds, and sharing the gospel with as many as we can. Showering those around us with love, grace, and truth.

Refinement

This last year has been a difficult transition for me, going from two littles, to three. Just as I was getting used to two, a third came along, and challenged me in a whole new way. My youngest is almost a year now, and I’m finally beginning to feel a little more myself, and like I have things somewhat under control. I use the term loosely, because while things are still challenging, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m feeling a little more knowledgeable in my parenting skills, and abilities (or lack thereof, lol).

I’ve realized–especially after reading “No Better Mom for the Job” by Becky Keife–I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mom. I prefer parks with fences; and carrying the baby in a carrier, so I have two free hands for other things like chasing/grabbing my toddler, pushing the girls on the swing, helping them use the toilet, and getting them in/out of a pushcart. I plan outings around nursing, meals, naps, and bed times; and I plan meals and snacks in advance, so that I’m not scratching my head every couple hours, with a trio of crying hungry kids at my heels. And if I expect to have a real conversation with someone, it’s not going to happen with my kids running around.

Motherhood seems to come easy to some, but not to me. I’m challenged daily, by my children. I love them and love to teach and disciple them, but I’m an introvert blessed with three very needy and rowdy children. Hence, the reason it’s been such a long time in between my posts. I’m exhausted by the end of the day; and while I go to bed pretty early, I still have to drag myself out of bed most mornings. The best time for me to study the Word, pray, and journal is when I plug in my headphones and ignore the kids for an hour in the afternoon, (lol, I do keep my eyes on them from the dining room, in case you’re worried). So, if you think that the only time to study the Word with kids in the house, is early in the morning before they wake up, and you’re not a morning person, don’t let that stop you.

Regardless of how challenging motherhood can be, I wouldn’t change it. My children are a gift. A gift that, quite frankly, I don’t deserve. I think we’ve discussed this before, but God uses my children to grow me into the person He desires me to be. My children challenge my selfish nature, they teach me patience, endurance, gentleness, self-control (daily, I might add, lol). They teach me to show forgiveness, and to ask for forgiveness, when I fall short. They remind me constantly of the importance of knowing, learning, and being transformed by the Word, because they ask all the questions, and watch the hubby and I closely, every day.

The world says that children aren’t worth all the trouble, that they prevent us from reaching our full potential, goals and dreams. The Word says that children are a heritage (Psalm 127:3-5). I had to look that word up, it means an inheritance; in other words, they are valuable. And I’d even go so far as to say that my children will help me reach my full God-given potential. God designed my children specifically for me, and me for them; it’s symbiotic. We shape each other.

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,

But the LORD tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3, NASB

Parenting is a refining process. All our impurities come to the surface in the fire that is parenthood, and our shortcomings and flaws are on display for those closest to us to see, and then they’re often reflected back to us in our children. 😳 I can’t tell you how often I find myself face to face with my own sin–pride, selfishness, jealousy, etc.–being reflected back at me in the face of my child. It’s here, especially, that I’m forced to throw up my hands in surrender, and cry out, “I can’t” or “I don’t know what I’m doing!…God, help me! Forgive me. You have all the answers. Please give me wisdom and direction.”

That’s not to say that if you don’t have children, you can’t be shaped into the man or woman God wants you to be. God will mold and shape you in other ways, but for me, in this season, this is where He has me. This is how the Potter’s shaping me more and more into His image. What, in your life or circumstances, is God using to mold you, these days? What has He been revealing to you?

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8, ESV

Doers of the Word

I finished up the devotional I was reading over the last month, or so, and began reading straight from my Bible again. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover a few times, so I wasn’t really sure where to resume reading, but finally decided on book of Romans.

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is pretty straightforward. He briefly greets the church and then jumps right into discussing the divinity of Christ, the grace–and life–we’ve received through His death and resurrection, and the commission we’ve received to encourage obedience to the faith and make disciples (Romans 1:4-5, 16).

Paul goes on to share how God has revealed Himself to mankind through His handiwork, or creation, and we have no excuse not to show the honor and glory due Him. Yet, there were those who “claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]” (Romans 1:22, AMP). And here is were I began getting a little highlighter crazy within this chapter, because I could see so much of this taking place in our current culture.

And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, until they were filled with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents. [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless. Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32, AMP

So, if you’re like me, you instantly recognize this happening right now. Personally, I find it to be disheartening, frustrating, and often incredibly angering. But then I got to chapter two…

Here, Paul begins correcting the church because they judged those who weren’t walking with the Lord, while they, themselves, behaved in a similar manner; and I immediately thought about how easy it is to allow hatred into our hearts, or to malign those who steal, kill, and destroy. However, hatred, malice, and acting upon anger, are also SIN! God’s kindness should lead us to repentance and soften our hearts for the lost, because it’s His will that none be lost; and if we consider ourselves believers, we must act in accordance with His will (Romans 2:4).

We cannot claim to walk in the light, and/or be teachers of the Word, if we act, and react, in the same manner as the world–with bitterness, cursing, contempt, name-calling, backbiting, etc. How often, do we see, or hear a fellow believer (or even ourselves!) speaking harshly, calling another individual a nasty name, or wishing others harm or ill? Brothers and sisters, this SHOULD NOT BE. Our hearts should be full of love and we should speak in gentleness. As James 3:10-12 (ESV) says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” The world already fears and despises being exposed to the light, let’s not give them other reasons to be turned off to the Truth found in the Gospel.

My prayer is that God continue to soften our hearts for the lost, and that we seek His face and His Kingdom, before all else. And may we season our speech with the salt of love and grace, that it may be palatable, yet full of Truth, to those we come into contact with each day. Love and peace to you all, take care, and have a great week!

The Wise Man Builds His House Upon the Rock

Last week, I made a Facebook comment, in which I encouraged someone to do some research about what they believed, and was suddenly attacked and cursed. Every assumption this person made about me was false, which just proved my point about doing your own research, but not wanting to argue with a stranger over social media, I simply walked away from the conversation.

Over the years, I’ve had similar discussions, with people whose opinion actually mattered to me, and was really hurt by them. I believe that God used those opportunities for me to grow closer to Him and learn exactly who He created me to be. I’m an introvert, which means it takes a lot for me to open up to people and be vulnerable; but I care deeply for people, even if it’s difficult for me to express.

After this FB encounter, I was reminded how important it is to deeply be rooted in Christ and to know who we are in Him. Later, as I read the sermon on the mount with my preschooler, we read about the wise man building his house upon the rock, and I thought, “how fitting.”

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27, ESV

It is becoming increasingly important that we be the wise man, building upon the solid Rock. That way, when not only the storms of life come, but the people around us attack, pressure, and belittle us for what we believe, we have a firm foundation that can’t be shaken. If we’re unsure of what we believe, when that rain beats down we’re gonna flail about and fall. Therefore, I encourage you to seek the Lord, read the Word, pray, ask for discernment in all things, because we are constantly being bombarded with things that we should be questioning, things that don’t line up with the Word, and we need a firm foundation if we desire to remain standing tall.

A solid foundation is even more important in building the Church as it is in building a home.

Seek Him

Something has been nagging at me the last few weeks, that I felt needed sharing. Many, including myself, have expressed the struggle they’ve had over the last year to hear the voice of God. Many of us have been stuck in our homes, feeling isolated, or overwhelmed by news, politics, family responsibilities, and our own fears and anxieties. Personally, I had “mommy brain” for a few months, which thankfully, has cleared up a little, now that I’m in my 7th month of pregnancy.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was on the worship team at church and we were having some technical difficulties, during service. We just continued to worship with the acoustic guitar, but the Pastor shared that God had been questioning her love for him, much like Jesus did to Peter after the resurrection when He repeatedly asked, “Do you love me?” And my mind went to Jeremiah 29:13 which states that we’ll find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. If you’re like me, or Pastor, our answer, of course, is “yes, Lord, we love You,” but I had to ask myself, have I truly been seeking Him with my whole heart? Have you? With all the distracting noise of 2020, were we really, truly seeking Him?

I’ve been investing more time and energy into reading and prayer, but since my focus hasn’t been the best, I’ve found myself reading more devotionals and hymns (which usually aren’t my go-to). I prefer the Word, straight up; however, since I’m going through a season of sleeplessness, exhaustion, and littles (with a preschooler & toddler), meditating on the Word, like I’d prefer, hasn’t been possible. I don’t get much alone time, and even my devotional time is littered with questions and requests from my 3 year old. But I refuse to let this season get the best of me, because I love the Lord and I desire to hear His voice, but also because both my family, and I, benefit from me spending time with the Lord.

We talk about seasons a lot here, because each season comes with new challenges, and opportunities for growth, that I’m continually grappling with. But no matter our season–student, career-oriented, or entrepreneur; single, married, divorced; new parent, seasoned, struggling (lol, how I often feel), empty nester, or even grandparent–our need for Christ never diminishes.

Our heart should continually be seeking His face, His will, and plan. Let’s not allow a busy season, or a season with lots of unknowns, ups and downs, challenges, or distractions prevent us from seeking His face. For He desires to speak with us, to comfort us, to grow our faith, and to be our strong tower and strength when we finally come to the realization that we can’t do it alone. We must all come to the end of ourselves and lay it all at the feet of the cross, at some point, maybe even multiple times (a day!).

What’s funny is that’s been the “word” He’s placed in my heart for the past year…surrender. What do we need to surrender to God? Is it our relationships? Children? Health? Our career? Government? Future? Because if we believe He’s over all, we must be willing to walk that out! But no matter what, we must first seek Him, for when we do, He promises that we will find Him.

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Psalm 27:8, ESV

Let it Go

Hey, ladies and gents! I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve written. 2020 was a crazy year and I’ve been stuck at home with two kiddos under 3, with really hardly any time for myself, or really to just think.

When Ms. E turned one in September, the hubby and I were just beginning to have the “are we gonna try for a third?” talk. Honestly, I was a little freaked out by the prospect. I had a mini panic attack in the shower just thinking about it, one night; but then God reminded me that He wouldn’t give me more than I could handle. I just had to trust and rely on Him. Isn’t that where He always wants us? In a place of full surrender and dependency on Him.

As it turned out, we’re expecting again, and due June 2021. I guess that moment in the shower was God’s way of giving me a heads up, lol.

With each pregnancy, I’m reminded how the changes in my body and the development of the baby in my womb are beyond my control. I can only trust God’s plan and walk in faith. But it’s not always easy. Every doctor’s visit I can’t help but hold my breath in anticipation of hearing that little “whoosh whoosh” of baby’s heartbeat.

This weekend, as I drove to the grocery store, alone (whew!), I began praying over the state of our country. To be honest, it gives me some anxiety. And I was reminded, yet again, that my faith is not in our leaders, our constitution, or even in our country (you may want to take a look at my last post for more on this), but in Jesus Christ, alone. No matter what, we must keep our eyes focused on Him. We must teach our children to love Him, follow Him, and share Him within our spheres of influence. Because that’s really all we CAN do. Just like a pregnancy, there are really so many things beyond our control, and the only thing we can do about such things, is pray Gods will, and let it go.

Therefore, if you’re worried about something–or someone–we cannot control or influence (which covers a pretty wide spectrum), PRAY and LET. IT. GO. Focus on what we can control…our tongue, our actions, the things we entertain in our minds, the information we consume. Anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, divisiveness, have no place in a believer’s heart, even if others allow these things to consume them. We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be imitators of Christ, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit!

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. ~ Galatians 5:16-17, ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. ~ Galatians 5:22-26, ESV

So, again, I say pray and let it go. Take care and God bless.

Who is my neighbor?

As we walked beside–and chatted with–a national park attendant, last weekend, my toddler exclaimed, “He’s our neighbor, mommy!” And as I started to correct her, I paused and realized, she’s right! (From the mouth of babes, right?) Instead, I agreed with her, “You’re right, baby, he is our neighbor!”

I had to take a step away from social media for a few days. After the slaying of George Floyd, my heart ached. It ached for his family, and community. Then my heart ached because of the things people were saying about each other on Social Media. Judgmental things. Hurtful things. Divisive things.

Everyone reacts differently during the best of times, and it’s no different during the worst. What might make one person angry, might make another sad, simply because everyone sees the world differently, and expresses emotion differently. And it’s NOT okay to tell someone how they should feel or react, because everybody is different.

That Saturday night, my daughter’s words about our “neighbor” brought to mind the story of the Good Samaritan.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:25-37, ESV

Did you catch that? “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”

In response, I would question…does it matter? God calls us to love the people around us whether or not we look like them, think like them, believe the same things as them. We’re to love them whether or not they treat us kindly, whether they’re rich or poor, whether or not we agree with them. We’re to grieve with them, rejoice with them, acknowledge their feelings–whatever they may be–and treat them with respect.

The Samaritan in the parable above, was looked down upon by the Hebrews. Despised and avoided by them. But it was he, not the priest or the Levite, who was moved to compassion for this broken man. This human, created in the image of God. El imago Dei.

I’m going to leave you with some more Scripture regarding how we should love others, below, to meditate upon. If this seems impossible, it’s because in our own flesh, it is! But we’re people of the Spirit, and we have a love and power within us that surpasses anything this world could dish out.

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~ Matthew 5:43-48, ESV
  • “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” ~ Luke 6:27-36, ESV
  • “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:12-13, ESV
  • “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ~ Romans 12:9-21, ESV

Love, grace and peace to you. God bless!

Justice

The violence of the wicked shall sweep them away, because they refuse to do justice. ~ Proverbs 21:7

As I read the above verse, back in October of 2019, I paused and reflected on it’s meaning. “Who would be swept away?” I asked myself. At first glance, the violently wicked; but upon further inspection, I noticed that those who refuse to do justice, are included.

We hear a lot about “justice” in the news; it’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, actually, and I don’t think many actually understand its meaning. Often it’s mistaken for revenge, rather than the fair and impartial judgement that it actually means. However, if we’re all being honest, we’d recognize that our U.S. justice system has its flaws; and while we like to state that “justice is blind,” we know that it isn’t. Some are judged more harshly, or conversely, shown favor, because of their skin color, background, or socioeconomic status. The Bible states that we should show no partiality and bare no false testimonies, but because we live in a fallen world, these are two things that plague the current justice system and prevent it from working as it should. And sadly, it will never be perfect because we’re imperfect.

Nonetheless, as believers, we should speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, we should proclaim truth wherever we go, and we should show no partiality. Listed below are some of the scripture regarding justice found throughout the Word.

  • He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. ~ Deuteronomy 10:18, ESV
  • You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. ~ Deuteronomy 16:19, ESV
  • “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. ~ Deuteronomy 32:4, ESV
  • Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. ~ Psalm 82:3, ESV
  • I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. ~ Psalm 140:12, ESV
  • Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin. ~ Psalm 146:5-9, ESV
  • To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. ~ Proverbs 21:3, ESV
  • Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. ~ Proverbs 29:26, ESV
  • Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. ~ Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV

Over and over again, God tells us He desires for us to seek and execute justice, because He is JUST. He is just and He shows no partiality and that’s what He desires from us! He doesn’t care what the color of our skin is, what language we speak, where we were raised, whether we’re rich or poor, what our political affiliation is…if we call ourselves followers of Christ, we should care about what HE CARES ABOUT, period.

I love ya’ll and I’m not trying to make anybody upset. I’m just sharing the Word, and I’m praying. I’m praying for peace in the hearts and minds of people across the nation and around the world, because God knows everything that’s going on right now. I’ve also been praying for discernment, because there’s a lot of junk being spread around and I want to recognize the truth from the lies. However, God repeatedly tells me not to worry about any of it and just focus on His Truth, so that’s what I’m trying to do. 😉

Peace, love, and grace!

Angelica

For the Good of My Neighbor

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:24, ESV

“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:31b, ESV

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:4, ESV

I’ve been studying the first book of Corinthians through the First 5 app, and the first verse above got me thinking about other times the bible pretty much states the same thing. We talk a lot about what love is and isn’t, in fact we talked about 1 Corinthians 13 a couple posts back. But there’s a reason we talk about it so much…because God is love personified, and we are called to follow His lead. His Word actually says that the world will recognize us by our love (John 13:35)!

But how do we do this? According to the Word, by putting the needs of others before our own. Now, during this global viral outbreak, I’ve never seen so clearly, an example of what that might look like. In our country there are those at higher risk/danger when exposed to a virus like this; there are those who are afraid, and those who aren’t; and there are those who are struggling to get by, because they’ve lost an income (or two) and really need/want to get back to work. Seeking the good of others means that we have to come to some sort of agreement that works for all our neighbors, not just me and my household, and not just a favored few.

We need to stop and think about how we can help our neighbors during this time. Perhaps it means picking up groceries for someone at higher risk. Maybe it means wearing a mask to protect the people we come into contact with–even when we don’t feel like wearing one, or feel like we need one (I’m talking to myself, here). Or maybe it means helping someone who’s lost their job, pay utilities, or their housing bill until they can get back to work. And for those who do need help and are scared, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Many are willing and able to help, but we don’t always know where the need is.

Oddly enough, my girls and I heard this Veggie Tales’ song, “Love Your Neighbor,” which I felt, fit in nicely with this topic, so I’m going to end this post with it. I love the lines that say: God made us special and now I can see. If you’re special to Him, then you’re special to me. The song reminds me that God loves each and every one of us; He made us all unique; and He wants us to show love towards one another by taking action…and lending a hand. I love you all! And God bless.