Well hello again!

My goodness, it’s been a long time since I last posted on here! I have been slammed with traveling and trying to get my teaching notes and reading guides written for my upcoming Bible study on Acts – that starts in 2 weeks!!! I am so excited/scared/excited! 🙂 Please be praying for both me and those who God has chosen to attend the study with me; for His messages to pass through my mouth and directly into the minds and hearts of those He has prepared for them. I do not have the brain power left to impart any words today, but I do want to share a song with you because I’m somewhat in love with it and these words just resonate in my mind:

“I found my life when I laid it down…. I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.”

The beautiful paradox of leading a Christian life: we bind ourselves so that we can live in FREEDOM; we fall on our faces so that we can SOAR with the eagles.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do and I pray that you are finding your life of freedom and riding high in the sky upon the wings of your prayers.

Genesis 4:7 But you MUST RULE over it.

I am doing my reading for my Angelology and Demonology class (coolest. class. ever.) and stumbled upon this gem in Genesis 4:6-7

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The first thing I notice is the phrase, “if you do well.” In Hebrew this phrase means if you “do the right thing, or the beautiful thing.” I just love this: the beautiful thing. Can’t you just see that the good things we do in this life are beautiful to your Creator? Don’t you think they make Him proud, fill His heart with joy for you because of the love you are sharing? I can just imagine Him watching us do beautiful things for others with a smile on His wonderful face and a tear in His eye because not only have we blessed others with our actions, but we have blessed His incredible name. Truly, loving and serving others in the name of Christ is doing beautiful things in the sight of your heavenly Father.

When we do these beautiful things, we not only bless others and bless God, but we ourselves are accepted and lifted up, according to the original Hebrew translation. This word can also mean “exalted,” which follows exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Even as early as Cain, God has taught us that the only way for our spirits to be uplifted is by humbling ourselves. We are not made in a way that makes sense to the world. The world tells us to lift up our own names, to be seen and respected; however, when we exalt ourselves, we are left strangely empty. There is no refreshing peace or calm that invades our spirits when we lift up ourselves – only an emptiness than can never be filled. It is only when we serve others that we are filled with joy and blessing in abundance. It is truly a conundrum, but if you doubt the Bible’s words, I dare you to put it to the test. Find a way to serve someone with no expectation of receiving payment; love them in a way that you would not normally do and see if it does not uplift your soul in an inexplicable way. Go do a beautiful thing and it will be exalted in the heavenlies, all the way to your Creator.

The second thing that catches my eye is that when we do not do good works, we invite the tempter to our doors. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you.” I just get such a visual through the imagery of this verse; I see a rainy night, a poorly lit front porch, with a snarling face awaiting in the shadows. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Don’t you see a theme here? The tempter is stalking you, he is on the prowl, in your doorway, waiting to devour you. When we do not do the right things, we signal him like a beacon to our doors, and he is ever-ready to pounce. Peter tells us to be watchful – to be ever-vigilant – lest we become his next victim.

The incredible thing, though, is in the last part of Gen 4:7b: but you must rule over it. You know what this tells me? We can have mastery over not only sin, but over the tempter himself. Hallelujah, anybody?! Sometimes, it seems like we are being attacked on all sides; like we are in the pit drowning in the muck. BUT. We are masters over sin. In Christ, we are already victorious! In Christ, we have been given the victory. In Christ, we have already defeated the tempter and EVERY stronghold of sin in our lives… We simply have to claim it. I LOVE Deuteronomy 20:4:

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.

See, Beloved, we do NOT serve a God who leaves us to fight the battle alone. No. We serve a MIGHTY WARRIOR KING who goes before us, standing with us in the fight, and HE gives us the victory. Romans 8:37 says we are more than conquerors through Christ and he leads us in the victory procession (2 Cor 2:14).

John 8:38 says it best, “So if the Son has set you free, YOU WILL BE FREE INDEED.”

CLAIM YOUR FREEDOM!

Through Christ, we are more than conquerors over he who prowls and awaits your failure. We all fail; we fail God, we fail ourselves, we fail loved ones. However, through Christ even our failings can bring about victory. Let him FREE you from the chains of sin. Let Him go before you and clear the way; Claim your victory.

FOR I AM FREE INDEED.

AMEN AND AMEN.

Romans 2:1-5 There is No Judge but the I AM

For the past two years, I have had a “mantra,” if you will, during my prayer time with God: “LORD, You are GOOD! And Your MERCY endures forever.” Amen! As we continue into Romans 2, I pray that you feel to the depths the goodness and mercy of your Heavenly Father. Please read Romans 2:1-4.

I don’t know if this is statistically correct, but it seems to me that most of the people I know who are unchurched or dechurched avoid Christianity because of the judgments of those who claim to be Christians. Do you think that’s a somewhat accurate statement? Do you know someone, or multiple people, who avoid churches because of the judgment they have experiences at the hands of “loving Christians?” I mentioned in my previous post that a dear friend of mine avoided church because his son was kicked out due to practicing homosexuality. I am NOT getting into the homosexuality debate today, I am simply using it as a very relevant example of judgment in the church driving people away from God instead of loving them to His wonderful face. When you think of the people in your life who turned from church because of similar stories, does it make you sad to the depths of your soul? It absolutely breaks my heart. It is the very people who need God the most that we Christians most often turn away due to our judgmental nature. We all have it. Don’t act like you don’t!! Romans 2:1 says, “You have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.” I know I am guilty – so often, my first thoughts are judgmental in nature – and this from a single mother at 16 with many years living in rebellion. We each have it in us to be judgmental towards others, simply because their sins are different than ours. That is why this message from Romans is so incredibly important and relevant.

I am so struck by 2:1b-3:

“For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God?”

Let me reiterate that last bit: Do you suppose, O man… that you will escape the judgment of God? I am reminded of John 8:7 when Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Which one of us can look at God on the day of our judgment and cast blame upon someone else? Is it not only because of Christ alone, that we will even be able to face him?! We cannot cast blame or judgment because we are sinners to the depth of our humanity. Even in the transforming relationship with Christ, we sin and err, we fall off the path, we miss chances to bring glory to our Savior. When we think evil thoughts and judge others Ephesians 2:12 tells us to “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

When we remember ourselves before the redemption found in Christ, it fills us with thankfulness and humility. It is impossible to judge others when you see through the lens of your own filth. When I remember my ugliness, I can do nothing but feel incredible compassion for those that have yet to sit at God’s table; I yearn to invite them to the feast and take them to the One and Only God who can raise them from their dead lives. Next time you find yourself judging someone, remember the words in Eph 2:12 and give yourself over to the humility and compassion that comes with remembering the depths from which God pulled you.

I love this next part in Romans 2:4:

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

I just love Paul – he is so “in your face” sometimes 🙂 Like, “maybe you just think you are entitled to the gifts God bestows upon you?!” Uh-Uh! No. Paul teaches us that God gives us kindness, forbearance, and patience, so that His mercy will lead to repentance. Did you get that?!?!

God meets us where we are – yes, even and especially in our sin. He covers us in the pit with his abundant grace and mercy, knowing that it will guide us into repentance. God can do whatever He wants to do, but according to His incredible love and kindness, He allows us to join and be part of His plan so that we may reap the blessings that come with doing work for God. He desires that we, as Christians, will love people to Him; we would be so welcoming, so kind, so patient, that those mired in sin would feel God’s love raining upon them and be overwhelmed with desire to know Him. It is our job to love people to God – it is God’s job to love them into repentance.

We do not love people to God by throwing their sin in their faces; we do it with compassion, empathy, kindness, and love. You will NEVER get someone to turn to Christ by listing their shortcomings; instead, remember all your shortcomings before Christ was Lord over your life, and see them as a child of God, whom He loves as desperately as He does you.

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