Living between two advents

This morning I read day 2 of the She Reads Truth Advent plan. Today’s plan was focused on Genesis 3:1-15. I always have tension with Genesis 3:1-15, because I love the themes and what God does but I always want to know more than the text gives. I want to know more in the conversations between Adam, Eve and Satan.

My favorite them in Genesis 3:1-15 is Jehovah Jireh, God provides! God provided in the garden and he has always been providing our needs before we even knew our needs! This has been a common theme in my life, but that’s another blog post. He knew the world would need a Messiah before Adam and Eve did.

The author of the devotional, Rachel Myers, pointed out that with sin we are often so focused on the consequences and the shame. There are times where I get in a car accident and focus on the shame of calling my parents, instead of the death that could have happened to the involved parties. As if shame is worse than death.

This is true in our Spiritual lives too! How often do we forget that we were heading on a path of death? How often in our sin do we focus on the sin and the consequences and not the Savior. Yes, God does discipline. My pastor, Brad Parkhust, said something in the summer of 2013 that I loved! He said, “There is a reason discipline and disciple sound so much the same.” In the garden, God disciplined Adam and Eve with both justice and mercy. God who made us, disciplines us, because He loves us.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”.

God is good, and wise, and kind, and working in your life right now, even if through discipline. Your sins are never greater than his love for you.

“God is in the business of redemption.” – Rachel Myers

I will leave you with this beautiful gem from today’s devotional:

“We read as people living between two advents – on the “He did” side of the first advent of Jesus (celebrating what He has done), and on the “He will” side of Jesus’ second coming (celebrating what He is doing and will do).”

“As we read, may we remember: We’re reading our very own story of rescue.”

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See What Is Good

This morning I woke up and immediately was in a sour mood. I woke up with the migraine I have had since 9:50 am wednesday morning and another health problem. I woke up to a messy apartment and already feeling stressed out because it was 10:50 and I have so much school and house work to fit into the weekend. I jumped out of bed to head to the bank and put on shorts only to then get down about the fact that I can’t work out because I am still dealing with tendontis and even if I wasn’t migraines dont make anything easy. I headed to the bank and came back home to think “maybe I can go on a bike ride” but then realizing I can’t because my front tire needs air, and then that led to other things that were supposed to be fixed around my apartment such as the annoying noise my headboard makes when it shakes from me barely moving. All this then made me more of a debbie downer realizing that my parents were supposed to come labor day weekend and now are not. Whew, y’all all those negative thoughts were in an hour or less.

After all this negativity I decided to make breakfast, a cup of coffee, and to contiue going through my She Reads Truth plan in Romans for 42 days. Today is Day 31 of the plan and is titled “Christian Ethics” by Claire Gibson.

Claire begins by talking about Paul’s list of things to do and how to serve and said, “Dude. Paul. I need some coffee. And also, when am I supposed to binge-watch my TV shows?” And as embaaressing as this is, can I just say as soon as I read that I was like, “yes!”  I barely have enough time to relax as it is, and even when I am there is a list of other things I absoultley could be doing that would better serve my time than watching Gilmore Girls and eating ice cream.

Next, Claire turned on me and cut me right where I needed to be cut, pointing out that compared to the lives of the disciples or heck, even people around the world today, I live like a queen. I get to even take the time to decide which of my opportunities in my education I am going to put off a bit to have the luxury of watching Netflix!

Claire says, “There are not enough hours in the day to do both what the world demands of me and what God desires for me. And so I have to choose“. She is right, and despite how just even reading Paul’s list in Romans 12:9-21 makes me tired, I can honstly say I have never regretted taking my time to serve others. Can it be incovinenet? Absolutley. Can it be tiring? Absolutley. Does it put my priorities in check? Absolutley, and I am so thankful for that.

Some days I make the right choice, and other days I live in the life of selfishness instead of selflessness. It is a journey. I wish I could say I am sefless most of the time, but it is the exact opposite. Paul tells us we need to “cling to what is good” but for me to do that, first I need to see what is good” (Romans 12:9).

I need to remind myself of what is truly important, who is truly important and ultimatley to see and savor Jesus Christ daily. It is incredibly hard to do so, and Claire points out that’s why Paul tells us to “cling”. We must hold on with all we can, because when I am not, I am jealous, coveting, daydreaming, and selfish. To “Cling to what is good” seems so simple on a page, but I think Paul was truly reminding everyone to cling to it, because it can be so hard to hang on to.

Today, for me, clinging to what is good, is being thankful for all that I have and the health problems I don’t have. Today, clinging to what is good, is that my strep test yesterday turned out negative. Today, clinging to what is good, is reminding myself that by clinging to what is good is the only path to true peace. There will always be a to-do list, things going wrong, not enough time, and plenty more excuses but I can rest knowing that my part is to cling to the Lord, cling to what is good, and the rest of the battle is the Lord’s.

Here’s to seeing and savoring the goodness of the Lord, clinging to it, and showing it.

Identity Shift

The topic of identity has been a beautiful mind shift since Impact camp in high school. I always relate the topic of identity and joy to Rahab who happens to be my favorite female in the Bible.

If you are not familiar with the story of Rahab, you can find it in Joshua 2. Rahab helped two spies Joshua sent in to the land of Jericho. The two spies ended up at an inn that Rahab owned and most likely participated in as a prostitute. The two spies probably figured that an inn, especially one of porsititutes was the safest place without them being detected but we find out in verse three that the King knew. (fun fact: he wasn’t really a king but more of a glorified mayor)

Rahab protected these two spies by covering them under flax up on the roof. Flax was used to make lunen and fun fact -> flax is the oldest linen used to man. Rahab knew about the God of Israel for many years. She heard about him from the run in with the Ammorite’s King in Numbers 21, and many many years before that when God parted the Red Sea. Rahab says that as soon as the people heard it, “our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you will also deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” The men agreed and said they would deal with Rahab and her family “kindly and faithfully”.

I first heard about Rahab at Impact camp in high school. The theme was “shift” and how people including Jesus had the same temptations as we do to not shift. At this camp, I also learned about the JOY Rahab had after she came to know Christ. We were each given red string and for the past eught years I have had red string somewhere. Mostly my car keys, to teach me to have joy admist traffic!

On Monday, the Lord used the same story but a different speaker and a different day to continue teaching me. His word is alive & active! You can never be done with it.

The Lord goes before us. He has already been paving a way for you just like He did with the two spies. One thing I loved that the speaker said was, “when you have God on your side not only is He going to go before us; He wants us to look around”.

Rahab didn’t just focus on herself. She essentially evangelized to everyone around her through the scarlet cord and everyone she could bring into her house.

[rescued people want to rescue people].

Those who know Christ, do, because someone decided to look around & invite them in. Someone decided to share with you the gift of eternal life, hope, and joy.

We should not be scared to share & that joy will be stolen because some people won’t come to know Jesus. Jesus is so sweet and so good. He is the only true good & that should drive you that one person might come to know the sweet love of Jesus. Noah used that to fuel him to share for 120 years but did not let that steal his joy because he can not save, only Jesus can.

The best part of this sermon was when the pastor said, God is not afraid of what’s behind us. Rahab was a prostitute and it is likely that her husband died. Most people would look at her and not even try, but you know what, God doesn’t need people who have it all together. He wants humble people and He is the buisness of redeeming people. The God we serve loves to redeem people! The scarelt cord can repressent the blood of Jesus Christ saving us. You know what happened to Rahab? She eventually is with God’s people as one of God’s people. Rahab is mentioned three times in the New Testament. Joshua is mentioned twice. She is mentioned in Hebrews 11 which is basically the hall of fame of the Bible. She is mentioned in James 2 with Abraham “The Father of Faith”. Rahab the formerly know prostitute is a currently known princess. She is also listed in Matthew 1:5-7 in Jesus’ genealogy. You know what else I love? Jesus didn’t identify her by her sins, even before she came to know Him. God doesn’t look at me or you and see our sins, He sees a scarlet cord from Jesus. Jesus makes us worthy. Not anything we do or say.

In Christ, you, my friend, have intrinsic value, meaning value not in anything you have done, are doing, or will do, but just in who you are in God.

Have joy my friend, and be carriers of joy to all people, sharing the good news.

The Potter & The Clay

I have been going through Romans 9 as part of my 42 day She Reads Truth Romans plan the past few days. I know Romans 9 is a hot topic, and as much as I truly do enjoy talking about it, don’t leave this post just yet, because it is not on predestinantion but on how we are formed. Isn’t it cool how everytime you read scripture, God in His glorious grace can reveal something new to us?

Day 24 of Roman’s scripture reading was:
– Romans 9:20-33
– Jeremiah 18:6
– Ephesians 1:11-14
I am not typing them out but to understand context + to get to be in rich and beautiful scripture that is alive and active, check out those verses!

I found Jeremiah 18:6 so beautiful. We are the clay. Through sanctification we are constantly being Re-made and into someone more and more that refelcts the beauty of our creator. When I think back to art classes growing up, I remember having trouble getting the clay to look like the vision in my head, and even when it was fully done, not being the perfect vision I had in my head. That is because, I am not perfect. I am not a perfect potter, not even a potter. However, the soverign Lord is. How could I not trust the perfect potter who created what we see all around us?

When I think of this image I think of Paul describing the clay “us” going through so many forms, that are not fun, but we are never destoryed. Death may be at work in us, but Jesus brings life to it. Check this out in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18.

In Psalm 139:14-16 I read that God’s works are wonderful and though my flesh struggles, my Soul knows it oh so well. As clay, I have not been hidden from Him. He knows every part of me, and even before I knew Christ, He knew me and knew how He was going to mold me. Scripture is alive & active. How can I expect it to cut me & mold me if I am not in it?
So I love that Jesus, full of grace, convicted me today through such love and mercy and with these sweet sweet reminders. As Claire Gibson said, “If we trust Him – if we believe His love – we can put away our questions of Why did you make me like this? and put on the posture of Thy will be done“. I want Christ to continualy sanctify me and form me into clay that does not question the potter, but affirms the potter in all He does, because He is the soverign creator.

Fruit: spoiled or good?

Everyone who knows me knows I love bananas and eat a lot of them. A lot of people don’t know what good fruit looks and taste like. Some people think bananas with brown spots mean they are bad, and useless. I was in a final last semester and had gotten one hour of sleep so I pulled out a banana with some brown spots and the kid behind me (still taking his test mind you) said, “please, don’t eat that”. One thing I bet he didn’t know is that brown spots don’t destroy the nutrition in this delicious fruit and can actually make them sweeter in the end.

Stay with me guys, I promise there is a spiritual point to all this.

Now take Avocados for example. They can go bad fast & sometimes it can be hard to tell what you’re really getting. You come home ready to eat a guacomole and cut it open to find out it’s not good and you just throw the whole thing out.

The same thing can be true with our spiritual fruit. Things in our life can be seen as dead and therefore nothing can come from them. Thankfully we have a God who can bring LIFE through death.

This morning I was reading Romans 7 for my She Reads Truth Romans plan and the Lord helped me see and learn things that are too good not to share. Often, we don’t see the fruit as it is being produced, like Annie’s husband who planted a avacodo pit in the ground and didn’t really think about. Other times we see the hard grueling labor of grafting, and transferring the plant from pot to pot untill its ready to make a beautiful apple tree in the ground.

Romans 7:4 says, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God”.

Being the apple tree in one season of life, and feeling like you’re working to bear that fruit and it is just dead can make you wonder if God even sees them? Do they matter? I often wonder this with my studies. What is going to come out of this in the next year? Is there a fruitful tree waiting for me on the other side?

In another season, being the avocado tree is hard because throughout the process you feel like nothing is changing and it’s a slow process. All you see are the dead days, and you still ask the same question you ask of the apple tree, “does this matter? does God see this tree?”

When Jesus came back, fully alive, he gave us a way to die to the flesh and alive to Christ, and to become a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”.

Romans 7:4 tells us we belong to God, so dear friends, take heart, God sees you. You matter. He brings death to life. He can take what seem like the slowest most barren places in your life and bring them to life! God can take the grueling work of the apple tree and bear many apples from it.

So often, we look to the finished project. The people we are pouring into, direct results from the work we are doing, or whatever it may be for you. Perhaps we should be looking to the beauty in the steps of the apple tree, the fruit our fruit produces. The apple trees for the years to come — people of the people you pour into.

Take heart friends, nothing is of waste. Everything is a tool in God’s toolbox.
Things take time — sancitification is a life long process.
My hope is that our apples, or oranges, or whatever type of fruit the Lord is pruning in your life this season, whether easy or hard, that it is helping us ever get back to the complete and perfect garden in a beautiful communion with God.

Faith in what others cannot see.

Today, as I sat on my back porch I saw it misting. My whole life I have been able to see the mist before the rain. No one else can usually see it, they don’t usually believe me. There is no doubt I have bad eye sight, but I have faith in what others don’t see and what will come.

I like the mist, because it reminds me how the rain captivates me, or should I say how the Lord uses it to captivate me. (all my close friends know this story and why I love the rain, but if you don’t, I will be happy to share it with you!)

Today, I saw the mist, and then it rained for a brief few minutes and a winged creature, I think was a butterfly, flew in front of me. 🙂

The Lord brings things in front of us and brings things about out of things we can not see fully developed and we have to trust Him. I think about when I first came to The University of Alabama. There was no international ministry, I had never heard of Perspectives, and I wasn’t quite sure on how to reach out to internationals.

However, I knew what my calling was and where I found my joy. I knew how I found my joy. The Lord led me through the mist, whether that meant staying Arabic for long hours, making sure to talk to internationals from Saudi Arabia every morning in Starbucks, or just simply giving out smiles to those internationals who aren’t used to receiving smiles from Americans.

I trusted God that the rain would come and my how it has come. I have received immeasurably more than I could ever ask or hope! I have found international friends, friends who love internationals, and a new friend just by making Arabic notecards where I work.

I know this is not the end, for there will be a flood of the Lord’s presence and hand in my life forevermore.  This is abundant, joy-filled, and faith-filled life. Just as the rainbow is a sign of remembrance, so is the mist two years ago, becoming rain now, for me.back porch mist to rain