Rose Garden

We’re Saved By Faith

Rose Garden

God’s Beauty

Last week I wrote about the difference between faith in Jesus and doing good works to get us in right relationship with God. And according to Galatians 3, it’s not about the rules but about giving our hearts to Jesus. In other words, it’s about faith.

Well, this message has really been marinating and brewing in my life. I’m seeing signs and receiving messages all the time about its truth.

First, I was reviewing last week’s sermon from the church that I have been attending, Reality SF. The church has been doing an awesome series on Discovering God. Basically, we are learning about God’s attributes. This week’s sermon is about God is mercy and grace. The pastor showed us that God’s grace and mercy is in the Old Testament, Exodus 34:6-7 and in the New Testament in Ephesians 2:8.

God has always been both merciful and full of grace as well as being the very things themselves. (Hope you catch the difference)

“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin by no means cleraing the guilty, visting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.'” Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

Amazing! So the same message given in Galatians is also given in Ephesians and Exodus. It is by faith not our works that we are saved. It is by God’s grace. 

So I think the next ah-ha moment came when reading the rest of chapter 3 of Galatians. In verses 3:21-22, The Message translation, states that

“If such is the case, is the law, then, an anti-promise, a negation of God’s will for us? Not at all, it’s purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God, and therefore to show us the futility of devising some religious system for getting by our own efforts what we can only get by waiting in faith for God to complete his promise. For if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would certainly have gotten it by this time.” Galatians 3:21-22 (MSG)

Wow! If rules were the key to our salvation, then we would have already been saved. And there would have been no need for Jesus to come and die on the cross for us. Religious systems are not enough!

We were given the rules, the Mosaic law, because we were not mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God (see Galatians 3:23 (MSG)).

However, now we have to grow up and choose Him and have faith in him!

I’m personally so thankful that I don’t have to rely on religion or rules to be saved. For this very fact, I give thanks to Jesus!

Still pondering this wondrous grace,
Hope

P.S. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

I’m linking up with the following communities!


SheReadsTruth

She Reads Truth - Galatians

[She Reads Truth] Faith or Works?

She Reads Truth - Galatians

She Reads Truth – Galatians

The online bible study group, She Reads Truth, is always vastly changing my mind about my life with God.

Most recently we’ve been studying Galatians. And the theme is “Faith or Works.” In chapter 3, Paul is discussing how we just need to have faith in Jesus and not rely on our works or actions as previously believed in the Old Testament. And I had several passages make a major difference in my understanding of God.

“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)

This verse made me realize that we are Spirit first and human second. It’s like the saying that we are spirit beings having a human experience. So, how could we think that entry into God’s world – heaven – or even into relationship with Him – the Ultimate Spirit – could be achieved solely through the flesh’s works? We have to choose him with our spirit selves, in other words, by our hearts — by faith.

An overarching message that I hear almost every time I read the bible is that God wants us. He wants our hearts. He wants our souls. Neither the heart nor the soul refer to our works.

“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Galatians 3:11 (NLT)

This teaching makes so much sense to me because if being with God was solely dependent on our human choices and actions, we’d fail over and over again. It would be pitiful!

The only perfect person was Jesus. Thank God we don’t have to rely on our works or being perfect to get to heaven or be in relationship with Him.

The Message version of 3:11-12 states that

“Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself into more rule-keeping . . . . The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.” 

Heck, what if we get the “rules” wrong? What if we live the “wrong” rules, but still had Jesus in our hearts? I just can’t fathom Jesus Christ, closing himself off to me because I broke a rule and repented but gave him my heart and my soul — meaning I had complete faith in Him.

I’m good at following rules, well, most of the time. I’ve committed a large portion of my life to studying and obtaining degrees so that I can do “good” works. Yet, I’m not convinced that if I help tell others stories or prevent the earth’s waters from being polluted that I get a pass into heaven. No, I think God wants more than that.

God is bigger than rules.

And if all we needed were rules, why did Jesus come and die on the cross? I love this verse.

“He became the curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse.” Galatians 3:13 (MSG)

Amazing! Christ came to be the curse so that we would not be cursed. His very coming and dying on the cross removed the rule-keeping requirement. He redeemed us. We gained grace and the Holy Spirit because of Jesus — not rules.

In other words, He came to give us grace — if we believe in him … if we have FAITH.

The bible has repeatedly shown us how we, as man, fall short of the rules. Jesus wants us to strive to be more like him and have complete faith in him. We must learn to live like Him… Dare I say, live from our hearts . . . it’s not as simple as complying with “rules.”

Maybe the more we have faith and strive to be closer and better in Christ, our works and actions will also change?  What an awesome by-product… now that’s a paradigm shift.

Thank you God. I’m learning and listening.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

Hope

I’m linking up with the following communities!


SheReadsTruth

stitched up heart

God, Please Be My Shield

stitched up heart

stitched up heart

“If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame. As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.” Proverbs 30:32-33 (NLT). 

The Amplified Bible further expands on verse 32 by stating, “If you have done foolishly in exalting yourself, or if you have thought evil, lay your hand upon your mouth.” 

As I am following the SheReadsTruth group with reading Proverbs, this verse really speaks to me.

I realized yesterday that I’m keeping score in my relationships. Instead of being appreciative for what others do, I’m comparing what I do for them to what they do for me. I want things to be “equal.” I want to be treated fairly. And I used to not think this way or be this way. In fact, I’ve been told time and time again, that I’m too giving and self-sacrificing…

I think… No, I know why and how I’ve become this person. I’ve been hurt — betrayed — abandoned — taken advantage of — manipulated — and not considered, especially emotionally.

I’m protecting myself from being hurt, used, or even abused, again.

And as much as all of this makes sense to my human mind, I realize that it is not the way to live. In essence, I’ve closed off my heart. Or where there was an opening, a vulnerability, there is now a little scar.

And over time, I’m sure that I’ve amassed several scars. That’s why the picture of the stitched up heart really struck me. I’m sure my heart really looks like this one – a bit beaten up.

I don’t think you can go through life, if you are really living and loving, without getting any scars or places that you need to protect. Places that we may think need shielding.

So, then I read back over Proverbs 30 and saw this verse.

“Every word of God is pure, He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (NKJV)

Yeah, that’s right. I’m shielding my own heart. Taking score. Remembering past hurts so that people don’t hurt me again.

I’m supposed to let God shield me … be my shield. Protect my heart, my life, and my soul.

Once again I am reminded of the power of God and this relationship that I am building with Him. I’m reminded of my sin, my errors, and my human frailty. And frankly, I’m reminded of how much I need God.

Last night in my church’s community group, we discussed the power of confessing.

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].” James 5:16 (AMP)

So I am confessing this fault of mine to all that read my blog. Please pray for me. Please pray that my heart can be spiritually healed and restored. [It feels so strange asking, but I know I need to ask and pray anyway.] Please pray that I am able to build a new community where I live in spite of my shortcomings. God knows that I feel alone because I moved and had to leave behind my community.

Hopefully, some of you will share your struggles at this time so I can pray for you too.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace in God,

Hope

SheReadsTruth

Linking up with my favorite online communities: Ann at The Holy Experience, Unwrapping His Promises (at Scribing the Journey), and Getting Down With Jesus!

Parable of the Talents

The Parable of Talents

Parable of the Talents

Modified Photo. Source: http://pueblochristiancenter.com

This bible verse comes from a sermon I heard today at City Church of San Francisco. Simply, God gives us talents, resources, and money, which we should not waste. We should also realize that God is the reason we have anything at all. He is where all blessings – money, talents, skills – come from. Check out the entire bible verse from Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV).

Wishing you a wonderful week,
Hope

Linking up with the wonderful Sunday Community over at Jumping Tandem.