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

Marley at 3 Months Old

Good people are good to their animals & God is simply good

Good people are good to their animals” Proverbs 12:10 [MSG]

Marley Home Safe

Marley is home safe!

Have you ever felt like you were living in “The Twilight Zone”? You remember that show, don’t you? Perhaps I’m telling my age. Well, growing up,  I used to watch the reruns on Nickelodeon.

Well, these past few days I had the craziest and scariest experience. A Twilight Zone worthy moment.  Late Thursday afternoon, during a normal walk to the park, I experienced the worst day of my life. You see, I took my two dogs for a “potty” walk. My little 6 pound Maltese, Marley, was on the leash, when a giant standard poodle, which was not on a leash, just ran into his lease. The poodle got stuck in the leash and kept running, which caused my little dog to be whipped around and flown through the air. He landed with a thud and didn’t move for minutes.

This image and moment is now permanently imprinted in my mind.

I honestly thought my little baby was dead. Although he finally opened his eyes minutes later, his body remained lifeless and I thought surely he was paralyzed. And strangely, Marley’s nose was bleeding and his eyes wouldn’t stay open. I gathered every ounce of courage and hope for his life I could muscle and picked him carefully to take him to the emergency veterinarian.

Thankfully my significant other was able to leave work immediately, send me the address of the closest veternarian, and meet me at the hospital.

I don’t know how I drove there with my doggie in my lap, but I did. I remember the vet technician taking my limp, lifeless dog from me to examine him, while I completed the paperwork.

Marley and Me - Marley only 3 Months Old

Marley and Me – Marley only 3 Months Old

I was in a haze and couldn’t even believe this was happening, and especially not now. Marley and I have been together the entire time I’ve lived in California. In fact, we’ve been everywhere together for almost 7 years. He has been with me through failed relationships, graduate school, law school, multiple houses, a summer associate position in Indianapolis, a law clerk position in Philadelphia, and trips to Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, and Ohio to name a few. He was my travel partner and my study buddy.

We’ve been everywhere and done everything together.

I was incredulous that a freak accident could take him away from me….. And leave me all alone… especially in a new city, San Francisco, with no two friends, no extended family, and little support [besides my significant other].

Marley has been my family, my unconditional support….

And then I realized that I had Jesus.

I know it sounds a bit cliche, yes, even to me. But it is the truth.

I had to lean on Jesus. I had to believe that he could make Marley all better. The veterinary doctors certainly did not want to give me false hope.

In fact, their first words involved choices regarding money and paying for the treatments that Marley would need to even assess whether he would be okay. Just to get him past this initial dark stage. IVs and medicine to reduce the swelling in his brain. Radiology. Overnight stays.

I was told that he may not see in his right eye – the side his little body landed on. I was warned that he may be permanently paralyzed on his left side of the body. And he might have irreversible brain damage. And of course, there was nothing they could know for sure. Of course…

So, faced with the possiblity of no life with Marley, I turned… no I ran to Jesus. And I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

I called on my family and friends to pray for him. And my prayer was specific. I wanted Marley to have a full health recovery!

The first night in the vet hospital, I received a call that he’d had a seizure and been administered valium. And I was told the next morning that seizures were not a good sign.

The next day, Friday, I visited him in the hospital and he was still limp and lifeless. And more importantly, he was not moving his arm and leg on the left side. Friday night, he had another seizure.

I couldn’t sleep most nights, so I just prayed. I prayed for his health. I prayed for no seizures. And I prayed that the image of the accident, and his little limp body, would leave my mind’s eye…even if just for a second.

I prayed to be a better protector of him in the future. And since there was no one really to blame [well besides the other dog that was not on a leash], I turned the blame on myself and started second guessing everything. If I’d just taken him out earlier… not taken him out at all… if I hadn’t been worried about my other dog having a chance to play… if I’d taken him off leash… If I… If I…

My mind went on like this for hours…

And then Jesus would hear my prayers, and allow me peace enough to go to sleep – even if for a few hours.

And then Saturday came. The day where my hope in Marley’s ability to walk was restored. During my visit, I was able to get him to stand on his own and walk 2 baby steps toward me.

I saw enough to believe… that Marley would be fully restored.

And that night, the phone did not ring with news of a seizure. And I really began to hope that Jesus had made him better.

And then Sunday came, and the dreaded meeting with the neurologist for his report. Poor Marley had seen specialists from almost every medical area. The neurologist was suprisingly upbeat and positive about Marley’s recovery. In fact, he said that he was shocked at his progress between Thursday evening and Sunday morning.

I wasn’t shocked…I was relieved and thankful that Jesus healed my little baby Marley. Only God could have restored him, and so quickly.

Although Marley is not out of the woods completely yet, he is now safely on the other side. And he is home.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2. [NIV]

He is no longer on meds, attached to IVs, and under a seizure watch. He’s home with his family. And he’s walking around on all fours and seeing out of both eyes. He responds to his name. And he is almost like new.

I am so, so, so thankful.

I was very fortunate to have the financial support of my significant other, which enabled Marley to receive the best medical care possible. And unlike me, he was strong and rational and brave enough to ask the tough questions, while I was just a ball of tears. Thankfully, my significant other loves Marley too.

I am thankful to my love, and I am very thankful to Jesus.

“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalm 30: 11-12 [NIV].

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

[I’m giving thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever! I’m just beginning to list my thousand gifts.]

  1. Thanks to the Lord,
  2. Prayers from family and friends
  3. Health of my doggie, Marley
  4. The love and support of my significant other
  5. Capable veterinarians
  6. More than enough of food, clothes, financial resources, and grace