Read His Words Before Ours!
1 Peter 2:9-10
The word adultery makes me shudder. In my lifetime, I’ve watched so many marriages crumble, and all too often, an affair is the the last straw that completely destroys a marriage.
“Not me.” I’ve thought, more times than I’d like to admit.
“I will never be an adulteress.”
But sisters, one thing I’ve learned, is that… I am.
I am an adulteress.
When I chose to give my life to Christ and walk in the grace that has been given to me, I entered into a covenant with the Lord. The theological definition of covenant is: an agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and His people.
In the Bible, covenants were a legal contract, and they were so extreme that blood was spilled to seal the covenant. Abraham sacrificed animals when entering into a covenant with God. (See Genesis 15:7-18 and this Digging Deeper Study)
When I entered into a covenant with God, there was also bloodshed, but it was Jesus’.
At the Last Supper, Jesus held up the cup of wine, symbolizing His soon-to-be-shed blood on the cross, and said, “this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
When I accept Jesus’ sacrifice to forgive my sins,
I enter into a covenant relationship with God.
Not based on my works or ability to maintain good standing, but based on the shedding of Christ’s perfect blood. In the covenant relationship of marriage, the adultery of giving one’s heart or body to someone besides their spouse, breaks the covenant.
When I give my heart or body to something besides the Lord.
That is adultery.
And I hate to admit this…
but many things have captured and held my heart more than the Lord.
I know that He is never going to be the one to leave me, hurt me, walk away from me…
I have His full attention all the time.
He will always uphold His side of the covenant.
But I don’t. I haven’t. And I’ll probably fail again tomorrow or the next day.
I am an adulterous.
Some days, my phone and social media has my heart more than God.
What is the first thing I check in the morning?
What is the last thing I do before I fall asleep at night?
Sometimes, motherhood has my heart more than God.
Not my kids, but the act of motherhood; the busyness and craziness of it.
Sometimes trying to uphold a certain image has my heart more than God.
My appearance and my home.
Everything needs to look shiny and wonderful on the outside.
They are damaging.
They fill me with envy, greed, low-self esteem.
They make me feel unworthy and incompetent.
They catch me in the trap of comparison.
Inside of them, I give my love away to other, lesser things.
Never being satisfied with my lesser loves, I find myself feeling miserable because I’ve completely broken my covenant with God.
And yet, God never stops loving me.
He never stops pursuing me.
I am His, and I will always be His.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)
He is alluring me, calling me back into the wilderness, reminding me that He is present.
Always here, always loving.
Hosea’s love for Gomer and God’s pursuit of Israel, is a side-by-side comparison of His great love and pursuit of His people, of us.
Hosea and Gomer entered into a covenant with each other when they got married and their children were fulfillments of promises God was making despite Gomer’s adultery.
God has entered into a covenant with me, despite my adultery.
He knew I would run just as far and as fast as Gomer, but He pursued a covenant relationship regardless.
In Biblical days, when someone broke their part of a covenant, they could be put to death by the other person they were in covenant with. The sacrificial bloodspill of an animal when a covenant was made symbolized the two parties agreeing, “If I don’t uphold my end of this vow, then let what is done to this animal, be done to me.”
Israel didn’t uphold their end of the bargain.
They deserved death.
But God was gracious and merciful and continued to pursue them over and over again.
Gomer didn’t uphold her end of the bargain.
She deserved death.
But Hosea was gracious and merciful and continued to pursue her over and over again.
I have not upheld my end of the bargain.
I deserve death.
But God is gracious and merciful and JESUS died FOR ME.
Jesus died for me because there was no way I would ever be able to uphold my end of the covenant.
I am an adulteress.
And yet, God still loves me,
He longs for me,
He is jealous for me,
He pursues me.
He still takes my hand in His,
pulls me into the wilderness and speaks tenderly to me.
And just like Israel,
Just like Gomer,
I will come back.
I am redeemed.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For studies like this one, visit GracefullyTruthful.com.
Space for Love
Read His Words Before Ours!
“Being a mama is your most important job right now. It is your great calling and it is a wonderful calling with amazing rewards. It is alright to let other things go and focus on your little girls, it really is.”
With everything in me, I wanted to protest that I knew that and I was able to do that while serving at the same time. But I couldn’t even protest, because I knew it was true. I am walking in a season of saying “no” and of letting go. This is a hard season.
I’ve let go of potential job opportunities, I’ve said no to other opportunities. I’ve let go of ministries I’ve served in, and said no to serving in other capacities. For a woman who loves to say “yes” and loves to go, go, go, this season is a hard one.
So, when an older, wiser mama spoke those words to me, I allowed them to wash over me and settle on my soul, and I cleared another day on my schedule.
As I reread the parable of the Good Samaritan for what felt like the umpteenth time, I was stricken with a resemblance between my life and the lives of two of the characters… and not the ones I would want to resemble either.
Have I been like the Priest and the Levite who were so busy traveling that they couldn’t even stop to help the beaten, dying man on the side of the road? They saw that he was physically broken, and yet they completely avoided him because they were too busy.
They missed out.
And so did the man.
My entire life has been filled with event after appointment after assignment.
I can’t help but wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed because of that full calendar.
Was I too busy rushing from place to place that I missed a chance to love someone?
In that same story, we read of one man, who may have been in a hurry himself, but wasn’t too busy to actually stop. This man, a Samaritan, an outcast from the elite “chosen people of God”, stopped in the middle of his travels, completely halted his plans, and loved a total stranger.
Right after that parable, we read about Martha and Mary, two women who loved the Lord but showed their love in different ways. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home, scampering to and fro, preparing food for Jesus, making sure His water cup was full, attending to all of His needs and serving Him. Her sister, Mary, however, sat near to Jesus, listening intently to everything He had to say. She was so enthralled with Him, that she wouldn’t miss a moment.
Unsurprisingly, Martha got rather annoyed with her sister, who wasn’t helping at all. It was almost as if Mary just expected Martha to serve her!Martha was working hard for Jesus! She was busy and tired from that busyness. So she asked Him if He cared that Mary left her to serve alone. I imagine Jesus answering her in the way men often answer women- we ask a man to fix our problem and he looks at us with amusement and gives us the obvious solution to our problem. Jesus’ answer seems so obvious we almost can’t accept it. Jesus looked at Martha, His eyes slightly bewildered, but full of compassion because He knew her so well. Then He said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary…” going on to tell her it was more important for Mary to sit and spend time with Him, learning and listening, than it was for Martha to serve Him.
Let’s stop there for just a moment.
Jesus said it was more important for Mary to spend time with Him than it was for Martha to serve Him.
So many times I allow myself to believe that I need a schedule jam-packed and full of serving in order to prove my love for the Lord.
That isn’t what He asks.
He asks for a schedule with space enough to love.
Space enough to not miss out.
Space enough for sitting with Him.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For more studies like this one, check out GracefullyTruthful.com!
Ruled by Rules
Read His Words Before Ours!
When I was still pregnant with my twin daughters, they were given a book called, “The Jesus Storybook Bible”. (If you’ve never heard of this book, go order it right now! Or you can wait until you’re done reading… but seriously. You need this in your life. Not just for your kids… but for YOU. You’ll see why…)
This “children’s” Bible had beautiful illustrations with some of my favorite current color schemes bringing the truth of these Bible stories to life in a way I’d never seen before. The author wove God’s great redemption plan through every story. For the first time in my life, as I read these stories to my babies after they were born, I saw a connection between the Tower of Babel and Christ’s birth, or the Creation story and Jesus’ death, in a way I’d never seen it before.
As I read this book aloud to my, often sleeping, babies, I found myself amazed.
Some may call it hormones, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit,
but I never cried over a book like I cried over this children’s Bible.
So, I want to share with you one of the biggest things I learned while reading this book about God’s truths.
Rules can’t save us.
Guys, I knew this already.
But I didn’t know it.
I could have told you that “rules don’t save us”.
I could’ve even told you that God gave us rules to protect us
and show us that we really need Him.
But I truly learned this one day while I was rocking my babes.
In awe, I read and reread the last few sentences of the story of The Ten Commandments:
“Only one Person could keep all the rules.
And many years later God would send Him –
to stand in their place and be perfect for them.
Because the rules couldn’t save them.
Only God could save them.”
How many times have we gotten stuck thinking that we need to be perfect in order to be loved by God? How many times have we thought that following the Ten Commandments, or even the “rules” that have become tradition and standard in the modern Church, were the key to being given grace?
Sisters… wearing dresses to church on a Sunday won’t save you.
Praying before every meal won’t save you.
Raising your hands during worship won’t save you.
Listening to the Christian radio station won’t save you.
Having a daily quiet time won’t save you.
We’ve got to stop thinking that we need to follow those rules
for God to keep extending His grace to us!
Some of these are still great guidelines to follow to help us grow in our relationship with Him… but DOING will never equal GETTING when it comes to a grace-filled, saving relationship.
Even further… following every single one of the Ten Commandments is utterly impossible for us because of sin. Go ahead, and take a look at the Laws and see how many you’ve broken.
You aren’t alone, every human being falls into the category of “sinner” because we’ve all broken the Law of Holiness designed by God, who is Holy.
We are doomed to Death because of our inability to perfectly fulfill the law!
God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments for several reasons.
Yes, He cared about their personal well-being and He didn’t want to see them hurt. He knew that they could greatly minimize the hurt in their lives by following these commandments. Just like we know that children are given rules to minimize the possibility of their getting hurt. And yes, He needed to bind His people with a common law, just like we are bound by the common laws and constitutions of our lands.
But most of all… He needed to remind His children of their sinfulness. He knew that they would never be able to keep this law, and every single time they failed, they would be reminded of just how sinful they are, and just how perfect God is. James tells us that the law can be used as a mirror. Any time we start to think that we have it all together, we can just look in that mirror and realize that we have seven zits popping up, our roots are two inches long, and we haven’t plucked our eyebrows in a few weeks.
We are so far from perfection.
And there was only one Person who was ever able to follow every one of the Ten Commandments.
Once we choose to step into the grace that Jesus has extended to us, once we choose to fully embrace that grace, only then can the gap between “Us trying to follow The Law and miserably failing” and “The Law” be filled.
Do you see it?!
Do you see how the Gospel is literally woven through the Ten Commandments and every single law written after that?
It is amazing and exciting!
The Bible isn’t just a bunch of random stories placed together.
Every single story has a purpose, and that is to point to Jesus and the redemption we can receive through Him!
Hundreds of years before Jesus even walked this planet,
God was weaving His plan of redemption from His heart straight to yours!
This Bible Study was first published on GracefullyTruthful.com and is property of Gracefully Truthful. Check out the website for more studies like this one!
From Bible studies to blogs, articles to musings of the heart, Kendra's writings are unbarred and raw - exactly how she speaks.