When Following Him Looks Different…

Over the years, I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of people who were shunned for their marriage issues, the smell of smoke, food choices, Sabbath activities, church attire, accidents, and cover-ups never to return again. From a church, a Bible study, a family get together, a school. Feeling unloved, judged, unacceptable, rejected….the polar opposite of how Jesus would have treated them.

Here are a few questions that come to mind…How do you love your neighbor? What about the one who believes differently than you? Do you believe Jesus died for them? Do you believe your rules will save you? Do you believe Jesus wants you both? Do you think your actions or lack thereof will save you? Are you leaning into Jesus and His love for others?

In our church, when we hear the word “obedience” we (I) tend to immediately think of the Sabbath. Like anyone who is not honoring the seventh day Sabbath is being disobedient to God. What if they find Jesus elsewhere? What about judging that person? Isn’t that disobedient? What if God is calling you to forgive and you just refuse? What if you covet someone’s marriage or singleness? Or He’s calling you to love your enemies and you just can’t go there…Isn’t that disobedient? We ALL fall short (Romans 3:23), and there’s no shortage of ways to do it.

Just like we may judge someone by the color of their skin, clothes, neighborhood, food choices, jewelry, or even hairstyle, we judge by the church they attend. I met the love of Jesus outside of my home church and have returned to share what I learned from those who do not go there. Praise His name, since I’ve returned, I’ve found more and more people hungry for this love.

We all need more Jesus.

I love the Sabbath, I came back for it. But, do we worship the Sabbath or do we worship Him? As humans, we tend to worship creations over the Creator. We want something tangible to hang on to. Like our children, marriages, friends, careers, accomplishments, even doctrine. Anything to feel like we’ve got what we need. I have been guilty of this for sure. What we need most is Jesus. The rest are gifts given BY Him to raise, enjoy, love, and study, but not to exalt higher than their Creator.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Mark 2:27-28 (NIRV)

I feel like if He was sitting in my living room, He would say “following Me doesn’t mean doing things the way they’ve always been done, just because”. There are so many Adventists who worship the day that sets us apart over the One who died to do so. I think this hurts His heart. I can also hear Him saying, “I don’t want you worshipping the day I made any more than the animals I made. Worship the One who made them.” When Jesus comes first, how we treat and love others (all others) is evident. I mean, how would Jesus treat that particular person?

Would you flat refuse to set foot in church on a Sunday to worship our God in heaven with others? If so, what does that mean? Who are YOU worshipping? Do you think Jesus would be more likely to flip tables over in a church of people worshipping on the “wrong day” or people worshipping the day over Him? He knows our hearts and why we do what we do. Think about how public worship is an honor and a privilege that many in this world aren’t allowed to do on ANY day…

On my death bed, as much as I hope my girls are ingrained with a reverence and knowledge of the Sabbath, my ultimate goal is that they find and cling to Jesus for themselves. No matter how, why, or where they find Him, my deepest desire is that they do. God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is bigger.

May they sense the joy, freedom, and strength in Christ over the shame, fear, and insecurity of ANY religion that lacks unconditional love. Because, God IS love. In the last days, God will call His people out. Leave conviction to the One they have a relationship with. If that relationship is solid, they will hear His voice.

John 10:27-30 says  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.The Father and I are one.”

I claim this! I pray personal relationship into my girls’ lives, that is my deepest desire, because when that’s in place, they WILL hear His voice and no one can snatch them from His hand. No one. Nothing.

Search my heart, Lord. Correct me where I’m wrong and may my heart be and stay ever closer to You.

 

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Mary’s Perspective

mary

I was thinking about Mary’s personal journey today. As a young woman engaged to be married, she was visited by an angel who tells her that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Because of this favor, He has chosen her to carry and deliver His son. She had questions…how can this be possible? I’ve never even been with a man! What will my fiancé think? Will my family believe me? Why would God pick me? Do all these questions really mean I’m favored….or in trouble? She only asked Gabriel one question…how can this happen? I am a virgin. Luke 1:34. His response was The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Once she accepted her divine yet incomprehensible assignment, God went to work on all the rest of her concerns. He sent an angel to inform, soften, and strengthen Joseph’s heart. And, he accepted his assignment too. People talked. Mary and Joseph both knew they probably always would.

People’s questions and accusations didn’t deter either of them. I read that one reason Joseph may have taken his extremely pregnant wife with him on the treacherous journey to Bethlehem was to protect her from a possible stoning because of the infidelity she was accused of. Joseph was the supportive and God fearing man that Mary needed him to be. Both of their reputations were at stake. Still, he protected her. He covered her. Just as God told him to. It took radical obedience from them both and that’s exactly why they were chosen. God knew they had it in them. I’m sure, at times, they questioned that as well. God didn’t.

Do you ever think about the humans involved in the nativity story? The living breathing human beings that allowed themselves to be ridiculed, judged, misunderstood, and turned away?? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable surrounded by animals. It didn’t matter where He was born. His delivery would deliver His people regardless. God, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the angels, and the wise men all knew that. Soon, the world would know. But now, imagine with me the people in this story that allowed their lives to be truly turned upside down for His Glory alone.

As a mother myself, I imagine Mary rocking her new baby to sleep and wondering “why God, why me?” I’m sure most mothers can relate to this feeling. but this story takes it to a whole new level. How could You entrust Him (Your Son) to my care? As the song goes…”Mary did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered , will soon deliver you.” Our kids have a way of doing that…..they readjust our priorities, they drive us to our knees, they change us. Their innocence is enough to make us crave ours again. Their curiosity arouses ours. Their answers teach us new insights. We never think we are ready, yet God entrusts us to more than we can comprehend.

It comforts me to know that questions are normal, they make and keep us human. God’s favor is not dependent on perfection, only willingness. His overwhelming love imparts obedience. If Mary hadn’t trusted God’s love for her and desired to please Him more than anyone else, the angel’s message would have sounded like a nightmare. Why would I do that, Lord? Why on earth would You put me through that? Instead her response was I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true. Luke 1:38

It was for His Glory, not hers. She found favor in His eyes. The rest, as they say, is history…..