It’s Not Enough to Hear, But to Do

Warning: No Scripture found here, just thoughts.

I’ve found one of the greatest things to be as hearing a message about God’s great love for me. Not just hearing, but also reading about it in blogs, journaling about it, reading about it in books, and etc. It’s an amazing pick me up and makes me feel so much better as a person. It’s the message that everyone deep down inside craves to hear, ultimate acceptance despite all that you’ve done. Complete peace, joy and love despite all that you’ve done.

But at the same time the message of the Gospel doesn’t infinitely last in our hearts. All to often I’ve seen in myself how full of the Spirit I can get during the time of hearing God’s message, but as soon as I am doing hearing it, the next morning, a week later, it goes away and it’s really hard to still have that joy and peace as I did when I first heard the message. I get so accustomed to living back how I was before I heard the message, that the message just doesn’t seem to exist anymore in my life.

That is until, I hear another great sermon simply about God’s great love for me again. Then again I feel an undeniable love for God, a passion, a fire inside of my heart. I remember who God is and how great He is. But after the message is over, I go back to where I was.

It’s a cycle, going back and force between loving God with all my heart, to forgetting who God is in my life.

It makes me feel fake.

I have to constantly go back to His Word, to hearing sermon messages, to reading, to constantly be reminded of HIs love for me, otherwise it’s so easy for me to slip back into the world. It’s something I have to fight for.

I no longer believe it’s enough to just hear God’s message of love. I don’t believe it’s our purpose.

I believe our purpose, or at least mine, is to seek out ways to show God’s love to others. It’s not enough to receive God’s message, but to also give. “It is better to give than to receive.”

Relevant magazine posted an article, found here. At the end of the article, there was a quote that I deeply believe in,

“Gather a group of friends to read, study and brainstorm ways to engage locally and globally.”

Isn’t this what Jesus tells and shows us over and over again. Wasn’t this the way He did His ministry? But He didn’t have to brainstorm, He just did.

For me, receiving the message of God’s love isn’t enough. It’s what I want to live out. I want to continue God’s ministry in others. What better way to receive God’s love than to show it to others in need?

I just can’t imagine what a difference it would make, not just in my own life but others, if I replaced time I spent on meaningless things and replaced it with time where I engage locally and/or globally with others. How cool and awesome would that be?

Hell is real. The internal struggles people face everyday is real. But if you would be the person that helps show them God’s love, wouldn’t that be cool? Wouldn’t it be cool to be a first hand witness to seeing others transform their lives? I know I do.

What Dust is Collecting Over Your Window?

Lamentations‬ ‭2‬:‭18-19‬

Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.

That’s pretty intense if you think about it. A little back story: basically Jerusalem has committed sins against the Lord(what a surprise). Because of their sins, the Lord has removed His mercy from their land and now destruction is upon them. Jerusalem is being attacked, but it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into fighting back, they can’t win because the Lord has removed His protection from them. The Lord even broke down His own temple in Jerusalem. The prophets are no longer receiving visions from the Lord.

It seems Jerusalem has done some pretty terrible things against the Lord, perhaps maybe even more terrible than anything you’ve ever done, then again perhaps not. Whatever it was, it made God furious.

There’s two things I can’t help but notice in these verses though:

1) Jerusalem is still referred to as “beautiful”

So despite the many sins of Jerusalem, it is still referred to as “beautiful.” I just can’t imagine facing anyone’s wrath, but yet in the middle of it, you’re still referred to as beautiful. Jerusalem was/is God’s chosen nation, chosen people. Even in His wrath, He still loves them.

2)  There’s forgiveness

This one might be easy to miss. Despite the misery Jerusalem is in, they are still being told to offer their hearts back to God. They committed some pretty terrible sins against God, is currently experiencing His wrath, but somehow they are still being offered forgiveness through repentance and committing their hearts back to God.

This all relates back to us. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses some pretty crazy words to describe God’s relationship to us. He used words such as:

He choose us (v.4). Holy and blameless (v.4). Predestined us for adoption (v.5). Predestined (repeated in v.11). Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (v.13). 

As Jerusalem was God’s chosen people, we all are now God’s chosen people through faith in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we are all His beautiful children, and that’s the way He is going to refer to both you and I, despite what we do. Through faith, we have forgiveness of sins. Galatians reminds us over and over again that we are no longer slaves of the law, but slaves of Christ. It’s all about Him. It’s not about us. It’s not about what you’ve done, are doing, and will do, it’s about what He has done for us. Nothing can change His love for us.

I believe the catch, if there is one, is this: the more we chose to live for the world, the less of God we will see in our life. I heard this beautiful illustration of a glass window the other day. Sunlight was trying to enter the room, but because of the filthiness of the window, the sunlight couldn’t reach into the room. Dust had collected and layered itself over the window. That dust is our sins if we let it continue in our lives. Your sins are forgivable, but they still leave a mark on us. The strongest impact is that it gets in the way of letting Christ’s light into our heart. The more we sin, the less we feel God. That’s not to say if you aren’t feeling God, it is because of some sin in your life. But often, because of sin, we separate ourselves from God. It’s the consequence of the choice we make when we sin. Our sin creates a filter over the window and that changes the effect of God’s light into our hearts.

But there is always forgiveness, your window can always be cleaned, and not just cleaned, but be made new, and bigger!

No matter the guilt you are feeling, even if it is greater, or less then the guilt we see in Lamentations 2, God can restore your heart. That’s exciting. We can’t be to far gone for Him to heal us.

You’re still beautiful. You’re still forgiven.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.

Isaiah 43:25

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again.

Micah 7:18 -19

Where is another God like you,
    who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
    overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Ephesians 1:7

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Whatcha Talkin’ About?

Ephesians 5:12

It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.

What does this mean to you? How in your life have you gone against it? Why do you go against it? Is it funny? Does it entertain you? Does it feel good to talk about it? Does it make you feel like a better person cause you don’t participate in these activities? Why do you think Paul even says this? Why is this important?

Basically, what things do you think Paul is talking about? and do you talk about them and how would you justify talking about (whatever it is/these things) to Jesus?

Matthew 15:18

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Proverbs 21:23

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Galatians: Law Vs. Spirit

Tried a new experience today, and it was really cool. The last few days I’ve been wanting to go through the book of Galatians in the bible. It’s just been something on my heart. But every time I opened it to read it, I kinda just skimmed through it, simply looking over the highlights and notes I’ve made on it in the past. This morning I was reminded of a verse, Revelations 1:3,

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Right off the back, the author is saying that those who read the book of Revelations, “this prophecy,” aloud will be blessed. It’s not talking about the Word of God in general. But reading over this verse made me want to listen to the book of Galatians aloud that way I wouldn’t be distracted by the words in the book, my highlights and my notes.

At first, I was only listening to the book, but what Paul was saying was really make me look at the book differently and created a lot of thoughts so I wrote them down and here’s what I wrote:

  • Galatians
    • It is through faith that one has life
      • faith is obedience
    • The Law had protected us, but faith now saves us
    • Christ makes us alive
      • We are true children of Abraham
      • Abrahams promise now falls on us
  • Chapter 4
    • we were slaves
      • right time God saved us through Son
        • we have Spirit of God that makes us call “Abba Father”
    • why do you want to be slaves again?
      • why go back to the strict rules?
      • Paul is free from these laws
    • what motivates us to do good things? do we do it all the time? or only certain situations?
      • do we only do good things when we are around certain people or in certain environments? or when we want to make ourselves look good? what motivates us?
    • if you live under the law
      • human attempt: (Hager, Mt. Sinai) -brings conflict and persecutes God’s attempt.
      • God’s attempt: (Sarah, Heavenly Jerusalem) – saves us, and now has more children
    • My words: What we do in human attempt will never out do what God does. We become impatient with God and do things our way and we see the growth of our doings. This growth won’t last. For me, it’s creating strict rules. I feel better when I create strict rules for God. But when I don’t obey them. I bully and persecute myself telling myself I’m not good enough for Christ.  God’s way is telling me, no, you are good enough, come join me. But I keep telling His way, I can’t until I obey my law. I’m not worthy or good enough. Obviously my heart isn’t right cause I can’t obey my rules.
  • Chapter 5
    • Christ truly sets us free. Don’t go back.
    • Me: If I’m trying to find favor with God by making a castle of rules around His law(which I am) then I must obey everyone of those rules absolutely perfectly, otherwise I’ll never achieve Christ’s perfection.
      • When I try to find favor with God through perfection, then I become cut off from Him and His grace.
    • What is important is faith, expressing itself in love
    • (What/who held me back from freedom?)
    • use freedom to serve others
    • Let the Spirit guide your lives, NOT the law.
    • When I follow the Spirit I am not under obligation of the law. (I feel like this is saying it is more important to do His Will than for you to not sin. And that maybe, God can use your sin. But at any rate, He can work around your sin, if you obey His Will/the Spirits Calling.
    • If you live your life to the Spirit, you won’t have to worry about living for the flesh.
    • If you live your life to the flesh, you won’t live to the Spirit
    • Nail your passions to the cross.
      • DO NOT be conceited or jealous.
  • Chapter 6
    • Gently help others back on path
    • Share burdens
    • You are not to important
      • your plans, your life, anything really that holds dear to your heart or comforts, is not too important to help others.
    • Don’t compare yourself
    • share good
    • you will harvest what you plant
      • if you focus on following the law, you will plant a let of guilt in yourself. nothing good grows from guilt.
      • if you follow the Spirit, your heart will plant love.
    • Don’t be tired of doing good. You will harvest in the end
      Which do you want to plant? The Flesh or the Spirit?
      • sometimes, doing good and following the Spirit won’t be as rewarding as you want it to be. but guess what, it’s not about you. keep following the Spirit. In the end, you will harvest.
    • Closing Words:
      • Don’t force teaching of strict rules
      • Only the cross of Christ will save you
      • Strict following of the law(if followed perfectly) only gives you something to brag about.
        • do you want your worth/value found in your boasting of perfect following of strict rules?
        • does following strict rules make you more spiritual/superior than others? no.
        • when you don’t follow rules perfectly, you make yourself feel worth because you feel your value is decreased.
      • As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
        • the cross makes your interest in the world null.
      • Don’t let anyone bare on you (these things) following the law strictly
        • in other words, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty if you don’t follow their man made laws perfectly and strictly.

 

  • Transformation of your heart happens when you obey the Spirit, NOT the law
  • We have to be obedient to faith, not to the law
  • It’s not the act of sin that kills you, it’s the act of seeking perfection that kills you
  • Use freedom to serve others, not to sin.
    • let the Spirit guide your life, don’t let the law guide your life.
  • We get so caught up in sin and the law, we forget who Christ is

In the end, Galatians taught me that when you focus on following the law, it distracts us from following and hearing the Spirit. But if we do even hear the Spirit, the law we are trying to follow tells us that we aren’t good enough to follow It. I realized a lot of the people I look up to, who I can see has their hearts on fire for God, those people aren’t focused on the law. They are focused on doing the will of God. I see how them doing the will of God has transformed their hearts full of love and joy for others. That law can’t provide that. Only the Spirit.

“I finally get the things figured out, and then they come up with a New Testament!”

#WhiteandGold

The dress. Is it white and gold or blue and back? Myself, I tend to find it light blue and gold.

The Center Dress is the original dress.

The color you view the dress has everything to do with the environment an which we look at it. It’s an optical illusion.  Just like this cube. The brown square on top is the exact same color as the bright orange/yellowish square in the front.

But because of the context in which the squares are placed, our eyes perceive it as different colors.

What I noticed, and I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, is that we often take verses out of the bible and interrupt them the way we want to without their original context. Here are some of the most common that I have seen(And I’ve totally been guilty of this):

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Philippians 4:13

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Matthew 7:1

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

Matthew 7:7

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

1 Corinthians 10:13

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Sometimes we just see a verse that we really love the way it is, so we take it for ourselves. Sometimes we do this to justify a means, sometime we do it because the verse makes us feel better, but for whatever the reason, we all do it. Looking at sports, a team is not a team based off of their strongest member. A team is a team based off of the sum of the whole. Every last player and coach is just as important as the next.

This is just a friendly reminder, before you go picking out a verse, look at it’s context within the chapter, book, and the whole bible. Question yourself, are you looking to justify your actions or your happiness? Most importantly, create discussion. Nothing is better than sitting down with another person and discussion your interpretation of scripture with one another. You don’t have to life your life with Christ alone. Find a community and grow with others.

Basic Training Excerpt: 17JUN14

17JUNE14 14:30(ish?)

Dear God you’re great! I know you know this, I know I’ve told you that but you simply great! Yesterday with the mail blew my mind. We weren’t suppose to get mail yesterday but I prayed for it cause it was my birthday and for some reason I knew you would provide cause I’ve realized that nothing is impossible and because you love me. So despite everybody saying we won’t get mail until next week, I kept my confidence in you and sure enough it was here. Thank you for being with me. 🙂 I’ve just learned from basic training that you are my single source of hope and peace for everything I do and with that, I have nothing to fear at all. You are with me. All I have to do now to share your Word is be a Godly man and show character, because I know with you and conversations about you is powered by you. so now sharing Your Word is something that I’m excited about not feared. Now it is just becoming something that is a natural part of life. Soon it will be a natural part of conversation. I’m really happy about this. There is just no reason to doubt God, You, especially when I get to see first hand your power on a daily basis. Thanks for choosing me, even before the foundation of the world. I give you my body, my mind, my soul. Use me for your will Lord, take me to where I’m needed.

Love you, goodnight.

Joshua Huffman

19JUNE14 20:35

— Also, I am really starting to get down by the fact that we have mail, but my drill sergeants are the only sergeants not handing out mail at the time. I keep hearing about how our letter bin is full of letters, but for whatever reason we’re not getting them and I don’t know, it’s just hard. I want to hear from someone. I want to communicate with home. Thank you that I always have you and that no one can take you away from me! Please me with me, I love you, goodnight!

[Only shared small excerpt from June 19th for the sake of the story that will be posted tomorrow]

Basic Training Excerpt: 15JUN14

15JUNE14 16:55

Dear God,

Today has been very chill and I’ve received my medication, thanks. Help me to continue to be able to take my meds at the time I’m suppose to be. I really can’t wait to feel better. As you know, tomorrow is my birthday. Thank you for being with me all these years and calling me closer to Your kingdom. Thanks for giving me You. It’s really more than I could ever ask for. Church today was really confusing. I’ve been praying about it & looking forward to it for two weeks now. But we were 40 mins later, we arrived [scribbles can’t read. Looks like ‘ter and sorry that was sorry like’] we were Southern Baptist. The sermon I fell asleep through, and that was the end. I wasn’t able to grow closer to you at all and I’m just confused on what the point was. Help me to understand. I don’t know, but help me to grow in you and bring you to the people here, especially those that use you as a ‘man card’ and not a real relationship. Help them to see you in me. I really want to be the light.

Love you,

Joshua Huffman

P.S. help make it so that I may receive my first letter tomorrow on my birthday. That would be awesome. I just want to hear from someone from home.