For Real

I mentioned in last week’s post that I began the book of Matthew.  The past few days I’ve been in the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7).  I’ve read it before, heard sermons on it before, but this time I noticed a common thing as I studied.

  • Jesus says that we know that God told Moses to tell the people not to murder and those who murder will be judged and punished.  He then goes on to say that those who are angry with their brother will be judged (chapter 5).
  • Jesus again says that we know that God forbade adultery; however, He says any man who lustfully looks at a woman has committed adultery in his heart (chapter 5).
  • Jesus says that we are to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors (chapter 5).
  • Jesus says that when we give, do not do so in front of other people where we will be praised, but to do it secretly in front of the Lord (chapter 6).
  • Jesus says not to pray in front of others as if it is a show or to ramble on, but to pray privately and concisely (chapter 6).
  • Jesus says to forgive or we will not be forgiven (chapter 6).
  • Jesus says that when we fast, do not make a spectacle of it, do it quietly (chapter 6).
  • Jesus says not to worry (chapter 6).
  • Jesus says not to judge others, because how we judge, we will be judged (chapter 7).
  • Jesus says that those who seek will find what they seek, that we should continue to ask for what we need (chapter 7).
  • Jesus says to treat others as we want to be treated (chapter 7).

Do you notice a common theme? All of these things have to do with our relationship with God (e.g. are we praying just so others will see us or do we have a true relationship with God?) and the spiritual condition of our hearts (e.g. yes, murdering is bad, yet God says so is harboring anger at someone).

If you’re like me, you look at this and think that this is impossible. When you’re having a terrible day it’s hard to treat someone how you want to be treated, when things are hard it’s difficult to trust God and not worry.  Yet these things I have listed (only some of the things that Jesus says in this sermon, there is plenty more!) give me hope.

I have hope in the fact that Jesus lived a sinless life.  Hebrews 4:15-16 in the Voice translation says, “For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws.  He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious without failing God.  So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace when we need it most.” Isn’t that amazing? Jesus knows these things are hard to do, yet we have the Spirit to guide us and the free-flowing grace of God at our fingertips (for more on this topic, check out a previous post: Victory in Jesus).

I also have hope because I know that my relationship with God is what’s important.  I don’t have to put up this charade that I have my life together so that other people will see.  I also know that when I have a real relationship God  I am filled with the Holy Spirit, and Galatians chapter 5 says that the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  When you have a real relationship with God these things will start to become a part of who you are, and when these things are a part of who you are, doing what God wants you to do instead of what you want to do becomes more natural.

We will always struggle, we are human, but when we take part in a real, intimate relationship with God and allow our hearts to change, we find it is easier to live like Jesus.

Check out the Sermon on the Mount for yourself if you haven’t before, or if you have, read it again.  The Word of God is alive and relevant.

Photo Credit: Cherry Laithang

We’re Not in Neverland Anymore

Over the past several months I have been – as I put it – trying to adult.  I don’t think you turn 18 and suddenly you know how to be a successful adult.  When I turned 18, I was in the pseudo-real world that is college (for some – some people work full time and go to school, I don’t know how ya’ll do it).  A lot of college students start college with scholarships, loans, and/or family money.  You’re an adult, but you don’t do much adulting.  You go to class, eat cafeteria food, hang out on weekends, do homework.  The world calls you a grown up, but you’re really just a glorified teenager.  My freshman year really felt no different than high school except that I didn’t live at home and no one asked me if I had homework to do.

Fast forward to this year.  I live at home and commute 45 minutes to school.  All of a sudden I had to learn to budget for gas, snacks for school (I prefer to bring my own healthier options if possible), and some bills with an average income of $20 per week.  Through this, God has provided tremendously.  He has shown me nothing is impossible if I trust in Him and discipline myself.  By no means am I comparing myself to someone who is out on their own providing for themselves completely.  I live at home and receive occasional financial help from my parents, I don’t have to worry about having a roof over my head or food to eat, but God has blessed me with the opportunity of learning to manage money and start to take care of myself before I really have to when I’m out on my own.

This year I’ve also started to make my own decisions in other areas; being an adult isn’t like middle school where you had gym three times a week.  I’ve taken my health and lifestyle into my own hands, opting for better food choices and an active lifestyle.  I’ve started recycling and doing what I can to preserve the environment, not because someone is over my shoulder telling me to, but because I’m trying to take responsibility for the things I do and the impact I make.  My faith is in my own hands.  It’s on me to seek God and choose to live for Him everyday.

Again, I don’t think being an adult is just something you just know how to do, it’s something you have to learn how to do.  You have to learn to take responsibility for yourself and to manage your life physically, spiritually, and financially. I have been incredibly blessed to start to learn how to manage my life before being on my own supporting myself.  In the past several months, God has taught me so many lessons on being self-disciplined – like waking up on time so I can actually get things done and not skimping on a work out because I don’t feel like.  God has taught me how to trust Him more.  God has blessed me in a season of life that I did not imagine so much growth to come from.

The idea of growing up and being an adult used to sound so unappealing at times. No, I’m not in Neverland anymore, I’m growing up and it’s scary and not always easy, but I have to say, it’s not that bad.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ruiz