having faith in Jesus and showing favoritism are not compatible.

Most of us would like to think that the law isn’t black and white, but it is. Rules are rules! And we cannot choose which of the laws to obey and which ones to ignore. If I were to choose to follow the speed limit, but neglect to wear my seatbelt, then I would still be breaking the law. I do not get the luxury of choosing which laws to follow and which to ignore. In the same way, we do not get the luxury of choosing to follow only the parts of the Bible that we are like and the ones that fit into our lifestyles.

My community group has been going the Francis Chan study on James. And I am absolutely LOVING it. I have always enjoyed the book of James and the realness within the chapters. The book of James is a letter from Jesus’ brother to the early church in Jerusalem about the hypocrisy happening among Christians. Sadly, like a lot of us today, the people of the early church struggled with committing EVERY part of their lives to Jesus. Too often, we commit the areas of our lives to the Lord that are going as planned or that we don’t desperately want to remain in control of. The people of the early church welcomed Jesus’ teaching on grace and salvation, but seemed to be ignoring His instructions on how to treat others. Those who were wealthy and had titles were given special treatment, while those who were poor were easily dismissed. However, Jesus warns us against showing partiality and favoritism. James’ instruction is to fully obey the law and says to demonstrate the same level of love and mercy to others that we experience from God.

James 2:8 reminds us to “love our neighbors as yourself”. It did not come naturally to the early church and it doesn’t come naturally to most Christians today. Our natural disposition is selfishness. We often want to impress those we want to be like and brush off those who are different. In our society, people look to what they can get from others. Do they have nice things? Do they dress like they just walked out of a J Crew magazine? Will they get us more likes on social media? Do they take artsy pictures? Do they drive a nice car? Do they have a good, glamorous job?

While it makes sense to treat our bosses as we would want to be treated, what about the guy in the corner asking for help? I have frequently wondered, what does loving ones neighbor get us in return? The answer is simple, a life that better represents Jesus.

Jesus does not call us to follow the commands that are easy or the ones that we like; He calls us to follow them all. Our spiritual lives will progress when we listen to God’s Word and follow it wholeheartedly. Yes, with some, it definitely feels easier to judge rather than show love and mercy. However, God asks us to love them as He loves us. This might be as simple as saying “Good morning” to someone or saying a prayer for them.

To follow Jesus’ example, means looking beyond the prickly, dissimilar, or disagreeable person that we see to find the valuable, lovable person that He sees. Being a Christ follower requires us to make hard choices and we have to decide if the reward is worth the sacrifice. The Message reads, “kind mercy wins over harsh judgement every time”.

 

remembering who you are.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

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“you’re prettier in pictures than you are in person”

Those nine words would define me for the an entire decade.

On a blind date in college, those words attached to me like a sticky name tag. One that I chose to wear for years. “Hello, my name is Cait, I am not pretty enough.”

For years, whenever I thought about my body or my looks, I flashed back to those ugly words. I sadly believed those words to my inner core- that I was not pretty in person- and that ultimately I was not yet pretty enough.

So lets fast forward ten years…the women’s ministry at my church started reading a book called ‘Fervent’ by Priscilla Shirer. One of the chapters is titled “Your Identity: Remembering Who You Are”. I knew it was going to be a tough chapter, but lets just say- I didn’t make it through any page of that chapter without sobbing (I resorted back to my ugly cry). Anyway, as I was soaking in the chapter- the words spoken to me all those years ago came rushing to the forefront of my mind. And there I was- listening to those words on repeat in my mind and feeling completely defeated and insecure.

I immediately put the book down, not wanting to read one more word, and without even thinking about it I began dwelling on those nine words- were those words true? still? was that why at thirty-one I was still single? was I still not pretty enough?

With a reluctant heart I picked the book back up and continued reading- even though I knew it would just be easier to keep the book closed, turn on some Netflix, and not deal with this emotional, spiritual battle.

I had allowed those words from a stranger, who I would never speak to again, to have tremendous power over my life. And coming face-to-face with the enemy on the battlefield did not seem like something I was ready to fight on a Monday night. But it was then that Ephesians 6:11 came to mind, “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. And so I decided to suit up.

I had allowed the enemy to devalue my strength for YEARS, to magnify my insecurities until they completely dominated how I saw myself, disabling and disarming me from being who God created me to be, and living in the truth that in Christ I am enough.

And the enemy wanted me to live in a state of defeat. My defenses down. My resolve weak. Surrendering to an army of insecurities instead of courageously thriving in the sophisticated security of my identity in Christ. But no longer. Not me. Not ever.

Friends, you are so valuable and so loved. Those things that you count as weaknesses and flaws, those things that the enemy is hell-bent on accentuating are not more powerful than the strength you have in Christ. Don’t allow painful words from your past, insecurities, lies from the enemy, or past hurts to have any power in your life. It will only leave you feeling handicapped (trust me, I know this WAYY to well). You are loved by God, endowed with His Spirit, you are His, and in Him you are ENOUGH.

Ezekiel 16:10-13 “I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head...You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.”

LOVE THAT!!! We are exceedingly beautiful and we advanced to royalty!!