Tea ~ Apricot Oolong (hot) and Strawberry Hibiscus (iced)
It’s National Iced Tea Month and 80 degrees today, but I drink hot tea year-round. Don’t hate, I am often found double-fisting my beverages and you know you want to too!
Sorry for the hiatus, I pretty much was gone the entire month of May spending time with friends and family. Refreshing for the soul. This morning, Psalm 119 was refreshing for my soul:
“Oh, how I love your instructions!
I think about them all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are my constant guide.
Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
for I am always thinking of your laws.
I am even wiser than my elders,
for I have kept your commandments.
I have refused to walk on any evil path,
so that I may remain obedient to your word.
I haven’t turned away from your regulations,
for you have taught me well.
How sweet your words taste to me;
they are sweeter than honey.
Your commandments give me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.”
Psalm 119 is a chapter of 176 verses that praise and thank God for His laws, commandments and decrees. That’s a lot of verses to be overjoyed with rules and regulations. How counter-cultural is that?! As a moody teenaged girl, I remember being grounded for probably my entire 8th grade year. Sassing my parents constantly and being rebellious at every opportunity. I even “ran away from home,” which meant walking to downtown Three Oaks, MI, and hanging out for a couple of hours until I went to a friend’s house and my parents made me come home. At the time, I was fully prepared to not go home, and over something that was probably incredibly stupid. My current “human trafficking abolitionist self” would tell my then “8th grade runaway self” as well as my parents to keep me home at all costs as I was one of those vulnerable girls who could have been another statistic picked up within the average 48-hours and potentially never heard from again, even in a small, rural, farm town in Michigan. I thank God today that He was protecting me on my day of irrational, hormonal anger and rebellion.
Why should we be thankful for instruction? What good can come from that? Without limitations, we live in chaos. If we don’t know what we can and can’t do, where do we find our hope and confidence? What is there to trust in? If our parents and even our workplace does not set boundaries, it often leads us to living in fear or anxiety of doing something wrong, but not knowing what that is. Each of us is governed by something or someone and that gives us our “moral compass,” if you will. But what is moral? Who is to say what morality is or looks like? Just take a moment to stop and think about that.
You may answer, “I decide my morals and values.” That’s great for you, but you may find it frustrating when the rest of the world is cruel to one another and wonder why people can’t be kind to one another. I go back to my question, “What is moral? Who is to say what morality is or looks like?”
You may answer (or hate this answer!), “Government decides morals and values (and turns them into laws).” Government is run by people (and imperfect people, at that), individuals with different morals, values and beliefs.
Morals and values cannot come from people. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Morals come from God and are outlined in His Word. His laws, decrees and instructions are perfect and Jesus lived them out as an example to all of us. And the freedom we are given in Jesus’s death and receiving the Holy Spirit to advocate for us (to defend and counsel us, not always convict and shame us) COVERS all of the insane and crazy laws you read in the Old Testament. If you haven’t read the Bible cover to cover, I’m sorry, but this may come as a little harsh: please don’t refute something you haven’t read. I would never write a book review on literature I haven’t read or a film review on a movie I haven’t seen and it would probably be insulting to the writers, filmmakers, readers and viewers. It’s neither fair nor objective, and the word for that is fraud.
The Old Testament shows our need for a Savior because the laws were getting out of control and nearly impossible to abide by all of them. The Old Testament is a history, of where we came from and doomed to repeat itself for all eternity without a Savior. We’d probably be making blood sacrifices all the live-long day, accomplishing nothing else if not for Jesus and his sacrifice! But God is merciful!!! He daily shows us grace that we don’t deserve and can never earn. And nothing can separate us from His love and we are no longer bound to the law. “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” Romans 7:6
We have FREEDOM in Christ and the Holy Spirit! and we can put our hope and trust in him and in God’s Word, the book that gives us our morals and values. God gave us a moral compass with this amazing book.
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.” Romans 7:14-16
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The law of Moses (Ten Commandments) was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4
Some may call this religion, but for me, it’s a lifestyle choice. I choose morality, and morality is defined by God. Does that mean I always do everything right? Absolutely not! I am not, nor do I claim to be perfect. I choose freedom, and freedom is through Jesus, not always through a bunch of rules and laws. Read the book of Romans for a taste of that freedom. And with freedom comes peace, and I’ve never known more peace within myself than with Jesus, more today than yesterday. You can have confidence in that, I assure you.