It’s been a busy few days for me at this end! Doing Supply Teaching has been a bit crazy. I never know whether I am having a day at home or a full day in the classroom. It’s proving to be pretty stressful for me as I’m the sort of person that likes to plan but it is teaching me to be a bit more spontaneous and to let go of the reins a little. Today happened to be one of those days where not even the supply company were sure if I was working! I got a text asking if I could work all day this morning, but turns out the school didn’t need me after all. It does mean that I managed to get out of bed at a sensible time this morning – so every cloud!
So I’m now sat in my new craft room/study with my Spotify playlist on ‘Jesus Makes Me Happy’. I find having a worship playlist so valuable! I think it’s important to fill it with as many different worship songs as possible so that you can just hit shuffle. I find that God has a way of speaking to me through music, so hitting that shuffle button helps me listen to songs God wants me to hear, rather than me just choosing my favourites all the time. Not an unhealthy habit, but sometimes a song will come on that really hits you that you may not have necessarily chosen to listen to at the time. Music is just one of the ways that I feel God talks to me. I tend to be someone who struggles to talk to God and struggles to listen to Him too, so music is a good stepping stone for our relationship.
‘Our God Reigns’ is currently playing as I write this and it comes as a good reminder to me. After being given those 3-4 weeks of guaranteed work and thinking that my faith was really building, God had another test for me. Those bookings all got cancelled! Not exactly the most faith building experience for me. I found myself getting angry at God. ‘How dare You build me up like that and snatch it all away from me’. It’s very easy to get angry at God when He does things differently to how you want Him to. Of course, He was just testing my faith, and seeing if it would stick if things got difficult, because it is looking like they now want to re-book me after all! It’s very tricky to see where God is going sometimes, and that can be frustrating, but I just want to encourage you that if God’s plans don’t seem to make sense, or are not what you want, he has a greater plan than we could ever imagine. It’s beyond our realm of thought. He knows what he is doing. My favourite verse in the bible is Jeremiah 29:11 ‘”For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘ I find this an amazing daily reminder. I must admit, that some days I forget it, but it needs to be in-bedded in our hearts. He is not going to harm us and He uses everything for good in the end. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. God never said it would be easy, just that His plans are never to harm us. It doesn’t mean there’ll be stumbling blocks, times or trials, times of disappointment and anger, but He will use it all for good, even if we don’t know what that looks like.
So, onto Romans 2:1-16. I read these verses in the bible a few days ago and was really excited and impacted by what they had to say. Verse 1 starts with ‘You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.’ Paul, who wrote Romans as a letter to ‘all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:’, is trying to ask us why we are so quick to judge. Why is that? Why in today’s society are we so quick to judge? Lots of people say that the bible is ‘dated’ and ‘not relatable’ to life today – but we live in a society that judges each other more than ever. If we are on any any form of Social Media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; we are making a daily judgement on other people. Even by deciding whether to ‘like’ someone’s post. We are judging whether what they have written, or the photo they have taken, is good enough for us to double tap our little screens or hit that thumbs up button. Even Facebook lets you decide on what sort of degree you want to like something now!! You can even ‘love’ someone’s post. What makes us decide whether to stop in our endless scrolling? We are judging whether it i worth our time! Even at the end of this blog post you, as a reader, will decide whether you think my words, my life, is worth a ‘follow’ or a ‘like’. Have I been good enough? Interesting enough? Funny enough? Encouraging enough? You will be judging me.
The bible teaches us that God is the only one that is worthy to pass judgement on other people. He will judge us at the end of our life. And yet, we judge people on a daily basis. It’s something that I personally struggle with. I can be walking round my local supermarket and if I see someone dressed funny, my instant reaction is for my brain to go ‘what are they wearing?!’. Or I see someone who is overweight and my brain goes ‘well they’re fat’ or someone who is underweight ‘wow, they look so skinny!’. Our brains do it without even meaning to. It’s an instant judgement of people. Why has society made us label people so quickly and instantly? I’m trying to make a conscious effort that if I find myself doing these things, labelling people, I will try to instantly apologise to God. I ask Him to teach me not to be so quick to judge people. I will also then try and pray for that person, pray they have a good day, pray that their life is full of happiness and that they might come to know God. It makes me sad that this is now the society our young people and young adults grow up in. It’s all they know. Instant judgement. But God is good! Ask Him to forgive your quick judgements. Ask Him to help you on a daily basis.
Verse 4 says ‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?’ God. Is Enough. Let me just say that again. God. Is. Enough. He loves us. He can overcome ALL things. Not SOME things – he is all powerful and all knowing. He can overcome any mountain. And right on cue, (I told you this Spotify shuffle thing was good) ‘Waiting Here for You by Passion’ has just come on. First lyrics…..’If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move…’ He can move mountains!! He knows how to do it. You just have to have faith that He will. Be persistent in your prayer life, ask Him for the things you want. He loves to give us things, all we have to do is ask. How amazing is that! Of course, this is great in theory, but harder in practise. It’s easy to get run down in prayer and lose faith. Why does He keep saying no? Why won’t He do this for me? Keep the faith. He promises good things for us. This is definitely something I need to practise!
Verse 5 follows on with ‘But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath.’ It may sound simple, and obvious, but it is us who suffer. For example, if someone bumps into you in the street and apologises, but you let it wind you up all day..? That person has forgotten all about it, but you have let it anger your heart. You didn’t forgive straight away. That person has just gone on with their lives. But you have let it, potentially, influence your entire day. We are the ones who suffer from an unrepentant heart.
I found myself rather angry at my old pastor for a long time. I felt like he didn’t care about myself or my husband. That the church hadn’t really looked after us, he didn’t have a relationship with us, and in my head, that was all his fault. I realise now that I let that ‘bad blood’ influence my entire church life. I started not wanting to be in church, because he was running it. I switched off during the preach, if he was talking, because my anger towards him ‘letting us down’ meant that I couldn’t engage with what he was saying to us and what he was trying to teach us. Ultimately, he was probably completely unaware, and possibly still is, that he hurt me so much by not taking an interest in me. He didn’t go to church on a Sunday thinking ‘Rebecca is really angry at me and I don’t know what to do about it.’ He went on with his normal church life. I, on the other hand, let it drive a wedge between myself and God. I didn’t engage with church, with worship, with the teaching. I was letting a stubbornness take over my church life and it ultimately drove me away from the church. We are the ones who suffer from an unrepentant heart, not the person we are angry with!
My final thought on this section of the bible comes from verse 11. ‘For God does not show favouritism.’ This one really hit me! God loves us all equally. We cannot improve our favour with Him by what we do. And this is so true. I find myself reluctant to talk to God, or worship, or pray, or even build relationship with Him, on weeks where I haven’t been to church, haven’t picked up my bible. I judge myself as unworthy to talk to God because I haven’t done anything for Him this week. Why would He help me now when I haven’t even bothered to talk to Him all week? It can end up being a bit of an endless cycle. But it’s not true. No matter how far we walk away from God, He is always waiting for us to return. He is one step behind us always.
This part always reminds me of the Return of the Prodigal Son. One of my favourite stories in the bible. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it; especially if you can feel like me, that you have to earn time with God by what you do. It’s in Luke 15:11-31. It’s not a long read and it really shows us a glimpse of how much God loves us. In short, a man has 2 sons, one of whom asks for his share in his father’s estate and he goes to a far off country and spends all of his father’s money. There is a famine in the country and he becomes in need. Meanwhile, his father at home is convinced that he is dead. When the son returned home as a servant the bible says in verse 20 ‘…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ This is how God feels about us. When we make that decision to return to Him, he runs towards us! He throws His arms around us. He loves us unconditionally and this is just a glimpse at the level of compassion and love that God feels for his sons and daughters. If you ever feel lost, like you can’t be found, like it’s too late for your relationship with God, read the Parable of the Lost Son. It’s a small thing but it will help to remind you of how much God loves you and how much grace and forgiveness there is for you. He doesn’t care how long you have been away, He’s waiting for you!
So there are my thoughts on part of Romans 2. I will make sure I look at the rest of the chapter soon. I pray that this has helped you in some way or encouraged you!
Speak to you all soon xx