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Showing posts with the label Freedom

No longer...

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses 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. (Romans 8:1-3) If you have ever stopped to wonder why Jesus had to take on the form of a man, there's your answer. He came to this earth in a body 'like the body we sinners have', so that he could be the sacrifice for our sins. In all he did in that one action, he provided an END to sin's control in our lives - so we are no longer controlled by our sin nature - we have been given a new one - Christ's. Paul has just explained that he desires to do what is right - what the commandments

Bedraggled and Maimed

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3) When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down. There is much said in those words, isn't there?  When he had - it is a finished work, nothing else is required, the job is done. Cleansed us from our sins - it was not his sins that took him to the cross, but ours. The mission was complete when he lifted his eyes to heaven and breathed his last breath on that cross. He sat down - in a place of honor, authority, and oversight. He continues to watch over all of mankind, having completed it all on our behalf, waiting for us to join him there through faith in his finished work. He sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. That 'sustaining power' is what we can count on when we say 'yes'

No pulpit pounding here

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galations 5:13) Do you indulge yourself once in a while? It may not take much indulgence to actually meet our needs, but when we do indulge we need to make sure it is for the right reasons. By definition, to indulge is to allow yourself to follow your own will. Herein is the problem - most of the time our "will" isn't very reliable! We give into our own will and find we are traveling down a path we'd just have soon avoided. When we "indulge", we yield to something which demands to be satisfied. In the end, we may be satisfying a much needed thing, but we must weigh our "urges" up front to ensure we are yielding to the RIGHT things. We are called to live "free" lives - not governed any longer by each and every urge of our old nature. You know the nature I mean - that one which caused us to a

Who is actually carrying that now?

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29) How many times do we carry burdens way too heavy and beyond our means of ever 'unloading' on our own? Examine what Jesus said - come, take, learn, and find rest. There is an 'unloading' that occurs when we come to Jesus with those things we are carrying, but first we have to come! To take we must lay down. If we are to put more 'in', we must let 'out' what is nothing more than a 'burden' we carry. A burden is anything that is borne with difficulty - there is a sense of obligation to hold onto it, nurse it along, and keep it 'well situated' in a position where it can be 'managed'. What are we 'bearing' with difficulty today? Is it really our 'burden' to carry? Should we con

A curb appeal

Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26) I live in a neighborhood with regular trash pick-ups. Each week we put out the black can for our regular household trash and the blue can for everything we will recycle. One day a month, we put out all our "bulk" trash, such as large limbs from the trees, bro

Now, that bespeaks love!

We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne! (Hebrews 12:2) The twelfth chapter of Hebrews begins with the words, "...we must rid ourselves of everything that slows us down..."  Do you have things which slow you down in life? We sometimes have very "regular" things in life which slow us down - sometimes external to us, like another person, sometimes kind of internal, like raw emotions or fear. There is nothing which quite slows us down as much as the weight of sin in our lives, though. No person or other weight quite exerts the same pressure sin does - pulling us down, loading us with guilt, and holding us in miry links to our past. Maybe this is why the rest of the verse we started with today goes on to say, "...especially the sin that just won't let go..." Sin has a w

An open invitation

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12) If you were in a dark room and someone offered to turn on a light for you, would you just continue to stumble along, feeling your way around obstacles, risking bumping into things as you did? It is likely that you'd accept the invitation to have light brought into the room because you don't like stumbling aimlessly! Obstacles abound in life - many of them of our own making. Why would we choose to just stumble around in the dark, running into those obstacles repeatedly, when we are offered light to help us avoid them completely? Jesus offers us light - light that dispels all manner of evil in our lives, pointing out obstacles and stumbling points so we don't run into them needlessly. Yet so many refuse to allow the light in. It seems to me that we get a little too used to this idea o

Freedom is never partial

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:31-36) Remain faithful to his teachings - then you will know the truth that truly sets you free. We might say freedom is just a bit conditional - it requires faithfulness to the teachings of Christ. Sometimes we trust in all kinds of 'other things' to help us 'live free', but religious pursuit without right relationship with God is just a pursuit without a proper aim. What things are you a slave to today? What beliefs hold you back from really purs

A load of guilt

Have you ever been in a spot where someone is trying to find a way to accuse you of something - doing nothing wrong, you are under attack and your reputation is taking one hit after another? Jesus healed the sick - that's not wrong. He fed the hungry - not wrong again. He reached out to the rejected, poor, and those society rejected - still not wrong. Yet, no matter how much 'good' he did, the religious leaders sought to find something - anything - they could 'use against him'. Why? He threatened them by his goodness, gentleness, gracefulness, and his claims to be God's Son. Threatened by truth - isn't that just like us to find something wrong with truth? No matter what, Jesus isn't going to compromise who he is or what he does. We can fight against truth all we want, but the more we fight against it, the harder it will be to resist it!  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of

Refashioned Lives

Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. (Philippians 4:5-7 CEV) Gladness comes when we take pleasure in something. I like to find the perfect photo - the bee on the flower, leaf floating on water or maybe even the look of having caught a first fish on the face of a young child. It brings me pleasure to catch "just the right" moment. Gladness is a sense of heart where one experiences joy or pleasure. Gladness and happiness are very similar emotions - both based on finding pleasure in something or someone. Pleasure is really the capacity to enjoy what it is you have found. Our passage suggests a reason for gla

Sin-Bogged Shoes

You have changed my sorrow into dancing. You have taken away my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. You wanted me to praise you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever! (Psalm 30:11-12 ERV) Some days I just don't feel like dancing, how about you? There are just times when the weight of all that I am feeling 'plants my feet' in one spot and I just muddle through. The more I muddle in the muddle, the more weight I feel. If you have ever walked through a particularly muddy section of land, you would likely have noted how quickly the mud attaches itself to your shoes. Before long, those lightweight shoes begin to feel like lead boots! Sin is kind of like that - we muddle through it and wallow around in it long enough and we will find we get 'weighed down' by the 'attached dirt'. The more we try to move, the harder it becomes to actually take big steps in the right direction.  God's greatest joy is when one of his children actually look down

Foresight or Hindsight?

The Lord sees everything, and he watches us closely. Sinners are trapped and caught by their own evil deeds. They get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control. (Proverbs 5:21-23) As a child, I'd try to blame someone else for the "wrongs" I had done. If it was me who snatched a cookie out of the cookie jar before dinner and left a trail of crumbs right up to where I was sitting playing, I would try to deny it was me! I also remember the time mom came home to find my mouth black and my breath smelling heavily of anise only to hear me deny repeatedly that I had been into my grandmother's licorice candy! I denied because I knew the admittance of guilt would bring punishment - but denial doesn't EVER guarantee escape! It only shifts the blame or focus for a moment, but not for the "savvy" parent. The parent who loves and knows their child will not be caught off-guard by the child's adamant denials! In fact, they will pursue the

What if?

Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness. (Isaiah 55:6) " When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice ." (William James) We are all broken people - all of us have our weaknesses and we all make mistakes. We all need to make the one supreme choice - will we serve self or Jesus? Seek God while he's here to be found - while he is close at hand, cry out. If we want healing in this world, we all need to abandon our desire to live by our own set of rules.  Seek - go in search of; question so as to obtain; go to that place where you can meet a holy God. Where is that place? At the feet of Jesus. There is no other way to God except through trust in the one and only Son of God - Jesus. Lavish with forgiveness - think about the immense lov

Freedom Robbers

I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10) Any great pain or sorrow that weighs us down and almost keeps us from moving is not meant to keep us down, it is meant to drive us to God. Elements of physical suffering, or some mental anguish might have us under its control right now. Some call this "trouble", while others use a more sophisticated term like "affliction" or "trib

Breaking Free

Mindful Christianity recently posted: "If you continue to carry the bricks from your past, you will end up building the same house." I used to have a pastor who always said if you always do what you always have done, you will always get what you always got. Same concept - repeat the same things over and over and the results really don't vary all that much. Mix things up a bit and you will see entirely different results. Stop carrying around all those bricks from your past and you might actually see something new being built from much 'lighter' and 'durable' material! I pulled you in from all over the world, called you in from every dark corner of the earth, telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10) We may not know how we got to the place

Breathe in to breathe out

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28) Have you ever been so short of breath you just didn't think you were going to be able to get enough air? I remember being up to bat in softball in High School. The pitch was wickedly hard and it hit me squarely in the side of the chest, throwing me to the ground with quite a bit of force. I laid there for the longest time panicking because I could not take in any air. The air had been knocked from my lungs and I was gasping for my next breath. It was scarier than scary and I never want that to happen again! The 'natural rhythm' of my breathing in and out was disrupted just long enough to give me those few moments

Don't move...you are right where you need to be

Moses told the people, Fear not; stand still ( firm, confident, undismayed ) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. (Exodus 14:13-14) It is one thing to stand still - quite another to be at peace, remaining at rest, while the world whirls past you at speeds capable of making your head spin! The people of Israel are being led away from the slavery of Egypt - Pharaoh's army close on their heels, not really willing to let them leave the land where they had been servants for years. Imagine being an unorganized, start-up nation, no armies of your own, and only a "dream" of freedom. Here you are, faced with the armies behind, and a huge, raging body of water before - one direction ensures bondage, the other promises hope - but something stands between the past and the future. The water was really the div

True Freedom is Not

Cicero said freedom was the power to live as one wishes. I have to challenge that idea a bit today, though. Freedom - true freedom - is not the ability to live as you wish - allowing every whim and fancy of your flesh to rule your life. Freedom is actually living within boundaries - knowing truth and allowing that truth to change how you make choices and what you allow as a response from within your being. Freedom involves the soulish parts of man, but it also is intensely founded on where our spirit man is anchored. If we have never said 'yes' to Jesus, allowing his freedom to be our true anchor, we are likely still living mostly soulish lives - self-centered, self-motivated, and self-fulfilling. We want what we want and we go after it. Cicero would have said we allow whatever force within us to direct our paths - Jesus says we deny self and listen to his voice, conducting our lives within a framework of goodness and grace. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way yo

Footloose and Fancy Free

Have you seen one of those social media posts, depicting some rotary dial phone or old flour sifter from Grandma's kitchen? Each one asks if you are 'old enough' to remember what these items are, and each of them are things I remember well, so I guess I am not only 'old enough', but I am getting downright old! Kids today will remember other things. I saw a post last night depicting a cell phone charger and plug, indicating that it was a 'teenager's umbilical cord'. Times were different when we were children. Back in the 60's no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary game play. Today, we observe kids inside, in front of media device, often because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free". Sad, isn't it? I wonder, though, just ho

Let me introduce you to love

I really didn't deserve that! There is nothing more "secure" than allowing God to deal with us according to his LOVE instead of what it is we honestly DESERVE! You and I may have found we have "tapped into" God's intense love so many times that it is hard to count all the times! I find it greatly comforting to realize God's dealings with us are according to his love - love is the basis of grace; grace is the basis of forgiveness; forgiveness is the basis of restoration; restoration is the basis of all relationship. It all begins with love! Love, pure and simple, yet we try to complicate it so much by our rules, regulations, and reasoning. Let your love dictate how you deal with me; teach me from your textbook on life. I'm your servant—help me understand what that means, the inner meaning of your instructions. (Psalm 119:124-125) The word "dictate" almost escapes us in this passage, but it carries an important meaning that lends to the r