Freed to Serve

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook about selflessly caring for others. I was reminded of this verse and found myself wondering if that is a key to self preservation. It set me to thinking. The people I know who are trying to find ways to bless and support others seem to be faring well though this challenging time. Is there something God wanted to do for us that comes through our putting others first? Wouldn’t that be just like Him?

Paul wouldn’t have us spending our hard won freedom on feeding our fleshly desires. He wouldn’t want us to spend our fortunes on ourselves but in all things, to turn our thoughts, and hearts, to how we may serve others. You know, that is a challenge and typically not the way society works but it is how the Kingdom works.

Here is one thing you can do today. Do you know someone who lives alone? Send them an email, or make a phone call just to ask how they are doing. Whom have you not had contact with in a while? Maybe we can all reach out to one person but through us a lot of folks get some real social contact.

You tell me – what does this verse mean to you? What can we do individually or collectively to “serve one another.” I would really like to hear your ideas. There is no reason for any of us to be going stir crazy. We can find something meaningful to do. I know you have good ideas.

The Kingdom of God has fuel it runs on. It has principles which, when employed, produce reactions. We know from other verses that God multiplies seed, the Kingdom principle being operates through sowing of seed. We may be seeing in today’s verse another tangent of that rule. We are served in our service of others. The more we meet the needs of others, the more the Kindgom multiplies in our own lives. We meet God in the service of His children, but that is no surprise. Throughout Biblical history God’s presence abided with those who were serving His heirs. His glory is awaiting us too and it is within reach. This great calamity is providing us the opportunity to get out of our own skin and into a greater calling with the Father. We may have felt insignificant in January but now we have more power to affect more people for good than any time in our lifetimes. What can we do to leave a legacy of God’s love? What is God presenting to any of us today that will allow us to help someone else? I would love to hear?

Loose Him

John 11: 43 – 44

When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The story of Lazarus is a good metaphor for the Christian experience. Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, from death, yet Lazarus was still bound hand and foot.

A few sentences earlier Jesus told Martha, “I am . . . the life,” (v. 25). In Jesus is the very essence of the life force that runs this planet, so he was well able to restore Lazarus to life. It is the same way with us. We were dead in our sins. We had the appearance of being alive but truthfully, we were dead bones walking around waiting for redemption. Jesus came. He called out to us as he did to Lazarus and Eureka! We were born again; born from death to life. His life was given to us.

When Lazarus came out of the tomb, he was bound hand and foot and had a veil over his face. That is the very picture of us. We were given new life; restored and redeemed, but still bound hand and foot and blind from the veil covering our eyes.

It takes another act of grace to loose us from that which binds us. There are needful steps to remove the veil so that we might see. Being restored to life is not the end of the story, as we can see from today’s passage. Jesus said, “Unbind him, and let him go.” This is the message he speaks to all the pastors of the world today. After being born again begins the work of removing all those things which bind people. If the veil is not removed then we still see the world around us as the world does instead of as Jesus sees it.

It’s great when people get saved and born again but if they (we) do not take the important next step then they are not free. Jesus wants us out from under every bondage. He wants the veil removed from our face so that we might see. As Christians, this is our task for our lives in Christ. He did not restore us to life so that we remain blind slaves to our old bondage. It was for freedom that Jesus set us free (Galatians 5: 1). Therefore, let us no longer be bound by all the things which entangle those without Jesus’ victory flowing through their bodies. Be free of the blindfold and the ties. They only serve to hold you back.

Independence Day

Galatians 5: 1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

I hope you have a wonderful Independence Day but even more, I pray you will never be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  There are all sorts of bondage, but Jesus set you free so that you would never have to be restrained by any of them.  Celebrate freedom but remember it was Jesus who set us free.

 

Free from Pain

2 Corinthians 5: 17 – 18            TPT

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new.

Most of the time when we think of this verse or talk about it, we refer to the sin nature of the old self. We think of when our habits were different, indeed our way of life was different. We’ve put away the drinking and partying. We’ve cleaned up our mouths. We have become kinder and gentler, thinking of others instead of just ourselves. Indeed, much about us and our lives has changed. Our “old man” is dead with its wicked ways and behold, we are made anew. I would like to think of this “new person” in a slightly different way today.

I was speaking with a friend today when she revealed that she had crashed on her bicycle when she was a child and so, to this day, doesn’t ride a bike. Before the day was out, someone else told me the same thing. There are incidents from the past that continue to dictate our present and determine our futures. However, we are new creatures. Can we bury the scars of the past with the “old self?” God said we are an entirely new creation so why should we bring that old person’s trauma with us?

These two individuals may have scars on their knees but many of us are similarly carrying around scars. Perhaps our aren’t visible but they continue to predict our present and future like those bicycle crashes did. When we died with Christ and were raised up in him, we were supposed to leave the scars and blemishes in the grave. We were supposed to bury the past with all its tragedy and restriction. The new creature in Christ is full of life.

This kind of freedom comes to those who can receive it. The key language seems to be in the first sentence of today’s passage, “If anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation.” So let’s ask ourselves, “Are we enfolded into Christ?” What does that look like? What is the difference between someone who is and one who isn’t? If we can answer that question, or truly, even just ponder it purposefully, I think we may open new doors to life.

The moral to today’s story is, don’t let the scars of the past, whether emotional, spiritual or physical hold you back today. Don’t allow yesterday’s crash and burn to keep you off the bike. There is new life in Christ Jesus, but you’ve got to do the work to put that junk in the grave and cover it up with six feet of dirt. Then, and here is the really hard part, don’t go dig it back up. There is true freedom awaiting you and a life worth living. It is right there within reach. Put fear in the grave with worry and bad memories. Receive healing and refreshing. Let the new you arise!

Abiding Freedom

John 8: 31 – 32

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I wish to draw your attention to the two statements Jesus makes in this one sentence. Although there are two thoughts, he tied them together in one sentence. That is because He wanted us to understand that the two ideas are tied together.

First, if you want truly to be a disciple of Christ, then you must abide in his word. Now abiding is not a casual once in a while visit to his word. To abide in his word means to take residence in, to remain. Another definition is to submit to. If you want to be his disciple, then you are going to have to take up his word and live in it.

Secondly, if you are his disciple, then you will know the truth. Now, how do you suppose you are going to come to know the truth? Through his word, of course. The Lord will lead you to the truth and wisdom you need through his word. Then you will be set free because you will have the truth as it relates to your particular situation.

So, since these are causal statements let us look at this backwards going from the effect backwards to the cause. The end effect is that you will be free. Do you want to be free? Free from the burdens that have tormented you? Freedom comes from knowing the truth. Truth comes by being his disciple. You are his disciple if you abide in his word. Therefore, the beginning of your freedom is HIS WORD. It all begins and ends there because he is the living word.

Celebrating Independence

 

What does Independence Day mean to you?  We honor our currently serving service people as well as all veterans.  We have cookouts and fireworks.  For many of us it is about food and family.  Let us not forget, however, that this holiday is a celebration of our liberation from Colonial Great Britain and while Great Britain is a great friend of ours, we should recall that the nation many of us call home exists because people had a vision from God of what their lives and this land could be.  As we recall the price generations of people have paid for our liberty, let us not forget the original struggle for independence that is at the heart of this celebration.  Take it into your heart.  Think about the early framers and the men and women who made perilous journey’s to their “promised land” and gave us all the chance to live in a free country.  This is a great privilege and not one to be taken lightly.

Today we celebrate our independence.  We fought for our independence from Great Britain so that we would be answerable to only one authority, our God.  He is our king.  He is the original framer of this country.  Give Him worship for all He has done!

Carried by Love

Psalm 68 : 5 – 6          Passion Translation

To the fatherless he is a father. To the widow he is a champion friend. To the lonely he gives a family. To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy. This is our Holy God in his Holy Place! But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.

We saw yesterday that God is the perfect parent. Notice that the first three sentences have to do with family relationships. I think that is significant. Families provide individuals with much, so God stands ready to repair and restore family relationships and to be the person each of us needs whether a parent, brother, sister or spouse.

One version says that He is the defender of widows. Women didn’t have any standing of their own. They were either under the protection of their father or their husband. When a husband died, the powerless widow could easily become destitute and a target for those who prey on the weak. In fact, many had to turn to prostitution as the only means for generating income. It was rough, but God saw their plight those many years ago and He sees the challenges today. He is the champion of the widow, her defender, so if a person takes on the widow, he is taking on God. God stands in the shoes of the widow to protect her and her children.

Also, there are no lonely in Christ. He has ways to provide a family, beginning with Himself. He knows that humans need social contact and He does not want any of us to feel lonely.

The most interesting part, though, is His response to prisoners. What kind of prisoners do you think God has in mind here. I don’t think this is the conventional use of the word. The King James refers to the prisoners as those bound in chains. Looking in the Strong’s Concordance causes one to come away with the notion that these are people who are bound or who are being held against their will. God’s grace and compassion absolutely extends to people who are incarcerated as a result of their actions, but this verse seems to convey an image of those being held against their will or restrained. In that regard one might think in broader terms as in any person who is bound by anything or anyone. It might refer to someone who is imprisoned in an unhealthy relationship, maybe by marriage or maybe familial. Others are held captive by their past. Really, there are many ways we are shackled but the key is that God is here to set you free. But that is not all. He wants to shower you with prosperity until you sing for joy. That is so over the top and when God talks about prosperity He means everything in life is flowing with goodness and abundance. Sure, it means money, but it includes everything else too. God has an interesting reaction to setting the captives free. It is not enough for Him just to purchase their freedom. He wants to make up for everything that has been stolen from them as well. That is a good Father.

I am reminded of the words from Isaiah 40: 11, “In His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom.” That is the picture of our loving Father. He wants to gather you up in His arms and carry you next to His chest where no harm can befall you. No matter how you have been hurt in the past, God is here, now, to restore and heal you.