Posts Tagged freedom

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.

No More Condemnation

Romans 8: 1 – 2

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Isaiah 61: 1 is Jesus’ commission. It is the passage he read which marked the launch of his public ministry. Let’s see what that means to this passage from Paul to the Romans. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” The Tree of Life version says that Jesus’ job was to free “those who are bound.” Bondage is, therefore, no more to those who are in Christ.

The prisoners are set free because Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death. This is the very essence of Jesus’ proclamation of liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We are no longer under the condemnation of the law because we have been set free.

This is a difficult passage in one way. Although it is great news, we can find it difficult in application because it touches on sin, judgment and forgiveness, all of which are very full and challenging topics. Here is what we all need to understand, though. Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Where Jesus exists there is life, light and liberty. Therefore, if you feel under condemnation, I would have you approach Jesus directly because he did not leave his blood on a cross so that you should live under condemnation.

This is not a license to sin. Who in their right mind thinks such a thing? We are to live our lives honorably to the Lord, our lives being our worship. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me,” (Galatians 2: 20). Surely that is an intense statement of purpose. That is the only law worthy of our conversation, that we live our lives to Christ who willingly died for us. But doesn’t that statement also call us up to higher ground? I want you to live a life which honors Jesus’ sacrifice. That does not mean dead works. It means purposeful worship through your work, your daily workout, your diet, and even your driving practices. It means living with Jesus beside you every step of your day. It explicitly does not mean that you should feel condemned because you do or don’t do some of the things your church buddies think you ought. You better be able to take all you are and all you do into the very presence of the Almighty. If you cannot, then deal with that issue, but don’t let the law, or other people’s version of it put you under condemnation.

I believe this is a very freeing verse, but I also think it is saturated with personal responsibility to the Lord Jesus. I will not make his blood of no consequence nor shall I take his and the Father’s sacrifice for granted. At the same time, I will not let another use Jesus’ martyrdom as an opportunity to imprison the beloved. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5: 1).

True Freedom

John 8: 32

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Jesus said that when we know the truth, that truth will set us free. What truth is it that will set you free? Does this sound simplistic? Perhaps it does but it reveals a deep truth that is often overlooked. Only the truth about you, will set you free. The truth about me will do little to change your life. We can learn from other people’s examples and that is incredibly valuable but what sets a person free is that truth about themselves which they accept in their innermost being, that truth which they allow to have a transformative impact.

You could go to a four day seminar and hear the truth all day long for the entire four days and never let one bit of it impact you. You may even sit there thinking about all the people you know who need to hear this wisdom. You will only get your money’s worth when you allow the truth to penetrate to your heart and hear what it means in your own life. A healthy self-esteem allows us to let Jesus speak to our hearts. When we are not secure, then these lessons become a threat. We don’t want to hear advice and teaching from others because it challenges our façade, threatening to reveal the real us which lies just below the thin mask we wear.

Another major revelation can be had by seeing this verse in context, “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,”  (John 8: 31 – 32). Jesus spoke, here, to believers. Of course, even though they were Jewish, they were also converts. Jesus presented a new way of thinking. He told them how to become disciples. That is to continue in his word, which is a viable test of discipleship even ‘til today. There is more though, and it is important that we not miss the nexus between verse 31 and verse 32. You see here that the truth comes from the Word. If you continue in the Word and you allow that Word to speak to your heart, then you will not only prove yourselves disciples, but you will also set yourself free from the bondage of your past. When you meditate on this verse, it will grow such that you will see that it truly does have great power to set at liberty the captives, which, after all, is part of Jesus’ commission.

There is a distinct difference between reading the Word, studying the Word and allowing it to transform your life. Those of you who can say, “Amen” to that statement have experienced the soul shaking power of the Word. It penetrates even to the deepest parts, when we allow it, and heals the broken heart. It finds places within us where strong ropes of belief, misunderstanding and hurt have tied us down to living life within those restraints. Jesus meant for us to be free. He came to set us free and it is his word and the truth it reveals about us to us that breaks the yoke of bondage off of us.

Get real with yourself and with Jesus. It is not painful. He isn’t looking to tell you what a loser you are. You and others have done that plenty well enough already. Jesus wants you to know how loved and valuable you are. He wants to reveal lies you have believed which have kept you from the life he prepared for you. He wants to give you abundance. If you will allow him and his truth into the deepest, darkest recesses of your heart, he will heal the hurts and shine his light in your heart. It’s all good. Don’t be afraid.

Sanctuary or Prison?

2 Corinthians 10: 3 – 4

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

Today, we hear God tell us that the weapons of the Spirit are divinely powerful and will destroy fortresses. Think of the word fortress also as stronghold. The Word of God will utterly destroy the stronghold of the enemy. But, guess who else has strongholds. Sure, all of us. We have mental and emotional strong holds that need to be defeated. The Word of God is sharp and sure and you can use it to destroy your own strongholds.

What are some strongholds that people often have? Well, we carry around all kinds of emotional baggage for starters. Strongholds can be little areas we retreat into when we are threatened. Strongholds can also be old and outdated traditions. Sometimes we adhere strictly to traditions that no longer make any sense. Maybe you lock yourself away in a fortress of fear. Even sickness and injury can be strongholds. Frankly, sometimes it is easier to be sick than to get up and fight to get well or whole. I know. Perhaps you rely on someone else to your own detriment. There is always a balance between leaning to heavily on others and being self-reliant to a fault. There are probably innumerable strongholds that we hide away in but the Word of God is strong enough to destroy all of those secret fortresses. While we have used those strongholds to protect ourselves, in truth they are keeping us from being whole. They have a high cost. They keep us disabled. They prevent us from reaching our true potential. Most importantly, they rob us of ever having healthy relationships with our Father and with others. They were convenient for a season but now it is time to break out of all those little dark fortresses we have built up within ourselves. They keep us from truly experiencing the freedom that we could have in Christ. Most of them are built out of lies and misconceptions anyway.

You no longer need a made up fortress to protect you from hurt. You are an adult in Christ now and you can take on the biggest baddie that the devil ever created because you don’t have to fight anything in your own might any longer. You don’t have to hide away in fear any more. When the light of the son shines on those old fears, you will see them for the lies they are. You will see how much greater the son is than those problems. You can truly be free and you can develop into the person that God intended you to be before those things interfered with your development. Let the light of the Word shine and vanquish those little demons that have plagued you for so long.

Blessed Independence Day

 

I pray that you have a blessed and safe Fourth. As we celebrate liberty, independence and freedom let us also remember and envision the United States as a nation divinely appointed under God!

Memorial Day

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

Galatians 5: 1

Our freedom was not free to Jesus nor to the many people who have fought to preserve it.  We must be diligent, daily, to stand firm for those many blessings, including freedom, that Jesus and so many others have died to secure for us.  Lest we forget . . . .

Blessings on this day of remembrance.