Happy Birthday

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 been savoring the sweet taste of freedom this weekend.  I imagine many of you have today off to celebrate our political freedom.  As you do, say a thank you to Jesus for your personal freedom as well.  You know, the two are interconnected.  Political freedom is not worth much without personal freedom.  The price has been paid by countless citizens for our religious, political and personal freedom but it was Jesus who created the platform by which others have been able to stand for the liberties we now enjoy.

I am so very grateful for those who paid the price and for all who continue to pray for our country and our leaders today.  Freedom still has a high cost but praise our Lord who gave us freedom so that we could pursue liberty.  Thank you Lord.  And Happy Birthday America!

Released

Psalm 129: 4

The Lord is righteous. He has cut me loose from the ropes that wicked people tied around me.

It is my guess that everyone has felt hindered or bound at some point in their lives. Most people experience times when it seems they are being held back and we ask, “What is preventing me from reaching my goals?” The good news is that the answer becomes irrelevant in Christ Jesus.

Here is an Old Testament principle, God has cut the ropes which bound us. Jesus is the new revelation and a sharp sword. I am imagining a movie scene of a person being held prisoner bound with ropes. There is no rope which has ever been fabricated strong enough to withstand the sharp edge of the Word. He has released you.

No matter what has ever hampered you, whether that be a poor upbringing, a lacking self-image, evil people, whatever has stunted your growth and progress, those obstacles are vanquished in the resurrection of Jesus. Doesn’t that thrill your heart? Maybe you did not have all the advantages of others, but you can finish your race proudly. God’s righteousness has severed all the restricting bonds. He has given you freedom. Glory to His most holy name!

Blessing is yours, and liberty, as you meditate on this verse from today’s psalm. See the ropes falling away as you fly on the wings of angels. Be blessed!

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.