Live Free

Live Free

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

My father is a Vietnam War veteran. He served multiple tours of duty when I was very young. I remember my mother putting me in pretty little dresses and fixing my hair in little pony tails while she got all fancied up to go meet him at the airport for furlough. I also remember the rainy morning before sun rise when my son after a swift hug and smile hopped on a bus full of soldiers to spend a year in the Middle East. A child missing her daddy and then a mother whose heart was stretched halfway around the world – a price paid for freedom. I was watching television with my dad many years ago when the news covered protestors burning the American Flag all the while calling those who defend us horrible names. He told me not to worry about it. He was defending their freedom, too. It was thanks to the men and women who sacrifice that afford them the right to state their opinion. I was appalled to think of all those who do not come home or come home changed that must endure the attacks of those whose rights they were upholding.

We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today is Independence Day. The word “liberty” is important. Liberty is freedom from arbitrary government or control. It is freedom from external rule. It means independence. Liberty is freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the right to do, think, or speak according to personal choice. It means freedom from captivity, confinement or physical restraint. We are set free through the Blood of Jesus Christ. For freedom Christ has set us free but we must be careful not to fall back into bondage. To pursue life, liberty and happiness are set forth in the Declaration of Independence which is our right as Americans. To pursue life, liberty and happiness as set forth by the Word of God is truly our freedom to prosper as Children of God and residents of His Kingdom.

James 1:22-25 (ESV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

In John 8, it tells us that “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Let’s talk for a minute about freedom in Christ. Some may say that it is not freedom at all but more stringent and restrictive. We are instructed to be doers of the Word. There is no penalty imposed or restriction placed on us by God if we choose to use our freedom to pursue other things. Born into the slavery of sin, it is Christ who frees us. My grandson is only five months old. When he doesn’t get his way, he pitches a fit. His mom and dad didn’t teach him to be impatient. Neither one demonstrated what exactly to do when one does not get their way or get it fast enough. No, the little man came prewired and predisposed to sin. As a baby, it is kind of funny when he insists on his way because he such a little human. However, when he is fifteen doing the same thing it won’t be quite as enamoring nor if he carries such behavior into adulthood. We are born slaves to sin and self. Jesus Christ sets us free. We must secure our freedom by doing what the Word says. This is not to complete the work of the Cross – it is finished. The keys to death and the grave belong to us along with the keys to the kingdom. We choose the doors opened and pathways chosen in our life because Christ has set us free and we are free.

To live a life of liberty and true freedom means we have the right to choose how to live our life. God created the world and everything in it then He placed mankind here. He proclaimed it to be good and that was that. People were here a very short time and gave up freedom for a lie. They chose something other than what God instructed. Immediately, they were removed from the garden. Separated from God by choice. This incurred a debt. The debt had to be paid for freedom to be secured. Jesus came and paid our sin debt in full giving us back our freedom to choose. One may decide to use that freedom to build a life of complete unity with Christ, a fully restored relationship with Father God and to attain the Kingdom OR something else. In no way does our choice nullify the price paid for our freedom to choose or evoke God’s Punishment in any way otherwise declaring His Grace insufficient and not enough.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (ESV) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We have been set completely free by Jesus Christ. According to God, there is no longer such a thing as impossibility in our life. Every door is open to us. Freedom withholds nothing from us. Liberty allows us to anything. The bottom line is choice. How do we choose to use our freedom? God created you with a plan, gave you a purpose, marked out a pathway, and filled your life with promises. In fact, every spiritual promise is already released to you in Christ. You are free to live in complete freedom and enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom. Or you can decide that this world is what you want and use your freedom to invest in this life rather than eternity. You cannot get mad at God or call Him a liar because you did not choose wisely. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the variable in our success or failure to achieve a rich and satisfying life. Fulfillment is already prescribed for us – we must only choose it.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (I Corinthians 2:12) God has given us His Spirit. Where His Spirit is there is liberty. Freedom to know and understand the terms of our covenant and all the benefits of relationship. Faith will open every door in God’s Kingdom. Grace gives us power to overcome our weaknesses. We have the power of life and death in our tongue. The keys to death and the grave as well. There is nothing withheld from those who love God and pursue Him. We are set free to do just that. We must choose wisely when it comes to liberty. To use our freedom to continue to open the doors of purpose, promise and prosperity. God will not force His Unfailing Love and Goodness on us but rather gives us the freedom to choose the life so desired. Live free. Live well.

John 8:31-32 (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

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The Price

The Price

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

I have a new guilty pleasure. A friend recommended that I try the grocery pickup service. Each week I make a list for the coming week of all the food and household items needed for the coming week. On Thursday or Friday, after work I make my way to the store and spend one to two hours filling the cart with everything on my list and everything else that catches my eye. After making my purchase, I push the overflowing cart to the car and proceed to unload the haul. Get a ten-minute rest on the drive home, unload it all again, and begin putting everything away. Sigh. Well not anymore… I tried the online grocery ordering. Walking through the house filling the cart based on the contents of the fridge and pantry, I asked everyone if they needed anything adding those items, too. Finally, with a huge intake of breath, I pressed submit order choosing a time for pickup. Using location services on my phone, the associate tracked my progress to the store. I parked in the designated delivery zone and a gentleman walked out with my purchases. He showed me substitutions and had me sign for them. The entire exchange took about five whole minutes and to top it all off it saved me a great deal of money on wasteful impulse shopping. Currently, the program does not charge a fee for this service. But if they do, I would probably still use them because considering the cost of my time and energy – it is totally worth it!

I have shared my experience with friends. Many scrutinize and question the quality like “what about produce” or “what if the bread is not soft”. The store offers full refunds if you are not full satisfied with your order. You can request no substitutions on items out of stock. Other people decide they are just not that “organized” etc. What is right for me is not for everyone. There are some things I would rather select for myself and pop into the fancy grocer to pick up these items using a whopping five or ten whole minutes. We must consider the cost of our everyday choices in all areas of life to decide how to budget our time, energy and resources including our new life in Jesus Christ. It will cost something – every choice has a consideration, consequence and cost. My bananas were slightly yellower and a little bruised this time but they doubled another item. Did I decide to stop using the grocery pickup service? Absolutely not!

“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Reconciliation of our life to the one Christ has given us is a personal choice. It means to bring into agreement and harmony or make compatible and consistent. It requires change. There are some who know Jesus but choose to use their freedom to satisfy their flesh. Even the demons know Jesus and tremble, so it is the same with people. They know of Him but do not live in a relationship with Him. Each day mercy greets us at the door and grace is given to us to make it through the day. In fact, when we choose to live in the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ reconciling the details of our life to His Word, Will and Way – there is new growth potential in our pursuit of God’s Best.

We decide if the cost of our life is too great to follow Jesus. Those who desire to reconcile their life to Jesus will have to be ready for change. Jesus does not change. Like Father God, He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. The Bible says that the Word of God will not return to Him void. Jesus is the Word. With this in mind, we must count the cost of discipleship. There were only twelve original disciples and they did not all make it to the Cross, see the tomb or experience the resurrection of Jesus. To give one’s life is the bearing of our soul and allowing the Lord to mold and shape our life according to His Plan and Purpose and release its full potential. But you will never be forced to do so. Reconciliation to Christ is a choice. We must consider the cost.

Luke 14:26-33 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

“Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

The cost of discipleship is not required of all. You are not required to be a “disciple” of Jesus Christ. John 8 tells us that the Truth sets you free. The Word is Truth. Jesus is the Word. It also tells us that whoever the Son sets free is free indeed which means you don’t have to choose to live for God or His Kingdom. It is up to you. But if you do not pay the price – you do not make the purchase. Jesus died for you. He went to hell and took back your life for you. He hands it over to you and allows you to decide how to live it. Those who desire a relationship with Jesus Christ will reconcile their life to Him and those who do not will use their freedom as they choose. However, if you desire the Kingdom and all that it has to offer – the only choice is discipleship. Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gives us access to the Father. We must only give our life to Him.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

“Discipleship can tolerate no conditions which might come between Jesus and our obedience to him.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

What does the Kingdom of Heaven have to offer you today? Have you thought about it? There is a natural designation between Heaven and earth. Humanity considers today where we live and eternity where one resides after death. Like Martha when Jesus came to awaken Lazarus, our heart wants to believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life for today but logic tells us that He is our eternal hope that new life is not an everyday happening. The Lord will be the Resurrection and Life to those who believe and have faith for today not fully invested in forever. We must believe that God is a Living God and that we live in the Presence of God or Heaven on earth today. The realm of hope is not restricted to the next breath after death. It is for everyday life as well.

The price paid to know the Living God today requires a purchase. The more expensive the item the more careful the consideration. The investment of entire life is probably the most valuable of all. What will you lay down your life and everything you own for? That is your treasure. The mouth speaks from the abundance of your heart. What do you talk about? What do you dream of? What is your greatest desire? What fuels your passion? What are you pursuing? Be careful in your consideration. The heart is fickle and our mind plays tricks on us. We can believe one thing but live completely to the contrary. Until our heart, mind and mouth agree, life will be plagued with cyclic frustration. We must live what we believe. We must decide what we will give our life for. The man found a treasure worth having so he sold everything to own it. The merchant found a choice pearl. When he discovered its value and worth, he sold everything and bought it. I wonder if maybe we do not see the value and worth of reconciling our whole life to Christ so we give Him bits and pieces waiting and praying for a full return. The man who bought the field was given a price. He decided it was worth it and paid it. The pearl was appraised and deemed quite valuable. The merchant considered its price and the possible yield on his return so he invested fully to own it. How important is God’s Kingdom on earth to you? Is it worth it? Is it worth it all?

Luke 15:8-10 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

The economy of Heaven and wealth of the Kingdom is souls. Human souls are what the Lord desires. He yearns for His Beloved Children to all return home. God gave His Son to make a way for our return to His Home. He searches high and low. He will stop at nothing to give us eternal life. In the meantime, He gives us faith to obtain blessings and promises that benefit our life now. Here. In the land of the living. God loves unconditionally and grace is always enough. I must decide if I will pay the price and count the cost of travel from the natural to the supernatural. Like a business venture or any other investment, I must decide if it will be worth it. A half-hearted investment will not give a full bodied return.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

And live righteously… These words are often misinterpreted. Righteousness is provided by Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is to maintain right standing with God. It is not a religious endeavor. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve salvation or the Favor of God in my life. My flesh and pride so would like to though for this is how they can stay alive. Jesus has promised a new life to those who live reconciled to Him. This is the life of discipleship. To put all of our life in studying, following and imitating Christ. To seek the Kingdom first above all else is reflected in our choices. What a man sows He reaps. Sow Kingdom seeds and bear Fruit of His Spirit. To live all in opens the windows and doors of Heaven in our life. It comes at a price. It means that I must relinquish my rights and step fully into righteousness. I must lose my life to find it. I have to lose my life in Jesus. God is not calling us to suffer for Jesus Christ. He is asking for our soul. As our soul prospers, our natural life will be impacted Heaven’s Economy. You cannot experience Heaven on earth living in your present condition. Repentance and reconciliation to Jesus every single minute of every single day changes us forever into the new creation that Jesus promised. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I am all in today. I want all that His Kingdom has for me. I have decided to follow Jesus! How about you?

Mark 8:36 (NLT)  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Discipline says, “I need to.” Duty says, “I ought to.” Devotion says, “I want to.” (Adrian Rogers)

Free Indeed

Free Indeed

John 8:36 (NKJV) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. People gather to cook out, go to the beach, watch fireworks and enjoy the freedom men and women literally died to attain and maintain for us in America.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble of the Constitution)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Preamble of the Declaration of Independence)

A preamble is an introductory statement of a contract stating the purpose, aims and justifications of the document or contract it prefaces. It is a summary of purpose. Clearly it was the purpose and aim of our forefathers to establish “a more perfect union”. In doing so, they determined the presiding factors of such a place to be “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To insure domestic tranquility, provide a secure place for families to prosper, to promote the welfare of all people, and secure the “blessings of liberty for ourselves” and “posterity” meaning future generations. They believed that these truths were self-evident. All men are created equal and they are “endowed” meaning provided these rights by Creator. This country was founded by people who believed in God. They served God. They established these historical documents including the Bill of Rights with the prosperity of God in mind whether anyone likes it or not. The freedom described in these articles also give people the right to choose not to acknowledge God without forsaking their freedom.

Enough of the history lesson for today – my son is a history buff but did not get if from his mother. Last night and into this morning, John 8:36 played over and over in my thoughts and dreams until I finally had to seek it out in a quiet place. The Lord promises us freedom. The Sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ is all about freedom. Liberty to choose who to serve in our natural life. I know that when I see someone desecrate the American Flag anger rises inside of me. My first thought is not Christ-like at all, but rather if they don’t like it here then why don’t they choose a country more to their liking and belief system. But the soldier on the battlefield fighting for my rights as an American is fighting for freedom not legality. The person who decides to burn the flag is given that right by the very same servant giving up their time and risking their life for me. It is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. The same applies to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Jesus Christ died for every person ever created by God. The freedom of choice gives each person the right to decide if Jesus will be their personal Savior and Lord. Just the same, they have the right to reject Him. Love demands a choice. If there is no choice, there is no love.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

“Made free” comes from the word “eleuthero” which means to liberate, acquit, set free, and deliver. In the New Testament, it is used exclusively to describe freedom attained through Jesus Christ. Jesus has set us free from sin and death. But are we pursuing and exercising our rights of freedom according to His Word, Will, Nature and Holiness? Freedom in Christ is not a “get out of hell free” card to be used when meeting the Lord face-to-face. There are rights and responsibilities of freedom in the way we live each day. I was born in the United States. I have only known a lifestyle of freedom given by the laws and bylaws of this nation. It is not foreign to me. I was taught all about this country’s history and heritage from grade school to college. Freedom is comfortable to me because it is all that I have known. But to reborn in Jesus Christ introduces a new way of life. I am a new creation. I must learn what freedom in Jesus is all about because it is contradictory to my nature and the place I live now.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The word “liberty” used in this passage comes from a variation of the same word as “made free”. “Elutheria” means freedom from slavery, independence, absence of external restraint, a negation of control or domination, and freedom of access. The Lord is a Spirit. The Spirit who lives in you and me is none other than the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We have access to all of His Power and Strength to attain every promise He has made. We have the freedom to pursue and attain all things given to us as an inheritance. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. I ask you today – are you exercising your liberty today? Do you feel free in Jesus Christ? There is a distinct difference between knowing something and believing it. It is called trust. Given access to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we can come boldly before His Throne and achieve all of His Plan and Purpose walking daily in freedom. The Glory of the Lord is evidence of transformation in our life. Is your life glorious today? If you are like me, just knowing Jesus has made my life radically different for the better. But in those times that I was able to apply my mustard seed of faith to trust Him, I have seen supernatural and miraculous results.

Today we celebrate liberty as American citizens, but what about our citizenship in Heaven? The founding fathers of this great country believed in a Creator who endowed His People with blessings and prosperity. Do you believe that today? Take some time, just a few minutes from all the festivities, and thank God for your freedom as His Child. I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you the way to greater freedom and liberty in His Son Jesus Christ. To step out of bondage. To claim your blessings. To walk in victory. To live the life that Jesus died for you to have. I have a taste of freedom in Christ, but today I want more. I want to know the glorious existence found in full transformation into the Image of God through Christ. I want to know what it means to be free indeed. Free from fear, worry, stress and anxiety. Delivered from every shackle and chain that tries to bind me to the past and keep me from my future. To live in the abundance and prosperity promised in the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord to us.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty…I wonder if that is the missing link to our spiritual success. The bridge that takes us to transformation marked by trust. It is easy to claim our natural rights according to the law of the land. Today, make a commitment to claim every spiritual blessing offered in Christ. It is our rights as Christians but we must be believers. Joseph Prince said, “You fight from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.” Jesus secured the win for us. We have been given freedom and liberty to walk in His Love. He promises to work all the details for our good and His Glory. We must stand. Standing is tough. We must make faith logical by studying God’s Word, communicating with Him and partnering with His Spirit for freedom’s sake. There is a whole new life full of new possibilities as a new creation only when we choose freedom!

Psalm 119:45 (NKJV) And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.