Sunday, September 18, 2016

Coping vs. Freedom


Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
Once a drug addict,always a drug addict.  
Once an addict of anything, always an addict.
At AA meetings people introduce themselves saying, “ I am so and so, and I am an alcoholic, even if they haven’t had a drink in 25 years.
Why is that?  
They acknowledge that they have no power to truly free themselves.
They will carry that problem to their grave.  No freedom, just coping.
They are powerless to get free.
The best they can do is modify their behavior, change their habits.
Real change is humanly impossible.
But, there is good news. Nothing is impossible with God.
And it is the best news.  
You don’t have to do anything to better yourself.
All you need to do is yield yourself to God and allow him
to work that change in you.
Jesus did it all.  When he died on the cross, we died with him.  
When we are born again, we learn that we were in him when he died.  Our old self, the alcoholic, drug addict, etc. died with him.
We are no longer slaves to that sin or any sin.  Once we are born again with the life of God in us and truly see that our old person is dead, we don’t have to be slaves to any sin.  We can truly be free.
If we recognize our old self is dead, we are free.
Nothing can bother a dead person, right?
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, your are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. And if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”

Romans 6:6-11  “..6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lord God, we are so grateful for the life-changing work Jesus did on the cross for us. Help us understand by faith what exactly happened to us in that work so you can create in us a brand new person that will bring honor to your name.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Daily Choice

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross
daily, and follow me.”  
Luke 9:23 Taking up our cross is simply saying no to ourselves,
to give up all rights to control our life.
The question each day is of who do we serve?
Do we serve ourselves or do we serve God? If we serve ourselves,
we are in control and are dominated by our unbelieving natural person.
If we choose to serve God, we can depend on his power to
enable us for whatever the day has in store.
Paul admonishes them that just as they presented themselves to sin,
so now they are to turn from that life and present themselves to God.  
Paul explains in the letter to the Roman believers that they were not to
present themselves as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but to
present themselves to God as being alive from the dead.
We can be dead to the world and all its effects on our life.
Flesh, the natural person, is of no use to God. Only newly born, spiritual, is of value. No natural abilities or talents are of use to God until they have gone through death.
Without passing through death there is nothing to offer God.
Paul explains in Romans 6 that we died with Christ.  When we are born again we are born into the life of Jesus Christ so that
when he died, we died with him.  
When he arose we rose with him to a brand new life.
Now it is a simple matter of who we yield to.  
We are to know that we are dead.
Romans 6:6, 11, and then reckon it(count it)so.
We are to know that we are alive
Romans 6:9, 11,  and then reckon it so.
So, who we present ourselves to is a daily choice.  What will be your outlook today?
To yield to God or control you own life?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Christian Rebellion - Living our own lives

Are we truly the Lord’s people?  Or do we live in rebellion when we choose to go our own way instead of being obedient to our Lord?
It might not be anything big,
but if it is us insisting on doing what we want instead of being yoked together with Christ…...it is rebellion.

We try to minimize the importance of our actions.
It is a small thing, unimportant. Like a white lie.
No matter the color we give the lie, it is still a lie, and
independence is still independence.

Independent living not only affects our relationship with God, but it affects the body of Christ.
           We act like our lives do not affect other people
We choose to think that the life we live does not matter to the person sitting across the aisle at church.
But, it does. Being a Christian reaches farther than ourselves.

When we become a Christian we become part of the body of Christ.
When we live in rebellion we are preventing Christ from using us.
We are hindering part of his body from functioning properly, like he has designed.

No wonder we are ineffectual as a church. We are a group of people loosely connected, but not functioning as one because we are too busy living our own lives.
Is it any wonder that the youth are leaving?  We say we are one thing, but don’t live it.
Is Sunday morning worship all we have?  
How do we function as a body if the only time we are together is for church sponsored    activities?  

What about the other days of the week? Are we connected to others during the week?  
Who do we care about on Monday or Tuesday?
Are we mindful of others? Does anyone need us for something on Friday?

Maybe we are content to be saved….. Period.
Making it to heaven is all that concerns us. We don’t want the corporate responsibility of belonging to the body of Christ.
Is this what we are telling Jesus Christ by our choices, lifestyle, how we spend our time? Are we saying, “Thanks for saving me, but that is all you get from me. Bless me, but don’t ask me to be available to you  to be part of your body, your family. I don’t want the responsibility.”?

One more thought - do we realize that we are part of his body in this nation?
Part of his body worldwide?
How does our lives affect someone in another state, another country?

Maybe we could make Colossians 1:9-12 our daily prayer for other individuals, churches, and bodies of Christ in other nations.
Lord, help us to expand our lives, to make room for others, to be aware of the needs others may be experiencing, and to make ourselves available to you to use to pour out your love and compassion. Help us to always be available for you to break into our lives for your purposes.
1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
Philippians 2:4  Let each of you lookout not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others.
Romans 15:5-6  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:4-5  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

True Freedom

How do we get free from stress, fears, worry, etc.? It is only possible when we allow God to live through us. It falls on his shoulders to deal with our problems when we step aside and let him live through us.
Much of the time we Christians think that it is up to us to live the Christian life. How many of us invited God into our lives then wonder why life is not going so well? So we try harder. We mistakenly think God has mercifully forgiven us and saved us, but it is up to us to live right. That is not true. It is not our responsibility.
He wants us to be like a branch of a vine or tree. The branch's life comes from the vine or tree itself. Our ability to grow, deal with elements, or produce fruits does not come from our abilities. If the branch were to be cut off from the vine then no fruit would be produced, we would stop growing and die. We were grafted into the vine when he forgave us and accepted us into his family. He didn't save us then leave us separated from himself.
We have been placed into Christ, who lives forever. When we are placed into Christ then all that he has and is, is ours. When God adopts us into his family and we become members of his household, we have all his resources at our disposal. He is our source of freedom.
When we are born again we are placed into Christ, so were in him when he died. We died too.  Most do not know this. This is where true victory is, where life is. When we realize that our old self died on the cross, then we are truly free from all that would bother us. After all, what can bother a corpse?  If we are dead and out of the way, God can live through us. He will cause us to live triumphantly. God is not bothered by fears, doubts, depression, anger, perversion or any emotional problems.
So if he lives through us, we will have his abilities and his guidance. Every moment of every day of every week, month, and year. That is where true liberty is. We have been set free from ourselves and our shortcomings to live for God. If we stay out of the way(it is a choice), allowing God to be the center of our life, at the controls we will live in complete freedom.
John 8:36 If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Relinquishment

Relinquishment - giving up, letting go, giving it to another to care for
Have you ever wanted a toddler to let go of something that might not be safe, or might be breakable? They think they want it, need it, must have it. But when you offer them something they find more interesting, tastier, better, they will let go, relinquishing what they are holding on to.
Our Father God wants us to surrender our lives to him. He wants us to trust him to provide for us an abundant life of joy and peace.  But, we think we know what will make us happy or our children happy, etc. So we spend our lives struggling hard with all the complications and obligations of life that can cause a lot of stress which, in turn, can cause problems. God wants us to trust him.
We can’t imagine a God we cannot see controlling our lives. It might be difficult to surrender our lives to him because the here and now, the tangible, is all we’ve known. This step of faith, really is a leap of faith.  When we do leap into the water of unknown depth, this trust in God, we find we don’t die. Life isn’t horrible, trying or disappointing. Rather, it becomes an adventure that gets more exciting as we grow in Him and learn he is trustworthy.
Because we are so limited in our understanding of God and his ways, this appears to be the greatest contradiction of all time - losing to find, dying to live.  It is the kingdom of God way. This life of opposites. Lose to gain. We don’t lose with the goal of gaining. To gain is not the goal. To lose is the goal. We lose all for Him, and the gaining is incidental. In simply walking with Him we find a beautiful life.
Surrendering to God is the door to the rest he promises. We can then say with Apostle Paul that we are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we’ve committed to Him against that day, 2 Timothy 1:12

Matthew 16:25  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his live for my sake will find it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Normal Christian Life pt. 3

Again, the normal Christian life - This time we will consider how our lives impact others. This normal Christian life includes all of our life. Every minute. When we choose to ignore God and do what we want even for just a few minutes or hours - when we take time off from being a Christian - we hurt the body of Christ. It will cause the body to malfunction.  
His purpose is to show the world his grace and power through those who belong to him, who have been born again, and who wear his name. We may not think our lives are all that important, but stop and think a minute. What lives does your life touch? My life touches my husband and two sons, at the very least, that is only in my home. Outside of my home, my life touches many lives.   
If I take time off while they are around, that affects their life. In turn, eventually, their lives touch other lives. The effect my decision had on their lives will be carried on to affect many others. If I take time off while out in public not only will that affect the picture I portray of God’s grace, but it puts me in a place of being separated from God, unable to hear his voice, unable to be used by him should he need me at that time. I have made myself unavailable to him.
Do you see what implications a life lived for self can have, even for a little while? I ask myself, “Does my life sully the name of Jesus?” Do I bring reproach on the grace of God? Am I bringing dishonor to Christ by my actions?”  
Unless we are a hermit, our lives have far reaching effects. Let’s live our lives in such a way that it will bring honor to God all the time. It is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. But, it does mean saying no to our old carnal self all the time.


Philippians 1:27  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…
Galatians 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 6:10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Panic Attack

Since I am going to be busy for several days I will publish this post a couple of days early. I want to share with you something that happened to me.
A couple of days ago I saw the devastated condition of a person that I care deeply about and I hadn’t seen in a few months.  It shook me to my core.  Later that evening  I contemplated this situation as I was doing my usual  walk and prayer time.  Tears flowed. Then I felt my throat constrict and my chest tighten. It  felt like my heart was literally breaking. My chest hurt. It was all I could do the keep walking and not break down on a public street. I wondered if this is what a panic attack felt like.  My heart hurt so bad. I could barely breathe.
It seemed like the devil was mocking my faith. It was a full out attack. If I could have seen into the spirit world I’m sure I would have seen demons surrounding me and laughing at me. The enemy is evil and likes to make us think that he has won.
At that moment God spoke to my heart letting me know that although it looked terrible, He was not finished working. A battle may have been won, and the enemy may look like he is winning, but the war is not over.
I realized that just because it doesn’t go my way doesn’t mean that God is not in control. I reminded myself His ways are higher than our ways. Then I took my eyes off the situation and closed my ears to the taunting. I focused on keeping my eyes on Jesus.
He is our source. We lose hope when we look to people to better themselves. Humanly speaking they can do nothing to better themselves spiritually. Only God can affect any spiritual change. And He has his own plans which don’t necessarily match our plans.
In John chapter 15 He said that if we abide in Him we could ask what we would and it would be done for us. And in 1 John chapter 5 he promises that if we pray according to His will we know that He hears us, and we will receive what we asked for. I reminded myself that salvation is God’s will for everyone. So I knew I was praying according to His will.
I took a deep breath and began to praise God for being so kind and patient with me.  I focused my mind on Jesus, and the joy of the Holy Spirit began to bubble up in my heart.  He is so good.

He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9