Friday, March 31, 2017

Real Freedom Requires Discipline

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
Real Freedom Requires Discipline - therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1b
I am free to do whatever I please ... and responsible for whatever it is I choose. God's desire and design is that I use it to live and act in Christ.  However, the demands of freedom cause many to return to the bonds of slavery.  But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? Galatians 4:9
Who would have thought that so many of the slaves after the Civil War in America would return to their masters of chains and bondage?  Freedom was before them but bondage was their way of life.  The Bible tells us we are free in Christ and yet so many times we find ourselves shackled and chained to our past feelings, thoughts, habits and religion.  We, like the slaves after the Civil War, forsake our freedom for a life of bondage, when we have been set free. 
The keys to our spiritual freedom were gained at Christ's death.  Christ has given us the keys of surrender, acceptance, confession, responsibility, forgiveness, transformation, and preservation to bring about spiritual renewal in each of our lives.  Too many prefer law over grace and the comfort of measurable religion to the freedom and adventure of a vibrant relationship with the living God.  To choose to be free means leaving conformity to the law and its condemnation to walk in the liberty of the Spirit of God within you.
How I Live Is The True Measure Of How Free I Am 
How much of my life is a freedom experience? Unless we accept God's gift of freedom we will never become who we are meant to be.  If the child never ventures beyond the comforting walls of hearth and home; if the adolescent does not cut the ties and head on off into this dangerous world to chart his or her own way.  If we as adults cannot at least for one small moment cease trying to live up to the expectations of others, and claim our freedom, we can never mature, and grow.
The work is done and the battle is won!  Jesus Christ has paid for our freedom.  "For freedom Christ has set us free."   God grants us our freedom unconditionally, without merit on our part, and without restriction as to how we may use it.  Now we have the opportunity to live free from the law of sin and death.

Scripture to Claim:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Real Freedom Requires Hard Choices

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
Eleanor Roosevelt once said Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being.  With freedom comes responsibility.  For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.  These words ring true with Christians as well.  We have been set free with the freedom Christ gave us but, we have a responsibility to make the right choice, and sometimes the right choice is the hard choice.  For the Christian that is unwilling to accept the responsibility that goes with the freedom, it should be a frightening prospect.
I am free to do whatever I please ... and responsible for whatever it is I choose. God's desire and design is that I use it to live and act in Christ.  As many young people know, sometimes making the choice to live and act in Christ is not always the choice that will gain you popularity or friends.  But if your “friends” are not your friends if you choose not to do something because of your Christian values, then they are not really your “friends”, are they?
In this world, everything to which we may become attached requires that we sacrifice our freedom.  That's certainly true of government, which taxes our paychecks, and passes laws that circumscribe our very comings and goings.  That's certainly true of fact taking on the responsibilities of a family requires perhaps a larger sacrifice of one’s freedom than almost anything I know.  Not to mention the freedoms that we sacrifice to much lesser things, like houses and cars and furniture, and all those possessions that end up taking possession of us. The numbers of people enslaved to debt, alcohol or other drugs, work, power, pornography, fame, electronics, shopping, the most and the latest; and endless other addictions show the power of poor use of our freedom.  You were once free and then you made a commitment to a job, to a marriage, to have children, to buy a house, own a boat, get a car and then responsibility for these things claimed your life.
Some are even slaves of religion and never experience the freedom Christ came to give.  That is the purpose of Paul’s writing.  Of all the freedoms that we lose because we can’t handle freedom, this is the most tragic.  When a believer chooses to follow Christ, it is not to be bound, but free.  The great paradox of the Christian faith is the freedom we find in servitude to Him.  For Jesus makes it clear that He came to set men free.  Freedom in Christ comes by only having one Lord and not being consumed with multiple lords.
Every commitment we have made limits the next decision we will make in our lives.  Every choice has consequences, though, and sometimes in making one choice, one decision, you find that once you are on the other side of that decision, once it is in the past and the decision made, you are now limited in what choices you are free to make next.
We are free to choose, but those choices have long-term consequences.  That's why Jesus said, "Count the cost."

Scripture to Claim:
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[b] of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


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

We easily refer to ourselves as a freedom loving people. Despite the fact that we aspire to freedom in our personal lives, and defend freedom among the nations of the world, still there is something about freedom that makes us uncomfortable.
It's not that we mind being free ourselves, it's mainly the thought of what others would do with their freedom if they had it.  We certainly don't want our children wandering the streets with the sense that anything goes.  We don't really believe that the teachers in our public schools should be free to teach anything they want to teach or promote any idea they want to promote.  Television and radio producers should not be free to broadcast any material they choose to broadcast, after all, there are certain limits to what can appear on our television screens.  So, though we are a freedom loving people, we are quick to say there ought to be certain limits upon our freedom.
In the scripture above, even Paul in his letter to the Galatians seems to backtrack from the implications of what his own words clearly attest. For though he makes the flat-out declaration in chapter five of Galatians, "for freedom alone, Christ has set us free." Just a few verses later in verse 13 we find him trying to qualify and circumscribe the scope of our freedom. "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh."
For though it is true that you are no longer "under the law," as Paul puts it, still he has a long list of behaviors in verses 19-21 we are to avoid: namely, "fornication, impurity, licentiousness ... enmity, jealousy, anger."  Having declared that it is for freedom and freedom alone that God has set us free, the apostle Paul immediately proceeds to tell us what we may not do in the name of freedom. Sounds like the law sneaking into freedom's house through the back door to me! We quickly try to define freedom, confine it, limit it and control it. And there we are back to law where we are more comfortable.
Ironically freedom is something we are prepared to fight for and if necessary even to die for, but once we have achieved it, we're all too anxious about the consequences of our victory.  For the truth is, we don't really trust either others or ourselves to appreciate or handle freedom when we've found it.  Freedom is a dangerous thing for those who are not concerned with the consequences of the abuse of their freedom.  God does want us to enjoy our freedom, responsibly.  
We are only free when we allow God to freely come to help us and we gratefully and joyfully trust His help instead of becoming slaves of the law.  When we turn to a yoke of slavery, we have wasted His beautiful gift to us.  We can live joyfully free lives, basking in His mercy and grace because Christ has set us free. 

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Romans 5:1

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