Winning Into Freedom

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7 NKJV

It is a miracle. The liberty issue we were fighting for in the recent election actually won. All the odds were against us. I am amazed, and thankful beyond words.

Looking back, I wish I could say that I always took the high road in the game. I had never been involved in anything political before, and this was a nasty argument. Widely publicized debates, editorials, press conferences, and letters to the editor abounded with each side accusing the other of misrepresentation, lies, and emotionalism.

My husband was in the public eye and was attacked personally in many ways. I was handling it pretty well. However, as the pressure mounted things were spiraling out of control. Then finally, I broke. I wrote a comment to post on a website. I sent it to my husband and he approved it. My heart was racing as I posted the comment, but I did not believe I was unjustified in making it. And I wasn't. 

However…I was not merciful. Even though I did not slander anyone personally, and I was careful to not say anything out of anger, it was not merciful. And it left me sad, and honestly ashamed. I could no longer say that for the most part I acted with complete integrity.

I do not believe that God has asked us to do anything that He will not empower us to do. The things that happen to us that are the most unjust will not be possible for us to forgive in our own strength. And while victory is sweet in an election, there is no greater victory than being in the center of God's will.

The following quote from Barnes Notes on the Bible sheds more light on the divine subject of mercy:  

Nowhere do we imitate God more than in showing mercy. In nothing does God delight more than in the exercise of mercy, Exodus 34:6; Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9.

To us, guilty sinners; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe, He has shown His mercy by giving His Son to die for us; by expressing His willingness to pardon and save us; and by sending His Spirit to renew and sanctify our hearts.

Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of His undeserved mercy. All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of His mercy.

If we, then, show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty, it shows that we are like God. We have His Spirit, and shall not lose our reward. And we have abundant opportunity to do it.

Our world is full of guilt and woe, which we may help to relieve; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, to show that we are like God.

Selah.



Steady My Heart

“And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:30-32 HCSB

Emotion is a powerful thing. It can be difficult to manage, especially anger. Not long ago I was struggling to understand anger. I stumbled upon a sermon by pastor Blaine Smith, and read this:

Anger is not a sinful emotion but a human one. Dangerous? Yes, in the same way that energy itself is dangerous. But like any energy source, it can be channeled in a positive or harmful direction. Much of the key to dealing effectively with anger is learning to harness it and direct it in ways which glorify Christ and reflect His best intentions for our life.

Through my searching God taught me a powerful concept. I came across this quote on Facebook by John Parsons, a genius in Hebrew for Christians:  

We live in fearful times... People are afraid of losing their jobs, of losing their health, of losing their freedoms, and so on. But we must be careful here. The fear of 'losing control' can move us to anger, yet the sages liken anger to idolatry since it denies the providence of God in our lives. Anger over the apparent chaos of life implies that we don't really believe that God is in control - that He speaks 'from the midst of the whirlwind' - and therefore we feel aggrieved and even embittered by what might happen to us. We must look to God as the Master of the Storms of Life and draw closer to Him in trust.

I realized that anger is very often due to simply not trusting Him. God has given me many opportunities to test this concept. How many times did my unhealthy emotions correlate with my lack of trust in Him? Almost always.

First, we must ask ourselves if we are merely failing to trust Him. More often than not simply humbling ourselves will allow us to surrender our unhealthy emotions. However, if the emotion (fear, anger, etc...) is caused by something other than lack of trust, we can then process it according to the truths we see in scripture.

I love this song by Kari Jobe, it is perfect for surrendering.




Kari Jobe
Steady My Heart
Lyrics

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You're here
You're real
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart

I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart

I'm not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What's good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
And find refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are
You steady my heart
  

Brokenness On The Path To Freedom

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:8 ESV

I had been wrestling with the transition from the first to the second Beatitude, but finally realized there is a natural progression. Once we fully recognize our spiritual poverty repentance will follow.

Brokenness seems to be part of the framework for mourning. I found this discussion by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on brokenness that deserves a place in our study. You can find the entire article on her website hereThis is an excerpt of the discussion:

Proud people focus on the failures of others, but broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need. Proud people are self-righteous. They have a critical, fault-finding spirit. They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope, and they look down on others. But broken people are compassionate. They can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven. They think the best of others, and they esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit, but broken people have a dependent spirit and recognize their need for others. Proud people have to prove that they're right, but broken people are willing to yield the right to be right. Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit, but broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit. Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation, but broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served, but broken people are motivated to serve others. Proud people desire to be a success, but broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire for self-advancement, but broken people desire to promote others. Proud people have a drive to be recognized, to be appreciated. They're wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness. They're thrilled that God would use them at all in any ministry. They're eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, 'This ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.' They think of what they can do for God, but broken people have that heart attitude that says, 'I don't deserve to have any part in this ministry.' They know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know, but broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn. Proud people are self-conscious, but broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arm’s length, but broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take the risks of loving intimately. Proud people are quick to blame others, but broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they were wrong in the situation.

Selah.

The Truth Shall Make You Free


“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” John 1:1 Amplified Bible

The first time I read this, I was stunned. Does this really mean the Word is Christ?

I found this decent explanation in Wikipedia:

In Christology, the concept that the Christ is the Logos (Greek: Λόγος for "word", "discourse" or "reason") has been important in establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his position as God the Son in the Trinity as set forth in the Chalcedonian Creed.

The concept derives from the opening of the Gospel of John, which is often simply translated into English as: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In the translations, "Word" is used for Logos (λόγος), but in theological discourse, this is often left untranslated.

I was on a quest for freedom. I owned nearly every Bible study written on freedom in Christ. However, I was too weak to absorb most of what was taught. Thankfully, I have owned an Amplified Bible for 25 years. There is somewhat of a commentary built into the text of the Amplified. Each day I could sit down with my Bible, and I was convinced that Christ would lead me to freedom.

This is one of my favorite scripture verses on freedom in Christ, “So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 Amplified Bible

At this point in my journey, I put aside all my books and I began to adopt more study Bibles and commentaries. While I am not a Charismatic, Jack Hayford was one of the first teachers that I was exposed to, mostly through Stormie Omartian (author of the series of Power of Praying books). He was her first pastor and was a great influence on her life and ministry.

I found this commentary on John 8:32 in the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible:

When people discover the truth in Jesus Christ, they are always set free emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. While religion may confuse and oppress, God’s truth always produces freedom, wholeness, and positive growth.

The difference between authentic biblical Christianity (and a living relationship with Jesus Christ) and cults is that real Christianity creates free people. Sin, or a violation of God’s Word, enslaves people; but truth sets them free.

It goes on to say:

The word know (Greek: ginosko) means ‘to perceive’, to understand’, ‘to realize’, that knowing biblical truth is different from just intellectual or mystical knowledge. It is a knowing in the heart that transforms the human personality and causes a change in a person’s behavior. This is because people can only know truth by practicing it.

In the same article from Wikipedia as above, the following idea came from an article in Christianity today:

Theologian, N.T. Wright, characterizes ‘Word’ (logos) as being incomprehensible in human language. He claims that through belief the Logos will transform people with its judgment and mercy.

And this my friends is precisely how it is done.

Selah.

A Clean Heart Before God

“Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.” Psalm 51:1-3 HCSB

If we are following Christ’s teachings then we can be certain that God will highlight any sinful behaviors that need to be addressed in our lives. What if your sin is caused by an attitude that was created in you because of something you experienced? Maybe even as a child.

In the book Living the Extraordinary Life by Dr. Charles Stanley, he says in the chapter God Refines Us By Fire:

God deals not only with acts of transgression, but also with preprogrammed attitudes from youth. For many believers it isn't a matter of overt sin or not loving the Lord, but something from the past that may be stunting spiritual growth.

He went on to say, “the Lord sends adversity intense enough to cause deeper examination than usual.”

One of the things that God showed me over time was an underlying anger I had. It would rise up in me under pressure, and I hated the way it made me feel and act. The Biblical definition of repent is a change of mind that results in a change of action; I was ready for change.

At the time, there were circumstances in my life creating very intense pressure. During a period of fasting, I found my way to Psalm 51 and I began to see how to pray for a clean heart. Somehow God actually used the pressure in my life to get me to a point where I was able to begin to yield (give up) my anger to Him. I cannot really explain it, but I am certain that it was God somehow purging my heart under that intense pressure.

I wish there was an easier way. It was extremely painful to say the least. And this process continued for quite a long while. In fact, sometimes I still feel the pressure. It beckons me to surrender my broken will for his perfect will in my life. I know God does this to help us reach our spiritual potential.

Someone once told me that cancer could be caused by turning anger on self. I did that for a long time. I pushed it down inside of me because I knew it was sinful behavior. Ultimately, I believed that God wanted to set me free of it.

And He is.

Set Your Mind On The Spirit

“For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, 
but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.”

This is one of the commentaries that inspired me to start this blog. It is from the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible:

The secret of the overcoming Christian life is to keep your mind on the things of the Spirit and to keep your mind off the things of the flesh. The flesh is always shouting, Feed Me! Feed Me!” and it wants its daily diet of anger, lust, strife, jealousy, intrigue, gossip, moodiness, and so on.

Instead, we should spend our time focusing on the Word of God and setting our minds on the Spirit. If we stop feeding the flesh by constantly meditating on and thinking about what the flesh wants, we can be set free from it.

Any counselor will tell you that a person cannot control his impulses for very long in his own willpower. Only by turning the heart’s focus to God will the person transform and therefore will the behavior change. The freedom is found in the submission [obedience, surrender, giving in] to God and His Word.

The following song is one of my favorites from Chris Tomlin. I dare you to get alone with God, turn it up a little (or a lot) and step onto the dance floor. You can feel the freedom. 


God’s Great Dance Floor
by Chris Tomlin
Lyrics

I'm coming back to the start
where You found me
I'm coming back to Your heart
now I surrender
take me
this is all I can bring

I'm coming back to the start
our God is freedom
and here we feel Your heart
Your heart beat for us
take me
this is all I can bring

Chorus:
You'll never stop loving us
no matter how far we run
You'll never give up on us
all of heaven is shouting
let the future begin
let the future begin

take me
this is all I can bring
You'll never stop loving us
no matter how far we run
You'll never give up on us
all of heaven is shouting
let the future begin

I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on Gods great dance floor
I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor

I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor
I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor

I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor

The Word Sets You Free

I know all too well what it means to not be free. I grew up in an alcoholic home. I went through a divorce while I was pregnant with my only child because my husband was physically abusive.

When my daughter was born I read a story that made me realize how badly I did not want her to grow up the way I did. I asked God to show me how to give her a better life and I dedicated her to His care.

She never met her biological father. I raised her with the belief that God would be her Father. One-step at a time, as I read the Bible, went to church, and read books He showed me the way.

When she was in elementary school, she won the award for being the best student in the Dare to Keep Your Kids off Drugs program.

When she graduated from high school, she received an award chosen by the faculty for the one student out of the class (over 300) who displayed the citizenship, community, and common sense characteristics that make them a quality individual.

She just graduated from college, Summa Cum Laude (with highest honors), a first generation college student. She is a beautiful young woman, full of virtue.

I give all praise to God for her abilities. I could not have raised her to her full potential without His Word, His power, His Spirit working through me. Transforming not just our lives, but our bloodline as well.

This comment from the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible was one of my original inspirations for this blog:

God is a good God, and He has a good plan for us. When we read His Word, we find in it a handbook for life. The Word of God can be heavy and serious; it can convict us of our sins and press us to our limits, but it can also give us hope and reason for rejoicing. As we put God’s Word into practice, we are freed through our obedience to be all God wants us to be (Romans 8:1-8).

Hebrews 4:12 teaches us that ‘the Word of God is living and powerful.’ The Word of God is charged with supernatural energy, because the Spirit works with the Word to inspire faith (Romans 10:17). When it is read and we obey it, it can both heal and cleanse us.

The Bible is a powerful and liberating force that sets people free at every dimension of life when they live by its instruction. As people get the chance to read it and understand what it means through practicing its teachings, they are moved by divine possibilities.

Selah.

Sanctification Produces Power

In Joshua 7:13 we read, “God told Joshua to sanctify the people, because if he did not, they would be defeated before their enemies.” Defeat is certainly one of the biggest reasons to seek the freedom that Christ died for us to have.

The following definition of sanctification is found in the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible:

Sanctification is a process in which God is invited to possess every dimension of your personality. For the NT believer it means completely opening yourself up to the cleansing stream of God’s delivering power in your life and allowing the Holy Spirit to make you completely His.

Sanctification is the pathway to release and power. We allow the Lord to sanctify us when we stop playing games with Him and say in our hearts, 'Okay, Lord, I want You to make me completely Yours.' We then give Jesus Christ full permission to enter every dimension of our personality and set us free.  

As a Christian, more than anything else our lives should be characterized by victory not defeat. Learning to live in victory is one of my goals for this blog.

The following excerpt is taken from the updated version of Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest, titled Complete and Effective Divinity, and speaks of the process of sanctification in another way:

The resurrection of Jesus has given Him the authority to give the life of God to me, and the experiences of my life must now be built on the foundation of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus here and now, and it will exhibit itself through holiness.

The idea all through the Apostle Paul’s writings is that after the decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus penetrates every bit of my human nature.

It takes the omnipotence of God— His complete and effective divinity— to live the life of the Son of God in human flesh. The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house— He invades all of it.

And once I decide that my 'old man' (that is, my heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit invades me. He takes charge of everything.

My part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals to me. Once I have made that important decision about sin, it is easy to 'reckon' that I am actually 'dead indeed to sin,' because I find the life of Jesus in me all the time (Romans 6:11).

Selah.

Jesus Knew He Had Come To Die


What is freedom in Christ?

We find one example in the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible:

Jesus was on target, He knew that He had come into the world to be a living sacrifice for the sins of humankind. Jesus knew that the only way people could be set free was through His death. He shocked His disciples by giving them some clues about His betrayal by men and His death (see Luke 9:44).

Jesus Christ was on a divine mission, and that mission was to be the Lamb of God who would be slain for the sins of the world. When it finally came time to face crucifixion, Jesus was not caught off guard, for this was why He had come.

I am battling advanced cancer and for many years, God has had me on a quest for freedom. I use several different study bibles and they frequently use the words set free, or freedom in their teaching. Listen to this from the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible:

It is God’s desire to enter every aspect of a person’s life and fill it with Himself. A person is sanctified when he commits every aspect of his life exclusively to Jesus. A person who is sanctified by God’s Holy Spirit is set free at the deepest dimensions of his life and is released into fruitfulness.

See, there it is again. Set free. I have experienced this freedom in varying degrees. I really want to be able to define it so that I can leave this as my legacy. Needless to say I want to achieve it. Is there anything we can do to speed up the process? Will it be painful?

My prayer is that this little blog will be used by God to teach of His wonderful plan for each of His children. To set us free and make us fruitful.

I get many people from other countries visit this blog. I cannot help but wonder if everyone already knows Jesus? So along the way I want to address some of those things as well, some of the confusing words Christians use.

Why do I need a savior? Why was a sacrifice necessary? What does Lamb of God mean? What does the blood have to do with it?

I am hoping to grow in my writing skills as well so please be patient with me in this area. I really do not know anything about writing however, God has put this mission on my heart in a big way, so I am sure He will help me with the details.

If you are not walking in the freedom that Christ died for us to have, then come along and see how amazing His power is to set us free.