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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Freedom Amidst the War

 Read:        Galatians 5:13-25

What is freedom and why do we seek it?  On the one side, freedom is being unbound, unshackled, liberated, not under any restraints, or not bound by any obligation.

On the other side, there is freedom from powerlessness, oppression, and lack of control over our circumstances and our life. 

In either context, we are caught in the midst of a raging war! The forces of darkness, this world, and our own brokenness, wages war against us. They make empty promises, that IF ONLY you do THIS or HAVE THAT, then you will be truly free!  No one can TELL YOU WHAT TO DO!  

But the reality is, these empty promises only lead us to being more entangled, shackled, and powerless! Our desire to control of our own lives only leads to feeling OUT OF CONTROL. 

By God’s grace, He has not left us alone to our own demise.  He does not sit quietly by from His lofty throne in heaven watching up helplessly self destruct.  For those who put their trust in the forgiving power of His blood bought love for us, He provide us a different way!

He gives us the POWER of His very own Spirit to live inside of us!  As counterintuitive as it may seem, if we allow ourselves to be LED by the SPIRIT, LIVE by the SPIRIT and KEEP IN STEP with the SPIRIT we are not restricted anymore by the law, and enjoy the FREEDOM to realize our true identity and destiny in Jesus Christ.

But the FRUIT of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, against such things there is no law!  

Thank you Lord Jesus that you are actively and personally involved in leading us by the Spirit, and You will continue to work in us to help us GROW.

Teach us Lord, to keep in step with Your Holy Spirit as we walk in line behind Him as our leader and guide amidst this waging war!  Thank You, that You have empowered us to follow You and boldly be the humans You created us to be!

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Million Pieces

Romans 8:22-27

Waiting is never easy.  It’s tough when you’re five and it’s just as difficult at 45, even when you know something’s “worth the wait.”

Today’s passage talks about waiting eagerly and patiently.  Ah, what a virtue it is to wait eagerly and patiently.  But what if we’re annoyed and irritable?  That feels more like it.

Well, that’s where the Spirit comes in.  “The Spirit helps us in our weakness… the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (v. 26-27).  He really does know best, yet it can be hard to hand over control especially when we want something NOW!

When we try to steal control from the Spirit, we end up feeling like we’re broken in a million little pieces.  The Spirit brings wholeness.

It’s like a spoon and egg race – when we run too quickly, the egg falls and breaks, but when we’re patient and let the spoon do the work (as slow as it may seem), the egg will arrive at its destination intact – and I’d really like to finish this (human) race in one piece.

But guess what?  Even if we fall and break into a million pieces, God is right there to put us back together.  He picks up the pieces, and like only He can, makes us whole again.  Don’t you love worshiping a God who does that?!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

I Choose Love

When I think back to a time before Jesus was the most important part of my life, there was so much brokenness and emptiness. My spirit was deflated and I was defeated. I didn't even think life was worth living and often questioned my purpose. Then, everything changed, not overnight, but through a series of happenings and interactions with God's people.

I used to think of love as a feeling; a strong feeling which overpowered and surrounded one's life. If I was loved, everything was okay. If not, then it wasn't okay in any way. Then I learned that love is a choice. While I didn't believe it at first. before long I came to realize that it is true. I can choose to love or not. I can choose to allow people into my life, my inner circle, or I can reject them. But it is a choice, not a feeling.

1 John 4:7-8 (MSG) 
 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.
 The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love.

Studying and reading scripture has brought me to a different place, a new understanding. God is love and if I believe in God, then I believe in love. Choosing to love people even when they don't deserve my affections is Godly behavior. Allowing God's Spirit to influence my life and actions is a positive change and one that will make life better than you can imagine. 

This became a reality for me once I learned that my life doesn't have to be perfect. The people in my life certainly aren't perfect any more than I am. But I can choose to love them -- imperfections and all. Any they have the same choice.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Burn the ships!

Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome.”  

In regards, to discipleship, I like to rephrase this quote.  “The definition of Christian insanity is a born-again believer who identifies himself as a sinner while expecting to be a holy disciple.”

I’ve been there.  My Christian friends have been there.  But how long will it take others to wake up and realize they are there too? 

For a period-of-time, I had a multiple personality disorder.  It was called thinking as a sinner while trying to be
Christian.  Yes, I believed in Jesus as my savior but if the police arrested me for being a Christian there wouldn’t be any evidence to convict me. Since my dominant thoughts drove my heart, I was still led by all the nasty business of the secular world.  Sure, I knew scripture, but it never lived in my heart. Let’s be honest, Satan knows scripture better than anyone else and look what happen to him.

Then one day the Holy Spirit drove an arrow into my heart.  It came from the Passion translation where Jesus said, “But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire, and it will be done.” John 15:7

There is was.  I was called to live in life union with Jesus.  More still, his words must live powerfully in my heart.  The message came clear, it was time to burn the ships. 

To succeed we must burn the ships of our past.
In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest.  Based on previous experience, Cortés knew there could be no going backwards. So, he burned his ships. By cutting off the past, Cortés compelled his men to embrace the future as their only hope.  Instead of letting their past shape their present, he channeled the future to shape their present.  Cortés had his men envision the reality of a hopeful future. It worked!  They saw themselves as conquerors and acted like ones.

 It brought-to-mind Romans 12:2;
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. Romans 12:2 (TPT)

 As an ineffective Christian I identified myself as a past sinner and used this dead identity to shape my Christian present life.  I needed to burn the ships of my destructive thinking.  No longer did I identify myself as a sinner.  I was a friend of Jesus set apart from the world; a saint. I saw my future identity as a child of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit my future vision shaped into my present reality. I saw myself as a friend of Jesus who delighted in obeying His Word because it was rooted in love and mercy. So I thought like a saint. I behaved like a saint. At the moment,  I may not be a perfect saint, but the train has left the station. 

So, I burned the ships from my past and embraced the future of my beloved savior. I was driven by his love and love poured through me.  No longer will I accept the the fear mongering lies of this world.  Rather I will dwell in His Word so His living streams of water can fill my mind, shape my thoughts, and transform my heart.

We must all burn the ships of our past thinking, and fully embrace the truth that our future with Jesus is within us today. Be His friend now. Be a saint!