Category Archives: Freedom Through Christ

Second Chances, New Starts.

I was sitting in a gas station just the other day sitting at a table and drinking a beverage. Then the song was playing on the radio, “Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is a second chance” and as odd as it might seem, it was as if God was using just some ordinary song to speak to my life.

I have actually thought often about a meaningful passage of Scripture that has been special to me for a few years now.

that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. (Philemon 1:10-16)

Onesimus had been Philemon’s run away slave, and had stolen from Philemon when he ran away. What happened though was later on Onesimus meets the Apostle Paul and becomes a believer in Christ Jesus alao. Paul pleads as a friend and spiritual father figure of Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as a freed man, and fellow believer!

This is a wonderful picture of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and Paul makes a very passionate and pursuasive appeal to Philemon, reminding him that it was because of him, Philemon became a believer and became free from sin and God’s judgement too! Paul earlier on had had the privilege to share the Gospel with Philemon and as a result, Philemon became a faithful follower!

So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

Philemon 1:17-21 –

Paul offers to repay whatever is been lost in the process, yet adds, “Not to mention, that you owe me your very self” (some translations say, “Your soul”)

There is also another story that depicts grace at work, in Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable of the Prodigal Son.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32 –

Both Biblical narratives remind us of how gracious God is. Like the father in the second story, of Luke 15, we see a father who let the son leave, did not stop him, but waited long it seems for his son to come home and rejoiced when his son did. He ran to meet him even as he was in the distance.

In Isaiah 30, it says: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

(Isaiah 30:18-19)

Isaiah chapter 30 starts by talking about a prodigal nation. A nation that was being rebellious toward God and forsaking Him for idols. Yet, as angry as God was at these people, he says in conclusion, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you” –gracious and good are often synonymous words in the Bible. Infact, the name John means “God is gracious” and “God is good”

Thus interesting that a Gospel is named, “John” who often refered to himself as “The disciple that Jesus loved” and he writes this because he knew God loved him- not to suggest he did not love the other ones, but John writes much about “Love” as we see also in 1 John the letter:

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19

God’s love initiated our salvation, “For God demonstrated his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God is ready to welcome home to his heart all who turn in faith to Hin. Jesus Christ made it possible to be fully restored to God because God is full of love. He hates sin but loved the sinner to die in all our places so forgiveness was possible!

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Freedom

Todays verse was,

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 –

Very appropriate for July 4, 2018 today!

Since today here in the USA is Independence Day. God wants us to be liberated to from all sins that hold us back from our truest potentials as well as just faulty beliefs and mindsets that keep us hostage. When we come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are made free of sin and the penalty of sin, we receive forgiveness and new life. However, just because we have been granted freedom does not mean it wont be challenged. There is still the pull of our bodies and faulty mindsets that have been with us often all our lives. We still need to fight against these and defend what He has rightfully purchased for us, Freedom! The Enemy, and the sinful nature wants to still trip us but through Christ we have been given Hos Spirit to indwell us and enable us to resist and not be overcome! We have His Word, containing the spiritual declaration of independence, the Christian constitution so to speak! We have been given all we need to overcome! We also have freedom to approach God with bold confidence because of Christ Jesus!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 -)

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

Selfless Love Frees Us From The Chains Of An Enemy.

Letting the Lord Jesus Christ control us, overflow us and meet our needs and satisfy our souls frees us to be more selflessly loving toward those who are unwilling to recipricate. Often, it is from unmet desires and emotional needs do we find ourselves frustrated over those who treat us with unkindness, ungratefulness, or witholding of love.

However, Jesus teaches us that the way of the cross- the Christ centered life comes through self denial.

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Luke 9:22-25 –

 

Jesus’s self sacrificing love embraced the pain of unjust suffering so you and I and all who would believe his message could be saved from sin and forgiven. Jesus had every right to demand loyalty and love from us as being God’s Son, yet he rather did not demand or use force to win our hearts back to God. Infact Jesus knew human beings well, he knew that loyalty and love of people is shallow and unpredictable.

We see this in John 2, verse 24 and 25. [But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. John 2:24-25]

Jesus knew human beings and what they were truly capable of, as well as what human nature is on it’s own, incapable of, selfless love and true loyalty. Left to ourselves, even seemingly selfless devotion can be easily poisoned by self centeredness. This can be true of Christians too! Because if we do not daily let Christ fill us, empower and inspire us, we can be as selfish and warped as someone who does not know the Lord. I have seen it in myself even after 9 years of being a born again Christian and can attest that apart from His continual upholding and inspiring I can easily become spoiled and rotten!

One element in self centeredness is “My needs” and it is important for us as believers to acknowlege that sure we have human needs and legitamate human desires, longings and wants. For example, we want love, acceptance, fulfillment in life, we desire to be in community and have others that can be friends and give us a place to belong. These examples of human desires are not by any means sinful, there are many human needs and even desires that are not inherently wrong or sin but can be temptation to sin when we look to solely others to meet these– we take our focus then off our Provider and the One who is our source for all we need in life.

So often, relationships become fractured and strained because one person is witholding something we may long for or desire. People will fail our expectations and no human being is going to be perfect. People let us down. However, as Christ followers, we can seek the Lord to meet our soul needs as well as provide what we need for survival in life, and not just this, we can thrive as believers if we learn to seek and tap into His riches that he paid to grant us, through Christ our sins are forgiven and God promises by faith become accessible.

We cannot just manipulate God to grant us wishes like a genie but can trust him to do us good, provide true needs, and so often he gives us many good enjoyable desires we have as well. Yet if we rely to much on others, or a solution to a unmet need or desire more so then the Lord, we for one may have to wait long time for God to provide- and miss out on peace while we wait or the joy of delighting in Him in seasons of lack. God I have seen first hand can give great joy and peace even when life seems to fall apart. I have had moments where everything went wrong yet overflowed with his hope and felt his great love! God sustains us even when others fail us or circumstances rob us. So, we can experience green souls even when life turns brown and whithered around us.

We must see God as a source and not merely a resource. He is a person and not just a piggy bank. His blessings are often delayed but his peace, joy and fulfilling presence can be immediate when we seek him and turn to him!

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Psalm 103:2-5 -)

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:10-14)

The big mistake even Christians can make is to think they are seeking God when seeking only his solution for an external problem. Though He is honored by our reliance on Him, and trust in Him as the source of help and support, He doubtfully wants to be just that. He wants to be a special someone to us, because we are special to Him. He wants a relationship, not just to be some go to for emergency! So in our seeking God, we must carefully make sure that we are not just running to him for only the thing we want while forgetting that He too as a person is desirable to be with and to enjoy!

Jesus teaches radical love. Love of even our worst enemies! How can this be possible? We stumble in this when we forget to let God be the source of fulfillment of our spiritual strength, emotional needs, soul hungers, financial provisions and all we need to make it in life and live for Christ. We put a stumbling block of self in the way if we trust others to meet our needs- emotionally, spiritually or physically. We find then if self gets in the way and distrust of God gets in the way- we become clingy, or users, or excessively attached to those we hope will come through for us. They too are weak, but He is strong. So to become a blessing to others means we let God be our Blessing and treasure. When we do this, we can do as Jesus commands and live radical lives of selfless love,

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:32-36