How to Have Liberty in Christ – Galatians 5:1

How to Have Liberty in Christ Galatians 5:1

This time of year, my thoughts turn to how thankful I am for the independence that I experience as an American. But I also recognize the sacrifices that have been made by so many to ensure this freedom. President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” His words have never been more poignant than right now when we are once again facing the possibility of war to secure a freedom that some seek to take away from us. Every day our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for our liberty and for the values we hold dear as Americans. Independence Day is the time we set aside to support the ongoing efforts of our military and to remember all of the freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifice.

While I am reflecting on my liberty as an American, I also think about a more important kind of freedom I experience as a Christian. Jesus put His life on the line so that we could have everlasting liberty. He died to set us free, free from sin and free from the trappings of this world. It is only by His sacrifice that we can achieve this liberty.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
                                                             Galatians 5:1

The Apostle Paul, tells us how to have liberty in Christ in three parts. So, let’s break it down and examine each one.

#1 Stand Fast…

We cannot lose our salvation in Christ. That is the most basic fact of our Christian faith. Even though we can’t lose our salvation, we are told many times in the Bible to stand fast or to stand firm in our belief. The world is knocking on our door, trying to cause us to back down. They don’t want us to stand up for what we believe. They want us to agree with their misguided thoughts, that they are right and we are wrong. But we can’t back down. We must always be ready to stand fast and stand up for our faith.

#2 the liberty by which Christ has made us free…

Liberty in Christ and freedom from sin comes from accepting Jesus as your Savior. There is no other way. We know this because we have experienced the love and grace of salvation in Christ. But sometimes it slips our mind and we forget that we have been set free. So now is the perfect time to remember all that Christ has done for us and experience the liberty by which we have been made free.

#3 do not be entangled again by the yoke of bondage…

Sin is a burden that we don’t have to bear any longer. Jesus has taken that yoke on Himself so that we can be free from it. We don’t have to become entangled by the things of this world or by the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). We can move forward knowing that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are able to live a life that is full and free from the bondage of sin and shame.

This Fourth of July, I hope that you will spend time with your family and friends, grill some burgers and hot dogs and watch the amazing fireworks displays. But most of all, I hope you will remember the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that true liberty comes from knowing Him.

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By | 2018-02-06T14:05:49+00:00 June 28th, 2017|4th of July|0 Comments

Summer is Near… – Matthew 24:32

Summer Is Near Matthew 24:32

I fully intended to write a lighthearted blog post this week about the carefree days of summer. All of the fun activities we look forward to all winter long while we’re stuck inside, swimming, hiking, boating, grilling. But Jesus just wouldn’t let me do it. The longer I tried to write that post, the more He pulled at my heart. When I started this blog a year ago, I worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or that my words wouldn’t be good enough. I compared my writing to all of those other blogs out there whose writers have beautiful, flowery words that I don’t have. I spent a lot of time praying about how I should approach writing this blog and God’s answer was very clear to me. He said “You don’t need flowery words, you need honesty.” His words set me free and I began writing with a new found confidence. I will always write the truth about God’s word even when honesty is hard. His truth isn’t carefree, it’s straightforward and in your face. We all have times when we don’t want to hear the truth because it holds a mirror up to us that isn’t always pretty. But the truth is what we need to hear and it is what God has asked me to write. So with that I mind, I yield to His plan for this blog post.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

People often ask, ”Why did Jesus teach in parables”? And the answer is simply this, we can all relate to these parables. After two thousand years, the meaning is still the same. No matter where we come from or what stage in life we are in, the story is something we can all understand.

Jesus Christ is coming back! And the Parable of the Fig Tree is a call to all Christians to be ready when He does. Just like we would prepare ourselves for a summer vacation by booking a flight and packing our bags, there are things we can do to prepare for the second coming of Jesus:

#1 Recognize the Signs.

Now learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
                                                               Matthew 24:32-34

When we see the leaves budding on the trees and the flowers blooming, we know that summer is just around the corner. If we are familiar with Scripture and know what to look for, we will recognize the signs that Jesus is just around the corner too. We should be immersing ourselves in God’s word every day. And when we do that, the signs that the coming of Jesus is near should be as plain to us as the coming of summer.

#2 Watch.

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
                                                               Matthew 24:42-43

We should always have an eager expectation that Jesus could come back at any moment. And that expectation should be reflected in our lives. If we knew that someone was getting ready to break into our house and take everything we have worked so hard for, we wouldn’t just go to bed and pretend that the thief wasn’t coming. We would be sitting up all night waiting, ready to catch him in the act. This is the kind of eager expectation we should feel for the second coming of Jesus. We should be sitting up waiting for Him to come through the door like a thief in the night. It’s easy to become complacent and forget that He is coming soon. We get caught up in other things that seem so important at the time. But we can take this time to refocus and start watching for Him to come back because it could happen at any moment. While we’re watching and waiting for Jesus, we should be telling other people about Him, so that they could be saved too.

#3 Be Ready.

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
                                                               Matthew 24:44  

We don’t know when Jesus is coming back. It could be today, or it could be years from now. It doesn’t matter when it happens, just that we are ready for Him when He comes. What will He see when He gets here? Will He be pleased by how we are living our lives? Are there things that we need to change to make our lives acceptable to Him? These are the questions that I am asking myself today.

This blog post is about my heart and mind as much as it’s about yours. Today God hit me with a hard truth. Am I ready to see Jesus coming? What do I need to change in my life? I know that I need to be better prepared… to understand the Bible fully, to be ready to answer any question about my faith and to be watchful of His return. I pray that you will take the time to become prepared for Jesus to come back and that God will bless you greatly for it.

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The Gift of Giving – 2 Corinthians 9:7

The Gift of Giving 2 Corinthians 9:7

I’ve been shopping for the perfect gift for my dad. While I was shopping I began to think about all of the things my dad has given me over the years, flowers on my birthday, jewelry for Christmas, and a Bible with a hand written note inside during a difficult time in my life. That Bible soon became one of my most prized possessions. Not because of the monetary value of the item but because of the sentimental value of that note from my dad. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I read it and remember how much I’m loved.

Aside from giving me tangible objects, my dad has given me his time. Over the years he has always been there for me, taking care of me when I’m sick, listening to me when I’m upset and encouraging me to reach for my dreams.

But the most important gift I have ever received from my dad is actually a lesson in giving and what it means to give in a way that is pleasing to God. My dad’s spiritual gift is giving and I’ve been fortunate enough to witness his giving and to learn from it. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from watching him over the years.

#1 Be a cheerful giver.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
                                                                                     2 Corinthians 9:7

Pleasing God is more about your attitude than your action. What is in your heart? Are you giving only because you feel that you have to or are you giving because you truly want to give? Giving is not my spiritual gift and my natural inclination is to save money instead of giving it away. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t give, and it doesn’t mean that I can give with a bad attitude and still please God. For me, being a cheerful giver is something that I have had to learn to do and it has taken practice. But over the years my attitude about giving has changed. I have seen the way that my dad gives and the blessings that God has given in return. My dad has taught me how to be a cheerful giver and to always have gratitude for what God has blessed me with.

#2 Give without boasting.

Take head that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
                                                                                      Matthew 6:1-4

My dad is the kind of guy that leads by example. He doesn’t talk about it, he just does it. And that is how Jesus instructed us to be in our giving. Not giving openly seeking attention or praise from other people. But giving quietly and secretly, seeking only the approval of God. What we have to give came from God and if we give looking for our own glory then we are taking the glory away from God that is rightfully His. Our approval should be from Him. He sees what we do privately and He will reward us for it. The acknowledgement we receive from other people will only last for a short time but the acknowledgement from God lasts forever.

#3 Give of yourself.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
                                                                                     John 3:16

Giving is about more than money. It’s about giving of your time, your skills, friendship, compassion, etc. We all have something to give. We just have to be willing to do it. If God could give His Son and if Jesus could die in my place, what can I give in return?

#4 Be a blessing.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.
                                                                      Acts 20:35

I once heard a pastor say “Blessed people, bless people.” This is so true, because the more we have, the more we can give. This is what Jesus has called us to do, to be a blessing to those around us. So, I have strived over the years to learn how to give and how to be a blessing to the people in my life.

My dad has taught me so many life lessons and I’m grateful for all of them. But the lesson I will carry closest to my heart is the gift of giving.

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How to Resist the Devil – 1 Peter 5:8

How to Resist the Devil 1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.
                                  1 Peter 5:8

Temptation is everywhere. Some temptation is just from being human, like eating that extra piece of cake. But some temptation is more sinister and comes from our enemy, the devil. We are under attack, not just from an unbelieving world, but from our greatest foe the devil himself. Satan knows that he cannot have us because we already belong to Jesus. There is nothing that he can do that will ever take us away from our Savior. (John 10:29) But Satan can turn us into ineffective Christians so that we won’t share our faith with other people who may also believe.

Satan’s goal is to devour and destroy Christians, and he will use every weapon in his arsenal to do it. He is constantly setting traps for us to fall into and he knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them.

So, how can we to sort out which temptations are from Satan? And how can we resist him and live the life God has for us? We are at war, and just like any military operation, if we want to successfully combat our enemy we have to understand and recognize the tactics that will be used against us.

Deception

Lying is what Satan does best. He is the father of lies, so deception is the first tactic he tries. His lies are cruel and he knows exactly which lie will stop us in our tracks. He will tell us that we’re not good enough, that we don’t deserve it, that we can’t do it, and so many other hurtful things. Satan wants us to fail and he will tell us whatever it takes to stop us from being effective Christians. But we don’t have to listen to Satan’s lies and we certainly don’t have to believe them.

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
                                                                 1 John 4:4

While Satan delights in deception, Jesus delights in salvation!  We can resist Satan’s lies and fight back by knowing the truth. Jesus has already defeated him and is victorious! We can rely on this truth, our Savior is greater than any enemy we face.

Discouragement

Satan wants us to be discouraged and he does that by reminding us of our past sins. He will make us feel defeated and like we are already a failure before we’ve even begun. Whether we are sharing our faith, getting ready to go on a mission trip or just going about our day, Satan will try to discourage us from doing what God has asked of us.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
                                                                  Hebrews 8:12

Satan may remind us of our sin, but God doesn’t. God not only forgives our sins, He forgets them. He doesn’t bring them up again and He doesn’t use them against us. When the discouragement from Satan takes hold of us, we can turn to God and He will show us His love and mercy.

Distraction

“If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Adrian Rogers

Distraction is one of Satan’s most effective tactics against us because it doesn’t look like an attack on the surface. He steals the time away from us that was meant to be used for God’s kingdom. If we’re too busy cleaning up the mess he made then we can’t take that friend out to lunch and share Jesus with them. Sometimes, Satan will use even seemingly good things to distract us from God’s plan. If we say yes to a project that a coworker or friend wants us to do, then that time is not spent connecting with God and making Him a priority.

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Busyness and stillness are opposites just like Satan and God. If Satan can cause us to be busy then we can’t experience the peaceful stillness that comes from time with God. Satan will keep us running around in circles all for the sake of busyness. But if we see that our time is being stolen by the enemy, we can change that and say no to his distractions.

Therefore submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
                                                                James 4:7

These are just three of the many tactics that Satan uses to make us ineffective Christians. Once we learn how to recognize his tactics, we can resist him by knowing God’s truth and by being steadfast in our faith. Then Satan will have no choice but to flee from us.

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By | 2018-02-06T13:18:15+00:00 June 7th, 2017|Christian Life|0 Comments