“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
This "freedom" has come up quite a few times over the past week and a half. What does it mean to experience freedom through the Spirit of the Lord? I was reading another verse last week and it said, "My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love." Galatians 5:13 NCV
Freedom. What does that word truly mean?
freedom noun free·dom | \ ˈfrē-dəm: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous
Just in case you are like me and you didn't know what "onerous" meant, it means burdensome. The weight of sin is burdensome for sure. But what does the freedom that comes with the Spirit of the Lord truly look like in our lives. Freedom allows that weight to be lifted from us.
I took it one step at a time.
What's the point?
Being a Christian is about daily making a choice to plug into God, or as the Bible says pick up our cross. Do you think Jesus wanted to die on the cross for a bunch of sinners? I'm gonna go with, no, since he asked God multiple times to give him a different task (take this cup). But, he loved the Father so much that He wanted to see His will/His kingdom present here on earth.
What shattered windows are popping up in your life to distract you from the freedom God has for you? In case you didn't get the metaphor, how are you handling the issues that arise in your life? Are you returning to default mode (sinful self) and trying to figure out everything on your own or switching things to freedom mode and putting your trust in God?
If your mode is not reflecting the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22&23 you can know that you've switched to default mode and rejected the freedom you should be living in.
God, this was one time that I turned to you and knew that things would go well. But there are so many, many, many times that I switch to default mode. Holy Spirit guide me. I don't want to live in default mode, never experiencing true freedom. I want to rejoice in the freedom that Jesus provided for me through His sacrifice. Remind me to approach situations in a new light. Approach situations with the example that Jesus set. Approach them in a way to make God's kingdom real and tangible to those watching. That onlookers would see a new way of living. Amen
"But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25 NCV
"The “night” is almost finished, and the “day” is almost here. So we should stop doing things that belong to darkness and take up the weapons used for fighting in the light.
Let us live in a right way, like people who belong to the day. We should not have wild parties or get drunk. There should be no sexual sins of any kind, no fighting or jealousy. But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and forget about satisfying your sinful self." Romans 13:12-14 NCV
What was Paul's advice for the Christians in Rome? "Stop doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Start living in a new way, a way that reflects how Jesus lived. You were born into sin (darkness) but you've accepted a new life (light) so start living in it."
We were all born slaves to a defect, an imperfection, that separates us from our perfect Creator. Sin. However, Jesus stepped in and said, "Hey, I'm going to purchase that one right there. That one that everyone says won't amount to anything. That one that thinks they are good for nothing. The scrawny one that everyone overlooks. That pretty one that's damaged on the inside. That's the one I want right there. But I'm not going to purchase them with any kind of currency, instead I'm going to purchase them with my own blood."
And when he did that, he broke our bondage to sin. Unfortunately, since all we've ever know is sin we have to be taught a new way to live now that we are free. Jesus set that example for us.
While he was here on earth he didn't focus on earth, he focused on God. That is what set him apart. He wasn't trying to get ahead, stressing over his legacy, fretting about his family. His focus was on God and the kingdom to come. Christians, that is where our focus must be also.
I get it, there are days when everything is going crazy. There are days when you're tired or depressed. There are days when your anxiety is through the roof. On those days, God isn't your focus.
There are days when you're hitting the daily grind and getting things done. There are days when the sun is shining and life is good. There are days that you're relaxing. On those days, God isn't your focus.
If we call ourselves Christians, Christ is our example. Every part, good or bad, every moment of every day- God is to be our focus. Not my will but Yours be done.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 NKJV
God, it's not easy. Sometimes I think the disciples had it easy because they had Jesus right in front of them. But then I read the Bible and see that even though they had him setting an example right in front of them they still doubted, they still forgot. Lord, help me to live my life transparently. When troubles come let me not be afraid to say, "Things are getting tough but I will stand on God, he is my rock." When things are going good let me not think it's silly to say, "God is so awesome and wonderful. All that I have is His. I am nothing without Him." Let my words and my life be a light in this dark world that points others to the freedom they can experience with You through Your Son, Jesus. That they too could say, "Good or bad I will not wavier- my focus is on God." AMEN!
When our focus is on our problems it cannot also be on God
This morning I woke up with this image in my mind, a magnifying glass hovering over "Problems". So, I got to work.
Our problems are nothing to God. I don’t mean that He doesn’t care about them, I mean that they are simply a speck in comparison to who God is. I don't know about you but I often find that my problems seem bigger than God at times. I know that God is BIG so why the skewed perspective?
Because I’ve lost focus. In the moments that my problems seem bigger than God I have lost my focus. My attention has been directed from God to that problem. I'm sure after some evaluation the same would be true for you when your problems become bigger than God.
So, how do we get our focus back on God?
We praise Him!
Seriously, I don’t know about you but if I put in music that tells of how big God is, how awesome God is, how powerful God is- I can’t help but shift my focus.
God, cares about us. He cares about what we struggle with. However, he wants second place to no one and nothing. In fact, he doesn’t even want first place, which is beyond what my mind can grasp. He wants to be called, "I AM". Nothing compares. No one compares. Everything that we want and need all in one- that's God.
Today, I challenge you to join me in un-magnifying the problems in your life by praising God and believing that He is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do, and that He works all things including (insert my problem here, insert your problem here) for good because we love Him.
"We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan." Romans 8:28 NCV
Let's adjust our focus to God and watch our problems fade in the light of His glory and power.
Here are a few songs to help you readjust your focus.
Our younger boys are fourteen months apart. With that kind of age difference, it is difficult not to compete, especially for our boys. At least once a day there is some kind of 'oh yeah, well..." or "that's not the way..." conversation. One of them is always trying to tell the other what is best for them based on their own personality rather than considering their brother's likes or dislikes. Today was no different.
As we were school shopping, I was trying to think of a project they could do that would occupy some time and encourage creativity. We bought shoes and fabric paint then headed home.
Josiah wanted gold that sparkled like treasure and Solomon said yellow was his favorite color (this changes often).
While they were painting Josiah said he wanted a lightening bolt for Flash. Well, Flash is Solomon's favorite superhero, so of course, Solomon wanted a lightening bolt as well. Josiah said he was painting the other shoe all gold, so of course, Solomon said he was going to paint the other shoe all one color as well.
Then something awesome happened. Solomon went rogue and decided to do his own thing. He mixed the gold and yellow paint and started painting both his shoes all over covering up the lightening bolt. I was happy to see their individual personalities coming through in something as simple as painting.
It made me think about how God must look down at us wondering why we are trying to be more like our brother or sister rather than embracing ourselves. God, made us each unique for a reason, it wasn't a mistake. If he wanted us to be the same he could have easily done that.
I worked with people that were skilled in one area and people that were skilled in another area. When they began competing with each other or trying to be more like each other, it was painful for everyone in the office. But when they each embraced their own skills and handed off the stuff the other was talented at things ran smooth.
It is the same with the body of Christ. We must accept what we need to recognize what our talents are and what are talents aren't. But even more than that, we need to recognize what our brothers and sisters' talents are and what they are not so we can encourage them as well.
"You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything." 1 Corinthians 12:27 MSG
God, help us to be original. Not that we would strive to be original or strive to be different than others but that we would embrace who we are as you created us. Holy Spirit, give us discernment to recognize our talents, confidence to embrace them, and wisdom to mature them. Help us to recognize that our brothers and sisters have their own original. Their original doesn't look like ours and that's ok. Help us to love them for who they are rather than try to make them more like us. Help us to encourage them to be themselves rather, embracing their talents and maturing them. Amen
“Jealousy is the cousin of greed. It makes us focus on what we want and lose sight of what we need.” -Unknown
While working on a new project, I came across this gem of a quote. So very true. Sometimes what we want is other people’s possessions but there are also times it’s their talents or looks that we desire. God made you and he made me exactly the way we are for a reason. I get it, it’s hard to appreciate the parts that we deem “flaws”. Trust me I understand.
I live in Arkansas, a state that is sometimes stereotyped as being backwoods and hillbilly. Barefoot pregnant women on the front porch, moonshiners in the hills, messed up teeth, straw hats, banjos, and heehaw y'alls. Hopefully, that painted a decent picture.
I also have something dentist describe as "peg laterals", basically abnormally small pointy front teeth.
I remember going to a special revival service at my parent's church and there was someone talking about receiving healing. They wore glasses and they believed that God wanted to heal their eyes. They smashed their glasses and God healed them! (They did add a disclaimer that God didn't heal everyone the same way so unless God was telling you to smash your glasses it probably wasn't a good idea.)
Well, I remember going up and asking for prayer. I really wanted my teeth to be normal. I really wanted to smile without being self-conscious of what others might think. Nothing miraculous happened during that service. I went home and I still believed God could heal me. That day I decided to throw the retainer away (sorry Mom and Dad). I was going to stand on the fact that God was going to heal me. And he did! Just not the way I thought he was going to. Instead of giving me the healing that I wanted, He gave me the healing that I needed. Instead of growing my teeth, He grew my confidence.
I still have moments that I get self-conscious about my smile but it's typically around people I don't know very well or just met. In those moment, the Holy Spirit is prompt to remind me how much my husband and children love my smile.
This seems like a silly topic to write about. In fact, this is the first time I have shared this story with anyone. But if it helps you to appreciate the "flaws" that you have then praise God!
God, sometimes there are "flaws" that occur in our lives that have to be removed medically or miraculously because they are hazardous to our health. But sometimes there are "flaws" that aren't really flaws, we just label them that because these flaws make us look different from everyone else. Lord, with all that in mind, help us to pray your will and stand on it. God, I believed that you would heal me by growing my teeth but you saw the greater need in my heart. Thank you for knowing so much more than I know. Help me to seek You when praying for others needs. Help me to seek You and believe that You know ALL I need. Amen.
What about the many times that we struggle with our identity? In those moments we often scramble the sentence asking, "Who am I?" Sometimes even finding ourselves lost in these three words.
I serve "I AM" and I am made in that image.
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
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