Posts Tagged ‘Freedom

04
Nov
16

Knowledge Versus Love

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But the man who loves God is known by God. — 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NIV)

The W.E.O.U.I.

My wife calls me a “walking encyclopedia of useless information.”  I know a little bit about many different subjects.  It’s just the way my brain works.  I love Jeopardy.  People look at me with an odd stare when I watch the show.  I’ve heard the words, “How do you know that?” more than once.  I explain, “I just know it.”  I’ll admit, it’s a source of pride and that’s not good.  I can be quite puffy when it comes to my brain.

Guilty By Association

There were those in Paul’s day who just knew that they knew the right answers.  This whole thing of meat sacrificed to idols?  They knew the answer.  It was a sin.  Plain and simple.  It was wrong.  That food was consecrated to a false god and if you ate it, you were guilty.  You were endorsing the worship of a false idol and therefore you were guilty of sin.  Plain and simple.  Guilty by association.

Knowledge Vs. Love

I think that the point that Paul is making in this passage is that love trumps knowledge.  The heart beats the head in a sort of metaphysical game of rock, paper, scissors.  We can possess quite a bit of knowledge, but we will never know everything.  On the other hand, there is no limit to the love we can share with others.  Knowledge is limited, but love is boundless.  Seek opportunities to love God and others before sharing that of which you are so sure.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I want to be filled with love for You and for people today. I want to share Your love with the world. Help me to remember just how loved I am by You. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

02
May
16

God Sets Us Free

Zechariah 1:18-21 (NIV)

Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?”

He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”

20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, “What are these coming to do?”

He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”

 

Zechariah was prophesying about the visions he saw about God’s deliverance of Israel. In this vision from chapter 1, verses 18-21, Zechariah sees four horns. Horns were symbols of power and in this passage, the four horns represent four Gentile nations that had oppressed and scattered God’s people. God’s people had been exiled from their homeland for decades and now they were returning home to rebuild the temple.

Zechariah also saw four craftsmen who would smash the horns of power. God was going to severely deal with the nations who had oppressed His people. The time had come for their deliverance and God always keeps His promises. He delivered His people from the hands of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians. Those were physical oppressors. What about spiritual oppression? God promised deliverance from this kind of oppression as well by sending a Messiah.

God the Father sent Jesus to deliver all people from the spiritual oppression of sin. Followers of Jesus have been set free from the consequences of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. Now we don’t have to fear punishment for our sins. Jesus took our place and our punishment on the cross. We are pilgrims here, passing through on our way to our heavenly home. Until we arrive home, let us tell others about the Lord Jesus and His great love for us all. Let us tell of how He can deliver us from spiritual bondage to sin. Let us tell of His gift of grace that is available to everyone.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for delivering me from the bondage and oppression caused by sin. I am a sinner in need of Your grace and forgiveness. Protect me from temptation and evil today. Help me to be holy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

11
Nov
15

The Heavy Burden Of Guilt

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. — Psalm 38:4 (NIV)

Guilt is a heavy burden, is it not?  When you’ve done something for which you are truly ashamed, the guilt of that sin weighs on you like a 2-ton boulder.  It presses down on you and consumes your thoughts.  “Why did I do it?  What was I thinking?  What if I get caught?  How could I have been so foolish?!?”  The guilt of our sins is all too real.

The forgiveness that Christ has paid for on the cross is real, too.  Hebrews 8:12 makes this promise for those who trust in Christ for salvation under God’s new covenant: “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, the heavy weight and burden of guilt is lifted off of us and we can move and breathe and truly live!  We are free from the burden of guilt!  Only Christ can free us from it.  Only He can rescue us from our guilt and only He can cleanse our consciences.

Are you carrying around a heavy load of guilt today?  Are you being crushed under the weight of a burden of guilt?  It’s time to be set free!  Jesus wants to lift that heavy burden off of you and quiet those nagging voices of guilt in your mind.  Let go of the burden.  You are free in Christ.  “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NIV).  Amen!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray that You would set me free from my burden of guilt today.  I know that I am a sinner and that apart from You, I am guilty.  I have sinned against You and against my neighbor.  I am in need of Your grace and forgiveness.  Help me to know that my sins have been forgiven and that You have lifted the burden of guilt from me when You took my place on the cross.  In Your name I pray, amen.

02
Nov
15

Knowledge Versus Love

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But the man who loves God is known by God. — 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NIV)

The W.E.O.U.I.

My wife calls me a “walking encyclopedia of useless information.”  I know a little bit about many different subjects.  It’s just the way my brain works.  I love Jeopardy.  People look at me with an odd stare when I watch the show.  I’ve heard the words, “How do you know that?” more than once.  I explain, “I just know it.”  I’ll admit, it’s a source of pride and that’s not good.  I can be quite puffy when it comes to my brain.

Guilty By Association

There were those in Paul’s day who just knew that they knew the right answers.  This whole thing of meat sacrificed to idols?  They knew the answer.  It was a sin.  Plain and simple.  It was wrong.  That food was consecrated to a false god and if you ate it, you were guilty.  You were endorsing the worship of a false idol and therefore you were guilty of sin.  Plain and simple.  Guilty by association.

Knowledge Vs. Love

I think that the point that Paul is making in this passage is that love trumps knowledge.  The heart beats the head in a sort of metaphysical game of rock, paper, scissors.  We can possess quite a bit of knowledge, but we will never know everything.  On the other hand, there is no limit to the love we can share with others.  Knowledge is limited, but love is boundless.  Seek opportunities to love God and others before sharing that of which you are so sure.

PRAYER: Father, give me opportunities to demonstrate my love for you and my love for others.  I want to show Your love to the world and to express my love for You.  Thank You for demonstrating Your love for me through Your Son, Jesus, amen.

29
Jun
15

The Joy of Freedom

There seems to be some kind of siren’s call for God’s people to return to a former way of life.  If you were not raised in the church, perhaps your call is to return to a life of sinfulness.  If you were raised in a church where an emphasis was placed on your ability to follow rules, maybe you are driven to return to rule-following instead of embracing grace.  If you were raised in the church and rebelled against God for a time, but returned to Him, you may hear the call of the prodigal.  I believe it is a call to the familiar and to be comfortable.
Following Jesus is not easy.  He calls us to a narrow road and a narrow gate.  It is a call to leave former ways behind and to embrace the new creation He’s made you to be.  The temptation is to abandon the freedom of grace for a former way of life that leads to slavery.  That slavery might be the familiar rules of your past that are comfortable and safe.  The slavery might be the prison of sinfulness.  It feels good (for a time), so you leave the home of forgiveness and mercy for a far off land of slavery to sin.  That slavery might be the old habits and addictions that you gave up so long ago to follow Jesus.  The call of sin and temptation is just too great and you end up leaving the eternal joy of following Jesus for the temporary fix of sin.
We have to resist the call of the siren of sin and instead run to Jesus for grace.  We know that sin enslaves us to guilt, shame and fear.  Grace frees us up to experience the spiritual blessings of knowing God.  Whatever has enslaved you, know that the shackles have been loosed.  The chains are off.  The jail door is open.  You can leave anytime you choose.  You’ve been set free and all you have to do is take a step back to Jesus Christ and you will find the joy of freedom once again.
Galatians 4:8-11 (NIV)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
20
May
15

Others Before Self

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. — Romans 14:14-23 (NLT)

In the 2nd half of Romans 14, Paul talks about being a stumbling block to others.  Our love for our brother or sister in Christ should cause us to put their spiritual well-being ahead of our own freedom.  If a brother or sister of mine has an issue with Christians drinking alcohol and I don’t, I should, out of Christian love for them, abstain from drinking in their presence.  If it is going to cause them to stumble, I need to be aware of that.  I need to love Christ and love them enough that I won’t cause them to stumble in their faith.  We may think, “That’s not fair!  That’s their issue, not mine!  I have the right to do as I please as long as I am not sinning!”  Being a Christian, though, is about putting God first and others before yourself.  If you are going to hurt someone’s walk with Christ then we need to set aside our “rights” for their benefit.  No one ever said that being a Christian was easy.  It is hard to put others before ourselves.  With the power of the Holy Spirit we can do just that.  What is more important?  Someone else’s spiritual health and walk with Christ or that light beer or glass of wine you want to drink?  The point is to be aware of others and to put their spiritual journey ahead of our freedom.  It’s not easy and it may not seem fair, but it is better to abstain than to cause someone whose faith may be weaker or on the edge to stumble and lose their faith altogether.

  


24
Mar
15

Jesus Hears The Oppressed

Injustice is everywhere.  All over the world people suffer at the hands of their oppressors.  Nations are ruled by tyrannical dictators who oppress their people. The wealthy oppress those who labor for them.  Girls are kidnapped and sold into slavery as we hear horror stories of human trafficking.  People are oppressed because of the color of their skin or because of their gender.  Christians are persecuted and put to death because of their faith.  Solomon took note of the plight of those who were oppressed:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
    and they have no comforter.​ – Ecclesiastes 4:1b (NIV)​

Notice that he repeats the phrase, “…and they have no comforter.”  He does this for emphasis.  In his day there was no one who would side with the oppressed, let alone comfort them in their misery.  Solomon says that the oppressed would have been better off never born than to experience the evil in our world.  Do the oppressed have an advocate?
I believe that God hears the cries of the oppressed and those who suffer at the hands of the unjust.  Psalm 9:9 (NIV) says:

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Proverbs 3:4 (NIV) says:

He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Jesus said, at the outset of His ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”​ – Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)​

If you are oppressed and if you feel the weight of injustice upon your shoulders, take heart.  There is One who sides with you.  There is One who came to set the oppressed free.  His name is Jesus and He cares for you and your situation.  Ultimately, He came to set you free from the oppression of sin by offering you salvation by God’s grace through faith in Him.  He cares about you and what you’re going through.  Turn to the Lord for protection and freedom.  He can set you free from the bonds of oppression and injustice.  Jesus cares for the oppressed and when He returns, He will deal with those who have oppressed the poor and downtrodden.  He will have the final say when it comes to injustice.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 (NIV)

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
    and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
    who had already died,
are happier than the living,
    who are still alive.
But better than both
    is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
    that is done under the sun.




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