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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Free

So the Fourth of July is in a week. Next Wednesday to be exact. How blessed we are to live in a country that still (for now) allows us the privilege of worshipping as we feel is right and saying what is on our hearts and minds. We are a free people.

Freedom is an amazing thing. It is usually bought with the price of blood. America's freedom had a huge price tag. Thousands of lives were given to purchase it. And that freedom has to be repurchased and laid on the altar of service and aid for other countries as well. Men and women - give of themselves so that others might be able to live without fear of being killed for being weaker and unable to defend themselves.

I could expound on this ad nauseum. As I started writing I continually had to restrain my fingers from typing of all of the blessings we receive in the US and how amazing it is. And of course how our constitution has been infringed on lately....BUT that is not the point of my writing today. There is a freedom that has been purchased that tops even the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ came to purchase my freedom. At great cost. His life and the anguish of carrying every sin that was laid upon him to settle that cost. The life he laid down was so that you and I can be free. He laid it down for everyone who would believe. And that freedom stands in spite of what happens in our government. It surpasses anything we have heard of in any of the wars that have been waged.

The fact is - I do not always feel my freedom. There is always something that binds me and causes me worry. My behavior is atrocious. I need to do this and that and the other to please and serve and make things right. I must do a better job of making myself behave in the way I feel God and Family and Friends need me to.

Those burdens I carry alone. And I am not meant to. I chain myself to them every morning. And I am not meant to.

I am not meant to.

My insistence on that is totally discounting the sacrifice that was made so I can live free.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The more I read, pray and love - the more free I become.

Of course that doesn't mean I can go and rob a bank, or tell lies and live contrary to the Word. I tell my kids every day - "Obedience is your ticket to freedom". The more they obey me the more I can trust them. That means they can go and do and I will know that they are doing what I have asked - what they have been taught. If they can do that - they get to do more. The reasons I ask them to obey is to protect them. To keep them safe. To guard them from harm - physically, mentally and spiritually. So it is simple - when they do not do as I have asked...their freedom is restricted.

It is the same with God. He asks the same of me.

Galatians 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

My protection from heart ache, from physical harm, from mental torment - is in mind when he asks me to abstain from the acts of the flesh.

His desire for me to prosper and live well are the rewards of abstaining from things that will harm me. And the reward is freedom.

I am rebellious by nature. If you tell me I cannot do it - I am going to do my best to prove you wrong. But this is my sinful nature. It is something I should fight against to continue in my freedom. I need to crucify that desire so that I can avoid the heartaches that insue because of my rebelliousness.

There are many people that I have grown to love and respect over the years. They do not agree with me. They think I am weak and use my faith as a crutch. I am okay with that. I don't require their approval to love them and to want them to find the same freedom I have found. But I have also found freedom in not feeling the burden of making them understand. They will do what they are called to do. And of course because I love them, I want them to understand and believe as well. But I do not have to defend God. I just have to live well before them and love them well. That may require a hard conversation or two. It means I have to stand up for what I believe. I may even have to deal with hearing them say things that may hurt. But remember - I am a people pleaser. Part of my freedom is releasing myself from that as well. The hard conversations will just be knowing that I am saying things they find offensive. I don't like to offend. Ever.

But - I find joy in knowing that I am living faithfully. I find that I am happy in the simplicity of seeking to please God and knowing that in doing that I will be serving many well because of it.

I thank God for this.

I am free! It is an amazing feeling. I pray I relate it well in all I say and do.





Thursday, June 28, 2012

Change

I have probably written about change as much as any subject. I personally would love to pick a place and stay there. Physically, spiritually, mentally, however you can stay the same.

BUT that is just silly.

The reason change is so hard is that the future is uncertain. It comes back down to control. I cannot control the events that occur when change presents itself. I don't mind change when things go smoothly and I have a good handle on everything. It is when it is all out of my control and I feel like I am fishtailing down a slippery highway and things are coming at me fast and hard that I am totally freaking out.

BUT whose fault is that?

Matthew 6:33-34(NIV)
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I don't really want to stay the same. That would be boring. Stagnant. I love life and the glimpses of Heaven we get here on Earth. So when the change comes that I don't want and I can't control - there is something I am given that will de-stress every given situation. Focusing on today. On this moment. I cannot worry about tomorrow. There is nothing I can do about tomorrow. But I have everything I need for right now. Remembering that and keeping busy are my best tools to make it through gracefully.

The comfort of waking up in the morning knowing that God will supply all of my needs (Philippians 4: 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.) is often discredited. Not believed. But I can wake up knowing he will.

I am not foolish enough to think that I do not have to work or plan.  (Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.) We do that day by day. That is part of the "keeping busy" (Proverbs 12:14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.) Live each day well and rejoice in the unexpected that comes with it, knowing that they are part and parcel of your life.

I am looking forward to the day when the other shoe drops and instead of running around like Henny Penny shouting "the sky is falling!", I simply say - "alrighty then" trusting that it will be okay. Will it be any time soon?

Goodness I hope not. I really would like the other shoe to just hang in there.

But change is inevitable. Wishing it would never happen is not really what I want. My human nature just wants to control it. But that is not going to happen. My first reaction should be to turn my eyes on Jesus!







I love learning. The lessons are so hard. But what comes from them is so freeing!

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Now that is beautiful - and something to be longed for.



Monday, June 25, 2012

He will EXULT over me with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

 The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.

I am a people pleaser. What spurs me on is to hear praise. It is a simple, though oftentimes frustrating thing that makes me - me. I am also an accomplishment driven person. This too can be frustrating.

I have often given God the squint eye and asked him, "Why?".

Why would he make me this way? It seems to me what makes me me is also what makes me - dependent. And I don't want to be dependent. I am INdependent.  

Now that is a conundrum. ( a question or problem having only a conjectural or hypothetical answer - not that you wouldn't know that - I had to look it up to make sure I did)

But alas - my God desires my dependence on him. 

Colossians 3:16-18 (AMP)
16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.
17 And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him

Upon reflection and being quite honest with where I stand...my independence is exhausting. And so flawed. I truly need and seek a place of rest. I need a place that is higher than I can hope to aspire to. A place of rest and repose.

Psalm 61:1-3
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [yes, a rock that is too high for me].
3 For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the adversary.

And God offers it - to me - to you - every day.

I find that I take on too much. My hopes and aspirations are too grand. My failures too huge. My insight too little. I am just not quite enough. And I sense it - everyday. I see my flaws. I am mightily aware of my shortcomings. And yet....

He will exult over me with singing. He will delight in me. And he really knows me - all the ick. All the failures. All the wobbling I do. And he loves me. It inspires my trust and complete reliance on him.

Recently my husband lost his job for the second time in 3 years. I will not blame the economy. I truly have no idea why it has happened again. I find myself perplexed and empty headed at times (far too often I am afraid)...but I know that it has made me practice my dependency on God. And I have never felt more complete and at peace than I do now. Do I know we will have a job tomorrow? No. Do I know my needs have been supplied - not only supplied but blessings heaped on me today? Yes. And I am thankful. Thankful to my God for seeing and supplying and giving me understanding. So I walk in light of today. This moment. And I feel strongly that this is God's way of helping me. I depend on him moment by moment. And this dependence has come more fully than ever before because of the place we are in. If we still had a job...I would rely on myself. It is my first instinct. Like a child I repeatedly say - "I can do this by myself".

I have found that is NOT such a good thing.

John 15:10-12
Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.
11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.
12 This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.

Abiding in Christ - depending on him - is how my joy is complete. AND equally dumbfounding is that even though God knows me inside and out (no hiding from him my abilities or disabilities, flaws or failures) - he REJOICES over me. He is PROUD of me. He EXULTS over me with singing. And in this need of mine for approval (what I considered a flaw prior to) I can rejoice. For God gives it to me in grand measure.

Wow. Just - Wow.