Galatians 5:1 English Standard Version (ESV)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit
again to a yoke of slavery.
There are two types of people in our churches today: the Disciple and the Detainee. One compelled by love, the other compelled by fear. One by the power of Grace, the other by the power of the Law. The Disciple follows willingly, out of love seeking to draw nearer to Jesus by grace through faith. The Detainee follows under duress, striving to somehow earn the favor of a ruthless master by effort and good deeds. The Disciple finds unlimited and unmerited mercy for every need. The Detainee finds shame and regret at every turn. The Disciple has been invited to follow Jesus as He does the work of seeking and saving that which is lost, healing that which is broken, lifting that which has fallen and setting free that which is bound. Do you know the joy of willingly following Christ as He brings the Gospel to your community? Or do you fear that you will never measure up to His lofty expectations and ultimately find yourself separated from Him for eternity? What if I told you that it is His good pleasure to set you free, completely and eternally free.
If you're like me, you're ready for Spring to get here. I'm not trying to rush things, I could just go for some greenery. Sure, Winter has it's moments. Holidays and snow days. Super bowls and the start of College basketball. (Go Cards!!) I just kinda long for the sounds and smells of Spring. The allergies and bugs kinda suck, but hey you can't win them all.
We must remember that God led us to where we are, He showed us His will and gave us the nudge to follow it. We should not be surprised when He begins to lead us out of our comfort zone. There is more work to be done, new challenges to overcome. This will of course mean that things must change. It doesn’t always make sense to us. We find ourselves with questions and often times complaints. We despise not knowing what to do. This is when faith becomes active. Not knowing what to do is proof that something bigger than us is at work in our lives. Sometimes the greatest place we can find ourselves is on our faces asking God what we are doing, as this serves to show us that this is not about us but about Him.
When everything makes sense to me that is when I need to question whether or not I am following God by faith or am I simply taking the path of least resistance. We tend to prefer the road with less risk. We like the safe and familiar. Our life should be lived with absolute surrender to God’s will and reckless abandon of our own desire. Do we live our lives with no regard for our own self interest? Do we have such a faith that many times we find ourselves asking the question, “what have I got myself into”? Do we allow our family, friends and society to tell us what is the best way to live our lives or do we read and obey God’s word? Do we pray for God's will? Is God our Lord and do we obey Him without question? Do not let your longing for comfort keep you from the most amazing life that can be lived. A life of yes. Yes to God and His command. A life of unfamiliar.
Sometimes the busyness of life, the trials we face, work, appointments and responsibility cause us to forget just who we are and what awaits us. We begin to believe the lie that our success and failure is totally tied up in our ability. We let the pressure push us farther and farther away from the truth that we are totally dependent upon God for our every breath. We so quickly forget that God began this and he will finish it. His ways are above our ways, He is beyond figuring out. Just when we think we know what He is doing, everything changes. Often times we feel that if we do not understand what is happening or if we do not know what to do that we have somehow missed God or we have sinned in some way. While that can be true at times, more often than not the enemy misconstrues the facts and leaves us reeling in shame and defeat. The truth is that there will be times when God intends to lead us in a new direction in life, one that we have never been in before. That’s called progress. It’s called maturity. We do not stay where we are in life. Ask Abraham, Moses, or Joshua. Ask the prophets and the disciples. There will always be change and growth produced by genuine and unadulterated faith in Christ. We were created for perfection. We are far from that now. We will be changed from imperfection to perfection. We were not made to stay where we are.
When you begin to feel that things are kind of blurry and you feel like you are unclear of what God is doing, don’t get discouraged. It just might be that God is about to do something new in your life. Yes, we must make sure that we deal with any and all sin that may be attempting to set up camp in our life. We just have to be sure that we don’t confuse change for the devil. Occasionally we just need to be reminded that God is bigger than us and this finite world we put so much faith in at times. The troubles of this world have to bow at just the mention of His Name. Don’t believe the lies. God has not forgotten you. He has not left you. He is just getting you into position to be propelled in a new direction. Stop living according to the way that this world attempts to dictate, in fear and surrender to the idea that we have to march to the beat of human limitation. You are natural and supernatural. The natural will scream that it is supreme while the supernatural simply whispers that you can overcome anything this world throws your way. Not in your strength and ability but in the strength and ability of Him who lives in you. Do not live under the false presumption that you have to have all the answers in life. All you have to have is the one answer to how you overcome this life; Jesus.
Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness or do you hunger and thirst after comfort? Are you walking by faith or sleeping by doubt? Do you pray for God’s will to be done in your life or do you pray for God to do your will in your life? May we allow Him to be God in our lives. Give Him the opportunity to use you as He pleases so you may know the joy of walking in accordance with His desire. Let Him blow your mind with how great His goodness to you can be. Do not let the unknown cause you to fear. Learn that faith is believing that though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil. Maybe the reason you feel lost where you are in life is simply because God is preparing to take you to new places with Him. Do not run away from the changes He is making in you. Run to them. He is a God of action. He will not tolerate complacency for there is no joy in doing the same thing over and over. He knows that, because He made us for so much more. Push ahead into the darkness, do not hesitate at signs of change. Embrace it and find the blessing that He has in store for you. Just like Peter, step out onto the water and keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Walking on water may have been something he had never done before but he didn't let that keep him from doing something new. Neither should you.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth…”
What do you see today? Your problems magnified by your doubts of a solution? Your heartache multiplied by your bad decisions? A loneliness compounded by your unwillingness to allow anyone to get close enough to listen? For many people the only thing they see today is darkness. They have no hope, no comfort, no joy. The circumstances of life have weighted them down and left them despondent at best, utterly defeated at worst.
Join us this Sunday as we discuss the topic of Heaven
1 Peter 1:23-25
Something happened somewhere along the way. At one time the Word of God was the pinnacle of our society. Nothing was welcomed that did not align itself wholeheartedly with the Word. We used to cherish it as the seat of wisdom. We read, memorized and implemented it daily. Our decisions were governed by it. Our choices were influenced by it. Our children were taught it, both by voice and deed. We would never even consider questioning it’s authority. Today we regard it as questionable at best, if it’s even regarded at all. What was once treated as sacred is now thought of as sacrilege to our intellectually elite society. To believe that
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Romans 6:1, 2
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
God is the creator of all. He is justified in His jealousy over His creation turning from Him to anything else. He is justified in not being happy with the way we treat ourselves (mind, body and soul), the way we treat others and the way we treat Him.
He has rescued us from a life of sin and death. He has given us purpose, he has given us a reason to live and not merely exist. Whenever He sees anything taking us away from Him and leading us into a life of sin He is indignant. He is jealous over us. He loves us with an everlasting love.
We have become so conditioned by the world to abhor anything that calls our character or commitment into question. We despise anyone or anything that we feel is “attacking us” or “judging us”. We have insulated ourselves against the conviction of God in the name of grace, a false grace that the enemy taught in the garden. It is the lie that God did not really mean what He said. His Word is to be questioned and run through our scanners to see if it passes the feel good test. If it makes us uncomfortable then it cannot possibly be from God.
The law is a mirror that reveals to us just how dirty we are. If we cannot see our need for cleansing then how can we come to the fountain of God and be washed? This is exactly what the enemy intends to keep us from. The moment we admit our great sin and the great price it exacted from Christ, that is the very moment that we are converted. That moment we acknowledge our sin and His holiness. That moment we accept the amazing grace of God and turn from who we were to who we are to be. We commit to following Jesus, walking in the Spirit and living in unity with the Father.
God is sovereign. He does not need to explain Himself to us. We are beneath Him. We do not belong in His presence, yet by His amazing grace He calls us to Himself. Somewhere along the way we shed our conscience and began to believe the lie in the house of God. We traded the humility of Christ for the arrogance of the world. We decided that we did not like the pressure of standing out from the world so we just modified the message of the Gospel and began to blend in. We traded our heavenly identity for worldly indemnity.
We have become slothful and numb. We are offended by the truth and comforted by a lie. We scoff at the thought that God would judge us. We have been told that He is love and that He is not mad at us. He loves us they say. It’s ok, He knows you are flawed. He loves you as you are they tell you. The truth is that if we have been converted we no longer identify with this world and all it’s ways. We have a new identity, a new name, written down in Glory. We have our slate wiped clean and we are empowered with the Holy Spirit to live this new life that frees us from the bondage of sin. We were not saved to stay where we were. This is not just a idealogical, philosophical change. This is a complete body, soul and spirit renewal. Dead becomes alive. Far from perfect, but definite evidence of a change.
The only way for us to truly embrace the great love of God is to understand and admit that we are unworthy of anything that He may offer us. This is the beginning of restoration to the Divine. We are so busy trying to fix people’s sin problems through their perception of themselves. We cannot counsel someone to conversion. The mind cannot be manipulated into salvation. We end up causing more damage. We fail to properly inform them of who He is and who we are. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. Humble yourselves in His presence that He may lift you up. We enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts because we recognize that we are unworthy to do so on our own, but by Christ’s death and resurrection we may now enter His courts with praise.
Have you allowed the way someone has treated you to separate you from God? Have you used the excuse that because you were hurt you turned away and blamed God for your pain? Have you used the excuse of your circumstances in life? There is no justification for your sin. God is God regardless what happens to us in this world. We all have moments of question and difficulty in processing the hits we take in life. That however is not an excuse to engage in and continue in outright rebellion to God. He will not pardon you for the pain you endured. Consider Jesus. He never blamed His Father. He simply said if there be no other way to redeem mankind than the cross then so be it. He glorified the Father through His suffering. May we do the same.