Monthly Archives: July 2016

Ultimate Freedom

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Built with Grace

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18-19

lady liberyShe rises majestically above the waters of New York harbor. For over 100 years she has been the symbol of freedom to the world. Millions have passed by her by sea and air seeking freedo
m. Some sought political freedom. Some sought economic freedom. Others sought religious freedom. For many, these shores did not disappoint.

While we are far from a perfect nation, the Statue of Liberty is one of the symbols for what I believe to be the greatest nation on earth. A nation founded on the principles of justice, equality and hope.

In…

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Freedom by Decision

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We spend everyday making decisions in our life. What we are going to eat, who we will talk to, what we will wear, where we will go, and the list goes on. The most important decision we will make is which gate we will walk through, the narrow or wide one.
In case you are wondering where I am going with this – stay with me it will become clearer as I go on. A couple of weeks ago the gospel reading at the church I attend was Matthew 7:12-14 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” I am going to focus on verses 13&14. Jesus is talking about the path to Christianity here. I am not sure if I totally got it before the sermon that Sunday; but I can honestly say that I understand it now. The sermon spoke of how the narrow gate and the path will not be easy or smooth like the wide gate and that we only go through the gate one at a time not as a group. Now before you think I am not making any sense, I want you to think about it – We are told repeatedly in the Bible that the way of the Lord is hard and we will meet untold troubles on the way. So why do we think that all we have to do to get to heaven is accept Him as our savior with no real heartfelt desires to pursue His word. We should be grateful that we are even given the opportunity to be a child of God and be willing to accept what trials or troubles may come forth from it. The sermon went into great detail about the wide gate and how many will want to enter through there because it is the easy way to go and that the narrow gate is not the most appealing way but is the only way to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. To enter through the narrow gate we must be ready to let go of all the earthly baggage we have; whether it is material things we use as idols, emotional things we cannot let go of or just a basic refusal to accept the writing in the Bible as it stands without changing it to meet what it is we want.
I know I am not giving the sermon the justice it deserves by my paraphrasing here, but I hope you get the picture. We have the FREEDOM to make the DECISION to enter the NARROW GATE, I hope I see you on the path with me.
I want to thank the person who wrote and delivered that sermon; my husband Jim Edgel for opening my eyes to the path I need to be on. Thank you so much, and I love you.

Always Remember
God Loves You And So Do I
Michele Edgel

Free to Be Me

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“For the body does not consist of one member, but of many.  If the foot should say, ’Because I am a foot, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?  If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each of them, as He chose.”  1 Cor. 12:14-18

 Listening to the world often makes us feel inadequate.  There is always someone smarter, richer, more talented, or more beautiful. Christians are not immune to those feelings although we may judge ourselves by different standards – we’re not as generous, as pious as well-read in the Scripture as some other Christian we know.  It’s so easy to start striving to become someone we’re not and being dissatisfied with who we are

Whenever I start thinking this way, I try to remind myself that God made me, and I have a purpose to fulfill that only involves being in step with His plans for me.  In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul puts it this way:

“For we His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

 In Christ we are free to stop trying to be what we’re not.  We are free to stop measuring ourselves by the world’s definition of success. We’re even free to stop worrying about whether we’re as good a person as someone we know. We are free from envying others.  We can rest secure in our identity of beloved child of God. 

 Remember He loves you and so do I!

Free to Call God Father

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“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And He said to them. ‘When you pray, say:

Father ….’”

I’m on vacation and at the church we visited this past Sunday the sermon was on the Lord’s Prayer.  It made me think about how fortunate (I guess the correct religious word would be blessed) we are to be able to call God our Father.  It’s a freedom we are so accustomed to that we take it for granted.  However, in Old Testament days, God was considered unapproachable.  No one was even allowed to utter His personal name.  Very few were ever allowed to come close to Him—Moses, who spoke to Him on Mt. Sinai(Exodus 19:20), the High Priest who was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement(Leviticus 16) , Elijah, after defeating the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19).   God was honored, respected and feared.  Having a personal relationship with God was unthinkable.

The first place in the Bible where the idea of God as a father is mentioned is Exodus 4: 22-23:when God tells Moses what to say to Pharoh:

 “Then you shall say to Pharoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve me.’”

The Israelites would have connected the idea of God’s fatherhood with liberation and freedom from oppression.  Still, not in a particularly personal way.  So when Jesus tells the disciples to address God as “Our Father” it probably came as a surprise.

Think about it:  suddenly a God so Holy He can only be approached by a handful of special chosen servants becomes Abba?  A father that a child instinctively runs to for comfort and help.  A person who loves unconditionally?  How freeing is that?  We should never take that privilege for granted.

P.S.  Many of the ideas for this post were taken from an ebook I received FREE from Book Bub.  (sign up for FREE if you have a kindle and you can choose many FREE Christian books, as well as other genres).  Here comes the book recommendation:  Living the Lord’s Prayer by David Timms.

 

 

 

The Freedom of Baptism

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The following prayer is from the Via De Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide, given to each participant in the retreat weekend:

Lord God, I am your child.  I call you Father because you are my Father.  You named me with your own holy name before I could move a hand to help or prevent you.  You insisted on having me even though you knew the end of my life as well as it’s beginning, it’s shame as well as it’s glory, it’s failures as well as it’s achievements, it’s bad as well as it’s good.

Why, Father, should I persist in resisting you?  Why should I insist on my own way instead of knowing your way of grace and love?  Why should I obey my own whims instead of letting your grace in baptism have it’s way with me?

Forgive me, Father, for so often wandering into a far country away from you, your forgiveness, your joy, your promises, your love in Jesus Christ.  Help me to live in the freedom of my baptism, by the faith you have given me, in the life which you daily renew by your gracious forgiveness. 

I am baptized.  I belong to you, God.  Amen

What Freedom?

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What freedom do we enjoy as a Christian? The freedom from death. We have eternal life through the salvation of Jesus Christ, not anything we do, but from God. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I live in America, the land of the free, but unfortunately it seems that this country has lost the best freedom it could have. We live in a society where God is not allowed in school, business or government; and at the same time we have the audacity to ask Him to bless us. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want everything we feel we deserve, even though we don’t deserve anything, and do not want to give anything back for it. I know some will be upset by what I am saying; but before you get all self righteous and indignant; ask yourself this question – Do you stand up for Him in your daily life? Or do you hide behind being politically correct? Remember Jesus told us “Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father, who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
The freedoms we are taught that we deserve by being citizens of the U.S.A. are NOT the best freedom we have access to. That freedom is the freedom from death and the thought of eternal life.
Always remember
God Loves You And So Do I
Michele Edgel

Free to the Max

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I couldn’t let the month go by without at least one book recommendation, so here goes.

While on vacation I have been reading, A Touch of Freedom-Meditations of Freedom in Christ, by Charles Stanley.  It’s a 30 day devotional on the subject of freedom.  Each devotion includes a Bible verse, meditation by Dr. Stanley, and a photograph(also taken by Dr. Stanley).  For those of us who are more visual, this is a real bonus.

 

Here’s a quote from a devotion entitled Maximum Freedom:

 

“Whereas our world teaches us that freedom is gained through throwing off all restraint, the Scriptures teach that the opposite is true.  Human being forfeited a great deal of their freedom in their attempt to gain absolute freedom.  As we begin to put two and two together, it becomes increasingly clear that freedom is gained and maintained by adherence to God’s laws.  Just as a good father sets loving limitations for his children, so the heavenly Father sets moral and ethical perimeters for us.”

 

The meditation makes the point that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God gave man maximum freedom.  There was only one rule to follow:  other than that, the man and woman were totally free to enjoy themselves in loving relationships with each other and God.  When they broke that rule they became much less free—now they were slaves to sin and death.

 

If you want to spend more time in God’s word meditating about freedom, this book is a good choice.  Let us know if you like it.

 

Do You Really Want Free Will?

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“I Don’t Want Free Will” by Martin Luther

luther23.jpg“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want “free-will” to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.” – Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.

Let’s Get Personal

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I believe that once we become a Christian, and start trying to follow God’s will, He will gradually change us into the person He created us to be (in Lutheran speak, that’s sanctification).  That doesn’t mean our whole personality will do an about face.  It doesn’t mean we’ll be transformed into saints.  It does mean we’ll be more like Jesus, and more gifted, more joyful, more full of life, more peaceful with ourselves and others.

In my own case, the biggest thing God frees me from (I say frees because it still has to happen daily) is fear.  If I were asked to choose one word to describe myself, especially years ago, it would be shy, maybe even timid.  Social situations were not pleasant, but stressful.  I was afraid people wouldn’t like me, that they would discover what a fraud I was, or that I would make a stupid mistake.  Of course, that kept me from trying all kinds of things or taking risks of any kind … who knew what might happen?  It’s not a great way to live.

Becoming a serious Christian helped me to move outside of my comfort zone.  I’m still a quiet introvert (nothing wrong with that, it’s how God made me!) but I have taught Sunday School (children and adults), led workshops and retreats, given talks to groups, organized committees and more. I can use the gifts God gave me in my own way.  I’m not tooting my own horn, just telling you what God can do, because I would NEVER, EVER have done those things without Him.

Am I still afraid?  All the time.  My husband says if there isn’t something to worry about, I’ll invent it.  However, I don’t have to let my anxiety control me. I can step out in faith and take a risk.  A friend of mine once said, “there’s no better place to try something new than at church.  If you fail, they’ll still love you.”  That’s what’s so freeing about being a Christian — you know that no matter what happens, you can never lose the love and Christ.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  1 Timothy 1:7

What has God freed you from?  We want to hear from you.

 

 

Who is the Truth?

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“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

I was thinking about these verses this morning and also another one in John. Pilate, the Roman governor is speaking with Jesus and he asks:

“What is truth?” John 18:38

Pilate, of course, was all wrong.  He was even asking the wrong question.  His question and ours should be not “what is the truth?”  but “who is the truth?”  We all know that words can be manipulated;  facts can be obscured;  data can be skewed.  There are people and publications we can’t trust. To believe in the message, you must trust in the person delivering it.

Jesus told his disciples:

“I am the way and the truth and the life.”  John 14:9

The Bible isn’t just words, it is THE WORD.  Jesus isn’t just a good teacher He is THE SON OF GOD.  We can trust Him. Read the Bible.  Get to know Him.

“Then you will know THE TRUTH, and THE TRUTH will set you free.”  John 8:32