Living Large

The sermon last Sunday was titled “Widen Your Hearts” and based on the following verses from 2 Corinthians:

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange –I speak as to my children –open wide your hearts also.”  2 Cor. 6:11-13

In this section Paul is telling the Christians of the church in Corinth that he loves and accepts them even though they seem to reject him.  There are other Bible verses that speak of “enlarging” our heart or understanding.  As the sermon progressed, I began to see that this widening or enlarging is the natural result of our freedom in Christ.  When we live under the law, we judge others (and ourselves) and find them lacking. When we live under grace, as God’s beloved children, we are set free to love others in the same way and leave judgement to God. We can make room for people who are different from us, who disagree with us, even dislike us.  Isn’t it a freeing experience to let go of prejudice, malice and hate?  Those things bind and confine us.  Love frees.

Here’s what Paul says about it to the Galatians:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren;  only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.”  Galatians 5:13

I have one more thing to share that speaks to me about this enlarging.  It’s a poem called Love Them Anyway.

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self centered. Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.  Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.

People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.  Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

So live large.  Widen your hearts.  Be free.  God loves you and so do I!

 

 

 

 

Whose Slave Are You?

In the United States we pride ourselves on being free people.  Yes, we have laws but we can think and express ourselves as we want, and we can even do what we want within legal limits, which are there to restrain us from harming others.  In Bible times the Jews thought they were free as well.  Here’s what some of them said to Jesus:

“We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one.  How is it that you say, ‘You will be made free?'” John 8:33

I’ve often read this verse and wondered, who do they think they’re fooling?  We’re they slaves of the Pharaoh in Egypt?  And at the very time they are saying this, aren’t they under the thumb of Rome? These people are in complete denial!

Well, guess what, we’re in that kind of denial also, because if we’re not slaves to Christ, we’re slaves to somebody or something else.  Maybe we’re enslaved by our job, or just the idea that we MUST have a certain amount of money to support our standard of living;  maybe we’re a slave to a relationship we think we can’t survive without;  maybe we’re a slave to what others think of us.  We can even slide back into being slaves of the law when we think we have to do good deeds to earn God’s approval.

When we yield ourselves to Christ, we’re free from all those things and more.  There is no greater freedom of than the freedom of knowing we’re in the place God wants us to be and using the gifts He gave us to do His will.  Have you ever experienced this freedom?  We want to hear your story.

 

Free From What?

In considering the topic of freedom in Christ, I asked myself, what exactly are we free from?  Here are just a few that I came up with:

We are freed from our bondage to sin.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  Romans 6:18

We are free from being condemned by God for our sins.

“There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

We are freed from the power of death.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

We are freed from anxiety.

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of an anxious mind….your Father knows that you need them.”  Luke 12:29

We are freed from loneliness.

“….I am with you always to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:20

We are freed from the judgement of others.

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31

There are probably others.  What has God freed you from?

 

 

The Freedom of Grace

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What is your favorite Bible verse about freedom? Please send us your comments.

Freedom Is Not Free

I know all of us have heard this expression, a lot, but have you ever turned it towards what Christ did for us on that cross? He paid a price that was terrible so we can have our freedom. Freedom from the sentence of death from sin. Wow, it is mind blowing to think about it. I could spout all the scripture in the Bible or quote numerous theological writers but the cold. hard facts are that Christ died for us to pay a debt we could never, ever pay; so that we could have freedom from death and instead have the gift of eternal life. What is grace? It is the following:
G – God’s
R – Redemption
A – At
C – Christ’s
E – Expense
His payment, our freedom. Think about it = Do you repay Christ everyday for this freedom? Do you stand up for Him, as He hung for you? Do you cherish this freedom or take it for granted? Some days I am better than others, but in all honesty, I do not do justice for the payment He gave for me. I hope that by coming to this realization, I can strive to be better, I mean He deserves my best doesn’t He, He gave me His.

God Loves You And So Do I
Michele Edgel

How Should a Free Person Act?

A while back, Michele did a post on how should a reborn person act.  I thought it might be appropriate to turn that same question to the current theme, freedom.  Our friend, Paul, has some thoughts about this. In Romans Chapter 8 verse 2 he says:

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Of course to some, being set free from law sounds like being able to do whatever you want, so Paul has to disabuse of that:

“What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace?  By no means!  Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience that leads to righteousness …For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.”  Romans 6:15-16, 19

Maybe he makes it even clearer in Galatians:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren;  only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.”  Galatians 5:13

So, how should a Christian who has been freed from sin act?  He shouldn’t go back to being entangled in his sins. If he does that He is still enslaved to sin.  Instead, he must yield himself to the One who freed him with humility and gratitude.  He should love others in a sacrificial way.  Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean we’re free to keep being what we are –it means changing into what we were really meant to be;  becoming our true and authentic selves.

How has being free in Christ changed you?  (that’s a post for another day).  I want to hear your stories.

 

Let’s Make a Deal!

“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness, But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed?  The end of those things is death.  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 6:20-23

I suspect a lot of people have trouble seeing Christians as free.  They world (and the devil) tell them we are people who are governed by old fashioned rules and ideas;  people who give up their time and money in an effort to appease an angry, unreasonable God who probably doesn’t even exist.  Honestly, Christianity to many is a strange delusion, possibly even a mental illness.  What could be the advantage of being a Christian?

In the verses above from Romans, the apostle Paul outlines how wrong this thinking is and  exactly what a deal Christians have.  Sin doesn’t make anyone happy.  Eventually things like dishonesty, envy, greed, immorality catch up with us.  We’re left with broken relationships, shattered reputations, increasing dissatisfaction, shame and yes, as Paul says, even death.  The Christian deal sets us free from ALL of that.

Who wouldn’t want the free gift of God which brings peace and eternal life?  Who wouldn’t trade conflict for brotherhood, jealousy for contentment, acceptance for condemnation, death for life? Tell someone today about the deal Jesus is offering them.

 

Free to be ME!

Built with Grace

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:32-36

broken chainsOne of the cruelest tricks in human nature is to believe you are free when, in fact, you are in bondage. Likewise, one of the hardest things to admit is that you are enslaved by something over which you have no control. That’s why addicts have a hard time admitting they are an addict. That’s why those in abusive situations have a hard time leaving. The…

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