Tag Archives: freedom

Freedom, Responsibility, & Unity With Christ

Standard
Freedom, Responsibility, & Unity With Christ

Good morning! Today is July 4th. It’s a day that we, in America, celebrate our country’s independence. We celebrate with cookouts, spending time with family/ friends, and of course fireworks.

As I sit and think about the idea of gaining independence, my mind gravitates to thinking about the responsibility that comes with it. Being independent does afford us freedoms, but are we truly, 100% free? The answer is no. We are still under the authority of our government, in fact three branches of it, at national, state, and local levels. We are all under the authority of the law of the land and we must obey it. If you are still finishing your education, whatever level you are at, you are still under the authority of your school and your teachers. In the workplace, we are subject to the rules and regulations of our superiors. If you are still living in your parents house, whether you are an adult or not, you are bound to your parents rules and the way they choose to run it.

When we become adults, we feel as though we are free to do things we once weren’t allowed to do…drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, going to clubs, having a credit card, going into X-rated places, parading around at all hours of the night, buying your own car, buying your own house, marrying whom you choose to marry, speaking the way you want to, dressing the way you want to, acting the way you want to.

All of our freedoms come with great responsibility. Just because you are allowed to do things you once were not, does NOT mean you should. Each choice we make in life comes with consequences, both good and bad. Our choices don’t just affect us, but they affect the people around us as well. Let me give you some examples…

  • you can choose to drink alcohol (and that’s fine) but it comes with the responsibility to not become so intoxicated that you harm yourself or other people
  • you can smoke cigarettes (perfectly legal) but you are choosing to harm your body physically and harm the bodies of those most closest to you by breathing 2nd hand smoke
  • you can choose to do drugs but once you take that first dose of poison into your veins the craving for it becomes stronger and ultimately leads to death…leaving behind love ones to pick up the pieces your brokenness has caused
  • you can go to a club to go dancing (this can be pretty harmless) but it comes with the sexual responsibility of not hooking up with a different person each time
  • as an adult, to gain credit worthiness in our world, you must have a credit card… but it comes with the responsibility to NOT live outside of your means and NOT to become loaded with a huge lump of debt that you cannot pay for
  • you can choose to look at pornography or go to a strip club, but ultimately you hurt yourself and your relationships… both now and in the future… because those images are ingrained in your mind and lead you down a path that is very difficult to come back from (Just watch Ted Bundy’s last words and interview on YouTube, with Dr. James Dobson, before his death sentence was carried out… eye opening!)
  • buying your own car and house are things we all have to do, but comes with the responsibility of paying your bills on time and maintaining your property
  • Speaking how you want…dressing how you want…acting how you want… these are things that can be good, but come with the responsibility of being respectful of yourself and other people

All freedoms come with the price of responsibility, whether we like it or not. The responsibility we have keeps us in check, and ultimately keeps us from pushing the boundaries of sin. Freedom and independence are really about our relationship with God. If we are in an intimate, growing relationship with God, seeking to be more Christ like in our thinking and our actions, the more we understand the great responsibility we have and the price that was paid for it.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for ALL mankind when he took OUR sins, on HIS shoulders, and died on the cross. As sinners, saved by Grace, we have a great responsibility… and an immense freedom that comes with it.

Romans chapter 6 talks about freedom, responsibility, and being unified with Christ…

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is THE ultimate freedom, THE ultimate independence, THE ultimate responsibility.

Are you living a life foundationally grounded in the freedom found in Christ alone? Are you unified with Christ so well that you understand the great responsibility it comes with? Or are you a slave to sin and have lost that freedom?

Ultimately, it is your choice… but I say CHOOSE CHRIST! There is no better way to live your life, no better freedom, no better responsibility, no better unification, than in an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ! I pray that if you haven’t already, today you will choose Christ, and ultimately choose an eternal freedom found only in HIM.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of christbiz.com

 

 

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Standard

When we sit down to dinner today, and look over the array of tasty dishes offered, many of will give thanks for our many blessings. Before you do that, I want you to read what I am thankful for.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am thankful that you have given me the gift of your precious and only Son to sacrifice for me on the cross, the debt He did not owe
I am thankful for your supplying the air I breathe and the wonderful world I live in
I am thankful that I live in a country where I can say loud and proud I am a Christian and not have to worry about being persecuted for saying it
I am thankful for the food You have provided me to eat
I am thankful for the home that You have provided that I live in
I am thankful for the clothes that You have provided that give me warmth and modesty
I am thankful for the wonderful, caring and loving husband You have provided me
I am thankful for the family I have been given by You
I am thankful for the children I am blessed with, provided by You

I guess when it comes down to it, God, I am thankful that You have chosen me as your adopted daughter and provided for me all those things that I am unable to provide for myself without Your help.

So in a nutshell, God, I am thankful for You most of all.

I pray all these things in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

My thanks go to the One who gave and continues to give us everything He has.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

Free to Be Me

Standard

 

“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!

The Freedom of Baptism

Standard

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?

Standard

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

Standard

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.

 

Let’s Get Personal

Standard

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?

Standard

“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

Whose Slave Are You?

Standard

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.