"If you hold to my teaching,
you are truly my disciples. Then you will
know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Our opponents, as were Jesus' enemies, are annoyed by our freedom claims. Most of the world sees a shackled Christian, burdened with rigid demands and negative restraints. Jesus proclaimed that discipleship brings four freedoms.
It brings us freedom from fear! We never walk alone because we are always in the company of Jesus. Some children are burdened with unspeakable fears about all sorts of things. I was one of those kids, very sensitive, and needed an extraordinary amount of reassurance about almost everything. When there was a death in the family, all I could think about for over a year was the fear of dying. I had no one (I thought then) that I could talk to about it and would quietly cry myself to sleep in the night, wondering if I would wake the next day. Maturity in the faith will take away all fears! PTL.
It brings us freedom from self! Many have struggled with who they are. In Jesus' care, He is able to recreate us until we are brand new. We don't have to behave the way others think we should. Sometimes it is worth the risk to break out and live the way WE think Jesus would have us live! Living on the edge with our Lord is quite an adventure.
It brings us freedom from other people! A disciple no longer cares what others think because he only seeks to please Jesus. (Can I say "AMEN" to that?) I am experiencing a painful situation right now with someone I hold very dear to my heart. This person is disappointed in some of my choices and has held those things against me for 18 months. Although I cherish the love of this one about whom I speak, there is nothing I can do to recover that relationship while they hold onto that root of bitterness. As long as I am in the center of God's will, forgiven by the Grace of God, I am covered by His love and that is enough!
It brings us freedom from sin! We all know our own sins which overpower us and bring us personal shame. Only in Jesus are we able to break free from that captivity. What a magnificent truth that is! (I John 1:9) Jesus alone has the power over the shackles of our past. And He is the One to whom we place our trust everyday. Hallelujah! I no longer enable the world to dictate how I feel and I do not have to be affected by their judgment of my life. I will take my chances with the judgment of God who knows my heart better than anyone.
GospeLines Prayer: Righteous Father, I am grateful that you have not allowed others to judge me, for if they could, they would cancel the freedom You have given and hold me accountable for the sins I have confessed to You. I stand before You as a sinner, imperfect, faulty in my behavior, careless in my attitude, but corrected by your righteousness. To You ONLY do I confess my unworthiness, and ask forgiveness for all my sins. Restore me to your Holy presence. Hallelujah for Your love and grace to all of us! Amen and amen.
I recently wrote to a GospeLines subscriber about how we can know that the Bible is the Word of God. It seems that lately many people are asking that question. Actually, the real question isn't about the Bible, it's about God. "Is there really a God... a God that created of the Universe... and me?"
Over the years, as I've tried to "prove" that God is real, I've actually brought up many very good and convincing points. However, I sometimes get frustrated when my "brilliant" arguments are met with continued disbelief.
I've suggested many good books on the subject. Lee Strobel's books: "The Case for Christ" and "The Case for a Creator" are excellent examples. However, even though many unbelievers read them, some are still not convinced. What are we missing? What do we have to do the help people know our God, the God of Moses? How do we help them see that I AM, is?
Funny how often, when we're struggling with a problem, we forget the most obvious and direct solution... ask! I finally did... I ask God, "Why can't they see?" His answer, as usual, was a total surprise.
"They can't see Me for the same reason you can't see Me."
"Wait a minute," I said. "I can see You."
"No you don't Ron. You're looking at Me but you're not seeing Me."
Then a really wonderful thing happened. He told me to look around as I drove down the highway; but this time, to ignore anything that was man-made - to only see the things that He made.
What an awesome experience! I really saw trees, grass, snow, rocks, birds, all sorts of things and they were beautiful. I ignored the buildings and the signs... the guardrail and the other cars... everything that wasn't God-made.
As I looked through His filter I began to realize that to see God, we have to look for Him. We've become so caught up in the world that we only see the things of the world and look right past Him.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed, Moses said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." When the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush... (Exodus 3:2-4)
God did not speak until Moses "turned aside," until Moses deliberately looked at the thing of God. That was His message. "When people look for Me, they will find Me. Turn aside from the things of the world and deliberately look for Me. Then will you not only see Me; but, you will hear My voice and know that I AM that I AM."
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
When we list Old Testament women who knew the heart of Yahweh, there is none more noteworthy than Hannah ("Grace"), the wife of Elkanah. They had no children so she prayed and prayed to God for the blessing of a male child. God heard her cries and Samuel ("God hears") was born. She promised that her son would be dedicated to the Lord, so when he was weaned she placed him in the care of Eli to be trained as a prophet.
Her extraordinary devotion to God can be heard in her prayer song (I Samuel 2:1-10) "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God." (V.2.) Wherever she walked, the ground was holy. When she went to Shiloh with her husband for the annual sacrifice, the utensils of worship and the temple where she prayed were holy.
Now here is the question I raise. What caused the places where she walked and the objects which Hannah touched to become holy? The place where you are sitting at this very moment, whether in your office at your place of employment, or at your computer in your home, or on the street corner where someone has handed you a printed copy of this devotional, it can be called a holy place (Exodus 3:5).
Of course, Hannah might be called a good person, maybe even a great woman. And you may be a wonderful husband, a devoted wife, or, by the world's standard, even a great person. Beloved, humankind does not possess the ability to make a place, object or a person holy.
The essence of Holiness is ascribed to a person, place or object because of the character of God. True holiness comes to a place, person or object because it reflects the righteousness, love AND presence of God.
Someone asked me last week to define the word "saint" as it is applied to an individual. I said that a saint is a person who is "different" in character and attributes, made so by the infilling of God's Spirit, not by any human blood line or prominent position in a church. The difference is the distinctive Holiness of God which permeates the heart, soul and actions of that person, everyday, 24-7.
Oh, to be like that all the time! I yearn to know that kind of walk with my Heavenly Father. Does your heart burn within you this very moment to be like that?
GospeLines Prayer: My Lord and my God, to whom I owe the gift of this day, give me the spirit to use it as I ought. Forbid that I should stain the glory of this morning with any evil thought or darken the afternoon with shameful deed. Allow the Holiness of your Spirit to breathe into my heart the purity of your heavenly desires. O, Father, I beseech you to inform my mind each moment with your truth. Let your justice and righteousness form a throne within me to rule my will. Cast away all the forces of evil and defeat all selfishness and worldly mindedness, and carry out your perfect plan in my life today. Amen and amen.
You work with them, live with them, breathe the same air they do, drink the same water. They are all around you. No matter what you say to them, their response is always going to be negative!
“What a beautiful day!”
“Yeah, but it’s supposed to start raining again toward the end of the week,” they reply.
They even warn you about themselves. “I got up on the wrong side of the bed today.” “It’s just my nature to be cautious.” “I am one of those who say, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ ” These people make a point of raining on your parade every chance they get.
Then you have those self-named “Bible scholars” today who dutifully warn us that to mix the “Positive Mental Attitude” culture with the teachings of the Bible comes straight from the occult or the New Age Movement. So, I guess it’s ok to be negative all the time? NOT!
Jesus didn’t call it PMA (Positive Mental Attitude), but He sure practiced seeing the best in everything and everyone when He could. Who would have thought that He would offer Living Water to a prostitute in the wicked, haphazard society of Samaria? But He did. And what did He say about moving mountains? It takes a LITTLE bit of faith, not a lot.
Look at that band of twelve He threw together to change the world: publicans and sinners, tax collectors, smelly fishermen, and some plain old common folk. Oh, and we have to throw in one doctor, too (Luke). But Jesus saw something good in all of them that our untrained eye could not see. He saw it because He WANTED to see it. Jesus practiced having a positive attitude toward life and death. He was POSITIVELY CONVINCED that on that third day after they murdered Him that He would rise again.
So, what do you say to someone who “blesses” your day with a negative attitude? You can’t shoot them, and you MUST work with them (and in some cases, LIVE with them). Why don’t I share a few PMA verses with you from the Word of God? These are some that you may want to commit to memory for just the right occasion. (A few are listed here, but the remainder can be downloaded by clicking on the link at the bottom of this devotional.)
Verses to Remember
Nehemiah 8:10 (New International Version)
"For the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Psalm 37:4 (New International Version)
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Isaiah 54:17 (New International Version)
"No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you."
Matthew 19:26 (New International Version)
"Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Romans 15:13 (New International Version)
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Philippians 4:13 (New International Version)
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."