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Freed To Be Free

July 4th, 2018

A Person or Nation Without God is Without a Destiny.

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Freed to be Free.”

As the United States celebrates our founding as a nation this week, it seems appropriate to remember that we have pledged ourselves to be, “One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Lately, we have not done so well on the, “One nation under God [and] indivisible,” parts.

If those words become just rhetoric rather than authentic conviction, we will have far less to celebrate and much more to regret. The current climate of political and social discourse has created a growing and worrisome gulf between the secular and religious that should be a warning of concern. If we do not do better, we will owe God an apology and our founding Fathers an explanation.

Our nation without God would become a nation without a destiny, lacking the power of conviction to achieve its destiny. Yet there is an even greater truth that I choose to celebrate, the freedom that we have been given in Christ Jesus. Our Sovereign God promises, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV.

The Apostle Paul wrote much about freedom and liberty while living under a Roman government that ruled by power and force, allowing only marginal liberty. To the young and often struggling church, Paul wrote much about the freedom and liberty that is found in Christ.

These past days, one Scripture in particular has occupied my thoughts and is my cause for reflection and rejoicing. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. Four crucial truths are evident in that verse and its surrounding context – God’s initiative in Christ, The Holy Spirit’s objective, your destiny, and your resolve.

(1). INITIATIVE. The redemptive truth of Jesus Christ is this, “Christ has set us free.“ Every good initiative begins in God’s heart. James understood that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.”  James 1:17-18 NIV.

In the purpose of God, you were set free long before you knew you needed or wanted a Savior. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8-9 NKJ. Everything has changed. You are unshackled from your past. You are redeemed, no longer a slave to sin and self.

(2). OBJECTIVE. “It is FOR FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.” Our freedom has always been God’s objective. In Christ, God purposed absolute freedom for all who would embrace the Savior. Christ’s objective was, and remains to be, an all inclusive and enduring freedom. Freedom from your past. Freedom now and freedom throughout your future, with an eternity with Christ and others forever.

 (3). DESTINY. “Stand firm then.” You have a responsibility to stay free, and in the power of the Holy Spirit you are given the ability to live free. Freedom in Christ means much more than forgiveness for your past, or grace in this moment. Freedom is His abiding destiny for your future as well, the promise that you need never be without grace. His grace is ever sufficient. Consider Paul’s words, “This means that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

(4). RESOLUTE. Do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. You are free from your history, free from your hurts, free from your weaknesses, free from your failures, free from your regrets, and finally free to embrace your life in Christ and His fullness. “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV.

The last word: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJ.

Today I pray for you to comprehend all that has been given you.

Christian Communications 2018

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A Fresh Start

January 27th, 2017

Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny

 “His compassions are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a fresh start.”

Life can feel unmanageable, your past cluttered with unfinished business and the path ahead filled with responsibilities. But life is not lived in yesterday or tomorrow; life can only be lived today. Your life is more than the facts of your history or your unrealized destiny. Positively or negatively, both of those are greatly affected by anything, or maybe everything, you do today. You can reinforce your history or rewrite its predictions. You can sell your future cheaply or invest yourself in achieving its potential.

This day is a fresh opportunity to write a new chapter in the ongoing story of your life. Sure, you have made mistakes. There are things you would have done better if you had been wiser. The remedy for regrets is simple. Enjoy a fresh start. Do better; learn from your mistakes rather than repeating them.

King David’s story is a record of repentance and redemption. In repentance, he embraced a greater future. Learn from his example and rejoice with him: “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23-24 NIV.

Recognize God as Lord of this day and rejoicing becomes the appropriate response. In grace, your history becomes His story. Today can bring a fresh start. Stop rehearsing your mistakes, regretting your failures, or reliving your record. Your God has a record of redeeming tragic histories. And your God is equally adept at crafting unimagined destinies. Both of those the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the context of today.

The Apostle Paul had history that God covered in grace and mercy. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy.” Read 1 Tim 1:12-17 NKJV. On that road to Damascus, Paul met God face to face and his history was redeemed and his destiny assured. Read Acts 9:1-6 NKJV. People do not turn their life around without divine intervention. Only ignorance or arrogance – or both – would make a person attempt such a life change without God.

Paul found there was only one answer for spiritual transformation and subsequent conformation to Christ-likeness. “I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to Heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Notice that Paul mentioned, “one thing,” and then proceeded to talk about, “forgetting, looking forward, and straining to reach.” The one thing Paul believed crucial was expressed in three equally essential actions: laying aside everything inhibiting about yesterday, living with anticipation today, and giving Godly effort to fulfill God’s calling every day that follows. Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny.

Today, I pray for you to trust both your history and destiny into Jesus’ capable hands.

Christian Communications 2017

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Good Success

July 18th, 2016

Let the best of your past be the boost for your future.

“David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “good success.”

David and Goliath are a favorite story of mine. David achieved monumental success against all odds. Everyone likes a story where the good guy wins. Wouldn’t it be great if you could know and copy David’s secret? Success is not that simple. There is rarely just one solution. Almost as a footnote the Bible records, “David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV. Ever curious about why David selected five stones? Without God, five ordinary stones are not all that more confidence building than one. The Bible does not answer that question, which allows us to consider why he might have done so.

If you are serious about succeeding, I suggest you will be open to more than one way to achieve your goal. You need the kind of attitude that boldly says, “Whatever it takes!” Maybe David chose five stones because he didn’t know which one God would direct to its mark; he was just sure that God would make the most of his every effort. You can be sure of that as well. I suggest “five stones” as practical contributors to meaningful accomplishments.

  1. Learn from your failure; build on your success. Do not dwell on failures nor forget successes. Understanding those avoids further mistakes and celebrates victories as confidence boosters. People usually do just the opposite, recalling every painful, trivial detail of failure while discounting triumphs God helped them achieve.
  2. Let the best of your past be the boost for your future. David remembered well. “God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37. Be careful; your focus determines your direction and expectation; make sure that moves you upward and onward. Paul practiced this: “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.
  3. Concern yourself more with God’s honor than your reputation. Like everything else in life, success is not about you and your enrichment or acclaim; your success brings glory to God’s Name and reveals His nature to bless Godly efforts. “I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. . the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. And everyone will know the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people. It is His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47. It’s not about you; it’s all about Him and His victory and glory.
  4. Success does not come to spectators. David was willing to join the battle. He was impassioned, “Who is this that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . Is there not a cause?” 1 Samuel 17:26/29. He became personally involved. Success does not come while you watch; success comes when you work.
  5. Never give up short of a Godly goal. I read this statement, “Success is 10% ability and good fortune, and 90% perseverance.” Someone else observed, “The harder I work the more fortunate I become.” Every success is built on a history of effort and perseverance. “In everything [David] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14 NIV. Success awaits you.

Today, I pray that you experience the satisfaction of good effort amid the joy of success.

EDLdavid_and_goliath 7-18-16

Christian Communications 2016

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History and Destiny

September 25th, 2015

“For by grace you have been saved through faith . . the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Your identity is not found in the debris of your past failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “history and destiny.”

Everyone has a history; everyone has a destiny. History is who you have been; destiny is who you are in Christ. History traces the path to where you are; destiny promises who you can become. “God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Read Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV.

It seems we are more easily preoccupied with our own or others’ past record of struggles and failures than with the possibilities and opportunities still ahead. Possibilities for you are limitless in Christ. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. In redemption, God replaces your history with destiny.

In the beginning, it was wonderfully simple. God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV. Sin is common to us all, but sin cannot change your origin. You came from God’s heart and hands. But life – your faults and failures as well as the hurts and misunderstandings from the fallen humanity of others – clouded the image with which you were created and your understanding of the Father’s purpose for you. Subsequent inability to reconcile the way things are with the way things should have been produces inner tension and confusion.

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, but many people struggle with a confused identity. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:29-30 NIV. I recognize three challenges that confront your assurance of identity.

(1) The brokenness of our own self-knowledge. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV. History is rehearsed in your memory with excruciating detail. You have to discover anew your identity in Jesus before all the stuff happened that you allowed to shape who you now believe yourself to be. Your identity is not found in the debris of your failures or the failures of others toward you. Believe God and His Word.

(2) The ill-founded evaluation of others. Your sense of self is wrongly shaped by others’ opinions, criticisms, and judgments of you. Leave all judgment to Him who judges righteously. The judgments of anyone, including your own, mean little until the Righteous Judge, who knows even the thoughts and intent of the heart, examines one’s life. The Apostle Paul foresaw that day, “At that time, each will receive his praise from God.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV.

(3) The lengthy process of rebuilding broken lives. Never assume the difficulty, delay, or slow progress mean success is not yours. Recovery takes a lot of grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, hope, and faith. “Being confident of this . . that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV.

God rebuilds what self and sin have damaged or destroyed, through daily application of the Word of God, the work of Christ, the fellowship of His Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to restore His “image and likeness” anew. God replaces your history with destiny. Your Identity in Christ is assured and secure. Read Colossians 1:21-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live confidently, eternally secure in Christ Jesus.

To be continued . . .

Last Sunday, I taught on “Identity Theft” at Freedom Fellowship, New Braunfels, TX. The teaching is also available at their website, freedomnb.org. Then scroll down to the sermon title to listen or download the teaching. Please respond if you listen so I will know if audio teachings would be helpful in the future on EveryDay Life . . .

EDL PIX Identity images

 

 

Christian Communications 654

 

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Failures and Sorrows

September 4th, 2015

“Simon, when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 NKJV.

Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “failures and sorrows.”

Failure comes in many forms and sizes, but inevitably comes to all. May yours be insignificant and easily redeemable. Learning from your own and others’ failures is essential. The prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, held 1093 patents but failed hundreds of times before successfully inventing the electric light bulb because he didn’t stop trying until he succeeded. Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Turning failure to success is possible.

Who does not identify with Simon Peter? His record was not flawless. When he failed, he failed publicly and on a grand scale. Despite Peter’s earlier protestations of allegiance and after Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied three times to even have known Jesus. As the day dawned, Peter heard the crow of the rooster, remembered Jesus’ words and, “went out and wept bitterly.” See Luke 22:60-62 NKJV. Failure is not final; mistakes are not fatal.

Earlier, Jesus had spoken words of warning to Peter, but also reassurance, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NKJV. Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime. “My salvation will last forever; My righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 51:6 NIV.

Regret is a natural reaction; repentance is a spiritual response. Though the emotions feel similar, the resultant remorse is not to be confused. Paul explains the difference in these terms, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV. Regret is a natural, emotional sorrow that you are less holy than you thought you were. Repentance is a spiritual sorrow that you loved God less than you thought you did.

May your failures be from human judgement, not lack of spiritual character. You will not always get everything right the first time, but the first time should not become your last effort. And don’t give up on yourself; Jesus doesn’t. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 NIV. Bring every failure to Jesus quickly, Who alone can give you a fresh start. “Jesus appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5-6 NIV. Jesus appraisal and commendation of your life can be, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . Enter into the joys of the Lord forever.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that your failures will be few and your successes many.

Christian Communications 11216

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