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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 Sacrificial Life

May 26th, 2017

Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing one’s life is noble

“If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“A Sacrificial Life.”

This weekend our country will observe Memorial Day, remembering and honoring the men and women, and their families, who have served our nation and the lives sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. I live in a military city with multiple military bases and hospitals. A significant number of the families of our community are either veterans or active duty military. When I meet veterans or see the faces of young soldiers serving bravely in far-flung reaches of our troubled world, I am humbled by the courage of the men and women who pledge their lives for the safety and sake of others.

They do not regard life as expendable or to be cheaply sacrificed. In contrast, more than most, they clearly see the incalculable value of life and yet are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Only the person who would willingly sacrifice their own life has truly realized how precious life really is. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV.

A few months ago, I received treasured, family heirlooms from my cousin – faded news clippings and the Purple Heart my uncle received while serving with the United States Marine Corps in WW II. Like so many young men, my Uncle Ralph was wounded in battle in the Mariana Islands, and after months of recovery was then a casualty in the assault of an enemy island, and was ultimately listed as, “missing in action.” He was my Dad’s older brother. For his sacrifice, he was revered in the Randolph family and his loss impacted my Dad, grandparents, and my uncle and aunt for their lifetimes. I only knew him through his picture as a Marine, displayed in a place of honor in my grandparents’ home.

If men and women will sacrifice their lives for freedom, love of country, and the safety of their families, should we who are called by His Name and redeemed by His sacrifice not give our lives in His service and the advance of His Kingdom? Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing life for God and others is noble. “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

Jesus’ call to discipleship remains the same today, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25 NIV. Those last words pose a haunting question for every soul. The reward of your sacrifice in His Name by far exceeds the cost. Jesus was clear and His promise certain, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV.

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within hearts where He dwells. Sacrifice means living for something, and Someone, greater than yourself. In Christ’ name, we are all asked to lay down our lives in service to others. This weekend, as you recall the price others paid for your freedom, remember the price the Savior paid for your salvation.

Today, I pray for you to value your life as a gift to be given back to God and others.

Christian Communications 2017

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Stand Fast

January 19th, 2017

Posture evidences inner attitude

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand.” Ephesians 6:11 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today urge that you, “stand fast.”

Posture reveals a lot about a person with or without their awareness: intimating comfort or discomfort, confidence or reluctance, humility or arrogance, benevolence or malice. Posture evidences inner attitude. But consider a different, more important facet of posture, more spiritual than physical. The Bible distinguishes between the outward man of the flesh and the inward man of the Spirit. “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NKJV. Time spent on your knees empowers faith and obedience. Standing is a posture of faith, expressing preparedness and availability. God’s Word has much to say about the Christian’s spiritual posture.

Stand fast in faith. Circumstances will challenge your posture of faith. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong . . And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV/Romans 14:4 NIV.

Stand strong in adversity. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . .” Read Ephesians 6:11-18 NKJV.

Stand strong in righteousness. The opposition and persecution of the religious leaders could not dissuade Paul, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand.” Acts 26:22 NKJV. Trust in God’s strength, not your own. “My help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121:2 NKJV.

Stand steadfast in prayer. “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV.

Stand sure in grace. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 NKJV. God’s grace is the singularly strong place to stand. Stand fast in Christ and His finished work on Calvary.

Stand fast in freedom. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV.

Stand in awe of God. Your view of God determines and supports everything else about your personal faith. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” Psalm 33:8 NKJV.

Stand still in God’s promise. Before an uncrossable sea and an invincible army behind, and with the promise of God in his heart, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.’” Exodus 14:13 NKJV. God has a great victory for you if you will reject your fear and stand fast in His promises. “That [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to always stand in the strength of the God’s Word and Holy Spirit.

Christian Communications 2016

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Blame

November 4th, 2010

“Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know.” Proverbs 24.12 TLB

Blame is a lame attempt to avoid facing your own truth.”

My thoughts today are about “blame.”

What kid has not deflected blame by saying, “It’s not my  fault; it’s theirs!” Blaming someone else never does much good, but people do it all the time. Adam and Eve did it in the otherwise perfect surroundings of Eden, and most everyone since has done so. Imagine how much better everything would be today if they had just said, “Yeah, I did it; I was wrong; I’m sorry!”

Blame McDonalds for their coffee being too hot when you clumsily spill the cup in your lap. Blame your parents for your unhappiness as an adult. Blame the fast food industry for your obesity when you can’t resist “biggie sizing.” Blame the auto manufacturer when your unsafe driving causes a tragic accident. Blame the President, or Congress, or Democrats, or Republicans, or all of the above, when the world’s political situations are not to your liking. Does it change anything?

Assigning fault and blame in any situation is not as easy as you may presume, because of our always limited knowledge and often faulty judgment. Be charitable when forming opinions about others, as you hope others will view you charitably. “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4 NKJV. It is easier to fault others than accept responsibility yourself. Read Matthew 7:1-5 NLT.

On President Harry Truman’s desk in the Oval Office was a sign that read simply, “The buck stops here.” He had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions, such as the first use of an atomic bomb against Japan to end World War ll. But he accepted full responsibility for his actions and decisions. As our 33rd President (1945-53), he led our nation at a challenging time of war in Japan and later in Korea, as well as dealing with a struggling economy.

He was not always popular, but was respected for his mid-western honesty. In office, he had the lowest approval of any President before or since, but some political historians would now rank Harry Truman among the top ten Presidents, along with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

Blame is usually a lame attempt to avoid facing your own truth. Do you believe what Jesus said? “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32. Avoiding the truth is the surest way to keep re-living your mistakes, and then wondering why. Until you admit your mistake, you keep having problems and placing blame elsewhere. “Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know . . God knows all hearts . . and He will reward everyone according to their deeds.” Proverbs 24:12 TLB.

There is one sure way to stop “passing the buck.” Live in such a way that you are without blame yourself, and you will see no need to shuffle the blame to any other! “That you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a generation . . among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly the message of life . . ” Philippians 2:15-16.

My prayer for you is that you will always value truth, and live in its freedom.

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A Clean Slate

December 16th, 2009

“You were redeemed . . with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

“The slate has been wiped clean; God is giving you a fresh start.”

My thoughts today are about “a clean slate.”

The expression, a clean slate, comes from a slate upon which a tavern’s daily bill of fare was written in soft chalk to be easily erased for a new day’s menu, and from a previous generation of school children who wrote their lessons or answers in chalk on a small slate – or chalkboard. The slate could easily be wiped clean and ready for another use. Since the mid 1800’s the expression has been used figuratively to describe a fresh start, a new beginning without old baggage, or the act of wiping out old offences or debts.

That is a practical picture of today’s verse. The entire record of everything – unintended or unimagined – that ever was done by you that was unworthy and unholy is wiped clean when you invite Jesus into your life as Savior. See John 3:16-17 NKJV. God’s forgiveness gives you a clean slate – a new, and fresh start. I love the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian Christians, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ . . for God was in Christ . . no longer counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NLT.

Think of how wonderful that is. All the things that you cannot forget that you have done, let alone forgive yourself for ever doing, have been erased forever – once and for all – by the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son on a cross. The slate has been wiped clean; you are given a fresh start. A redemption that you could never have purchased yourself is freely afforded you in salvation.

A friend of mine has said this, “At the cross, God set a price on the value of your soul so high that He could not be outbid.” That unequalled price was the death of His Son taking your place. See 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV. Some years ago a chorus was written that included these lines, “I owed a debt I could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”

That’s why you cannot save yourself. Never could, never will. The Bible asks a rhetorical question whose answer is obvious and certain, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies! Who is he that condemns?” Romans 8:33-34 NIV. There is no accuser left standing for the truly redeemed. Here’s Paul’s description of your clean slate, “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority and marched them naked through the streets.” Colossians 2:14-15 The Message.

My prayer for you today is: live in freedom from sins past, present, or future. Galatians 5:1 NIV.

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