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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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Loved and Loving

February 14th, 2017

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “loved and loving.”

“If this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”      1 John 4:10 TEV

Every person has many needs. None is stronger or more essential than your need to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have or have not done, but simply because you chose to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving. And that’s a great feeling for both the one loving and the one loved.

Why do people struggle to believe they can be loved? On some occasion, every person has felt rejection or being unwanted. Hurting people hurt people. That is unfortunate but probably unavoidable in an unkind and hurting world. Such feelings diminish your understanding of self-worth and may wrongly persuade you that you are unlovely, or even unlovable. Those emotions are difficult to change, even when told otherwise. I heard it said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” That is nowhere more true than in this matter of love. Love is most persuasive when evidenced by grace given and behavior observed, rather than by mere words that proclaim love. Love is volitional, before it becomes emotional. In every action and overture toward you, God is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

When teaching on love years earlier, the Lord gave an insight expressed in this understanding, To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. God’s love for you is practical, observable, and always sacrificial. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 TEV. The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever.  God said, “I know the plans I have for you . . to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally, without measure or requirement. Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 TEV. You are loved; be loving. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV. In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are the incredible, extravagant dimensions of Christ’s own love. “Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 MSG. See Romans 8:35-39 NAS. Your love is limited until you embrace His love without limits.

Today, I pray for you to receive the immeasurable love of God and share it generously.

Christian Communications 2017

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Hope and Optimism

January 6th, 2017

You crown the year with Your goodness; Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11

Optimism is the language of hope.

My thoughts and comments today are about “hope and optimism.”

God’s Word holds so much promise for this time of year. Optimism hears God’s whisper in your heart that your past need be no predictor of your future. Optimism is the language of hope. Let the New Year reflect your hope, not your tears. Tears express yesterday’s disappointment; hope affirms the promises and providence God holds for your future.

My thoughts have been drawn to the Psalmist David’s declaration of hope, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance . . the pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Read Psalm 65:9-13 NKJV. Take a moment and re-read those verses, deliberately and thoughtfully. A more contemporary translation reads, “What a rich harvest your goodness provides! Wherever you go there is plenty.” Psalm 65:11 TEV.

Pause and reflect over what King David wrote. He joins the past, present, and future and rejoices that amid all, God is generously benevolent. I love David’s poetic imagery. The year – every single day of it – is crowned, adorned with the faithfulness and goodness of God. Prophetically, David declares that his and your journey throughout the year, “overflows with abundance.” David further describes God as the One, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord o my soul and forget not all of His benefits . . Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things.” Read Psalm 103:1-5 NKJV. Out of His goodness, God, “heals . . forgives . . redeems . . crowns . . satisfies.” There is consistency in the nature and character of God.

Deliberation at the close of a year and the fresh beginnings of a new year can be beneficial when appraising the recent past; a lovely place to visit, not a place to dwell. Whatever your previous experience, God has even better things ahead for you. Embracing and rejoicing in God’s provision is your righteous response to God’s goodness. David had no doubts; the goodness of God was assured and unchanging. “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 NLT.

A New Year can be, and should be, a freshly hopeful season for you. But a change of calendar alone is inadequate to accomplish that. Whatever your circumstances, I do know that all things didn’t always go the way you planned last year. They never do. Expectations are rarely as you hope. Relationships seldom endure as you would like. Explanations rarely come when you expect. But God will be as He has promised to be. Your past is settled in grace; the present is safely in His care; your future is secure in His providence and, “crowned with goodness.”         

Praying for a Blessed and Graced New Year for you.

Christian Communications 2016

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Your Plans or His?

December 14th, 2016

God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV

My thoughts and comments today ask, “your plans or His?”

Plans. Plans connect you to your future, or at least you suppose they will. Everyone makes them and should, but not every plan comes to fruition. We are somewhat limited. We know the past, even if we have not learned from it. And we are fairly aware of the present, even when we are not as fully engaged as we should be. But as to the future, we can only guess. That limitation makes even your best plans incomplete.

The philosophy of our secular culture is, “Plan your work and work your plan.” But where is God in that advice? I heard a person described as, “not having an eraser.” As I got to know them better, I realized the accuracy of their description. They were not at all flexible. The Psalmist described the tragedy of people whose plans fail to include God. “When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment, all their plans come to an end.” Psalm 146:4 NLT. Life is wasted by those who do not put God first in their plans. Why waste time, energy, or irreplaceable resource on plans that fail to include God?

Make sure your plans touch eternity. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV. It’s your choice, His plans or yours? Your aspirations for the future are best when submitted to His wiser direction. By experience, Solomon learned, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV.

If the wisest of men knew to not depend on his imperfect understanding, then maybe you and I are wise to do so as well. In the wilderness, Israel’s insistence on their way instead of God’s will resulted in terrible loss. “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15 NKJV. God’s path and plans are always better than experiencing a “leanness of soul.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just know the future? Or even if you knew someone who did know the future? There is One who does. God said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly. Hope without a future would be meaningless; a future without hope would be despairing.

As a boy, I remember my mother singing at her piano, “Many things about tomorrow, I can’t seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.” You can live every day with strength and confidence. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15 NIV. God offers you a future filled with hope and a hope that fills your future. “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.”  Psalm 37:23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to rest your hope and future upon God’s character and faithfulness.

Christian Communications 2016

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What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is 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! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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