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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Maybe not the most famous, but possibly the most misunderstood, last words are those of Jesus upon the cross.

He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  (John 19:30)

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What is finished, though?

Most will agree that He was referring to the atonement for sin. The sacrifice of a sinless person paid the penalty for all mankind’s sins for all time. An amazing, awesome thing, and more than enough for us.

Yet the longer I live, the more I get to know Him, the more I see that there is so much more that He accomplished. Here’s what I’ve seen so far:

Curses are finished.

Disease is finished.

Poverty is finished.

Bondage to satan is finished.

Separation from God is finished.

The old man is finished.

Sin is finished.

Death is finished.

Guilt is finished.

Shame is finished.

Condemnation is finished.

* * *

Fellowship with God is restored.

Freedom from bondage is ours.

Righteousness is ours.

So are wisdom, grace, and every fruit of the Spirit.

Because we are born again into His kingdom, a new creation, we are overcomers.

In fact, we are more than overcomers.

Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are restored to the relationship and position that Adam forfeited in Eden’s garden. Think about that one for a while.

This is the rest we enter into upon salvation!

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In I John 4, we are told that God’s seed remains in us, and we don’t sin! So being a ‘sinner saved by grace’ is hogwash. Demon dung! Yeah, we were sinners, but now we are a new creation, the children of God, perfect and righteous and holy, just as He is. (Another lie bites the dust!)

The redemption of mankind was finished that day on Calvary!

Finished!

Every facet, every part of our being was set free of sin and its effects!

Every!

It’s all done! Complete!

God don’t mess around! When He does something, He does it well, and He does it thoroughly.

So there’s nothing that’s not done, that needs to be fixed by us!

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Why then, do we struggle so much?

Because we don’t understand that it is ALL finished! We think it’s something that’s only partially done, and we have to do the rest by ourselves!

After all, isn’t that what it says in Phil 2:12?

Ah, but Phil. 2:13 …

This ‘working out of our salvation’ is simply learning the truth of His finished work! It is not us changing ourselves. It is us allowing God to work in us to change us, to set us free (which is His good pleasure!).

As this truth of the finished work of Christ becomes real to us, it sets us free!

It changes us into His image, restores us to that position Adam had.

The position we hold from the moment of our rebirth into His family becomes real to us. (It was always real to God.)

Because we live in time, these changes happen over time. But God lives outside of time, and in Him, it’s finished!

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May you be blessed with His truth in your inward man!

May what He has finished become more real for (and in) you!

And may you rest in His completed work!

(I was going to include scripture references for all this but decided it’s too much work. Besides, if you find a truth yourself – with Holy Spirit’s help – it is more real to you. Happy hunting!)

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While this is the title of my least favorite of Dickens’ works (almost turned me off him completely!), that is not the subject of this post.

What I’m referring to is the expectations we have of ourselves.

If you grew up in church, you probably acquired a long list of rules for ‘good Christian behavior’. Even if you met God as an adult, if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you picked up the same kind of list.

A good Christian reads the Bible every morning, and prays.”

A good Christian always tithes, and gives offerings, too.”

A good Christian turns the other cheek.”

A good Christian obeys everyone in authority.”

A good Christian …”

I could go on indefinitely. The list I had by the time I was a teenager was about ten pages long, single-spaced, in size 8 font! (Is it any wonder our children abandon the church as soon as they can?)

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Father God has been working in my life for a long time to get me to see that my list of expectations was not given to me by Him, but by religion.

In fact, the only list He has ever given me (or indeed any of us) is very short – love Him, love others as we love ourselves.

That’s it!! Just those two rules.

And even those are not something He expects me to do on my own. He knows I cannot. The only way I can do anything is to allow His Spirit to do it in and through me.

Left to myself, I either do what I want to do – which is often not good for me or for others – or I do what I ‘should’ do, from that long list of expectations I’ve got for my personal behavior.

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It has taken years for me to break the ‘law’ that I must read my Bible and pray every morning. I’m not saying I had to break the habit of doing it, because I never was able to develop the habit! The expectation – the duty – of obeying that law, kept me from doing it! The more I thought about how much I ought to do it, the less able I was to actually do so. (Is this what Paul meant in Romans 7, where he talked about wanting to do what’s right, but being unable to do it? Hmm.) Once I was free of the ‘law’ – my expectation of my behavior – I was able to spend that time with Him freely, eagerly.

Lots of other ‘spiritual’ (actually, religious) laws have gone by the wayside over the years, and even those expectations I had of myself as a wife, a mother, a citizen, a woman. There are many areas of my life where I failed to live up to my expectations of/for myself, but as I give Him all those expectations, He replaces them with His love, forgiveness and grace.

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Recently, I ran into ‘expectations’ yet again!

Yet again, I had to take them to Father God, and see what He has to say about them.

And, yet again, He showed me that He has no expectations of me outside of Himself. Everything He expects from me has already been accomplished by Jesus Christ, so all I have to do (and that not by myself, but thru and in Him) is to be in Him. That’s it!

Paul talks about how difficult it is to live the ‘good Christian life’ in the last few verses of Romans 7, but then he goes on to say in the first four verses of chapter 8, that ‘there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus’ because ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free’!!

Free!

Free to live without laws or expectations that I cannot meet.

Free to be and do His will in this life because it is His Spirit living in me!

Free!

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In Rom. 6:16, Paul talks about how obeying sin makes us servants of it. Yet, trying to obey the law is also a sin. Yep, you heard me! Romans 7:4, and many other verses throughout scripture (Romans and Galatians, especially), say very plainly that we are not in bondage to the law. So, if I try to obey the law – whether it’s the OT one, or those ‘religious laws’ I picked up as a child in church – I become a servant of that law. I deliberately (if unknowingly) put myself into bondage!

Let me say it again – whenever I start trying to obey expectations, whether mine or someone else’s – I have become a slave to that ‘law’. Yet we are born again into liberty!!

Throughout the New Testament, it is clear that we are to live a life of freedom from sin, the law, death, lack, etc. All that freedom is given to us by His sacrifice, and we sadden Him when we refuse to live in His freedom.

Living with great expectations of ourselves (spiritually or any other way) can bring us just as much disappointment and despair as that stupid story by Dickens.

Let’s give up our expectations and just live free. In Him.

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May Father God and His Holy Spirit reveal to you the expectations or laws that you are bound to, that are not from Him.

May you allow His truth to set you free of those, and bring you into the life of liberty in Him that Jesus died and rose again to obtain for you.

And may that life be just as abundant and joyous as He promised!

“The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.” Hudson Taylor

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Life is a journey.

Some parts lie in pleasant valleys,

Some in fearful caves.


Others lead us to glorious heights,

Through dangerous swamps,

Or to the depths of the sea.


Each place we pass is full of beauty,

Of hardship, of growth.

Each is an opportunity to learn.


But the hardest part of each one

Is not what we encounter there.

It’s not our failures, trials, or tears.


The hardest part of all the journey is leaving.

In order to continue,

We must leave one place for the next.


Whether it was a place of triumph or defeat,

Of joy or despair,

Still, the time comes to leave.


And suddenly, we find this place is dear,

It’s familiar, so comfortable.

And we are reluctant to go.


But in leaving this,

I start toward that.

Each departure prepares for an arrival.


All of life is a journey,

Always coming from,

Going to.


Each stop along the way

Has things to teach,

Joys or sorrows to share.


No one escapes the journey,

The hard and the easy,

The high and the low.


No one stops traveling.

The real question is –

Where are you going?


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Okay, that’s not entirely true. We actually can stop our journey. We can love the place we’re in so much that we refuse to leave it. We can decide that the path to the next place looks too scary, too dangerous, too hard, and refuse to go on. We can refuse to learn, to grow, to become who Father God created us to be.

We have that choice. Always.

But our Father loves us, and wants the best for us, so He never stops trying to lead us on to the next leg of the journey. Holy Spirit continues whispering in our ears, encouraging us to pick up our knapsack, and hit the road again. And sometimes, in order to set us free of bondages we often don’t even see, He will cause the place we decided to stop in to become so uncomfortable that the dangers we fear ahead become less hurtful than where we are now.

Thank God for that! Which of us could stand to watch our child or other loved one become tangled in a net and hauled off to be eaten by cannibals? Even if they kept saying, “no, leave me alone! I like the food” – would you? Or would you do everything you could to cut them free, help them escape? Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we love our children, and desires our freedom more than we can imagine. (Something to think about if you’ve taken up residence somewhere, but it’s now getting uncomfortable to stay.)

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The journey’s destination is determined by whether or not you are His child. Once you have accepted His salvation, are adopted in, nothing you do or don’t do will change your ‘final destination’ of eternal life. The only thing you will change is how far you get on the journey into knowing Him. In John 17:3, Jesus says that eternal life is knowing Father God and Jesus Christ. And following Him from place to place along the journey is how we learn to know Him more and better. It would be sad to get to heaven and only know Him well enough to recognize Him on the street.

So don’t be afraid of the road ahead. It might look dark and dreary, but somewhere at the end, He is waiting to welcome you with open arms of love. And He is walking by your side, showing you His heart and mind and self. And He is in you, drawing you to Himself, leading and guiding and teaching you.

Bon Voyage!

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As you continue your journey through this life, may Father God lead you in all ways. And may your trust in Him grow with each step you take, knowing that He is leading you to Himself, and life and peace and grace and goodness, not to destruction and death.


“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”

Oswald Chambers


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jer. 29:11

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The time has come, the Spirit says,
To speak of many things . . .
Of facets and of fractals
And living with the King.

(Okay, I personally hate Alice in Wonderland. It’s too scary and too nonsensical for me. In fact, I’ve always wondered what psychotropic drug Carroll was using when he wrote it. But . . .  the time has come!)

Father God has shown me many things over the years, and He has made it clear that I need to start sharing!

So, here goes . . .

Facets

About 18 years ago, give or take, I had just had a revelation of how much I (me!) am totally loved and completely accepted by the Father, which drastically altered my world view, and changed my whole life.  This caused me to revisit a lot of the things I’d always believed about Him, me, life, etc.

One day, I was thinking about trials and tribulations – why do we go through them? Now, being in church all my life, I’d heard a couple different doctrines on this subject. One said that God was so holy, so pure, and we were so vile, that He couldn’t stand to be anywhere near us. So He had to clean us up by putting us through stuff to get rid of the sin/impurity in us.  (Where is ‘we are become the righteousness of Christ’ in that doctrine???)

The other, similar idea, was that God was putting us on the fire, ‘burning off the dross’, to make us like Christ. This one (actually, they both) had a lot of scripture to back it up, making it clear that we were not clean, or acceptable, in our human condition, even after salvation.  As I said – similar, but without the disgust/dislike of the first one! The focus here was on recreating us into His image, rather than cleaning us up.

But, with my new understanding of just how much Father God loves and accepts us, I was now questioning God’s supposed motives in these doctrines. (I have gradually been made to see that motive is everything – isn’t that the point of Jesus’ words about looking at a woman to ‘lust after her in your heart’ and the rest of that section of Matthew 5?  What the heart motive is, is what counts with Him (I Sam. 16:7).  So I think we need to understand His heart motives, too.)  We all, mostly unconsciously, absorb the underlying motives of what we are taught, ascribing them to God/parents/whoever the authority is in the situation, whether they are true or not.  So now I had to look at what I had previously believed were God’s motives underlying these doctrines.

The first one made it clear that God couldn’t really stand us the way we are, couldn’t even look at us, we were so filthy.  So He had to change us.  I was left with the belief that we were disgusting at the best of times, even after the work of the cross!  This really made me not believe that He loved us, me in particular.  In fact, this left me with the belief that the only reason He hadn’t squished the whole creation into a ball of clay and started over, was some kind of dislike of being wrong.  So He was gonna fix it, and show ’em all!

The second one was a little more charitable – nothing indicated that He didn’t love us, but I sure was left with the impression that He didn’t like us! After all, He thought we needed to be made over into Christ’s image, which sure sounded like He disliked humanity. This didn’t change my basic belief that He didn’t love me, but I was able, finally, to believe that He could, just possibly, love humans in a sort of overall ‘I made it, so I gotta love it’ kind of way.

But neither of these ideas fit with what He had just shown me about His total love and acceptance of us (me!) ‘while we were yet sinners’! And even after!

So, I asked Him, ‘why do we go through trials and tribulations?’

* * *

And He showed me a huge diamond, maybe two stories tall, with me standing in front of it, looking at this facet that was about two feet wide. He said, “When you get saved, you see this facet of me – Savior. But I want you to know more of me, so I allow situations in your life which cause you to see other facets of Me – Healer, Provider, Father, and more.” here I moved a little to one side, and found myself facing a different facet, then another and another. “Everything that happens in your life is an opportunity for you to know me more fully. The trials and tribulations are not to clean you up so I can stand you, but to show you new facets of Me.”  Wow! Yet another false doctrine bit the dust! Yes, Father allows us to go through stuff, but not because He can’t stand us! Because He loves us, wants to help us, but even more, wants us to know Him.

* * *

I can hear you disagreeing! Lots of chatter about holiness, etc. and I’m not trying to nullify those scriptures which talk about cleaning us up. But what He showed me that day was His underlying motive, which always, always, always, is His great unconditional love for us, and His desire to have an intimate relationship with us.  He hates sin because it hinders that, and because it hurts us! If you love someone, you hate anything that keeps them away from you, or hurts them in any way.

What He showed me with the facets on the diamond, was that I need to start looking at the trials and tribulations in my life as opportunities to learn to know my Father and God better!  Not as punishment or as something motivated by disgust of me.

* * *

Over the years He has added to my understanding of this vision:  I saw that as we get to know a certain facet of God – Healer, for instance – it does change us, making us more like Christ.  Eventually, I also saw that as we are changed by getting to know this or that facet of God, we then begin to reflect that facet of Him to others.

Those are just side effects, though, of the real point, which is to know Him!  The more and better we know Him, the more facets He cleans and polishes in us, and the better we reflect Him to the world. (And, trust me, you can’t clean or polish them yourself! It must be His work, through revelation of Himself to you.)

The point is knowing Him!  Everything in the Christian life is based on that, and flows from that.  If it’s based on anything else, it’s ‘wood, hay and stubble’.

So the next time you are facing a trial, instead of wondering what is wrong with you, ask our Father what He wants to reveal of Himself to you through this. The answer will be amazing! And freeing!

* * *

Be blessed with understanding, wisdom, and revelation of more true facets of Him!

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.    John 17:3

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