43: 50 Days Freed

We live in fear that if we are to share our faith bad things will happen. That may be understandable in a country where Christians are jailed for their faith, but in a free country what ‘bad’ could really happen to us. This fear we have is all about us and how people will think about us. Our reputations as the way others see us has become more important to us than our faith. This is a form of prison we are in that holds us back from experiencing the blessings of God.

 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

 

1 Peter 3:12-17

 

At my church yesterday, our pastor spoke on ‘fake news’ and that it has been circulating for ages. It is not new, it was warned about in the bible. People are willing to accept many strange things they are taught about the Christian faith. There is an abundance of fake stories out there that have been told for so long they are now considered truth by some. When we dig into them we find out that they are based on lies and ultimately were created to separate us from God not draw us closer. A really good example is the quote attributed to St Francis Assisi; “ Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words”. Of course, this is a fake quote rewording the man of God. Francis was a man who spoke often about reaching the lost, but he used many words. Take a look above at the verse again. We are called to ‘always be ready to explain’. I can’t explain something without words.

 

Why then are we so casual about our mission in reaching the lost? What is it that holds us back from spreading the truth to others? Does it even matter as a believer if I share my faith or just sit back and let the Pastor do it for me? Isn’t that why we give to missions? Each and every individual believer is called to share the love of Jesus with the world. The world being where ever you are. We are not all to travel abroad to make a difference, some may be called but in reality, we can do the same work right where we are. Unless you live in some gated Christian community where you never interact with anyone else, we all have someone who needs to experience Jesus. Do the people around you know that there is hope to be found in Jesus? Does your life reflect it, words express it, body language impress it? We are ambassadors of Christ. Are you ready to break the bondage of fear and be freed to share the love of Christ with others?

 

Maybe today you don’t know Jesus and are reading this asking what does this mean? You know many people who claim to be Christians and their lives and actions are not very nice, they do not act any different than me. I am sorry for the version of Christianity they are portraying. Jesus came to give mankind life and life abundantly. He sacrificed himself so that you may live free of the bondage of sin. Sin separates us from God. Ask God to show Himself to you today, pick up a bible, or download the BibleApp. Check him out for yourself, don’t let someone else version of Christianity keep you away from the truth. Seek it out yourself.

 

Father, as we work towards reaching the lost and fulfilling the mission, give us the strength to overcome the fear that holds us back. Help us to see the freedom in sharing your love with others. It is empowering and brings much joy to heaven. If there is anyone reading this who does not yet have a relationship with you I pray that even now you are speaking to them and showing them the love you have for them. Let us become better ambassadors for you and bring us freedom from fear. Amen

Advertisements

42: 50 Days Freed

At my work, I have been teaching tools and ways to assist in Mental Health. How to recognize it in yourself and others, how to find ways to self-recover and when to ask for help. One tool that we talk about are SMART goals. Maybe one of the reasons we as believers tend to lack in the mission of sharing our faith is the fact we do not have any set goals. Just like a New Years resolution if we just tell ourselves what we are going to do but do not put it on paper and make it a priority it is bound to be pushed aside. We then become locked in a prison of laziness never accomplishing anything.

 

Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.

 

Proverbs 4:26

 

The saying goes ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. When you make choices on a whim of only verbalize them they are easily forgotten or adapted for ease. But when we take the time to formulate a plan or goal and write it down it makes it much easier to follow. The plan or goal can be amended but it takes more thought and direction when you have to amend something written. Let’s take the SMART goal idea and see how that could help us mark out a straight path when it comes to the mission we are called to do.

 

Specific – Being specific in what you want to do. I want to reach the lost is a great goal but there is no real definition of what or who you want to reach. If you can specify a person that would be amazing. I want to speak to Jim this week about Jesus. Or if you don’t have a particular person even, I will talk to one person this week about Jesus.

Measurable –  How can I measure what I am doing? In this scenario it is quite simple, have I done it. Other cases it may be something you have to consider.

Attainable – Is this something that I can actually do? I make this goal to talk to Jim fully knowing that Jim is away all week. Or my schedule is so jammed packed that it would be impossible to make time. What do you need to do to make this happen? We must never make a goal of something we cannot get the result ourselves. To make a goal that Jim accept Christ by the end of the week is not attainable as this is not a choice we have to make. That choice is between Jim and God.

Realistic – Speaking to one individual a week about Jesus is a realistic goal. If you are a shy person making a goal to reach a larger number of people a week might be too lofty of a goal and the thought of doing it will set you up for failure. Ensure the goal you set for yourself is realistic about what you can manage. As you move forward and complete goals your level of realistic, your confidence grows you can change it up.

Time Bound –  This one ensures that you give yourself an endpoint. I am going to invite three people to church by Friday. This pushes us to not push it off to a later date. We see the deadline and should work to meet it.

 

I do not think we can plan for every scenario and I would not expect to either. But if we start setting SMART goals every Sunday for our week I wonder how more effective we would be. Imagine a church where people shared their accomplished goals each Sunday, encouraging one another that they can do this. That the mission of saving the lost is possible, it is for them and they can do it. We need to remember to stay on the path God calls us to.  If we keep walking off we get stuck and need to be freed over and over again. But preparing ourselves to stay on the path and make wise choices will provide us with a freedom like we have never experienced before in Christ.

 

Father, help us to mark our paths. If we need to set goals to accomplish this I pray that you guide us in making these goals ones we can accomplish. Provide us opportunities to share our faith at home, work and in our communities. We want to see your people reaching the lost. I want to reach the lost more and more.  Use this message to encourage others to set goals and get out there sharing your love. Amen

41: 50 Days Freed

We often hear of people who do not believe they are good enough to be forgiven by God. Or they may be trying to get themselves to a place where they feel they are worthy of asking. They may read today’s scripture and feel that they have to work hard for if they do not God may not receive them. This verse read out of context can do just that, but today’s verse is for those who have already received God’s forgiveness. Those who have yet to accept God’s grace have nothing to do but come to him as they are where they are. Jesus is waiting for them as they are.

 

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

 

As followers of Christ, we are called to the mission of sharing the good news of his love to the world. This included those around you, at your work, your neighbours, and anyone you may come in contact with, physically, or even on the internet. Are you being a good worker? Are you ashamed of your faith? When was the last time you shared your faith with those around you?

 

We are called to share our faith. We need to be working on it daily. As we live our lives we have become complacent in our faith, let it become all about meeting our needs and not about reaching the lost. If we sit in this type of faith it deprives us of the relationship God has for us. I have been here and the daily struggle to open up to others around me.

 

I keep asking daily for the Holy Spirit to show me moments in my day where I can love those around me, to make a conscious effort to do reach the lost. We need to prepare ourselves daily in prayer, without we will miss out on the opportunities as we go through the business of life. As we open up to others about what God has done for us it strengthens our relationship with God. If you brag up your friends to others it makes them feel good and you feel good too. Same goes when we brag up the importance of a relationship with God. God receives glory for your obedience and you grow stronger in your faith as you share. How do we free ourselves from the fear of sharing our faith? By doing it. Trusting that Jesus who gave you this mission would not have done it if he did not think you would succeed. He gave you help in the Holy Spirit who is with all believers and ready willing and able to help you in your daily walk and talking with people about salvation.

 

Let’s get to work!

 

Jesus, help us to work on reaching the lost. Show us that moments each day that we can show your love to those around us. As we take time each day to pray to you prepare us, open our eyes. I am tired of expecting others to do the work you called me to, it is my turn to step up. The lost matter to you, so they matter to me. Amen

 

40: 50 Days Freed

I have been singing “This is How I fight my Battles” by Michael W. Smith and at times wondering how many times we try to fight our battles on our own. We are in a fight where we have to take on things that sometimes will be too much for us. Yet we have a power that we can partner with as sons and daughters of the Creator. What is the most effective way to fight the battles in our lives? Bringing them to Jesus.

 

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this, we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments.

1 John 2: 1-3

 

Paul tells the church in Ephesus that they are not fighting battles of flesh and blood but of the enemy of the air. The devil is our enemy, make no mistake about that. The most powerful weapon we have is prayer.  Bringing our needs and battles to the throne of God is how we fight our battles. He will then give us the power to defeat and overcome. We are told to prepare for battle by putting on the whole armour of God. Many would stop reading in Ephesians 6 at verse 17 where we add the sword of the Spirit to our armour, yet in 18 we see the piece that holds all the armour on and gives us the power we need to be effective: ‘Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion’.

 

When we immerse ourselves in prayer, praise and worship we invite the Holy Spirit to actively participate in your life. As the song continues ‘It may feel like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you’, we understand that when the battles in life try to overwhelm us if we are walking with God we can focus on Him. He will guide us through the battle we are facing and bring us to freedom. It is when we see the battle and forget who we are walking with, maybe we think the battle is too much for even God. We must not fall for the enemies lie that the battle is too large for God to deal with. Think about what happened to the Israelites when the Philistines brought out Goliath. The battle in their eyes became too big for them and they forgot about the God who promised to fight their battles. Luckily enough for them, there was one young man who knew that God would fight his battle right next to him and give him the victory that the people desperately needed.

 

What battle are you facing today? Financial? Marriage issues? Children? Addiction? There is a multitude of battles that could be listed, but the question is how are you fighting your battles? Are you bruised and beaten because you are working to fight them alone? You do not have to fight these battles alone. The Holy Spirit is right there with you waiting for you to submit to God, call out to him for help, he is prepared to fight your battles. We cannot do this on our own, the battle may become so hard that we would rather fall on our own sword then face defeat, yet God has so much more for you. Remember when you feel surrounded by the battle that God is surrounding you, as believers this is his promise that he loves us and is ready to help if we would humble ourselves and ask. If you do not know Jesus as your saviour, He is waiting right now to help you in your battles. Just asking him to forgive you of your sins and cry out for help, he is never to busy for you.

 

Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to aid us in the battles we face. Thank you for surrounding us, even if many times we forget you are there. We may be stubborn and full of pride, yet you know what we need and wait patiently for us to ask. We need your help in fighting our battles. Give us the strength to ask for help. Let us reach others with your love showing them that despite what is going on in their lives that you love them no matter what. Amen

39: 50 Days Freed

For those living in oppression, freedom may seem like a concept way beyond their grasp. For others, the hope of freedom drives them to a place where they will risk everything to escape. We have seen a spike of this in recent years with refugees fleeing countries where they feel that they can no longer be safe. They risk their lives and the lives of their families in a hope that something better is out there.

 

As believers, we were once in the place where we were living in bondage. Many of us live in countries where we have the perceived freedom of faith whereas the choice to believe is not up to the government. But in reality, this freedom of religion is slowly disappearing. As governments work to create new rights and freedoms, many of these go against the very backbone of the Christian faith. To openly oppose these ideas are shifting to become regarded as hate speech. Even in my corner of the world this year the availability of government grants was taken away from those organizations who simply would not check a box stating they were okay with abortion and gender roles. For far too long believers have been silent in their freedom and the enemy is working to keep it that way.

 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1: 5-8

 

This world is covered in darkness. If you cannot see it just turn on your local news channel.  Go online and see the news that is not be shown on TV. There are things going on that no public news is reporting. Why? Because it scares them, the enemy only wants you to be scared enough to keep away from the truth. If we were to know all the atrocities that were happening it may scare us right towards God. If the truth about Christians standing up for their faith and dying for their faith was made public, it would have many questionings why these men and women would die for their faith. These questions would burn in their hearts until they were answered. The enemy wants the perception that if we do not see it, it must not be happening.

 

God sent Jesus to illuminate the darkness. Jesus told us that when we follow him the power that he had we have, so then we can illuminate the darkness. Jesus said he can to set captives free, then we can help set captives free. We can give them the key to freedom, the key being Jesus, they must choose to accept the key. We can bring them light, they must choose to walk in the light or run away back to the shadows. Freedom is available to every man, woman and child on planet earth. John is very clear in this passage above. We cannot be playing in the darkness and expect to effective in displaying freedom to those around us.  We need to shine brightly with the love of God, standing out practising what we hold in our hearts. A gift is only good when given away.

 

I pray today that whomever this message reaches will experience the love of Jesus. If you are not walking with Jesus then you are in the darkness. This very moment you can change the lighting situation in your life. You can hit the switch and everything can change. Asking Jesus to be the light of your life will not be an easy choice, life may get more difficult, but the freedom you receive outweighs the cost. Jesus died on the cross to forgive the sin that has overwhelmed all mankind, even yours. Simply ask him today to come into your life and forgive you of your sin. If you do this I pray you then tell someone, find another believer and tell them of your decision. If you have no one to tell, share it here with me and the others who will support you and help you find someone to connect with. God Loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. You don’t have to go this alone.

 

Father, someone reading this today needs to hear from you, I ask that you show them the freedom they desire. Some may have done some things that they feel are unforgivable. Show them that you forgave all sins, all evil deeds and love them for who they are. Give them courage today to make the choice to follow you. For those who know you, I pray that they will grow in their faith, let their lights shine brightly on you. Help them to reach others for you even today and that your name is glorified all over this world. Amen

38: 50 Days Freed

Jesus taught where are treasure is so is our hearts. We often hear the word idols and think we do not have any statues that we worship so we are okay in that area. But if we value something over our relationship with God then we put that thing physical or not above God, making it an idol. Anything we put in this position will hold us back from experiencing what God has for us. Until we remove it and give it to God we will not be free to do what Jesus has called us to do. We will be ineffective in sharing the message of freedom he called us to proclaim.

 

 

“Then some of the leaders of Israel visited me, and while they were sitting with me, this message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests?”

Ezekiel 14:1-3 NLT

 

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favour has come.”

Luke 4:18-19 NLT

 

A while back my pastor spoke on Jesus reading the words of Isaiah in the synagogue. He likened it to a return/exchange counter where Jesus is waiting to accept your returns and give you something better in return.

 

We all have areas of our lives that are burnt and have created ashes in our lives. These ashes though not hot anymore keep showing up and keeping us dirty and if not wiped away completely will never go away. Jesus wants to exchange those ashes for beauty.

 

Some of us like above in Ezekiel have set idols in our hearts. These idols can hinder our lives even if they seem to be important in our lives. Jesus wants to take those idols out of our cupboards and exchange them for something so much better. Some are hidden others are proudly displayed, these idols are even harder to remove than the hidden ones as they have become normalized in our lives. We have arguments to why they are there and ‘valid’ reasons for keeping them right where they are.

 

Most of us are shackled with something, something binding us that is holding us down. Unforgiveness, debt, divorce, alcohol, sexual abuse, porn, and so much more. If we would only drag ourselves to the exchange table, humbly look at Jesus and ask him to take them from us, he would without hesitation. Then we need to believe he did take them. He will then give us more then we can imagine in return. We must come to Jesus to be freed from the things that work to hold us back from truly experiencing a relationship with him.

 

Whatever you have in your life that needs to be exchanged take it to him. Jesus is there. He will not judge you. He has heard every excuse before and there is nothing new that will shock him. He is there to take your burdens.

 

Dear Jesus, we sometimes try to take our life and adjust it our way to make it work. We try to tweak this and that, but we need to just exchange it with Jesus. Take our broken life, our shackles and our idols, exchanging them for something greater. I do not want to be satisfied with mediocre. I thank you, Jesus, that there is no expiry date on exchanges with you. Bring us freedom from the idols that are holding us back from the blessings you have promised us. May we be effective in sharing your love with those around us guiding them to freedom. Amen

 

37: 50 Days Freed

Have you ever been in a situation that could have many different outcomes depending on your reaction? One response you could do nothing and walk away from it, thus ignoring it but ultimately the problem still remains. Two, you explode freaking out about the problem, creating a much worse scenario, causing you to possibly sin in the process. Or three, where you stayed calm, kept rational and took the time to forgive.

 

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

 

If you are like me you probably done all three. For me, the freak out is the worst and with my personality, I need to ask for forgiveness quickly as it eats me inside. But I find if I stay calm and confront the issue straight on with a heart to forgive, the outcome is always better. Why is that? Because we are working to live like Jesus.

Jesus was beaten, strung up on a cross, mocked. He could have started freaking out on the cross, calling down fire and angels, but he showed us what it really meant to forgive, he cried out Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. So even in his great torment, he was thinking of others and not himself.

If Jesus can forgive those who killed him, why do we have a hard time forgiving those who have sinned against us? Unforgiveness is a roadblock to receiving the blessings of God. Contrary to many teachings that once saved always saved unforgiveness is clearly states that it is something that can separate us from God. Just like the servant who was forgiven his huge debt, then left and demanded repayment for a small on from his servant. He clearly was forgiven by his master yet was harsh and unforgiving to his own servant who owed him little. We see the reversal of the master’s decision to forgive the debt of the man and threw him in jail. This is not words and a lesson from just any part of the bible but from Jesus himself. How we forgive others has an impact on our walk and relationship with God.

Forgiveness is not forgiving and forgetting. If someone does something that needs judgement from earthly courts or repayment, then it should be dispensed. But through forgiveness, we let go of the hatred, bitterness and revenge that may cause us to sin. We see the person as loved by God and in need of his forgiveness as well, letting the justice system deal with what happened. It may not be possible to forgive the one who hurt you in person, they may be dead, locked away or whereabouts unknown. You do not need to let this eat you away inside. Talk to God, tell him how you are feeling, then give him the hurt, let him deal with it tell him you forgive the person or issue and be done with it. Trust that he hears you and that the forgiveness is received. You no longer need to have that roadblock in the way of your freedom.

 

Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us that there is no sin done against us that we can’t provide forgiveness for. Soften our hearts and show us, people, we need to forgive, today without delay. Forgive those who we have sinned against and those that have sinned against us. If we can face to face ask for forgiveness or if we need to bring it to you, give us the strength to do it so we can live in freedom. Release us from this bondage of unforgiveness. Amen