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

 

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36: 50 Days Freed

With so many different denominations and groups of people out there how do we truly know who has the truth? The internet provides new and interesting ideas about faith and strange interpretations of what is in the bible. How does one go about understanding and shifting out the garbage without getting trapped in a prison of lies and traps? How can we live in freedom when the enemy keeps putting luring traps in our way?

 

 

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”

2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT

 

If you only want to eat Cotton candy you may enjoy it for the time your eating it but it will never fill you. It will slowly rot your life and in the end, give you an upset stomach.

 

I am sure we have all experienced a sermon that didn’t carry its weight. Something about it felt off. We should leave any time together challenged or changed. If that hasn’t happened to you lately, then you need to ask your self one of two questions 1) what am I getting from to sermons? Or 2) is what the minister preaching truth or fluff? A good public speaker can keep people comfortable, a good pastor will keep his people ready for action.

 

Maybe it is something your reading on a blog, book or found while watching TV. It rings of truth but there is something new added that is enticing you to keep digging in yet there is solid teaching in it. How do you go about deciding if it is from God or from the enemy?

 

The bible has been provided to us for our use. It is not a tool only to be used by professional pastors or clergy but given to everyone. Some may not have access to a physical bible and I pray that one day they will. Yet for those who do have a Bible, there is no excuse to why they can’t dig in and investigate teachings that could go against God. We should be taking notes in church and not just taking in the sermon on Sunday but applying it to our lives all week after by going over the notes. Your Pastor is human too and makes mistakes, that’s okay, but if they are preaching something unbiblical how would you know if you never checked it out?

 

The Bible provides solid food and ways to live our Christian walk. We can compare facts here. Do not be fooled by the enemy with his talk of prosperity, what you must do to be saved and other weird and odd additions that he has skilfully tricked people into to teaching. Use the Bible as a guide to vet these practices, if we do this we can avoid the traps and keep walking strong in our freedom.

 

Dear Jesus, help us to know when we are eating junk food. We need to be consuming real food from your word. Jesus, we need to be reaching to the world for you. Help us to continue in this, giving us opportunities on a daily basis in every area if our lives. Amen

 

 

35: 50 Days Freed

Paul was a man who knew what it was like to be freed. He was once one of the fiercest opponents of this new Christian faith that in his eyes, and those he associated with, that this was a rough group that must be cut off before they infected the mainstream. He had made it his mission to search out and execute anyone who did not reject this new practice. Yet Jesus saw something in this man that no one else did. He took Saul and offered him a chance to change his ways and follow Him. In that moment Saul accepting what Jesus was offering changing his name to Paul as an outward sign of his inward change.

 

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.  All glory to God forever and ever! Amen

Galatians 1: 1-5

 

Paul knew firsthand what it was like to receive an audible calling from Jesus. This type of call to believe is rare but not unheard of these days. There are reports of stories of Muslim men and woman being spoken to by Jesus and then repenting choosing to give up everything to follow Christ.  I believe we are so overwhelmed by entertainment here in the east that we do not know how to block it out and hear his voice. I can attest to this as last night as I was at our churches prayer time I was bombarded with things that distracted me on focusing on prayer. I left feeling discouraged and wondering if I just wasted an hour of my time.

 

I am finding it hard to separate myself from the entertainment of the world. There is always a great new TV show or movie to watch. Maybe it is the latest novels that are enjoyable to you. Yet we avoid or spend minimal time investing in the bible which is written with the intent of us learning the heart of God. We see later in Galatians 1 that Paul writes that he was freed in Christ but did not run headfirst into the ministry, he waited three years to pray and learn, asking God for direction and purpose. He separated himself from the old ways that had put him on a path of destruction. How effective would Paul have been if he had accepted Christ but still hung out with the people who were killing believers?

 

I guess the question I ask myself as well as you, is do we truly want to be rescued from this evil world?  Or are the pleasures so good that they feel like to leave them behind is asking too much? I don’t have the answer for you, but I know this if we trust God and dig into His word asking Him to guide our path He will put our feet on the path of freedom. Only then will we become effective in sharing our faith with others. And that is our ultimate mission is it not?

 

Father, I pray for grace and peace to all who read this message. I ask today that you guide us to the path of freedom. Holy Spirit move in us to dig deep into the bible asking questions and receiving answers. Help us to choose Jesus over the distractions of this world and become effective in sharing our faith with others. If we want to truly escape the evils of the world we need to recognize them, help us to see what is hindering our faith. We pray that we become stronger bearers of the light and shine brighter than ever before. We pray for freedom. Amen

34: Freed

In our journey in freedom, we will be tempted to return to the place we have been. There will be moments where it feels like we cannot endure what is happening to us. Many will feel alone in their situation not reaching out to anyone else and keep their struggle to themselves. When we do this, we lock ourselves in our own prison. We were never meant to do this alone.

 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

To think that what your going through is unique and unlike anything else anyone has struggled with is a lie from the enemy. He wants you to dwell on it so much that you get in a deep depression becoming ineffective to fulfil the mission. There are those in the church who show up but haven’t shown up in years. They believe if the people knew what they were going through they would be kicked out and shunned. No one understands what they are going through, yet they remain in hopes that one day the problem will just go away.

 

This is a roadblock we put in our own way that keeps us from experience what God has for us. We need to open up to ourselves and others. When we freely let what is happening to us out and share it with others who follow the same God we can experience a freedom from our pain. Only then can we see that we are not the only one who has experienced this, the weight that has been on our shoulders will be lifted and we can begin to experience freedom.

 

God promises that we can overcome temptation. He promises that He is faithful. We can trust that God’s promises are true. I strong way to endure temptation is to partner with other believers. They will stand by us and help us as they have experienced many of the same things we are going through.

 

Father, thank you for your promise that we can overcome the temptations that come our way. For those struggling with revealing their sins and asking for help, I pray that they overcome this fear and put their trust in you. Help us to fulfil the mission of reaching the lost, let them see that there is hope in you. Let our community of believers be an example of your love for us. Amen

 

33: 50 Days Freed

The bondage of fear holds us back from sharing our faith. Here in North America, it is not the fear of oppression as much, but the fear of not know what to say when we are opposed in our faith. Currently, there is no fear of going to jail over our faith but there could be a fear in some areas that a lawsuit could be a possibility. We claim in our countries that we have freedom of speech, but it has come to the point of the freedom is only applicable when it is tolerant of everyone else’s beliefs except for Christianity. Paul here in his letter to the Corinthians gave us direction that we each have a way to share our faith, the point is to stand firm and do it.

 

“But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.”

2 Corinthians 1:24 NLT

 

With so many books and programs out there on how to share your faith, it is a wonder that so many Christians have a hard time doing just that. One could question why there is not one sure fire method for reaching the lost, follow this model and people will flock to Jesus. Of course, we know the answer to this question is because everyone responds differently and that over the years different styles of witnessing have popped up and they may have worked for some they didn’t work for all. It will be the same for you as well, what works today for reaching someone may not work tomorrow when talking with someone else.

 

Paul here in his letter tells the people that he wants to encourage them to find their own style. How would one do that? Through prayer and study, learning from what has worked in the past, and what may be working in other areas. Asking the Holy Spirit for guidance in how you share Jesus to those around you is a priority, he will give you wisdom and direction that you won’t find in any book or testimony. The awesome thing is, is that your way of witnessing or reaching one person may only work for that person. The Holy Spirit may give you a formula that works for you or he may work through each situation you encounter uniquely.

 

We need to break free from the lie of the enemy that holds us back from the freedom to share our faith. Maybe we have become too comfortable and don’t want others to think we are ‘religious’. When we boiled it down it is not about us. We have forgotten why we share our faith is not to earn brownie points in heaven. We share our faith so others will come to follow Jesus and the freedom from sin that is leading them death without him for eternity. We should long for them to experience the same freedom we have in Christ.

 

So today I ask are you putting your faith into action? Are you working on fulfilling the mission Jesus called us to, reaching the lost with his message of love? Are you asking the Holy Spirit daily for opportunities and the tools to tell people about Jesus? Ask him right now and he will supply both.

 

Father, we thank you for everything you have provided for us. We want to put our faith into action and work harder at fulfilling the mission of telling others about you. Holy Spirit give us opportunities and the tools required to be successful in the mission. We know that the lost people in this world matter to you and you love them, so we love them and they matter to us. Amen

 

 

32: 50 Days Freed

Revenge is best served cold, or so they say, but revenge is the opposite of how we are meant to live our lives. Revenge is when our jealousy over a situation takes over and we want to repay evil with evil because someone took advantage of us or someone around us. If we are not careful we can become a bondage to revenge whereas it drives who we are. It is hard to sleep and focus when your desires are to get back at someone else for what they have done to us. Of course, this is not how God wanted us to live, Jesus taught of forgiveness and servanthood, yet we have missed this part and wonder why our relationship with God is not as strong as we would like it to be.

 

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”

Genesis 41: 41-44

 

Joseph had followed God faithfully why he was incarcerated, during that time he had made some connections and eventually it leads him to an audience with Pharaoh. He was given an almost impossible task to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. But the authority in which Joseph gave the interpretation convinced Pharaoh that he had God’s ear and Pharaoh lifted Joseph up to a place of power. Many men now in Joseph’s position would now have taken the opportunity to seek revenge for all those who had to lead him to this place. He could raise an army and seek out to destroy his brothers. He could order Potiphar and his wife to be executed. He could have dealt with the cupbearer who promised years earlier to remember him when he was released.

 

As we read the story further we see the character of Joseph as in the fact that he had no interested in revenge. We have no written record of him dealing with Potiphar or the cupbearer, yet we have a beautiful story of him reuniting with his brothers. The famine hit so hard that Joseph’s family was affected, and Egypt was the only supplier of food. His brothers were sent for food, to a foreign land they most likely had never been. Some may say the way Joseph treated his brothers before he revealed himself was revenge, I beg to differ. Joseph wanted to ensure that his brothers had truly changed. Were they remorseful for their actions did they know what they had done was wrong? We learn that they had lived with the burden of what they had done as it had crushed their father and changed the way they were living life.

 

Joseph’s brothers did not quite grasp what he was doing for them, they fully expected him to take revenge once their father had passed away. They even threw themselves at his mercy offering their lives as a slave. But Joseph would have none of it:

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:18-21

 

Jesus taught us to forgive those who trespass against us. He warned us against plotting evil as it was the same as murder. The amazing thing about Jesus is that he takes what Joseph did one step further. He doesn’t test us to check if were remorseful for what we have done. He accepts us as we are. Where we are. We do not have to get our lives right before Jesus will accept us, we do not have to live in fear that one day his hammer of justice will fall on us seeking repayment for what we have done. He has forgiven us and brought us close without fear or revenge.

Are you living today in the bondage of revenge, looking for an opportunity to strike at someone for what they have done to you? Maybe it is time to act like Joseph and forgive, be the man who God is calling you to be and make the first step to reconcile the situation. It could be with family, friends or coworkers, whoever it is to have a strong relationship with God we must forgive those who have hurt us. Holding back this forgiveness and plotting revenge will be a roadblock from experiencing joy. Let forgiveness win over revenge. Revenge is best served in the form of forgiveness. They will never see it coming.

 

Father, I pray today if we are holding something close that is against anyone you would show us and help us forgive that person. We may not be at fault but if we would be the bigger person and make the first step of reconciliation it will change how we live in Christ. Give us the strength to do this. This is not easy but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things. Let our change be an example of your love to all around me. Use me to reach my family, friends and coworkers as well as those I have not yet made contact with. Even today we need to share your love. Give me a courageous faith to be free to share your love. Amen

 

31: 50 Days Freed

Joseph was in jail for a crime he did not commit. Yet in his incarceration we notice that the Lord was with him, this had much to do with the faith Joseph had that the God who had given him a dream that it would one day be fulfilled. If we read Genesis 40 we see that two men who worked for the Pharaohs were tossed in jail given to Joseph’s charge. Joseph would have treated them no differently than the others and when they had dreams from God, God provided the answers to his prayers and he gave them an interpretation. Even here in jail, Joseph was obedient to God.

 

Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

Genesis 40:20-22

 

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14

 

One day in the future we will be brought before God the judge. There will be no lawyers their to plead your case. You will self-represent, and your life will be the witness of who you were on earth. To think that you can hide something you did from this judge will be impossible as He has seen it all, remembered it all and takes it all into account. We do not know what the cupbearer and the baker had done that landed them in jail other then they angered their boss. But we do know that this is symbolism about the final judgement.

 

We do not know how this will play out, will our lives be replayed, will it be a power point presentation, or a scroll rolled out, in the end, it doesn’t matter.  Then He may call out “does anyone advocate for this man/woman” many will look around expecting someone, anyone to defend their goodness, only to see others only worried about their own judgment. But if those that have accepted Jesus as the advocate of their life He will walk up right there, hold your hand making the plea to the judge ‘I will’. He will then ensure that all the sins that were on your record are abolished and removed from the record. Many in the room will cry out to him for help, in which he will reply ‘I do not know you’. One has to wonder if in the throne room of Pharaoh, did the cupbearer have an advocate fighting on his behalf and the baker was left to defend himself? We will never know, but we can know on judgement day that we have an advocate.

 

Then judgment will be given, for those who didn’t choose Jesus on earth as their advocate, there will be much pleading of how much a good person they were, but it will be too late, they will be sent away from God for eternity. But for those who have chosen Jesus, life will be given. We must not think we can wait till we get to your death beds to find Jesus, it in most cases never happens, he wants to advocate for you now. Who is your advocate?

 

 

Dear Jesus, we cannot hide anything from the God. Thank you for being my advocate. I pray for all my family members who don’t have a relationship with you. Reveal yourself to them in a real way, lest they meet the judge alone.  Amen