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

 

 

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30: 50 Days Freed

Ever been punished for something you did not do? As a father with four children, I know that a couple of my kids are great actors. One will have something very minimal done to them yet they will play it up as if their sibling had done the most horrendous thing to them. Being the loving Dad I rush to their rescues blaming the other child for that they have done many times pronouncing judgement before I even hear the whole story. This is similarly what happens to Joseph next in the story. Check it out;
 
After a while, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Genesis 39:7-23
Joseph didn’t stand a chance against Potiphar’s wife. A good husband trusts his wife and why would he have any concern not to. Yet in this particular instance with everything that Potiphar knew about Josephs character, it should have set warning bells off for this man. Yet it did not. Just like when I hear my child upset in pain I want to do what I quickly can to fix it so that it does not continue. Potiphar acted quickly to relieve the pain his wife was going through. He did not take the time to hear Josephs side of the story, we do not read of him every asking him what truly happened, even after tossing him in jail.
Yet here in the story we see do not see Joseph fighting what was going on, no protesting or defending his reputation. We do not know if this happened but from what we read about his character he was loyal and just and accepted his punishment. In jail now for a crime he did not commit we would expect a man to be fighting for his release. Fighting or depressed about his situation. Yet we read that even in this situation Joseph worked hard and gained the favour of his jailers. Joseph was still trusting the God who gave him the dreams as a child of his family bowing at his feet. He trusted that God would not have given him that vision without an endgame in sight. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord was with Joseph.
I wonder how we react when we are thrown into situations beyond our control? Ever been accused of something that you had nothing to do with? Instinctively we fight to get out of the situation, we did not do it so we should not have to pay for it. Yet if Joseph had fought for his innocence and demanded that he be heard more than likely he would have been found innocent, what then would have become of Potiphar’s wife. More than likely she may have been killed for her infidelity tendencies, of course, we can only speculate. Will your actions reveal the heart of God to those around you? If you are freed in Christ are you willing to lay down your life for another so they may find hope in Christ?
 
Father, all to often we are fighting to defend ourselves, in this we do not allow you to help. Reveal to us how to trust you more in our daily struggles so that you are glorified. Forgiveness and grace are your tools to freedom and I pray we start using them. We want to be a light to our community and we cannot do that if we are not acting like Christ. Help us to be like Joseph willing to accept what is happening so that another may experience your love. Bless our faithfulness as we serve others. Give us opportunities to reach others for you even today. Amen

27: 50 Days Freed

Just because we are freed in Christ does not always mean that we do not end up walk back into another prison of our own making. If we isolate ourselves from other believers, we stunt our growth potential. Many do not go to church because they feel there are too many people who are broken, and they do not live the life they are preaching. The church is built for the broken, just as much as a hospital is built for the sick. If we expect everyone in the church to achieve perfection why would people on the outside want to come in? I know personally, I feel inadequate in the presence of those who think they’re perfect, I feel like they are judging me on my imperfection. The freeing part of a church is that it is made up of imperfect people, forgiven by God on a journey, working together to reach the world with love.

 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 NIV)

 

I wonder if we are doing things right these days? The formula in Acts 2 46-47, says the met at the temple every day together. They fellowshipped together, they praised God together, they enjoyed each others company. And the Lord added to their number daily. Awesome. What commitment they had to one another and the mission.

 

I guess the question is how do we apply this formula to our lives our church?
1) are you meeting regularly with your church family? Are you only at the church Sunday mornings and never think a second thought about it all week long? Do you join other members for a weekly bible study? If the church has daily times of prayer do you attend or if they did would you?
2) do you spend time with your church family outside of the church setting? Do you connect with them, invite them over, love them? Are we to busy with other things to make time to forge these relationships?
3) if you find to have them over do you praise God in those times if do you just talk about whatever is in the news.
4) have you taken time to meet the people in your church, expand past the few that you may know to experience others that God has placed in your church. God can use people you wouldn’t expect to touch your life if you would only say hello.

 

Why would the Lord add to their numbers for following this formula? Why would it be so easy for people to want to follow Christ if we lived like this? People are looking for a connection, they are looking for people who honestly and genuinely are true in what they believe. If your church group at the core is united and loving to each other it will be seen and people will be drawn to that. No one is drawn to bitterness. They are looking for freedom to be themselves and find what they have been searching for their whole lives.

 

I pray today, if you feel disconnected with your church family, maybe you have been attending for decades or days, it is not too late to connect, start plugging into your family if believers. Invite people to fellowship with you. Start a weekly bible study, ask your church to start opening up the church for open prayer, get involved, love your brothers and sisters in Christ. And most important Forgive them as Christ has forgiven you. There is a freedom in a relationship with Jesus and with your fellow believers.

 

Father, help us to connect with our family of believers. We trust as we connect you will draw others to join us and grow in you. Let us disciple others in the faith. Bless the church, so that we may bless the community around us. Amen

 

25: 50 Days Freed

All over the world, there are criminals living a hard life in jail waiting for the day that they may be freed to try again in this world. Many will walk out with full intentions of going back to the life that had brought them to where they are now. Others have truly changed and are looking for a fresh start upon there exit. In both cases. it remains the same when they leave prison who they associate with within the first month will direct their path. One will put them back on a path of bondage and another will set them up for success.
 
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
Proverbs 13:20 NLT
 
Most criminals in jail are there because they broke the law. We are not talking those who are arrested who are innocent or those in jail for religious persecution. Those who broke the law of the land and ended up behind bars. They had a choice to make at some point in their life and decided the life of crime. I don’t believe it is always a yes or no choice, but the choice to walk away once involved is always on available. You can’t expect to fly with eagles if your hanging with turkeys.
Humankind is in the same sort of bondage when it comes to sin. We have a choice to make in our lives if we should stay in the sin that is eating away at us or choose freedom. Many accept the freedom yet don’t make the right choices to walk with the wise and instead wander around with fools, then wondering why things in their life haven’t changed. We all have seen clichés in our day. Groups of people that connect because of there hobbies, habits and viewpoints. Who we spend the majority of our time with we will become like.
Now we are not called to separate ourselves completely from the world as some believers suggest. To do this we ultimately isolate ourselves and would be unable to fulfil the great commission of reaching the lost. Jesus himself didn’t isolate yet emerged himself in society to be the light in the darkness. If we look at his example he kept a healthy balance e of time with society, time with trusted friends and time alone with God. That combination prepared him daily to be the light and not be overcome.
This verse in Proverbs is telling us that when we are looking for advice, direction or purpose, who we talk to about it is very important. Wise people who are grounded in their faith will provide you with wise biblical advice. Yet if we look to the tv or our friends who don’t believe, we will only get the advice that is sub-par and won’t solve your problem or concern. Asking the same questions to both parties will give you most times two widely different answers. The world likes to give advice that works to please the inner self. What can you do to make you happy. We were never promised an easy life as believers, but a fulfilled one with a true understanding of what it means to love others and put their needs over your own. This is something your unbelieving friends will not understand.
So today, if you have concerns in your life that you need to talk to someone with, I pray that before you run to Google, Dr Phil or whomever, that you will consult your mentor, your pastor, a brother or sister in the faith. A lot of the times what your going through they already have. Take time in prayer asking God to show you what needs to be done, he will not let you go through this alone, he will send you help.
Father, we all need advice at times. I pray that we will bring them to you. I pray that you will lead us to believers who will give us wise advice and direction in those times. Let us not rely on those outside the faith to provide answers. Help us to live in freedom and not to go back to the life that we lived before. Walking in that life will only bring us back to bondage and we do not need that. Help us to trust in your ways, amen.
 
 

23: 50 Days Freed

Ever had the experience of taking a box of clothing to a thrift store to donate but on the way realize ‘wait a minute, how did that get in the box’ and you take something out? Or you’re having a yard sale to clear out your junk but your spouse put out something that is important to you and you bring it back in just before someone buys it? We cling to things that are material because they have a perceived value to us. What is precious to us is junk to others. Our sin is junk that holds us back from the freedom we can receive in Christ Jesus. There are times where we go to the altar and lay our sins down giving them all to him, but as we leave we quick grab and hold on to something just in case we may need it.
 
 
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
Psalms 103:12 NLT
Jesus’ sacrifice for us was so amazing, so vast in nature that we sometimes cannot grasp what he has actually done for us. There are people out there who when they accept Jesus as their savour believe that Jesus couldn’t forget or wash away their sins, that he like all our dirty laundry as a teenager, is just gather in a ball and stuffed under the bed or in the closet. Out of sight out of mind, and one day maybe Jesus will pull items out and remind us of those filthy rags we used to wear. Jesus doesn’t do that, but some Christians do, instead of taking their sins to Jesus they choose to attempt to hide them away. When we hold onto these sins we set ourselves up to be in bondage to them.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus never told us to hide our sins from him? He offers to wash you white as snow, that means removing and tossing all sins in the trash. Not where we can access them but so far gone that we could never retrieve them. As far as the east is from the west. If you heading east, west is behind you, and no matter how far east you may travel west will always be behind you. Such a vast divide that can never be obtained, if he promised this separation from our sins why then would we want to hold onto them?
Do you have sin balled up in the closet? Is it starting to smell and permeate your life? If left to fester in your closet you will be tempted to check out the smell and even put them on for ” old times sake”. If that’s you, I pray that right now you ask Jesus to come in a clean up the closet of your life, give him access to all spaces of your life. Let him remove what you left behind, he will take it and make you fully clean. It is time to truly walk in the freedom Jesus has for you.
Jesus, take all my sins, as far as the east is from the west send them from me. I want to serve you with a clean heart, holding or hiding nothing from you. Holy Spirit indwell my life. Guide me, walk with me, put the mission of reaching people at the forefront of my heart and mind. Let me see others as you see them and constantly remind me that they matter to you, so they should matter to me. Amen
 
 
 
 

22: 50 Days Freed

An inmate released from jail yet refusing to wear anything, but his old prison grab would probably garner some attention. It will not be the attention he desires because he would be judged based on where he has been. Though the thought of a prisoner who is free roaming around in an orange jumpsuit perplexes us, we as believers sometimes do the same thing. We have been given a freedom in Christ, yet we refuse to act like it. In Ephesians 6 we are called to put on the armor of God, so before we can do that we have to get out of the prison garb that once fit us so comfortably.
 
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
I wonder if we examine yesterday, and really took some time to break it down, how would it look compared to the example of Christ. I wouldn’t have to look by heard to find times that I either missed an opportunity to share the love of Jesus or find a time where my example was not much of one. We go through life just doing the motions. Not really thinking about what we are doing as they have become ingrained in us.
To imitate God isn’t something that instantaneously happens when we accept Jesus into our lives. We are a work in progress, we still have to live in this sinful world which will daily grind us done in hopes of us throwing aside the new-found freedom we have. The enemy doesn’t want us to be effective in our walk with Jesus. If he has lost you, he will do everything in his power to either get you to relinquish the freedom or make you apathetic to the cause of reaching others. Lazy Christians are effective for the enemy. If he can get you to put on those old dirty prison rags and fit in with all the others, then he is content to let you do so.
But as followers of Jesus, we like children should be looking at him as a role model, father figure, teacher. Someone to look up to, aspire to, work to become like, it is what we are called to. He gave us a mission of sharing the same love, that rescued you from the eternity in hell, and to share it too those around us. Those who are like us, those who live close by and may not be like us, those outside our area and those out in the world. Do not be deceived, we are called to tell others about Jesus. If you are not telling others about Jesus you are not listening to the one who saved you. It is time to burn the prison clothes and replace them with the armor of God.
What is holding you back from sharing Jesus with people?
Jesus, we thank you for rescuing us. We ask your forgiveness if we haven’t been faithful in sharing you live with others. Help us to do this daily. Encourage us to see the moments and grasp them. I want to destroy my prison garb that has that connection to the old way of life and put on the armor of God that you offer me. As we see people come to you it will motivate us, even more, to share your love. Set us on fire. They matter to you, so they matter to me. Amen
 
 
 
 

21: 50 Days Freed

People in this world are longing to be freed. Make no mistake about that. They may not always realize that they are in the bondage of sin but their hearts are yearning for the connection with the creator. They have come to adhere to the motto that if you believe a lie long enough it must be true. Mankind was created and is here to have a relationship with God. Without it we are broken and like the man in Acts below begging for anything just to get by.
 
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts,
walking and jumping, and praising God.
Acts 3: 1-8
 
Notice how excited the man becomes when the prospect of help is even hinted at. The man gave them his full attention. He had been so used to people giving him money or quick fixes that he wasn’t looking for anything else. He wasn’t aware that there was, even more, he could be asking for, even sitting outside the temple. As I alluded to earlier, those in the bondage of sin don’t know there is more to life. The fish with a hook in its mouth will follow the line where ever it takes them. This man was just looking for what he needed to get by another day. He had lost all hope that there was going to be any more to his life than this.
I can only imagine the look on this face when Peter opened his mouth with the phrase ‘Silver and God I do not have”, it was probably disappointment as these two men had purposefully looked his way. And if they had left it at that and walked away like so many of us do when we encounter a panhandler asking for money, he would have resumed his daily slump. Yet Peter and John were not like everyone else. They had seen the power that Jesus had used to perform miracles. They not only seen it they understood that because Jesus was their savior and the promised Holy Spirit was living in them that they had the same power in them given by the grace of God.
The name of Jesus has a powerfully freeing property. Not only does it freedom from the bondage of sin but it can free with miracles and healings. I can’t explain why miracles or healing aren’t as prevalent as they should be. I really don’t know, we have the same Holy Spirit that Peter, John and the other Apostles had known. Peter knowing that giving this man money would only continue the cycle of bondage he gave him something that would free him, calling out the name in which all freedom resides, Jesus, commanding him to get up and walk. Now the man had a choice here. He could have just laughed and reminded Peter and John that he had never walked before and that was impossible. The man chose to believe what was being commanded and he was freed from his infirmity. It says he then walked, jumped, ran, danced and praised God for the healing.
I wonder what we need to do to have the faith that Peter, John and other disciples had when it came to freeing people through miracles and healings. This freeing power is promised to us by Jesus himself. Yet we don’t embrace it because we have never really seen anything like it before. Sure we read about it but until we see a blind eye opened, a dead person raised or a limb regrown why should we believe? I personally am starting to pray that God will use me to perform healings and miracles. I will be asking the Holy Spirit to guide me to people who need prayer and the courage to pray for them. Are you ready to let God use you to free others with the truth and power of Jesus name?
 
Father, all too often we keep the miracles and healings in the bible. Good for than but they don’t happen now. That lie from the enemy needs to be overturned and we need to see a mighty move in our world today. This world now more then ever needs you and your healings. Use us to free people from the physical ailments that hold them down, let there be no reasoning behind their recovery then Jesus. We want to see people freed from the bondage of sin, reveal to us whatever is holding us back so we can be effective in this mission. Amen