47: 50 Days Freed

As we near the end of this 50 Days Freed journey you may have noticed that the last few posts have been aimed at freedom from sin. Each one with a call to repent and to accept the relationship that God desires to have with you. This is no accident. If you have been reading daily and do not have this connection with God, ask yourself why you keep coming back? It is probably not because of my amazing writing skills but a desire to meet with Jesus.

 

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world.

James 4:8

 

Here is James it is laid out quite simply what must be done to be free from the prison of sin. Everyone is born in this prison, Jesus broke the door and made a way for everyone to walk out of this prison, yet in our stubbornness, we refuse to accept his help. What a promise written here, ‘come close to God and he will come close to you’. What is clear is that it doesn’t put a list of things you must do first. It does not read, get your things in order and then God will come close to you. No, come as you are, stains, rips, brokenness and shame. Just like the Father watching for his son who had abandoned him, he saw him a far way off, ran to him and embraced him as he was. That seems like an okay response, but think about where the son just came from; he had been working with the pigs sitting in their pens, and he had just made a very long journey to return home. He would not have smelled very clean, he most likely didn’t stop to freshen up as he had no money left. But his Father embraced him as he was.

 

The second part of this verse is for those who have accepted Jesus as their saviour yet feel they can be living life in sin with no consequences. We as believers are called to separate ourselves from our old sinful ways. We cannot serve two masters. Washing our hands is symbolic of when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Peter in the moment asked Jesus to wash his whole body, yet Jesus told him he only needs to clean the dirty part. When we sin, we need to remove the dirt from our lives, clean the area where sin has invaded so that it does not infect the whole body.  Some believe that once you have accepted Jesus you can walk in sin and it does not matter as Jesus has forgiven all our sins past, present and future, so we now have a free pass. This lie from the enemy is there to divide us, again you cannot serve God and the world. Make your choice.

 

Sin is a prison we need to be freed from. Inside the prison of sin separates us from God and leads to a death sentence separated from God. Do not despair, there is hope, Jesus came and died so you can be free and have that death sentence removed. Not only is it removed but replaced with a hope of eternal life living with the creator. The choice is yours, are you happy in your prison of sin, disguised as life or are you ready to experience a relationship with the one who created you?

 

Father, today there is someone reading this that needs to experience you. They are tired of living life in sin and the bondage it has on them. Show them that there is life in you. Use your believers to reach out and share the love of Jesus with them. Help them to understand what he has done so they can live. Help us as believers to be outgoing witnesses of your love. Opening our mouths to tell others about you. We want to be effective in helping free others. Amen

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Day 28: 50 Days of Passion

It saddens my heart to think of those who I have known over the years maybe from the youth group I attended, to the churches I have been in, to the youth that were in the group I was leading, have walked away from God. To have experienced the salvation of Jesus yet feel that it wasn’t enough. Some may say well maybe they weren’t saved to begin with. I don’t buy that, somewhere somehow and for some reason they believed a lie from the enemy whose goal was to separate them from God. Now they feel so far gone that nothing they could possibly do could make it right again.

 

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”

James 4:8 NLT

 

Have you ever wondered why people would willingly walk away from God? God doesn’t leave us, walk away from us, he is always there for us. We choose to separate ourselves from him.

 

From what I am seeing is 1) we get caught up in foolish things and get ourselves in messes we don’t believe God can forgive us for. And 2) we don’t stay connected to God through prayer, bible reading and worship with the family. If you unplug from the Father, you can’t expect to stay charged. The wall outlet never moved, you did.

 

They will make all sorts of excuses why they let the faith of their youth, or a commitment that they made recently. But it will boil down to one of the two above. We need to, as brothers and sisters in Christ, work to catch these things before they get to far. If we see a brother or sister being pulled away towards foolish teachings or distractions that are pulling them way from Christ, we need to disciple them.

 

The church for to long has worked at saving people then expecting them to know it all. Our young brothers and sister in Christ need godly examples and mentors who will guide, love and protect them. Without godly mentors they will walk any which way, and eventually from God. Let’s give them a fighting chance to have a firm foundation in Jesus.

 

Maybe today you are one of those people who once had a relationship with God, and experienced the salvation of Jesus. Your story and relationship with Him isn’t over, you can restore what was lost. God like a loving Father is patiently waiting with arms stretched out awaiting your return to Him. Ask Jesus to clean up your life. He will restore your broken heart. There is hope, there is forgiveness we only have to ask. Will you come to him today?

 

Jesus, help us to be better mentors so we can disciple the new believers. Lord we fail to do this and wonder why people walk away from you. Give us wisdom and guidance to be good leaders in our church’s that we see things that are happening and actively try to stem the issues that arise. We want to be loving our brothers and sisters. I pray we will make time to be mentors to them. They matter to you God, so they matter to me. Amen

 

 

Day 5: 50 Days of Passion

Now when we read about Paul in chains in a dank cold jail cell we put him up in a place of reverence because he endured this hardship but continued to serve God. I am sure if you were sitting right next to him your thoughts on the situation would drastically change. I would hope I would have the desire and passion Paul has to continue encouraging believers outside the walls of his cell.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:7-8

 

I think if Paul was experiencing his time in jail these days he may have used the term ‘if life you gives you lemons, ask Christ to give you strength to make lemonade.” I know that’s a little tongue in cheek, but Paul made the best of his situation.

He continually wrote encouragement to the Churches in hopes they would grow and learn from his suffering. He wanted them to understand that he must have known they were praying for him, that he was praying just as hard for them. He was locked up, they were many. He was in chains, they were free to spread the love and continue the mission.

If Paul decided that this jail cell wasn’t the right place for him and started throwing a pity party, that would have been the end of the letters. We wouldn’t have the encouragement and teachings that build foundations in our Christian lives.

Many believers hit opposition and jump right into a pity party, woe is ne, what can I do about this. How can I dig my way out?

We need to lay our issues out before God, then trust he is in control. ‘God I don’t know why this is happening to me but I leave it in your hands’ That can be your daily prayer, but it can’t be the only one. Then start praying for others. Let God work in your life through your prayers for others. If you journal, write down your prayers.

Your passion level will increase as your prayer life increases. As you give your time away praying for others you will be encouraged, as you will hear rumors and news of answered prayers. Trust God that he is working in your life.

 

Father, all to often we center on the problems in our lives, spending our majority of prayers focus on us. I pray we have a mind shift to praying for others. I ask that those who read this daily or for the first time are encouraged to grow faith. I pray for the one reading this that doesn’t have a relationship with you, I pray that they will experience your love and forgiveness even today as they read this. Jesus you love them, you died for them, you rose again that they can be free from sin and have a relationship with you. I pray for healing of bodies and minds, let your Holy Spirit work to build up your kingdom. Amen

 

 

Day 47: 50 Days of Impact

How many movies have we seen where the heroes run into a room and barricade the door in hopes to stop whatever is on the outside from getting in. After a while and things settle down someone gently knocks on the door and they then have to move all the items they put in the way to verify who is waiting on the other side. We have put up a barricade in our lives, but Jesus is on the other side asking you to open the door to the truth and life he brings.

 

 

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

Revelation 3:20 NLT

 

I believe Jesus is knocking on the hearts of every human being on earth. His desire is that none shall perish. So why is it that so many people ignore the knocking? I think that 1) they just honestly don’t know who is on the other side. Or 2) they have placed so much junk in front of the door that they just can’t hear the knock anymore.

 

Some people just are living in such isolation that they never have heard the message of Jesus. Others have grown up in a home where God was not spoken of so although they aren’t isolated from other people, they were separated from the truth intentionally or unintentionally. Many have been grown up with other beliefs that don’t point towards Jesus and have bought into something that doesn’t lead to God the Father. Yet others just plain refuse to accept that God even exists. They will fight to tell you but will not take the time to even investigate for themselves.

 

We can’t just kick down their door and let Jesus into their lives. We need to build relationships to let these people know that it is Jesus on the other side calmly and patiently waiting for them to open their lives to him. We can work with them to help move aside the junk they have put in front of the door to block or defend what is on the other side, as they have been misinformed by the enemy that Jesus just wants to take their fun away.

 

We know that isn’t the case. Jesus wants to bring life. Who doesn’t want life? They matter to Jesus, that’s why he is knocking, they matter to us so we should be letting them know whose there.

 

Jesus, help me to show others who is on the other side of the door. Keep my eyes open for opportunities to build relationships to share your love. Let me be strategic in my witnessing and be an encouragement to those around me. They matter to me. Amen

 

 

Day 42: 50 Days of Impact

Ask around, would those you know prefer a Big Mac, or their Mom’s best homemade _____. Mom always makes it better. I am sure we have all used the phrase, it is good but you should try my Grandma’s recipe. They may even ask you to get it so they can try it for themselves. With this enthusiasm, we need to be telling others about our faith. Let them see that we are not just pushing something we haven’t truly experienced ourselves. They need to see joy of our salvation and relationship and desire to experience the love that we have. They need to ask for it.

 

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

Psalms 34:8 NLT

 

I woke up with this though running trough my head, ‘ taste and see that the Lord is good.’ If only those around us would taste and see. What are we offering those around us to taste? If we are living our life like them then we have nothing to offer them, do we? Are we showing them something different? I liken it to the world is living off fast food spirituality. Just like fast food, it is quick to get at, smells great, satisfies quickly and will destroy you slowly from the inside out.

 

As followers of Jesus, we are given the word of God. The bread of life, fresh home cooked made from the heart of God food. Not chemically enhanced and machine formed, God made us a unique and amazing food to enjoy. Spiritually the word of God will heal us from the inside, just like changing your eating habits will cleanse your body. The more we eat of his word the stronger we become, the more attractive we become. Think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when offered rich salty and fatty foods during their training, they asked to be put to the test and eat only whole fruits, veggies and grains. When the test was over they were the healthiest of all the students.

Do people ask you what your eating? What is it that makes you different? If you can live your life to make others ask questions on why you are the way you are then witnessing would be easy. When people ask a question, they expect an answer. If you try to force an answer on people who have yet asked a question how effective will you be?

 

Jesus, I want to be sharing your word with others, I want others to see what you are doing in my life, ask questions and let them taste and see that the Lord is good. I want to life a life of health living and without the junk food that destroys. They matter to you so they matter to me, let them ask the questions, Holy Spirit give me the answers let me be ready to share the faith. Amen

 

Day 41: 50 Days of Impact

The global Church is made up of many groups of churches. All those who have accepted Jesus salvation call and are living for Him are part of this global Church. Jesus told his disciples and ultimately us that we are to go and share his story, making disciples of the entire world. I wonder what it would have been like if Jesus had added “and keep track of who you have reached, he who has the most disciples’ wins.” But he didn’t and nor should we live in our churches like that, we should be living like the disciples did working together to reach the lost.

“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NLT

Sometimes believers who are part of a denomination become consumed with reaching people not just for Jesus, but only to grow their church. But the bible doesn’t really get into denominations, that is a man-made thing where along the way minor things have created different flavours of churches. But we as believers in Christ need to understand that we are all one body, no matter what label or church we attach ourselves to, and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what label a new believer attaches or church they start attending, as long as they have a relationship with Jesus.  The reward is given for the hard work of reaching the lost.

We as believers need to break these lines that a lot of the time separate us. We need to start working together as not to ” reinvent the wheel”. Partnering with other churches or organizations that are working in our communities will help strengthen them and us.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT

We are better together. Think about the impact we can make when we work together.

Jesus, help us as believers to work together no matter what denominational label we give ourselves. Let your command to reach the lost be our binding inspiration. Let us become a community of believers with one focus. We know they matter to you, so we will work together because they matter to us too. Amen

S

Day 31: 50 Days of Impact

One thing I have learned on my little time here on earth, it that people will easily lay blame instead of accepting what is happening to them. We get in a car accident and we are looking for who is to blame, hopefully we are checking to see that everyone is alright first.

Here on the cross we see Jesus, hanging, bleeding, thirsty, experiencing something that no man can endure. It was an execution. In this moment Jesus could have exploded in anger at God, asking him “Why me?  Why now?” I think that most of mankind in the same situation would ask those questions. Instead Jesus shouted, “I trust you”.

 

“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!’ And with those words he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46 NLT).

 

Here we see Jesus trust God’s plan to the very end. His words are reminisces of Psalms of old coming to life. “Into your hands I commit my spirit: You have redeemed me O LORD God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5 NKJV) As the people around the cross hear this finally cry from Jesus as he breathed his last breath alone, a Roman centurion, which all the Gospels account for, realizes the truth of whom they just crucified. R. Alan Cole suggests “The Lord demanded little knowledge and much faith as initial steps, in those who came to Him – witness His dealings with the dying thief – so that the centurion may have well become a true believer ultimately.”

Our actions and our deeds are on display for those around us to witness. Jesus was a prime example of a man whose actions spoke louder than words. His actions of surrender and humility changed the centurion’s life that day. Our daily actions will define who we are in Christ and we must be willing to commit our lives to God.

Today are you able to trust God? If Jesus in his last breath and his last minutes continued to trust God, what is stopping you? In his last moments, he continued to make an impact. We make an impact in how we respond to our situations. People are watching you. Will your words and actions draw them to a loving God, or will it help solidify the wall they have put up between?

 

Father, to see the plan of salvation unfold in the bible is a feat of wonder. How you used your Son to save the world is unlike any other truth out there.  Thank you for the impact Jesus made on the cross. Thank you for the impact He is making daily in my life and the life of others. Show me how I can touch the hearts of those around me. I want to bring people to you and help them experience life in a relationship with you. They matter to you God, so they matter to me. Let me make an impact. Amen