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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15: 50 Days Freed

To be freed we must put aside all things that will cause us to sin. ” the devil made me do it” ever hear anyone make that claim before? Maybe you have said it yourself. Let me make it clear when it comes to temptations the devil isn’t by your side promoting you to sin. He doesn’t have to be. He has already set things in motion in this world such that we have become our own worst enemy.
 
 
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.””
Mark 14:38 NLT
“Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.”
Proverbs 7:2 NLT
The devil is a finite being, he is not like God who is everywhere and anywhere. The devil can on be in one place at one time. So to use Satan as an excuse is not always correct, yes he has his minions who do his bidding, but Satan himself may be nowhere near you or even care who you are. The issues of the temptation of sin come from three areas, ourselves, our peers and the devil’s minions. Today we are looking at the traps we set for ourselves, consciously or subconsciously.
We leave stumbling blocks in our own lives, sublimely hoping that one day we will fall into them. We shouldn’t be doing this but sometimes we do. Don’t believe me, well let’s take a look
1. Have you locked your computer from access from porn or do you feel, well I don’t access it I won’t ever go there?
2. Do you have bottles of alcohol in your home? Hey it’s only there for guests and social occasions.
3. Quit smoking yet keep that one package to remind you that you quit?
4. Love your spouse, but keep in contact with former ” friends” who have loved you in the past on social media, and if this doesn’t work out maybe the spark will reunite?
5. Do jobs on the side getting paid cash but not feeling the need to report it at tax time?
I could list many more, but what I am saying is we need to guard our lives against temptation. Put away the things that can cause us to sin.
Trust that God can provide you with the strength to push past these temptations and help by removing them from your life. If you make it easy to sin, then, of course, it will happen. No more excuses. We need to set a hard fast line on sin and push ourselves to keep it. We have to stop setting ourselves up to fail. If we want to experience the relationship of freedom the God has for us we must come to the realization that we have stumbling blocks in our path and work diligently to remove them. We may not see them all but once we work at clearing them away others may become visible. You can do this, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Father, if I have put up stumbling blocks in my life that make it easy for me to sin I pray you will reveal them and help me to tear them down and remove them from my life. I want to live daily avoiding sin. Help me not to be a stumbling block for others, I want to share your love with them. They matter to me and they matter to you. Work with me to reach the lost. I want to be more effective. Let my relationship with you flourish as I walk with you avoiding temptation. Guide my path. Amen.
 
 
 

2: 50 Days Freed

Why do we need to be concerned with being free? For those living in a country where slavery, as we envision it, has been a thing of the past; grasping what it means to be a slave is not easy. Many have been caught up in the enemy’s deception that the world wasn’t created by God. In that scenario there is no original sin, no bondage to this world. So in essence there is no reason to believe we are in slavery to something that doesn’t exist. But just because we don’t believe it doesn’t make it true.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened with the yoke of slavers. Galatians 5:1

 

Looking back to the beginning, God made man and woman and declared that they were good. In fact, he put us above everything else he created and said it was very good. He had a relationship, a direct connection with Adam and Eve, they walked and talked in the Garden.  He gave them responsibilities to care for the garden, name things, only giving them one restriction to follow. One day mankind would choose to disobey God. We often hear that words can’t hurt us, but the enemy used words that day to forever change history. The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed Gods command we were put in the bondage of slavery to sin.

 

IF that was the end of the story then everything else we do wouldn’t really matter. If God had that day said ‘okay nice knowing you, you are on your own now’ I truly think we would be extinct by now. But God had other plans for mankind, he had an idea that this was going to happen, and he had a plan. Don’t think for a moment that God was caught off guard by what Adam and Eve did. Like any parent he was hoping they would stay away from this temptation but when they didn’t his plan to redeem them started. God gave us free will so that we would make the choice to follow him and make good choices, but with making good choices we also have the ability to make bad choices. God never made us to be puppets to control. We have an important role to make choices.

 

Because of the choice that was made for us we are born into the slavery of sin. Sure, it sucks that the choice of two people over 5000 years ago affects our eternity but thankfully for us it we can break free. God’s plan to set people free was one that took almost 3000 years to fulfill but in that time,  he help mankind understand what sin was and why we must be freed from it. God played an intricate role in freeing us from sin. He sent his Son to earth as a man to live among us. (sometimes hard to grasp, but God unlike man, is three persons in one, God the Father, God the Son or Jesus and God the Holy Spirit, yet still all God.) Ultimately God came to earth to walk with us again. He did everything that those around him did, yet he did not sin, as he was born without sin. When he was taken, beaten and died on the cross he took on the sins of the world. Not just the sins that were of the people of that time, but past present and future sins, all sin was put on him. Almost like a magnet it was drawn to him as he was sinless.

 

If it was to end there one might think that would be enough.  God removed from us what we did to ourselves. Yet it wasn’t enough, Jesus dead for three days, many theorize what happened those three days, but does it matter? He rose from the dead, no Dr. reviving him, not a person praying for him, he rose victorious over the bondage of sin. All the sin that was heaped on him destroyed he was freed from the bondage that tried to hold him down. But why then if Jesus is the victor over sin are we still in bondage to sin? Why didn’t Jesus just remove it from the earth then and there? Remember we mentioned free will above? God desires to have a relationship with each and every man or woman on earth. To remove sin would have returned them to that relationship, but the choice would have been God’s and not mans. Sin remained as to give mankind a choice to follow Him. This choice is made by accepting what Jesus has done. We accept that he died for us and that our yoke of sin is removed.

 

So how can you be freed from the bondage of sin? By asking Jesus to free you of it. Asking him to become your friend and guide your heart. Talking with him daily and he will show you how to live a life of freedom. Then you can show the world his love. Free people can free people.

 

Father, thank you for giving us free will. It may feel that your playing with us, but the truth is you love us so much that you gave us choice. I choose to follow you with everything I am. Help me to share this freedom with others. Thank you for the choice you made to redeem us from our bondage of sin. Reveal yourself to the world through your people. Amen

Picture from John the Baptist Art

Day 17: 50 Days All In

All too many Christians use salvation as hand sanitizer only cleaning the surface sin, but never truly fighting the deep-down sin.

I read a while back about a little girl I had no connection with who has been missing for two days, her face and story was plaster all over social media, she had been found dead, disagreed like someone’s trash. The wave of emotions that enveloped me I can not even describe. What is wrong with the world? What makes it even more heartbreaking is that this is the new normal, we will hear about something like this weekly, if not daily. How can we live a life all in when sin is destroying what’s around us?

 

““A cry was heard in Ramah— weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.””
Matthew 2:18 NLT

 

We have become immune to the things that are happening all around us. Not all of us but many are living a life with the thought ‘what can I do about it?’. Do stories in the news of sin rampaging through the world upset you? Do thousands of children in the world die before they get a chance to life cause you any emotion? In Canada alone it is reported that 100,000 children never get to be born each year because they are unwanted or inconvenient. What about those lost to addiction? Depression? Confused about who they are? If these things don’t cause you to pray, or even think then you have become numb to this epidemic and need to get a heart transplant. Jesus can heal your heart. We have the cure to sin. His name is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one who will guide our hearts like a vaccine once we surrender our lives to Jesus and ask Him to cleanse us. A key to this cure is told to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15;

 

“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.

 

The ability to forgive those who are doing things to us is hard. It is even harder to forgive those who are doing horrendous things to children, woman and the unwanted. But if we are able to incorporate the love of Jesus into our lives, we can work to forgive these people. We don’t have to agree with them, nor do we advocate what they have done if a crime. Sin is the problem. Jesus is the solution.

Sin. It feels unstoppable, uncontrollable, such a disease that if we called it that would be labelled an epidemic in our worldly standards. Yet we walk around not talking about it, allowing it to happen. Why? We know the cure. We have the treatment, there is hope, yet we keep it to ourselves. I am no exception. We are worried that people will be offended if we say they are sick and in need of a Dr. Jesus on the cross died so that we might have a cure for sin, his blood the vaccine for sin. How dare you force your vaccine on me. All too many Christians use salvation as hand sanitizer only cleaning the surface sin, but never truly fighting the deep-down sin.

 

To live a life all in, it really boils down to what you allow sin to have priority in your life. Does sin keep you from forgiving those who hurt you or do horrendous things? Can you forgive them and let God and the justice system deal with them? Do you use salvation as a hand sanitizer or have you accepted it as a cure for your whole life? Jesus came to give you freedom from sin. Not just today but for your whole life. He desires to have a relationship with you.

 

If your reading this today and are like okay, I want to follow Jesus, now what? There is no formula, no exact prayer you need to pray. Open your heart to Jesus. Surrender to him and ask him for help. If you want the prayer that follows could be what you need to tell him.

 

Dear Jesus,

My life is a mess. Sin is controlling my life, I no longer want that. Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me of my sins. Work in me to forgive those who have hurt me personally and globally. I choose to follow you. Start today to change me into the person you intended me to be. I want to be all in.  Amen.

 

 

If you prayed that today, the angels are rejoicing. We want to rejoice with you to. Let me know. Share with your friends. If you need help finding some people or a church to connect with I can work to help you. Start reading your bible. If you have never ever read a bible start in the book of John.

Rejoice for you are now free. Your shackles are gone. Drop them and walk in freedom. Amen

Day 31: 50 Days of Passion

The command to love one another is one that many today don’t quite understand. We have watered down the word love to the point where to tell someone you love them can sometimes put people on the defensive. How can we love the person who commits murder or the one who has done unspeakable things to men, woman and children alike?

It comes back to the way Jesus loves us, he loves the person, he desires for the person to be freed from the sin, no matter the variation of sin. His heart breaks for each one to come to him to be freed from the bondage of sin. Do we look at those around us and base our love on the sin or the person? Jesus laid down his life for you, his friend.

 

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:12-13 NLT

 

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9 NLT

 

 

Would you be willing to lay down your life for a friend? Jesus did for you. And he did it for your friends and family, the strangers you meet everyday, your coworkers. He died so that we might live amazing lives sharing to other what he came to earth to do. The even more amazing part is he rose from the dead and invites us into a relationship with him. No other religion leader is alive, so they can’t have a relationship with their followers. That is what makes Christianity so real, it is also what makes it so offensive because it is the truth, and the truth can be scary.

 

If we could see ourselves the way God sees us in our sin we would crumble and hide in shame. I think that is what a lot of people do when they start thinking about God and Jesus. They run from their true selves and try to mask what they really are. For all the good things they do, the feel if they just continue in their good ways that they will earn heaven. No they may not say it out loud, but how many times have you heard ” but I’m a good person.”

 

If you haven’t noticed yet I have been focusing for awhile now on the mission.  Our passion has a direct connection to our mission work. We need to be better at reaching the list people for Jesus, or for bare minimum inviting them to church. At the men’s ministry I lead, I made a board that reads ” if they matter to God they should matter to us” and on it I asked the men to start writing names of people they want to see come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. This visual list of names not only puts them out in the open it shows us that we know many many people that need Jesus and we have a huge impact on their lives. I told the men that I want us to start taking names off the wall as we reach them, and they make commitments to follow Christ. As we add names we need to be removing some too. I am excited to see God work though about prayers and these men.

 

So today I ask you, do you value those around you to lay down your life for them. Is their fate and eternity priority for you, or do you care that one day they will be burning in hell? If it does then you need to do something, the benefits of reaching them outweigh the cost it may take. Stop storing up treasures on earth, let’s start storing up treasures in heaven. I would rather someone thanking me in heaven for telling them about Jesus then someone in hell wishing I had.

 

Jesus, we are called to share your love. I am not sure exactly how we come to this point where it has become taboo to us your name. People are offended and almost angry when the name of Jesus comes up on social media. But when you get them one on one, away from the veil of a computer, and open up to them sharing your love, something starts to happen. I ask Holy Spirit you will give us opportunities today to do just that, sharing the love of Christ. Encourage us, rekindle our fire and excitement in sharing our faith. We are free because of your love and free people can free people. Let them matter to us as we know they matter to you. Amen.

 

 

 

Day 30: 50 Days of Passion

We live in a society now that has gone completely insane when in comes to their thought pattern on offense. A shift has taken place where morality has become offensive. Outright sin has become acceptable, normalized and even prosecutable if it your opinion about the issue hurts someone’s feelings. Should we as believers submit to these changes and just accept them as the new normal? No, but we need to love the people. We can’t get caught up in the debate, we need to trust God can use us to deliver these people from their blindness. We should never categorize sin thinking some are more heinous then others. Sin separates us from God, it does matter what sin, sin is sin.

 

Arise, O God, and defend your cause. Remember how these fools insult you all day long. (Psalms 74:22 NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT)

Sometimes we get so caught up in defending God that we forget that He can defend Himself. Our purpose on earth once we have accepted the gift of Jesus is to share that gift with others. So many believers are stuck in defence mode that they are spinning their wheels. There are many others out there working hard to defend the bible and God, let’s not waste our efforts of defence when we are called to reach others with the truth.

If you are caught up in defence, you need to rethink your strategy and work on your offence. Start loving the world, not what the people are doing, but love the people as those who need Jesus. We spend to much time focusing on the sin and not the person. We forget that we were just like them, lost separated from God, ignorant to the need for salvation. Some sin is so out there and right in your face that it so easier to condemn and make it a yelling point, but that isn’t the way forward in our cause. Gentleness, mercy, love and leading by example is the only way that we will reach this world today.

We are called to make disciples, not just bring someone to church, watch them accept Jesus then walk away from them. This isn’t catch and release Christianity. We went through a period in the last 30 years where discipleship was lacking in many of our church’s and we wondered why our young people were walking away from the faith. It wasn’t personal to them, they were missing something that we found but forgot to pass on, so when some other group or idea came along it grabbed their attention away from the Father.

If you are a believer in the faith are you mentoring anyone? Are you sharing your wisdom with the younger believer, believe it or not their age doesn’t matter. You may be an adult in your twenties mentoring someone in their 60’s in the faith. Spiritual maturity and age are two different things. God can use you at any age. Let God use you to mentor and disciple new believers. I wasn’t a fan if small groups until I started one and now I see that I had been missing out on an important aspect of discipleship.

If you are young in your faith join a small group for new believers, if none are around, ask someone at you church to start one. Don’t go to church, find one that preaches God’s love and has a heart for discipleship. Don’t think you can do this alone. Even Jesus had a group of men he kept close.

 

Dear Jesus, help us to let You defend Yourself. We worry so much that You will be defamed when that’s not our purpose. Strengthen our true purpose in our hearts to make disciples of all nations. Help us to become better at discipleship. Mentoring those who need to be mentored. If anyone is looking for a church home I pray that you will lead them to a place where they will get the discipleship they require. Thank you Jesus for everything you do for us. Amen

 

Day 16: 50 Days of Passion

Sin is present here in the world, there is no doubt in its existence, as we see the effects it brings on the news daily. Yet we also see the effects of sin in our own lives and community. It may not be as rampant as what we see on the news but it is there. Sin came from disobedience, it doesn’t matter if it was Adam or Eve who sinned first. Who knows what may have happened if Adam and Eve had just admitted their sin right away instead of trying to hide their guilt. Instead they cowered in shame and we are now all paying the price for their united disobedience.

 

 

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”

Romans 5:12 NLT

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:18 NLT

 

 

The word sin is not used very often outside the church if ever. I wonder why that is? It has been around since the beginning of time. Yet mankind has kept its use in the shadows of the church. The enemy knows that if it is exposed as the root of the worlds problems it will lead people to Jesus and he doesn’t want that. So, he does everything in his power to keep it as a word that just not be spoken. So now we attach other word to replace sin, mentally ill, sick, broken, things that sound medical but not spiritual.

 

We need to call a spade a spade. People are stuck in sin. Nothing we can do in earthly terms can cleanse us of this ingrained parasite that plagues us all from birth. We are condemned from birth to die and go to hell if we don’t find a way to treat this.

 

Fortunate for us, God the Father had a solution to this sin issue in his son Jesus. He sent his son to die, John 3:16 so beautifully shares this plan with us. I call it the Coles notes of Christianity. It is everything a person needs to see that Jesus is here to remove sin from our lives.  He wants to cleanse us from this disease. But until you realize your sick why would think you need the saviour?

 

We need to expose sin for what it is. I am striving to learn how to do that effectively with out coming of ‘ judgmental ‘, but when eternity is at stake does it matter? This conflict between serving Jesus and his mission and our comfort is hold many of us back. We only see the here and now and forget that this time in our lives is all we get to reach others. Let us punch out of our comfort zones to confront sin for what it is and reach the lost.

 

Until we get past the stigma of offending others we keep dancing around the truth. If we want to have a renewed passion in our lives for God and for reaching the lost, we need to ask God to show us how He truly sees people. Only when we see them as loved by God, and the desire He has that they be free from sin, will our passion be restored.

 

Jesus, sin for a long time has disguised itself. Help us to expose it for what it is. Show us how to reach those who need you be exposing the sin and providing them with how to be cleansed through you. We have no power ourselves but you have all the power to cleanse sin. Holy Spirit  ignite a fire so we may be effective in reaching others. They matter to you so they matter to me. Amen