Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring

As we approach the 4th of July this week, known as Independence Day; it is important to recognize that this day stands for more than vacation and fireworks. However, fireworks have been part of the July 4th celebration since 1777. July 4th in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago in 1776 on July 4 by the Continental Congress. The second paragraph speaks of our freedom. It says, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What is freedom? Freedom is the condition of a citizen. It is exemption from punishment. The Bible talks a lot about freedom. We find Paul speaking about a greater freedom than even national freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 What he is speaking of is the freedom from the burden of the rigorous demands of the Old Testament Law as the means for gaining God’s favor. This did not represent the freedom given through Christ. In fact, this demand impeded the development of the Christian life. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free exempting us from the penalty of our sinful state. This is explained further in Romans 7:4-6. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” What does this mean? The Law was condemning and could not free a person on a daily basis from their sin. They had to wait, sometimes, a year for their sin to be atoned and forgiven through a priest. But through Christ, we have access to God on a daily, moment by moment, basis. Therefore, He gives a freedom like no other. He does not condemn us in our sinful state, but rather delivers us from it. In fact, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery; “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said “no one...

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What is That One Thing?

What is That One Thing?

“Tell Archippus: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17 Archippus was a Christian teacher/minister. He had been given a lifetime job from the Lord – a calling to Christian service. We don’t know why Paul felt compelled to send a word of exhortation to him to complete the work he had been given. Perhaps he heard something about him that we don’t know, or perhaps in his own experience he knew how difficult ministry can be. But whatever the reason, he sent a word to Archippus to complete the work. As one who is serving the Lord, I know how hard it can be. I know how easy it would be to slack off, or simply give up. I’m sure you do too. In society today, we are hearing more and more about pastors and Christian leaders who are caving under the pressure. Adultery, suicide, exhaustion, financial hardship or turning away from ministry are just a few of the things we hear about. And so, just as Paul said to Archippus, we say to you: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Let’s break that down: See to it means to look away from all else and look to that one thing being addressed. In this case, the work you received in the Lord. Is there anything drawing your attention away from that one thing. See to it that you complete… According to Strong’s and Vines Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,  some of the Greek definitions for the word complete are:  to fill to the top, carry to the end, accomplish, to cause Gods will to be obeyed as it should be and Gods promises to receive fulfillment. But my favorite is to end together, thoroughly finished. And so, the message is to look away from any distractions to the call of God on your life and end together with Him what He has placed within your heart to do. Keep on doing it until He says otherwise. What have you received from Him to do? What service are you passionate about? Review the list of Spiritual gifts in Romans 12 because God has gifted every believer. If you are gifted to teach or preach, then do so. If serving is your strength, then serve, if gifted to give, then give, etc. The point is, don’t give up or give in to the pressures of this world that the enemy is throwing at us from every direction. Stand firm in your faith and your mission. There is no such thing as retirement from Gods perspective. Hosea 10:12 tells us to continue...

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No “M” in FOCUS

No “M” in FOCUS

Last month, my blog message was about the meaning and use of the word Focus. This morning as I listened to the pastor’s message, the thought occurred to me that there is no “M” in the word focus. The word is not fomcus or focums, it is focus. For those called to ministry, the struggle to meet the demands of operational obligations is always a reality. There never seems to be enough money to meet the needs of the ministry. But if we focus on the money rather than the mission, our focus becomes skewed and our ministry distracted. What is your mission? What is the calling God has placed on your life? Think about what it means to accomplish the mission and then do it. When God speaks to you through prayer, His Word and by His Spirit; He doesn’t say to be in ministry because you will make a lot of money or be in ministry to meet your every desire. If our desire is to make money, ministry is not the avenue for it. You should instead seek opportunity to work outside the ministry. For those in full-time ministry, the purpose is always to accomplish the mission given you by God – to instill His love, His word and His gospel of salvation into the hearts of others. I am not saying you do not deserve to be rewarded for your labor. Paul addressed that in I Corinthians 3:8-9 when he said “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building”.  There are different types of ministry, but all for one purpose and as God’s workers, we are rewarded for our individual labor in accomplishing God’s purpose. Paul further stated in I Corinthians 9:11-12. “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” And then in verse 14-15, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights.” The point is this; those in ministry deserve to be rewarded for their labor, but Paul did not focus on the money he would receive when he went out to preach. His love for God and people overrode his physical need and desire. Rather,...

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Beyond the Pain

Beyond the Pain

It has often been said that hurting people hurt people. Perhaps not intentionally, but it happens anyway. That is why it is so important for those in any kind of leadership to be healed from their own personal pain; so we don’t keep hurting others and so we have a testimony of healing for the purpose of giving hope to those who hurt. As we have worked with hurting people through our ministry, it seems that most negative emotions can be traced back to unresolved past painful experiences. Those experiences may be carried over as far back as childhood. It is that pain I am addressing today, pain which has been buried and hidden for a very long time. I am addressing it, not from the standpoint of a person’s public exposure, but rather to encourage personal exposure between the one wounded and God for the purpose of healing. Because unless we allow God to expose the reason for the negative emotions to us personally, we will just keep on simmering on the inside without understanding why those emotions control our lives. We will continue to ride the merry-go-round of negativity, too afraid to jump off and too wounded to keep going – stuck in the sameness of emotions we can’t seem to shake. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my life on that merry-go-round. I would rather ride the playground swing higher and higher to a deeper relationship with my Lord Jesus knowing He is the great physician who can take away the pain. He can and will heal us as we take our pain to Him in prayer, confession and forgiveness toward the one who inflicted the pain. The best Biblical example of this response is Joseph. Out of jealously, his brothers threw him in a pit and left him to die. Then, at the objection of one brother, they took him from the pit and sold him into slavery. He was a slave in Egypt for at least 20 years before he saw his brothers again. The story takes place from Genesis 37 to 50. After all those years, when Joseph’s brothers  went to Egypt for famine relief and realized the one who saved them was Joseph, they threw themselves down before him and committed to be his slaves. But here is the best part of the story. “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.” (Genesis 50:18-20 NIV) What an amazing response! Can you imagine the pain experienced by that 17...

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