What is true freedom? That is a loaded question. I have been in church for many years. I received Christ in my late twenties. However, what I didn't completing understand was true freedom in Christ.
In scripture, freedom means to exempt, to liberate, to deliver, to set at liberty: from the dominion of sin.
Lets break down liberty: Liberty means freedom from external or foreign rule, freedom from control, freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint.
This definition caused me to think. I don't know about anyone else, but I was once bound by sin, abuse, rejection, low self-esteem, and other things. When I received Christ and began to walk in relationship with Him, I experienced liberty through His power and deliverance. I just didn't know it at the time. I still allowed the opinions of people to try to take me back to that dark place in my life.
After looking closely at the above definitions, I then read the above scripture in several different versions, but the Amplified stood out to me. In the context of the scripture, Jesus was speaking to Jews. He was trying to explain to them that if they received Him, abide in Him and His word then they would be free. However, they like many of us, reminded Jesus (as if He didn't already know) that they were descendants of Abraham and they had never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, "You will be made free," they continued.
You see, before we can be made free, we have to first recognize that we are bound. We can't be free and bound and the same time. They couldn't see nor understand the truth due to their self-righteousness. They had kept the law and offered sacrifices, so they believed that they were good.
Jesus interrupted and said, "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever."
Wait? What? (I pictured them saying this)
Jesus was speaking of spiritual things. I believe that he was trying to get them to see that all of what they had learned and sacrificed were but a shadow of His coming to truly set them free. They couldn't see that because they were focused on the flesh, but Jesus was referring to a spiritual matter.
I believe that he was showing them that they were no better than any other human being. We are all on a level playing field. We are all sinners, and we remain in sin because we have no power to deliver ourselves, no animal sacrifice could solve a spiritual matter, only Christ.
So I ask the question again are you truly free. Have you received Christ and are walking in relationship with Him, trusting in God's word and not man's philosophy or opinions. Remember, Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," - John 8:31-32 NKJV.
Here is another scripture:
"For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” II Corinthians 10:18 NKJV
True freedom has nothing to do with fleshly or earthly things, but everything to do with the spirit and soul of man. We can't be free in the natural unless we are made free in the spirit first. We can't be bound and free at the same time. Christ is that freedom! His power sets us free from foreign rule (sin, evil). His power frees us from the control and captivity of satan, sin, and even people. Finally, we are no longer restrained, our spiritual eyes are opened, but free to worship our creator and walk out His purpose for our lives.
Allow the Son to make you free and if He makes you free, you shall be free indeed!
From the time of my birth, I have endured some great struggles. I am truly a living testimony!
I'm often reminded of the following scripture, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)
When I first looked up the word "standard," I found, "vanish away, flee, put to flight, hide." To me, that means that God will always protect me and back up the enemy by His great power. He will keep me from destruction.
The scripture never said that the enemy wouldn't come up against me. However, it does promise that God is greater. He is a provider and a protector.
Here are a few examples:
As an infant, I had to be airlifted to Miami Children's Hospital. I was rushed into emergency surgery, where I almost died. But God.........
As I got a little older, I experienced much abuse. But God....................
As an adult, my husband and I lost our first child, and we were told that we couldn't have any children due to my struggle with Endometriosis. But God..........
I was depressed, in my sin, and lost. But God.........
I could go on and on, but you get the point. No matter what the attack was, God was right there. He was and is far greater than our struggles. He redeemed me! He kept me in the midst of it all! He protected my life from death! He gave us a son in spite of the report from the doctor. He is twelve years old now. God can and will do the same for you!
I say to you today, nothing and no one is greater than Jesus!
I am a living witness! God's glory will be revealed in our lives. We live in a fallen world, but we are redeemed by a powerful, living God!
I know you're probably wondering what the beautiful tree has to do with this devotional.
Well, allow me to use an analogy!
The tree represents God's existence and glory. It shows the world that there is a living God that took the time to show His glory through this tree. They could try, but NO man can take credit for this.
I love the fall season because I'm always amazed by the changing of the colors. Only the designer of that tree can make such a bold statement to the world. God is the designer! He made it to glorify Him. The Bible states: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Revelation 4:11 NKJV
The earth and all that is within it was created by God and to glorify Him. In the Greek, the word glorify means "honor, praise, or worship.”
Mankind is walking, living, breathing examples of the truth of God. While the tree moves and changes the way that God has designed it, we too must also glorify God. Our lives must bring honor and glory to our maker. Just like the beautiful tree in the fall, He placed purpose inside of us. That purpose is to draw others to Him.
When I first experienced fall in Georgia, I looked at the tree changing colors and begin to think about the designer, God. I thought about how beautiful He must be in order to design something so beautiful. I thought about my purpose and why He designed me. It caused me to begin to talk to Him more. I wanted to do His will and bring Him glory also.
In the same way, people are to wonder at our lives and begin to call upon Him for change in theirs. They should see us and want God more not less. Let us surrender to His purpose and glorify Him as the fall trees.
His word says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
It's not about us, but it's all about Him. To draw others to the truth which is found only in Christ Jesus.
“To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike?” Isaiah 46:5 NASB
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24 NASB
Ae you ready to be made empty so that you can be made complete? God is calling humanity back to Him. He is calling us to turn our hearts to Him so that He might make us whole and free in Him. You see we are wondering souls in a world of darkness, and God wants to shine His light upon us. Jesus Christ is the light of the world!
So many have falling away! So many have erected their own god in their hearts, yet it may not be the true God of the Bible. The Lord is near to us. He is calling the nation! He is calling the world! Return to the truth! He desires our worship. We have to turn away from the worship of mankind and even ourselves. We have to push past the thoughts of others and even wanting to be accepted.
In this time, we must seek the face of the living God. Jesus came that we might have life. The abundant life in Christ is supernatural. He wants to give us rest for our soul.
So just as the children of Israel were corrected and under God's judgement, God is the same today. He will give His glory to no man. He never changed, mankind did.
We are but dust and sin is apart of our nature. Christ came to change that. He came to set us free. We must go through our land and destroy our idols. Our idols may not look the same as those in scripture. We may have taken the throne of our own heart as lord of our lives. That is idolatry! We have to dethrone ourselves and cry out to the living God! Seek His face, and seek after Him to reveal the root of our separation or distance from Him. Then we must allow Him to uproot it and leave only Himself.
The Word of God says that we must worship God in spirit and in truth. We must denounce our own desires and our own will!
Cry out to God in prayer! Pray for others as well. Ask Him to reveal, remove, and redeem! Ask Him to draw you by His spirit. Begin to say to Him, "God leave only You! You are my strength, my hope, my deliverance, my peace, and my joy! Leave only You dear Father! Leave only You!"
Genesis 6:9 - Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
In a world that is dominated by social media, many focus attention on self-image. There are millions of photos uploaded to Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis, but have you ever stopped to wonder beyond the moment? Have you thought about the fact that we are currently living in times very much like Noah, a great man of God in scripture. You see, in Noah's time, the earth was full of wickedness. People did not seek God; they sought after their own desires. Sound familiar?
As I was reading in Genesis the other day, the above scripture stood out to me as if I had never seen the words before. Noah walked with God and he was perfect in his generations. I first started to think, "Wow, this was an awesome man of God; I don't know if I am able to do that." Noah walked upright in the midst of wickedness and sin all around him, yet he kept his eyes fixed on God and obeying His commandments. He was not perfect in the sense that he had never sinned.
After focusing on that scripture for a few minutes, I went to look up the word "walked" and perfect" in the Strong's Bible Dictionary. As a language arts teacher, I love to identify the dictionary meaning of specific words. It seems to shine a greater light on the context of what I am reading.
The Strong's Dictionary defines the word "walk" as to go toward and continue
. And the word "perfect" is defined as to have integrity, truth, be without blemish, and to do it sincerely
Again, we know that Noah was not perfect as the world defines perfect. He like us can only be made perfect in God alone. However, we are given a free will. Noah was a man that desired God above anything else. Notice that there was lots of wickedness in Noah's time just as we see today. However, Noah had to make the choice to walk with God and be set apart in order to be identified as a just man. There had to have been something different about him in comparison to those around him. He had to have stayed before God to get instructions for his life. We have the same choice today. God is still God today! He has not changed, we have. He is still speaking and moving on the hearts of men, women, boys, and girls. But it is our choice to choose true life in Him, the life that only He can give. God gave Noah many instructions and the Bible records that He did according to all
that God commanded Him. This could only be done by God's power and Noah's surrender!
Now dig deeper and apply God's word to your life. Below are my responses:H - How does this scripture help you to know God better/more?
This scripture helps me to understand that God is here to guide us but He doesn't force anything on us.O - What were some things that you observed?
1. As I read the whole chapter, I noticed that Noah was in the midst of lots of wickedness but He chose God.
2. God established a covenant with Noah.
3. My obedience matters more than I know.P - What was the overall purpose of this scripture?
God desires that we walk upright and He is able to keep us even in the midst of an evil generation, but the choice is ours.E - What is some encouragement for daily living?
God is all powerful! He will take care of evil. He will sustain the righteous. God has all of the answers that we need.
Now you try it! Be blessed,
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Hope-in-Christ. Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.
“Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” John 9:39 NLT
This scripture relates to one of the miracles that Jesus performed. The man that He is speaking to was blind from birth. Then he had an encounter with Jesus. He was able to see and knew that there was something different about the man who had performed this great miracle.
Jesus then explained to him that he had received physical sight, but He also was the one that could heal spiritual blindness.
My husband wears glasses and can't see very well without them. A few years ago, he was leaving for work. He was still a little sleepy, and he got into his car and prepared to leave. He then came back into the house and said, "I was wondering why everything looked so blurry when I got in the car. I realized that I had left my glasses." He and I laughed about this for a few minutes. He then grabbed his glasses and left.
Like the man in scripture, this relates to physical sight. However, in the same way that things looked blurry to my husband, spiritual blindness can cause us not to see clearly. In the scripture referenced above, Jesus is saying that He came to give sight to the spiritually blind.
Spiritual blindness may cause us to believe that we are not sinners. It may cause us to believe that there are many ways to get to God. It may even make us believe that God doesn't exist. Whatever the situation, Jesus is the only one that can cure us.
He came to set us free. All we have to do is surrender and allow Him to do the work. When He opens our spiritual eyes, we can see and understand the things of the spirit. We can understand and experience our creator. He is spirit. Jesus is the only way and the only truth! Allow Him to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see and experience His beauty, His peace, and His holiness!!
I Peter 5:7 (NIV) - " Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Stress is a very common thing in today's society. We have children, careers, bills, and other challenges. It is very easy to begin to stress about what we have to endure from day to day. This can affect our physical and spiritual health. It can cause many different health problems, health care expenses, and a shorter life span. Spiritually it can keep us from seeking God because we are trying to fix our own problems, but we don't have the power. Our strength comes from above!
God's word gives us many strategies for dealing with stress. One of the most important is in the scripture noted above. We must cast our cares upon the Lord. There is no other way to overcome the cares of this world. A relationship with the Lord must be developed and we must surrender our hearts. We can't make it without Him! I hear people say that they are in control of their own lives. The truth of the matter is they are not. Either we give the enemy or God control. Our spirit man is dead outside of the living LORD.
God never called us to fix it. He knew that we wouldn't have the strength. We learn this through reading the Bible and prayer. As we surrender and develop a relationship with Christ, we go from death to life. We begin to walk in the power of His might. Then we can talk to Him about anything and He will always be there. His power and unfailing love will comfort and equip us all the days of our lives. Christ is the only one that can set us free! Bondage, fear, and anxiety cannot triumph over the power of Jesus.
Rest in Him!
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” - John 4:13-14 NASB
In our world today, many are eating healthier, drinking healthy drinks, and getting plenty exercise. In addition, we are receiving good reports from our physicians. These are all great things!
However, this is only the physical health that is making great strides.
Have you checked your spiritual health status? Has the Father given you
a good report?
Our spiritual health is often neglected. But…..
The Bible says the following:
“present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice" (Romans 12:1)
"be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2)
These scriptures are referring to our spiritual health. There are many
more like these found in God's Word.
Scripture goes on to describe individuals as spiritually dead. What a powerful description! Dead! So in essence, many of us may be walking around physically the picture of health, but spiritually dead.
I believe that this is a deception from the enemy. Now, please don't misunderstand me. Being physically healthy is something that we must maintain. I have to watch my weight and what I eat due to Type II Diabetes.
But, to ignore our spiritual state is futile. It makes no sense!
The Word of God tells us that we are soul, spirit, and body. So why only care for our flesh?
We need spiritual healing. Our spiritual healing is only found in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can heal and set us free.
In the scripture above, Jesus was offering spiritual healing to the woman at the well in Samaria. He helped her to understand that he was not talking to her about natural water but spiritual cleansing.
He stated, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
I love this scripture because it shows that Jesus fulfills us. All that we need is found in Him. Also, Jesus, being God in the flesh, cared so much about this young woman's spiritual health that He wasn't concerned with the people and their customary ways. He loved her and wanted to make her whole in Him.
Like the Samaritan woman, Jesus loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. In another scripture, Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:20)
This scripture indicates that Jesus is seeking us and offering the invitation
of complete healing and soul restoration, but we have to accept the invitation.
All we have to do is accept, surrender and He will do the rest. His love is unsearchable. His love is everlasting. It won't fail you as people may have. As He has done for me, He will do for you!
Let Him in! Open your heart! Don't be deceived by the enemy. The enemy wants you to stay where you are. He may have you believing that you have no sin, but why would we need Jesus if that was the case.
Once you have encountered Jesus nothing else is needed. He is our resting place. He is our healer! Allow Him to heal you today and walk in newness of life.
Ephesians 6:10-11 - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Are you equipped for war? This is a very profound question because we are definitely in a war. We are not in a natural war, but a spiritual war. This spiritual war is very serious. For it is a war for our souls!
In the book of Ephesians, Apostle Paul instructed the believers to put on the full armor of God.
So what then is armor? First and foremost, the dictionary defines armor as any covering worn as a defense against weapons.Ephesians chapter 6 declares the following as the armor of God:
- Girding your loins with truth
- Putting on the breastplate of righteousness
- Your feet being fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
- Taking up the shield of faith
- Putting on the helmet of salvation
- Take up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God
To sum this up, the full armor is found only in relationship with Christ. We only have to stay covered in Him. His power does the work.
Also, when I looked more closely at the cross references to this scripture, I was blessed to find scriptures of how putting on the armor of God really looks:
- We must first cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12)
- We must put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24)
Therefore, we can only be strong in the power of the Lord Jesus. We can't defeat the enemy on our own. Christ name alone causes demons to tremble. So a true relationship with Christ is a must! Walking with Christ is not to be taken lightly! He sees and knows far more than we could ever know. He is the one that causes us to see and overcome! We can only stand in Him!
So I ask you again, are you equipped for war? If not, the enemy will overtake you! Put on God's armor and no devil in Hell or on earth can defeat you! Take refuge in Him. Allow Him to do the work! He's mighty!
Hope-in-Christwww.hope-in-christ.comCopyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.
2 Cor. 12:9
- And He said, “My grace
(unearned, unmerited favor, a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men, The application of Christ's righteousness to the sinner, pardon) is sufficient
(enough) for you, for My strength
(power, ability) is made perfect
(made complete, accomplished, finished) in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities (feebleness of mind or body, disease, sickness, weakness), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Have you ever prayed for God to remove sickness from your life? Ever wondered about your past? abuse? Mistreatment? Rejection?
In 2 Corinthians Apostle Paul describes a struggle that he continued to pray for God to remove but it remained with him. He goes on to explain how God helped him to understand that His grace was enough for Him. When he was weak, then he could depend and rely on God's power to see him through.
Like Apostle Paul, most of my life I have experienced many struggles, disappointments, and pain. I was told that the enemy has tried to attack my life from the time I was 3 days old.
At 3 days old, I was rushed into emergency surgery on my stomach. I couldn't keep anything down. I was told that I almost died.
As I got older, I experienced so many other attacks on my life!
Then one day I was introduced to the “Alpha and Omega” the “King of Kings” and Lord of Lords.“
I was downtrodden, depressed, and disappointed and He changed my life!
He drew me by His great power!
After that great encounter, I still experienced struggles but I was now walking with the one who could fix it all. He could mend my brokenness. He could make it all work together for good. He could make it all make sense and He did! Some of it was Him working in me. Some of it was indeed spiritual attacks.
The Lord rewarded me with His grace and He has continued to walk with me, to hold me in is arms, and break the chains of bondage.
Just recently I wondered if I was still walking with Him. I felt so far away. I was even in church and feeling so disconnected and alone.
He begin to draw me near and call me deeper. Deeper into prayer, deeper into His Word. A deeper walk.
He called me to start Hope-in-Christ Ministries. He encouraged me through every blog post, through every book we read in the book club, and every time I would go out to mentor the youth.
As soon as I was moving forward and He was opening so many doors, I was told that I had to have surgery. I had already experienced adult onset of asthma, diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and now a surgery that was directly related to that major surgery when I was 3 days old.
I was struggling with fear and questions of why, but He was showing me that His grace was enough for me. He was showing me that all I need is found in Him. He was showing me that before I could minister hope to others I had to know and understand that hope for myself.
And so by His grace, I have! I drew closer. I begin to cry out and He is healing, delivering, and transforming my life day by day. Even after more than 12 years of walking with Him, He is still growing, shaping, and molding me into His image.
I now feel like I'm living a newness of life in Him.
The ministry that He has given is growing and He is showing me who He has designed me to be.
Much was birthed out of my pain!
What is He showing you through your struggles? Know that His plan for your life is very good and He will be with you through it all!
Enjoy this worship song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN2Y99GBYDE
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.