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!
As I was reading Genesis nineteen, I thought about how much sin could consume all of us without the power of Christ Jesus in our lives.
In this chapter, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had become gravely wicked. Well, my first question was how did they get this way? God's word helps us understand. It states that when individuals did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (Romans 1:28 KJV). Does this sound familiar?
When I read the words above from Romans, I realize that could be any of us. You see, in Genesis 4:7, God warns Cain that sin crotches at the door, but he was supposed to rule over it. It also states in James 1:14, "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (NASB)." And finally, Romans 6:23 reminds us, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Therefore, it all starts with our hearts. Where is our heart? Are we rejecting God? What things are we desiring? Are we seeking after God or have we made something our god? Only Jesus has the power to set us free from the bondage of sin. If we reject Him, then we can't be made whole in Him.
Before walking in relationship and the power of Jesus Christ, I was a mess. I was bound by sin. I did not have the power to come out on my own. I had to surrender my heart to my creator, and He did the work in me.
I could still be consumed by sin if I hadn't taken that step of surrender. We have to participate in our salvation by a simple surrender. We have to seek after God in Christ. We have to keep His way and spend time in His presence, obeying, and walking in relationship with Him daily. Then and only then will our spiritual chains broken!
Sin has no power over Christ! All we have to do is surrender. He will do the rest!
Genesis 8:1 - "Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark."
Have you ever read Genesis 8:1 and wondered , can God somehow forget? Well, I recently asked God this very question. I have read Genesis over and over, but this time the word remember really stood out.
After reading this word, I looked up the meaning, and what I found blew me away.
Remember means to recognize, consider, keep in mind, and be aware of.
This meaning helped me to understand that God didn't somehow change because He is God and He can't change. It means that Noah never left His thoughts. He was always aware of his situation and He would bring Him out.
It meant that God is a promise keeper. He's merciful and full of grace. He's the only one that can truly keep us in mind and be aware of us at all times.
Here are a few more examples:
Genesis 19:29 - And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.
1 Samuel 1:19 - Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.
Exodus 2:24-25 - So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.
Notice the pattern. In each instance, there was a need (crisis) that was beyond the ability of the individual. Some of individuals involved weren't perfect, but God still brought them out. Therefore, the word remember shows the great character of God. He knows our ways. He knows that often times we disobey, we fall, and are not perfect, but yet He considers us (His people and even our family members).
What a mighty God we serve! He is so faithful, even when we are not.
He remembers us (considers, keeps in mind, and is aware of). Now that is true love!
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!
“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!"
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.
Have you ever read the Bible from beginning to end? Have you completed a devotional or topical study?
There are millions of resources out today to study the Word of God. Why then are so many spiritually empty?
God's Word instructs us to, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
There are many ways to study God's Word and I don't believe God has a specific preference as long as it does not take away from His true meaning. I believe that He just wants us to dig in, to learn His Word for ourselves. The truth of God is so evident all around us but we will only know how to live and walk in relationship with Him through His Word and through prayer. These two go hand-in-hand.
One way to study the word is to use the Inductive method. I tried it and I love it because it digs deeper into God's Word and I am an analysis girl! I also love this method because it is not someone's personal commentary. It allows us to understand God's Word in context.
I have heard so many ministers and teachers misinterpret and take scripture out of context!
We are still responsible for God's Word for ourselves. This method is great in that regard.
Here is an example using Ephesians 1 (NASB).
First I read through the entire chapter and answered the questions above. These basic questions are not so basic because they cause us to think about what we have read from God's Word. Apostle Paul was writing to the believers at Ephesus. He was explaining to them that they were chosen by God and Christ had already done the work! He prayed that they would gain greater wisdom and knowledge in the truth about Christ.
I then begin to look at the key words and the various parts of speech. This was very eye opening because I have read the Bible numerous times but I never really zoned in on the different parts of speech. They teach you many things all by themselves. The pronouns used in Ephesians 1 showed that there was some connections and ownership. The relationship was that they were all believers in Christ. The ownership was that salvation belonged to them. They received Him. One pronoun that stood out was (Himself). This pronoun spoke of God and that He had done the work through Christ for them. Nothing else was needed. It was a gift. Finally, there were some adjectives that emphasized Christ. Like, All things are subject to Him and Apostle Paul praying for the kind of Spirit He wanted God to give them, spirit of wisdom and revelation. These words are very important because then they would truly have a deeper understanding of what God had done for them.
Other parts of speech that stood out in chapter 1 of Ephesians were the prepositions and verbs. There were even more prepositions than these. The ones that stood out to me were the descriptions of God's plan of redemption (before the foundation of the world, through Jesus Christ, through His blood, from God). Some verbs that stood out were (predestined, enlightened, raised, seated, obtained). These terms help me to understand even more that God is all knowing. He knew what would be needed to set us free. He loves us more than we will ever know.
The next step in the inductive method is interpretation. This is one of the most critical parts. I went through and wrote the main idea for what I believe are the different sections of Ephesians chapter one. Overall, I believe that the main focus was that the saints would understand and grow in the wisdom of Christ.
The final step in the Inductive method is Application. The application step is simply how does this apply to my life? What is the Biblical principle?
I believe the Biblical principle of Ephesians 1 is "There is none higher than Christ." We were sealed as we placed our trust in Him and allow Him to transform our lives. Nothing else is needed! He is our redeemer and this was God's doing, not man's.
Don't Doubt, Trust Him!
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.
Scripture: “Then Moses answered (The LORD) and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ” So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” -Exodus 4:1-2 NKJV
Have you ever wondered, "How is God going to use me? Do I really have a purpose?”
Well, just like Moses in Exodus, God wants to use us for His glory!!
My book club, Hope-in-Christ, is currently reading a phenomenal book, “I Reign: A Survivor's Guide to Thrive” by Minister Annie Bell. In her book, she provides practical application for surviving childhood abuse. One of the scriptures that she quotes is Exodus 4:1-2.
After reading this section of her book, God has continued to cause the words, “What's in your hand?” to reverberate in my mind !
I have read the book of Exodus many times, but never has those words stood out to me until now.
You see, God is currently birthing His ministry through me. For many years, I walked in fear and self-doubt. I listened to the voice of the enemy telling me that I wasn't good enough. But for the past few months God has begun to speak to me, “I have called you to do my will! I have loved you with an everlasting love. All that is needed is already in you! I have already equipped you to walk out my purpose for your life!”
He then begin to show me the ministries and what is already in my hand in order to perform those duties.
For example, he led me to start writing devotionals, and proofreading and editing, all of which fall under my training from years of teaching English Language Arts.
I never would have thought that God would have chosen me for those tasks, but He did and and they are things that I absolutely LOVE!!
So the next time you are weary and questioning if you are really called and equipped to walk out God's purpose, remember how he used Moses.
Moses, like us, made many excuses, but God used him mightily! He wants to do the same with us!
You are already equipped! What's in your hand?