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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?
About two weeks ago, the Holy Spirit led me to begin to study the book of Hebrews. While studying, I have been amazed by the great detail of the speaker in trying to get the audience (the converted Jewish believers) to understand that they didn't have to do what they used to do. They didn't have to walk in the old covenant. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for their sins once and for all.
As I continue to deeply study this great book of the Bible, I have asked God many questions. If Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, then why are people not walking in true freedom in Him? Why are people still bound by sin? Why is the enemy deceiving so many individuals?
God then took me to a few more scriptures to help me better understand. I begin to analyze the word "redemption." Redemption means to rescue, recovery, rebirth, or deliverance from bondage. I then begin to asked even more questions. In order to be redeemed, don't we have to first acknowledge that we need redemption from something? Don't we have to acknowledge that what You recognize as sin is sin to us as well? How can I remain bound if I say that I have Christ and shed His blood to set me free?
There is a disconnect here!
I came to a better understanding that we can be our own hindrance. We can be so comfortable in sin, bound by sin, bound by our past hurts and struggles or simply walking in fear that we don't allow Christ to do the work in us, to make us whole. You see in the book of John, chapter 5, Jesus asked a man a very thought provoking question. Jesus was coming from a Jewish feast and went up to Jerusalem to a place called Bethesda. This place had 5 porches and a pool. He found many sick people there waiting for an angel of God to come down and stir the water in order to be healed of all their many diseases.
There was a certain man there that had been sick for over 38 years. On this day Jesus asked him a simply, "Do you want to be made whole? (John 5:6-11).
The man began to give Jesus excuses and blame others, but Jesus was trying to get him to take a look at himself, and understand that he had to have the will and the desire to truly be made well. This was not temporary what Jesus wanted to do in his life. It was permanent. He had to participate. He couldn't wait for anyone else to do it for him. Did he trust God or not? Did he really want complete wholeness?
Jesus then said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." The scriptures go on to tell us that the man was made whole immediately and he didn't step one foot in the pool. He had faith in the only one that could truly heal him. Christ did it, because he believed and wanted a changed life.
Jesus saw him again and gave him a final instruction, Go and sin no more, or a worse thing will come upon you (John 5:14).
So today, just like the main at Bethesda, Jesus is asking us, "Do you want to be made whole?" I believe that God has asked me that same question more than once in my life.
God is not powerless! He has all power, but do we believe Him? Do we believe that He loves us and desires to bring us out of darkness? Do we believe that His plans for us are good or are we going to keep trying to figure it out on our own? Do truly understand what it means to be made in His image and likeness? Are we walking in fear or condemnation? What is it?
What ever it is surrender it ALL to Him! Be made whole in Him today! Only He can truly set us free. I am a living witness of it!! Trust Him! Allow Him to make you complete in Him!!
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Project H.O.P.E. Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - KJV
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. AMP
Hebrews 11:1 - The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. - MSG
What does the Bible mean by faith? Why is it so important?
According to the Strong's Bible Dictionary, faith is the acceptance, belief, confidence, and certainty of God's truth as revealed in scripture, The Holy Bible. Faith is essential to our walk with God. It is the essence of discovering who we are in Him. The writer of Hebrews 11:1 focused on faith's importance as he/she spoke to the Jewish converts of that time, reminding them of the dangers of turning away from true faith, faith in Jesus Christ.
As I was reading this particular scripture on faith, I found it very helpful to break it down into parts in order to get the big picture. Here is a closer look:
Who should have faith?
Believers; All of humanity
What is faith?
True faith is having confidence and belief in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and His plan for redemption of mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ.
When should one have faith?
One should have faith continually without wavering.
Where does faith abide?
Faith abides in the heart.
Why should one have faith?
Hebrews 11:6 specifically states, "But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. - AMP
Without it, we can't draw nearer to God and be made whole through Christ blood.
How is faith obtained?
Faith is obtained by hearing the Word of God (the message of Christ), according to Romans 10:17.
So as you can see from the analysis, we cannot live a truly productive and redeemed life without faith. Our faith can't be placed in those things that profit nothing, but must be rooted and grounded in Christ alone. Let us keep our hand in His and allow Him to lead the way to eternal peace!
Truth, what does that actually mean? To begin, the Webster's Dictionary
defines truth in the following ways: the body of real things, events, and facts: a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality, dependability, reliability.
Strong's Bible Dictionary simply defines truth as: in reality, in fact, certainly, verity or true.
With that being said, truth is a very important subject today. We must know and understand truth or we will believe the lies of the enemy. The Bible uses truth many times to describe God and Christ deity. The Bible also uses the word truth to explain how we as believers should worship and live our lives. Here are a few of those verses that use the same Greek definition for truth:
- God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)
- Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25)
- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
- that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:12)
When I look at the above scriptures, I have to point out the fact that truth is never compared to anything else. It is to be understood beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is only ONE TRUTH! The article "the" distinguishes that fact.
Why then is there Deception:
If God is Truth, the only Truth, and nothing but the Truth, then why do people believe a lie? The Bible answers this question. Scripture helps us understand that the root of deception is Satan. It states that Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44).
If God is truth, the Creator of truth, then truth has to have an opposite. Therefore, truth can't come from all the many different sources of which the world declares are truth. Truth must start and end with GOD! Everything else is deception!
If we walk with Christ, then we have to believe that He is who He says He is. We have to believe that the Word, the Bible is ALL truth. If there is any skepticism, then the enemy can cause us to walk in the spirit of deception.
I believe that deception comes when we begin to believe the lies of mankind rather than what God's Word states is Truth. If there is a God (and there is), then there can only be ONE. If God is who He says He is (And HE is), then TRUTH comes from Him and Him alone.
The enemy, Satan, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants us to believe that Sin is not the way God defined it. He wants us to believe that there are many ways to get to God. He wants us to believe that Hell does not exist, but Christ said these words, "
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it
more abundantly." (John 10:10). The life that Christ is referencing is not just the here and now but eternity.
So today, begin to pray and ask God to deliver you from the deception of man and turn to Christ, the Word of God and walk in HIS TRUTH because only HIS truth can make you free! And whom the Son sets free is truly free, indeed (John 8:36).
Truth, ONE Truth=God's Truth!
Today's world is full of many religious beliefs, but let us never cease to forget that there has always been ONLY ONE WAY!! Jesus Christ!! As an English, Language Arts teacher, I pay close attention to words when I am reading the Bible. When I read John 14:6, I focused on the fact that the article "the" is being used by Jesus himself. This is a Definite Article. Webster's dictionary defines definite in the following way: having distinct or certain limits: free of all ambiguity, uncertainty, or obscurity: unquestionable, decided.
This definition paints a powerful picture because it leaves NO ROOM for inquiry! Jesus uses strong connotative language here so that we might get the visual of who He is in our minds. He states without a doubt, "I am the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus uses "the" 3 times for emphasis.
Now read the scripture again by focusing on the definition that is included above. Isn't that powerful? God had a plan from the beginning to redeem us to Himself and He gave us free will to come to Him for ourselves. Now that is true love!!! This scripture is only a reminder of what we already know in our hearts! Jesus Christ is not just a man in the Bible and our history books. He is Lord and He is God!! He couldn't redeem us otherwise!!
So as our world around us continues to walk in deception and uncertainties. We as believers in Jesus Christ can stand firm on "the" Truth because there is only One. There is no other God!! Jesus (the Word) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He gave us access to the Father!! He and the Father are ONE (John 10:30)!!
Call upon Him and He will answer. Seek Him and you shall find Him as you search for Him with all of your heart (Jer. 29:13).
Copyright © 2016 by Denise Walker/Project H.O.P.E. Ministries, Inc.
Bible Verses from New King James Version were found on Bible Gateway.