Real Freedom

th-3

Emotions, necessary as they are, can change on a dime.  It’s kind of like the weather here in Texas.  They say if you don’t like it just wait five minutes and it will change.  They aren’t kidding either.  One day there is snow falling, I’m wearing a Parka to go into the Tundra, and the next day it’s sunny and 75 degrees outside and I’m tearing layers off and running the air conditioner. It’s completely Bi-Polar (pun intended). It’s just as remarkable to me that one day, like right after church, I can feel like I can conquer anything because Jesus is so near and the next day I’m laying face down in a ditch of self-pity.  It’s ridiculous! So today while reading James 1, I saw myself and realized what a hay day the devil has been having with me and I know better.  You see I wrote a blog called “Jesus is passing by” which really touches on this subject but today I would like to go deeper.  As they say on one of my favorite rides at Disneyland, “Hold on to your hats boys and girls, this is going to be one wild ride.”

Now I don’t want to scare you off because we really do live in a flesh suit that feels everything that is going on around us. And just as a reminder, Jesus is there lovingly to lift us up and brush us off and set us back on our feet again. I don’t mean to deny the pain that many are feeling.  Nor is this post about those who are going through grief and tremendous struggles.  However for the rest of us I do hope to help us see from a different perspective the reality of suffering according to the Word.

Let’s start with a little history.  James is the brother of Jesus.  Talk about someone knowing you really well.  This same brother didn’t believe in Jesus until after His death and resurrection.  He had to be brought pretty low and I’m sure he dealt with a lot of regret but because he really did know Him, he knew how He forgives and restores. Now James is the leader of the church at Jerusalem.  But instead of considering himself as anything he begins his greeting as James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  A bondservant, which means he is a slave by choice.  In my above mentioned blog I told about the feelings Jesus must have felt being rejected by His family and home town (because they “knew him”) and how this prepared Jesus to teach His disciples how to be accepted and how to be rejected.  You see in this life we will all have these two anchors and every thing that falls in between. Emotions, they can lift or cripple us.  But the one I want to concentrate on is Self-Pity.

James says right out of the shoot in V.2 to count it all joy when you fall into various trials.  Now I know that the Joy of the Lord is our strength according to Nehemiah 8:10, but what caught my eye was the word trials so I looked it up.  It means many things but all it’s nouns denote suffering.  That’s what hit me.  Suffering.  We suffer for many reasons and in many ways but then I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit say “but what is suffering according to My Word?”  Ouch.  I knew what it was.  According to most of Paul’s letters and Jesus himself we find that suffering means being persecuted for our faith.  To be persecuted for our faith is a whole lot different than me dealing with my feelings about any given situation.  Now again I don’t want to seem cold and indifferent but please hear me out because if you can get this it will lead to freedom in your life.  It’s a freedom that changes everything.  And believe me when I tell you I want you free.  I want to be free.  Jesus wants US free!

If suffering Biblically truly meant persecution then first we must do a complete about face in our thinking and in our attitudes about life and circumstance.  We think we are suffering on every side.  It’s a lie.  We are blessed everyday beyond measure. This is the first truth.  I know that there are exceptions to this rule here in America but hear me out.  If I am sick, I can go to a doctor.  I can go to an emergency room and they can’t turn me away. If I am hungry I can go to a food bank and receive food. Most of us don’t deal with real want.  There are countries where there is no medicine even if you could go to a Doctor. There is no food even if you wanted it. We are truly blessed.  Even if I was suffering from a disease unto death, Paul said “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 .  Death wasn’t a fear or suffering. Then that leads to the second truth. Suffering was persecution.  Hebrews 11 tells us what that is.  It says in V.36-37 “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented… I don’t know about you but I haven’t even come close to dealing with these things.  There are those in other countries right now who are and desperately need us to be praying for them however this is not the majority of us.

So I am forced then to look with eyes wide open at my own heart.  Self-pity has a way of creeping in.  When my niece was a little girl and she wasn’t happy she would hang herself over forward with arms practically dragging on the ground and head down too.  It was so funny to watch.  We called it “Sackloth and ashes”.  She was in the depths of despair to her but in reality she was just having a pity party.  I remember hearing someone say once “I’m going to go get a cupcake with a candle and throw myself a pity party” and she asked me if I wanted to come.  I laughed out loud as we both knew it was nothing more than that.  Self-pity. Unless I am being truly persecuted for my faith it is only then that I am suffering. So even if I am suffering persecution, James says in V.1-4 to count it all joy because suffering has benefits.  It produces patience and if we let patience work in us it will perfect and complete us to the point of lacking nothing. That’s a whole lot of something.

This whole understanding is a time shift.  It takes me from thinking in the temporal to the eternal.  It takes my mind off of what fades and passes away to that which will stand forever.  It removes my love of this world and places it in the world to come. This understanding removes self-pity.  Self-pity keeps me tethered to me and nothing else.  How can I be about my Father’s business if I can’t see past myself? Jesus was a servant of all who said of himself that the Son of man has no where to lay His head. Matthew 8:20. He wasn’t complaining with self-pity but simply stating a fact. He said He only does what He sees the Father doing and only says what the Father is saying. This is complete humility and servanthood.  I can only serve one master. It’s me or it’s Him. His life was literally a life of sacrifice and dying to self.  There is no room for self-pity. If I am feeling sorry for myself I can bet my flesh is as strong as ever and I’m still on the throne of my own heart.

And yet, if I can see my life as He saw His how free I would be. I would be living like Paul.  Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”. What can man do to me?

I have a daily challenge for you. To really think about every blessing that you have from a tooth brush to clean the teeth you have, to the clothes you get to put on, truly.  I know that’s funny but think about what you could not have.  The things you take for granted.  When you are hungry do you get to choose what to eat? When you need to get somewhere did you get to drive or ride in a vehicle?  Many don’t.  If we place our faith in Jesus He promises that He would meet our needs.  You may not have every want but you will have your needs met.

Again I want to emphasize how compassionate and loving our Lord is and that He is right there save us when we are overwhelmed and drowning. However I would submit that we do a self check.  Are we walking around in “Sackcloth and Ashes” in the pit of self-pity of our own making or is the enemy lying to you which robs you of your joy and instead you really are blessed. Ask Him what His thoughts are and try to turn your thoughts to the things that aren’t passing but eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17 says For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So let the Joy of the Lord be your strength.  If you don’t know what to do James 1:5 says If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. All is not lost. Jesus said in John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You will make it. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

So count it all joy my brethren when you fall into various trials.  We can do this! Let’s choose freedom today and get busy doing our Father’s business.

By Jaime Luce

 

Who Am I?

 

By Jaime Luce

I am a Princess. Yep, you read it right.  Does that sound arrogant? Hang on and cut me some slack. I’m not looking for special treatment or have an attitude.  I used to not like it when I heard other people say it.  But now after some study and thought maybe I should as well you should too. Here is a term you might be more comfortable with. I’m a Sister. Both of these terms would be correct and actually carry the exact same weight and value to God for us His children.  Why do we call each other Brother’s and Sister’s in Christendom?  I know it isn’t used as much today in most church circles but after my devotional time today I saw its beauty and it’s weight.

I was reading in Hebrews 1.  Paul is explaining how Jesus is higher than the angels, His position and theirs. The revelation began to flood in when I read V.13 which says “But to which of the angels has He ever said: “”Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?” You see Father God is telling Jesus to take His place at the throne.  Then while there Father God will make all His enemies a mere footstool for Him to rest His feet.  Don’t you love that picture?  Jesus, with scepter in hand, is just RESTING His feet on all those who were enemies.  It’s actually kind of funny and sad.  You see if the enemies of God are mere resting places for His feet no less, then why are we so terrified?  Hey I’m not just preaching to you.  I’m talking to me too!  Let’s break down why we should not fear and trust our all-powerful God.

I am going through our church’s first of the year devotional.  Today it told a story of how a father was not aware of the fact that his 18 month old daughter had toddled right into the swimming pool, but her sister did and dove right in after her.  The only problem was the sister was only three years old and couldn’t swim either which didn’t seem to bother her a bit.  So with the three-year old holding onto the coat of the 18 month old she stretched her arm up to her daddy from under the water confident that he would pull them out.  After being pulled out the three-year old was completely unruffled with no fear.  She had absolute confidence in her daddy.  He could do anything and would do anything whenever she needed it. Isn’t it amazing how we know that our Heavenly Father is Master over all and yet we don’t exercise this same confidence.  He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. Eph. 3:20  When did we go from understanding real trust in our Father to relying on ourselves and what we know.  It is crazy to think I can control anything more than my attitude. However my Father can and will.  Abba Father is willing and able to deliver us, lead us and strengthen us everyday.  In fact He wants to.  He’s just waiting on us.

I think many times we don’t grasp the love He has for us. What more could He have done? He died for us, was resurrected and sent His Spirit so that we could all have access to Him anywhere and at anytime.  He wants to be with us always.  Just as He wanted to walk and talk everyday with Adam and Eve.  That was His plan and design from the beginning. His love toward us is always for us. There is nothing that I can give Him that He doesn’t have, except me. So everything He has done was to make sure I could easily get to Him completely forgiven and free to be His. His love is completely giving and selfless. Jesus sacrificed everything laying down His life for this purpose.

Most people don’t have a hard time understanding and believing that we are Gods children. Even those who don’t really practice Christianity will say we are all Gods children. But greater still is that so is Jesus. Matthew 3:17 says …This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  There are many more scriptures that reiterate this fact but you get the picture. So if Jesus is His Son and we are Gods children then we are in essence the brothers and sisters of Jesus.  This can be easier to swallow than what I will say next.

Stay with me here because I’m building towards something.  So we know through the death and resurrection of Jesus that He is now at the right hand of the Father sitting on the throne according to Heb. 1:3.  Romans 8:17 says “And since we are his children, we are His heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory….”. Well if we are heirs then there is something to inherit. We inherit His Glory.  What is His glory? It is all His majesty and anything that pertains to His greatness.  What is His greatness?  Think about it? He is more than our Father. He’s a King! He has a realm, a kingdom and He has a will for that kingdom.  A will! Get it?  We are heirs to His will. We have a will and testament to tell us everything that is given to us. And in case you missed it that also means that you are not just children but you hold a position in the kingdom.  You are Princes and Princesses to the throne.  Every resource that is the Kings is yours for the asking. And we know that “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7

Now before we get ahead of ourselves we need to remember that many times a will has gifts and sometimes those gifts come with instructions. So it behooves us to ask Him what those are. We know from the verse reference above that we must abide in His words.  His will and testament.  Read it over and over.  Let it settle in you so that you know what it says to you about what is yours and what resources you have available to you and what gifts have been bestowed on you.  You see in a Kingdom the King has the ultimate authority.  Scripture tell us in Matthew 28:18 that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. We must lay hold of this truth and promise.

Life will throw at us every kind of trouble and we will be tested on every side.  But if we know who we are and who’s we are we will remain confident in our Father who happens to be the King to reach down and save us.  The key is to trust and know without fear that He is right there ready to take our hand and pull us to safety and without harm.  You may be in the fiery furnace today but He is the fourth man in the fire with you and He will remove your bondages and bring you to safety and freedom.  Or you may be drowning in circumstance, emotion or worse. I can promise you, based on His will, that He is there to save you.  He loves you with an unselfish love and wants you to trust that His will for you is the abundant life. He is a good father who is worthy of your trust. Then your faith in Him during your trials will be the testimony to those around you fulfilling the very purpose you were called to.  You don’t have to sweat the details.  His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Psalm 119:105  If you are following the Will, He will make sure you are in the right place at the right time. You are a son or daughter of the Most High, a Prince or Princess to the King.

Be blessed this New Year.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1