Titus 2:11-14 (Message)
God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
When I was about ten years old, I encountered my first “bully”. Each day after school while waiting for the bus to come carry me home, he would hang around the bus stop on his bicycle and try to talk to me. Disinterested, I tried repeatedly to ignore the young man. He was quite insistent for my attention so rather than meeting me at the bus ramp, he began to show up in the hallway or corridor. I assume this would be considered a form of stalking which at first I thought a bit humorous but over time became quite annoying. He was not menacing in his behavior just there all the time. One day, I was surprised when he did not show up as usual. I was hopeful that maybe someone else had caught his eye and I was now free of this unwanted attention. My joy cut short getting off the school bus. There he was now a little too close to home. I did not want him in my neighborhood. It was then that he made his intentions known, all he wanted was a kiss. Ewww! I was mortified so I ran all the way home. Breathlessly, I ran in the door slamming it shut and locking it behind me. My mother was alarmed and came running to find out what was wrong so I shared my dilemma. She laughed. I was livid. She then gave me her advice. The next time he chased me, she told me to turn around and pucker up. The woman had lost her mind. But now looking back, maybe she was right. What would have happened if rather than running, I had stood my ground with that silly suitor? I wonder how many times that we do the very same thing in life. We run as if chased by homicidal maniacs when all along we have the power inside of us to take a stand against the enemy. He is really just as helpless as the “bully” who I encountered. He is powerless to stand against the God who lives inside of me, if we could just get our own fear and anxiety under control. We have everything we need to walk in the freedom that God has given us through Jesus Christ. But instead, we let the devil chase us all over the place lacking confident hope born of the faith found in the Lord.
James 4:7-10 (Message)
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
I did not know this young man’s intentions in the beginning and as a child, I was not comfortable with what he intended when they were discovered. But in my immaturity, I also did not understand that I could have taken a stand and he probably would have left me alone. See he was smitten with me, he wanted something that I had. He meant no ill will towards me but simply was hopeful to take something that I was unwilling to give. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. He cannot get to those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus who possess the Spirit of God inside of them. He can only take what we allow Him to have. This should empower most people if we did not go any further in this conversation. God wants to work His Will, Way and Word in you and through you not to commandeer your life but rather you to stand against your enemy and the temptation to shrink back in to the darkness because you are afraid of the Light of His Amazing Love exposing the fraud you really are as a Christian. No one is righteous no not one but rather than allowing the Lord to prosper our soul, we are focused on maintaining our appearance. We keep running back to the Presence of God crying and whining about what the devil did today or yesterday. But we are filled with His Power and no weapon formed against us will prosper so why aren’t we standing?
The first thing we must do is become of one mind and settle the conflict for our will and emotions. Who is God? Do I believe that Jesus is the Son of God? There is a song called “We Believe” by the Newsboys with the chorus, “We believe in God the Father, we believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in the Holy Spirit, and He's given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion, we believe that He conquered death, we believe in the resurrection, and He's comin' back again, we believe.” I think that if more “believers” knew what they really believed that it would change the condition of their life today. More Christians would walk in the newness of life and freedom promised by Jesus Christ releasing the fear and anxiety that consistently holds them back. But you must know what you believe to live what you believe.
Colossians 2:2-4 (Message)
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”
Those who know the Truth will never believe a lie again. Knowledge is based on information and experience. Wisdom comes when we take what we know to be true and use it in our life. The problem is that nobody has taken the time to get “in touch with everything there is to know of God.” Forget being woven together in love, we are barely acquainted with our Father who just so happens to be the Creator of the Universe. Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are engaged to Him but fail to use His Power and Authority to get through life. We have all of God’s Favor but ignorantly use none it choosing struggles over success.
Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus Christ has not only offered us a brand new life that is “free” but He also tells us that if we walk with Him and learned unforced rhythms of grace that we will live lightly without burdens, worries or cares. How can the Lord say this? Well, I do believe that in this very passage that He offers to accept full responsibility for our life. At this very moment, His Grace allows for our imperfections allowing us to still walk in His Presence surrounded by His Love and Faithfulness keeping the enemy out but allowing everyone else in. What the enemy tries to call restriction the Lord is offering as freedom – freedom from stress, pressure and overload to walk in the Love of God as Jesus Christ works out all the details and the Spirit works in us. Not only that as we get to know the Lord intimately so we become fully confident in His Identity placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we have free access to His Kingdom. It becomes our strong tower. It is our refuge. Jesus is our strength so we do not have to be the strong one just remain fixed on Him. (Matthew 16:18-19) This makes the impossible totally possible according to the Will and Way of God when we allow His Word to work its way in us and through our life. (John 8:30-32) The Truth sets us free. See it’s the lie that gets us every time, but when Jesus said, “It is finished!” He meant it. Death cannot prevail. The grave has no hold. We will rise again with Jesus Christ to live forever with Him.
Romans 6:12-14 (Message)
That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
The very moment that Jesus Christ became your Savior and Lord, you stepped into the Freedom of God. The problem is that we exchange the lie for the Law too many times. Rather than remaining enslaved to sin, we try to become enslaved to the Law and change our lives to follow Jesus Christ. It is just another sellout and not an escape at all. Nowhere have I read that to come to Jesus Christ requires changing our lifestyle but rather that it is a change of heart. You can change your habits but unless your heart is changed, renewed and restored – you will not stick with it. Sin will win as long as it is given a vote in your life. You must take away its power which is the attention given to it. It cannot take root and grow in our mind unless fed time to do so. It cannot be given sustenance unless we choose to entertain. But if you disregard sin as beneficial or desirable by feeding your Spirit – you will never overcome its powerful persuasion on your life. I do not eat a lot of junk food anymore. For a long time, I still kept quite a bit of it on hand for my kids just because they are a skinny, scrawny bunch. However, as I adopted a healthier lifestyle not based on a fad diet but good nutrition and exercise, I realized how much junk they were eating so I slowly have been changing their choices by offering them better ones. But they are not going to pick the “good” food when given the option of “junk” food. They like the sweets and snacks over fruits and granola. Who doesn’t? But I am slowly retraining them to eat healthier. My change of lifestyle did not happen overnight but as I gained knowledge of such things, it became wisdom as I applied it to my life. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect. He just expects you to have a change of heart. Other things in your life will change as this change takes place. You won’t have to try but God’s Spirit works in us to change us into who we were created to be leading us from blessing to blessing in this life and forevermore.
Sin can no longer have a vote in your life. We must remove it from the options on our playlist. It must be replaced with better choices that come from getting to know the Lord personally and intimately. It will not become a reality in our life until we get to know the Truth and desire it more than the enemy’s lies.
Psalm 119:41-18 (Message)
Let your love, GOD, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; and I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!— relishing every fragment of your counsel.
God’s Wisdom is free! (Proverbs 2:6-8) Maybe that’s why we take it for granted too many times and ignore God’s Word. God’s Word keeps us from gorging ourselves on sinful things because it satisfies our soul. We have what we need and want so we are not constantly looking for something more or better. (2 Timothy 4:3-5) The faith that God has given us promotes cultivation in our life. The Eternity in our heart calls for something more than this life has to offer. His Word is the fertile planting ground needed to supernaturally prosper in this life and forevermore. Add His Spirit to the mix and you are about to be successful in everything you do just like the Word of God promises. The only thing holding you back from freely and overwhelmingly receiving all that God has for you is fear that His Word is not true, anxiety that what He promises will not happen, and worry that if you don’t do everything just right that you will miss Him altogether. Lies…all lies… get to know the Word of God and His Truth WILL set you free! Free to live in the Love, Joy and Peace of God. Free to prosper in every area of life.
Psalm 37:37-40 (Message)
Keep your eye on the healthy soul, scrutinize the straight life; there’s a future in strenuous wholeness. But the willful will soon be discarded; insolent souls are on a dead-end street. The spacious, free life is from GOD, it’s also protected and safe. GOD-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—when we run to him, he saves us.
KISS is a common acronym for “keep it simple, stupid”. I can’t you use that here now can I so we are going to change it to “keep it super simple!” If we use our salvation to focus on a “healthy soul”, living a “straight life”, working toward “strenuous wholeness” then we will live the “free life” that God has promised. We don’t have to run from the enemy. In fact, the Word of God says that if we just shout “no” at the enemy and allow the Lord to finish the work that He has begun in us (James 4:7-10) – we will live long and satisfying lives. It really is that simple. I have nothing to fear because God didn’t give me a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) So don’t hold on to it for crying out loud. You have the Mind of Christ and are filled with all of God’s Power and Love so use it. You don’t have to earn your freedom just learn to walk it. It is the free gift from Jesus Christ. He died for us to have it so why not use it to access God’s Kingdom and His Favor every single day of this life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Christ set us free. It is up to us to maintain our freedom. (Galatians 5:1)
Galatians 4:4-7 (Message)
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
A couple years back my middle daughter encountered her first bully who wore the face of a friend. She was devastated. When her older sister heard of her dilemma, she was furious and ready to go beat the other little girl up. It is funny how siblings relentlessly brutalize each other but someone else mess with one of them – they turn into staunch defenders. I was upset too but knew that time would settle this one and intervention would only make it worse. “Frenemies” is the latest fad for young people it seems. They turn on and off friendship like one does a light switch. I hate it but it’s so true. So rather than start a world war or get my adult daughter arrested, I simply separated the two girls for a while about a year to be exact. No contact outside of school. The mother got mad at me. The girls were mad at me all except my oldest who was still more than willing to go beat her up. I’m kidding, okay. The world and the people in it are not our enemies, but they can be distractions. Until we allow the person of Jesus Christ manifested in His Spirit take over our mind, will and emotions as He begins to work our salvation in us, there are people who we can no longer associate with until the transformation is complete. Temptation is born of human desire so the enemy has no position in this fight other than stand by and watch for an opening to jump in and take over. But you are not going to give it to Him, but rather work at becoming a full Child of God and living in His Favor. This is your primary interest now so whoever or whatever is chasing you down or trying to overpower you is not your concern anymore as you focus fully on Jesus Christ and giving Him full access to your life. Chasing Jesus Christ is really your new found passion and totally accessible thanks to Jesus! Those who seek the Presence of God above all else will experience the Favor that comes to us as Sons and Daughters of God. What are you waiting for? Chase after God and He will be right there with you!
Psalm 34:4 (Message) GOD met me more than halfway, He freed me from my anxious fears.
Galatians 5:13-14 (Message)
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.