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Hang Loose - A Devotion

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Galatians 5:1 (NLT)
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Hang loose or “shocka” is commonly used as a hand gesture in the Hawaiian Islands. It is a nonverbal expression or greeting that is associated with the “aloha spirit” of Hawaii. The “aloha spirit” is that of affection, peace, compassion and mercy. Sounds a lot like another Spirit that I know and love – the Holy Spirit. Many years ago, my husband and I were given the opportunity to travel to Kauai for a week compliments of his company for a “meeting”. I have never been to a more beautiful or peaceful place. Everything is much slower there than in the states. There is not the hustle and bustle or rushing around as in other cities across our great nation. Peace permeates each town, business, and community that cannot be recreated but definitely comes from within. Like taking a deep breath and allowing it to flow through your body from head to toe slowly and deeply, we came back totally refreshed and awestruck at how different life is around here. The expression “hang loose or shocka” means to relax that everything is going to be alright. This is most definitely where the people of Hawaii find their sense of peace within their community. Peace is maintained in the midst of affection, compassion and mercy defined as love. Jesus Christ has great affection for you. He has demonstrated His Great Mercy and Compassion for all of humanity. The Peace that passes all understanding comes from the Lord as a gift to His People. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

When I wake up in the morning as soon as consciousness is restored, many thoughts come rushing forward to overtake my mind. Every worry from the day before presents itself for further consideration. The many tasks of the coming day seek precedence. The decisions to be made in the future along with mounting pressure are pushing to advance in priority. Suddenly before my feet hit the floor, I am tangled up in worries and fears that should have no power in my life. I am no longer free to seek the Lord early in the morning as rebellious thoughts rip me from my slumber and push me into action before I have a moment to respond. This morning was no different. The house all sound asleep. The quiet snores of my sleeping husband overshadowed by the not-so-quiet grunts of the impatient dog waiting under my bed to be fed coupled with raindrops falling on the roof just before dawn greet me as I wake. I thought I was quiet as I turned in my bed not to disturb all those sleeping thoughts and dozing responsibilities, but the moment I became conscious they were there. Stumbling through the darkness to at least quiet the dog, I hear a still, small voice telling me to “hang loose”. But God how? In the midst of the overwhelming, how do I keep from drowning in my doubts and fears? I know you are God. I also know that you are the God who loves me. This “faith” thing is not easy. The deeper in Your Love I go the more overwhelming that I find it yet still I struggle to let go of every fear, worry and doubt that I have. You know that I am only human all too well. Jesus Christ has set me free. It is up to me to maintain my freedom. Lord, teach me to hang loose and maintain my freedom today.

John 8:34-36 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. The concept of freedom is elusive to most Christians. We do not understand or accept the concept of unconditional or unearned love, mercy, or grace. Therefore, we do not trust us which limits our faith and ability to live in the freedom that we have been given. It is a vicious cycle. Everyone is born a sinner. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ frees us from slavery to sin to live a sanctified life. Sanctification is consecration to God. When we repent of our sin and put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are made holy. At that point, we are made pure and free from sin which also makes our lives conducive of spiritual blessing. It is up to us to maintain our freedom to sin and live a holy life. This is solely based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. As a member of His Family, we are free to live in the benefits associated with God as His Sons and Daughters. (Period) But then there is that little thing called religion. This is the point made in Galatians 5:1, we must not go from one extreme to the other. We are no longer slaves to sin OR the Law of God. The Law of God was our guardian until Jesus Christ came to set us free. “Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” (Galatians 3:23-25) The Law was a way of life that when we failed offered an offering or sacrifice to cover our offense against God temporarily. It gave people an out. When Jesus Christ came and offered His Life as a sacrifice, we are now covered every single time that we fall or fail by His Grace. Religion has made a mockery of the Grace of God. Church has become big business to some. Doctrines and mandates that are not Biblical but interpreted as such to cause people to be dependent on religion rather than deepening their relationship to Jesus Christ has caused many to fall back into the bondage of religiosity. Righteousness is unattainable by any other means other than Jesus Christ. Create a tight bond and lasting relationship with the Son of God and righteousness will be the platform of your life. Do not let sin or the law keep you from serving God but be led by His Spirit. We must learn to live confidently in our freedom by faith in God that does not need any other master in our life.

Romans 6:14-16 (NLT)
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

Freedom is an exemption from external control. Ohh, that’s pretty good stuff right there. It means to no longer allow the physical factors in our life to control what we do or who we think. It is the power to determine action without restraint which is another good point. To walk in true freedom means that we can act on what we know about God rather than being reliant on the things of this world. I have personal liberty to live what I believe thanks to Jesus Christ. How I use this freedom is completely up to me? Will I use it to worry and stress over every detail of my life in the natural or decide to have faith and peace that God is working out every detail of my life for good! (Romans 8:28) Will I fear what the future holds or walk boldly with confident hope that my God is faithful and completely able to manage the details of my life? (Romans 4:21) I struggle between two masters. Maybe you do too? Freedom from fear, worry and doubt is God’s Purpose for my life. To live in freedom fulfills His Purpose. (Isaiah 44:21-22) It is a process. It does not happen overnight. We must guard our heart as the enemy attempts to retrieve it each day. “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.” (Galatians 4:4-8) God has a good plan for my life with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He provides everything that I need to fulfill this plan. (Philippians 4:19) He perfects ALL that concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) My only responsibility is to maintain my freedom and live by faith. It is the only way to have all that God has promised in my life. I cannot earn it, make it or find it without Him. Worry does not make it happen. Fear does not keep me in position. Doubt is clearly an insufficiency in faith that must be dealt with. And sin…it has no place in my life not because I am subject to the law but because I am head over heels in love with Jesus! Whatever I obey is my master! If I choose stress over peace, than my master is not my Lord. When I choose fear over faith, than Jesus is no longer my source. I am obeying something else and moving from the Light of His Love back into slavery to sin. If I focus more on my relationship with Jesus and less on the many details of my life, He will guide me to the place of peace found only in His Presence leaving every worry and care behind.

Romans 8:1-4 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

Approaching our Daniel Fast this year, I have decided to let go of worry and fear to grab hold of more faith. Maybe you are thinking, what kind of fast is that? A necessary one my friend! I have fasted many times over many years now. My bondage to food has been broken as I tend to eat more like Daniel on a day-to-day basis than I do junk food, etc. I do not miss breads, meats or sweets as I prefer “bird food” as my children lovingly call it. I have worked hard to consecrate a little more of my time to the Lord each year getting up in the wee hours of morning to ensure time with Him. I believe a fasted lifestyle wrapped in heavy prayer and conversation with the Lord is important. So over the holiday break, I began to look at the details of my life for strongholds and boy did I find it. I have set a rigid set of rules over my life that have moved me out of freedom to a place of control that is not Christ-like. A fasted life is not a budgeted life. Just as to go on a spiritual fast is not a diet. I mandated rigid controls on my life in fear that if I moved out of God’s Presence or did something causing me to step out of line that it would cause a horrible fallout in my life. For example, if I did not stay “close enough” to God then my son would not be healed. If I did not budget our finances religiously that we would go broke due to disobedience and a lack of responsibility. If I stopped pushing or pressing myself to the limit that the Lord would somehow think that I am not committed to fulfill my purpose and plan rather than relying on God’s Timing. You can be a “good” Christian and “faith-full” believer and still fall into bondage to worry and doubt fearing that if you are not “good” enough, “faith full” enough, or “right standing” close enough that you will be punished or at the very least miss God’s Very Best for your life. That is the biggest lie the devil ever told because my sweet and precious friend, I will tell you like Jesus is telling me, “I am not condemning you!” His Grace, Affection, Compassion and Mercy should leave you with peace never fear, worry or doubt! To condemn means to express strong disapproval. How can this be so when He sits next to His Father, God, each day interceding for us? (Hebrews 7:25) It is to pronounce judgment. There is no double jeopardy for those who believe. His Mercy is new and fresh every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) Condemnation is a demonstration of guilt. But Jesus Christ has freed my sin and shame – there is no guilt because I am no longer condemned. My sins have been paid for in full. How can this be when He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west? (Psalm 103:12) By condemning people, they are forced into an activity. For example, a man condemned by a judge and jury will most likely be penalized by the law required to repay restitution, supervised probation or a stint in prison. Those who have been set free cannot be condemned to any activity including obedience. Obedience to the Lord is our choice in response to His Love. We do what the law says because we love Jesus not because we fear what will happen if we don’t which is bondage or forced activity. You are free to give your whole entire life to Jesus Christ if you choose to do so and experience His Peace in every aspect of your existence. But you are free to choose whether or not you will do so!

Psalm 118:5-6 (NLT)
In my distress I prayed to the LORD and the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?

Freedom comes when you come to know and understand that you are no longer responsible for your life. Jesus Christ assumed full responsibility and gave you freedom to live in joy, peace and prosperity forevermore. If you do not have peace, than you have not fully accepted the gift of freedom that you have been given but it is not too late. I think it is interesting in Psalm 118 that after the psalmist declares freedom from distress as the Lord answers him claiming to be released from fear, it goes on to say “what can mere people do to me?” People can be your problem even if they are not problem people. I feel tremendous responsibility to make a “perfect” life for my husband and children to the point of obsession. I have recently discovered that I am powerless to do so as I have watched my son endure and overcome cancer treatments four times now. If not for the Presence, Power and Peace of God at work in and through this ordeal – I would have never made it. In my weakness, I have learned to depend on Him and take just a little pressure off myself. But I have a long way to go to fully depend on Jesus Christ, but I am determined to do so until all the people in my life are turned over to the Hands of Jesus Christ as I learn to faithfully trust Him with all that is mine. Freedom is found in the Word of God so I will spend time looking for it. (Psalm 114:45) Freedom is exercised in the Spirit of God living inside of me so I will cultivate that. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) It is time for me to loosen up the controls I have placed on my life to exercise the freedom that Christ has given me. It is time to hang loose!

Galatians 5:7-9 (NLT)
You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

The enemy will use every lie in the book and make up new ones to steal your freedom. He cannot have your soul but if he can at least make you miserable in your journey to salvation and redemption he will. By doing so, He will steal the fruit the Spirit is trying to harvest in your life. Don’t beat yourself up! The devil is good at what he does. He is great at deception. You just have to be smarter than he is. The only thing that kills a lie is the Truth. Know God’s Word. It is how Jesus dealt with the enemy when he approached the Lord in the wilderness. He just kept flinging scripture after scripture until he left. You can do the same thing, but not if you do not know the Word. The Spirit of God produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Become familiar with the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Nurture and feed Him with the Word, prayer and yes, even fasting as you move deeper into the Presence of God. Invite God’s Spirit to go wherever you go – home, work, and most importantly church! There is no condemnation in Christ or His Spirit just a conviction to promote every promise and purpose to fulfillment. Learn the difference. Hang loose, relax because everything is going according to plan in your life and it’s all going to be okay! “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:6-8)

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

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