Free Will Sacrifices

Choosing God's Best Over the Mediocre

God has given us the ability to make lots of choices.

  • You have the freedom to watch a certain program… Is that a good use of your time?
  • You have the liberty to surf the Internet all day… Is there a better use of your talents?
  • You have the freedom to eat that donut… Is this best for your body the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Just because someone else can do it doesn’t mean we can or should.

Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.    ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23 MSG

We must check our choices:

  • Is this choice leading to something good in your life?
  • Is this choice leading to something good in someone else’s life?

It isn’t about whether something is right or wrong. It’s about getting God’s blessing.

It’s about getting the best life He has available for us. God is a gentleman He won’t force us to choose something good. It’s up to us. It’s OUR choice!

We must decide what we want Good, Better or Best?

Do we want to live a mediocre life, just barely getting by until Jesus takes us to heaven?

Or do we want to sacrifice our free will on the altar of our transformation and allow God to change us and improve us through the best choices He wants for us?

Is the altar of sacrifice calling you? Let’s ask God to bind us to His altar so we will never be tempted to turn away from a life fully dedicated to Him.

 

Life Without Parole!

This last Sunday morning, Bill and I were privileged to worship with some dear friends at Christ Church in Plano, TX; an Anglican church, it was a sweet reminder of my childhood, growing up in the Episcopal Church.

Worship was beautiful with the huge pipe organ and the choir’s soprano voices resounding through the sunlit sanctuary. Because this week is the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I wept through most of the service missing my momma and daddy.

Father David Roseberry’s sermon titled, Living Without Parole struck a deep cord with me. Having spent some time in jail; more importantly having lived a great portion of my life imprisoned by addictions, this message was very close to my heart.

The Scripture text Fr. David chose was:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

Stating that this verse is the backbone of the entire Bible, the purpose of all Scripture and the reason God came to earth as Christ, Fr. David asks… 

Do you have a now moment in your life?

A moment when your past is put behind you? 

A time when your BC (Before Christ) became AD (Anno Domini- The Year of The Lord)? 

I quickly jotted in my notes: Yes! December 26, 2004!

Father David went on to remind us that after we’ve had that now moment, God isn’t watching and waiting like a parole officer for us to make a mistake so He can punish us or lock us up for good.

Because He loved us so much God Himself allowed Christ, the Father’s only son, to die, to pay our debt, to take all our punishment; so that we can live our life without having to be on parole.

We haven’t been released based on a condition of our own behavior or merit. There’s no fear of being returned to our prisons, whatever they may be.

Praise God! We’ve been set free!

But are we walking in the full freedom that has been given to us?

The most important statement I heard in Sunday’s message: To the extent that you continue to carry burdens from your past, it is to that same extent that you are not free in Christ.

Take another look at the photo I chose for today’s column.
What do you see? 
Is the woman behind the prison bars or in front of them?

Do you know there are people behind bars who are more free than some of us who are allowed to walk on the street today? 

Where are you standing? 

Did you put yourself back in the prison God has set you free from?

Are you looking at the outside world through prison bars you’ve created for yourself?

Do you, like me, tend to pick up an old set of baggage and start dragging it along with you?

Let’s give up our burdens.

Let’s walk together in the freedom Christ has provided for us!

So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free. -John 8:36 AMP

Passover: A Memorial to Freedom

As Christians many of us don’t know exactly what to do with the Passover holiday.

Isn’t it only a Jewish tradition?

I’d like to take a look at this important holiday and maybe give you a fresh way to look at it in your life today.

You may recall the 1956 classic movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston playing Moses. Although Cecil B DeMille took artist license with some of the story, most of it is taken directly from Old Testament accounts of the Israelite’s deliverance from 400 years of slavery.

No doubt it will be shown this week on cable. If you haven’t seen it or it’s been a while since you have, I encourage you to watch it with you family this week. The visuals from this movie help me to have a clearer perspective on the reality of the Passover and its importance.

In this story, God has heard the cry of the Israelite people who have been bound by slavery to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. A series of events leads Moses, who has grown up as a Prince in Egypt, out into the wilderness.

God comes to Moses in a burning bush and asks him to go rescue the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. After some initial doubt, Moses agrees. He goes before Pharaoh multiple times asking for the Israelite’s freedom to leave so they can worship God. Pharaoh denies them their freedom.

With each of Pharaoh’s denials God brings upon Egypt 10 plagues:

1. All the water in Egypt turned to blood

2. Frogs covered the land

3. All of Egypt was swarmed with gnats

4. Then a swarm of flies

5. All the livestock dies

6. All the people broke out in boils

7. A hail storm killed all the plants and animals

8. Locust covered Egypt and ate what was left after the hail

9. Three days of such darkness that no one could move

10. Death of all first born including people and animals

During the first 9 plagues God protected the Israelite people. But for the final plague-Death of the Firstborn– the Israelite people had to take an action to protect themselves.

Before the Death Angel came, God commanded the Israelites to put blood from an unblemished, first born lamb, over the door posts of each home; this would protect them from death.

Inside their homes, the Israelites ate a meal of roast lamb, bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. They ate bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery. Unleavened bread; because the dough didn’t have to rise.

The meal was to be eaten while dressed for travel as a sign of their faith that God would deliver them. Although they were not yet free, they were to be prepared, for God had said he would lead them out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The Israelites were ready to leave at any time.

I’m sure you know the rest of the story, the Death Angel comes; the Pharaoh’s son dies then in his grief finally agrees to let the Israelites leave.

So what can we take from this story and apply to our modern lives today?

What lesson is here for us?

For us who are recovering addicts…?

For us who have overcome a particular challenge in our lives?

For us who have been freed from our own bondage?

Since Jesus was Jewish, he celebrated all the Jewish traditions. As followers of Jesus doesn’t it make since that we would celebrate those same traditions as well.

I suggest we take the Passover holiday and use it as an opportunity to celebrate the freedom that God has given us. Maybe have a Passover dinner with lamb, unleavened bread and some bitter herbs. I don’t mean in a legalistic way but simply to honor what God has done in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but the Death Angel has passed me by several times!

Praise God!

I am free today from the bondage of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, from sexual and relationship addiction, from the grips of pornography, fantasy and disease.

Father God, thank you for sending Jesus Christ; The Perfect Lamb, and covered me with The Blood that saved me from the ultimate Death.

Let’s use Passover as a memorial to the freedom God has given us.

QUESTION:

What bondage has God freed you from?

What can you do to remember the freedom God has given you?

Maybe you aren’t yet free of your bondage?

What can you do as a sign of your faith that God will bring you out as He has promised?

Don’t Take No When God Says, “YES!”

Last week I had an opportunity to travel with my husband to meet our new company’s board members and investors. During our stay in Dallas I caught up with my small group from Gateway Church, reconnected with my friends Susie, Cindy and Mary, and met new friends Tonya, Monette and Diane. God always shows up in this group and this day was no exception. Cindy shared what God continues to speak to her: “We must not take no when God says, Yes!” She has shared these words with us on more than one occasion, but this time it came to me with a fresh meaning.

Let’s do a little grammar and look at the tense of the word. It isn’t said, in the past tense, but in the present tense, says. Meaning, the promises in the Bible were not just for the people in Old and New Testament times. The Power of God’s “Yes” is for us today!

God says, “Yes!” to so many things that I think we sometimes take it for granted. Maybe we don’t even realize what He says, “Yes!” about to begin with. He says, “Yes!” to marriage and family restoration; emotional, mental and physical healing; financial breakthroughs; deliverance from low self-esteem and freedom from addictions.

Our problem is that we choose instead to believe the voice in our head that continues to repeat messages from the enemy; messages of doubt and unbelief, confusion and uncertainty, discouragement and defeat.

QUESTION: What are you saying no to today? Physical healing, your marriage, addiction recovery…

CHALLENGE: This Christmas say “Yes!” to God’s love; love that was brought to a hurting and lost world in the form of a baby boy that Holy Night 2000 years ago. No matter what may be troubling you, there’s no hurt, no problem too big for God to overcome. Don’t wait another minute, say no to the enemy today! Open your mouth and tell him God say’s, “Yes!” Yes to your body being healthy and whole. Tell the enemy God say’s, “Yes!” to your marriage being fully restored in Christ. Tell the enemy God say’s “Yes!” to your freedom from all addictions! Don’t take the enemy’s no; God has given you The Power of His Yes! Believe it and receive it today!

Finding True Freedom

What does it mean to be free? Where is freedom? Can we find it? How do we find it? Who is a free person? What do they look like? How does a free person live their life? I want to take a look at this word Freedom and talk about what it really means to be free.

Freedom can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether it’s freedom from political persecution, freedom from physical restraint, immunity and civil liberty or simply the power to exercise choice and decision without constraint; freedom is a powerful state of being which we all crave and for that matter deserve.

I’ve lived the life of a people-pleaser for most of my 51 years; to the point that I was living my life for everyone else. I was a social chameleon trying to be all things to all people. I sacrificed a college education to be a stay at home mom, committed to home school my three children rather than subject them to the failing public school system. In early adulthood my husband and I were in a denominational church that put a lot of emphasis on service. My husband and I taught 4th grade Sunday School for years, I taught preschool choir and sang in the adult choir, not to mention caring for aging family members. I worked hard to be the ideal wife, mother and citizen. All while my husband was climbing the corporate ladder of success; working 60+ hours a week with a 3 hour round trip commute to our suburban home. We were practicing Christians living a “Christian” lifestyle, but were we free? Was I free? Looking back, I would say no. I was in deep bondage to what I thought others expected of me and of the expectations I had on myself. They weren’t real expectations, but they felt real to me and I lived my life accordingly. Where does a person go from here to find true freedom?

Not long after this, my life took a dark turn that led to a lifestyle filled with sin and addictions. The “selfless” people-pleasing life I had been living built up so much resentment that I exploded into a monster no one who knew me would have ever dreamed I could become. I was lost in my own pain with no where to turn. Searching… but what was I searching for? Freedom. Freedom for me began to mean I could do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how it effected the people around me. The freedom to be myself on my terms. The freedom to be who I wanted to be no matter what anyone said or thought. It was all about my freedom. A very narcissistic mindset, but one in which many of us live today. In reality, my “freedom” brought with it a bondage that ultimately destroyed my life, my reputation, my family and my marriage. Where was this true freedom I so desperately desired? I ended up having to spend time in jail to find true freedom. Ironically, there are people behind bars today that have more true freedom because of a relationship with Jesus Christ than many people walking the streets in the darkness of their own personal bondage.

Jesus Christ says, ” You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I assure you everyone who sins is a slave of sin…if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” – John 8:32,36 NLT

The note in The Life Recovery Bible to this verse states:

To be “set free” is to know the truth– the truth about ourself and about Jesus our liberator. The truth is this: We are a slave to sin and powerless to manage our life effectively. With God’s truth as a standard for our moral inventory, we can recognize and confess our needs and struggles, our sins and addiction. As we confess these to God, to ourself, and to at least one other person, we share the truth about our life. When we turn our broken life over to God, who alone can make us whole, we are again acknowledging the truth. These different applications of the truth can combine to set us free from sinful habits, chemical dependencies, and emotional bondage.

It is my prayer that in reading this column you can find your way to true freedom in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God Bless You.

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