Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, “Comfort, comfort My people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer.

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity.”  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty, and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven.

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .
put our sins in a bag and buried them,
written our names in a book to remember them, and
placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

~Don Fortner

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The Purposes of God Stand

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Those who reject the doctrine of the total depravity of man must skim over many parts of Scripture, which is unique among the holy books of all religions in that it does not shy away from revealing the evils of even its most prominent characters. The Bible is a book about sin, in fact. It addresses the origin of sin and its only resolution. Heaven is in view, but only as the full restoration of the redeemed man. The Biblical picture of heaven is a place of victory over sin made possible by the atonement for sins by Jesus Christ.

Because it is a book about man’s sin problem, the Bible does not hesitate to point out sin, even when it is in God’s covenant people. We are not presented with a religion of positive thinking, but one with real sinners who often fail their God. Thus, we are shown Noah’s drunkenness, as well as that of Lot. We are shown the disobedience of Moses, the apostasy of Saul, the adultery and murder by David, and the excesses of Solomon.

Sometimes these accounts are so familiar to us they fail to shock us. Take, for instance, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his own brothers. This was perhaps a crueler act then if they had murdered him outright. God may have intended it for good, as Joseph later told his brothers, but their action was no less evil. This, the earlier incest of Reuben, and the murders by Simeon and Levi reveal the nature of Israel’s sons. No virtue can be ascribed to them; all that comes through is the grace of God. Nothing else could have made such men leaders of the covenant people.

All too often, we see only the evil in men and in cultures and fail to see God’s grace at work. Such a perspective leads to cynicism and a defeatist attitude. We ought to remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph saw great evil in their day but never saw the fulfillment of the promises in terms of which they lived. Likewise, Christ has made us more than conquerors, but we often personally know only what seems to us defeat. The purposes of God stand, however, and our walk must not be by sight, but by faith. Even our death, the “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26) will, in the end, be defeated. Like watching a replay when we know the good outcome, our perspective should be one of joy and delight in the certainty of the resolution of all things by a righteous God.

~Mark R. Rushdoony

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

What is True Repentance?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” Luke 15:18-20

Notice the spirit of deep self-abasement in the resolution which the prodigal made.

True repentance is intensely personal. The prodigal felt it was his own sin. I have sinned!” He can scarcely see any sin but his own. He sees his own sin in the very worst colors. Study the fifty-first Psalm. See how David again and again speaks. It is my transgression, my iniquity, my sin ever before me.

True repentance beholds the wrong done to God by sin. The prodigal felt that his sin was primarily against God. It was a breach of His holy law. It was opposition to His holiness. It was sin against His goodness, and against redeeming love. So David cries in his bitter sorrow, forgetting for the moment the wrong he had done to Uriah–in the far greater wrong which his sin had done to God: “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight!”

True repentance makes no excuses.
The prodigal seeks for no palliation, no covering, no cloak. He says nothing of the circumstances which led him to do evil, or of companions who had drawn him aside. He does not attempt to shift the burden from his own shoulders to that of others. He makes no self-justifying pleas–he has too much sorrow, too much true brokenness of spirit, to desire or attempt it. One thing, and one thing only, he sees–his own terrible fall, and his own exceeding guilt.

True repentance takes the very lowest place. Once to be a son was not enough for him–but now he will be content even to be a slave or a hired servant! He feels utterly unworthy. As Jacob felt: “I am not worthy of all the mercies You have showed me.” As the centurion felt when he sent to Jesus: “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” So did the young prodigal esteem himself: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Be sure that God delights in the humble and contrite soul.
Lift yourself up in pride and self-satisfaction–and God will assuredly cast you down.
Cast yourself down in humble confession of your sin–and God will assuredly lift you up.
“God resists the proud–but gives grace unto the humble.”

But we see here the purpose of the heart accomplished. The young man not only made the resolution, but he kept it, So he got up and went to his father.” He turned his back forever on that far country and his old companions–and turned his face homeward. Doubtless it was with many a tear, with many a bitter feeling of regret for all that had passed–since in so different a spirit he had trodden that path before. Yet onward he trudges with weary heart and weary footstep, in the hope that a place may still be found for him in his father’s house.

Do you ask, What is repentance? I can scarcely better describe it than from the path of this wanderer. It is turning the back . . .
on sin,
on the ways of the world,
on the lusts of the flesh,
on the service of the devil.

And it is turning the face God-ward, Heaven-ward, confessing all that is past, looking upward for grace to live holier, with one single desire–to abide in the fear and love of God.

~ George Everard, “Welcome home! Plain teachings from the story of the Prodigal” 1871

What is Truly Important?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Over the triple doorways of a European Cathedral, there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches.

Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath is the lettering:
“All which pleases us — is but for a moment.”

Over the other arch is sculptured a cross, and there are the words:
“All which troubles us — is but for a moment.”

But on the great central entrance to the main aisle, is the inscription:
“That alone is important, which is eternal.”

If we always realize these three truths, we would not let small things trouble us; nor would we be so much interested in the passing pageants of the hour. We would live, as we do not now — for the permanent and the eternal.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:18

J.C. Pittman, 1917

5 Steps in Satan’s Plan to Defeat You

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Many people have many plans for your life. You likely have plans of your own. But have you ever stopped and thought about what the difference between God’s will and yours or the devil’ will would be for your life? I am going to talk about what the devil would have you do and believe. Open your heart because you are about to learn how to avoid Satan defeating you.

There are 5 steps in Satan’s plan to defeat you: doubt, discouragement, diversion, defeat and delay. One by one, they lead you down into a miry pit that you can only get out of by the hand of God who loves us and wants only the best for us. And I have no doubt in my mind that each one of us will go through this process once, maybe even more, times in our lives. After all, we are human and we are quite capable of falling. We are not infallible like God. Just read what the Bible says and be hopeful.

The first step in Satan’s plan to defeat you is DOUBT. Doubt makes you questions God’s Word and His goodness for and toward you. To doubt means to disbelieve and to mistrust. In this case it means to disbelieve God and to mistrust Him. And yet we have no reason for doing either with Him. He has never let His children down.

After doubt comes DISCOURAGEMENT. Discouragement makes you look at your problems instead of staying focused on God and His goodness in your life. Discouragement can easily be overcome, but for some it can lead to detrimental emotional problems like depression. We need to fight, through the power of prayer, this discouragement that Satan attacks us with. God would never do anything to cause us doubt or discouragement. So don’t let Satan get even a slippery grasp on your life. That’s all he needs to bring you spiraling down.

Discouragement will lead you to DIVERSION. This means that the wrong things in life suddenly become attractive and you crave them more than what is right. This is the dangerous step. Once you are into sinful patterns, it is hard to break them. The old saying says that Old habits die hard. Once something becomes a habit, it is very difficult to overcome and get out of.

Once Satan has you into his diversions, he then leads you to DEFEAT. This makes you feel like a failure. It can hurt so bad that some people give up on even trying to get out of a situation. Satan’s grasp is so strong that you just can’t bear to even try for anything good anymore. Defeat is not for God’s children. The victory is already won for the believer and if we just focus on the words “It is finished,” the battle is over, what a difference we would see in our churches.

And finally, once you feel you are defeated you are lead into DELAY. You put off doing something – usually something good so that it never gets done. In this case, you put off calling on God so your life never gets straightened around.

If you are feeling or experiencing ANY of the above 5 steps in your life, I suggest you call a/your pastor and get some spiritual guidance. Better to feel a little awkwardness now than to completely turn around the path to your eternity.

This battle plan that Satan has for all living persons was first set in motion with Adam and Eve. Satan placed doubt in Eve’s mind about what God had said. When she learned she could be like God, she was discouraged with what she had and wanted more. All of a sudden that tree and its fruit looked pretty good – she fell for the diversion. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, they felt shame and defeat. They knew Satan had gotten the better of them and they had saddened God’s heart. And when God did approach them, the delayed in answering because they knew what they had done was wrong. Rather than coming forward and saying sorry to God, they both made excuses, blaming someone or something else for their actions. This was the delay process.

And now, thanks to them, we all have to deal with these five steps. Some may have to go through all five of them in order to finally see the light. Some may only go through 1 or 2 or 3 before they realize what’s happening.

Don’t despair. God won’t leave you there. All you need to do is lift your eyes Heavenward and reach up with your hand and God will take it and lift you up, cleanse you and give you a brand new start.

We don’t need to stay stuck in the mire and mud of our sins. God knows we are human and He is fully willing to give us a helping hand. All we have to do is reach out and ask. Don’t let Satan get the victory because God has already won the entire spiritual war. Keep focused on the Lord in your heart and you won’t stumble into Satan’s battle ground.

By Sheri Liegh Adams, copyright Sheri Liegh Adams, all rights reserved

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A New Beginning

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 King James Version

Someone reminded me of a bad decision I made a few years ago.  For a few minutes, satan tried to discourage me and then God brought our Scripture verse to my mind.  This is why it is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.  When we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us and the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our hearts for the forgiveness of our sins, we have been forgiven.

We have a new life and a new beginning and when we say to God “Remember what I did several years ago?”  He will say to us “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t remember that.”  Does this mean that God has a bad memory?  Of course not, it means that He makes a choice to forgive and forget and never hold it against us again.

May God help us to love others as He loves us.  We also need to make the choice to forgive people and then forget about it and never hold it against them again.  However, many times we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts instead of letting it go.  I am so glad to know that when I fail God, and I do fail Him just like you do, He forgives me and forgets it.

Don’t let people put you under guilt because of something you did in the past.  If you asked God to forgive you, let it go.  It is important, however, that occasionally we think about our past just to remind us how far He has brought us.  Praise and thank Him for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for you. Thank Him for all He has done for you.

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JoanneCopyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission.
http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

The Power of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Ephesians 5:20

~ ~ ~ ~

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine–I thank God; and when it rains–I thank God. When I have plenty–I thank God; and when I am hungry–I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me–I am never unhappy.”

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Thank you consists of just eight letters that form two of the most meaningful words in the English vocabulary.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Counting up our mercies and our every-day reasons for gratitude, looking at the hundred little things and large things–we do not know where to end the list. The only thing to do, is to live always in an atmosphere sweet and vital with thanksgiving!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Be thankful for the small things–the trivial things and the mundane things!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness–he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Have an attitude of gratitude. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Everything short of Hell is mercy!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“God is glorified, not by our complainings, but by our thanksgivings.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“We can always find something to be thankful for. There are reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!” Psalm 100:4

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It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure.”

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The current political “discussion” inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

KNOW

imageSome folks seem to know just about everything.

The wisest people I know, the ones I trust the most, seem to be full of doubt. Where others see black-and-white, they see all sorts of nuance and shades of gray. They’re more likely to ask tough questions than to provide easy answers.

The people I describe aren’t stupid or wishy-washy. They know what they know. They aren’t afraid to speak the truth.

They also aren’t afraid of, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure how that works.”

Our culture tries to tell us we’re supposed to know.

What’s God’s plan for your life? You’re supposed to know.

Where do I find forgiveness? What does grace mean to me?

What did Jesus mean in that story? How does it apply to your life?

What’s the best way to read the bible?

You’re supposed to know. And some folks do know, and they’ll tell you the right answer, for them and for you.

I’ve noticed the wise people don’t know the answers to those kinds of questions. They’ll share their experience and help you discover your own meaning.

It’s easy to be intimidated or impressed by those with all the answers.

Me? I want to be a bit more like the wise folks I described. It makes life a whole lot less stressful.

How about making it okay to say, “I’m not sure”?

That Master Key!

Monday, September 19th, 2016

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart! Hebrews 4:12

I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.

A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.

But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.

I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears–but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out the remedy for every form of misery and evil–it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.

Holy Scripture is our Father’s love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe.

Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements–not one of these evils, or any other… we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need–but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?

~George Everard, “Strong and Free, A Book for Young Men” 1882

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Is Uncertainty Getting to You?

Monday, July 11th, 2016

I’m absolutely sure about today’s word-of-the-week…

UNCERTAINTY

We need to embrace uncertainty.

We want our answers in neat little packages. Most of the time, truth can’t be reduced to a 10-word slogan. Real solutions can’t be captured in 30-second sound bites.

As followers of Jesus, of course we believe in certain absolute truths. We should state those clearly, but we also know there’s a great deal of mystery. God asks us to dream and wonder. Rather than living in a predictable box, He challenges us to think and explore and consider big ideas.

Big ideas involve nuance. They invite questions, investigation, and discussion aimed at learning and growth. Authentic learning is long-term and often painful, but the alternative is hiding from truth behind safe, comfortable platitudes. Fear invites us to grab the simplistic answer, but tough questions rarely come with sound-bite answers that actually work.

Jesus had a lot of time on Earth. He could have dictated a list of clear answers to all of the important questions. Might have been easier, for sure.

Instead, He lived a life of relationships, sacrifice, and love. Then He said, “Follow Me.”

Following Jesus means listening, wondering, seeking. Once we believe we’ve discovered easy answers, or begin following leaders who offer them, we’ve likely wandered off the path.

We’d like our future to be predictable. It isn’t.

We’d like to change someone else. We can’t.

We’d like to know why. We don’t.

We’d like God to validate our notion of justice. He won’t.

God’s in control. THAT’S the assurance upon which we rely.

It’s Monday. Perhaps this is a good day to stop trying to manage a steering wheel we never controlled anyway.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com