Jesus, The One and Only

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

“Submitted and Free”

Paul’s next encouraging words are found in the book of Ephesians where we will camp out for a few days before moving forward.  “Most scholars believe Colossians and Ephesians were written early in Paul’s 2-year imprisonment in Rome because he never hinted of a possible release as he did in Philemon and Philippians.” (1)   

Beth wants to take us through a journey on the book of Ephesians and starting with vs. 22-23…  “Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ” in v. 21 is an attitude of all Christians to be submissive to one another.” (1)  As I understand it, there should be some mutual submission going on and that it never was meant to be one-sided or used to exploit others.  Paul’s primary objective when talking to women was submission and when addressing men it dealt with love.  Beth thinks it is written that way targeting our weaknesses, but I differ and think that he knew women needed to be loved and men needed to be the leader. 

“Before we learn what submission means for Christian wives, let’s learn what it does not mean:

  1. Submission does not mean women are under the authority of men in general! (1) Beth points out that in the KJ version that Paul is explicitly speaking reference to the husbands and marriage only… not a blank check to all men.
  2. Submission does not mean inequality! (2)  Paul even mentions in Galatians 3:28 “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”… all are considered equal in the sight of God!
  3. Submission does not mean wives are to treat their husbands like God! (3)
  4. Submission does not mean slavery! (4)

So know that we know what submission does not mean let’s look at what it does mean. “Paul didn’t dislike women; he liked order!!  He advocated order in the church, order in government, order in business, and yes, order in the home.’ ‘Paul regarded husbands and wives as spiritual equals, though with certain obvious and functional differences.’” (5)

Beth also shares that “God is good and loving” and “God granted women a measure of freedom in submission that we can learn to enjoy… namely having someone else to join in on the responsibility of raising a family.” (6)

Another thing that stands out to me is the simple fact that if Christ called us to freedom, why would he want us to be in bondage?

Vicky

(1-6) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing

The Darkest Hour before Dawn

Read Acts 16:25-40

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (vs. 25 & 26 NIV)

“When praise is the last thing that comes naturally to us and we choose to worship Him anyway, we’ve had the privilege of offering a genuine sacrifice of praise.  When we sing a midnight song or speak praises in the darkest hours, the chains of hopelessness not only drop from our ankles but sometimes from the ankles of those who listen.  We can preach the gospel in many ways, but the message is never clearer than when God’s people refuse to cease their praises during intense suffering.” (1)

Remember last time, Peter and Silas were dragged off to prison, having been beaten severely.   Yet in the deepest need …of their darkest hour… when there was nothing they could do about their situation… they started to pray and sing praises to God.  Does this sound a little backwards from a worldly perspective?  BUT GOD!! … who shows up and delivers them from the chains that bound them and they were set free!!

Don’t you love God’s “suddenly” when He shows up and delivers us from the chains that have bound us?   Paul and Silas were singing and praying and everyone listening and “suddenly” the foundations of where they were sitting were shaken!  Who else could do that except the suddenly of God showing up!!  AND not just for them but the other prisoners who were bound AND the jailer who had intended to kill himself!  AND the baptism of his entire household who was saved because of “ONE SUDDENLY”!!

There was a time in my life when I was so filled with grief I could barely think let alone think straight about anything.  I would read my bible and nothing made sense.  I just knew I had to get it in me and the Holy Spirit would remind me when I needed it!!  My Father told me to sing but I couldn’t even think of a song.  He said sing “Jesus Loves Me”.  The simplicity of one little song turned things around for me at that very moment in my life.  Ever since that time, I have never quit singing and sing all the time :)

At one place I used to work, people were telling me that I was humming all the time; not realizing I was doing this.  I was humming praises to get me through my day at the office.  It was only after someone brought it to my attention that I later noticed others in the office humming as well.  I don’t know if they were humming praises but I believe the praises I was humming infected the part of the office who were listening.  

Maybe you’re going through a difficult time … maybe you need a suddenly intervention in your life… where God shows up …shakes the foundations …and releases the chains that may be binding you.  Pray and sing, sing, sing and then sing again!

Vicky

(1) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing

“Healthy Distance”

Read Acts 15:22-35

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” (vs. 28 and 29 HCSB)

 “God can break any yoke, even those we don’t realize we’re wearing.  Thank goodness, the message of freedom prevailed at the Jerusalem Council.”(1)  Paul and Barnabas left with a letter to Gentile believers.  Were they free or not?  “Gentile believers didn’t have to be circumcised to be saved, but they were urged to abstain from several practices forbidden under Jewish law.  They were free from the Law of Moses but not free from the life-giving law of God.  The freedom God gives is to come out and be separate from the practices of the former worldly life and … the four areas of abstinence would help them to remain free.” (2)

Maybe the enemy has come back to tempt you.  Ask God again to deliver you from those things you know He wants you to walk away from.  I know I’ve probably done this a time or two myself.  Trust and dependency on God who is faithful will give us the strength no matter the need.

Is there an area(s) in your life that you need to come away from to be set free? 

Vicky

“Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:13-14 HCSB)

(1-2) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B&H Publishing

“Soul Strangulation”

Read Philippians 3:2-11

“A Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless” (vs. 5-6 NIV)

“I believe Saul had set sail to Jerusalem as a young adolescent with a pure heart; but somewhere along the way the negative influences outweighed the positive, and his purity began to erode.  The law became his god.  That’s what happens when you take the love out of obedience.  The result is the law.  Without love for God and His Word, we’re just trying to be good.  Nothing will wear you out faster.”(1)

“In Phil. 3:6, Saul said his zeal was so great that he persecuted the church, and that this legalistic righteousness was ‘blameless’”(2)  Blameless in that he thought he was so right that he couldn’t be wrong?

“His entire day was filled with ritual, and at night he took off his shoes and garments in the prescribed order.’ ‘These daily rituals paled in comparison to all the laws regarding the Sabbath.  Restrictions existed from almost everything’ … from cutting his fingernails to burning them, ‘avoiding spitting in a place where the wind could scatter the saliva so he would not break laws concerning sowing on the Sabbath. The first century Jew became so obsessed with identity boundaries that they forgot their purpose. They argued endlessly about washing hands or observing the Sabbath, but they forgot about loving God.’”(3)

“Saul was strangled by the letter of the law.  He tried to keep all the outward acts of obedience while his heart slowly eroded. Saul gradually became the model for Isaiah 29:13: ‘These people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service, yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote.’ Inevitably, Saul’s faraway heart would turn to faraway actions.”(4)

Does this feel like freedom or bondage?  It sounds so much like some one who is trying so hard to do their very best to be the right person ALL THE TIME, to do the right thing ALL THE TIME, to be everything that you could be ALL THE TIME … but how can that even be possible? Sounds like the inevitable circle of “perfection” of trying to please with outward expressions but for what reason?  Where’s the heart?  Read the first paragraph again.

“If you could summarize your life in a few short lines and thoughts, what are some of the words you would use?  Assuming that some of your answers reveal a few mistakes and regrets, how do you wish your life could be summarized? (5)

Vicky

“Oh God forgive us when we act like modern-day Pharisees.  Convict us at the very moment of our departure from the law of love You have written on our hearts.  Give us hearts of devotion, not heads full of religion.” (6)

(1-6) Paul, 90 Days of His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B&H Publishing

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