Tag Archives: freedom

The Truth About Sin

 

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Francisco de Goya: Prisoner

Why do parents train their children to look both ways before they cross a street?

It’s because they love them, and want to protect them from harm.

Why do you think God gave us commandments?

It’s because He loves us and wants to protect us from harm.

It’s interesting the Greek translation of ‘sin’ has similar letters of ‘harm’: hamartia, it means ‘to miss the mark.’ Have you ever tried to throw a wad of paper in the trash and miss it? Well, it was no big deal because you can pick it up. But to miss the mark in one of God’s commands is a matter of life and death.

God does not give us commands because He doesn’t want us to enjoy life, but because He wants us to have life abundant in Christ. Even though sin may ‘feel good’ for the fleeting moment, the consequences are harmful. It is harmful to you, and harmful to others. In fact, it breaks the greatest two commandments: loving God and loving others. Once the counterfeit enjoyment of sin is accomplished it brings forth death. Do not be deceived…sin steals, kills and destroys.

  • Sin destroys relationships: you hide from God and His people; you no longer hear God’s Truth as love but as hate. You become insecure with your relationships with God and others and you become oversensitive and selfish.
  • Sin kills and destroys faith: It produces doubt and insecurity. Doubt that God could forgive ‘this’ sin.
  • Sin kills and steals grace: bringing you condemnation
  • Sin kills and steals confidence: bringing you shame
  • Sin kills and steals your purpose: instead of bringing glory to God you bring shame to yourself and testimony

Sin brings discouragement, depression, and division. Sin binds us. Chokes us. Mutes us. You become entangled and you have given Satan a foothold, and begin to believe his lies, after all he IS the thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.

With this shame and discouragement, you begin to stop reading God’s Word. Even though you’ve been born again of the Spirit of God you become the walking dead. It’s not a matter of eternal salvation but of sanctification-growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. You can’t grow because the ‘lying’ words of weeds wrap around and choke you, making you feel you’re in bondage. If you are a child of God, there’s no joy in your life because your sin has grieved the Holy Spirit living inside you.

What are we to do with this shame and condemnation?

  • Some live alone in bitterness and anger hardening their hearts, perishing until the day they die.
  • Some run full force into sin, searing their consciences and numbing their hearts, denying the toxic affects of sin not realizing the consequences of sin begin in this life, not just in hell.
  • Some live in a façade. Outwardly living ‘normal lives’ pretending everything is ok, but they know they are not. Instead they start to ‘do good works’ and try to make themselves feel good by serving in ministry.
  • Some hear and remember the gospel, turn from their sin and are healed: They remember in order to obey God’s commandment we need a Savior:

(God) He made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

They remember they have ‘begun in the Spirit and must be perfected by the Spirit’ that ‘apart from Christ’ they can do nothing. They remember it is by grace through faith they were saved, and are being saved. They remember: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”

The longer I walk with God, the more I cannot fathom His love. I see the reason He asked fullsizerender-9Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I see what type of death and condemnation He was trying to protect them from. Indeed it IS the kindness of God that leads to repentance, which leads to abundant life in Christ.

“…He Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might DIE to sin and LIVE to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25

Heavenly Father, thank You for being so loving and patient with me. Thank You for setting boundaries to protect me and others from harm. Thank You for Your loving discipline to help me to return to You when I willfully disobey. Give me a love for You and Your commandments as never before. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

 

May God be glorified. May Christ be magnified. May the brethren be loved and edified.


{in}perfection

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His shoulders slump and his head is down in defeat as he shares with me a repeated sin he committed. He looks frustrated, weary and condemned. I too am frustrated ready to pile on condemning words, until I felt a tinge of compassion fill my heart. I was reminded of the confessing cleansing conversation I had with a friend about my sins just minutes before.

By God’s grace, I knew it was most important to share with my son the spiritual heart of the matter, to tell him the truth about the Truth-Jesus Christ.

To be transparent and share my genuine compassion for his sin struggle because I struggle too. It was a holy opportunity to share the Gospel. To share the gift of forgiveness and mercy that comes through repentance towards God and faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. To share the freedom that comes by power of the resurrected Christ. To walk him to God’s throne of grace.
It was a chance to remind us we’re not perfect and we need a Savior. Any righteousness we have comes from Jesus Christ in us. We are to practice righteousness, press on to maturity, but only God will perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus.
I write this stone of memorial to remind myself, we must practice patience–with ourselves…and one another.

***

When I was a new Christian I was naive to think I would no longer make a mistake. I read  that I was a “new creation” and given a “new heart,”and though I “knew” I was not perfect, I made an expectation for myself that I should be perfect or I was a hypocrite.

This led me to great frustration and even condemnation because I couldn’t understand the continual struggle against sin I was dealing with, let alone the number of times I failed. What I see now is any holiness I have is CHRIST IN me. I have seen my flesh and it’s ugliness to the point I’ve doubted my own salvation! The redeeming part is that my flesh and sin remind me of my need for a Savior. This gives me compassion for those that struggle, beginning in my own family.

A fruitful life comes by a daily walk of abiding in the one who is perfection: Christ.

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Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the brethen.


Eternal Mission

One of the main reasons I joined the military was to be part of imagesomething bigger than myself. In June 1996 I saw the news report of the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia where 19 servicemen were killed, and it evoked a restlessness in me to make a positive impact on this evil world. As an ambitious 20 year old I was afraid I would miss my calling in life and was mobilized to join the fight of defending our freedom.

Five months later I stepped off a bus the dawn before Thanksgiving enduring humiliation and lots of yelling, and I began to understand just a small amount of what it means to sacrifice. God used the military in so many ways to reveal how He had uniquely designed and equipped me. I LOVED being in the military…the structure, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose of being part of a mission that mattered.

I see now WHY I felt that restlessness of wanting to make an impact on this world…

I was made to be a soldier–a soldier of Christ. There is a real spiritual war going on and many casualties are dying without knowing they have access to God through Jesus Christ!

All those years in the military I knew about God but I didn’t have a saving relationship with Him as I do now. Today I KNOW God and I KNOW my purpose: to Know Him and Make Him Known by bringing glory to His name.

I am so thankful for all of the Christians I met in the military that were lights shining, ambassadors for Christ, serving alongside me, asking me to be reconciled to God through Christ. You know who you are. You not only served our Country, but were on a spiritual mission which made an eternal impact.

I am still a soldier. My allegiance is to the only One who holds all things together, the only One who sustains freedom—His name is Jesus Christ.

The last orders He gave His disciples were:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

And so I go forth and obey Him knowing it is God who is at work in imageme, “to will and act in order to fulfill HIS GOOD PURPOSE.”

By His strength and Word I begin in my own home, neighborhood, and City remembering how a soldier is supposed to behave:

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Will you join me in this ETERNAL MISSION?

*Thank you my fellow Veterans of the U.S. Military you are LOVED.

God HAS blessed America–He has forgiven the world of our sins because of the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST.


The CROSSroad

 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:1-2

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

Conviction is a pathway leading to the CROSSroad of condemnation or freedom.

The narrow road to freedom comes through Jesus Christ as we confess and repent of our sins.

Daily we get to choose whether we will walk in condemnation or freedom. The choice is ours but so are the consequences.

May we walk and live in faith by the Spirit.

Stay focused: Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the Brethren

*Galatians 5:16-26 *Romans 7:14-8:1-17


EmPOWERed

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“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

As children of God we have been given POWER!

Power to overcome temptation and sin (1 Cor 10:13-14;Romans 8:9-14)
Power to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:16)
Power to forgive (John 20:23; Matthew 6:15)
Power to overcome fear (2 Timothy 1:7)
Power to LOVE (Romans 8:2-4; 1 John 4:19)

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, He gave us access to God the Father by one Spirit. This allows us to ask the Father ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…’ We have the privilege to go to God’s throne of grace daily to confess our sins and receive His faithful forgiveness and cleansing. This allows us to be vessels of mercy and grace to others.

When Jesus was resurrected, He demonstrated His power over sin and death.

Today Jesus is alive, seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for the saints. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because He has “been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

As children of God we are not perfect but have been given God’s perfect POWER by His Holy Spirit. May we not harden our hearts nor deny the POWER we’ve been given by quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit!

Stay focused: Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the brethren.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58


Unreceived Grace

Her effort to be perfect is destroyed by her sin
Paralyzing guilt sets in
She weeps, sadden by the loss of ‘perfection’
She hardens her heart and tries to justify her sin

Enter in grace…

The one she sinned against forgives her, but her hands are clenched
He pleads for her to return to him
She wants to return, but doesn’t forgive herself
She knows she does not deserve forgiveness
She runs away into the dark to hide
She doesn’t think she deserves to live, and wants death
She begins to numb herself

Messengers come, reminding her of grace…
One day the one sinned against speaks to her again
He invites her to reconcile
She dares to believe reconciliation is possible
She dares to believe she could be forgiven
She steps out of the darkness and towards the Light
She takes his hand and walks on the road of reconciliation

Through this journey her hands open and her heart softens
She weeps a different type of sorrow
She weeps in humility and gratitude
She experiences a spiritual death and is rewarded a new life

She lives because her hands opened to receive grace
She lives a new life because she walks in the Light
She lives a new life because she believes she is forgiven

Today she is hidden with Christ in God!

Hallelujah!

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Light Shines @ The Vagabond Inn

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It was a cool dark morning when my kids and I walked toward the lobby of the Vagabond Inn. My eyes quickly darted away from the band of men in the dimly lit parking lot, whispering and staring at me with unlovely looks. Fear immediately gripped me, and the Holy Spirit reminded me,

“Perfect love casts out all fear…”

I was reminded I was not alone, God was with me, and I took my thoughts captive and asked Him to help me not to fear the men but allow God to love them through me.

As my children and I began fixing our breakfast, my husband walks in to tell me he had to leave for work and couldn’t stay to eat with us. He prays and hugs us good-bye.

Once he left the room, the silence was deafening and my heart was overwhelmed by the sadness, depression and darkness of the environment. I quickly took an inventory:

Five men outside, two men inside getting food, one sitting at a table eating….and in the far left corner was a young woman scribbling in a notebook. Her head was down and she was trying to be invisible. We sat at the table across from her and I prayed in my heart,

God, I know you have cleansed my heart, I know you have reminded me that while we were yet sinners You loved us by sending Jesus Christ…I know I have good news to share but I’m scared…can you help me to share Christ with a lost soul?”

Desperate for help, I looked through my phone for a song and find ‘Light of the World’ and I began to sing with my kids. We started worshiping softly and become progressively louder, drowning out the dark and depressing environment.

When the song finished, the silence returned but the atmosphere was different. A voice pierced through the silence,

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It was the voice of the young lady.

I want to disagree with her, but instead say, “Thank you.” I looked at the children and excused myself and they nodded knowing I was stepping out in obedience.

I walked into her sphere of life and introduced myself. She forced a smile and told me her name–J.

Her eyes are familiar to me…full of hurt, hopelessness, and shame, ready to burst.

I gently asked her,

“J, Do you have faith?”
“Oh yes, I do.” She responded defensively
“What do you have faith in?” I pressed.
“I believe in God, I talk to Him all the time. I gave my life to Christ when I was 11….”

Her eyes began to light up and she invited me to reminisce with her the goodness and grace of God in her life as a child. She shared how she completed the entire AWANA program and memorized a lot of Scripture.

I was so excited and pointed to my children and told her they too were in AWANA hiding God’s Word in their hearts just as she did. My children take this as a cue to come over, and she smiles at them. She shared with us the other things God did through her, like the time she went on a mission trip to build houses. She was coming alive as she spoke of God. My next question broke her,

“J, What are you doing here?”

Her lip quivers and she darts her eyes at the kids and back at me. My children sense the seriousness of the moment and return to their seats to finish their meal. She casts her face down and quietly mumbles that she came down to the lobby because the man she was with is still sleeping.

I didn’t mean to ask her why she was at the Vagabond Inn, but why she was in this town. I saw my question caused her to want to hide and I felt compassion for her. I reached my hand to hers and squeezed it tightly hoping love would flow through me to her. I opened my mouth,

“J, God’s Word is in you…all those years of memorizing in AWANA and God’s word does not return to Him void. You have given your life to Christ when you were 11 years old. You must remember nothing….’nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus? NOTHING. Not even what you did five minutes ago.”

I continued,

“…do you mind if I pray with you?”

“Sure, I’ll pray with you….”

We hold hands and pray aloud.

When we finished our eyes locked on each other and I said,

“The Bible teaches us, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” He has taken us out of the darkness into His marvelous light and we need to come back to the Light. God still LOVES you.”

Her eyes lit up with excitement and she bends down to grab two pieces of paper. As she unfolds them she tells me,

“I drew these last night and this morning as I was talking to God….”

I look at them as she gets water. They are drawn from a tortured and torn heart. It was evident she was in a spiritual battle.

She drew a line of demarcation and had light and dark contrasted. On one side she listed all her struggles and sins with a picture of satan and she’s crying.

On the other side there was light and beauty with flowers and a butterfly with words like love and happiness. She was smiling and happy and her hearts goals and dreams were listed in order.  Number one on her list was to have a lasting relationship with God and her family. She had the words “Get back” written in several places indicating she knew she was off the path and wanted to get back on it.

Suddenly I hear another woman’s voice ask her a question,

“Hey, was that you praying? Will you do me a favor, I want you to pray for me and my friend….”

I turn to look at her response. Her eyes widen and she looks astonished that someone would ask her for prayer, but she slowly nods and begins to walk away.

I walked over and stood next to J and saw two women and after introducing myself I tell them we will pray for them right now. One of them asks curiously,

“So that’s what you do? You pray? You sit here in the lobby and ask people if they need prayer?”

I smiled full of joy and said, “Well I’m not always here but I’m available to pray for, and with anyone willing. Jesus is the one that is always interceding for the saints.”

We held hands going to the throne of grace together. We cry out to God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, thankful for His forgiveness and grace and we ask for His help, His wisdom, His strength to be obedient daughters and walk in the Light.

When we finished one of them says, “AMEN! I became a Christian when I was eight and I have strayed far into the dark but someone has been inviting me to Church and I’m going back today!”

Like a giddy little girl, I lift my hands and praise God!!

As the two ladies left, J and I discussed her confessional drawings. She told me she wanted to get out of there. I admitted to her that I wanted to take her out of there. She asked if I would take her to L.A.

I told her I was going to Church and she could come with me and afterwards I could take her….but I stopped and looked into her eyes and asked,

“J, if I take you to L.A. what will you be doing there? Who do you know there?”

She drew back and casted her eyes down and says, ‘I know lots of people’ and if you don’t take me I will take the bus to get there anyway.”

I told her, “Thank you for being honest with me, I understand. But do you understand why I won’t take you?”

“Yes. You don’t want to be the one responsible for taking me into the darkness and if something happens to me you would be upset.”

“That’s correct. J, if I had my own place I would take you home with me. I have to pray and ask God for wisdom, I need to ask Him my role in this situation right now, and I need to be content with the role He has given me.”

‘I understand.’

We sit in silence for a moment and I remember I have some more ‘Bread of life’ to leave with her so I run to my car and write her a note and hand it to her. Before we say good-bye I reminded her of more Truth,

“J, God loves you so much, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works He has prepared for you to walk out. Your salvation is not just for you but for the building up of the Church. Didn’t you see that when the woman asked you for prayer? There are lost souls out there that need us to remain in Christ so we can encourage them to come back on the path of Light. We must continue to go to Church so that we can come together to stir one another to love and good deeds just as we did today.”

She smiles and her eyes show she understands. She says thank you, we hug and exchange contact information in hopes to keep in touch.

We had Church before we went to Church that day, and Light shined brightly in that Vagabond Inn: To. God. Be. The. Glory.

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******
I share this to encourage you. I am not perfect, there have been many times I’ve missed opportunities to share truth with the suffering because of my pride and self-righteousness.

The day before I met ‘J’ I was tested and sifted. I confessed to my husband my ugly thoughts about the residents of his temporary ‘home.’ I told him I was scorning them, looking down on them for the bondage they allowed themselves to be in….as I confessed, my heart was pierced with God’s sWORD:

“But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I meditated on ‘while we were YET SINNERS…”

That was me too. The only reason I was different was because of God’s grace. Instead of scorning them I chose to mourn for them. All of this was necessary to prepare me for the good work God would do through me this March morning.

There are a lot of hurting people in the world. They do a lot of things to escape the pain by numbing themselves with drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy relationships.

Some of these souls have never met Jesus Christ, and some have known Him and are prodigal children. They have tasted and seen The Lord is good but they have walked in the darkness so long they actually believe the lies of satan, “that God no longer loves them.”

Someone in your sphere of life needs to hear TRUTH: that God loves them, someone in the environment you are placed in needs to be encouraged to walk in the Light. Someone near you needs you to SHINE the LOVE and LIGHT of Christ to help them turn back to Him.

I have two questions for the children of God:

Will you scorn the lost or will you mourn for them?
Are you ready to share the hope that is within you?


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