Tag Archives: freedom

Choosing Freedom

Freedom is not something that is uniquely American. It was instituted by a God Himself. His desire is that all of us live free lives. We are the ones who constantly put ourselves in bondage through our actions. We are the ones who put ourselves in position to let others bind us up. God has called us to live free lives according to Galatians 5:1. So why do we do the things that take us away from freedom? Why do we lament the past when we were slaves instead of celebrating the freedoms we currently enjoy?

It’s a problem that goes back as far as time. When the children of Israel were set free from the bondage of Egypt, they cried out, “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted.” In their freedom, they looked back on their time of slavery as a positive thing. They didn’t grasp what it meant to be free, so they would have rather gone back into slavery than to have lived in the freedom that God had granted them. It sounds absurd, but are we so different?

We let what other people have said or done to us imprison us in our minds and actions. We let the past dictate our present. God has set us free, but we allow unforgiveness to hold us down and rob us of freedom. We allow grudges and pain to keep us from trusting anyone. When that happens, we hold ourselves back from the future God has for us. We let what man has done to us rob us of the blessings of freedom. We hold ourselves back in that prison not wanting to get out because it’s safer to stay there. Freedom requires action on our part to move forward and to stay free.

Galatians 5:13-15 says, “Use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows… Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom” (MSG). Selfishness is the doorway to imprisonment. Serving others is the way to staying free. When we help others, despite how many times we’ve been taken advantage of, we walk in freedom. When we hold back because of things that have happened, we allow that freedom to slip away. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As Christians, we can’t sit around and do nothing and stay free.

Photo by J W on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Praise God

In the early 1990’s, I signed up for a music subscription service. Each month, Maranatha! Music would send me a tape of praise and worship. All I had to do was mail them a check each month. It doesn’t take long to build up a collection that way. Their tapes were most of the music I had. I fell in love with Praise and Worship at a young age. I loved what it did for my soul. If i was having a rough day, I could pop in a tape, and my troubles would disappear for a while.

Music in and of itself is powerful, but Praise and Worship is on a whole other level. It’s not just singing, it’s your soul crying out to the creator of the universe. Each song is a prayer that magnifies Him. It refocuses our attention from ourselves to our God. It changes our perspective of our problems. I think that’s a big part of why the Psalms in the Bible are so popular. It’s not just David being honest that we relate to. It’s his prayers and praise that our soul longs to give to God.

Psalm 147:1 says, “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting” (ESV). I don’t care what your situation is, praise is fitting for it. It’s always the right time to praise God. Are you on top of the mountain? Praise God. Are you struggling in the valley? Praise God. Are you stressed out? Praise God. Did you get a raise? Praise God. It is good to praise God and to have a song of praise continually in your mouth.

If you’re not familiar with modern Praise and Worship, go to YouTube and search for Bethel Music, Hillsong, Kari Jobe, Matt Redman or just type, “Praise and Worship mix”. Let praise fill your heart and mouth today. You were created to give God praise. It’s not just something we should do for a few songs on Sunday morning at church. It should be a lifestyle that honors God. When you begin to live a life of praise, everything in your life will change because God inhabits the praises of His people.

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Chain Free Living


To demonstrate how difficult it is to accomplish even the easiest tasks while you are bound up, I once tried to preach a sermon with my hands tied behind my back. I wasn’t sure how it would play out, but it proved to be more difficult than I could imagine. My first problem was holding the microphone. Then I needed help turning the pages in my bible. After that, I needed to turn the page in my notes. Finally, I couldn’t use my hands then I spoke, which apparently I do.

So many of us try to do more than speak while we are bound up. We actually try to go through life while we are bound up in depression, addiction, grief, sin, etc. If you’ve been there, you know that even the smallest tasks can prove to be difficult. Go designed you to live a life of freedom. As Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that He set you free.” Jesus also said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

There’s a song called “Chain Breaker” that says, “If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior. If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker.” The words to this song remind me that I don’t have to live bound up in my chains. There is no chain so strong that God cannot break it in your life. There is no depression so dark that He can’t bring you out of it. I’ve been in the deep, dark prison of depression and He set me free.

I love reading Psalm 107 because it’s a reminder of what God can do for us. In verse 14 it says, “He brought them out of their gloom and darkness and broke their chains in pieces” (GNT). If you’re bound up by chains today or are in a dark place, call out to God. Ask Him to lead you out of that place and to set you free. I know if He did it in my life, He can do it in yours. It’s time we all got back to living the life of freedom that God created us to live.

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Understanding The Why


My son is very inquisitive. He is always asking why or how. In most cases, the answer is above his ability to understand. I try to tell him to let it go, but sometimes he just keeps at it. So I tell him. His nose scrunched up, his eyes squint and he looks confused in those moments. Then he starts asking more questions trying to understand. I’ll just keep going down the rabbit hole with him until he gives up or I can think of an easy explanation that he can understand so we can move on.

I’m not so sure that we are so different when it comes to God. When things happen in our lives, we ask God why or how. What I’ve found is so many times the answer is beyond our ability to understand. It’s tough for us to let it go too. I’m a person that needs to know the why behind things before I do them. If I don’t know the why, I don’t understand the importance or urgency that needs to be behind what I’ve been asked to do.

When God asks me to go somewhere or do something, that’s usually my first question. For me, it doesn’t come from a lack of faith or disobedience. I just like to know why before I do something. With that in mind, Proverbs 20:24 speaks to me in regards to when God asks me to do something or go somewhere. It says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT) 

If we believe God truly directs our steps, then we need to trust His reasons that are beyond our ability to understand. How much time and energy do we waste while we question God? I know He’s patient, it I bet sometimes He just wishes we’d simply obey and trust that He sees the bigger picture and is working out things for our good even though we can’t see it or understand it at the moment. We need to let go of trying to understand everything and just obey.

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Your Emancipation 


On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It legally changed the status of slaves in ten southern states from slaves to free. Even though it was a legal document, many southern states refused to accept it. There was also the fact that news moved slowly. In fact, it was June 19, 1865 before slaves in Texas received word of the Emancipation Proclamation. To this day, June Teenth is a holiday in Texas that celebrates the day of freedom of slaves even though they had technically been free for over two years.

I tell you that story because it applies to many Christians today. We are no longer slaves to sin when we accept Christ into our lives. Yet many of us go on living as though we are still in bondage. As the scripture tells us, it was for freedom that Christ set jus free. Jesus broke the chains of sin in our lives and made us free from the law of sin and death. We are to leave the life we were living and to become new creations.

II Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom)” (AMPC). The emancipation that Jesus brings is not just from the bondage of sin. It’s to set you free from any bondage you may be in. He came that you could be set free from the bondage of fear, self destruction, pornography, drugs, sickness, and any other bondage you may find yourself in. As a Christian, you are free and it’s time to quit living as a slave.

Romans 6 has a lot to say about leaving a life of bondage to a life of freedom. Verse 11 says, “Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.” In the next verse, in a different version, it tells us not to give sin a vote in how we live. Our mindset has to change along with our salvation. We have to accept the freedom Jesus brought us, then change our mindset from slaves to free people in order to begin walking in that freedom.

If you find yourself having accepted the freedom Jesus brings, but still living with a slave mentality, pray that God would renew your mind and to give you the mind of Christ. Ask that God would help you to accept your freedom and to begin living in it. God has issued His own Emancipation Proclamation for your life. He has set you free because His Spirit now resides in you. Don’t spend years living in bondage after you’ve been set free. Begin walking in your freedom today.

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The Raccoon Trap


I’ve always heard that the best way to catch a raccoon is to create a trap with a shiny coin dangling, and then put a small hole in her side. A raccoon will reach in, grab the coin, and not be able to get his hand out because it’s in a fist. The simple way to get out is to let go, but the raccoon won’t because he wants the coin to badly. I’ve laughed at how stupid a raccoon must be, but then had to stop when the mirror was turned to me. 

Each time I hear the story of the raccoon, I wonder what things I’m holding on to that I need to let go of. There was a young man who approached Jesus in Mark 10, and he asked Him what he needed to do to get eternal life. Jesus rattled off several commandments, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother” (MSG). This got the young man excited because he had kept all of those. Just then, Jesus added one more to the list.

Jesus said, “There’s just one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor.” The young man’s face dropped, and he went away with a heavy heart. Verse 22 says, “He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.” He got caught in the raccoon trap. He was holding on to things God was asking Him to let go of. In the end, he lost it all because he couldn’t let go. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

What are you holding on to that God has asked you to let go of? It could be hurt, regret, pain, bitterness, or something physical that you own. Whatever it is, it’s best to let go of it before God pries it out. Don’t let those things trap you and keep you where you are. Release them, no matter how important they may seem. You’ll find that God’s freedom is greater than whatever you’re holding on to. I’ve also learned that I have to let go of things before God can give me new and better things. The choice is ours. What’s it going to be?

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The Hope Of Grace


One of the greatest struggles I have as a Christian is being a new creation with the old creation’s mind. The new life wants to live for God, but the old mind controls my thoughts which ends up controlling my actions and words. There’s a war that goes on that fights between needing to love others and wanting to condemn them for their actions. I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle by seeing and hearing what others say about those they disagree with.

I read a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from “The Cost of Discipleship” that’s helped me understand what’s going on in this struggle. He wrote, “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Our old mind wants to withhold the grace which we have been afforded. When we withhold grace, judgement fills the vacuum and condemnation comes out.

We are called to speak the truth in love. We like to say, “The truth hurts,” but we shouldn’t be trying to hurt them. The love portion of that phrase we live by is what Illuminates their sin and points to the cross where they can obtain grace. Our old man wants to bring judgement and condemnation, but our new man wants them to find grace so they can be free of their sin. We can’t just speak a condemning truth to others without coupling it with love. We can’t leave them in that place without the hope of grace.

Here are some verses from the Bible about this struggle.

1. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, “Let me wash your face for you,” when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Luke 6:41-42 MSG

2. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him.
2 Peter 3:15 NLT

3. Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Galatians 6:1-3 MSG

4. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.
Matthew 7:2 AMP

5. For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17 AMP

6. His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God’s choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.
Romans 11:6 GNT

7. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
Romans 5:20 NLT

8. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:13 GNT

9. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2:5 NLT

10. Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.
Matthew 7:12 MSG

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