Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

The very last word in the book of Acts in the Greek text is a word that translates into English, “Unhindered” or “freely”. It is particularly interesting in the context. The apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He is not in a dark and damp prison like some other times, but he is under arrest and he is not free to come or go. But even though the apostle Paul is not free, the Gospel is not hindered. The text says that Paul was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus without hindrance.

In many parts of our world it is illegal to share the Gospel with people, and yet the Gospel is going unhindered anyway. In the U.S. today we celebrate Memorial Day and although we are supposed to have absolute freedom, the Gospel is often hindered. I am not referring to government restrictions, or a ban on prayer from schools, or the seeming opposition by the media at times to the message of the Word of God. I am talking about the fact that as Christians we have bound the Gospel in our little boxes and traditions and hindered the message ourselves.

I believe that God put the word “Unleashed” in my heart and mind several years ago in reference to this. What would it be like if we took the lid off the boxes of our preconceived ideas and simply got out of God’s way? What would happen if we unleashed God’s Spirit from our traditions and rules? I am not advocating anarchy, but simply breaking free of man-made restrictions.

For example. Is God’s Word able to stand on its own? Or does it require our individual interpretations to do its work? In our western culture, someone asks a question and we tell them our opinion of what God says in answer. But notice how often Jesus answered a question with another question, or He simply told them a story. What would it look like if we answered a question with a story from God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit speak through that story to the person’s heart?

Not too long ago I was having coffee with someone, and sharing a vision of discipleship training that has resulted in rapid spread of the Gospel in many parts of our world. The person with me said, “Here is what worries me about that. How do you control it?” I would suggest to you that herein lies some of the problems we face in western cultural church. We want to control the uncontrollable. We have attempted to “control” the Holy Spirit to the point that He is grieved to silence in our presence.

I am just raising the question for you to consider. Paul was not free, but that didn’t stop Him from sharing God’s Word, and it was never bound. We are free, and yet the Gospel often seems to be hindered. So what if we shared the truth and let God do His thing without so much interference from us.

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That title seems familiar. A song from my college days, and sung by the great theologians, “The Beatles”. But there is a long and winding road that so many travel. It is a road that leads to nowhere except destruction and death. It is the wide road that most travel, a Nazarene once said.

I remember hearing someone say, “It will take you farther than you wanted to go; it will keep you longer than you wanted to be; it will make you pay a price higher than you wanted to pay.” The “it” is sin. Sin is not relative. Sin is not found on a list of do’s and don’ts. Sin is rebellion against the God who created you.

God made man and woman for Himself. But Adam and Eve said, “We will be our own gods.” And they chose sin. For most of us it is much more subtle. It begins slowly. It has at its center, the letter “I”. sIn. I want, I will, I must, I can… I deserve. It is me, me, me, me. It is all about me.

I spend so much time with people who have made their choices, and made bad ones. Then they are praying desperately that God not allow the consequences of their sins to catch up with them. It is like sowing seed in fertile soil getting adequate rain and sunshine, but then praying that the harvest will not come in. I will have unprotected sex outside of the confines of my marriage, but God please don’t let me catch a disease, or have pregnancy result, and please don’t let my spouse find out. I will drink and drive, but God please don’t let me get caught or hurt anyone. God I will jump off the Empire State Building, but please don’t let me die.

We can make our own decisions and choices; God has created us that way. But we cannot choose the results of those choices.
Sin when fully conceived always results in death. The death of hopes and dreams. The death of marriages. The death of ministries. Sin takes you on a long and winding road that ultimately leads to hell.

There is another choice. It is a narrow road that few take. It is the Jesus Road.

Have you even asked that question? What did you conclude? Maybe you decided that God was against you. Or, that He just didn’t care. Or maybe you thought, I am getting what I deserve. I must have done something to deserve this.

Imagine Joseph, the man betrothed to Mary n the Christmas story. Betrothal was more formal than our engagement. It was as legally binding as marriage itself, but the couple waited a year before being together. He discovers his bride to be is pregnant, and not with his child. He must be thinking, surely, God is not for me. This is not the way I planned my life working out.

But an angel comes to him with a message in a dream. And essentially that essage says, “Jospeh, if you can believe, if you will believe, if you will let faith inform your fear, God will change your life.”

The message of Christmas is to everyone, “God is for you.” He sent His only begotten Son for you at Christmas. He gave the most valuable of gifts. He attached His name to those of faith. If you will believe, if you can believe that “God is for you”, then God will transform your fear in faith so that you have peace.

Too often we think that following Christ promises a problem free life. Jesus did nto promise a problem free life, but a peace filled life. Will you believe today that God is for you. Even in the midst of the storms of your life? Will you pray through in faith until God gives you peace? Merry Christmas.