Freedom without Liberty

I have found often what the world promotes as freedom tends to bondage. For instance, most people consider freedom the ability of an individual to do whatever he or she wants. If you take a closer look at that you will find that it is very limiting. An individual can only experience or realize what they know of or what they are aware of. That’s like someone giving you a pair of roller skates and telling you that you are free to explore the world. Another example is like giving you an airplane and telling you to go see the world with no manual or pilot training. Your freedom does not extend beyond your knowledge because you cannot enter, fully experience or partake of that which you are ignorant of and don’t understand. In order to become free you have to be educated and empowered. Our Heavenly Father has given us examples to consider for coming to a true understanding of life and the universe He has created. Consider raising a child. When are children able to be free by the world’s definition?…Not at birth, a new-born would die on its own…Not as a toddler nor for that matter as an adolescent. In fact if we equate freedom with independence then we are never really free because we are all dependent on each other. Only God is self-existent! Let that marinate. We are not even free to know what freedom is until we are taught. The devil, the great deceiver, is still up to his tricks.

The wicked forces of this world have deceived people into believing that they are free by empowering them to indulge the appetites of their flesh without restraint. Freedom is sold as having all the food you want, all the sex you want, all the libations you want, all the material things you can gather and so on. This does not lead to freedom; it leads to addiction which is essentially bondage. I know I am throwing lint on some lollipops but many of us have been suckers for too long. How free is the obese person to enjoy an active life style? How free is the sex addict to enjoy the benefits of a committed relationship? How free is the drug addict to enjoy a stable life? How free is the materialistic person to enjoy lasting contentment? In fact, the easiest person to control is the one given to their appetites? This definition of freedom is extremely visible in the mind-set of American citizens. Many Americans I encounter consider even the practice of healthy restraint an infraction of their freedom. Try talking to a smoker about quitting or smoke free public environments. Trying talking to an overweight person about their food selections or portion control. Try talking to a gay rights advocate about the sustainability of the human race. Every individual has to exercise some restraint or freedom deteriorates collectively as well as individually.

Everyone with a valid driver’s license can seem to understand the importance of traffic laws like speed limits, stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals. All traffic laws are intended to keep us safe on the roads. What if when driving, in the name of freedom and individual rights, we all decided to disregard traffic laws along with every other person on the road and just did our own thing.  It would be catastrophic. It is easy to see the relationship between how we drive on the roads and its impact on others on the roads but it takes a little more consideration to understand the impact of how we live our lives in relation to others in our community and the world around us. You don’t live your life based on traffic law but you do live your life based on moral law that is unless you are an immoral person. We exercise restraint on ourselves through our own morality and values. Restraint is exercised on the general public through law enforcement. Any mature adult can see the importance of laws. The problem occurs when laws conflict with our appetites and desires. Who is qualified to tell us what we can and cannot have or what we need and do not need or what we can and cannot do? Governments all over the world have proven themselves to be unqualified to handle this task, including the USA. In America we have a history of employing the policy of ignorance for control and restricting empowerment to certain races and classes of people. As I said earlier, for freedom to be realized it has to be combined with education and empowerment. The governments of this world can support our freedom but they cannot secure our freedom.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This is a reference to Lucifer and his hordes.

Ephesians 4:8 says, “Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

John 8:31-32 says, “And Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus has won our freedom by triumphing over the powers of spiritual wickedness. As I stated earlier, your freedom only extends as far as your knowledge, so Satan’s plan was to keep us in darkness, ignorant of the truth but Jesus came as a bright shining light and exposed the devil as well as opened our eyes to the truths that make us free. The life of Jesus is an example to follow.

1 Peter 4:1-3 says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

The only way we truly become free as a people or nation is by submitting our will to the Lord. I know this is counter-intuitive but it is written in Luke 9:23-25;

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

The Lord is the only one qualified to govern our lives because He alone created our lives. I am not advocating an anti-government mentality. I am advocating that we do all we can to ensure first that our individual morality and values reflect those of the Lord and secondly that our governing bodies reflect the same. It is only then that every person will be in a position to experience true freedom.

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Who Loves Ya Baby?

The famous words of Kojak! I know I am telling my age with that one. You youngsters will need to Google it. The question is valid though. We need to know who really loves us. I say “really” because everything called love is not necessarily so. It is also important that the love we give is “really” love and that the recipients acknowledge that. In relationships where there is mutual faith in the love shared, that relationship forms a bond which  becomes an enduring pillar of support and a rich source of esteem. This already challenging life is considerably tougher for those who feel they don’t share this love relationship with anyone and feel alone. By alone, I am referring to being in a place where no one is really interested in your voice, your personal feelings. I am also referring to a place where there is no one other than yourself that believes in your heart, and in spite of your mistakes believe that your intent is good. Unless you are narcissistic, without the affirmation of people that love you, you can begin to doubt yourself. One would think that this kind of love is a given in family, however having blood relatives does not guarantee this bond of love. It follows that having blood relatives does not guarantee that you will not feel alone. Before going any further, let me qualify what I mean by love.

When I speak of love I am referring to the love that comes from God. The bible teaches that God is love. So the love I am referring to comes from a divine source. Have you ever heard someone say they didn’t know how poor they were until they saw how the rich lived? Love is the same way. What most people consider love is poor in comparison to the real love of God. I Corinthians 13 give us a glimpse at real love:

 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

This love is not innate to our physical nature. We surely have some strong feelings generated from our physical being but they fall short of the wholeness comprised in divine love or real love. The big three feelings that dominate physical man are fear, lust, and pride.  These big three, though at times mimic love, are actually contrary to love. Fear comes from dread instead of hope. Lust is rooted in “taking” instead of “giving”. Pride is centered in concern for self instead of concern for the well being of all. Of the big three, PRIDE is the strongest and most dominant. Because the big three are natural to us, it takes the intervention of the supernatural to free us from the domination of them. The spirit of God in conjunction with our conscience convicts us to makes us aware of behavior that is detrimental to us and those around us. These are the actions produced by the influence of the big three. If we are sensitive to the conviction we can turn to God for help and He can begin the work of breaking the power of the big three which frees us from the behavior causing harm.  If we choose to override the conviction, this has a dulling affect on our sensitivity to harmful behavior and we become callous.  We never want to become insensitive to those around us because it can lead to us becoming detached from the reality of our actions. That is how people become beastly and demonic. Pride is the power of wicked behavior because it refuses to acknowledge fault and thereby blocks repentance. It is pride that fights the hardest against the reality that we need salvation from God. Most people readily acknowledge that we need the help of others but the pride of natural man will often fight the reality that we are helplessly wicked without God. So God orchestrates the fall of the prideful to humble places for an opportunity to be freed from the blindness of pride. God is so good, working in all things to bring us to freedom and fulfillment.  Those who grow weary of the tyranny of the big three and answer the call of God to repentance receive deliverance. Only those delivered by God are free to love. The big three will not allow a man the liberty to fulfill the requisites of love. This is what God proved through the Law of Moses. As hard as a man may try, he will always fall short of keeping the commandments of Love in his own strength.

Jesus says let the rich say they are poor and let the poor say they are rich. In other words, let those who think they have something to offer outside of the goodness that comes from God acknowledge that they have nothing, and those who realize they are bankrupt of their own goodness acknowledge that they are made rich by God’s goodness . Even though they may still have faults, their pursuit of God and commitment to grow is evident through their repentance. If you acknowledge your poverty then God has opportunity to make you rich, but if you say you are rich when you know you don’t have the goods then you will remain poor. I am definitely on God’s well fare. He gives me my bread daily. I don’t have anything but what He gives me. Every day that I awake I ask God to make a deposit into my heart so that I will have something to spend, if not, I will go about creating debts. Some days I create debts anyway but I am thankful for God and those that love like Him who know how to forgive us our debts. We need people in our lives that are rich with God’s love and we need to be one of those people enriching the lives of other with His love.

Proverb 20:13 A Warning Against Slothfulness

Proverb 20:13

“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

Do not love sleep:

The sleep here is not merely relating to slumber upon the bed but the unconsciousness brought about through over indulgence in escape: movies, sports, video games, hobbies, pleasure, eating. I understand we all need recreation but too much can make us comatose instead of merely giving us rest. There are treasures within us that need to be unearthed and time that could be spent digging is wasted in life dulling slumber. The lack of time spent mining the treasure within leads to poverty.

Lest you come to poverty:

The true riches of life cannot be purchased with silver and gold. Though some may have an abundance of this world’s wealth, their soul can be impoverished. Money definitely can assist in the journey but too often money is considered the end instead of a means to the end. Money is not always a profitable exchange for time spent, especially when it comes to time spent away from family and friends. Some jobs, though they pay a lot, may cost you more than you earn. There is a poverty that is not reflected in a bank statement but is evident in broken families, drug abuse, and the volume of pills medicine cabinet.

Open your eyes:

Though the dreamland of popular opinion and rationalizations may be less challenging than truth, it is a wasteland shrouded with darkness and yields unfulfilled living. Don’t squint your eyes in denial, open them wide and let them adjust to the light of the truth. The burden that goes with sustaining falsehoods is much heavier than sustaining truth because truth sustains itself. The truth does bring freedom.

You will be satisfied with bread:

There is a saying that all men die but few men truly live. Most people sleep their lives away avoiding challenges, conflict, and the uncomfortable. Jesus taught that we would enter the kingdom through much tribulation. In order to have a full life, we have to embrace all of life, which means the not so pleasant parts too. Let the hope of the gospel reinvigorate you to live, to face the challenges, to welcome the conflict, and to endure the uncomfortable. For all that choose to do so will be satisfied with the bread of life; righteousness, peace, joy, love, and true fulfillment.

Ephesians 5:14-16, “Therefore He says:  Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Endeavor to meet every day with the hope of receiving your daily bread just as The Lord’s Prayer indicates. God has given us abundant life through Jesus Christ. May we learn to live well by His provision through the power of the Holy Spirit.