Celebrating Freedom!

Today, my husband and I celebrate a sweet family member who went to be with Jesus. We rejoice in her life, but more importantly we rejoice in the witness of her faith in Jesus Christ. In my reflection of her freedom from the pain of this world, I can't help to see a parallel with the struggle our nation endured before gaining its freedom.

Today, we celebrate...
  • The birth of the USA.
  • The blessings of a free nation.
  • Freedom from oppression.
  • Freedom to worship.
  • The freedom and incomparable hope we can all find in Jesus Christ.
  • The promise of eternity.

In my celebration, I’m also saddened to acknowledge that many in pastoral ministry - as well as those in our churches - fail to live in the reality of our freedom in Christ. Too often, we allow the oppression of sin’s temptation to ensnare us. Our hearts and minds are held in bondage with the worries of this world. Why do we, as believers, allow this to happen? We have so much to celebrate each and every day! How can we find freedom from this relentless cycle of discontentment and disillusionment in our ministry endeavors and in our personal faith struggles?

Paul gives us a great picture of how we can regain our sense of celebration each and every day in Galatians 5. I share these words of hope and counsel as a word of encouragement for both you - and I. May our life's witness be one that will be seen by others and bring glory to God. 

     “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 
     You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
     So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other.” (vs. 1, 4-5, 6b-7, 13a-14, 16-17a)

We know the list of sins, right?
  • "Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery
  • Idolatry and witchcraft
  • Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage
  • Selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy
  • Drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (vs. 19-21)

We also know the list of spiritual fruit that we can live by. 
  • "Love, joy, peace
  • Patience, kindness, goodness
  • Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (vs. 22-23a)

The question for us today is this, Which list are we living by?

Are we (you and I) daily laying our sinful nature at the cross, and are we each finding freedom from hatred, selfishness ‘and the like’ (which basically means that we can _____ fill in the blank!)? If you’re like me, I think we need to all heed Paul’s caution to “not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery [trying to be/do good vs living in God's forgiveness and grace].” Instead, we must choose to live in Christ’s freedom by - 
  • "Standing firm in our faith
  • Obeying God’s truth 
  • Serving one another in love!"

May we each cast off any sinful entanglements that threaten to tear us down and instead live in the freedom of God’s grace and mercy in our lives. It’s time to celebrate our freedom!

http://yokemates.blogspot.com


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