Freedom to Choose

As we’ve looked at the subject of freedom in Christ, we have learned about justification, sanctification, and now we look at glorification. Our Bible Journaling Scripture for today is Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” (CSB)

So far, we have learned that justification is “the act of being declared righteous in God’s sight.” We have learned that sanctification means “to be made holy”. This is a process; it is a life-long journey. Now we look at glorification, which is defined as, “God’s final removal of sin from the life of the saints (through salvation). When Jesus comes back to take the Believer to Heaven with Him, “we will be changed from mortal to holy immortal with direct access to God’s presence.” (taken from http://www.gotquestions.org)

God did not create us to be mere automatons. He gave us the ability to choose the path we want to go. We alone decide whether to accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, God provides the final removal of our sins because of what Jesus has done for us. Unlike the angels, who were created to worship God entirely, we have a choice. We choose to love Him; we choose to follow His will and His purpose for us. We have a choice!

My first husband was into robots. In fact, he was so enamored by them that he made a couple of them. The last one was almost 6 feet tall and it walked, talked, and moved its arms. We named him Ottomation. But Otto couldn’t do any of those things without my husband rigging up a control panel for him to move and by providing the voice for Otto. The robot couldn’t do anything unless my husband made it do what he wanted it to do. Otto was a robot and could only do what he was programmed to do. God did not want mindless robots who were programmed only to do His bidding. He wanted His people to have the free will to be able to choose whether they would love, honor, obey, and worship Him.

The first test of this was in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3) God had only one rule for Adam and Eve, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They failed the test miserably, and because of that, sin entered the world and we have been dealing with it ever since. Because of Adam’s sin, each of us was born in sin. In order to restore the relationship between God and us, we must accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. (John 3:3, John 3:16-17, Acts 2:21, 4:12) God does not beat us over the head, demanding that we follow Jesus, but He lovingly offers us a way of escape from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23) through Christ’s death on the cross.

Once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are promised eternal life with Him, free from all the hindrances we face now. God accepts our repentance, we receive His grace, and we can then live a life full of peace and joy and have the knowledge that God loves us and provides eternal life for us. We are promised that we will have a glorified body, like Jesus, and we will be in God’s presence face to face. The choice is ours. The question remains, “What will you do with Jesus?” I hope that if you haven’t asked Christ into your life, that today you will choose to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. It will be the best decision you will have ever made.

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Freedom from the Fear of Death

Death is not something most of us don’t want to even think about. As Believers, we don’t have to fear death because Jesus has conquered it. Today’s Bible Journaling Scripture is taken from Hebrews 2:14-15, “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Why do we fear death? I think for some it is fear of the process of death. What will we feel? will we be aware that we are dying? will there be pain? … all of these can be sources of our fear. For those especially who do not know Jesus as Savior, it is fear of what happens to us after we die. The Bible tells us that there is life after death, the question is where will we spend that life? The Bible says that life after death is eternal. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (NIV) Now some may say, “Well, all I have to do is be a good person and I will live in Heaven.” But that isn’t what the Bible says. Sin separates us from fellowship with God. We all are born in sin because of Adam’s sin in the Garden and that destined us all to death. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (CSB)

But when we put our full trust and belief in Jesus Christ, accept His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and live for Him, we can then look forward to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to salvation and life eternal. (John 14:6) God set out a plan to save us from our sin at the very beginning. (Genesis 3:15) Jeremiah 21:8 says, “But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.’” (CSB) He sent Jesus to die for our sins because of His great love for us. (John 3:16) Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.’” Therefore, we have no need to fear death. The Bible says that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! Revelation 1:18 tells us, “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” We have nothing to fear, Jesus has the keys and He has locked the door, never to unlock it again!

For those who fear the process, the Bible talks about death, saying that we sleep. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 9:24, John 11:12-13, I Corinthians 15:51) It says we fall asleep here and wake up in eternity. Whether we wake in Heaven or in Hell depends on what we have decided about Jesus. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death and we know that He loves us and wants to take away all our fear. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can rest, without fear of what is to come, knowing we have a Savior who loves us and has given His life for us, and has prepared the way for us. (John 14:1-3)

We are Free from the Penalty of Sin

As we continue talking about our freedom in Christ, we understand that the most important freedom we have is our freedom from the penalty of our sin. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (CSB) Jesus has paid the penalty for us!

In J. Vernon McGee’s Commentary on Romans, he writes that verse one should literally read, “Therefore now, not one condemnation.” Isn’t that an amazing thought? There is nothing for which God condemns us. We don’t need to worry about being condemned because Jesus took care of our penalty for sin on the cross. As Believers, we do at times, fall into sin. But we don’t have to stay there, and when we repent and ask forgiveness, God forgives, and we are free. He does not condemn us. If we feel any condemnation, it comes from the enemy. It is Satan who sits on our shoulder pointing out our faults and failures, condemning us, telling us we are not good enough to be a Christian, telling us that God couldn’t possibly love us and that because we failed we have lost our place in God’s family. The Apostle Paul tells us, “not one condemnation”, is placed upon us! We are justified. Justification can be defined as, “Just as if I hadn’t sinned.” The dictionary defines justification as, “the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.” That is just what Jesus did for us on the cross. His death on the cross paid for the penalty of our sins. He took our sins upon Himself.

Our verse tells us also that “the law of the Spirit of Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” In J. Vernon McGee’s commentary, he states, ‘“The law of the Spirit’ means not only a principle of law, but also the authority which is exercised by the Spirit. ‘The Spirit of life’ means the Holy Spirit who brings life because He essentially is life. He is the Spirit of life. ‘In Christ Jesus’ means that the Holy Spirit is in complete union with Christ Jesus. Because the believer shares the life of Christ, He liberates the believers.” Isn’t that amazing? Because we share Jesus’ life, we are freed because of what He did for us.

So, how do we go about sharing in the life of Christ so that we may be liberated? We must believe that Jesus is God’s Son, was born of a virgin, lived on earth to preach and teach about who God is, was beaten, tortured, and crucified to pay the penalty of our sins, was buried for three days, resurrected, and ascended to Heaven to reign with His Father. We must repent (ask forgiveness) of all our sins, ask Him to live within us, change us, and endeavor to live for Him, and then thank Him for His grace to us. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (CSB) Once we have accepted Jesus as Savior, we can receive freedom from our sins.

If you are looking for that freedom, take that step forward. Ask Jesus to save you from your sins and live inside of you. Don’t put it off. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “…now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! You will find that it will be the best decision you have ever made. Then you will experience that freedom from the penalty of sin and death, and you will find that you are living with peace and joy in your heart.

I Walk in Freedom

As we continue our study on freedom, our Bible Journaling Scripture today is from Psalm 119:45, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” (NLT) What does walking in freedom mean? Politically, walking in freedom involves following the laws that have been set forth by our Constitution and legislators. As long as we abide by the law of the land, we have freedom. When we violate those laws, our freedom ends, and most likely will end up with a loss of that freedom.

Spiritually, our freedom comes when we follow God’s laws and when we accept Christ as our Savior. He frees us from our sin. As we mentioned in our last post, just because we are free to do what we want, we should not go against the precepts that God has laid down for us, or we will we be in bondage to sin and depravity. We are not to continue in sin for we will find ourselves in a position of rebellion and back to the bondage of sin, and discipline will be given to us for that disobedience. Just as we are free in our country to live as we please, when we violate the laws of the land, there is a punishment that will be given. Break the speed laws and we receive a speeding ticket. Do it too many times and we lose the privilege of driving. The same holds true with following God’s commandments. When we violate the precepts found in the Bible, God has no choice but to administer a “come to Jesus moment”. Willful sin cannot be a part of the Believer’s life. Yes, we do sin, but we are not to make it a continual choice, we are not to live in sin. When we sin, we are to ask God’s forgiveness and endeavor to do better. He promises to forgive us of our sin (I John 1:9) and set us free.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this with the early church. In I Corinthians 6: 12 Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NASB) Meaning, we can do what we feel is right, but it may not necessarily be the best thing for us to do. Peter struggled with this in that he seemed to act according to who he was with. In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul confronts Peter. Peter was eating with the Gentile Believers until some of James’ friends from Jerusalem came, and then he ate with them and distanced himself from the Gentile Christians. He was afraid of what the Jewish Christians would say if he ate with the Gentiles. This caused some Jewish Believers to follow Peter’s example, and Paul had to correct Peter publicly, because it showed inconsistency in his behavior. There was nothing wrong with eating with the Gentiles. However, the Jews had been raised not to eat with uncircumcised people (Gentiles), who were considered sinners. Therefore, Peter, even though he had the freedom to eat with the Gentiles, didn’t show the Jewish Believers the freedom that he had in Christ by his actions.

In other instances, if we know something we do that we do not consider sin, is a stumbling block to those who see it as sin, and we cause that person to backslide, then we are abusing our freedom and causing a fellow Believer to fall. Romans 14 deals with this very thing. In this example Paul is talking about eating meat that has been offered to idols. If a fellow Believer considers it sin to eat meat and we don’t, then it is advisable not to eat meat in their presence, that way we will not cause them to stumble. Their faith may not be as strong as ours, and so we must help them continue in faith and to grow.

Freedom also involves a level of maturity in how we act, speak, and show our faith. As an example, in some circles, Christians believe it is ok to drink alcoholic beverages. They believe they have that freedom as Believers, and they may have. However, as I see it, there is inconsistency in their walk with the Lord. Yes, the Bible says it is ok to drink, but not to get drunk. The Bible even says to drink wine as a medicine for your stomach. (I Timothy 5:23) But like my Pastor says, “When you take one drink, you are drunker than you were before.” It is not a good idea to engage in behavior that the world engages in because it will ruin our witness before them. They will say, “Well, if they can do that, what makes them different from me?” It can show them that God hasn’t made a difference in our lives and they feel that there is no desire to become a Christian.

So, walking in freedom requires us to use discretion in how we live. If we want to be consistent, show the world that Christ has made a change in us, and be an example to others, we must use our freedom wisely, and then we will be truly free.

Freedom is Found in Christ

In the United States we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th. There is much celebrating as we remember what was given so that we can live in a country where we are free to live and worship as we please. There is also a Spiritual freedom that comes through belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Our Bible Journaling today comes from John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (CSB)

First off, we need to know the definition of freedom. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines freedom as “the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action, liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.” Spiritually, we are free from the power of sin over our lives once we become Born-Again Believers. However, that does not mean we will never sin. We still are human beings who are not perfect and do sin. But that does not mean that all is hopeless. God forgives our sin when we repent and ask for His forgiveness. If we are free in Jesus does that mean we have a license to do whatever we want, even go against God’s law and will for our lives? No. The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in Romans 6:1-2. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (NASB) There were some in the church who were teaching that because God would forgive their sin when they asked forgiveness (I John 1:9) then they could go out and live any way they wanted, including returning to their old life. What they forgot was, with sin comes consequences and that means discipline from God. Paul had to deal with this issue in the church a lot, it seems.

Freedom doesn’t mean that we can return to our former lifestyle without having to suffer the penalty for disobedience. Just as we in the United States have freedom to live as we please, there are still laws that must be obeyed, or we suffer the consequences.

Today there are still those who think that once they have become Christians, they have an insurance policy to get into Heaven. They think they can go out and live like the Devil himself without repercussion. But Paul says no, there must be accountability and we must be obedient to God and His Word to ensure that we are living holy, justified lives. So, what does freedom in Christ mean? It means that we are free to follow Him and His precepts, Not only are we free from the penalty of our sin, but we are also free to love and worship God and have a close relationship with Him. We are free from Satan’s hold on us and we are free to follow God, free to choose to live a life of joy, peace, and restoration.

We are also free to believe what God says about us. Sometimes, I have a hard time accepting what God says about me. I know myself, and I know I don’t measure up to God’s standards. I look at myself in the mirror and what I see doesn’t please me a lot of the time. But when I look at myself through God’s Word and see what it is that He says about me, then I realize that I must quiet the sound of the enemy in my head telling me that I’m not who God says I am. God says I am His (Isaiah 43:1), He says I am precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4), He says I am loved (Jeremiah 31:3), He says I am beautiful (Isaiah 62:3, Ephesians 2:10), He says I am accepted (Ephesians 1:3-6), and He says that I am restored (Psalm 23:3). We have freedom in Christ to believe what He says about us and to live accordingly. We can then rejoice in our freedom. I am so thankful that God provided a way for me to enjoy the freedom I find in Jesus. My heart is full of peace and joy, knowing that I have freedom in Christ. You can also know that freedom. If you have ever asked Jesus to save you from your sins, now is a good time. 2 Corinthians says, “…Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” When you accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation you can begin to enjoy a life of freedom in Him.

Clinging to God Brings Life

Our relationship with God is determined by how close we are to Him. In today’s Bible Journaling, God says we are to cling to Him because this is our life. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (NASB) Our life comes from God, physically and spiritually. In order to receive the blessings of God, we must choose the pathway He has laid out for us and we must be obedient to His Word.

In Hebrew the word “L’Chaim” means “to life”. This is a common toast given at Jewish weddings. It is a blessing upon the new couple for a long and happy life. In our Scripture today God is encouraging Israel to turn from their rebellion by being obedient to Him, and walking closely to Him, thereby choosing the life God gives over the death that disobedience and rebellion brings. Israel had been contentious from the moment they came out of Egypt. They were always complaining, going against everything the Lord had directed them to do, and because of their disobedience, a whole generation were kept out of the Promised Land. Israel continued, even after being in the Promised Land, to rebel and follow the idols of other nations. This brought about judgement upon them. God had to punish their disobedience. However, He promised restoration if they chose to follow Him and live the life He laid down for them. He had given them the law by which they were to follow. If they chose to follow Him closely, life was theirs, if not then they would receive curses.

It is the same for us as Believers. God desires a close relationship with us, and He wants us to stay close to His side, live holy and pure lives, offering our last ounce of devotion and love to Him. By walking in the pathway He has for us, we receive eternal life. Blessings will be ours; a life of peace and joy will be our reward. By accepting Jesus as our Savior, and promising and endeavoring to live holy lives, we are guaranteed salvation and a life in eternity in Heaven with Him.

We must remember also that our lives are a shining example of the work God has done in our hearts. When we live pure, holy, and clean lives before the world and love God with all our heart, it is a testament of what Jesus has done for us. Our obedience brings a light that shines, reflecting Jesus’ light in us, and directs them toward God. When we live lives that are so radically different from the world, it becomes a beacon. Just as a lighthouse gives out light to keep ships safe in the harbor, the light of Jesus directs the world to a safe harbor into the arms of God and life.

When we read our Bibles in daily study and quiet time, pray, gather with fellow Believers, follow the instruction given in His word, and show love to others, we are choosing life over death and blessing over curses. Not only do we benefit from obedience to God, but so do those around us. They see how our obedience to Him affects our lives and it makes them desire what it is we have. We witness to others with our lives. The adage, “witness to others and when necessary use words” is so appropriate and true. Our lives are an open testimony of what God has done in us. Love God, live in obedience, and show His love to others. That is how we win this world for Jesus and receive life!

God Calls Us His Children

Bible Journaling page was traced from a Pinterest post from Carmen Ramirez.

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I John 3:1-3, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.” (NLT) God loves us so much that He calls us His children! What an awesome thought!

God refers to Believers in different ways. He says we are His children; He says we are lambs; He says we are His bride! I love that He calls us His children! That makes Him my Abba Father! I can go to Him with everything that concerns me. Joys, sorrows, victories, defeats…anything that I experience, I can tell Him about it. His love is never ending. His love is more than I can comprehend.

There is one requirement for a person to be considered God’s child. Each person must decide in their heart what they will do with Jesus. Will He be accepted into that person’s life or rejected? To be God’s child, we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, ask forgiveness for our sins, and promise to live for Him. From that moment on, our lives must be lived for Him in everything we do and say. We must exhibit a pure life that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. When we do this, the Bible says we are Born-Again. (John 3)

There are several references in the Bible where Born-Again Believers are called children of God. The Apostle Paul states in Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) Jesus said as much in Luke 20:36, “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (KJV)

As His children, we are required to keep ourselves pure (verse 3), and as human beings, that can be difficult at times. But we must stay close to Him to accomplish purity in our lives. Once we wander away from Him, it makes it more difficult to stay pure. Obedience to God is needed in every area of our lives. We realize that we are not perfect, and God knows that also, after all, He created us. But He requires that we persevere in living holy, pure lives for Him. Daily Bible Study and prayer, fellowshipping with other Christians, church attendance…all these things help us to live holy lives before Him. We often stray and get off the pathway He has laid out for us, and when that happens, God, as our Father, disciplines us. He disciplines out of love, not as an overbearing task master, but He gently leads us back to where we belong. The writer of Hebrews explains, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11 KJV) Job 36:10 (NASB) says, “He opens their ear to instruction, And commands that they return from evil.” As a loving Father, He disciplines us so that we overcome our rebellion, our mistakes, and our sin.

He knows what is best for us, just as earthly fathers know what is best for their children, and desire to keep their children safe and happy. God wants us to experience the best in life that He has to offer us. He loves us and wants our obedience and a close relationship with His children. He wants us to talk to Him every day, He wants to shower us with His blessings. He wants us to get to know who He is and enjoy His presence with us. I am so glad He loves me enough to discipline my rebellious ways. It is then that I can truly enjoy a life of peace and joy with God as my Abba Father!