What is freedom in Christ? It seems as if many Americans think that freedom means that we can do literally whatever we want to. But, that is not what it means, is it? In the United States freedom is basically, in my opinion, freedom to do what we choose as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights and freedoms. We just need to basically obey the laws, be nice and be considerate of each other.
What about freedom in Christ, though? Are you living out your freedom in Him?
1“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.”
Some days are just normal, huh? Then some days are abnormal. And some days are super-normal. How do you like my made up words?? As Christians, we have been set apart for a different kind of days… a different kind of life, actually. Amazing things and amazing, abundant life!
“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.'”
Do you have sufficient energy for today? How about for this week? Have you struggled with some perplexing problem over the last few days that has taxed your sleep and therefore taxing your approach to this new day?
1“O God, You are my God, earnestly I will seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Last time we talked about our hearts and how that is where it is determined whether we can focus on God or not. He puts the passion for Him in our hearts and He gives us the desire and discipline to focus our hearts and lives on Him.
It’s all about the heart and I want my heart to be all about Him. How about you?
We are talking more about the heart today. There are things about our hearts that we need to keep in mind as we go through this life – important things. We will be talking about 2 verses: Proverbs 4:23 and Jeremiah 17:9.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
23″Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
We have spent quite a bit of time over the past few days talking about staying close to God… keeping our eyes fixed on God… focusing our lives on God. Today I have been thinking about how that may just seem impossible when you are busy with work, kids, homework, grandkids, etc.
So, today, we are going to talk about how we can actually do that. Is it really possible and if so, how?
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
5“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make Your paths straight.”
It seems to me that staying focused on God is partly habit, partly determination, but mostly heart. Throughout God’s Word, there is a consistent theme – it is about the heart – His heart, my heart, your heart.
Mostly About Our Hearts
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart…” in Deuteronomy, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
“…and serve Him with all your heart…” Joshua 22:5
“…above all else guard your heart…” Proverbs 4:23
According to christianbiblereference.org, the word “heart” occurs in the NIV translation almost 600 times. Each translation is a little different on the count.
As God draws us to Him, He turns our hearts toward Him. He gives us that heart’s desire to focus on Him, know Him, love Him, serve Him, trust Him, and so on. So if we need the heart to focus on Him we need to ask Him for it.
Let’s go to Verse 5:
5“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”
The AMP Bible says:
5″Lean on, trust and be confident in the LORD with all your heart and mind, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.”
It is pretty clear in this verse that we do not just automatically do the will of God. I am sure we all knew that – but our insight and understanding apart from God will almost always lead us in the wrong direction.
God’s Wisdom or Ours?
Why? I think it is because then we are actually relying on human wisdom, which falls terribly short in comparison to God’s wisdom. Human wisdom will take us down human paths.
But what path will God’s wisdom take us down?
Now to Verse 6:
“…in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
The AMP Bible says:
“In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”
Focused on Him
This is where we really get down to the word “focus”.
We are to “in ALL our ways acknowledge Him”. When we do that, we are focusing our lives on Him. Well, the way that will happen is if our heart/soul is so clinging to Him and wanting to be in His will that we acknowledge Him such as
“So, Lord, is this the way I should go?”
“Lord, how do I accomplish this thing that I feel You are leading me to do?”
“Please help me forgive her, Lord. I know You do not want me to stay angry.”
“This is too hard for me, Lord, so please help me.”
“How can I bring You glory in this situation, Lord?”
Does it Line Up?
As He leads you and answers these questions for you, won’t He be making your paths straight? Absolutely. But, how do you know He is the one leading you? How do you know it is His voice? Does it line up with God’s Word?
We must know His Word well and know His character well. Which comes from spending time in it and with Him. If you are not sure, go to a more mature Christian, a mentor of sorts, and ask them to help you qualify it in God’s Word.
God will never, ever lead you to do anything contrary to His Word. If it is contrary to His Word, you have not heard from Him. There again, you may want to talk with a Christian mentor about it.
He will never lead you to lie or break any of His laws, to accomplish His will.
He will never condone this thinking “the accomplishment justifies how I get it done – no matter how shady or deceptive I am.” We are to walk uprightly before God and man, aren’t we?
It is such a beautiful thing to be protected and led by our wonderful Lord. He has His glory and our good in mind… always! He is so good to us and He wants good things for us.
Things to Ponder:
Are you trusting in the Lord today or in yourself or in someone else? We need God’s help even in trusting Him, so let’s just do that. Ask Him for His help in trusting Him. For me, some days it is harder than others but He is faithful to help us.
Are you acknowledging Him in all your ways? Do you bring Him into your decision-making process?
He loves you and me so much and He delights in our seeking Him! He really does. No matter how many times we take our burdensome decisions or issues to Him, we cannot over-burden Him. He has unimaginably strong, broad shoulders to carry the load.
May your day be filled with God’s light and your heart be filled with His joy!!
Have you ever had someone depend on you so much that you felt smothered or even panicked? I have. Our beautiful, wonderfully loving God is not at all like that. For this, I am so thankful! He actually wants us to depend on Him with all we are. He wants our loving dependence.
Psalm 62:1-2 NIV
1“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
2“He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
Staying close to God all day long – knowing that He is right there with us will change our lives!
If you are like me it is somewhat easy to get my mind on God and His Word in the morning, but as the day gets moving and I get busy other things seem to push Him to the back of my mind.
Later on, He will come back to my mind then again something else crowds in.
I want to get to where there is no break in the continuity of my thinking. I want to keep my mind on Him and know that He is my holy companion that is always with me. How about you?
Psalm 63:6-8 NIV
6“On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night.
7“Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
8“My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”
Small Changes, Big Results
Lately, at night I have been listening to worship music as I lay in bed and move toward sleep. I am a night owl and for a few years, my husband has worked over into the wee hours of the morning. Thank the Lord, that has just changed! But the wee hours have been a very lonely time for me, especially lately. It is very hard for me to go to bed when he isn’t home yet. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped leaving the TV on right up to time to go to bed and started playing worship music. It has made a wonderful difference in the end of my day. Instead of feeling weepy, I am singing and worshiping our great God. He is so good and I am so thankful He led me to make this change. Everything good is from Him!
Is there something you could change to help you focus your attention on Him at a time in your day that He needs to shine in?
Let’s go to Verse 6:
6“On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night.”
We need God to permeate every corner of our lives. Morning to night. Waking and sleeping.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that we need to “fix” our eyes on Jesus. I think of “fix” as a permanent attaching to. Fixative is glue and it is not the kind that is on a sticky note but like super glue. It fixes one thing to another thing for a permanent attachment. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus in a way that results in a constant/permanent attachment. Then we will think of Him even “through the watches of the night”.
Now to Verse 7:
7“Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings.”
Isn’t it amazing that the God of the Universe who calls us to serve Him, helps us? He knows how much we need Him. He knows we cannot glorify Him if He does not help us. Still, in His mercy, He helps us.
May our hearts rejoice as we sing to Him about His beautiful goodness! If we stand close enough, we will be in the shadow of His wings!
8“My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”
When I think of my soul clinging to God, I think of the very deepest part of who I am, holding tight to Him with no intention of letting go.
And as I hold on for dear life, He holds me. Wow!
Does your soul cling to Him? That is where I want to be! Clinging to Him and knowing that His right hand upholds me! How about you?
Things to Ponder:
Is there a part of your day that is dark, like my weepy wee hours of the morning? What can you change to help you move your focus to God during those times?
How has God helped you this week? Think about it, we cannot do anything that He does not give us the strength to do. Maybe write some things down.
Are you singing under the shadow of His wings? Are you telling Him of His greatness and your gratitude? When you see an amazing sunset, thank Him for it. Acknowledge Him in everything.
What is your soul clinging to? Oh, may our souls cling to Him! May we cling to Him with no intention of letting go and may we feel Him upholding us with His mighty right hand. Ask Him to help you cling to Him.
Thank You, Beautiful Lord, for loving us and making us Yours. Help us to stay focused on You!
Things to Do:
Start your day with Him – in His Word and Prayer. Ask Him to help you keep your eyes on Him through the day.
Play worship music throughout the day.
Work on memorizing a verse or passage of Scripture-on an index card in your pocket so you have it with you.
Put things about that remind you that He truly is with you and talk to Him.
End your day with Him – Count your blessings, think of ways you knew He was with you throughout the day, read your Bible… I am sure you have some ideas of your own.
Have you ever been in a rowboat or a sailboat on the water during a storm? I have not, but I have been in an airplane in high winds which was extremely interesting and pretty terrifying. Thanks be to God, it was over fairly quickly and we were safely on the ground. I can imagine that being in a boat in stormy waters would be terrifying and long! Like the bigger storms of life, huh?
Matthew 8:23-27 NIV
23″Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’
26″He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27″The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!'”
Imagine… knowing you would never fall in your Christian life. I know on our best days we can all feel pretty good about where we are in our walk with Christ. Oops! Would that be a prideful statement? Yep!
So, what are you and I to do, to never fall?
2 Peter 1:10-11
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will recieve a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”