Ultimate Freedom

Jesus is the perfect example of true freedom.
From the very beginnings of His ministry as He was tempted in the desert, to His pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane, and finally to the Cross, Jesus demonstrated to all of mankind what true freedom really is. He faced the fact of freedom, its limitations, and freedom’s obligation. And in the process of understanding what freedom truly is, He lived in a place knowing whom He wanted to serve. His was the highest obligation. Jesus knew what needed to be done, and did it.

To be free is to have the possibility of choice and the power to make the decision we want to make.”
The problem is knowing what you want. And there’s a process of using your freedom. From doing what we want, we realize that our choice will lead us to who we will become. So then it changes to who we want to be. From there it solidifies into knowing who we want to be. And finally, we see that our loyalties strengthen and or freedom finally revolves around whom we want to serve.

Jesus lived by this. He served His Father no matter what the costs. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He pleaded for His life, Jesus ended His tearful prayer with “Not my will, but Your will be done!” And the paradox of this is, that Jesus wasn’t giving away His freedom when He said these words. On the contrary, He was realizing the ultimate freedom we can live. God came within our very nature and redeemed us from the inside.
Salvation must lie in freedom. Freedom is inescapable and necessary. The knowledge of good and evil made us unable to automatically choose the right and true. Since we lost that innocence because of freedom, we can only be reached through freedom.

When Jesus was standing before Pilate and was asked why He wouldn’t respond (Pilate reminded Jesus that he had the power to kill or free Him), Jesus finally responded, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." Jesus could have called on legions of angels to come down and save Him from certain death at any moment. But with every step He made a choice. He went in His freedom to die for us. No one forced Him to, He chose to. The purity of His freedom showed us a way to that same freedom. The Crucifixion was the climax of the entirety of His freedom. Literally, Christ was an example of freedom with His very life, for our ultimate freedom.

Now what are you going to do with that freedom?



The following is an excerpt from the Joshua Fund blogsite.

"You don’t hear much about it on the news. The media doesn’t much care. And the world has all but forgotten. But here’s the brutal truth: More than 4,200 rockets, missiles and mortars have been fired at Israeli towns along the southern border with Gaza by Palestinian terrorists since the Israeli Defense Forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005 in an effort to give “land for peace.” Radical Islamic jihadists launch an average of five to seven attacks a day. As I am writing this, 22 rockets were launched at innocent Israelis in just one day.

Hundreds of homes, schools and shops are being damaged in Israeli towns like Sderot and Ashkelon. Scores of Israelis are being injured. Some Israelis have been killed. The Palestinian rockets have no guidance systems. No one knows where they will land or who will be hit. It’s a 24-hour a day life of 'Russian Roulette.' As a result, Israeli mothers live in constant fear for their children. Fathers have trouble sleeping at night. Seniors are having heart attacks. Older children – even teenagers – are having terrible nightmares and are wetting their beds, night after night. And there seems to be no end in sight. The Palestinian government has not taken decisive political or military action to stop these terrorist attacks. Nor has the government of Israel. Indeed, the current Prime Minister is talking about dividing Jerusalem and giving away all of the West Bank. The U.S. has been virtually silent on the topic. The Arab world, the European Union, and the United Nations condemns Israel when it uses occasional air strikes to take out terrorist leaders.

At The Joshua Fund, we are determined to bless the people of southern Israel as much as possible. We must not forget them. We must not let them feel abandoned and alone. Rather, we must do everything we possibly can to mobilize evangelical Christians around the world to LEARN about what’s happening; PRAY knowledgably and consistently for peace; GIVE to the humanitarian relief work we are doing there; and even GO on one of our volunteer projects."


For more information, please go to the official Joshua Fund blog.



The Greatest Quest

"Love never fails."
-1 Corinthians 13:8

What is the number one goal in your life? What is your dream?

Maybe you want to build a successful business. Or be a teacher. Or join the Armed Forces. Or maybe you're called into the ministry. Those are great goals, but something even more important should be "your aim, your great quest" [1 Corinthians 14:1, AMP].

What is it? Living a life led by and filled with God's love.

Human love is changeable and unpredictable. On the other hand, God's love, which is the kind of love you and I should walk in, is entirely different. It doesn't act one way today and another way tomorrow. It doesn't let circumstances or emotions alter it. It is sure and consistent.

[First Corinthians 13:4-8] tells us precisely what its characteristics are. This passage of Scripture sets a very high standard for love--so high that you might be tempted to think it's beyond your reach, but it's not. In fact, if you're a Christian, it's natural for you. It's in your heart. You may not be letting it out, but it's there. When you made Jesus your Lord, God put His love inside you [Romans 5:5].

Without time with God and His Word, however, you'll naturally pull towards selfishness. We all have a natural mind that has been trained to believe things like, "You have to look out for yourself...and stick up for your own rights." Plus, Satan continually tries to draw us out of love, because he wants to steal the answers to our prayers.

The bottom line: Love is the foundation for your new life. When you walk in love, you put yourself in a place where God Himself can protect you--and then nothing can stand against you [Romans 8:31-34]. Love is the key to God's wisdom, power, and protection. No wonder the Word says, "Make it your aim, your great quest!"

Backup: [1 Corinthians 13:4-8]
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

"I eagerly desire and follow the way of love. I make it my aim and my great quest in life."


All the above is from the February 14 devotional from "Load Up" by Gloria Copeland. [emphasis added]


Not So Negative

When we hear the word "discipline" most of us cringe.
Ever thought of it as an opportunity?

Spiritual disciplines are the behaviors that facilitate spiritual growth.

Henri J. M. Nouwen said, "We should know that a spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship. The practice of spiritual disciple makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God."

So, without spiritual discipline, we have no spiritual life. And without a spiritual life it makes it really hard to pray to God effectively. And without prayer, we are really lost. That makes spiritual discipline essential to our Christian walk if we ever want to get anywhere.

Spiritual disciplines help us to get to know God. It is a building block for a friendship with God. When we choose to spend time with God instead of cleaning, reading, writing, watching a movie, video games, internet or anything else that can distract us, we are practicing spiritual discipline.
And a step of from that is disciplining ourselves to be silent. To "be still and know that [He is] God."

It has been said, "A love which has no silence, has no depth to it."

Consider the way lovers gaze at each other at a wedding ceremony just before they say their vows. Or how a mother watches her children loving from the bench at the park as they play on the slide and swings. That's love beyond words.

Selfish prayer, unorganized priorities, and being distracted can threaten spiritual growth. When our schedules are way to busy that we begin ignoring God, He's not going to force time on us. He won't change the world to get our priorities in the right order. Instead He simply asks us to shift the point of gravity, to replace our center of attention, to change our priorities. Jesus wants us to move from the 'many things' to the 'One necessary thing'. He wants us to live in the world, but be firmly rooted at the center in Him.

Spiritual growth and discipline involves imitating God, developing a character like His. "If we have faith in Christ, we must believe that He knows how to live and imitate that." -Dallas Willard.

Don't be threatened by busy schedules, don't like mixed priorities keep you from Him. Spiritual growth is essential to who we are as Christians, and to what we represent. Prayer and silence are important to that growth. And a relationship with God is the basis of it all.

It's in your heart. Not your head.
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