Our children gathered this evening to listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just as many families did nearly 60 years ago. Our children must know what those before us stood up for. He is one of the great symbols of justice and equality and we owe it to the next generation to know all that was fought for. The mantle of peace and love and brotherhood, that the civil rights leaders laid down their lives for, must carry on. May we never forget that all of God’s children are created equal, in His image. We bear the marks of our creator no matter the shade of our skin or the language we speak. Equality must first be realized in our hearts so that it can be a reality in our world. I love you all brothers and sisters. All over the world. Peace in Christ.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
Freedom is defined in several ways…First, it is the exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. In a spiritual sense, that would be the pressures of the world. It is also the power to determine action without restraint. Beyond the physical, that which restrains us is known as the opposer or the satan. Lastly, it is defined as personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery. The Bible would identify that as being free from sin.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (ESV)
I think at times we forget exactly what it means to be free in Christ. We are free to serve Him without fear of condemnation. We are free from our sins that once held us in bondage. We are free from the judgment of this world. We are free to be filled with love in our hearts rather than anger, malice, discontent, or bitterness. We are free from worry and anxiety because we know we have a God who cares deeply for us, in Whom we may trust with our whole hearts (Phil 4:6). We are free from any of our inabilities because we can do all things for Him and through Him (Phil 4:13). We are free from weariness because we have a God who is an endless source of strength (Isaiah 40:31). We are free from discouragement because we have a God who grants an eternal hope that does not fade (1 Pet 1:4).
Are you walking in that kind of freedom? Anything less is a cheap exchange for what is promised. That kind of freedom requires a choice on our part. A choice to receive it. A choice to let all of the baggage of life go. A choice to belong to Him. A choice to allow Someone greater to be the master of our destinies. Let’s stop settling for the counterfeit and actually walk in this freedom. Then, and only then, will we experience the peace and joy that comes with being a follower of Christ.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16 (ESV)
Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters!
A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23 NKJV
We really have to be wise about what we say. If the words that come from our lips aren’t showing Christ’s love then we shouldn’t be saying it. In everything we do Christ is supposed to be magnified. We all know people who choose to curse, complain, and grumble, but the effects of those things can be tragic for those around us. Ungodly speech can spoil a persons day or completely change their attitude. Harsh and careless words can even ruin a life. But the heart that is constantly in a state of thanksgiving, brings cheer and praise wherever they are and no matter the situation.
Even though it’s no longer thanksgiving it’s important to still ask ourselves what what we are thankful for. No matter what, we can all be thankful for Jesus’ death on the cross, for our military putting their lives on the line to protect ours, for people God has put in our lives, and for the ability to share Gods love with whomever we come in contact with. We can all be thankful for the millions of do-overs God gives us, for the grace shown us by others, the simplicity of basic necessities. We all need to take some time to thank God for every situation we have gone through, good and bad this last year and know that God was with us through them all. Hopefully we can see and learn what he was doing in us, through us, and through those around us.
In 2021 we can be a voice of truth and grace and love. We can speak life into our family and friends. We can use our words to encourage and refresh those in our lives. Let’s leave the complaining behind us and shout a song of praise instead.
Peace in Christ brothers and sisters
*Jesus Christ addressing the churches in Revelation (and us). To the one who conquers…
I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev 2:7 (ESV)
…will not be hurt by the second death. Rev 2:11 (ESV)
I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Rev 2:17 (ESV)
and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. Rev 2:26 (ESV)
will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Rev 3:5 (ESV)
I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Rev 3:12 (ESV)
I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Rev 3:21 (ESV)
I don’t know about you, but the idea of conquering some evil enemy inspires great emotion. But what exactly are we conquering? This is not a call to be an oppressive subjugator of peoples. No, this is a call to conquer the the things that bring death and destruction to our lives. We are waging war on depression, anxiety, lies, persecution, trials, and sin.
Man, this sounds like a heavy load to bear. But along with that comes an incredible series of promises to all those who give their lives over to Christ and live a life of obedient faith in Him.
Last year was rough for so many people around the globe. For many, we’re still in the same boat entering 2021. But the struggles and hurts never have to be the end of the story. The great news is, we’re not alone in this endeavor. We cannot conquer this world and the battles of life alone. And we don’t have to. As Paul tells us in Romans, our life circumstances cannot separate us from the Love of Christ. When we live for Him, we are His. We can rejoice in that security and the strength that Christ gives us to be conquerors in His name.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 (ESV)
Wherever you’re at entering the new year, know that you have the love and power of Jesus to overcome. I pray for you to feel His goodness. I pray for you to experience His healing. I pray for you to have the weight of life lifted from your shoulders. From the depth of my heart, I hope your year is full of His peace.