VIDEO The Price of Freedom & Declaring Independence

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June 30, 2013

Our liberty comes with a cost. Whether it’s personal, political, or national, someone has to continually pay in order to maintain it. Christ has paid for our spiritual freedom, while many men and women sacrifice their lives and limbs to ensure the physical freedoms we enjoy today. Discover how recognizing freedom’s value gives us the ability to serve one another.

A child’s first step is an occasion that parents gleefully celebrate. Like a child’s first word or a teenager’s first job, it is an independence day of sort.

From the moment we are born we are learning to grow in self-reliance. We are rewarded with smiles when we start walking and dessert when we learn to say “please”. Though they don’t always see eye to eye in the definition or application of independence, it is no doubt the desire of both parent and child. When it was time for my sister to learn to tie her own shoes, she defiantly announced that she would not learn until she was 5. The best interest of the child is a concept parents see more thoroughly.

When a father stands beside his child with his hand on the back of the bicycle seat, the goal is to slowly hold on less and less. If he lets go it is not because he doesn’t want to hold onto his son, but because he wants to show his son the joy of bike riding. Though he let go of the seat, he did not let go of his role as parent. When boy and bike come tumbling to the pavement, consoling arms are not far off. Though the child moves in newfound independence, he knows his dad is near. And just as falls are more bearable when someone bigger is watching on, so the accomplishment is more victorious when it is done in dad’s sight.

Independence, it seems, is known at its best when it is experienced within certain roles. The psalmist reminds us that this is true also of God and man.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:13-19).

With Adam and Eve, we are children struggling to exert our independence. When we see ourselves as we are – children living near the Father, dust and fleeting flower – we flourish under the everlasting throne. When we fail to remember who we are, we miss both the joys of childhood and the wonder of independence.

There is something disturbing about seeing the roles of parent and child reversed. When a 3-year-old has learned that she can control her mom and dad, she is merely exercising the independence they taught her. And yet we are aware that it is independence gone wrong. The child is playing the role of something other than child; she is living outside of her own best interest. That a child first learns to seek independence at all is because of the love and guidance of a parent.

To seize the power of independence while forgetting dependence on the one who longs most for our success is a disheartening sight. Within the nature of independence lies the truth that we are, at our most authentic, undecorated level, wholly dependent upon something beyond ourselves. “I became my own,” said C.S. Lewis, “when I gave myself to Another.” It is in giving our lives to Christ that we find them, declaring independence in the freedom his life ordains.

As the psalmist declares and our lives confess, we are people seeking what we were created to know. Under the everlasting throne of God our days of independence are most worth celebrating. For He who formed us is the Maker of independence, in his service is perfect freedom.

Copyright © 2004 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
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You may watch the video with testimony of Christian combat veterans at the link below:
http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/video-archives/content.aspx?topic=The_Price_of_Freedom_video

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A PLEA FOR MERCY

Show your mercy to us soon, because we are helpless! PSALM 79:8
“[God] does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives” (2 Peter 3:9).

What of those who die with no faith? My husband never prayed. My grandpa never worshiped. My mother never opened a Bible, much less her heart. What about the one who never believed?

How do we know he didn’t?

Who among us is privy to a person’s final thoughts? Who among us knows what transpires in those final moments? Are you sure no prayer was offered? Eternity can bend the proudest knees. Could a person stare into the yawning canyon of death without whispering a plea for mercy? And could our God, who is partial to the humble, resist it?

He couldn’t on Calvary. The confession of the thief on the cross was both a first and final one. But Christ heard it. Christ received it. Maybe you never heard your loved one confess Christ, but who’s to say Christ didn’t?

from TRAVELING LIGHT

Finding God’s Grace

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your care you watched over my life. JOB 10:12

Discipline is easy for me to swallow. Logical to assimilate. Manageable and appropriate. But God’s grace? Anything but. Examples? How much time do you have?

David the psalmist becomes David the voyeur, but by God’s grace becomes David the psalmist again.

Peter denied Christ before he preached Christ.

Zacchaeus, the crook. The cleanest part of his life was the money he’d laundered. But Jesus still had time for him.

The thief on the cross: hell-bent and hung-out-to-die one minute, heaven-bound and smiling the next.

Story after story. Prayer after prayer. Surprise after surprise. Seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it.

When God Whispers Your Name

True Freedom

“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)

We who live in what the song writer called the “sweet land of liberty” have a great responsibility to preserve that freedom which our forefathers obtained for us at great cost over two centuries ago. At the same time, we must not turn liberty into license. It would surely hurt those brave and godly men if they could see how we now use “freedom of choice” to justify murdering multitudes of innocent children before they are born, and how we use “freedom of speech” to warrant fouling the eyes and ears of our children with widespread pornography and to promote all kinds of immoral behavior in our society in general. No nation can remain free very long after such practices become widely accepted by its citizens. We need to pray for revival!

The same warning applies to the abuse of our spiritual freedom in Christ. As the apostle Paul said and repeated: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient” (1 Corinthians 6:12; also 1 Corinthians 10:23, where he added that “all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”).

As Peter says in our text, even though we are “free” and have real “liberty,” we are nevertheless “servants of God,” where the Greek word doulos actually connotes “bond servants,” or even “slaves.” Our liberty in Christ is not freedom to sin whenever we so choose, but rather freedom from our former bondage to sin. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:18).

Although our nation is rapidly becoming anti-Christian in belief and practice, we Christians can still best serve our nation and our Savior by practicing and proclaiming Christ’s wonderful saving gospel of free salvation from sin and regeneration unto righteousness. HMM

For the vision is yet for an appointed time…

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time… though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Hab. 2:3.)

IN the charming little booklet, Expectation Corner, Adam Slowman was led into the Lord’s treasure houses, and among many other wonders there revealed to him was the “Delayed Blessings Office,” where God kept certain things, prayed for, until the wise time came to send them.

It takes a long time for some pensioners to learn that delays are not denials. Ah, there are secrets of love and wisdom in the “Delayed Blessings Department,” which are little dreamt of! Men would pluck their mercies green when the Lord would have them ripe. “Therefore will the Lord WAIT, that He may be gracious unto you” (Isa. 30:18). He is watching in the hard places and will not allow one trial too many; He will let the dross be consumed, and then He will come gloriously to your help.

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love. Nay, lift up your head, and begin to praise Him even now for the deliverance which is on the way to you, and you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay which has tried your faith.

O Thou of little faith,
God hath not failed thee yet!
When all looks dark and gloomy,
Thou dost so soon forget—

Forget that He has led thee,
And gently cleared thy way;
On clouds has poured His sunshine,
And turned thy night to day.

And if He’s helped thee hitherto,
He will not fail thee now;
How it must wound His loving heart
To see thy anxious brow!

Oh! doubt not any longer,
To Him commit thy way,
Whom in the past thou trusted,
And is “just the same today.”
—Selected.

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…..

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” Psalm 24:4

Outward practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day. If our hands are not clean, let us wash them in Jesus’ precious blood, and so let us lift up pure hands unto God. But “clean
hands”will not suffice, unless they are connected with “a pure heart.” True religion is heart-work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please, but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within.

The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats. The man who is born for heaven “hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity.” All men have their joys, by which their souls are lifted up; the worldling lifts up his soul in carnal delights, which are mere empty vanities; but the saint loves more substantial things; like Jehoshaphat, he is lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He who is content with husks, will be reckoned with the swine. Does the world satisfy thee? Then thou hast thy reward and portion in this life; make much of it, for thou shalt know no other joy.

“Nor sworn deceitfully.” The saints are men of honour still. The Christian man’s word is his only oath; but that is as good as twenty oaths of other men. False speaking will shut any man out of heaven, for a liar shall not enter into God’s house, whatever may be his professions or doings. Reader, does the text before us condemn thee, or dost thou hope to ascend into the hill of the Lord?

Sanctify them through Thy truth

“Sanctify them through Thy truth.” John 17:17

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways—mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.

This is carried on every day in what is called “perseverance,” by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in “glory,” when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure.

The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.