Our Independence Day: Real Freedom in Christ
Purity 461 07/03/2021 Purity 461 Podcast
Today’s photo of a towering cloud rising into the blue skies over, and reflected in a pond on, the grounds of the Byodo-in Temple in Kahaluu, Oahu, Hawaii comes to us from a friend’s recent visit to the most recent addition to the union that is our United Sates. This scene is beautiful but has some ominous undertones if you consider the context of world history and the spiritual realities that surround the replica of the Japanese temple and the shape of that cloud.
As my fellow Americans and I celebrate our Independence Day this weekend, we are often reminded that freedom isn’t free and a mushroom shaped cloud over the grounds of a Japanese Buddhist Temple can remind us of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the extremes that can be required to secure freedom and peace. Our country’s history is written in the blood of those who paid the ultimate cost to win and maintain our freedom. Freedom can come at a terrible cost and the suffering can be far reaching as the hell of war consumes the just with the unjust, the innocent and the guilty.
Unfortunately, evil forces continue to thrive in our world and the sacrifices of human lives in maintaining and securing our freedom is still a present-day reality as our armed forces are still deployed in various parts of the world in the name of freedom and securing our country’s interests.
So is freedom worth the cost?
Absolutely. The evil regimes that have been vanquished in the past and the atrocities that occur when totalitarian governments go unchecked show us that our freedom as a country is worth dying for. So this weekend, Americans should celebrate their freedom and remember how precious it is.
Likewise in spiritual realm, our freedom was paid for by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, all who place their trust in Him receive eternal life and freedom from the kingdom of darkness.
Christians are freed through faith in Christ from sin and death. No matter what they may suffer on earth, they are secured in God’s love.
Just as Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union in 1959, I sometimes I feel like the newest Christian to join God’s kingdom in 2010.
Today’s photo taken on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, remind me of the spiritual darkness that I was living in for years before I discovered that the true path to enlightenment doesn’t lead to some mystical state of self-actualization above heaven and hell, it leads to a covenant relationship to the Creator of all things through faith in Jesus Christ.
I was a practicing Buddhist for five years before the Lord used a “chance” encounter with a radio gospel message that told me of the Lord’s love and forgiveness and delivered me from a religion that had no God and who’s tenants were based on the individual’s efforts to become godlike and act as a savior for all sentient beings.
I often tell people if you want to know where the god is in Buddhism, just take a look at the one sitting on the meditation cushion. As selfless as Buddhist practitioners profess to be, their aspirations are to attain godlike insights and power and to rescue the world themselves by breaking through to the other side of a state they call nirvana.
Unfortunately, Buddhism and every other world religion that doesn’t recognize Jesus as Lord and Savior is, by definition, antichrist. Satan and his spiritual forces of darkness seek to take mankind with them on the road to perdition and influence men to worship any and everything other Jesus, who suffered, died, and was resurrected to prove that He is the Son of God and to pay for the sins of the world.
Freedom from sin and death only come through Jesus Christ. So as we celebrate our Independence from foreign powers here on earth, Christians should also celebrate their independence from the Satanic forces that previously enslaved them by proclaiming their total dependence on the grace of God and by sharing the good news that Christ’s sacrifice provides for our ultimate and eternal freedom and is available to anyone who puts their faith in Him.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Today’s verse reminds us that the Lord is fearsome and awesome to behold and that those who dismiss the things of God are foolish.
Okay I have heard several messages regarding this verse where the authors made great efforts to assure their listeners that they needn’t be afraid of the Lord and that the fear of the Lord is better understood to mean reverence or respect.
The Hebrew word for fear in this passage, does indeed have these definitions in Strong’s Concordance. So they are correct. We are to have the utmost respect and reverence for the Lord our God.
So definitely maintain that respect and reverence for the Lord and demonstrate it by using His wisdom and instruction that is found in the Bible to guide your life. If you don’t respect the Lord and utilize His wisdom and instruction you, as this verse says, are a fool.
So why is it so foolish to despise the Lord’s wisdom and instruction?
Well let’s take a look at the first few definitions from Strong’s concordance for “, the word for fear that is apparently the beginning of knowledge.
The first few definitions are the following: “fear, terror, an awesome or terrifying thing”.
You see, the reason why it is so foolish to despise the wisdom and instruction of the Lord is because there are fearful, awesome, and terrifying consequences in store for those who do.
The wisdom and instruction of the Lord would lead us to place our faith in Christ. If we despise that wisdom and don’t make Christ our Lord and Savior, the word of God tells us that we will share in the suffering of the second death in the lake of fire for all eternity (Matt 25:41, Rev 20:10,14-15,21:8).
If we don’t place our faith in Christ, we face God’s wrath. Hear that: God’s wrath, not Satan’s wrath. Satan is not the king of hell. He is just another prisoner waiting for his final judgement along with all other unbelievers (Rev 20;10).
The reason why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge is because a healthy fear of the wrath of God will bring us to faith in Christ and save us from eternal suffering and punishment. Likewise, a healthy fear of God’s chastisement will also cause us to turn from our lives of sin and to choose to live a righteous life and enjoy the benefits of the fruit of the Spirit.
So please respect and revere the Lord God almighty by living according to His wisdom and instruction, but please let’s keep it real by recognizing that if is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31) when you don’t have a covenant relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
So enjoy the freedom we have in Christ and be sure to share the good news that God has made a way for all to avoid His wrath and to experience a new life here on earth and forever with Him.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
The Essence of Faith
Faith in God is indispensable to the Christian life. The author of Hebrews capsulized it by writing: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Believing who God is, what He says and what He does is the key to the kingdom of God.
Consider how important the concept of faith is. You are saved by faith (see Ephes. 2:8, 9), and you "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). In other words, faith is the basis for our salvation and the means by which we live. If we are going to continue living free in Christ, we need to keep in mind three simple faith concepts.
1. Faith Depends on Its Object
The truth is, everyone lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in. Telling people to live by faith is invalid if they have no understanding of the object of their faith. You can't have faith in faith. Faith has no validity without an object.
The truth is, we live every moment of every day by faith. However, some of our faith objects are valid but others aren't. For instance, suppose you are driving a car and see a green light. You would probably drive through the intersection without giving your action a second thought, and you would do it by faith. First, you believed the light was red in the other direction even though you couldn't see it. Second, you believed the drivers coming from the other direction saw the red light and would stop. That is a lot of faith, but if you didn't believe that, you wouldn't go through too many intersections or you would proceed very cautiously. We trust people or things that have proven to be reliable over a long time period.
What happens when the object of your faith proves unreliable? You give up on it—maybe not immediately, but how many failures would you tolerate before saying never again? Once faith is lost, it is very difficult to regain. Your ability to believe isn't the problem; it is the object of your faith that has proven to be untrustworthy.
If you have had a few auto accidents as a result of careless drivers, your ability to trust other drivers may be seriously shaken, and rightfully so. That is why our relationships are so fragile. One act of unfaithfulness can all but destroy a marriage. You can forgive your spouse and commit yourself to make the marriage work, but it will take months and even years to gain back the trust that was lost. You would be foolish to trust someone or something that has proven to be unreliable.
The most accepted faith object by the world's population is the fixed order of the universe, primarily the solar system. You set your watch, plan your calendar and schedule your day believing that the earth will continue to revolve on its axis and rotate around the sun at its current speed. If the earth's orbit shifted just a few degrees and the sun appeared two hours late, the whole world would be thrown into chaos. So far the laws governing the physical universe have been among the most trustworthy faith objects we have.
The ultimate faith object, of course, is not the sun, but the Son, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The fact that God is immutable is what makes Him eminently trustworthy (see Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6). God cannot change, nor can His Word. "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). This eternal consistency is why God is faithful and why we can put our trust in Him.
2. How Much Faith You Have Is Dependent Upon How Well You Know the Object of Your Faith
When people struggle with their faith in God, it is not because their faith object has failed or is insufficient. It is because they don't have a true knowledge of God and His ways. They expect Him to respond in a certain way or answer prayer a certain way—their way, not His—and when He doesn't comply they say, "Forget you, God." The problem is not with God. He is the perfect faith object. Faith in God fails only when people have a faulty understanding of Him.
If you want your faith in God to increase, you must increase your knowledge of God. If you have little knowledge about God and His Word, you will have little faith. If you have great knowledge of God and His Word, you can potentially have great faith. Faith cannot be pumped up by coaxing yourself, If only I can believe! If only I can believe! You can believe because belief is a choice we all have to make.
Any attempt to push yourself beyond what you know to be true about God and His ways is to move from faith to presumption. You choose to believe God according to what you know to be true from His Word. The only way to increase your faith is to increase your knowledge of God, who is the believer's only legitimate faith object. That is why Paul wrote that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).
The only limit to your faith is your knowledge and understanding of God, which grows every time you read your Bible, memorize a Scripture verse, participate in a Bible study or meditate on His Word. Can you see the practical, tangible potential for your faith to grow as you endeavor to know God through His Word? It is bound only by the infinite nature of God! I doubt there is a Christian alive who has lived up to his or her faith potential based on what he or she already knows to be true.
It is important to know that God is under no obligation to humankind. We can't maneuver or manipulate God through prayer. He is under obligation to Himself and to remain faithful to His covenant promises and His Word. We have a covenant relationship with God that we can count on being true. If God declares something to be true, you simply believe Him and live according to what is true. If God didn't say it, no amount of faith in the world will make it so. Believing doesn't make God's Word true. His Word is true; therefore we believe it.
Let me illustrate how our faith grows. When my son, Karl, was a toddler, I would stand him up on the table and encourage him to jump from the table into my arms. He would waver in unbelief for a moment and then fall into my arms. Then I would stand back a little bit farther, which made the step of faith a little bit bigger. Then one day I took him outside and put him on the limb of a tree and encouraged him to jump. This was a greater leap of faith, but he did it. As he continues to climb the tree of life, however, can I always be the ultimate object of his faith? There was a time when Karl thought I could answer any question and defeat any foe.
We have an obligation as parents to do more than lead our children to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to help them understand their spiritual identity and heritage. The ultimate object of their faith changes when they become children of God. I can't go everywhere my children go, but God can and He does.
3. Faith Is an Action Word
When I was encouraging Karl to take a step of faith, did he believe I would catch him? Yes. How did I know he believed? Because he jumped. Suppose he wouldn't jump. Suppose I asked Karl, "Do you believe I will catch you, Karl?" and he answered, "Yes," but never jumped.
Does Karl really believe I will catch him if he doesn't jump? According to James, that is just wishful thinking. He says, "Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works'" (James 2:17, 18). In other words, really believing will affect one's walk and one's talk. If we believe God and His Word, we will live accordingly. Everything we do is essentially a product of what we have chosen to believe.
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship