The Freedom Trap

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There’s been this “thing” that’s really been bother me for a few years. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason I was feeling the way I was, but recently was I able to put my finger on it. I desperately want to be clear on this subject & make sure I’m coming across the way I mean it. I don’t have judgment for any one person or group. There isn’t one thing that I’m focused on or trying to rant about.

But this “thing” is real & we as believers are allowing it to happen. And we must stop. We are being called to a deeper level in our faith. I truly believe the Lord is preparing His children right now. And we must cut away things that are hindering us, harming us or simply just not beneficial to us.

So here is what this “thing” is.

I think we sometimes focus on the “liberties” we think we’re entitled to, more than the One who has freed us.

We think if we show restraint in something that we’re “allowed” to do, that it means we’re thinking legalistically or needlessly missing out on something enjoyable. But I’ve watched many believers, including myself, become imprisoned by something because our definition of “freedom in Christ” is wrong. Too often our cling to a “freedom” that is completely self-centered. And most of us, don’t even realize this has happened.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.                                1 Corinthians 10:23

I think we can all agree that each of us is constantly sending out messages to the world about who we are. The way we dress, the way we talk, what we eat, what we drink, how we love, how we serve, how we treat one another. It’s all a part of our message.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:6-8

I think it’s an utter tragedy when the way we act & represent God’s name differs depending on what environment we’re in or who we’re with. Oh how wrong that is!

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. Titus 1:16

 

I want to be genuine no matter where I’m at or who I’m with. But if I represent myself one way when I’m within the four walls of my church & very differently when I’m not, which one is the genuine me? What is my heart truly focused on if my actions & words waver so easily? We gravitate towards what we love. So what is it that we love? Most importantly, who is it that we love? Ourselves? Or Jesus?

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

As we focus on Jesus & seek Him daily – wholeheartedly seek His heart- we become more like Him. That truth leaves me speechless. We don’t have to use behavior modification on ourselves & just try to make habits of the things we know are “right” or “holy”. No. He will transform us from the inside out! His likes will become our likes. His words will become our words. His heart will become our heart! Wow!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37

Is there something in our lives that we cringe at the thought of giving up? Do we get angry or defensive at the the idea of showing restraint from something? This quote from Tim Keller says it perfectly I think: “The sin that is most destructive in your life right now is the one you are most defensive about.”

We’re only deceiving ourselves if we desperately hold onto something but are convinced it isn’t effecting our hearts. Or others.

So today, I ask God for clarity in our minds & hearts. I pray that His children would become more desperate for Him. And that what we desire to eat, drink, say & do will pale in comparison to our desire to love & glorify Him. May we be sensitive to His voice as He shows us things in our lives that we have placed above Him. And may we have the courage to abandon everything that hinders us from running after Jesus with all that we are. Because HE is all that matters.

I declare our God as faithful!

Life’s Broken Promises

I was recently told, “Thank goodness you’re out of the scary part of your pregnancy.” I replied with a smile & a “yeah”, but to be honest, that’s not how I felt. When we lost our first baby, we were past the “scary part”. I know painfully well that making it to a certain day doesn’t guarantee anything in life – whether it’s with pregnancy, a job or a relationship.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

I don’t want that concept to be discouraging or fearful, like it doesn’t matter what we do in life because the chips will fall wherever anyways. My point is this. God’s faithfulness & my desperate need for Him do not increase or decrease depending on whether or not my circumstances look safe.

Relying on Him fully, trusting in Him fully & declaring Him faithful fully, isn’t a backup plan or a safety line when my heart hurts or my circumstances are shaky. Instead of making it optional to acknowledge God’s control & faithfulness, it needs to be the foundation on which I do my entire life. Jobs. Relationships. Dreams. Family. Everything.

I rely on Jesus every day. And as easy as it can be to sit back & loosen my grip on Him when it looks & feels like things are going to be safe or reliable, I want my grip to stay desperately attached to Him.

We are not guaranteed anything if we can just make it to a certain point in life or wait a set amount of time. Even if we reach our goals & get to the comfortable, safe & reliable circumstances we work so hard for, we are not guaranteed to keep them. It doesn’t somehow secure us in life.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Storms will come. Hearts will break. Circumstances will change. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will fail. Dreams will fade. People will leave.

But instead of focusing on avoiding the storm, let us take refuge in our God who promises to protect us. It won’t matter how hard the rain falls, or how powerful the storm becomes – because we are covered. We are covered by His protection. We are wrapped in His safety. We are filled with His steadfast love.

…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Life will break it’s promises, but our God will not break His. Our only guarantee is through Him. He is the only anchor that will hold fast when the waves get higher & the storm gets violent.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

So today, at this very moment, whether you are in a season of abundance & happiness or walking through a valley of drought & despair, desperately cling to Jesus. The Lord your God is in every detail. He is fully present in it all, so be confident in His sovereignty & refuge.

I declare my God as faithful!