Friday, November 21, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be Free?

John 8:31-32 (AMP)

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.


“And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” This is a verse commonly quoted by many Christians. What does it mean to be truly free? And how can we stay free?


1) True freedom comes when we hold fast to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus has just spoken the truth about himself, stating that “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24) He spoke that his Father has sent him to do His will here on earth (John 8:28-29). “Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” (John 8:31) Jesus then moves on to speak to those who just believed in what He said.


Many of us know the truth - we know Jesus as the Son of God; we know He wants to set us free - we know a lot about the truth, but surprisingly still live in bondage. Why is this so? The answer to true freedom lies in the condition by which Jesus has spoken about having true freedom,


If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.


When we hold to the teachings of Jesus, growing to become disciples in the process, living in accordance with His Word, then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. True freedom and discipleship doesn't just come by having mere intellectual knowledge of His Word; it comes when we fully accept the teachings of Jesus and do what it says (James 2:17).


2) To be truly free, we need to have an understanding of what Jesus means when He says “the Truth will set you free

Zooming into the spiritual condition in Corinth, there were 2 great dangers that threatened to destroy the church and their spiritual life. One was legalism, making the Christian life a matter of obeying certain rules and regulations; even salvation was dependent on obeying them. The other was antinomianism, teaching that freedom in Christ made them free to so whatever they pleased without moral restraint. However, freedom defined in the bible doesn't mean we are able to do as we wish and however we want so that somehow God's grace may be seen even more in the forgiveness of sins.


When Jesus spoke to the new believers in John's day that “the truth will set you free”, he was speaking about spiritual freedom - the release from being a slave to sin (John 8:34). The Jews would have to understand that they could not hold their status of being a descendant of Abraham as a guarantee that they would remain in God's family and in His favour, because they were slaves to sin. Neither following the laws religiously or just knowing about freedom would grant them spiritual freedom. They would need to make a decision to be a disciple of Christ, know the truth of their spiritual condition and the truth about Christ, and let Jesus set them free.


3) Freedom brings back the believer to understand sacredness.

Holding fast to the teachings of Jesus seems hard. If we do not understand the reason for teachings Jesus gave, it will become a rule book, and we will fall into the trap of being legalistic.


The people in the past did not understand the reasons for the Law, and they have thought of the Lord as a bondage bringer without actually realising that God is a bondage breaker!The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” (Psalm 2:2-3). The 10 commandments seemed burdensome to follow up with, and the people would rather worship Baal because it was an easy way out - in one instance, they could gratify the desires of their flesh through having sexual 'worship' with the temple prositutes of Baal.


If we were to understand the reasons for 10 commandments and the teachings of Jesus, it all boils down to 1 word: Sacred. Your life and mine are sacred; worship is sacred; marriage, time and work are sacred, and it is in understanding the sacredness of who God has created us to be that we are able to live meaningful and wonderful lives, fulfilling the intended purpose of being a blessing to others, having a deep intimate relationship with a covenant keeping and loving God, and live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus joyfully.


What's next!

1) In a world where there are many voices and opinions, allow the Lord to be the authority over your life so that you will live in true freedom and not waver. Commit yourself to the Lord and hold fast [accepting and acting in accordance] to His Word.


2) Let the Lord be the bondage breaker over your life. If you can point which area in your life you are in bondage and you want to be truly free, bring your case before God and commit to stay free.


3) God uses community to walk with you in your journey to freedom. Everyone is walking their own journeys to freedom too, and you are not alone. It is my hope that you will find encouragement staying plugged in the family of God and holding fast to the Word together.


Psalm 34:8-10

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Battling Insecurities

In one way or another, we all got to battle with our insecurities - unless we are perfect, we will always have something wrong to pick on. In the starting chapters of Exodus, we see the call of God for Moses to face Pharaoh head on commanding him to let the Israelites go and worship Yahweh. And, like any other human, Moses battles with his insecurities. What are some of the lessons we can adapt from the story of Moses and from the assurance we have from the bible when it comes to battling insecurities?


Scripture reference: Exodus 1-4 [The State Of The Israelities, Moses's Birth, Moses Call and Encounter with Yahweh]


1) Battle insecurities with God's perfect love.

Fear springs up human insecurity. When God called Moses, wanting to send him to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, it was the initial fear of not being welcomed back (the past incident of him killing an Egyptian brought Pharaoh to want him dead), fear of facing higher authority, fear of rejection, etc. that sprung out all the insecurities that Moses had within him (2; 3:11; 4:10).


There were times when I could relate with how Moses felt. Those thoughts of insecurities seemed extremely convincing, and if I was not careful enough and allowed those thoughts to cloud my discernment in hearing God’s voice, I would fall into the devil’s trap. The devil plays by fear and insecurity [in the Church], but only love can cast out the plans of the enemy, for perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).


2) At times we feel unprepared when God has called us, remember that God has readied Himself for us.

God knew that Pharaoh’s heart would be so hardened that he would not let the Israelites go unless compelled by a mighty hand. God was already prepared to show who He is through Moses, but Moses himself was not ready (3:19-22).


Sometimes, it’s not the matter of us being absolutely ready to do what God has called us to do. When God calls us, sometimes we are so focused on being unprepared, and we forget that He has actually readied Himself for us. I realised that this changes the way I pray when God's calling come upon my life. Instead of saying, “God I am not ready. Please wait for a while more till I am ready”, I pray, “Because You have readied Yourself for me, send me, and empower me to do Your will.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)


3) God knows what He is doing. Insecurities ain't any legit excuse to justify that you cannot be used by God.

Moses justified his inadequacy by stating his weaknesses (4:10). Indirectly, he was stating, “Hey God, you need to wear spectacles. You picked the wrong guy.”


I could think of countless reasons why God cannot use me. For instance, I am too young, too skinny, no self discipline, failed countless times - the list goes on. I have 10,000 reasons for my heart to find (hahaha). I realised that when God has called me, He knows what He is doing - He is my Creator! Therefore, I should trust in His power that is made perfect in my weakness, see from His perspective, and fully depend on Him. 


What's Next?

1) Face it. We all do have to battle with insecurities unless we are perfect and flawless. If we do not replace these false thoughts with the truth of what He says about us, it is like placing these false thoughts into another compartment, dismissing the fact that it has never existed. One day, through any random incident, those insecurities will haunt you again. This is not about staying optimistic; this is a battle for the truth.


2) Think about how you have seen yourself - be honest about it. Does this match with how your Creator [the One who knows you inside out] sees you? If you do not know the way He sees you, you will have to find out!


3) When God calls you for something, choose to place yourself in situations where you can see how God's empowerment will come upon you, helping you battle against your weaknesses and insecurities. If you have never tried, you will never fall; if you have never fallen, you will never experience rising again (Proverbs 24:16).