Tag Archives: freedom

It is for Freedom Christ has set us Free

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We live in the greatest free country on the planet…well, almost. We do live in the greatest country on the planet, but it’s not necessarily free, and more people are taking notice every day.

One of the hottest discussion points around the country these days is the new verdict about what is referred to as “Obamacare”. The Supreme Court ruled that is was perfectly fine for them to impose this regulation on the general public. I don’t want to get into my preferences about this policy, but I do want to note that if this goes through it will be another example of the government taking away one of our freedoms.

We already have regulations wherever we turn. We have regulations on how we drive. We have regulations on how we raise our children. We have regulations on how we provide food for our family. We have regulations on how and what we teach our children.

We aren’t allowed to make any money without paying some of it to the government. Some of your money goes to helping poor people whether you like it or not. And now, if nothing changes, you will be forced to have health insurance whether you can afford it or not.

Some of these things frustrate me, and some of these things are great in order for us to have an orderly way of living. Granted, if certain rules weren’t in place there would be mass chaos. We need laws to maintain order in the country. However, this is not necessarily a “free” country.

Churches often have the same kinds of laws. Some churches dictate how you dress. Some churches dictate where you sit. You are instructed when to sit and when to stand. You are told what to believe about certain things, and in many churches you are ostracized if you believe differently than the masses. All of this makes me think of a verse in Galatians 5.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Are you free? You may say so, but then again you may be bound by traditions and regulations. Apparently we are called to be free.

What does this mean, then? Do we throw out everything for the sake of freedom? Not just yet.

This freedom comes in a certain way of perceiving the world around us. When you come to Christ, and you devote your life to him, then you are called to have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is in total love with God, and it follows the will of God wherever it goes.

Does that mean it is a slave to God? Not really. What are the laws of God? Love God and love your neighbor. That’s it – just two. Every other command we read in scripture is merely a commentary on how to do those two laws.

When you get to the point that you love God, then it is a result of that love that you begin loving your neighbor. When your mind comes into alignment with the mind of Christ, then what you want IS to obey those two laws. You are totally free, and you can quit whenever you want, but the more you love God and others the more you find that you really like this way of living. It is so much more fulfilling than a life of selfishness.

The laws (written and unwritten) within churches aren’t necessarily bad, but if they are given without being couched in the context of the two laws of God, then they are merely man made rules that do not serve the church well at all.

The best thing about being free in Christ is the concept of grace. We are free to do what we want. What we want is hopefully to fulfill the two laws of God in our lives. When we mess up we have grace. We may deserve to be punished for our transgression of the law of love, but because He loves us, He forgives us over and over again through the blood of Christ.

Most of the “laws” in churches are traditions. When we truly grasp the freedom in loving God and loving our neighbor, then we will be free to extend grace ourselves when others don’t match up to or behave in the way of our expectations.

This week is Independence week. Let us throw off the shackles of slavery to sin. Let us be truly free in Christ to live in the mind of Christ. Let us love unendingly, and let us extend the grace of God to others daily. This, truly, is much more fulfilling than the alternative.

If there is anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can also join the conversation about this as well as my other articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you live I the freedom found in Christ.

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

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It was a dark and stormy night, but the storms on this night weren’t in the atmosphere, they were in his spirit. Jesus was there, in the garden, wrestling in prayer for you and for me. The sin of all mankind had been laid upon him, and he was exhausted.

His friends were exhausted too, and they showed it by their inability to stay awake in watch as their rabbi prayed in distress. So many storms.

As he prayed his body trembled from the hematidrosis – an exhausting condition where the stress is so great that the capillaries in one’s skin burst and the blood mixes with sweat so that one literally “sweats blood”. Why was he so stressed? He had just taken on not just the sin, but the guilt of every sin ever committed past, present, and future. He felt guilty for everything that had ever been done and everything that would ever be done. It was crushing him, and he was sweating blood as he cried in anguish and trepidation.

“Let this cup pass from me” was his prayer. Why? Because the God of the universe was about to make Jesus drink the cup of punishment that had been filled with the sins of the masses. Jesus was about to die, and he knew it.

Even though there was such a storm brewing in his spirit that night, it was clear what the choice needed to be. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Soon after there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the flash of the moon glinting off metal. Soldiers were coming. A whole squad of soldiers and religious leaders were coming armed with swords and clubs and spears. Here is Jesus, unarmed and with a rag-tag bunch of nobodies. Why did they feel the need to come at him so fully armed?

As Jesus and the disciples heard the oncoming ruckus, they stood up with Jesus at the forefront of the group. The leader of the army sent to arrest him? Judas – one of Jesus’ trusted twelve – the traitor.

Jesus calmly asked the group, “who is it you are looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

What happens next can only be explained in context of a previous conversation Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Jesus in blasphemy, and Jesus was accusing them of always getting rid of the prophets. Jesus was trying to get them to see that Abraham prophesied about Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen. Jesus, then, called them out.

He told them they weren’t children of Abraham. In fact, he went further to say that they were children of the devil. Then, he said something even more blasphemous: “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” Their reaction was swift and harsh as they picked up stones to kill Jesus because they remembered another conversation many, many years before.

Moses is watching his flock when he notices a bush on the mountain called Sinai. This bush is burning, but there is no charring – the bush never burns up. Moses approaches and God proceeds to talk to him from the bush. As God calls Moses to a major mission, Moses asks who he should say sent him. God replies, “I Am who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.”

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

How he said it is not as important as the implication of what was just said. Jesus just used the same terminology as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus just said He is God.

As this statement sinks in quickly through the ranks of the soldiers they fall to the ground – stunned.

Jesus had rendered the mob defenseless with two words, “I Am.”

He knew he was going to die. He knew he needed to die so that all those billions of people who ever lived and ever would live could truly have life, but he was going down on his terms.

Peter got excited and took a swing with his sword but missed his mark. Instead, an ear was cut off, but Jesus healed that too. It was then that Jesus explained things to Peter. “This sword is not our way of doing things. If I wanted to fight they would have no defense against the legions of angels at my disposal.”

Previously, Jesus had said (John 10) that no one would take His life from Him. Jesus had the power to lay his life down, and he was going to raise it back up.

Judas, the traitor finally came up and kissed Jesus on the cheek to signify the betrayal. Judas had just earned his 30 pieces of silver. This betrayal was not necessary. Jesus had already given himself over to them.

Jesus was bound and tried and beaten, and beaten, and mocked, and beaten some more, and eventually crucified. As he was hanging on that cross sin after sin was being dealt with. The justice of God was being appeased through this one act. When every sin had been taken care of Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What happened next is the power of Jesus. No one dies quickly on a cross. It could take up to 48 hours for a person to die this way. Jesus gave up his spirit and died voluntarily.

He died for you and me – on purpose – of his own will.

Then, that glorious Sunday morning so long ago, he rose from the dead to prove that he really is God, your sins really are forgiven, and you really can have eternal life through him. The one who laid down a mob with two words raised from the dead. He is the glorious first fruits of those who raise from the dead – and that can include you and me.

This is the good news of Easter. May you celebrate this Sunday and every day that the God of the universe cares enough about you to give up everything to save you. May you see where your life is disconnected from God and come back. Jesus has already made the way for you.

If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Christ, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at 245-1611. You can also catch me on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you this Easter and always.


Waging War with a Pocket Knife

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Imagine the scene with me if you will. You’re watching the news some evening when you see a report that there is intelligence that Iraq is planning to invade your country. Iraq apparently has specific targets that they want to hit and certain people they want to assassinate.

As the news report goes on they begin to give the list of people targeted, and your name is on the list. You’ve never been a threat to Iraq, but there it is – your name – in living color on the screen.

Immediately your phone begins to ring, and it is family members and friends calling concerned about your safety. Government officials call as well to offer their support, but one after another you turn their offers down. You tell them you believe it isn’t going to happen, so you don’t want to change your life based on an assumption that probably isn’t true.

Over the next week you go about your normal routine with work during the day and watching your favorite shows on the tube each evening. During your favorite show one evening the news cuts in with breaking information about the beginning of the invasion of Iraq into the country, and they’re starting in your state.

This raises concern, so you do the only logical thing you can think of. You have put this off for so long. Now it is down to the wire, so it is time to get ready. You want to be prepared for the battle, so you go to your room and open your closet. There, on the shelf, is your trusty pocketknife.

You take the pocketknife and head back to the couch – fully prepared for the invasion to come.

What’s about to happen? You’re about to get assassinated, that’s what. A country has declared war on you and you come to the gunfight with a pocketknife.

This scenario sounds totally ridiculous, but it happens to each one of us every day.

My friends, Satan has your name on his list of people to assassinate. He may not physically kill you, but he definitely wants to render you ineffective and useless. There is a war. You are in it. But you don’t even realize it.

In Ephesians, Paul speaks of the severity of this war that is raging all around us with the spiritual forces of evil. So many of us, however, bring our pocketknives to the battle.

What do I mean? Scriptures mention the Word of God as being a sword. But we’re not fashioning our lives according to the Bible. We are also called to pray, and yet we do that as an afterthought. We spend countless hours preparing plans for how we are going to live our lives. Then we stop and pray and ask God to bless our plans.

We are coming to the battle with weak weapons at best. No wonder so many of us are spiritually struggling. You’re a prisoner of war, and only desperately seeking the King will set you free. When you seek Him in this manner He will send His Spirit to free you from the bondage of sin and selfishness. He will free you to live a full life. It is a life of service, but this isn’t the empty unfulfilling kind of service. This is service that brings you joy and excitement in your life. It is service to the One who loves you and whom you love. That kind of service doesn’t feel anything like slavery…it feels like freedom.

Back to the weapons, however. When Satan was attacking Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus fought Satan off not with a sword but with the Sword of the Word of God. He quoted scripture to put Satan in His place. Do you know any scripture by heart? The more you know the scriptures in your heart (i.e. memorized) the easier it is to allow that scripture to help you have the best life possible. It truly helps to direct your paths to a place where there are no regrets.

The weapon of Prayer is offensive and defensive. Through prayer we have communication with our Commander in Chief – God Almighty. He is the source of all power, and if we try to fight this battle or make these plans without that power we will constantly fail.

So what do we do? We pray, but normally it is a prayer around the table to thank God for the food. Or maybe it’s a prayer before or after a meeting to ask God’s blessings on said meeting. When was the last time you really spent some time deeply praying to the Father about the things on your heart? When was the last time you emptied yourself to the Father who loves you and wants to refill you with all good things? When was the last time you prayed to God asking for His direction instead of telling Him your plans and asking Him to bless them?

We are called to wield powerful weapons. These weapons have healed the sick. These weapons have driven out demons. These weapons have raised the dead. And Jesus gave these same weapons to us.

It’s time to get engaged in the battle. If you haven’t been fighting, then you are already a prisoner of war. Satan has already rendered you useless. But God can reenlist you and wants to do so. If you’ve already made a commitment to Him at some time in your life, then He just looks to you to re-commit, to re-dedicate your life to him. Prayer is a good weapon to use to do that.

If you haven’t committed yourself to the battle in the first place, then there is no better day to start the fight than today. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven to prepare the victory celebration for you, he said that whoever believes in Him and is baptized would be set free from sin. But all those who don’t believe are prisoners still.

May you join the fight. May you bring more than a pocketknife. The devil is out to get you, and this battle is more real than what you can see. Let’s not waste another day; rather, let’s use the weapons given to us to proclaim victory in Jesus’ name!

If you’d like to talk more about this – especially about committing your life to Christ – then please feel free to contact me at 979-245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you, and keep fighting!


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