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Tag Archives: freedom

Paul and Silas

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities.When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. (Acts 16:16-34, NRSV)

This is an interesting section of scripture because there is so much there.

But as I read it this time I was struck with visions of the movie Braveheart. Because it is all about the last line of William Wallace.

You see the movie Braveheart is about William Wallace who marries a young maiden and keeps it a secret because the king has reinstated “an old custom. Grant them prima noctes. First night, when any common girl inhabiting their lands is married, our nobles shall have sexual rights to her on the night of her wedding. If we can’t get them out, we breed them out. That should fetch just the kind of lords we want to Scotland, taxes or no taxes.” Longshanks said. King Edward I of England about Scotland where Wallace was. So Wallace married in secret but it was discovered and the nobleman of England in Wallace’s area came to “take” his right. Which set off Wallace and a battle ensued. Longshanks on his deathbed was waiting as Wallace was tortured at the end of the movie after his capture. And as Wallace was tortured Langshanks waited for Wallace to cry for mercy. But Wallace when he mustered the strength didn’t say mercy, he cried “Freedom!” Because he knew at that point he was truly free from Longshanks and everything that had held him back.

In our reading, we see several people who are captive. The easy to identify captives are Paul and Silas, put in prison for casting out a demon and causing a disturbance in the city. But they are not the only captives. The slave girl is captive to those who own her and the demon. The jailer is captive to society and those who hold power over him. But in the removal of the demon, Paul and Silas freed the slave girl from that which holds her back, because those who owned her didn’t want her free from the demon because of what it did for them. She was held captive by the demon because she was held captive by her owners. And the jailer thought he was free, only in as much, he did what those who had power over him told him or wanted him to. Becuase when he thought that the prisoners were gone he was ready to kill himself rather than face what was to come.

Truly Paul and Silas were never captive because they were in shackles and chains and still were singing praises to God. The man who was having followers of Jesus arrested and killed is now chained, but singing praise to Jesus! Now that is true freedom.

So how does our freedom in Christ change everything?

 

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Is This the Christ

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?” (John 7:25-31, NRSV)

When the Messiah comes He will do more signs than this man has done…

Why did Jesus do the signs?

To show He was the chosen one?

To bring glory to himself?

Jesus did signs to point to God. Do you follow Jesus for what He can give you, or do you follow Jesus to understand better who you are in God?

We look for the Messiah for what He will give us, freedom, a leader. But Jesus as the chosen one did not do this the way people expected so He couldn’t be the Messiah…

Is Jesus the Christ?

Why do you follow Him?

 

 

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you give life

Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” And Ezra said: “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:5-6, NRSV)

God created all and gave life to all.

We think that our life is something we can make for ourselves, but we actually don’t start to live until we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God, and in that, we are freed to give as God gave to us. And in that freedom and giving, you will find life beyond imagination.

So don’t confuse a living with a life!

 

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King!

161120When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:33-43, NRSV)

I always find the readings for Christ the King to be a little hard to take. I mean really what king dies to sit on a throne?

And what cross is seen as s throne?

But yet, that is really our King!

One who does things His own ways, ways that are not our ways, and thinks of things in completely different ways than we do.

We want a king who will lead us to victory! A king that will free us politically here and now.

We don’t want a model to follow. A plan for loving the world. A way to bring everything back into the love that God used to create the world. We want what we want.

A superman for a king, one that would not eve thinking of dying, one who will give us what we want.

But Christ the King, died on a cross to show us that God’s kingdom is not what we want and is completely other than anything we could conceptualize.

So follow Christ, and do what He left us as an example.

Love the world so much you would be willing to die for it!

 

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Braveheart

161030Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, NRSV)

What does it mean to be free?

Or maybe a better question is are you really free?

You see the Jews answered Jesus, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Had they forgotten that they are descendants of those who made their way out of Eygpt after being set free from Pharaoh?

Did they not see the oppression of Rome all around them now?

We do not always see the things that hold us down.

We are not truly free unless we have a place in the home.

So what is it that enslaves us?

Money?

Power?

As I read this passage this time I thought about the movie Braveheart and the ending scene, you can see it below. William Wallace says “Freedom!” Becuase he is free from everything that has held him captive. He is letting go of everything and allowing life to happen.

How often do we allow ourselves to not live the life God has called us into? God did not give us a spirit of fear but has set us free to live the life He has placed in front of us.

So bravely go into the world and follow where He leads you.

And grasp the Freedom that God gives each of us.

 

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Guided by the Spirit

160627For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:1-25, NRSV)

We as Christians are free from the bounds of the law, freed to live in the Spirit.

Circumcision doesn’t make us right with God. Christ has done that for us and freed us to live in the Spirit.

So show the fruit of the Spirit by loving the world as God first loved you!

 

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Died

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11, NRSV)

Should we continue to sin simply because God is giving us grace?

No. We shouldn’t sin simply because we know that God will forgive us. If we continue to live in sin when we know better we are making the grace God has given us cheap.

It is not about us getting our way. It is about us being set free to live the life that God has called us to. One that is over and above society and one that leads others to see the life that God has given them.

Let us live in the freedom we have been given to follow after Christ and go where He leads us!

 

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