Finding Freedom Now

Losing the Power, posted earlier this month (click to read), painted a picture of walking free from the power of condemnation for all my wrongs. I had been in Christ many years without experiencing freedom from condemnation due to ignorance, despite reading the Bible. My eyes were opened to what had been mine all along in Christ when I read these verses anew:

Romans 8:1-2 NIV Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

With the help of these same verses, this post will take you a little further on my personal journey of losing and finding. Parking on the latter words of this passage, I contemplate this law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has set me free from the law of death. The more I focus on the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the more all else fades in comparison – even death.

mini-cross of hopeWhen I believed Jesus to be who He claimed – the Savior of the world – I received His Spirit of life. Now I am alive in Christ Jesus . . . forever. Christ Jesus is alive forever, and I live in Him, so I am alive eternally, as well. Already alive forever. Not waiting until my physical body stops working. Now. When my body gives up, my eternal life will continue living in Christ without even a slight pause – simply in a form no longer hindered by mortality. 1

This excites me beyond words and radically changes my perspective on the loss of life as I know it now.   Fear of death is lost to me. What is to fear when I am in Christ? The Romans verse clearly states I am free now (and it’s always now!) from the condemnation that could separate me forever from God. The penalty for my sin, and its justifiable condemnation, was paid in full in Jesus’ suffering and death. It’s gone forever, and along with it, the separation mandated by it. In Christ’s resurrection, I was raised to new and forever life in His Spirit. Death and the fear of it are lost to me now – forever – because I am Daddy’s child.

This is real now, when I’m not at death’s door, and it will be real after my last breath. But it will also be real at the end of my life, evident in the loss of torment often associated with those last days – torment rooted in regrets and remorse and doubts about a less-than-perfect life. Fear of death is lost to me forever, driven out by the perfect love of my Father. 2 Freedom is found – now.

The final verse of In Christ Alone, a familiar hymn, captures the glorious freedom and victory of which I have written:

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

For the final in this series, click to read Lost and Found.

1 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

2 1 John 4:18

Of Dogs and Babies (not to be confused with Of Mice and Men)

The revelation of God’s amazing, unmerited, unconditional love just keeps coming, and in such different ways.  The latest one involves my great dog, Sandy, and my precious grandson, Colton.  (I wondered how I would ever work him into a post.) The two of them do no harm to one another; neither do they particularly appreciate the fact that the other exists.

After Colton spent the night with us recently, and had been returned to his parents, I resumed my normal morning quiet time routine in my comfortable chair.  Sandy joined me on his bed that is strategically placed next to my chair.  As I reached out to “love on” him, I explained to him how much I wish he understood our love for him.  I knew that if he did, he wouldn’t feel so insecure and in need of reassurance when Colton gets my attention.  That’s when it hit me that  Abba Daddy had just given another great illustration of His love for us.

1 John 4:18  NIV  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What does fear have to do with it?  Insecurity comes from fear in any number of forms.  In Sandy’s case, I can be around others (even dogs), but not giving them affection, and he is fine.  Throw attention and affection into the mix, and he doesn’t think we love him so much any more.  The fact is, I have more than enough love to spread around.  Even though I might not show it physically at that moment, my love for Sandy hasn’t decreased in the slightest.  The problem is, I’ve never been able to convince him of that fact.

Are we the same way with our heavenly Father?  Do we work and strive to do things that will impress Him, to “prove” to Him that we love Him, trying to gain assurance that He loves us?  Do we feel the need to remind Him that we’re still here?  If so, we really don’t understand how great and unending is His love for us.

Romans 8:37-39 NIV  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The fact of the matter is this: God’s love is perfect toward you, as that wonderful passage in 1 Corinthians 13 explains.*  You are as loved as you can ever be, even if you don’t feel it.  When you are in Christ Jesus, be assured that you will never, ever, ever, ever be separated from Him and His love for you.  You can bank on it and you can rest in it – forever!

* 1 Corinthians 13 needs to be read as God’s love to us, instead of how we are “supposed to” love others.  Once we grasp His love in this way for us, it will work through us to others.

Lessons on the Way to China (Part 2)

There were so many time-sensitive details, especially early on, in the preparations for this China trip.  Finances were the biggest part at one time, as you know from my last post.  There was another time, though, that it was finances plus getting the passports off to Washington, D.C., to get the Chinese visas.  One particular afternoon, when the mailman had again not delivered the passport long-since sent from our team member in Germany, I was so far out of the place of God’s peace, despite all my loud praying against demonic spirits, that I knew I could do nothing else until I had returned.

As I opened my journal and began to cry out on paper and verbally, the Holy Spirit quickly helped me see my part (again) in the whole delayed process.  It was fear.  Fear that the passport was lost.  Fear that it would arrive so late that I couldn’t get it to the visa place and back before I left town on another trip.  Fear that no one would be here to sign for it when it was delivered, and what if those arrangements fell through?  Fear that I’d not be able to get it in the mail back to Germany until after I returned, which made it much less likely to get there on time.  Then there was the fear that not all the team members would have their money for the trip.  Fear that, even though we’d sent the first half of the money toward our trip to the missionaries, the other half wouldn’t be in on time, and we’d be delinquent.  Fear that we’d not get all the money at all!  Do you feel yourself getting uptight just reading my list of fears?  These fears, that I’d not seen, were growing like a cancer out of control – until the Lord opened my eyes.  Even as I wrote down what the Holy Spirit was showing me, I felt the peace returning.  Fear was exposed and losing its power over me because it was out in the open, glory to God.  God loves me so much that He delivered me even before I repented for not trusting Him and yielding to fear!

1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  NIV

It was because of His love for me, not because of my repenting, that He drove out the fear.  The simple fact is, God loves me!  If He didn’t love the other members of my team (which, of course, He does), He loves me!  He called me to lead this team.  He called me, as leader of this team, to submit to the missionaries in China.  He called me, as leader of this team, to get all the paperwork handled efficiently and in a timely manner, so that there would be no rushing around – even where the team member in Germany was concerned!  Because He loves me and has called me, He has provided for all of it – mailing and finances.  I either believe it, or I don’t, and I choose to believe it and act upon that belief!  I’m getting back into the place of grace.  From that place of grace, which is so full of the peace of God, I stand in faith and declare:  “That envelope has been discovered and is being rushed to me even now.  Blinders have been removed and all other hindrances released.  In addition, I declare again, from the place of faith, that all finances are even now being brought forth with much eagerness to sow to this work of God in China – without further delay – and all for the glory of God!  Mine is to stand and watch!”  I can declare all this because God loves me!

As I write this on March 17, from a February 9 journal entry, I wish I had immersed myself in the above entry, especially during the last 1 ½ weeks.  The finances have all come in, glory to God, but the passport with the visa stamp seemed to be lost somewhere between the states and Germany.  With less than 2 weeks until our departure date, all pertinent parties have been scrambling around to make a way for our team member to have a valid passport and visa on time.  We have prayed.  We have commanded.  We have declared in what we thought was faith.  Every now and then, I’d remember that God loves me, but I never re-read my journal entry.  What a difference it would have made.

I came to the place of knowing we had done everything in the natural we possibly could, seemingly without success, and that if God didn’t get this passport there, it wasn’t going to happen.  I had actually come to a certain level of peace, though I wasn’t in faith for it to work out.  But God . . . !  There it was in my inbox this morning, the subject being “we’ve got mail.”  Needless to say, I knew what that message contained, even before opening it.  After one month in transit, the passport had arrived.  I did some whooping and hollering, with shouts of praise to the Lord!  What relief!  But, what stress could have been avoided if I had only let that deep-down revelation of the Lord’s love for me continue to fill me and drive out the fear?  My Father had so much more peace for me in the waiting, that it must have been hard for Him to see me not choosing to rest in His love.   I’m not condemned – only thankful that I’m walking in His glorious freedom once again!

1 John 3:1  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! . . .”  NIV

Psalm 91:1  “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].”  AMP

God loves me!  God loves me with perfect love!  If I will dwell in this secret place of His love, there is no fear that can attach itself to me, no matter what goes on around me.  In this place of His love, I remain stable and fixed under His shadow, Whose power no foe can withstand!  I will need to be reminded of this over and over through my life, I know, but my desire is to keep growing in the knowledge of His love for me, recognizing fear quickly, and running back to the absolute safety of the secret place of His amazing, unlimited and immeasurable love for me.  God loves me!  P.S.  God loves you the same way!