I have been thinking much about the benefits of our freedom to choose. Recently we were praying and someone prayed for our freedom. It struck me that the follower of Jesus is free regardless of their life situation. This leads us to ask ourselves, “What are my chains” of what is holding me back from the life that the Lord intends for me.
The Bible overflows with reminders on the multitude of blessings available to every follower of Jesus. The reality is that all too often we subtract from God’s blessing in our lives through our ignorance or rejection of Biblical truth, our trust in our own life experiences or even our pride. It is our personal character flaws that hinder us from realizing our freedom in Christ.
We see this reality in a number of different areas of Scripture. Let’s take a look at a few. The first that comes to my mind is found in Peter’s second epistle. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3) It may be that the most significant word in this verse is “all.” I once heard it put this way, “All is all that all means!” I want you to notice that a believer has received everything that they need for a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. I recently built a BBQ Grill out of the box. There was one point where I thought I was missing some parts. I could feel my frustration rising as I was thinking about how I would resolve the issue of the missing parts. I was relieved to find the parts hidden in some of the Styrofoam packing! But how often does our lack of understanding keep us from our freedom in Christ. Notice that the all things is everything needed to live a godly life.
So if the Lord has provided for His followers everything needed, why do we tend to be a miserable lot? If we boil our problem down to the basics, it is a matter of what we choose to act upon. It is easy to proclaim the right beliefs like, “I trust God!” It is our thoughts, words actions and mental disposition that reveal our true nature. Jesus reminded us of the importance of integrating God’s Word into our lives. He taught, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32) If you notice the underlined phrases you glean three vital truths. First, abiding speaks of integrating God’s truth into your life. It is a combination of knowledge and action. Second we see that we need to know the truth. This statement reminds us of the danger of trusting in our opinions, preferences or even life experiences. And third and most importantly, only God’s truth can sets us free.
I recently had a conversation with someone that was wrestling with the stress in their life. It was coming out in their actions toward others. They choose to fast and focus on the Lord. They shared the concentrated time helped them to rise above the struggles weighing heavy on their shoulders. Why does this work, because is causes us to focus on the Lord and trust Him. When we focus on him the world fades into the background. The hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” reminds us, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”
The third insight about living a life of freedom is personal. I choose what I focus on. So what are my chains? It is time to cast them off and embrace the transformed life that is ours through Jesus!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson