Who is God

In The Land Of The Free Why Are So Many Slaves?

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in these United States of America. It's the day (weekend) when we celebrate our nation's freedom. As a nation we are free to make our own decisions and laws. We are not ruled, governed or mastered by any other country. We are independent!

Cue the Star Spangled Banner and the fireworks.

Honestly, I am really excited about this 4th of July weekend. We have family visiting from out of state, and tons of really fun plans. I can't wait.

But, thinking about our country's independence has me asking another question.

Let me pause right here and tell you that this is not a post about the problems in our country, or the hot topic issues everyone is talking about. It's not a post about human-trafficking, racism, SCOTUS rulings, or the confederate flag. Those are all very real, very important issues in our country right now, and I may add my voice to the conversation, but not in this post. In this post I want to talk about something more deeply personal. Something that affects every single one of us.

In this land of freedom, why are so many of us still slaves?

You may be thinking, "I'm not a slave. I make my own decisions. I do what I want."

That's true, you are probably not a slave in the sense of another human owning your person. But, let me ask you this:

Do you feel free? Or do you feel trapped? Do you feel free? Or do you feel stuck? Do you feel free? Or do you feel guilty and regretful?

I have felt all of those things, and I am learning to live in the freedom of the only One who has the power to really set us free.

I would argue, that while we live in a free nation, many of us are not living in freedom. There are many things that enslave us:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • A Job We Hate
  • Depression
  • Bills
  • Debt
  • Chasing the American Dream
  • Guilt
  • Regret
  • An Unhappy Marriage
  • Our Own Thoughts
  • Trying to Make People Happy
  • Fighting To Be Liked
  • Addiction
  • Food
  • Habits
  • Sin

Did I hit on anything in your life that makes you feel trapped, enslaved, or anything less than free? Or is it something else?

The truth is we are all slaves to something. In fact, we may each be slaves to different things on that list, or things not even listed, but we all have one thing on the list in common.

We're All Slaves to Sin

Maybe you don't think you are slave to sin. Maybe you don't even think sin is a thing. Or you do think it's a thing, but it's not a big deal, and you're in control of it.

Let me ask you another question:

What is one thing in your life that you know is wrong, and you hate that you do it, but you can't seem to stop?

Now, not all sins are habitual, and they don't have to be habitual to enslave us. We are not just enslaved to individual sins. We are enslaved to sin as it's own entity because we are born sinners.

"Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'" (John 8:34) And we are ALL sinners (Romans 3:23)

But There is Good News!

The good news is that there is One who has the desire and the power to set us free. Set us free from sin, and set us free from all of the things on the list, and everything not on the list. We can have the true freedom that is only found in Jesus, who continues in that passage to say:

"'Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:35-36)

Jesus wants to set you free. Free from sin, shame, addiction, anxiety, depression, guilt, regret, debt, and anything keeping you from the full, abundant life He promises us in John 10:10.

How are we set free?

If Jesus wants to set us free, and has the power to set us free, why doesn't He just do it?

Well, He did. Now it's our move. We have to choose to receive His free gift of salvation and choose to follow Him. Then we are free.

Now let me be clear, the minute we make this decision everything doesn't instantly get fixed. What does instantly happen is we become children of God, our sins — past, present, and future - are forgiven, we are given new life, and the Holy Spirit lives inside us.

We are instantly given the power to walk in freedom, and that is the first step in our journey to learning to live in that freedom.

Friends, it is a process to break all of the chains that bind us, but in that process we get to really know the One who created us, loves us, and has a wonderful amazing plan for our lives. And it is the most wonderfully life-giving journey we can take.

What if you could celebrate your personal freedom while we celebrate our nation's freedom?

The Bible says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) That means every single one of us. It also says, "the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) That means because of our sin, we will not only spend eternity apart from God in Hell after we die, but we will also spend our lives on earth as though we are dead, surviving without the power and freedom that comes with a relationship with Christ.

But there is good news. God had a plan. He knew that we could never pay the price for our sins, so He sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die a torturous death on the cross to take that punishment for us, and then to rise again on the third day to defeat sin and death.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).

Salvation is God's free gift to us. The rest of (Romans 6:23) says "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We have to believe it and declare Him our Lord. "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9).

If you believe that Jesus is Lord and that He died on the cross for your sins, and that God raised Him from the dead, and you want to have a relationship with Him, tell Him that.

There is no magic prayer, or special words to say. Simply tell Him from your heart that you know you are sinner, you believe that He paid for your sins on the cross and that God raised Him from the dead. Tell Him that you are sorry for sinning, and that you want Him to be the Lord of your life.

Celebrate and tell someone

Congratulations, and welcome to the family! Welcome to freedom! If you just prayed and told God those things, you are now His child. You will never be the same! It's time to celebrate and tell someone about this important moment in your life. In fact, I would love to know, and I would love to help you take your next step in your relationship with Jesus. So if you make a decision to follow Jesus today, would you please let me know? I'd love to celebrate with you!

3 Reasons A Guy (Or Girl) Will Never Be Enough To Satisfy You

So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Maybe you are in a great relationship, and you can’t wait to celebrate. Maybe for you it’s Singles Awareness Day. Or perhaps you fall into the camp of “it’s complicated.”

Whatever your relationship status is, one thing is certain: love and relationships are in our faces this time of year. Everywhere you go there are red and pink hearts, “I Love You” teddy bears, roses, and candy. Society is screaming at us “you need a relationship to be satisfied, to be good enough, to be happy.”

But it’s a big fat lie. The truth is whether we are happily married for 50 years, or single forever, a man will never be enough to fill that deep empty longing inside us.

Sure relationships can be great, and in fact can be very satisfying. I am happily married, so I know how great relationships can be. I have also experienced plenty of heartbreak, and painful relationships in my life. But my husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your future significant other will never, can never, be enough to fill that empty place.

3 Reasons A Guy/Girl Cannot Be Enough to Satisfy You

1. He is human.

The thing about that person you are dating, or want to date, is he is human. And the thing about humans is that we are not perfect. We mess up. We hurt each other. No human can love you perfectly, and you cannot love another person perfectly either. Even in the greatest relationships, hurt happens. Yes, there is forgiveness and communication and all of the things that make great relationships great. But at the end of the day if we are relying on another imperfect person to do everything right to fill that hole inside of us, we will be disappointed.

2. It’s too big of a hole.

Can you imagine someone expecting you to meet every single one of their physical, emotional and spiritual needs 24/7? That’s a lot of pressure. And it’s impossible. That deep longing inside of us, that intense desire to be fully known and fully loved, that emptiness, is too big for a person to fill.

3. You Were Created for More.

You were created with this deep desire that we’re talking about. That feeling of wanting to be loved, of wanting someone to know everything about you, and still love you, of wanting a relationship with someone who can fully satisfy you and meet all of your needs, was put inside of you on purpose. Your Creator put it there so you would search for Him. It was never meant to be filled by another human being. Yes it’s true that He designed us to be relational beings, and it is good and necessary for us to have other people in our lives who we can trust, have fun with and do life with. But, that void in you, the one you want to fill with a boyfriend or girlfriend, can only be filled by the One who created you.

He already knows you. He knows everything about you, and He Loves You Enough to Die For You.

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you are in a relationship, single, or complicated, will you meet and get to the know the only one who can really fully satisfy you?

Do You Ever Feel Invisible?

I felt invisible all through high school. I was convinced that aside from my small group of friends (and my family, but they weren't at school with me) and the few people who were chronically mean to me no one else knew who I was. If I just disappeared, no one would notice, and if they did notice they wouldn't care, or worse they would be happy.

I wasn't popular enough (ok, I wasn't popular at all) for people to recognize me, and I wasn't unpopular enough for people to recognize me. I was just unpopular enough to be invisible.

Eventually, I began to realize that maybe I wasn't as invisible as I thought I was. People knew who I was, they just didn't care, or wished I wasn't. (Pause...this is not how I feel now. Jesus showed me that He sees me, and loves me and He rescued me. But it was the reality of how felt then, and maybe it's how you're feeling now.)

I think we all feel invisible at different times, and in different ways during our lives.

3 Ways We Feel Invisible

1. No one notices our pain.

Maybe we are going through something really hard: the loss of a loved one, a breakup, depression, anxiety, etc, and it feels like no one notices. We go about our day, going through the motions, but with pain in our eyes, and no one notices. No one pushes past the "fine" we give when they ask how we are doing. Our pain is invisible.

2. No one notices the good things that we do.

We do the dishes, we get an A on a big project, we solve a big problem at work, and no one notices. Sometimes, it feels like no one sees or appreciates the good things we do. We feel invisible.

3. People are aware of our pain, or our accoplishments, they just don't act like they care.

Sometimes, people are very aware that we exist. They can see our pain, or even our accomplishments, but they are too busy with their own lives or don't care enough to talk or listen to us. They may even have the ability to help us, but they choose not to. This might be the worst kind of feeling invisible.

I wonder if this is how Hagar felt in the Bible before she encountered El-Roi, The God Who Sees Me.

Hagar was the servant of Sarai (who would become Sarah) and Abram (who would become Abraham). Sarai was unable to have children, and got tired of waiting for God to give her the son He had promised her, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She made Hagar get with Abram, so Hagar could have a son for Sarai. Hagar did indeed get pregnant, and despised Sarai.

Shocking right? I mean, she was a servant forced to marry her mistress' husband, and have his child for her. Of course, Hagar despises Sarai. But it gets worse. Sarai actually blames Abram for the whole thing, and then he tells her it's her problem and to do with Hagar as she pleases.

"...Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her." Genesis 16:6

Hagar is in a pretty terrible spot. She was forced to marry, have sex with, and conceive a child with Abram. She is now pregnant, and the people who are supposed to be taking care of her, are harming her. So she runs away, with no where to go, and no one to help her. She is still pregnant, and now on her own. That's a rough situation to be in now, but back then it was a completely hopeless situation.

I can only imagine that Hagar felt invisible. No one noticed or cared about what she was going through.

Then she encountered God.

"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, 'Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?'" Genesis 16:7-8

God knew Sarai's name, and who she was. He knows yours too, and who you are.

"The Angel of the Lord also said to her: 'You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your misery.'" Genesis 16:11 God saw what she was going through.

This is where we first see God called El Roi, which means "the God who sees me." "She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" Genesis 16:13

She felt invisible, like no one cared about her. But God saw her, and heard her suffering, and cares for her.

Ishmael, the name of her son, means "God hears." In Genesis 21, we see that after going back to Abram and Sarai and giving birth to Ishmael, eventually Sarai (who has become Sarah) gets jealous and sends them away. Hagar puts Ishmael under a tree and walks away because she does not want to watch him die. Again, she finds herself in terrible circumstances, being alone and hopeless with no resources to take care of herself or her child.

But, "God heard the boy crying..." Genesis 21:17 Again He promises to make him a great nation, and he provides a well for them to drink, and continues to take care of them and is "with the boy as he grew up." Genesis 21:20

You can read the whole story of Hagar and how God rescues her and Ishmael in Genesis 16 and 21.

God saw Hagar, and He heard her. He knew what she was going through, and He loves her and He rescued her.

God saw me, and He heard me. He knew what I was going through, and He loves me, and He rescued me.

I don't know what you are going through. I don't know if you feel invisible or like no one cares about you.

But God does. He sees you. He hears you. He knows what you are going through. He loves you, and He wants to rescue you.

Cry out to Him, talk to Him. He cares for you. He wants to comfort you. There is nothing you can't talk to Him about. He wants a relationship with you too. Have you stepped into His grace, and into your relationship with Him yet? He is waiting for you with open arms.

Will You Let Him?

Are you ready to meet the one who loves you enough to die for you?

He loves you so much. He wants to offer you a new life, a new hope, a new heart. He wants to rescue you. He wants reveal to you who He is, and who you really are. Who He created you to be. He wants a relationship with you.

He will never stop pursuing you.

He has a plan for your life that is so much better than you could ever dream.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and will bring you back from captivity.'" Jeremiah 29:11-14

What's holding you captive?

  • Your past?
  • Worry?
  • Anxiety?
  • Depression?
  • Addiction?
  • Habits?
  • Feeling like your not enough?
  • Sin?
  • That thing you just can't stop doing?

Whatever it is, Jesus wants to set you free! Will you let Him?

He knows about it. ALL of it. Whatever "it" is in your life. And He loves you anyway. He is offering you grace and forgiveness, and a new life that is not defined by your past.

Grace is for you

I remember feeling like that's great for other people, but if you knew what I had done, you would know that I am too far gone. He could never love me. He could never forgive me. Sure He probably had a plan for my life when I was born, but I ruined that. There is no way He could use me now.

LIES!! ALL LIES!!

Remember the enemy in the garden? He is the great deceiver. He wants you to believe those lies because he doesn't want you to find life, hope, forgiveness, and a future in Jesus. Satan wants to keep you captive to your past. Hear Jesus' words:

"'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" John 10:10

Jesus loves you!! He loves YOU!! YES YOU!! He knows about all of the things you have ever done, will ever do, and have ever or will ever have done to you, and He loves you anyway. Remember, He knew before you were even born, and He created you anyway!

There is NOTHING, AND I MEAN NOTHING that you could ever do that would make Him stop loving you.

He wants to forgive you, and He wants to set you free.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

All you have to do is say yes.

God created us to live in relationship with Him. Then sin entered the world, and that relationship was broken. God is a just God, and He cannot look on sin lightly. It must be punished. Sin is anything that we think, say or do that disobeys God. We are all sinners, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Thank you Jesus for putting the "but" in that sentence. God knew from before creation that we would sin, and break our relationship with Him. He also knew that sin would have to be punished. But He loves us so much, He had a plan from the beginning to save us.

Jesus would take on Himself all of our sins, and suffer and die the most agonizing death on the cross, and separation from His Father in Heaven. He took the punishment for our sins, so that we don't have to. Then on the 3rd day He rose again, so that we may have eternal life in Him.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18

Will you believe? Will you accept Jesus' free gift to you? Will you let Him be the Lord of your life?

"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justiified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scriputre says, 'Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.'" Romans 10:9-11

If you would like to do this today, pray a prayer similar to the following one. The words are not important. It is not a magic prayer, it's your heart crying out to God's heart, and you deciding to accept His free gift of salvation and give your life to Him.

Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner. I am sorry, I ask for your forgiveness, and I choose to turn from my ways right now in this moment, and turn to You. I believe that you died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins, and were raised again on the 3rd day to give me eternal life. I declare that you are the Lord of my life. Take it all Jesus. I want to live for You. Thank You for saving me. I love you Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

If you just prayed to accept Jesus as your Savior, congratulations, and welcome to the family of God! You will never be the same! I would love to connect with you and talk with you about your decision, and your next steps in your walk with Jesus.

Thank you for reading. Love you all. Walk with Jesus today knowing that you are a new creation!

Grace in the Garden

We are coming to the most important part of what I want to explore, as we look back to the beginning. Remember that we are taking this trip back to the garden because if we are really going to believe that the things I claim in my first post What if He Loved You Enough to Die for You are true, then we need to see that they have been true since creation.

We have seen that God knew everything we were ever going to do, and He created us anyway. And we watched the enemy in the garden trick Eve (and us) into not trusting God. Today, let's take in how God responds.

Before we do that though, it's important to realize that Jesus was there. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that Jesus has been there since the beginning, which also means He knew what we would do, what it would cost Him, and He did it anyway.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5

The Word = Jesus

Jesus was there. He knew. He did it anyway.

Let that sink in. You are so valuable to Him. He loves you so much!

What did Adam and Eve do after they ate the fruit?

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." Genesis 3:7-8

Oh, how painfully human their reaction is. Isn't that what we do? Don't we try to cover up our sins? Don't we try to hide from God? I imagine they were scared, and ashamed. But the reality is, we can't hide from God, and we don't need to.

Let's see how God reacts.

Please take a minute to read Genesis 3 and see what God says and does.

If you are anything like me, you have pictured God screaming and yelling at Adam and Eve as He asks them what they have done, and dishes out punishment after punishment and curse after curse, then banishes them from the garden.

But I've come to believe His tone was more of a broken hearted, "what have you done?" I imagine it was more of a "you have no idea what you have done, the pain it's going to cost you, and what it's going to cost me to rescue you."

Yes, there were consequences to their actions. Of course there were. We know that God is a just God and He cannot leave sin unpunished. And aren't the consequences we give our kids more serious when what they have done is dangerous?

But there is another reason that God couldn't just say, "oh it's okay" and let them stay in the garden. I came to this realization when reading The Jesus Storybook Bible to my kids. He couldn't leave them there because they now had the knowledge of good and evil. Pain, sin, and tears had entered the world, and if He left them in the garden they might "...take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." Genesis 3:23. He loves us too much to let us live in this world the way that it is forever.

He banished them from the garden to protect them, to protect us. But He didn't just send them out naked and alone.

Before He banished them, "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them" Genesis 3:20. An innocent lamb had to die, and shed his blood in order to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Then He gave them clothes that were better than the ones they tried to create for themselves, and, I believe, sadly sent them from the garden.

Do you see the grace? Let's look a little deeper at when God is handing down the curses to Satan. By the way, I do believe He was probably yelling at Satan, since he is the one seeking to "steal, kill and destroy" the ones God loves.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel." Genesis 3:15

God tells us His plan right here. Jesus is coming. He's going to crush Satan, and He's going to rescue us. And that is what the entire rest of the Bible is about. It's about God's love for us, and His plan to rescue us.

He is persuing you. He loves you. He knows all that you have done, and ever will do. He still loves you and has been persuing you since the beginning of creation. He wants to rescue you. Will you let Him?

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