1 Kings 1; Galatians 5; Ezekiel 32; Psalm 80

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps 80:3)

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:7)

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:19)

The Israelites were under attack once more and about to be overtaken by a foreign enemy. They had not obeyed the Lord, they worshipped false gods, and about to suffer what God warned them would happen. As the psalm progresses, I found it interesting how the pleas had changed. I could feel the urgency of the request growing—almost as if God’s place in the writer’s heart was being restored. I know there are times I need God, but I think I only half need him because in my mind I’ve really got everything under control. My prayers certainly reflect that attitude. Then there are times I REALLY need God. Only his sovereign power can intervene. As I pour out my heart to him, I am overwhelmed by the great need I have for him. I think this writer was working through the realization of what was about to happen and called upon the strength of the LORD God Almighty.

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. (Gal 5:1)

God never meant for us to be enslaved. It was not until sin came into the picture that humanity suffered bondage. We have looked to other things to satisfy the longing only God can fill in us. Those “things” entrap us. Our enemy uses them against us in our weakness. In my own power, I cannot overcome them. When I stand firm, yoked to Jesus, I am not left to my own devices. I cannot wander from him. I don’t have to go through anything alone. Because of Jesus, I am no longer under the Law. His death on the cross and my belief in him has saved me. He paid the price I could never pay.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

From a heart of love and knowledge of God’s grace and forgiveness, I can choose to love and serve others. It is not always easy for my sinful flesh to do this. I don’t always want to love my neighbor. My flesh has ugly thoughts sometimes. I admit I sometimes serve out of sheer obedience and not with a cheerful heart. But it amazes me how my heart follows my actions. When I take “self” out of the picture and allow God to work through me, it changes everything. Something I thought I would hate becomes something that fills me with joy because I could feel God’s pleasure in me.

I have learned that freedom comes with boundaries. God sets those boundaries for us. The Israelites pushed beyond those boundaries God set and suffered the consequences. God heard their cries and came to their rescue. He does the same for me. I have suffered the consequences of my actions and see them now as teaching moments—though I admit I didn’t at the time! Even in those times, I can look back and see his goodness, his lovingkindness towards me, and how he only wants what is best for me.

Oh Lord, my journey with you has been such an adventure. You have taught me so much, and continue to do so through your word, through the teachings of others, and through life experiences. How many times have I learned to do it right because I am such a stiff-necked child and did what I wanted to do, and you let me fall? Yet, every time, you gently pick me up and give me an opportunity to try again. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I find in following you. Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I have from the bondages that weighed me down. I gladly take on the yoke of Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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