Tag Archives: freedom

Exodus 12-14; Luke 20; Psalm 21

Doorposts marked with lamb’s blood. They ate dressed to go, ready to go. That’s what I noticed first. But then, an army in pursuit, to take them back, to make them captives again, slaves. After all the signs, and after the deaths of all first born, probably a worse fate awaited them if they returned. Moses tells them that God will fight for them, but still, they also had to take action. They had to walk in the path opened before them.

In Luke, Jesus is teaching.

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.”

Luke 20:1-2, ESV

And later,

19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Luke 20:19-26, ESV, emphasis added

And this is what I notice–how an enemy hunts. An army in pursuit–a vast force. Or here, watching and baiting spies pretending to be sincere. How an enemy opposes freedom, opposes truth, opposes God.

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.

You will make them as a blazing oven
    when you appear.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
    though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.

12 For you will put them to flight;
    you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

Psalm 21:8-13, ESV, emphasis added

Lord, be exalted in your strength. I will sing and praise your power.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 32-34; Luke 10

I spent a lot of years stuck in patterns, rhythms, relationships. When I was finally unstuck, I wondered why I hadn’t chosen freedom sooner. In these verses, I see freedom.

Esau had plenty of reason to be angry. I wouldn’t have blamed him at all. In fact, I’ve often wondered about Esau and how he must have wrestled with his past/family. Jacob knew he wronged his brother. He had good reason to be afraid of seeing him. Jacob sends offerings ahead of himself, a peace offering of sorts.

Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

Genesis 33:8-11, ESV, emphasis added

Esau’s statement, “I have enough, my brother …” this is freedom.

When Jesus sends out the 72, he’s not about making them stay until they’ve convinced everyone. He gives them permission to move on, and not be stuck somewhere. Even their peace will return back to them if they are not received. They don’t have to feel like they’ve failed. They have peace.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’

Luke 10:5-11, ESV

It’s interesting to me that a lawyer would ask Jesus these questions. That someone who so deeply valued rules, parameters, and justice would want to know the exact terms to live by. He was stuck in the details.

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” … 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Luke 10:29, 36-37, ESV, emphasis added

Having been one who has hosted gatherings, I know how easy it is to get stuck in the task and the details that sometimes I miss the point–I miss out on the joy of gathering and spending time together because of distraction (and frustration).

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:40-42, ESV

Thank you, God, for freedom and peace. Thank you for cutting through resentments, performance, and the details we’ve puffed up that somehow make us ineffective, to show us how to live free, to love, to have peace, to be unstuck. Thank you for mercy. Life is so much fuller living unstuck.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 28:1-31:20

So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,” says the Lord. “For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them. For I am with you and will save you,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 30:10&11 NLT

In their bondage, God asked the Israelites to seek Him wholeheartedly. And He promised to listen to their prayers. Lord, help me not to give into fear. Give me the faith to rise above my circumstances. Help me to remember that You are with me.

This is what the Lord says: “When I bring Israel home again from captivity and restore their fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace reconstructed as before. There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people, not diminish them; I will honor them, not despise them.” Jeremiah 30:18-19 NLT

What am I allowing to hold me captive that I need to ask the Lord to free me from? Fear, worry…it can be a daily surrender to give those back to the Lord.

“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines.” Jeremiah 31:3-4 NLT

Dear Father, I am holding onto Your promises. Forgive me when I turn to other things. I can be so forgetful. I trust in You. I am grateful for Your promise to restore. You are good. Your goodness pursues me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 13-15; Psalm 136; John 5

What did he say?

Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ (Ezekiel 13:1-3, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:6-8, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (John 5:5-15, NLT, emphasis added)

When there’s so much to take in in the story, it’s easy to miss the message by considering the setting, interpreting a message, looking at the Pharisees. What did the Lord say? If I look past the descriptive sentences and focus on the dialogue, what did the Lord say? What if he said those words to me? Just these words: “Would you like to get well? Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk! Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”

Something even worse than being hindered and ineffective for 38 years. Something even worse than watching everyone else take action and rise victorious. Something even worse than blaming others, feeling abandoned, being stuck, or feeling self pity.

Lord, you’ve not been silent. You speak your word to people who may not want to hear or listen. This reading today (beyond what I’ve selected) tells me so much that you’ve said–about truth, accountability, error, sin, forgiveness, judgment, and more. You didn’t tell that man at Bethesda, “Ah, you’re a sinner so you’re just going to keep on sinning. It’s ok. Stay where you are.” You offered him a choice, told him to take action, and reminded him about who he is: NOW YOU ARE WELL. SO STOP SINNING. Oh, if I would just keep your words high above all the other distractions–a setting, a message, a body of people and their judgment. If I just kept your word as my focus–to choose you, to take action, to remember who I am in you. Could it be that simple? To lay down my excuses and my feelings, and just follow you to freedom and victory?

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

A great responsibility comes with choice. And I wonder how many people consider the cumulative or immediate consequences of a choice–from decisions over meals, activity, deadlines, to the influence of entertainment, relationships, culture.

Today, I read of Samuel plainly speaking, warning of the results of a choice:

10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home. (1 Samuel 8:10-22, NLT, emphasis added)

Even though Samuel warned what it meant to have a king rule over them, the people wanted to be like everyone else; and they wanted one man to judge them and lead them. Those were the defining arguing points they made, over everything else they’d perhaps forfeit. And God said to let them have it.

I think long on freedom and choice, grateful and reverent of it.

As I read through Stephen’s recounting of history, two things stand out: man’s choice and God’s presence. Stephen reminds of God’s leading and man’s response, sometimes obedient and sometimes not.

51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! 52 Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53 You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage

57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:51-54, 57-58, NLT, emphasis added)

I wonder, Lord, does choice always come down to choosing or rejecting you? From what I eat for lunch, what I listen to, how I handle conflict, what I say between friends–where do I put you in all of this, even these seeming inconsequential things? And what of mercy, compassion, forgiveness?

Father God, thank you for choice and freedom. These are perhaps the most powerful permissions you have given mankind. Help me to be aware of my heart in the choices I make. I want to choose you. I want to follow you. Stephen’s last words were for mercy for his attackers. Lord, help me to keep your kingdom as my focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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