26
Jun

Freedom from Condemnation

As I was invited to challenge myself to explore the emotion of freedom, instantly freedom from condemnation came to me. I know in my own walk and within my community of sisters, we struggle to walk in God’s worth because of our past or present sin. We entertain the lies that culture, Satan, and we ourselves whisper to us about our mess. Mess that maybe we created, mess that maybe we had absolutely no control over, or just mess that leaves us feeling dirty and condemned.

When we remain in our mess, or hold on to it, we aren’t allowing God to take that mess and turn it into a message. But when we decide to stop allowing the deception that tries to keep us in bondage from holding us back, we can walk in true freedom.

John 8:36 (NIV) says:

 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) says:

“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.”

These are just a couple of God’s promises of the freedom we own as daughters of the true and living God.

As I started searching the Bible for a woman that truly embodied freedom from condemnation, Rahab was placed on my heart. If God can do it for her, we know He can do it for us. This story unfolds in the Old Testament before the fulfillment of God’s awaited promise, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Today, we are on the receiving end of the promise with our helper, the Holy Spirit. Now more than ever we have the choice to break free from bondage!

Without further ado, let’s meet our free from condemnation sister Rahab. Formerly a prostitute, she was predominantly immoral for a period of her lifetime, but it would not be endless. Queen of the Night may have once been her temporary label, but it wouldn’t be her permanent legacy. Through her faith in God the Father, this sister would find freedom and choose to live a life fully alive.

Rahab is first mentioned in the Bible as Rahab the Harlot. Harlot, meaning prostitute, was not the only label Rahab contended with. She was also a Canaanite, which made her a hated enemy of Israel. Faced with a real time, life changing decision, she tells a lie. Let’s think about that ladies. Rahab – a prostitute, a despised Canaanite, and a liar. You wouldn’t think that this woman would one day be a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, but she was.

As her story unfolds, we will learn that once she chose the freedom that only God can offer us, she never looked back.

According to the account in Joshua 2, before the defeat of Canaan, Joshua sent two men as spies to see the land. They came to Rahab’s house for lodging. After all, it wouldn’t seem odd that two strange men were staying at her home. Or would it? Somehow, the King of Jericho gets word of this visit and sends a messenger to Rahab, demanding she give them up. She quickly conjures up a story, telling the king’s men they had left. She insists that the king’s messengers should chase the foreigners down. All the while, the spies are hidden under the flax drying on Rahab’s roof (Joshua 2:4). This exchange sets up the turning point in Rahab’s life!

When she goes up to the roof and uncovers the two men, and before she allows them to sleep for the night, she explains to them that she knows that their God will give Israel the land (Joshua 2:8-9). Rahab then makes the most astonishing statement of all:

For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11 NIV

In an instance, Rahab’s freedom is secured. She freely admits the Israelites’ God is the one, true living God.

Rahab would let the men go freely, but not without first making an awe-inspiring request. In return for her act of kindness, she boldly asked that she and her family be spared once the Israelites attacked Jericho. In agreement, the spies give her a scarlet cord to hang from her window. With the cord in place as a signal, when the Israelites destroyed Jericho, Rahab and her whole family would be spared.

Rahab had defied a ruler and saved the Israelites. Then, her uncommon faith and confession led to her salvation.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:10 NIV

And the Israelite spies would keep their promise, saving Rahab and her entire family at the taking of Jericho. Rahab did not waiver in her newfound faith. She repented and turned to God. Rahab accepted who God said she was despite what she used to be. This heroine of the faith was convicted not condemned. She was free!

From call girl to woman of God to wife of an Israelite, this was Rahab’s reward (Joshua 6:25). She would later become the mother of Boaz and the great-great-grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ. How profound that God not only used her to assist the Israelites as well as to save her own family, but He transformed her into such a woman of faith that He honors her still today. Matthew 1:5 reveals Rahab for all time as a direct descendent in the genealogy of our Lord and Savior.

Walking in God’s freedom will redirect the trajectory of your life! Whatever has happened, happened. We can’t remake our past, but with God there is hope for the future. No matter what has happened in your background, Rahab’s story shows us with God there is grace, peace, and freedom!

Lord God, we thank You for Your word that assures us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death (Roman 8:1-2). If You do not condemn me, I have no right or place to condemn myself. Help me to be like Rahab and to not get caught in the defeating cycle of self-condemnation. Instead, help me to walk in Your worth, believing what You say of me, and being everything You say I am! Amen!

Written by Stacha Ashburn


Please note all scripture was taken from the NIV – New International Version

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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19
Jun

How Am I Supposed to Walk in Freedom?

Be free! Live free! Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? It’s a catchy phrase, but how do I as a mother, wife, employee, boss, or friend actually walk that out in my life. Or for that matter, how do you in yours? None of the roles I play have listed living free as a requirement for me to consider them a job well done.

None, except one! Being a Christian woman says for me to walk in freedom with Jesus Christ.

Alright, that sounds fantastic! But I’ve heard it said, and I bet you have too, about how restricting Christianity is to women. That, as a Christian woman, I am not allowed to do this thing, associate with those people, go to certain places, wear this outfit, or say whatever I wish. Those may be the world’s thoughts on what Christianity means, but it’s incorrect.

Christianity is rooted in the belief of Jesus Christ and His teachings. A Christian is simply a follower of Jesus. Please hear me on this, Jesus came to set the captives free!

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 AMP

Prior to Jesus, everyone was captured by sin and death was the price to be paid. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He paved the road to my freedom (Romans 6:23). All I need to do to start walking out the rest of my life in that very freedom is to believe in Him, ask to be in relationship with Him, and profess Him Lord.

Throughout His life and through His death on the cross, Jesus displayed freedom for all. With that spirit of freedom came hope, healing, comfort, and above all else, love.

Mark 5:25-34 tells the story of a woman who was captive to an illness for over 12 years that kept her bleeding continuously. Because of this, by law, she was to isolate herself from the general public. Imagine that for a minute. Had she followed what society said a woman was supposed to do in that situation, she would have spent the rest of her life captive to this illness. She would have remained in line with what those around her thought she should do and remained ill. She would not have reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe the day He was passing by her town. But this desperate woman recognized freedom was on the road passing her by, so she bravely stepped out of the crowd and grabbed on to the hem of His robe. She recognized through faith that Jesus Christ held freedom for her and she took the leap. And immediately, she was made whole!

John 4:4-42 takes us to a well on the outskirts of Samaria, a town despised by the Jewish people. Yet, Jesus spent time in places, like Samaria, that Jewish society said was no good and deemed unworthy. But there at the well, someone that we know as the Samaritan woman found freedom through Jesus. He spoke to and mentored this woman that even the good citizens of Samaria felt didn’t even deserve to gather water with the town. Had she followed what society said a woman was supposed to do in that situation, remain quiet, she would have spent the rest of her life captive to her past. If she had not answered when He spoke to her, how do you think she would have found freedom? Sure, the townspeople knew everything she had done, but they were only offering her condemnation. However, Jesus offered her living water, water that would satisfy her thirst for eternal freedom. Jesus, once again, was the key to freedom.

How about the woman accused of adultery! Read her story in John 8:1-11. Do you think she would have found freedom without Christ? Of course not! Left to the townspeople, she would have been stoned to death. It was Jesus that stepped in, spoke up, and secured her freedom.

I could go on and on with examples from the Bible that show Jesus wasn’t about rule following. He was and is about love and His love brings freedom. He has sent the Holy Spirit to walk with me and to help guide me in how-to walk-in freedom.

I’m a Christian and I am free indeed.

Does this mean I can be coarse in my language, eat whatever I choose, wear whatever I want, hangout in places that don’t seem very churchy? Sure, I can do all those things. I’m free to choose! But there are consequences to every decision good or bad, Christian or not. I cannot lose my salvation by doing something that goes against what Jesus is about, but internally, I’m not going to feel good about it. I know this, and so, I try very hard to remember the price He paid. To honor Jesus’ sacrifice, I strive to do the things I know will glorify God.

For example, Jesus has taught me that along the path of freedom is kind speech, using words to lift others up not tear them down. I have also learned, as a Christian, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so I need to take care of it. Not because Jesus demands it, but because I want to honor the sacrifice made on my behalf. Because I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I want people to feel the love of Jesus through me regardless of how my outfit looks today or where I happen to be hanging out. The Holy Spirit living in me helps me accomplish these goals.

The freedom Jesus has given me makes me want everyone I meet to know that very freedom.

So, you see, Christianity isn’t about what I can or cannot do. Jesus does not care about my race, gender, or my past sins. He has a plan for me and you that is fully abundant and free of condemnation and societal restrictions. I say it’s time for us as women to arise, step out regardless of the crowd that surrounds us, drink of the only water that will quench our spiritual thirst, brush off the dust from the rocks thrown at us, and walk on the path of freedom Christ has purchased for us.

Are you ready to walk?

Written by Rhonda Carlsen

Please note all scripture was taken from the AMP – Amplified Bible

Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

 

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12
Jun

What Is Freedom?

freedom (ˈfrēdəm) :

the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; the power of will or self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity

Many things can make us feel oppressed. At times, we feel so restrained that it can appear as if any level of freedom is impossible. Freedom can manifest as either physical or non-physical freedom. An obvious example of lacking physical freedom is being jailed or in prison. A societal stigma, such as not having children or a station in life, may be perceived as lacking a non-physical freedom. Regardless of which kind of freedom we feel has been lost, we can feel powerless or as if we have nowhere to turn as a result. Some may describe it as feeling like there is a straitjacket preventing us from embracing the independence and freedom we desire. When we get like this, we as human beings want to take control. We want to intercede on our own behalf, forgetting that God is in control.

However, Galatians 5:13 states:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. NLT

In Scripture, God provides many clear illustrations of how we can stumble in our freedom by taking on His role versus ours, and therefore sin in our independence and self-determination.

Let’s take a look at two women in Scripture who represent God’s two covenants with man – the old covenant based on the Law and the new covenant based on grace. Maybe we can get a better handle on this freedom we speak of through the lens of this story’s narrative. Today, we’re going to talk about Sarah and Hagar.

Sarah, originally known as Sarai, was the wife of Abraham, originally known as Abram. Because of Abraham’s faith in God, the Lord would birth the nation of Israel through their union, but not before the freedom of both Sarah and Hagar, Sarah’s slave, had been trampled upon.

When you dive deep into Sarah’s life, you cannot miss the fact that she, who was not a slave, was deeply enslaved by societal standards.

At age 75, Abraham took his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth from Haran to Canaan at the Lord’s command. The Lord’s promise to Abraham was that He would give the land to his many descendants (Genesis 12:1-6). Side note – Sarah was barren.

Later, during a severe famine in Canaan, Abraham was forced to go to Egypt. In fear, he had Sarah, who apparently was quite beautiful, pretend to be his sister so that if she was desired by someone there, he would not be killed for it. Indeed, when they arrived everyone noticed her beauty and as was common in the day, when word reached the Pharaoh, he took her and provided many gifts to Abraham because of Sarah. What just happened?

However, because Abraham allowed her to be taken as Pharaoh’s wife, the Lord brought terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household. Once Pharaoh realized Sarah wasn’t Abraham’s sister but his wife, they were graciously escorted out of Egypt with all their possessions (Genesis 12:10-20). To add to Sarah’s sorrow, this pattern of behavior repeated years later when Abraham came into the kingdom of Abimelech, but the Lord once again redeemed Sarah (Genesis 20). Childless and tossed around like a transaction, can you see Sarah’s chains?

In the midst of Sarah’s torn life was Hagar, her Egyptian servant. Hagar, a true slave, was caught between the pages of Abraham and Sarah’s life. Years after the Lord’s original promise to Abraham, Sarah who was still barren decided it was a good idea to give her servant, Hagar, to her husband as a wife in the hopes that through her she would have children. And Hagar? Choiceless in the matter.

Abraham takes Hagar and has sex with her at his wife’s bidding. But as in most cases, when we attempt to solve our own problems without consulting God, the situation only intensifies. Once Hagar knew she was pregnant, she became hostile and disrespectful to Sarah. Sarah, consumed by emotions, first blames her husband for her servant’s behavior. Abraham, not taking responsibility for his wife’s freely given gift, attempts to smooth over things with her by giving her free reign over Hagar. An angry, bitter Sarah was told to do what she saw fit. And she did. Sarah was so cruel that Hagar ran away.

But the angel of the Lord found Hagar along the road to Shur and told her to return to her mistress and submit to her authority. Broken, distressed Hagar is promised that she would be given more descendants than she could count. Overjoyed by the fact that God saw her, Hagar for the first time in her life is free (Genesis 16:1-13).

Yet, God’s plan was untouched by any of these events. At age 99, Abraham was told his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, would give him a son the following year. And at last, Sarah is freed, birthing her own son in old age. A new, everlasting covenant was formed at the birth of Isaac. Sarah would go on to be proclaimed the mother of many nations, with kings among her many descendants (Genesis 17:15-21).  

And Hagar, due to Sarah’s continued resentment toward her, would eventually be sent away with her son, Ishmael. On that day, however, Hagar would walk away a free woman forever!

The Scripture says that Abraham has two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. Galatians 4:22-23 NLT

Two women, enslaved in different ways by a society that devalued them based solely on gender, still possessed a level of self-determination and independence. In their struggle to gain their own personal freedom, they show us two different approaches we as humans take.

I can only imagine Sarah’s initial emotional distress as she was unable to have children, and then sense the growth of her desperation to give Abraham descendants. I am wrecked at her loss of freedom in having to become Pharaoh’s wife and then suffer a near similar fate with King Abimelech. Hopeless in her physical condition and desiring the admiration of her husband, she turns to a surrogate, but it leaves her feeling even more rejected.

And Hagar, having no freedom, not even in possession of her own body, grabs for any sense of status she can find. She knew even pregnant she was a slave, but now she had the one thing Sarah didn’t have at the time – Abraham’s son. Imagine the sense of freedom she must have felt in spite of her position as a slave. Her behavior would soon show it. The lack of restraint that she showed towards Sarah once she was pregnant must have been liberating for her, even if it was fleeting.

Both their stories could have ended horribly, but GOD! In their misery, He redeemed them, freed them, and elevated them both far above the common chattel they were. They are both illustrations of God’s mercy and grace! He fulfilled His promise to make them both mothers of many descendants, including princes and kings, but He did not waiver from His ultimate plan.

These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. Galatians 4:24-26 NLT

Despite our limited perspective and actions, our limitless God will continue to work everything out in this world to accomplish His will and His promises for our good. May we find freedom in that! 

Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we come to you humbly, seeking freedom from all anxiety. We thank you that you give us the unrestrained freedom to follow Your Will and Purpose for our lives. We ask that you give us the power to go out boldly in Your Name and that You temper our independence and determination so that we can run the race You have place before us for Your glory. Remove the emotional hindrances and restraints that prevent us from freely serving You Precious Lord. Allow us to accept Your freely given Grace. We release the chains holding us back from true spiritual freedom. We bind the enemy’s stronghold on our emotional and physical freedoms both on Earth and in Heaven. In the Precious Name of Jesus we pray, AMEN.

Written by Melony Henderson

Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT – New Living Translation

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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5
Jun

Remembering How Christ Won Our Freedom

Just last week we celebrated Memorial Day here in America. Each year we take time to remember those men and women who during a military conflict gave their life for our country. All over the United States, thousands of American flags or decorated wreaths are laid at the tombstones of these fallen heroes. We acknowledge that their service and death has allowed us to live as a free nation for hundreds of years.

However, over two thousand years ago, there was a man who also made the ultimate sacrifice. He wasn’t in the military, but He was fighting a war that no human could ever imagine. This man did not die for just one country, but for the world. In doing so, Jesus broke the chains of sin over our life, purchased our freedom, and made us co-heirs to an eternal kingdom.

Yet, we struggle with this concept of true freedom in Christ. Perhaps at the center of it is the battle we have with a range of emotions that hint to us that our freedom may be just an illusion. If our emotions continue to well up and douse our confidence time after time, we feel less and less certain that freedom is truly ours.

Something in our psyche just cannot keep this principle in the forefront of our thoughts – that who the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36). What is it about our spiritual man that struggles to believe that Christ’s work on the Cross is complete and forever?

Whether it is the ups and downs of everyday life or a major challenge that hits us from behind, sooner or later we once again come face to face with our humanity. In those moments, we struggle with whether we are spiritually free. Therefore, whether you have been a Christian for a few days or even several years, remembering how Christ won our freedom and the fullness of that freedom must be an intentional act on our part.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20 NLT

There it is in black and white. It couldn’t be any plainer, could it? Paul tells us in Colossians that He made peace with everything. Perhaps the problem really comes down to the everything part. Does God really mean everything as in everyone.

There are so many days that I totally mess up. How about you? Can God truly be at peace with us and us with Him? Aren’t there rules we still need to follow in order to be made right with Him? Isn’t the shame, guilt, insecurity, and sadness we feel still an issue between God and us? Can our past really stay our past?

Ever had any of these thoughts and questions run through your mind? – I have!

Perhaps, I just don’t understand the depth of freedom I have available to me. Seriously, I’m just an everyday girl trying to make good on this life God has blessed me with while I keep all the plates spinning in the air! Yet, I believe in Christ. I know that He lived, died, and rose again. And there are days I feel bold and confident enough to walk in that freedom, but those days seem so few and far between. Why am I scared to show all that I am in Him?

This was me, my thought pattern, my feelings as recently as a year ago, but today, I am starting to truly understand my freedom in Christ, and I want EVERY woman to experience it!!!

Let’s go a little further in Colossians. Here is what the next two verses state:

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1:21-22 NLT

I AM HOLY and BLAMELESS! In other words, I’m free! And, guess what? So are you! If you have placed your faith in Jesus, you are free my friend. He has purchased us with His blood and reconciled us completely and fully with God. Why do we let the weight of that escape us at times? Why do we feel the need to continue to work toward freedom instead of just walking in it?

I think part of the problem is our confusion between what culture says about us and what God has proclaims about us. Culture says we are free only if ……. Only if we don’t mess up again or only if we keep it all together are we free. God says we are free by His grace. Period.

I challenge you to take these verses and make them more personable to yourself and then REPEAT them over and over until you get them deep down in your soul. Let’s practice!

This includes you (insert your name) who were once far away from God. You (insert your name) were his enemy, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you (insert your name) to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you (insert your name) into his own presence, and you (insert your name) are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

How does that feel? Pretty freeing, I hope.

Lord, forgive us when we forget the price you paid for our freedom. Forgive us for not walking in that freedom daily. Give us the wisdom to discern how our freedom can be used in Your perfect plan to bring others to You. Help us not to abuse that freedom, but to always use it for the greater good. There are people in the world who are dying to know the true feeling of freedom. May our lives shine Your grace and draw them to the only One who can truly set them free. Amen.

 

 

Founder, Transforming Love Ministries

Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference


Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT – New Living Translation

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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