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Let Jesus Set You Free

Have you ever felt “locked in” to an action or attitude that you knew was a mistake but you couldn’t stop? An addiction you couldn’t shake, a habit you couldn’t break, or a lifestyle change you didn’t know how to make?  As Christians, we’ve all been there.  Satan finds a chink in our armor and wriggles his way into our life through thoughts, actions, and deeds.  By the time we become aware of what is happening, we feel imprisoned and unsure if we will ever be set free.

Jesus died on the cross to set us free.  Sometimes we forget this fact.  Or perhaps it’s not that we forget, it is that we cannot fathom a love so vast and all-encompassing that one who is perfect and without sin, would lay down his life to save us wretched, sinful, unworthy souls.  We don’t deserve what He did for us and we can’t earn it.  We can only accept it as the gift it is meant to be.  Do we really stop and think on this very often.

 

#jesussaves #salvation

A post shared by Barbara Pilcher (@journaling_bee) on

The Holy Spirit used an incident with our cats the other day to remind me.  We have two outside cats who roam free in the woods around our house keeping small critters at bay.  Most days we see them at least twice a day, morning and night when I feed them.  Some days if we’re on the run, we may not see them at all, but I see that their food has been eaten and know that they’ve been there.

On this night, I went to feed the cats and noticed there was still food in their bowl.  Very unusual.  I called them to dinner and only one came to eat—Ralph.  I then thought back and I couldn’t remember when I had last seen our other cat—Felix.  I asked the hubs if he remembered seeing him, and although he couldn’t remember exactly, he felt like it had been within the last day or two.  We figured he was out and about and would be home soon so another night went by as we waited.

Breakfast time came and still no Felix, so the hubs and I decided to go out and look for him.  We didn’t have to look far.  He was shut up in my husband’s car—and before you panic, yes, he was alive and well!  And a very happy, grateful cat.  When my husband reached in to get him out of the car, his little heart was beating rapidly and as we put him down to walk he danced around our feet rejoicing to be set free from his car-prison.  He went straight for the food, and ate and ate, drank a little, and ate some more.  Ralph was so happy to see him that he came up beside him and bathed Felix with his tongue while he filled his empty belly.  It was a joyful moment.

In thinking back on it, I realize we are like Felix the cat.  We have a good life—food, shelter, family, friends—but we’re always looking for more.  For Felix, his normal resting places weren’t good enough and he saw an opportunity to climb in my husband’s car through an open window and check things out.  Things might have worked out okay, except it started raining.  And it wasn’t an early April “shower.”  It was a heavy duty, ground soaking rain.  Realizing the window was down, the hubs dashed out, rolled it up, and came inside.  He never realized Felix was inside until we started looking for him.  Much like we find ourselves amid our mistakes, Felix was trapped, wondering how, when and if he was ever going to be set free.

Can you imagine how relieved Felix was to be rescued and out of that car?  Do you remember how relieved and welcome you were when you finally reached out to Jesus from whatever “prison” you found yourself in and He set you free?  What a glorious feeling!

Our next step is to do exactly what Felix the cat did.  We run for food and water.  The only difference is our nourishment comes from His word, other Christians, and prayer.  We are so grateful to be set free, that we devour whatever “food” we can get our hands on that reminds us of Christ.

The other cat, Ralph, rejoiced with Felix as he tasted his new freedom.  He welcomed him back, and lovingly bathed him as he ate his food.  Shouldn’t we, as Christians, react that way when one of our brothers and sisters in Christ has been set free?  Shouldn’t we be so jubilant and loving as they begin their new life as a Christian or re-enter the Christian life they might have wandered away from?

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!  Luke 15:7 (NLT)

The next time you feel imprisoned by circumstances you find yourself in, reach out to Jesus and ask Him to set you free.  You may still have to face the consequences of your situation, but He will set you free from guilt and shame, irrational thinking, addictive temptations, etc.  However, we must take the first step; we must turn to Him and accept that He willingly lived, suffered, died, and rose again so that we could be awarded that freedom.

Once we’ve acknowledged our own or someone else’s freedom in Christ, let us rejoice with them.  They are joyful in heaven, so let’s join the celebration and encourage each other as we grow more mature in our Christian walk!
Amazing, isn’t it?  What God can show a person’s heart using two cats!  Look around.  I bet he’s showing you something too.

Note:  No cats were harmed in the writing of this post.  They are both alive and well and the hubs and I are checking in buildings and cars before we shut any doors.

The Significance of Small Group Bible Study

 Have you ever participated in a small group Bible study?  I’m not talking about Sunday School or discipleship classes held on Sunday nights prior to evening worship services.  I’m talking about small groups that meet in someone’s home to study and pray over God’s word—much as the disciples did in beginning of Acts as the Christian church was being formed.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 (ESV)

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:42 (ESV) (more…)

Praying Like Daniel

Is there a Christian person of prayer in the Bible or throughout history that has inspired you in your prayer life?

The Bible is full of people who had vibrant prayer relationships with the Lord.  Jesus set the perfect example throughout the New Testament.  He would rise before the sun came up (Mark 1:35) and often slip away by himself to pray in the wilderness (Luke 5:15-16).  He taught us the fundamentals of prayer in Matthew 6:5-18, including giving us a model prayer to follow.  He taught us to be persistent in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11) and showed us how to pray so powerfully, personally, and passionately that He sweated drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44).  I don’t know about you, but even in my most passionate prayers, I’ve never come close to sweating drops of blood.  I stop praying long before I reach that point. (more…)

March Prayer Focus – New Life

Spring is right around the corner.  Spring brings to mind new life as winter climates give way to warmer weather. Plants, trees and flowers start to bloom, birds and butterflies start to fly all around, and winter boots, sweaters, and coats are exchanged for shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops.  The coming of Spring symbolizes the coming of Easter.  Easter also reminds us of new life—the new life we are given when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  What are we doing with our new life?  Are we serving the Lord with our new life?  Are we helping those that are lost find new life?  Look at your life today and start living your new life in a way that brings glory God.

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Romans 6:3-5 (NLT)

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

 

The Sword of Forgiveness (Winds of Change #1)

by Debbie Lynn Costello

Barb’s Review

Great read with romance, rebellion, and resentment. Heroine is a godly woman of strengthening faith, hero is sinner feeling unworthy of love and God’s forgiveness. Throw in some evil characters and you find yourself quickly turning the page to see what happens next.

12 Christian Beliefs that Can Drive You Crazy

by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Not everything believed a biblical truth is truly biblical. The authors debunk 12 commonly accepted beliefs that cause bondage rather than liberty. They explain how nuggets of truth become cornerstones for error when wrongly understood, and they help build solid scriptural foundations that produce emotional freedom. Now with discussion guide.

Barb’s Review

Great study. Used it for small group and it provided great discussion topics. Would highly recommend.

 

Deeply Devoted

by Maggie Brendan

Sweet Christian romance. Young mail order bride trying to make a successful marriage, a home for her two sisters, and build a strong marriage. Throw in a meddling mother-in-law and her faith gets tested–is she strong enough to survive this?

 

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan, Danae Yankoski

POWERFUL  When is the last time someone used that word to describe you?It doesn’t make sense that Almighty God would have children characterized by fear and insecurity. He put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power (Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7). Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent or intellect rather than supernatural power. What’s worse is that we’re okay with it.Could it be that we’ve forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every religion and cult in the world?Through scriptural support and compelling narrative, breakthrough author Francis Chan reminds us of the Holy Spirit as the Bible describes Him. He reminds us that we were not created and saved merely to survive our time on earth. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit and are reaping the disastrous results.It’s time for the beloved church of Jesus Christ to reverse the trend of neglect. Let’s pursue the Spirit-filled life of effectiveness God desires and we desire.

Barb’s Review

Great study. Opens your eyes to the awesome power God has given us with Holy Spirit who lives inside each child of God. Highly recommend this DVD Bible study!  Made a huge impact.

Love Amid the Ashes

Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job’s life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family?Through painstaking research and a writer’s creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau’s tribe and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

Barb’s Review

What a beautiful love story! Although based on the biblical characters of Job and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, this is a work of fiction. The story allows us to feel the innate goodness of Job – who was blameless and upright (Job 1:6) in God’s sight. We experience his pain and the depths of his despair as he loses everything in one day–his children, his servants, his livelihood. We also feel his perplexity and alienation from God and man as he suffers through his painful, debilitating, ugly disease. Through it all he stands firm in his faith and belief in El Shaddai, leading those around him into understanding and belief in God Almighty, all the while enabling God to grow him in his own relationship with the Lord. Dinah comes to understand that perhaps God created her for a greater purpose and learns to see herself as a cherished child of God. I enjoyed all the characters, biblical and fictional, and enjoyed getting to know them. A great book–I would recommend to anyone no matter their spiritual beliefs because it is based on historical fact.