Walk in Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1

If you were to describe your relationship with God, how would you describe it? Does it read the same as a relationship with a friend who you’ve fallen out of touch with? Or maybe even someone you have wronged and not yet sought forgiveness? Is it something on the back of your mind like a task that you know you should ‘get to when you have some time’ when you really just want to avoid it because it seems like too much to sort out?

This kind of thinking defined my relationship with God for many years. We all know the ways that we sin; we may be quite good at covering them up (although probably not as good as we think), but WE know the things we’ve done wrong. In our minds, these things create a mental rats-nest that becomes a barrier between us and God that only seems to get bigger over time. And as time goes on, it becomes far too overwhelming to sort out. So we go on with life, separated from God, living in a dull but constant guilt knowing that the barrier was built by OUR sin and one day we’ll have to answer for it. 

Here is the amazing truth of the Gospel: You don’t have to sort it out. You can turn to God from wherever you are and walk in freedom and righteousness today. Just imagine not having to carry the burden of your sin. No more hiding parts of yourself or trying to keep up appearances while you are dying inside. 

It sounds too good to be true, because social and civil expectations dictate that we pay for our mistakes. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at what God’s word says about how He handles our sin.

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God IS love.”
1 John 4:8, emphasis added

“[…Love] keeps no record of wrong..”
1 Corinthians 13:5

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’”
Matthew 11:28

“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, emphasis added

“But if we CONFESS our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9, emphasis added

It is so clear that God is willing to forgive our sins. Most of us have heard this before but still, we tend to believe that forgiveness isn’t enough by itself. We still don’t know how to walk in freedom and righteousness. We know we can’t be perfect, even the Bible says we can’t. So once again, we feel stuck in a cycle of sin, guilt and shame.

Here is what God says about what to do next. 

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. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants. And the spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires…” 
Galatians 5:16-17

Walk in freedom! Don’t spend all of your energy trying to be perfect, just go out into your daily life loving others and following the Holy Spirit’s lead.

And whenever you fail, as we all do, look up. Our instructions are simple. Bring your sin before the Lord, accept His forgiveness and move on.

We don’t have to sort it all out, we don’t have to correct our own ledger, and we don’t have to live in guilt.

Believe Christ is who He says He is.

Confess your sins to Him.

Love those around you and seek the Holy Spirit.

If you are doing these things, don’t let the enemy pull you back down into guilt and shame. 

And here is the most important part of all of this:

Take God at His word and TRUST that you are righteous in His sight. 

Christ died to make this way for you, don’t waste that gift by doing the process and not trusting Him with the result. You are a child of the most high God and He loves you with everything in Him. Try this now. Don’t put it off for another moment.

Do you believe that Christ is who He says He is? 

Now confess your sins to Him, whatever they are. He can handle it. Are you angry with Him? He can handle that too.

This is the path to freedom and righteousness. This is the way that Christ made for us. He says that you are clean (1 Corinthians 6:11), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), righteous before God and free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:7,18)

So here is the question:

Do you believe Him?

-Luke Larson

Pandemics, Stress, and something else Contagious

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in a thousand different ways. For me, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and brain power.

The first couple weeks leading up to the stay-home order were chaos at work. I didn’t really even have time to think about the implications of the virus in other areas of life. We had a feeling that a stay-home order was coming, so we scrambled to get all our processes set up for remote work. I was learning new software, training people on said software, putting it into practice and converting a lot of other daily tasks from physical to digital. I was working late hours to cram as much time in with my boss as possible to make sure we were on the same page and ready to keep things moving at the same pace as before.

I’ve had some stressful days and weeks at work, but this time topped the cake.

Once we were finally all nestled in safe and sound at home, a new challenge arose: getting used to a new normal. I had to decide what my new daily routine would look like, and be disciplined in keeping it regular for my own sanity. Using Marco Polo to stay connected with friends was, and remains, a huge help. And I’m still working on changing how I exercise and eat, because I’m not moving half as much as I did when in the office.

Surprisingly, I’ve actually begun to enjoy this new normal. I’ve settled in and I feel like each day that goes by I get a little more comfortable and a little bit more productive. But, the nagging thought remains in the back of my head that I don’t know how long this work from home situation will last. The question I keep asking is…how long will this last? Another month? A year? Indefinitely? It stresses me out thinking about adjusting to yet another new normal in such a short period of time. There’s been a lot of change this year, and I’m kind of trying to hold off any further change as long as I can!

But this is where I need to ask Jesus for his peace.

Matthew 10:29-31 says,

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

It reminds me of the flock of sparrows that live in my neighbor’s bushes. They are constantly at our bird feeder, and I’ve had the joy of watching them a lot lately. They have a pretty nice set up over here actually, between the bushes, bird feeder, and the clothesline poll they use for nests. They are noisy, messy birds, but I love watching them and hearing them every day. They pester each other, eat, sleep, build nests, lay eggs, and live. And I love thinking about this verse and how God literally knows and sees each one of these little birdies.

And I love the daily reminder that this is how closely the Father watches over me.

I know that I need to drop my worries and rest, knowing that he sees me. He knows my questions about the future. He knows what my heart longs for. But he also knows what I cannot know….he knows what the future holds. So I need to drop my fears and trust in his ways and his timing.

Every day, I just need to pray the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13, asking God for his plans and purposes to be done, for him to give me what I need each day, for him to forgive me as I mess up and help me to forgive those around me, and to steer me away from temptation.

What I do know is that when I put my trust in Jesus, he will guide my every step. I just need to keep reminding myself to take my eyes off the situation and know that Jesus sees it all.

May we embrace the hope he offers us.

To Serve

I was praying about a lot of things while I was drifting off to sleep last night. Heavy things, light things, confusing things. All matter of things. And during my rambling prayers, the following thought popped into my head:

I didn’t come to be served, but to serve.

I believe the Holy Spirit was reminding me of Matthew 20:28, which says,

For even the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

God didn’t come to Earth to be served. Isn’t that incredible? He came to serve us. The King James Version uses the word “ministered”. He came not to be ministered to, but to minister to us.

Who else is like this? To not seek self in every little thing, but to put others first…even if you’re the one who deserves to be first.

What other God is like this?

In a powerful coupling, John 3:17 says,

God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

I feel like I’m getting to know Jesus on a whole new level lately. He came to earth to become like us, to experience our world with its hurts and pains. But he didn’t come to judge us on how we would handle the pain. And he didn’t come to be doted on.

He came to serve us, minister to us, and redeem us.