Freedom Is Not Free

Next week, we as Americans will be observing a National Day that is unique to our country. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence declaring our independence from the British empire and giving birth to the new nation known as the United States of America. Through multiple military battles, the United States of America gained independence but it was costly in many respects. Our freedom was not free.

According to Wikipedia, “Freedom is not free” is a phrase first used by retired United States Air Force Colonel Walter Hitchcock. When using this phrase, Hitchcock expressed gratitude for the service of members of the military, implicitly stating that the freedoms enjoyed by many citizens in many democracies are only possible through the risks taken and sacrifices made by those in the military. The saying is often used to express respect specifically to those who have given their lives in defense of freedom. The slogan “Freedom Is Not Free” is engraved into one wall at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. As Americans, our freedom has been at the expense of many lives whether it has been during our War of Independence or the Korean Conflict or any other war in which our nation has been involved in from 1776 to 2017. The cost of lives continues to mount today and into the future.

Freedom is not free” is an applicable phrase for us today. We need to be mindful of our responsibilities as citizens of a free nation. The price we pay for our freedom includes fulfilling our rights and responsibilities as citizens of our country. We pay for our freedom when we exercise our right to vote and execute our responsibility to serve on a jury. By honoring and supporting our elected officials, we obey our laws of liberty. Financially, we pay for freedom when we pay taxes to our government. We may complain about some of these requirements but we need to realize the privilege of these obligations as well. Those living under dictator type governments would gladly pay for the freedoms we take for granted. When we help our fellow citizens, we are paying a portion of our price for freedom. We must consciously consider our responsibility to pray for our nation as a privilege we fulfill for our freedoms of worship and speech. I believe our freedom is worth the price we pay.

I echo the sentiments of the fact that freedom is not free as I look forward to celebrating Independence Day on July 4th next week. I am thankful for the free land in which I am privileged to live. I am thankful for our military men and women who have given their lives and for those who continue to serve our country through active and reserve military duty. I am thankful for the opportunities to serve my country as a citizen of the United States of America. Freedom is not free physically or spiritually. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The freedom we attain in Christ cost His life. Freedom was not free for Christ and it is not free for us today. Value your freedom – it is costly!

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Heavenly Father’s Day

This coming Sunday we will be observing Father’s Day. How do you feel about that day? For some of you, it will be a time to get together with your family and celebrate dads. While others of you may try to forget that the day even exists. Are positive or negative images reflected within your mind when you think about your biological father? Will you feel lonely on Sunday because this will be the first Father’s Day that you do not have your dad beside you? Or, maybe you are excited because this year will be your first opportunity to celebrate fatherhood with the birth of a baby. Personal circumstances and experiences affect our outlook towards Father’s Day.

Our relationship with our earthly father not only affects our attitude towards Father’s Day, but it also can influence our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. If you feel like you cannot trust your biological father, it may be hard for you to trust your Heavenly Father. However, no earthly father’s feelings or actions can compare to the holiness of God. Our Heavenly Father invites us into a relationship with Him that is more rewarding than we can ever imagine. A healthy understanding of God as our Heavenly Father is essential to having this relationship with Him. Allow me to help you get better acquainted with your Heavenly Father by creating for you a portrait of your Heavenly Father’s heart through a few specific scriptures.

And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
II Corinthians 6:18

God is love.
I John 4:8

the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

See what great love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
I John 3:1

Love is patient, love is kind
I Corinthians 13:4

The LORD is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:13 NLT

your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matthew 6:8

Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

We must remember that earthly fathers will disappoint us at some point in time. Only our Heavenly Father is perfect. May we fulfill Ephesians 3:`4-5 that says,I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives it name.” Whether or not you are able to celebrate Father’s Day with your earthly father, I want to encourage you to celebrate Father’s Day with your Heavenly Father because in Psalm 68:5 God promises that He will be, A father of the fatherless.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Memorial Day – A Day of Honor

On Monday, May 29, as Americans, we will celebrate what has become known as Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Numerous cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day but rregardless of the exact date or location of its origins, we do know that Decoration Day, or Memorial Day, originated after the Civil War with a desire to honor our dead. May 30, 1868 was the first Decoration Day. General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington.

Over the years, this special day has come to embrace not only Civil War soldiers who lost their lives but to also remember and recognize all those who have sacrificed their lives, living and dead, to serve in our military forces. When we celebrate Memorial Day, we take time to recognize those who are willing to protect us. Today I want to suggest that we expand our perception of those who protect us to include our first responders. These are people who are actively involved in our everyday homeland security.

When I think of our military, I imagine men and woman dressed in uniforms representing the Army, Air Force and Navy. However, I also see our first responders in other types of uniforms. I see police, firefighters and ambulance crew workers in attire signifying their form of service. Our military forces are stationed in countries around the world where they are put in harm’s way. In a different yet similar way, the members of our police force are in harm’s way when they respond to certain calls. I am not diminishing the right for us to take time to honor our military forces. However, I do feel these people are also worthy of our recognition and thanks for their services.

First responders include many people in numerous capacities. Approximately two months ago, we became particularly aware of another specific group of first responders who helped our area. We had a wind storm with 81 MPH wind gusts that resulted in over 100,000 people losing electrical power in  homes. Utility crews were the first responders to this situation. Their uniforms were orange vests and hard hats, Not only were all the workers of our local utility companies working around the clock to restore power, but 290 other utility crews came to aid the restoration process.

I want to highlight three scriptures that remind me of our first responders. When I read I Corinthians 16:13, I think of our National Guard. The verse states,Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” However, all of our first responders definitely show courage and strength. John 14:27 records Jesus saying, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Jesus offers has a spiritual depth not offered by anyone else. Only the peace of God can enable our hearts to not be troubled or afraid. However, keeping peace within a city is the goal of the police force. There are certain locations within many cities where it is hard to live free of trouble and fear, but our police strive to provide us a peaceful environment. Jesus concludes Matthew 10:8 by saying, “Freely you have received; freely give.” Especially in smaller communities, many firefighters are volunteers who freely give of their time to help others.

Romans 13:7 is a good scripture for us to be mindful of regarding all those who are or have been part of our military forces and civilian responders.Give to everyone what you owe them: … if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” These individuals deserve our respect and honor for their commitment to serve our nation and our citizens. Memorial Day is a good opportunity for us to set aside time to publicly recognize and thank those who protect us around the world and at home. However, they are also worthy of our support and gratitude every day of the year. Our freedom depends upon them.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Jesus, Chickens and Mothers

mother-and-child-2chickens-1Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:28

With this coming Sunday being designated as Mother’s Day, I want to take time to honor our mothers and fulfill Proverbs 31:28. However, I am pondering what qualifies a female to be a mother. I believe any woman who reflects a lifestyle of nurturing and caring for others is a mother. Motherly characteristics are exhibited not only by human beings, buy also by animals and birds. Jesus described His love for Jerusalem (a symbolic representation of all believers) as being like that of a mother hen. I am not saying Jesus or mothers are chickens! However, I think there is a revelation of Jesus’ love and a mother’s love when we look at the life of a chicken. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens, so maybe that is why I am attracted to this image today. Let’s see how we can tie together the hearts of Jesus, chickens, and all women who function in a mother role.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

When I read this verse from Matthew, I not only see a mother hen drawing her little chicks close to her body but I also picture Jesus doing the same with each of us as His children. I am reminded of the refrain of the old hymn Safe in the Arms of Jesus by Frances Crosby, “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast; There by His love o’ershaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest.” Psalm 91:4 NLT says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” This image is similar to a picture of an earthly mother holding a baby in her loving, caring arms. There is a feeling of warmth and security as well as love when a baby chick, a believer in Christ, or a young child is snuggled near to the body of the one emanating love. 

As a young girl, I remember seeing the chickens running around in their open space while I was swinging on my tree swing. One of my recollections is of a mother hen leading her newborn chicks out for a walk. With the mother hen in the lead, five or six fluffy little chicks followed in a parade. The new hatchlings followed their mother wherever she went. They trusted her to lead them along the right path. Mothers of young children also lead and instruct their children. Proverbs 22:6 instructs moms (and everyone else) to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” David says in Psalm 25:4, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.”

While living on the farm, there were occasions when I remember hearing a lot of squawking from the chickens. Usually it meant that some predatory animal, or even another chicken, was trying to attack a brood of young chicks. The one making the most noise was the mother hen who was trying to protect her defenseless chicks. If the attack was instigated by another chicken and her squawking was not enough of a deterrent, she would ruffle her feathers and attack. Psalm 121:7 says, The LORD will keep you from all harm– He will watch over your life.” The Lord watches over our lives, a mother hen watches over the lives of her chicks, and mothers watch over the lives of the children entrusted to them.

Jesus, chickens and mothers are not synonymous words, but it has been fun to search for similarities. While exhibiting love and compassion, mothers are also protective and defensive of their children. Their goal is to help their children grow and mature to be who God created them to be. Any woman who finds herself in the role of a mother is worthy of honor on Mother’s Day and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Resurrected King

resurrectionSince we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday, it is not surprising that I am still singing the Elevation Worship lyrics of the current Christian song Resurrecting The specific phrase that I am pondering declares, “The resurrected king is resurrecting me.” Please join me in pondering this phrase and searching the scriptures for a more complete comprehension.

The rresurrected King…”

He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:6-7

You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
Acts 3:15

Resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasis that is a compound word composed of ana meaning again and histemi meaning to stand. Jesus was standing – He was not on the cross – He was not in the grave. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. He was brought back to life.

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father
Revelation 1:5-6

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16

Resurrected King” is an appropriate description of Jesus! He is King over all kings, and we are to be part of His kingdom. In the final book of the Bible, He is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.

“… is resurrecting me”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again.”
John 3:3

To intimately know Jesus, the Resurrected King, we must be born again. Being born again is a form of resurrection for us because this means that our spirit is born again, brought back to life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

The new life we are given in Christ is a resurrected life. To be resurrected is to be used again, but in a new way.

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

To fully comprehend the necessary power for Jesus to resurrect us, we may have to share in some form of suffering. It is often through suffering that we come to more intimately know Christ.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross before being resurrected. We are each required to take up our cross which means for us to die to our selfish ways before resurrection life is possible for us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

The renewing of our minds is part of the resurrection life the Resurrected King is offering to us. We have a new mind. We have the mind of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Because of the resurrection power of Christ that now lives in us, we can fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Although I have only quoted two verses from Romans 6, the first 11 verses of this chapter proclaims the resurrection life that our Resurrected King is offering to us. When we confess our sins of selfishness, anger, pride etc., we die to them and then we are resurrected to selflessness, love, humility etc. We can now live the resurrection life that Jesus is offering to us.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Hebrews 13:20-21

I cannot think of a better verse to fulfill this complete phrase from the song Resurrecting! Just a few days ago we proclaimed, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” Now I am also praising the Lord and saying, “He is resurrecting me!” and “He is resurrecting me indeed!” My Reader, are you ready to make these proclamations?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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PS: I am also including the Elevation Worship lyrics of Resurrection as there is a wonderful message in the complete song.

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
[x3]

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

Liquid Love

liquid-loveI recently awoke in the night repeatedly hearing the phrase Liquid Love in my mind. With the observance of Good Friday taking place in a couple of days, it seems appropriate for me to share thoughts with you about our Lord’s Liquid Love. I have chosen to elaborate upon this phrase by using various alliterations for love. I pray these thoughts will allow you to linger in our Lord’s presence. May you feel His Liquid Love being poured out for you and upon you.

Lavishing Love

According to I John 4:8 God is love. Consequently, He reveals Himself to us through His love. In I John 3:1, we are told that the Lord lavishes His love upon us. When He lavishes His love on us, He imparts His nature to us. The Lord is lavishing His love upon us because He sees us as ravishing in beauty according to His words as the Lover of the Beloved in Song of Solomon 6:10. The Lord has lavished His love upon us by shedding His blood for us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Lamb of Love

In John 1:20, Jesus is described as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Lamb of Love. He is known as a lamb because He was the final sacrificial lamb offered for the forgiveness of sin. Many lambs were constantly being offered as sacrifices in the Old Testament, but Jesus came as the Lamb of God who died once and for all for all our sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb of Love.

Liquid Love

Liquid Love is love colored red. Liquid Love is the blood of Jesus. He shed His blood because of His love for us. Our Lord’s love was manifested as liquid love as He poured out His blood for us. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.:  I John 1:7 says that Jesus’ blood cleanses us of all unrighteousness, all sins, assuring us of everlasting life. We have everlasting life because of the Lord’s everlasting love. In Jeremiah 31:3 we are assured that we are loved with our Lord’s everlasting love.

Laver of Love

Within the tabernacle, the laver was the basin where the priests cleansed themselves before they offered sacrifices. Sacrificing animals was part of their function, their labor. The labor of the priests began at the laver. Connecting the Old and New Testaments, we read in Ephesians 5:26 that we are washed in the water of the Word. The Word informs us of how Jesus was the Lamb of God who poured out His life, His love, His blood for us. It was definitely a labor of love for Jesus to die upon the cross for us.

No Lack in Love

Love is lovely! In Hosea 4:6, the Lord says that His people can be destroyed from lack of knowledge, but there is no lack in the Lord’s love for us. According to I Corinthians 13, love is kind and according to Romans 2:4, the Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance. Repentance leads us the cross where Jesus shed His blood. The Lord has poured out and continues to pour out His blood as Liquid Love. There is no lack in what He offers us today!

Liquid Love Lives

According to Leviticus 17:11, there is life is the blood. There is life in Jesus’ Liquid Love. On Sunday we will celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. Our Lord lives! Our Lord loves! Because Jesus is alive, we too can live. Romans 8:37-39 says, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All of this is possible because of the Lord’s Liquid Love !

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Donkey, Horse, or Mule?

jesus-on-donkeyThe disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them,
and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them;
and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road,
and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.
The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
B
LESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
;
Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 21:9-10

As I read the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion, I am thinking about what Jesus symbolized for us when He chose to ride upon a donkey. The first thing I think about is the parallel of Mary riding on a donkey on her way to Bethlehem before Jesus was born and now Jesus riding on a donkey on His way to Jerusalem before He is crucified. There must be some significance with this repetition of images. (However, I acknowledge that many scholars believe Mary was walking with Joseph rather than riding on a donkey.)

By riding upon a donkey, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 NLT, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey–riding on a donkey’s colt.” Jesus did not come as a warring king on a horse, but as a gentle and peaceable king upon a donkey. Let’s elaborate about the symbolic images of a horse and a donkey.

A horse is described as a strong animal with solid hoofs and a flowing mane and tail. In early historical times, leaders of wars often rode horses. Still today, there is a sense of authority and pride for the rider of a horse. In Revelation 19:11, John describes his vision of Jesus riding a horse when He returns to earth by saying, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” However, this is not the image Jesus is portraying on Palm Sunday.

A donkey is a lowly animal. It is described as a domesticated member of the horse family with long ears and a braying call. A donkey is often used as a beast of burden. Jesus was the burden the donkey was carrying into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. However, Jesus was also carrying a heavy burden within His heart for all mankind at this time. I wonder if the donkey realized how heavy a load it was carrying physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also wonder if the long ears of the donkey epitomized how well attuned Jesus was to hearing the voice of His Heavenly Father on this day and throughout the coming days.

With the pictorial image of prideful horses and humble donkeys in my mind, I think of James 4:6 that says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I wonder which animal I represent. I desire to be humble like Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. However, I have to admit that I can become prideful. Most likely I represent another animal – a mule. A mule is defined as the offspring of a donkey and a horse. It is a pack animal and has the tendency to have an obstinate temperament. Apparently, my personality is a symbolic hybrid of a horse and a donkey. There are times when I can be stubborn like a mule. Also as I consider the mule being a pack animal, I realize that I can pack away a lot of negative thoughts that have the capability of becoming a heavy load to carry.

Jesus was seated upon a humble donkey when He rode into Jerusalem. He chose to reveal Himself as a lowly king rather than a prideful king who would have ridden upon a horse. When entering the city, Jesus was as close to the donkey as He could possibly be physically. I am reminded of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” For myself, if I want to experience a close spiritual intimacy with Jesus, I cannot allow myself to be double-minded with both prideful and humble thoughts. I yearn to portray a donkey rather than a horse or a mule.

In just a few days, we will celebrate Palm Sunday 2017. We will join in the shouts of “Hosanna – Jesus saves!” However, may we also take time to give attention to the humble donkey upon which Jesus rides. May the humility of Jesus and the donkey be reflected in our lives as well.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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