A Cart Full of Blessings

Sometimes I grocery shop at a store that keeps it carts chained together. To retrieve a cart, I insert a quarter into a slot that releases a cart. When returning the cart and attaching it to the cart corral, a quarter is released.

Recently as I headed to the carts, a gentleman gave me his unchained cart. I offered him my quarter but he said it had been passed on to him and he wanted to do the same. I responded that I would follow his example. I thanked him for the cart and told him he was a blessing.

As I wheeled the cart up and down the grocery aisles, I thanked the Lord for the cart I had received. I also asked God to help me extend this cart to the right person. I prayed that God would bless my cart – and the next recipient.

When I concluded my shopping, I offered my cart to a lady. She thanked me and said she would pass it on to another person. I do not know what happened next.

Later, I reflected upon this encounter. God showed me something supernatural through this natural experience.

As I thought about the shopping cart corral, I realized that the locked carts could symbolize people in bondage. They were all locked up! A cart could only be set free when someone inserted a quarter in the little lock box. The Lord’s says in Jeremiah 40:4, “But now, behold, I am freeing you today from the chains which are on your hands.”

Our lives are of greater value than shopping carts. Jesus paid the price for our freedom.
I Corinthians 6:20 NLT says, “God bought you with a high price.” And Titus 2:14 NLT says,He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people.We are not required to stay chained up like carts.

Jesus paid the price of His life – much more than a quarter. If I had not been given a cart, I would have only paid twenty-five cents to receive one. And then, I would have gotten my quarter back when I returned the cart. Jesus does not take back His payment. According to John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” He paid the price. The debt is canceled. Jesus will never return us to bondage.

At the beginning of the day, all the grocery carts were chained together. Because of one person’s generosity of a quarter, a chain reaction began. One person gave away one cart. By day’s end, numerous people had received a free cart.

God also gave. According to John 3:16, “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.” He still offers this gift of eternal life to anyone who will receive it. People did not reject a free grocery cart. How much more valuable is the gift God is extending?

I had the privilege of being part of a chain reaction that offered a free grocery cart to other shoppers. As Christians, we have the privilege of participating in a chain reaction that offers freedom from sin to those chained to the bondage of sin.

My Reader, do you desire to be set free? Ask Jesus into your heart and He will set you free.
II Corinthians 3:17 says,Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

If you are already free, I encourage you to be a part of the chain reaction passing along this freedom to those who are still in chains. Follow the command of Jesus stated in Mark 16:15, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

 

 

 

 

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Untangle What Is Tangled

A friend shared about her granddaughter getting a brush entangled in her hair. Way too many snarls! My friend was able to release the brush by massaging hair conditioner into her granddaughter’s locks of hair.

As Debbie and I talked, we compared her granddaughter’s experience with how we can become entangled in worldly situations. We need the anointing of the oil of the Holy Spirit to free us from our snarls of life.

Scriptures help validate this concept.

The Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin,
so we receive God’s promise of freedom
only by believing in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:22 NLT

My friend was able to free the brush from her granddaughter’s tangled hair. Hebrews 12:1 says sin easily entangles us. So, we need freedom from our sins – our entanglements with worldly ways. Faith in Christ is our solution.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Physically, a brush was no longer stuck in the little girl’s snarly hair. Spiritually, this verse confirms our freedom from spiritual snares and sinful snarls.

When people escape from the wickedness of the world
by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then
get tangled up and enslaved by sin again,
they are worse off than before.

II Peter 2:20

When trying to free the brush by herself, the little girl only created more tangles. The same is true for us. We need help to be released from our entanglements. Christ frees us from the snarls of sin. Nevertheless, we must be aware that it is possible to become entwined again. Then we would be in a worse situation.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Romans 8:26 ESV

Neither Debbie nor her granddaughter were able to release the entangled brush. Applying hair conditioner was the answer. Little by little, Debbie applied more conditioning solution. Little by little, she was able to untwist the brush from the knots in the hair. There are times when we are twisted by temptations and knotted in snarls of sin. We may become too weak to get ourselves out of these situations. However, there is help for us – the Holy Spirit is our spiritual conditioner. In John 14:16, we are promised that the Holy Spirit will be our Helper forever.

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.
Galatians 5:1

Debbie hopes her granddaughter learned a lesson through the knots in her hair. However, she also realizes it could happen again. The same is true for us. Christ has set us free. However, knots of iniquities can again tie us up – we can become yoked to slavery. Be strong in the Lord – stay free!

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in
My name,
He will teach you all things and bring to
your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 14:26 ESV

Grandmother helped granddaughter with her hair. The Holy Spirit is our Helper.

Singing about America’s Independence

The United States of America!
Independence Day – Fourth of July

This is the day that we, as Americans, celebrate the birth of our nation. Please
join me in reflecting upon the words of the first verse of the patriotic song,
My Country ‘Tis of Thee by Samuel Francis Smith. It is also known as America.
Additional comments are taken from various historical writings and records.

My country, ’tis of thee,
(“one nation under God…” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Sweet land of liberty,
(“…with liberty and justice for all.” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Of thee I sing;
(While singing this patriotic song, let us also sing praises to God
as stated in Psalm 117:1 NLT, “
Praise the LORD, all you nations.
Praise him, all you people of the earth
.”)

Land where my fathers died,
(“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field,
as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that
that nation might live
.” from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
(According to Wikipedia, a pilgrim is a traveler who comes from
afar and
is on a journey to a holy place. In American history,
the Pilgrims were early European settlers of the Plymouth Colony.)

From ev’ry mountainside
(This refers to all the landscape of our nation including the
Allegheny Mountains of the east and the Rocky Mountains of the west,)
Let freedom ring!
(Lincoln’s concluding remarks of the Gettysburg Address state,
“… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died
in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth
of freedom — and that government of the people,
by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
.”
The freedoms of religion, speech and press are specifically
stated in the
Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments
to the United States Constitution.
)

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images. Other images provided by Pixabay.)

Thoughts for Memorial Day

In the United States of America, next Monday we will celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time when we remember those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. We also honor those currently in our military.

Let’s take time to look at a few scriptures and make some comparisons of how the goals of our military men and women follow Christ’s example.

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

Out of love, God sent His Son to our world. Jesus sacrificed His life so that we, through faith, may receive the gift of eternal life. No one can do what God did. No one needs to do what God did because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.

However, there are several similarities between God and the people in our military. Our armed forces defend all of humanity – not only United States citizens. They serve out of love for people around the world. They fight for freedom for people who are treated inhumanely. These soldiers are willing to die so others can live. There is also a sacrifice paid by the families of our active military men and women. Parents and spouses of military personnel allow their family members to go around the world defending those whose lives are in danger. There is a high price to be paid.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Jesus lived and died for freedom. Freedom is the cause for which individuals choose to serve in our armed forces. Jesus died to set us free from sin. Those in the United States military are willing to die so that our citizens may live free from tyranny and terrorism.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Jesus loves us. He laid down His life for us. We are His friends. Military men and women love their country. They are willing to lay down their lives. They are our friends, not enemies.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

Jesus spoke these words when teaching His disciples how to pray. Their prayer was that God’s kingdom would reign on earth and His will would be done. The members of the United States armed forces serve their country defending their nation and the Constitution upon which the government is based. They serve their nation (or kingdom) and strive to fulfill the country’s goals (or will).

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
“F
OR YOUR SAKE WE FACE DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE ARE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
But in all these things we more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37

Paul acknowledges that we will encounter suffering. He lists several forms of suffering. However, he also assures us that nothing will separate us from Christ’s love. We are more than conquerors and we will obtain more than ordinary victories. Christ’s love triumphed over death. And, because of His love, we achieve abundant victories.

Paul’s words also offer assurance to our military personnel. If these men and women find themselves in harm’s way, they will face danger. If involved in combat, death will be a possibility. At these times, may our soldiers be aware of Christ’s presence. May they fight for freedom with faith. They are more than just conquerors.

In conclusion, I emphasize the importance of scripture being the foundation for our lives. I give thanks to Jesus for setting an example. I also thank members of our military for following the example of Christ. May Memorial Day be a time for us to honor these men and women of the United States of America for their sacrifices for freedom.

Life’s Chains and Rope

chain-2

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

How would you define a chain?  According to the dictionary, it is a flexible series of joined links, usually made of metal.

What is a rope? A rope is defined as a thick strong cord made of strands twisted together, usually fiber.

Both are types of cords that hold things together. I want to think about these “strong strings” from a spiritual perspective.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 concludes, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When this verse was read at our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, they proclaimed God to be the third strand of their marriage bond. To me, this cord of three strands could be symbolic of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever application of the three stands one may choose, this verse gives a positive description of a spiritual cord.

CHAINS. Jesus says in John 8:34 NLT, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” A slave to sin is a person chained to sinful desires. The length of the chain holding one in bondage depends upon the number of sins accumulated in a person’s life. The chain portrays a negative picture.

Spiritual chains are composed of links of lies told by the enemy. John 8:44 says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. . . . When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” If a person is chained to Satan, he/she will take on his character. John 10:10 begins by saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

ROPE. In contrast to the chains of bondage, a rope can be a source of freedom.  For example, a lifeguard might throw a rope to a drowning victim –  the rope functions as a lifesaver. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

What a disparity between the enemy’s chain of lies and the Lord’s rope of life! 

Paul and Silas’s encounter with physical chains and a spiritual rope is recorded in Acts 16:22-26. These men were in physical bondage with metal chains. However, when they praised God, their fetters were loosed. Paul and Silas were freed while clinging to a spiritual rope of divine power. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people according to Psalm 22:3. The Lord was present with Paul and Silas – and the Lord released His power and broke their chains.

I am reminded of two applicable songs.

The first is the contemporary song Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs. Her lyrics proclaim, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.” Yes, I want every link of the enemy’s chains broken from my life!

I am also thinking of the old hymn, Blessed Be the Tie that Binds by John Fawcett. The specific words that ring in my mind are, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.” For me, this tie is Jesus whom I have been describing as a rope. With His love, Jesus binds me to Himself. This is the rope to which I cling!

My Reader, I encourage you to cast off chains and reach for a rope.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Left click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

People or Puppets?

choiceMy Reader, do you realize that you just made a choice? Right now you are choosing to read my post rather than to not to be reading it. Multiple times a day we choose what we do or what we do not do. We choose what words we say and what words we do not say. We choose what thoughts we think and what thoughts we do not think. There is tremendous power in choice!

When I was a child, I liked to play with hand puppets. With one puppet, I pretended that it said what I wanted it to say by moving its mouth with my hand and disguising my voice to make it sound like the puppet was talking. Another puppet allowed me to move its hands by moving my fingers that were inside the fabric of the puppet’s hands. No puppet had a mind so it could not think any thoughts of its own but I could pretend that my puppet thought whatever I wanted it to think. Puppets and people are very different. God creates people while people make puppets. The reason God created mankind was because He wanted to have fellowship with us. However, He desires for us to choose this personal relationship with Him, so He has given us a free will. God created us out of love and He desires us to love Him, but He wants us to make the choice to love Him. God does not want us to love Him just because He said so.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (highlighted by author) This is a choice Moses presented to the Israelites in approximately 1407 BC and it is still a relevant choice for us today. We make daily choices and we also make choices that have consequences of greater impact. In Cast of Characters Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado writes about how God gives us an eternal choice that has eternal consequences. He develops this concept through the scene of the three crosses at Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary. Lucado asks the question, “Could it be that the other two crosses symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts? The gift of choice.” One criminal chose to repent of his sins and asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other thief simply insulted Jesus. Their choices determined where each of them would spend eternity. Jesus gives us the same choice today. Have you exercised your freewill to choose Jesus as your personal savior? If you have not made this positive choice, you have already made a negative choice of not having a personal relationship with Him. The choice is yours: life or death – blessings or curses.

Now let’s apply this freedom of choice to our nation, the United States of America. On November 8, 2016, we as the people of this nation voted to choose Donald Trump as our next president. Choosing our country’s leaders is a unique privilege we as Americans have because of our democratic form of government. Now on January 20, 2017, we will observe the inauguration of our new president. During this historic event, we, as a nation and as individuals, have another choice. We can choose to support or not to support our president. Although some people may not be happy because the candidate of their choice did not win the election, I believe that now we as a nation need to choose to respect Trump as he serves in the office of President of the United States. We must not allow our personal self will to become selfish. We are to be a nation of unity.

I believe Jesus stressed the importance of unity when He in prayed in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (highlighted by author) Jesus felt the need to pray for unity, because He knew that unity would only happen if believers made that choice. As Christians, our initial choice is to accept Jesus as our personal savior and then we continue to make choices in agreement with the plans and purposes of God. Going back to the early 1400s BC, Joshua addresses the Israelites after they crossed over into the Promised Land. He concludes by presenting the people with a choice. Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (highlighted by author) Joshua not only gave the people a choice but he also stated his choice by saying that his household would serve the Lord. God trusts us to make decisions. He gives us the opportunity to choose because we are people, not puppets.

My Reader, what choices are before you today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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