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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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
gold apple new

Independence Day or Dependence Day?

As the nation of the United States of America, we will be celebrating our freedom this weekend. Our freedom spans a time period of nearly 240 years. On July 4, 1776, the thirteen united States of America unanimously declared their independence from England. The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American political tradition and has become a cherished symbol of liberty and freedom for our nation. Although this document declares our independence from England, it is also our document of dependence upon God. Out of love for God and country, the founders of our nation were willing to fight for, live for, and die for the foundational truths upon which our nation is based. The forefathers of our nation depended upon their Heavenly Father for their personal lives and the livelihood of this new nation. We as citizens of the United States of America must follow their example if we are to continue to be a successful independent yet dependent nation.

One way our nation celebrates Independence Day is through displays of fireworks. The explosions of sight and sound remind us of the battles fought for the freedom of our nation. I also want us to experience a spiritual outburst of Living Light within our minds during this holiday because true and ultimate freedom is found only in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. May the brilliance of faith fireworks burst forth in our minds as we meditate upon the promises of freedom available for us when we live dependently upon the Lord. May faith be our firecrackers and scriptures be our sparklers.

My Reader, let me help you begin an early celebration of independence and dependence through the following images and scriptures. May these powerful verses explode with new meaning for you both historically and spiritually.

fireworks-5For freedom Christ has set us free;
Galatians 5:1

fireworks-1So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

fireworks-3Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

fireworks-8But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.
Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.
Romans 6:22 NLT

fireworks-10For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13

fireworks-7Live as people who are free,
not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.
  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:16-17

fireworks-9I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
Psalm 119:45

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Donkey and Me

This coming Sunday will be Palm Sunday so I decided to read about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in all four gospels this week.  While reading this account in the first gospel, I stopped when I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:2&3.  These verses tell about Jesus sending two of his disciples to Bethphage to bring him a donkey and a colt.  What caught my attention was that Jesus told these men that if they were asked why they were doing this, they were to reply that the Lord had need of them.  Also I noticed that in order to bring these animals to Jesus, they had to untie, or loose, them.  It all makes sense because if Jesus was going to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, he had to have a donkey, and to be able to bring this donkey to Jesus, it had to be untied.  Then I asked myself, “Am I that donkey?  Am I tied up and do I need to be loosed to do what Jesus needs me to do?”  Let me explain myself a little further.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite scriptures where God tells me that He knows the plans and purposes He has for me.  If I am to fulfill these plans, I must not be tied up with my personal agenda.  Proverbs 16:8 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  I must be loosed from what I might plan in my heart if I sincerely want to allow the Lord to direct my steps. Not only must I be set free, but I must allow myself to then be used in the way God desires. If the disciples were questioned about their actions, Jesus told them to respond that He had a need for the donkey.   Jesus had a plan for the donkey and he has a plan for me!.  Psalm 33:11 says, ‘the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”  I want to help fulfill God’s plans by doing what He needs me to do.

I must be loosed from personal bondage in order for the Lord to fulfill His plans and purposes through me. Another interesting scripture is Matthew 18:18 that informs me that “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  I wonder what might be binding me – fear, peer pressure, finances?  Does God want to set me free from something that is preventing me from being the best person I could be?   There is a connection between what I do while living on this earth and what is happening in the realm of the heavenlies.  I am sure I do not fully grasp this correlation, but I want to cooperate with God.

While reading these two passages in Matthew 21 and Matthew 18, I found another interesting connection between these two scriptures.  In the 21st chapter, Jesus sent two disciples to get the donkeys.  He did not just send one person alone.  Then in the 18th chapter verse 19, Jesus said that where two or three people agree, what they ask will be done by His Father in heaven.  Jesus even gives more assurance by saying that where two or three come together in His name, He is there with them.  God has a unique need for each one of us to fulfill his or her part of His plans and purposes, but He never leaves one person alone.  Not only is He with us, but He also surrounds us with other believers who will help us and support us.

Does this give you, my Reader, something to think about before you observe Palm Sunday in just a few days?  Shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  Hosanna means save; so shout, “Save me, Jesus!”  As you praise Jesus with your hosannas, ask Him to save you and release you from any bondage in your life that is keeping you from being the person He has created you to be.  Jesus has need of you and he will be with you.  Just as Jesus rode on the back of the donkey, he will ride upon your life as you fulfill his agenda.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

free Bible#1free palmfree hands agreeing