A Magnificent Fireworks Display
Naomi loved her Daddy. They always enjoyed spending time together. When he’d return home from work, she would welcomed him with a big hug. She’d sit in his arms on the front-yard grass and watch the cars whizz by. Their time together was priceless.
Her first Fourth of July fireworks, Naomi and Dad watched as neighborhood families celebrated in front of their houses. Fathers lit sparklers and everyone watched how each sent off brilliant, captivating colors into the air. Naomi was enthralled. Smiling from ear to ear, she clapped her hands in the excitement of the moment. She had never seen anything so spectacular.
As Dad settled down under a large oak tree near the lake, he took Naomi’s hand and set her in his lap. They surveyed the sparkling stars in the heavens, as Dad told Naomi about God’s glorious creation.
Others from the neighborhood came down to the shore with blankets and chairs. Naomi wondered what was happening. A few moments later, as she snuggled into her father’s arms, she figured it out.
Boom! Pop-pop-pop! “Ooooo!” Claps and shouts of laughter rang out among the crowd. Magnificent fireworks painted the quiet sky.
Although the loud blasts scared Naomi, her eyes quickly widened with excitement as bright colors flew toward the heavens.
Just as Naomi, loud “booms” often distract me. At times, I allow my attention to be swayed. My overactive imagination starts to work. Yet, distractions, such as disbelief and unforgiveness, are fleeting. He is forever.
Each day God reveals His presence, power, grace, and love. And He continues to amaze me. He answers my long-awaited prayers. When I am discouraged, he is my encouragement. He gives me blessings in abundance.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)
God is a magnificent fireworks display and He holds nothing back from us. Don’t focus on the “boom”, distractions because you’ll miss the wonderful plans He has for your life.
The Ultimate Freedom-Giver
A tired WWII veteran looked up from his recliner and made eye contact with me. The time had finally come to share vivid memories of the war: “I heard my friend, only 19-years-old like me; he screamed, ‘My legs are gone!’ Then I stepped on a mine. I felt it tear into me. I prayed … not so much for myself, but for my family … my mom, my dad. I lived … but [my friend] died.”
Such sacrifice deserves our appreciation. Let’s recognize that freedom isn’t free. Today, let’s pause and pray for our veterans.
Freedom from sin and death wasn’t free either: Jesus paid the price for you and me. Yes, Jesus died for us to be set free from sin. But, in order to trade our sin for a Heavenly win, we must come to the Giver of true life: Jesus Christ.
“Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free]” (Matthew 20:28, AMP).
Jesus fought our battle for freedom when He took our capital punishment on the cross. He bled so we wouldn’t. He paid what we couldn’t. He conquered the enemy – including sin and death.
On the 4th of July, a lot of drinking occurs. But nothing drowns our sorrows forever. We need true spiritual water. Consider this amazing Scripture combo:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1).
Jesus quenches the thirst:
“But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life” (John 4:14, AMP).
Yet we often ignore whom we should most adore: Jesus. Will you personally invite Jesus into your heart today? Will you receive His gift of eternal life and turn from trying to do things your way?
His battle-scarred hands reach out to you now. His beautiful, loving heart invites you to know true love and life in Him. Will you open your heart to His? Will you ignore or adore Him today? Remember: Jesus alone holds the power to set you free.
“So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.” (John 8:36, AMP).
This 4th of July, let’s thank veterans. But let’s not forget our ultimate freedom-giver: Jesus Christ.
“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.”
– Psalm 119:45 NLT
The Gospel is about walking in freedom—being freed from sin and every kind of bondage. That’s why, early in His ministry, Jesus quoted Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecy that He had been sent to “set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NASB). Jesus made clear that this freedom begins with our relationship with Him.
Many Believers (and even non-Believers) quote Jesus as saying, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” But we can forget that there was a condition to this freedom. Jesus said this only is available to those who “continue in My Word,” to those who are “truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31-32).
The Old Testament stresses this same principle. We read how the Psalmist could walk in freedom because he had “devoted myself to your commandments,” basing his life on God’s Word.
Many in the world think that freedom means doing whatever they want. But the Bible urges us to remember that freedom begins with a loving, obedient relationship with God. He is our Creator, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He desires to bless us physically, financially, and spiritually. He wants to enrich our lives in every way and free us from all fears and worries.
We only experience real freedom after we make Jesus our Lord, devote ourselves to God’s Word, and are filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to direct our lives.
Today, remember that “the truth will make you free.” You don’t have to be dominated by sin or bad habits, worry or fear. Make Jesus your Lord. Renew your commitment to base your life on God’s Word.
This is His plan to give you real freedom, real victory, and real peace. You can be confident and secure, guided by His wisdom.
Freedom from the Bonds of Sin
by Alex Crain, Crosswalk.com Contributor
“…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13
While reading this week in chapter eight of Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality where he is speaking about freedom from the bonds of sin, I was reminded of the story of an experienced, 27 year-old rock climber named Aron Ralston. One beautiful spring morning in 2003, he jumped into his truck with just enough food and water for the day. He took off by himself and drove a hundred and fifty miles south of Salt Lake City to his favorite spot—a remote canyon area that used to be the hideout for wild-west outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
By afternoon, he was suspended seventy-five feet high off the canyon floor—climbing in a crevice that was just a few feet wide. It was a perfect day. But then without warning, a boulder suddenly broke loose from the rock wall above him, hurtled down and trapped Ralston’s right arm against the wall, completely crushing his hand. At that instant, Aron’s hand—one of his greatest assets—had now become his greatest liability.
Five whole days passed as he tried various ways to free himself—all to no avail. His efforts to chip away at the boulder with a pocket knife only made a small dent. Rigging up a pulley system to move the boulder proved fruitless.
Finally, a moment of decisive clarity came. The thoughts came fast and furious: he could break his forearm, cut through the muscle with his dirty pocket knife, detach his arm, and use a piece of rope as a tourniquet.
Aron explains that he was driven by “some sort of autopilot” as he went about the gruesome task of amputating his own right arm just below the elbow. After he was finished, Aron lowered himself down and began trudging slowly in the direction of his truck. Later, he stumbled across two hikers who used a mobile phone to call in a rescue helicopter. Amputating his right arm was a radical act, but it was one that saved his life and reunited him with his family.
God calls us to deal with sin in our life in a way that is surprisingly similar. The Bible doesn’t offer a laid-back, live-and-let-live approach at all. It’s so radical, that we don’t really like hearing about it or talking about it. Recall what Jesus said in Matthew 5:30, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” While Jesus was not literally talking about physical amputation, He was saying that sin’s deadly effects call for extreme measures. Even though it hurts, we must rid sin from our lives. In fact, our eternal destiny hinges on how we deal with sin.
Really? Well, why else would Jesus talk about hell in the same breath that He talks about how we are to deal with sin if He didn’t mean to teach that our eternal destiny hangs in the balance? Clearly, it’s a matter of preferring one destiny over the other. Outward behavior indicates what the heart primarily loves. If Aron Ralston had stayed there on the canyon wall with his hand pinned down by the boulder, he would have died. But because he was willing to kill his hand, his life was saved.
The same goes with us as we deal with sin. It really comes down to what we value most. Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” The world may tell us to laugh about sin, to lighten up about it, to tolerate it, and just let it be… that it’s not idolatry; it’s not an issue of worship. God says the opposite is true.