Sow & Gather

freedom

Break Free From Shame

freedomSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
Break free from shame #freedom #sowandgather

In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  1 John 3:20 NASB 

Two Midwest gals and a Southerner, all transplanted in San Diego at or about the same timemeet in Bible study and become fast friends.  Me, the gal from the South, was quickly drawn to their beautiful Midwest accents, loud laughter, and how they loved to talk over each other!  I learned quickly that if I was going to be part of the conversation I had to jump right in.   

Some of my most precious memories with these gals were our heart-to-heart conversations sitting around a fire pit on those cool desert evenings.  I had never had friends who were so real and honest about who they were--their hurts, their past, and their struggles.  They weren’t pretending to be someone else because they knew who they were in Christ.  Any pretense or shame they felt, they exposed it for what it was, repented and moved on.   

I, on the other hand, had learned that you cover things up, and that you don’t share your “dirty laundry” with others.  In fact, my cover-up was dressed in this got it all together façade, with a pretty Southern bow to top it off. 

It was through these friendships that the Holy Spirit began to start breaking down some of the walls I had built, and for once, I was starting to be honest with myself and others.  I can’t tell you the weight that was lifted, and the freedom from shame I experienced. Let me repeat – freedom from shame 

I was tired of living and portraying this image of myself that was not completely true.  God knows the real me, the me He created.  Psalm 103 says that God pardons our iniquities, heals our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, crowns us with loving-kindness and compassion, and satisfies us with good things so that we are renewed like the eagle.  God is in the business of renewing His people to walk in His light and not in darkness. 

Matt Chandler, in his book Recovering Redemption, says, “The gospel gives it all.  Justification to set you free from guilt.  Adoption to replace your secret shame.  Sanctification for deconstructing your false ideas.”   

I’m a work in progress.  No more covering up. No more living in shame.  My God knows ALL about me and still loves and delights in me! 

Do you need some freedom? 

Dig Deeper | 

Psalm 103, 1 Thessalonians 5:24 

Action Item | 

Is it time to finally let God, who knows all things, start the renovation of knocking down the walls of shame?   

Prayer | 

Dear Father, there is none like You.  You who created the heavens and the earth also created me in Your image.  Continue to sanctify me, moment to moment, tearing down those walls of shame, and bring healing to my soul.  Amen 

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Hope in Freedom - We Can Be Free From Fear

freedomMarci AnthonyComment
#freedom #love #sowandgather We can be free from fear

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV) 

Free from fear. Free from critique. Free from guilt. Free from all the terrible things I have thought of myself. Growing up, I aspired to being perfect or as close to it as I could get. I had to make all A’s. I spent hours practicing voice. I wanted to be accepted and affirmed by those I esteemed. I planned every outfit down to the last detail. I woke up extra early to fix my hair, and when I got a little older, my makeup, too.

The focus was on my outward person. I feared not doing well, not looking pretty, not making the right decisions, not saying the right thing. I was bound by my nagging thoughts of not being good enough. This should not go without saying: I was surrounded by positive people who encouraged and loved me. However, from a very young age, I developed a fear of not being valued.  

It took me a long time in my walk with God to begin to release these fears. I still struggle today, but I now lean on a better understanding of God’s love and purpose for me. I have learned to shift my mindset from unreasonable expectations of myself, and to realize that my identity lies in Christ. I still have my moments of not knowing what to wear or thinking that I had a bad hair day, but I try not to measure my value by the absolute need for perfection in my appearance. I still prepare for presentations, performances, hosting events, but I try not to measure my value on the perceptions and opinions of others.  

Ultimately, I have come to realize that when I am absorbed in the fear of not being [fill in the blank], I miss out. I make it so much about me and about not God or others. There is hope in the freedom of God’s love for us. Within this freedom, we can find purpose and fulfill the command to love as God has loved.  

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 7:23; Ephesians 2:4-9 

Action Item |

How has your walk with Christ freed you? How are you able to love others through this freedom with Christ? 

Prayer |

Dearly Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom that You have given to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. May we be ever mindful of Your love and sacrifice. I pray that we may be freed from our insecurities and doubts, that we may be able see ourselves through Your eyes, and that we may be able to better love others. Amen.  

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Freedom to Love - Serve One Another Humbly

freedomMarci AnthonyComment
#freedom #sowandgather Serve One Another Humbly With Love

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 NIV

“O, say can you see by the dawn’s early light. What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight…”  

The Star-Spangled Banner! I have heard this song many times throughout my life and especially when I celebrate America’s birthday in July. But it wasn’t until I was standing on the ramparts of Fort McHenry on the harbor in Chesapeake Bay in Maryland that I truly understood the meaning of the song and the freedoms we have in America. 

Fort McHenry is the location of an American victory over the British at Baltimore in 1813. But more importantly, it is the place where Francis Scott Key witnessed the battle and penned the poem we now call the Star-Spangled Banner.  He composed the poem the following morning when his eyes were struck by the American flag with its fifteen white stars and red and white strips waving in the air declaring freedom.  

But just as we obtained freedom in America because of battles like Fort McHenry, we are also called to have freedom in Jesus. Jesus, perfect man and God, came to the earth to serve, to die for our disobedience and to rise, giving us victory over death. His call to us is to receive Him in our life as our Lord and become free! 

Once we choose Him and His freedom, we are to use it to love others. My life shouldn’t consist of satisfying my own wants and desires. Instead, it should be focused on thinking, loving and serving others. I am to love the people Jesus places in my life.  

This freedom may mean I have to actually make dinner for my family happily, help my kids with their homework, clean a friend’s home , feed the homeless, invite someone to church and tell them about Jesus or really listen as someone talks.  

To be free is to love! 

Dig Deeper |

Luke 4:18, 1 Peter 2:16-17 

Action Item |

Sing the Star Spangled Banner. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, Thank You for coming to die and rising again for me so that I may have freedom. Help me to use this freedom to love and serve others. Amen.

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Where Do You Stand on the Word Freedom?

freedomMarci AnthonyComment
#freedom equals love #sowandgather Where Do You Stand On The Word Freedom?

“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 (NIV) 

The word freedom is tossed around in today’s culture like a helium balloon. It is used so much to define so many issues and problems in our world that it has almost lost the power behind its meaning. 

If you break down the original root words for the word freedom you get a very different meaning. “Free,” in the Old English sense means “beloved” or “love.” The second half of the word “-dom,” means “domain” or “condition.” So if you put the two meanings together, you get “beloved domain,” or “love condition.” The word freedom has evolved from its original intent into the current dictionary definition, “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.”  

When I look at the current world definition of the word freedom, I no longer get the sense of “love,” instead I see more of the “domain,” and “condition” being utilized. In today’s society we have become a culture that uses this word for political gain rather than for the liberty that Christ intends for His people.   

I am disappointed to hear the word freedom used in such a lighthearted manner. When I hear some of the many groups in this country going on about their rights and their “freedom”, I think of the word “selfish”. When I think of our service men and women who loved this country enough to risk their lives, I see a picture of sacrifice and selflessness.  

God’s purpose and meaning for the word freedom goes back to the original “love condition”.  Christ’s purpose for dying on the cross was to demonstrate His great love for us, not because of a feeling of obligation or duty.  The “freedom” Galatians 5:1 talks about is our “love condition” in relation to God. Because of Christ’s love, we are not to be burdened by the cares of this world. Instead, we are to “stand firm” in the knowledge that because of Christ we are free. 

Even though we've already celebrated Independence Day and the birth of this great nation, continue to think about what the word “freedom” means to you. Is it a term built on love and self-sacrifice, or is it just another word without real meaning? 

Dig Deeper |  

Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:19 

Action Item | 

Think about your life and any areas that are enslaved and need to be set free by God.  What does the word “freedom” mean to you? 

Prayer | 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that sets us free from the bondage of this world. Thank you for all of the men and women who risk their lives each day so that I can live in a country that is free. 

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Is Freedom Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose?

freedomMarci AnthonyComment
#freedom in Christ #sowandgather Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. I Corinthians 6:12 (NLT) 

I've been pondering the lyrics of songwriters Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster – Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. They penned those words of a lost relationship and innocence in the late 60's.  The song "Me and Bobby McGee" has been performed by many, but perhaps the most famous version is by Janis Joplin. She recorded the song only a few days before her death. 

That one line makes me consider whether I truly consider freedom as a positive to be gained. Or, do I view freedom through the eyes of the lyricists, as what's left after I've lost it all. Does freedom mean I can do anything I want without consequences, or does it mean I have choices and must be ready to accept the consequences? 

If you have been in the church world, you've heard the expression "freedom in Christ." I guess that phrase makes me feel good, but I don't completely understand the depths of that sentiment.  

What does "freedom in Christ" mean for me and you?  

I have to recognize that I'm a sinner and need a savior. I was not put on this earth to do everything right and to earn my salvation. I can't. You can't. We can't be good enough to earn our way to heaven or to earn the respect of man in this life. Freedom in Christ means accepting that I'm simply not good enough . . . and that's okay, because Christ is. Ephesians 2:8   

I get to make choices and I must accept the consequences. The world measures success by nice cars, big houses, high-powered jobs and perfect kids. Maybe you have all of those things and more. There's nothing wrong with having things. So often I find myself making choices to reach goals that are good goals, but not God goals. They are goals that the world says I must achieve at all costs if I want success and happiness. True freedom occurs when we don't need those things and when we know that our satisfaction and joy comes from Christ. Jeremiah 29:11

I know who I am in relationship to Christ. Christ is master and I am servant. It's simple. I have to serve something or someone. Either I'm serving my own needs or wants, or I'm serving Christ. Yes, I feel the rub. How can I be free and be a servant? So long as I am not a slave to the world, I am free in Christ. I Corinthians 7:22 

As a Christ follower, I fight the paradox of true freedom: doing what I want versus living a life following in Christ's example. 

Dig Deeper |

John 8

Action Item |

Write down one thing you are "serving" that is getting in the way of fully serving Christ. In your prayer time, ask God for forgiveness and to help you be His servant. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You today for allowing me to be born and raised in a country that is founded on freedom. I think you for the freedom I experience by accepting you as Lord and Master. To serve you is to gain freedom. Amen. 

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Is There a Manual For Life?

freedomSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
#freedom #sowandgather Is There A Manual For Life?

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalm 19:8 NASB

Working in a field that is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration requires you to be current on all their regulations at all times. Before technology introduced smart phones and IPads, actual three-inch binders were carried that held every rule, policy, and guideline for that job. This manual came to work with you and contained not just FAA regulations, but also company rules, policies, and guidelines.

There was so much information in this manual that it took almost seven weeks to be trained on how to use it. Thankfully, you didn’t have to memorize everything in it, but you did have to know how to navigate it. While it was time-consuming to keep up with the revisions, I found security in this manual. When challenging situations or problems arose I had not yet handled, I always knew I could reference my manual. I didn’t see the manual as a book of “rules,” but as a guide designed for my safety and the safety of others.

God’s Word has been described as a manual for life. Many people see it as God’s book of “rules” or even suggestions on how to live. Most people like to think they live by the Ten Commandments, the major rules of life. To be honest, I thought this way at one time. Thankfully, God has opened my eyes to see that His precepts or commandments are right and pure.

The Bible is a book about God; His character, His ways, His will, and His love for us. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” What if we saw the Bible as more than just a guide on how to live, but also as a book that is God-breathed and alive? What if when we have questions about what to do, we would open up God’s Word? Instead of seeing His precepts as rules, what if we saw them as protection?

In my walk with the Lord, I’ve learned that you don’t see the freedom and protection in His precepts when you see them as rules. There is no transformation of the heart when you feel bound or hindered due to laws and commandments. The Bible is a letter from God telling us who He is and how we can live in light of who He is. The Bible is our manual for life. We can put His precepts in our hearts and carry them with us wherever we go.

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 119:128, Psalm 119:14, Psalm 12:6

Action Item | 

How do you view God’s precepts... as rules or as perfect and pure for our best interest?

Prayer | 

Dear Father, I’m so grateful that You chose to give us Your God-breathed Words to live by. Continue to open my eyes and guide me in Your truths. Amen.

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Freedom - The Truth Will Set You Free

freedomSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
#freedom #july4 #sowandgather The Truth Will Set You Free John 8:31 #flag

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-32 (NSAB) 

Freedom. The word is synonymous with USA for people around the globe. People who desperately want to experience being released from oppression and bondage. The very catalyst for so many to fight the struggle to come here. 

But today's American headlines will reflect we fail to understand what freedom means. By viewing the news, one might surmise that freedom is doing and saying whatever you want, when you want, and how you want. However, freedom without boundaries does not make you free.   

As Christians, our freedom is not found in circumstances.  Chaos around us, the result of unrestricted freedoms, can develop in us overwhelming fear. True freedom is only found in Christ and results in being released from sin. How we find this is clear in John 8:31 and 32. We must be in the Word to know the truth and the truth will set us free.  

Patrick Henry revealed his passion for his beliefs when he stated, "I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death." What if, like him, we decided as Christians that it was time to fight for freedom by living out the truth that we are no longer captives to sin? Where would we choose to lose our life for the cause of Christ? As believers, we would look at our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family and be compelled to believe that their lives are worth us losing our own. This can only be done by passionately pursuing a release that comes from knowing the one true God. 

Only then we could perhaps comprehend together what an Iranian prisoner came to understand about freedom after accepting Jesus as His Savior. Though he was bound by chains and restricted by bars, he declared, "It's the first time I have felt free." 

Dig Deeper | 

Galatians 5:1-13 

Action Item |

Purpose to change one behavior that God wants to be different. 

Prayer |

Father, help me to understand that freedom is not external. It is what You have given to me in Christ. Convict me to live in a way that shows others they, too, can live a life of freedom from sin. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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Treasure God's Word -- Galatians 5:1

scripture memory, freedomSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment