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But we wanted you to have the true message. That’s why we didn’t give in to them, not even for a second. Galatians 2:5 (CEV)

In his book “Wild at Heart”, author John Eldredge states that within the heart of every man there is the desire to be a warrior, to be a hero, to have a maiden to rescue. Likewise, within the heart of every woman is the desire to be a princess, to have someone who sees enough value in them to fight for and rescue them.

While I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment, I take it one step further. There is within the heart of each of us, man or woman, the need to feel we are worth fighting for. Each of us needs to have a champion who will stand by our sides in the best of times, cheering our successes, and in the worst of times, bandaging our wounds.

Paul had Barnabas, Naomi had Ruth, David had Jonathan, Peter had Jesus and the list goes on and on of people who can point to one person who lifted them up, and stood with them in the darkest of times.

For the Galatian churches, and a young man named Titus, that person was the Apostle Paul. The early churches that Paul had planted as sort of an itinerant preacher were under attack. The worst part is, these attacks came from people who claimed to be in agreement with them. The attacks that do the most damage are those that come from those closest to us.

Titus was one of Paul’s close associates. He was a Greek who found Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. He grew under the teaching of Paul. He grew close to Jesus an enjoyed the freedom one can only find through Jesus. That’s where the trouble occurred. A group of people, the Bible calls them Judaizers, insisted that Titus be circumcised if he were a true believer in Jesus.

There are still Judaizers in the church today. These are the people who are quick to tell you how you should act, what you should eat, which version of the Bible to read, which music you should listen to and which people and activities to avoid in order to show you are a ‘good Christian.’

Then, along comes Paul. I see him riding in on a white horse, sword (well, maybe scroll) drawn, and ready for battle. In his letter to his Galatian churches, he tells them “We wouldn’t give in to their legalism for one second. Not ONE!”

Paul stood up for them and for us as well. There will always be those who claim to have superior knowledge on how to live the Christian. They will have all sorts of hoops to jump through, and good advice for us. When that happens measure all of that with the freedom we have in Jesus through Grace. YOU are worth fighting for.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I ask that you would protect me from the Judaizers in my life. Keep me from being discouraged by their attacks or sucked into their legalism. Through the leading of your Holy Spirit, may I enjoy the freedom Grace offers me. Amen.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Matthew 26:17 (NLT)


To make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity;

To put in a proper state of mind.

Have you ever considered the many ways that we prepare for something? Life throws a multitude of events in our lives that require preparation. Some preparation is enjoyable, even if stressful. For example, the preparing for the holidays is full of activity. There’s baking to be done, gifts to buy, holiday parties to plan, host or attend, family gatherings to travel to. Stressful? Certainly, but those are the things that memories are made of and the stress is forgotten long before the memories grow stale.

Other things of life may not be positive. Preparing for the funeral of a loved one is difficult at best. Making the arrangements; comforting those who have come to comfort you; reliving the many stories and memories; picking up the pieces left by the hole in your life all demand preparation in before life can return to normal. There is no time to prepare for these kinds of events.

Sometimes preparation can involve every kind of emotion thrown together into one huge melting pot. Life changes such as divorce can be the healthiest thing for you physically or emotionally even though it carries the pain that is very similar to the death of a spouse. Graduation forces you to look ahead to the next chapter of life with excitement, anticipation, fear, hope and virtually every other emotion known to mankind. Retirement can be exciting to look forward to, but many, upon reaching that time period are at a loss as to what to do to fill their time or feel value.

For the Jew, living in Jesus day, Passover was a mixed bag of emotion. On the one hand they celebrated the deliverance of God’s people from Egyptian slavery. They had been called to follow a leader who was a known failure; to pursue a promise that had been long forgotten; to heed the call of a God who had been silent for hundreds of years.

As a result they’d enjoyed miraculous miracles and political supremacy which brought peace and prosperity to the nation. Now, under Roman bondage, they looked forward to a new kingdom which they thought was a physical reinstatement of political prominence. Messiah, when he came would be cause for celebration once more.

Some church bodies spend the weeks leading up to Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in a period of preparation called Lent. For some, this is a time of sacrifice, but Lent should be a time of celebration, not sacrifice, a time of celebration, not mourning. Jesus Christ came to sacrifice his body for us. Now, scripture tells us there is no more need for sacrifice; no more need for mourning.

With this in mind, let us approach this season with celebration. Rather than asking ourselves, “What can I give up for Lent”, let’s ask Jesus what more we can do for his kingdom. The work of the cross was final. Now it’s time to celebrate! Now it’s time to let the world know that when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as we begin the journey of remembrance of your sacrificial giving for us may we find new ways to serve you. Renew in us a new spiritual vigor to share the freedom we have in you with those in bondage. Thank you for setting us free! Amen.

The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction and self-control will lead you through life. Proverbs 6:23 (CEV)

It was our last camping trip of the season. Mid-October camping trips are risky at best in Northern Minnesota but the need to get away outweighed the risk of bad weather. Our destination was only about 90 minutes from home but the short days still meant arriving just after dusk.

Getting the camper parked was a challenge, but once in the site I managed to get set up for the evening by holding a small penlight flashlight in my mouth on occasion in order to find get settled. I made a passing statement that it would be nice to have a light that I could attach to my head so my hands (and mouth could be free).

This Christmas my ‘prayers’ were answered when my daughter gave me a small flashlight that attaches to my cap. Now I’ll be able to work with light and keep my hands free!

Although we are months from official camping season, I’ve tried my light out and expect it will be very useful in guiding me through the dark. It has its limitations however. My little light is bright, but it won’t light up much more than my immediate surroundings. With my little light I’ll be able to see what is only a short distance ahead, so I won’t be able to discern things in the distance. My little light is focused on the direction I’m heading, not to the sides, not to what is behind me. It is designed to keep me moving forward.

My little light is a picture of God’s word. Some think God’s Word is full of useless, confining and irrelevant rules and regulations. It’s outdated and doesn’t allow freedom. I say, on the contrary! Just like my little light, God’s word is a useful guide in the dark, steers me clear of danger and assists me when I can’t see my way.

God’s word is like my light in regards to my future as well. My Heavenly Father knows my tomorrows. While God knows what I’ll be doing ten years from now, he also knows that I don’t need that information right now. I need to get through the next day, the next few steps. His word gives me all the guidance I need to keep me moving forward.

When I follow God’s rules and God’s way I don’t need to be concerned about what lies to my right or my left either. I can focus on moving ahead. The past is just that, past, done, finished. What goes on around me isn’t important as long as I’m focusing on what God wants me to do.

Lastly, God’s word allows me to make necessary adjustments to my journey. I can choose to turn my light off and go it alone. If I do so I risk injury or getting hopelessly off course. In the same way ‘having God’s word’ is useless unless I use God’s word to guide me.
God’s word irrelevant? Gods’ word confining and outdated? I don’t think so! It’s just what I need to get through the dark times of my life!

PRAYER: Thank you Father for giving me the guidance I need through your word. Empower me to live by the standards you set for me so that I can walk confidently during the dark periods of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 

Of all the lies Satan tells us, the ones that are the most damaging are the ones that take away our freedom. If there is one thing that can rob us of the freedom we have in Christ it’s the prison of bitterness. The Lie associated with the Battle for our FREEDOM is that ‘You don’t deserve to be treated this way’. The lie comes in various forms. It can be health related and involve you or a loved one: “I eat right and exercise and do all the right things to take care of my body. I don’t deserve cancer.” or “He/she is too young to have to battle all this illness. It’s just not right!”

The lie can involve relationships as well. We listen to the voices as work that tell us that we don’t deserve to be paid the way we do; that we do more for the company than anyone else and for the least amount of respect, and the voices go on and on repeating the poison that saps our energy and riddles our body with bullets of anger, leaving wounds that ooze bitterness.

We hear the voices at home demanding justice, fairness and respect. No one deserves to be treated as a second rate citizen regardless of gender or body size or sexual orientation or age or… (The list goes on). We fight back physically or emotionally or cower in the corner in self defense until, one way or the other we are released from the pain only to relive it in another relationship. The fight for freedom can turn ugly. For some, the fight for freedom has led to death. When we give up the fight, the enemy wins. 

As with most of the lies we’ve talked about, this lie is another example of the cunning methods the enemy uses to subdue us. Remember, Lucifer is the master of deceit and he loves to tweak the truth just enough to make the lie look wise. Half truths are his specialty. Do you deserve the abuse you are taking? Most certainly not! It isn’t just the righteous people who are created in God’s image. He created the wino laying in the gutter in the same image as the squeaky clean pastor in the cathedral where the bum lays his head to sleep, protected from the wind. The child molester is created in God’s image just as the terrorist, the adulterer, or the judge who seeks his own power and refuses to acknowledge the ultimate Judge or right and wrong.

The truth is, in one sense you don’t deserve whatever it is you are going through physically, emotionally, financially or otherwise. Your Heavenly Father created the Garden of Eden and all the animals, and we human beings so we could live in a world free of sin and in perfect harmony with nature and himself. When sin entered the picture it destroyed his dream for us…for now. The enemy doesn’t want you to know that when God sees the pain in our lives he weeps. His passionate heart is heavy when he sees the young person commit suicide, when he sees the cancer report, or hears the verdict from the judge’s bench. You don’t deserve what you are going through.

The adversity we face in life shouldn’t be surprising though. The Apostle Peter tells us: “Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning.” 1 Peter 4:1 (CEV) The Psalmist constantly talks of his pain, but in the same breath mentions the love and faithfulness of his God. (Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Psalm 25:16-17). 

The harsh reality is that while we are here on earth we will suffer in ways no human should suffer. It’s not whether we will encounter injustice or suffering in life. We will. Just as Jesus did. Regardless of how much pain you are going through or for what reason, none of us has suffered more than Jesus suffered for us.

The real question is how we will respond to the attacks. Will you dwell on the injustice or claim the freedom in Christ to rise above the adversity. Will you refuse to forgive and be prisoner of your own anger and bitterness or will you live in the awareness that just as Jesus suffered here on earth, we are destined to suffer pain. 

Freedom in Christ doesn’t free us from adversity, it give us strength to overcome it. That’s the Truth Statement the enemy doesn’t want us to hear in the battle for our freedom. Look at just a few verses the Bible tells us about our freedom in Christ. Truths that show us that we will suffer, yet our suffering won’t keep us from living free emotionally and can actually be used for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.

  • 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
  • Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (the truth! the truth about me. The truth about God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness!)
  • Brothers, understand what we are telling you: You can have forgiveness of your sins through Jesus. The Law of Moses could not free you from your sins. But through Jesus everyone who believes is free from all sins. Acts 13:38-39 (NCV) (the law (religion) was never intended to bring us freedom. The law was given to show us the need for freedom!)
  • Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
  • But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:22
  • The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

Freedom in Christ allows us to live in His strength regardless of what comes our way. Live free dear child of God. Live free of bitterness and anger so that others can see the truth of Christ in you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I’m struggling under anger and bitterness. I’m living in defeat physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes on you because this burden blocks my view. Empower me with your Spirit to live in the freedom you intended me to have. Amen.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:9 (NIV)

The worst kind of deception is the deception that catches us unaware because it is partially true. Like an apple with a worm in it, what we hear and believe looks good until we make a commitment to it and bite into it. Only then do we realize that it is rotten to the core. Deception robs us of life. Deception robs us of trust. In the spiritual realm it’s like rape because when our naivety is revealed it humiliates us.

Too often, those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers have been duped into slavery by deception. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Galatians asks the question, “Who deceived you? Why have you returned to the very slavery Christ has set you free from?” (Galatians 3:1; 5:1). He’s not talking to unbelievers here. He’s talking to the church, the body of Christ, disciples of Jesus.

We as believers in Jesus Christ must realize that we are at war. Anyone steeped in the understanding of warfare realizes that there are three things necessary for victory. First one must know his enemy. By that I don’t mean we know the enemy simply by name. We learn his weapons. We memorize how he uses those weapons. We look for weaknesses in his armor, his plan and his tools. We search for the holes in his defenses.

Secondly, we strategize. We come up with a plan that realizes our limitations and utilizes our strengths. Going into battle without a plan is suicide, not to mention just plain stupid. A well formulated plan allows the David’s of the world to defeat Goliath.

Thirdly, the battle is won when, after learning all we can about the enemy, and formulating our plan we go into battle resolved to stick with our plan. Many a battle has been lost because those who have been defeated stray from the plan and are lured into playing the game on the battlefield of the opponent. When we play the game at his level, the enemy knows he has us beaten. It’s only a matter of time before we defeat ourselves.

It’s time to sound the battle cry. The war for our souls was won on the cross once and for all, but we fight daily battles in which the enemy tries to destroy the freedom we have in Christ. Our enemy is Lucifer, the great Satan, the once beautiful and glorious angel of the most high. He was defeated at the Cross. His defeat was finalized when Jesus rose from the dead, but he’s not finished yet. His goal remains the same, to lure us from all the best God has for us.

Satan knows that the best way to keep us from living victoriously is to attack us in our most vulnerable place, the heart. If he can get us to feel badly about ourselves he knows he has a foothold into the other areas of our lives. After all, even Jesus tells us that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. What measuring rod does he use for that love? How we love ourselves.

When we feel good about ourselves we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we feel bad about ourselves in those areas it affects how we see God and others. Strong relationships with others begin with a strong understanding and love for ourselves.

Don’t be deceived any longer. Refuse to listen to the lies that Satan tells you. Listen instead to the words of a loving Creator God who is passionate about seeing you through the battles of life victoriously.

PRAYER: Father God. I’ve listened to lies long enough. I’ve bought into what Satan has to say about me. I ask that you would empower me to see myself as you see me. Protect me from enemy attack through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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April 2023
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