Lessons from Irma

As I survey the damage of Irma in Bradenton and beyond it’s amazing how much “dead” and “diseased” trees and branches it took down. Not to mention the outdated infrastructure that it destroyed. Branches that should have been trimmed, maintained or eliminated long ago were the culprits in taking down valuable power supply infrastructure.

This is exactly what happens in our lives too. We get “dead” wood with respect to relationships, jobs, finances and it takes a storm in our life to be willing (actually forced) to make modifications to the way we live.

Why is it that it takes a storm of a heart attack, diabetes or stroke or divorce or bankruptcy to move us to action?

Irma was a blessing in a lot of ways. It made me recognize where my own affairs weren’t in order. It made our county and state recognize how unprepared we were for this type of catastrophe. We would have a lot less damage if the pruning and maintenance would have already been done by homeowners, municipalities and utility companies and not waited for Irma to do it for us.

My prayer is that it doesn’t take calamity in our lives to be willing to look at where we need to change some things. Don’t wait for the storm and calamity to come to recognize the need for pruning and growth or a new or renewed relationship with Jesus.

We all know, intuitively, where to turn our heads and our focus in the season of panic. Man the prayers start soaring, but why does it take calamity to turn our attention to the Lord. Is He not good enough to focus on all of the time? Is He not sufficient? Am I too distracted by the world to lift up my heart cry to Him like that everyday?

I’m believing that post Irma there is going to be revival in this community and in this state. That we will realize just how small we are and how big He is!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

I love this community and all the people in it and my hearts cry is for everyone to have a richer, more fulfilling life with Christ at the center. Be blessed!

Advertisements

The Best Weapon or Worst Enemy — Our Thoughts…

IMG_2359

We all deal with verbal, mental and emotional abuse from people, sometimes it is overwhelming to try to figure out how to handle these attacks. It’s life. Bad things happen and there are wicked people in our lives and at times we are those wicked people! So where do we look for answers on how to handle this type of aggression? Should we not look to the man who handled an enormous amount of abuse and mockery in His lifetime. A man that modeled perfectly the solution? Jesus had more mental, emotional, verbal and physical assaults on Him than any of us will ever experience and yet He persevered.

Imagine if Jesus had mediatated on and internalized the negative comments people made about Him and held as truth the opinions of others about Him.

Starting from the beginning even His own brothers, friends and neighbors didn’t believe that He was the Messiah (John 7:5). They mocked Him and shunned His ministry (Matthew 13:57).

Similarly, He was rejected by the ruling authorities and even His own people! How painful! How debilitating! Can you imagine the different outcome if Jesus had sat around and meditated on all of those malicious words? Could He have completed His mission to be our sacrificial Lamb?

Gratefully, Jesus had the solution to verbal, emotional and physical abuse. He did not hold onto people’s opinions. He didn’t let worldly facts about who he was (just a carpenter, son of Joseph, the kid from Nazareth) erode His heart. So what was the Jesus’ solution to dealing with malicious attacks? Jesus choose to meditate on the TRUTH not the facts. Jesus held treasure in His heart. He knew the TRUTH about who He is and the reason He was in the world. He didn’t let the opinions of others sway Him from the TRUTH. He didn’t seek the approval of his family, friends and neighbors, He looked to the TRUTH. He had a scripture in His heart!

I would encourage us all today to model Jesus. When we are under attack by our friends, spouse, children, parents, authorities, neighbors, co workers, bosses, we must stay focused on who we are in Christ. We must stay focused on the TRUTH, the HOLY WORD OF GOD! When I am discouraged or angry, my first instinct is to defend myself! To fight for my rights! Jesus taught us to lay down our sword and surrender our rights, just as He did on Calvary!

When in doubt always look to Jesus, there is nothing you and I will face in this world that Jesus did not model a solution for us.

Be Blessed and Be Free!

A. Freeman

Satan Lies!

Let me tell you a story that hurts me very badly, but needs to be told. I was recently in a heated exchange with someone I love and this person shouted, “You are a hypocrite!”. If I can be transparent for a moment it hurt bad. I stopped and thought for a minute, considering, “Is it true?” “Am I a hypocrite?” I knew instantly this was a word Jesus used frequently in scripture and it caused me to pause. I haven’t stopped meditating on that statement for the last 36 hours, not because I’m angry, but because I’m concerned. So I’ve been praying in Spirit for the Lord to give me something.

First, let’s get something straight, I was not speaking kindly and I was speaking out in a fleshly manner. I am not proud of this, but it’s the truth. I was angry, I was hurt and I was in fight mode, that is not the image of Christ I want to reflect and I repent. So I considered this topic that Jesus spent so much time talking about and instantly Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees and their hypocritical behavior came to mind so I spent some time studying, “What is Jesus’ brand of hypocrisy?” I need to know!!!

Here’s what I believe to be true. I believe that Jesus didn’t call a Godly man that sinned a hypocrite. I believe that Jesus didn’t just see the sin alone, He saw the heart from which the sin spewed, which disturbed Him on a whole nether level. Jesus’ brand of hypocrisy described a man that held himself above others, and made sure everyone saw his good behavior publicly, all the while defiling himself and then concealing the sin in his heart, in an unrepentant fashion. Jesus charged the Pharisees and scribes many times as being hypocrites because of the way they interpreted the law to benefit themselves. They publicly obeyed the part of the law that was trivial or unimportant and ignored the portion of the law that they chose not to follow for their own personal gain. The worst part is it was all premeditated and preplanned with an unpure heart. They held themselves high, judged others, and committed premeditated-unrepented acts.
To Jesus this was unbearable and He cursed this behavior and promised judgment.

Now back to today’s world, we know and recognize the great deceiver and twister of words, the enemy of our righteousness, the liar in the desert that twisted God’s words to tempt Jesus. He takes a truth and changes it just enough to make it look and smell like truth to someone who lacks knowledge of God’s Word. Satan has twisted this word “hypocrisy” in the hearts of believers and unbelievers to untether believers from their God and to confirm unbelievers suspicions that there is “nothing different” about Christ followers, they still sin and they still act out badly. Satan is working overtime to lump all Christ followers who sin in a general bucket called “hypocrite”. This work he has been doing has separated untold numbers of people from God because of their misinterpretation of the Words of Christ. Now let’s look at the truth of God’s words, it is written, “it is not by our deeds, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that the repentant heart is forgiven so that we may not boast and God receive the glory (Ephesians 2) and chastened to conform nearer to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).”

So on the surface it would appear that a man that proclaims to be a Christ follower, that acts out in the flesh and sins is a hypocrite, but I believe what separates a hypocrite from a sinner is the position of the heart. The Bible tells us, there is no one perfect, not even one (Romans 3:10) and that we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That would mean we are ALL hypocrites as believers if the criteria is a Christ follower, that proclaims Jesus, but then turns around and sins. We are all guilty as charged. However, there is the great sifting that Christ references where the wheat is separated from the tare’s and that’s a repentant heart versus an unrepentant heart (Matthew 13:24).

I believe that what separates a sinner from a hypocrite is the position of the heart. Premeditated sin and a secret life, while presenting oneself as spiritually superior coupled with an unrepentant heart is Jesus’ brand of hypocrisy.

On the other side is Paul’s teachings in Romans 7, no matter what I try to do good, I fail, even though I want to be sinless, I can’t because it is the sin within me that compels me to act in a way I don’t want to act. He understood our Adam nature. That the crucifixion of the flesh was on ongoing battle. Grow spiritually, then I sin, then I repent, then I grow and on and on. This is the lesson, it is only by Christ grace that I am righteous. It is not by my good deeds or my good actions that confirm me as a Christian, because there is nothing good in me. It is only through faith in Christ that I am redeemed of my carnality. So protect your heart, receive the grace by faith in Jesus Christ. We will still sin, but we have a savior that we can turn it over to, in Jesus name!

Be Blessed and Be Free!

A. Freeman

Forgiveness – Part 2

If I have trouble giving forgiveness, then I have a problem receiving forgiveness.

I can’t give something away that I have not received. How can I be a re-gifter of a unreceived gift?

When we give gifts to people how do we know that they have truly “received” that gift? Well, we see them using the gift, we may see them wearing the gift and we may even see them sharing a gift. Then we know it was truly been received.

Have you ever given someone a shirt or jewelry, and thought to yourself, “I haven’t seen them wear that since the day I gave that gift!” That is the essence of an unreceived gift. Maybe we didn’t like the way it looked or it we didn’t think it fit just right or it wasn’t the style we wanted or the gift didn’t seem to match the occasion. Whatever the reason we set it aside as unacceptable, unusable or not good enough.

Do we not do the same with the forgiveness granted to us through grace. We set it aside as not enough, or unworthy or it doesn’t seem to fit?

How do we know if forgiveness is truly a gift that we have received? We use it! We wear it! We share it!

If forgiveness has indeed been received from Christ it will be obvious. When we wear the gift of forgiveness there is no spirit of anger in us. When we use forgiveness there is healing in relationships, when we share forgiveness we allow others to taste the flavor of the grace that a relationship with Christ offers. When we have truly received Christ’s totally free gift of forgiveness it totally changes how we look, feel, and act to the outside world. The greatest part is that then we can finally share the gift of forgiveness to others and be set free from bondage of unforgiveness and a cold heart.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Amen.

Be Blessed. Be Free.

A.Freeman

Forgiveness – Part 1

I was driving the other day and watched as 2 cars stopped in the middle of traffic to pick up a lost box turtle and walk it 50 yards to the nearest pond while dozens of cars were backed up behind them. Now the turtle was not in any clear and present danger, yet yielded such a provactive response and outpouring of love.

On the flip side, every week I watch hundreds of us walk by and drive by lost human beings, who are suffering and we do not lead them to water or even bring the water to them to drink.

I thank the Lord that He shined a light on this for me. It is indicative of how “hurt” we are as a society. We have all been hurt, people have stabbed us in the back, cheated us, lied to us, physically, emotionally and mentally abused us and we are DONE with people!

This is the symptom, but I submit to you that Unforgiveness is the disease. If you’ve been hurt you MUST forgive. Carrying around a root of bitterness is like you drinking poison and hoping it hurts the other person. It doesn’t it’s only hurting you! Jesus modeled forgiveness many times and told us this is the path to righteousness.

Jesus always took it to another level though and actually told Peter in Matthew 18:21-22, I’m not telling you to forgive once, I’m telling you to forgive an unlimited amount of times and even for the same offense! Blessings to the One who comes in the name of the Lord!

I do not think it could be much more clear than Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I pray for a softening of our hearts and a Spirit of forgiveness to fall on us so that WE may be free. Unforgiveness is keeping us prisoners not the violater! Give it to Jesus. Be set free!! This is my prayer for YOU this week!

Be Blessed and Be Free!

A. Freeman

Which Thief Are You?

One of the biggest blessings derived from reading scripture regularly is how God can take the “same ole story”, that I’ve heard “a thousand times”, and instantly allow me to see something I’ve never seen before. I truly feel my spirit leap with joy as fresh revelation drops.

Well, today I want to contemplate the scene at Calvary on crucifixion day. Specifically, let’s focus on the thieves. These guys have never really stood out to me until today, but I now believe they were very symbolic for the fate of ALL humanity! The Gospel of Luke reveals the imagery that dreadful and beautiful day:

“Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:32-33, 39-43‬ ‭NLT

I believe the whole of humanity is adequately represented right here at Calvary. The entire history and future of mankind is embodied in this one moment in time. Here you have Christ, the savior, the Messiah, spun between the men that represented all of those He was sent to save. The men were both sinners, just like you and me, yet they represented two distinct camps that every human being in the world happens to belong:

There is the thief (sinner) on His left, that is sentenced to death for his sins, that refuses to believe that Jesus is who He’s says He is, the redeemer, the SON OF GOD.   Then there is the thief (sinner) on His right, that is sentenced to death for his sins, and acknowledges his guilt before the Lord, acknowledges Jesus sinless nature and acknowledges in his heart Jesus’ sacrifice and His Lordship. By simply believing in the name of Jesus his eternal death sentence is anulled and that very day he walked with Jesus in paradise. Oh Blessings to the One who Comes in the Name of the Lord, Christ Jesus!

Friends, these three men weren’t there by happenstance! They didn’t just happen to be on His right and left with Jesus spanning the sea of sin between them! They didn’t just happen to have this commentary, for the whole world to see, in the last minutes of Jesus’ life! This was the sword of the Spirit cutting between bone and marrow, asking the question to all mankind, “Which thief represents your heart?” “Are you the sinner that believes in the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world or the sinner the mocks the name of Jesus?” “Where do you stand today, friend?”

Rest assured my friends, just as the day of judgment came for the thieves and the unblemished Lamb of God, our day of judgement will come when we say, “Jesus, do you remember me?” The day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Today he’s asking you to believe in Him as Lord of your life and for you to step down from the throne and let Him take His rightful place on the throne of your heart. If you are prepared to make that decision then you too brother and sisters will have eternal communion with our Lord. Thank you Holy Spirit!

Be Blessed and Be Free!

A. Freeman

 

Has God Changed?

What has happened in 4000 years?

There was a time when the greatest warriors in the world, a race of giants, the sons of Amak, feared the Israelite people. Not because the Israelites were bigger or stronger, but simply because the God that manifested himself before them terrified the giants!!! These giants were the most feared people on earth yet they recognized and feared Gods power.

What has happened today that Gods people are ridiculed and mocked? Is it because we do not exhibit Gods power? Is it because God will not manifest himself through a Luke warm church? Maybe it’s because of what we, the Church, believe about ourselves. Do we believe the power of God is still available to us? Do we have the faith to pray for healing for others, to believe for victory in our lives? Do we believe that God is everything He says He is and when we pray in agreement with His will and in the name of Jesus Christ, that our prayers are answered?

I promise you the power of our Majestic, Powerful, Creator, Healer, Provider Lord has not changed. The only thing that has changed is the fervency of the heart of the believer. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you! (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus’s church should be feared and respected because of the power of the Lord Almighty. However, until we exhibit the Fear of the Lord and total devotion to a Holy Spirit led life we will not achieve what the ancient Israelites achieved. Holy Spirit power is still available and He manifests himself daily, but we must come to the foot of the cross and be cleansed to receive.

Leave the world behind, step down from the throne of your heart and allow Jesus to to take His rightful place. Then the power of Abba will be glorified!!!

Be Blessed and Be Free!!

A. Freeman

 

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is near. It is not very far, the Kingdom of God is here, amongst us all, the called.

The Kingdom of God is a family. A group of believers, The Kingdom of God is all of those that have listened and been receivers.

The Kingdom of God is me, the Kingdom of God is you, the Kingdom of God are brothers and sisters that have heard the Word and grew.

The Kingdom of God is the Church, the body of Christ Jesus. Put your faith in Him my child all you have to do is receive Him.

The Kingdom of God is here and now, not in some distant land. The Kingdom of God has arrived, our Fathers glorious plan.

Arise the King of the Kingdom, take your seat at the right hand, and continue to pray for your Kingdom, a brotherhood of man.

Look upon your Christian soldiers, please see us and our hearts, walking in the light and sharing your Word, amongst a world that is apart.

Jesus, King, pray for your Kingdom, we need your intercession, give us strength King of Kings, so we can accomplish this precious mission.

We are your church, the Kingdom of God is hand, smile upon us now, this fellowship of man.

We are your church, you have our hearts, see us King of Kings, we will never ever part.

For what King loves his Kingdom enough to die, to sacrifice his life so that his Kingdom may thrive?

Only you precious Messiah, only you have loved enough, to sacrifice yourself, to bring us righteousness.

You are the King, and we are the Kingdom, let your will be done, now and forever!

Let all the Kingdom arise and let all of our enemies be scattered, for the King is on the throne, and his flock is being gathered.

The Kingdom of God is here, so let us walk in truth, the day of Christ is upon us and we must spread the news. Amen!

Be Blessed and Be Free!

The Struggle to Preserve Death is Real!

We recently had Tropical Storm Hermine come through Florida and impact our coastal cities. We received some winds, heavy rains and flooding. Lots and lots of water standing everywhere.

In the aftermath, our ditches on our property got full of rainwater and subsequently full of tadpoles and mosquito fish. Now mosquito fish are pretty valuable because they feed on mosquito larvae and that’s a good thing to help keep the mosquito population down. After the storm waters start to recede the minnows will eventually die in the dried up ditches.

So I decided to go out and scoop the mosquito fish out of the ditch and put them in our ponds so they could have an abundance of water, abundance of mosquito larvae and of course avoid a certain death.  Well, much to my chagrin, these little boogers were not that easy to catch. Every time I would try to scoop them, they would race to the other end of the ditch, then through the storm sewer.

Meanwhile as I am working I am seeing the water levels going down. It suddenly occurred to me with great sadness, “If they only recognized I’m trying to help them. If they only realized I am trying to save them from certain death. If they only had eyes to see that on the other side of their surrender is a large pond, with abundant sources of life giving resources!” If they only realized, but they were fighting and struggling to preserve a certain death.

I don’t know about you, but I could relate to those fish. I fought and struggled to preserve my certain spiritual death for many years. I didn’t recognize the large pond of living water that was available to me on the other side of surrender. Sometimes when it feels like we are fighting for our lives, we are actually fighting to preserve death. The solution is surrendering to Jesus. He is the net that can capture us and set us free. These are Jesus words:

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Once again here is Jesus himself talking:

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
‭‭John‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What are you waiting for? The sunlight of the Spirit awaits you. Life more abundantly. Freedom from death. It’s a choice, it’s your choice to receive your blessing.

Be Blessed and Be Free!

A. Freeman

Satan’s favorite charge…HYPOCRISY!

imageThere are so many believers and non believers that don’t really understand what happened on the cross and subsequently the principle of grace. These people use Christianity as a weapon. When a believer misses the mark and acts out in his/her humanism, the attacker questions the level of that persons “Christian commitment”. Using comments like “real Christian you are” or “wow, you’re a great example of Jesus, aren’t you?” Doesn’t this just look and smell like an attack from the enemy?

I believe this is one of the best works of Satan. Using Christianity against itself to beat a Christian down. A form of persecution and mockery. The enemy loves to set the expectation of the “perfect Christian”, but guess what no one has ever lived the perfect Christian life. It’s a lie from the master of lies, Satan.

Here’s the truth: Paul says, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22-24‬

Paul goes to great length in Romans 7:14-25 to simply explain, we sin because we are sinners. We sin because the sin is within us, it’s our nature. It is our inheritance. It the humanness within us that makes us sin.

So don’t ever believe the lie of “you’re not good enough” or “you’re a hypocrite” or “you’re not a good enough Christian” as a weapon against your relationship with Christ. To me it is a form of blasphemy and is pure evil. It completely insults Jesus Christ, His ministry, and what was accomplished on the cross and the tomb. It is a mocking spirit, and a lie and the best defense is knowing that you are who Christ says you are. You are a precious child of God, who is deeply loved, flaws and all. Holy Spirit will continue to counsel, coach and shape us until the day of Christ Jesus. In Jesus name.