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This time of year, my thoughts turn to how thankful I am for the independence that I experience as an American. But I also recognize the sacrifices that have been made by so many to ensure this freedom. President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” His words have never been more poignant than right now when we are once again facing the possibility of war to secure a freedom that some seek to take away from us. Every day our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for our liberty and for the values we hold dear as Americans. Independence Day is the time we set aside to support the ongoing efforts of our military and to remember all of the freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifice.
While I am reflecting on my liberty as an American, I also think about a more important kind of freedom I experience as a Christian. Jesus put His life on the line so that we could have everlasting liberty. He died to set us free, free from sin and free from the trappings of this world. It is only by His sacrifice that we can achieve this liberty.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
The Apostle Paul, tells us how to have liberty in Christ in three parts. So, let’s break it down and examine each one.
#1 Stand Fast…
We cannot lose our salvation in Christ. That is the most basic fact of our Christian faith. Even though we can’t lose our salvation, we are told many times in the Bible to stand fast or to stand firm in our belief. The world is knocking on our door, trying to cause us to back down. They don’t want us to stand up for what we believe. They want us to agree with their misguided thoughts, that they are right and we are wrong. But we can’t back down. We must always be ready to stand fast and stand up for our faith.
#2 the liberty by which Christ has made us free…
Liberty in Christ and freedom from sin comes from accepting Jesus as your Savior. There is no other way. We know this because we have experienced the love and grace of salvation in Christ. But sometimes it slips our mind and we forget that we have been set free. So now is the perfect time to remember all that Christ has done for us and experience the liberty by which we have been made free.
#3 do not be entangled again by the yoke of bondage…
Sin is a burden that we don’t have to bear any longer. Jesus has taken that yoke on Himself so that we can be free from it. We don’t have to become entangled by the things of this world or by the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). We can move forward knowing that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are able to live a life that is full and free from the bondage of sin and shame.
This Fourth of July, I hope that you will spend time with your family and friends, grill some burgers and hot dogs and watch the amazing fireworks displays. But most of all, I hope you will remember the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that true liberty comes from knowing Him.
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I fully intended to write a lighthearted blog post this week about the carefree days of summer. All of the fun activities we look forward to all winter long while we’re stuck inside, swimming, hiking, boating, grilling. But Jesus just wouldn’t let me do it. The longer I tried to write that post, the more He pulled at my heart. When I started this blog a year ago, I worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or that my words wouldn’t be good enough. I compared my writing to all of those other blogs out there whose writers have beautiful, flowery words that I don’t have. I spent a lot of time praying about how I should approach writing this blog and God’s answer was very clear to me. He said “You don’t need flowery words, you need honesty.” His words set me free and I began writing with a new found confidence. I will always write the truth about God’s word even when honesty is hard. His truth isn’t carefree, it’s straightforward and in your face. We all have times when we don’t want to hear the truth because it holds a mirror up to us that isn’t always pretty. But the truth is what we need to hear and it is what God has asked me to write. So with that I mind, I yield to His plan for this blog post.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
People often ask, ”Why did Jesus teach in parables”? And the answer is simply this, we can all relate to these parables. After two thousand years, the meaning is still the same. No matter where we come from or what stage in life we are in, the story is something we can all understand.
Jesus Christ is coming back! And the Parable of the Fig Tree is a call to all Christians to be ready when He does. Just like we would prepare ourselves for a summer vacation by booking a flight and packing our bags, there are things we can do to prepare for the second coming of Jesus:
#1 Recognize the Signs.
Now learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
When we see the leaves budding on the trees and the flowers blooming, we know that summer is just around the corner. If we are familiar with Scripture and know what to look for, we will recognize the signs that Jesus is just around the corner too. We should be immersing ourselves in God’s word every day. And when we do that, the signs that the coming of Jesus is near should be as plain to us as the coming of summer.
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
We should always have an eager expectation that Jesus could come back at any moment. And that expectation should be reflected in our lives. If we knew that someone was getting ready to break into our house and take everything we have worked so hard for, we wouldn’t just go to bed and pretend that the thief wasn’t coming. We would be sitting up all night waiting, ready to catch him in the act. This is the kind of eager expectation we should feel for the second coming of Jesus. We should be sitting up waiting for Him to come through the door like a thief in the night. It’s easy to become complacent and forget that He is coming soon. We get caught up in other things that seem so important at the time. But we can take this time to refocus and start watching for Him to come back because it could happen at any moment. While we’re watching and waiting for Jesus, we should be telling other people about Him, so that they could be saved too.
#3 Be Ready.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
We don’t know when Jesus is coming back. It could be today, or it could be years from now. It doesn’t matter when it happens, just that we are ready for Him when He comes. What will He see when He gets here? Will He be pleased by how we are living our lives? Are there things that we need to change to make our lives acceptable to Him? These are the questions that I am asking myself today.
This blog post is about my heart and mind as much as it’s about yours. Today God hit me with a hard truth. Am I ready to see Jesus coming? What do I need to change in my life? I know that I need to be better prepared… to understand the Bible fully, to be ready to answer any question about my faith and to be watchful of His return. I pray that you will take the time to become prepared for Jesus to come back and that God will bless you greatly for it.
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About the Artist
Connie Rowland is the Artist and Blogger behind Master's Hand Collection, a series of Christian artwork that depicts God's hand in our lives. Each picture features an inspirational word spelled out in American Sign Language with a corresponding Bible verse. Check out the About page for more info on Master's Hand Collection and Connie.
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