Red, White and Blessed: Embracing our Freedom

This time of year we do not have to look far to see the inscription “Red, White and Blessed.” During the various festivities associated with Independence Day, these words appear on t-shirts, ball caps, garden banners and even on decorative pillows. This inscription is a fun play on words for accentuating patriotism and love of country. It is also a reminder to celebrate the freedoms we have as believers as highlighted in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is freedom.” God’s love is why we have freedom. The completeness and richness of His love defies human comprehension for Ephesians 3:19 tells us it “surpasses knowledge.” The scriptures inform us there is much to celebrate for His love is unfailing (Psalms 90:14); it endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34); it is higher than the heavens (Psalm 108:4); and it fills the entire earth (Psalm 119:64). Also, as believers, we are unencumbered because of the promise in Romans 8:38- 39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can live in freedom because God’s mercy and graciousness affords us the opportunity to approach each sunrise as a fresh new beginning. Lamentation 3:22-23 reminds us “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning – great is your faithfulness.” This means that regardless of yesterday’s poor choices, disappointments, and setbacks, trusting in the LORD’s love allows us to start each day as described in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” Adopting a mindset that each sunrise equates a new beginning involves several actions. First, if there has been disobedience, quickly and willingly approach the LORD with a repentant heart. Also, it is important to release any unforgiveness whether it is toward someone else or self- directed. Healing may need to occur which may encompass a season of resting and, as instructed in Psalm 46:10, to “Be still and know that I am God.” Obtaining healing may include getting spiritual or mental health counseling and/or developing healthy lifestyle habits. Finally, it incorporates letting go of old mindsets. Replace thoughts that we are enslaved by our poor choices, disappointments and setbacks by focusing on scriptures such as Zechariah 9:12: “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” We are free because He is the antidote for worry and worry’s cousins, fear and anxiety. Such scriptures as Psalm 47:8 “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne” help us to walk in freedom from worry, fear and anxiety. This is because it encourages a mindset focused on the LORD’s sovereignty over everything on the earth including those things causing us concern. Another reason we walk in freedom is because of His steadfast provision of guidance and protection regardless of the challenge. In the midst of financial hardships, illness, relationship conflicts or countless other struggles, we can stand confidently on the comforting words in Psalm 34:6 “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; He saved him out of his troubles.” Our sense of freedom expands with recognizing that our deliverance may not be in expected ways but is always in His perfect way and timing. For example, a while back a friend’s kitchen became invaded by ants. Several remedies she tried failed and finances prohibited hiring an exterminator. One morning after she began praying about the situation, the ant problem was resolved thanks to several small nonvenomous spiders taking up residency in her kitchen. After taking care of the ant problem, the spiders moved on. Fortunately my friend chose to rejoice that the LORD fixed the problem instead of complaining about the spiders. Therefore, navigating through a challenge becomes less cumbersome when embracing Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Confusion is something else we celebrate being freed from. Daily we are assaulted with mixed messages of what is important, how we should live and what we should value through social and mainstream media and sometimes even from well-meaning advisors within our inner circle. Instead of succumbing to confusion we can remember Jesus’s words in John 8:31-32: “…If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Understanding this involves learning to hear His voice as described in John 10:3 “…The sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Daily spending quiet time alone with Him in prayer and scripture reading and meditation helps us become adept at hearing His voice. Our prayers can include asking for His help in learning to hear his voice more clearly. As we sit quietly waiting, we can use Samuel’s words when he was learning to hear the Lord’s voice in 1 Samuel 3:10 “…Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.” Additionally, being mentored by mature believers can help us learn how to differentiate between His voice and the empty clamoring of the world. The greatest freedom is our salvation. The burden of appeasing the LORD who is perfect in all His ways from our sins is lifted. The absolution of our sin is not from within us. Instead, through Jesus and His love and obedience to even death on a cross all those centuries ago, comes the freedom from sin. For we are told in Romans 10:10 “…with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” The beautiful gift of this freedom is not limited to just a few, but as Romans 10:13 informs us: “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” \\\ So, as a nation, we are celebrating Independence Day and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of our country. However, as believers, we have even more reasons to embrace the fun slogan of “Red, White and Blessed.” For thanks to the LORD and his amazing love, we enjoy an overabundance of freedoms. We can live our lives as described in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”