"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘Apostle Paul’

If the Door is Open, Why are You Still in the Cage?

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The eagle was restless.  He had been in this cage in the zoo for several years.  It was where they brought him after he broke his wing.  He moved back and forth within the confines of the space.  He knew somehow that he was made for more but all he knew was the four corners of his prison.  He really didn’t even have room to fly and it was something he no longer remembered.  His handler would open the door and he would hop out on his leather glove and he would feed him.  It worked, but something was different.

When his handler came today they moved him to a smaller cage after the feeding.  This was unacceptable and he cried out his distress.  They put the enclosure in a van and they began moving.  He was confused and frightened.  They drove for a long time and when the vehicle stopped, a new emotion hit the bird.  His heart was racing and he felt like it would explode in his proud breast as panic overwhelmed him.

The handler removed the cage and sat it on the ground a few feet away from the van.   Then a remarkable thing happened.  He opened the door to this small cage and stepped away.  The eagle sat there looking at the opening.  What did it mean?  Usually, he put his hand with the leather glove in the space and he would get on it, but today, he just opened the door.

The mountain air was refreshing him and he raised his head.  The man knelt to the side of the cage and the leathered hand offered him food to leave the enclosure.  He tentatively took it.  Stepping back, he offered more food and the eagle knew that to get it, he would have to step out of the cage.  Tentatively and with apprehension, he slowly inched forward in ‘un-eagle’ like fashion.  He took the food and turned to go back in to the cage, but the door was closed.

He was free!  Free to sit on the ground.  Free to fly, but to the frustration of his friend was that he just sat there, puzzling over his new situation.  He began to walk around on the soft mountain turf.  He walked over and climbed on a rock and looked out over his new domain.  He longed to see more.  He longed for  . . . something.

In the distance, he heard the cry of another eagle and something broke inside his heart.  Without fanfare or preamble, he spread his wings and lifted into the air over the canyon.  When he heard the call of one like him, everything came into focus.  He didn’t need a lesson on how to fly.  Flying was part of who he is.  He is an eagle.  Soaring higher and higher, moving toward the other eagle, he was truly free.

Years ago, I was with an early morning prayer group, when God gave me a vision as I sat on the steps that led up to the platform in the church.  I was looking out over the pews that would soon be occupied by the congregation.  In the vision, I could see them sitting there inside cages with the doors open.  They were free, but they had chosen to stay enclosed in the prison of their own beliefs and laws.  They didn’t understand the fullness of what Christ had done for them.  They were eagles who were sitting in parlor cages like chickens unable to take their freedom.  My heart broke.

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 in one translation reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  This troubled me greatly as I was saved and in the church, but I was not free.  I told a friend of mine, a pastor’s wife, that ‘I knew Christianity worked.”  She asked me to call her when I figured it out!

We can be blind guides leading others.  We have an open door.  Jesus Christ is the door.  We have stepped inside and we are free, but we are paralyzed because we don’t understand what the freedom means.  So, how do we fly?

What has made us prisoners and enslaves us when the promised freedom is readily available?  We are caught in church doctrine, rules and the judgement of others and as well as

ourselves.  We want to do right but it seems that we do just the opposite much like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7.  What ties us to the cage?  When we are tempted and fail, we beat ourselves with our failure and then we step away from the door.  We are still free but we have no knowledge of how to fly – how to delight in the freedom.

The enemy knows that we are free, but he hates us and uses the only tool in his tool box:  condemnation.  He knows our weaknesses and so he arranges temptations.  When we give in, he then unleashes a barrage of words into our minds that sounds like us, but is really from him.

To illustrate:  Sue decided to eat in a healthy way and to stop eating sweets.  She did well for two weeks and was invited to a party.  They had the most beautiful array of desserts and she succumbed to the molten chocolate cake.  She savored each bite.  When she got home later, the pain began.  ‘Why did I do that?  I had promised myself I wouldn’t eat sugar and now I ate a huge dose of it!  I am a failure.  I can’t do this.  I will never be able to eat healthy!”  At that, she goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door and begins to eat whatever she can find.

What Sue didn’t understand is that the molten chocolate cake wasn’t her enemy.  All she had to do was confess this to her God, forgive herself, and continue on the healthy eating path.  But when she listened to the lies of the enemy, she went back under bondage and entered the cage.  The door is still open, but she is in prison.

Listen, the voice of your Redeemer Who is calling to you.  Move toward it and begin to fly.  The truth is you are free!

 

In His Presence . . .

As I pulled up to the entrance to the park, I rolled down my window and inhaled the fresh air.  The water rushed over the old dam with beauty reminiscent of Niagara and an awesome sound.  Further on, the lake glistened in the sunshine and I could feel the stress falling away. Water has always had a soothing effect on me. When I am stressed, I even go there in my head and listen to the sound of the babbling brook as it flows over the rocks. It has a great ability to heal and refresh my soul.

Today, I am needing to pull into my spirit and get back in touch with my Heavenly Father. But then I need to do that every day, it’s just that some days it is more urgent than others. I am so glad that He is always available.

All this got me to thinking. Does Father need us to get in touch with Him? The Apostle Paul tells us that He doesn’t ‘need anything’ – so why did He send Jesus to redeem us. He is Self-existent, Omnipotent, and the Creator of the whole world. What does He need with me? Or you?

Then I remembered that He wants us to be His family and to call Him, Abba, ( Daddy.) He loves me and He loves you. He is not angry with us but He wants you and me – ALL of you and ALL of me.

This really boggles the mind. The great God of the universe – who is above the earth so far that to the human eye earth looks like a tiny dot of light – nothing more. If we were positioned in the same way He is in our natural state, we are not even visible. It is a mere speck of dust. And if earth is a speck of dust, then we are even smaller than a dust mite and on top of that, we are very temporary on this planet.

The Psalmist asked, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” And then goes on to say, “You (Father) made us a little lower than God (Himself) and crowned us with glory and majesty. You made us to rule over the works of Your hands and put everything under our feet.”

Really? Why do we live so far below our privilege. How come we can we just reach out when we are in trouble? Why is it that we don’t take the time to sit with Him every day and rejoice in His love and Presence? How can we not know that He wants us to be His family. He wants us to call Him Dad!

What are we doing? Papa, forgive us. Are we so’ dumbed down’ by the cares of the world and our busy-ness that we have no conception of Who He is and who we are.

I challenge you and I challenge me to wake up! Get to know Dad. He longs to spend time with you and me. He is an individual God and loves us each individually. We cannot be ‘grandfathered’ in. Will you take time to find your way into His Presence today? I will.

Related Scriptures:

Acts 17:25
. . .nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

Psalm 8:3-6
(NASB)
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

Galatians 4:4-7
But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

Matt 11: 25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Ezekiel 43:2
. . .and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.

Revelation 1:15
His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

Resolved? 2012

“I resolve this year to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”  (I saw this posted on a church sign and loved it!)  What else have we resolved to do this year?  Have we resolved to de-stress?  Lose weight?  Quit smoking?  Stop procrastinating?  Get a new job?  Clean the garage?  Be kind?  Eat healthy?  Not respond with anger?  Get out of debt?

Is this the first year you have made this resolution?  Do you think you will keep it?  Did you keep it last year?  What would it take to help you keep it?  Can it be done?  All good questions.

Why is it that we can’t do what we want to do?  Why do we try again and again and more importantly why do we fail again and again?  If we do overcome, we have to work  continually not to go back to where we were.  What is the solution?  How can our resolutions actually work?

Paul, the apostle understood how we feel.  He said ” I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  . . So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

Yikes!  Sin lives in me?  I don’t want anything living in me that I can’t control.  Do you?  If sin lives in me, then it actually controls a lot of what I do.  I can make resolution after resolution or go through rehab or diet but sin takes over and I do what I don’t want to do!  That stinks!  How can I break this cycle?

Paul continued, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. . .”

So, there it is.  Jesus is the answer.  We have heard that often, but so much that it just seems like another religious idea.  Can He really make a difference?  When you ask Him into your heart, then as hard as it may be to understand, His Spirit comes to live it you and it really is helpful.   Paul goes on, “The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death!”

So when we have Jesus in our hearts, the only power that sin has in our lives, is what we give it.  When we let the Spirit of God lead us, we can overcome the challenges that we face.

So this year, join me in resolving to open the door of my heart to Jesus and He will help us to be free.

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.

Each of us comes to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Is that it?  Jesus comes in and then it is all easy?  For years, my favorite Scripture has been, ” It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  I could never figure it out.  How is it when I had asked Jesus in that I was still not free.  The problem was that I was still making resolutions.  I was still trying to do them without Him.  So this year, I resolve to get out-of-the-way and rest in Him.  He knows me and when I get closer to Him and know Him better, He takes the issues and clears them up.

Happy 2012!

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