Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jesus in the Wilderness

[Note: This post is Part 2 of the biblical lesson...Jesus in the Wilderness. Please see the previous post of Part 1 before reading this post.]

Jesus was initially led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God Himself in order to be tested in the wilderness. During Jesus’ wilderness experience though, He fasted the whole time. Though I have never personally fasted for 40 days and 40 nights myself, I know that the spiritual discipline of fasting strengthens every believer in Jesus Christ and every Child of God in their innermost being---their spirit man. Therefore, Jesus though He was physically hungry due to the 40-day fast, He had strengthened Himself in His spirit during that time of fasting. He was built up in His innermost being. His spirit man was heightened as a result. He was also more in tune with His Father’s voice during this time. He was more keenly and acutely aware of His Father’s purpose and plan as well as His Father’s perfect will for Him. As a result of Jesus’ fasting, He was also able to listen more closely to His Father and obey Him very well.

Jesus was already close to His Father beforehand. However, this wilderness experience drew Him even closer to His Father. As a result, Jesus learned to depend on His Father more during this experience but also afterwards.

Anytime, we go through so-called wilderness experiences, we also draw closer to our Father.

As we draw closer to God, He draws closer to us. We learn to depend on God even more but afterwards as well.

What are some of the take-aways from Jesus’ wilderness experience that can also help us in our own so-called wilderness experiences?

For one, Jesus was rooted and grounded in His true identity. He received His true identity from His Father and His relationship with Him. We also receive our true identity in Christ from our Father, His word, and our relationships with our Father. We also need to be truly rooted and grounded in our true identity in Christ.

Next, Jesus not only knew who He was---His true identity, but He also knew whose He was… Jesus knew that He was His Father’s Son. He was rooted and grounded in His relationship with His Father. We also need to be truly rooted and grounded in our relationships with our Father. We need to know that we are our Father’s sons and daughters.

Also, Jesus’ obedience came out of the love relationship with His Father. Jesus knew that He was truly loved by His Father. He knew that God wanted the best for Him. We also need to know that we are truly loved by our Father, and He only wants the best for us. Our obedience will also come out of the true love relationships with our Father.

We must know and remember that we are in Christ and He is in us.

As He is, so are we in this world.

Therefore, we can also be strong and firm in our true identity in Christ. We can be firmly and deeply rooted and grounded in our relationships with our Father. Our obedience and submission comes out of our love relationships with our Father who truly loves us just like He does His Son, Jesus. Our Father only wants the very best for us.

Knowing and remembering all of that together will help us to come out of our so-called wildernesses in a matter of days instead of not coming out at all or taking years to come out of our so-called wildernesses.

Let’s choose to come out of the wilderness and into our promised land---“a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Jesus in the Wilderness

We do not want to be like the children of Israel who wandered around the wilderness for 40 years. What should have taken them only days took them way too many years! They also ended up dying in the wilderness, so they still did not come out of the wilderness after all of those years. (See Exodus 13:17-22; Joshua 5:6)

Whereas it took the children of Israel wandering around the wilderness for 40 years and they still did not come out of the wilderness…It only took Jesus 40 days and 40 nights to come out of the wilderness.

In this world we are like Jesus. (1 John 4:17, NIV)

Therefore, let’s now take a look at Jesus’ wilderness experience in God’s word.

Looking back in verse 3…when the devil spoke with Jesus…he said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Then in verse 6, the devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.”

Notice the way the devil said, “If…” in both of those previous verses. “If…” is not a concrete word. When someone uses the word ‘If…’ that person does not believe part or all of their own statement. That particular person doubts and does not believe that their statement is true. So is the case with the devil, he doubted and did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. The devil also tried to make Jesus doubt His own true identity. Satan questioned Jesus’ identity by saying…”If you are the Son of God…” before each of the previous statements.

Jesus knew who He was though. He was the Son of God. Jesus also knew whose He was. He was His Father’s Son. Jesus was strong and firm in His true identity. Therefore, He did not waver in His faith during any of the devil’s temptations.

Jesus answered Satan the first time with “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (v 4)

The next time, Jesus said, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “ (v 7)

With each of these two answers from Jesus, He told the devil what His Father had told Him to tell the devil. He listened to His Father and obeyed His Father. Jesus’ obedience came from His close relationship with His Father.

With the very last temptation, the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and the splendor. He told Jesus that He could have it all if He bowed down and worshiped him. (v 8-9)

However, Jesus resisted the devil and told him, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (v 10)

Then, the devil left Jesus and the angels came and took care of Jesus. (v 11)

Did you notice with each temptation from the devil that Jesus resisted the devil and the temptation?

At every single temptation, Jesus resisted the devil. Jesus submitted to His Father and resisted the devil each and every time.

Jesus submitted to God and resisted the devil. Submitted to God and resisted the devil. Submitted to God. Resisted the devil.

[Note: This post is only Part 1.  Please see Part 2 for the continuation of this biblical lesson...Jesus in the Wilderness]

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Jesus Paid It All!

I recently spoke with a man about him having to pay out-of-pocket his parole officer in order to remain out of prison for the next 5 months. I personally thought that idea was ridiculous. I asked the Christian man whether he realized that Jesus paid it all on the cross for him. He seemed to think that his parole officer wouldn't care about it though. However, I sang a few words of the song, "Jesus paid it all...All to Him, I owe..." before leaving and telling him "Good night!"
That man does not owe a parole officer money. Unfortunately, he wasn't receptive to the truth of God's word at that moment though. He owes everything to Jesus! Now, I am praying for him and others who find themselves in similar situations to get a true revelation of what Jesus actually did on the cross for them. We don't owe people anything but the love of Jesus. However, we owe Jesus everything---our minds, our hearts, our whole beings, our very lives.
You know...Everyone has the opportunity to tell people about Jesus. Every situation that people temporarily experience in life is to not only share our stories with others but to share His story with others.
Don't miss the opportunity to tell and share with others. It may also be exactly the way God delivers you from some or possibly all of the situations in your life. I cannot help but think that is what God wants to accomplish in this particular man, his specific situation, and his life.
Those type of natural circumstances are not only to draw closer to God but to also learn and grow more spiritually. He uses those temporary circumstances to develop more of His character in us, more of our faith, more patience, more endurance, etc. It is all for our good, His purpose, and His glory.
Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

God's Girl

"That's God's girl!" said a young man as I came up towards a door on crutches. I turned around and looked at him. I didn't recognize him. I didn't even know his name. Evidently, he had seen me around in the local community though. He asked about my injury. He apparently had heard through the grapevine about it. I mentioned that I was in some pain. Then, he offered to give me some medication to which I declined since I didn't personally know him. Plus, I already had some over-the-counter medication that I was using temporarily. I thanked him. He opened the door for me, and I went on my way into the lobby of a local community agency.

I was really surprised by this recent, brief encounter with a stranger near downtown in my local city. As I have had a little time to reflect back though, it occurred to me. There are people who are always watching us. They watch the way we talk to others. They watch the way we act towards others. They watch the way we interact with others. They watch us the way we live out in our local community. They watch the way we live out in this world.

Does your speech say that you are a child of God? Do your interactions with others show that you are a daughter of the King? Does your life reflect the very life of Jesus Christ?

"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:15, NKJV)

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NKJV)

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Praying the Psalms

Little shepherd boy, David, was out in the field when Samuel requested his father, Jesse, to send for his youngest son.  

Samuel had received word from the Lord that David was the one He had chosen to be the next King over Israel (See 1 Samuel 16).  Out of all of his older brothers, young David was probably the least likely in the eyes of the people.  He wasn't the people's choice, but He was the Lord's choice.  However, he was the most likely in the eyes of the Lord.  That was truly all which mattered then.

David wasn't without opposition, obstacles, hardships, and trials in his life though.  As most people, he endured all of it.  Yet, he didn't let that stop him from being who Almighty God had created him and called him to be for His purpose and plan (See Jeremiah 29:11).

As David is the author of most of the Psalms, we get to know more about him through his inspired words to the Lord.  He actually pours out his heart to the One who made his heart during his challenges, hardships, and trials in his life which are captured in this particular book of the Bible.  God knew David, and he knew his God.  He was known as a man after God's own heart due to both his repentance and obedience to the Lord (See Acts 13:22).  

No matter what we go through in our own lives, we too can pour out our hearts to the only One who also made our hearts.  The 30-Day Prayer Journal: Praying the Psalms allows us to do that through our own written words to God.

Whether you are just beginning or continuing your prayer journey, this monthly prayer journal is available on both CreateSpace and Amazon.

30-Day Prayer Journal: Praying the Psalms

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Praying Without Ceasing

The older I get physically as well as the more mature and wise I become spiritually, the more people I have on my prayer list.  How about you?  My personal and private list seems to get longer as I add more people almost on a daily basis.  My prayer list consists of family members, biological relatives, spiritual family, friends, acquaintances, and others.

Whether its people who have done us wrong or whatever else, we can trust that God will take care of all of the people involved and all of the situations in our lives.  The prayers of the righteous are both powerful and effective (See James 5:15-17).  They help all of us truly accomplish God's purpose and plan (See Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).

God tells all of us to "pray without ceasing" in His word (See 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

To assist you in your prayer life, two annual prayer journals are both available through CreateSpace and Amazon.

365-Day Prayer Journal: Praying Without Ceasing

366-Day Prayer Journal: Praying Without Ceasing

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Father, Forgive Them

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34, NIV)

These words that Jesus spoke to His Father have become more my own over recent months.  I know more about what the Son of God was thinking and praying for His enemies---those who had done Him wrong towards the end of His 33-year life on this earth.  (See Luke 6:27-28)

It saddens me now to think about it.  To not only think about the way people have mistreated me, abused me, hurt me, rejected me, and disappointed me but to also remember the way people mocked Jesus, persecuted Him, tortured Him, and crucified Him over 2000 years ago.  I definitely can identify more with Him, His pain, His sorrow, and His sufferings in this world.  (See Isaiah 53; John 15:18-25, 19)

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20, NIV - emphasis added mine)

I am not always comfortable with the physical locations He allows me to enter into in this world.  And, I don't always like receiving the harsh treatment, persecution, or whatever else.  I am doing what my Father would have me to do in this world though.  I am shining His light ever more sooo brightly.  I am speaking the truth in love.  I am preaching in and out of season.  And, whatever else He desires of me.  (See Matthew 5:13-16; Ephesians 4:152 Timothy 4:2)

Consequently, I can expect opposition.  [I will use an analogy in my own words that a pastor of mine used during one of his sermons a couple of years ago.]  When a fish is going downstream with the current and the other fish, there isn't anything really getting in its' way.  Sure, there may be some debris floating by in the water.  There may be some leaves and branches from the trees that have fallen into the river.  There may even be some dead fish floating in the water as you pass them by downstream.  However, there truly isn't any real opposition because they are going the same way as everything else.  When you repent and turn away from the world's systems---their mindsets, their ways, their processes, their behaviors---you will be totally going the opposite way.  You will be going against the current of the river or the world in this case.  You will experience a lot more resistance.  A lot more opposition.  You will be going upstream now.  You will be going God's way.  Doing His work and His will.  There will be debris passing you by going the opposite way.  There may be some leaves and branches from the trees overlooking the river.  You may also see some of the dead fish floating downstream as you are going upstream.  However, there will be a lot more fish coming up against you as well.  They may try to bite you.  They may attempt to drown you.  There may even be other obstacles in your way.  You keep moving forward though.  You keep persevering against the current of the river.  Knowing that on the other side---the end of that part of the journey---there will be a beautiful place for you.

"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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV - emphasis added mine)

Before Jesus left this world, He specifically told us we would have problems and trouble in this world.  However, He also left all of us with this reminder.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33, NIV)

Copyright 2017 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.