Posted by: judyhitson | June 21, 2022

Freedom in God’s Love

Freedom in God’s Love
by Judy Hitson

1 John 4:8, 16 NLT…..God is love

Imagine for a moment the very being of God, who He is, His character, is love.

What does that love look like to you?

Consider the facets of God’s love in the love chapter of the Bible:

1 Cor. 13:4-8a NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of  wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails;…

Here is a profound lesson I learned from this passage of Scripture. Bear with me if you are familiar with it. Read I Cor. 13:4-8a and insert Jesus for the word love. Think about the depth of God’s love. Then insert your name in place of love and note your areas  of needed change.  Pray for God’s transformation to love as He loves. Take time to apply this.  

To experience freedom in God’s love, we must first receive His love through a personal relationship with Him through Christ. As we bask in the wonders of His sacrificial, everlasting love, we learn to love Him because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19 NKJV.

Freedom in God’s love, I believe, is the most important freedom for us to experience and practice in daily living. What is important is faith expressing itself in love, Gal.5:6b NLT. Love is the fulfillment of the law, Rom.13:10 NASB. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity, Col.3:14.

While listening to the Kari Jobe song, “Love Came Down,” I was struck remembering my experience. The lyrics of this song confirmed times love came down in my life with assurance of God’s love for me, His forgiveness of my sins and setting me free in His love. No longer do I hide in shame, disgrace and fear. Freedom in God’s love freed me to confess and repent of my sins and be in awe of His great salvation through Jesus Christ.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Rom. 5:8 NASB.

Prayer:  Father in heaven, thank You for Your amazing love for us that You sent Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with You. Thank You Jesus for leaving us Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit empower us to love others as God loves us. Amen.

Posted by: Administrator | June 7, 2022

Freedom to Enter God’s Rest

Freedom to Enter God’s Rest

by Brenda D. Flowers

     Have you ever had times when you had trouble sleeping because of internal unrest?

     Before I became a Christian, I often had nights of restlessness as I felt God’s conviction, recognizing a void in my life. Yet since I became a follower of Christ, I have continued to have occasional times of inner struggle, times when I battled worries, fears or cares of this world.

     Recently, I had such a night.

      I awoke in the middle of the night suddenly and felt attacked by anxious and accusatory thoughts. I recalled the verse, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but …, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV) I tried to battle the negative thoughts by focusing my mind on good things. (Phil 4:8) I also tried to cast away the worry thoughts by saying to myself those are not my thoughts, but I still couldn’t get back to sleep. After close to an hour of struggle, I still felt restless and frustrated because I was still awake. Then, after more internal wrestling, I decided to get out of bed to pray. Honestly, I felt physically and emotionally drained and somewhat depressed.

     As more worry thoughts regarding delayed answers to prayer came to mind, I wondered if these thoughts were really my thoughts. I prayed, “Lord, please forgive me for my anxious thoughts.”

     I sat still and quiet for a few more minutes in the dark. Then, I heard internally the soft whisper, “Enter into My rest.”  I listened more intently as I again heard these comforting words, “Brenda, enter into My rest.” Suddenly, I felt the sweet calming assurance of God’s presence. I felt God’s love like a big warm hug and felt His peaceful urging to go back to bed. Gone were my feelings of restlessness and fear. Once my head touched the pillow, I went easily back to sleep and when I woke the next morning I felt refreshed.

     As I thought about that evening’s struggle, I realized I had been striving in my own strength to  battle the negative thoughts. I had not been fully trusting in the Lord for my rest. His sweet words reminded me that I have freedom to enter into His rest, but I must choose to enter. 

     Meditating on God’s Word, we see more deeply the rest God has provided for us:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NKJV)

And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest?

Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. (Hebrews 3:18-19, NLT)

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of us come short of it. … For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:1 & 10, NKJV)

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep: For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8, NKJV)    

LORD, Thank You for providing the way for us to enter into Your rest. We no longer need to strive in our own strength to overcome anxious or fearful thoughts. We are grateful You keep us in perfect peace as we rest in You. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ victorious name we pray. Amen

Posted by: judyhitson | May 24, 2022

Freedom in God’s Peace

Freedom in God’s Peace
by Judy Hitson

Col. 3:15 NKJV And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…….

Excuse my language but when people ask me what I think is going on in this world, I share what I sense God is saying to me, “In a nutshell, All hell is breaking loose. Jesus is coming back. Get ready for His return as the bride of Christ.”

We can walk in God’s peace in the midst of wars and rumors of wars and in the midst of these uncertain times.

How do you experience God’s peace in these days?

For me, there are a few ways I experience God’s peace. My favorite way is to get into His presence in the early morning with instrumental Christian music. This blesses me to have God’s peace in His presence with fullness of joy, Ps. 16:11. This is time to worship Him in Spirit and truth before I read His Word and spend time in prayer.

When sudden fear comes or anxiety strikes, I stop and take in three deep breaths. Breathing in our triune God, Father in heaven, Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith and Holy Spirit who gives life. Then I receive the peace of God in a divine exchange for any enemy disturbance of the flesh, world or devil.

In the storms of life, I declare Jesus’ words, “Peace be still!” Mk. 4:39. The Lord tells us that in this world we will have tribulation but in Him we may have peace and overcome this world, John 16:33.

What is peace?
I hear, Peace is a sense of calm.

Looking at Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary definition I found:

Peace-1. A state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; calm, repose.
2. Specifically, absence or cessation of war. 3. General order and tranquility; freedom from riot or violence. 4. A state of reconciliation after strife or enmity, peaceable or friendly relations; agreement, concord.

True peace is a wonderful state of being for mankind which can only be experienced through the God of peace. See Rom. 16:20; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20.  

We don’t have to live in fear and anxiety, doubts or uncertainty. For God is certain. He offers us His peace as we believe in Him and His Word.

Closing Prayer: Praise God from whom all blessings flow, including freedom in His peace.

Posted by: Administrator | May 12, 2022

Freedom to Commune with God

Freedom to Commune with God
by Brenda D. Flowers

   On Easter (or Resurrection Sunday as I like to say),  I participated in a joyous worship service at a large church in middle Tennessee. During the service, the pastor led the congregation into worship with these wonderful true words, “Jesus is risen.”

Many in the crowd along with me responded, “He is risen indeed!”

  I thought about how Christians all over the world were announcing this good news. I prayed the sound of our declarations would touch many people who had not yet experienced new life in Christ.

As I prayed, I recalled times when I had said those words but did not fully grasp what Jesus accomplished for me.

My thoughts were redirected as I heard the pastor lead us to prepare ourselves for “Communion”. We took time to examine our hearts as we prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

The pastor then shared words from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, elaborating on the events of that first “Lord’s Supper”:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  (Matthew 26: 26-29, NKJV)

 “…do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22:19c, NKJV)

As I listened to these words, I thought about how Jesus wanted His disciples to realize He was the Way to communion with God. Jesus’ words explained the purpose of His broken body and shed blood, pointing to His death on the cross.

Jesus wanted His disciples to follow Him, using the bread and wine as emblems of remembrance. This intimate fellowship dinner was instituted by Jesus so that the Good News of His Kingdom would be carried forth.

I love how Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to explain this beautiful truth:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.(Hebrews 10:19-23, NKJV. Good to read all of Hebrews 10)

I am thankful for the freedom to commune with God.

Prayer:

Lord, open the eyes of our hearts to see and understand Your Word by Your Spirit. Help us grasp what You accomplished Jesus when You came to earth in a human body, lived a sinless life, taught us how to live, died for our redemption and rose in glory.

Thank You for freedom to commune with You. Help us to always remember Your great sacrifice, Jesus. Amen.

Posted by: judyhitson | April 18, 2022

Freedom to Think

Freedom to Think
by Judy Hitson

Pr.23:7a For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Profound insight for us is to consider what we are thinking. As our key verse says, what we think is who we are.

How would you describe your think tank?

There is an old saying, a penny for your thoughts. Wish we were face to face to discuss this topic because of the importance of it. We all face battles of the mind in our lives. It is what we do with the battles that produce victory or defeat. God has given us a free will to make choices. The freedom to think can be a blessing or a curse. As we look into God’s Word, we can find many verses in reference to our thinking. As I took time to research this, three words came to mind that are interrelated. with the following Scripture verses, note and meditate on these three words: Think, Thoughts and Mind.  

1. Think – Phil. 4:8 NASB Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2. Thoughts – Is. 26:3 NLT You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

3. Mind – Col. 3:2 AMP Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).

Let’s choose God’s freedom to think according to His Word. Let’s dig deeper into the Word of God discovering what He has to say day by day and be transformed more and more by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). There are other Bible verses coming to mind to help us on this journey, such as
1 Cor. 2:16 NKJV For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
2 Cor. 10:5 NKJV casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Rom. 1:28 NLT Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things but those controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

Prayer: Father in heaven help us be transformed by the renewing of our minds to think like You according to Your Word (Is. 55:8-9) in Jesus name and by Your Spirit. Amen. 

Posted by: judyhitson | April 4, 2022

Freedom to Forgive

Freedom to Forgive
by Brenda D. Flowers

Ignored…misunderstood…betrayed…pressed…taken…led…accused…hated…chastised…
mocked…crushed….abused…battered…plucked…slapped…stripped….wounded….torn…
pounded…hung…jeered…pierced…. bled;  forsaken until the justice required by God was finished.

This was the cross Jesus bore.

Yet while suffering on the cross, Jesus spoke,

 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23, 34 a, KJV)

Jesus’ sound went forth. The sound of freedom.

Do we realize how powerful His words of forgiveness were, and are? 

God, in human flesh, died so we, sinful human beings, may be forgiven and reconciled to Him for eternity. In turn, we are commissioned to share His loving message of forgiveness.

 Jesus died to give us freedom from sin, shame and death.

Misunderstood…hated…gnashed at…grabbed… pushed…cast out…stoned…killed;

but not forsaken, welcomed by Jesus.

This was the “cross” Stephen bore as the first Christian martyr.

Stephen was faithful. He boldly shared his people’s history and words inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7) Yet, as his accusers stoned him and closed their ears, Stephen freely chose to forgive.

May we see and hear the sound of freedom as we read aloud these powerful words recorded in Acts 7, vs.57-60 (NKJV):

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Boldness added.)

 The young man, Saul, who participated in the persecution of the early church heard Stephen’s words. I believe the Holy Spirit used Stephen’s words to begin softening Saul’s heart.

Testimonies have an impact.

 The sound of Stephen’s words of forgiveness still touch hearts with God’s freedom message.

 Stephen’s suffering was not in vain.

Forgiving words, inspired by Love, change hearts.

As we study God’s Word, we see that Saul became the apostle Paul, chosen by Jesus to carry on His message of freedom. God transformed Saul to Paul.

As we search the New Testament, we read Paul’s personal testimony of his transformational life journey, the “cross” he bore, and his sincere love and forgiveness for people. We see how he completed his God-given mission.

Forgiveness is a key to the freedom message, Paul proclaimed. He passed the Lord’s message to his readers,

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful…. (Colossians 3: 12-15, NKJV)

I believe each follower of Christ faces difficult circumstances in our own transformational journey through life. We each bear our own “cross” that tests who we truly are. God helps us by His Spirit.

We each have the freedom to choose to share our testimony and to proclaim forgiveness to people in our lives who are lost or who have hurt us.

Our testimonies of forgiveness impact people.

Father in Heaven, we want to follow Jesus and do Your will as He did. May we truly forgive others our trespasses as we have been forgiven. In Jesus’ victorious name we pray. Amen

Posted by: judyhitson | March 21, 2022

Freedom of the Cross

Freedom of the Cross
by Judy Hitson

Galatians 6:14-15 MSG For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do–submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!

As I write, it is Lenten season. During this time, as Christians, we consider how our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked Calvary Road to suffer and die on the Cross. He was the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, who alone could take away the sins of the world, including yours and mine. He willingly died, so we could live with Him. Remember He came from heaven to earth, emptied Himself in the form of a Man to die on a cross, Phil.2:7-8 NCV.

There are two hymns that come to mind as I think about the cross of Christ, titled, “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” by Selah and “Walking Free” by Micah Taylor.  I hope you will take time to view these videos and meditate on the words of the lyrics. Think on the suffering of Christ that brought us freedom and forgiveness of our sins.

Now our challenge is to contemplate on another cross that brings freedom for us who heed the words of Christ to take up our cross daily and follow Him.
Luke 9:23 NKJV Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Do you know this life in Christ by His Spirit?

It is worth denying ourselves to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus Christ who gave His life for us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank You for saying Yes to Father to come from heaven to earth to die on the cross of Calvary to save us from our sins that we may live eternally with You. Help us seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness to discover freedom of the cross. Holy Spirit help us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus Christ. Amen.

Posted by: judyhitson | March 8, 2022

Freedom is Not Free

Freedom is Not Free
by Brenda D. Flowers

Isaiah 58:6 (NKJV) Is this not the fast that I have chosen:  To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?

In my car, I keep a lightweight maroon blanket with the words “Freedom is Not Free” embroidered on its corner in white thread. Recently, I received a patriotic red, white and blue bag with similar words printed boldly, “Home of the free, because of the brave.” 

The words on these items remind me to support veterans and their families. They challenge me to remember the sacrifice of men, women and children who have stood or who are currently standing for freedom. 

I think about America’s history and the history of other free countries and realize how God intervened. I see the sovereignty of God.

Many people today are not aware of the greater battle going on in our world. The fight for freedom is a fight against evil oppression and control. 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6: 12 (KJV)

The recent conflict in the Ukraine is a clear wake up call. Many cry to God for help.

The true battle against evil oppression is won as we put our trust in Jesus Christ. Our spiritual freedom is possible because of Jesus’ great sacrifice on the cross, purchasing our freedom. Jesus died for us to be free indeed.

When we faithfully trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we can trust Him to guide us. We do not need to fear. He helps us fight our battles.

Stand for freedom by first trusting the Lord and His Word.

 Let our praise go forth as we join together singing a new song of freedom, put on our spiritual armor and stand for freedom. The battle is real. Freedom is not free.

And they sang a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, “ (Revelation 5:9 NKJV)

Posted by: judyhitson | February 24, 2022

God’s Freedom from the Law

God’s Freedom from the Law
by Judy Hitson

Romans 7:6 ERV In the past the law held us prisoners, but our old selves died and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way, not in the old way, with written rules: Now we serve God in the new way, with the Spirit.

For clarity’s sake, understand the difference of laws established on earth versus God’s law we read about in the Bible. I address the latter.

How can we be free from the law?

It is through a living love relationship with God through Jesus Christ by His Spirit that we find freedom from the Law. He came to fulfill the Law.

In my own life, being trained from childhood under religious laws of legalism there was always a fear of death. I learned lists of do’s and don’ts. Attending a private religious school for twelve years and regular church attendance, I was left with uncertainty of my eternal destiny. Living a judgmental and self righteous life was unnerving to say the least.

As a young adult there were things I said I’d never do and did. This led to a season of shame and disgrace in my life. Romans 7:21-25 explains my dilemma.

Praise God for the day God freed me from the power of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of His dear Son.  Jesus paid the price to make me free. In Him I have forgiveness of my sins(Col.1:13-14 ERV). A heavy burden was lifted when I came to a saving knowledge of Christ. He extended His grace and mercy to me.

 Lazarus, when Jesus raised him from the dead, had grave clothes to be removed,
John 11:43-44. This is a reminder that I was dead in sin and came to new life in Christ, 2Cor.5:17.
Thank God for deliverance and inner healing I experienced through the ministry of Christians who had been set free from bondages similar to mine. I learned to put off the old nature and put on the new nature, Col.3:9-10 NLT.

My walk in Christ was a progression from a babe in Christ to maturity. There was an assurance of freedom from the Law, freedom in a new life through the love of Christ.

Prayer: Thank You Father in heaven, I am Your child and through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I continue learning to live life in the Spirit. Amen.

2 Cor. 3:17 NLT For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

Posted by: Administrator | February 9, 2022

Receive God’s Freedom to Love

Receive God’s Freedom to Love

     by Brenda D. Flowers

Matthew 10:8 b (NKJV):   …freely you have received, freely give.

On January 21, 1976, my heart received the revelation of God’s great love for me. I opened His Love Letter, the Bible, and His love spoke to me. I am thankful for God’s freedom to love.

As I think about my love story, I see how God prepared my heart to love and how my life is a part of His Great Love Story.

It was May, 1976 when I first met Eric, at Koinonia, an important Christian music venue during the Jesus Movement Era. We happened to be sitting near each other on carpet squares on the floor in front of the Christian band. When the band took a break, we introduced ourselves and that was the beginning of our friendship.

Was that a chance meeting? I don’t think so.

On July 4th, we experienced another incident that was more than coincidence. It was the Bicentennial Year of Celebration for our country’s declaration of freedom. I was alone and lonely that momentous date. Seeking solace, I wandered to the festivities at Centennial Park. Among the crowds of happy picnickers, I felt even lonelier than when I left my dorm apartment.

Then, like in a romance movie, my eyes saw Eric standing in the crowd. At that same moment, he saw me. Our eyes met and we smiled. Eric maneuvered his way to me through the crowd and shared how he had gone by my apartment to see if I could go out with him. We were amazed he found me. That evening marked the beginning of our dating relationship.

I call incidences like that “God-incidences”. God was at work in our lives.

 It was late August, 1976. I had moved from Nashville to Atlanta upon my graduation from graduate school. Eric and I had been dating since July 4th and I knew Eric wanted a steady relationship with me. I had been struggling internally, still torn over a broken relationship I had experienced the previous year. I needed time to heal and didn’t want to hurt Eric. I also wanted to be sure of his faithfulness. He would have to pursue me.

Weeks passed…I waited to hear from Eric. I thought he cared about me but I hadn’t heard from him.

During this difficult time, I sought the Lord. I wanted to know His will.

When Eric finally called, I was excited. I remember how tender his voice sounded when he asked me why I had not responded to his letter.

“What letter?” I asked.

You see I had not received Eric’s first letter to me, his first love letter.

As he described his long heartfelt letter, I heard his sadness that I had not received it.  

I heard the longing for relationship in his voice. It was then I knew Eric loved me. 

I knew too I was ready to receive his love. 

It was another “God-incident” that I never received Eric’s first letter. I realize it took that time for God to heal my heart.

On June 17, 2021, Eric and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. As we look back to the beginning of our love relationship, we are thankful for how God prepared our hearts for love. We received God’s love first, then each other’s love.

God often uses experiences and difficult circumstances to prepare hearts. He did for me and Eric.

Thinking about our love story,  I treasure how God was in the center of it.

God’s abiding love has kept us all these years. What a life adventure we have had!

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for the freedom You give to receive Your love and the freedom to give love to others. That is true love. Amen

1 John 4:19 (NKJV):  We love Him because He first loved us.

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