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Lines are helpful.

They provide demarcation, identification and protection. Basketball won’t be as fun if there are no demarcation lines. Maps won’t be helpful if you can’t identify where you are and where you’re heading. They also provide protection for if you are in a construction zone, they will keep you from falling into a ditch.

But there are lines that you can afford to cross. However, there are those that will cost you everything.

Crossing the outside lines of a basketball can only cost you a turnover. But crossing enemy lines during war can cost you your life.

1 Timothy 6:6 says that “godliness with content is great gain.”
There is a fine line between contentment and greed.

Experts tell us that an average person thinks about money 50% of his or her waking time – how to keep it, save it, spend it, invest it, take care of it.

Money is not evil in and of itself. In fact, Proverbs 8:21 says, “Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.”

Wealth is as neutral as a knife. Knives are helpful in the kitchen and in the jungle. But when used to hurt or inflict bodily harm, that’s when it becomes dangerous.

Wealth is not related to how much we have; it’s related to whether we are content with what we have.

Here are a few ways we can determine if we the love of money which is the root off all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10) is creeping in:

1. When we spend more time thinking of how to get more money than how to do a better job at work.

When we are more consumed with getting more of it than doing a better job at work to give glory to God, then we run into major bumps.

2. When we feel that we never have enough.

Buying and spending are legit. We need food on the table, clothes on our back and roofs over our heads. But when it reaches to a point when we are always dissatisfied and our desires become insatiable, the love of money may be creeping in.

3. When we flaunt it.

Love for money creeps in when we get joy out of wearing, driving, living, showing what we have.

4. When we resent giving it.

All that we have is by the grace of God. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Therefore, all that is in our hands are really not ours. He owns them all. Giving to God is not giving but giving back. Giving back communicates that what we have is really not ours in the first place.

5. When we sin to obtain it.

Being dishonest on our Income Tax, manipulating numbers in our expense account, logging in the wrong numbers and taking advantage of other people’s ignorance are some of the indicators that the love of money is creeping in.

Paul tells Timothy to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12). In effect, he is saying to not lose sight of the eternal perspective.

This life isn’t all that there is.

Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the world’s enslavement. Don’t go back there again. In fact, Paul reminds the church in Colossae to ‘set your hearts on things above not on earthly things’. Jesus has set us free. We are no longer bound by these.

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When Christ saved us, He saved us not just from the penalty of sin but also from its power.
We don’t have to give in to temptation for sin is no longer our master but Jesus.

But is it possible that sin creeps back in so that it begins to master over us? Absolutely.

When building a garden, the gardener needs to get rid of the rocks and the boulders that will choke the life out of the grass and plants. When Jesus came in our lives, He has given us the ability to put off the old self so that we may put on the new self as Colossians declares.

After many years of walking with Christ, it’s no longer the boulders nor the big rocks you and I are concerned about. It may be the little pebbles that may slowly accumulate that may choke the spiritual life in us.

From our words to how what allow our minds to absorb; from what we watch to how we relate with the opposite gender, these can cause us to get back on the road of slavery again.

Paul says in Galatians 5:1, For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

He understood that slavery again both to the law and to sin is possible. By His grace, we can say no to sin and yes to Him every moment.

PRAYER: Lord, help me examine my life to see if there’s pebbles of iniquity that might get me back in the slavery of sin – from what I allow myself to watch or listen to how I relate with others; from my business practices to how I treat our house help; from what I allow myself to dwell on in thoughts to how I blow off steam when I’m upset. I have been set free for Christ has done so at the cross. May You, by Your grace, continue to give me victory. You are my Victory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15929026@N06/

escape

You are rotten. Yes, you.

And guess what, I am too.

However, we are as rotten as rotten can be and yet so loved that you wouldn’t believe it.

Paul tells the church in Colossae that “He (Jesus) rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

We had to be rescued.

This was so because we couldn’t rescue ourselves. Any self salvation project will ultimately fail.

Why? It’s like a man who has fallen into quick sand. Pulling yourself out of the quicksand won’t work. Someone/something has to pull you out of it.

We are in a spiritual quicksand.  The Bible describes that as sin. Because of this, we are have zero inability to rescue ourselves.

Jesus had to step out of eternity, step into time and get us out of that pit by sacrificing His own body in place of our own.

As Tim Keller would put it, “we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more lovedand accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.”

The illustration below, I read last week. When I did, I realized that it was an excellent picture of what was done for us.

We owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe.

Because of that, I am forever grateful.

Back in the 1800s, a young Englishman traveled to California in search of gold. After several months of prospecting, he struck it rich. On his way home, he stopped in New Orleans. Not long into his visit, he came upon a crowd of people all looking in the same direction. Approaching the crowd, he recognized that they had gathered for a slave auction. Slavery had been outlawed in England for years, so this young manʼs curiosity drew him to watch as a person became someone elseʼs property. He heard “Sold!” just as he joined the crowd. A middle-aged black man was taken away.

Next a beautiful young black girl was pushed up onto the platform and made to walk around so everyone could see her. The miner heard vile jokes and comments that spoke of evil intentions from those around him. Men were laughing as their eyes remained fixed on this new item for sale. The bidding began. Within a minute, the bids surpassed what most slave owners would pay for a black girl. As the bidding continued higher and higher, it was apparent that two men wanted her. In between their bids, they laughed about what they were going to do with her, and how the other one would miss out. The miner stood silent as anger welled up inside of him.

Finally, one man bid a price that was beyond the reach of the other. The girl looked down. The auctioneer called out, “Going once! Going twice!” Just before the final call, the miner yelled out a price that was exactly twice the previous bid. An amount that exceeded the worth of any man. The crowd laughed, thinking that the miner was only joking, wishing that he could have the girl himself. The auctioneer motioned to the miner to come and show his money. The miner opened up the bag of gold he had brought for the trip. The auctioneer shook his head in disbelief as he waved the girl over to him. The girl walked down the steps of the platform until she was eye-to-eye with the miner. She spat straight in his face and said through clenched teeth, “I hate you!”

The miner, without a word, wiped his face, paid the auctioneer, took the girl by the hand, and walked away from the still-laughing crowd. He seemed to be looking for something in particular as they walked up one street and down another. Finally he stopped in front of some sort of store, though the slave girl did not know what type of store it was. She waited outside as the dirty-faced miner went inside and started talking to an elderly man. She couldnʼt make out what they were talking about. At one point the voices got louder, and she overheard the store clerk say, “But itʼs the law! Itʼs the law!”

Peering in, she saw the miner pull out his bag of gold and pour what was left of it on the table. With what seemed like a look of disgust, the clerk picked up the gold and went in a back room. He came out with a piece of paper, and both he and the miner signed it. The young girl looked away as the miner came out the door.

Stretching out his hand, he said to the girl, “Here are your papers. You are free.” The girl did not look up. He tried again. “Here. These are papers that say you are free. Take them.” I hate you!” the girl said, refusing to look up. “Why do you make fun of me? No, listen,” he pleaded. “These are your freedom papers. You are a free person.” The girl looked at the papers, then looked at him, and looked at the papers once again. “You just bought me…and now, youʼre setting me free?

“Thatʼs why I bought you. I bought you to set you free.” The beautiful young girl fell to her knees in front of the miner, tears streaming down her face. 

“You bought me to set me free! You bought me to set me free!” she said over and over. The miner said nothing. Clutching his muddy boots, the girl looked up at the miner and said, 

“All I want to do is to serve you—because you bought me to set me free!”

I thought I was already free in Christ?
Should I still supposed to be struggling with this sin?
Why am I still having a hard time overcoming temptation?

A person who has gone through a Victory Weekend retreat where in we establish spiritual principles from Scripture, experience spiritual freedom and encourage spiritual fruit, one might say, “I thought I am free since whom the Son sets free is free indeed?”

But how come I am still feeling the pull of the sin I used to struggle with?

I love how John Piper put it:

“I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than … to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.”

When you and I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8), then there will be such a distaste to our old life that that would no longer be a pull to go back to it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)