To catch a duck...


Today's thought:

Romans 6:16, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

How do you catch a duck without a gun or bow? No net? No snare? How do you catch the duck with your bare hands? Well, you would have to use your head. You'd need to come up with an ingenious plan. A plan like one African tribe came up with to capture ducks in a river. Catching their agile and wary dinner would be a feat indeed, so they formulated a plan.

The tribesmen learned to go upstream, place a pumpkin in the river, and let it slowly float down into the flock of ducks. At first, the cautious fowl would quack and fly away. After all, it wasn't ordinary for pumpkins to float down the river! But the persistent tribesmen would subsequently float another pumpkin into the re-gathered ducks. Again they would scatter, only to return after the strange sphere had passed. Again, the hungry hunters would float another pumpkin. This time the ducks would remain, with a cautious eye on the pumpkin, and with each successive passing, the ducks would become more comfortable, until they finally accepted the pumpkins as a normal part of life.

When the natives saw that the pumpkins no longer bothered the ducks, they hollowed out pumpkins, put them over their heads, and walked into the river. Meandering into the midst of the tolerant fowl, they pulled them down one at a time. Dinner? Roast duck. [Wayne Cordeiro, Jesus: Pure and Simple (Bethany House Publishers, 2012), pp. 128-129]

If we don't correct our hearts back to Jesus, it won't be long until we start tolerating "pumpkins." They have a seductive way of sneaking into certain areas of our lives. They creep in one by one until we sink beneath them and enter a watery grave. Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:34-36). Christ has set us free from sin. We cannot tolerate the sins which desire to take us down. When you see the pumpkin coming, fly away.

Prayer: Father, how easy it can be to be snared by the "pumpkins" of temptation that Satan floats our way. Help us to not tolerate them at all. Help us to resist them and turn away to the One who has set us free from their power. We do this because we know sin only seeks to take us down to its watery grave. We do this because we love You and want to be pleasing in Your sight. Empower us to withstand what we must face today and do so to bring You glory. In Jesus name, amen.

Freedom to follow...

Today's thought:

Romans 6:22, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

What kind of freedom comes from slavery? On the surface this passage seems contradictory. A slave set free should no longer be a slave. But the Bible never indicates that a human can be free in that sense. There are only two masters we can have. It is either sin or God. We are all salves to something. You can be a slave to your job, your family, your 401k, your possesions, your addictions, even your hobbies. All that ties you up, shackles you. What kind of freedom comes from being a slave to God?

First there is a freedom in serving one Master. Jesus said, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:24-25). God is the true Master of all men for He created all men. Being set free from all those other masters frees us to serve our one true Master. This makes us whole, in a sense, and undivided. It simplifies our choices to one: what will please our Master? It's a freedom of simplicity.

Second there is a slavery that sets us free because it leads to us becoming the people we were designed to be. Freedom from sin and slavery to God leads us to holiness. Holiness (the absence of sin) is you, only the best possible you. Often we subjugate ourselves to that which improves us. It could be your exercise regime. It could be a reading plan so you can read a certain amount of books. Most people want to become better people. Only Christ ofers the freedom that leads to being a better person. Only he frees us from our sins changing us from the inside out rather than us trying to change ourselves from the outside in (which never works). This is the freedom of change.

The last way, though there may be others, that slavery to God allows us to be free is that it frees us to choose. Those who are in addiction, if you ask them as I have, are they free, will tell you, "no." Their addiction makes their choices for them. Their world centers around meeting that need. That's perhaps an extreme example but no less true across the board of our sins. Sin always reduces choice. Either we must hide it and that takes away freedom. Or we must satiate it and that takes away freedom. Often we must pay for it and that takes away freedom. True freedom is the freedom to choose what is right. All those ties hold us down and often immobile. When Christ cuts the strings we can float above them, see them for what they are, and choose to live a different life. This is the freedom of choice.

But the true freedom in this passage is the freedom to be with God. Those who know God know a freedom that leads to life. It is the ultimate freedom that allows us to freely come before God. As the Hebrew writer says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). Our slavery to God, as a voluntary act of choice, is the greatest freedom of all. It frees us from being divided, frees us to be who we were meant to be, frees us to make choices, and frees us to go before God. When God frees you from sin the whole point is then to be able to say, "I'm free! Now I'm free to follow You."

There's a story that has been told from Civil War days before America's slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, "You're free."
With amazement she responded, "You mean, I'm free to do whatever I want?"
"Yes," he said.
"And to say whatever I want to say?"
"Yes, anything."
"And to be whatever I want to be?"
"And even go wherever I want to go?"
"Yes," he answered with a smile. "You're free to go wherever you'd like."
She looked at him intently and replied, "Then I will go with you." [Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace (Crossway, 2014), page 182]

Prayer: Father, You have set us free through Jesus. You have paid the price for our freedom at the cross. If our Savior has set us free we are free indeed! Begin that change in us that frees us today to choose to please You and follow You. Thank You we have the freedom to come to You and be with You. In Jesus name, amen.