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“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Galatians 5:1

creativeI have a friend who’s been in and out of prison for what seems to be his whole life. He gets out of prison but it’s hard to stay ‘clean’ and soon he finds himself back behind bars. As he told me on one occasion, there seems to be a security behind bars that he can’t find anywhere else. It’s a security he can’t find in ‘freedom on the outside.’ So he serves his time, steps into freedom, tries to make a ‘go of it’ and fails, only to find himself in the familiar and ‘safe’ walls of prison.

Sound weird? It’s not. We do it all the time. Our human nature tends to steer us towards the things we are familiar with.

I see it on a far smaller scale when our family is on a road trip to some area we are unfamiliar with. When we look for a place to eat we tend to seek security in a place we are familiar with such as a name brand restaurant or fast food place. We do that because we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. They often have the same menu, the same table decorations, and predictable food quality.

One time we were traveling and decided that since we couldn’t find a familiar place to eat we’d choose a cute looking café on the side of the road. It was NOT a pleasant experience. The place was dirty but at least the food was bad!

Sometimes our churches are like that. Everything is the same wherever you go. Some of our churches follow tradition more closely than Scripture. They have the same worship format, sing the same songs, they even have the same decorations! You know exactly what to expect.

One of my favorite verses comes from Galatians 5:1. Paul says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

I think, if Paul were here today, he’d explain that verse something like this. “Listen! We serve a creative God. We serve a God who doesn’t change in who he is but does things differently often. Don’t use your freedom to be stuck in a rut and do things the way you’ve always done. Live a little! Don’t stray from God’s ways, but don’t get so sucked into the way you’ve always done things that you become like stagnant water. Mountain streams are always fresh because they are always moving, always changing.

Freedom in Christ, by nature, fosters change in a positive way. So live life in freedom! Allow God’s creativity to flow through your lifestyle and more importantly, through your worship of him! Don’t live behind the bars of security, sameness and ‘we’ve always done it this way.’

PRAYER: Father God, I see your sunsets. I see your sunrises. I see the beauty and creativity of nature and am in awe of you. Help me to live free, to live creatively, while at the same time living a life that is pleasing to you. Thank you for the freedom to be creative! Amen.

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Malachi 3:6 (NIV)

I’ll admit it right from the start. I hate change. Always have and most likely, no matter how hard I may try, I always will. Maybe hate is too strong a word, but I miss gas prices at 25 cents a gallon. I miss movies that made you laugh, not blush. I miss music you could understand the words to…okay, I guess my parents said they couldn’t understand the words to my music either now that I think about it.

Change is inevitable in our lives and seems to come faster and faster every year. For example, it’s impossible to keep up with technology. I don’t feel that old but I remember when telephones had one use only…talking to people. Now you can fry an egg with them! I remember when the only way to change the channels on the television was to actually have to get off the couch, walk ALL THE WAY across the room, and turn the dial. In my rural area that also may involve moving the rabbit ears (you who are younger than 30 may not understand that statement. Google it!)

I also am not a fan of change because of what I see it do in our society. Families were a source of stability and commitment when I was growing up. Now the definition of family has changed and most of them are anything but stable. Kids are forced to grow up much faster than they used to and endure much more pressure than in the past.

Most times change comes into our lives because of failure. The thing that changes either changes for the better or the worse, either way, it’s not the same as it used to be. Sometimes the change is forced upon us. Other times it comes willingly, or even at our hands. Some changes are reversible, some aren’t. But once change happens, the thing changed is never ever the same.

In a world of inevitable change, is there anything that stays constant? Anything you can count on to be consistent every time you try it? Thankfully, the answer is yes! God never changes. You can count on him to react to you the same way every time. Human relationships will fail or fade. Technology will continue to change. Health and environmental concerns will continue to perplex us. But God will never ever change.

The real beauty of God’s unchanging character is that even though he never changes, he never becomes outdated. No matter how much other things change, he’s always just what you need. He’s been perfect in the past, he’s perfect now and he’ll be perfect when you need him tomorrow! And that’s something you can count on!

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the promise I have that I can always count on you. I see the things going on around me and get confused, scared or frustrated. It’s so comforting to know I can always rely on you to be just what I need. I praise you! Amen.

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel was a priest who experienced first-hand the nation Israel’s transition from being a people governed totally by God (through priests) and being governed by a King when he annointed Saul as the very first King of Israel.

In spite of Samuel’s help, Saul had not proven to be a king that honored God. He was too easily swayed by the opinions of the people and was openly disobedient to the rules God had set forth for him. As a result God would soon be removing Saul from the throne and replacing him with a new king.

When God made this announcement to Samuel, he was very sad indeed. In fact the Bible tells us that he reacted in the same way one would react if someone close to us had died, by going into mourning.

God came to Samuel one day and told him it was time to be done with his sadness. He had a new man chosen for the throne and Samuel would be the one to anoint him as King, just as he’d done with Saul.

The man Samuel would anoint was a shepherd boy named David. He would become the strongest King the nation Israel would ever see and be referred to by God himself as a ‘man after my own heart.’

Imagine what is must have been like for Samuel to be involved in one more transition of power. He’d poured a lot of time and effort into Saul and it hadn’t worked out at all the way he’d hoped. When Saul failed I’m sure that Samuel felt a little bit of a failure as well. It’s never easy to see projects of yours fail. That’s true whether those projects are people, places or things. Failure hurts.

In anointing David, Samuel would witness a passing of an era as well. Change is never easy. Especially when that change involves something that is near and dear to your heart.

While we may never have an opportunity to anoint a king or usher in a new era, each of us know what it is like to experience the pain of failure. We are all to familiar with the effects of change in our lives. Relationships fail that we’ve counted on for a lifetime. Favorite TV shows are pulled from the air. Businesses we have frequented close their doors. And with each of these events we feel the pain of their passing.

We don’t always understand the reason for the changes that come into our lives. As Christ-followers we need to remember that if we trust God and look objectively at the changes that come we will see how God can take changes that are tough to handle and make them into blessings for our future. When changes come remember that God has everything in His control and will take care of you in whatever new challenges arise.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many changes going on in my life right now. Some are of my own doing. Many are being forced upon me. Regardless of the reason, change is hard for me to take. I ask that you would empower me with your Holy Spirit to accept the changes that are ahead of me and look for the blessings that will come as a result. Amen.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:8

 Imagine what it would be like to live in a society where you felt you were the only one living for God. All around you people looked at you as though your religion was outdated, irrelevant and harsh. Some may even accuse you of being intolerant.

You try your best to live for God and take a stand for Him, but people scoff and laugh. Marriage and family are no longer important. In fact the very definition of marriage is under scrutiny. The idea of absolute Truth is a thing of the past. ‘Right’ is what you make it.

If you can imagine that kind of world then you will have a pretty good idea of what Noah went through during his days on earth. Things got so bad that God Himself looked down from heaven and regretted that he even made man.

In the midst of the chaos, God saw one bright light, a man named Noah. The Bible refers to Noah as a righteous man and as one that found favor with God. That doesn’t mean that Noah was perfect. He had issues like any other man. What it did mean is that in the midst of the chaos of his day, Noah followed after God as best he could and God looked upon him with favor (the early Hebrew word means Grace).

God had a special task for Noah to accomplish on earth. It was a task that would take 120 years to complete and would result in every animal on earth being rescued from a great and mighty flood. Imagine what it must have been like for Noah to build on this great boat under the watchful eyes of his neighbors who, most likely, thought Noah had gone completely off his rocker.

God asked Noah to do something that had never been done before. He asked him to stand strong against adversity, trust Him for the strength to accomplish the task, and follow the directions that He’d given Noah. If Noah would follow the path God had for him, he would meet with success and the world would be saved.

We know how the story of Noah turned out. He listened to God. He followed God’s directions. He showed great courage in trying something completely new, and the world was saved!

God isn’t likely to call any of us to change our careers and become boat builders any time soon. Our Father is looking for followers who are willing to stand strong in the face of adversity and work to change their part of the world. It appears from scripture that not only did Noah find favor in God’s eyes; he found favor in the eyes of men as well. Noah lived a life contrary to those around him. Even so, He was accepted in spite of his different beliefs.

Live your life in such a way that others will see you are different. Stand strong on the moral commands that God has given us. At the same time live in such a way that you are accepted. Paul says to live grace-fully, to live at peace with all men (even those who are wrong!) as much as it depends on you.

PRAYER: Father God, sometimes I feel like Noah. Everything around me seems to be falling apart. People seem to have forgotten you. I pray that you will help me be like Noah. Help me to follow your commands in the face of adversity and be willing to step out and try new things because of your power working through me. I want to change my world! Amen.

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