July 2024 Conchshell Chronicles

Celebrating Freedom

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be  subject again to a yoke of slavery.                Galatians 5:1

This month we celebrate the Declaration of Independence proclaimed on July 4th, 1776. Here is how the document begins:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams formed the committee make the Declaration of Independence. They, as well as most of the members of the Continental Congress were heavily influenced by a Biblical World View- That this world had been made by a Creator according to a  specific pattern and that one of his  great values was that mankind would be free from the bondages of sin, which often take the form of moral and political oppression.

Those who oppose God live their lives in a self-centered manner that often focuses  on the attainment of pleasure, possessions and power. To  accomplish that requires taking what others have and living life with only yourself in mind.

The Bible is the cornerstone of Liberty. I have always said and will always say that  studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better    citizens.”                Thomas Jefferson

 The Reformers of the 16th Century were those who read the Bible and   understood how God values each individual human, how he created each to have fellowship with Him, and how mankind’s mistrust and rebellion against God had taken away the liberty that he intended for each to live their lives free from the oppression of others.

When God gave his Law through Moses, He placed an emphasis on the care of individuals,  giving rights to servants, prohibiting violence within the community, enacting laws of others centered behavior  with penalties for violating individual rights, proclaiming the remission of all financial debts at the end of every seven years, and at the end of every 50 cycle, the return of land to the original families. These concepts were unheard of in the ancient world! God mandated that His people would respect one another and live their lives in a manner that was the best for the community, for others- not yourself.

As Rick Warren opened his million selling book The Purposed Driven Life, “It’s not about you.”

“History will also afford the showing frequent opportunities of the necessity of a public religion… and the excellency of the Christian religion above all    others, ancient or modern.”       Benjamin Franklin

 When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he echoed the principle behind these Mosaic laws by summarizing  “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” Freedom from obeying the Law to attain righteousness, but it was freedom from the sin that was the issue.

The Christian religion is above all the religions that prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times- the religion of virtue, wisdom, equity and humanity. It is resignation to God. It is goodness to humanity.” John Adams

 Jesus took on the sins of the world on the Cross. Those of us who     believe and receive that are now free from the condemnation of sin,     although we still deal with the inherent sin nature that is part of our DNA. Here is how one of my favorite Bible  scholars, Spiros Zodhiates, describes this experience.

“To be in Christ is to be saved once and forever from the condemnation of sin, but not immediately from the presence and inworking of sin, as the lives of the saints testify. We are all saved from the guilt and power of sin, but not from its presence while in this body and world. Christ had sin upon Him, thought there was no sin in Him. Therefore, he that is in Christ has no sin upon him – in the sense of condemnation- although he still has sin in him in the form of the sin-nature in the mortal body.  The believer is unconditionally saved from sin and conditionally saved from the power of sin. Victory is conditioned in proportion to the believer’s unequivocal  obedience to Christ and His command.”

Spiros Zodhiates, Key Word Study Bible Introduction to 1 John.

Obedience is the key to our freedom from the power of sin. It is a battle that is fought one thought at a time. It is our way to demonstrate our loyalty to our King Jesus- by doing what He says, rather than doing what we feel is right, or what we want to do. Obedience to our King     usually takes to form of caring for an   serving others around us.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your  freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Gal 5:13-14

This often goes against that sin nature that constantly wants to exercise control over our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions. That is why Spiros says that     victory over sin is connected to our obedience to our King Jesus.

Let’s celebrate our Declaration of Independence with an awareness of our freedom from the condemnation of sin, and our opportunity to serve those around us. This is the concept that our nation was built on! Here is what four of our Founding Fathers said regarding God and the United States of America. Celebrate!

 “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.” 

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”                                                                     George Washington

 Lamb Bleatings

Laura by a grapevine in Pisgat Ze'ev near Jerusalem

Abiding

Grapes have a special place in Hebrew culture. They are a source of      nutrition, and according to Psalm 104, gladness. Jews considered grapes and wine to be a gift from God Himself, as it is the dew that falls from Heaven on the vines that cause growth and flavor.

You allow them to produce food from the earth—wine to make them glad                                             Psalms 104:14

Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding in Cana, turning water into wine, and not just any ordinary wine! Please keep in mind that this was Jesus’ first miracle. He seems to love a good gathering and celebrating with His friends and family.

Jesus used a vineyard to give a lesson to his disciples the night before his crucifixion:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away (or lifts up); and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so  prove to be My disciples.9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments,      you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s     commandments and abide in His love. 

Here are some words that help us understand the message:

Verse 1: “He takes away”  aírō; (I) To take up, to lift up, to raise; Particularly, as stones from the ground.

On our visit to a Judean vineyard last May, we saw how the farmers placed the vines on rocks to lift them off the ground. Modern vineyards use stakes and wires  to do this. As I was standing in that traditional vineyard,   I found myself using stones to lift up further the vines by my feet.

At the Judean vineyard, the farmers used rocks to lift up the vines off the ground.

As these Judean farmers “lifted up the vines” using rocks, Jesus says He will lift us up from our sinful lives and place us in a better position to bear fruit. This is the transforming effect of the Gospel message- through our obedience, our prayers, and the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed.

Verse 4:  “Abide in Me”  ménō;  To remain, abide, dwell, live. Of the relation in which one person or thing stands with another, chiefly in John's writings; thus to remain in or with someone, i.e., to be and remain    united with him, one with him in heart, mind, and will.

   Abiding in Christ has a deeper meaning as I understand that I am not just identifying with Him, or simply believing in Him, but actually positioning myself to “be and remain united with him, one with him in heart, mind, and will.” This is a challenging assignment in this cultural environment, where distractions are  everywhere, and society pulls you in many directions away from Christ and back toward yourself– news,   social media, personal relationships. Many distractions.

How do I stay united with Him in heart, mind, and will? For me it begins with a daily dose of reading The Word- I usually start off with the Proverb chapter of the day– there are 31 chapters of Proverbs.  I see God’s opinions on issues and my hard headedness in my own ways. But the Word is transforming! Over the years my opinions have changed!

Along with the Word, I must have daily sincere    conversations with my Lord. As I drive to work I tell Him that this day is His day, and ask for His direction. When confronted by a problem, I ask for His wisdom and solution. I ask that I will be sensitive to the needs of others. I ask Him to touch family members and friends. I tell Him how much I need Him and laugh with Him when I say or do dumb things. I thank Him for all that He has given me, especially that Japanese girl He set me up with.

Finally, I try to involve myself with His agenda and do things with Him.

 “Go talk with that guy.” “Give to that person.” “Do this task.” “Meditate on what I’m saying to you.” “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” “Abandon your expectations.” “Look at the situation from my point of view.”

These are some of the things that we do together, as we work through the day.

If I focus my day on His Word, Talking to Him, and Doing with Him, my day goes very well as I abide with Him and I sleep comfortably at night. Through it all He bears more of His fruit in my life.   Laura

(with help from  Michael)

Michael & Laura at Mt Carmel

Would you like to read about our experience at the traditional Judean vineyard/

Please take a moment and read

A Visit to a Traditional Vineyard -  I Am the Vine 

 

Rio Coco Beans Coffee

Java Jake is one of our most tasty blend of Pacific coffees. We take equal amounts of coffee from Timor, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra to create a cup full of suburb flavor.

You may have this delivered to your home.

Rio Coco Beans

Java Jake

 

Seek The Lamb Giving

Please consider a gift this month to help our humanic projects.

Seek The Lamb Giving.

 

 

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