We know real freedom isn’t free. If we look back over all the wars fought, including biblical ones, the price of freedom looks like it is always filled with sacrifice. Before you start throwing stones or sending me negative comments as if I don’t know that war and freedom “are” filled with sacrifice, let me explain.
True freedom is not purchased with loss and sacrifice, it is purchased with obedience. When we see wars raging, and our soldiers fighting for injustices, it isn’t because freedom is expensive, it is because rebellion is. Let me repeat that. Rebellion is expensive.
When our troops are fighting for our country, for the lowly and the meek, it is because the rebellion of others demands a price. And that price is high.
Sometime’s I wonder if the original word freedom was spelled freedoom instead. That may just be my perception as I find myself in the “DOOM” chapter of Isaiah this morning. Isaiah 30 actually starts off with “Doom, rebel children!” What a way to start the morning!
When you become a Christian, there are several bible verses that you learn right away and they come up all the time during sermons, studies and even in conversation with other Christians. One of those that always sounds cliche to me is, Psalm 37:4, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Like the reward for accepting Christ is getting the stuff we want.
Throughout my Christian walk, (for the last 19 years) this is the go to verse for, “How to get what I want from God.” This meme sums up how I feel about that.
I have also heard pastors, Sunday school teachers, and anyone else who has ever read a daily devotional tell me that we have to align our desires with God’s and then he will give us what we want. Duh.
Instead, what do we hear? “God is my fairy Godmother, and he will give me all the good things that I ask for. I just have to ask for good things.” Answer me this, what is your definition of good things?
Scripture is living and breathing. “God breathed”, and when we truly sit in it and let it permeate who we are, the most amazing things happen. God has shed some light on this for me today and boy do I love a good morning admonishing!
Psalm 81:7-15 can be rough business, but I think it can shed some light on a deeper meaning of Psalm 37:4.
“In your distress, you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. “If my people would only listen to me if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again. You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”
For those of us who have accepted Christ’s gift on Calvary, God has rescued us. Look at the bold text. He rescued us, He warned us about our rebellion, but we would not listen, so He let us have our way and what we desired in our hearts. (Sound familiar?) If we would only listen, he would subdue our enemies (sin, things of the flesh, rebellion).
When I see God’s word tell me he would subdue my enemies, (before today) I thought to myself, “Woot woot, God is my knight in shining armor! You better watch out, everyone who has ever hurt me, God is coming for you!”
The reality of it is that WE are the enemy that God will subdue if we listen. The biggest enemy we have on this earth is ourselves. We are weak and we want what we want. I would like to flip Psalm 37:4 from the fairy Godmother paradigm to one that looks at the fulfillment of our hearts desires. What is the big question here?
What is the condition of your heart?
If God will give us what we want, what exactly is it that we are asking for?
Maybe you know that this verse is a two-way door, both good and bad. I sometimes forget that with all things there is always the dichotomy of good and bad.
God will give you the desires of your heart. If your heart desires rebellion, the soft fuzzy wuzzies of illusion and your focus ISN’T hard work and obedience, you may have a heart problem. One you need to address. God will allow you to choose the rebellion you seek. He isn’t going to participate in it, but if that is what you choose, He won’t stop you. The verse doesn’t say, God will give you the desires of your heart but only if they are good, it just says he will give you what your heart desires. If you desire drama, lies, slander, and just all around sinful behavior, guess what? He’s going to step back and let you have it.
Remember Psalm 81? The Message Bible version reads, Verse 11 and 12 say, “But my people didn’t listen, so I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run! Do it your own way!”
If we desire the things of this world more than we desire the gifted personal relationship we can have with our Creator, He won’t stop us. He already sacrificed His Son for us, He isn’t going to beg us into a relationship. The phrase, “Be careful what you ask for.” holds new meaning for me. I am in heart check mode this morning. What am I asking for?
Rebellion is a poorly built house. Built on sand and not the Cornerstone of Christ, not the firm foundation of God’s word. Slowly but surely, the house will begin to shift, sink and fall apart. When we least expect it, all of the rebellion and all of the desires of our hearts that were not God’s come crashing down. Likely right on top of our heads!
If you know anything about me, you know that my company works with authors to create books. For 13 years I have helped craft leadership and self-improvement books a plenty. Hundreds of books a year giving people hope and inspiration. A common theme in leadership books is that real leaders have mentors and seek the leadership of others to help them grow as they lead in their own world.
I often find that even in the midst of studying His word and asking for God’s guidance to lead me and show me the way, I still have my self created roadmap in my back pocket. You know, just in case God doesn’t know where we are going.
Have you ever had the map that speaks to you on in your car? It gives you the direction right before you need it, but rarely gives you much notice of what comes directly after. I find myself trying to grab it and see what comes next. I want to be fully prepared for that next turn, or exit that I need to make. What I have learned is that this method causes me to miss the turn that Siri or that lady on Waze just told me to do because I was focused too far ahead. I always think that I can get just a step ahead of God and use my map while I wait for Him to inspire me with all the needed directions to step into my calling. This meme wraps it up perfectly.
Life is meant for this moment, not only in preparation for the next one. In the most important place in our lives, our relationship with God, we try to be the leader. When we lead, we cheat ourselves out of a real and personal relationship with Him and gain ourselves a one-way ticket to slavery. We are ill-equipped to lead ourselves.
Everyone needs a leader.
The Cost of Rebellion = Conflict, suffering, grief, and death
The Price of Freedom: Obedience
We will be free when we choose to live in obedience. Every place in the bible where we see war and conflict, loss of life and sadness, grief and misery during hard times, it was always in the wake of disobedience. It was moment after moment of God saying, “How many times do we have to replay this same movie before you get the lesson? You don’t have to live this way!”
The other hard truth is the real cost of rebellion. The mistakes we make, the true cost of rebellion doesn’t only affect the person that made the mistake. The true cost of choosing slavery and disobedience is that we are not the only ones who will pay for it. Those we hurt, those we sin against, those we refuse forgiveness to, and our children, generations of children and grandchildren will be the ones that continue to suffer the cost. Again, rebellion is expensive.
“Wait a minute, why would I choose slavery or rebellion?”
Sin nature. It is in our nature to be selfish, and self-obsessed. This doesn’t have to mean you are selfish at buying yourself things, getting others to do things for you, or thinking you are the next best thing to sliced bread. This can be so many things that you would never even notice.
Selfish: Fear of doing things for others because they will take advantage of you so you better keep it all so that you can stay safe and not get hurt.
Self-obsessed: Endless inner focused negative self-talk, obsessing over mistakes.
Anything that we do that forces us to hide is NOT freedom.
How do we recognize rebellion in our own lives?
Look at Isaiah 30:8-21 again. A rebellious child of God looks like:
- someone who doesn’t act like a child of God
- Isn’t willing to listen to the Lord’s instructions
- Prefers pleasant illusions over truth
- relies on oppression
We lie to ourselves if we think that we can be in a covenant relationship with God and be like verse 9, Deceitful children. Deceitful means to give a false impression. We know who we are in Christ. But ask yourselves if that is who you are truly allowing yourself to be as you live each day?
Christ gave us the ultimate freedom, to live in Him, and with the choice to be free from the sin and bondage that keeps us from the true desires of our hearts. From truly living in the peace freely offered up to us. The truth is that we have to daily make the choice to live in the truth, His truth. Check your heart. Do you feel like God doesn’t give you the things you ask for? What is it that you are asking God to give you? Is it freedom, or is your heart asking God for rebellion?
Obedience is hard.
Rules are hard.
We have an enemy who knows our weaknesses
Not to mention, we are far from perfect.
How do we stand in freedom, when the enemy tells us that rebellion is easier, and we believe him?
We pick up what we have already been equipped with. The Word of God. We stand tall knowing our Savior has taken care of everything for us! We are not at war. We have already won. Christ defeated death, he defeated the enemy that tries tirelessly to make us impotent Christ-followers instead of powerful warriors.
Stand on the truth of God, of who you are, of what you mean to him, and let Him lead you to the victory you need!
Isaiah 30:15-17 gives us hope!
“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me—
The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’
You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’
Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker.
Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—
a flagpole on a hill with no flag,
a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”
18 But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.”
You can’t outrun God.
Look at verse 18. Look at God’s love for us. No matter how far we stray, no matter how long we have let the desires of our hearts create more discontent in our lives, He’s not finished. Psalm 103:12, we know that “As far as sunrise is from sunset, He has separated us from our sins.”
With rebellion comes destruction, with obedience comes favor. Every single day we have a choice. I don’t always choose right, but when I put my map back in my back pocket and let God give me directions, I make it to exactly where he wants me to be.
The funny thing is, when he leads, I get to where I need to be and find I wanted to be there all along. Heart desires fulfilled, lives changed, and Glory given to our God who has patiently waited through generations of rebellion to bring us home.