VIDEO Freedom Fighter

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

A “freedom fighter” is someone who fights to overthrow a government or authority perceived to be oppressive. There have been freedom fighters all over the world. Those who participated in the American Revolution in the eighteenth century could be called freedom fighters. They sought to throw off what they considered an oppressive yoke of burdensome taxation and subjugation without representation.

The apostle Paul can be considered a freedom fighter as well. When he began spreading the Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ apart from the law, some Jewish believers attempted to impose the yoke of the law on Paul’s Gospel. His response? “To whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue” (Galatians 2:5). Paul took the Galatian Christians to task for replacing freedom in Christ with an obligation to the requirements of the law. Once Paul tasted true spiritual freedom, he never looked back.

If you have found freedom in Christ, “you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Join Paul as a spiritual fighter for the Gospel of freedom!

Liberty has brought us the freedom to be a slave of righteousness. Charles Ryrie


Standing in Freedom not Legalism (Galatians 5:1-9)

Children of God

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love. Ephesians 5:1–2

I once spoke at a secular conference for childless couples. Heartbroken over their infertility, many attendees despaired at their future. Having walked the childless path too, I tried to encourage them. “You can have a meaningful identity without becoming parents,” I said. “I believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and there’s new purpose for you to find.”

A woman later approached me in tears. “Thank you,” she said. “I’ve felt worthless being childless and needed to hear that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.” I asked the woman if she was a believer in Jesus. “I walked away from God years ago,” she said. “But I need a relationship with Him again.”

Times like this remind me how profound the gospel is. Some identities, like “mother” and “father,” are hard for some to attain. Others, like those based on a career, can be lost through unemployment. But through Jesus we become God’s “dearly loved children”—an identity that can never be stolen (Ephesians 5:1). And then we can “walk in the way of love”—a life purpose that transcends any role or employment status (v. 2).

All human beings are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and those who follow Jesus become children of God (John 1:12–13). Once in despair, that woman left in hope—about to find an identity and purpose bigger than this world can give.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Is there someone in despair whom you can affirm as “wonderfully made” today? With whom can you share the offer of becoming a child of God?

Father, life in all its fullness is Yours alone to give. I open my hands to accept it

Training to See God

Psalm 16:5-11

When David looked at his life, he saw God’s fingerprints all over it. We, too, should train our eyes to notice indications of our heavenly Father’s presence. But this isn’t a now-and-then kind of thing—it’s a lifestyle.

I developed a habit years ago that has helped me do this: Before I go to sleep, I try to recall the events of my day. What I’m really doing is looking for evidence of God at work. How did He guide this decision? Answer this question? Protect me in this situation? Help me in this relationship? Appreciating the Lord’s handiwork etches the reality of His care more deeply in my heart.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8). In other words, those with a clear conscience will cast out unholy thoughts and words, taking them captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). As a result, such believers have a spiritual clarity that makes them more aware of God’s involvement in their circumstances.

The evidence of God’s great power is all over your life, if only you will look for it. Viewing the world with wide-open spiritual eyes changes one’s perspective from “I can’t” to “I can because God enables me.” Live confidently, knowing our loving, omnipotent God dwells within you.

In the Midst

“And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:26)

Jesus, in His earthly life, was often “in the midst” of things. At the age of 12 He was found in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). Then, early in His adult ministry, His hometown enemies at Nazareth attempted to kill Him, “but he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:30). Later, in Jerusalem, a group of Pharisees sought to stone Him, but He simply went “through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59).

Finally, however, they were able to put Him to death, and as a bitter testimony of their hatred, they had Him crucified with two common criminals, “on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:18). Three days later, the tomb was emptied, and He would never again be in the midst of enemies. Instead, He met His disciples in the upper room.

There, “when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). Eight days later, with Thomas present, Jesus once again appeared in their midst and greeted them with reassuring words of peace.

Though now in heaven, His presence still speaks peace to us through His Holy Spirit, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Even in the ages to come, He will be in our midst, for John says, describing that scene: “In the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain,” and then all creation will sing “unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:6, 13). HMM

Thy Prayer Is Heard”

Luke 1:5-25

ZACHARIAS had prayed through long, lean years for a son. He and Elizabeth had many qualifications for a life of blessing: good ancestry, they “were righteous before the Lord,” not merely before men, they walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless—not faultless, but living up to their light.

But there follows the sad statement: “And they had no child.” Have you sought to live the blameless life, yet your piety seems to have borne no progeny—you are barren? Remember Zacharias. It was now too late, from the natural viewpoint, to have a son, but Zacharias had not forgotten his altar and his duty. He kept offering incense, a symbol of thanksgiving, when there seemed so little to be thankful for. Do not forsake your incense, and the angel will yet appear! The herald from heaven announces a son. God often waits until it is too late with us; it is never too late with Him. Poor Zacharias is doubtful. And doubt leads to dumbness—it always does. When we do not trust, we have no testimony. But God fails not, though Zacharias does. The baby is born, and when neighbors would name him for his father, Zacharias puts God first and names him by the Divine direction. Do not name things after yourself; give God the glory. Then dumbness gives way to delight: Zacharias speaks and so will you!

John was to drink neither wine nor strong drink, but was to be filled with the Spirit. Three times the New Testament sets wine and the Spirit in contrast (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:13; Eph. 5:18). Wine changes face, walk, talk—stimulates; so does the Spirit.

God was fulfilling here the prophecy made in Malachi 4:5-6. How marvelously His plans work out exactly on schedule! Zacharias, filled with the Holy Ghost, breaks into prophecy of a Jewish cast setting forth the glory of the coming Christ: “God has visited His people to redeem them.” We must bear in mind here that Christ came first to Israel. Zacharias knows the Messiah is to be of the house of David, a testimony to His royal lineage. Prophecy is fulfilled, promises performed, the holy covenant remembered. Notice how complete is this redemption: freedom, “being delivered out of the hand of our enemies”; purpose, “that we might serve Him”; nature of this service, “without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him”; the duration, “all the days of our life.” Then Zacharias turns to his own son who is to be called the prophet of the Highest, to go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation, light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. This salvation is through God’s tender mercy, whereby the “dayspring from on high”—probably the Branch of Isaiah 11:1 and Zechariah 3:8—hath visited us.

John grows and waxes strong in the spirit in the desert solitude till the day of his appearing to Israel. There is some obvious difference between this and the closing verse of the next chapter, where Jesus, living a more social life, increases also in favor with man.

Made for Fellowship

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship.—Acts 2:42

I read a passage in a book that said: “We can only get to know ourselves and others to the extent that we tune in to the heartbeat of the universe.”

Here is a psychologist, a non-Christian, attempting to put into words one of the greatest truths of Scripture—namely, that it is only as we have fellowship with God that we can experience fellowship with ourselves and others. What a pity he could not see that what he calls “the heartbeat of the universe” is the heart that was broken on the cross.

Isn’t it sad that so many philosophers and scientists come so close to seeing the reality that lies behind the universe and yet, for some reason, sidestep the great issue of entering into a personal relationship with God? They struggle to know the secrets of the cosmos, and yet miss the “open secret” of God’s revelation through Christ which He laid bare at Calvary. Instead, they try to achieve fellowship through psychological processes that leave the heart estranged.

The astonishing rise in our day of the “group therapy movement” testifies to the need of the human heart for fellowship. Almost every country in the world reports a rapid rise of small groups meeting together to encourage, confront, and stimulate one another toward good emotional health and maturity. The world is waking up to the fact that we are made for fellowship. Oh, if only they could see that fellowship which does not begin with God, does not begin.

Prayer

Father, I am so thankful for the discovery that fellowship cannot be produced by trying but by trusting. It begins and ends with You. Take me deeper into Your heart that I might take others deeper into mine. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

1Jn 1:1-7; Rm 1:11-12; 12:5

What is the purpose of fellowship?

Who do you have fellowship with?

Simple Secrets

Colossians 3:1-3

I recently saw a new patient in my office. During the course of the preliminary examination, he mentioned that he had lost over 100 pounds in the previous 10 months. Impressive by any standards!

I wondered which diet program he had utilized. “Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers?” No, he hadn’t participated in any commercial diet program. “Was it the Fen-phen diet? Or did you use Redux, the new miracle diet drug?” He stated that he had not been to a doctor for several years, and therefore did not have access to prescription drugs.

Now I began to get excited. Here was a man who had lost 100 pounds in 10 months and was not part of any system. This could be revolutionary.

“So tell me, what is your secret? We could tell others and really help many people who are struggling with their weight. How did you lose so much weight in so little time?” He answered me in four words. His revolutionary new diet? “I ate less food.”

This man had decided that he was tired of being overweight and had made up his mind that he was going to lose weight. In an area where so many people struggle year after year, trying every new fad and gimmick with little success, this man just did it. He wanted this more than anything else, so he set his course and accomplished his goal.

In the spiritual realm, I wonder why so many struggle with being holy. We try support groups, read new books and attend seminars. And yet year after year, we are disappointed by how little true progress we have made at becoming like Christ.

In his book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law suggests why we have not come as far as the early Christians. “If you will stop here and ask yourself why you are not so devoted as the primitive Christians, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.”

That’s it. If we want to be holy, we must thoroughly intend to be holy, which includes rearranging our priorities in the light of God’s Word. We must desire with all our hearts to please God in everything we do, at work, in our studies and with our leisure time. We cannot generate this desire, but must ask the Holy Spirit to give it to us.

Once again, we are drawn back to the simple truths. Want to lose weight? Eat less food. Want to become holy? Take time to be holy. Set your heart and mind on things above.

David E. Winters, M.D., The War Cry