For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2
An inmate in Louisiana was freed after serving twelve years of a murder sentence because of DNA evidence. As the man was released, his mother cried out, “My child free!”
Whenever we hear of a miscarriage of justice, we inwardly groan. The thought that some in prison have been wrongfully convicted breaks our hearts, and we rejoice when they are freed.
When it comes to our own guilt, however, there is no doubt. We have all sinned against God and face eternal condemnation. Yet because of His great love for us, God sent Jesus Christ, His own Son, to take our punishment and set us free. It might help us appreciate this more if we’d take a moment to imagine how we’d feel if we actually saw the prison doors open and heard the Lord Jesus shout, “My child is free!”
Don’t underestimate the euphoria that should fill our hearts every day because of what Jesus has done for us. Let’s shout, “Praise the Lord!”
Living by grace means liberty, not bondage…depending on the Spirit…not the flesh; living for others, not for self…and living for the glory of God, not for man’s approval.Warren Wiersbe
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.Ecclesiastes 1:18
Zach Elder and his friends pulled up to shore after a twenty-five-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. The man who came to retrieve their rafts told them about the COVID-19 virus. They thought he was joking. But as they left the canyon their phones pinged with their parents’ urgent messages. Zach and his friends were stunned. They wished they could return to the river and escape what they now knew.
In a fallen world, knowledge often brings pain. The wise Teacher of Ecclesiastes observed, “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (1:18). Who hasn’t envied a child’s blissful ignorance? She doesn’t yet know about racism, violence, and cancer. Weren’t we happier before we grew up and discerned our own weaknesses and vices? Before we learned our family’s secrets—why our uncle drinks heavily or what caused our parents’ divorce?
The pain from knowledge can’t be wished away. Once we know, it’s no use pretending we don’t. But there’s a higher knowledge that empowers us to endure, even thrive. Jesus is the Word of God, the light that shines in our darkness (John 1:1–5). He “has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Your pain is your reason to run to Jesus. He knows you and cares for you.
Joseph’s enslavement lasted for 13 years and went from bad to worse. He lost his favored position in Potiphar’s household and went to prison when the master’s wife told lies about him. His hope for release from jail died when the king’s servant forgot his promise (Genesis 40:14; Genesis 40:23). His future looked bleak.
Despite the evidence of circumstances, God was carrying out His plan to bless Joseph and his entire family. In fact, Joseph was God’s appointed person to rescue them from the coming famine. But for that to happen, he had to learn the Egyptian language and culture, develop leadership abilities, and mature spiritually. The Lord’s plan made it all possible.
Joseph learned two helpful lessons. First, the Lord is a faithful companion who uses our troubles to prepare us for His work. Second, once the Lord has accomplished His purposes, the difficulty will end. At God’s chosen moment, Joseph was freed from jail, rewarded with a high-ranking appointment, and reconciled with his family.
Adversity can be painful, but the Lord uses it to further His purposes and equip us to carry out His plan. What is He trying to teach you in the midst of your trials?
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Although Christ has set the believer free from legalistic bondage, he is now under a still higher law—the law of Christ. It is also called “the law of the Spirit of life” that has made us “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
The law of Christ does not consist of many detailed ordinances that we are duty bound to obey. It is a law that we want to obey out of love for Christ. “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Paul says that “the end of the commandment is charity [that is, Christian love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5). James calls it “the royal law,” defining it simply as “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (James 2:8).
Instead of a law bringing us into bondage, it is “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), setting us free from slavery to sin. It not only gives us the desire to please the Lord but also the will and the ability to do so.
It is not as though we are now without law and thereby free to indulge our carnal appetites. Paul explains his own new nature thus: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more…(being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ)” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 21).
In Christ, “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested,” and He is “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 3:21; 10:4). But though we “have been called unto liberty,” Paul commands us to “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Thus, to believe in Christ is also to obey Him. HMM
This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. —1 John 5:4
No matter what the circumstances, we Christians should keep our heads. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. It is a dismal thing to see a son of heaven cringe in terror before the sons of earth. We are taught by the Holy Spirit in Scriptures of truth that fear is a kind of prison for the mind and that by it we may spend a lifetime in bondage.
To recoil from the approach of mental or physical pain is natural, but to allow our minds to become terrorized is quite another thing. The first is a reflex action; the latter is the result of sin and is a work of the devil to bring us into bondage. Terror is or should be foreign to the redeemed mind.
True faith delivers from fear by consciously interposing God between it and the object that would make it afraid. The soul that lives in God is surrounded by the divine Presence so that no enemy can approach it without first disposing of God, a palpable impossibility. WOS052-053
This is the victory that overcometh low spirits, a sinking heart, whispers of the devil and all the discouragements of this lower world—even our faith. SAN072
May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord.—Psalm 104:34
Dr. Douglas Speere says that with advancing years, “Our greatest danger is not hardening of the arteries but hardening of the attitudes.” We harden our viewpoint, refusing to look at anything beyond it. We groove our thinking and acting, and the grooves get deeper until they -become graves that bury us. As someone put it: “You don’t grow old; you get old by not growing.” Some people are dead at 40, although their funerals are postponed until they are 60. For many Christians, life has settled into ruts—mental, physical, and spiritual ruts. “And a rut,” said someone, “is a grave with ends knocked out.” In Canada I saw a dirt road leading off the main highway which had a sign on it that read: “Choose your rut—you will be in it for the next 20 miles.” When New Year’s Day comes, many could say to themselves: “I’d better choose my rut, for I’ll be in it for the next 365 days.” Life for them is not an adventure. It holds no surprises, offers no excitement, and is uncreative. My friend, I beg you, open your mind to God today and don’t resist the Divine Eagle as He prepares to push you out into a more creative way of thinking, acting, and living. Someone has said that the last words of the church when it is taken up to heaven will be these: “It has never been done like this before.” Focus your mind once again on today’s psalm, and keep in mind that the God who created all things desires to live, move, and think in you.
O Father, You who are a ceaseless Creator, make me a ceaseless creator. Break the molds of my thinking patterns, and give me new ones. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”—Mark 10:51
It is hard to believe that the Lord would ask us what He could do for us. However, sometimes that is the question we must answer. Bartimaeus was blind, and he knew exactly what he wanted Jesus to do for him: restore his sight. Yet he received much more than physical sight! He received salvation, for Jesus knew Bartimaeus’s heart was faithful. Bartimaeus immediately used his gift to become a follower of the Savior.
Jesus also asked James and John what they wanted Him to do for them. They requested the most prominent places in His kingdom. This time, Jesus answered that He could not give them what they asked. Their request was selfish, and it brought dissension among their fellow disciples (Mark 10:41).
Only when we pray according to God’s will is He pleased to grant our requests (John 15:16). We will not see our prayers answered if we ask selfishly (James 4:3). If God refrains from giving us what we are asking, we should evaluate our prayers. Are our motives selfish? Are we asking for far less than God wants to give? (2 Kings 13:19; Eph. 3:20). Are our requests worthy of the God we approach? Do we lack the faith God requires to give us our desires? (Matt. 17:20). Is there unconfessed sin? (Isa. 1:15). God delights in responding to our requests (Matt. 7:7). If we will ask according to His will, we, like Bartimaeus, will receive far more than we anticipated! (Jer. 33:3).