Changing Moods (Part Three)

Psalm 30:6-7, 11-12

When I was secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you showed your favor, you made me stand like a strong mountain; when you hid your face, I was terrified… You turned my lament into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, so that I can sing to you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever (CSB).

People tend to think they are prisoners to their emotions or moods. This might be true of those who do not know the Lord, but the people who are in Christ have been called to freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). We must draw our self-image from what we are in Christ, and not blindly accept the opinions of our culture. We do not have to be subject to our moods. The good news is that God acts to bring his people into a correct emotional condition.

The Lord is not passive about us! We tend to view ourselves as the one who initiates communication and sharing of life with God. That is a very proud, human-exalting view! Instead, God does work directly and indirectly to relate with us. Since we belong to the Lord, he is not satisfied to let us go our own way. He wants us to walk in his way and works to keep us in his way by his word and the Spirit (cf. Colossians 2:6-7; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:16-26). God’s action in our lives may occur over a long or short time span. Study Psalm 32 for one example.

What should we learn?

A true believer can endure great turmoil due to his or her incorrect thinking. Don’t blame someone else for your joylessness or whatever. “No doubt the trouble is with you.”

Our moods should be viewed as indicators of our spiritual condition. But we in turn must test the readings of those indicators by the standard of the Scriptures and good common sense (cf. Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, pp. 14-19.) Ask yourself, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (Read Psalms 42 and 43.) You need to examine yourself. For example, “Do I feel secure because my heavenly Father cares for me or because ‘everything is going my way’?”

You should check various feeling indicators:

  • Coldness to spiritual truth
  • Faultfinding in others
  • Anger about situations
  • Indifference to needs of others
  • Fear of the future
  • Jealousy about another’s prosperity
  • Bitterness about anything or anyone at any time

Warning! Don’t become more involved in looking at your spiritual vital signs than in looking at the Lord Jesus Christ! As John Reisinger said many times, “Take one good look at your heart, and then take ten thousand looks at Jesus Christ!”

Here is an important point, worthy of much emphasis. The way of establishing sound emotional patterns is by focusing on one’s relationship with the Lord, not by seeking an emotional lift. Listen to the words of a man who suffered much for the Lord Jesus, and who surely endured many down times from his afflictions. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8a NIV).

Grace and peace, David

The Holy Spirit (Part Twenty-seven)

Acts 10:37-38

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (NIV).

In recent articles about the Holy Spirit, we have considered how the Spirit of God anointed Jesus to carry out the work the Father gave him to do. After Christ’s baptism, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to overcome the evil one in the temptations hurled against him. He succeeded where both Adam and Israel failed. Next, we see that Jesus did his mighty works by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit filled Jesus with power to carry out his ministry. We rightly believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He could easily have done all his miraculous signs through his personal power. But that was not the course the Father had designed for the glory of God. Jesus’ life was one of humble submission to the Father. Listen to the words of Philippians two. Christ Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV). This course required him to do his mighty works by the power of the Spirit, as he himself said. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).

The Spirit of God empowered Jesus to do good works (Acts 10:38). This was to undo the chaos of the devil (cf. 1 John 3:8b). Jesus demonstrated that the kingdom of God could set up a new way of life, one free from the ruin of sin. His actions also would bring glory to God (cf. Matthew 5:16; 9:8). Think for a moment. Has the Lord Jesus touched you in your soul with his healing power? Perhaps you need the Healer to heal you spiritually. I have good news for anyone reading who remains spiritually blind. Cheer up, hear his voice, he’s calling you (cf. Mark 10:46-52)!

Jesus received power to set up the new age the new age of the Spirit. The saving reign of God had arrived. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV) The year of the Lord’s favor, the new year of Jubilee, had come (cf. Lk 4:14-21).

Are you in the new creation? Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) You may have new life in Christ today! It comes as the Lord Jesus acts by his saving grace when you have a change of mind and trust in him for salvation. Call on him by faith.

Grace and peace, David

Redemption Accomplished

IMG_4130Ruth 4:9-12

The Bible is the story of God’s glory in Christ. Our God has revealed himself through his word, the Bible, and we can listen to it, and be filled with worship, confidence, and joy, because of the greatness of our God. In this story, we are happily surprised that he includes people, including people that seemed ruined and forsaken like Ruth and Naomi, as well as an ordinary guy like Boaz, who trusted the Lord and tried to imitate his kindness. We are part of the great story or purpose that God is working out in life’s history. By the grace of God, we have significance; our lives are important; we are here for his purpose. And in this account of redemption accomplished, we view God move toward the fulfillment another part of his plan of redemption.

In previous articles, we saw that Naomi and Ruth needed to be redeemed, but their closest relative refused to do what was necessary for them. Therefore, he gave the right to redeem them to Boaz. Now we come to the great moment of this story.

Boaz kept his promise and redeemed (4:9-10). He redeemed the property that Naomi wanted to sell—what belonged to her husband Elimelech, and her sons Kilion and Mahlon.  Buying this much land must have been costly for Boaz, but by doing it Naomi had sufficient to live on, and Boaz was able to gain the crops that the land would produce. This transaction benefited both of them in different ways. Naomi got short term cash, and Boaz acquired long term profits. It was a fair deal in many ways.

Jesus Christ redeemed his people by dying on the cross. (To redeem means to set free by the payment of a price.) We were in bondage to sin and Satan and in this bondage had earned the hard wages of eternal death. But by his redeeming blood, Jesus set us free! We are free to live forever, and Jesus receives glory and joy by rescuing us. Here is the great deal. Trust in Jesus and he will set you free.

By buying Naomi’s land, it stayed in the family. They could keep what the Lord gave them as their inheritance. God’s gift and purpose are respected. Do you know what are God’s gifts and purpose for the church, Christ’s new assembly? Do you respect them in your approach to life?

Boaz redeemed Ruth. For the first time we learn that she was the widow of Mahlon, but now she will become the wife of Boaz. In this way, the names of both Elimelech and Mahlon would be maintained in Israel, since the first son born to Ruth and Boaz would inherit their land. This was important in old covenant Israel. The land would stay in the family, not just to the Year of Jubilee, but beyond—to him and his heirs. The end of the story tells who got this land.

Ruth also was redeemed from what had seemed a hopeless future. She became the wife of Boaz, and was provided for through his riches. In all this we should see a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we should live.

Jesus paid the very costly price of our redemption by shedding his blood on the cross. Ruth was desolate; she had neither husband nor children, but Boaz set her free to become his wife and the mother of his children. So also, we were spiritually desolate, but through Christ, we died to the law that we might belong to the resurrected Jesus, and so be able to bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4-6). Ruth was a foreigner, a stranger to the covenants of promise, but when Boaz married her, she had a place in the covenant nation. So in Christ, though we were far away, we are now brought near to God and have a place in God’s household and are fellow citizens with God’s people (Ephesians 2:11-22). The Spirit of God shows us in this story that as Boaz received Ruth the Moabite as his wife, so he receives people from all the people groups of the world.

Jesus wants us to set others free. There are so many people that need to be redeemed and set free! We live in a messed up world. Some are in misery because of addictions; they need people to bring the good news of the Redeemer to them. He alone is strong enough to break their chains. Some are ruined by poverty; they need people to befriend them and help them in their struggles. Some have had their family lives ruined by sexual immorality and abuse; they need someone to love and accept them. When we reach out to them, we can lead them to the Lord Jesus, who can bring about true restoration.

Your local assembly must be known as a place of love and acceptance. First, of course, you must accept one another as Christ as accepted us (Romans 15:7). But then each one needs to provide opportunities where people can experience the acceptance that the grace of Christ gives.

Grace and peace, David

From Risqué to Righteous

DSCN0860Ruth 3:5-9

In our previous article we saw that Naomi took a risk to carry out her plan. Certainly, life is filled with risks, but we need to be wise in taking them. Naomi hopefully considered the character of both Ruth and Boaz before she set forth her idea. Whether she did or not, it led to a risqué scene (3:5-7).

The account is filled with euphemisms and suggestive sexual innuendo. Though there is no reason to suspect any immorality between Ruth and Boaz, the words used in the Hebrew text were used with sexual meaning. For “feet” compare Exodus 4:25; and for “uncover” compare Leviticus, chapters 18 and 20. And then there is the suggestive word “lie down” (Genesis 19:32-35; Exodus 22:16; etc.)  I think that these words were chosen by the Holy Spirit to set forth the sexually dangerous situation that Naomi put Ruth and Boaz in. Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions and lay down next to Boaz, as a wife would next to her husband. Obviously, this would place tremendous stress upon Boaz to restrain himself and to act honorably. In the family of God, we must maintain an atmosphere of absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2). We live in a culture that is increasingly sexually immoral and provocative, like the situation that existed in Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). Each of us is affected in some way by the immorality that surrounds us. Therefore, we need to act with godly wisdom toward others.

Ruth followed Naomi’s plan precisely. She waited till Boaz had enjoyed a good supper and had stretched out near his pile of threshed grain. He probably did this to protect it and to get an early start the next morning. She noticed the place where he was lying. This was important, since there might have been other men at the threshing floor. Over the years of being a pastor, I saw a few humorous situations about men who did not pay careful attention to where they were about to sit. One man who wasn’t alert even stretched out his arm as he sat down and put it around a woman that he assumed was his wife. You can imagine the scene when she left him know of his mistake in a nice sisterly way. Men, know where your place is!

Ruth took a place beside Boaz and waited for him to speak. Imagine the excitement in her heart! “Okay Naomi, what happens next? Just what am I waiting for him to say?” She had reached the end of Naomi’s plan and needed the Lord to do something. It was a good time to pray. There are times that you have done all that is humanly possible. Ruth, a stranger to Israelite customs and ways, had obeyed her mother-in-law and the outcome was in God’s hands. At times like that, we must wait on the Lord about the matter.

God graciously led them to a righteous outcome (3:8-9). Something awoke Boaz in the middle of the night. The Hebrew can mean “to tremble with fear”, but it simply might mean that he shivered. It seems that Boaz turned to reach for his cloak to cover himself and discovers Ruth lying beside him. You can imagine his surprise! Immediately, he is fully awake. Even in the darkness, he knew that it was a woman beside him (think perfume, etc.), and he naturally asked, “Who are you?” God alone now knows what went through his mind as he waited for her answer, but I can imagine it provided Boaz and Ruth with some humorous conversation years later. For example, “Dear, remember how we met that night at the threshing floor? What were you thinking?”

Ruth made a bold request. She answered his question, but used a different word for servant than at their first meeting. This one identified her as a servant who would be eligible to become his wife or concubine. She also didn’t mention being a foreigner, but simply gave her name. She proposed marriage to Boaz, which is the meaning of spreading the corner of his garment over her (cf. Ezekiel 16:8). I have read that phrase is still used by some Arab tribes today. In addition, it is related to the phrase in 2:12 about taking refuge under his wings. “In essence, Ruth asked Boaz to answer his own prayer!” [Hubbard]

The key idea is that Ruth asked Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer. She requested that he would pay the price to set her free, as well as to be her husband. This was very daring. She risked total rejection, but she needed a kinsman-redeemer!

In a previous article, we saw that Boaz is a type or shadow of the true kinsman-redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of us by nature is in bondage to sin and death and our own evil choices. But the Lord Jesus died on the cross to pay the full penalty to set us free. So then, have you asked Jesus to be your kinsman-redeemer? Consider the room where you now are to be your threshing floor. Christ is near to you in his word by the Spirit. In the quietness of this day, boldly confess your need to be set free. Trust his shed blood to be your ransom, and confidently ask him to be your Redeemer. He will grant your request. Read his assuring words: All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37).

Grace and peace, David

Hope in a Redeemer

IMG_1063Ruth 3:1-2

Redemption is costly. We should not be surprised, since everything in life comes at some kind of price, whether of money, work, investing time in relationships, helping to carry someone else’s burdens, etc. Many champion “unconditional love”, but they fail to see that someone pays the price, someone suffers loss of some kind to help or to forgive or to set free. It is better to talk about “sacrificial love”, because that is God’s kind of love. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV). I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Let’s think of the meaning of redemption: To redeem is to set free by the payment of a price. The redeemer must give something to secure the release of someone. As we have said, Ruth and Naomi were in a precarious financial position, since they were widows. Ruth’s hard work of gleaning had eased their crisis temporarily, but how could they be securely free? They needed a redeemer. To gain freedom, a price must be paid. God built this idea into the old covenant law. Consider two examples:

  • Since God delivered Israel through the means of the plague on Egypt’s firstborn, God required Israel to redeem all its firstborn males, whether sons or animals (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16; cf. Numbers 3:40-51).
  • God required his people to protect human life. This included keeping dangerous animals, like bulls, from harming people. If a person’s bull gored a man or a woman to death (what we might call involuntary manslaughter), the bull had to be destroyed, but the owner could redeem his life by paying whatever was demanded (Exodus 21:28-32).

Boaz would have to pay to redeem Ruth and Naomi, when he functioned as their kinsman redeemer.

God redeemed his people by the payment of a ransom price. In the shadows of the old covenant, God gave Egypt and other nearby nations in exchange for Israel’s freedom (Isaiah 43:3-4). In the reality of the new covenant, God gave the precious blood of Christ to redeem us from an empty way of life (1 Peter 1:18-21). For this reason, don’t live for evil human desires; live for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-5).

Redemption provides hope for the future. At this point of the story of Ruth, we have reached the turning point. When Naomi saw how much Ruth had gleaned and learned in whose field she had gleaned, she regained hope (cf. 2:20). She returned to worship, because she thought about redemption and began to act according to it! This also set Naomi to thinking about remarriage for her daughter-in-law. Picture her making scones one day. (By the way, Sharon makes great scones!) Picture Naomi musing about her new career as a matchmaker. “Let’s see… Ruth is an eligible young woman, and Boaz is one of our kinsman redeemers. Now if I can get the two of them together in a more promising romantic situation than when Ruth is sweaty and dirty from gleaning, Mr. Boaz might notice Ruth. If we do this right, he might want to do more than give her some roasted grain. Hmm, what can I do to help this along?”

In a far greater way, God planned to give us hope and a future in Christ. We were hopelessly in debt because of sin (Romans 6:23), separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in God’s nation and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). We were destined for wrath (John 3:36). But God decided to send his Son as a kinsman-redeemer. To make him eligible as our kinsman, he put him in the human family (Hebrews 2:10-11), in order to redeem us through Christ’s blood, so that we might have our sins forgiven (Ephesians 1:7), and receive the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). This is the story of God’s glory; it is good news for us.

My friend, have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Redeemer? The Lord Jesus paid the very costly price necessary to set free all who believe in him from sin, guilt, condemnation, and wrath. Freedom from all these is offered to you through faith in Christ. Today is an excellent day to receive the free gift of eternal life.

Grace and peace, David

The Kinsman Redeemer

IMG_2417Ruth 3:1-2

The Bible is a book about the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is the theme of the Bible, the Book of books; it is the masterpiece of literature, and presents him in various ways. Many books tell the story-line of how God prepared for the coming of his Son through the line of Abraham and David the King. Some books provide prophesies of his coming, like Isaiah and Micah. The Four Gospels tell us what he did when he came. The New Testament letters explain what Christ accomplished in his death on the cross and resurrection and ascension. Many books in the Old Testament Scriptures present him through what the Bible calls “types and shadows” (cf. Hebrews 10:1). For example, the tabernacle and sacrificial system of the law covenant are pictures of Christ and what he would accomplish.

One of the types or shadows of Christ is that of the kinsman-redeemer. In the law or old covenant God gave the Promised Land to the tribes of Israel as their inheritance. But since people live in a world cursed because of human sin, sometimes people in Israel would lose their inheritance through debt, death or other troubles of life. However, God had set Israel free from bondage in Egypt and wanted them to live free from bondage. For this reason, he set up the plan of a kinsman-redeemer, who would set his relatives and their land free again. For the task of the kinsman-redeemer during the law covenant, refer to our previous article.

The story of Ruth now turns upon this concept of the kinsman redeemer: the one who could set Ruth and Naomi free and restore their family in Israel. Without a kinsman-redeemer, Ruth and Naomi would slide into debt and slavery, and they needed an heir who could possess the land that God had given to the family of Elimelech. Boaz is a close relative and so able to be the kinsman-redeemer. But will he do it? He had a number of legal loopholes to allow him to escape this function. To mention one, Ruth was a Moabite, not an Israelite, and the law said nothing about redeeming a Moabite. Yet we want to see more than this. Since the Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to see how Boaz serves as a type or shadow of Christ. To do this, we need to know more about this idea of a kinsman redeemer. Naomi wants Ruth to “find rest” (3:1; cf. 1:9) in marriage, perhaps to Boaz. We all need to “find rest” in union to Christ the redeemer.

The idea of a redeemer develops from God’s plan to set a people free from bondage for him. God desires freedom for his people!

God decided to make himself known to Israel as the Lord who redeems (Exodus 6:6-8).

  • God saw their terrible condition—cruel bondage in Egypt.
  • God determined to do everything necessary to secure their release—outstretched arm and great acts of judgment.
  • God chose to make them his people—the basic promises of the covenant.
  • God promised them an inheritance—the land as their possession.

Christ did all this for us in a better way. He saw us in bondage to sin, died on the cross to secure our forgiveness, made a new covenant with us, and will give us a new heaven and earth.

God continued to reveal himself as Redeemer throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

  • The teaching of the psalmists: Who is the God we worship? Psalm 19:14; 69:18; 72:12-14; 77:14-15; 103:1-4; 106:10; 107:2-3
  • The teaching of Isaiah: What great purpose is God pursuing? Isaiah 41:11-14; 43:14; 44:6-8, 24-26; 47:4; 48:17; 49:25-26; 54:5-8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:16
  • The teaching of Jeremiah: Where can we find hope when everything around us is crumbling? Jeremiah 50:33-34

The story of Ruth reveals how the Lord God wove the idea of redemption into the line of David. The kinsman-redeemer of all the people groups of the world would be the King, Jesus Christ.

When you know God as Redeemer, you can think of God this way:

  • As the God who stands by the oppressed
  • As the God who calls captives to freedom in his covenant family
  • As the God who actually sets people free and gives hope

Grace and peace, David

When God Speaks to His People

IMG_0519Isaiah 43:14-17

In the book that bears his name, Isaiah prophesied of the exile of Israel to Babylon. This was difficult news for God’s old covenant people to receive. God had given them the Promised Land. It was the place where he would live among them; it was the place of blessing and peace. The Lord God had warned them that if they did not obey him fully, he would remove them from the land; in fact, he would scatter them among the nations. Exile would mean separation from all they had known, loss of their property, separation of family and friends, and no way to worship the Lord according to the terms of the law covenant. The prophesied exile to Babylon was a warning shot over the bow, and as we sadly know, they did not listen.

However, Isaiah’s prophecy was more than a gloomy message of punishment for their breaking of the covenant. It was also an encouraging announcement of hope. At all times God wants us to understand our situation in his presence and the better life we can experience when we walk with him in faith. For this reason, the Lord talks to Israel through the prophet about “a new thing” that he will do in what was then their future. In order to give them this word of hope, he reminds them of who he is. It is necessary to know God, so that we might be able to lay hold of what he is able and willing to do for those who trust him. To know him, we need to listen carefully when he reveals himself to us.

First, the Lord (Yahweh) calls himself their Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (43:14). God joins two names that might seem to pull them in opposite directions emotionally. Redeemer is a joyous name. God proclaims that he cares about them and is willing to do what is necessary to set them free. This would fuel confident expectation in people contemplating the horrors of exile. Though they would be exiled, God promises to free them from captivity. Yet at the same time, he is the Holy One of Israel. He is the One supreme over all things, including the false gods they had been worshiping. He is set apart from the sinfulness of people. A study of the Old Testament Scriptures reveals that idolatry was a constant problem in Israel before the exile. Idolatry in the heart is a very serious spiritual problem (Ezekiel 14:3-5). A life based on idols will breed sinfulness in a person’s way of life. So then, God promised to free them from exile, but the deliverance would be consistent with his holiness.

Second, the Lord repeats the truth of his holiness, and then reminds them that he is their Creator and King (43:15). God is asserting his rights in relation to Israel. The Creator has ownership rights of what he has created. This is one motive for people to deny creation and to prefer evolution. God is telling Israel that they belong to him, and so he has the right to send them into exile and to free them. Since he is their King, he also has the power and authority to do this. The people needed to have a proper view of the dependence on God for their destiny, in order to have a firm basis for confident expectation in God’s plan. Simply put, you cannot deny God’s rule and have real hope. Without hope, you fall into defeatism, depression, dread, and despair. God calls to his people to avoid this dark path.

Third, the Lord reminds them of his glory in the exodus from Egypt (43:16-17). He points them to redemption in their past to lead them to hope in a fuller redemption in their future. Egypt had seemed unbeatable, and they had acted arrogantly toward Israel, oppressing them in terrible ways. However, God had set them free from Egypt through ten mighty signs and wonders. But then, Egypt had decided that they did not want to lose their slave labor and pursued them to the brink of the sea. When all seemed hopeless, the Lord made “a path through the mighty waters” and defeated the enemy army totally. In the same way, we need to remember how God has set free those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. His victory in that redemption provides us a firm basis of hope as we contemplate our future. We can know that followers of Christ are now like “scattered exiles”, and yet God has already given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (cf. 1 Peter 1:1-3). Is your hope and trust in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ? You can have eternal confidence when you turn from your rejection of God as God, your refusal to love him first, and your rebellion against him and his ways to trust in Christ for forgiveness and freedom from sin, guilt, and condemnation. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).

Grace and peace, David

Christ Our Covenant (Part 3)


Isaiah 42:7

God tells his purpose for his Servant’s mission. The Father sent his Son to give sight to the blind. One of the great needs of mankind is to be healed of spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; cf. John 9:35-41). When Jesus gave sight to the blind (Mark 10:46-52; John 9:1-5), it was evidence that he was the Messiah and able to give both physical and spiritual sight (Isaiah 35:4-6; Luke 7:18-23).

The Messiah came to give liberty to those in bondage. People live in spiritual bondage, unaware of the chains of darkness that bind them (John 8:34; 2 Tm 2:26). Jesus fulfilled the prophecy and set people free (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1). All this was accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:17-21; 7:18-23; Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 3:17). We become part of God’s purpose to set people free (Ac 13:47; 26:18).

We must think seriously about spiritual bondage. Many people are enslaved by various things:

  • Some are in bondage to pleasure. Their life is a constant pursuit of the next high, whether from food, sex, alcohol, the sights and sounds of casinos, bars, or video games, etc.
  • Some are in bondage to the need to feel in control. What can they do to make it seem that life will go their way? Some become obsessive-compulsive, others pour their lives into politics (that is not why everyone is in politics, but it is why some are), others must watch the news endlessly, thinking that by knowing what some talking head says, they have a little better grip on their lives, etc.
  • Some are in bondage to the past. They look upon it as the time when they were happy, so they desperately try to create the illusion that the past is still present and will be their future. Those were the glory days, and they constantly hug their trophies or keepsakes. Others are in bondage to the past in another way. There is some “big sin” they committed or that was committed against them. They feel that God can never forgive them, or that they are morally filthy, because someone abused them for their evil pleasure. Everyday their past haunts them. They do not rejoice in the Lord.
  • Some are in bondage to fear. Oh, their fears might not be as extreme as the fears of some, but their lives are ruled by the desire to feel safe. Some build shelters and hoard food and water to feel safe. (I wonder if they have a tank to protect their stuff.) Some build shelters of various kinds around their children, supposing that if they can keep their children within their sphere of protection, all will always be well. Some have been hurt and never want to be hurt again, so they build walls around their hearts. Some seek protection from God, because they have never trusted him. They try to buy God off by rituals, going to church, reading their Bibles, praying, spiritual disciplines, and/or doing good works.

What kind of bondage are you in today? My friends, only the Lord Jesus Christ can set you free. This is the good news. Christ, the Son of God is able to set people free! Do you understand that Christ can be your new and better covenant with God? In Christ, you know the Lord, God becomes your God and Father, and forgives your sins (Hebrews 8:10-12). Has the Lord Jesus Christ given you spiritual sight? Do you see that he is your salvation? Has he set you free from sin and its partner, death? Today, you may have light, life and liberty in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn from the ways of darkness and death. Trust in Christ alone for salvation, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Grace and peace, David

Remembering the Lord in the Park

It was the very first time I had remembered our precious Lord Jesus’ death in the great outdoors! We were at the park where we had met to worship; praising God and singing, reading the scriptures – God’s word to us. Dave had shared what he had prepared from Matthew, Colossians, and John. We were encouraged to write down any comments or questions and we will discuss them at the next meeting at the park.

Skies were blue and clear as we sat around the table under a canopy of trees. Even the trees were making noises; they seemed to be lifting their voices to their Creator, perhaps remembering that it was on a tree the Savior had given his life that we might be forgiven.

I passed the basket with bread after taking a piece, to those gathered around and we remembered his body that was broken for us, and then having poured grape juice in a glass pitcher, I passed it, saying, “Take as much as you need to remember that it represented the blood of Christ, which is what alone can take away sins.”

Christ is the Vine. Dave had just spoken of him to us, and we are his branches. We need to stay connected to him. Yes, we too felt crushed like grapes; misunderstood as Jesus once was, but he is our Head, the Head of our church! He feels our every pain and sorrow. We remembered his pain on Calvary that day for us.

We must not think we can go through life problem free. We are not better than our Lord! We must be willing to pick up our cross and follow him.

We drank of the juice that warm day, and then I did something I had never done before in church, but finally felt free enough to say, “Let’s pass the juice around again and fill our cups, raising them to Jesus!” We did, and again we said thank you to the Lord and Savior, who had done so much for us. We are connected to the Vine. May his life flow freely through us, today, tomorrow, and forever! He alone has given us eternal life. Yes, thank you, Jesus! He made us and we celebrated the life he had given. It is eternal!