Happy Independence Day! I did many things in my youth that I am now ashamed of, including the pain that I caused so many. The apostle Paul wrote,
“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” 1
A Springtime Response…
Being overjoyed with Amy’s response, I just had to share it abroad.
“Spring is in the air, and I must confess, my long depression is starting to lift. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who’s going through some troubling times this very minute, and I have shared with her your words of wisdom and God’s love. Thank you once again for the pamphlet, as I have shared them with a number of people whom I believe could use the guidance and wisdom that you have helped me with, and I am happy to bestow upon them.
“Because of your pamphlets, one of my close friends actually started going back to church. He has a severe drug and alcohol abuse crutch, and he has been finding salvation in the ministry he has chosen to join. So far, he has 27 days sober. He keeps me informed of every day he has stayed on the wagon. And I truly believe because of your love and support, that it has helped him on a path of righteousness. I couldn’t be more proud. Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for your caring words and encouragement.
“I want to be free again. To live in this world without worry and despair. Because of your words, I have started finding be self to be less selfless and having more self-worth… I wish I had a way for repaying you for all the guidance. I’m not sure this letter would be going the way it is without you. I believe now that God has a greater plan for me, and I hope to never disappoint him again with ill thoughts and intentions. Keeping my chin up has been an extreme rollercoaster of emotions, mixed with dread, hate, boredom, empathy, affection, and love. I would like to continue to keep both my feet planted on the ground and continue to keep the Lord in my heart. I know it will get better someday. I just have to keep fighting the good fight. As always, truly grateful, Amy, NJ.”
A Humbling Reply…
It humbled me to receive Amy’s praise report. St. Paul said, “You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Still, I can’t help but share how Amy has caught on fire, and now sharing her newfound freedom with her friends. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 3
I see the brochures on the site as seeds to print and share around own with friends and family. Amy is an example of someone who shared a seed with a friend. This led him to be accountable to the church, as well as to her, and he is now sober. Praise the Lord!
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 4
A Pressing Life…
This does not mean that hardships are over, because as believers, we will face trials. The apostle Paul continues, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.” 5 Amy likened it to a rollercoaster ride of emotions for her; “…mixed with dread, hate, boredom, empathy, affection, and love.” With God in control, we grow as we walk by faith in all we face, knowing that we will be strengthened through Christ Jesus to overcome.
I can identify with the apostle Paul’s personal triumphs, but now with the magnitude of persecution while sharing the Gospel. He wrote: “We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 6 God’s glory is manifest through broken vessels, through people who endure troubles by relying on His power.
A Life of Freedom…
Amy said, “I want to be free again. To live in this world without worry and despair.” Only through the power of Jesus’ blood, the power of His resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit do we gain freedom. Jesus said, “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… they said… ‘What do you mean, you will be set free?’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” 7
The truth is this: Without Christ, we are slaves to sin and powerless to do anything about it. Once we admit our sin to God, the power to change through His mercy and grace will prevail. As we turn our broken lives over to Him through faith, we’re on our way to freedom from sinful habits and emotional bondage. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved… For ’Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” 8
“So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” 9
A Prayer for You…
Father, today I choose to believe truth. You sent Jesus into the world. He became my sin, He took my punishment, He went to hell in my place. He came out of the grave and conquered my sin. In Him, I have the gift of righteousness. I thank You that I am righteous apart from my performance. Today I acknowledge that You have never hurt me. You are not judging me. You are not the source of pain in my life. My own sin and unbelief have brought me pain. I will never again believe that You are hurting me. I will abide in Your peace because I am righteous in Jesus! You love me, You accept me, You are with me. You have made be accepted in the Beloved! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Scripture References (NLT):
1) Rom. 6:22 NKJV
2) 2 Cor. 4:5
3) 2 Cor. 4:6
4) 2 Cor. 4:7
5) 2 Cor. 4:8
6) 2 Cor. 4:9,10
7) John 8:32, 33B, 34, 36
8) Rom. 10:9,10,13
9) Col. 2:10