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“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

prison cellCan you imagine for a moment what it’s like to be on death row? Even worse, to know your day of execution is coming up? You’ve been found guilty of a crime and are about to pay the consequences through execution or physical death. You have no hope; no more appeals. You’ve most likely been forgotten by society. You are hopelessly alone.

I’m reminded of Barabbas, the prisoner that was set free instead of Jesus. What must it have been like for him to hear the crowd screaming ‘CRUCIFY HIM’! What must he have thought as he heard footsteps coming down the hall towards his cell after seeing the cross on the hillside from his window?

I can’t imagine the agony; the fear; the anger; the hopelessness! Every appeal had been used and failed. Every attempt at escape had been thwarted. Death literally was staring him in the face. He may have blinked back tears of anger and remorse just before he heard the guard say, “Ok. Get up. You’re out of here. You’re free. Never let us see your ugly face in Jerusalem again or next time you won’t be so lucky.”

All of life can really be summed up in two laws, the law of morality and the law of mortality. While science has made great strides in medicine, the death rate among humans is still 100%. So no matter what we accomplish in life, nothing will be good enough to keep us from death.

Morality suffers a similar fate. ‘Nobody is perfect’ is more than a cliché. It’s a fact of life. In an effort to ease the futility of trying to be perfect, some have tried to change God’s standards. Others have tried to ignore God’s rules or rationalize their behavior. But the Bible is clear that the wages of our sin is death — eternal separation from God.

King Solomon states in Ecclesiastes that he had everything he could possibly want by earthly standards yet found it was all meaningless until you turn to God.

A personal relationship with Jesus frees us from the law of death because we know that this body will someday fail, but our souls will go to be with him for eternity.

A personal relationship with Jesus frees us from the penalty of the law of sin, so we can know we are forgiven. Because of that, even though our physical bodies die, we are assured of life with him for eternity.

Live free today because of Jesus. Thank him for the freedom only he can give. Because of your relationship with him you are forever free from condemnation!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. It’s often so easy to forget what a huge debt you paid for me on the cross. Thank you that I am no longer condemned. I lift up those around me who still suffer under the bondage of condemnation. I pray they too may find freedom in you. Amen.


Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

There is one thing we will never be short of. There may be shortages of gas, or food, or money, but there will never be a shortage of people who are ready, willing and able to condemn us for something.

Sometimes, if we are honest, we get accused of things that are really pretty accurate. If you are like me you say things that you really wished you hadn’t said, or found a better time and way to say the things you needed to say.

Other times, however, people seem to line up ready to put us down for everything from the way we do our jobs to the clothes we wear. There will never be a shortage of people who find fault with us.

The whole eighth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Roman believers centers on one theme. We are not condemned! With Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord we are not answerable to anyone but him. He owns us. When we sin, and we will, he is the one we must confess our sins to. Do we ask forgiveness to the one we’ve harmed? Yes, of course. But sometimes people we ask forgiveness to like to keep reminding us of our faults. We don’t need to listen to that.

People may refuse to forgive us in order to hold us captive. In Jesus we have freedom. Not only did he die for you and rise from the dead so you could live. He goes before the Father on a daily basis to pray for you and to plead your case before God himself.

Do you have someone in your life that is holding you captive by reminding you of your fault? Are you bound by a guilty conscience for the things you’ve done in your past or the people you’ve hurt either intentionally or unintentionally? Today is the day to be free!

Jesus died for all of your sins once. There’s no need to keep killing yourself. Confess your sins to him. Ask forgiveness of others when needed. Then let go of the guilt and condemnation you and others put on yourself. In Jesus, you are free! When you live your life with a clear conscience before Christ you won’t be bound by the fickle emotions of those around you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. We both know I’ve made a lot of bad choices in my life. I’ve hurt people, done my own selfish things and not given you the praise you deserve. There are plenty of people around me who are willing to show me my faults and remind me of my failures. I give all that ugliness over to you. I release the pain they have caused in my life into your hands. Forgive me for my past sins. Help me when possible to seek the forgiveness of those I’ve harmed. Empower me with your Spirit to live in the freedom only you can give. Thank you for praying for me. In your name, Amen.

 


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

The English definition of compassion is a ‘sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.’ While that is a noble gesture, the English word for compassion doesn’t come close to giving us the picture God intends for us to have of compassion ‘God’s way’.

The Greek word for compassion in Matthew 14 is the word splanchnizomai. Okay, it doesn’t really matter how it’s pronounced. What’s more important is what it means to you and me. The word translated in English means ‘from the gut’. It gives the idea that Jesus didn’t just have a ‘sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress.

When Jesus saw the leper he actually FELT his loneliness right down to his shoe laces…okay, sandal straps. Even so, it wasn’t just a kind gesture. He actually felt the despair of the young mom whose daughter was lying dead in the upper room. His eyes teared up as he climbed the stairs while mourners wailed in the background. He felt the fear that gripped the father as he watched his son go into yet another demon-powered seizure. He felt the darkness and confusion of the blind man who had never seen the faces of his mother or father or any of the other family members that cared for him on a daily basis.

One of the most meaningless statements a person can make to someone is, “I know exactly how you feel.” Have you ever had someone say that to you? Come on now, be honest. Just between you and me, didn’t you want to deck them? Didn’t every nerve in your body want to scream “NO YOU DON’T! HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY KNOW HOW I FEEL?” Maybe you’ve even decked a few people physically or emotionally. The words flew out before you could be ‘socially appropriate’.

Fact of the matter is. You were right. No one can climb inside your heart and feel what you are feeling. No one that is except Jesus. You may not always feel his presence, but he’s aware of every one of your thoughts, emotions and pain. His gut hurts when he feels the pain you are in. That’s compassion. That’s Jesus.

He doesn’t only feel your pain every bit as much as you do. He wants to heal you. He wants to build a relationship with you that enables you to sleep through the storms, to endure the trials and overcome the enemy. He’s never too tired. Never to angry with you. Never far away.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for the fact that you not only understand my pain, you feel it from the bottom of your gut. No one understands my pain. No one sees how much I’m hurting inside like you do. Help me to feel your presence in my life in a way I’ve never felt before. Forgive me for my part in the bad choices I’ve made. Empower me with your Spirit to grow in relationship with you. In your name I pray, Amen.


Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

He was caught red-handed. There was no way to hide it now. It was in the open. His integrity lay in a shattered heap on the ground. How would he face his family? How would he face the family of the person he killed? What would happen with his faith? Would God act swiftly and with revenge? All his years of waiting, running, fighting for what was right was destroyed in an instant.

He felt anguish, guilt, fear, shame and, interestingly, relief. I’m talking about the story of David and Bathsheba. Here he was, King of Israel and caught in a lovers triangle. He’d slept with another man’s wife and got her pregnant. He had her husband murdered to try to cover up his crime. He ran, but he couldn’t hide.

Before we are too hard on David we need to look at our own lives. Maybe it isn’t adultery and murder that plague us. It could be anger, lust, addictions of any kind, doubt, or envy. We may be able to hide those things for awhile. Some of us get good enough to hide them for years! There are a few that are able to live their entire lives fooling other people. But even if we can fool everyone else, we will still have internal consequences to deal with.

Sociologists and psychologists tell us that many emotional, physical and spiritual issues in a person’s life can be traced to one thing: guilt or unresolved guilt. Guilt is a powerful force that can affect us in every aspect of our lives. We do things to try to cover up that guilt, but those things make matters worse. We grow fearful of what other people may think so we live in fear.  We blame others or try to drown our sorrows in new relationships, drugs and alcohol or some other activity. We run in fear of being found out because we don’t want to suffer the shame or consequences. The things we do to try to hide our ‘secret lives’ only make matters worse and take a devastating toll on our personal lives and relationships.

People who finally ‘come clean’ often express a feeling of relief. They don’t have to hide anymore. They can get the support they need for the healing process and their entire outlook on life changes for the better. Coming clean may mean we have to confess some things publicly, but most importantly it means being honest with God and with ourselves. He is the only one who can heal us of our wounds. Confession of our struggle isn’t a sign of weakness but of strength.

Regardless of what you are struggling with today, Jesus can offer you the healing you need. He doesn’t expect you to clean yourself up first. He won’t be critical when you fall (again and again). Jesus knows the root cause of our actions when no one else does. He isn’t about making us feel guilty; Jesus wants to make us feel clean.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank You for knowing the struggle I go through every day. I’m afraid of being caught. I’m losing sleep. I feel completely out of control. I even doubt your existence at times because the pain is so bad. Forgive me for failing so many times. Help me to have the courage to change what I need to change so I can live in integrity. Amen.


Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Not a physical piece of shiny glass, what about the spiritual and emotional mirror? Who do you see when no one else is watching? What’s hidden beneath the surface that no one else can see and no one else can understand?

Most of us don’t like to look at ourselves in a mirror (or at least we don’t admit it!). We have a vision of what we want to be like, what we want to look like and all too often a mirror doesn’t ‘reflect’ the vision we’d hoped for.

How we see ourselves in our ‘emotional/spiritual’ mirror will affect how we see ourselves in a physical mirror as well as how we react to others, to adversity and even success. Our vision of self drives our emotions, our spiritual lives and our relationships.

King David knew how fickle each of us can be. Our vision is so affected by how we see ourselves that it can change by the day or by the minute. One adverse event can ruin our whole day or even our lives. That’s why David went to the source of all knowledge for an opinion about himself.

‘Search me’, he says and with that request he gives God ‘permission’ so to speak, to shine a light on every corner of his being. That’s scary stuff! None of us would dare ask that of even our closest friends because we’d be afraid of what they’d find. There are feelings, thoughts, attitudes and painful experiences buried deep within each of us. Some we have tried to cover up with toys, with drugs and addictions and with multiple relationships. Some of the pain we suffer from has become so much a part of us that we no longer even remember why we are hurting. The pain has become ‘normal’.

David went to God for the searching because he knew that God would look upon him with eyes of love and compassion. He will do the same for you. When we let God reveal our deepest, darkest secrets, those hidden pains and fears, we take the first step to true freedom. God doesn’t reveal our hidden places to condemn us. He reveals our hidden places to free us.

John tells us, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we can be at peace with who we are with all our blemishes, all our bruises and all the ugly scars that we try to hide with emotional make-up. God made you as you are. You are His child. Ask Him to reveal all that you are. Trust Him to do so with compassion, gentleness and love.

PRAYER: Father God. I come to you today with fear. I’m afraid of what you will find in my life if I invite you to search every corner of my being. There are times when I don’t like myself, my past and my present. But I believe you when you say you love me and won’t condemn me. Give me the courage to open every area of my life to you. Remove my feelings of fear, guilt and inadequacy. Forgive me for the harm I’ve caused to myself and others. Free me to live for you through your Spirit. Amen.

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