Matthew 1:18-25- Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But, as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (free) his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means God with us). When Joseph woke from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name, Jesus.
July 4, 1776. When we hear that date, what word enters our thoughts before any other? Freedom. Although fireworks have become a little more commonplace these days, I still catch myself getting a little teary-eyed at times when I see them light up the sky. For a moment, I’m overcome with gratitude for the sacrifices made, pride for the victory that was won, and a genuine contentment that overshadows any disappointment I feel because I understand how it feels to be free and live in a land of opportunity.
And yet, the freedom I’ve just described, doesn’t even begin to compare to the freedom I feel because of Jesus Christ. I was bound by depression, extremely low self-esteem, panic, shame, guilt, etc. until I encountered the One that could set me free from all of that. It is, after all, the very reason He came to live among us, right? She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (free) his people from their sins…
So many people are quick to write Him off, because they can’t “see” Him. They aren’t sure that He “really works.” It all just seems too easy to be true. But- just as this fact is true for everything else- you have to experience something to know how effective it is; You have to take time to get to know someone before you can knowledgeably determine their character and abilities, right? I guarantee, if you open your heart up to Him and allow Him to reveal Himself to you, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
There have been several times throughout my life when my faith was tested. Severe sickness, losing a loved one unexpectedly, false accusations, loss, criticism, financial surprises, infertility, etc. etc. etc. knocked on my door a time or two, and led me into some extremely dark times. But, because my freedom did not lie in my circumstances, but in the One Who set me free, I knew I’d be okay. I’m not saying I didn’t shed a tear or deal with worry; I’m just saying that I was quickly reassured somehow by Him that all would work out in the end. I felt His peace. I saw His hand working in my life. I watched situations “mysteriously” turn themselves completely around “without explanation.”
Jesus Christ has been tried and proven to be alive and working on behalf of His children… on behalf of me.
If you read the words of our national anthem, you’ll understand this beautiful song was written in the midst of a chaotic battle… … … but one sight… was enough to provide hope that in the end, the victory would belong to our great nation:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
As I mentioned before, I’ve fought many battles during my Christian life. And I’ll jump on out there and guarantee you that the biggest majority of us have. But, just as bombs, cannons, and gunfire provided the light that made our flag visible in the midst of war- somehow – the situations that blow up in our faces during the darkest times of our lives are sometimes the very things that draw our attention back to Him. We look up and see Him standing there in the midst of chaos and raging battles, and that’s enough proof that we will be more than okay.
There is so much freedom offered through Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Him, today is a good day to let Him introduce Himself to you. You won’t regret it. No one ever regrets the gift of freedom…
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the freedom we have in this great country. But, I thank You even more for the freedom You provided us eternally by coming to this earth just to give Your life for us. Help me draw closer to You, fully live in this freedom, and share it with all those around me. In Your name, amen.