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If the Son sets you free then you will be free indeed (John 8v36). Our human nature, because of sin, is able to hold us in captivity. Not with bars of iron or shackles and chains but with lusts, desires and the torments of our own thinking. As a result the devil is able to oppress and trap us in spiritual captivity, we become slaves. The writer of Hebrews warns us of this sin that so easily ensnares. It is not only the outward acts of sin born out of our temptations and desires that can imprison us but also those inward, self destructive, thoughts and feelings. Toxic thoughts that consume our ability to break the cycles of life that can so easily become the prisons of the heart and mind (fear, insecurity, self loathing to name just a few). This is a powerful description of the nature of sin and the deceitful schemes of the enemy. It is so easy to convince ourselves that somehow we are free because we can do what we like in this life (or so it may seem). The truth is there are so many things that we have little or no control over. It may at times become evident to us that our lives are not really our own as we labour and toil in this life. God in His infinite love and wisdom makes a way for us to be set free from such captivity. Not by relocating us to a new area or changing our job, but by releasing us from the hold that sin and our self destructive nature can have upon us. Jesus bought our freedom upon the cross. Freedom not only from the righteous requirement of the law (God’s standards) but also from the captivity of our hearts and minds. A freedom from behind the bars, Paul wrote much about our spiritual liberty and freedom whilst imprisoned under house arrest in Rome. Others too through out the ages have proven this freedom of heart and spirit that is found in Christ the One who is able to truly set us free. Paul writes in Romans to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12v2). So we see that in Christ there is a change of heart and then a transformation of thinking as He sets us free. As we grow in Him we find there is a change of perspective, a different way of seeing ourselves and the world in which we exist. Let this mind be in you (Philippians 2v5) in other words see things from God’s perspective. In this way we find ever increasing freedom in Christ as we lose the selfish and often destructive thinking of the old nature and put on this new perspective. It is both a spiritual and a psychological freedom (hearts and minds) that comes from trusting Him for both the major events and the small details of our every day lives. For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able…(2 Timothy 1v12) declares Paul. Our challenge then is not in being set free (Jesus has done that) but in living free, learning to walk and grow in this new found freedom. Free from fear, self loathing, insecurity, selfishness, anger, resentment and so much more!

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A word for every day, a daily habit of reading the bible and spending time in God’s word (reading, studying and contemplating it’s meaning). When we read about Adam in the garden of Eden, the book of Genesis it tells us that God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. In other words, God spent time with Adam and Eve every day. It’s an important lesson to learn, that God’s desire is to spend time with us every day and the best way to do that is through the time we spend in His word (Bible). Why do we need a daily reading, why can’t we just have a worship time instead? We become poor disciples when we replace the reading of God’s word solely with other pursuits. It is better for us to have a worship time, and a prayer time as-well as reading time. If we don’t know God’s word then we are in danger of relying solely on emotions and physical sensations to direct us. There are plenty of men and women who have come to the strangest of conclusions, denying Christ is the One true Son of the living God and creating cults that have mislead many. The Bible warns about such people and instructs us to spend time studying the word of God in order to recognise truth from deception to avoid getting into spiritual difficulty. Jesus declared that you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, and also He said, I am the way the truth and the life (John 14). So if we are not spending time in the truth of God’s word it is difficult to see how we can possibly be living the life (that of a disciple). Over many years I have developed the habit of reading the bible every day and have found that the more I read the more I discover. The God of Heaven has given us His word so that we might know Him better and understand His call and purpose for our lives. I have been greatly encourage by just how frequently God’s Spirit speaks to me through His word. In some of the most challenging times of my Christian life it has been a word in season as God has communicated through the words of scripture that I happened to be reading that day. A daily reading plan is of tremendous benefit not only in helping read and learn but also in those unanticipated moments when I have needed to hear and there in the middle of the planned verses I was reading God spoke to me. When Jesus taught the disciple to pray He referred to our daily bread in another place He said man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In other words Scripture is the daily bread for our inner man, our spirit. If we get out of the habit (or never develop the habit) of daily reading we end up spiritually weak. So let me encourage you to read the bible every day, to spend time with God as you read so that He can communicate with you through it. Make it a daily habit, over time you will find that it becomes a source of daily blessing.

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The message of salvation is the revealing of God’s gracious gift to humanity. It is all too easy for so many to miss this simple but profound truth that by God’s grace we are saved. The first thing that I think of when I consider this is -‘saved from what?’ What do we mean when we say saved? If I do not know that I need saving then I will have no need of a saviour! This is the real issue for many good people around the globe, they do not see their need for a saviour. After all they will tell you, ‘I am a good person, and good people go to heaven right.’ The word teaches us of a terrible judgement to come when it will not be enough to have been good because God in His righteousness declares that he who is guilty in one letter of the law is guilty before the whole law. In other words no matter how good our good may be it will never measure up to God’s standard. Even if we have lived a good life, if we have not acknowledged and worship God the Father in heaven then we are guilty! It’s a scary thought and the reason why no human being can save themselves. Romans tells us there is none righteous no not one. However in clear contrast to this the word declares that God is not willing that any should perish, God does not want to see us miss out on heaven. So here’s the problem we can’t live up to God’s standards and the consequence (the price or cost) is death. The wages of sin is death, this is how the bible puts it. So when we read verses such as these in Ephesians we start to realise what we cannot do, God has done for us. God has sent His Son, Jesus, to take our place and die on our behalf. This then is the message of salvation that God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. This gift is salvation from God’s judgement, forgiveness for our wrongs against God. A way for us to enter into a relationship with God and know the blessing and benefit of His love and kindness toward us. Over the years I believe the message has got clouded at times, Christians trying to live to strict rules and standards. Yes sometimes even condemning those who didn’t do the same. However God’s message is not one of judgement or condemnation but of grace, unmerited favour. God gives us this gift freely, there is nothing we can do to earn it, or deserve it, it is simply given by our loving heavenly Father. What must we do to be saved then? Believe and receive. Once we know what God has done we must believe that He has done it, believe in who Jesus is and what He has done on our behalf. Then we receive, we accept this gift and live in the joy of knowing that the hopelessness of this life has now been replaced and we can have hope in Jesus and in the promise of everlasting life. This is the message of good news (Gospel in old language) that God has given us a gift and should we choose to accept we will find there is so much more to discover.

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