Romans 6:11 (New International Version)
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive
to God in Christ Jesus.
Slavery in the United States was abolished by the
Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865. How many slaves were there on
December 19? In reality, none, but many still lived like slaves. They did
because they never learned the truth. Others knew and even believed that they
were free, but chose to continue living as they had always been taught.
Many plantation owners were devastated by this
proclamation of emancipation. "We're ruined! Slavery has been abolished.
We've lost the battle to keep our slaves." But their chief spokesman slyly
responded, "Not necessarily. As long as these people think they're still
slaves, the proclamation of emancipation will have no practical effect. You
don't have a legal right over them anymore, but many of them don't know it.
Keep your slaves from learning the truth, and your control over them will not
even be challenged."
"But what if the news spreads?"
"Don't panic. We have another barrel on our gun. We
may not be able to keep them from hearing the news, but we can still keep them
from understanding it. They don't call me the father of lies for nothing. We
still have the potential to deceive the whole world. Just tell them that they
misunderstood the Thirteenth Amendment. Tell them that they are going to be
free, not that they are free already. The truth they heard is just positional
truth, not actual truth. Someday they may receive the benefits, but not now."
"But, they'll expect me to say that. They won't
"Then pick out a few persuasive ones who are
convinced that they're still slaves and let them do the talking for you.
Remember, most of these newly freed people were born as slaves and have lived
like slaves all their lives. All we have to do is to deceive them so that they
still think like slaves. As long as they continue to do what slaves do, it will
not be hard to convince them that they must still be slaves. They will maintain
their slave identity because of the things they do. The moment they try to
profess that they are no longer slaves, just whisper in their ear, `How can you
even think you are no longer a slave when you are still doing things that
slaves do?' After all, we have the capacity to accuse the brethren day and
Years later, many slaves have still not heard the
wonderful news that they have been freed, so naturally they continue to live
the way they have always lived. Some slaves have heard the good news, but they
evaluate it by what they are presently doing and feeling. They reason,
"I'm still living in bondage, doing the same things I have always done. My
experience tells me that I must not be free. I'm feeling the same way I was
before the proclamation, so it must not be true. After all, your feelings
always tell the truth." So they continue to live according to how they
feel, not wanting to be hypocrites!
One former slave, however, hears the good news, and
receives it with great joy. He checks out the validity of the proclamation, and
finds out that the highest of all authorities originated the decree. Not only
that, but it personally cost that authority a tremendous price, which he
willingly paid so that the slave could be free. As a result, the slave's life
is transformed. He correctly reasons that it would be hypocritical to believe
his feelings and not the truth. Determined to live by what he knows to be true,
his experiences began to change rather dramatically. He realizes that his old
master has no authority over him and does not need to be obeyed. He gladly
serves the one who set him free.'
The gospel is the "proclamation of
emancipation" for every sinner who is sold into the slavery of sin. Every
person that comes into this world is born dead in his or her trespasses and
sins (Ephesians 2:1), and is by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). The
good news is that we who are Christians are no longer slaves to sin. We are now
alive in Christ and dead to sin (Romans 6:11). We have been set free in Christ.
We are no longer sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are saints in the
hands of a loving God. We are forgiven, justified, redeemed, and born-again
children of God. We may not feel like it, we may not act like it, and others
may tell us that we are not, but we have been sanctified in Christ and are
being sanctified in Him.
Dear Lord we thank You for the freedom that You have given
to each of us. Help u snot live as slaves to sin but as ones that are set free
by You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ephesians 6:11-13 (New International Version)
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take
your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against
flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the
powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the
heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the
day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have
done everything, to stand.
There is a story of a black bear in Kootenay National
Park in British Columbia. If you are planning a picnic in that area you might
want to consider what that smart black bear on the loose, is saying.
"He he he. I can't wait for some tourist to come
along and eat their lunch. It's unbelievable how gullible they are! They
innocently park their cars and amble over to these wonderful picnic tables.
Meanwhile I am hiding behind these bushes where no one can see me, patiently
biding my time . . .
"I do have to be patient. If I scare them too early,
they rush away with all of their delicious food! No, it's far better to wait
until they are all settled around the table and have started eating that food
that they THINK they have prepared for themselves, but they have REALLY
prepared for . . . For me! Then I spring my entrance. Grrrrr! I make sure to
growl really loud, and I put on my most vicious face. I also have to move
quickly-too quickly for them to grab their food back up!
"As these predicable tourists run for the safety of
their cars, I take my time enjoying their delicious lunches. None of them ever
dare to come back for their food. They'd better not, otherwise I will pretend
to go after them! My goal isn't really to hurt them, only to scare them away,
but they don't know that!
"You won't believe the thousands of delicious meals
I have been able to steal. It sure beats raw fish and berries! Hey, why don't
you come on over and see for yourselves? But be sure to bring your picnic
Sounds a little bit like Yogi Bear, doesn't it? You know,
Yogi bear who's smarter than the average bear, Yogi bear who's always in the
rangers hair, have a picnic basket you will find him there, that's because he's
smarter than the average bear . . .!
Okay, so it isn't really Yogi bear, but it is a true
story. I haven’t personally experience this smart bear but I have read about
So often we fall for these kinds of hidden dangers. In
fact, the biggest threat of all is mostly ignored as non-existent, and billions
of people have paid it with a life of addiction.
This is real! God doesn't tell us to be prepared for
nothing! ("Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in
the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Eph 6:11-13 NKJV) The world
is in a spiritual war zone. The devil finds us easy prey for the addictions he
hopes to lure us into. Un aware we unpack our "lunches", only to find
ourselves attacked viciously by the intruder called sin, and once in its
clutches, it is almost impossible to find freedom.
The good news is that freedom is attainable, by believing
in the One who paid the price for our freedom with His life.
Only with God's power can we resist the one who wants to
take us as prisoners. Only with God's power can we be free indeed.
Dear Lord we thank You today for the freedom we can have
through You. Help us resist the powers of the one who wants to devour us today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Isaiah 64:6 (New International
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our
righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the
wind our sins sweep us away.
This is clearly seen in New Zealand, in particular in the
kiwi orchards. Although they produce delicious, world-renown fruit, the kiwi
vines can fall into "temptation". Cold can cause them to split in
two, rendering them completely useless.
Do you know how they can victoriously withstand their
"temptation" to split in two from the cold? Not by their own efforts!
They would be doomed!
Helicopters are used to hover over the orchards, forcing
warmer air down on the vines. The kiwi fruit is saved, not by their own
efforts, but by the courageous helicopter pilots who willingly wake up before
sunrise and with eyes held open by toothpicks, take the time to protect the
precious orchards from the "tempting" cold.
People, too, have succumbed to cold. As soon as the cold
invades their inner core, they are tempted to fall asleep, never to wake up
again! However there is a more noxious cold that has invaded our whole world,
one that leaves each of us wanting and in despair. The "cold", better
known as "sin", is devastating and it has contaminated each one of
We may fill ourselves with delusions, thinking we are
better than people like Hitler and Nero. And we are, to some extent. And this
idea somehow makes us feel better! But in all reality, how many people around
us have we not disappointed by our own actions? And what about ourselves?
Haven't we also disappointed ourselves with our actions?
Only One can set us free from condemnation, and He paid a
hefty price for it. There is a catch. To be truly free we have to get to know
Him personally and we must accept His offer to let Him rescue us totally and
unequivocally. He is the only One who can fill us with the warm air from above
that will keep us from freezing to death from the ravages of sin! He is there
for us, not only early in the morning, but all the time, 24 hours a day, with
no annoying "please call me back later" messages. He is truly the
only "warm air" we need to breathe!
"Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do
is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We
don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that
we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does
both the making and saving." (Eph 2:8-10 The Message)
Only when we truly appreciate the price He paid for us
will we be able to worship Him from the deepest recesses of our heart. We will
be able to truthfully sing: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open
its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for
God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to
be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the
earth." (Rev 5:9-10 NIV)
Dear Lord we thank You that You are there start to
finish, no matter the circumstances we find our self in. Lord We pray that we
would be able to share that with somebody today. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Hebrews 2:14-15 (New International Version)
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared
in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who
holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their
lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
It has been estimated that when white man first
discovered America, there were between 27 million and 100 million buffalo on
the American and Canadian prairies. By 1889, there were less than a thousand!
What happened to precipitate this near-disappearance of
such a huge animal?
Before Europeans arrived on this continent, Indians were
the primary natural predator of the Buffalo. They used these creatures for
food, for decoration, for clothing, for their dwellings … Every part of the
animal was used. Without the buffalo, they would not have survived; and their
sole purpose for hunting the animal was for their own survival.
White men hunted buffalo for very different reasons.
These included the following:
1. For its fur and tongue (venison).
Buffalo fur was a source of great income, and Buffalo
tongue was considered a great delicacy. After taking these two body parts,
white hunters were known to leave entire carcasses rotting on the prairie.
2. For the fun of hunting.
Men with riffles on horse-back made a sport of hunting
3. To control Indians through hunger, and to force them
The government encouraged the large-scale killing of
these animals. They were well aware that without the buffalo, the Indians would
be forced to depend on the white man for survival. With the buffalo gone, they
would be easily herded onto the reserves.
4. During the construction of the railroad, buffalo meat
was used as a cheap way to feed foreign workers.
In other words the near extinction of this animal was
solely for money, sport and the manipulation of the indigenous populations of
Canada and the United States. Nowadays, thanks to state and provincial parks
such as Fort Whyte Centre, the buffalo population has increased merely to the
I know of only one other being whose sole purpose of
existence is to destroy: "The thief (referring to the devil) comes only to
steal and kill and destroy…" (John 10:10 NIV)
The devil succeeded in bringing all of humanity into
slavery by addicting them to sin, which ultimately resulted in death: "For
the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23 NIV)
He has no good intentions towards any human being.
However the second part of John 10:10, as well as Rom 6:23 bring us some
terrific news: "…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the
full." (John 10:10 NIV); and "…but the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23 NIV).
Mankind was destined for complete annihilation before
God, in His mercy, stopped the process. However, the price was costly:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their
humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of
death-that is, the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in
slavery by their fear of death." (Heb 2:14-15 NIV)
Freedom and eternal survival is yours! All you need to do
is accept God's offer of freedom. You no longer need to be slaves to sin. You
can be free from addictions! God has paid the price for you, no matter how
horrible your past might seem. Will you accept this freedom?
The Buffalo is once again grazing the prairie grasslands
in America, free of fear of hunting expeditions, safe within the protective
boundaries of hundreds of state and provincial parks and reserves. Freedom can
be yours as well. It's your choice. Don't believe what the destroyer of your
soul suggests in your mind: "You are worthless! God will never forgive you
nor free you from your past." This is a lie from Satan himself. You are so
important to God that Jesus willingly died for you so that you could have the
opportunity to experience eternal freedom. It is yours if you just believe and
accept His offer. He loves you!
Dear Lord we thank
You for the freedom we can have through You. Help us today show that freedom to
those You bring into our path today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 8:34-36 (King James Version )
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not
in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall
make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Jack Reece of Panama City, Florida, recounts his
experience of helping a friend who lived on a farm. They were working on a
barbed-wire fence which surrounded a lush green pasture. As Reece worked
alongside his friend, something peculiar caught his attention. He couldn't help
but notice that between each of the barbs, there were several strands of
differently colored hair. He wondered about this and decided to ask his friend
about the strange sight. He was told that no matter how wide an area the fence
covered, or how much green grass there was in the center of the field, the cattle
will graze just inside fence, right along the edge. Often, the cattle will even
stick their heads through the fence to eat the grass on the other side. And as
they press against the fence, their hairs would become trapped between the
Concerning this experience, Reece made the following
observation: "Even animals want to be free!"
Freedom is a precious commodity for the human race as
well. Yet, as is inscribed on a Korean War memorial in Washington D.C.,
"Freedom is not free." Someone has to pay the price for our liberty.
What is true of our national liberty is also true for
each of us, spiritually! Due to our sin, NONE of us is free; we are ALL
"shackled" by sin. Jesus said, "Whoever commits sin is a
"slave of sin" (John 8:34). Now "ALL have sinned and fall short
of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and the wages or "PAYCHECK"
that we receive for SIN - is DEATH (Romans 6:23).
Thankfully, someone HAS paid the price for our liberty!
His name is Jesus, and He paid the price for our redemption when He died on the
cross for our sins. And that is GOOD NEWS!! EVERY man and woman in bondage to
sin who is crying on the inside, "LET ME OUT!" needs to know that
he/she can be set FREE because of what Jesus did on that Roman cross.
We receive the benefits of Christ's sacrificial death
when we respond in faith: (Romans 5:1), placing our trust in Him (Acts 16:31),
repenting of our sins (Acts 2:38), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10),
and being baptized (immersed) so that our sins can be washed away (Acts 22:16).
Christ KEEPS us free from the bondage of sin... as long as we continue to put
Him FIRST and live according to His will (1 John 1:7).
"Therefore... if the Son makes you FREE, you shall
be FREE INDEED!" (John 8:36).
Jesus has PAID the price for your freedom. Why not make
today the day you accept the gift of freedom.
Dear Lord we thank You for the freedom we have because of
what You have done for each of us. Help us share that freedom today. In Jesus’
John 10:10 (New International Version)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I
have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Encountering the Canadian badlands is quite an
experience. One moment you are driving on a completely flat prairie, able to
see for miles around, and the next minute you are surrounded by sheer, bare,
Imagine living in the time where cars were non-existent
(A time when gas was cheaper than hay!). Your mode of transportation is a
horse-drawn wagon . You are making
great progress, a good 5 miles an hour. You should reach the West Coast
within the next month or two at this rate. How exciting! Then, to your dismay,
you encounter a dip in the trail, leading you to an unrealistic, red-streaked,
moon-like landscape, littered with tall, sentinel-like formations. There is no
water, no trail big enough for a wagon to pass, and the descent is far too
steep for a wagon. There is no way you can get across. Instead of reaching your
destination in two months, it may take you two years! In your letter back home,
you can't help but complain a little about these "bad lands" (hence
the name, Badlands!).
As you look around, you wonder who those strange
sentinels are. You find out they are called hoodoos (not voodoos, that is
something completely different, believe me!), and they are believed by the
local natives to be sleeping giants, standing on guard. According to legend,
they come alive by night and throw their heads on any unfortunate human trying
to sleep nearby. You don't really believe the stories, but you decide to stay
as far away from those as possible. This turns out to be quite an impossible
task however, as there is a whole army of them!
If you were to take the time to examine those hoodoos,
you would discover that they consist largely of loosely cemented sandstone and
mudstone (and you thought cement did not exist in the past!), interlaced with
harder rock such as glacial boulders and ironstone, an iron-rich sandstone that
is responsible for the rusty-looking cliffs around you. And if you were to
watch them over the years, you would learn that the harder rock on top shields
parts of the softer sandstone underneath from erosion. In the summer
especially, sudden thunderstorms and winds assault those hoodoos and erode away
the unprotected softer material, creating these unrealistic, capped sentinels.
The sandstone underneath the cap continues to erode however, albeit at a slower
rate, until it can no longer support the stronger rock above, and the cap
topples off. Then what remains of the hoodoos quickly erodes away. Not fast
enough, however, to flatten the landscape and let you pass with your
Those hoodoos remind me of how sin tends to erode our
lives away. We all have some strong, positive character traits (the harder rock
parts) that are a blessing to others. Being there for someone when they are
down, for example, or being willing to help someone move. However, like the
soft sandstone, our sinful nature hinders us from being the real person we
could become. In fact, if left unattended, sin will "erode" us,
causing us to develop addictive, destructive habits, and just as the cap on the
hoodoos eventually topples off, these habits can destroy our relationships with
those close to us.
"If I had known…" so many say, "but now it
is too late!"
We are all in the same boat-or in the same horse-drawn
buggy? "…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…"
(Rom 3:23 NIV)
The more we struggle with our addictive sins, the more
they become engrained in us and the less freedom seems to be an option. Little
by little our true selves erode away and we change into a senseless, monstrous
blob that no one seems to be able to control.
The good news? There is someone who can help us reach
freedom, someone who can help us discover our true personality. He is the One
who helped me break free from addictions, too shameful to be shared in open
public. Freedom can be yours as well. It is available solely through the One
and only named Jesus. His words are true: "I have come that they may have
life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV); and "So if the Son
sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36 NIV)
He is trying to reach you. Will you let Him? "Come
to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
(Matt 11:28 NIV)
What will you do with all these monsters in your life?
Leave them to Jesus and watch how His grace will transform you from a monstrous
blob into the real you. Freedom at last!
Dear Lord we thank You for the freedom we can have
through You. Help us turn all those things over to You today that erode our
life from what You want it to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 8:36 (New International Version)
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
1925 was not a good year for the coal miners in East
Coulee, Alberta. The shoddy work and living conditions led to constant
complaints. The "devil's dust", referring to the coal dust they were
forced to breathe for 8 hours straight every day, was deadly to the miners'
lungs. They were tired of the constant lay-offs, the long hours with little
pay, and the dangerous working conditions. Workers decided to "walk
Needless to say, their employers were not overly excited
by this plan. They needed to get the coal out of the earth, so they hired what
was called "special constables" to get the men back underground.
These "special constables" were paid ten dollars a day and all the
booze they could drink. They then set out, using crow bars, iron knuckles and
pickax handles as motivators, and the main "walk out" agitators were
tarred and feathered and carried outside town on wooden poles.
Eventually unions were formed and deals were reached so
that the coal miners would be treated with more respect.
The coal industry boomed during World War II, and miners
who tried to enlist were often refused. Coal was needed during the war, and the
country couldn't afford to have all of the miners off fighting in Europe! But
after WWII, natural gas was discovered, and the coal industry quickly declined.
Mines closed all across the country, and even the unions couldn't help the
plight of the coal miner.
One may be shocked by the methods used to motivate the
miners back to work when they walked out on their jobs; however there is a much
worse "special constable" at work on this planet, one that we largely
ignore. Billions of people are ensnared by the lures he sets out to enslave
them for life. He uses addictions, pursuit of fame and wealth, and anything
else that could take away their thoughts from the One who could help them enjoy
"real life". "The thief (the devil) comes only to steal and kill
and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the
full." (John 10:10 NIV)
Unlike the miners' unions, who were able to make a
difference in the lives of the men but in the end were unable to save their
jobs, there is One who is able to set you completely free from the clutches of
Freedom never comes without a price, and the One who
cares for you paid it in full: "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)
Would you like to experience complete freedom from
addictions? Are you hungering to enjoy life to the fullest? Then come to Jesus
and accept the real freedom He is offering you. Only then will you come really
alive. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever
believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow
from within him." (John 7:37-38 NIV)
The evil one will not be able to continue to bully you
any longer, as long as you follow the true freedom provided through Jesus. Even
"special constables" are no match to our forever friend named Jesus.
Freedom can be yours. The decision is yours.
Dear Lord we thank You that we have freedom from the
bully. Give us the opportunity to share that good news with somebody today. In
Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 John 1:9 (New International Version)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will
forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I ran across this story as told by a mother and was really touched. I hope you enjoy it like I did. What a great lesson.
One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main
streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are
wet and slick.
Suddenly, my son Matthew spoke up from his relaxed
position in the front seat. "Mom, I'm thinking of something." This
announcement usually meant he had been pondering some fact for a while and was
now ready to expound all that his seven-year-old mind had discovered. I was
eager to hear.
"What are you thinking?" I asked.
"The rain," he began, "is like sin. And
the windshield wipers are like God, wiping our sins away."
After the chill bumps-raced up my arms, I was able to
respond, "That's really good, Matthew." Then my curiosity broke in.
How far would this little boy take this revelation? So I asked, "Do you
notice how the rain keeps on coming?
What does that tell you?"
Matthew didn't hesitate one moment with his answer.
"We keep on sinning and God just keeps on forgiving us."
Dear Lord we thank You for always forgiving us of our
sins. We pray today that we would have the strength to not do the things we know
we shouldn’t. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Matthew 6:14-15 (New International Version)
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against
you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive
others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Imagine starting your week out with a clear backpack and
a baf of oranges. For each person that you refuse to forgive, you must take an orange
and write that person's name, date and what you refuse to forgive onto the orange.
And then you must put that orange into your clear backpack.
How long would it be before your bag filled up with oranges
because of your unforgiveness?
But, not only must you fill the bag up with all of the
ill will and resentment and bitterness you have, you must also carry that bag
with you everywhere you go. It sits next to you in your automobile on the drive
to work, sits in your lap as you dine out at your favorite restaurant, and it
nestles close to you as you sleep in bed at night.
Everywhere you go, it goes with you.
And my how it begins to stink after a while. Imagine
carrying those same oranges (and adding new ones too!) with you day after day,
week after week...
...month after month, and year after year. (after all,
that's how long some people refuse to forgive others for things they have
After a while those heavy oranges of unforgiveness start
weighing you down, don't they? They become hard to bear --- what a weight to
carry around spiritually. And they sure do cause a stink --- a stink to
yourself and to those around you.
You know, it might be nice if unforgiveness were handled
this way. And maybe then Christians would realize how heavy a weight we carry
when we choose to not forgive those who offend us. Maybe then we would
understand the stench that we create when we harbor ill will and bitterness
Maybe then we would realize that rotting, stinking oranges
(unforgiveness) need to be thrown out into the garbage heap and forgotten
What about you this morning? Are you carrying around
unforgiveness? Is there someone that you have ill will towards, or resentment,
or bitterness, or a bad attitude --- because of something they did in the past,
or something they should have done that they did not? Even one orange in your
bag is enough to cause a stink and become difficult to carry day after day.
Why not stop lugging around that bag of unforgiveness?
Jesus is ready to give you a new bag that is clean and empty of ill will. It
starts with asking Him for forgiveness, and then it requires you to forgive
Dear Lord we pray today that we would take all the unforgiveness
that we are carrying and turn it over to You so that our backpack will be
empty. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 8:8-11 (New American Standard Bible)
8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When
they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones,
and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the
court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no
one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not
condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
The scales are unbalanced from the onset. One look at the
jurors' faces convinces her of that. The courtroom is crowded with angry,
vengeful, spectators. In her anxiety, it takes a while to recognize that
everyone, excluding herself, is male.
Caught engaging in the most heinous crime a woman can,
her fear of the consequences nauseate and repel her simultaneously. At the very
least, she will wear a scarlet 'A' for the remainder of her days. She fears the
angry mob will demand nothing less than her life.
Helplessly, she understands there is nothing she can say
in her defense. With forewarning, she might possibly have fled the scene of her
crime. No opportunity for escape presented itself. Caught, arrested, and
brought forth to face her accusers, she waits, fearfully, for sentencing.
Will the judge be fair? Would the words of her counsel
persuade him to go easy? On the other hand, will he share in the disposition of
the jury and spectators? Will her life end this day?
Her chances for acquittal are slim. Neither being
coerced, misled, or blackmailed she willingly engaged in her crime. Therefore,
her life rests in the defense of her court appointed attorney.
A sudden hush fills the room as the white robed judge
enters. By the look of awe on everyone's face, she realizes she is in the
presence of greatness. Her fear escalates one hundredfold, especially since the
absence of her attorney is conspicuously obvious.
"All rise". Once the judge sits, the
proceedings begin. The prosecuting attorney, all fired up, is ready to tear her
to shreds. The facts he has gathered pointing towards her guilt has him
prematurely feeling victorious. The non-presence of her lawyer seems to further
prove her guilt.
She looks no different from you or me. In fact, she could
be. She sits quietly, conservatively dressed, devoid of makeup; except for the
concealer used in the vain attempt at hiding the stress lines on her face.
Witness after witness testify to her guilt. As she
listens, she feels her lifeblood draining out of her. Everything said is true.
How, in God's name, can she hope she will escape?
Finally, the prosecution rests. Is the defense ready to
present its case? "What case? It is ALL true," she thinks. One man
rises from the onlookers, making his way to the bench. This is her counsel? As
he reaches the front of the courtroom, he respectfully addresses the judge.
"Your Honor, I have only one witness. Will the accused please take the
Stunned, she rises and walks bemusedly to the witness
stand. Sworn in, she sits. She has yet to look upon the face of her defense
attorney. Fear has possessed her and robbed her of all reason.
He speaks. Is she guilty of the crime? "Yes, dear
God, I am", she says with tears streaming. Counsel then states it has no
more witnesses and rests. Dejectedly, she returns to her table.
Summation begins. Fire and brimstone allegations come
spewing out of the prosecution's mouth. Once finished, there is little doubt in
her mind that anything her counsel will say can convince this court to be
She at last looks at her judge. His face is kind, and is
that a look of compassion? Counsel approaches the jury box. His words are
softly spoken yet audible to all.
"The prosecution has proven its case. A woman sits
before you who has confessed to her crime. As you decide her fate, let me say,
to him who has no sin; let him be the one to decide life or death."
Utter quiet permeates the courtroom. No one moves. One by
one, the jurors' faces change from fury to shame. The foreman rises and says,
"Your Honor, we have reached a verdict."
Her judge instructs her to rise. As she faces those who
have decided her fate, she trembles uncontrollably.
As one voice, the twelve members pronounce the words she
never expected to hear. "Not guilty." Spinning her head towards
counsel, she sees him for the first time. Confronted with a look of total
acceptance and unconditional love, she is totally overcome.
In disbelief she witnesses the merging of her judge and
advocate into One. The rest of the courtroom has mysteriously vanished. She
then realizes she is in the presence of Spirit rather than Man but who are also
A question echoes from the stillness.
"Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no
one condemned you?"
A look of joy radiates from her face now. She answers,
"No Sir, no one."
Her Savior responds, "Neither do I. Go on your way,
and do not let me see you here again."
She leaves the courtroom forever changed. From that day
forward she lives a life free from guilt and condemnation. The trial that
should have resulted in her death brought life instead.
Dear Lord we want to thank You today forgiving us of our
sins. We pray that we would judge but that we would bring others to the forgiveness
that You give freely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mark 10:45 (New International
For even the Son of Man did not
come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
A well-known physician had died. His widow, in trying to
collect the money owed her husband, found that he had written in his
record book with red ink across many names the words, "Forgiven; too
poor to pay."
When she brought the book up to the courthouse, the
probate judge asked:
"Madam, is this the handwriting of your
"Yes, sir, that is his writing."
"Well, then, it will have to stand."
"Forgiven; too poor to pay." Those words have
been written over the name of every soul in the world who has come to the
foot of the cross asking for help. Nobody that ever has been born has been
rich enough to pay the debt of sin charged against us. It is a debt that
we ourselves can never pay.
Dear Lord we thank You for paying our debt of sin by
dying on the cross. Help us share that gift with those around us today. In
Jesus’ name, Amen
Source: Signs of the Times, Copyright (c) November 3,
Mark 11:25 (New International Version)
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything
against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you
On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech
to the AFL-CIO at the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. At 2:30 p.m., accompanied
by Secret Service and aides, the President walked out of the ballroom and
through the lobby. He was on his way to a waiting limousine and waving at the
friendly crowd of reporters and onlookers when a young man, John Hinckley Jr.,
went into a shooter's crouch and fired six shots. The shots struck the
President in the chest just 1 inch from his heart, Presidential Press Secretary
James Brady in the brain, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy in the stomach,
and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahant in the neck.
Though it was a serious situation, Reagan reacted in a
casual manner and even whispered to his wife at George Washington Hospital,
"Honey, I forgot to duck." Reagan's attitude made a strong impression
on his daughter, Patti Davis. She said: "The following day my father said
he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive
John Hinckley. By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything,
including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christ-like
Do you need to forgive someone?
Dear Lord we pray to day that You would open our eyes and
we would see those that we need to forgive. Help us not hold a grudge but offer
forgiveness instead. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Matthew 18:21-22 (New International Version)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many
times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven
times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven
Here is a story I read that is very powerful.
Lisa sat on the floor of her old room, staring at the box
that lay in front of her. It was an old shoe box that she had decorated to
become a memory box many years before. Stickers and penciled flowers covered
the top and sides. Its edges were worn, the corners of the lid taped so as to
keep their shape.
It had been three years since Lisa last opened the box. A
sudden move to Boston had kept her from packing it. But now that she was back
home, she took the time to look again at the memories. Fingering the corners of
the box and stroking its cover, Lisa pictured in her mind what was inside.
There was a photo of the family trip to the Grand Canyon,
a note from her friend telling her that Nick Bicotti liked her, and the Indian
arrowhead she had found while on her senior class trip.
One by one, she remembered the items in the box,
lingering over the sweetest, until she came to the last and only painful
memory. She knew what it looked like--a single sheet of paper upon which lines
had been drawn to form boxes, 490 of them to be exact. And each box contained a
check mark, one for each time.
The story behind it..........
"How many times must I forgive my brother?" the
disciple Peter had asked Jesus. "Seven times?" Lisa's Sunday school
teacher had read Jesus' surprise answer to the class. "Seventy times
Lisa had leaned over to her brother Brent as the teacher
continued reading. "How many times is that?" she whispered. Brent,
though two years younger, was smarter than she was.
"Four hundred and ninety," Brent wrote on the
corner of his Sunday school paper. Lisa saw the message, nodded, and sat back
in her chair. She watched her brother as the lesson continued. He was small for
his age, with narrow shoulders and short arms. His glasses were too large for his
face, and his hair always matted in swirls. He bordered on being a nerd, but
his incredible skills at everything, especially music, made him popular with
his classmates. Brent had learned to play the piano at age four, the clarinet
at age seven, and had just begun to play oboe. His music teachers said he'd be
a famous musician someday. There was only one thing at which Lisa was better
than Brent--basketball. They played it almost every afternoon after school.
Brent could have refused to play, but he knew that it was Lisa's only joy in
the midst of her struggles to get C's and D's at school.
Lisa's attention came back to her Sunday school teacher
as the woman finished the lesson and closed with prayer. That same Sunday
afternoon found brother and sister playing basketball in the driveway. It was
then that the counting had begun. Brent was guarding Lisa as she dribbled
toward the basket. He had tried to bat the ball away, got his face near her
elbow, and took a shot on the chin. "Ow!", he cried out and turned
Lisa saw her opening and drove to the basket, making an
easy lay-up. She gloated over her success but stopped when she saw Brent.
"You okay?",she asked. Brent shrugged his shoulders.
"Sorry," Lisa said. "Really. It was a cheap shot."
"It's all right. I forgive you," he said. A thin smile then formed on
his face. "Just 489 more times though."
"Whaddaya mean?" Lisa asked.
"You know...what we learned in Sunday school today.
You're supposed to forgive someone 490 times. I just forgave you, so now you
have 489 left," he kidded. The two of them laughed at the thought of
keeping track of every time Lisa had done something to Brent. They were sure
she had gone past 490 long ago.
The rain interrupted their game, and the two moved
indoors. "Wanna play Battleship?" Lisa asked. Brent agreed, and they
were soon on the floor of the living room with their game boards in front of
them. Each took turns calling out a letter and number combination, hoping to
hit each other's ships. Lisa knew she was in trouble as the game went on. Brent
had only lost one ship out of five. Lisa had lost three. Desperate to win, she
found herself leaning over the edge of Brent's barrier ever so slightly. She
was thus able to see where Brent had placed two of his ships. She quickly
evened the score. Pleased, Lisa searched once more for the location of the last
two ships. She peered over the barrier again, but this time Brent caught her in
the act. "Hey, you're cheating!" He stared at her in disbelief.
Lisa's face turned red. Her lips quivered. "I'm
sorry," she said, staring at the carpet. There was not much Brent could
say. He knew Lisa sometimes did things like this. He felt sorry that Lisa found
so few things she could do well. It was wrong for her to cheat, but he knew the
temptation was hard for her.
"Okay, I forgive you," Brent said. Then he
added with a small laugh, "I guess it's down to 488 now, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess so." She returned his kindness
with a weak smile and added, "Thanks for being my brother, Brent."
Brent's forgiving spirit gripped Lisa, and she wanted him
to know how sorry she was. It was that evening that she had made the chart with
the 490 boxes. She showed it to him before he went to bed. "We can keep
track of every time I mess up and you forgive me," she said.
"See, I'll put a check in each box--like this."
She placed two marks in the upper left-hand boxes.
"These are for today." Brent raised his hands
to protest. "You don't need to keep--"
"Yes I do!" Lisa interrupted. "You're
always forgiving me, and I want to keep track. Just let me do this!" She
went back to her room and tacked the chart to her bulletin board.
There were many opportunities to fill in the chart in the
years that followed. She once told the kids at school that Brent talked in his
sleep and called out Rhonda Hill's name, even though it wasn't true. The
teasing caused Brent days and days of misery. When she realized how cruel she
had been, Lisa apologized sincerely. That night she marked box number 96.
Forgiveness number 211 came in the tenth grade when Lisa failed to bring home
his English book. Brent had stayed home sick that day and had asked her to
bring it so he could study for a quiz. She forgot and he got a C.
Number 393 was for lost keys...418 for the extra bleach
she put in the washer, which ruined his favorite polo shirt...449, the dent she
had put in his car when she had borrowed it.
There was a small ceremony when Lisa checked number 490.
She used a gold pen for the check mark, had Brent sign the chart, and then
placed it in her memory box.
"I guess that's the end," Lisa said.
"No more screw-ups from me anymore!" Brent just
"Yeah, right." Number 491 was just another one
of Lisa's careless mistakes, but its hurt lasted a lifetime. Brent had become
all that his music teachers said he would. Few could play the oboe better than
he. In his fourth year at the best music school in the United States, he
received the opportunity of a lifetime--a chance to try out for New York City's
The tryout would be held sometime during the following
two weeks. It would be the fulfillment of his young dreams. But he never got
the chance. Brent had been out when the call about the tryout came to the
house. Lisa was the only one home and on her way out the door, eager to get to
work on time. "Two-thirty on the tenth," the secretary said on the
phone. Lisa did not have a pen, but she told herself that she could remember
"Got it. Thanks." I can remember that, she
thought. But she did not. It was a week later around the dinner table that Lisa
realized her mistake.
"So, Brent," his mom asked him, "When do
you try out?" "Don't know yet. They're supposed to call." Lisa
froze in her seat.
"Oh, no!" she blurted out loud. "What's
today's date? Quick!"
"It's the twelfth," her dad answered.
A terrible pain ripped through Lisa's heart. She buried
her face in her hands, crying. "Lisa, what's the matter?" her mother
asked. Through sobs Lisa explained what had happened. "It was two days
ago...the tryout...two-thirty...the call came...last week." Brent sat back
in his chair, not believing Lisa.
"Is this one of your jokes, sis?" he asked,
though he could tell her misery was real. She shook her head, still unable to
look at him. "Then I really missed it?" She nodded.
Brent ran out of the kitchen without a word. He did not
come out of his room the rest of the evening. Lisa tried once to knock on the
door, but she could not face him. She went to her room where she cried
bitterly. Suddenly she knew that she had to do. She had ruined Brent's life. He
could never forgive her for that. She had failed her family, and there was
nothing to do but to leave home. Lisa packed her pickup truck in the middle of
the night and left a note behind, telling her folks she'd be all right. She
began writing a note to Brent, but her words sounded empty to her. Nothing I
say could make a difference anyway, she thought. Two days later she got a job
as a waitress in Boston. She found an apartment not too far from the
restaurant. Her parents tried many times to reach her, but Lisa ignored their
"It's too late," she wrote them once.
"I've ruined Brent's life, and I'm not coming back."
Lisa did not think she would ever see home again. But one
day in the restaurant where she worked she saw a face she knew.
"Lisa!" said Mrs. Nelson, looking up from her plate. "What a
The woman was a friend of Lisa's family from back home.
"I was so sorry to hear about your brother," Mrs. Nelson said softly.
"Such a terrible accident. But we can be thankful
that he died quickly. He didn't suffer." Lisa stared at the woman in
"Wh-hat," she finally stammered.
It couldn't be! Her brother? Dead? The woman quickly saw
that Lisa did not know about the accident. She told the girl the sad story of
the speeding car, the rush to the hospital, the doctors working over Brent. But
all they could do was not enough to save him.
Lisa returned home that afternoon.
Now she found herself in her room thinking about her
brother as she held the small box that held some of her memories of him. Sadly,
she opened the box and peered inside. It was as she remembered, except for one
item--Brent's chart. It was not there. In its place, at the bottom of the box,
was an envelope. Her hands shook as she tore it open and removed a letter. The
first page read:
Dear Lisa, It was you who kept count, not me. But if
you're stubborn enough to keep count, use the new chart I've made for you.
Lisa turned to the second page where she found a chart
just like the one she had made as a child, but on this one the lines were drawn
in perfect precision. And unlike the chart she had kept, there was but one
check mark in the upper left-hand corner. Written in red felt tip pen over the
entire page were the words:
"Number 491. Forgiven, forever."
Dear Lord we thank You that You have forgiven us forever.
We pray today that our heart would be a heart of forgiveness. Help us to
forgive others as You have forgiven us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.