Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Take The Name Of Jesus With You"1 (Lyrics)
John 8:31-32 – To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NIV)
Now that spring has sprung and the ice has melted into the earth, the livestock have been released from the corral to roam the whole property once again. For two weeks prior to the final melting, they would all crowd around the gate every morning, hoping that this would be the day, only to be disappointed.
On the morning when the gate finally swung open, allowing them access to the wide-open spaces, their joy could not be contained as they ran and leapt and pranced about. It is not that their corral is tiny or even small — they have a lot of space. But being able to move out into the larger area is even better.
As I watched this display of exuberance that came with their new-found freedom, it reminded me of the joy which we, too, feel when God releases us from corrals of our own making.
There are times when, often without even realizing it, we can fall into sin that robs us of the fullness of joy that Christ desires His children to embrace — sins like hardness of heart, cynicism, bitterness, or arrogance. Such sins can begin to take root and grow, especially after repeated hurts or disappointments from the same group or person. We begin to harden our hearts to protect ourselves from further harm and pain. We distance ourselves, and we may even begin to see ourselves as better than the one or ones who have caused our grief.
But when we hold to Jesus' teachings, there comes a time when His words will confront us with the truth of what is happening within our hearts. The question is whether we will be open to the truth and be willing to embrace it and to be set free. It is not that we are not still enjoying our relationship with our Lord or that we have fallen away. Rather, these types of sin can corral off part of ourselves from the fullness of joy that Christ desires for us to have in all areas of our lives.
When we have the courage and the humility to recognize what has happened to us and to confess it to the Lord, asking His forgiveness and His healing, the gate of freedom swings wide as our spirits are refreshed and rejuvenated in His love. This allows our hearts to encompass everyone, even those who have disappointed or hurt us in devastating ways.
So today, if His teachings are revealing a truth to us in regard to an area of our lives that we may have wittingly or unwittingly corralled off, what will we do? Will we look the other way and turn a deaf ear, or choose to know the truth and allow the truth to set us free?
Prayer: Father God, thank You so much for Your Word and Your Spirit, and for the power that they have to reveal Your teachings to us. May our hearts be open and receptive to Your truth this day, and may we have the courage and humility to allow that truth to set us free in every area of our lives. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.