The Other Side of Christmas: December 11

Embrace Your Freedom…and Hold On!          

December 11, 2019
by Mark Heeren       

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) 
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
There’s a story about an old convict who spent nearly his entire life in prison. He went before the parole board year after year and was denied parole each time. The old man had all but accepted that he would never leave the prison. Then, one day, his parole was unexpectedly approved. The thing he most wanted and least anticipated was finally in his grasp, but he was surprised at his own reaction when the prison gates opened in front of him. As he walked out into the warm, bright light of day, instead of the joy of freedom, he experienced fear and loneliness. He wished for his cold, dark cell with its familiar walls and rusty locks.
Jesus came to set us free! Still, sometimes we struggle with doubt and fear. The burdens we gave up to Him call to us to pick them back up. They feel somehow comfortable even as they pull us down and rob us of the freedom Christ bought for us. But Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  There is an act of will involved here. You must choose to leave the prison. Unlike the old convict, though, you don’t walk out alone. Jesus doesn’t stand by the gate waving goodbye as you go. He goes with you! Remember too, that you are part of the community of believers. We are much more able to “stand firm” when we stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ, supporting, encouraging, and helping one another. So, let me encourage you to embrace your freedom and hold on tight!
Reflect for a moment on Galatians 5:1. Are there areas where you are struggling to stand firm? Ask God for help and lean on your small group for support. Who do you know that needs your support and encouragement? If you aren’t part of a small group, ask God to lead you to one!
Thank You, Father, for the freedom You have given us through Jesus. Please reveal the power of that freedom to me and help me to live in it more every day!
About the author:
Mark Heeren
Mark has been worshipping at Stafford Crossing for about 16 years.  Over the years, he’s been part of the worship band, served with First Touch, and loved being part of an awesome small group. He loves God and is super thankful for His amazing grace in our lives. He was a Christian School Principal a long time ago. These days, his "full time ministry" is as a government contractor.