Deliverance: The Cry of Christmas
Devotional this week by Katie Moon.
At Christmastime the sound of deliverance is everywhere. We hear it in the lyrics of Christmas Carols, and read it in Christmas cards. There was the Child delivered by Mary for all mankind. He was the Word made flesh, Who came to deliver the world from sin. Later in His life, Jesus told those in His hometown synagogue that it was for deliverance that He came that very first Christmas. Reading from Isaiah 61 He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18) He was delivered into this world to deliver us from this world.
Yet many of us, though delivered from sin’s eternal penalty, do not presently live the free life Christ freed us to live. Galatians 5:1 tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set believers free in the first place. This is the deliverance that I believe God specifically wants me to testify to you about this Christmas. If you struggle to live continuously victorious in Christ, victory is available! If you feel hopeless, please hear this— there is hope! Hear the sound of “deliverance!”
Over the past 2 years I’ve been personally wrestling against a certain stronghold of sin in my heart. When God finally unveiled the true horror of that sin, I began to seek freedom from it with a vengeance. I hated that sin with all my heart. I tried every spiritual practice i could think of to be free, but nothing “worked”. it seemed each effort I took to find freedom only resulted in greater imprisonment. I have absolutely no trouble identifying with Paul in Romans 7 when he said, “ For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am!
I literally felt trapped in a prison with no way out. Have you ever felt like that? I truly could not have clawed my way out of that pit if my life depended on it. It was the most horrible experience in my spiritual life ever. And it lasted on and off for nearly 2 whole years.
What’s interesting is that throughout this whole time period, I was pursuing God. I wasn’t all bound up in this area of sin because I was neglecting God or His Word in any way. In fact, I believe that is exactly WHY God had allowed me to finally see the magnitude of my sin and just how bound I had been: He wanted His child–who was seeking after Him–to be free. HE wanted to SET me FREE!!!
I was in a particularly terrible state of hopelessness one morning after church. We had had a wonderful worship service, as we normally do. Yet, for reasons only God knows, almost the whole service I felt horribly oppressed and my mind couldn’t stop cycling back to my pit. I was alone on the drive home that morning, and as I pulled up to a stoplight, the tears and sobs started flowing. I was crying out to God saying, “I can’t even sit in CHURCH without these lies invading my mind! I’ve been wrestling with this for going on 2 years, and I’m STILL NOT FREE!! I am hopeless!” And then I yelled out, “I have NO HOPE!!”
That’s when my all out sobbing was stopped by a sudden giant gasp for air. I knew I was wrong. As the red light turned green, one word came to mind.
In a moment, all my studies in seminary, all my studying of God’s Word in the early morning hours, all the years of sermons I’d listened to, organized Bible studies I’d been in, seemed to be heaped up right before my eyes. Either all that I had learned about Jesus was true, or it was not! My theology was colliding with my experience as the following words slowly trickled out of my mouth, “But YOU died for me. You died on the cross. You took my sin and died for it. Because of the cross, I don’t have to live bound up in sin. Because of the cross I have the possibility of freedom. Jesus! —YOU are my hope!!
I cannot stop committing this sin in my heart. But YOU can deliver me from this. You ALONE can lift me out of this pit. PLEASE HELP!!” Please DO IT!!” It was truly a Romans 7:25 moment where Paul said, “WHO will set me free from the body of this death? THANKS BE TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!!”
As I drove over the bridge back to Mandan, I felt a lightness come over me. Darkness and oppression were lifted. FREEDOM!! Sudden, wide open FREEDOM. It was a moment of JOY UNSPEAKABLE.
The story doesn’t end there. You know how Satan works. He had and has every intention of pulling me back into that slippery slimy pit. Over the next few months God worked some amazing circumstances to bring me to fuller knowledge of what living consistently free in Christ took. Maybe there are more, but I’ve learned at least three things that I must practice in order to live a life of ongoing victory.
First I must knowGod’s Word by spending time in it. We will have no comprehension of Who He is, how He works, what He can do, or what to believe if we are not serious students of His Word. His Word is living, powerful, and active. But it will only affect our lives if we spend time in it.
Second, we must cry out to Jesus our Lord to deliver us. Whether it is an audible or silent cry, we must call to Him alone for help. In Psalm 18 David said, “In my distress I called upon the LORD… And my cry for help before Him came into His ears….He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me…” Only through Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, will we be delivered.
Third, we must practice faith. We must believe what God says in His Word, and we must believe that He can and will deliver us! Without faith it is impossible to please Him! Pleased by our faith, moved by our cry for help, He delights to mightily deliver us.
You know, Pastor Terry originally asked me to give a testimony that related to our having a baby in the past year. So I sought the Lord’s will on which aspect of infancy I should testify about, and the resounding word He placed in my heart was “deliverance.” By God’s grace, I did deliver a beautiful baby boy a little over a year ago. And by God’s grace, I myself was mightily delivered from a prison I truly never thought I’d be free from. After a long hard labor, there is nothing like delivery. What joy comes to a mother as her baby is delivered. And what joy and what peace comes to a soul whom Christ has delivered! As the world laid in wait, groaning and longing for her Messiah to appear, a Child of divine origin and make-up was quietly delivered into this world. He came to proclaim release to captives and to set totally free those who are oppressed! GLORY to God!!!