Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
June 14, 2015
Breaking free from bondage to the past
A look at your past can paralyze you. Shame can lead you to believe that God will not forgive you. Once you think like that, you are in bondage to the past.
This bondage can prevent you from experiencing the joy of God’s forgiving grace and the thrill of letting God use your little life to make a difference in the world today.
So how can we break free from this paralyzing bondage? An Old Testament prophet named Zechariah may offer us a clue. Look with me at what Old Zach can teach us.
Zechariah was a “minor” prophet but he delivered a “major” message to the Israelites of his day. He urged them to learn from the past, repent of their sins, get busy rebuilding the temple and have confidence in God’s power to redeem the world. In other words, let God help you break free from your bondage to the past. Zechariah saw the big picture of what God was doing and what he could do for those who trusted him.
Zechariah and his friend Haggai, another minor prophet, were in the right place at the right time. The time was about 520 BC.
Fifteen years earlier the Jews had returned from captivity in Babylon. The eager desire of the Jews to rebuild the temple soon fizzled. They wilted under the criticism and resistance of the Samaritans.
So Zechariah and Haggai inspired the people to resume the work of rebuilding the temple. Because of their zealous work, the temple restoration was finally completed.
Zechariah told the people to look back and observe the foolishness of their ancestors. When God told them to turn from their evil ways and return to him, the people ignored God. The consequence of their disobedience was captivity and the destruction of their temple. Sin led to bondage.
Christians have the unique privilege of helping repentant sinners embrace God’s sweet forgiveness and break free from bondage. A Christian can tell someone bound up in the guilt of past sins the good news that their sins are forgiven. Often troubled sinners cannot really believe in God’s forgiving love until they hear Christ’s words spoken to them by a caring Christian friend: “Your sins are forgiven.” That can be a decisive, liberating moment for a truly repentant person.
Zechariah and Haggai are gone. They had their turn at bat. They did a good job of warning people and urging them to turn from evil and return to faith in God.
Today we have our turn at bat. Every day we have the opportunity to step up the plate and give people hope that God can free them from their past sins and help them live a useful life.
Perhaps you can think of some troubled person to whom God may be opening the door for you to speak words like these in love:
“Your sins are forgiven. God is ready to deliver you from bondage to your past. He has a plan for your life. He wants you to serve him in your home, and in your work, by living a life that honors Christ. Let me pray with you to accept Christ’s forgiveness and embrace his grace to begin a new life. Let us walk together, in the here and now, the journey of following Christ and doing the work he is calling us to do today.”
Many are ready to heed God’s call to repentance and, set free from the past, begin a new life. If they can hear a word of hope spoken in love from someone who cares about them, their names can be added to the Book of Life.
Where can you begin? Wherever the Spirit leads you! Listen, obey him, and let him multiply your joy!
It is your turn at bat. + + +