In 1987, overlooking the Berlin Wall, U.S. President Ronald Reagan demanded that Soviet leader Gorbachev "tear down this wall." And on Nov. 9, 1989 the German people did just that. Citizens scaled and began demolishing sections of the Wall that had divided Germany for nearly 30 years. In that terrible time of separation, more than 170 people died trying to cross it, but in the end the Wall was unable to hold back freedom.
Within six months after opening the border, over 220,000 East Germans had passed over to the West because they were seeking freedom.
From 1961 until 1989, the city of Berlin was divided. The Wall cut through 197 streets and West Berlin survived with federal aid. It didn't disappear immediately; not until November 1991 did the last concrete blocks, which were crushed to make roads, come down. Today the wall is barely visible. Where it stood has been marked by a red line or a few cobblestones here and there, kept as memorials. German writer Peter Schneider admitted, "demolishing the Wall in the head will take longer than it will take for a demolition firm to do the same job."
Walls of concrete and steel are not the only ones which confront our freedom. We build walls of anger, walls of rage, and walls of hatred. These are more formidable then those torn down in Berlin.
Our walls separate us from love relationships with family, friends, even God. We have entrapped ourselves behind them for so long that we forgot why they were built in the first place. But be honest about it. Do your walls keep out the pain and hurt?
Beloved, no one can take down your walls but you and God. Isn't it time to remove those barriers and remember what it's like to be free? Maybe you had what you thought was a good reason to build your walls, but I believe that God wants you to tear them down. Will you let Him?
GospeLines Prayer: Father, give me strength to tear down the walls around my heart, the courage to overcome the situation which caused me to shut others out of my life. And let me taste the sweet freedom that comes from swallowing pride and extending the olive branch of forgiveness. Amen and amen.
Will God bring you peace in times of trouble? When you're ready to give up, will our Lord see you through? Can you really know the answers to these questions?
Before we try to answer, let's consider the circumstances of many Christians today concerning the written Word of God. We (Christians) argue and debate over which (English) bible translation is the true and correct Word of God. Some believe that the King James Version is the only "true" translation. Others believe that the NIV or the NASB are more correct because they make use of more recent discoveries of ancient texts.
For the next few moments, I ask you to step away from that debate and consider only these three scriptures:
"…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26)
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," (Hebrews 13:8)
"For I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi 3:6)
With these scriptures in mind, let's read the following passage:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Although I quoted this from the NIV, if you study several good Hebrew references (such as Strong's), you will quickly discover that a complete English translation of this passage might look something like this:
"For I know, acknowledge and declare the thoughts, purpose, work and plans that I have devised, forecast and conceived for you, says the Lord; thoughts, purpose, work and plans for welfare, prosperity, health and peace and not for trouble, adversity, affliction or evil; to give you hope and expectation, the thing that you long for, in your final outcome and reward."
Just as when God called Jeremiah and said, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew [chose] you; before you were born I set you apart…" (Jeremiah 1:4-5), God knows each of us. He has made plans for us that are good and holy and filled with His wonderful grace and love. All we have to do is accept His Son as our Lord and Savior and His hope, plans and expectations for us will be ours. The translation does not matter; God's Holy Spirit has written this message in your heart and you know it to be true.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we accept Your Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We confess before all that He is Your Son, that He died for our sins and that He rose on the third day. Father, we accept Your plans for us; Your plans to prosper us and not to harm us; Your plans to give us hope and a future with Jesus, our Brother and Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 2:5
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace..." (John 16:33)
(The names in this true story have been changed.)
With deep remorse, Ron shared his story about deserting his former wife and daughter. I saw him as a devoted husband and father, and a faithful church member. However, twenty years before I knew him, and before he knew Jesus, drinking and youthful rage contributed to his story of abandonment. Now he wanted to apologize and seek forgiveness for his behavior. Ron asked me to find his daughter who was now a senior at a large university.
Within a few hours, I was talking with Angie at her dormitory and relayed her father's message of remorse. Her anger was no surprise, but I was disappointed that she was unwilling to speak with her dad. She alone held the key to forgiveness, but would not open the door for Ron to find peace in his heart for the wrongs he had committed.
During the final hours of Jesus' life, he told His disciples that they would desert Him and scatter back to their homes. His harsh words broke their unbelieving hearts and they denied it would ever happen. Simon became indignant and bragged that he would never leave his beloved Master.
Jesus was facing his darkest hour as He marched toward the crucifixion. But in this brief moment, He set His own needs and concerns aside and focused upon His disciples. Knowing that they would be unable stand up to the test...knowing that they would abandon Him, He said to them, "When you look back at this moment and realize what you have done, I want you to know that I am not alone. My Father is with me. Don't beat yourselves up because you deserted. I forgive you and I pray that you will find peace in me."
Beloved, if you hold the key to forgiveness over someone because of what they did to you, I urge you to let them find peace in you. If another person has carried a burden because of something they have done to you, go to them and allow them to find resolution. It has been long enough. Help them to find peace.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, unlike Peter, I cannot even brag that I will never desert You. Yet, there You stand with open arms, waiting to embrace me again and again. O, my Lord and my God...forgive me, and wipe away my tears of remorse. Place my feet on stable ground and grant that I will never again turn my back upon You. Amen and amen.
The guest list for Simon's party included his fellow Pharisees, and the upstart from Nazareth who was causing a stir among the Jews in town. Jesus had been making alarming claims about being the Messiah and, what was worse, He was backing it up with miracles that only someone like Jehovah could perform.
At the feast, Jesus was given the preferred place to sit so everyone could hear Him teach. On this occasion a woman came, known by reputation and appearance to be a prostitute, wearing her hair unbound, a sign of her despicable profession. She may well have heard him preach in the streets that wonderful burden-lifting message: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Her struggle in her own conscience had been enough to crush the life out, and she was resolved to see Him. To brave the ridicule of being in the presence of these men was worth it. She slipped through the curtains at the entrance and saw Him reclining at the banquet table in the house of the Pharisee. She stood behind the Prophet, holding a jar of expensive perfume in her trembling hands, and listened to the words that offered redemption and freedom from her life of torment.
She stood weeping because of her wicked life, brought home to her the more by hearing the gracious words of Jesus. She also met the icy scowl of Simon: "What is she doing here?" Ashamed, repentant and grieved, she bent over to hide her confusion, and as she did a shower of tears fell upon Jesus' feet. As if in apology and having no cloth, she began to wipe the tears from His feet with the long tresses of her hair. Among the Jews it was a shameful thing for a woman to let down her hair in public, but she made this sacrifice on this night.
The woman recognized her debt. She turned to Jesus and demonstrated the genuineness of her faith by pouring out gifts of love on Him. Christ received her gifts because they sprang from her heart. Then he turned to her and declared, "Your sins are forgiven."
Beloved, that same Messenger of Reconciliation and Peace is speaking to you now. No longer allow the sins of yesterday to hold you captive, but come to the banquet table of Jesus. He awaits your confession, ready to utter those precious words anew: "Your sins are forgiven." (Excerpts from The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, J. Dwight Pentecost.)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, deliver me from unnecessary judgment, unrighteous condemnation, and unholy confrontation. I surrender my critical eye and haughty spirit to You. Replace it with a love for the down-and-out as well as the up-and-coming; show me that the sin of the streets is no more or less punishable than the sin from the pews. Amen and amen.