Good News!

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:14-21)
Maybe your experience has been different, but I’ll be honest with you about mine. Joy and enjoyment aren’t necessarily the first two words that spring to mind when I think about Western Christianity. A lot of the Christians I know have been made to feel guilty – not just as a prelude to confessing their sins to God, but as a lifestyle. A lot of the Christians I know seem to live with shame as their default setting. They know that Jesus did so much to save them, and they feel as if they have done so little for Jesus in return. They feel like they have been a bad investment for the blood of Jesus. Rather than feeling joy and enjoyment, they live their lives under a cloud of failure.

That’s why I love the sermon that Jesus preached to launch his public ministry in Nazareth. He doesn’t present the Gospel as a message that God is angry with us because of our sin, but that we can be forgiven through his blood. That’s how the Gospel starts, but it isn’t how the Gospel ends! Jesus tells us that forgiveness (glorious though it is) is merely the means to an end. It’s really all about the joy that lies ahead of us through friendship with God.

Jesus declares that the Gospel is about being filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s about God stooping down to help us in our poverty and lifting us up to reign in life with him. It’s about God setting us free. It’s about God helping us to see clearly. It’s about God helping us to throw off the pain of our past and to run in perfect freedom through his love and grace and power. It’s about experiencing 2021 as the year of the Lord’s favour towards us. Wow!

Over the first few weeks of this year, we are going to use these Everyday Devotions to go deeper into the Gospel and to discover how it brings us real joy and freedom in God. Before we go any further, though, reread the words of Jesus’ sermon from Isaiah 61 at the synagogue in Nazareth. Take some time to reflect slowly and to worship him.
1)   Have you already responded to the Gospel and become a Christian?

2)   If so, is your experience of the Christian life genuinely one of joy and freedom?

3)   If it isn’t, then might it be a sign that you have not yet fully understood the Gospel in all of its glory? Why not start the year by confessing your spiritual blindness to the Lord and by asking him to open your eyes to the true wonders of his Gospel.
Father God. I thank you that forgiveness is just the means to an end. I thank you that it is the beginning, not the end, of my relationship with you. As I begin 2021, I want to experience your joy and freedom. Please use these Everyday Devotions to open my eyes across the next few weeks to the glory of what it truly means to know you. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have been brought to you with help from our friends at Freedom In Christ.
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