Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011 … Identifying With Those In Need

Passage of the Day: Hebrews 13: 3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

My Journal for Today: Today’s exhortation from the Author of Hebrews takes the love of God to an even higher level of commitment. The word picture of that day used by this author would have been very personal since many Christians were being imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their faith. The extension of this would have any believer, like you and me, reach out to fellow Christians if we see them being persecuted or suffering in some way.

The Apostle Paul wrote quite a few of his epistles from the cells of prisons (as in Col. 4: 18 or Phil. 4: 14-16); and he humbly asked his fellow believers to remember and pray for him, also expressing thanks for those who had sent help to him. So, the exhortation of today’s verse is simply an extension of Christ’s pronouncement to reach out to the “least” of those in need … in His Name; for when we do, we are doing so to/for Him.

This verse hits home for me; because some time ago a young Christian whom I had been challenged, by divine appointment, to mentor by mail in prison for several years was released from his incarceration. No, he had not been imprisoned for his faith; but rather for a self confessed sexual offense. However, God had led me to him; and I had been convicted/directed to reach out to him, as was Christ’s mission charge of Luke 4: 18 (see below).

>>> SCRIPTURE: Luke 4: 18 [Jesus quoting from Is. 61: 1-2] "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

This, for me, has always been a daunting proclamation by Christ. In these words Jesus gave the church of His day (and to us) His worldly mission statement, which was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before as the mission of the Messiah. As Christians who aspire to Christlikeness, Christ’s mission statement should be (and, in actuality, IS) ours as well. So, when Jesus says His Father and the Holy Spirit had charged Him to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and to “release the oppressed,” that has become the heartbeat of the personal ministry (Battle Plan Ministry) to which God has called me to found and lead. And today’s verse and devotional simply reinforces my calling in this regard.

If one is reading this, I guess I would ask you to find yourself somewhere in Luke 4: 18, using your grace-given Spiritual gifts to reach out in Christ’s Name to those who need to hear the Good News or those who need to be freed from the prisons of their own hearts or to be helped to see God’s Way, to which they may be blinded. And when we do this, according to our verse today, we are walking as worthy as prisoners of and for our Lord [again see Eph. 4: 1], especially to those who are prisoners of this world.

My Prayer Today: Help me, Lord, to carry out Your mission in my life. Amen

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