Psalm 72:12-14 (NLT)
He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.
The morning after our daughter’s wedding, I woke up to the realization that Thanksgiving was less than two weeks away and Christmas fast approaching. When I tried to muster up motivation to being yet another list, and try to create the perfect holiday season – I found the motor of my mind just wouldn’t crank. The tank of was empty. I had no energy left to invest in preparing, planning and perfecting another day. The last ten months had drained all my reserves. I prayed that the Lord would help me become motivated and interested in the days to come. So for more than a week now, I have tried to get “in the mood” but it just ain’t happening (in Southern terms). So driving to the grocery store for a gigantic haul after ignoring the fridge and pantry for almost a month, the Christian radio station was playing Christmas music. Not just any Christmas music but rather my favorite song of all:
How Many Kings – Downhere
How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Tears began streaming down my face. No longer tears of frustration, fear, stress, worry, anxiety or emotional overload, but tears of joy. My Redeemer lives and He did all these things for me. Suddenly, I realized that I could not fall into a traditional Christmas because the Holy Spirit would not allow it. It was Him holding close the door to those things of yesterday inviting me to a new season. But alas, old habits are not easily shaken.
We are redeemed. To be redeemed is a past, present and future promise. First, Jesus Christ paid our sin penalty in full so we are redeemed. (Psalm 103:3) He also works to take back or recover all that sin has taken from us. He promise to turn every detail in our life into something good and beneficial. (Romans 8:28) Finally, the Lord will make up for my suffering in the future. He will sweep me up from the grave just as I am falling, and pull me into Eternity to live with Him forever. Redemption is a completion process. However, our sin and shame including all of our faults and failures often limit us from taking hold of redemption. We are redeemed but do not participate in the process of becoming redeemed so we miss out. We hold on to the past. We grab on to tradition. We allow the world to define who we should be and how things should be also. But today, I have a new attitude. I intend to experience the redemption of Jesus Christ to the fullest.
Psalm 103:1-6 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
Are you redeemed? Redemption comes with salvation. It is the benefit package associated with the Gift that God has given you in His Son, Jesus Christ. Sometimes we forget all that Christ “has done” for us. He forgives all our sins so why do I feel guilty? He heals all my diseases, so why am I (or a loved one) still sick? He redeems me from death so why am I living in fear? He crowns me with love so why do I still feel alone? He crowns me with tender mercies so why am I still beating myself up? He fills my life with good things so where are they? My youth is renewed so why am I tired all the time? He gives the righteous justice to all who are treated unfairly so why can’t I catch a break? How am I supposed to praise the Lord with all that I am when I do not have all that He promised? Because although you have the right of redemption – you have not received it because you simply have not requested it! Let me interject – this was God’s Word to me and I am sharing it with you. Every single promise that God has made me is valid and on point. I can have all these precious promises as a Child of God who chooses righteousness through Jesus Christ. But like any other “manufacturer coupon or store offer”, I must redeem it to have it. Faith gives you the golden ticket. If you are not willing to go into His Presence to have it, it will not work. If you do not wait in right standing for it to come to pass, how can I complain when it doesn’t? We do not believe that God will do what He promised so we abandoned our benefits and blessings leaving them behind in our haste to get back to a normal life.
Nehemiah 5:6-8 (NLT)
When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem. At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
The holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas are the most stressful for most families. For years that included me, but this year is different because I am redeemed and have decided to live like it. How in the world the Lord lead me to Nehemiah is beyond me, but when I read Nehemiah 5:1-13, I saw myself and so many other believers. They were all working to set free the other Jews who had been sold into slavery to pagan foreigners. But when the families were reunited, they were now enslaved to each other with mortgages and other unfair obligations. We are redeemed. The Lord has promised to fill our life with good things. This is not always physical things but more often the things that satisfy our soul like peace and joy. When we jump into the holiday hustle and bustle, it can take these things from us that belong to us as redeemed Children of the Living God. We don’t have to make the perfect turkey to have the perfect thanksgiving. But when we are thankful…we are blessed. We don’t have to fill the Christmas tree with presents representing huge financial oppression and overload to have the prefect Christmas – the perfect Christmas came and went the day Jesus was born. The perfect Christmas is Christ-centered. What mattered most to Jesus? People. You. Me. Every other person who we encounter during this season of giving. In order to live out the redemption, we must believe that we are redeemed and have all that Jesus Christ died for us to have enough to remain faithful until the end. Not only of this holiday season, but the end of every day that we live. To live expectantly in the Promises of God remove our need for the world to meet them. We must not let the world bribe us from our faithful foundation and persuade us to be moved from contentment, peace, joy and satisfaction. (Psalm 26:9-12) A bride always changes our position and obligates us to do so. We must stand strong in this season of temptation as our friend, Job who said, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” The Lord will indeed overwhelm you with His Love if you choose to look for Him as the reason for the season.
Isaiah 35:8-10 (NLT)
And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
I wish that I could honestly say that I intentionally pursued Jesus Christ from the beginning. It was not until I was total desperate and struggling to breathe that I discovered that He was all I ever needed. But once the discovery is made, it is hard to go back to life as normal. I had to trust God because I had exhausted every other resource. I fought every battle I could fight. There came a day when all I could do was trust Him, so I did. Sad to think that the God of the Universe has wooed me all my life. His Son died so that I could live. His Spirit lived within me quietly ignored. Yet when I finally called, He answered like a rushing wind and overwhelming flow that permeated my soul and changed my life forever. To think that I could have missed out on redemption simply because I chose not to live as the redeemed. I didn’t have to do anything but decide to give my heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus. All of it. Every single part of me to have all that He is. I almost missed the greatest blessings of my life in my own stubborn willfulness and need for independence. Jesus changed all that in a moment when I could not even find my next heartbeat or remember how to breathe. I have peace again. I have joy again. The righteous people still face trouble, but they are rescued. The Lord protects His People. The Lord redeems those who serve Him. Those who take refuge in Him have nothing to worry about. (Psalm 34:19-22) We have everything to celebrate in a season that celebrates thankfulness and joy that is found only in Jesus Christ.
Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This holiday season and every other day after that think redeemed. I have an application on my computer that when I visit an online store that offers rebates, it flashes on the screen so that I will remember to claim the “e-bate”. When the words of our mouth formed by conscious thought agree with the meditation of our heart which should be the Word of God and His Spirit, we will live as the redeemed. We will begin to accept the Promises of God as His Will for our life and live like it. Do not try to make the holidays perfect – people are involved so it is just not going to happen. When you make it a Christ-centered holiday season, now our expectation is in Jesus everything changes. Work at be thankful for all that God is doing in your life and the provision of the past year rather than getting caught up in cooking too much food and fussing with your mother-in-love. By faith, be thankful for what you do have. Be thankful for all that the Lord in divine wisdom has removed and that which is being recovered to take its place. Moving into Christmas, celebrate Jesus by focusing on family. Adding oppression including stress, worry, anxiety, overload and debt do not represent those who are redeemed but shows that Christ is not enough to celebrate. He is! He has done for our family in the last year more than I could ever do for them. The enemy tried to take our son. The Lord healed our son and gave us a new one! The enemy tried to limit our life but now it is increasing. Our Redeemer lives. His Promises and Blessings our part of your redemption process. Hell was not a near miss. Heaven is a sure thing. Don’t forget to take God up on His Amazing Offers!
Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.