A Heart Set Free (Jul 8)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

July 8

A Heart Set Free

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 146:1-10 | 1 Chronicles 5:18-6:81 | Acts 26:1-32 | Proverbs 18:20-21 

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Acts 26

“Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18, NIV).

Paul has been through quite an ordeal already. Falsely accused by the religious leaders, he had been imprisoned for some time. They were looking for an opportunity to kill him whether through legal channels or through an ambush. While Festus found no reason to charge him with a crime he continued to hold him in prison, hoping that Paul would bribe him. Paul’s attempts to witness to him were postponed to a more convenient time (Acts 24:25-26). He decided to call in King Agrippa to get another opinion.

Paul took the opportunity to share the testimony of a heart that had been set free by the Risen Christ. He shared about his Damascus road experience in words plain and bold. Then he talked about Jesus and especially his resurrection. Festus told Paul that his belief in such a thing was crazy. “Your great learning is making you mad,” he says. But Paul appealed to Agrippa, who knew full well about the resurrection: “It was not done in a corner.” The resurrection seems to go against everything we know. It seems mad. But Jesus is raised and multitudes were there to see it with their own eyes. King Agrippa knew this and could not deny it.

The resurrection brings the hope of a heart set free from sin and its effects. For Paul it set him free from being a zealous, religious Pharisee who persecuted the church. The chains he had been under were “religious” chains. But he counted them rubbish to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing his sufferings (Philippians 3:1-11). There are many kinds of chains. There are many kinds of bondage to sin. The testimony of Paul and multitudes of  others throughout the ages is that Jesus came to set people free “to open their eyes, so that they will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (vs. 18 CEV).

The songwriter said it well, “You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.” Paul was bound in physical chains, but his heart had been set free by the risen Christ. They could not keep him from serving the Lord. They could not keep him quiet. He had been set free from the chains that bound his heart and now he was free to be a witness to the life transforming power of the resurrection.

How about you? Open your heart to him. If there is any place of bondage or brokenness, remember that Jesus came to set you free from all that through the power of his resurrection. Enjoy your time in his presence!

Lord Jesus, you are the risen Christ. By your Spirit, set me free today. May the power of the resurrection set me free from all that yet clings to me from my past. Set me free to worship, to serve, to obey you—to walk in newness of life. Amen.

About pastorjeffsneighborhood

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have served in churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and California. I am a graduate of Crown College (MN) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (OR). I have also done additional graduate studies in New Testament Studies at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA). I am also a graduate of the College of Prayer. Having served as the Academic Dean and Program Director at Horizon Institute of Los Angeles for several years, I have returned to the pastorate and serve as Pastor of Big Trees Community Bible Church in Arnold, CA.
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