The Bible often uses the illustration of slavery to portray our freedom in Christ (Galatians 4:21-31; 5:1).
This year we celebrate two hundred years of the abolition of slave trade. Olaudah Equiano was born in Nigeria around 1745. At the tender age of eleven he and his sister were captured and sold into slavery. This is where the horror of slavery and the attendant bondage and cruelty began for them.
Fortunately for Olaudah he became aware of God?s favour on his life. The mercy of God allowed him to survive the brutality of slavery and he eventually saved enough money to pay for his own freedom. It cost him forty pounds - no small amount of money in those days.
His is a moving story. Olaudah was one f the first freed slaves to publish a personal account of the terror of slave trade. William Wilberforce used his testimony in pursuit of the abolition of slave trade.
Writing about that moment when his freedom was secured Olaudah states
"Accordingly he signed the manumission that day; so that, before night, I who had been a slave in the morning, trembling at the will of another, now became my own master and completely free."
The above comments remind me of our freedom in Christ. We have been set free to do the will of God. Someone has described redemption as 'deliverance from the power of an alien dominion and the enjoyment of the resulting freedom'.
The story of Olaudah paints a powerful picture of what freedom in Christ means. To be free we have to receive what has been given us and have the ability to enjoy it - living in the fullness of our freedom is our inheritance in Christ.
A close glance at the people close to Jesus in his infant years gives us an understanding of what it means to walk in our inheritance.
The role of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist is only found in Luke 1:5-25.
Firstly, it is worth noting that John means - The Lord is gracious. Indeed we observe the graciousness of God throughout the events that unfold in the first days and months of Jesus life.
You may have noticed that the gospel of Luke starts with prayer (Luke 1:8-13) and ends with prayer (Luke 24: 50-53). The angel Gabriel in appearing to Zacharias picked the time carefully. Indeed the angel could have come at any time but I believe purposely choose the moment of prayer.
"Prayer brings us into communion with God. It is part of our inheritance. When we are robbed of our prayer life we are being robbed of our inheritance."
Heaven emphasised the role of prayer at the birth of Jesus for our benefit. Indeed, when Zacharias? lack of faith refused to allow him to accept the gift of heaven he was struck dumb (Luke 1:19-20). This was not an act of judgement but mercy.
The angel could not afford Zacharias negative confessions to hinder God?s will for his life. The words we speak are powerful. How may time have you left a good time of prayer only to go and negate all you have just prayed for by a torrent of words of unbelief and doubt.
There are times when it is best to keep our mouths shut.
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1: 26-38). This was a well planned and executed mission. Mary received the angel?s message with a question of her own (Luke 1: 34). There is nothing wrong in asking questions. Notice the angel answered Mary?s question (Luke 1: 35). God gave us minds and he intends for us to use them. Asking questions is a necessary process for growth and maturity. It is how we mediate on God?s word.
God?s Word grants us grounding in our inheritance that will keep us in His will - even when we do not fully understand His will.
The angel informed Mary of Elizabeth?s pending child (Luke 1:36) and Mary went to stay with Elizabeth until the child was born (Luke 1: 39, 56). Can you imagine what they would have been talking about during that period?
I can imagine Mary asking Elizabeth, ?tell me again auntie, what did the angel say to uncle Zacharias?? Can you also see Elizabeth saying to Mary ?do you think you could be the virgin spoken about in the Old Testament? (Isaiah 7:14)?
Imagine Mary grasping her mouth with her hand and saying, ?o no, surely not?, with the excitement and bewilderment streaming out of her eyes. For those three months they ?meditated together on the word of God?. Uttering it to each other and considering the implications. There must have been times when it all seemed like a dream to them.
Suddenly Mary would have noticed that she too was pregnant! Again they would have gone over the happenings of the last months. Reminding themselves of all they had heard. Their mediations would have kept doubt away. As C.S Lewis once wrote
"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods"
Mediating on God?s word aids in keeping our reason and feelings in line with God?s word. More importantly, if we are to live in the fullness of our inheritance in Christ Jesus we need to learn how to meditate on God?s word.
When Elizabeth heard the greetings of Mary she was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke out prophetically (Luke 1:39 - 45).
As believers in Christ Jesus we are partakers of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). He is part of our inheritance. As we expose ourselves to the Word of God the life of God will flow in our lives more freely. This is a truth that is overlooked to our detriment.
Our association with the Word of God and the people of God draws us closer to the life of God. If you want to hear more clearly the Holy Spirit speaking in your life than get close to the things of God and the people of God.
Learn to have faith in the things God tells you (Luke 1:45). Faith comes by hearing the Word and speaking it out aloud. When God stirs up people in the Bible you often witness them speaking out aloud the goodness of God.
Our feelings do not always agree with the promises of God. This should not stop us from magnifying the Lord. Praise is a two edged sword. It lifts up the Lord and lifts up our faith. Praise denies the enemy of our soul his hold of us. Praise anchors herself in faith.
As Mary magnified the Lord in Luke 1:46 - 55, she did it by faith. She had no comprehensive knowledge of all the things God was about to do; yet she had seen enough to put her confidence in His goodness.
The gifts and voice of the Holy Spirit is part of your inheritance. Take full advantage of them.
1. Our Inheritance in Christ
Living Word Library
20 April 2007