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Daily Reading and Meditation

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Daily Reading and Meditation

 Wednesday (March 29):  The truth will make you free

Scripture:  John 8:31-42

31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you
continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will
know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They
answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been
in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made
free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every
one who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not
continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. 36 So
if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to
kill me, because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what
I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from
your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus
said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what
Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told
you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham
did. 41 You do what your father did.” They said to him, “We were
not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” 42 Jesus
said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I
proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord,
but he sent me.

Second Reading:  Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25,28

14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden
image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear
the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and
every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image which I
have made, well and good; but if you do not worship, you shall
immediately be cast in and who is the god that will deliver you
out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the
king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this
matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver
us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of
your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that
we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you
have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression of
his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He
ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was wont to be
heated. 20 And he ordered certain mighty men of his army to bind
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning
fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose
up in haste. He said to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men
bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O
king.” 25 He answered, “But I see four men loose, walking in the
midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of
the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 28 Nebuchadnezzar
said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who
has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted
in him, and set at nought the king’s command, and yielded up their
bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Meditation: Do you know the joy, peace, and freedom which
God offers to those who trust in him and obey his word? God sent
his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring us God’s kingdom of
righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Jesus came to rescue us from our sinful pride and slavery to sin.
He came to rescue us from Satan’s snares and the clutches of hell,
and to free us from the world’s temptation to empty glory and lust
for greed and power. Only Jesus can truly set us free and
reconcile us with God – every other way falls short of God’s plan
to save and deliver us from death, corruption, and sin.

Why did the religious authorities reject Jesus’s offer of
freedom, forgiveness, and new life in the kingdom of God? Despite
Jesus’ numerous signs and miracles, the Jewish authorities could
not accept his claim to speak and act in the name of his heavenly
Father. They were blinded by their misguided ideas of how the
Messiah would restore Israel and rule the earth. And Jesus
revealed to them how Satan had led them into temptation – both to
reject him as the Messiah and to thwart his claim by killing him.

Jesus met their opposition and hostility with courage and
determination to do his Father’s will. He willingly embraced the
cross in order to destroy the works of Satan and to save both Jews
and Gentiles through his atoning sacrifice for the sin of the
world. Jesus shows us the way to the kingdom of God – through
faith and obedience to God’s word and will for our lives. To be a
follower and disciple of the Lord Jesus requires faith and
obedience – they are two sides of the same coin. The word disciple
literally means one who learns from the Master and who
to the voice of the Teacher. And the word for obedience
literally means to listen under and be subordinate to the
one who has rightful authority to teach and command what is just
and true.

The free gift of faith
How can we grow in faith and discipleship – by faithfully
following the Lord and obeying his word. Faith is a free
supernatural gift of God. It is more than just a belief in the
truths of God. It is first and foremost a personal relationship of
trust and obedience to the Lord and his word. The Lord is worthy
of our complete trust and wholehearted devotion because he is
utterly reliable, just and true, and he is faithful to his word.
That is why we can entrust our lives to him and submit to him
without reservation.

God does not leave us in the dark or remain distant and silent.
He reveals himself to all who earnestly seek him and hunger for
his truth. God, in fact, first seeks us out and draws us to
himself. We could not find him if he did not first seek to reveal
himself to us. That is why we need to respond to God’s gracious
gift of invitation with an open and receptive heart that wants to
listen, learn, and receive what God wishes to give us. Saint
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, “I
believe, in order to understand – and I understand, the better to
believe” (Sermon 43:7,9).

The test of faith
In the Old Testament Book of Daniel we see a remarkable example of
faith being put to the test in the midst of trial and adversity.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three young companions
of Daniel, were commanded by the king of Persia to bow down and
submit to the pagan idols of his nation, they unhesitatingly said,
“We will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you
have set up” (Daniel 3:18). They knew
God’s command, “Do not worship false idols”(Exodus
20:3-6; Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
. They decided it was far
better to obey God and entrust their lives to him rather than give
in to the threats of others. God gave them courage to take a bold
stand for their faith. They willingly accepted the King’s
punishment as they were bound and thrown into a burning fiery

Daniel tells us how God was very present to these three young men
as they proclaimed their faith in him. God showed his presence to
the three men and walked with them in the fiery furnace. As a
remarkable sign of God’s power to the pagan rulers of Persia, God
kept the three men from harm and delivered them from death (Daniel 3:25,28). Do you trust in God to give
you his help and strength when your faith is put to the test?

True and false sources of identity
The scribes and Pharisees, who were the religious authorities of
the Jews, questioned Jesus’ authority to speak and act in God’s
name. They questioned Jesus’ claim to forgive sins and to set
people free from slavery to sin. They understood that only God had
power to forgive sins and to release people from their burden of
guilt and shame. They refused to accept that Jesus’ authority was
given to him by his Father in heaven. Jesus tells them that they
think evil of him and desire to kill him because they are under
the influence and power of the “father of lies” who is opposed to
the one true Father and Creator who made us in his image and
likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).

Jesus explains that he is speaking of two different senses of
“fatherhood”. The first is a physical identity through natural
fatherhood. And the second and more significant identity is a
self-chosen one that is the result of being led and formed in a
moral way of thinking and living one’s life that has been shaped
through the example, words, and influence of someone we are
consciously or unconsciously following and imitating.

We do not grow or learn in a vacuum. We are shaped for better or
for worse by those we choose to imitate and follow. Sin leads us
away from God’s truth and the help he gives us to follow him.
Slavery to sin is ultimately rooted in the father of lies (John 8:44), whom Scripture calls the devil
(Luke 4:1) and Satan (Luke 10:18), the ruler of this present
who is opposed to God (John 12:31; 2
Corinthians 4:4)

True freedom comes from God
The freedom which Jesus offers his followers is freedom from the
power of sin, Satan, and the worldly influence of those who oppose
God and his ways. We are powerless to set ourselves free from
bondage to Satan, sin, and death (Romans 3:23;
. That is why the Lord Jesus took our sins upon
himself and nailed them to the cross (1 Peter
2:24; Isaiah 53:5-6; Colossians 2:14)
. His death on the
cross has won victory and pardon for us, and peace with God.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice we are not only forgiven and reconciled
with God – we become the adopted sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14-16). We can call God our Father
because the Lord Jesus has reconciled us and redeemed us from
slavery to sin and Satan.

A redeemed slave is not entirely free until all of his chains and
weights have been broken and destroyed. The Lord Jesus alone has
the power to release us from every chain and burden that would
keep us in bondage to sinful habits and hurtful desires. Are there
any chains – any sinful patterns, harmful attitudes, and addictive
behavior – that you need to be released from? Allow the Lord Jesus
to unbind you and bring you healing, pardon, and freedom to walk
in his way of love and truth. The Lord Jesus sets us free from
slavery to our own selfishness and sinful desires in order to set
us free for a joy-filled life of love and service for his
kingdom. Paul the Apostle reminds us that Christ has won freedom
for each one of us – not to serve ourselves or do as we please –
but rather to please the Lord and to serve our neighbors in love
for their sake (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you
accept and believe Christ’s word of truth, love, and freedom for
your life?

“Lord Jesus, write your words of love and truth upon my heart and
make me a diligent student and a worthy disciple of your word.”

Psalm 18: 25-27

25 With the loyal you show yourself loyal; with the blameless man
you show yourself blameless;
26 with the pure you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you
show yourself perverse.
27 For you deliver a humble people; but the haughty eyes you bring

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The upright of heart, by
Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“Do you know who the upright of heart are? They are those who
wish what God wishes. Therefore, do not try to twist God’s will to
you own but correct your will to that of God. The will of God is a
rule of conduct. By it you have the means of being converted and
of correcting your evil ways.” (excerpt from
Commentary on Psalm 93,18)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite:  copyright (c) 2023 Servants of the Word, source:, author Don Schwager.

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

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