Set Free

When I was nine years old, somebody gave me a cage with a pretty bird inside. I didn’t like to see that poor little bird in a prison like that, so I decided to let her go free. But I soon found out it was not that easy. You see, that little bird was born in a cage, and all her life was spent in one. Even with the cage’s door open, she refused to escape! I even took her out of it, but when night came, I found her sleeping on the top of the cage. She could not accept her freedom because she was born a captive.

Born Captives

You and I are also born captives. Do you know why?
When God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, they were perfectly free from sin. But it wasn’t long before they disobeyed God and brought sin into the world. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Since then every person is born a sinner, a captive to sin, and this includes you and me. Fear, unhappiness, illness and death are some of the terrible results of sin.
One morning we were surprised to find another bird beside the cage, a male of the same kind. I put him inside the cage with the female, and, after a few days, I decided to set him free. Impossible! To my surprise, he always came back. It seemed like the love he had for the other bird was bringing him back.
Perhaps you have tried to escape from sin by yourself and, like a bird born a captive, found it impossible. But there is One, the Lord Jesus, who came down from heaven to die for you on the cross and to save you from your sins. He knew what it was to be hungry and thirsty, and He suffered much pain and then death. He understands your feelings, and He loves you. His love for you is so great that He willingly went to Calvary’s cross. There God made Him sin for us. There Jesus suffered the judgment from God towards sin — our sin — so we could be set free from it.

Completely Free

Since the male bird would not leave for the love he had for the one that was born in captivity, I decided to take both birds out of the cage. It was wonderful to watch! After a few flying turns over the backyard, the two birds flew away together, and I never saw them again. The same love that made the male bird come down to the female’s cage took her out of it forever. Since that day, the cage stands empty.
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. He went up to heaven and wants to set you free from your captivity of sin and take you to His home in heaven. He tells you in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved [you] with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn [you].” He is waiting for you to accept His loving offer to set you free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Will you let Him set you free?

The World’s Most Expensive Tree

It was recognized by the Guinness Book as the world’s most expensive tree and cost over $11 million. There was nothing cheap about the Christmas Tree in the lobby of the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The bare-bones tree cost at least $10,000, but it’s what hung on the 43 ft. (13 m) high tree that gave it such incredible value.
The Christmas Tree was decorated with ornaments that were breathtaking to the human eye. Over 181 ornaments of gold and precious stones, including diamonds, pearls, emeralds and sapphires, hung from the boughs of the tree — all for a marketing ploy.
The reality is — a higher, more permanent record has listed another tree as the most expensive tree in the world. Again, what gave the tree its value was what hung on the tree. In fact, the world’s most expensive tree so far outstrips the value of the Abu Dhabi tree that it almost seems like poor taste to attempt a comparison.

The World’s Most Expensive Tree

The pearls, the glittering gold, the flashing diamonds and all the ornaments on that tree is dollar-store cheap when contrasted to the world’s most expensive tree.
The costliest tree of the ages was not mounted in the lobby of a luxury hotel to be viewed by admiring eyes. The tree was mounted on the top of a barren little hill outside of Jerusalem. It looked more like a pole or a cross than an actual tree. No matter what angle you viewed it from — there was nothing pleasing to the natural eye.
In fact, this tree had all the markings of human brutality on it. The polished veneer of good taste was nowhere to be seen. Those who passed by sneered and mocked. The world’s most expensive tree was of no value to most.

Infinite Value

The wood from the tree is not what gave it value. It was the hanging on the tree that drove its value through the roof of earth and up to heaven itself. What was hanging on that tree was of infinite value — far above the price of diamonds, silver and gold. Tears come to the eye at the very thought of it.
A man beaten and bruised hung upon that tree. Yes, death by crucifixion was the Roman way of executing the worst of criminals — but this man was innocent. He was perfect. This man had been stripped of His clothes. His back was slashed open from a horrific beating. Men had repeatedly spewed their spit in His face and threw their punches at Him, even pounding His head with a rod as they blindfolded Him. Then the ultimate insult reserved for those who had committed the most despicable crimes: they nailed His hands and feet with spikes to a cross — a tree — and left Him to die.

His Name Was Jesus

Through all of the torture, not a threatening word came from His lips. Not a flash of anger from His eyes — nothing but love. From that tree He prayed to God and said: Father, forgive them.
You need to know something else about that tree. There God placed upon Jesus the heaviest load of all — He put Him there to die for us, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us. He offered Himself there to take God’s holy wrath and judgment for our sins in place of us. God “made Him to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The Apostle Peter wrote: “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He also said: “[You] were … redeemed … not with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
At the end, just before Jesus died, He triumphantly cried with a very loud voice: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He then bowed His head, delivered up His spirit and died. What was it that Jesus finished? Jesus paid my sin debt by dying on the tree. “Paid in full” is the equivalent phrase in the Greek language. His precious blood flowed freely. You too can claim its value and say your sins are “paid in full.”
Without question, that tree is the most expensive tree of all times because of “Who” hung upon it and “what” He accomplished there for our sins.

Which Tree Means the Most to You?

Which tree is of greater value to you — the one elaborately decorated that will only make it to the Guinness World Records or the one recorded in the Bible as the tree upon which sins were paid for by precious blood that flowed from the innocent and holy One — the Lord Jesus Christ?
Everyone going to heaven appreciates, in a very personal sense, what happened on that tree. This will be the best moment of your entire life, if you, for the first time, receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Savior.

Rescued From the Rubble

The rubble, dust and dirt were products of the renovation project in the bathroom. But staring out from underneath it all was a small glistening object. Turns out the plumber in Calgary, Alberta, had uncovered a heavy $50,000 gold bar the size of a cell phone. It had the jeweler’s stamp on it as well as its serial number. The owners were thrilled, of course.
The news brought to mind Jesus’ story about the woman who lost a coin and who swept and searched the house until she found it. It says she also rejoiced. See Luke 15.
Through neglect or carelessness, your life may be like the lost gold bar. Maybe life is mostly an environment of dusty rubble, mislaid plans, broken promises and disappointing results. Maybe, as in the case in Calgary, there is a personal renovation job going on, an attempt to reform and restart, to turn a new page. But you’re finding it difficult to get out of the rubble.

Your Creator’s Workmanship

Remember this: In our ruin we still show the stamp of our Creator’s work — and retain our value to Him. And you have your own serial number in your personal DNA. In your darkness and loneliness, you still have the same value that God put upon you. That has never changed, and that’s why God never stops looking for you.
In fact, it is God who has initiated the search in the debris of our sinful world. It is God who sent Jesus here to sweep, to search, to turn the light on, and to pursue the lost sinner. He came here and lived among sinners, among the filth and debris, yet He was without sin. In rich grace, He went as far as the death of the cross where God’s wrath fell on Him, because of my sin.

An Unimaginably Good God

How could humans ever invent a God like this, a God who seeks and saves unworthy sinners, because they have an undiminished value in His heart of love? Where else is there a God like this who seeks out His enemies and makes them His friends?
It is God’s hand that can pick you up and restore you to the usefulness He intended for you when He made you. You are the object of His search. In the story Jesus told, the woman searched until she found her precious coin. God is not quitting either.
There is a verse in John 3 in the Bible that sums up these thoughts, that speaks of the worth you have to Him and the cost of His search. It says that God loved this evil world so much that He gave us Jesus, and everyone who believes in Him will not stay lost forever, but will have eternal life, right now.
The exact words are: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Will you believe in Him? Will you simply trust Him to sweep away the rubble of sin and restore you to what He intended you to be? You can receive Him as Savior today.

The Lord Is Merciful

Yes, the Lord is merciful! How thankful we are that He is, for we are all sinners and in need of His mercy. The Bible says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).

There are some, however, who take God’s mercy for granted, forgetting that the same Bible that tells us He is merciful also tells us that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). It is easy to speak of God’s mercy as though this meant He would look at sin lightly as we often do. Indeed some think, or hope, that He will overlook their sins altogether, because He is love.

Now we rejoice indeed that God is merciful and gracious, but He never has been, and He never will be, merciful at the expense of His holiness. His character is unchangeable, and He cannot lie. He cannot pass over sin, for His Word says, “Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward”(Hebrews 2:2). What would we think of a court where every guilty person was acquitted, just because the judge was merciful! Justice would be gone. We might as well close up the courtroom and proclaim to the people that they could do just as they pleased and never be punished. Is God less just than man? Let His Word give us the answer: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face” (Psalm 89:14). Will He punish sin? Indeed He will. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Men may escape the justice of earthly courts, but “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

Now since God is holy, as well as merciful, how can He show His mercy to sinners like us, who are guilty before Him? This is where the cross of Christ tells out the love of God. God loves us but hates our sins. He desires to show us mercy, but justice demands that we be punished. And so on the cross the whole question of our sins and guilt was completely settled forever. God took all the sins of all who would believe and placed them upon His spotless Son, and then He punished Him instead of us. “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Divine justice is now fully satisfied, because all its claims have been fully met. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: … He was buried … and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:34). The resurrection of Christ is the proof that God is fully satisfied with the work His Son has done, and now He can “be JUST, and the JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

It is not for us to vainly hope that God will pass over our sins, for He cannot. But those who turn to Him, owning their sin and guilt and believing in Christ’s finished work, are saved. God is not looking for some goodness in us, for we have none before Him. He is not asking us to try to do better, for our very natures are bad and sinful. We cannot buy His salvation, nor can it be obtained by anything that we can do. It is a free gift: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”(Romans 6:23). God is waiting to hear the sinner say, “I have sinned.” If you are not saved, take your true place before Him now, as lost and helpless, unable to save yourself.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

There is no other way.

God wants to be merciful to you, but the only way to obtain His mercy is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. If you reject God’s gracious offer of pardon, there will be no mercy for you. Judgment is ahead of you in the lake of fire forever. Why not receive the Lord Jesus as your own personal Saviour today?