I want to do all I can to cultivate joy and thankfulness in my life.
One of the best ways to do this is regularly recall how God saved me from slavery to sin. God instituted the Sabbath so that every week Israel could recall God’s incredible mercy and his mighty deliverance.
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
Just as God told Israel it was important for them to regularly recall their slavery and how he delivered them from it, it is important that we too remember we were slaves, far less able to free ourselves than Israel was to escape Pharaoh. Sin’s chains were far stronger than Pharaoh’s. He could only restrain Israel’s bodies; sin’s tentacles enwrapped our hearts, minds and wills. The Israelites detested Pharaoh; we delighted in evil. Israel wanted out; we were comfortable in sin’s shackles. But God broke the chains that bound us and set us free!
We should regularly think back on how God saved us.
By his obedience and death Jesus overthrew Satan, the Prince of darkness, a malevolent spirit whose strength makes Pharaoh look like nothing. And Jesus broke the dominion of sin over us, a power so strong no army could defeat it. He lifted the spiritual scales from our eyes no earthly surgery could remove. He created new hearts in us that beat with love and delight in him, changing our spiritual “taste” to relish his beauty and his Word. What infinite power it takes to change people from God-haters to God-lovers, from selfish rebels to humble servants.
And how did God free us from our slavery? His mighty hand and outstretched arm fell upon his own Son.
The Father crushed his beloved Son as he poured his foaming wrath upon his head. But by his mighty hand and outstretched arm, God loosed Jesus from death’s icy grip and raised him up to sit at his right hand.
When we think back on our slavery to sin and how Jesus so powerfully redeemed us, it should produce thankfulness and joy in our lives. I can still recall when I was enslaved to sin, and how Jesus drew me to himself, opened my eyes, gave me faith and saved me. And I still try to thank him regularly for how he rescued me.
Even if we have nothing else in this world, we can rejoice because we have an amazing Savior who not only saved us in the past, but continues to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father.
Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have five children and five grandchildren.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.