April 20, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Free at Last

Mary Southerland

 

Key Verse: 

 

So Christ has really set us free.   Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.  Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

 

Devotion: 

 

The story is told of an Indian village that held an annual bazaar where villagers came to sell the crafts and wares they had made during the year as well as the animals they had raised.  One year a man brought a covey of quail to sell.  In order to display the birds, he tied one end of a piece of string to one of their legs and the other end to a stake in the ground.

 

All day long shoppers passed by watching the birds walk in a circle around the stake.  No one seemed interested in buying them until a religious man approached and asked how much the merchant wanted for them.  The merchant named an exorbitant price, which the religious man quickly paid, immediately instructing the merchant to set the birds free.  When the merchant asked why he was willing to pay so much for the birds and then let them go, the religious man simply responded, “Because they were created to be free.”

 

The merchant didn’t understand but shrugged his shoulders and cut the strings, setting the birds free.  The quail continued marching in a circle around the stake.  The buyer stepped into the middle of the circle, scattering the birds, which flew a few yards, landed and once again began to march in a circle.  The quail were free – but did not know it. 

 

We all seek freedom.  With our very first breath, we come into this world kicking and screaming for freedom.  The desire to be free was tucked into our very soul by God Himself as He formed us in the womb.  Because freedom is a God-given need our Father promised to provide a right way for that need to be met and the longing for freedom to be filled. 

 

Freedom comes with truth. 

 

In John 8:32 we find the promise, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  (NIV)  To know truth we must know God because He is truth. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.” When we come to Jesus Christ in a personal relationship we will experience true freedom for the first time - freedom from sin - freedom from condemnation and death and freedom to really live.  Without truth there can be no freedom.

 

Freedom comes with obedience.

 

Obedience calls us to challenge and lay aside anything that hinders our walk with God. Instead, we refuse to forsake cherished sin, allowing wrong attitudes to take root and prosper while harmful habits hold us prisoner. The writer of Hebrews offers compelling direction for the captured soul longing to be free.  “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)  Obedience brings freedom.

 

Freedom comes with understanding.

 

Until we understand who we are in His eyes we will never truly be free.  Our value and worth rest solely in the fact that we were created, chosen and pursued by God – for God. We belong to Him.  His unconditional love sets us free to become all He created us to be and more than we ever dreamed we could be. In Romans 5:8 the words of Paul celebrate our identity in Him, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.”  Recognizing our worth and value to God sets us free from the chains of human expectations and earthly demands.  Understanding brings freedom.

 

Christ really has set us free. The question is - are we living in that freedom.  Don’t live another day chained to the old ways.  Seek His truth, walk in obedience and celebrate your God-created identity! Free – free at last! 

 

My prayer for today: 

 

Father, I long to be set free in you but I have to admit that total freedom in you frightens me.  I am not sure what it will require.  I have allowed old habits, sins and attitudes to keep me in bondage.  I know that is not your will or your plan.  Right now, I lay down everything that keeps me from being free in you.  Help me to walk in that freedom.  Amen!

 

Application steps:

  • Recognize and accept the truth that I was created to live in freedom.
  • Give God permission to work in my life in order to experience His freedom.
  • Be willing to leave the familiarity of bondage and walking that freedom.

 

Reflection points:

 

What areas of my life need freedom?

 

How has bondage in those areas affected my life?

 

What changes do I need to make in order to begin my journey from bondage into freedom?

 

Am I really willing to surrender all control to God in order to be free?

 

Power verses:

 

James 2:12 So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free.  (NLT)

 

Titus 2:14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every sin and to cleanse us so that we can be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good things.  (GWT)

 

Timothy 2:6 He gave himself as a payment to free all people.  (NCV)

 

Additional resources:

 

Unleashing the Power of God in My Life tape set by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/powerset.html

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

 

Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html