Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fight for Freedom

There's a war going on at my house. Well, actually just when the kids are here. I'm not talking about sibling rivalry; I'm talking about actual war. Well, at least in their minds.

You see my kids love to play war. They arrange bunkers and hide-outs and go at it with the Nerf guns. Or they assign themselves an animal character and hunt each other down with bow and arrows (Nerf again). Or they act out wars from history they've read about (they read a lot of Mary Pope Osborn).

But something I've noticed is that no matter what game they play, someone is always trying to capture, kill, or destroy and someone else is always trying to gain their freedom. They aren't satisfied to be a prisoner; they want freedom. Don't we all.

Friday, April 9 is National Former POW Recognition Day. I don't know any former POW's, but if I did I'd for sure say thanks. Maybe you do--be sure to thank them for their sacrifice. But that got me to thinking about prisoners.

I cannot imagine the torture on your body, soul, and mind in being held captive by an enemy. I cannot begin to fathom the depths of pain and the extent of the scars that would haunt you for the rest of your life. But God can.

Just like my kids long for freedom in their "war games", we all struggle to find freedom. Our search for freedom begins as tiny toddlers when we pull against the tethers of carseats, high chairs, and our parents' hand in parking lots. It follows us through the growing up years as we fight for independence, all the while keeping a close eye on our parents out of the corners of our eyes. We look for freedom from guilt, from addiction, from past mistakes, from pain. We long to be free of hurtful relationships, of stereotypes, of consequences. There are countless things that hold us captive. But there is a rescuer.

In Colossians 2:8, we hear these words: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. That tells me there are things in this world that are preached, taught, and believed that are not true--they are snares that will hold us prisoner if we believe them. These things find their basis in rules, laws, and teaching that people think up on their own, when they forget or refuse to seek God's thoughts on a matter.

Is there something that is holding you captive? A fear? A sin? A relationship? An untruth you've believed too long about yourself? An attitude? A past mistake? What is it that seeks to capture, kill, or destroy you? What is that holds you in a bunker of indecision or failure? Listen to these words from Psalm 146:6-8:

the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,

the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.

Do you see the promises in there for us? The God who made every single thing is faithful--forever! If you are oppressed, hungry, or a prisoner--He has everything you need! And if you can't see your way straight, if your back is bent with burden--He has a way out for you! He is waiting for you to ask Him, then before the breath leaves your mouth, He'll be there to set you free. And He doesn't even need a Nerf gun.

*I've pasted Isaiah 61 below for you, if you'd like to read it today. God not only frees the captive, but then He blesses him (or her) beyond measure. Read on to hear it for yourself.

Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.

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