Encouragement 07-21-04


July 21, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Free at Last
Mary Southerland, Director of Networking, Member of Speaker Team and author
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.  (NLT)
I read of an Indian village that held an annual bazaar where villagers came to sell the crafts and wares they had made during the year.  Others brought the animals they had raised.  One year a man brought a covey of quail to sell.  In order to display the birds, he tied a piece of string to their legs and the other end of the string to a stake in the ground. 
All day long people passed by, watching the birds walk in a circle around the wooden stake. No one seemed interested in buying them until the end of the day, when a religious man approached the weary merchant.  He asked the merchant how much he wanted for the birds. Hoping to make a profit, the man named an exorbitant price and was amazed when the religious man immediately paid it.  As soon as the transaction was completed, the man instructed the merchant to set the birds free.  Those instructions stopped the merchant in his tracks.  "Let me get this straight," he said.  "You have just paid a lot of money for these quail.  And now you want me to let them go?"  The religious man's answer was simple but profound.  "They were created to be free," he offered.
The merchant did not understand but a sale is a sale.  He simply shrugged his shoulders and cut the strings, setting the covey of quail free.  The quail flew a short distance, then landed several yards away - but continued marching in a circle around the now invisible stake.  The determined owner 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.  Yes, the quail were free - but they did not know it. 
Like the religious man paid the price to set those birds free, Jesus Christ has paid the price of giving His life so that we can live in freedom.  Yes, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sets us free.  Yet, many of us live as if we are still tied to the past.  We walk in the same old paths of oppression. We entertain the same destructive habits and allow sin to establish a foothold from which it can dispense defeat.  That is not God's plan. 
Many of us are professional "leaf turners", thinking that in order to be free we must be perfect. Every January the leaves turn over in an attempt to make this year different from the rest.  Surely, the other side of that leaf is better than the one we have been living.  When a crisis comes, promises are bartered for deliverance.  Old habits - old patterns of behavior - old paths leading to destruction are relegated to the ever-growing pile of broken promises. 
The good news is that more than we want to be free - God wants to give us freedom. Because freedom is a God-given need and longing, he always provides a right way for every need to be met and ever longing to be filled.  His plan for us is freedom and God always resources His plans. 
It is time for us to cut the strings of bondage.  It is time for us to choose freedom.

My prayer for today:
Father, forgive me when I settle for bondage instead of freedom.  Please show me what it means to be truly free in you.  Right now, I choose to lay down anything that would keep me from knowing your freedom in my life.  Right now, I choose you - I choose freedom.  Amen!

Application steps:
Accept the truth that you were created to be free. 
Believe that God is the source of that freedom.
Give God permission to work in these areas of bondage. 
Choose to leave the familiarity of bondage and walk in new freedom.
Reflection points:
What areas of my life need to be set free from bondage?  What is the source of that bondage? How has it affected my life?
What changes do I need to make in order to begin my journey from bondage to freedom? 
Am I really willing to pay the price for freedom by surrendering all control to God?
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 freed. (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)
John 8:32 You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  (NIV)
Timothy 2:6 He gave himself as a payment to free all people.  (NCV)

Additional resources:
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Learning to Live Right from Women Who Lived Wrong by Mary Southerland

Originally published Wednesday, 21 July 2004.