Saturday, March 9, 2013

Maintaining Our Liberty

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1

There is something so hopeful in knowing you are being transformed,
remade, re-created, re-done, set free from feeling like you will never be able to change.
I wake up every morning, here in the Potter's house,
and I praise Him for this beyond-wonderful opportunity.
It took a lot of pain and heartache to get here.
But, it was so worth the trek.
Worth every blow from the stone-crushing-to-powder process.
Being reduced to mere powder...mere clay...
isn't the most pleasant thing I've ever experienced.
But, there is glory....every single time the stone connects with the vessel.
Each touch of God's hand is worth the discomfort.
I'd rather feel Him pruning me, cutting off self branches, 
no matter how excruciating,
than to never feel Him at all.

God believes there is hope for me.
And though I can't see it sometimes, He sees value.
He discerns potential.
His visions and dreams for me are far beyond any I have yet imagined.
But, to make those dreams reality,
to fulfill the plans He has made for me,
He had to make me...first.
I was a marred vessel.
Unable to produce the results...on my own.
Hence, the need for this the Potter's house.

There is something so liberating in just letting go...
and knowing you are in bigger hands.
Of transferring the responsibility of the rest of your life
to the One Who has all power.
It brings massive relief...
to surrender all.

I don't want control.
I have lived long enough to learn that I don't know what is best.
I no longer want to carry the burden of trying to determine that.

My eyes have been opened.
I am finally seeing things for what they really are.
Knowledge is so empowering.
And even though the excess weight is still there, physically,
I know things will be different in my weight loss journey from now on.
It is a transformation from the inside-out.
The inside had to be changed first.
The outside is going to follow.
It already is.
Looking at food temptation through the same lens I view other forms of temptation
sure causes me to think twice before I grab the Cheez-its box!!

I am convinced now that if the Potter loved me this much...
to go to such lengths to pull me aside,
to spend this much time,
to completely make me over again,
and re-create the inside of me,
I must be worth the effort it will take to change the outside.

Seeing how motivated He is in this process
has motivated me.

Isn't inward motivation what we all need?
In order to make necessary outside changes?

Every time He shows me something about myself
and I reach a point of acknowledging and confessing my wrongs,
I sense release from another link in the chain of bondage.
It is amazing how liberating confession & honesty is to the soul.
Coming clean with God is extremely liberating.
Denying our own condition perpetuates enslavement.
Admitting the reality of truth sets us free.
Daily, the Potter is chipping away at the fortified walls of satan's strongholds.
The Potter is gentle.
He doesn't force or try to override my will.
With full cooperation and total surrender on my part,
He is making great progress.

Take today, for example.
I looked at food in a whole new light.
I only ate when I felt hungry.
Imagine that concept!
Sometimes, I think I eat when I am thirsty.
Yes, you read what you think you did.  :~)
Somehow the chemicals in my brain confuse hunger and thirst,
so I reach for food when, in reality, I could find satisfaction in a glass of water.

I recently read an article about dehydration and came to the conclusion
that I go around near-dehydrated most of the time.
Estimates state that around 50-60% of an adult's body weight is made up of water.
The organs in our bodies need water to thrive.

Today, when I felt I needed something,
I tried drinking first.
It worked.
Later, when I wanted a snack,
I decided I want to lose weight more than I wanted that snack,
so I refrained.
It felt good to resist temptation.
It always does.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
James 4:7

It absolutely works.
I have known that for a long time...
in other areas of temptation.
I had never before equated it with my bondage to food temptation.
Somehow, that just never seemed as important.
Until the Potter lifted the veil from my eyes and showed me the root of my problem.
Now I see....clearly.
The Word of God is pertinent, relevant, and applicable
to every, single part of my life....and yours.
Picking up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,
and using it aggressively, assertively, and affirmatively
is absolutely fail-proof.
When I felt tempted to stray today,
James 4:7 came to my mind.
I quoted it.
Spoke it.
Satan had no choice but to withdraw and recede.

It is amazing how resisted-temptation loses its power.
Did you ever notice that?
No matter how intense the temptation,
no matter how close we are to caving in,
if we resist it firmly and wholeheartedly,
it suddenly loses its appeal.
It just doesn't seem as attractive or desirable.
It holds no to the Word of God.
Knowing this amazing secret is powerful stuff.
It holds the key to unlock every prison door...
unloose every shackle.

The Potter is absolutely setting me free from the agonizing bondage
I have been in for so many years in this area of my life.
As He sets me free, it is up to me to maintain that freedom.
To stand fast in the liberty wherewith He has made me free,
and to not become entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Slipping back into old habits would be like willingly walking
back behind the bars He has so miraculously opened for me.
It would be like reattaching the broken chains....
putting the shackles back on my feet.
It would be completely foolish.

I want no part of bondage...
ever again.
I have lived under it and enslaved to it for too many years.
Not only in the prison house of obesity,
but in other dark, hopeless prison cells.
I am done with it.
I have had enough.

It isn't God's will for us to live in bondage 
in any area of our lives.

It is satan's desire and design to entrap and enslave all of us...
using whatever means necessary.
Your area of bondage may be the total opposite of mine.
He doesn't care how it happens or what form it takes.
Just so he can keep us enslaved.
Under oppression.
Even after Christ has made us free,
satan does not give up.
He continually, consistently, fervently does his utmost
to get us to crumble to the power of temptation and be reeled back in
to the bondage from which God has already released us.

Here's the great part, though.
Satan can only do this if we cooperate...
if we concede...
if we say "yes".

Absorb this truth....
God will not override our will, and satan can not override it.

Once Christ has set us free, we can only be imprisoned again,
through our own choosing.
Through walking through that door....of temptation.
We can be wholly liberated and make the foolish choice
to walk back in and become re-entangled and re-enslaved.
It is hard to imagine why, but it is a possibility.
When a person has been bound for so long,
sometimes they hardly know how to walk in freedom
after Christ has set them free.
They are so accustomed to bowing down to a "god" other than the one true God,
that they feel aimless and find themselves tempted to go back to what is familiar,
no matter how horrible the conditions.
Or if they choose not to walk back into the same prison cell,
they find themselves searching for another form of bondage to take its place.

Without going into the gory details,
I know what I am talking about,
not by hearing it second-hand,
but through living and breathing it.

Satan does not give up easily.
If he sees that you have won the victory in a particular area,
he will do his utmost to draw you back in...
to recapture you....
and bind you up.
If he can't get you to go back to where you were,
he will offer a host of alternatives and replacement crutches to lean on.
Just so you are living your life in chains...
it matters not to him what they are made of.
He hates to see a child of God walk in complete freedom.

It is going to take great effort and determination on your part and mine,
to absolutely insure that we do not return to ANY form of bondage....
new or old.

Remember the children of Israel?
God delivered them from extreme, intense, severe bondage
inflicted by the selfish desires of a cruel, ruthless, impossible-to-please,
impossible-to-satisfy dictator.
Their bondage appeared perpetual.
There seemed to be no way of ever escaping its relentless grasp.

One day, it all changed for them.
God looked down and saw their raw, bleeding backs,
compliments of harsh whippings they received for not moving fast enough.
He saw every tear in the dark that fell from exhausted eyes too tired to sleep.
He heard every prayer prayed from anguished spirits and broken hearts.
He made a way for them to escape, and it was beyond any miracle they had seen
or could have ever imagined.

After they were completely free,
it is near-impossible to believe,
but they wanted to go back.
Back to the beatings.
Back to the cruelty.
Back to a life filled with dread,
tainted by abuse,
and beholden to a man who despised them.
Just because it was familiar.
Just because it was known.
Rather than plow through the bumps in the road
and press forward into the "new" God had in store for them,
they longed to go back...
no matter how miserable the bondage.

I read that, and I find it incredible.

To go back?
To that?

This is how sly and cunning our enemy is.
He distorts our hindsight and convinces us that
the bondage wasn't quite as bad as it really was.
He uses all manner of trickery and cunning tactics to erase the bad memories
and make the grass we left behind 
appear greener than the landscape ahead.

God loved the Israelites too much to allow them to go back into bondage.
Instead, He made a way for them to go forward and maintain their liberty.

He loves you too, my friend.
Enough to break every yoke of bondage satan has managed to wrap around your life.
And once it is broken, He loves you enough
to make a way for you to walk forward and maintain your liberty.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1

If Christ has made you free,
don't look back.
Keep pressing forward.
Don't let satan convince you to slip back...
just because it is familiar.
It is a trick...of the most deceitful kind.
God has great things in store for you...
on this new found road of freedom.
He has "plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

The choice is up to you...and me....
to stand fast.
To not turn around.
To be strong.
To resist the devil...and temptation.
To not take the bait and be reeled back in....
to a place of bondage.
To remain unentangled.

You can do it.
So can I.

Through Christ's strength and the Sword of the Spirit,
we can absolutely maintain our freedom from bondage...
no matter how appealing satan glosses it over to be.
And if you slip a bit....remember these steps back to freedom's road.
Look to the Heavens,
tell Jesus all about it,
accept His forgiveness,
forgive yourself,
don't allow even a split second for wallowing,
pick yourself up by the bootstraps,
brush yourself off,
and press on, my friend.....

P R E S S   O N!

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