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Slavery: Bondage, or Set Free?


By Benjamin H. Liles

          This is too funny!  When I thought I was reading the 3 Dec 2011 Devotional, it turns out I was reading Monday's 5 Dec 2011 Devotional.  How can this tie in to not just the title but to the passage of Isaiah 49:9 can be stated in this way: What has you enslaved?

          Isaiah 49:9, 10 says, "I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare. They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the Lord in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters" (New Living Translation).
          This reminds me of a story of two farmers: one farmer has done the work of having tilled the land and sowed the seeds, but as it hasn't rained for a long time, he bemoans the fact that "my crops have failed!"  The second farmer experiences the same thing, but he instead praises God, saying, "Thank you Lord for this!  I know that You will eventually give me more than I need when the rains come and cause my fields to come into fruition."  This takes me back to that question: What has a person enslaved?
          Before I ever came to Christ, I used to get upset when I didn't get my way, lost a job and was granted disability as I suffer from bipolar disorder.  While I never thanked God for the hardships I went through, since the time I was granted disability I have done more praising of God's strength than in my own strength?  That question can be rephrased as "What has your affections?" 
          Paul wrote, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2, NASB).  It can be said that before I was saved that I was enslaved to my own devices and desires and the result was being handed over to my own line of thinking.  We have all heard the phrase, in one form or another that says, "You are what you believe."
           In the movie Facing the Giants, David says to his father, "I didn't make the kick over the goal posts because I knew I couldn't make it," to which his father replied, "Son, if I took that attitude i wouldn't be able to do half the things I can.  I'm bound to this wheelchair, but I have faith in God and because of that I can do ALL things through Jesus Christ."  Sure, I paraphrased what was said by both guys, but the truth is what you set your affection on will motivates you to who or what you're enslaved to.
          What's the difference?  Had I remained in that state of following my beliefs that God couldn't handle what I went through, and followed after fame, money and my own popularity I would have found more heartache and pain than actual success.  Not a lot of people would agree with me on this point, while others can definitely see what I'm saying. 
          When I finally gave my life over to Christ, I did exactly what the apostle Paul said, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2, NASB).  I would have to say that the difference between the attitudes I've mentioned is that one is in bondage to things of the world, while the other has it's affections set on God and His ways.
          Isaiah 55:9 states, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts" (NASB).  Sure, the unregenerate mind will be enslaved to its passions, lusts and selfish desires, but the mind that is renewed and set free from bondage has it's affections set on God and His ways.  Those are the thoughts that Paul said, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
          Therefore, in wrapping this up, we can choose to stay enslaved and in bondage to things of this world which keep us away from the love of God, or we can repent of those things and ask of God to set us free and to renew our affections to seek Him and His ways. 
          I gave to God all of who I am, December 24, 2009, and have grown stronger in the faith and relationship with Him, being able to follow hard after Him and not just that but as well as wanting to serve Him.  My point is that because my affections have changed from my ways to God's ways I have enjoyed a life of being a bond-servant to Him, choosing to serve and follow His ways. 
          Prayer for the day:  Father, God, I pray for those who no longer want to serve their own passions and desires but to set their affections and desires for what You truly want for them.  I ask that You set them free from what binds and enslaves them, to being servants to and for You; to be renewed and transformed in their minds by remaining in You and Your word.  I ask this in Jesus' name.  Amen.