"The Lord's Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers…” - Luke 4:18 CEV
As a believer, it is important to understand that freedom is more than deliverance from physical captivity or a repressive regime - it is liberty from destructive mindsets, negative words, and poor decisions. Christ’s proclamation to free the prisoners is not a promise to free you from imprisonment, (just ask John the Baptist) it is a promise to free you from yourself.
Are you free or has the things of this world imprisoned you? Has the separation left you a prisoner to loneliness? Has the unemployment left you a prisoner to depression? Has the debt left you a prisoner to thievery? Has the death left you a prisoner to grief? Your prison may be emotional, mental, or physical but there is something holding you captive, something that is preventing you from reaching your full potential in Christ Jesus.
During times of trouble I called on the LORD. The LORD answered me [and] set me free [from all of them]. - Psalm 118:5 GWT
When Christ died, He guaranteed your freedom from shame, sin, desperation, depression, and anxiety. If you want to live free, you are going to have to declare your independence, fight for it, and constitute a new way of life.
Freedom is what we have--Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. - Galatians 5:1 GNT
There is a false quote attributed to Harriet Tubman in which she purportedly said, “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” While the quote is inauthentic, its sentiments are true. You cannot be set free from that which enslaves you, if you do not first acknowledge that you are being held captive. You must first admit and recognize that you have a problem before you can address it and be set free from it.
Now, once the issue is recognized you must declare and believe that you are indeed free from it. That is easier said then done, because the enemy convicts us in our thinking. He is going to tell you that because of your shortcomings that God will never forgive or love you. He does this to hold your mind captive, to keep you from seeking and receiving God’s truth. Remember, a big lie withers in the face of a small truth. So, declare your freedom even if you do not feel free because with God, we believe first then we see.
And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. - 1 John 5:5 NLT
The enemy is not going to let you go without a fight. He will make that in which you know is wrong feel right. You are going to have to fight back against urges to return to those things that once held you captive. You are going to have to fight back against the urge to lie, cheat and steal. You are going to have to fight back against anger, jealousy, and doubt. You are going to have to fight back against deception and manipulation. Do not let the length of your captivity discourage you from fighting against it. If you want to win the battle, you are going to have to show up to the fight.
Then [the unclean spirit] says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. - Matthew 12:44-45 AMP
It is not enough to just declare and fight for your freedom - you are going to have to change your lifestyle and replace destructive behaviors with Christ centered ones, or you will find yourself back in bondage. You cannot say you are free from drugs, alcohol, or porn if you continue to consume it. You cannot say you are free from gossip if you continue to disparage others. You cannot say you are free from your negative thoughts if you continue to make decisions based off those thoughts. If you do not change the way you live, the unclean spirit you defeated will return to you and bring other spirits with him. It is not enough to declare your freedom, you must live like a free person, like a person who believes that those things that once had power over you no longer does.
Being free means you have been set free, and you are continuously being set free - meaning those things that once confined you no longer has power over you and the current attack of the enemy will not enslave you. So confidently declare your freedom, fight for, and preserve it.
Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you. - 1 Corinthians 15:33 CEV
One of the most difficult things you will experience in this life, is the abandonment by people you once considered friends. When you are going through a hardship, not everyone who says they care about and support you will stand with you during your most trying times. People you laughed with, spent time with, worked with and cared about will disappear when you need them the most.
The quality of our relationships is determined by the character of the people we allow to have access to us. Keep an eye on the Judas Iscariot’s in your life. You can identify them through their actions because every Judas will steal from you, eat with you and intimately embrace you.
Judas did not really care about the poor. He asked this because he carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it. – John 12:6 CEV
Judas was the treasurer amongst the disciples, meaning he oversaw valuable things. Be mindful of those who want to oversee the valuable things in your life: your time, thoughts and love. You cannot trust and confide in everyone. Some people want to get close to you just to steal from you - they steal your joy, peace and happiness. See who is stealing your most valuable resources and ask yourself if they are there for you or if they are there for what they can take from you.
So [Peter] leaned back against Jesus and asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus replied, “He’s the one I give the piece of bread to after I have dipped it.” When he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. So, Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.” – John 13:25 - 27 CEV
Who have you invited into your life that eats your food but never brings a dish? Or to put it another way, who have you invested into who hasn’t given anything back to you? You can’t invite everyone to sit and enjoy the most intimate parts of your life, especially if they are not contributing to your life in a loving and meaningful way.
Dr. Dharius Daniels; in his book, Relational Intelligence, talks about the importance of reciprocity in relationships. He says that “we will never be able to give back to someone in a relationship exactly what they give to us. But we can give something. Reciprocation is a way to steward relationships. Reciprocation helps us minimize the likelihood of exploitation in relationships. It prevents us from using people and being used.”
Judas had told them ahead of time, "Arrest the man I greet with a kiss." – Matthew 26:48 CEV
Everyone who kisses you, hugs you and shares a bed with you does not love you. It is easy to confuse intimacy with feelings of love and support. Watch for those who view your vulnerability and weakness as a way to use and manipulate you. Your enemies will disguise themselves in empty words, fake smiles and heartless gestures in order to get close to you only to later abandon you after they have gotten what they want from you. Be watchful at all times, praying that you have the strength to identify all the works of those who want to harm you (Luke 21:36).
Most importantly, God will always show you the truth about yourself first, before He show you the truth about someone else. Make sure you are not the Judas in your relationships. Make sure you are not the one stealing, eating and kissing in order to get what you want instead of being a true and supportive friend.
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