Thursday, December 15, 2016

“A Captivity Overturned”

"A Captivity Overturned"   

     "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends" (Job 42:10).  Freedom came to battered Job when he interceded for "friends" who had acted like enemies, or as Job called them, "miserable comforters" (Job 16:2).  

   Bitterness is bondage.  When others sin against us, the temptation is strong to harbor resentment, ill will, and a lingering sense of injustice and grievance.  If we surrender to the devilish ploy of being enslaved by self pity, we forfeit our Christ-enabled liberty to experience the peace and joy of our Lord's indwelling love.  The love remains, as sealed in our hearts through the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).  However, until we repent and return to flowing in the stream of Christ's mercy, the devilish and fleshly bitterness we choose binds us from fully knowing the grace we have received from our Lord.  "Freely ye have received.  Freely give" (Matthew 10:8).

    One of God's primary remedies for bitterness involves the calling to intercede for those who hurt or offend us.  "Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). We cannot long resent those for whom we genuinely and sincerely pray.  This is especially true as we prayerfully seek mercy by bestowing the same mercy with which God has so graciously blessed us.  Job experienced such liberation of spirit, soul, and even body as he sought merciful compassion for miserable comforters.  Our brother of old, however, knew much less of God and His truth than we know.  The Lord Jesus Christ had not yet come.  Job had no Bible, nor did He possess the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit that graces all believers after the cross and resurrection.  The Lord nevertheless worked in Job's heart to liberate him by leading him to pray for those who had savagely persecuted the man of God during His trial.

    Our Heavenly Fathers calls us to the same grace and mercy for friends who act like enemies (and for enemies who act like enemies).  Moreover, He dwells within us to enable such love.  The Scriptures also illuminate our hearts, and the fellowship of other believers who prayerfully walk in God's mercy exemplifies the love of the Lord Jesus.  Freedom awaits the bitterness-imprisoned believer who remembers Job's example of a captivity overturned.  Even more, we remember our Savior's prayer offered from the very cross on which His enemies impaled Him.  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  Prison doors fly open when we "walk, even as He walked", or to the point of our present consideration, when we pray as Job prayed, and as the Lord Jesus prayed.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
(Ephesians 4:31-32)

Weekly Memory Verse
   And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.
(I Thessalonians 3:12)

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