In 2005, I was set free from captivity by the very hand of Jesus Christ. Held in bondage to depression, anger, frustration, selfishness, pity, no self-control, and addictive behaviors, it was the Lord Jesus of Nazareth that set me free. Are you held in bondage? Do you struggle in captivity, entrenched in the world, wallowing in self-pity, destructive behaviors, and slave to sin? You too can be set free.
In captivity, my life before Christ, I was a very worldly woman and so were the Israelites. So engrossed with idols and the cultures around them, the Israelites wandered away from the one, true God.
In the Book of Judges, a vicious circle begins to develop with God’s people. Worshiping hearts lift in praise to Yahweh, worshiping hearts fall away inquisitive to the idols surrounding them, and finally to worshiping hearts building idols to worship in their homes. God’s hand moves against them, becoming captive to pagan nations, slaves to sin, then sorrowful cries reach the ears of God. The Israelites repent, praise the Lord, and begin again with worshiping hearts only to fall away to worthless idols of wood and iron. Tragic I know, but this is no different than where we are today.
In the Book of Ezra, the Lord is moving through a gentile man. “In the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and put it in writing:
This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
‘The Lord, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you – may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1-4)
God can move the heart of anyone He needs to in accomplishing his will.
“Anyone of his people” could leave captivity and go build the Temple. Are you in captivity? Are you captive to debt and bills? Have you racked up credit card debt, borrowed money from Peter to pay Paul (excuse the pun)? Are you held captive by food? Are you overweight and think there is no way you could say no to passing the Drive Thru of some random fast food chain? Are you captive to your self? Have you build an idol of “Self”, worshiping all your thoughts, you wants, your desires, your accomplishments; lavishly displaying all your accolades unable to look way from all your achievements and self-fulfillments?
Let’s keep going; we might as well lay it all at the cross! Are you captive to pride? Are you just unable to say sorry or forgive those who have scarred and marred you, holding them captive to their well deserved punishment of hurting you? Are you captive to your sexual appetite holding nothing back no matter who you hurt or the devastating consequences to your family? Or are you captive to climbing the corporate ladder, a work alcoholic some may say, but seven days of entrenched grinding as made you in charge and in a leadership you thrive off of; a haughty attitude indeed. What are you held captive to?
When the Lord set His people free, this is the same God we worship today. He has the power to set you free, but this does come with a price.
I am speaking to Christians, whom have accepted the Lord Jesus of Nazareth into their hearts and “having believed and marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14). With the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit, the power of our resurrected King, you can be set free from your own bondage and captivity, but you will give God the glory. Our God does not share His glory with anyone. Just as the Lord asks you to publicly stand side by side with his Son, unashamed, you will stand publicly and declare, praising His name for the power to heal you of addictive behaviors.
In our own strength, we can do nothing. If Jesus of Nazareth said He could do nothing without the Father, than we submit to this obedience and declaration (John 5:19). The Israelites could not “positivity think” themselves out of captivity. The Israelites could pray and worship the idol of wood or iron all day long, but that worthless, rotting wood would never set them free. Only the hand of God, the power of His existence, could change, heal, and free the people chained and in slaved.
You may ask, “OK Nicole, where do I begin this ‘set free’ life?” The Israelites would cry out to the Lord and He heard their cry “O Lord, how many are my foes (let’s say sins)! How many rise up against me (let’s say out of me)! Many are saying of me ‘God will not deliver him.’ But you are a shield around me Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.” (Psalm 3:1-4) Cry out to the Lord and let’s get honest, for He already knows the heart which is the most deceitful of all things, for who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9).
Our God is the one who “searches the heart and examines the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).
Find some time to pray and I mean lay it all at the cross, anointing Jesus of Nazareth with your heart. Be honest and talk to the Lord, acknowledge His glory, praise His name and thank Him you can come before a King who loves you and will help you. Lay down the bondage at the cross, repeat Scriptures you can think and repeat throughout the day. For example, my mind was out of control; whatever I thought about, then I was captive to that thought. I began to pray, “I will no longer conform to the patterns of the world, but be changed by the transforming of my mind. I will think on things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, not longer following the ruler of the kingdom of the air and its worldly ways (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Ephesians 2:2).
When rebuilding the Temple, or rebuilding our lives out of captivity, God gives us the tools to lay the foundation to begin a good work.
The Israelites were given silver and gold, good and livestock with valuable gifts in freewill offerings, just as we are to come “free willing” offering ourselves with our own unique gifts for his service. You build something great for the Lord. Use your talents, your gifs, your drive, your enthusiasm to tell your “set free” testimony, praise God and build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. God has given you a gift. A gift of freedom and with this freedom comes your free will to build something extra – ordinary for the Kingdom of God. Are you willing to make the choice towards freedom or will you choose to stay in captivity? Will you make the choice to acknowledge you need Christ’s help or stay in the mud and the mire? Will you take the time to pray and draw close to the Lord or will you continue down the path of destruction? You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! (Philippians 4:13) I exhort, encourage and pray you will choose God over your idols.
Let us pray out loud and CONFESS the Word of the Living God; a prayer conqueror captivity and rebuilding for the Lord
Jehovah- Nissi, The Lord is Conqueror,
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying to me “God will not deliver him”. But you are a shield around me, Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill (Psalm 3:1-4). For I have waited patiently for you and the Lord has heard my cry; you lifted me out of the slimy pit, the mud and the mire setting my feet on a rock. You have given me a firm place to stand, putting a hymn of praise in my mouth, a hymn of praise I rejoice. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40: 1-3).
I know I am more than a conqueror for the Spirit help us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26, 37). I believe I will no longer conform to this world, but be renewed by the transforming of my mind (Romans 12:2). I believe I can build something great with all my gifts and talents for as the Israelites were released to build the Temple with silver, gold, livestock and valuable things, I will use all my gifts to glorify you in worship, praise and thanksgiving (Ezra 1:6).
I know I can do nothing on my own (John 5:19). I know you search the heart and the mind giving to men according to their deeds (Jeremiah 17:10) I desire all my deeds to glorify you. Thank you for releasing me of my strongholds, out of captivity, slave to sin no more! I praise your goodness! In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, amen.