Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Are You God's Captive Audience?

  As I was reading this morning, the words 'Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ...' caught my attention. At first, I was thinking of prisoner as more like a slave. Paul makes references to himself as a slave or servant of Jesus Christ. Later I realized that Paul was a literal prisoner for the Lord. 
   The word 'prisoner' relates to a person who is being held captive. There are many ways we can be held captive. We can be in a literal prison and be held captive. We can be kidnapped or we can be taken hostage and will be held captive. 
   Have you ever heard the phrase 'a captive audience'. It means that the audience is paying attention to the performer or host. The meaning of the word 'captive' seems to have the connotation of being spellbound, or amazed. 
   Paul, David, Peter, Moses, Isaiah, and others were 'captivated' by God. God captured their attention, then captured their hearts. They became servants of God, or, as Paul refers to himself, a slave or bondservant. They were held captive by God, but their captivity brought them freedom instead of bondage. 
   So, here are my thoughts on being captivated by God, and being a prisoner for God:

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— Ephesians 3:1
A definition of the word 'prisoner' from the Free Online Dictionary is 'A person held in custody, captivity, or a condition of forcible restraint, especially while on trial or serving a prison sentence.'
   The focus I am looking at is the word 'captive'. To be captive of something means, 'one held in a grip of a strong emotion or passion.' (also from the Free Online Dictionary.
      Prisoner has the connotation of slave. Here is one definition of the word slave:
One who is abjectly subservient to a specified person or influence:
Paul was a prisoner because he was being punished by the authorities, but he also called himself a slave. He was one who was captivated by God and willingly identified himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. 
   What captivates us? Is it a magician doing magic tricks? Maybe some musicians performing a concert? Maybe it is something bad like a threat from another person in order to obey that person's wishes. It just might be everyday life that captivates us. We wake up, do our jobs, and go to bed, and do the same the next day. Those are the things we live for. 
   We live for those things we are captivated by. They not only capture our attention, but they also steal our affection. I think the average American person living in the city is captivated by everyday life. We wake up and plan out our day in our minds. Then we set out to follow our agenda, and finally we get ready for bed. We accomplished (or didn't accomplish) our goals for that day and will get ready for the next day so we can do it all over again.
   But what if there is something that is really worth focusing on? Paul knew what it was. Peter knew what it was (see Luke 5). Isaiah saw it (Isaiah 6). Moses and David knew what it was. When they encountered it, they were never the same. 
   I think in our Christian walk, and maybe this is specific to America today, I'm not sure, we spend a lot of time organizing our thoughts and making shortcuts for the jobs we need to do throughout the day. I wonder if we are shortchanging ourselves when it comes to being captivated by God. We take this same activity and put it into the spiritual realm. We make sure we squeeze our prayer time somewhere in our morning. We do the same with studying Scriptures and Bible reading. It's like we are doing these things to get our spiritual vitamins for the day, and once its done, we can go on with real life. 
   What if we could have everything done around us, then take an hour or two just to spend time waiting on God? What if we could just wait on Him without having continual thoughts of what we have to do next? Could it be that God just might reveal Himself to us in a way we haven't seen or experienced before? 
   I know this takes a change of thinking in our minds. When I make blog posts like this one, I am writing them to myself as well as to others. I struggle with trying to get 10 things done at the same time, all day long. For me to try to have undistracted, undivided time with God almost sounds foreign. But I think this is where our understanding of our relationship with God needs to begin.
    I think about those in the Old Testament and New Testament who were sold out to God. They weren't sold out because they were afraid of going to hell. They were sold out because they 'saw' God with their spiritual eyes and were captivated by Him. God was no longer an idea or concept. He is a real being who wants us to know Him. But He is Spirit. We are flesh, but we have spirits too. When we are born again, our spirits come alive. We have spiritual eyes we can now see with and spiritual ears to hear God's voice with. When we read His word, He activates His word in our hearts and as we respond to Him, faith grows, and we develop spiritually. We are forever changed. Nothing can undo the work of God. But how do we get captivated by Him? His word tells us what He is like. When God no longer becomes a formula for escaping hell, when we realize His love for us, and when we know Him personally, we will be captivated by Him. We will willingly be His slaves. We will willingly be His prisoners, so to speak.
    The reason we were created was to be God worshipers. But we have traded our object of worship for another object of worship. We live for ourselves instead of for God. We serve ourselves instead of God. We are more captivated with ourselves and ways to improve our statuses than we are with God. When we get a picture of who God is, we will be captivated with Him instead of ourselves. We will be able to say, along with Peter, Paul, Isaiah, David, Moses and others that we are undone. Both Peter and Isaiah recognized their sinful condition when they 'saw' God. Peter told Jesus to go away from him, for he (Peter) was a sinful man. Moses begged God to  be able to see God's glory. Isaiah was undone while in God's presence. David was continually describing God's attributes and praising Him for them. We can do the same. The same God who visited them will visit us if we wait on Him and want to get to know Him more. We will be undone and will be able to see the splendor and glory of God too. When that happens, we will be captivated by Him, and will be His slaves, like Paul. When we realize God's bigness and our smallness, we will be captivated. We will be prisoners for God, but will be prisoners who are free from sin and its hold. This will give us the motivation to be sold out to God, totally and completely.

      "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed'. John 8:32

           “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin
             is a slave
 to sin..." Every person is either a slave to
          God or a slave to sin. There is no middle ground.

 * All verses are from the ESV.

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