Friday, January 25, 2008

From Rags to Riches

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse:
2 Kings 25:29, “So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table.”

From the pit to the palace. From the prison to the penthouse. Don’t we all love a good “rags to riches” story? There’s something so satisfying in knowing that someone who endures hard knocks can rise to the top and triumph. Such Cinderella stories make it seem attainable for any of us who may still be struggling in the mire.

I know of a young beauty with soulful brown eyes and shiny hair who had a rough beginning in life. When she was old enough and saw her chance to escape from the pit though, she was promptly removed from the streets and imprisoned for her own good. At least behind bars she was fed regularly and was probably even hopeful she might be rescued.

Okay, the "young beauty" of the story is our dog, Penny. And the hero? Well, that would be Shane, who happened to be talking to Jim Bender at church one Sunday. Jim must've heard about the loss of our other dog because he was telling Shane he could probably find a great replacement at the pound. Shane said he'd only be interested if Jim happened to have a chocolate lab. Jim's smile said it all...he had a female whose time was almost up.

Apparently, she'd been picked up in town running loose with a rope tied around her neck that looked like she'd chewed apart to get away from whatever pit she in. Maybe I've watched too many episodes of Animal Cops with my kids, but I imagine she was quite mistreated given her thinness, her timidity, and the fact she was willing to chew through a rope to get away. The poor thing didn’t even know how to play.

Back in “the pen” as her clock ran down, her chances of getting a new home dwindled. And then a simple conversation changed everything for her, resulting in her hero coming to rescue her and bring her home. Shane tells her, “Penny-Poo, you went from the prison to the penthouse, didn't you?” And it's true. From skid row, to time in the pen, to living large and sleeping every night with a full belly in a warm, king-sized bed. What a difference a day makes! And she knows it. Shane is and will forever be her hero as displayed so intensely in her eyes when she looks at him.

We see example after example in the Word of wonderful rescues for the faithful. For instance, look at Joseph’s story beginning in Genesis 37. From Daddy’s favorite to the pit and slavery, from running an official’s household to prison, and in one single day, from prison to wearing Pharaoh’s signet ring and ruling Egypt. Joseph remained faithful and God rescued him every time.

Look at Jehoiachin from this week’s verse who traded that nasty prison garb for daily feasting with the king. Look at David. Look at Jonah, Daniel, the leprous, the blind—the DEAD! Faith opens doors for prisoners to be set free. Faith opens doors for a pauper to exchange her filthy rags for a Princess’s crown and robes.

Are you a pound puppy in need of a hero? A peasant in need of a Prince? You have a Rescuer who is just waiting to ride in and sweep you into a life of fullness. No matter what type of prison you're in, there is a Hero who wants to help you break the ties that bind you, to lavish His love on you and meet every need. He enjoys it, in fact. Psalm 16:3 says, “The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!” He wants you free so you choose Him. Allow Him to free you. Trade your rags for riches, set your adoring eyes on your Rescuer, and never look back.

Father, how we need You daily to set us free from the ties that bind us. Even as we walk with You we become more aware of sin’s entangling grip in our lives if we don’t immediately take it captive first. Your Word tells us that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt. 18:18). By Your power we bind up whatever might take us captive, if not for Your intervention and grace. Because of You we’re set free and ONLY because of You can we ever boast of rising from the mire of prison to the splendor of the palace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Okay, let’s get very practical here. List the top three sins or problems in your life that you need to bind up. Pray each one through Matt. 18:18. For example, “Lord, I bind up my temper here on earth and trust You’ll be helping me bind it in heaven. Instead, allow me to let loose with mercy here on earth and trust You’ll be helping me loose it in heaven.” (Remember, He’s your Hero and will move you from being captive to being captor!) Rejoice in your freedom with the video below.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 58:6, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”(NIV)

Psalm 68:5, “Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom, but leaves rebels to rot in hell.”(MSG)

Zechariah 3:3-4, “Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’” (NIV)

Ephesians 2:1-6, “It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” (MSG)

No comments: