Breathe Bible Study Teaches How To Steer Clear Of Bondage
~ Today’s Scripture Art and Breathe Bible Study review were designed to help you write the Sabbath principle on your heart. ~
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What Bible study are you doing next? Don’t know? I have a feeling you will know shortly. Our small group just finished a hum-dinger by Priscilla Shirer! It’s called Breathe.
Ahhh – the title alone makes you want to stop everything and go order it, right? But hold on, because I can’t wait to share one cool thing (among many) that I learned.
First, I will warn you that this study is not written in Priscilla’s usual format. This one is a little backwards in that Lifeway taped one of her speaking engagements and then made a Bible study out of it (rather than the usual vice versa). So the workbook is designed to make you think further about the concepts in the videos (rather than vice versa). You can rent the videos here.
You may have heard through the grapevine that this study is about the Sabbath – which probably made your eyes glaze over, like it did mine – and even Priscilla’s!
I smiled and nodded when she said, “In the past, I’d thought of the Sabbath as nothing more than a day – once-a-week, first century observance dripping with too many rules and regulations to count, much less to observe. I discounted its relevance for me. Sabbath was so Old Testament, old-fashioned, old-school.”
Turns out, we were all wrong about the Sabbath.
Priscilla taught us – in her always wonderful way – that God didn’t want the Sabbath to get “old.”
The Sabbath is so much more than a day … “it’s supposed to be a lifestyle: an attitude, a perspective, an orientation for living that enables us to govern our lives and steer clear of bondage.”
How can the Sabbath help us steer clear of bondage?
I’m so glad you asked. Because I found this fascinating!
It all started back in Egypt.
Priscilla explains, “The Israelites had lived in slavery so long that their inclination – even once outside of Egypt – was to live like they were still in bondage. And God, of course, knew. The reality is – for them and for us – that once slavery has been internalized, the mind remains in bondage even when the body is free. So, God prescribed for His people – then and now – a loving, gracious gift that would break the chains that remained inside of them. The gift was called Sabbath.”
And it wasn’t just a day – it was a principle.
She goes on to say, “He knew, for them to be truly free, He would need to do more than just take them out of Egypt; He also needed to take the Egypt out of them. The very essence of the Sabbath principle – to cease, stop striving, and trust – went completely against their nature, making it extremely difficult for them to incorporate into their mind-sets. But to experience freedom, they needed to practice the discipline of freedom. A change in their hearts would be the result of practical changes in their lifestyle.”
Do we need God to take the Egypt out of us too?
He would love nothing more.
Galatians 5:1 (ESV): For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Priscilla confesses, “I was a slave and didn’t know it. I was bound by things I never even thought of as possible taskmasters. They were good things God had given me full license to enjoy, yet they had begun to exert far too much control over my life. The very fact that my flesh cringed at the thought of curbing my desire to buy this or eat that, to spend time doing this and not that, should have been my first indicator that something was awry. My flesh was becoming enslaved to things it was meant to enjoy as blessings, not as bondage. But I ignored the warnings and just carried on. A captive unaware.”
Are we ignoring any warnings?
Related: Read more about being a slave to sin.
She points out that our situation isn’t really all that different than Israel’s. Like them, our flesh has not been trained to decline.
“Our own impulses, combined with those of our culture, press us toward excess, leaving us weak-willed, our self-restraint flimsy. In actuality, our ‘freedom’ has been a disguise – a feeble veneer – masking a new kind of slavery.”
God gives us things to enjoy – within certain boundaries.
Never forget – God’s boundaries are gifts.
Because without boundaries, we will always overdo.
We are actually designed that way! God made us with a longing – for Him. But we sometimes fill that longing with all kinds of other stuff – even good stuff – which doesn’t satisfy. So we overdo. And it still doesn’t satisfy. Bondage here we come.
Is there anything you’ve overdone? Anything you would have trouble giving up? Anything that takes up time you could be spending with God?
Shopping? Clothes? People? Family? Exercise? Hobbies? TV? Social media? Reading? Sugar? Coffee? Work? Relaxing? Ministries?
Notice these are all good things. Until we go outside of the intended boundaries.
We may think it’s too hard to say no – to set up boundaries – to certain things.
And yet …
For those of us who are believers in Christ Jesus, it is possible.
It is possible!
Priscilla cheers us on: “The Spirit of God lives in us, not only to enliven us, but also to empower us to regain control. We need only to surrender to His work in our lives. Yes, that’s right. The Sabbath is about surrender. To the extent that you and I yield to the Spirit’s control, that’s the extent to which we will begin to see His fruit flourish in our lives. He will empower us to be self-controlled and have the courage to say “no” without guilt, shame or worry.”
Galatians 5:16 (ESV): But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The Old Testament frequently links Sabbath and self-denial.
Leviticus 23:32a (CSB): It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial.
Who wants to talk about self-denial or discipline?
And we should too – if we want our built-in longing to be satisfied.
But instead of thinking of it as self-denial, think of it as becoming free from bondage!
Heads up – because here’s the key …
Isaiah 58:13 (NASB): “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the Lord,
It feels a little like Opposite Day.
To get delight, we need to stop seeking our own pleasure.
It all boils down to spending time with Him. Giving up our precious time – to surrender to Him.
Priscilla adds, “God gave us freedom as a gift. But living free requires a firm resolve to continue walking in it, resisting the attempts of this world and our Enemy to put chains back onto us again.”
Hebrews 4:11 (CSB): Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.
Make. Every. Effort.
Discipline and diligence will always be prerequisites if we expect to experience the freedom and rest that God intends for us. So let’s get started! Insert the Sabbath principle into your days.
Freedom lies on the other side of our obedience.
Note: I didn’t even touch on the “breathe” part of this study. There was much too much to include all the good stuff in one blog post. So I picked one part and left the rest for you to discover on your own in the book. I highly recommend the Breathe Bible study!
*My prayer for you is … that this blog will inspire you to open your Bible every single day to seek God’s face and write His Word on your heart – because HE’S the key to lasting heart change!
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