What’s Holding You Hostage?

Nehemiah 9:17 (Net Bible), “They refused to obey and did not recall your miracles that you had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love. You did not abandon them,”

We are all aware of the term “hostage”: when someone is taken against their will and held hostage usually for a ransom, or when a terrorist hold a person to either protect themselves or again to force negotiations. Each one of us was born a hostage. Satan, the ultimate terrorist, held us against our will. Jesus paid the ransom. We are now free to go. If we are still under the rule of Satan, it is purely by choice. We can choose to surrender to Jesus, who only ever asks us to come willingly and never forces us to do anything. Or we can allow things, or the enemy, or our flesh to hold us hostage.

I Timothy 26:5-6 (BSB), “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all — the testimony that was given at just the right time”

What is keeping you from walking free? What is keeping you from surrender to God? Is it your habits, addictions, or lusts? Is it greed, selfishness, or pride? Maybe you feel unworthy, unclean, and unloved and can’t seem to get a grasp on the fact that God loves you, wants you in His life, and made a way for you to live free from every bondage.

Maybe you chose God and somewhere along the way wondered off, like the dog that returns to its own vomit. You have placed yourself back in bondage after tasting freedom. Don’t despair, God has not abandoned you! Turn from that life and turn back to God. He is waiting with arms outstretched.

What’s holding you hostage? The ransom has already been paid. Walk free, walk tall, you are a child of the King.

I Am Not Confined

II Corinthians 6:1-10 (MSG), “Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.”

Paul reminds the church at Corinth that even though they had some issues, those issues and circumstances including jail, work, beatings, slander, while they were ignored and distrusted, they still did what they were called to do. We can always say, “I can’t because…” of work, or sickness, or family, or friends, or because they might think this about me, or it is dangerous, or scary, or takes too much effort, whatever excuse you can manufacture. Yet, Paul says even when he was in prison he was not confined to his circumstances. We can let anything be bondage, a jail, a prison. We can let many things stop us from doing God’s will. It is all a matter of choice. Do we choose to answer the call no matter what, or do we say we aren’t able and then point the blame as someone or something.

Let’s get practical here, so you don’t have the money to bail your friend out of financial problems. You can cook them a meal, work on their car for free, pray for them, encourage them, and not judge their situation. Maybe you are still fighting the fight of faith and aren’t able to walk door to door to witness, or visit the elderly. You can call those who are shut in, you can witness on social media (not preach, witness, i.e. “God is so good, he is providing all I need.”). So maybe you don’t stand behind a pulpit, but you work, or go to school around people. Share His love.

Get the picture.

Our circumstances can’t confine us. Only we can decide to squander the life God has given us.

Of With The Old And On With The New

Romans 12:2 (BSB) “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Why doesn’t God want us conformed to the world and its ways, how come I can’t act and talk just like my unsaved friends and family? One reason is that we aren’t of the world, we don’t really belong to it anymore. We were bought by Jesus’ blood and what a precious price He paid for us. We are born again from Heaven, we should be different. Also, when we don’t allow the Word to transform, renew, clean up our minds, then we can’t rightly discern God’s will. Since His will is good, pleasing, and perfect wouldn’t we want to know what that is for our lives.

Ephesians 4:23-23 (ESV), “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God made us brand new when we accepted His love and surrendered all our junk to Him and His forgiveness so why then does He tell me to “put off” and “put on”, because we live in a corrupt place. It tends to rub off on us. Our minds get dirty, our hearts get hard, and our vision gets cloudy. It all has to be washed away again. Just like our clothes get dirty when we work in the yard, we have to come in and take off the soiled and put on the clean, so it is with our hearts and minds.

If we didn’t change those clothes and maybe even take a shower, after a couple of days we’d stink. After a few more so would out houses and our cars. Before too long people wouldn’t want to be around us and we would withdraw into our own smelly world and refuse to come out. Who wants to live that way? I sure don’t. I want others to want to be around me. I want to be a pleasing aroma to God and to man. I want a clean heart, a clean mind, and clean hands. However, it’s not in my power to stay clean. It takes the Holy Spirit and a lot of the “washing of the word” to keep me that way. It takes being humble and admitting everything doesn’t smell like roses, admitting we let the mess get too big for us and we need some divine intervention.

His way is better!

I say off with the old and on with the new!

I John 3:1-3 (NIV), See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

 

The Same Glory

I Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Living for God, from Heaven, in Jesus, may lead to some insults, slander, and hatred. No big deal, not really. Not if you compare it to having His Glory rest on us. Pause and think about that for just one minute.

When Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God face to face, he came down off that mountain with the Glory of God literally shinning all over his face. The people were so freaked out by it they asked him to cover his face.

That Glory.

John 17:20-23 (NIV), “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus glorifies the Father here on earth. God the Father shared His glory with the Son. Before He left, Jesus prayed that we would all be one, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Body of Christ. In Jesus’ own words, He gave us the same glory the Father had given Him. He gave it to us to bring us into complete unity.

That Glory.

Then the whole world will know that God sent His Son and that we are all loved.

His Will, His Work, His Way

I have had this battle cry going through my head for a few months now. I really don’t even think too much about it most of the time, it’s just been there. “His will, His work, His way.” Sometimes I say it out loud, sometimes it just rolls through my noggin, and sometimes I hear it in my Spirit as that mind shattering call, with sword drawn and raised, with banners flying, heart pumping, and an assurance of victory. Occasionally, I read something that answers the call, or as in last Sunday’s service, hear something over the pulpit that causes me to voice in under my breath with a nod and an Amen.

So, what’s it all mean?

His will; not ours, we lay down what we think we want and need and instead pick up what He has to offer. It’s always better in the long run.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV), “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

His work; that’s seems pretty straight forward, and at first I thought so. We lay down our work and again pick up His. We don’t quit our jobs, unless He tells us to, but we do our work unto Him. Find His purpose for us there. We also use our gift and talents to do it, you know the ones He gave us. But, it also means letting Him work in us and through us. His work is always to do good, to bless, and to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:13 (HCSB), “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

His way; His path, let The Spirit of God, that lives on the inside of you, lead you. Let His word illuminate the way. Find His path and walk in it.

II Samuel 22:29-40 (NASB), “For You are my lamp, O LORD; And the LORD illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested;  He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress; And He sets the blameless in His way. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me on my high places. He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise;  And they fell under my feet. For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Now that my friends sounds like a battle cry! Shout it with me, “HIS WILL, HIS WORK, HIS WAY!”

His Path

Ps 85:10-13 (God’s Word Translation), “Mercy and truth have met. Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth sprouts from the ground, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will certainly give us what is good, and our land will produce crops. Righteousness will go ahead of him and make a path for his steps”

His footsteps will make my pathway. There is power on this path, provision on this path, protection on this path. Each footstep of Jesus was in the fullness of the blessing- so He healed them all, He delivered them all.
And now I am walking on that same pathway. He made it for us. His word illuminates it.

Psalm 119:105 (NLT), “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

We can clearly see the path. Even if it may seem like there are monsters, boulders, bridges, and cliffs on our route, don’t trust your own eyes. He made the path, let His word show you the way. Sometimes the path looks scary because we are still leaning on or living in the flesh. We have to crucify our flesh, deny its lust and laziness. When we learn to die daily along the way, the final death isn’t scary anymore, there is no fear of death. Instead of looking at the end of the path as the grave, we see Heaven as the destination. Who wouldn’t trade this life for an eternity with Him?

Find His path. It isn’t hidden. Read your Bible, it points the way. See Jesus’ footsteps and walk in them. Follow His path to your forever home. Bless others on the way. Encourage the lost to join you. When we walk through those pearly gates, we won’t be alone.

Tell Them The Truth

Last night I was woken at one by a heart wrenching wailing. At first I thought they were screams of pain, and I guess in a way they were. I opened my window to pinpoint the sound so that I would better know what to do. Right across the street a woman was howling and pounding on the window of the house. As I groped for my phone to call 911 another neighbor shouted, “What’s going on?” Her reply was, “My brother just killed himself.” I finished the call and cried. My husband and I prayed. My heart hurt for the family, that young woman, and the young man who thought that life was so bad, he took his own.

How do you go back to sleep after that? I prayed some more. I thanked God that my children and grandchildren were safe. Then I asked God, “How many people committed suicide today.” Which led to, “How many were murdered, raped, abandoned, hurt, tortured, and left to die.” I didn’t receive an answer. So I asked, “Isn’t this breaking your heart?” Still no answer. As I thought about this hurting world, this evil world we live in, God reminded me of a blog I wrote recently. I had stated that asking God “why” when bad things happen is futile, what we should be asking is “What now?” Not the answer I expected, however, it was the one I needed.

The more I thought about the evil in this world, especially suicide, the angrier I got. No, I wasn’t angry at God. But I was so filled with hate for the Devil. That old serpent who still deceives. His original lie in the garden is the same one he uses today. He still tells us that something is being withheld from us, something that is either unattainable, or that we have to somehow get for ourselves. He lied to that young man and told him, “No one cares, end your life and the pain will be gone.” That man believed that the only way to peace was at his own hand. He never found out the truth that someone does care, more than he could ever imagine and that that Someone could have brought peace into his life.

I remember those lies. They used to be whispered in my ear as a young person. I had my battle with the spirit of suicide, the spirit of death, and I spent some time last night and today thanking God for staying my own hand so many times when I thought I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Satin is evil. He has infected this world with his evil. BUT God is good!

So now I am asking God, “What now?”

His answer, “Tell them I am good. Tell them they are loved, they matter, they have value. Tell them the truth.”