Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Elizabeth Smart became a household name in 2002 when she was abducted from her home during the night. Brian David Mitchell cut through a screen to gain access using the same knife to threaten the 14-year-old girl and whisk her away into the night leaving behind her devastated family. For nine long terrifying months, she was brutally raped and endured many hardships at the hands of her captors. Yet the police did not find Elizabeth hidden away in the woods or barricaded in a basement somewhere, but discovered her walking through the city streets with her captors some eighteen miles from her family home. Why didn’t Elizabeth petition the help of citizens who she passed on the road? Or signal to someone that she was the one who they had been looking for? Elizabeth believed the lie of this man and woman that if she escaped her family would be harmed or killed as a consequence. She was threatened with more violence and torture if she did not relent. She was an innocent young girl barely a teenager thrust into a world of lies and deception that would forever change her life.
There are many Christians today who live in the bondage of sin as a direct result of believing the lies of the enemy of their soul. Rather than loving the Lord with all of their heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) , they have been deceived into withholding segments of their life from God. Elizabeth Smart was innocent. She did nothing wrong. However, she ended up wandering the streets of Utah with a madman making no effort to escape. Her heart held captive by fear so strong it kept her bound with no shackles or chains. The enemy has come to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) as many of God’s People as he can get to believe his lies and deceive into following him back to the darkness from which believers are set free. To abandon the Way, Truth and Life to satisfy our own sinful desire and he is quite successful. He did not have to force his way in, the church doors are held wide by watered down Gospels, wayward pastors and leaders, and absolutely no discernment by its members today. The Temple of God does not teach the Law but chooses grace as an escape from obedience and faithfulness. We do not discuss the Cross for it is too violent and uncomfortable so we choose the quite comfortable topic of compromise and complacency with a middle-of-the-road that will slide us into home. Repentance means forgiveness and abounding grace with absolutely no change of direction which is the biggest lie of all to believe that God would allow His One and Only Beloved Son to be tortured and killed for our sin then allow His Bride to wallow in His Blood living in the filth of this world. Sadly, this is the result of poor choices and even poorer teaching. The Lord wants to wash you in His Word (Ephesians 5:26) today once and for all. Jesus came to set you free from the bondage of sin. His Spirit remains in you so that freedom will reign in your life until we reign with Jesus. Your life may be overrun today with dangerous lies. But do not be dismayed, the Lord has come to set you free once again!
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT)
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
The Lord did not come to simply free us from sin but to fully restore our life and fill it with the Blessings of God. Full restoration was what He was after. He came to comfort the brokenhearted, set captives free, announce the Lord’s Favor and overcome the enemy. He also did not stop there but decided to crown your life with beauty no matter how far you have fallen and bless you no matter where you came from the Lord has decided your life would be praiseworthy with a future hope that is good! (Jeremiah 29:11) This was not an addendum but God’s Plan all along announced by His Prophets until Jesus finally arrived right on time. (Luke 4:17-19) Then everything changed for the better…we were finally freed from the penalty of sin to love the Lord as He intended with all of heart, soul and strength. Oh, how I wish it were all that easy sometimes, but we all know it’s not. Daily we battle with our flesh to follow the Lord and not the crowd. To be set apart and consecrated for God can be a lonely endeavor in a world that is intent on finding hell. But do not despair…the Spirit of the Lord is upon you!
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT)
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Salvation comes when we truly repent. It is an intentional apology accompanied by a change of direction. It is a complete change of direction like north to south or east to west. God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:11-12) It is a complete and total separation because God is completely just and His Identity requires it. However there is a lie that the enemy has introduced as to the definition of God’s Grace somehow implying that one can be saved and still willfully, habitually and continually sin with the excuse of abounding and overflowing grace will cover it. This is the biggest hindrance in the church today. Deceived Christians who think they are saved but held captive by sin. When we turn around and face God, it becomes evident that we have some work to be done and must move deeper and deeper into His Presence to find out who we are and what we are to become as a result of God’s Amazing Grace. Grace is not found in sin but by those who are actively and aggressively working to separate themselves from it.
Genesis 3:8-11 (NLT)
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
Who told you? Sin is to accept the lie of the enemy into your life and lie according to its consequences. God created mankind to walk with Him and have a relationship with Him. But man chose a different route. Sin entered our bloodline trickling all the way into you and me. Sin separates us from the Lord. “Where are you?” It causes us to doubt God and His Word. “Who told you…?” It then begins to attack our relationships. In the verse 12, Adam blames Eve. “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Whoa, Eve bet you didn’t see that bus coming. Now everything begins to fall apart as man becomes separated from God. Sin separates us from God even in the dimensions of grace. Grace is the pathway back from sin into repentance from darkness to light. Freedom demands a change that only grace can provide. God did not send people from the Garden because He was mad at them. He sent them away by His Mercy because if they stayed and sinned more there would be no hope of ever being reconciled. All that the Lord ever wanted was a restored relationship with His Beloved People. Truth is God loves you and His Mercy is waiting on your return from sin.
I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT)
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What are you doing here? I have found myself in places and situations when I have heard the Lord whisper in my ear, “What are you doing here?” Sin produces fear and doubt in the heart and mind of believers causing them to run in the opposite direction of faith and hope. Believing the dangerous and treacherous lies of the enemy, we go into hiding when assaulted by him. Elijah was responsible for the death of 450 false prophets of Baal. Did the Man of God really think Jezebel was going to take this lying down much less the enemy of God’s People? Of course, not! How does one leap from faith to fear? It depends on the weakness in the human heart. Elijah believed God could supernaturally set fire to an altar that had been saturated with water but did not believe that this same God would save him from a madwoman? The enemy knows your weakness and will use it every time to capture the heart and mind of God’s Most Faith-Full People. Fear and doubt tear down our faith making us vulnerable to be taken captive by his lies once more. There was no guard at the mouth of the cave keeping Elijah there. There were no shackles on his arms and legs to hold him there. It was fear and doubt that led him there and inability to trust God that held him. What is keeping you from the Lord today? What lie have you decide to allow to hold you in bondage? The Lord has a Truth to conquer that lie and His Spirit is available to lead you to freedom. What will it take to free you? What are you doing there?
Acts 16:25-26 (NLT)
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!
Friend, I don’t know what led you back into the darkness or the things that hold your heart captive today. What I do know is that God wants to set you free again? Who told you that God doesn’t love you (John 3:16) and desires you above all things (Psalm 37:23)? It’s a lie, He does. What are you doing here? God is ready to move you ahead into His Favor by His Grace, Mercy and Love. (Psalm 25:3-4) Will you go? You just need knowledge, understanding and wisdom to discover the parameters of God’s Unfailing Love. (Psalm119:124-125) (Ephesians 3:18) See if you could see Him, feel Him and know Him, you will never leave His Love for any substitution the world has to offer – it won’t be worth it anymore as godly discernment fills your heart and mind strengthening your soul in righteous obedience to the Lord. Godly discernment is required to obtain wisdom and make sound judgments. (Job 34:3-4) Between the hardships of Job and the hassles of his friends, I am sure this Man of God struggled to hold fast to the truth but he did and was blessed double for his trouble. Common sense is never enough based on life experiences and education. Only good common sense empowered by the Spirit of God and His Truth will refresh the soul allowing it to flourish like a tree planted by the Stream of Living Water. You must invest your life in building faith and confident hope in your relationship with God! It is a process. I do not believe that Paul and Silas were begging the Lord to free them from jail but just resting on the Promises of God while they prayed and praised worshipping God in the midst of persecution and imprisonment. They knew God would set them free and His Spirit inside of them confirmed it so they waited on the Lord and worshipped. They were released supernaturally from physical bondage because their hearts were always free. Your heart is free to worship the Lord in whatever physical restraint you find yourself in. It will be the catalyst for your release. Truth in action allows us to worship God in every situation until His Favor comes.
I John 3:7-8 (NLT)
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.
The greatest deception in the Body of Christ today is the misuse of grace. It makes us feel better about ourselves and quiet the inner struggle against sin but does nothing to move us closer to the Kingdom of God as faith does. “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:14-15) The Law was never bad. Sin condemns you not the Law. It is the clear Direction of God people call out for but completely disregarded when we fall short. The Law is not the problem, sin is. Separate from sin and you will be set free. Continue in sin and God’s Power will be limited in your life. Allowing sin to remain unsettled in our life will create distrust in God as our flesh is satisfied yet our soul cries out. Satisfy your soul by faith and the flesh must die. It becomes crucified with Christ as intended through repentance. “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:12-14)
I Corinthians 2:13-15 (NLT)
When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.
It is time to evaluate your life asking two questions. “Who told me?” “What am I doing here?” Rather than using the great philosophical influences of this world including Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil or Oprah look for your face in the Word of God. I promise you that you are there if you will just take the time to read God’s Truth, invite His Spirit to lead you and separate from sin that is holding you captive. You will be free to live in God’s Favor and thrive on His Goodness. You will bear the fruit of successful harvests according to His Spirit which include but are not limited to “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are not only qualities that bless us but bless the Lord as our faith is restored, strength is renewed and His Favor is released in our life. We will be free to live in the Presence of God and experience His Promises in a supernatural life. Life according to the Spirit of God and His Word will set you free! You will know who you are and why you are here! You will have a destiny! Elizabeth Smart has used her ordeal to become an ordained testimony that will bring hope and restoration to many abused victims in this world. The devil hates that. I choose not to be led around by the enemy anymore. I want him to hate me, too as I choose to believe the Truth, be empowered by the Living Spirit of God and live apart from his dangerous lies.
Psalm 52:8-9 (NLT)
But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.