BREAK EVERY CHAIN
Luke 8:29 He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles (ESV)
As Christians, we know that God's Word says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17 ESV), but freedom from what?
Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross we have been freed from the bondage of slavery to sin, death, darkness, futility, hopelessness, fear and all other forms of negativity. However, many Christians today are less than optimistic and often remain chained to those things from which Christ delivered us.
Whether the chains/fetters be spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and/or financial, these shackles ensnare and keep us bound to the flesh, the devil and the world's systems. That is not the life that Christ promised us. He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10 ESV).
If we continue to see through "half-empty" glasses, bondage with chains and shackles are our reality. But, if we believe that Jesus' shed blood and finished work on the Cross truly freed us from such bondages, then let us boldly proclaim, "Come Lord and break every chain!"
Luke 8:29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness. (KJV)
Luke 8:29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. (ESV)
FOLLOW JESUS, THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice (ESV)
When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He emphatically stated, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and they know me" (John 10:14 ESV). He also indicated that the sheep follow Him and know His voice (John 10:4 ESV).
As we read in John 10:1-16, Jesus identifies Himself as the good shepherd. He states that we (the sheep) know His voice and we follow Him (the good shepherd). In following Him, we are told that He makes us to lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters and in paths of righteousness for His name's sake, and that we are lovingly and tenderly cared for by Him no matter our circumstances (Psalm 23:2-4 ESV).
Given the above benefits, amongst many others, why are so many of God's sons and daughters following other voices (i.e., self, a stranger's)? These voices will attempt to mislead us and bring about fear and confusion. Some voices may lead us down a primrose path only to find ourselves amidst thorns and briers.
In the Old Testament (Joshua 14:8-11), we read that Caleb wholly followed the Lord his God; in so doing, God instructed Moses to give him the land on which his feet had trodden as an inheritance to him and his children forever. Furthermore, the Scripture indicates that the Lord kept Caleb alive all the years (40) he and the Israelites walked in the desert on their way to the Promise Land; and at eighty-five, Caleb's strength was just as strong as it was when he was forty-five! These are the benefits that Caleb received by wholly following the Lord.
As we meditate on God's Words in John 10:1-16 and Joshua 14:8-11, we need to examine our hearts to see if we are following Jesus. If yes, then take time to thank the Lord for His voice and the benefits He has given. If no, then repent (turn from, forsake) before the Lord and receive Him as the good shepherd. Ask the Holy Spirit for His help to hear and to follow only His voice. He is faithful to answer. Let us commit ourselves to follow the Lord and walk in the inheritance He has for each of us. To God be the Glory!
John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (KJV)
John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (ESV)
Matthew 26:38 My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with Me (ESV)
In Mt 26:38, we read that Jesus' soul was very sorrowful even unto death; and He asked Peter, James and John, three of His disciples to remain and watch with Him. This was a critical time for Jesus. The hour of betrayal, judgement and death was upon Him.
Leaving these disciples stationed with the instruction to keep watch, He entered Gethsemane and begin to pray to His Father. He then returned to these disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak" (Mt 26:40-41 ESV).
This same situation occurred twice more and upon finding them asleep for the third time, Jesus said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on….") (Mt. 26:45 ESV).
While Jesus was experiencing deep physical and spiritual agony (Luke 22:44 ESV), His disciples kept falling asleep at their posts!
Today, the Church Body is filled with the everlasting and living Presence of Almighty God by His Holy Spirit. He dwells within us and this alone should cause us to be awake, vigilant and diligent to keep a prayerful watch for Jesus and make the best use of our time for these days are evil (Eph 5:16 ESV).
However, based on events transpiring in America and around the world, I believe that we, the children of God, are still sleeping at our posts. Again, a critical time is upon us as our nation continues to experience spiritual and moral decay, economic failures, political travesties, and social injustices.
As opposed to serving self and its fleshly desires, let's make a commitment to Jesus to draw near Him, abide in Him, to stay awake at our posts, keep watch with Him and allow our times of prayer to be so effective and fervent that they avail much (James 5:16 NKJV), that God's kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10 ESV).
Matthew 26:38 Then saith he unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me." (KJV)
Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with Me." (ESV)
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (ESV)
This week, Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July in their remembrance of the Continental Congress' declaration of freedom and independence from Great Britain in 1776.
While this freedom was experienced in the natural realm, another more precious and significant freedom, for all mankind, was procured by Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary; in that just prior to bowing His head and giving up His spirit (dying on the cross), Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30 NIV).
The above declaration that Jesus made emphasized the totality of His accomplished mission in that the redemption and salvation for all men had been achieved. His death and the shedding of His blood ensure that all who call upon Him to be their Lord and Savior will walk in and celebrate the freedom we have in Him. And since we belong to Jesus, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death (Rom 8:2 NLT).
Because of Jesus' redemptive work on the Cross, we who are led by the Spirit of God are free from bondage and slavery to all and anything that would try and keep us from walking in the very freedom that Christ died for us to inherit. We are liberated and this very freedom has provided us with eternal life. In Romans 6:23, we read that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (ESV). Hallelujah! This is the freedom that Christians remember and celebrate.
During the celebration festivities of this week's national holiday, let us not forget that our true freedom was decreed and declared by Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary; and for those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Christ has set us free. Such freedom ensures victory over the yolk of sin, slavery, bondage and death. Praise Your Holy Name, Jesus – WE ARE FREE!
John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (KJV)
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (ESV)
Leviticus 20:26 You shall be holy to me for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples that you should be mine (ESV)
In our relationship with Jesus Christ, we believers know that one of the works of the Holy Spirit is to circumcise our hearts so that through such circumcision, we may be holy as God is holy.
In Leviticus 20: 22-24 ESV, God tells His people that they are to:
1. Keep all His statutes and rules and to do them so that the land to where He was bringing them would not vomit them out; and 2. Not walk in the customs of the nations that God was driving out before them, for God detested them for their customs.
When we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ to be both Lord and Savior, He cleansed us from our past, present and future sins through His death at the Cross. His shed blood and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit began to change us from the inside out. He set us a part to serve Him and we are consecrated and sanctified to do so. This is one way in which we've been made holy. As born-again believers, we are still commanded in the New Testament to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16, ESV), and this includes our lifestyles, actions, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.
God's holiness is absolute and without compromise for "God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent" (Numbers 23:19, ESV). Everything He is and does is holy.
To be holy, believers need to separate themselves from anyone and/or anything that keeps us chained to our former self and its self-indulgent ways. While we are in the world, Jesus made it clear that we are not of the world (John 17:15-16; 18 ESV). This means that the world and its attractions have no stronghold in our lives. We are to be a light to those who are in darkness (1 Peter 2:9 ESV), but not live in such darkness. Let's agree and commit to God's standards to live holy lives unto Him so that through us, Christ may be lifted up from the earth to draw all men to Himself (John 12:32 KJV).
Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (KJV)
Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. (ESV)