Set the Captives Free Course

FREEDOM COURSE

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STAND UP, DON’T RUN AND HIDE

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When I was growing up, attending a small full gospel church, one of my favorite songs was “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus”.

This morning I keep hearing the first verse in my heart and head.  Here it is:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross; lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory his army shall he lead, till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

See, in that verse there is truth that we  must continue to embrace every day… and it shows us our responsibility to do several things:

We are here to RAISE up His royal banner which I believe includes:

His Name, His Cross, His Love, His Grace.   We must not be ashamed of the gospel or His NAME – the Name of JESUS.  We must not bow to those “authorities” that say we cannot speak His name or His truth.  It is up to us.  This is our ASSIGNMENT everyday.

We must stop fighting in the flesh, we must war on our knees, and     with our praise, and with our witness of LOVE.  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life…” John 15:13

We must be faithful witnesses and not fear the face of men.

Our mindset MUST shift from defeat to VICTORY.  From victory unto victory. He always leads us in triumph.

When we fight on behalf of truth we must remember that TRUTH is a person.  He came to lay His life down for all.  He doesn’t desire that any, I mean anyone, should perish…..especially those who are most deceived.

We must be light and be different in our responses to all the deception and difficulties.  Light  overtakes darkness.  Remember that religious darkness is just as bad, perhaps even worse, than any other kind of darkness.   The letter of the law KILLS.

ARE we really soldiers of the cross?  Are we willing to lay our life down for others who are yet enemies of truth?  Isn’t that what He did for us?

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

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Back to the Basics

Sometimes we have to go back to basics, or  “back to the very beginning” (as Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music), and do a quick review of how we are actually “getting along” in living this life of faith, and in the effectiveness of our prayer life.

For several weeks I have personally been in that “mode”, as I have spent much time meditating and reflecting upon the “prayer-conversation” of Jesus and the Father as recorded in John 17, and other passages.

I would like to share some insights that have formed over the last few days. I am only sharing what I have personally had revealed to me and what I am purposing to walk out as I am surrendered to and empowered by the Spirit of God.

Crazy as it may seem to many, I am motivated by extreme desire to be effective in prayer and victorious in my mind and emotions.  I strongly desire to not be a believer whose joy and victory is dependent upon circumstances.  I strongly desire that my circumstances always bow to the TRUTH of God’s Word and that no matter what I will genuinely rejoice in God and in truth – regardless.

(It is my understanding that the early Christian martyrs, who were tortured or burned at the stake did so not with complaint or accusations against God but with praise on their lips.  To me, that is the “gold standard”.)

Here are a few simple keys I want to pass on today.

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#1  We must always look with spirit eyes into the unseen realm, in order to maintain the kind of victory that is based upon truth, not upon circumstances.  We must always keep our eyes upon God who CANNOT lie and who KNOWS HOW to work out the details of our journey in this life.

Of course this can be a major challenge to our mind…especially when we are certain we have ‘heard from God’…. as to what His will for us is.

#2  We must expend effort and invest time into increasing our deep trust in His word.  His Word must be the SOLID ROCK inside us, when the storms hit.  Our trust must never be in people.

It may sound easy enough to embrace this, but be assured it isn’t  because we are all basically “people pleasers” or “people reactors” at our core.

(We must know and personally believe that Jesus was not moved by external “evidence”, but by eternal evidence.  He was not moved by opinions of man. He needed no human attention, acceptance, approval, or applause. See John 5:41, 44 and John 2:25)

#3 The biggest battle we all must win is the battle in our mind.  So we must face it head on,  in order to win.

I will now share something very simple that can help anyone make progress in this arena.

Begin immediately to make the changes you want.

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Start here.   The scriptures declares that:

1. “NO weapon formed against you shall prosper….” Isaiah 54:17 (It would be good to read the entire verse)

2.  “You are more than a conqueror…(through Christ)  ” Romans 8:37

3.   “You have the mind of Christ…” 1 Corinthians 2:16

What was revealed to me was that most of our mind battles consist of facing one or all three of the following:

Fear   –  of the FUTURE:    of the unknown, failure, or exposure of our real self

Regret —  from the PAST:  of mistakes, or wrong choices

Emptiness – in the PRESENT:  no sense of a reason to exist, purpose, love, or joy

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The battle(s) can be won by first honestly “owning up” to what is bothering you.  Then realize that it is possible to exchange truth for the lies that are going round and round inside your mind.

In fact the cross of Jesus is all about the place where the “great exchange” took place -He gave His life, His emotions, His mind for mine, if I will but take what is offered.(Positive thinking and positive confessions can never match the power of the life giving word of God)

Take one scripture, all or add additional ones to the ones above.  Use  the scripture as your sword against the lies that come against your mind until the “skirmish” is completely over!

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Be aware that there will be new battles, but you will always win the same way….by starting off with “It is written…..”

Do it out loud. (You do not have to feel like it.)   The word is living and active and it works if you will work it.

Darkness in thoughts and distress in emotions will go.  Peace and joy will come.

And please remember, it does not glorify God to live in regret or fear or emptiness.  Jesus came to give us abundant life.

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A Very Short Dream; Big Implications

On February 20, 2016 I had a dream just before waking.  The dream was short and troubling.

I was seated in a “pub” between a high ranking government official and a church leader.  I was trying to speak to the government official, but all he wanted to do was blame others for the condition of our land.  I tried to say “why don’t you just take some responsibility?”  He pulled away in anger. Then I turned toward the church leader on my right.  I noticed a “beer can”.  On the can was the word ‘intoxication’.

When I awakened I was very troubled.  I asked the Lord what it meant and I sensed what I believe to be His revelation – that we as a nation and as “church” in our nation, by in large, are lacking in proper leadership and that there is a propensity within church leadership to be intoxicated with the music/worship, teaching/preaching, anointing, signs/wonders, ministry and gifts more than with THE giver of it all.

My prayer for myself and for the church at large is that we return to our first love, and put the “mechanics” of doing church on the back burner, or at least in the proper place.

Christ alone.  Christ to have preeminence. First Place. Even above our prayer burdens.

And my prayer for government leaders is to own up to, take responsibility for, actions and the impact of all the wrong decisions.  I pray for leaders to chart a new course and quit blaming everyone and everything.

For meditation and prayer:

Isaiah 56:10-12  “His watchmen are blind,They are all ignorant;They are all dumb dogs,They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.11Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory.12“Come,” one says, “I will bring wine, And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink;Tomorrow will be as today, And much more abundant.”

“In returning and and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

 

Are You Developing?

Are you developing? Are you more like Jesus today than you were last month or last year?  Or are you just an older version of what you have always been? How would you answer these questions?

As I see it, the bible is clear that the Father is looking for full grown sons. (Ephesians 4:13; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 2:10 etc.)

Our model, our pattern and empowerment,  is found particularly in the gospels, but also throughout the scriptures.

Let me quickly run through a few verses.  Please examine these prayerfully on your own.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.                   1 John 2:23

How did He walk after the Holy Spirit came upon Him?  (Matthew 3:16)

In Acts 10:38 we see a concise summary of how He walked:  “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him.”

That verse contains the answer.

He also proclaimed His mission “to preach the gospel to the poor; heal the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (or the year of the Lord’s favor) Luke 4:18-19

This is the commission, the mandate, the assignment day in day out – 24/7.

How do we get there?

We do whatever it takes to shift our mind from things of this world to things eternal.   Jesus’ disciples asked Him once “What shall we do, that we may do the works of God?”  Jesus answered them…. “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE IN HIM whom He sent.”   John 6:28-29

Our mind has to be renewed to think His thoughts, have His purposes always central and let go of things that hinder.

Think about it.

Prayer Strategies That Go Beyond…

From the earliest days of my renewed relationship with the Lord in 1980 I wanted to know how to pray to see results.  I began reading books and listening to great teachers, and studying the scriptures regarding prayer.

To me the greatest example of an “apostle of prayer”, other than the Lord Jesus, is Paul who thankfully recorded many of his own prayers.   He lived a life of praise and prayer regardless of the circumstances in which he found himself. He didn’t just pray when nothing else seemed to work, he lived out his life as a prayer.  What a model.

Paul expressed a heart attitude that has inspired me since my earliest days and it is this:  “my circumstances are turning out for the furtherance of the gospel” Philippians  1:12.  He expounds upon this view even further in 2 Corinthians 1:6 when he states that whether he is AFFLICTED or COMFORTED it is for the consolation and salvation of others.

If the people of God could simply embrace this view regarding this very temporary life on this earth (again as he states in Philippians 1:12) I believe it could change everything!   Embracing this “philosophy” would enable us to shed our “rejection complex”,  our fears, our jealousies and fleshly strivings for acceptance and prominence.

There is so much to be learned and experienced in prayer by studying and applying what and how Apostle Paul prayed.  He never prayed from a standpoint of fear or uncertainty.  He knew in whom he believed and was confident that God was truly able to do exceedingly MORE THAN what he could even ask or think.

His prayer pattern was always one of thanksgiving toward God and for the people in his sphere of influence.  His heart was humble and filled with love and faith in all his prayers.  I highly recommend studying the prayers for yourself as recorded in the epistles.

Now, I want to share what I have been meditating on this week.  I still look for models and patterns in scripture that I can apply in my life.

This is what stood out to me this week.  It seems that right  now whenever I hear or read  something outside of the bible, the highlighted phrase is from the Lord’s prayer.“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

YES!  I wholeheartedly agree and often pray it,  AND take time to actually reflect on what that means.  It is so important to realize what is and is not in heaven and what we are truly asking to  manifest on the earth – particularly in our assigned realm, or sphere of influence.  (Often we forget that in order to fulfill that prayer there is a process that will also manifest to move us and circumstances toward the desired outcome. Process is not always a “picnic”. We tend to not like that part.)

As I meditated this week upon that passage called the Lord’s prayer, I realized that the prayer primarily does two things.  First, it clearly honors the person of our Heavenly Father and His power, rule and Kingdom Dominion.

Secondly, it is basically a pattern of prayer for MY individual daily needs….including provision, protection and pathway.

Well, we must all develop a deeper prayer life than just praying for our own “survival” and blessings.

So, I then spent time in meditation on the prayer of Jesus that is recorded in John 17. Jesus is our high priest and lives to make intercession for us. Did you know that in this prayer record there is no request made by Jesus specifically for the “lost”?  Rather the requests that He makes to the Father are for His disciples and those who will later believe through their life and testimony.

(I am not suggesting that we not pray for the lost, unbelieving or backslidden individuals, or nations or governments.  Certainly we are instructed to pray for EVERYONE and for those who are in authority so that we can live quiet, peaceable, godly and reverent lives. 1 Timothy 2:1-2)

I am suggesting that there is a prayer pattern revealed in John 17, given by our Lord, that we can implement to deepen our prayer life for those that God has given to us.  Those He has given to us may include our family, our friends our co-workers, or individuals we have frequent ministry interaction with.

Ten things in this prayer stand out to me which I will list, but not discuss right now.  Holy Sprit may ignite something in your heart to study this passage to see what He will reveal to you.

Remember, Jesus prayed to the Father for those that He, the Father, had given to Him, Jesus.

Here are the things which Jesus prayed that were highlighted to me:

  1. That the Father would keep them.
  2. That they would be one.
  3. That they would have the joy of Jesus in them.
  4. That they would be kept from the evil one.
  5. That they would be sanctified.
  6. That they would be sent into the world as He (Jesus) was.
  7. That they would be where He is.
  8. That they would behold His glory.
  9. That those who would believe through the words of the disciples would also be one.
  10. That these all would experience and know that the Father loves them even with the same love that He loves Jesus****                                                                ******This last one is deep, profound, and deserving of much reflection, meditation and prayer.

May God Bless you as you reflect and delve deeper into a lifestyle of prayer

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INSIGHTS AND INSPIRATION # 7

It is the mission of Jesus to set captives free (Luke 4:18). Amazingly, He allows us to “get in on it”.  He commissioned His first disciples to go in His authority and anointing, representing Himself upon the earth.  He authorizes us to do the same.  The task is simple, or is it?

We do not have to be totally healed or mature, to be used.  We do need a heart that identifies with the heart of God for broken people and broken humanity in general.  We have to have conquered the fear risking making a mistake.  We must remain teachable, alert, and yielded to the various nuances of the Spirit.

Do we believe in full restoration? Or do we believe like an “old saint” communicated with me long ago (and I believe erroneously), “If you mess us, you have lost your chance for your full destiny to be realized.”  (This was based on one verse, vs. 6, in Hebrews 6).  I personally stayed in bondage for a very long time, in part due to that verse being misused.   I thought it was impossible to come back on course through repentance.

See that teaching totally ignored the many examples contained in scripture of individuals who messed up badly, but were redeemed and restored.

In your notes, identify some bible characters who really “blew it” and were subsequently  restored.  What are the life-applications.

Have you ever studied biblical restoration?  I highly recommend it. Look up these scriptures and write them out.  Record specific things the Spirit communicates to your spirit.

Especially read and meditate on the following verses:

Galatians 6:1

Acts 3:21

Acts 15:16

Joel 2:25

Psalm 23:3

Psalm 51:12

Job 42:10

Make notes of your own insights on these verses and others that you look up.

IN GOD THERE ARE NO DEAD ENDS….THERE IS HOPE OF RESTORATION.

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