Falling Chains

Falling Chains

Psalm 107:13-16 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; He snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them. For He broke down their prison gates of bronze; He cut apart their bars of iron.

There is power in the Name of Jesus to break every chain. Do you believe it today? I do. Yet why do so many people remain in bondage after receiving salvation through Jesus Christ? Do not be so quick to judge them. There are layers to bondage in our soul as it accumulates over time. Grace begins to move in us as God works out His Salvation in us according to His Will and Divine Purpose for our life. I have eaten a lot of my own words of harsh ridicule of others once I discovered just how close I am to falling or failing the Lord. Religion builds our confidence in self through behavior modification and the formation of good habits that lead to better choices. Somehow in the midst of all consuming love, overwhelming goodness and overflowing grace – our flesh decides it has things under control venturing off to conquer the world on its own. Once more than conquerors, we become weaklings apart from our constant connection to Jesus Christ. It is our relationship with Jesus Christ alone that makes all things possible for those who believe. We build relationships over time investing copious amounts of trust and heaping on lots and lots of faith even when there seems nothing left to give – there is something more to muster up even in our meagerness to have the true love that is desired. In human relationships, one must constantly give grace to keep love alive. In our relationship with Jesus, He is the One who brings all-sufficient grace that keeps our love alive for now and forever.

Back to my question, if there is power in the Name of Jesus, do you believe that in His Name every single chain can be broken? Faith is required to escape the chain and iron doors of bondage in our life. Human strength is not required but faithful fortitude is. The courage to shake off the chain or to walk through the open door sometimes is more than we have to give. Hope is the anchor for our soul. It is also that thing that drives us from comfort and complacency in life to see what freedom holds. I have felt chains of bondage fall from my wrist in the Spirit multiple times. It’s funny how we do not feel the weight of them until entering the Presence of the Lord and He begins to gently lift our weight and burden. Returning to the world, we can choose to drag those chains with us or shake them off at His Feet. We decide if the Name of Jesus is enough to obtain our freedom by the amount of faith invested in remaining free.

If I have a sledgehammer, I have the power to break a metal chain that binds me. The problem is that I do not have enough power to thrust it over my head, or bring it down heavily on that thing which keeps me bound. I need someone with the power to do that. If my husband picks up the sledgehammer, he can definitely use it with force. However, if that chain is on my wrist or ankle, I have to trust that in breaking the link that he does not break me. I trust him. He is my husband. My one true love. I know that he will not do anything to knowingly or willingly hurt me and if he is going to swing that hammer, my man will be certain that I am out of harm’s way. He loves me completely and will do anything in his power to free me. Like I said, I completely trust him with my life.

Jesus has the power in His Name alone to set us free from every chain and open every door that keeps us from freedom. In fact, when He saves us that is exactly what He does. He breaks every chain and opens every door. Why do we live in bondage? We do not trust him enough to make Jesus our Lord and follow Him. Freedom is a gift not an obligation. Jesus is our Savior and Lord not dictator. He will not force you or me to be free. He offers it to us. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) It takes wisdom and understanding of His Gift to know how to obtain it and use it in our life. He gave us that in His Word and by His Spirit. (Ephesians 1:6-8)

Acts 12:6-10 (NLT) The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.

Peter was chained between two soldiers. He would be placed on trial the next day. Clearly consumed with anxiety and fear (insert sarcasm), he was asleep. How sweet the Peace of God given to those who trust Him! How asleep was he? When the angel of the Lord entered the cell, it “struck him on the side to awaken him”, so he was out. The angel of the Lord made the chains on his wrists fall off. Now fear could have kept Peter right where he was as the slightest movement might disturb the soldiers or alert the guard causing his imminent death. The angel told him to get up and get dressed. He did it. The angel order Peter to follow and he did. He would go past two more guard posts up to the large iron gate leading to the city. When he approached it, the gate opened by itself and he passed through it. The angel left Peter a free man.

Freedom is a choice to follow the Lord out of bondage. Jesus removes the chains and opens the doors but if we do press on to walk in freedom then we will remain forever enslaved. He sacrificed His Life to obtain our complete freedom from sin, bondage and burdens in life. Will we follow Him? Will we walk in it? Will we overcome the fear of the things we can see to walk into the place that He is calling us to live and breathe in Him? Jesus has already done His Part handing us the Keys to His Kingdom. The rest is up to us. Will freedom be the pathway of choice?

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! 

How would you respond if imprisoned for sharing the Gospel? I wonder the same thing. Could the evidence of my belief in Christ demonstrated in message that I speak and more importantly the life that I live be enough to convict me? Back to the story, Paul and Silas were praying and praising Jesus having church in their cell while the other prisoners were listen. They were essentially preaching a life gospel. Our response to hardship, oppression and disappointment in life portrays our true belief and value system to others more than anything we do or say when things are going well. Suddenly happened. I love when God comes rushing in suddenly. All the doors immediately opened and the chains of “every prisoner fell off”.

Can we freeze this moment in time to assess the situation? One minute its midnight in the midst of a prison and all the prisoners are listening to the two crazy Christians sing and praise God probably thinking these guys are nuts. Now what? Galatians 5:13 says, For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Now Paul and Silas could have rushed out to tell others “look what the Lord has done”. But they didn’t. What did they do? Used their freedom to free others in the Spirit. First of all, every prisoner was set free. (vs. 26) Paul saved the life of the jailer who was about to commit suicide rather than face his commander. The jailer was saved on the spot. (vs. 30) They went on to share the Gospel with his entire household including family, friends and servants. (vs. 32) Do you see that sometimes the deliverance we seek is our ministry and message to others? Sometimes those things that we go through have a purpose in the end far greater than our own endurance. Less I digress, we must respond to our circumstances and situations in life with faith, trust, praise and obedience to continue to walk in freedom daily. Each step should lead others to freedom as well.

Luke 8:27-29 (NLT) As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

We know the story of the man of Gerasenes who was demon possessed. The Lord cast the mass of demons called Legion from him into pigs that ran off the cliff to paraphrase the story. (Luke 8:26-39) I was reading about him today and noticed something that I had not seen before. In verse 29, it says “for Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him” and that the “spirit had ‘often’ taken control of the man.” Does this freak you out a little? Or maybe a lot? Don’t let it. This was before the Holy Spirit could inhabit human beings. Once the Holy Spirit comes in and takes over your heart nothing can overpower Him. Greater is He who is in us then he that is in the world. However, do you see that even those who encounter Jesus can still struggle with the enemy and being overcome with evil? Jesus did not tell the man look we have done this before and you keep getting messed up again. Why do Christians so harshly judge others in their struggles with bondage to sin? Overcome by evil, where can they go?

This time would be different because after the legion of demons were gone this man made a choice to follow Jesus and maintain his freedom. He asked Jesus allow him to join in their journey but Jesus set him forth in his own ministry. The man was obedient. We walk in freedom when we follow Jesus and obey Him. (vs. 38-39) But what about the people from the city they were in, what was their response? Fear. They asked Jesus to leave immediately. (vs. 37) Fear leads back into bondage again. Doubt delays our destiny every time.

Isaiah 58:6-9 (NLT) “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

In Isaiah 52:1-2 it reads, “Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer. Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Have you ever had to be in the same clothes for more than a day? Whether laid over in an airport without luggage or in an emergency situation unable to shower or change due to your circumstances? Do you remember how wonderful it felt when you could finally shower, change and brush your teeth? It is so refreshing. Along those same lines, I wonder how a prisoner newly set free feels when he removes the dingy uniform of captive to put on regular clothes again. The new clothes mark a new day but too often they are faced with the same problems now compounded with mitigating circumstances and label of “convict” that lead back to imprisonment all over again. I am challenged by this today. How do we learn to put on the clothes of righteousness and walk in freedom when our sin constantly convicts us, guilt and shame tell us we will never fully claim our freedom, and regret binds us to the past. I don’t care if you have been saved for ten minutes, ten years, or most of your natural born life – we all struggle with our freedom and maintaining it because our flesh keeps us in captivity to sin.

Sin causes us to assume self-responsibility for a life freed by grace. We fear moving from darkness to light because who knows us better than us. What if His Grace is not enough for me? What if His Promises fall short of my satisfaction? What if His Love is not unfailing like they said? What if I remove these chains only to find I am still bound to something else? Lord help my unbelief today! We all need to cry out like the young man’s father who told the Lord, “if you can”. Every chain is broken and door opened in the Name of Jesus Christ. It is about time the church started shaking off those broken chains, pushing on some open doors and claiming our freedom so that we can show the way to others. His Grace is enough. We don’t have to look right or do right just follow Jesus as He leads us from darkness and sin into the everlasting. It is time for the church to remove the chains of slavery around our neck including religion and tradition to embrace a world living in darkness, bound by chains, and captive to sin.

2 Timothy 2:8-10 (NLT) Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

What would happen if we stopped judging people who fall down at the altar and joined them there? What if our persistence for freedom went beyond our own comfort and control so that we could radically love other people and meet them where they are? I am a soul set free in the One I love. Yet from time to time, I find myself in situations and circumstances that reveal chains in my life. As I shake them off, I am able to share these experiences with other people. To act like I have no struggles is to devalue God’s Grace. I will not do it. I struggle with sin just like the next person. I just love Jesus. In loving Him, I must be willing to help others obtain their freedom or my life isn’t worth much. Revival comes at the sound of falling chains beginning with the saints of God stepping down from their high horses, soap boxes, holier-than-thou attitudes and religious agendas to sing songs of praise in the company of prisoners. To reach out to others and help them open the unlocked doors to freedom in Christ. I cannot lead another in a way that I have not gone! I choose to use my freedom to become a slave to God! (I Peter 2:15-17)

Psalm 116:16-19 (NLT) O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people—in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

 

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