I had the priveledge to speak at Grace Community Church Women’s retreat.
God is the Chain Breaker
While I was preparing for this I had a battle with the enemy and was struggling. I know in the past God told me in prayer that he wont help me with certain things because I am fully equipped, so while praying for this retreat, I cried and was in distress and said God I know you said I am fully equipped but I don’t feel equipped. And god said, so am I ma liar or are you?
So I shut up because I chose me as the liar and trust God more than I trust myself.
In psalm 107:4 God mentions that some have wondered and are hungry and thirsty. But when they cried out to the Lord he helped them find their way and fed them and saved them from their distress.
But…. Why are we in chains?
Let’s read the text.
10Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. 12So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.14He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. 15Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,16for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
In order to have chains that need to be broken you need to be in bondage. Bondage is caused by ignorance, strong holds, and the enemy’s greatest weapon in this stage is deception.
I love looking at words and what they mean, I believe it give you a deeper understanding of what is being said.
Ignorance: lack of knowledge, lack of learning, lack of information, etc.
They say knowledge is power, yes, I believe it is because it’s also progress.
God says: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)
Stronghold: in the Greek (oxýrōma): (“a heavily-fortified containment”) is used figuratively of a false argument in which a person seeks “shelter” (“a safe place”) to escape reality.
Deception: the action of deceiving (betraying) someone or being deceived (betrayed)
I know the enemy comes to kill steal and destroy, he is a thief and a liar. Bad and hurtful things happen to us that is out of our control and God will help us through those things in our lives as well.
But as I realized while reading this text that it talks about being prisoners and suffering in chains in utter darkness, as I keep reading that this prison and chains is because of rebelling against God’s commands and despising his plans and counsel.
So, God, subjected them to bitter labor and because of that they stumbled. Hold on a sec! Wait, why would my all loving, all gracious, all merciful God do that? The answer is simple, it’s because of His steadfast love. He doesn’t want us to lose our way.
So, I asked Him, God why would you do that? and I heard God say, why would you? Huh, I didn’t understand, but he reminded me of the times when my boys would really be disrespectful and not listen to anything I told them and I had to punish them, take away everything, not let them go out, no phone, no TV, and wait for it… no video games (which is such bitter dark place for kids) nothing.
At first, their pride made them think they could handle it so it was worth the punishment, but after a few days to a week later they couldn’t take it anymore and would come and ask for forgiveness. And when they did, I loved on them and told them they were forgiven, it hurt me more than it hurt them… I couldn’t stay mad that long.
Recently while talking to my oldest son who is now 30 years old, we were discussing their spankings and punishments, he told me “mom, we knew that if we asked for forgiveness you would forgive us and forget the punishment.” And they were right, my anger would subside and I would forget. Most times they learned their lessons and wouldn’t do it again, but there were times when they did do it again or worse. So, the punishments got worse and longer.
But then that made me think, what do we do when we get ourselves
in a bind and are in a whirlwind of darkness because of it? If we have knowledge of the grace and mercy of God we will cry out for Him to forgive us because we opened the door to the enemy and now God has to close it before it destroys us.
But what when God forgives us and breaks the chains? We feel grateful and loved and covered by God. BUT do we forget about his mercy and grace and how that bondage felt? Do we go back to what God has already delivered us from? That’s a stronghold.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.Trust in the Lord forever
We need to do a self-examination of our lives and our walk with God.
“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Romans 7:22-23 NIV
Examining yourself is a painful process because you have to admit things about yourself that you might not like, are ashamed of, or have been secretly hiding for so long you don’t even know it’s there.
I love Peter in the Bible because I can identify with his hard headed pride sometimes.
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
Peter just rebuked Jesus… have pride much? Don’t we. Do that when we feel God is telling us to do something and we disagree. With God..?
It’s pretty bold to basically tell Jesus Christ that the word that is written wrong, and He’s wrong and I’m right.
God saying. So am I a liar or are you?
30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
So, Jesus points out, no seriously I’m Jesus, the Truth and I’m telling you, you will fall short. And Peter’s ugly pride insisted forcefully that He will not! Sorry Jesus but you are wrong, I got this…
Just a few verses later
Place called Gethsemane
Mark 14:37-38 37 (Jesus) Then He returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Wow, in the same night Peter was adamant and rebuking Jesus and a few hours later, He can’t even stay awake to keep an eye out.
Jesus said: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This is where a stronghold can come and take place. Even though he specifically told them what not to do they did it anyway, they couldn’t resist.
A stronghold is we know we are filled with the spirit of God but still follow temptation and our flesh instead of the word. Because we think we can get around the word and be ok, we make excuses for it.
This is the most misquoted verse, I believe, in the bible:
Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
It doesn’t say Pride goes before the fall. It says pride goes before destruction(devastation), meaning you need to examine yourself for pride before you have to deal with destruction. If you see the pride and don’t repent and still have a haughty (conceited, arrogant spirit) then you will fall.
What’s the difference? Let’s use the disciples as an example.
Peter had pride, Judas had pride and a haughty spirit, they both fell but one repented.
Peter Disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
His pride was so much that now he was cursing and lying just to save his own skin.
72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Peter broke down (devastation) set in.
Peter and Judas, two of Jesus’ disciples who experienced a serious fall. Judas’s fall away from Christ is seen as a final and full work of abandonment whereas Peter’s fall is not final because he is restored. And we see that their crime against Christ was very similar. They were both followers, they were both trusted by others, they were both there with all the miracles, sermons, and more. Judas betrayed Jesus, and that same night, Peter denied Christ.
Peter was a strong follower and thought he was the one with the most faith. Judas was there but He was disappointed that Jesus didn’t do things the way he thought it should go and was never really a true follower of Jesus. He had his own agenda from the beginning.
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Notice Satan is not equal to God, God is the all-powerful.
1. Satan had to go to Christ to demand Peter, the permission was granted but not because Jesus wants to destroy him but because his pride gave Satan a way in and God will use it to strengthen him and us for God to be glorified.
2. What Jesus doesn’t say. He doesn’t simply hope that Peter will be able to resist Satan Jesus is praying for his faith.
3. He expresses certainty that Peter will turn away, because He says and when you have turned again.
4. There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind not only that Peter would fall, and fall abysmally, but also that Peter would be restored.
Indeed, history testifies that Peter, in spite of this radical and serious fall, nevertheless endured to the end. He repented, he was forgiven, he was restored, and he endured to the end.
On the other hand, Judas was gripped with the wrongness of what he had done, he never asked for forgiveness. There is a world of difference between those two things. Many people who truly feel sorry for their sins never come to God and ask for forgiveness. Judas tried to undo his betrayal, but it was too late. I do not doubt that he wept bitter tears as he threw the money back into the temple. But his remorse (as sincere as it was) was not true repentance and it did not lead to forgiveness.
Don’t be deceived: do not let the enemy feed you A LIE and have you think that the Lord can’t or won’t forgive you or help you forgive others, if you pray with a truthful heart and believe that there is mercy and grace for you, then you will receive it and freely give it to others. You. Do not. Belong in chains, that is not God’s will…. God will change situations and move mountains on your behalf. He will give you the desires of your heart if you just delight in him and in his ways. (Psalm 37:4)
At the end of psalm107:43 God says “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”
Jesus will take us out of bondage and break the chains we have, Christ is praying that YOUR faith will not fail, weather we have them because of ignorance, a stronghold or deception, when we cry out to Christ in our trouble and repent he will, break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron to get to you. That is the God we serve!!
Small group discussion:
1. Do you feel there are any areas in your life where you may have bondage? (you can share as little or as much as you feel comfortable.)
2. What other areas besides pride can you see the enemy having a way into our lives?
3. How do we hold on to the word of God even in those dark places? What can we do to help ourselves and others when destruction falls?
4. Are you just going through the motions of church or are you truly a believer? What does that mean to you?