“Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble; they must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction, otherwise we shall not truly receive them.”
“Remember that if you are a child of God, you will never be happy in sin. You are spoiled for the world, the flesh, and the devil. When you were regenerated there was put into you a vital principle, which can never be content to dwell in the dead world. You will have to come back, if indeed you belong to the family.”
“He who masters his passions is a king even if he is in chains. He who is ruled by his passions is a slave even while sitting on a throne.”
Sometimes, I absolutely need a spiritual ‘wake-up call.’ The last few days for me have been taking on the general theme of freedom. It’s very easy for me to accept being a slave. The bait that’s used is very desirable and attractive. It’s hard to let such wonderful morsel go by without a taste. I will sin– and repent later. But hidden deep inside me there is something very small, but very potent. It is a desire to be free from sin. God has placed that within.
Freedom, or that characteristic of walking unencumbered, doesn’t seem incredibly important, at times. But it is a question of identity.
As a Christian believer, am I really a child of the King, a prince in a spiritual world?
Royal blood was spilled to set me free. Is choosing to sin really in my calling?
There are many things that ‘trigger’ my Bipolar depression. Triggers are those things which set off symptoms, ‘kindling’ a sequence of events that leads to total catastrophe. All it takes is one–a lie perhaps, or a delusion that gets ‘airplay.’ I just slide right into the ‘paranoid’ trap set just for me. I essentially experience a total collapse of mood and emotion. Life will crash in all around me. I am left sitting in ashes, in a heap. I have become a ‘king in chains.’
My hospitalizations all have come as a result of giving myself over to ‘twisted thinking.’ My suicidal tendencies are intensified, in part due to becoming enslaved. I become chained and held captive to these dark forces. Meds and ‘talk therapy’ can really help. They are limited though to what they can do to push back the inky darkness. But when I use these things, and add to them:
prayer, as intimate as I can make it
reading the Word, searching for insights
and fellowship, anything more than a handshake
I have a ‘recipe’ for freedom. But, I must initiate a believer ‘s response. I would like to suggest that “freedom” and “intimacy” are synonyms. You can’t have one without the other. Is Jesus real to you? Is His presence ‘more-than-life’ itself?
Whoever you are–it’s time to get free. Really free. Fall in love with Jesus again and the chains will fall off. Unless you do they will remain.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
“Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75, NLT
Three denials are followed by three reaffirmations.
“A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
The apostle Peter was a fervent disciple. He knew who Jesus was before most. He was always included in special times (e.g. the transfiguration, Gethsemane). He was favored by Jesus throughout times of ministry. I also believe that he was Jesus’ friend. Peter is known for:
being called on the shores of Galilee, Matt 4:18-19
‘almost’ walking on water, Matt 14:29-30
finding the tax money in a fishes mouth, Matt 17:24-27
having his feet washed, John 13:6-7
in Gethsemane– cutting off an ear, John 18:10-11
his remorse at denying Jesus, Matt 26:75
at the empty tomb with John, John 20:3-8
Peter’s own denials were of a serious nature effecting who he was, and who he was to become. Jesus astutely intervenes as they ‘breakfasted’on the seashore. There would be three affirmations; one for each denial. Peter needed to meet the resurrected Jesus, and speak with him about what he had done. Peter needed this.
Out of our own confusion, we realize that we deny Jesus. Perhaps frequently. A denial has different intensities and different situations. And none of us have an immunity as of yet. We deny the Lord when we refuse to speak of him to others. We deny the Lord when we fail to do what is right. Sometimes we deny him flagrantly, other times it is a more subtle attitude. At best, we’re still inconsistent, and at worst, apostate.
We’re not punished or abandoned for this behavior. Human logic would suggest that we should be. But instead we are gently restored. Given the opportunity, Peter the fisherman, would eventually become a wise shepherd to the young Church. I would also suggest that Peter’s personal weakness would serve him well as a gentle, and caring pastor.
Peter, near the end of his life, goes ‘full circle’ and uses a very precise Greek word foundin only two places in the New Testament. It is the specific form of the word “shepherd.” It is only used in John 21:16-17 in Peter’s restoration, and in 1 Peter 5:2. Peter encourages the Church with the same words Jesus himself spoke to him on the beach so long ago! Peter wrote:
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing.”
I stagger over the patience of God for my soul. Sometimes repeated forays into sin become all I can see. I am the prototypical sinner, and it’s hard to believe anyone else could be as stubborn as me. But grace is always found, when I return to Him.
I do know that growing up has much to do with time spent with Him. Coming into Jesus’ presence, by faith, is my ‘life task.’ I know this to be true.
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”
“No matter how low down you are; no matter what your disposition has been; you may be low in your thoughts, words, and actions; you may be selfish; your heart may be overflowing with corruption and wickedness; yet Jesus will have compassion upon you. He will speak comforting words to you; not treat you coldly or spurn you, as perhaps those of earth would, but will speak tender words, and words of love and affection and kindness. Just come at once. He is a faithful friend – a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”
When Susanna Wesley prayed, God listened. I recently came across this and knew it was meant to be shared on Brokenbelievers. I hope you read it and it spurs you to pray as well. We all need encouragement and this is pretty valuable stuff. I know of no higher call than to teach another believer how to pray.
“I have much need in humbling myself before you, the great and holy God because of the sins I am daily guilty of, in thought, word and deed against your holy majesty. Help me overcome the levity and to shun vain and impure thoughts which, though they do not make their abode for any long period of time, yet in their passing through leave a tincture of impurity.”
“Enable me to keep my heart with all diligence, my thoughts, and affections, for out of them are the issues of life. How often I have offended in this kind! Cleanse me from secret faults, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Help me to guard against vain and unnecessary words, and to speak of you, O my God, with that reverence, that humility, that gravity that I ought.”
“Susanna experienced many hardships throughout her life. Her husband left her and the children for over a year because of a minor dispute.
To her absent husband, Susannah Wesley wrote:
“I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.”
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
Matthew 7:15, NIV
I use my channel changer and I flip through the enormous darkness that exists in the world. Jesus clearly warns His flock of the cold, hard realities of deception and deceitfulness that we will be dealing with. Trickery abounds and things simply are not what they seem to be. Darkness has a brutal grasp on so many.
There should be an alertness for the inevitable. Sometimes, sheep will not really be sheep. This is astonishing. Our senses are not always adequate or capable to identify counterfeit Christians. We get confused by the outside (it looks like wool to me). But it is a lie. The wolf has deliberately taken on the dress of the believer. He has a real, definite sinister agenda. (Can you say, “lamp chops“?)
Jesus alerts us to what is really taking place. He wants us to discern. He wants us to become adroit observers. Every believer needs a holy skepticism of outward displays of faith. This is not cynicism or negativity. But it is a cautious faith– one in which we can discern the realities of a world that regularly deceives.
“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.”
Corrie Ten Boom
“Ferocious” in verse 15 is a sobering word. When I read it, I think of Alaska, or maybe the grasslands of the ‘Serengiti.’ A dangerous carnivore that is hidden by an outward covering. It is a ‘predator’ word, a word that intensifies. It patiently stalks and then ambushes its victims. There is only one focus, a single purpose, and that is to destroy. It is Satan’s ‘calling card.’
For us who are accustomed to an ideal of love and peace in our walks, we are disturbed and perhaps almost pulled off balance by this disturbing revelation of evil in our midst. Jesus tells us that we must possess a reality of deception, for that is the real world. He gave us plenty of warning.
“Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.”
Luke 10:3, NLT
Do you know what wolves do to lambs? But yet He still sends them. That is interesting.