Broken Shackles

 

 

Namib_Desert-Deadvlei-Namib-Naukluft_National_Park-Namibia-SossusvleiThere once were two slaves shackled together in a desert. One slave had put the shackles on herself and the other slave, the shackles were placed upon her. Both slaves tired of their deprivation, cried out to the Lord for help. One day, a He came along with a cool breeze that refreshed them. They were amazed how his clothes were unstained by the desert dust and he looked as though the intense heat did not even touch him. He said to them, “You are free. Come and follow me.” The slave who had put her shackles on herself at once recognized who He was and saw that her chains were loosened from her ankles. She immediately jumped and shouted for joy and followed Him in her new found freedom. The other slave stood quiet and still looking on as they continued on. Watching until she could see no more of the dust there steps made, she looked down at her own feet. The shackles were laying on the dirt. They were not around her ankles anymore, but instead of following as the other slave had, she remained by her shackles. Having her shackles on for so long, she was afraid to believe that they were really off of her. Since she could remember, they have always held her back, but now nothing did. What, in her mind, was she supposed to do? How could she be sure? If she followed Him, what else would happen to her? How could the other slave be so free when she chose to put her shackles on? “It is different for me”, she told herself. “Nobody understands what this has been like. I didn’t ask for this. This happened to me. How can I ever truly be free?” Days turned into nights and nights to days as the slave stood by her shackles. Slowly she reached down and placed them back on her ankles. “This is all I know.”, she said. “This is all I have.”

As she stood there, she would see freed slaves passing her. Some were walking. Others running. All following the One who had freed them. Many would stop and say “Look, I am free! He freed me!” Again the slave would say to herself,”Sure, it was easy for them to be free, but how can I , after what has been done to me, ever be?”

More time passed and the slave grew restless. Her shackles did not feel secure like they once had. All that she had grown accustomed to  in order to survive, the desert heat, the isolation, the emptiness, the thirst…all seemed to grow intolerable. “There is no place for me!”, she cried out. “I have no place where I belong.” Broken, her tears began to wet the cracked dry dirt that she fell down upon. “God, where are you?”, she asked. As she was on her hands and knees, a familiar breeze came and blew on her the same cooling wind. As she stood up, she heard a whisper, “Whoever I have set free, is truly free.” As she heard this, she looked down and once again saw her shackles laying in the dust. She watched the freed slaves traveling past her as she did everyday only this day she did something different.

Her heart pounded as she made that first step past her shackles, and after that first step she quickly made another one. All at once a joy came over her that she had never known. Many slaves left their shackles behind, but she grabbed hers and went running. As she ran past slaves, she would ask “Have you seen the One that set you free?” They would joyfully point the way. When she came upon Him, she fell on her knees holding her shackles out to Him. “Thank you for freeing me.” she said. “Please take these and do what you desire with them.” The Lord told her to stand up. “I will take these and show the world the power of my love through them. Follow me.” And she did. All the days of her life. Some days she ran. Others she walked as though the shackles were still on her feet. Sometimes, she would wonder about the whereabouts of her shackles, but when she did she would here His voice saying “Whoever I have set free, are truly free.”  and she would stop worrying and place her focus back on the One she was following.

She spent the remainder of her days doing so and pointing the way to Him for others to see.

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35-36.

 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. Romans 6:17-19

Posted in deliverance, forgiveness, freedom, Healing, Janean, plan, power | Leave a comment

Serve


serve

He is powerful, almighty, strong tower and a force around us, but it is because He wants to serve. He wants to fulfill those needs in our lives.

Matt. 20:28- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Phillipians 2:7-rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Then when I woke up I started thinking about my servant hood. I’m I serving others like I should.  Am I showing the act of love to my neighbors?  Church family? Work family?  Extended family?  Strangers needing help?  Am I so busy that I am so focused on what I am to do next that I am blind to the needs of others?  How many times have I passed by an opportunity to do a kind deed for others?

So I did what so many do and I put it in the back of my mind and went on with my daily “focus” on what I am suppose to do next.  I came home for lunch and noticed my neighbor’s trash can had rolled down the road and the wind was still rolling it.  I turned my head and kept going inside when the Spirit stirred that dream again.  I chased the trash can down the road and placed it safely on the neighbor’s carport. And I thought to myself, wow, and any other day I would have ignored it and went on my way.

It has just got me thinking, has Christians in general lost their drive to be a servant?  I don’t know if it is because of the abuse some face when people have used them for a door mat and they were never taught the difference in being a door mat and being a servant and over extended themselves to the point of burn out.  Or, if like me, they are so busy focusing on their own life struggles that they forget to see others in need. No matter which is the situation, the fact remains WE are still responsible to show kindness, love and helpfulness by serving others.  Not just in church, but in life everyday to people God allows of paths to pass with.

There is song out now that hits this subject great.  Jason Gray….Every Act Of Love.

Oh – we bring the Kingdom come
Oh – with every act of love
Jesus help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come

God put a million, million doors in the world
For his love to walk through
One of those doors is you.

ONE OF THOSE DOORS IS Y-O-U !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in challenge, church, faith, inspire, Lisa, obedience, serve | 1 Comment

#Encore: On The Brink

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is On The Brink from March 2014.

 

photo 1Lately I’ve had nonstop calls, texts, emails, and read a ridiculous amount of Facebook messages about people who are ready to give up. They are ready to give up on their marriages, children, diets, jobs, schooling, goals, hopes, dreams, lives, and even God. Things don’t always happen the way we plan them out, and God doesn’t always answer our prayers when and how we want Him to. We compare ourselves to other people and want our lives to be like theirs. (Remember that people only post the good stuff on Facebook and Instagram. We all have our problems, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.)

People let us down and life doesn’t always meet our expectations, but for a Christian giving up just isn’t an option. We have the promise of salvation and eternal life through Jesus! What’s more amazing than that? This promise gives us hope that even when things don’t go our way, and we feel the pressure of life all around us it all turns out great in the end! We may not win every battle, but as Christians we win the war! We are victorious because Jesus is victorious. We are His and His power lives in us. We can overcome anything that the enemy throws our way! Our world can be a dark ugly place, but God made us new and we have to shine for Him even when we don’t feel like it.

As Christians we have a responsibility to know God and make Him known – to everyone all the time. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get down and out at times, but rather than wallow in our self pity we need to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ and allow them to remind us of the promises of God. Last week, after a rather intense phone call with a mom at her wits end, God reminded me of a very old song called “Don’t Give Up On the Brink of a Miracle”. Sometimes our answer, our miracle, is just around the corner and we give up right before it’s about to happen. We quit praying and give in to what we feel rather than what we know based on God’s word. The bible says that our heart will lead us astray. We can’t live life based on feelings, but by the word of The Lord. Remember to whom you belong. You’re a child of the King! Own the authority that comes with that heritage and don’t give up! ~ Farah

“Don’t Give Up On The Brink Of A Miracle”

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle Don’t give in, God is still on the throne Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle Don’t give up, remember you’re not alone

When Satan would have you look
At the trials of life that surround you
And he tries to appear, and bring doubt and fear All around you
Don’t look with the eye, or listen with your ear, Just cry out to God, He is always near
In your darkest hour, your miracle is here!

The devil is a thief, and he sends those troubles
To confound you
And he lies and says “This time,
There’s no way you can find to make it thru” Remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s Don’t give in to fear, think on things that are pure Praise the Lord, your miracle is here!

Posted in #encore | Leave a comment

Just a Little Note

5479336200_40d8b444fcLife can just be downright discouraging sometimes.  There are days where hope seems nonexistent, peace seems like only a myth, and joy is fleeting.  Everyone around seems to have one woe after another: financial woes, physical woes, relationship woes, employment woes, etc.   And then there’s the rapid deterioration of our society and the world as a whole: wars, disease,              corruption, destruction…need I go on?

Now, if I may offer up some encouragement from Jesus: “…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  This is truth.  Furthermore, He says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)  This, also, is truth.  All of God’s Word is truth, infallible and indestructible truth.  Do you believe it–really and truly?  Do you stand on these truths?  When the enemy comes at you with lies and deceit, do you counteract those with the truth of God’s Word?

Ephesians 6:17 refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.”  Wield it as such, as a weapon to pierce the lies of the enemy, to cut down the snares he sets.  Use the truth of His word as a light in those dark places. When you find yourself discouraged or dabbling in self-pity, lean hard on His promises.  When you have nothing else to stand on, stand on the truth of His goodness, His faithfulness, His immeasurable love and grace, His strength, and His sovereignty.  Cling to the truth that you are His beloved child and no one can snatch you from His grasp.  Hope appears when you choose to believe His word about who He says He is and what He says He’ll do.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:19-23

~ Alanna

Posted in Alanna, comfort, encouragement, faith, Faithfulness, hope, Insecurity, know | 4 Comments

I Don’t Believe in Serendipity

Sunset_2007-1

I feel I need to start with an apology. Only because I want you to understand my perspective and where my words and thoughts are coming from. I’m not sure exactly where on the spectrum I land, but I am grieving. Some days I am in denial, some days acceptance, but mostly I seem to have settled in around the place of anger and pity.

I’m grieving what I’ve never had. Maybe I feel cheated. Can you miss something you have never held in your hands?

I’m a doer my nature. Not one to sit idly by and wait for my life to happen to me. I constantly have my hands in something. Working, moving, going….. always, working towards the next goal. Please, don’t take this as a way to live at all times. I have humbly learned the art of rest through the passing years. Maybe it’s the way I am.

Maybe it’s what my life has taught me. Some of it is my nature and some of it the nurture. I don’t believe in chance, luck, or serendipity. I don’t believe things happen by accident. I am a believer in making your own way, working for it, getting your hands and knees dirty, and doing whatever it takes to make what you believe is yours, happen. What do you do when the things of life aren’t tangible, changeable?

Grief isn’t something I can fix. Healing doesn’t come with a formula or a perfect set of directions. And just when you think you have forgiven enough, talked it through enough, waited, rested, prayed enough….. it creeps in and brings me back to my knees.

Grief requires faith. The kind of faith that Jesus talks about. Faith that moves mountains. Faith believes in something you can’t see. It’s about believing in miracles. Miracles don’t fit in my box. They don’t meet my expectations or conform to my way of thinking. They are bigger than what I can grasp or hold on to. They are not serendipity or luck. They are the work of a Holy God who loves His people. A God that creates in me a pure heart, one of forgiveness and hope. A heart that lives in freedom, chains of disappointment broken. Healing is a promise. A promise from a faithful God. A promise to me, a hurting, often faithless believer.

And I will put my hope in the knowledge that He will make all things right in the end. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is believe. ~ Angela

Posted in Angela, belief, faith, focus, God, Healing, hope, pain, perspective, Promise | 2 Comments

#Encore: Dirty Windows

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is Dirty Windows from February 2013.
dirty-windowRecently, God has been speaking to me about how we see the world.  He told me that we all perceive the world through what He called “dirty windows”.  We all have mental and emotional filters through which we see and experience the world.   Events, people, and experiences often color our interpretations of what is happening to us today, perhaps deeply affecting our responses.  These responses erode the authenticity of who we truly are.  Consequently, others do not see and experience the genuine person.  These dirty windows illustrate our “flesh”, our “old man”.  So how can we lay aside the “old man” and respond as Jesus would, seeing them through His eyes?  He gives us a clear command to do so:
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  ~ Matthew 5:16 NASB
Paul speaks of struggling with his flesh even though he is in Christ.
“For what I am doing I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me…..but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
~Romans 7: 15-17; 22-23 NASB
God also promises that He changes us:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  II Corinthians 5:17 NASB
Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Every person is given some discernment, just as they are given a measure of faith.  Through prayer and daily practicing the Presence of Jesus, we gain the wisdom to differentiate between our “dirty window” responses and His voice.  In my own life, I have found that the more I practice sitting in His presence, the better I can respond in His love, direction, and even gentle rebuke.  Why?  Because His approach, His words, His ideas, His devotion to His people override my own thoughts, feelings, and “old man”.  It cleans up my dirty windows so people can see who I truly am in Christ and experience Him more fully through their interactions with me.
One more thing to remember:  We are to be compassionate with ourselves as well as other people.  Yahweh is the God of forgiving infinite times, patience, love, and understanding that we are but dust.  Growth takes time.  It’s mostly three steps forward and two steps back.
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
~ Psalm 103: 13-14 NASB
How do your experiences with God guide you to act with His love toward others in authentic ways, despite your flesh?
~Denise
Posted in #encore | 2 Comments

He is Jealous for Me

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “jealous”?  Most often we think of a relationship because that’s where we find jealousy lurking more often than in other situations.  I think envy is often misunderstood for jealousy.  Webster defines jealousy as, “Suspicious or fearful of being replaced by a rival; resentful or bitter in rivalry; demanding exclusive love.”  Envy is defined as, “A feeling of discontent or resentment for someone else’s possessions or advantages; any object of envy.” I felt it necessary to clarify the difference as they are far apart in meaning, yet are thought of as the same oftentimes.

Jealousy in a relationship can be very damaging if felt intensely, but I think a little bit of jealousy can be complimentary because it can make you feel special and loved. This is a human perspective of jealousy. But what comes to mind when you read in the Bible about God’s jealousy? Take a moment and ponder that……

A long time ago, Oprah said on her show, (google the youtube video if you wish), that she was sitting in church when she was about 27 years old and the preacher was speaking of how God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and how He is everything. Then, he stated that God is a jealous God. Oprah said she was enjoying that sermon until that part; then it struck her that God is all of that other stuff, but also jealous?  Jealous of her? What kind of God is that? She goes on to say that it didn’t feel right in her spirit and that’s when she began to search for more than doctrine. This was when Oprah began exploring more of the New Age spiritual paths that she has touted and used to lead many off the path of Christianity, (that’s my personal opinion). Oprah misunderstood that God isn’t jealous OF her, He is jealous FOR her.

Exodus 34:13-15  ” But rather, you are to tear down their alters and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice.”

Deuteronomy 6: 14-16 ” You shall not follow other gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord you God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.”

Zechariah 1:14 ” So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus sayeth the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”

God wants to be our only God. His jealousy should make us feel cherished and loved beyond measure. If you’ve ever felt the sting of infidelity,  just imagine how it makes God feel considering His infinite capacity of love for us. Think about it…. God, the creator of the universe, the holiest of hollies, the God who made us in His own image, is jealous for us!! He wants to be our one and only, and He makes it quite clear how He feels when we trespass into idol worship…money, home, car, conceit, significant other, job, career, or basically whatever we chase after or put before Him. A great example of this is Ezekiel 23. Ezekiel tells of two sisters (an analogy that represents Samaria and Jerusalem) as prostitutes that lusted after Egyptian and Assarian idols therefore breaking their covenant with God. Read that chapter now, if possible, and you will gain an understanding of how God feels about our infidelity towards Him.

When I try to imagine in my mind that God would be jealous for me, I am humbled…..Me, the person who fails Him too often, makes mistakes, and who is stubborn and sometimes kicks against Him? That He would desire to be my one and only and feels a deep hurt when He isn’t first in my heart? That is a love I can’t comprehend, and it makes me sad to think of all the times I’ve hurt Him.

Remember the definition of jealousy?  “Demanding exclusive love.”  We were created to love and worship Him. Considering all of the ways He takes care of us, ultimately giving His Son to die for us, well, loving Him exclusively seems a very small demand to me.

This David Crowder song, “How He Loves Us”, has a line that states: “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am the tree, bending beneath the weight of His love and mercy.”

That’s how I think of Gods love and jealousy for us, like a hurricane. Strong, powerful, relentless, and cannot be tamed. We can only bend like trees as the wind of His grace and mercy and love, and yes, jealousy, blows over us.

~ K.K.

Posted in God, intimacy, K.K., love, relationship, worship | 3 Comments