Forgiveness Series – Part 2: Captive vs Prisoner

Is there a difference between a captive and a prisoner? In the Bethel Sozo training dvd they state that there is and refer to the following Bible verse:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)

Here we read the reference to captives and prisoners and my interest was sparked. In Luke 4:21 (NLT) Jesus reads the above scripture and declares that: “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”. Therefore, Jesus came to release the captives and free the prisoners. But what is the difference? My research has led me to the following:

As a captive we are taken from being free to having constrains or bondages placed upon us. Although we might still be in a familiar place we are restrained from being able to move freely. Captives are usually dealt with harshly, they receive no mercy, and are usually abused therefore suffer horrific treatment. The Israelites were led away in chains from Jerusalem to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1) physically but we can find ourselves in such a state spiritually. As a captive we may be bound but still able to move around a bit. Captivity usually entails moving from a familiar place to an unfamiliar place where we become a prisoner. As a prisoner we don’t have liberty (freedom) we may be still restrained but we are also now confined and or contained in an unfamiliar place. Not much movement can happen if any at all. As a prisoner we move from being captured and shackled to now being in a prison cell.

God highlighted to me that as a:

  • Captive we are restrained
  • Prisoner may still be restrained but are now also confined

My story, about being imprisoned, was written to try and convey the idea that someone has taken us captive, put us in chains and done unspeakable things to us. Then thrown us into a prison cell leaving us to die in great pain. The person who has hurt us may think of us no more or they may come back to taunt us each day. Whatever the case is we can be free.

 Liberty and Freedom

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines liberty as: The state of being free.…from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life or behaviour…

Bible Study Tools explains liberty as the opposite of servitude or bondage, hence, applicable to captives or slaves set free from oppression.

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines freedom as: the state of not being affected by something undesirable; and a special privilege or right of access.

Bible Study Tools states that the theme of freedom rings loudly in one of the most crucial sections of Scripture, namely the narrative of the exodus. God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, they were suffering and He desired to see them set free. God longed to see His people reconciled to Him and He wanted them free so that they could love and serve Him. But the people found it hard to obey God and love Him with their whole hearts. Psalm 106:43 states that God rescued them many times but they continued in their rebellious ways, they chose to ignore His warnings which meant they sank lower and lower into wickedness and were destroyed by their depravity. Romans 8 (5,7) explains that our human minds fix upon things which satisfy the flesh, we have a mindset that is actively hostile towards God’s plan and refuses to submit to His direction; laws and instructions because it simply can’t. This reveals that there was a deeper issue than just physical captivity. There was a divine liberty that was needed.

But what is this divine liberty?

In Luke 1 we read that redemption has come and that Jesus brings us salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us (Luke 1:68,71).

They prophesied he would come one day and save us from every one of our enemies and from the power of those who hate us.” Luke 1:71 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Romans 8 explains that God sent Jesus to accomplish what the law was unable to accomplish, because the law was limited by the weakness of human nature. We were imprisoned and held within the fierce grip of sin. To experience freedom we need to be clear about who has authority over us, if we are captured or imprisoned we need to understand who we are in bondage to. We need to ask ourselves the tough questions such as: Have I given full authority of my life to God? Have I asked Him to release me from the bondage of sin? Have I claimed my redemption through Jesus?

In 2 Peter 1 Simon-Peter refers to himself as being a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ. Another way of describing this is that Peter chose to be a loving servant of Jesus, he acknowledges Jesus as having authority over him. Peter committed himself to serve Jesus in any way that he could, and we know that he served to the point of death!

For a captive to be released or a prisoner to be freed someone has to speak in their defence, a proclamation of freedom needs to be made and proof provided to show their innocence.

The wonderful news is that Jesus has and will always speak in our defence, He has proclaimed and will forever proclaim our freedom!!!!

His scarred and nail pierced body is the eternal evidence that paid the price; Jesus’ blood claims our redemption; and Jesus provides the evidence we need for innocence!!!

Jesus bore the price for all of our sins. WOW! Isn’t that just too wonderful?

Let’s look at that some more and try to fully understand this truly wonderful Good News:

We are liberated:

Romans 8:2 declares that the law of the Spirit of life flows through Jesus Christ to us as His followers and we are set free (liberated) from the law of sin and death.

Because Jesus has paid the price:

Jesus was sent in human form (in the likeness of a sinful man) to identify with human weakness and as an offering for sin (Romans 8:3b).

Jesus personally carried the sins of the world in His body upon the cross, that is our past sin, any present sin and any sins we may commit in the future. They are ALL covered because Jesus willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for us! Jesus’ great sacrifice has made us dead to sin, which means that we are immune from the penalty of our sins, and we are no longer held with the power of sin. With Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we can live a life of righteousness. Jesus’ body was beaten, whipped and wounded so that we can declare: ‘by Jesus’ stripes we are healed!’ (1 Peter 2:24).

When Jesus becomes our Lord and Saviour we can hold to the following promises:

  • No longer live a life according to our flesh chasing after worldly things
  • Live our lives guided by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit
  • Have a brand-new mindset which brings us life and peace
  • we have spiritual wellbeing because we walk with God
  • The Spirit of God empowers our lives and directs and guides us
  • The Spirit we receive is one of full acceptance, we are adopted as God’s children because we receive the Spirit of complete sonship which means that we are God’s consecrated children! (see Romans 8:4, 6b, 9, 15 &16)

Forgive others

Because we have received God’s grace and complete forgiveness we’re required to forgive others. God can, and wants to, enable us to forgive; to let go of all of the emotions and strongholds; and to leave that place of imprisonment behind!

We can be truly set free!

Forgiveness may not change the person we’ve forgiven. But The power of forgiveness sets us free! When we forgive the person who hurt us they no longer have any power over us, we’re out of that prison cell and we NEVER have to go back!!

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.

We have to fight for our freedom every step of the way.

We have to deny that part of us that wants vengeance.

It’s going to be tough BUT the reward is freedom!

The reward is walking in right relationship with God which will put us in a place where we can receive all the healing balm we need!

“The question isn’t how much forgiveness do they deserve. The question is, how much freedom do you desire?” Pastor Steven Furtick

Here is my prayer:

Lord Jesus, You came to bring the Good News and I ask You to come and comfort my broken heart. Lord whatever is binding me I ask to be set free because You came so that the captives could be released. Lord whatever is imprisoning me I ask for You to release me because You came so that the prisoners could be freed (Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:21).

Lord Jesus I believe that you personally carried the sins of the world in Your body upon the cross, that is my past sin, any present sin and any sins I may commit in the future. Thank You that they are ALL covered because Jesus You willingly offered Yourself as a sacrifice for me! Jesus Your great sacrifice has made me dead to sin, which means that I’m immune from the penalty of my sins, and I’m no longer held with the power of sin. With Jesus as my Lord and Saviour I can live a life of righteousness. Jesus’ body was beaten, whipped and wounded so that I can declare: ‘by Jesus’ stripes I AM healed!’ (1 Peter 2:24).

Because Jesus is my Lord and Saviour I no longer live a life according to my flesh I will no longer chase after worldly things; I will live my life guided by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit; I have a brand-new mindset which brings life and peace; I have spiritual wellbeing because I now walk with God; the Spirit of God empowers my life, leading directing and guiding me; I have received the  Spirit of full acceptance which means that I’m adopted (through Christ Jesus) as God’s child, I receive the Spirit of complete sonship which means that I’m God’s consecrated child! (Romans 8:4, 6b, 9, 15 &16).

I desire to walk in the abundant life that you promise (John 10:10). In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.

Many blessings, Keona

The Pursuit of Sheer Silence 

At the recent Day of Prayer event Anne, the guest speaker, mentioned the need to be in sheer silence before the Lord. She was sharing with us from 1 Kings 19, here is the verse that talks about that moment:

“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12 (NLT)

That moment is also described as:

“a still small voice” (KJV)

“the sound of a gentle blowing” (AMP)

“gentle breeze” (CEV)

“quiet, subdued voice” (CJB)

“soft whisper of a voice” (GNB)

I was absolutely fascinated by the term: sheer silence and decided to research it some more, here’s what I’ve found:

“..experts in Hebrew say that this phrase in its original form doesn’t refer to audible noise, but means something like “God was in the sound of sheer silence.” In this place of contemplation, quiet, stillness – a meditative state – God encouraged a tired, heartbroken, and freaked out Elijah, and told him what to do next. (The writer encourages us to) Listen for God; make yourself available to his instruction and presence; get silent. Remove yourself from the all the crazy stuff that happens around you. Forget about your schedule, the dishes in the sink, the shows on Netflix, the problems at work… and just be still. Silent. Focused. Relaxed. Inhale. Exhale. He is waiting.” An extract from: pktfuel by Liz

“It is in the sheer silence that God gives Elijah’s life purpose once again.” An extract from an article written by Laura Aase

Dictionary.com defines sheer as: unmixed with anything else. Synonyms include: complete, pure, no if ands or buts.

Dictionary.com defines silence as: the absence of any sound or noise; stillness; the state of being or the fact of being silent; muteness; concealment; secrecy. Synonyms include: hush and quiet.

Fears and distractions are silenced

I wonder in that mountaintop moment if the silence was directed to Elijah’s fears? Was God telling his fears to be silent? Because I’ve found that in order to listen I need my fears to be silent; in order to be obedient and move forward I need my fears to be silent; when fears are silenced then I can fully listen and embrace direction and instructions from God. In order to listen I need to be in a place where I’m not distracted, I need to stop long enough to hear. So that I can hear the pure voice of God I cannot be in a place of distraction and bound by crippling fear.

As I reflected upon that a desire to pursue great courage ignited and I decided I wanted an end to fear in my life. Unfortunately, fear had plagued my life from an early age and for the things I’m being called to I want radical instant obedience and great courage. In the pursuit of sheer silence I planned a trip to my parent’s shack in the central highlands. I wanted to take myself to a place where I could switch off from all potential distractions and listen. When I first started planning it and talking about it I felt like it was going to be such an exciting adventure but then a few days later, in the early hours of the morning, my heart was racked with fear. My mind raced through the all possibilities that could go wrong. As I laid in bed wrestling with those paralysing thoughts I knew what I needed to do….. surrender it to God; I reminded myself: ‘you’re being called there for a divine reason’; and I asked God to prepare me for the journey.  I wanted to experience the complete and pure voice of God. I wanted to steady and still myself long enough to hear. In the busyness of trying to prepare my first book to first draft stage I didn’t want to get so caught up that and miss what God is wanting to say. I chose to embrace courage and boldness!

My prayer:

I pray that the eyes of my heart, the very centre and core of my being, will be enlightened and flooded with the light of the Holy Spirit. I want to know and cherish the hope that has been granted to me. I want to fully understand the divine guarantee given to me by Jesus. I wait with confident expectation to receive the riches of His glorious inheritance, which is available to all the saints (God’s people). How my spirit longs to embrace the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His active spiritual power, which is extended to all who believe. Oh to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power, extended to those who believe in Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. How I long to serve Him in accordance with the working of His mighty strength!  Ephesians 1:18-19 AMP & NLT paraphrased

You Make Me Brave playlist:

In preparation I made a playlist to remind me of the call and to tell my fears to be silent. For the days leading up I played this over and over and praised God for granting me the courage to go.

  1. I Am Not Alone – Kari Jobe 2. Undone – Kim Walker-Smith
  2. Take Courage – Bethel & Kristene Dimarco 4. Shepherd – Bethel & Amanda Cook
  3. On My Side – Kim Walker-Smith 6. Brave Surrender – Kim Walker-Smith
  4. Confident – Steffany Gretzinger 8. New Wine – Hillsong
  5. You Are Good – C3 10. Be Still – Steffany Gretzinger
  6. God Who Moves the Mountains – Corey Voss 12. Victory in Jesus – Maranatha! Music
  7. No Longer Slaves – Bethel & Jonathan David Helser
  8. You Make Me Brave – Bethel

Hinds Feet

In my teens I was given a copy of Hinds Feet On High Places and I was so enthralled with the story. As I read a desire grew within me and I longed to leave my timid-weak-much-afraid nature behind and grasp a whole new bold and brave identity. Recently, in my early 40s, I rediscovered the story when I purchased Hinds Feet On High Places – An Engaging Visual Journey. As I journeyed once again through the story the desire to be bold and brave ignited again. I pressed into God to leave fear behind once and for all. I felt inspired that in my own high place, the central highlands, I could go and build my very own altar for God. I desired to find a place to lay down my fear but also my hopes and dreams because I don’t want to make any move forward that doesn’t have God’s blessing.

I created some prayers; I made a wooden cross with the words ‘Jesus my redeemer’ cut out in red plastic; and created a playlist. My first full day was filled with snow, wind and some rain which meant that it was too wet and cold to venture out. I prayed that the next day would bring me a small opportunity to stroll to the water’s edge. In faith I set my alarm for 6am so that I could have breakfast and walk down to watch the sunrise. But the second morning I was awake at 3:20am and unable to sleep. I spent some time reading in bed before I got up to have some breakfast, then I worked more on my book. Around 6.30am I walked down to the water and it was a crisp morning but thankfully there was no rain, snow falling or strong winds. I found a spot where I thought the sun would rise behind the cross and set up my altar. I put my music on and watched as the sky changed. It was a truly stunning display of colours and I smiled as I snapped picture after picture trying to capture the moment. I was mesmerized as I watched the sky explode with orange and gold, it felt like such a significant moment!

cross that i made

I’m reminded of what the cross represents – The Cross is not a symbol of defeat. It’s a symbol of the promise, the Crown, of hope and forgiveness and life. Ultimately the Cross is a symbol of TRIUMPH (see Colossians 2:13-15). Steven Furtick

I desired to grab hold of the following glorious promises:

He makes me as surefooted as a deer for He grants me feet like hinds’ feet. He enables me to stand on mountain heights, I can stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble. He lifts me up and sets me securely upon my high places. Psalm 18:33 (AMP & NLT paraphrased)

I now confidently know that the Sovereign Lord is my strength for He is my source of courage! He makes me as surefooted as a deer for He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds’ feet. He enables me to walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places, the places of challenge and responsibility. Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP & NLT paraphrased)

Bold Strong Courageous

As I process my time up on the mountain I realise that somewhere along the deep inner healing journey a transition took place, a desire grew where I didn’t just want to let go of the sickness, pain and grief of the past because somewhere along the way God had grown me and shown me the importance of being holy, a pursuit for sanctification had bloomed, I desire to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). As I write this I smile and see that God in His great graciousness has taken me on a journey that has been more difficult than I ever imagined but has birthed in me glorious new life!

As I reflect upon those precious days I see that God has answered my prayer and my timid-weak-much-afraid nature has been changed and I have been granted a bold-strong-greatly-courageous nature. Praise the Lord! I can now move forward to in life bold, strong and courageous because of what He has done!

My prayer:

Lord let Your pillars of truth, wisdom, love and grace be the strength that surrounds me and propels me forth.

Let Your truth rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your Holy truth lead and guide me forth. Let me live out Your great truth and speak words of truth.

Let Your wisdom rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your wisdom alone lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment in Your great wisdom and speak words of wisdom.

Let Your love rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your transforming love lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment displaying Your great love and speak words of love.

Let Your grace rule and reign in every aspect of my life. Let Your amazing grace lead and guide me forth. Let me live every moment with Your grace on display and speak words of grace.

Take my life and let it be beautiful and sweet for Thee.

Take my life and let it display Your truth, wisdom, love and grace!

An Abundance

On the way to the shack I drove past a swollen river and I felt prompted to stop on the way back and take a picture. As I drove home I was planning where I would park and I knew it would be a short walk. I arrived, parked where I planned, and as I walked I was praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to see. As I looked at the swollen river I felt that God wants me to be like that – filled to overflow, to have such an abundance that I ‘breach my boundaries’. As I stood there and prayed to receive ALL that He has for me I knew that I also wanted that for others. That I desired to see myself and others filled and ready for EVERY good work set before us! As I took the picture I realised that there was a sheep posing for me which reminded me of the Great Shepherd who so lovingly laid down His life for me! He gave everything so that we can take hold of all that He is and all that He has! Oh how truly wonderful it is to know that Jesus came to give life, life in abundance (John 10:10). I pray that together we can declare:

“You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you. Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.” Psalms 145:8 The Passion Translation

pic of river

My dear reader I pray that you’re encouraged by this, that you smile and laugh with me over the goodness of our great God. I pray that you can know, deeply know, that His faithfulness is so great, surpassing all our expectations!

Many many many blessings, Keona

Notes:

Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Printed in the United States of America.

Hinds Feet On High Places – An Engaging Visual Journey by Hannah Hurnard. Illustrated by Jill DeHaan & Rachel McNaughton. Living Expressions, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Printed in China.

Altar playlist YouTube link