From the minister's desk
First, let’s understand and believe that Jesus has set us free from the bondage of sin. Isa.61:1-3 Once set free one must learn how to stay free as well as how to not enter into sin again. “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage and sin.” Gal.5:1 Sin always carries the power to make slaves. When sin is let in the door, it has the capacity to take over. Eph.5:26-27… For a time, it is something we do and if left unchecked it becomes something that does us and will then undo us.
Beware of the enslaving and destructive power of sin, especially pride and greed. Peter tells us in 2Pt.2:10-18… of the destructiveness of some sins. To teach and understand this point, one may find it useful to differentiate between outward expressions of sin and the inner character traits that drive them. This passage lists slander (2:10-12), the absence of self-control (2:13-14), a love of money (2:15-16), and sexual immorality (2:14, 18) as outward expressions of sinful behavior. Each of these can be enslaving in its own way, but the root causes of these behaviors are pride and greed. Failing to address these root causes will render futile any efforts with these outward expressions of sin.
Continue to make every effort to display and participate in the divine nature and so demonstrate the genuine nature of your faith and avoid the fate of so easily falling back into sin. Read, understand and apply 1Peter1:3-11 in your life so that you can make sure your salvation.
Recognize character traits and qualities of sin and avoid them. One identifies sin on the basis that what God said in His word. But recognizing character traits of pride and greed as well as the outward expressions of pride and greed can also help in identifying other sins. Helping people who are confused by what sin is starts with having them look into the word of God for answers.
As we study “How to Survive Pharaoh’s Prison,” let’s consider ourselves and how we might be our own prison. Be aware that you have been freed from the bondage or prison of sin and make every effort not to return, but if you do, be assured that the word of the Lord can bail you out and keep you out if you stay in it!
Another practical lesson that everyone regardless of age or status in life can benefit from if understood. Though many of us may not enter an actual brick and mortar prison with bars, razor wire and armed guards, everyone will experience a prison situation or mentality. Prison is defined as a state of confinement or captivity; a place of confinement, detention, isolation, custody. Whether one is in an actual prison or think they are, both can be devastating and corrosive to one’s mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
The idea and understanding of being in a physical prison are easier seen and understood than the mental and spiritual. One is physically locked up, confined, detained, isolated from main society and in the custody of a system. There are bars, guards and fencing to keep one contained. They are in prison because they are guilty or there was a miscarriage of justice.
A mental prison is where one confines or isolates themselves in a certain situation or circumstance. An individual may see their relationships, jobs, finances or way of life as a prison. This represents a prisoner without bars. Most of the times, we create our own prisons or imprison ourselves. Just like we lock ourselves in we can let ourselves out! Examples: We decide who we want to talk to, associate with, help or let help us. Then when they don’t respond the way we want or think they should we become angry, discouraged, disappointed and even go into seclusion/isolation. Someone does something to us we don’t like or is not right. We get angry, try to get back at them instead of forgiving them and when we can’t, it discourages us, we become bitter and carries a grudge the rest of our lives. We do this to ourselves even when we know the truth that frees us! We become ‘a prisoner without bars.’ Solomon writes, “don’t say I will do so to him as he has done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” Prov.24:29 One can free themselves from their own self-imprisonment once recognized and a desire to be free manifests itself.
A spiritual imprisonment is allowing the flesh to influence the spirit. “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to the other; so that you cannot do the things that you would.” Gal.5:16-17 Our spirit needs spiritual food and guidance to contend with the flesh and its desires. If the flesh is allowed to be the stronger, the spirit will suffer. Knowing that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” as Jesus said, our spirit man wants to do as the Spirit of God wants, but if the weak flesh has more influence over our decisions and desires that our spirit does, the spirit will lose. One can free themselves from spiritual self-imprisonment by listening to and obeying God. If one cannot get out or escape, being aware and striving to survive can help. Survive- continue to exist in spite of danger/hardship; pull through, hold on/out.’ The Lord can make a way for one to maintain in situations beyond one’s control.
When you have a conversation or encounter with the Lord, what would your answers or responses be to the questions He has asked already? Every time you read his word, your bible and come across a question He asked, how do or would you respond?
“If you only love them that love you, what reward do you have?” ______________________________________________
“If you only speak to those who speak to you, isn’t that what the world does?”______________________________________________
“Don’t you understand that whatever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart and they defile the man.”______________________________________________
“Whom do you think or say to others that I am?” ______________________________________________
“Where did you get that from?” __________________________________________
“What are you giving or giving up in exchange for your soul?”______________________________________________
“I have said that you are gods and all of you are children of the Most High. Can’t you believe that I am the Son of God?” ____________________________________
“I am the resurrection and the life; he that lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” __________________________________________________
“I left my home above for you, what have you left for me?”______________________________________________
“I gave my life for you, what have you given for me?”______________________________________________
“I agonized and suffered much for you, have you suffered anything for me?” ______________________________________________
“I brought you salvation full and free, what have you brought to me?” ______________________________________________
By and by, when this life is over, “we must all stand before the judgment of Christ and give account of things done in this body, whether they be good or bad.” When that time comes will your answers or responses cause you to hear “well done thy good and faithful servant” or “depart from me, I never knew you?” You can answer and respond correctly while getting ready to meet the Lord at judgment. Obey Him now!
“Examine your own selves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Don’t you know that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates?” 2Cor.13:5
Reprobate means ‘to reject as unworthy, unacceptable or evil. To refuse to accept or reject, not standing a test, depraved or condemned.’ Who wants to be this or seen as this? So, we are told to examine our own selves. Many ignore or avoid examining themselves for fear of what they might find. There may be too many things, people or
places they may have to give up. Not many will say outright that they reject or refuse to accept Jesus, but many do it in their actions and attitudes. I want to help us ‘avoid being castaway’ as reprobates or rejects by Christ.
Life is too short, and eternity is too long to miss this “great salvation” offered unto us in our time. Our time is now, and we are told to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil.” Eph.5:15-16 We ought not ‘ignore or avoid God.’
As we study the subject, “Still Fleeing to Tarshish” the focus is to help us ‘stop running from our God given responsibilities’ and trying to ‘ignore or avoid God.’
Read Psalm 139:1-15... Believe it and you will stop trying to ‘run from, avoid or ignore God.’ Our God is ‘omnipresent’ meaning He is everywhere all the time. Our God is ‘omniscient’ meaning He knows everything about everything and everyone! Our God is ‘omnipotent’ meaning all powerful, having unlimited power and authority. Who in their right mind after learning this and believing it would even think about running from the Lord, ignore Him or try to avoid Him? We know better! Let’s do better for the Lord’s sake and ours.
Jesus tells us not to run from him or avoid him, but to “come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt.11:28-30 What a loving Savior. Why would anyone try to avoid, ignore or run away from Him? Where else could you go? He is the one who has eternal life. Let us not end up being castaway because of our rejection of Christ, disobedience to God and fleeing to Satan.
After the fall of Adam and Eve and Cain killing Abel, God blessed Adam and Eve with Seth who begat a son Enosh. “For God has appointed another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain killed. And to Seth was a son born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” Gen.4:25-26 Adam, Eve and Cain received God’s grace- unmerited favor, as He allowed them to live on. Now there is a godly seed (Seth) and the evil seed (Cain) multiplying the earth. We are the result of this population and the end is nearer now.
The corruption of mankind reached its highest point when even the difference between the Sethites and the Cainites became obliterated by intermarriages between the two parties and from sensual motives. We read that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." At that time the earth must have been populated in great measure and its state is thus described, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." This means more than the total corruption of our nature as we should now describe it and refers to the universal prevalence of the open, daring sin and rebellion against God brought about when the separation between the Sethites and the Cainites ceased. We can see the open, willful, daring sin and rebellion against God in our lifetime. We need God’s grace!
There was none in that generation "to call upon the name of Jehovah,” except Noah. Can you see how even in our generation, when parents do not continue in the word of the Lord, nor teach their children how generation after generation can grow up not having God in their lives and become evil continually? This also explains how we end up with few in a family obeying God and many are not. Why are you in Christ and many others in your family are not?
"In those days there were 'giants' (in Hebrew: Nephilim) in the earth … the same were the mighty men (or heroes) which were of old, the men of renown." Properly speaking, these Nephilim were "men of violence," or tyrants. In short, it was a period of violence, of might against right, of rapine, lust, and universal unbelief of the promise. With the virtual extinction of the Sethite faith and worship, no further hope remained, and that generation required to be wholly swept away in judgment. Right now, we see in our society and government the violence, might against right and a universal distortion of what Christ came and died for.
"But Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah." Noah was of Seth’s seed. "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation." The Hebrew word ‘perfect’ implies, ‘spiritually upright, genuine, inwardly entire and complete, one whose heart had a single aim’ and lastly, "Noah walked with God." We have God’s grace. It is sufficient for us if we accepted it and live in it.
“God’s grace that brings salvation has appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age.” Tit.2:11-12