I wrote this while in Prison, and adapted since my release.
As I sit at my desk looking out the window through bars across a dry paddock. I can see birds fly freely. They fly over the prison fence and back over to the paddock. They have free will. If someone has a bird for a pet, they put the bird in the cage at night, let it out during the day. Is this bird free?
I’m reminded of the scripture, Rom 6:18 NLT.
Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
As I read that scripture and reflect on my living status, does that make me free? I may not be free physically. Spiritually I am, and that’s what Paul was talking about. He was talking bout Spiritual freedom from sin.
Jesus died on the cross to free us from the bondage of sin. We are no longer bound to sin. To be free from sin, there must be a repentance from the heart, not the head. I believe there has to be a genuine conviction from the Holy Spirit to be free from sin. When we are free from sin, I believe the desire to please God will overcome sin, because the love of God will pull you away from sinning. Look at the temptations of Jesus. When the devil tempted Jesus, He had a relationship with His Father and, He quoted scripture. If you are struggling to be free from sin, are you holding onto it in some form? From my experience, the forgiveness and healing process can be difficult. It may feel you’re going through a tug of war. You’re leaning towards sin, but you don’t want to. This is your flesh fighting against the spirit within you. The flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong. Do you feel like, when you do sin, your heart has been tighten by a vice? This is because you have disobeyed God. The spirit of God is already doing his work within you. This is the same troubles Paul had.
Rom 7:23-25 NLT –
23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Sin will always tempt us. As Christians we can overcome sin, because we have the Spirit of God within us to empower us to overcome. For me, I had to allow God to go back in my life to heal old wounds. I could fight off the temptations that came my way when God dealt with the old wounds once and for all. It is also important to live a life that brings you closer to God. You need to have a relationship with Him. I never used to, and so I struggled with sin. Once God had dealt with my past, I didn’t feel like it was a fight to spend time with Him.
I was in a dark hole for many years; I made bad choices. My life was like ground hog day. I would sin, ask God for forgiveness, then sin again. This happened for years. Then I felt a spiritual burst within me to cry out to God. A cry of repentance, asking God to forgive me. The cry came from deep within my belly. It was a deep sorrow within my heart, when my life changed. 2 Corinthians 7:10.
Now, If I do sin, my heart aches. I feel hurt because I have hurt God, and if I sin deliberately, then Jesus’ death is in vain. I’m walking in the flesh and not the Spirit. Galatians 3:4. Through this healing process, it is important to remember;
Rom 8:1-2 NLT
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Trying to fight the temptation of sin in the flesh will lead to failure. Fighting with Gods help, through the Spirit, will help you overcome the temptation. As you develop your relationship with God; spending time in prayer, fasting, and reading the bible temptation becomes easier to overcome.
When I want to write a new topic for my blog, God will tell me the week prior. Either through reading scripture, studies, a tv show or a book I am reading. This week has been slightly different. Today is Sunday afternoon, and I hadn’t felt within my heart to write anything, until only a few minutes ago. As I was sitting on the couch (sofa), I felt God say to me to be honest.
Prior to this happening, I was sharing with my wife; I have had enough of COVID-19 and everything related, being in lockdown, the restrictions in place, and not being able to go to places. As I was sharing with her, my eyes were teary. That’s when God said to me, “be honest.” I could write on pretence. That’s a lie, so this weekend sucks and I am writing on honesty.
Last night we had pre-crumbed processed chicken (I’m a chef; this isn’t something I would normally do). An hour later I had a headache still have one and felt very lethargic. I checked the ingredients and they have MSG in them. I am allergic to MSG. My body reacts to it. I get severe headaches; I get lethargic, irritable and pain in my guts. It is an unpleasant experience. When I feel like this, noises affect me. So much so, when my wife types on the keyboard, the noise of that sound echoes in my ears like a loud drum.
I was told for many years struggling while in leadership is a sign of spiritual weakness. For many years, I used to lie in relation to my feelings and emotions. As an adult, the emotions and feelings I bottled up came to the surface, just like a can of coke has been opened after someone shook it.
We are experiencing a pandemic. It has affected us in different ways. The stresses related to this pandemic are mind blowing. It has taken hold of people, mentally, emotionally, physically, Spiritually, financially, and in relationships. I have heard people try to keep it together. It’s ok to not be ok. God made us with emotions and feelings. We live in a sinful world and things are going to happen, life will have struggles. God knows this. When you have gone through hurt or life struggles, it’s ok to feel the emotion, hurt. When you are feeling unhappy or frustrated, it’s ok. It is how we handle those feelings that are important. We can feel emotion and react negatively, or we can react positively.
I have learned, being honest with yourself, recognising your struggles, and sitting in them is the first step to giving them over to God. God knows everything anyway, When you verbalise how you are feeling, it brings freedom. The truth breaks darkness. It comes to the light and the devil can’t use that against you, although, he can try. The power is saying it out loud to God.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
This is a continuation from my past blog, Blessed are you when men hate you.
Jesus is saying rejoice when you are living a life for my sake, when people hate you, when you’re mocked and excluded. Be happy amid persecution. Again, naturally this seems impossible; Spiritually its possible. I can write about this because I have gone through it. Even when my wife and I are going through persecution, the first thing we do is pray, and prayer turns into rejoicing for what He is doing in our lives. When I spend time with God, my heart rejoices and my heart rejoices because I know God is in control.
I rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. He is my strength and Rock. I pray that in all circumstances; God is your Rock, you learn to lean on Him, and be joyful in the middle of persecution.
Rejoicing through persecution is difficult to do. It’s letting go of everything you are. You’re losing your rights to who you are, your emotions, thoughts, actions, beliefs, and you are allowing the Holy Spirit to be in control of your life. I can hear someone ask, how can that be? Why would you not defend yourself for something that someone has done to me?
I’m reminded of when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what he was about to confront was going to be difficult. He said, “thy will be done”. He was prepared to go through the persecution for His Father and trust Him. Even though Jesus asked God for the cup to pass over, Jesus could have called on the Angels or God to rescue Him. He didn’t! This is what we need to do, we need to work through our persecutions, rejoice in God, and allow God to do His work no matter how much it hurts. It is difficult.
You will know when you have reached a place of joy when you can rejoice in all circumstances, because you have a peace in your heart, and you are allowing God to do His work. You may not see it straight away. God will not take back His promises, and no matter the circumstances, you need to put yourself into His hands. Those who trust in God, God will fight for you. Exodus 14:14.
I remember when I played sport; I received an award. Some work places reward their staff with bonuses and have a work break up to say thank you for a job well done. In this scripture; Jesus said that our reward is in heaven. We will not see it straight away; we will see it when we meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus. How good is that; the reward is everlasting and it will be forever.
Walking in the path of Jesus is no easy feat. Being persecuted isn’t easy. I have spoken about letting go in this blog and in other blogs. It requires us to relent from everything about us; who I am, my ambitions, my thoughts, feelings, emotions and those I am close too. The prophets of the Old testament relented from who they are. They spoke what God told them to speak; they had an obligation to speak the very thoughts of God. Hebrews 11:36-40 states they were tortured, faced jeers, they received a flogging, put in chains, fled to caves, imprisoned, put to death by stoning, sawed in two, and killed by the sword. We need to do what God has called us to do, and that’s to share the name of Jesus with no fear, and live a life that God has called us to.
John 14:27 I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. NLT
Everywhere I look, I struggle to see any peace at all. If I watch the news, it is about COVID-19, or a near attempt of kidnapping, murders. Society was already in a mess. I feel it has become worse since the world has been in a pandemic, and in lock down.
Being in lock down isn’t easy. Not being able to travel or go out somewhere at night, being told how to live, feeling like your being dictated too, has put a toll on families. Domestic violence has risen. I have heard too many stories about couples arguing constantly. Then you have families separating or getting a divorce. People are going insane, depression is at a new high, suicide has risen, people have lost their jobs, houses and financial stability. There is also the feeling of loneliness and you may worry about a loved one that you’re not able to visit.
I’m no expert, but it seems all these factors influence our mental state. All you have to do is watch the news and read articles to see the effect of COVID-19. You may have gone through what I have mentioned. The question I ask; where are you finding your peace through this pandemic?
You may ask; how can I find peace through all this? The good thing is Jesus left us with the gift of peace, the peace of mind and heart. It is a peace the world cannot give.
It has taken me a few years to understand the peace Jesus was talking about. God taught me His peace while I was on bail and in prison. If I am struggling, I give it to God. The only way I know I have given it to God is when I feel a peace within my heart.
I have found the following areas have been helpful.
The very first thing I do is pray. I do this to rely on God first rather than man. In the past, prayer was always my last resort. I used to rely on man and man can let each other down, whereas God won’t. In the beginning, we may not like the answers God gives. He knows what we need, and I know from experience, answers will come, and peace will flow through you.
Jesus spent time with His Father in prayer Mark 6:46, and therefore it is important for us to pray. I never used to pray, and when I was alone on bail, all I could do was pray. So I prayed and prayed. It was a struggle at first, because I felt all alone, and I didn’t feel like God was answering any of my prayers. It was through my consistency that I saw break through. I learned to pray through all circumstances, good times and bad times. Jesus taught this in Luke 18:1-7.
Now that I am married, I pray with my wife before we go to bed. We also pray when one of us is struggling, and to give thanks to God for what He is doing in our lives. The saying is, ‘if you pray together, then you stay together’. I believe this is so true. Praying as a married couple strengthens the relationship. It is bringing God into the relationship; the third cord, bringing each other to Himself, to each other, and giving each other over to God.
Read your bible:
2Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. NLT.
A Pastor I used to be under always said to me, “if you don’t read your bible then your walk with God will diminish”.
I never used to believe him. How naïve I used to be! Scripture has changed my life in so many ways; it has convicted me, corrected me, it has shown me how good God is. It has equipped me to fight off the devil, encouraged me, and brought peace into situations.
That last one has been significant over the years. There have been many times when I looked at my circumstances, especially when I was in prison and felt no peace until I read my bible and spent time with God.
As I shared previously, my wife and I read together. I find it encouraging reading scripture together. Again, it brings us closer together and to God. It makes us spiritually stronger as a couple. It also helps us to unite as one.
I’m reminded of Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. NLT.
If you want a change in your life; physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, change in circumstances, I recommend reading your bible. If you have a desire to read, but you are struggling to start, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you or show you why you are struggling. I have had struggles to read my bible. I would ask God, why am I feeling like this? My breakthrough started when I would read a verse at a time. For me, those verses spoke to my heart and God healed me. As I did this. I wanted to know more about scripture. I got a hunger for scripture, so I meditated on scripture, which leads me to the next point.
Many Christians I have come across think meditation is of the devil. God created meditation, and it is how we meditate that is important. I meditate on the word of God, or how good God is. Sometimes I meditate on what He has done for me, which leads to me being thankful to God. When I used to suffer with severe anxiety, I was taught to recognise the anxiety, and then focus on my body, every nerve cell, and feel what my body was doing. What I did was include God into it. I would thank God for creating me in His image, thank Him for creating every nerve, cell and molecule. I will close my eyes and be present with what my body is doing and give thanks to God. It has been amazing how the Holy Spirit moved through me as I did this. Mediation becomes a problem when you try to empty your mind and you exclude God.
One of the most important ways to meditate is on the word of God.
Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. NIV
I have read this passage many times. I never really understood this passage until I practiced it. Reading scripture and studying it is important to me. It brings me life, draws me closer to God, strengthens my relationship with Him, and gives me the TOOLS to defeat the devil. Ephesians 6 speaks about putting on the full armour of God. Verse 17 talks about taking the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Another words use it like a sword in battle.
You may wonder how can communication bring peace. Communication is like uploading your emotions and feelings to someone. You’re not holding onto them anymore. If they are negative, it can bring destruction into your life. Who said you only have to share your negative feelings and emotions?
When I used to live alone, I would talk to God as if He was in the room. I would tell Him how my day was going, my frustrations, hurts, my breakthroughs, and my joys. I would even ask Him to explain situations I didn’t understand. Sometimes I would hear Him speak, other times was through the word of God, music, a book I was reading or even the tv. For our own wellbeing, it is important to unload to someone. When I was alone, I spoke to God. I found these times helpful. It helped my stresses to dissipate. It gave me a calmness within my heart and mind.
Since being married, I now talk with my wife. I spend time with her sharing how I feel, and how my day has been. I still talk to God, and I now have someone alongside me to share with.
You can also talk with a counsellor or a mature Christian friend or mentor. Counsellors help to bring perspective into situations and give guidance to areas you may not see yourself.
Sometimes people struggle with sharing, they can either lie or tell half-truths. This action is not healthy for yourself, your partner, or your relationship with God. From experience, If I have held back from God, I seem to feel stuck in the same room. It is not until I am honest with myself and God; the door is flung open. It is not open by man but God, there is a difference.
Honesty helps to; unload the burdens you are carrying, it brings the situation into the open so it doesn’t give the devil any leeway, gives you direction, starts the healing and restoration process.
If you haven’t been honest, then it will slowly torment you from within and you won’t be able to have peace until it resolves the situation. It feels like you are carrying a heavyweight within you. It is not until you speak out that freedom will come.
Proverbs 11:3 Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. Being honest is an attribute. NLT.
Renewing the mind:
Rom 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV.
At the moment, the world is in turmoil with COVID-19. Families cannot see each other, there is no physical contact, people are dying, suicide, depression and anxiety has increased.
It is horrible, there are no words to describe what is happening right now. I know in my heart how good God is. Sometimes I have been stressed. Memories of prison has come to light. The thoughts of loneliness flood in and it causes a state of depression and anxiety.
When those times have happened, I have gone straight to scripture and prayer. If I was to allow those feelings to manifest then it can lead to darker thoughts of suicide. That is not of God. God has given all of us tools to use to be an overcomer. Mostly He sent Jesus to the Cross for us to have life. He has given us freedom through Jesus. We are overcomers and the reason I know this is that I have it living inside of me. It grows because I spend time with God; Reading, studying, meditating, prayer, allowing God to be number one in my life.
Life has many struggles, life can be difficult. Sometimes life can suck big time. I can assure you God is on your side. He is in your corner. For Him to be in your corner, you need to allow Him to be. If you allow Him to be, then you need to listen to Him, communicate with Him and use the tools He has given you. I have lived a life of many hardships. What got me through was God and allowing God to do what He needs to do in my life. It is difficult; it takes humility and trust. I can assure you, if you follow the above steps, over time you will see God stand on His promises. All it takes is a leap of faith and God will do the rest. It may not happen straight away, this is where you need to trust God and have faith.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)
Spiritual Hope . Joyful Faith . Trust in God
Trusting the Love of Jesus Christ, One Day at a Time - Psalm 13:5 NIV, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”