"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners"… Isaiah 61:1-2
When my family and I lived in North Carolina I went with a church on a mission trip several years every December to a remote area in West Virginia. I met some amazing people I will never forget. In fact there was a little girl who was ten when I met her, and she just married June second. We have actually kept in touch all these years. Yes, there was poverty and lack of formal education, but they did have a lot of attributes money can’t buy, and an education taught from living life rather than reading books. I always left with a longing in my heart to have what many of these families did have. They were quite self sufficient, hardworking, and loved each other. There was no pretension. They were so genuine and possessed an innocence I greatly admired from not being in the world and all its negative influences.They were sincerely grateful and content with so little material possessions. They had not adopted the value system of this world, and they had an awareness of God in their lives that came from being surrounded in the natural beauty He had given them. Relying on Someone bigger than themselves was not a struggle for them. Their way of life required a dependency on God as the farmer’s life does. Many live off the precious land they own and rely on God’s natural provision. It reminded me of my own childhood in many ways from growing up on a small farm that enabled us to be self-sufficient from the marketing world. We too as a family recognized our reliance on God.
When I would make this journey I desperately wanted to represent our Lord in an effective way. They could quickly discern any kind of hypocrisy or lack of sincerity. A lot of these folks did not lack Godly wisdom and discernment.
As I was praying early one morning before beginning our day the Lord led me to these verses in Isaiah. How meaningful and assuring they were as I was about to go out as His ambassador, or representative, to these precious people.
Isaiah was written long before we saw the fulfillment of these verses. (740-680 BC) As we now have the New Testament we can read of the fulfillment of every prophecy as we observe Jesus’ life on this earth, including the resurrection and ascension. But what He was speaking to me personally through the Holy Spirit was I had the same Spirit upon me to do the same as His Son, my Lord and Savior. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. I heard both through the Word and the Spirit which sealed me for the day. I walked out that morning to face the day in complete faith I could do all He revealed through His word by the anointing of the Holy Spirit living inside me.
I was to bring good news to the afflicted. The good news is all about the Son of God who came to save all sinners from the eternal just judgement of a Holy God. This Holy God loved each one of us that much and takes us just as we are. We have to come as we are with all our sin. We were born into sin. But through Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, we can all experience cleansing and healing from our sins and other’s sins that have broken our hearts. He came for the poor, the afflicted, the crushed in spirit, the prisoners, and all who are held captive by addictions that have made us prisoners to bad choices that have been repeated over and over till it takes control of our lives. Many are bound by chains we cannot see, but He sees.The blood of Jesus has the power to break every chain!
The most powerful force in existence is the love of God. His love is greater than any forces of evil that might be holding you captive. He knows. No one else may know about your captivity, but He does. Nothing is hidden from God Almighty. This is a good thing that should give us hope. He will take us as we are. We can’t clean ourselves up. We must have access to someone or something much greater than ourselves. Isn’t that pretty obvious to all, as we observe what is happening at this moment in our world?
God has proclaimed the good news in the Bible. It is not just a book. It is alive! It cannot be academically read only. You must have the Holy Spirit to reveal the mysteries and truths it holds within. The good news is it holds all the answers to any problem you can possibly encounter.
God does bind up the brokenhearted. He did that through the love of Jesus while on this earth, but now it is our responsibility to comfort with the comfort we have been confronted with as it tells us In 1 Corinthians chapter one. I was very much a broken woman the years I was going on this mission trip. I was living in the healing presence of the Holy Spirit and His Word just for daily survival. I was living in a family totally being destroyed before my eyes with no control over any of the choices being made. It sounds like a terrible place to be, and it was in the natural realm, but what I gleaned in the spirit realm was worth it all. God used it for my good, because I gained Christ Jesus through it all in a way I could never have experienced otherwise. He could never be my all in all, which I had prayed often, until all was taken, and He was all I had.
I can honestly proclaim with Paul in Philippians 3:7-14:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Friends, we cannot change the past, but we have that opportunity everyday to change our future. Let us resolve within ourselves to these same verses. I know they are true. I clinged to them daily, and because of that I was able to share the Word of God with all I encountered on the mission trip and truly be a light in darkness when my own world was very dark and painful, full of rejection and betrayal. We will all experience these times in life. We must not allow them to rob us of our purpose and calling which is to follow Jesus’ example He left while on this earth. Our reward is far greater than the suffering we endure here. It enables us to know Him, the power of the resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. He bottles every tear. He never leaves us or forsakes us in the midst of our sufferings, whether it be from our choices, or from other’s choices. Seek Him with all your heart and you will open up a door for the love of God to fill you as you have never known. His love is far superior to what man or woman has to offer.
We can bind up the brokenhearted as we have allowed Him to bind up our broken hearts. It is what qualifies us to be His ambassadors. We can show others how to be set free from chains we cannot see, as we have allowed Him to reveal truth to us concerning our own sins and strongholds. Then we impart what we have allowed Him to impart to us. We are to care for the prisoners. God wants to reach those who are truly in prison. If we can’t go to them we can support the ministries who do. We can do shoe boxes for the children of prisoners with Franklin Graham, or Chuck Coulson’s Prison Fellowship. There are many ministries to support. If you are truly a disciple of Christ everyday we should be living as a missionary because that is what we are according to Isaiah 61. As I continued to read on that morning in verse four I read:
"Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations."
I loved this verse as it gave me hope for my own family and the families we encountered in West Virginia. The Bible is clear in Romans 5:19:
"For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."
We know from scripture this is referring to Adam’s disobedience which is why we were born with a sin nature. There was no knowledge of evil till he and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil they had been forbidden to eat from. Then because of Jesus’ decision of obedience in the garden of Gethsemane we all can be saved. Now let’s apply this to our lives.
When one chooses in a family to rebel against God often their example affects others to do the same, especially during the teenage years. Your choices at that age will affect the whole family. Even more devastation comes when a father who is the head of the home chooses new values leaving his Christian faith behind. Certainly a mother has a tremendous influence over the children as she is more closely observed by being in the home more often. Our bad choices also affect our friends. Jesus told us He sanctified Himself for our sakes, and we must do the same. I close with His words to the Father:
"Sanctify them in truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. "
May we allow God to sanctify us as we sift our lives through His Word on a daily basis, so we might fulfill the great commission to go and make disciples beginning with our own families.
In His love.
Pictures of the butterfly enjoying my marigolds was taken on my deck this week on a perfect sunny afternoon! Gifts from above money can’t buy. Always grateful for eyes to see.