Stepping Out of the Cell

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God has already given you the freedom to escape, you just need to trust Him enough to leave.

Do you live your life behind bars?

At some point in each person’s life, Satan decides to cast individuals into a prison of pain. Whether the jail cell is fashioned from sin, self doubt, or depression, Satan ensures that each captive is held in solitary confinement. Each cell is soundproof, so that the victims he holds hostage are thoroughly convinced that they are utterly alone in their suffering. The hallways in this prison are long, dark, and endless, while the only noise that passes through the silence is empty echoes of former, forgotten happiness. The air is cold and damp, making the atmosphere feel musty and uncomfortable. No matter how many times the prisoners cry out in desperation for help, Satan purposely ignores them, choosing to mock their anguish by prolonging it as much as he can. The Devil is a cruel prison warden, and he has no intention whatsoever of releasing the inhabitants held within his dungeon.

However, there is only one way to escape.

Despite the many defenses around Satan’s prison of pain, there is one Person Who is able to storm its gates without any trepidation. God alone is the only One powerful enough to bail people out of their personal torture chambers. Since Satan holds each individual hostage within the high walls of his fortress, he requires a ransom before he’ll even consider unlocking their cells. The good news is, God has already provided payment for Satan’s ransom of individual souls – that payment is the blood of His only Son, Jesus Christ. God was the Designer of the greatest master escape plan ever invented, far greater than Mission Impossible itself. It doesn’t matter if people are in need of salvation, reassurance, or hope; God is fully capable of rescuing every last soul in peril.

Yet successful escape can only be accomplished through one condition:

People must possess the will to escape.

You see, once God unlocks the door to a person’s cell, He is inviting that person to make a choice to come follow Him out. He can’t yank on his arm to make Him get up, neither can He pick him up and carry him out. The reason for this is the fact that the keys God uses to open the cell are fashioned from His grace, which can either be accepted or rejected. God gave every human being the special gift of free will, allowing man the ability to make his own decisions. You would think that the logical, reasonable thing for a person to do in this prison situation is bolt out the door as soon as he heard his cell creak open. However, sadly, there are a few reasons why he might choose to stay, trapped within painful solitary confinement:

1. Personal Pride

Yes, one of the most common reasons that people might decide to linger behind in their cell is the matter of their human ego. Whether it’s because they truly believe that they’re fine on their own, or they’re too ashamed to admit that they need help, some people tend to naturally resist God’s outstretched hand reaching for them. To ensure a successful rescue, people must prevent themselves from falling prey to Satan’s own original sin – pride. Satan would love nothing more than for his prisoners to be sincerely convinced that they don’t need God’s help at all, that they can handle their personal pain alone. Through this cleverly crafted lie, the prison bars become thicker and stronger than they ever were before. Since man is hopeless and helpless without God, trying to deny that truth makes all of his own attempts to escape from Satan’s prison become futile.

What they need to realize is, the only way to access the keys of God’s grace is through simple humility. Once people become humble enough to acknowledge that only God can save them from their pitiful condition, it is then that they can finally accept the reality of being released from Satan’s prison of pain.

2. Foreboding Fear

Another common reason that people may choose to stay behind in their cell is their fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown can be either positive or negative – people are either afraid of being happy, or they’re afraid that their pain will only get worse. It might seem strange to say that some people are afraid of being happy; however, this claim is indeed valid, as it occurs in some people’s minds daily. This is mostly because they fear that once they dare to rediscover happiness in their lives, they will only have it taken away from them all over again sooner or later. On the opposite end, people who fear the unknown are reluctant to trust God to lead them out of their personal pain, believing that their personal circumstances may never improve. Their mindset is, “Why bother trying to leave this prison cell and be happy, when it’s unattainable anyway?”

Instead of fearing the unknown, these people must believe that the only way out of Satan’s prison of pain is by trusting God enough to take His hand. Once people fully grasp and understand the eternal truth that God is good, they can finally gain the courage to follow Him out of Satan’s dark dungeons of despair.

3. Satisfying Sorrow

Finally, the most common reason of all that people might refuse to leave their cell is that they have grown complacent in their grief. Preferring to nurse their sadness over searching for God’s joy and peace, these people lie down to sleep in their cell each night upon pillows of self-pity. As strange as it sounds, these people find comfort in their calamity, making heartbreak their new home. Instead of trying to break free from Satan’s chains of misery and woe, they openly embrace the deepening shadows of sorrow that surround them, feeding their burden of brokenness. It’s not that these people don’t want to be happy again; quite the contrary – they simply have just become too comfortable in their own sorrow, accepting it as the new norm in their lives. Their emotional eyes have adjusted so much to the darkness of their circumstances, that stepping out into the light of God’s hope is enough to almost blind them.

These people can only be freed from their cell once they accept that the light of God’s hope is far more satisfying than Satan’s shadows of sorrow. Rather than wallowing in shrouds of self-pity, it is so much better for these people to wallow in the golden goodness of God’s love for them. Only then can they truly experience a renewal of happiness in their hearts and minds.

 

Here are keys from God’s Word to encourage you to step out of your cell:

 

Isaiah 42:6-7 ~ “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Luke 4:18-19 ~ “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ~ “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;”

Hebrews 2:14-15 ~ “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Psalm 91:14-15 ~ “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Psalm 118:5 ~ “I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

Isaiah 61:1 ~ “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Colossians 1:13-14 ~ “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

 

Your cell door has swung open – will you take the chance to step out?

Taking your freedom is a risk, and a very frightening one at that; but the only way to get past your fears is by remembering the One Who risked everything to give it to you. God Himself allowed His only Son Jesus to endure the worst pain possible during His time here on earth, all so you could have the freedom to live victoriously. Jesus’ death ensured that no one, not even Satan, could hold people hostage from Him, in spite of Satan’s best efforts to do so. No matter how many times Satan has slammed the cell door shut on you after throwing you into his prison of pain, you have been offered the chance to unlock it. The keys you need to accept from God are grace, trust, and faith. They are capable of unlocking the deepest, darkest dungeons in any person’s life, regardless of their individual circumstances. God is shining the bright rays of His goodness and love upon you, inviting you to join Him in the eternal sunshine of His joy and peace. The only thing holding you back at this point is your own free will, as the choice is entirely up to you. Will you take a risk at rediscovering happiness in your life? God is waiting earnestly for you, wanting you to experience healing in your life. Will you leave the prison of pain behind for good? Will you step out of your cell?

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Easter Is Not “The End.”

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Jesus will always be there for us on the road of life.

The Lord Jesus came back to life on the third day, but the story doesn’t end there.

When most people celebrate Easter each year, they usually tend to focus on the climax of our Savior’s sacrifice, namely His death and subsequent resurrection. However, the rest of the story sometimes gets unintentionally overlooked, the part where Jesus spends a short period of time walking on Earth in His new body. After Jesus arose from the tomb, He walked alongside His disciples on Emmaus road, and also visited some of His faithful followers inside their homes for food and fellowship.

The purpose for Him doing this was not only to provide living proof of His glorious miracle, but also to show His followers that He still cared about them and loved them very much. You see, from a human perspective, it would seem that the first thing Jesus would want to do is go back to Heaven immediately, after He had endured so much suffering here on Earth. Yet our Savior was the very Portrait of unselfishness as He went out of His way to spend time with those He loved before He ascended into the golden clouds of Heaven.

Why is this part of the Easter story so important to remember?

While it may be easy to see the latter part of the Easter story as less exciting, there are many meaningful lessons to be derived from our Lord’s final chapter on Earth. When I think about this part of the story, the first thing it reminds me of is how much Jesus loves us. He certainly didn’t have to stay behind and spend extra time with people, but He chose to because He loved them. He could have decided to leave for Heaven immediately, letting His followers believe the miracle of His resurrection by faith alone; but He wanted to show up in person before their very eyes to make their faith whole and complete.

The next thing this part of the story reminds me of is how the Lord desires to comfort us. When Jesus walked and talked with His disciples and other followers after His resurrection, He was calming their hearts from the fear they had of the Jewish leaders. Jesus knew that His followers would undoubtedly face persecution for their faith in Him, and wanted to assure them that any future attacks on their faith should not dissuade or discourage them. The disciples and other followers of Jesus would have felt absolutely helpless against the world without the loving, comforting words they received from Him.

The last thing this part of the story reminds me of is how the miracle of Easter continued to give people hope even after the Lord’s resurrection. When Jesus visited His disciples and followers, He encouraged them by telling them that the story wasn’t over yet. He let them know that another Comforter would come to them, the Holy Spirit, and that someday He would return again a second time as King of the whole Earth. Even more exciting news for His followers was the fact that after Jesus’ second coming, they would all ascend up into Heaven to live with Him for all eternity.

For Christians, the Easter story continues to go on every day in their hearts.

When I was younger, I used to be sad the day after Easter, thinking that because the official holiday was over, that meant we could no longer celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. However, now that I am older, I have realized that Christians NEVER have to stop celebrating Easter; in fact, they should be celebrating it EVERY DAY! You see, the Lord IS risen. That is a present state of being. Yes, He arose from the grave over 2,000 years ago, but He is still alive! Because He is still alive today, and sitting at God’s right hand in Heaven, Christians should ALWAYS have a cause to rejoice and be glad in their hearts! The story of Jesus’ Easter miracle is eternal, and those who know Him in their hearts will always have a reason to celebrate it, because He conquered the grave by coming back to life! What a wonderful thought it is to meditate upon! The Lord Jesus Christ provided a way for us to have eternal life through His temporary death on the cross. Because of His sacrifice, those who believe on Him can partake of His joy daily, and enter into eternity with a sense of fulfillment for their existence.

How can we continue to celebrate Easter after the official day is over?

There are many ways to continue celebrating Easter as a Christian, and not surprisingly they aren’t that different than what Christians should be doing to worship God daily. The best way to celebrate Easter every day is by offering praise and thanks to God for all that He has done for us. Specifically, we should thank Him for the amazing sacrifice of unconditional love that His Son Jesus performed on the cross for our sake. The more we show God our constant appreciation of His love for us, the more He will be inclined to show it to us more apparently each day. Also, another way to honor Easter in your heart every day is by simply remembering the events of Jesus’ loving sacrifice. The more you ponder upon the details of His journey on earth and all He endured to secure your eternal life, the more you will feel grateful to Him. Place yourself back in time over 2,000 years ago on the morning that Jesus Christ arose – imagine that you are one of His disciples, eagerly anticipating His imminent resurrection. Once you fully consider all of the circumstances surrounding the miracle of Easter, you will experience the great joy that the disciples felt when they ran to the tomb and found it empty!

What does the rest of the Easter story mean for us today?

The miracle of Easter provides eternal hope for mankind, ensuring that God is powerful enough to save us from spiritual death. After Jesus Christ ascended up into Heaven, His disciples were watching Him with their eyes lifted up to the clouds in the sky. Immediately after Jesus’ ascension, an angel appeared to them and commanded that they get busy doing the Lord’s work to further His eternal kingdom of reconciled souls. In the same way, we should also be busy today, doing our best to give the world an example of Christ’s love. While we should celebrate the miracle of Easter every day in our hearts, we should also be looking forward to eternity, and possess a sense of urgency about the countless lost souls that are at stake. When the Lord does eventually return, He should be able to find us diligent in His service, spreading the truth of the gospel and winning souls back to Him. We are not to forget about Christ’s return, but instead be eagerly awaiting Him when He decides to appear in the clouds of Heaven.

 

Here are the Lord’s own Words and promises to help us celebrate Easter every day:

 

Luke 24: 13-32 “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

“And he said unto them, ‘What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?’ And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, ‘Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?’ And he said unto them, ‘What things?’ And they said unto him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

“‘But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.’

“Then he said unto them, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

“And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?'”

John 14:1-3 ~ “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

John 14:16-18 ~ “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Matthew 16:27 ~ “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 24:30-31 ~ “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Matthew 28:6 ~ “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Acts 1:9-11 ~ “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven.'”

Psalm 51:12 ~ “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

 

In the meantime, while Jesus is physically in Heaven, He is always with us spiritually.

 

Just as Jesus surprised His disciples by walking with them on the Emmaus road, He is always desiring to walk with us on our journey down the road of life. Whenever we need His help, He is there to guide us and also to comfort us. His Holy Spirit lives within the hearts of those who believe on Him, so that they are never alone under any circumstances. Jesus was more than willing to teach His followers more about Him as they walked together, and He is also happy to teach us too, answering our questions about life’s tricky twists and turns. The Lord certainly has not left us comfortless, as He stated in His Word: He gave us His Holy Spirit, His Word, and the privilege of constant communication with His Father in Heaven through prayer.

Jesus is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and He will always be there for us no matter what, as He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. While we serve Him each day, we can look forward to His glorious return in the golden clouds of Heaven. If you do not know Him today, I sincerely encourage you to meet Him today – He is waiting for you on the top of a hill along the road of life, lovingly reaching out His hand for you to join Him so you can walk together. Will you accept His invitation of eternal fellowship by asking Him to come into your heart and save you? The Savior is waiting for you, calling you by name to come follow Him before the sun sets and eternity begins.

– Gloria D. Hopkins