Reading our title, did you happen to think of the highest grossing war film of 1963 featuring Steve McQueen or did it cause you to consider the thrilling escape acts of the spectacular Harry Houdini? Perhaps it stirred images of the greatest escapes from prison like those of John Dillinger, Yoshie Shiratori, or those from Alcatraz island? I recently found this –
He has a thousand ways to set you free!”
Psalms 130:8 TPT
Imagine there being 1,000 ways to be set free?! THAT is a great escape! Greater than any movie, magician or fugitive.
Pause. Think of your life right now, right where you are, and the ways that you are bound up, tied up, enslaved. Or handcuffed like Houdini.
Go on. List all you can think of. When you run out of things to list, would you have ammased more than 1,000? I doubt it.
Now select just one of those you listed. How many different ways can you think of to get free from it? Can you come up with 1,000 ways to get free from just one thing holding you captive? Can you imagine 1,000 ways to get out of those handcuffs, get free from that prison or out of that POW camp?
A great escape is possible. Here’s what preceeds the promise of 1,000 ways to be set free-
…keep hoping, keep trusting, and keep waiting for the Lord, for he is tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. He has a thousand ways to set you free!“
Psalm 130:8 TPT
The secret to our great escape from fear, sin, pride, anger, debt, loss, you name it, is to keep on hoping, keep on trusting in and keep on waiting for the Lord, always looking for his kind escape and our freedom. Hoping to see his tenderheartedness show up on our behalf and waiting on his perfectly fit key to our freedom.
You gotta be on the lookout, he has 1,000 ways to set you free, so they are all around you. Without faith filled hope and trust tho’, your wait can be miserable and your freedom in jeaporady. But as you trust in him, look to him, and wait patiently on him and his way to come into view, your freedom will come. You will be free when you follow his way out of your handcuffs.
I like what Thomas Jefferson said,
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
Papers of Thomas Jefferson; Founders online
Your knot is the Lord. At the end of your rope, find him and hang on tightly to him. Allow him to speak to your heart and mind and listen to what he says. Follow his leadings and in doing so, you will find yourself like those POW’s in the movie, walking free from the Stalag Luftill, or like Houdini- not drowning in that Chinese water torture cell, or like those who escaped the solitary and desolate island of Alcatraz – FREE!
Your great escape surrounds you in thousands of ways. See them with His eyes.
Keep on waiting, trusting and hoping in the Lord and I promise you, your very own great escape.
Great Magicians list
Harry Houdini Biography, Biography.com Editors
Prison Breakouts; Oxford Castle & Prison.com, Top 10 Prison Escapes
As we continue from last time, (see “Jude,Things are Really Bad” post) let’s first recap byt stating that Jude was addressing the morally unrestrained teachings that had found their way into the church and his society. His clarion call was for believers to vigorously contend for the faith that was delivered to them by the Apostles. We found last time, that when believers do so, they can take a sad situation and make it better. Jude’s next vital message to us could be summarized with, “Let’s not forget”.
Forget what? Let’s take a look.
“I need to remind you of this.” verses 4-7
The Lord saved his people out of Egypt, but destroyed the unbelievers.
Even the angels who left their assigned authority were judged & sentenced.
Sodom & Gomorrah’s sexually immoral society was consumed in the fires of judgment.
While living in the midst of the kinkiest of perversions known to mankind, Jude reminds us that judgment has and will continue to come upon such practices. Jehovah is a just God who will always deliver the believer in Him but that same justice must judge unrighteousness. No one is exempt, not angels or humans.
“I need to remind you about blasphemers.” verses 8-10
They are sensual dreamers
They corrupt and pollute the natural realm
They reject spiritual realms of governmental power
They scoff at heavenly things
They insult all that they don’t understand
They behave like animals, doing whatever they feel like doing
They live by animal instincts
How terrible it is for them
Again, Jude calls out what he sees in society without backing down. Blunt. Categorical. Plainspoken. The false ideologies and practices of the ungodly mock at, and reject spiritual truths while indulging in sensuality, and all forms of self satisfaction and gratification.
They have followed– verse 11-
The steps of Cain
Three Old Testament rebels who lead many astray are given as examples of what will happen to the blashemers. Each of them and their followers were destroyed by God’s judgment.
In Cain we see the picture of man offering to God the fruit of his own works rather than the faith in God’s blood sacrifice. Balaam shows us a spiritual man who was motivated by money and financial gain. Korah led a rebellion against the leadership of Moses. These three did as they pleased, just like this current generation. They suffered God’s judgment, just like every generation will.
Jude offers one last note regarding the things we should not forget, pertaining to the false teachers and ideologies of the day.
The dangers of false teachers/teachings – verses 12-13
They are hidden reefs – their disguised teachings will shipwreck lives, churches and societies
They are clouds without rain, swept along by winds– they show the promise of refreshing & growth but are empty and influenced by evil spirits
They are fruitless trees in autum– looking good and productive on the ourside, but when fruit is needed, there is none. They are twice dead – on the inside and the outside.
They are wild waves, bringing only stormy seas of shame to the people they impact
They are wandering stars – all they give is misleading advice
These are brilliantly, vivid metaphors revealing the absolute futility of false teachings. They offer us no hope, are empty, deceitful, and deadly. They were in Jude’s day, they are in ours.
Jude’s admonition is that the false teachings of unbridled sexual fantacies and lifestyles, will, indeed be judged. verses14-16
He repeats the idea of certain judgment coming to:
those who are ungoldly
the ungodly, blasphemers
those who follow sinful, selfish pursuits
seductive flatters who manipulate others
In these few verses, Jude warns us all that perverted, sensual ideas and lifestyles are nothing new. They have been around for generations. He reminds us that in the midst of such depravity, God is always looking for the righeous and will reward them for their faith in Him. He reminds us that judgment is coming for all, and he reminds us that the ungodly will, in justice will be judged.
Would you look around you, look for hidden reefs, waterless clouds, fruitless trees, wild waves, and wandering stars. They surround us. The are dangerous and deadly. Don’t be fooled. They are loudmouthed, and seductive, and they will manipulate you, your ideas, and your faith.
Their scoffing at spiritual things and brute beast instincts will lead them the way of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. In the end their unrepentant lifestyles will lead them to be swallowed up by God’s judgment.
In these days, we, each, must distinguish truth from lies.
We may be surrounded by the ungodly, but let’s not forget the truth of God’s Word.
It was 1968. John Lennon was facing divorce, the upsetting of his family, (lil’ Julian was 5), and a turbulant time within the Beatles, when his song-writing partner, Paul McCartney penned the song, “Hey Jude”. In an attempt to help Julian deal with this terrible situation of divorce, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy for him, Paul wrote, “don’t make it bad.” In like manner, Jude, the author of the short New Testament book that bears his name wrote, addressing a terrible situation, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy, his words resounded, things are really bad.
What was it that so alarmed Jude to write his 25 verse book? What was it that caused him to change his plans from writing about one topic to a totally unplanned one? What caused this basically unknown, half-brother of Jesus, and once unbeliever in his brother’s claims, to have drastically changed his song? Why was he now blasting that things are really bad?
His chorus could have echoed that of the Beatles. His song’s emphasis was, take this sad situation and make it better. Don’t be afraid. Go out and get it. Both Jude & McCartney’s writings carry very similiar messages, in but very different situations.
Jude’s alarm was at the libertine (morally unrestrained) teachers in the society and in the church. These false teachers believed that God’s grace gave them the freedom to do whatever they pleased – especially pertaining to money and sex. Their sensual ideas had crept into the church’s thinking and the societal structure and had not only perverted the grace of Jesus but denied Him altogether. Their ideas, Jude knew, have consequences.
This was a really bad situation for the first century folks. False teachings that promoted outrageous, sexually perverted lifestyles was being mainlined as part of the doctrine of grace, taught by Jesus and the apostles. Folks were falling for these ideas of unbridled sex and lust to the point of disavowing the truth of what they had been taught about “the faith that was delivered to them”. Jude knew these ideas had consequences.
So Jude wrote, take this bad situation and make it better. (better, better, better … :-))
He reminded those in the faith to fight for it, not let it slip away or be stripped down to powerless and shallow human urges.
Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed…, ungodly people…, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality, and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jude 3-4 ESV
By Jude using the term “the faith”, he was referring to the already established body of truth, set down by the Apostles and widely taught by and circulating through the early church. Ideas and teachings not in alignment with THAT body of truth were considered false teaching and the teachers, false teachers.
Those who parted from that body of truth, were considered “apostates” – fallen away from the truth. Apostasy is defined as “a defiance of an established system of authority; a rebellion; a breach of faith.” (Greek word, “apostasia”) Apostates twist the truth.
The worst forms of wickedness consist in perversions of the truth”
What Jude saw as really bad, was the apostasy, (the falling away from the truth of the faith) that was caused by these false ideas, that were influencing the church. Jude isn’t alone in his view. Every New Testament book (except Philemon) has warnings about false teachings. Why? Because ideas have consequences.
Satan came to Adam and Eve with an idea. The idea isn’t the problem, it is the action that is taken in response to that idea that can be. Ideas have consequences.
Notice that Jude didn’t have much to say about what these false teachers were actually teaching. What he was concerned about was how they were living. What we hear is not the issue until it becomes part of our lifestyle, ingrained in our action, then the fruit shows.
What Jude was compelled to do was call the people of faith to rise up, to remember what they had been taught and committed their lives to, and fight to see those truths stand. Fight against opposition that would seek to destroy those truths. Stand for truth in the face of outrageous, sexual practices seeking to influence the church and society. Speak up for truth when false ideas are spewed. Get in the ring, be involved with, and take a stand for truth and against false teachings of the faith.
Jude was telling people of faith, things are really bad. Let’s take this sad situation and make it better. (better, better, better…)
I can think of no more revelant message for today than this.
People of faith, we must contend for the faith once delivered to us. We must stand for truth, and that is the truth of God’s Word. In our churches, temples, and synagogues and out of them, we must contend for the faith, and not be sidetracked by false ideas. We must no longer give ground to the libertines denouncing Jesus and the faith.
Things may be really bad, but as we contend for the faith we can make this sad song better.
Na, na, na na-na-na-na….. Hey Jude! We’re with you.
NOTE- because this book (of Jude) has burned into my bones and spirit, and I believe there is no more relevant book for us today, I will be spending more time in it. So, for the next ?# blogs, we will be in Jude. It’s only 25 verses, you might want to read it again, soon.
Repost from Sunday sermon 6.26.21, because this is so vital right now. 5.6.23
I remember times in my life when I decidedly committed myself to being a true contender. Bear with me as I list some:
Young softball pitcher
16 year old female table tennis champion
Award winning French Horn student
Honors college student
Ace volleyball server
In each of these stages, my focus, energy, effort, thoughts and time was (mostly) willingly given to improving, becoming stronger, better, more accurate and fluid in what I was contending for.
Training, discipline, and a long term goal, pushed aside laziness, discouragement and cheap talk. I was purposed to contend and be the best I could in an effort to win the prize.
If you’re looking to be a contender, your daily decisions are what put you on the road to that prize, not your words.
Contenders and pretenders look alike on the surface, but it is their actions that set them apart.
Pretenders take the path of least resistance, while contenders take disciplined training and overcome. There’s no achieving that championship belt by sitting quietly and watching others in the ring.
Pretenders allow laziness to take over and then the comfort zone anchors them in.
Here’s why it matters, whether you are a contender or pretender…
“… I felt the need to challenge you to vigorously defend and contend for the beliefs that we cherish.”
Judah, was Jesus’ half brother and it is he that is speaking here. He was writing to the early believers because he wanted to challenge them to contend for the things that Jesus had taught them. Fight for them, for their truth, for their preeminence, for their validity. He was calling them to be contenders for the faith not pretenders.
No words of the Bible could be any truer today. Judah is calling to us, to remind us to contend for the beliefs we cherish, not become lazy and allow them to slip from our minds, lives, and national awareness.
Contend, with the same discipline as an athlete, for Christian beliefs that are under attack. Focus on them, exercise with them, spur with others- as an athlete and true contender for the faith, not just some lazy “Christian”.
Here is a quick list I made of Christian messages that are under attack:
God as creator
All are created equal and in God’s image
God loves all mankind
The Bible is his word and divinely inspired
The inerrancy of the bible
There is truth and there is absolute truth
There is life after death lived in heaven or hell for everyone
Right and wrong
Power and freedom come from God not government
Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman
The church is God’s institution designed to execute God’s will on earth
Life begins at conception
Male and female
We are told to contend for these beliefs! Judah tells us to vigorously defend these!
What are we doing Christians?
We cannot allow the influences of this society to sweep away these beliefs that we cherish!
Think too about the values and beliefs brought to this nation by our founding fathers. We must not let them slip or be retaught guised in lies. This is serious.
As you know, if you’re a regular reader/follower, I have mad respect for the Bible. For in it, we find truths for our life. Some are obvious, (like “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”), and others are in less familiar stories and characters. Esther is one of those characters of the Old Testament that is moderately familiar. She’s no match for Moses or Abraham, but can run neck and neck with Deborah and Miriam. You will be amazed at the alarming similiarities between her day and our day.
The Book of Esther is hidden away in the Old Testament, in the mix with Ezra, Nehemiah, and Job – books not easily or often found. It is a history book and covers the Persian Empire 460 BC – 350 BC. It is included as part of the Jewish collection known as the Five Megilloth, which were books read publically at their feasts. Esther was read at the Feast of Purim.
Through the years, some scholars have argued that Esther should not be included in the Canon of scripture because no where in the book is God even mentioned; which seems like a perfect place to start when comparing today with Esther’s day, doesn’t it?
In a day and hour when the mention of God is ridiculed, and often violently protested, we see God’s soverign plan over a nation take preeminence over the best laid plans of evil men -just as it was in Esther’s day with evil Haman. You can see it too today. The main emphasis in Esther is God’s soverign plan and His care for His people. The exact same thing can be said for today in America. God may be unseen, but His providence is not.
Let’s look closely at the similiarities I see. (You can follow these in the book of Esther, the chapter numbers listed.)
1. Men/women – man/wife rules, war on the patriarchy.
The Persian King, Ahasuerus or Xerxes demonstrated a prideful display of his prosperity by throwing a banquet that lasted 180 days. During this feast each man was allowed to do as he desired. Drunk Xerxes called for his queen, and she refused his drunken order. This was a threat to the patriarchy for if she dishonored her husband, then all the women of the kingdom would follow suit. Xerxes orderd that, every man be master of his own household. The queen was removed.
This war with the patriarchy is going on now and the truth of God’s Word where a man and woman shall live together as one has been twisted and perverted.
2. Eunuchs grooming women.
The King had in his leadership cabinet, seven eunuch’s, who are named by name in Esther chapter 2. These were men who were actually casterated. Even the word used in the Hebrew means, “to casterate, a valet, a minister of the state.” (H5631) These seven were charged with grooming women to be the next queen. Esther was one of many, and she did become queen.
Do you see the similiarities? Do you see men attempting to groom women, fashion them, change them. Change the way we see women, define women, treat women. Physically altered men, “mansplaining” what a women is?
3. The spirit of Haman is released.
Haman, the evil guy we mentioned earlier, wanted to destroy all of God’s people. Literally. His authority was established and everyone had to submit to it. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai did not, however and this ticked off Haman. Learning Mordecai was a Jew, Haman’s plot was set. He told the King there was “no profit in tolerating them” and they should be ” destroyed, killed and annhilated.” This was publicized (the bible’s words, not mine), and the territory was in confusion.
In a speech a few weeks ago, I heard our President say some very disparaging things about “white, Christian, nationalists”. I turned to my husband and said, “I am white, a Christian and I love America, I guess that’s me.” I beleive the spirit of Haman has been released upon our nation (and world) with the same claim, there is not profit in tolerating them. Hasn’t it even been publicized? Will there be an order to destroy, kill and annhiliate folks like me?
4. The call to arise.
In this confusion the Jews mourn, Mordecai mourns and Esther, who is now the Queen is notified. She is asked to approach the King on behalf of her people, and beg for a stay of execution. Her uncle told her that just maybe that is why she has become Queen, for this very reason. She was fearful, and called for a three-day fast. Men, women, children and animals were to fast and pray and beseech God for His mercy.
Under a similiar edict of death and destruction of the values of our nation, we have been called to arise, to seek in prayer and fasting God’s help for our nation and it’s evil unraveling. To see the bedrock values of faith and freedom restored, and for righteousness to again lift up this nation. Not evil, violence, lies, darkness, and hatred. Let’s pray more than ever.
5. The stage is set.
Esther uses a brilliant, God-given strategy to expose Haman’s evil plot.
God is setting the stage right now by putting people in the right places with the right strategies to expose the evil plots intended to harm, destroy and kill God’s purposes.
6. Delayed Honor
In the face of death threats, Mordecai’s good deed done years before, was honored and rewarded by the King.
No good deed will go unnoticed or unrewarded by God when the time is right. It may look like evil, but God is turning it for good.
The very gallows that Haman had built to hang Mordecai on were where he was hanged by the King’s men, when Esther revealed his evil plot of destruction for God’s people. Mordecai was promoted.
The evil plans to destroy Christians and their weak faith, will backfire on those espousing it. They will find themselves destroyed because God will turn their evil plans back on their own heads. Sorry. (not sorry)
8. The decree to defend selves.
Although the law publicized to annhiliate the Jews could not be changed, the King gave his signet ring to Mordecai and allowed he and Esther to write a new law that would allow the Jews to defend themselves on their day of destruction. The king allowed them to “write as you please.”
The day will come, when the government leaders will rewrite the perverted, evil laws, and all believers will have the freedom to freely defend themselves against all evil plans, words, charges, and accusations.
9. Victory achieved.
The very day set for the Jewish annhiliation was the day that the Jews “gained mastery over those who hated them.” Mordecai became more powerful and Purim was instituted.
That day is coming, my friend. Not for the Jews again, but for believers and others who have had the government trying to master them, retrain them, strip them of their values, and our country of it’s freedoms. Those who seek to master us “white, Christian, nationalists”, will themselves be Mastered by The Master. Victory will come only through Jesus, we will always remember and celebrate that.
10. Recorded for posterity.
Chapter 10 of Esther is only 3 verses long. What more can be said? Basically, Mordecai is the hero, and there are many other books that tell his accomplishments, his love for his people, his country, and the peace that came upon all.
Those who cling to the Word and plan of God are heros. Those who walk in faith, prayer and fasting are heros. Those who plead God’s case before the King of Kings are heros. Those who trust God in the midst of dark, confusing times are heros.
I understand that this is a different blog and format, but it is so important for our day. These truths so resonated in my heart that I felt compelled to share them with whoever will read and listen. These days are dark, but as you can see, they are not without God’s light shining through. He may not be mentioned but His plan of reversal is rolling ahead. Even if we cannot see Him, He is working.
Our focus must remain on Him and not the confusing, evil tactics of the dark. We are in a spiritual warfare. An evil Haman spirit has been unleashed, but “greater is He in you than he who’s in the world.” Remember that, we win, reversal is on it’s way.
We’ve seen the similiarities between our day and Esther’s.
The celebration of Easter is more than a marketing gimmick for eggs, candy, baskets and new spring clothing. And it is infinately more than a cultural mix of pagan and Christian practices passed on through the ages. In fact, whether or not you even celebrate Easter, or believe in the empty tomb, for us all, Easter seals our deal.
There are many reasons why, in my view, Easter matters. My favorites are:
The life and death of Jesus Christ split time in two. BC/before Christ, now called BCE/before the commom era and AD now called CE/the common era.
Jesus lived a life that has demonstrated Him to be the world’s greatest influencer because
He has had the greatest influence on literature. More literature, through every age, has featured Him than any other historical figure
He has had the greatest influence on music and the arts. Through all cultures, genres, and periods no one has been the focus of or influenced more innovation in music or its lyrics and the arts than Jesus Christ.
There would be no higher education without Christ’s influence. Jesus followers formed the schools and libraries of history that have spread and become some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Science is dominated by Christians who have pursued discovery, exploration, and investigation. Nearly every field of science has been affected by Christian thinkers.
Other spiritual leaders have used and modified Jesus’ teachings. Hinduism, Krisna, Buddhism, etc.
Such things as these indicate to us that what happened on that Sunday morning, over 2,000 years ago matters, and is still making a difference today. I would like to submit to you that in fact, not only does Easter matter, but Easter literally seals your deal.
History has documented the accounts of Jesus Christ’s life, His brutal murder, and yes, His empty tomb. Actually, there are so many documents and accounts of Jesus’ life and death, that an accurate picture can be reconstructed without using the New Testament accounts.
As a review, here’s what we know about His death:
He was beated by Roman soldiers
He was flogged
He was spit on, slapped, and whipped
A silver, plated crown was stuck into His head
A makeshift robe was placed on His bloddied back and shoulders
A staff was given Him as a pretend scepter
He was mocked, harassed, and laughed at
The robe, crown and staff were taken away
His blood loss was great
He carried the cross bar of His cross until he fell under it’s weight
His outstretched hands were nailed to the beam
His feet were nailed
A sign was placed over His head, “The King of the Jews”
The cross was erected and Jesus struggled to breathe
He breathed His last breath
There was an earthquake
The was darkness for 3 hours
The 4 inch tapestry/veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom
His side was pierced, releasing blood and water – a sign of death
His dead body was taken off the cross
It was wrapped in grave clothes and laid in a tomb
A stone was rolled to cover the entrance
The stone was sealed with the Roman seal
Guards were placed in front of it to guard it
On Sunday morning, the tomb was empty
Jesus was crucified and He died, but after three days in the tomb, He was alive. He was seen by the disciples, and over 500 other people are documented as having seen Jesus. This was not a mass hallucination. The Roman soldiers had only three days earlier validated His death.
The Roman seal on the tomb is not what sealed your deal, this next part is though.
You’ll remember, that in Jerusalem at this time they were celebrating the Feast of Passover. It was a week long festival that featured the retelling and remembering of the Great Passover in Egypt, which led to Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Because the lamb’s blood was applied to the door frames of homes, the death angel passed over during the 10th plague – the death of the forstborn.
On Passover, it was the blood of a lamb that was celebrated as the Jews remembered their bitter slavery and hardship. That blood, their ticket to life and release from Pharaoh. That lamb, they were to eat, along with unleavened bread as they prepared to travel towards their freedom.
It is that blood, my friend, that seals our deal.
For the Old Testament law was clear that only though the blood would there be atonement. The animal sacrifices of the temples, as cruel or gory as they may seem to us, were the way for man to find forgiveness and redemption. It was through the blood that man was put right with God. Those that participated in such offerings were forgiven.
The principle of atonement through the blood was God’s idea from before the beginning of time. Scripture tells us that Jesus was the Lamb slain, before the foundation of the world. Rev. 13:8 All along, God had Jesus, the Lamb in mind. Jesus’ blood, the atonement for all mankind to be brought back into relationship with God, fully forgiven, accepted and wonderfully loved.
THAT my friend, is what sealed your deal.
When Jesus, the Lamb of God, died on that cross and spilt His blood, it was to pay the price for our redemption. There could be no remission of sins without the blood of the Lamd, and so Jesus willingly gave it. He gave His life, His blood to pay for our deal – our relationship with God. What a deal!!
Not only did He, by His death seal our deal for forgiveness, but by His resurrection, He sealed our deal for victory over death and hell. Because He came out of that grave, He triumphed over death, thus providing for us every key that we need for victory in this life.
Like I said, what a deal??!!!
There may be one who says, I don’t believe that, I won’t accept those claims. That is your prerogative. But that in no way negates it’s truth. Truth does not need your validation to be true. Theses things are true, no matter who or what wrestles with it.
Just like the one in Jesus’ circle of disciples who chose not to believe in Him, there will be those. But for those that do believe, there is eternal life, daily hope, peace, forgiveness, passion, purpose, and overcoming power. There is a whole book full of truth to devour, guide you, and stand upon. There are centuries of other believers who have gone before you and many more who will come after you.
Jesus the Lamb, sealed your deal. Easter sealed your deal.The best deal you could ever have.