Liberation in a Time of Captivity
Evangel Tabernacle | On 28, Feb 2019
By: Michelle Lao / 24 February 19
Key Text: Micah 7:7-8 Amplified Bible (AMP)
God Is the Source of Salvation and Light
7 But as for me, I will look expectantly for the LORD and with confidence in Him I will keep watch;
I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
8 Do not rejoice over me [amid my tragedies], O my enemy!
Though I fall, I will rise;
Though I sit in the darkness [of distress], the LORD is a light for me.
In the darkness, we wait. We wait with confident expectation- for God is our Light. Though we fall we are certain that we will rise because God is the source of our Salvation.
When Pastor Lily first announced that 2019 is a year of RELEASE for the church I pondered hard. I asked myself how come instead of experiencing RELEASE I’m experiencing CAPTIVITY.
Since November the storm had been raging on and on in the area of our finance. Business problems continued to come, we are pressed on every side, one blow after another and all we can do for now is to sit in the darkness and wait.
But then as I was pondering a thought came to me- I told myself LIBERATION can only come if I have been in some sort of CAPTIVITY isn’t it? I can experience liberation AFTER I’m released from a certain period or a kind of captivity correct? Clearly, my initial conclusion was that liberation comes AFTER captivity –for example, prisoners being released from jail after completing their sentence of 10 years.
But as I reflected more deeply I realized that liberation cannot only come AFTER captivity. We can also have liberation even DURING and WHILE in CAPTIVITY.
This morning, I would like to share a message entitled LIBERATION IN A TIME OF CAPTIVITY. I’ll talk about how I found my liberation by PRAYING and how I was led to the secret place because of my captivity.
Also, I’ll use the example of Daniel on how prayer liberated him on 2 occasions which are: (1) His prayer liberated him WHILE he was in captivity and (2) His prayer liberated his nation FROM captivity.
Prayer can clothe us with the spirit of liberation even in our period of captivity and this captivity will lead us closest to God if we LOOK UP to Him and GO DOWN ON OUR KNEES in prayer.
We can ENDURE in this WAITING ROOM OF CONFINEMENT and I dare to say that we can certainly find liberation if we run to the inner chamber of God, to His throne of grace in prayer.
When David got in the valley in Ps 23, he stopped talking ABOUT God and he started talking TO God. In the valley, do what Jesus did in his darkest hour in Gethsemane. He prayed “Abba, Father,” and invites us to do the same.
Are you in some kind of captivity right now? A prolonged place of JOB-LIKE SUFFERING where you seem stuck and you don’t know what to do and how to proceed anymore? Are you in a place where all options are non-options, where all options are all bad options and as days become months the bleaker it gets?
If you are in this place where you cannot return nor advance and you are just directed to WAIT and ENDURE in the meantime –then you are in a condition I call as CAPTIVITY this morning.
Our KEY TEXT talks about how we should stick around to see what God will do. To not give up. To LOOK ALONE to the Lord in prayer with eyes of faith. To WAIT for God to make things right. To count on Him to listen to our cries for God has an ear to hear when His people cry. And as He is OUR LIGHT He is the only one who can TURN ON the light as we sit in darkness.
The Cambridge Definition of CAPTIVITY is the situation which a person or animal is kept somewhere and is not allowed to leave. Among the many considerations why animals are bred in captivity is the fact that some animals would probably not survive if they are released into the wild. In animal captivity, these animals are provided with the CORRECT ENVIRONMENT for their survival. It may NOT be the IDEAL ENVIRONMENT but the CORRECT ONE in the meantime.
Let me cite an example of BIBLICAL CAPTIVITY where the captive thrived while in captivity.
Daniel together with thousands of his countrymen had been deported to a foreign land after Judah was conquered. He was a teenager when he was taken into exile, where he was trained in the service of the court. He served for 70 years in a foreign land that was HOSTILE to God, yet he did not compromise his faith in God. Clearly this was far from being an IDEAL ENVIRONMENT but Daniel dealt with it CORRECTLY.
What will you do when you find yourself like Daniel –in your Babylon or in your LAND OF HOSTILITY and you feel that you have been stuck in there for such a prolonged time already? Will you give in, will you give up? Are you going to just wither in your spirit and die of grief or are you going to be relentless in prayer like Daniel so that you can enlarge your capacity to endure?
HOW DANIEL’S PRAYER LIBERATED HIM WHILE IN CAPTIVITY
Daniel 6:10 The Message (MSG)
10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.
Here, we can see that PRAYER was the CORE of Daniel’s life in captivity. The decree had just been signed and posted and it is about not allowing anyone to pray except to the king yet Daniel still continued to pray to God 3 times a day as he had always done.
What does the phrase “AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE” imply about DANIEL’S PRAYER LIFE? I’d like to cite 3 things: First, Daniel had a fixed schedule, second, a prepared place and third, proper posture before God.
Daniel had a FIXED SCHEDULE for he prays to God 3 times a day. It means that he had a very DISCIPLINED prayer life and his prayers are UNINTERRUPTED by anyone or anything. He actively comes before God everyday and he is deliberate in his intentions to pray. He doesn’t pray only if he is free but he frees himself from his busy schedule to pray.
Our highest calling is not preaching, teaching, visitation but it is intimacy and communion with the Father and this life of grace with God entirely depends on the amount of time that we are willing to give God.
Next, is to have a PREPARED PLACE, a PHYSICAL PLACE for prayer and it is also to prepare ourselves SPIRITUALLY before our meeting with God.
Daniel had a prepared place to pray in his house, a physical place intended for prayer, a private place with no distraction. Matt 6:6 says:
6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you [a]openly.
God is calling us to ENTER into a different environment, when we pray. This means that we have to shut the door first in order to enter in. Symbolically, there’s a door that separates the physical from spiritual, the outer court from the inner chamber and God wants us to SHUT THIS DOOR so that we could be as far away as possible from the physical, from what is outside, from the realm OF THE FLESH … All the noise coming from the outside, coming from ourselves must DIE DOWN so that we can meet God and HEAR Him in the stillness of our soul.
And when we have shut this door we can then enter into the REALM OF THE SPIRIT where we experience a significant SHIFT IN THE ATMOSPHERE. This is a totally different atmosphere where our needs are met and prayers are answered.
I’m just amazed on how the pronoun YOU and YOUR were used in Matt 6:6. It says, “But you, when (who prays?) YOU pray, go into (whose room?) YOUR room, and when (who should shut the door?) YOU (whose door?) YOUR DOOR, pray to (whose Father?) YOUR Father…”
What Matt. 6:6 is saying here is that prayer is about YOU and YOUR Father and YOU shutting YOUR door so that YOU can find YOUR Father in prayer and this is exactly what it means to pray intimately to our Father God in the secret place.
What door or doors do you need to shut right now that prevent you from encountering your Father in the secret place? Is the door to sexual sins wide open? Is the door to anger, unforgiveness, fear and anxiety not entirely shut? Can you see your Father in the throneroom?
To have a physical place for prayer is important but we should give a much higher emphasis on PREPARING OURSELVES SPIRITUALLY so we can discover more of this wonderful person who has given Himself so freely and completely to you and me.
When we come to Him in prayer do we come to DISCOVER and ENJOY His presence? Do we DELIGHT in His company like we do with the people we love and care about?
Ps 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. If we take delight in the Lord, open up and keep nothing back in prayer He’ll do whatever needs to be done.
I am no prayer warrior, I can’t pray with eloquence. l always run out of things to say and I get very self-conscious and tongue tied when I pray in public to tell you the truth but all I have now is the DELIGHT everytime I meet God in prayer and that’s a place to start. So let us develop this delight.
The word REWARD in Matt 6:6 can mean so many things but for me its receiving a BRAND NEW TOUCH and having BRAND NEW EYES TO SEE this SECRET PLACE as a PLACE OF SAFETY, A PLACE OF PROVISION, A PLACE OF VICTORY and most certainly a PLACE OF LIBERATION in my captivity –my hiding place of rest in the midst of unrest, my only place of joy in my deepest valley of tears.
Do you want to HIDE in the secret place where His gifts and graces are poured out to us everyday? Do you want to be sheltered from the storm that rages outside? Do you want to find light in darkness and have this mountain moving faith to live out the power of His name – that Jesus is our one and only source of LIGHT AND SALVATION in captivity?
Then dwell in His presence, make Him your habitation, sit before the Lord in the secret place and you will discover Him more.
What a REWARD indeed to receive a brand new touch and to have brand new eyes to see how prayer can give us such liberation even in captivity. Our Father had provided everything we could ever need in the secret place. Let us shut the rest of the world and pray to our Father who is unseen.
Lastly, like Daniel we should have a PROPER POSTURE before God.
In my case, it is to LOOK UP AND TO KNEEL DOWN.
In our warfare prayer last year, God told me clearly to just LOOK UP. To LOOK UP is to LOOK TO GOD not the storm, to LOOK UP is to LOOK FOR HIM in our darkness, to LOOK UP is to let our thoughts be FIXED ON GOD, our mind stayed ON HIM and not on what our condition is saying.
Daniel 9:3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
Though I feel like I’m in calvary everyday in a road that is long, uphill and winding not knowing when exactly will this end but MY spirit is liberated for I set my face toward the Lord. My situation may be holding me captive for now but I’m strengthened and liberated everytime I LOOK UP and LOOK FOR HIM in prayer.
Col 3:2 is saying that we should set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. To think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
I don’t know with you but I don’t want to take my eyes off Him because the moment I do so I’d feel afraid, defeated, lost. God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast rt? So let’s be centered on Him and not the problem. Look up.
In my case, only when I LOOK UP that my darkness is dispelled by His light. Only when I LOOK UP that I can see His grace touching me, giving me the strength to ENDURE.
The second posture is to KNEEL DOWN ON OUR KNEES in prayer which is a symbol of HUMILITY. It is praying in brokenness begging God for His MERCY AND GRACE. We cry out in desperation to God saying, “I don’t know how to help myself Lord, nobody else can, my salvation can only come from you. Have mercy on me.” I realized that I can only endure when I surrender and humble myself. I cannot endure if I remain proud.
To kneel down and to beg for mercy is a posture of HUMILITY knowing that help can ONLY come from God alone.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us to “draw near [with confidence] to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Drawing near with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need means the God who seats himself upon a throne of grace is the source of this GRACE. He means not only to give us grace but for us to personally FIND IT. The grace we find when we approach the throne of God is the kind of grace specific to our need. A grace that will enable and sustain us in our captivity.
I must confess that in this ordeal I’ve been tempted to run ahead and flap my own wings. My flesh is shouting out NOT TO WAIT for His COMMANDING SCRIPTURE anymore and just do whatever is necessary to end this suffering.
Isaiah 40:31 Amplified Bible (AMP)
But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.
As I was reading Is. 40:31 it was made clear to me that it is in W-A-I-T-I-N-G for Him that I will (1) GAIN NEW STRENGTH and (2) RENEW POWER.
In captivity, darkness surrounds us but those who wait upon God get fresh strength and rise up CLOSE TO GOD.
As I WAITED in my captivity I grew in my understanding of a word that I’ve already been using before but have such a shallow understanding of it then called GRACE Somebody said that you will truly understand grace if you are in the midst of intense suffering and I truly agree.
As I looked for Jesus in my present ordeal His grace found me and taught me ENDURANCE.
ENDURANCE was the one thing I’m certain that I don’t have before and it marvels me now on how God had squeezed out this new thing out of me.
I also found a certain kind of joy that I cannot explain. Joy in knowing that I gained new strength in waiting, joy in having a renewed understanding of the power of His grace and joy in testifying that perhaps I have never been closest to God than now in my captivity.
2 Peter 3:18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.
Spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight; we “grow” in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus and I grew by waiting in captivity. Any valley we go through – God can enter it with us – to bless us and change us and go deeper in our knowledge of Him.
Testimony on the Color Yellow …
Do you know that we can just walk into the throne room of God anytime? We have access to our Father God every moment of everyday. What makes God very sad is that because we don’t come to the throne room often enough He cannot lavish us with the love, comfort and answers to prayers that we so desperately seek.
Daniel always looked forward to meet God in prayer and this is the one thing that liberated him as a captive. His prayer.
HOW DANIEL’S PRAYER LIBERATED HIS PEOPLE FROM CAPTIVITY
As we move to Daniel Chapter 9, we are brought to a scene where Daniel was COMPELLED TO PRAY due to a GAP between a PROBLEM and a PROMISE from God that Daniel came across with from reading the book of Jeremiah.
Let’s read Daniel 9:2-3 first
2 In that first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from the book of Jeremiah the prophet that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.[a] 3 So I earnestly pleaded with the Lord God to end our captivity and send us back to our own land.[b] As I prayed, I fasted and wore rough sackcloth, and I sprinkled myself with ashes
The PROBLEM referred here was their captivity for 67 years already and Daniel with all eagerness in his heart wanted their current situation to be aligned with God’s PROMISE.
When he knew of God’s PROMISE in Jeremiah 29:10 to bring them back home as soon as 70 yrs are up Daniel stood in the gap by praying like never before.
Jeremiah 29:10 Living Bible (TLB) says:
10 The truth is this: You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised and bring you home again.
Daniel prayed GOD’S WORDS BACK AT God. Try to imagine Daniel saying: Lord YOU SAID that you’ll come, Lord YOU SAID that you will do for us all the good things you have promised and Lord YOU SAID to bring us home again. For this was what God promised them in Jeremiah 29:10.
Let your prayers be about WHAT GOD SAID and trust in His character. He is a faithful God everything that He promised will come to pass and to achieve these ends TRUST that His MEANS are always PERFECT.
However, we need to be ready for sometimes God’s wonderful plan for us is wonderful from His perspective and not according to ours. Or sometimes the road leading to His wonderful plan will require us to go thru a divine surprise, like a period of prolonged captivity in my case.
If this is so, are we going to be yielded in our spirit and persevere in prayer like Daniel?
Daniel held God to His promises in Jeremiah 29:10 that He will bring them home again and his prayer, the prayer of ONE MAN moved heaven and set free a nation.
The DANIEL PRAYER is not an everyday kind of prayer, it is praying coupled with fasting until you get an ANSWER or a RELIEF in your spirit.
Pray until you get the attention of the King. When Rizpah’s sons were hanged on the mountain along with Saul’s other heirs -she stayed at the scene of execution, guarding her sons hanging bodies night and day, good weather and bad, for between four to six months.
Rizpah did this “from the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens” (2 Samuel 21:10).
She refused to stand down not until David was persuaded to let the bones of her 2 sons be decently buried.
If you see a gap between your current situation and God’s promise to you –pray. Pray until there’s a breakthrough and peace in your spirit. The prayer of one man makes all the difference.
What yoke is upon your neck right now? What burdens are you carrying upon your shoulders?
Isaiah 10:27 King James Bible And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Isn’t this wonderful? The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Prayer brings down the presence of God and the PRESENCE OF GOD is the ANOINTING that BREAKS THE- YOKE -OFF -OUR -NECKS. T-h-i-s BREAKTHRU ANOINTING is being released when we pray. The SPIRIT OF LIBERATION is being handed to us when we enter in His presence. Do you want God to destroy the yoke that’s upon your neck right now? Pray.
Pastor James’ Prophetic Download…
Even if we are almost certain that we are in the nucleus of God’s will one thing I learned is that righteous paths can still have valleys and darkness.
God’s way of leading me to the inner chamber and teaching me to truly pay attention to the DISCIPLINE OF PRAYER was thru captivity and what a ride it had been. His M-E-A-N-S were far from what I imagined them to be but I know that He will see me thru my perfect ending.
Last Feb. 12 the night when we broke our corporate fast God spoke to me in Is. 46:13: For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future but right now.
Testimony on Broken Machine…
God said that even if we are STUCK between a ROCK and a HARD PLACE it won’t be a DEAD END because He is our hope. God can create a WAY OUT even when we seem stuck in a DEAD END SITUATION and today He wants us to know that He can RAISE our dead situations BACK to life. Aren’t we going to trust Jesus who was raised from the grave and had conquered death Himself?
He is about to do something NEW, brand new things for you and me. He will make a PATHWAY thru our wilderness, RIVERS in our desert and turn our mountains into ROADS. Do you want to go where He is leading you?
Trust that God has the perfect ending for you and me for only He can see from start to finish.
Jesus’ travail was evident in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest and in anguish He prayed more. Like Jesus, let us likewise do the same let us pray more …like never before.
Our options may be shut right now but the door to the throne room is not. It is wide open and we are all invited to come to cleave to God in prayer and intercession.