Freedom

Hollywood has produced many films over the years of great stories of men and women fighting tyranny for their freedom. One of the best of these tales is that of the Scottish Wars of Independence captured in Braveheart at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Although the movie is not for the faint in heart, there is a scene often used in media to rally the troops.

The Scots have all gathered to fight when they realize they are outmatched and begin to flee before the battle. Just as this occurs, William Wallace arrives on the scene and has an exchange with his fellow Scots.

William: I AM William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?

Veteran soldier: Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.

Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!

Everyone goes nuts, the army starts screaming, life returns to the men, you jump off your couch ready to go to war yourself. The Scots go on and win that battle and eventual the war.

So fast forward to 2021 and on every street corner there are people standing on soapboxes shouting at tyranny and seeking freedom from oppressors. From age to age our freedom has been under siege. For some it is from the government, for others it is a system, others still it’s a cultural battle. All of these very real and progressive situations.

Over my life, I’ve experienced many evils through the hands of others. Control, abuse, gaslighting, lies and slander. Situations where I felt locked up and put in a box with my freedoms taken away. In the dark moments and the ongoing trauma that came afterwards, my heart lead me to the words of David “I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalms 34:4).

It was in this in the absolute truth of God’s Word that revelation was illuminated to me concerning the freedom I so desperately sought. There were 3 main things that Christ revealed to me, the first was “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). There is freedom in truth. It’s not complicated, it’s not “My Truth” or “Your Truth”, its’ simply “The Truth”. God’s Word and Himself (John 14:6), is “The Truth” is not up for debate and as I understood the source of truth being God alone…freedom came.

The second thing that I was drawn to was “For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13) and “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King” (1 Peter 2:16). These both speak forth that our freedom is not to be used for our selfish ambitions but for serving and loving one another in the Fear of God with honour. Our freedom is not routed in earthly things but in the Kingdom of God. Which brings me to the last truth.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). This is the key to the whole thing, where God is present, freedom exists. The absence of Him, brings bondage. This is why Christ who had the Spirit of the Lord upon spoke “I have come proclaim the captives free, and to recovery the sight of the blind; to set at liberty the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18)

There is freedom where God’s Spirit is. God’s spirit lives in me. This tells me that my freedom, no matter what another has imposed upon me can never take my freedom because God almighty lives in ME…and where He dwells is freedom.

Today I celebrate my freedom and the Spirit of the Lord that is with me. May 21st is “Freedom Day” and I celebrate the gifts of life that come with it.

In A Snowy Pit

Would you ever run into a deep pit on a snowy day after a lion to slay it?

In 2 Samuel 23:20 and 1 Chronicles 11:22 we hear about a man – the son of a valiant warrior – who did exactly this. His name was Benaiah and these two verses show us how he valiantly served his king with all of his heart.

You and I come from a long line of valiant warriors. After all, we serve the Almighty God and His power is inside of us. So don’t be discouraged when something is trying to devour you. Run after it with the valiant strength of a warrior and slay your lion.

Names of God // Jehovah Magen

I had the chance of growing up during one of the most exciting eras for new technology, the creation of video games and consoles. The implementation of PONG in the 70’s, followed by the Atari 2600, Coleco Vision and Intellivision consoles started off the revolution. Then the next era of Nintendo, Sega, NEC SuperGrafx and NeoGeo. Eventually we got to Playstations and Xboxes, and the revolution is now infinite to the world of gaming.

In midst of this revolution was also the personal computer. Starting with the Vic20, into the Commodore 64 and eventually the Amiga the predecessor of the modern computer. Personal computers brought video gaming to whole new level. Can’t even imagine how many hours I played games in my childhood. As the creation of FPS’ with Duke Nukem and Doom appeared on the scene, they competed heavily with an era of RTS games of Dune, Age of Empires and Command & Conquer. 

It was during this time that my fascination with military conquests, armies and war began. It would be fair to say that we developed a mild addiction to AOE. It was a game with many different civilizations and military strategies. Each uniquely designed with different units and armour. It was the armour that was so cool. Particularly the shields that complemented the armour set. The styles and purposes for each type to protect in a different way always peaked my interest. So when I heard one day that God had a name as a shield, I was all over it. So today we gonna look at Jehovah Magen, God my Shield.

Let’s look at two scriptures to bring this out. Psalms 18:1-2 (NKJV) and Psalm 91:4 (NKJV)

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield (Magen), and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler (Magen);

I choose these two scriptures because they bring out something relevant. One translates the word shield and the other buckler. In the second scripture it actually says shield and buckler separately. Personally, I found this confusing so I looked into it. So when you look up the word Magen, it means “A shield; a protector; also the scaly hide of the crocodile” Scutes (scales on crocs): serve a protective function; body armour against environmental abrasions and predators.

BUCK’LER is a kind of SHIELD, or piece of defensive armor, anciently used in war. On the middle was an umbo, boss or prominence, very useful in causing stones and darts to glance off. 

A buckler differs from a shield in that a shield is carried by straps and worn on the arm whereas the buckler is held in a “fist” grip. Over time, the weapon has changed and developed regardless of whether it was held in the fist or worn on the arm. What can be said is that the buckler was small and more maneuverable as a hand-held shield for deflecting and punching blows then the larger often full body defensive shields. A buckler actual is combination piece that is used offensively as well, as it is an object that assaults your foe.

So really what does this mean, it means that God is not only a full body shield for us but he is also a smaller fist shield used in combat. They both are shields, they both serve a purpose and they are both effective weapons of war. As time has continued we have seen the evolution of bubble shields, these can completely surround us on ever side. Ultimately God is a shield to us on every side and when I pray, I like to envision myself surrounded by this impregnable defense system of the Lord. 

The Bible says Jehovah is a shield to those who walk uprightly (Proverbs 2:7), trust him (2 Samuel 22:31), and fear him (Psalm 115:11). What does this tell us? It reveals that we need to be confident with our trust in God and walk in the fear of the Lord. This is a life of faith, but as we do so we can surely know that our God is going to hedge us in on every side as we go through the storms of life. 

Another attribute of the shield we discussed was that they had an umbo in the middle of them. This was important because as the enemy sends attacks of fiery arrows, the umbo deflects them to the side. The attacks against us end up being useless duds as they fall to our feet. We have to always remember that we are in a war everyday. Sometimes, we can sure up in the fortress, but other times we are on the front lines of the battle and Jehovah Magen being our shield is a strong defense on the battlefield. It should always be remembered that not only does a shield protect, but it allows us to advance as well.

Here is how you can pray the name of Jehovah Magen. Father God, I thank you that you are my shield this day. That I can be confident knowing that you surround me, you protect me when trouble is near. When the onslaught of things come against me, my character, my family, my finances etc., I know that you are hedging me in from the enemy’s attacks. Your word says that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and I know that the weapons the enemy uses this day will deflect off your shield and fall to my feet.

Names of God // Jehovah Go’El

One of the most beloved stories of all time is that of Cinderella. I would imagine that most people can connect with the emotions of this fairy-tale. There are many renditions of this piece of literature over the years, but Ever After, is certainly my Sheri’s absolute favourite. I mean one year for her birthday, she told so many people about this film that she ended up with three copies as gifts. The story of this afterthought in life becoming royalty as the prominent love interest of the prince is overwhelming.

There are many Biblical comparisons to this adventure and many like to equate it to Esther, which certainly bears some similarities, but I think the book of Ruth captures this story of Redemption even better. It is here that we explore another name of God, Jehovah Go’el (Lord my Redeemer).

See in the book of Ruth, we have Naomi who leaves for a foreign land with her husband and two sons who die there. Many years later she returns empty handed with only the loyalty of Ruth, her daughter in-law, coming back with her. These women lost everything. Noami even tells people to start calling her Mara, meaning bitter, for this is how she viewed how the Almighty had dealt with her. Ruth was now a widowed foreigner in a strange land, left to glean leftovers of the fields to survive. A true afterthought in society, not much more than a slave, just like our Cinderella. 

Then the story shifts, Boaz comes into the picture as a foreshadowing of our God. He becomes the outcast’s Go’el. He restores the rights of another and redeems Ruth. She becomes a mother in the line of ancestors of our Saviour, Jesus. Let’s learn more of this name of Jehovah. 

The term Go’el comes from the Hebrew root word lig’ol (meaning to redeem). Go’el is a term that denotes a person who as the nearest blood relative of another is charged with the duty of restoring the rights of another, avenging his wrongs. This goes back to Leviticus 25:48-49 “48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him;”, and Numbers 5:8 “But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for the wrong must go to the Lord for the priest, in addition to the ram of the atonement with which atonement is made for him.”. [Deuteronomy 25:5-6 & Numbers 35:9-30 states additional duties of the go’el.]. Go’el’s not only redeem slaves and enact justices, but in Ruth’s case raised up a seed for her dead family who became an heir. 

Further in Isaiah 47 God references himself as the Redeemer (Go’el) of Israel. This means that he is the next of Kin blood relative with the responsibility to enact justice on those who have wronged you. In addition, it implies that one will be moving onto something greater. As we were all sold into the slavery of sin, the importance of a Go’el becomes ever so much more important. This person (Go’el) has the rights to redeem that person out of slavery. Who better fulfills this then our Saviour at the cross where he paid the price for our freedoms and made us heirs of God. Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”. and Titus 2:14 “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

Our Jehovah is a mighty Redeemer. He brings us freedom and promotion. He lifts up out of the wallows of the pains of life and the bitterness that knocks on our doors. He sees when we are wronged and defenseless. He comes in the fierce protective nature of a father and enacts justice on our behalf. We can count on it, we can take it to the bank that Jehovah won’t decline his responsibility as Go’el in our lives. He instead defends our honour by putting his name on the line for us undeserving peasants, making us of royal blood. Have you ever needed someone to stand up for you? Speak on your behalf when you had no voice, been falsely accused, or your character assassinated? You need to look no further, Jehovah Go’el in here.

Here is how we pray the name of Jehovah Go’el. I thank you Lord that you are my Redeemer this day. That you have set me free from the bondages of sin and everything that I have been captive to in my life. Free from addictions, fear, abuse, anger, unforgiveness…I thank you that you see me in my afflictions and come to my aid. That you stand up for me when no one else does. That you have made me an heir of God. I pray that you will enact justice on my behalf where injustice has prevailed. You are a good God and thank you that you are restoring to me that which was lost and providing restitution for me.

The Thing With Agendas

As we endure through 2020, each day brings new challenges. With the arrival of Covid-19, the world went into places we haven’t really seen in a hundred years since the Spanish Flu or the Bubonic Plague of the 14th century. World leaders have essentially shutdown the way people did life. Changes to every element of society, every major pillar of culture has been affected. Yes, every one, Business, Government, Entertainment, Media, Education, Family and Religion. These decisions that are being made are designed to reshape culture at a foundational level. Regardless of your opinion of Covid-19, one can not deny these impacts on our lives.

Conspiracy theories abound and time will tell if there is any validity to them. Odds are many of them will prove to be true that there was and is an agenda that is pushing this reshaping of our culture. I’m not here today to debate the many agendas that are simultaneously occurring, I might tackle those on another occasion. However, I would like to discuss something that is at the core of all these changes and that is social distancing. No matter what you think of it, there is an agenda behind it and that would be hard to deny.

Everywhere you turn we hear about it. It is the consistent theme across all metrics. It is clear that Covid-19 is virus that brings destruction on many levels. Jesus states in John 10:10 “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The thief He is speaking of is none other than the Devil. It is very easy to associate the virus with powers of evil, but often we fail to recognize that the Devil is a purposeful creature. He has an agenda, it is to steal, kill and destroy. It isn’t just about the death that Covid-19 brings, it’s beyond that, it bigger that. You can probably take a moment and start thinking about what is Satan’s agenda. The impartation of fear and moving closer to his ultimate end time plans to wipe the followers of God off this planet are some to start.

This brings me back to social distancing If the enemy is wanting to implement this throughout the earth, it certainly can’t be a good thing. John 8:44 says “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” So this statement is one that often comes up in my mind these days. It reminds me that Satan is always at conflict with God, if he has an agenda, we must conclude that it is not the same as God’s. That being said, the almighty can work all things together for our good. 

Browsing the news feeds, it is easy to determine that addictions since the inception of social distancing are on the rise. There are line ups at liquor stores, cannabis use is up, opioid use is up and pornography is booming. The decreased availability of the mild forms of addictions like sports and entertainment has led to the harder uses for people to manage their mental health. Anxiety, stress, loneliness and fear are just a few. Social distancing is creating a pandemic of it’s own, and society is about to lose an entire generation that is losing control.

So if the agenda of the enemy is to steal, kill and destroy through social distancing than God must have a different agenda. God’s desire for his creation is that of love, and intimacy that is forged through a relationship with him and others. Intimacy in relationships that comes from physical touch, social environments and just simply being in the presence of another is being destroyed before our eyes. Government officials are even recommending masks between individuals in romantic endeavors. God is a relational God. He is an intimate God and desires for intimacy with people and likewise for them with others. Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” God’s design is for us to be together, to grow in unity, to grow intimately with one another. Technology is great, but it can’t reproduce the physical touch and presence of another human being in the way that we were created.

One thing I loved about God is that he always gave us tools to help in our journey. The greatest tool he gave us was prayer. Praying together builds intimacy in our relationships. I find it amazing the statistics on how few people pray on a regular basis individually, even less pray with their families and even less pray with other believers. What is God’s agenda to cultivate intimacy in this day and age, pray. If you don’t know how, don’t worry he tells us how and we can help guide you through that. Stay connected because we will be sharing more on this in the ongoing future.

This article today is not about joining in a revolution of anti-social distancing, it is about understanding that the Devil has an agenda that he is implementing in the earth and that agenda is a lie with a plan for our destruction. God also has a plan that we grow in our relationships and intimacy with one another. What plan are you going to be a partaker in? What plan will you fulfill in your relationships with your family, friends and community?

Got questions on prayer? Need someone to pray with? Somewhere to pray? Someone to teach you how? Send us a message. Matthew 21:13 “My house shall be called the house of prayer”. Let’s help each other make his house one of prayer as we combat our distancing with intimacy.

Names of God \\ Jehovah Mephalti

The Bible is full of stories and foreshadowing of deliverance. Some of my favourites are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Daniel in the lion’s den. Samson. Gideon, Ehud and who can forget about Esther. God right from the very beginning of our fall into sin had a plan to deliver us from it at the cross. You know why? Because he is a God of Deliverance. It’s one of his names, it who He is, Jehovah Mephalti.

Jehovah Mephalti is the Lord my Deliverer. As we have been exploring the Psalm 18:2 (2 Samuel 22:2) “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer (Mephalti); My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” Mephalti is one who delivers; releases or rescues; a preserver. David was constantly being pursued by his enemies. BUT the LORD delivered him each and every time. He delivered David from Goliath, Saul, Enemy Kings, Armies and Rebellions.

One can’t talk about deliverance without speaking of Moses. The story starts with fear gripping Pharaoh, so he plotted to afflict them to keep them subdued. Exodus 1:9-11, sets the scene.

“And he (Pharaoh) said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens”

When people are afflicted, oppressed and abused it would be more than fair to say that they cry out! When we cry out to God, we are addressing Him, petitioning Jehovah to intervene. And God does intervene as he communicates this to Moses in Exodus 3:7-8, “And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…”

So God sends Moses to act on his behalf in God’s plan of deliverance. It was important to know that Israel was God’s child and he is a fierce parent when it comes to his children. So after 400 years of affliction, God shows up on the scene with this opening statement to the hardhearted ruler of the Egyptians. Exodus 4:22-23 “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”

Now this is a God who means business. We often remember the last plague that came upon the Egyptians without remembering the way God introduced himself and then with mercy gave Pharaoh chance after to chance to comply with letting his son go. This is our Mephalti, our Deliverer, a mighty God who will boldly defend and bring freedom to his children. We all know how the story unfolds, ultimately, God delivers his children and in the process of the deliverance the wealth of their enemy was transferred to them. Further, those who oppressed them were utterly destroyed.

David expresses his gratitude to Jehovah Mephalti in another Pslam (34:17-19)

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

All throughout history God has been in the process of Delivering his people, even when the afflictions they suffered were from their disobedience. In Judges 2:16Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out the hand of those who plundered them.” God is surely in the delivering business.

There is one more attribute that I want to bring out about Jehovah Mephalti. Deliverance not only speaks of what you have been saved from but also what has been given to you. Judges 1:2 clearly shows us this “And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” In this situation, God delivered the promise land to his people. God is more than able to be the Deliverer of goods to you in every situation of your life.

No weapon formed against you will prosper. No trouble, no addiction, no hurt, no person or nation can prevent your deliverance. Christ secured this victory for us at the cross of deliverance. Romans 8:2 “For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin death.” He has delivered us from sin and the power of it. He’s delivered us from the lies of the enemy by revealing to us who we are in Christ as our Deliverer, we are free from fear, anxiety, unworthiness and the bondages of this life.

Let us pray,

I thank you Lord, that you are my Deliverer this day. You set me free from the cares of this world. You give me freedom from sin, bondages and addictions. Give me the strength to walk in your ways as a free soul. I thank you that no weapon formed against me with prosper this day. Thank you that you are delivering me from my enemies and they are falling into their own traps. You truly are Jehovah Mephalti and are leading me into the promised land of destiny for my life.

Names of God | Jehovah Misqabbi

One of the wonderful things about God is that he is woven into everything. Even his names are woven together and overlap with compounding purpose. We spoke of Jehovah Sali and Metshodhathi, our Rock and Fortress. What if we took that Rock and Fortress and combined the two of them? We’d end up with another name for the almighty, Jehovah Misqabbi (Stronghold; Strong Tower).

When I was a child, my father took us on a trip to Israel and we went to a place called Masada. I remember climbing what seemed to be this monstrous mountain and getting a shirt that said “I climbed Masada”. It was a highlight of that trip. Decades later, I returned to Israel with my spouse, and visited this site again. It quickly became one of my favourite places, but his time for other reasons.

Masada was desert fortress stronghold like no other. It was built 1,300 ft above the dead sea in the middle of wasteland, upon a rocky mesa and covered 18 acres. Built by King Herod, Masada literally means strong foundation or support. Herod was an absolute architectural genius. The things that he built were just unreal for his day and age. This place was built upon and into the rock. It had almost 30 store rooms with enough supplies to last 1,000 people for years. He built cisterns right into the mountain side that would collect the natural rain. 40,000 cubic metres of storage, enough for an endless supply of drinking. Conquering this location was no easy feat and eventually the Romans succumbed to using Jewish captives on the forefront to overthrow their enemy.

Strongholds were a place of safety and last stands. The cities and nations would retreat to them as a rallying point when enemy nations came on their conquests.

David is blending many attributes of God together in Psalms 18:2 (2 Samuel 22:2)

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Misqabbi)describing Jehovah as his trusted place of safety and protection in the midst of life’s storms. Like Masada, this imagery reminds me of LOTR, Helm’s Deep. All of middle earth is at war, the enemy came to wipe them out with numbers untold. The people formed their last stand in the rocky fortress, a stronghold whose walls had never been breached. See how the strength of the Rock, the walls, the high ground making it almost impregnable.

This is David’s imagery. I can rest in Jehovah Misqabbi for long seasons of unrest. When battles rage around me and against me, he found peace and serenity within the walls of his God. He speaks of the righteous running into the name of God as a strong tower.

Having a place of safety in world that is not safe, is so foundational to our lives as believers. Luke 21:26 says thatMen’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Fear abounds, disease runs rapid, insecurity and instability surrounds us. There is no doubt that fear is griping people’s hearts, but we can be of good cheer for our God has overcome the world. He is our place of safety and that alone is without measure in my life.

Lets show how we can pray Jehovah Misqabbi…I thank you Lord that you are my Strong Tower this day. That I can find peace and safety within your arms. That you are a hedge of protection round about me. That your defenses will not fail. That you are strength to me, you act as the pillar of fire between my enemies and me. That the foundation of my security and hopes in firmly built upon your rock which is a fortress and stronghold in my life…