to the captives and the prey

Posted: April 13th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | 13 Comments »

“Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?” -Isaiah 49:24

There are those, saved by grace, who are still under the thumb of a tyrant. Shamed and discredited, mocked and rebuked, lambs thwarted by one with more weight. A target of injustice by those claiming justice, a target of humiliation by those who claim righteous authority.

A sinner saved by grace tries to get up and the fearful big brother knocks them back down. Their relationship is with the law and the ransomed are in a relationship with grace. They make them doubt the power of the cross because they can’t believe it themselves.

I don’t know if they know what they’re doing. I’m just sad that the fight of unbelief is among those who can quote the Gospel without believing it’s enough. The addendum’s they add, the post script they scribe, was never intended by the One who died. Sometimes I feel like writing a letter: “How many more steps? Show me the boxes that need to be checked before we are free.” Because the yoke of slavery they put on the fallen is an endless list governed by doubters. Doubters inflicting painful spiritual abuse.

People have a hard time believing that God still loves them when those who claim to be His people refuse to. They have a hard time believing they can be forgiven when those who claim to be His people will not. People have a hard time believing they can be redeemed and restored when those who claim to be God’s people refuse to let them come back.

Men do not own the church. They do not have authority over the Gospel. They do not have a say in who God uses. But try telling them that and they’ll make you’re life a living hell.

“Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?” Will the tormented targets be vindicated?

For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior,and your Redeemer…” -Isaiah 49:25-26

The tyrants can speak against you, write letters to discredit you, speak curses over your children, or even keep them from you. They can do all of this saying it’s God’s will and that you’re just fooling yourself for thinking God can redeem you. People , who claim to be His, do this and if you don’t think this is a problem, then you might want to consider that you are part of it.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ -Luke 13:24-27

The narrow door, the gate, is Jesus. Many will claim to know Him, but their most painful realization is when they find out that He doesn’t know them. Jesus does not have addendum’s. He forgives before the failure. He forgives failures yet to be. He is quick and thorough. He causes you to see that He intended good where you intended evil. This is what repentance is. It’s a complete release and departure from the death blow of your sin. It puts you in complete reliance on Him and what He did. It makes you have to put all of your faith in His grace even though everything else is telling you that you went too far. The miracle of salvation comes to those who know they are unsalvageable.

The street grime ragamuffins, the complete failures, find that Jesus knows them. He loves them. He chose them. He will vindicate them. You know who they are by their love. Anyone who does not love, who does not believe, who holds your sin over you at their whim are as good as dead.

These people are not contending with you, they’re contending with Him and He will vindicate you.

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” – God’s work about Jesus in Isaiah 49:6

It is too light a thing to save the insiders. The Gospel is not just for the insiders. They reject Him repeatedly. The Gospel is for everybody. Let the outsiders come running. He’ll hold on and never let you go.

I recommend that you read all of John 17 because it’s a prayer Jesus prayed about all of us. This is an excerpt:

“Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind. As long as I was with them, I guarded them in the pursuit of the life you gave through me; I even posted a night watch. And not one of them got away…”John 17:11-12



13 Comments on “to the captives and the prey”

  1. 1 Patrick Southworth said at 8:46 am on April 13th, 2012:

    Thanks for taking the gloves off! I need to be reminded every day not to be like the pharisee.

  2. 2 Patrick Southworth said at 8:51 am on April 13th, 2012:

    I am so thankful you take the gloves off everyday and use grace instead!!!

  3. 3 serenawoods said at 9:24 am on April 13th, 2012:

    Thanks, Patrick. 🙂 (I kept both of your comments because I like them both.)

  4. 4 Patrick Southworth said at 1:41 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    Ha ha. I got confused because the first comment didn't show up. Thanks!

  5. 5 Traylor Lovvorn said at 10:25 am on April 13th, 2012:

    SERENA! Thank you for being a constant voice for the broken! I can't begin to tell you what a refreshing balm your words are to my soul that constantly runs back to unbelief and orphan thinking. Oh what a glorious scandal grace is! Continue your courageous journey into your brokenness and please keep sharing your wisdom along the way.
    My recent post New Book from TrueFaced!

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 2:36 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    Thanks, Traylor. I think that the further away from my own mess I get, the harder it is to remember how effective unbelief can be at tearing you down when you need the most faith. Leave it to the saliva on my heels to get me fired up. 😉

  7. 7 You Know Who said at 10:34 am on April 13th, 2012:

    Love this. But then, your words have been inspiring me and propelling me forward ever since I found your blog. You remind me that grace is given freely to us all. And all we have to do is accept it as the gift it is.
    This hits close to home for me, as I hear about people in my parents' church who have threatened to leave if my dad is allowed to pray out loud before the congregation as he would have been asked to do in the past. He is not permitted to pray over the offering, bless a meal or open or close the service in prayer… I have trouble extending grace to the people who feel that way. It hurts and just reinforces the beliefs that there is no redemption for some in the eyes of others.

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 2:40 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    I wonder why people feel that they're doing a service to God by burning the bridges that people have to get to Him. People want you to go through them, on their terms, at their say so. They need to lay down their crowns.

  9. 9 Heather said at 11:42 am on April 13th, 2012:

    I love how most of your writing is for the broken. Because we are all broken. For the "outsider". However, I could be portrayed as an insider, a church-go er. A lifer. Maybe even a good girl, because I didn't make "really" bad sins. The problem is Christian school, baptist sunday school, dressing up, gets stale. It's boring, and tiring, and lame.

    But this blows the doors off the church. This is the message of truth and grace that makes me comfortable, where I belong.

  10. 10 serenawoods said at 2:41 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    Cheers to unhinged doors. 🙂

  11. 11 Heather said at 6:51 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    I think the desperate search for truth about the gospel only comes when you need to find it to keep breathing, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Heather's right, traditional "church" becomes boring and stale until you need Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not Jesus for your own self-righteousness' sake. This definitely blows the doors off of that, and I'm grateful that I found out the truth about the gospel when I really needed it.

    Let me know if you ever make your way down south. We could drink sweet tea and sit in rocking chairs and talk about the grace that rescued us 🙂

  12. 12 serenawoods said at 11:36 pm on April 13th, 2012:

    It's a plan, Heather. 🙂 I would love that.

  13. 13 Tawni Miller said at 9:26 am on April 30th, 2012:

    My past does not define me, & because of God's grace I can walk this new path I'm on with confidence, however for some, who are Christ followers, my past is written across their face when I look at them & even a simple wave & smile to them generates a look that seems as if I have 3 eyeballs on my face! They get all flustered and don't know what to do with my friendly smile. They look confused and then look away. It stings, but only for a minute. I'm reminded of who I am and Who's I am. I love them & pray that they'll know Grace some day.

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