Saturday, March 2, 2013

Breaking the Chains

Breaking the Chains


But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” – Acts 16:25-26

There are a number of times in the Bible that we read of earthquakes. 
When Elijah was being hunted by Jezebel in 1 Kings 19, he ran to Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God. When God told Elijah to go stand on the mountain, the wind blew strong, tore into the mountain and broke rocks into pieces.  Then an earthquake came, and then a fire, and then Elijah heard God’s still small voice. 

In 2 Samuel 22:8 David sings a song of deliverance to God after defeating the Philistine giants, and says “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven[b] quaked and were shaken, because He was angry.”
In Exodus 19:18 when Moses brings Israel, camped in the wilderness of Sinai to Mount Sinai to meet God, the mountain was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

In Matthew 27:51 when Jesus yields His Spirit on the cross it says “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split”. Three days later we read in Matthew 28:2 that as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. Moments later as they went to tell the disciples, they were met by Jesus.
Surely we can see that the earth quakes when God comes near! 

In Acts 16:25-40, Paul had cast a demon out of a young slave girl, and her masters had lost their income!  They could no longer sell her fortune telling services.  So her masters went to the magistrates of the city, claiming that Paul and Silas were doing unlawful things under Roman law.  They had them beaten with rods, and put in prison.  But they weren’t just in prison – they were in the very inner portion of the prison , deeply guarded, and had their feet in shackles. 
But Paul and Silas weren’t just sitting there, worried about what might come next.  They were still actively serving God.  At midnight, sitting in a dark prison, they were praying and singing to God while the other prisoners were listening and learning.  James 4:8 says Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”, and while they were still singing and praying, God drew near!  There was a great earthquake, shaking even the prison foundation, and it threw open the doors.  But the earthquake did a little something extra too – it removed everyone’s chains. 

The story goes on to say that the prison guard awoke and when he saw the doors open, he assumed everyone had escaped.  Knowing his fate under Roman law, he drew his sword to take his own life.  But Paul cried out “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”  The guard found a light and ran to Paul and Silas asking “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  That night, the guard, and all that were in his house were saved and baptized.
Word must have gotten around about the earthquake and the chains falling off.  The magistrates decided they should drop charges against Paul and Silas, but decided NOT to go near them.  Sending word to the guard to let them go, Paul stood his ground and said “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” No Indeed! Paul was not backing down! 

The attitude of the magistrates changes as they sheepishly come to Paul and Silas.  Acts 16:39 says they “pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.”  Apparently, and literally, the Holy Spirit had rocked their world!
Amazing things happen when we praise our God, and draw near to Him.  But even more amazing things happen when God comes near to us!  He loses our chains, and sets us free.  But perhaps the worst chains are those that we don’t realize are on us. 

Jim Morrison, lead singer for “The Doors”, proudly admitted that he was possessed by Satan at an early age, and was a shaman (satanic priest).  He was affiliated with satanism, befriended its leaders, and even having a statue of one of the leaders on an album cover.  He moved to Venice Beach, California, and lived on the roof of an abandoned house, where he did drugs to connect to the evil world, and had visions.  He said he was given lyrics from Satan.   He allowed himself to be used and abused by any evil spirit that came, and welcomed and encouraged that possession through drug abuse.  That drug abuse eventually took his life.  His chains were never loosened.  Jim Morrison sung of his own afterlife as he sung “cancel my subscription to the resurrection, send my credentials to the house of detention, I got some friends inside“, in the song ‘When the Music is Over’. 
The Bible refers to drug abuse many times as sorcery, which is translated from the Greek word pharmakeia (Strong's G5331), which is the same word from which we get the English word Pharmacy.  The word means “the use or the administering of drugs, poisoning, sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it”. The idolatry comes into play as the drugs become an addiction.  It becomes an idol that takes over the body, mind and soul, and the connection with satan is made.  Don’t think it’s true?  Take a look at the ruined lives of addicts. 

Jim Morrison was once quoted as saying “How can I set free anyone who doesn't have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom? I think it's a lie – people claim they want to be free – everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess. But that's bull****! People are terrified to be set free – they hold on to their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It's their security…How can they expect me or anyone else to set them free if they don't really want to be free?”  Perhaps these words were spoken to him by satan, from his own inner perspective of those that are addicted and choose to remain that way.
Through our own ability…we will never be free.  If you seek freedome, draw near to God.  He will break those chains!  Fast and pray!  Isaiah 58:6 says Is this not the fast that I have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” Fasting is doing without food and spending time with God.  Starve the flesh and grow the Spirit! It was done by Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and many others in the Bible.  Fasting brings God near!

Psalms 146:7 says “The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.”  John 8:36 goes on to say Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  Don’t be afraid to be free from your chains! God loves you, and He will break the chains!

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