“Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.” Galatians 5:1 The Passion Translation (TPT) and The Living Bible Translation (TLB)
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB
LAND OF THE FREE – HOME OF THE BRAVE
As we celebrate the 4th of July in our great nation, we want to fully embrace, with grateful hearts, what the Lord says about freedom – what it is and the cost to obtain it. We must link the love sacrifice of John 3:16 to what people are craving and demanding – freedom to live, freedom to breathe, freedom to be. They are inextricably tied together. Many people gave their lives and shed their blood so we can enjoy God-given freedoms in America today. May we always remember and forever contend to guard their costly sacrifices. But there’s One who paid the ultimate cost for that freedom, making all things possible. He must be our focus and priority. Without Him, we can do nothing and there would be no USA. As someone who has spread the Gospel of the Kingdom since 1996 in many nations, my heart has substantially increased in thankfulness for the blessings Jesus has showered upon America. They are beyond comprehension; we serve a Good God.
A DEEPER LOOK
According to Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”Our country was founded on the Lord and we have been richly blessed. This is the tradition that must be resurrected, established, and multiplied. The motto (seal) of our state, Ohio, declares, “With God All Things Are Possible.” Matthew 19:26 NASB. That is not only true, it’s sacred; and worth fighting for to maintain and secure. The complete text surrounding this verse is Matthew 19:16-26, the passage of the Rich Young Ruler:
“And someone came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your Father and Mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’
ETERNITY IN MIND
The Lord was very specific for our great state and hasn’t changed. Many have said, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” Jesus always challenged the minds of those trying to figure Him out, as He did in this passage. He is very clear as to where our hearts need to be. He wants to be the Powerful Stronghold of our lives. He wants to be the First and the Ultimate. He doesn’t settle for 2nd best as He is the Riches of all riches, the Boss of all bosses, and the King of all kings. He tells us that we are to love Him with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength. So, He provides the way for that to occur. He has eternity in mind in everything He speaks to us about.
The seal for Ohio is embedded in cement in the courtyard of the State House in Columbus, Ohio. It’s awe-inspiring as it historically contains the Holy narrative that we must guard and protect. It is marked with intentionality. It displays stately Mount Logan and the Scioto River, both indicating the beauty and unfathomable love of God. There is a freshly harvested wheat field with a wheat bushel, representing the agricultural emphasis in Ohio. There are 17 arrows representing Ohio’s place as the 17th state in the Union. The sun has 13 sun rays extending outward, representing the 13 original colonies. A further, deeper, and reflective look suggests that these symbols are very prophetic. The evangelistic scene carries the essence of revival and outpouring. The seal is laced throughout with the heart and attributes of God. It speaks of God’s Majesty, Glory, and His destiny for Ohio and beyond. He had eternity in mind and still does today.
IMPOSSIBLE IS POSSIBLE
It is the power of God that makes what seems impossible possible. This power comes from our Father, the Father of this great nation. His name is Jehovah. Holy Spirit has released Himself over and through our great country and we must never resist or quench Him. Where that has happened, we must repent and renounce any connection with darkness. God is most glorified by bringing to pass events which are impossible. Our minds must be on the altar, so His ways become our ways; His thoughts become our thoughts. Psalm 33:12 Young’s Literal Translation reads: “O the happiness of the nation whose God is Jehovah. Of the people He did choose. For an inheritance to Him.” America is chosen as His own inheritance. We are to be the reward for Jesus. When we look at the United States that way, we will consider the Lord’s perspective in all matters of government and society. We will stand our ground and represent Him in every area of life. We will carry hope and contend for truth at all costs. We will not shrink back and will never give in or give up. What Jesus says rules. So, when He says that we need to approach him as little children as clearly laid out in Matthew 18:3 NASB, we will endeavor to obey Him and do just that. We will see the Rich Young Ruler as one who needed to surrender His entire heart and life to Jesus and approach Him as a child:“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is what freedom looks like.
PLAIN and SIMPLE
“I think we should make Jesus cookies,” the child proclaimed with a hugely contagious grin and bubbling joy. The initial plan was to make and bake traditional peanut butter cookies, flat with marks made by a fork to define the accepted look of a true PBC. The dough was ready, the balls were being shaped and put on the baking pan, and the fork was making appropriate marks. But the plan had changed. Without any adult prompting, “Jesus, We ♥ U” was formed into individual letters and shapes on a cookie sheet, followed by a dough-shaped cross. Traditional peanut butter cookies were the initially desired result, but the Lord had a greater treasure in store for that little boy. When asked of this young child, “Do you know what the cross means?” (as he was shaping it), he responded without hesitation. He immediately and enthusiastically blurted the word “FREEDOM.” Simple. No analyzing. Out of nowhere. Just one word.
This child was surprised by this and started to laugh saying, “I don’t know where that came from.” As the moment continued, this precious one again blurted out saying, “He’s the Riches of all riches, the Boss of all bosses, and the King of all kings.” He stated again, “I don’t know where any of that came from.” “I can’t think about anything else, just Jesus,” he said. It was truly supernatural. He was giggling and full of great joy. His mind was filled with thoughts of Jesus. He said, “That’s all I’m thinking about.” It was a God moment that this young and unsuspecting world changer will always remember. He heard and felt the Presence of God. Being influenced by the Lord Himself, this young child was correct. At that time, his mind was filled with thoughts of Jesus, and he took action that changed the original plan of making ordinary cookies. He recognized and responded. Will his mind and heart continue to be shaped by this God moment? What will his destiny be?
Every individual has the choice to define the word “freedom” the way he wants. When people group together, their corporate understanding of freedom will affect many, for the good or for the bad. The Lord would desire the true understanding of freedom to be released over all his creation. As believers and followers of Jesus and citizens of Heaven above all, the word “Freedom” is defined as truth through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the expansive truth.
“Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free-not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.” Galatians 5:1 The Passion Translation (TPT) and The Living Bible Translation (TLB)
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. “ Galatians 5:1 NASB
To then walk in that full freedom and powerfully release the Glory of God, we need to be very strong and healthy in the inner man. Ephesians 3:16-19 declares “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” This is the heart of God for us.
Check out the June 6th writing, “Explosive Warfare” (click here: http://frontline-ministries.org/explosive-warfare) for an unpacking of what is going on around us and strategies to effectively encounter darkness and release personal and corporate light and hope in this season. We know that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood as stated in Ephesians 6:12. We are in a military battle; we are at war. We need to live by the four “Rs” as mentioned in previous writings and daily connect with the Lord to see where we are and what He is saying as we RECOGNIZE, RESPOND, RESCUE, and RESTORE.
Many Scriptures were unpacked in that writing that are essential for our personal and corporate arsenal. It also includes a personal testimony of how the Lord intended to save my life, enable me to stand, walk through, and endure during a seemingly impossible process He clearly knew would be part of my story. Would I stay in the center of the crucible I was in or would I run to protect myself? Would I trust the Lord enough to give myself wholeheartedly to His personal process for me or would I make excuses and try to disengage the pressure that had surrounded me? Would I be able to see His higher purposes for my life and those I was responsible for? Would I choose to allow Him to have His way in my life or would I try to devise a plan to somehow escape the very scenario that the Lord was fully aware was being permitted? Was it fun? No. Did it bring me to a place of embracing refinement in the Refiner’s fire? Absolutely. Could I see myself and others through His eyes, or would I put my own spiritual spin on my circumstances? That was my desire. My mind needed to remain fixed on Him alone, no matter the cost. No matter the cost.
Living in the middle of His safe heart was a nonnegotiable for me. Psalm 9:9-11 NASB gave me courage, strength, and helped me stand and not cave in to the severe pressure in my life. The Lord literally saved me and my children from destruction. This Psalm states, “The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You. For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” The safe place of the Lord is found in His name. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
Psalm 144:2 NASB speaks so beautifully about this as well: “My lovingkindness and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. My shield and He in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me.”
The word “stronghold” in these passages is powerful and positive; here it is a defensive structure, a place of safety and rest. We can have positive strongholds that are Godly. A positive influence from the Lord is created within our thinking that provides us with the freedom we need. This formulates as we are filling our minds with the truth of the Word, praying in the Spirit, and worshiping in His presence. God wants to have a “strong hold” on us.
In order to remain in that safe place, I needed to understand and cooperate with another mention of stronghold (fortress) in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 NASB was a life line for me: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the flesh), but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (pulling down of strongholds). We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” There are intimidating, and perhaps terrifying hindrances or obstacles designed to keep us from God’s best. They oppose God. They also are called strongholds. They are defenses behind which people hide with deceptive fantasies and arrogant attitudes that raise up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. They are the essence of rebellion according to the next Scripture.
The Passion Translation effectively expands this understanding of the battle and weaponry for our inner freedom, which produces outer freedom – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:
“FOR ALTHOUGH WE LIVE IN THE NATURAL REALM, WE DON’T WAGE A MILITARY CAMPAIGN EMPLOYING HUMAN WEAPONS, USING MANIPULATION TO ACHIEVE OUR AIMS. INSTEAD, OUR SPIRITUAL WEAPONS ARE ENERGIZED WITH DIVINE POWER TO EFFECTIVELY DISMANTLE THE DEFENSES BEHIND WHICH PEOPLE HIDE. WE CAN DEMOLISH EVERY DECEPTIVE FANTASY THAT OPPOSES GOD AND BREAK THROUGH EVERY ARROGANT ATTITUDE THAT IS RAISED UP IN DEFIANCE OF THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. WE CAPTURE, LIKE PRISONERS OF WAR, EVERY THOUGHT AND INSIST THAT IT BOW IN OBEDIENCE TO THE ANOINTED ONE. SINCE WE ARE ARMED WITH SUCH DYNAMIC WEAPONRY, WE STAND READY TO PUNISH ANY TRACE OF REBELLION AS SOON AS YOU CHOOSE COMPLETE OBEDIENCE.”
Strongholds are deeply hidden in our minds and hearts. They are unique and formed according to each person’s life and history, experiences, and development. It is what the name suggests… a strong hold on a person’s life. They capture our minds and steal from us the ability to think freely. The Lord wants us to be present and aware of all that is going on in the soul. Strongholds create a veil over the reality of our soul. A stronghold is a “go to” place where we go on automatic pilot. We defer to the thinking that has been developed over time that covers us and seemingly protects us from hurt, offense, or pain. This is a lie. We actually weaken in the mind as a result, and our emotions follow suit. Our wills are easily able to back off from what is right from the Lord. Thus, we develop or keep a “strong will”. It is a practice or habitual way of ungodly thinking that we can’t recognize. It’s hidden until pointed out. When this happens in our life, Satan has a hold on us and it’s strong. This kind of thinking causes injury to our mind, which makes it difficult or impossible to easily and fully trust the Lord. If we say we have “trust issues,” strongholds are likely to be in operation.
Strongholds have a life of their own and control our emotions. Our vision becomes clouded; our mind and thinking become veiled. These strongholds can twist conversations, information, and circumstances. The mind desperately wants to stay in control. It feels “safe” that way, but it’s against the Lord and ultimately what the Lord knows is best for us. The Lord gave us His Spirit so our spirits intertwined with Him would rise up over our minds, wills, and emotions. Our minds develop strong trenches as strongholds are formed. As a situation arises that is initially considered to be unwanted, the mind kicks in to say, “No thanks”. The mind goes directly to that trench and it then deepens. The pattern continues and gets worse over time. This is common when something happens that touches a place where strongholds (trenches) exist and the habitual pattern of thinking kicks in. Perhaps there is what seems like a threatening conversation that recalls an old familiar feeling from another past situation, the mind kicks in and says, “Nope!”. It has the capability to project the thinking and accompanying pain onto others. This stronghold is a protective mechanism that keeps the truth out. It becomes easy to avoid people and situations, and only hear in part. We then embrace a thought pattern and refuse anything that feels like a challenge. Our minds become programmed to think a certain way and the trenches actually deepen; they are likened to cracks in the foundation of a building. The Lord wants to help us recognize that strongholds exist and then respond to His process that will change us. He wants to rescue us from the trenches of pain that remain in the mind. He wants to restore our soul (mind, will, emotions). We have to learn how to effectively take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Our minds are the battlefield for the enemy.
Where strongholds exist, we don’t operate with the authority that God gives us. We are weakened because unbelief settles in. Lies must be displaced. This helps break the unhealthy patterns of thinking and response. Our spirits are unable to rise above our minds and thoughts because we have given over our authority to this imposter. See how tricky the enemy is? Strongholds point fingers. We end up blaming others, or God, when neither is at fault. The Bible commands us to die to ourselves. This is speaking about our thinking. A stronghold will rise up and strongly resist this Biblical mandate. This ungodly belief or thinking pattern must be dismantled so that it can die. The enemy wants it to be fed so that it will never die. This death comes through repentance. As worshippers, this is essential. The mind is a powerful tool that can block out the Holy Spirit and our ability to hear clearly from the Lord. It filters out any thought or feeling that bothers it. Praying in the Spirit helps the believer break out of that pattern. Words of knowledge can also break the cycle of issues a believer has. As strongholds seem to have a life of their own, death must occur. Repenting brings death to a stronghold. When stress hits a person there is a tendency to resort to old ways of thinking and dealing with people and situations. The enemy laughs the entire time while people suffer and then hurt others because strongholds are not challenged.
We must be fully present which means no hiding behind strongholds; that’s the way of the kingdom. Fear, frustration, shame, anger, control, rebellion, rejection, and religion immerse a person in cycles of pain. When unchallenged, a learned thought pattern will be, “I’m not going there” or “time to run.” Strongholds just don’t leave; they have to be uprooted and destroyed. If we have strongholds in our mind, we are defying the Lord. Often we won’t even realize it. This is how deception creeps in and finds a resting place. It’s a dangerous place to be. The walls of our mind are set up as fortresses, places of defense seemingly for protection. This is why cases can be easily built. We are not to run away in our thinking. We are to face the Lover of our soul. Strongholds don’t want to die; they want to remain in control. We can become blind because the issues will be clouded by a stronghold. Our perception is affected.
I preached a message called “Believe, Receive, Destroy, and Advance” (http://frontline-ministries.org/050612-pastor-mary-pat-gokee-receive-believe-destroy-advance). Believing involves perceiving accurately. This is the way of offensive warfare. We are called to victory. If you have difficulty believing, check your perceptions. As we repent, it’s also important to ask for and receive forgiveness from the Lord and others. This is a vital step in destroying strongholds. We need to strip the enemy of his illegal right to steal the authority that God has given us. The mind wants to usurp that authority. Take it back.
TIME FOR ACTION
It was a warm June night. We love briskly walking together to get good exercise and just to be together. This time, we ventured out of our neighborhood quite late. The sky was exceptionally dark and the moon was shadowy. As we were walking down the opposite side of the road of an approaching driveway, an exceptionally large brown dog was wildly barking as he raced down the driveway toward us with no intention of stopping at the end of the driveway. There was nothing friendly going on. He was directly charging us, on a mission, and we knew it. He was suddenly in the street, a few feet away, when Bill quickly turned, looked him directly in the eye, boldly and loudly saying, “NO”, as he stomped his right sandaled foot. The dog instantly stopped, immediately turned and ran toward his non-involved owner. I was stunned. As we continued to the next house, which was very close, there was a direct repeat of this scenario. Another dog, a black and white mixed breed, and a tad smaller, did precisely the same thing. He, too, was on a mission. This second and intentional charge was also chilling, as he was a couple feet away. Immediately, Bill responded the same way as he did just moments before. Interestingly, this dog instantly cowered, his shoulders drooped, and his ears went down. He, too, stopped, reversed, and ran to yet another non-involved owner. It was surreal. Never had this happened before, having walked this street for 26 years. Two dogs had been intent on attacking us, one right after the other, with the owners doing nothing to stop it.
UNINFORMED, ILL EQUIPPED, UNAWARE, NOT INTERESTED
Asking the Lord about this, I was reminded of the ways of darkness. Hits are intentional and direct while we, or our friends, often do nothing to arrest the darkness intended to steal, kill, and destroy. They either are uninformed, ill equipped, unaware, or not interested in taking necessary steps to interrupt and reverse an attack. This is much like the battles that we face in life. The enemy of our souls and the souls of our loved ones wants to remain hidden and undetected, deceptively schmoozing people. The enemy is the master at fooling people and wholeheartedly laughs at Christians who can’t “see” and think “I’ve got this,” or better yet: “The Lord is doing this” coming from another voice, maybe familiar, but not the voice of the Lord. These are questions to ask ourselves daily as we desire to put ourselves on the altar and remain there. The Lord wants us to voluntarily invite Him to burn up all hindrances (including strongholds) in us that will stand in the way of us hearing Him clearly. He doesn’t want us to resist Him. As we position ourselves for a revelation of what the Lord sees and wants to change in our lives, He will show us things about us that have become unhealthy patterns of thinking, resulting in ungodly attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. He will give us opportunities to see these patterns both exposed and removed, but we must cooperate. While unpleasant, He wants us to allow Him to complete the process and not resist Him. Resisting Him involves resisting His ways. This is sin.
I shudder to think of the “2nd wave” hitting us through a little different animal package, but just as wicked. What if we were not aware? What if we were not prepared; our guard was down? After all, another dog attack couldn’t happen twice, within a few minutes, could it? Yes, it could, and it did. We had to recognize the unmistakable protective voice of our Master and quickly respond. And always be ready.
It’s time for true freedom to ring. We will see with new eyes, be filled with new hope, and become exceptionally dangerous to the enemy of our souls. I invite you to pray the following prayer from “Shattering Your Strongholds”, by Liberty Savarrad. The Lord wants all His children to walk in His full FREEDOM in every part of our lives. Isn’t He so wonderful! Be blessed and strengthened today.
I place myself under the authority, protections, and Lordship of my Savior Jesus Christ.
This day I choose to bring my mind, will, and emotions into agreement with the mind, will and heart of God. I ask that the thoughts, feelings, and purposes of your heart, O Lord be within my heart. With my whole heart, I come into agreement with the truth of the Word of God, and the Blood of Jesus.
I choose this day to walk your path of righteousness and ask Holy Spirit that you walk with me and keep my steps steady and sure. I embrace the work of the cross with all its mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, and dying to self.
I renounce every old, wrong, ungodly pattern of thinking, every attitude, desire, belief, motivation, habit, and behavior. I renounce and ask that you tear down every stronghold associated with these things.
I renounce every stronghold in my life that has been justifying and protecting hard feelings against anyone. I renounce the strongholds of unforgiveness, fear, and distrust. I renounce the power and effects of deceptions and lies. I renounce the confusion and blindness of the god of this world over my mind that has kept me from seeing the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I call forth every precious word of Scripture that has ever entered my mind and heart to rise up in power from within me. Lord Jesus, I give you permission to reveal the presence of any stronghold within me and dismantle it. I ask that you reveal to me every judgment, every vow, every expectation, every wrong belief of way of thinking, every root of bitterness, unforgiveness, and sin that has built this stronghold.
Jesus, I ask that you break me free from the power and effects of any harsh or hard words or word curses, spoken to me, or about me. Forgive me for the ways that I have believed and agreed with those words and word curses. Please release your healing grace into every area of my wounded heart, every area of my mind and memory that these words and curses have affected.
I forgive those who have cursed me and I choose to pray blessings for them. Forgive me for the harsh or hard words, or word curses that I have spoken over others, and set them free from the wounding I have caused.
In the Name of Jesus my Savior and Lord, I renounce all generational bondages and associated strongholds of any kind from sins or mistakes made at any point between my generations. Jesus, I ask that you destroy them right here and now. Lord, I ask that you forgive my generations for their sins and that you cover that flow of iniquity flowing through my past generations and future generations with the blood of Jesus. I place the Cross of Jesus between myself and my mother and father, and every preceding generation, and I ask Lord Jesus that you would stop the effects of any sins or curses descending upon me from my ancestor’s sinful choices.
Lord, I give you permission to show me the ways that I have participated and agreed with these same sinful choices, and I ask that you forgive me for my own mistakes and sin. I recognize that your Word says that there are consequences for sin, and that I and my future generations will come under curses as a direct result of my disobedience to your commands.
Lord, I confess my sin before you and know that I deserve the consequences. I now fall on your grace, and cry out for the blood of Christ to cleanse me from my sin, and to set me free from the consequence and curse of that sin. Thank you that you do not give me what I deserve. Thank you for your grace. Thank you, Jesus, for becoming a curse for me, for taking my punishment to the cross. Thank you for your resurrection – thank you for the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that has set me free from the Law of Sin and Death. Thank you for renewing my mind, and for giving me a whole new way of thinking, believing, and responding. Please keep me hidden in you so I am no longer seduced by these strongholds.
In the Name of Jesus, I bind every demon that is empowering this stronghold.