What is Redemption?
What is redemption? That’s a good place to start. To redeem means to “buy back,” or “to regain possession of something.” Some synonyms are retrieval, recovery, and reclamation. Why is it such a powerful word? Jesus is the Redeemer of all of humanity. He bought us back with a very high price. God has regained, reclaimed and recovered His people through the power of the cross.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV) 1 John 2:6 tells us, He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (NKJV)
Who is the “He” that we are supposed to walk like and imitate? Jesus!
If Jesus is the Redeemer, then His followers are also redeemers! What do I mean by that? We must look to recover, reclaim, and regain things that are lost or stolen!
A Mission to Recover and Restore
What are some things that can be lost or stolen? Of course, there is the obvious assignment we have been given in the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel for the purpose of recovering the lost souls of men and women. Souls are lost. These are people Jesus died for. They have been “bought back” but have not yet found their way home. Our greatest assignment is to lead them back to the Father – it’s a recovery mission!
Beyond lost souls, there are other things in your life, in my life, that may have been lost or stolen. Being lost implies a carelessness on our part. Being stolen implies a crime committed by the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy – the devil. Have you ever lost something because you did not value it enough to care for it properly? Maybe it was a relationship. Maybe it was a place of influence. Maybe it was a material possession. Whatever it may have been, experiencing that loss in our lives can be painful.
Has anything ever been stolen from your life? Maybe it was your innocence. Maybe it was a child in the womb. Maybe it was a marriage or the life of a loved one. Some of these encounters with the thief, with the enemy of our soul, leave us incapacitated as waves of grief, anger, and fear attempt to bury us. Add to that the spiritual pressure that bears down on our thought life as we try to grapple with these circumstances that are challenging the name of our God, the foundation of His goodness, and the reality of His love for us.
How do we recover when the rug has been pulled out from under us? How are we – as redeemers – to respond when we experience loss? How do we respond when we have been stolen from? Do we throw a pity party? Blame others? Do we punish ourselves because we neglected to value what was in our hands? Do we drown in a sea of questions or torment ourselves as “Why?” plays on repeat in our mind? These are all responses that the devil would love to see in our lives. These responses would keep our godly confidence buried under the weight of shame, guilt, anger, and regret among other things; but, as redeemers and followers of Christ, we must respond differently!
Did you know that every situation you will encounter in this life, when placed in the hands of the Redeemer, can have redemptive value? God never steals. He never kills. He never destroys. He’s not the one that creates the loss, but here is what God does: He says, “Hand this over to me. I will take everything the thief intended to destroy, and I will bring resurrection life to it. I will take everything he has stolen, and I will recover and reclaim what belongs to you. Believe for redemption in this and I will vindicate my name. I will show you my goodness and demonstrate my love for you.”
When we take our brokenness (whether caused by our poor choices or thrust upon us by another’s choices) and we refuse to let it undermine our faith, but rather purposefully place it in the hands of God, there is a supernatural exchange that takes place! It is one the devil fears.
The redemptive power of a broken life makes him very nervous! He will attack God’s character, challenge His goodness, call into question your qualifications, all in a weak attempt to destroy your destiny. That is what he is after – YOU knowing your identity; YOU fulfilling your purpose; YOU living into the fullness of your destiny; YOU having a lasting impact on your generation! The attack is designed to destroy YOU and what lies inside of you! I pray you are getting a revelation of this!
Don’t let the thief continue to steal from you! Catch him! Demand that he restore sevenfold! Act like Jesus. Place the loss into the hands of the Redeemer and confidently expect the supernatural exchange. His life where there was death. His healing where there was sickness. His vindication where there was injustice. His restoration and recovery in every area! Glory to God!
I have lived this word when I was violated, when I was betrayed, when 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and yes, even when my own shortcomings produced loss! I am just beginning to get a greater revelation of what can still be redeemed from these situations if I look to God in faith. My pain will have a purpose! God didn’t cause it, but He can use it – are you getting this? He can make the devil so sorry that he ever messed with this anointed, purpose-filled, destined child of God! My REDEEMER lives! He is your Redeemer too.
Let’s look at every area of loss in our lives with redemptive eyes. God took the death of Jesus and made it a seed. God took the cowardice and denial of Peter and made him bold and courageous. God took the religious fervency of Saul and made him an apostle to the Gentiles. Can you see the redemptive potential of every situation that appears to be a loss? If you will look to Him through the tears, my friend – if you will have faith in The Redeemer – it won’t be long until He turns your mourning into dancing and your sorrow into joy! It will excite you to know that everything the devil meant for evil can be turned around for your good and God’s glory. Amen. So be it.
Did you know that the enemy of your soul has strategies and schemes?
This is why the Bible exhorts us to know our enemy,
“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
According to this scripture, Satan can actually gain an advantage over us when we are ignorant of his devices. He has very strategic and well thought out plans that he has used with repeated success in the lives of God’s people, and in the lives of those who do not know God. In our previous Bible study, The Good Fight of Faith Part I, we learned about the nature of our enemy:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” ~ John 10:10a
In Part II we are going to look at our enemy’s battle plans. In any military operation there is always reconnaissance. This is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain vital information about enemy forces or features of the environment. As we enforce Christ’s victory and go into all the world to preach the gospel, we are invading Satan’s territory. We are going beyond the area occupied by friendly forces, and we need to know some vital information if we are to be successful in fighting the good fight of faith.
God has given us information in His word about our enemy’s battle plans and battlefields. There are three primary battlefields that Satan will operate in to carry out his mission to steal, kill & destroy:
The Battlefield of the Mind
1 Peter 1:13 urges us to “gird up the loins of [our] minds.” Other translations say to, “…prepare [them] for action.” So how do we prepare our minds for action?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Prepare your mind for action by knowing what to do with thoughts when they come. Not all thoughts that run across your pretty little mind are from God! When a thought comes, treat it like a foreigner that needs a passport to gain access! Find out where that thought came from! If it is contrary to God’s word, pull it down, cast it out, arrest it – stamp it with “ACCESS DENIED.” Just don’t open the door, let it in, entertain it, offer it some snacks and invite it to dwell there! Understand that your enemy is counting on you to do just that, but hey my friend, you are not ignorant of his devices, and I believe the next time wrong thoughts come, they are not getting past the door!
The Battlefield of the Flesh
Galatians 5:17 talks about the war that is constantly going on inside of every believer between the flesh, or carnal nature, of a man, and the spirit of a man. There never has been, and never will be a peace treaty. We must crucify our flesh daily in order to live in the beautiful freedom that comes with being led by the spirit. Your enemy knows this, and he has a mathematical formula that guarantees his success in the lives of those that have failed to gather intelligence in this area!
But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15
INNER APPETITES (of the flesh) + OUTWARD ENTICEMENT = Birth of SIN = DEATH
The only way to stop the mathematical certainty of this death equation is to remove the “plus sign.” You may have flesh, and the devil may do all he can to entice it, but if you don’t take the bait the two can never conceive that sin baby! “That’s easier said than done,” you might say, and that’s true; however, God has given us weapons and His word. I could write a whole book on this, so I’ll just touch on two things.
First, whatever you feed will get stronger. If you want a strong spirit YOU MUST feed it the word of God. If you want to quiet your flesh YOU MUST starve it. Second, DO NOT rely on human will power & sheer determination. It is only by God’s spirit in you that you can resist strong temptation. It takes the grace of God that He gladly gives to the humble. Be teachable and acknowledge that you cannot do it on your own. Here’s my equation:
LESS Prime Time TV + MORE study & prayer = a STRONG SPIRIT = a better LIFE
It really can be that simple when we become doers of the word and not hearers only.
The Battlefield of this World
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” 1 John 2:15-17
Part of our reconnaissance as Christians is to learn about the environment our enemy controls. The Bible tells us that Satan is the god of this world. He will use everything in our environment to distract us, lull us to sleep, or flat out persecute us. Be aware that the platforms of influence that govern this world (media, education, religion, arts & entertainment, family, politics, etc.) are the channels that will be used to sway believers to align themselves with what the world thinks/acts like/talks like rather than aligning themselves with what GOD thinks/acts like/talks like. The pull is strong my friends. That is why it is so important to guard your heart and mind, feed your spirit, SHUT OFF the channels that are feeding your flesh, watch and pray – THIS is how we begin to live by the faith that overcomes the world!
I’d love to pray for you: “Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of whoever is reading these words. Strengthen them for the battles that they are facing in their lives right now. Deposit in them your grace, your peace, and your wisdom. Help them Holy Spirit in their weakness – whatever it might be – and encourage them to keep fighting, keep believing, keep standing until they see the victory come to pass in their lives. Thank you for making them aware of how the enemy is getting in, and how he is gaining the advantage over them. I say they SHUT THE DOOR in his face today, and open the door to your spirit of power and love. I ask this in Jesus’ name.”
I was once told about an astronaut that described what it was like in outer space. He summed it up in one word, “Peaceful.”
I imagine it would be peaceful far above, and far removed from all of the chaos taking place on this little spec of dust floating through the universe. When we change our perspective it can have a great impact on how we feel, and what we think in our every day lives. Colossians 3:2 says it this way,
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
There are so many voices vying for our attention in this world. Voices on the TV, voices on the radio, voices on the Internet, voices on billboards and in advertisements. Then there are our national leaders, our friends, family and co-workers – not to mention the voice that is always running around in your own mind! There are tornadoes and floods, earthquakes and fires, tensions mounting on the international stage. Without the right perspective we can become overwhelmed by all that is taking place around us.
Have you ever thought about how hard it can be to find your way out of a maze when you are walking around inside of it, and on the flip side, how easy that same task can become when you have an aerial view? Why? What has changed? Perspective.
God is always calling us up higher. He wants us to live life from a different perspective.
He wants us to “set our affection” on things above. “Setting your affection” is a phrase rooted in the word (phroneo), and it means to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek for, to strive for; to have understanding and be wise about. What are we to direct our minds toward, to seek for, and have understanding about: “things above.” The word for “things above” is translated in other parts of the Bible as our “high calling.”
I was listening to the news the other day to follow the details about tornadoes in my area when I heard a story of a soldier who had fought in Iraq. He died at home in the states while sheltering his two children and his wife from the recent storm. It so affected me to picture that image in my mind, and to think of his heroism. I prayed for the family thinking of how life had changed so drastically for them in one day, and then I set my affection on things above.
I reminded myself of the brevity of this life, and the limited time that we have to fulfill our high calling. I thought about how every day must be precious to us, and how God exhorts us to, “…not be unwise, but to redeem the time…” because we are sojourners here with assignments to complete before we go to our eternal home.
Sometimes life has us feeling like we are lost in a maze with little sense of which direction to take. Sometimes it is the circumstances surrounding us – like a future that now has to be lived without the husband and father you thought would be there. Sometimes it is the noise of the world as it shouts to keep our attention. Whatever creates the maze you may find yourself in right now, there is one simple solution for how to get out: LOOK UP. When you redirect your mind to the heavens – to God Himself, He can lift you up to see things from His perspective, and from that vantage point, the right path will be clear.
Thankfully, we don’t have to find a rocket ship and fly into outer space to find our peace. Jesus said,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
So what are you looking at? If you find yourself troubled and without peace, it’s time to change your perspective. Stop looking at what’s right in front of you and look to God. Set your mind on your high calling, and keep eternity in your heart when this temporary life has you feeling lost. God knows right where you’re at, and just like that brave husband and father, He will shelter you from the storm.
There is courage beyond the fear, hope beyond the hurt and joy beyond the pain – just don’t give up!
I have a confession to make. When God started to deal with me about writing this article I was reluctant and not prompt to do it. Why? I believe when we share our own places of pain we make ourselves vulnerable, and it’s not necessarily comfortable; however, I also believe with great conviction that the Holy Spirit helps us to glean purpose from pain, and the treasure we can unearth from our own adversity is often the ability to help others walk through what we have overcome ourselves.
If you are reading this from a place of brokenness over a pregnancy that ended too early, over a little one that went to heaven before you had the chance to meet; I want to offer you hope, encouragement and peace. I want to glorify God’s goodness and His ability to heal, restore and bring us into victory in the midst of every circumstance.
After two textbook, healthy pregnancies I expected the same the next time I saw those two blue lines indicating that a new life was growing inside of me. My husband and I were both excited and looking forward to another blessing. When I began to show signs of a miscarriage, we came together and agreed in faith that this baby would live and not die. Quite honestly, I was not afraid! I had every reason to believe that everything would be fine, and no reason to fear. When I miscarried, I was shocked to say the least.
I didn’t have the answer to the question, “Why?” This is where a lot of people get stuck. You might be there now, and if you are, let me help you. When something in your life doesn’t go the way that you thought it would, DO NOT expend all of your energy trying to understand why it happened; instead, focus your heart and mind on trusting God even when you don’t understand, even when you don’t have the answer to the question, “Why?” You must choose to move forward, and be very intentional about transitioning from a place of grief to a place of peace.
As we moved forward, we soon found out that we had quickly conceived again! This was an exciting and rapid recovery from what we had just gone through! We almost had to laugh at how quickly God had turned our sorrow into joy. About 5 weeks into the pregnancy I found myself in excruciating pain that landed me in the ER. I soon found out that I was bleeding internally. I was rushed into emergency surgery so quickly there was hardly time to think. The pregnancy was ectopic, and was removed during surgery to save my life.
I spoke just a moment ago about being intentional in transitioning from a place of grief & mourning to a place of joy and peace. As soon as I got home from the hospital I began to journal, to listen to God’s word, and to meditate on what I was thankful for. I watched a teaching series, Victory Over Death, which helped me tremendously, but I want to share with you a pivotal moment that took place in my living room.
The Battlefield of the Mind
I had thoughts come to me like a flood: sad thoughts, fearful thoughts, angry thoughts – all aimed at unraveling my faith and trust in the only One who could heal me, restore me and give me the victory in this situation. I stood to my feet and began to declare God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His power, His love and His ability to give me the grace to trust when I didn’t and couldn’t understand.
YOU, if you are in that place where wrong thoughts are beginning to eat away at the foundation of your faith and trust, STAND right now and declare that you will choose to trust in God’s grace to empower you to overcome!
Here’s the deal, when we go through the “hard stuff” in life, we have an opportunity to choose faith or fear, hope or hopelessness, bitterness or thankfulness, resilience or self-pity. We choose to cling to our pain or let go and be free. Some people want their pain more than they want their freedom. Don’t be that person. Choose faith. Choose hope. Choose to be thankful for every good thing in your life, and choose to trust God when you don’t have all of the answers.
When you are intentional about the victory, there is great reward! Three months after these back to back trials, we were pregnant with our beautiful daughter. In about 10 weeks we will hold her in our arms and see her face to face. The period of pain I experienced will be a distant memory and will not even compare to the joy that will flood my heart when I look into her eyes! Her lovely name, Grace, is one that God gave us three years ago. How fitting that she will be a constant reminder of God’s grace and His faithfulness!
I don’t for a moment belittle the reality of the pain that comes with miscarriage, but I DO magnify the reality that God is bigger than that pain. Don’t blame Him, believe in Him to heal and restore. Don’t doubt Him, trust Him to bring you to victory. Don’t remain stuck in sorrow or paralyzed by fear – choose to hope again for God’s best. He will never disappoint!
I love you and I believe in you! I pray that sharing this testimony is a blessing to you and that you will find strength to move forward as a result!