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Setting The Captives Free 2
by Shirley Williams
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Every person since birth has accumulated certain thought patterns, gestures and mannerisms, both positive and negative. Along with the negative, you have accumulated some good habits, good values and standards of living. You have also accumulated negative word phrases, emotional wounds, anger, hatred, etc. Not to mention, you have learned ways to hide from the truth about yourself and others. Bottom line, you are a by-product, if you will, of your unresolved past that affects your present, often preventing you from moving forward in the flow of God’s plan and purpose for your life.

Cemetery of the Past:
Those ‘old’ things that are in your past history is what God wants you to exchange for the ‘new’ things He has in store for you today. In your journey with Jesus, He will bring you to a place where you can make peace with the past then bury it because its dead. Your past, if you will, is like a cemetery where dead things are laid to rest. Has your past been laid to rest, or are there some things lying around still kicking? If not taken care of, sooner or later, those things will begin to stink in some area of your life.

The stink could be a troubled marriage that is heading toward divorce because you’re still singing that old ‘done somebody wrong’ song of the past. Someone in your past may have caused severe emotional distress to your soul. Then, you rehearsed it over and over in your mind so often through the years that you have now become anchored to the pain. Like I said earlier, painful memories can become a tyrant master haunting and shadowing every relationship, every aspect and moment of your life.

Often, people are not even aware that this is going on within them. The telling sign should be when you try to engage in a new relationship, it will suffer the outward consequences of the inward fear of rejection, the shame, the emotional pain, etc. You are being held captive by the past and you are in need of the healing touch of Jesus. You must reach out in faith and by God’s grace, forgive the offense(s) and receive your freedom and restoration.

This stink of the past could show up in the relationship with your son or daughter or other family member. It could be connected to a business partner, someone in your church family, with friends or manifest in your personality as you try to inter-act with other people at work. Spiritually, you get a whiff of the offensive odor every now and then but you can’t figure out exactly what its origin is.

You know how it is in the natural when you get a whiff of an uncommon odor in your house? You know you smell it but you can’t tell where its coming from so you sniff here and there until you locate the culprit and get rid of it. This same principle applies to the stink of old offenses in our past that we haven’t forgiven and made peace with. But once you do, you are free from the stink of old dead things lying around to clutter up your spiritual house. Amen.

I said this earlier but I want to say again that if you’re not sure Holy Spirit is leading you to take a look back at your past to bring about deliverance and healing, get before the Lord and ask for His direction, along with doing the check-list. Satan won’t ever bring any part of your past back to you in a positive way. Why? Because he’s a thief who comes to kill and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn’t ever want you to have the blood of Jesus applied whereby you are made whole in spirit, soul and body. Instead, the devil will accuse you and condemn you with the history of your past.

Romans 8:1, “There is therefore NOW, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

We don’t follow the Holy Spirit’s leading for Him to turn around and condemn us over past failures. He comforts, He corrects and He guides us into all truth and wisdom. He brings refreshing to our spirits when we need it as well as conviction of sin wrapped up in love.

The devil won’t ever tell you to forgive that person who emotionally abused you in the past. Holy Spirit is the One Who will urge you to forgive through an act of faith and love because it’s the pathway to healing, wholeness and freedom. The devil will try to convince you that the other person(s) should have to pay for what they did and said to you.

If you listen to him, you will feel no godly love or compassion toward this person and certainly, no desire to forgive. Instead, you will feel the desire for revenge. Jesus said, don’t render evil for evil but love them and pray for them and let God take care of the outcome.
Freedom From Self:
There is much to gain when we confront those unpleasant things of the past so we can receive emotional healing. Part of that gain is freedom from self. That may sound a little ridiculous but bear with me. When you stop a moment and think about it, isn’t your past, for the most part, wrapped up in YOUR SELF? And doesn’t it really come down to what OTHERS did to hurt YOU, and not what YOU did to hurt THEM?

When God comes to deal with you about a specific area of your past, He doesn’t say, “I want you to take a look back and see what THEY did to YOU. Look how awful THEY treated YOU.” This is not the way God operates but it is how the devil operates. God doesn’t ignore the emotional pain you suffered because of someone else’s cruelty. He is always there ready and willing to heal the hurt but first, He must get you to SEE the truth. You must see and accept the truth of what YOU did to hurt the other person too.
You must take responsibility and see your need to ask forgiveness for the hurt you caused someone else. You have to be willing, as you take a look back, to accept the truth of your own words and actions that helped to cause emotional pain to the other person. When you can sincerely do this, you have taken a giant step toward receiving your own healing and restoration.

When we deal truthfully with our issues, doing what is required to bring release from the bondage of past wounds, then we are able to say goodbye to more of ‘self.’ We can command the old self of the past to stay dead and buried, whereby the new self that is hidden in Christ, can come forth in wholeness and freedom. Praise God!

For the new to manifest, the old negatives must die in three key areas.
Negative thoughts (what you believe about God, yourself and others)
Speaking (what you say about yourself, God and others based on wrong beliefs)
Actions (what you act out toward yourself, God and others, based on wrong beliefs)

Old offensive habits must die and be replaced with new godly habits based on God’s righteous principles. We must develop a new way of thinking by renewing our mind to the word of God (Romans 12:2). If we are to imitate our Father God, then we have to think like He thinks (have the mind of Christ), speak the way He speaks (and God said, creatively), and act the way He acts (love one another).

Transformation of Old To New:
The transformation between the old and the new can be seen in nature itself. Every spring, the trees bud and put on new leaves. They grow and burst forth in many shades of green. In the fall, those leaves turn beautiful shades of orange, gold, reds and yellows. They have served their spring and summer purpose, now they must die to make room for the new again come spring.

The tree may look dormant in the gray chill of winter but it is constantly going through a cycle of change. As God’s children, we too are going through cycles of change from the old to the new. It began with:

II Cor. 5:17 (AB), “Therefore if any person is (engrafted) in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come.”

We are being changed from glory to glory with each NEW day, therefore, we have to put off the old of yesterday and put on the newness of today. We do so by choosing to put our faith in God’s word that says, His glory is at work in us, changing us from the inside out.
The newness of life came the very moment we invited Jesus into our heart and we were born again by the Spirit. That brings me to wonder how many Christian’s today are truly walking in the newness of this life that costed Jesus so much to give?

Instead of truly walking in the new, how many are still walking in the stale and old of their previous life before coming to Jesus? These people are saved. They have had a real born again experience and they are heaven bound but emotionally, they are stuck in the past. The scripture from II Cor. 5:17 said, we have been ‘engrafted’ in Christ. As believers, we have been grafted into the true Vine, who is Jesus (John 15:1).

ENGRAFTED---to put INTO something that is alive

When you graft or implant a shoot INTO another LIVE plant, the shoot receives new life from the roots of the main plant. The shoot had no life on its own until it was grafted into a live source that could nourish and give it new life. The engrafting is a success. The shoot is IN the plant and the plant is IN the shoot. The two parts are united together to become ONE plant. This is a picture of each of us, lifeless and dying spiritually until we met Jesus and was engrafted into Him through the new birth. Now, we are being nourished by the abundant flow of the life force of Jesus Himself. Glory hallelujah!

So, a person who has been born again by the blood of Jesus has spiritually been made a new creature in Christ. Actually, we are a spiritual creation in progress on a daily basis as we renew our minds to the word of God and learn to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. At the moment of rebirth, your spirit was quickened and made spiritually alive unto God but your soul (mind, will, emotions) didn’t get saved. This is why we have Romans 12:2. This is why our souls must be converted to the word of God, whereby we begin thinking, speaking and acting just like Him, as children imitate their Father.

One of the commandments is to love God with all our hearts and with all our soul, then others as we love ourselves. The way we grow to love someone is to hang out with them. By spending quality time communicating and getting to know who they are as a person. You have to invest, not only time but you have to invest your SELF in learning to communicate and fellowship with them. It is no different with God. He desires for His children to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving to spend quality time with Him, getting to KNOW Him on deeper levels of intimacy. Its called relationship.

We love God and we love others through an act of our faith. We love God because He first loved us and while we were yet sinners, Christ demonstrated the ultimate act of love by dying for us to give us eternal life. Because we have become one with Him through the Spirit, by faith we can love others as He loves us. To forgive others for offenses is an act of God’s love that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5). Amen.

Don’t Dwell On It:
If someone said or did something to hurt you yesterday, then you may be dealing with a past memory that keeps you reliving the emotional pain today. Memories can become so controlling that they hold you captive until Holy Spirit brings you to the place where you can receive truth and be set free.

If a person was actively shop-lifting in their past, or they were heavily into drugs, or pornography, or they were a gang member---now that they are a Christian and living for Jesus, they can’t afford to spend time thinking about those things they used to do. This is as dangerous to the person spiritually as its dangerous in the natural to give a two year old a loaded gun and expect him not to pull the trigger at some point.

Never forget that satan’s attack starts with a lie that is designed to get your mind to entertain the lie, believe it, speak it forth and finally, act on it. God does not want you to be idle and spend time meditating on hurtful memories of the past. He wants you to arise to a new day and be about the Father’s Kingdom business. He wants you to be healed and set free from all that serves to hold you captive.

Phil.4:8, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

From Proverbs 4:20, God says, “My son, attend to My words, incline your ear unto My sayings.” The word ‘attend’ means to take charge of, to pay attention to, and it means to stretch forward (instead of backward).

In light of this God says to all of us, Make the choice to allow My word to capture your attention instead of those old tyrant memories of the past. I’ve given you self-control to be able to take charge over your mind and not allow the devil to have control over it. You have the mind of Christ, therefore, allow it to operate in you and through you.”

Contrary to popular belief in some circles, all things don’t work for your good. Cancer don’t work for your good. Diabetes don’t work for your good. Heart attacks don’t work for your good because all of these things can kill you. But God can take any situation where the devil has you bound and turn it around in your favor and for your good. What the devil means to harm you with, God can turn it and make the outcome good for you. Amen.

Even though your past experiences may have been extremely painful, especially if you were in a physically abusive marriage. Or if you were molested as a child by your father or some other family member, etc. The list goes on but the point is, whatever you have been through in your past, God can use it today as a testimony to help someone else not make the same mistakes. To help someone be encouraged that God loves them and He will make a way for them where there seems to be no way. It is to give hope to the hopeless and love to the loveless.

He can take what you have learned about God, yourself and others in relation to past issues and help someone come back into fellowship with Him. Or it may be to help someone receive Jesus as Lord and Savior so they begin witnessing to the lost in their sphere of influence and seeing others receive salvation. This is ‘good’ coming out of otherwise bad situations the devil meant for harm and destruction.

The Great Debate:
I have heard several debates on whether God really does have you to take a look back to your past and the place of your emotional pain. Do you just go back there yourself and poke around ? Does the devil influence you to go digging around back there? The answer is, yes, people go back themselves through their memories and end up living more in the past than they do in the present. Thus, they are stuck in yesterday.

Yes, the devil wants you to live in the past and keep you remembering the pain and blaming others for it all. Why? As long as he can hold you in the past, you will remain his prisoner---his captive and be hindered from realizing your purpose. On the other side of the coin, yes, Holy Spirit really does have you take a look back with the reminder that you’re just passing through. His purpose is to show you revelation truth, whereby you can be healed and set free from satan’s prison without bars.

Haggai 1:7, “Thus says, the Lord of Hosts; consider your ways (your previous and present conduct) and how you have fared.” (read the whole chapter)

God spoke through the prophet Haggai to the Jewish people who had come out of a seventy year exile. Through Haggai, God is telling these people that He wants them to think carefully about their ways of conduct. That is, their behavior and the way they had been living.

Eighteen years earlier, God had told them to rebuild the temple, His house because it was laying in ruins. Like so many of us, they had put off rebuilding the temple for eighteen years and in the end, they had not fared well at all. They had thought of no one but themselves and therefore, conducted their lives accordingly. The people’s main focus was self-gratification instead of hearing and obeying the word of the Lord.

So God said (paraphrase), “I want you to think carefully about the way you have lived. I want you to LOOK BACK over these last eighteen years and see where your selfishness and disobedience worked against you and caused you to be in lack. I want you to look at and consider from that previous (past) time until this present day, all the time you spent on yourselves while My house remained in ruins.”

That was a strong word to those people and its also a strong word for us when we get lazy and procrastinate instead of getting up in obedience to do what He has told us to do individually and corporately as the Church. Procrastination is really disobedience in slow motion. In light of what has already been said, the question is, how could these people consider their ways for the last eighteen years if they didn’t take a look back over the past?

How else would these people be able to see the error of their ways and make the right choices and adjustments? That is, become obedient and say, “Yes, Lord.” They couldn’t. Very clearly, God instructed them to take a LOOK BACK. The same applies to the body of Christ as Holy Spirit leads. God will have us to look back so we can see where we have been deceived and in error. Then, He will show us truth so we can make the right choice and say, “Yes, Lord.”

Taking a look back at your past history is to do so through your memory. One minute ago, one second ago is the past. Its dead. Physically, you have moved on into the next minute of your future. Once that minute is lived, it then becomes the past---its dead. The cycle continues making it ever so real that you only have the present to physically live in. Jesus said, ‘Take no thought for tomorrow.’

Though your body is actively in the present moments of your life, your mind can be stuck in the negative grooves of the past through your memory. Those painful experiences of the past can still LIVE in your memory, even though the past is dead.

Some of our memories are pleasant and enjoyable when something in the present triggers them to your mind. Some of our past memories make us feel joy, while others make us feel sadness. Other memories that are painful causes the anger we’ve tried to push into a corner to suddenly surface again. I say, let us resolve past issues and strive to make more good memories than bad ones with our loved one’s. This way, instead of hurtful memories piling up, we will be accumulating good memories that makes us smile instead of cry.

Your memory can often bring back painful memories that feel as real to you today as they did when they first happened, regardless of whether its been twenty or thirty years ago. All of the emotions you felt then comes back in full force. Its as real to you as the tears running down your face because your loving heavenly Father has brought you face to face with the true source of your pain. Those painful memories and the emotions associated with them has controlled your life and relationships, but Jesus wants you to enjoy the freedom that He died to give you. He’s here to set the captive free.

Physically, you are always flowing in the present, just as I mentioned earlier. As you’re flowing in the present, you are also moving toward your future. Paul said, “Leaving those things behind, that’s the past, I press toward the goal…” that’s future. Look at the sun and the moon in this respect. The sun comes up in the morning. While its flowing in the present to give us daylight, its also moving forward to go down in the evening. Daylight has slipped into the past, so to speak, and now it becomes night. The same thing happens with the moon as it moves forward toward morning where it will slip into the past, so to speak.

God designed it this way so that things would be in a constant movement of time and change. You and I are right in the middle of this movement of time and change. Time, as God designed it, waits for no one. It will move you along physically whether you want to go or not. You may want to remain in a certain year because its been a prosperous year but time keeps moving you toward December 31 and a brand new year whether you want it or not.

Moving forward spiritually and emotionally is another thing because your personal will is involved. A person can decide to slow down and drag their heels, if you will, in disobedience because they don’t want to do something God has told them to do. We do this type thing frequently in the natural. On the other hand, you can’t stop your birthday from coming once a year. As long as you’re alive on planet earth, count on it, its coming. Therefore, instead of dreading birthdays, let us be thankful that God has taken care of us and allowed us to see another birthday. Amen! “In all things, give thanks” (I Thess. 5:18).

Rabbit Holes of Hiding:
Regardless of who you are, what your background is, or what your age is, God wants you to know that He loves you unconditionally and you are His favorite child. We all are since God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). His greatest delight is His sons and daughters who are aggressive in wanting to know His heart. Each of His children are a joy and a delight.

I believe all children in the natural wants to be their daddy’s favorite child, but it is a wise father who shows no partiality. Who shows instead that each child is special in their own right as an individual person. This kind of wisdom comes from the loving heart of God, the Father and is imparted to earthly fathers through His word and His Spirit in much intercessory prayer.

In January of 1998, Holy Spirit began a process in my life where He assured me that He was turning my emotional mess into a success in Him. It has been quite a journey to say the least. Not long after Holy Spirit told me this, my husband and I were having a conversation about how God gives people different personalities and how He uses these personalities to accomplish His Kingdom purposes in the earth. Just the mere mention of the word ‘personality’ struck a sensitive chord within me.

The next day, as I reflected back on the conversation of the night before, the word ‘personality’ struck that same chord within me again. I began to think about it in relation to me and my own personality. Childhood memories began to flood my mind that I had so carefully buried long ago. No matter what you bury deep in your soul as a way to avoid emotional pain, at some time or other, that thing is going to come up and stare you right in the face, demanding attention.

The painful memory of my early teens came up of my mother comparing me to my older sister and telling me that my personality stank. In fact, according to her, I had no personality because I wasn’t as out-going as my sister. I was called anti-social and told that it was no wonder I didn’t have any friends. I had lots of friends at school, I just couldn’t bring them home. I was out-going at school but quieter at home because I had learned early on, the less I said, the less I got criticized where I ended up feeling stupid.

As a child and teenager, the message I heard and believed was that my mother was pleased with my sister and displeased with me. If I would be more like my sister, I would be accepted. Therefore, I believed I didn’t measure up to my mother’s standards. As much as I wanted to please my parents and receive their outward acceptance, I rebelled against trying to duplicate my sisters personality. I was never more aware than I was then of how ‘different’ I was and there must be something wrong with me. This awareness wasn’t in the positive sense of how God had created me but rather in the negative sense of believing that I was a disappointment to my parents.

At hearing my mothers words, I felt the sting of hurt. I felt angry. I felt rejection and shame. For many years I had tried to bury the emotional pain. As a young teenager, I didn’t know how to process the pain and anger in a positive way. I didn’t know how to be angry and sin not. The only way I knew was to bury the pain as deep as I could in a corner of my soul and ignore it until I became numb to its presence. Then, I could believe it was gone.

This is the same thing that a lot of God’s people have done and are doing today in trying to process the emotional pain of their unresolved past. But take courage, the work that Jesus started in you at the moment of rebirth, He will bring it to a satisfied conclusion, whereby you can receive healing and be set free of the past.

Of course, what I did in burying my emotional pain was self-deception because if not properly attended to, an open wound will fester and get worse over time. It will ooze into your current relationships, like I said a ways back. It will show up through depression, discouragement, hopelessness, anger, addictions, etc. Way’s that you may not associate with that particular root cause of pain you’re still experiencing when something that is said or done bumps up against it.

But look out! One day when you least expect it, God answers your consistent prayer for help. First, He had to bring you to a place of complete helplessness where you could say, “God, I can’t do this anymore!” It is at this place, the end of self that you can finally receive His help. This is what He did with me, and is still doing. We never arrive to perfection in this life but rather, we keep pressing on by faith toward the goal.

Before I go any further, I want to take a moment and say that I loved my parents very much. There was so much that I didn’t and couldn’t understand then but God is gracious to help us in our journey to understand many things. I came to realize that my parents were raising us girls the way they had been raised by their parents. They modeled with us what had been modeled before them as an example to follow.

Therefore, my parents raised my sister and I with the only ways they knew how at the time. Ways that seemed right to them. Much later in their lives, they did come to understand that the ways they had been raised had not been totally right. Plus, they were godly parents who taught us about Jesus and raised us to go to church.

They taught us how to have integrity, values and godly principles. They taught us that your word is your bond. They didn’t just tell us about these things, they demonstrated it before us. Through my teenage years and into my early adulthood, I have been cursed for my principles by those who didn’t have any. It showed that my parents had instilled God’s principles in us out of love and they had stuck. Through revelation and understanding, I came to a place where I could forgive my parents and receive healing and freedom. Both my parents are in heaven today with Jesus. They are in my future. My sister and I are all that is left of our little family and she and I are very close.

Plain As Day Ministries

Shirley Williams

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