Prisoners set free
So it’s that time of year where we have worked hard to complete all preparations for our yearly production, and this year it is Prisoners, based on the mission journey of the apostle Paul and Silas according to Acts 16. This dramatization of one of the apostle Paul’s journeys is both as powerful as it is creative and from the very onset of rehearsals from back in June, God has moved in the hearts and minds of all involved and set us free from the prisons of wrong mind-sets, thinking patterns, emotional strongholds, and lies that kept us bound.
For us personally after the first rehearsal of working on the theme song “I’m a prisoner!” and experiencing the anointing of the Lord so powerfully because of the unity among the cast members, my daughter was that very night set free from a soul tie, and now this Sunday after final rehearsal was completely freed from the ties of a friendship because the Lord showed her how jealous He is over her. What became interesting to me as I contemplated our journey as a church from the starting work on Prisoners till yesterday is how the Lord ministered in the church meetings over this period about righteousness as a gift, holiness, hidden tombs of dead works, compassion, shining as starts forever when we lead others to salvation and more which links with the message brought forth through the production. And with rehearsals being immediately after the church meeting, it just so happened that the pieces worked on, in my mind at least, linked and confirmed what was ministered through the word in the service. I felt myself being made free every week, layer upon layer until ever last lie of what I need to work through for now had been dealt with.
So when in church yesterday apostle Andre ministered on the Humility of Jesus from Philippians 2 and the part that stood out for me most of all was not that Jesus chose to lay down everything that made Him equal to God, but that once He chose to be a man he chose to be the lowest form of man in the hierarchy of our carnal minded thinking of societal rank and stature. He chose to become a servant. This struck me because although for the greater part of last year I meditated on and studied what the Lord describes the character of a servant to be like, it now opened it up and drove it home in a way I had never seen or grasped before. I knew that I had to choose to serve and that when one serves one does not do it for glory or so others can be grateful for your service, one does not serve with ulterior motives because then one stands the risk of growing bitter and resentful. One serves as unto the Lord. But this time round as apostle Andre continued to impart knowledge and understanding to us during the flow of the morning other things stood out like;
Jesus sought no reputation, in fact He made Himself of no reputation to not just become man but to become a servant, and in my study I did last year I remember thinking about how we in society view servants. We don’t hold them in much regard if we are honest. How do we think of a janitor, a street sweeper, a bus driver, refuse removers, gardeners, cleaning ladies, domestic servants, tea ladies, bank tellers, cashiers at shops, teachers, civil servants and I can continue. How do we view them, speak of them, and treat them? All we as humans ever want is recognition, reputation, acknowledgement, honour and more, but do we give a title of that to those who serve us? In all honestly we are more typically harsh, impatient, unforgiving, unrelenting, un-kind, critical, and judgemental and hold ourselves in much higher regard than those who serve us and much higher than we ought to regard ourselves. But until I hearing the apostle break it down into bite size chunks, I realised I never understood that one first has to make oneself of no reputation to be able to be a servant, as long as I hold on to my reputation of who I think I am or was, I can never truly serve freely and whole heartedly wanting nothing in return. And that means no reputation both the negative reputation and the “great” reputation of wonderful accomplishments, both need to go. Just like Moses, Joseph, David, Abraham, Elijah, John the Baptist and Paul. Become no one and nothing, to understand that Christ is everything, then I can truly serve.
So humility is to see them – those who serve us – as equal and just acknowledging that they can do something I can’t and they can do it well. Doesn’t mean I feel guilty for not doing it, or compete to show myself better, it’s just saying ‘thank you’ really, and truly appreciating that without them we wouldn’t have the luxuries we enjoy and take for granted. Humility is having a same estimation of myself and others. It is because of our haughtiness toward each other that no one in South Africa wants to serve one another anymore.
We should want to serve firstly our spouses and then our children and then the rest of humanity with the same mind as Christ, giving of ourselves asking noting in return, and follow His example as further laid out by the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2v18 to 25. Paul writes that Jesus did not consider it robbery to lay down His power and all that made Him equal to God and become not just man but a servant man but also obedient. So the two major keys in Philippians 2 is He emptied Himself of all privileges to be a servant and secondly He humbled Himself to become obedient even to death on the cross which is described as a curse – cursed is the man who hangs on a tree. Peter then continues to describe to us that as a servant Jesus endured suffering patiently and it was commendable before God. That we are called to be servants just like Jesus and that He left us an example. He did not revile back, He didn’t threaten while suffering at the hands of the cruel and spiteful. The Peter continues in 1 Peter 3:1 to encourage wives to do the same.
So looking at these examples from scripture and being left to meditate on them, church adjourned and we start final rehearsals for the Prisoners production. For any who have read the passage in Acts 16 you will know there is a slave girl with cruel masters who comes to salvation at the hands of the apostle Paul. In the musical she sings a song written by teacher Chantal Pelser that so accurately captures what she must have felt like and what so many of us may feel like due to being treated harshly, unkindly, with ridicule and judgement, put down, kicked around and more. As I listened and watched it suddenly struck me like a bright light flicking on, this slave girl understood exactly what Jesus meant to her and her salvation was all the more precious for it. She sings: Why should I feel discouraged if I have You as my Friend? Why should I feel so lonely if I know You are my Friend? Here am I rejected by the world, casted out, they say that I’m no good. But somewhere deep inside, I know that it’s a lie, for You have answered my faintest cry. Jesus. How can one explain with words so limited, the work You’ve done in my life? You’ve taken away all fear, all rejection and You gave me perfect love instead. © Pelser Media
She understood that Jesus was treated just as she was and that made that He truly understood how she felt, so her salvation wasn’t just another fleeting action or moment, it was a deep inner reality that no one could take away from her, ever! Jesus was a servant and she too was a servant, which means He fully understood every intricate detail of her life and knew exactly how to reach her and how to comfort her and became he dearest closest friend. This is what salvation is, a connecting with Someone greater than I. A giving over into the hands of Someone far stronger than I. Watching the young actress who acts in this particular scene, just deepened for me again the immensity of Jesus’ life, His work on the cross and the power of His resurrection. It deepened the value of my salvation for me and this is why I am sharing this. This young actress also serves along her mother in the church and has served here since she was a little girl, she helped clean the bathrooms, sweep, and vacuum, wash the bins, prepare communion, clean up after services and quietly without grumbling doing this behind the scenes work for years Sunday after Sunday and when there are functions and events. So for me the scene is really powerful because of her selfless character displayed over the years and what a blessing it has always been to all of us.
If you have been treated harshly by life, people, family, colleagues’ etcetera or if you have given your best to serve others and all they did, was kick you in the teeth, then come to Jesus. Let Him comfort you with His love. Just confess Jesus as Lord and saviour of your life, repent of your sinful ways and holding on to hurt and un-forgiveness, release those who harmed you and believe that Jesus has forgiven you also. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is now Lord of your life and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. And ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and add you to a local church where you can be cared for. Romans 10v9 to 11 and John 1v12 and 13; John 3v16; 1 John 1v7 and 9
If you are in Cape Town then come to the Prisoners production and see and experience the goodness of Jesus as He heals your broken heart and sets you free from the lies of the Devil and the strongholds of pain, or bring a friend or family member who needs His touch.
And if you can’t come to the production, invite the cast to your area, or watch the live stream sermons via www.harvesterchurch.net or order the DVD of Prisoners via www.pelsermedia.com be it you do live in the Cape Town vicinity come to Sunday services at 10am and 6:30pm.
Remember that Jesus is completely in touch with how you feel and in Hebrews 2v16 to 18 and Hebrews 4v15 and 16 Paul encourages us by once more explaining who Jesus is.
Another moment that struck me deeply was Silas’ confession and repentance song at the end. Where he realizes how proud and arrogant he had been and how God allowed circumstances to humble him. Once he realises the state of his own heart he repents and once more acknowledges that it is all and only by grace through faith that we firstly come to salvation and then live a life of servant-hood to God and humanity. And that the fact that God chose to use us is not a feather in our cap or a trophy on our mantel piece, it doesn’t give us more esteem than others or proves He has more favour on us, no it is only by His grace that we comprehend the true reason of being a believer in Christ, and that is to bring others to salvation and to serve God and man with that which we have been given and to see it as a privilege that He should allow us to do so or that He even trusts us enough to allow us to spread the gospel, to receive new and deeper revelation knowledge, wisdom and understanding. It is by His grace that we walk in obedience. So let us who stand and are able to serve, watch lest we too fall. It is all only by His grace.
So as the song was being sung, I too repented of losing my focus and esteeming myself higher than others, of wanting recognition and promotion in ways that look good to me, but that I definitely do not have understanding of. I recommitted my life to the Lord and asked the Holy Spirit to help me remember that I do all things as unto the Lord and not as unto man, and God will reward me in ways that make sense to me, not ways that look good to the flesh.
Thank You Jesus for leaving us such a great example and for giving us Your Holy Spirit to help us, lead us and guide us, to teach us and show us how You lived and how You did things so we can also follow in Your footsteps. Thank You for Your grace that is sufficient and that You are strong in the areas of our weakness. Thank You for church where we are covered and cared for. Bless You Lord. We love You.
(c) Celeste Glass
(c) Celeste Glass