Apostle Don Meares
“I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them.”
In this passage, the author makes us realize that you don’t just get bread because you’re smart. You don’t just win the battle because you’re strong. You don’t win the race because you’re fast. You don’t get favor because of your skill. God doesn’t just give favor because you are qualified. A lot of people who are qualified aren’t walking in divine favor.
We’re living in evil times. And some people are snared in these times. It’s not always about being incarcerated in a jail. You can be confined, trapped, or imprisoned in something that is unseen.
Have you ever been in a prison? Have you ever felt confined or imprisoned?
In Psalm 124:7, David writes:
“Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.”
When someone is imprisoned, it is a disturbing thing. If you have done something wrong, paying for your sins will cause you to surrender the things that are most important in your life. On the other hand, you could be accused of something you didn’t do, a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether you are guilty or innocent, being imprisoned is not a good feeling. When you’re trapped like a bird in a snare, there’s nothing you can do. The typical movement of your life will be disrupted and disturbed. Your movement will become unnatural.
Like a bird, how can you sing when you’re in captivity? You are bound. You’re out of the usual. Sometimes it feels like you’re not your own. You feel disconnected from your own emotions, moods, and thoughts.
When you’re imprisoned, there’s no way to contact anybody. You no longer know what’s going on in the outside world. In a jail, have no choice when it comes to your food or clothing.
Sometimes you want people to sing and to be happy. It’s a sign of life. But it’s hard to do so when you’re in prison. How can you sing when you’re in captivity?
How would you deal if you are imprisoned in different dimensions and situations?
You could be imprisoned in a dead end job and quitting is not an option because you need to survive.
You could be living in a neighborhood you don’t like. There could be shooting, violence, drugs, and other dangers. The economic situation’s not looking too good either. Yet you cannot just escape and move to a better place.
You could be trapped in an unhappy marriage where you feel the stress even before you pull up to the driveway.
You could be raising a child you respects everyone else but resents you.
You could be in love someone who will never love you back.
You could be living in proximity with someone who hurts you in different ways and you’re scared to tell others.
There could also be a mistake you made in your past that you can’t undo. But people are so close to discovering your secret because you stepped in the wrong thing. And now you’re scared to death.
Have you ever been trapped? Confined? Imprisoned?
These questions could be too pervasive. It’s too close to home.
In the ministry, everyone is supposed to be perfect, making things look like we never sin. This is a lie. If you say you have no sin, you lie. You deceive yourself. The truth is we all at times sin. It may not be habitual, but we all sin. When’s the last time you gossiped? When’s the last time you lied? When’s the last time you were anxious? When’s the last time you strived for something? When’s the last time you were depressed? We all sin at times, but it’s not habitual. If it’s habitual, then you’re not born again. And you find people that have fallen, and you don’t minister life to them.
But have you ever felt imprisoned because of a secret habit that you can’t tell anyone about? It’s not because you’re not a good person. It’s possible for a good person to be imprisoned in a bad situation. Everybody who comes to church doesn’t come to church because they’re free.
Time and Chance
Is it possible for God to break the chains off of you?
Is it possible for God to set you free?
Time and chance. You might not understand this now but just give it a little more time. If you’re still young, you’ll realize that many here are either coming out of a prison, getting ready to go in a prison, or about to be trapped by the enemy. The enemy has a strategic plan. He is always seeking a way to imprison you, study you, learning what bait to use to make you miserable. His goal is to leave you bound, to incarcerate you physically or emotionally, sexually or financially, or in your relationships.
The problem with being imprisoned is having to do the time. It would not be as difficult, if you didn’t have to do the time. What if your jail cell is invisible and other people don’t know you’re in prison? Let’s take a look at the story of Lazarus.
“33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
Lazarus Raised from the Dead
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone [a]from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” –John 11: 33-44
Lazarus has fallen into a trap. Sickness and disease comes from the enemy. He was 30 years of age, according to scholars. He used to be active and up before his illness. A good friend of Jesus, he was full of life. But then he became sick. Then it got worse and the young man became weak.
His sisters asked Jesus to come and heal His best friend. But Jesus didn’t come. What do you do when you’re in the midst of a difficult process and Jesus didn’t come?
What if Jesus didn’t come when you were asking for help in your marriage? In your career? In your finances? In your health?
Lazarus was bound by death. He was wrapped with linen after being gripped by sickness. When something has been dead for days, it might cause a stinky situation. The same applies to many places in our lives. When there is a problem and it has been going on for a while, it might cause a stinky situation.
On top of the problem, the other problem is that it smells and it’s bad. What is that “it” in your life? You might not feel courageous enough to tell everyone but you might have “it”. And “it” could be causing a bad smell.
Of course, you don’t want everyone to see where you are imprisoned. But sometimes it becomes visible.
In the story of Lazarus, Jesus shows up four days later with the mindset that He will fix it. Everybody else knows that the young man had died. Despite knowing what Jesus could do, the people around Him are wondering, can something still be done?
After a long time of being imprisoned in a failed relationship, business, financial management, health, and other aspects of life, is it possible to be resurrected now?
Sometimes it feels as if Jesus came too late.
It’s easy to be who you are when you are free, when you are whole and well. But when you are imprisoned, sometimes you don’t have a choice.
You have to understand who Jesus is—that He is the Resurrection and the life (John 11:25). He is the Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). He is the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). He is the Great I AM (Exodus 3:14).
Wherever Jesus is there will be Resurrection because that’s who He is.
Jesus waited for four days so that everyone was in agreement that Lazarus was dead. He wanted to show His power to the people. He wanted to show His beloved friend that no weapon formed against him will prosper (Isaiah 54:17).
Let us understand the time and chance given to us. Shout “Lazarus, come out.”
Call the dead things in your life to come out— finances, calling, family, health.
business, emotions, and mindsets.
Shout with a voice of triumph. Call them back to life.
Something is about to happen in your spirit. Something is about to change in all the dead things that you want to come back alive.
It is our time and our season. God wants to come and dwell in us this season.
Shout “Lazarus!” and feel the chains and the yoke breaking. You may still be going through the challenges or feeling down and out but God is moving. The bondage can be destroyed by the moving of the Holy Spirit.
You may feel paralyzed by your situation. But think about Lazarus. Can you imagine when Jesus woke him up but he was still bound by the grave clothes?
Don’t remain trapped when you’re born again.
Get up on your feet. Listen to the voice of Jesus.
Press your way until you find your way to Jesus.
Come to Jesus. Even in your circumstance, come to Jesus.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).” Keep hearing the Word from God.
It’s time to come out of your depression, fear, pain, sickness, stress, and debt. You have the Resurrection power of Christ in you. God is waking you up. Unbound and let yourself go. God has already given you the power to break every chain.
Receive by faith and act by faith.