Freedom in Christ

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Freedom in Christ

Good morning. Happy Sabbath everyone. Well, let's pray.

Dear heavenly father, I just praise you for this day. I praise you for giving us the opportunity to be here. You've provided the country as a place where we have the freedom to worship you Lord and I just pray that you will continue to help us to take these freedoms and be able to rejoice in them and find ways of just understanding who you are and deeper and deeper with. Guide us Lord, guide us a nation, guide us here as a church, guide us as people. Help us to truly understand the blessing of what it means to know you. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen

How was your 4th of July? The 3rd of July was the day my son - you know who my son is by now - was born. So two years ago he was born so we had this parade for us when we got home from the hospital, this really nice parade because our son was born, actually, the 4th of July parade. I hope all of you had a chance to enjoy their 4th of July. I hope none of you were in Simi Valley. That's a horrible story in itself. I hope all of you were safe during that time.

The 4th of July is a great celebration. It's summer time; it's a lot of fun. There are just so many things - picnics and so on. So many things to just rejoice in, but when we think about the meaning of it, 236 years ago or so, there was this country or a group of people that declared their independence and they're this constitution and they used so many principles of the bible to show that man should be free, that humans should have certain rights to be free. And we cherish the concept of freedom. We all want to be free, don't we? Free. And so freedom is something that we as Americans cherish, we honor, we respect, but then we think about it, there is a lot of ways where we are not so free. We live in a country of debt. There is $2.5 trillion of consumer debt alone. And there is $16,000 of credit card debt. I don't know about you, but you know those things in your wallet, those plastic things?

I remember when I was in college, I had all kinds of opportunities to get these plastic credit cards and you know what was cool? I could buy thing that I never could buy before, like wow. I remember I bought a Kirby vacuum cleaner in college. They said well you could just choose it on credit. That thing was worth more than my car. And then you think about it, you get this chance to buy, you buy this toaster and it's yours and you have it and then it's cool and then you realize at 18% interest or 20% interest you're paying twice as much for it. You own a house, you buy a house, you know how much more you pay just on your mortgage?

We have these freedoms. It is my choice, my right to get a credit card, but in itself, it puts in debt and debt is definition, being slave to something. I am a slave. I was for years to my Kirby vacuum cleaner. What are you slaves to? What debts do you have? What are the things that come from your past that you are still holding on to? Think about other things. We talk about a country we live in that cherishes freedom.

Lately in the news there is a guy named Edwin Snowden. Have you heard of him? He's this whistleblower from the NSA, saying that people are listening in to our phone calls. They queue on buzz words and they're doing it for possible for a good reason, for our own protection, but in itself a country that cherishes and honors and respects freedom, there are laws in place to protect us or for other reasons where slowly our freedoms are diminishing.

Politics, that's always fun to talk about, picnics and stuff like that, family reunions, right? One of our favorite subjects during social gatherings and church settings and it's easier to blame the government for our lack of freedoms, but we have ourselves in many ways to blame for our lack of freedom. We have the freedom to do whatever we want, but then we have the freedoms to make our own mistakes and therefore we have things like addictions. I have a freedom to go to the store and buy things and end up in turn enslaving ourselves. We have freedoms to make bad decisions where we hold on to guilt in our lives, resentments, bitterness. God has given us the freedom to make our own decisions and Adam and Eve made their own choices that led us to a sinful nature. Freedom to choose. We have the freedom to choose sin and we are instinctively programmed in a way to do so.

There are some many ways that we are trapped into slavery. Proverbs 26:11 says: As a dog returns to its vomit so a fool repeats its folly. That's a gross thought. Sorry guys. I went to the zoo as a little kid and there was this chimpanzee that was eating it food, throwing up and then eating it and throwing up and eating it. I was fascinated by it, just watching this. But as humans, have you ever made the same mistake twice? We are trapped. We enslave ourselves and all it does when we think of freedom and realize even if the government gives us complete freedom we can't get out of our own ways, and how much we need Jesus. I need Jesus my friends. How about you? Do you need Jesus?

I remember one day my kids and my wife were gonna go to Loma Linda to see her parents and I had the chance to spend the day by myself and I thought, wow, this is awesome. And I thought what am I gonna do? I started to think, in about an hour's time, I miss my family, I miss being around them and I don't know what to do with myself. I don't know what to do with myself.

How do we explain freedom? I would like for us to turn our bibles to John 8:31-36. It says here: Then Jesus said to those Jews who believe him, if you abide in my words you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, we are Abraham's descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say you will be made free? And Jesus answered them, most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin and a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

We all are sinful. We have the sinful nature. We have all committed sins and when we do, we are slaves to sin. My family has a disposition to becoming alcoholics and you see it whenever somebody starts to drink, they just seemingly can't stop. And that's just one issue that I have. How about your issue? What is you nature that you seemingly can't stop doing? We are slaves to sin, but Jesus says the truth shall set you free. You can have freedom over your sinfulness. And it's interesting here. It says: When you are slaves to sin, you're only visitors of God's house, but then it says Jesus is the son who lives in God's house. He lives in God's house. And then when you accept Jesus it says, he invites you in and you can live in God's house for eternity. We are set free.

What is this freedom of? You think of this world we've been living in, it's been hot and muggy and you're driving through traffic and life is difficult and it's hard. What is the opposite? What is heaven like? A release from all of this; complete and total freedom; a freedom you have in Christ. It is interesting. How do we experience this freedom? Matthew 6:24. It says: No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. It's an interesting paradox – freedom. What is freedom?

In American you have certain basic freedoms to do what you want. There are laws that you have to abide by to keep you from hurting other people or doing other things, but you can do whatever you want. And you think, is that freedom? And you start to realize, if you think you have the freedom to do whatever you want you are truly being slaves to yourselves and we are slaves to one thing or another. We can say I do whatever I want; we're slaves to ourselves or it says you can't serve two masters. We either serve ourselves or serve God. And true freedom is actually becoming slaves to God, servants to God, but truth will set you free. Isn't that interesting paradox? How we are to experience freedom is to turn over the things that we think we want, which we think is freedom, but really is distraction and surrender it to God, which we have become slaves to, but set free from ourselves, from our sin. And what is sin? Pain and suffering, mourning. What is salvation? No more death, mourning, suffering, free from all the things that the freedom of this world can provide. Free from all the things that this world can provide. I think I said it twice, I don't think I should say is three times.

Freedom. So what is freedom? It isn't doing whatever you want whenever you want. Galatians 5:1 – it says: Stand fast therefore in the Liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. When we give our lives to Jesus, we become servants to him, but we are set free from the bondages of this world. Remember the Nestle Crunch, remember that? I'm not going to do it here, but you going backwards into the pool – it was a commercial in the 80s I guess – it's just sheer refreshment, just freedom. We give our lives to Jesus. It's kind like a paradox.

The world thinks that if you're going to church, guess what? They're going to tell you how to live your life. They're going to say you need to go to church on Saturday, you're not gonna wear this and you're not gonna eat that, right. There's no freedom in church, I don't want to go to church. But when we give our lives to Jesus we realize that we have a freedom that we can never experience on our own. A freedom to choose God's will. It's such a paradox. Yes, I have the freedom, I don't have to sin and I don't have to experience the consequences of my sins. Jesus gives us freedom. You are in this place, this church serving the God that gives us by definition, true freedom. True freedom in fact, he says I love you so much, I just want you to be with me. That's all I want from you. I can't make you be with me. I'm going to give you the freedom to choose me and here we are a band of sinners that we are. We come here, the world is telling us go this way, to go buy those Kirby vacuum cleaners – salesmen. To follow this crown, to this which seems like freedom and fun. God is saying I have so much more for you. I have a love for you. I have the blessing of you being with me for eternity. I have the blessing of living a life without the weighted guilt of all the sinful mistakes that we've the made. The truth will set us free.

So we live in a country that I respect and love and appreciate. It's freedoms have its limitation. We have our choices and our freedom but those freedoms often leave us to be enslaved and then we have our God who truly gives us a definition of sin. Freedom or a freedom. Freedom isn't doing anything that you want to do. Freedom is the ability to come to God and he will set you free.

Let us pray.

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