God's Promise of Freedom
God Made You in our hearts and our minds to be more like you in Christ's name we pray. Amen. What is freedom last week we talked about what is guidance. How does God guide us? And today? We're going to look at actually three of the scriptures in the lectionary. So we both have an Old Testament reading the song Amanda gospel this morning, and we're going to try to connect those dots together by asking what is freedom day. We open up with the last words of the Prophet Moses in the beginning words of Jesus's Ministry. As it was described at this conference and Amanda and I attended this weekend. The last words of a person often gives is an opportunity to focus on what is important and who is important? And we in our own family that many of those experiences. No looking back. I'm I'm thinking about these words being spoken at this conference and I remember going into her grandmother and her telling us she loves us. That's important. We were important to her and when it comes the first words like Jesus's ministry here, we always think about how critical it is to give a first impression think about a new job or an organization you belong to those Spurs beginning words sets the tone and who you are as a person and I've had good experiences where I've given good first words, and I've had some really bad ones as well. You know, I asked the more time I spend in the ministry the more I realized what to say and what not to do in those first words, but it's important. In what situations it's a vital that one's message comes across clear and precise. In the wife of the church. It's so vital that we know what are unified mission and vision are the important words so that we can move forward and grow the kingdom of God because what we do as a church has Eternal consequences if we're preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are saving Souls. That's what our mission is many denominations put out statements as our owned it for the last couple years. It was a pretty awesome mission statement. It said that the United Methodist Church is here to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Are you guys familiar with this? We are here to make disciples for the transformation of rubble. What does that mean? How do we do it? How do we set the tone for our churches to make the siples for the transformation of the world? We're both Moses and Jesus. They tell us not only what we are commanded to do in these passages this morning, but how to do it. So can I spent two days learning from people across the theological Spectrum how to create disciples on how to do intentionally, so we don't just think about making disciples, but we actually do it. It's more than just of Angela's, you know, I've given those statistics the average Main Line Christian. I'll see if anybody remembers shares their faith every 33 years 33 years. And this was a stat that was given to me back in 2013 As A discipleship evangelism conference in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church. One of my good friends. Matt Hanson is a general evangelist with the United Methodist Church any stats continue to be true 33 years, but I'd like to know the stat and how many of our people are being intentional about discipling. How many of us have been brought up in the face surrounded by brothers and sisters to grow in our walk with Jesus? You know, my my home Pastor is who did it for me, but I can't see the pastor that would be impossible specially in some of these larger churches, right? You have to have the body of Christ so round there's people that join the church today many of them right have been here forever. But we as the body of Christ need to come around them and raise them up and become mature Christian at age has nothing to do with spiritual maturity. You could be a young kid or an old older person right at amateur mature person. And life and spiritual maturity has nothing to do with age. You know, I know young kids as young as five-years-old that can tell you the story of Jesus the story of him dying on the cross rising from the dead right all the Miracles and I can tell you I talk to older folks that they don't even know that what the Trinity is. They don't know that God the Father the Son the Holy Spirit or three in one so we have to do a better job at the cycling we have to do a better job at raising me but it's part of the lime and is going to do this when she started thinking about that. She didn't know my sermon series for Lent is spiritual boot camp. We're going to be talked about being on boot camp together. So we're going to get get out of therapy and maybe we'll do some jumping jacks or something. Right? We're going to learn how to be spiritual mature Christian many of you are much more even mature than me. You been around a lot longer. I understand that but we can grow together. We can grow together in Christ. You know, it was really incredible to see people from all bodies of Faith come together to learn how to mature Christians how to not we baptize people but they raise them up in the face. And I do give props to our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church, you know many of them went through confirmation class and it took several years to be confirmed and I walked alongside Amanda as she was attending that process and you know, when we went to baptist undergrad together, she was the smartest one in the room. You don't have to study a single exam that first year because she knew all of this stuff from confirmation confirmation as a youth pastor for seven or eight years and the longest preparation course, I thought was about 12 weeks along now. I will say this we talked in the car as a youth pastor. I was so intentional about discipling my kids and I could see some of the fruit of that today anybody that ever served with kids use natural the really invest but no sense being a lead Pastor that's become really hard to be that intentional because one thing you have with you is very transparent relationship and I've always been transparent with my kids where they mess up and you know, it's so exciting to see when when some of them so, you know what, I think God calling me to Ministry that's incredible. But you know, we can do that with adults do we don't have to only work with our kids? I too am going to do a better job at being intentional and it doesn't mean that I'm showing favoritism in this was a question that was asked of one of these Bishops. It's your picking out five or six people in your church and you're intentionally discipling them. What is the rest of the church today? We're just cycling those five or six of them those five or six and go out in disciple more of the church. So be prepared we're going to do some of that. I'm going to implement some of the stuff that we learned this conference because I think it's that important. In the last words of Moses and opening words of Jesus Ministry, they make Faith so simplistic, they really say this follow the commands in both mind and heart. And all things ask for forgiveness. So we're going to follow the commands of God to the best that we can. remind our hearts and when we mess up cuz we know we're going to we say Sorry God and we mean it. We repent but what does all that have to do with freedom? How does Saturn in Repentance in discipleship? How does that all fit in our freedom? So we're going to look at that first song together. Just the first verse those whose way is blameless who walk in the Lord's instruction are truly happy. No, andar opening song this morning and tells us that true happiness is found with those who walk blameless who walk in the Lord's instruction. And I Define freedom for me as happiness. I like some of you this morning have gone through tough times times of sadness and even depression. I've even suffered with depression. And in fact, I've had some of those days and weeks and days and often these times are when I feel in prison with no freedom. Is anybody ever felt in prison like you had no way to get out of this box that you're in. It's often the times where I was you either hated somebody or something by situation. Are even better for me. I simply had no control of the outcome. Who likes the control out? all of us we want to have some control of our life. I mean, I think that's just human nature. Maybe that's being an American. We like to pay for our own way. But I was I was locked up without the ability to do anything about it. But I feel happy. I feel freedom in my work in my location in my life. Being told what to do with not what I'm told what to do when to do it and how to do it, but I have no control. It makes me frustrated. God gave his word and his instruction not to restrict us and restrict our freedom, but they give us happiness for blameless living. So kids children, they need instructions. You don't just have your kids do whatever they want to do. And if so, that's not really good parenting right? Like we need I'm a parent I make mistakes all the time. But there are some rules that we give our kids and and I hope that all parents at some point, you know, if your kids going to go put their hand on the stove and burned themselves. I hope you stopping for doing that. Now eventually they might do it anyway, but you gave them what's going to happen, right? God works the same way God gives us freedom and he says, you know this things to do as my children and sometimes you burn ourselves. Sometimes we don't want to follow God's instruction. The last week we talked about the wall and I really thought about it. I said, you know, I got to think a little bit more on this and my sermon title was God's promise of God. I came from the gospel. We talked a little bit of Bonhoeffer and a cheap Braves versus costly Grace. But the truth is that we're really going this connection this week. God loves us so much that he desires us to live a life to the fullest. God wants nothing but the best for us and I hope that all of you that our parents grandparents want the best for your children what the best for your grandchildren? And then again, we're going to be we're going to be idiot. Sometimes right we're going to do some things that are not too smart, but that's what it's not the end of the road. There's always a second opportunity for Redemption. Well, certainly it's true that the laws of the Old Testament and couldn't ceremonial laws. Like what animals have to sacrifice for what sins food laws like a cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza now, we're about to start and went and let me tell you when I was growing up. That was the most frustrating thing as a Protestant. We're in Catholic country and I went through the school line to get my pepperoni pizza and I never could during when it was always cheese pizza, you know, and so we need to think about what are we going to give up? What are we not only going to give up but what are we going to take up for Lent? Are we going to give up, you know, maybe our daily cell phone use now those of you have an iPhone, you know, there's an app on there cuz you how much time you actually spend on your phone. Now. Has anybody have that the good thing so I have it. Yes, cuz I want to know am I spending 12 hours a day on my phone how many times am I picking up Facebook by email? So I would encourage you over. Let's look at that say okay. I'm going to get about half of the time that I'm spending on my phone and I'm going to invest that in reading the word of God. What are we going to take out during Lent?
Because the fact is Jesus did overrule some of those laws right side we can eat the animals that are sacrificed any animal. He said that You took away. The ceremonial laws. We no longer have to tie a piece of rope to my ankle and a bell. So when I walk through the church that are not strike down by. That's what happened in the temple for the fries would enter the temple and if he he didn't repent of his scent and was holy before the Lord will God would strike him down now, I don't feel worried about dying coming in the church. Is anybody else feel worried about that? No, absolutely not but. Overturn this Jesus overturned it and see I find personal joy in knowing that I am doing what I can not to save myself but to live the way God wants me to honor my heavenly father. Why you know, why would you want to do anything different God our father died on a cross? I personally find joy in good order and discipline. And again, I'm a child in the eyes of God and I need some Parental Guidance once in a while we all do. Joy, and happiness are included in the entirety of gods were so you know, there's some people that they look at the Old Testament. Look at the New Testament makes it will this you know, the god of the Old Testament was rap for me. And the god of the New Testament is is joy and love and peace is not true. God of the entire Bible says God stays the same yesterday as he is today. God is never changing. The character has not changed from Genesis to Revelation because God gave us free will you know, it was our human choice to eat the fruit that we were told not to it's our choice. But what does that I do every time we mess up he figures it out. You were deems us of our sins. He loves us as a father. Does he talk ain't going back to the scripture those whose way is blameless in the Lord's instruction are truly happy. Do I want to be happy in my life? Do you want to be happy in your life? I don't want to be one of those miserable people that sit around moping around all day. I don't want you to know I had a grandfather like that. You may walk. It was just mean everyday. Who wants to do that? It's horrible. I don't want to be a mean person. I want to be happy with God. I want to I want to be able to live life to its fullest we do that for God, but obviously something keeps us from getting there. Something keeps us from being happy all the time. For what? Coherent new Toronto me. We're going to read that just the one verse again. If you obey the Lord your God Commandments that I am commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God. We know Jesus that's where you got this from the walk away. Am I keeping his Commandments his regulations and his case laws, then you will live and thrive in the Lord. Your God will bless you in the land you're entering to possess. Could Moses and Jesus make it any clearer for us this morning? That arson is what separates us from God. Sin is what separates us from freedom and happiness and sinners simply anything that separates us from God.
And I personally know when I said. I feel guilt and I should. Another problem is some people except that sin is not really a reality anymore. FLA now that I'm older I certainly feel security of my salvation with God. No Wesley did not feel secure in his salvation thought he was about 38 years old. So he probably I don't know if you heard or not, but I'm going to I'm going to quote Wesley here till after John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church Arena of Martin Luther's understanding of the book of Romans. He said I felt my heart strangely warmed. I thought I did trust in Christ Christ alone for salvation and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins even mine and save me from the law of sin and death. And from that moment John Wesley's Ministry completely changed forever. So does anybody know what happened prior to this date? So this was put out for Valentine's Day. So Wesley had a woman problem. John Wesley diver was good with the ladies at all. And so right before this he had in front of the church.
Deny communion to this young lady who left him for another man because he was unwilling to commit marriage to her if you wanted to go evangelize to the native people. They got on the ship, right? And he almost died. The horrible break-up story, right? He lost his lady gets on this ship. You almost dies. He has a spiritual moment with these German Christians and then he goes and he's on land and 1738. And here's the story from the book of Romans from Martin Luther and he has this heartwarming experience.
The point here was Wesley. Once he knew he was a sinner and a Jesus alone would save him from his sin. He found joy freedom and happiness, and we know the rest of the story he comes back to America recharge. And spreads a movement that last we're here now. as a result But it took some severe terminal it took some spiritual redefining it took some time with Christians from all across the feline family.
But God was there in the midst of it all. The scripture from Deuteronomy this morning. Do I have that? Yes tells us we will live and Thrive when we with our whole Hearts follow the instructions and the words of God. Is that not simple enough to be happy is the follow God's words as we look at the text this morning. We noticed it doesn't say you may be happy. It doesn't say when you choose to it doesn't say you may live this way know it says I'm commanding you right now by loving your guy by walking in his ways and my keeping his Commandments. So the challenge for us is not to let Sin from keeping us from a relationship with Jesus.
We cannot allow us in the separate us from the love of God. We have to do something about it. She just tells the woman go and sin no more. I'm with you. I'm a center. Well, I be perfect. Probably not know. Is it possible according to John Wesley? Absolutely. But for me, I'm too messed up. So don't let sin separate us from the love of God, but here we are. We're not start Point here. How do we live in the in this freedom? And we're going to look at that gospel text. And if your right eye cause you to fall into sin rip it out. Throw it away. It's better that you lose part of your body then that your whole body be thrown into hell now. How do we live in Freedom and happiness? by sending and sending boldly
Jesus gives us a simple solution here. If your right eye makes you sin rip it out. Now. This was talked about at our conference to the likelihood is if if we were getting a time machine right now lie Back to the Future DeLorean years ago the likelihood as we would probably not see a bunch of people with missing arms legs and eyeballs, right? They do it got to go to the Middle East today. In your hand gets chopped off right as far as Christians and Jews. We didn't really do that. The point here is How the accountability in your daily walk discipleship example, I personally do not think it's a sin to drink you want to have one or two beers good for you guys, and I've certainly and braced one or two drinks before but if you're at the point where you're getting loaded and drunk every night, it is time to go to AAA and get a sponsor a Ministry that will give you support in your in accountability in your sinfulness. Or perhaps you like food. So and the other day we had Judy had rolls down there and she wouldn't give me one and thank you so much. I appreciate it. Because I love food. I love good food. Not just I don't want to eat this. What is that? Kale salads all the time? No, I don't want to be a vegetarian know I like all that stuff. But the point is if I'm sinning and I can't help myself. I'm not going to be happy. I'm going to be sad. I'm going to be out of that relationship with God that I truly want to be in. And I want some people to surround you and Christian love and say brother. We have you we're here to help you. And I've had that in my life where I've been surrounded by fellow Christians, we're all mess-ups and we're there to help each other. That was the the strong point of our movement in the 1700s was he small groups that got together and held each other up in love and accountability. Jesus tells us several items in Our Gospel reading such as we shouldn't look at a person in life and if we do we've committed adultery and we hate somebody we've committed murder. No, I hope we're not hating. I hope we're not, you know committing these sins of the mind and the Heart. But the fact is we do. Jesus did not make things any easier and simpler this morning. PE turn the Dynamics around by making God's law apply to us every day. You just put it in layman's terms. This is what this means. But what we have to do it as a society is living that relationship with God our creator and that we have a benefit from following God's love letter. That's what the Bible is. It's God's love letter to his children. It's that that statement up son daughter. If you do these things you will have a better life. You will prosper for following my word. And it doesn't matter what you look like. What country you belong to what we dress like we're all Brothers and Sisters of the Bible. Let us hold each other up. God desires us all to live in complete freedom and happiness. It's up to us to follow the instruction book or not. But I closed definitely with a fuse.