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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Words of Encoragement July 2, 2017

This morning our Sunday School teacher continued the lesson on Adversity. Once again it fit well with Pastor’s sermon message. The SS message can be summarized as noting that adversity is often used to cause people to turn to God. It is important how we respond to adversity. Do we remember that God will see us ‘through it all’? Paul counted it a privilege to be persecuted for his faith. The children/people of God must be careful not to be so content in their circumstances that they become complacent. (Just as the Israelites in the wilderness considered returning to Egypt where they were slaves.) Adversity is a road we need to travel to get where God wants us to be. Adversity builds character. It shapes us into what we will become; who we are meant to be in Christ.

Pastor’s Sermon was on Freedom… fitting as we are in Independence weekend and our American independence will be celebrated Tuesday, July 4. We are thankful for freedom but sometimes it is taken for granted. We can see around us that people trade freedom for other things.

The United States Constitution describes three inalienable rights. They were not achieved by man but considered God given: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, it seems that people often move from freedom to bondage. People have tendency to drift back toward their former condition as slaves. (Just as the Israelites in the wilderness considered returning to Egypt where they were slaves.)

We are slaves to possessions, debt, confusion about God's laws, sins, addiction, and disbelief.
Matthew 19:16-30 tells of a young man who wanted to know how to achieve eternal life. Christ tells the young man to give up all he has and “follow me”. Freedom in Christ comes with a price; the man was unwilling to give up his wealth. He was a slave to possessions.

The Point: To understand and appreciate the freedom we have in Christ, we need a full understanding of 'serving' Jesus.

"Serving" has a different, deeper meaning than we generally think. Romans 5:18-21 6:5-8 19-23. A slave is a person who belongs to another. If we choose to follow Christ, then we serve Christ as a willing slave of Christ. We are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ. There is no third option. True freedom is in giving ourselves to Christ. It is a freedom that was purchased at a great price.
The truth sets you free and you are free indeed. John 8:31-36. But now we belong to Christ. Colossians 1:13.

And if we belong to Christ, why do we continue to live in bondage? We too have been crucified with Christ; we are a new creation with Christ living in us. Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17.
How do we live this life of freedom? We give thanks for the cross; then we give up ownership of self. When we see Satan’s lie that 'freedom is found outside of Jesus', then we will understand that true freedom is found only in Christ.

Like those drawn to the freedom of America, when others see people free in Christ, they are drawn to God.

(It took me some time today to find the song I wanted. 
I had a good time listening to some powerful songs.)
I ended up with a song new to me - but it seems to fit.

Verses for Today:
Romans 6:19
19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

Lord, thank you for the freedom you give me to be free of my human, fallen nature.  Help me to celebrate my freedom in You and give freedom for You to live in me. Help me to remember that as your servant I agree to be your willing slave.

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