HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Before I go any further, allow me to personally invite all of you (if you are in the valley) to join us TODAY (July 3rd) to our church family picnic this evening. We will kick things off at 6:30 and go until we decide to head home! Since there are no fireworks this year, we will be on our big lawn outside of our fellowship hall (next to our playground). Bring a picnic dinner (our grill will be fired up if you want to grill something), a camp chair if you want, and join us for an evening of relaxed fellowship, fun, lawn games, and just the gift of being together as the Body of Christ. Hope to see you there!
SO, that said, I want to do something different today. This past Sunday we finished up the first section of Romans (Chapters 1- 3:20), wherein Paul exhaustively presented the necessary diagnosis of humanities issue with sin. This Sunday we will launch into the Magnificent Alternative, which is God's provision- through Christ- of His truly, shockingly, Amazing Grace. And friends, as we celebrate our freedoms as Americans this week, everything that Paul lays out in the rest of Romans calls us to understand and experience the true Freedom that is our In Christ.
Take a minute and consider all the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We have the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, such as freedom of religion, of speech, the right to bear arms, freedom of assembly, movement, and association, just to name a few. On a deeper level, we enjoy political freedom, economic freedom, and the ability to enjoy these freedoms provided by a relatively stable society. But as amazing as these freedoms are, they all have at least one thing in common. They can all be taken away. Contrast this with the consistent, resounding proclamation of God's Word about the Freedom that flows from God's heart, for these call us into a freedom that cannot be taken away. And friends, the significance of this cannot be overstated!
Today and through the week, I invite you to read through the scripture below. These are just a portion of the multitude of scriptures testifying to the Freedom given to us In Christ. Meditate on these, and consider how God is calling you- and me- into a greater experience of this amazing gift of His Amazing Grace- and how God may use us to share these freedoms with others. Because my friends, if the Son has set us free, we are Free Indeed!
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
Jesus stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.
Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin!
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.
1 Corinthians 7:21-22
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
1 Corinthians 9:19-20
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:16
Growing with you in Christ's Freedom,