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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2017

Freedom is found in a life of faith

Oct 19, 2017

Freedom. We seem to hear that word a lot now days. Webster defines freedom as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. This definition brings to memory a passage from the Gospel of John chapter 8. As Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people of the day he makes this statement. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

When we read this passage, we begin to ask ourselves the question, have I sinned. The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. Every person has sinned. The battle that we face as flesh and blood human beings is one of serving God or serving something else. There are many things in our lives that we can become enslaved to or mastered by. For many of these things, they start off very small but left unchecked they grow until our lives are consumed by them. Jobs, relationships, philosophies, family, and a myriad of other things that could be listed, can all become forefront in our lives while our relationship with God gets equated to the attendance of a religious observance or a quickly spoken rote prayer with no connection to the one we are praying to.

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish people and to us as well as he pronounced this warning. He was making a profound statement about priorities in our lives. God must be the center of our lives. In another teaching by Jesus, he spoke of two builders. One builder built on the rock and the other builder built on the sand. When the rain, torrents, and winds came the house that was built on the rock remained while the other house collapsed and was destroyed. Our foundation, our center, must be on Christ. If I am more concerned with making money than honoring God with what I have, I am building my house on my ability to make ends meet and I will eventually become a slave to a job. My self worth does not come from a relationship with others, it comes from a relationship with God. It seems so simple to say God is my provision and God is the center of my life, but take a look and honestly evaluate what you are doing. Where is your commitment to God? Sadly, most of us go through our lives with an awareness that God exists and as long as we are a good person, we think He is pleased with us. What is really our master? Is it God or is it some other thing? We read in scripture that “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” That means that even on our best day with our best effort, we still aren’t good enough to be declared holy.

We come back to our freedom now. Each of us has been given the freedom to accept Jesus Christ or not accept him. We have the freedom to declare him the Lord and master of our lives or to try to accomplish things in and of ourselves. In this passage in John: 8, Jesus was teaching us that the wins we might experience doing things our own way were temporary. I challenge each of you reading this column to take a look at your life. Turn off your distractions for a few minutes and earnestly ask God to show you where he is in your life or if perhaps, something has taken his place. Once you have done that, begin to ask him to show you what needs to be done to put him back in his rightful place in your life. Let him be the center of your thoughts and your actions. What you will find is the freedom you thought you had before was not really freedom at all.

It is possible to live a life that pleases God and brings fulfillment to you. The life in Christ is a life of freedom.

Dave Watson is the pastor of Washington First Assembly of God.

 

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 27, 2017 19:49
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 23, 2017 05:53

On the night that Jesus was about to be betrayed and go to the cross, He went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:36–46). He was so overwhelmed and deeply troubled that He asked His disciples to stay there and pray for Him. He went away by Himself and fell on the ground and prayed, "Father, if it's possible, take this cup from Me." Later, when He went back to check on His disciples, hoping to get some encouragement, to gain some strength from them, they were all sound asleep. Frustrated and disappointed, He woke them up and said, "This is the greatest challenge I've ever faced. This is when I need you more than ever." He asked them even more emphatically, "Please stay awake and pray!" Again Jesus went away by Himself to pray, only to return to them a second and third time and find them still asleep. He didn't even try to wake them up. He just looked at them and said, "Sleep on" (Matthew 26:45).

Jesus wanted His disciples' support. He deserved it. He could have kept waking them up, trying to make it happen, being frustrated with them. But He wouldn't allow their lack of support distract or keep Him from doing what His Father had called Him to do. He accepted that He wasn't going to have their support, and He didn't let it discourage Him. He knew they loved Him, that their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak. He didn't fight it. He told them to "sleep on" and moved forward to face the cross alone.

There are times when things haven't work out the way we wanted—the friends we counted on weren't there, the medical report wasn't good, the dream wasn't happening on our timetable. We could be frustrated and discouraged. We did the right thing, we stayed in faith, but it hasn't worked out. You have to do like Jesus and tell the disappointment, tell the frustration, tell the delay, "Sleep on. You're not going to sour my life or drag me down. I know God is on the throne, and He'll get me to where I'm supposed to be."

Are there people that you need to stop trying to wake up? Are you going to keep trying so hard to change that person who won't do what you want, won't meet your expectations? It's time to say "sleep on." You can't control what they do. You can't make people do what's right. Pray for them, be respectful, but don't let them frustrate you for the next thirty years. Two simple words can change your life: "sleep on."

by Joel Osteen

 



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