Another Gift God Gave

The last two Sunday sermons reminded us of God’s generosity toward His people in the gifts or blessings that have been given to us. We reviewed the gift of grace given to all who choose to receive. Last week we spoke of the gift of reconciliation to those in the world. This week we want to look at a third blessing that we can celebrate at this wonderful Christmas time. That is that God has set us free!
In Galatians 3, the scripture tells us that the whole world is a slave to sin. We are in bondage to sin and every consequence/symptom that results from our separation from God. We are chained to the sin of greed and every symptom of depression and anxiety that comes about from the lust of either having or not having money. We are bound by evil arrogance and pride and the hate that stems from belittling others and the appetite for power. We are bound by wrath and the destroyed relationships and crippled souls this sin leaves in its wake. We are bound by lust, gluttony, sloth, envy and the consequences derived from these as well (Every sin has one or more consequences/symptoms and demons attached).
So where is the joyful Christmas tidings? It is found in Galatians 5:1, “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.” The Bible tells us that when we give ourselves to sin we become its slave (John 8:34). We are just as much, if not more, slaves needing deliverance as the children of Israel were under Pharaoh in Egypt. But the advent of Jesus our Lord brought about the key that unlocks the prison doors and looses the chains that bind us. Let’s remember John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” When we see the Baby Jesus lying in a makeshift manger this year, we are not just seeing one of many Christmas decorations. We are seeing a representation of our very own Deliverer who came to set us free and bless us with the gift of freedom!

Be blessed even more.

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church

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Tear Down This Wall

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made one of the more notable challenges in this nations history. As the President stood in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, these historic words rose in view of the world, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I still get goose bumps when I see this freedom charged discourse. I get the same feeling when I watch President Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” address. We are a nation that values freedom.

Our Lord values freedom. Jesus conveys what real freedom is in John 8:31-36, 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 They answered him,  “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slaveto sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Jesus tells us that freedom is not necessarily being able to do whatever we want, when we want it. If we use our freedom to remain in sin and selfish living, we are actually slaves to our own carnal behavior. But if we continue in God’s Word and put into practice His Word, we are made free by the truth found in Christ. The wall of sin and deceit is knocked down and we are free to follow Jesus, free to love God with all our hearts, love others as ourselves, and free to be a true Disciple of Christ.

This year, as we commemorate the freedom purchased for this nation throughout our history, let us also remember the freedom from sin and freedom to follow Christ that was purchased for us at the cross. The events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, through the struggle for state and civil rights, and our desire to see other nations experience freedom, are all examples of why July 4th is so special to Americans as well as so many others around the globe who value freedom. I believe this value comes from God Almighty whose Son Jesus died and rose again to make all who dare to believe free! Not using our liberty as an occasion to indulge in sin, but an opportunity to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Be Blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden

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