REAPING THE BENEFITS OF FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
5 JULY 1992
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Luke 10:1-3, 17-20
Last week we talked about the proper use of power: that the essential ingredient is God's unconditional love and compassion; and that without this love component, every power will eventually fail.
We founded our country on the basis of giving people freedom from oppression and the right to worship God in their own way; and for the most part, we still have this freedom, even though we have abused it and oppressed others along the way.
But over the years, our foundation has been eroding; and if we don't return to the Lord our God with a whole heart, we may find ourselves collapsing, as other governments have.
According to the word of God, and world history, countries and governments
hold together to the extent that the people hold to God.
Unrighteous governments stay in power when the people are out of God's will, but they fall when the people return to the Lord with a whole heart.
And the reverse is true for righteous governments. They stay in power as long as the people hold fast to God, but when they turn away, their government will become corrupted and fall.
God also allows corrupt and evil governments to exist for a time, when the mind and heart of their people are of like interest.
King David recognized this truth, even though he didn't always live according to God's will.
Nevertheless, he would always return to the Lord with a repentant heart, for he knew that God was loving and compassionate and would forgive him and heal the land.
In Psalm 5:1-7, David expressed the belief that we all need to have protection from wicked people, and to have true freedom.
1. Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my groaning.
2. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to Thee do I pray.
3. In the morning, O Lord,
Thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.
Is this the way we began the day when we celebrated our nation's independence in the past, and will we do it in the future?
Did we consider God at all?
Was our heart broken over the evils we have allowed to enter our society, and did we express these to God with remorse, seeking His direction?
Did we cry to God seeking an answer?
Are we expectantly awaiting His answer, knowing that He hears our prayers and will answer them?
For if we wish to maintain what we have, and improve on it, then this should be our daily prayer life and the intent of the innermost part of our being; for each of us really knows the ways of God and what is pleasing to Him.
4. For Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with Thee.
5. The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes;
Thou dost hate all who do iniquity.
6. Thou dost destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
We know this is what the word of God says; but when we see all these things still going on around us, we begin to doubt and to give up trying to improve ourselves.
We think there is no hope or, worse, that God doesn't really care.
All that this sort of attitude does is help the enemy, and instead of improving our surroundings, they actually deteriorate further.
We must hang in there until God's time frame is complete.
We must do as David says:
7. But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness I will enter Thy house,
At Thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee.
If we stop doing this, we begin to lose our freedom.
For when we stop seeking God and His intervention in the evil around us, we become complacent to sin; and this complacency can become just as contagious as the sin.
In Galatians 6:6, Paul tells us one way to stop this deterioration.
6. And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.
If our teachers never get any positive response to their teaching, they begin to think that no one cares, or that they are not doing a good job.
And when they feel this way, their enthusiasm begins to wane and their teaching becomes less effective, until there is nothing left worth learning.
We must share the truths of our learning with our teachers, so that they will be challenged to improve their teaching; thus, we all learn more.
When it comes to the word of God, this is even more important; for the power
of our learning and improvements are multiplied by the power of God.
Our prayers and our walk with God do help, and they do make a difference.
Listen to what Paul says next:
7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
8. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.
This must be a walk of faith, for we cannot fully see into heaven and begin our eternal life, free of corruption and pain, until we pass through death or the Lord calls us home.
The loss of our eternal life can be just as subtle as the loss of our freedom, for both can creep up on us in quiet ways until we are consumed.
Listen to Paul's encouragement beginning at verse 9:
9. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.
10. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
In other words, quit picking at your fellow Christian, just because they don't do everything perfectly, as you would have them do.
But be thankful for what they do that honors God, and encourage them to greater heights; and they may do the same for those of us who think we don't need any improving.
And remember, it's not so much what we say that others listen to and follow, it's the way we live.
We need to live in a way that shows the world that God's love and compassion has no limits, and that it extends to every other human being, and to every other animal, and to the world in which we all live, for all desire to live free.
This brings us to the point of our own pride, which can be another subtle under-miner of our freedoms and liberty; and in Luke 10, Jesus tells us how. Note verses 1-3.
1. Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.
This is also the job of believing Christians today, for Jesus Christ will return.
2. And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
Just because we don't seem to have any help, we are not to let our pride say to us, "Don't worry if no one helps me in the Lord's work. I know I'm saved. If no one else cares, neither will I."
And if in this complacency we say, "I don't care about other people, or the other animals, or the environment," we are actually allowing the evil and corruption of this world to multiply.
And if we give up, then our God-given freedoms deteriorate further, and perhaps even our own salvation.
We aren't to stop work; we are just to admit we need help, and then pray for it.
3. "Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
We confuse being a soldier of the cross with being in the military.
The lamb doesn't take lives, as does the wolf.
It doesn't matter how many wolves there are in the world, or how strong they are; we, as lambs of God, are to go out in the midst of them, preaching and living the truth, for the power we go out with is greater than the power of the enemy.
And remember that one day the wolf and the lamb will lie down in peace, and maybe, just maybe, we're the ones to do help bring it to pass.
Listen to what the seventy said when they returned. Note verse 17.
17. And the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
And they are also subject to us in the Lord's name; but we must be cautious that we are going out in His name and not in our own, which would be prideful.
Jesus must have detected some of this in the way they related to Him the things that had happened, for He cautions them.
18. And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
The power of God, even through us, can defeat the strongest enemy; but remember that Satan was once an archangel, the highest of the angels, but he let his own pride defeat him, and thus he fell.
Remember that we have all seen mighty preachers of the Word fall because of their pride.
They had freedom and liberty to lead others to Christ, but they corrupted their position and, thus, lost much of the harvest.
19. "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the powers of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.
20. "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."
Rejoice, but don't become prideful, or give up trying to improve our walk with God.
And remember that it isn't real serpents or scorpions we have the power to tread upon, for they are just used as examples (figures of speech or metaphors) for those who have the power to inflict poisonous spiritual bites: the demons of Satan and those in whom they dwell.
We trample them down, not with our feet, but with the word of God and the power that our life reflects.
And even if they should injure or kill our body, they can do nothing to our soul or spirit.
For even after our death, others will remember our life; and that is something no one can defeat.
It is our eternal spiritual life in Jesus Christ that reaps the harvest.
For in heaven there is true freedom and independence for those who choose it, and the benefits are everlasting.
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