Donate to Support

Support the church that supports this blog. Donate at - www.LoveLivesAtPGUMC.org Click the donate button in the upper righthand corner.
Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts

Monday, July 22, 2019

Glory in the Heavens


Introduction
When I think of July, I think of fireworks.  Most people probably don't think of Christmas in July.  But it's not a bad idea.  December is such a busy month and the holiday season is so commercialized; the true meaning of Christmas can get lost amidst all the hype and Christmas lights. So today, let's keep our thoughts firmly focused on the Christ Christmas celebrates. 

Slides – Luke 2:6-15
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Pointing People to God
Listen to that...  Do you hear it?  Silence is never really silent, is it?  There's always some sound in the background.  People coughing and shuffling their feet; the sound of the air conditioner running.  I wonder what sounds the shepherds heard that night as they were watching their sheep in the dead of the night outside Bethlehem. A fire crackling or sheep noises.  You only hear those kinds of sounds if you're quiet and paying attention. And so it was for the shepherds that night in Bethlehem when an angel appeared among them.  It was quiet and they were listening for any sounds that seemed out of the ordinary--a wild animal or some other danger.  That made the approach of the angel all that more obvious as the glory of God shown around them.  They came to point people to Jesus.

Jesus came to point people to God.   For years, God had sent signs to point people to God, but they were always missed or ignored. We’re usually too busy or self-absorbed to notice; and so God came Himself in the person of Jesus.  God really didn't want us to miss Him this time.  So God also sent angels to point the shepherds to the baby Jesus lying in a manger in Bethlehem.

The Angels
The angels came to point people to Jesus.  I have never seen an angel, let alone a whole host of them as the Christmas story describes. Have you? I've heard stories of other who've seen angels.  And the Bible tells many stories of their appearance.  The book of Hebrews in the New Testament advises that we should always be kind to strangers, because you never know if it might be an angel in disguise.  I have never seen and angel (at least that I was aware of).  However, I have seen many other glorious wonders in Heaven that have pointed me toward Jesus and God.

Fireworks
Many people have seen fireworks blasting away in the sky this month.  Did you?  Do you remember the first time you saw fireworks?  I do.  What a glorious sight to see the colorful, sparkling lights fanning out like giant fiery hydrangeas in the sky!  To a young child, these are fascinating and captivating and beautiful.  As an adult, now more aware of the meaning of the Fourth of July as the celebration of our nation’s independence, the fireworks are even more magnificent because they represent to me how God set our nation free from the tyranny of Great Britain, against all odds.  And I can see God’s hand at work in the development of our nation as I remember how many have sacrificed throughout the years.

Lightning
But there is another light show in the sky that points me to God—lightening.  Many are afraid of thunderstorms.  I was too when I was a young child.  To help, my mom would take me out on our screened-in front porch and hold me while we watched the storm together.  It is one of my fondest early memories—sitting in my mother’s lap in a rocking chair and her soothing voice, feeling the hot summer air quickly cooled by the wet rain falling as a misty breeze filtered through the screens.  And up in the sky, you can see the lightning flicker across the clouds away in the distance, like fire flickering in a giant, Japanese lantern floating across the sky.  And the deep rolling of the thunder that speaks of a tremendous underlying power in this world.  How glorious!  If there is a Creator who made it all, how glorious and beautiful and powerful must He be.

Stars
Do you ever go out at night, in the quiet, and just stare up at the stars?  I admit, I used to do it a lot more than I do now.  There is too much to distract me these days.  But as a child, we didn’t have air conditioning in our home and it was quite hot in the house by evening.  So, I often stayed outside in the summer for as long as I could.  And up in the sky you can see the same stars the shepherds saw in Bethlehem.  Throughout the ages, people have speculated as to what are these mysterious lights in the night sky.  Some have thought them to be gods or the spirits of their ancestors.  In modern times, science has shown they are giant balls of burning gas thousands of times a big as the earth and trillions of miles away.  The closest stars are around 4 light years away (i.e. it would take 4 years to get to them if you could travel at the speed of light).  The farthest stars are 5 billion light years away!  And there are about a billion trillion stars in the universe!  Some think science has disproved the existence of God.  But I look up at the glorious  stars in the heavens and see that God is more magnificent than we ever realized before!

Birds
I see living things in the heavens that point me to God too.  For instance, what a glorious thing it is to see a flock of pelicans soaring across the waves over the ocean.  How graceful they are—flying in perfect formation, making minute adjustments to the wind, barely needing to flap their wings, spotting a school of fish swimming in the water below, and then circling around to dive at breakneck speed and splash into the water to catch their meal.  We sometimes refer to an unintelligent person as a “bird-brain”.  That's ironic because with all our human intelligence and ingenuity, we only figured out how to fly relatively recently.  And now that we’ve had a little over a hundred years to practice, we still don’t even come close to the grace and beauty of a bird in flight.  If God created the birds that soar above, He is truly magnificent indeed.

People
And yet, He created people too.  And look at us!  We are amazing!  Of all the creatures in God’s green earth, we are unique and special!  There is no other animal like us.  The closest, scientists say, are chimpanzees.  And, yes, they are amazing too.  But there is no animal who can talk like us, write words on paper (and now type on a computer screen).  There is no animal that has looked at a bird and dreamed of being able to fly and then figured out how to do it.  There is no animal who has looked up at the stars in the night sky and wanted to go there and then built a rocket-ship to fly to the moon.  Some say that humans acquired these abilities by chance.  I say that makes no sense; I say the hand of God must have been involved for people to be so incredibly different from all the other creatures on the planet and to have learned all that we have and gained mastery of all others animals. 

Romans 1:20 All these things—fireworks, lightning, stars birds, people (and many more) point me to God.  It is absolutely true what Romans 1:20 says, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

If we just look around, the evidence it there.  The existence and nature of God should be obvious to anyone who is honestly searching for answers.

Jesus
But the glory of Christmas is that God didn't want to leave anything to chance.  Yes, we should know about God just by looking at all the glorious things He made.  But God wants to be absolutely sure you know Him.  And if you want a job done right, you do it yourself.  So God came Himself in the flesh.  Jesus is God. 

Matthew 1:23 - “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
John 1:1 - "In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God." [Jesus is the Word.]
Hebrews 1:3 - "The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God..."
Colossians 1:15 - "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God."

Jesus is God.  He was God when the whole world was created.  He designed the birds and the clouds, and lightning and thunder.  He flung the stars across the universe with a word.  And He created you and me.   And yet, mysteriously, Jesus is also human.  He was human in every aspect: born as a baby, had to learn how to walk, grew up in a village, went to school, dealt with bullies and chores and being hungry and hot in the summertime and cold in the winter.  He knew about the yearnings of an adolescent heart, that wants to find their one true love and get married.  But Jesus, God in human flesh, came to our world for a special purpose.  He came to show us what God is like, how God loves us beyond all measure.  We are God’s one true love.  And He was willing to die for us.  And He did die for us on the cross at Calvary.

When we look at Jesus, we see God--the most perfect representation and proof of God.  We see God’s incredible love—to leave the glory of heaven to come live in our broken world and ultimately to die for us on a cross, to pay the price of our sin.  And now everything that could be done to point you back to God has been done.  All that’s left is a choice—your choice. 

Will you choose to follow God through Jesus Christ?
Or will you choose to continue to follow something or someone else?
I pray you choose Jesus.


Monday, July 8, 2019

The Truth Shall Set You Free


John 8:31-37
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message.

Are You Really Free?
In this passage, Jesus had a conversation with some Jews living in Judea who were descendants of the Israelites who were led out of slavery in Egypt in Exodus.  The Israelites were proud to be descendants of Abraham and the story of how Moses lead them through the Red Sea and out of slavery in Egypt was an essential part of the nation, ethnic, and religious identity.  They were proud to be a “free” people.  And even though the Roman Empire was the real authority in the Judea, the Romans had allowed the Judea to remain autonomous in deference to their national pride as a free people (so long as the Judeans promised to remain loyal to Rome and not cause trouble).  But Jesus explains that true freedom is more than national or ethnic identity or a political matter.  True freedom is a spiritual matter.

I have always known we are blessed to live in this country—the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I came to appreciate those blessings in a new way the first time I traveled to Guatemala in 2006.  For one thing, the poverty I saw in Guatemala reminded how fortunate we are to enjoy so many comforts in the United States.  Everyone in Guatemala looked up to us—literally… 

I will never forget returning to the United States after a week in Guatemala.  Now, I love Guatemala.  It is a beautiful country filled with amazing people (and we could learn a lot of things from the people there), but I was so glad to come back to my homeland and I was so proud to be an American. 

I will never forget arriving at the airport in Atlanta and going through customs.  There was a line of people a mile long waiting to go through customs and “enter” the United States.  My mission team was tired and homesick and ready to see our families and the thought of waiting in another long line was a bleak prospect.  Just then, a customs agent came walking down the line asking, “Are you a US citizen?  Are you a US Citizen?”  And all who answered yes were ushered to the front of a much shorter line.  I could see the weariness on the faces of all the non-citizens waiting in that long line as we walked passed them and I thought, “I am truly blessed to be a citizen on the United States of America.”  We enjoy so many privileges we take for granted.
Just a few days ago, we celebrated Independence Day on July the Fourth.  Independence Day is a holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence—declaring our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.  In it, our forefathers proclaimed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It was the belief of our nation’s founders that Freedom was a God-given right that should never be violated. 

If ever there was a national ideal that came straight from the pages of the Bible, it is this—humanity was created by God to be free.  “In the beginning,” (Genesis 1), “God created the Heavens and the Earth.”  And God created humanity to be free—free to think, free to make choices, free to love.  God did not create us as animals chained to follow our basic instincts. God created us to be free!

Yet today, the vast majority of humanity is not free.  Even here in this great Nation where freedom is the hallmark of our national identity, the vast majority are not free.  People are enslaved to a cruel master, Sin. 

You might have a hard time thinking of yourself—an American citizen—as a slave.  We live in the land of the free, but that doesn’t automatically make you free, not any more than standing inside a gym automatically makes you fit and muscular.  You are not truly free unless the Son of God sets you free.

Sin keeps us from being free.
Romans 6:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  And Romans 6:23 says, “The wages [or consequences] of sin is death…”  So we all have a big problem.  We are all guilty of sin—which is turning away from God and doing things our own way—and we will all reap the penalty of sin—which is death. 

But the death Romans talks about is far worse than just passing away into oblivion and ceasing to exist.  The death we face because of sin is a spiritual death.  Sin separates us from God.  Our spirits suffocate in the absence of God’s presence.  In Luke 16, Jesus described the eternal destiny of sinners as a place of fiery torment.  The 20th chapter of the book Revelation describes the place as a lake of fire.  I don’t know for sure what that place is like, but I know it is something worse than death.  It is spiritual death.  (If God is like the air we breathe, you could imagine hell like suffocating without air for eternity.)

Jesus came to set us free from the spiritual death that sin brings into our life.  The great Christian evangelist of the first century—St. Paul—epitomizes to me a man who is truly free.  Death held no power over his freedom.  He boldly traveled wherever the Lord led him to spread the Gospel unhindered by persecution, hardship, or even the fear of death.  He was beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, and eventually executed.  Yet he was not afraid.  Paul said in Philippians 1:21, For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.  And he penned those famous words that have comforted so many at funerals, O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?(1 Corinthians 15:55)

When the Son of God sets you free, you no longer have to fear death.  I tell people (and myself), “What is there to be afraid of?  The worst thing that can happen is death.  And to die means to go home to glory—no more suffering or pain or sickness or grief.  It’s like the ultimate retirement!”  And to live with no fear of death out on the edge with God holding your hand—now that’s freedom!

It’s not just a fear of death that enslaves people.  Because of Sin, some people are bound by chains of guilt.  Ironically, the church is often a place where people feel the most guilt. I have known people who avoid church altogether because it makes them feel so guilty.  They walk into a beautiful sanctuary like this and instead of inspiring them it just reminds them how far short they have fallen from God’s glory.  They see everyone dressed up for church and smiling like they don’t have any problems and the preacher is standing up on stage peering down over the pulpit at them.  And all these things remind them of how unworthy they feel.  They don’t like that feeling so they just stay away. 

Ironically, I have found that sometimes the people in church with the biggest smiles are the ones with the most heartache and guilt. 

Jesus Sets Us Free
Maybe you feel that way, but Jesus doesn’t want church to be a place that overwhelms us with guilt.  Jesus came to set us free from sin.  He said, God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17).  And 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  Because of Jesus Christ, those who confess there sins and believe in Jesus Christ can trust Psalm 103:12 which says, “[God] has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”  When we come to church (or wherever we are), God does not looking down on us as He looks down on us.  He looks at us and smiles the way a loving father smiles at their children.

And so we are free to live!  We are not bound by a guilt that causes us to hide from God in shame or try to impress Him or somehow try to work our way back into His favor.  We don’t have to bow our heads in shame.  We don’t have to carry a load of constant apologies.  As Ephesians 3:12 says, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”  Now that is truly free!

But the freedom we have in Christ goes even further.  We are also free from the power of sin.  This is the glorious Good News of Christ’s message that—frankly—doesn’t get preached enough.  The salvation we have in Christ is not just forgiveness; it is also healing.  We are on the road to recovery.  Gradually, with God’s help, we are getting over this sinful nature that plagues us. So we don’t have to dread a life of constant mistakes and sinful living while we throw our hands up in the air and say, “I can’t help it.  I’m a sinner by nature.”  Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”  And Romans 6:22 says, “Now you are free from the power of sin…  So, we don’t have to go through life thinking we are bound to sin.  If we slip up, we can be forgiven.  But we don’t have to sin.  We are free!   Because God loves us so much, we are now empowered to love others!  We are free to share the love of Christ with everyone!

Closing
Jesus said, “The truth shall set your free.” He said that to the Israelites and they had a hard time seeing that they were enslaved.  Can you sense their national pride when they said, “We are descendants of Abraham.  We have never been slaves to anyone.”  I wonder how many of us here today have a similar notion.  We think, “I live in the United States of America.  I am not a slave.  I am free.” 

Jesus would say the same thing to you today that he said 2,000 years ago.  “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”  When we humble ourselves and recognize we are enslaved, Jesus is there to set us free.  But if our pride makes us hang on to the false notion that simply being an American makes us free, we will remain enslaved.  Exercising freedom takes wisdom and courage and determination.  It takes the Son to set you free and keep you free.

As we give thanks for the independence of our great nation, what better way to honor freedom than to truly live out our freedom.  I hope today you will humble yourself and ask Jesus to help you.  And then I pray you will go out of this place and live the free life you were created to live!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Special Halloween Post


We know that werewolves, vampires, and zombies, aren’t real, but these legendary monsters symbolize some very scary characteristics that hide on the dark side of the human heart.

Take the legend of the werewolf.  It’s an ordinary person by day—perhaps even a well-respected member of society.  But when the full moon comes out, a grotesque transformation takes place.  The person changes into a wolf-like beast that roams the streets hunting for victims.  Even if the person doesn’t want to become a beast, they can’t stop it.  Once the full moon comes out, the beast is going to take over—like it or not.


Well werewolves are only a myth, but the werewolf personifies a real trait in many a human heart.  Because of sin, people—who otherwise are ordinary, good people—have moments when they turn into the most vicious of beasts.  We all have something that brings out the beast in us, though it’s probably not a full moon.  Maybe it’s someone who cuts us off in traffic.  Maybe it’s a competitiveness that drives us to treat people badly.  Maybe it’s someone we know that brings out the worst in us.  Maybe it’s the pursuit of a career that drives us to neglect our family.  It could also be drugs or alcohol.  All of these things have been known to turn ordinary people into terrible beasts who terrorize and destroy lives.

There is the vampire, the legendary creature of the night.  It hides from the light and pounces on its victims, drinking their blood.  Unlike werewolves, vampires are usually portrayed as intelligent and calculating in their crimes.  They lust after their prey and plot how they will get what they want.  Once they strike, they suck the life out of their unfortunate victims.

Vampires are only myths, but I’ve known a few people who acted like vampires.  They didn’t drink blood, but—because of sin—they only cared about themselves.  They used people for their own selfish gain.  People like that will suck you dry just so they can have a little more.  They hide in the shadows and lust after what’s not theirs and they will do anything to get what they want.  Their thirst is never sated.  Their exploits never bring lasting joy.  Their hunger drives them mad and there is never any relief.

Finally, there are zombies.  Originally, zombies were the imagination of Haitian folklore.  A voodoo master would steal a person’s soul by black magic and force them to work as a mindless, uncomplaining slave.  In recent decades, a new kind of zombie is portrayed in movies and TV shows like “The Walking Dead”.  In these scenarios, the zombie is the result of a virus.  The virus kills the infected person and then reanimates their corpse—using the corpse to bite the living and transmit the virus to them.

The fictional zombie is a very fitting description for many people I see in our world.  They are only living in the sense that they are breathing and moving around.  They are like “The Walking Dead”.  Sin has destroyed their soul.  Their lives are meaningless.  They spend their time stumbling after things of no eternal value trying to gratify their hunger.  In their rabid, mindless pursuit, they infect others until hoards are wandering aimlessly through the world wreaking havoc and destruction.  All the while, they miss out on the true life that God wants them to have.

The Solution.  According to legend, you kill a werewolf by shooting it with a silver bullet.  You get rid of a vampire by driving a stake through its heart.  And you finish off a zombie by shooting it in the head.  But in real life, there is only one cure if you are a werewolf, a vampire, or a zombie—it is to be crucified with Christ, so that we may be raised to a new life with Christ.  We must become followers of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.”  Have you done that?  Is that your choice each new day?

I would like to invite you to my church, Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, where together we can learn to put aside our selfish ambitions and take up the cross of Christ daily.  Come join us here (or find a church close to you) and learn to be truly alive, healthy, and whole.  Come over to the light and leave behind the scary monsters that haunt your Halloween.  



Monday, July 16, 2018

No Longer A Slave

Introduction
            What are some of the things that make you afraid that God does not love you?  Maybe you don’t feel like you're good enough.  Maybe you worry you don’t know enough about the Bible or your don't read the Bible enough or you don't pray enough; you worry that God is upset with you.  Maybe you struggle with an addiction--alcohol, drugs, food addiction, an addiction to internet porn, or something else.  Your bad habit might make you fear God has given up and turned His back on you.  You think, "God just couldn’t love me because…"
            Fear can make you a slave.  I am so thankful Jesus came to set us free from fear!  We are no longer have to be slaves to fear or anything else.  Jesus sets us free, so don't go back and let fear or anything else enslave you again.
 
Galatians 3:1-4
1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
 
The Galatians
            The Apostle Paul came and preached the God News about Jesus Christ to the Galatians--a group who believed in many different pagan gods.  They believed you had to make sacrifices and perform certain religious ceremonies in order to manipulate the gods into doing favors for you.  But Paul preached that God already loves us and sent Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice that was able to atone for our sins.  So we no longer need to be afraid of GOd, because through Christ we are forgiven and restored. 
            Through the Apostle Paul, the Galatians were set free.  Unfortunately, some false teachers arrived after Paul moved on to another city and started teaching the Galatians they must follow the Old Testament laws in order to be “real” Christians.  Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to counteract the evil spell of these false teachers.
            The message of Galatians is this:  Jesus set us free from the impossible burden of the Old Testament Law (or any religious laws).  We are save by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by following the Law.  You are no longer a slave.  Therefore, don’t let anyone lead you to be enslaved again.
 
Freedom
Jesus came to set you free:
    Free from the impossible burden of trying to do everything perfect. 
      Free from the requirement to follow all of the Old Testament laws. 
         Free from the fear that you aren’t good enough and that God won’t love you. 
           Free from the unreasonable expectation other people (and even society) place upon you.

            If Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed. (John 8:36)  But just like the Galatians, we sometimes listen to lies that tell us our faith in Jesus is not enough, that we must do something more or else God won’t really love us.
            What voices are telling you that you aren’t good enough?  That God doesn’t really love you?  That you don’t measure up?  What voices are confusing you?  Making you doubt Jesus and his love?  Discouraging you, making you want to give up?  You need to understand, that's not the voice of God or His Son Jesus.  That may be the voice of Satan trying to mislead and discourage and destroy you.  Learn to distinguish between the voice of Satan and the voice of Jesus.

Here are some ways you can tell the difference:
 
Satan’s Voice
Jesus’ Voice
Rushes you
Pushes you
Frightens you
Confuses you
Discourages you
Worries you
Obsesses you
Condemns you
Stills you
Leads you
Reassures you
Enlightens you
Encourages you
Comforts you
Calms you
Convicts you
 
            Did you notice that last one on the list?  Condemn vs. Convict?  People often confuse these.  To be sure, no one likes to be convicted; it doesn't feel good, but it is healthy when we need it.  Satn would condemn you and tell you there is no hope for you, you have messed up and you are no longer loved and you will be punished and there's nothing you can do about it.  But the voice of Jesus doesn't condemn you; Jesus convicts you.  Conviction says, "You messed up and I love you so I want you to know, but if you repent I forgive you and we will move on together."  So Jesus may convict you, but he does it out of love.  He doesn't condemn you.
            Whenever you hear someone or some thought making you doubt God’s love for you, remind yourself:  I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God. 
Repeat it to yourself until you believe it. 

Jeremiah 1:5 – “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.”
            Did you know God chose you before you were born and set you apart for something special.  God’s Holy Spirit has walked beside you your entire life—even if you never  thought about Him once—in hopes that you would one day receive His gift of salvation.  In fact, God loved you so much that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to leave the glory of Heaven to come down to earth in search of you. 
            In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.”  Jesus loved you so much he willingly died on the cross to set you free.  So now you are no longer a slave—if you trust in Jesus Christ.  If you trust in Jesus Christ, you are born again into the family of God. 
            Consider this—Jesus blood flows through your veins!  You are indeed a child of God!  Galatians 3:26 says, "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."  God’s Spirit lives inside you and we can call God “Daddy”, “Papa”, “Pops”, or whatever else you would call a loving father with whom you had a deep, intimate, and trusting relationship.  (Galatians 4:6)
            Who is Jesus to you?  Is he a myth?  A man in a book?  A historical figure?  Do you think he is a great prophet or religious leader?  Is he the Son of the Living God?  Jesus said he is your best friend!  Jesus said:  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:15)  Isn't that wonderful! 

I Want You to Know at the Very Core of Your Being that God Loves You!
            Whenever you begin to doubt or feel unworthy or guilty or ashamed or unloved, I want you to feel the loving arms of our Father surrounding you in a loving embrace.  When our sin and guilt and shame was a like an impassable Red Sea, Jesus split the Sea so we could walk right through it.  Walk through to freedom!  When the enemies of your fear and doubt chase you trying to drag you back into slavery, God sends the seas crashing back in to drown them with perfect love while you walk through to freedom unscathed! 
You’ve been liberated from bondage!  Don’t spend your time thinking about or worrying about the past.  Surround yourself with songs of deliverance and people of deliverance!  Sing praises together to God about your freedom!

Invitation
            If you are a Christian, I want you to know that you are set free.  You are no longer a slave.  You are a child of God.
            But perhaps today, you are not sure if you are a Christian.  Maybe you know that you are not because you've never put your faith in Jesus.  Why not start today?  Do you want to be set free from your fear?  Do you want to know your sins are forgiven?  Do you want the freedom Christ brings?  Do you want to become a child of God?  Them I invite you to become a follower of Christ today.  Put your faith in Him.  Repent of your sin and trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior from this day forward.  All you have to do is pray to God and ask him to save you.  You can pray something like this:

Dear Father in Heaven,
I know Jesus is Your precious Son,
And that he died on the cross for my sin,
And that he rose from the dead and is living again. 
Lord I confess my sin.
Forgive me. I trust You to save me.
Please come take control of my life. 
Thank you for setting me free to know Your amazing grace and love.
Amen.

If you became a Christian today, I would love for you to email me and share your story so I can pray for you.  Would you email me at ReverendChrisMullis@Hotmail.com?

Now, click here for a song to sing whenever you start to doubt if God really loves you or if you've really been set free.