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Showing posts with label Sin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sin. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2022

The prodigal

Introduction
It’s been very touching seeing so many post about mothers over the weekend.  There are all kinds of mothers for all different walks of life.  I've seen sweet mothers who are still actively involved in their young children's lives.  There are mother's who have grown kids in the full swing of life.  There are mothers who have grown old and passed away and also, sadly, mothers who have passed away too soon before they grew old.

I also think of some mothers who have failed.  I listen to the testimony of a prodigal mother this weekend who shared how she failed as a mother because of some of her own shortcomings.  Thankfully, she repented and Jesus turned her life around.  

There are also the many spiritual mothers that bless people who aren't even related to them, but they love and people who need it.  I have had many spiritual mother's in my life who have been so helpful, especially while I have lived so far away from my own mother.

I knew six months ago that God wanted me to read the story of the prodigal son for Mother's Day 2022. God led me to plan for this as I prayed during a planning session.  However, God didn’t tell me what say until the morning of Mother's Day. So I pray His words come through clearly.  So, let’s read through the story and I will make some comments as we go.

Luke 15:11
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 

It starts, "A man had 2 sons."  But I can't help wonder: where’s the mother in the story?

I should start with this disclaimer:  We don’t know anything about the mother in the story from the Bible.  Jesus doesn't give any information about the mother in the Bible.  So all we can do is speculate about her.  Still, I think Jesus would be fine with us using our imagination and asking some thoughtful questions.

It could be the mother had died.  We know in our day mothers often die and leave a family motherless.  It was even more possible in Jesus' day, as people didn't live as long and something as simple as appendicitis (which we can easily fix with modern medical technology) could kill you in New Testament times.  Could the Prodigal's mother have died sometime prior to this episode?

It is also possible the father had remarried and the mother was a step mother.  And step mother's can have a complicated relationship with their step children.

It is also possible the mother was not mentioned because Jesus lives in a patriarchal societ where women were often overlooked.  However, I don't think that is as likely, because women played a prominently role in Jesus ministry and he never shied away from including women, even if his society didn't.  Jesus was not a male chauvinist. He greatly valued women and treated them with respect.

Luke 15:12
12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

This was an incredibly mean thing for the son to say.  He was basically telling his dad, "Look, I have things I want to do in life that I can't do because I'm waiting for you to die so I can get my inheritance.  So why don't you just go ahead and die or give me my inheritance now so I can get on with my life?"  Can you imagine saying something like that to you mom or dad?  Yikes!

I wonder how the mother would have responded (assuming she was alive).  Some mothers might comfort their husbands, put their arms around them, and cry with them.  However, there might have been some mothers fussing and saying, "Why in the world did you go along with this?!”  How would your mother have handled this? How would you handle it if your child said this to you?

Luke 15:13

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 

Now, in this story, it was the son who moved away to a distant land.  But I can’t help but think of some mothers who have left.  You might think a mother could never leave her child, but it happens more than you think.  My wife works in a neonatal intensive care unit taking care of critical babies and newborns.  You would not believe how many babies are born already addicted to drugs because their mothers have taken drugs like heroine and meth throughout their pregnancy.  And then the baby is born already addicted with severe health problems and the mother is back out on the street chasing her next high.  Addiction is a terrible problem that enslaves many people--including mothers-- and leads to horrific behavior.

The sinful longings of the human heart that draw us away from God affect all people—even mothers.  They turn our eyes away from the truth and make us think the grass is greener.  What we have to realize is the dark seed of sin is in all our hearts.  That dark seed can grow in anyone and, given the right conditions, can take over your whole life.

Luke 15:14-16
14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

Sin, which seems so attractive at first glance, leads to hardship, poverty, pain, and famine.  It is significant that the Jewish son in this story finds himself feeding pigs.  Jews considered pigs to be unclean.  They didn't eat any kind of pork and they didn't keep pigs on their farms.  So for a Jewish boy to be taking care of pigs means he had sunk pretty low.  

People enslaved by sin will sink lower and lower until they are doing things they never thought in a million years they would do. Maybe that was you once. Maybe that is you today. Is it time for you to come to your senses?

And I can't help but thin of the mother’s anguish at the son’s degradation.  She may not have even known what her son was doing, but that's even worse.  A mother mind can go to a very dark place as when she doesn't know if her children are safe.  She can even torment herself, thinking the worst and worrying herself to death.  Is your mother worrying herself to death today because you are wandering from the right path?

Slide – Luke 15:17-21
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 

18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

The prodigal son shows us what true repentance looks like.  He says, "I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son."  It is unconditional surrender, recognizing one's sins, and throwing yourself upon the Father's mercy.

Repentance is crucial.  People remember many things about Jesus--that He was a miracle worker, that he died on a cross and rose from the grave, and people love to remember Jesus was a man who stood for love.  But we must never forget that Jesus consistent message throughout His ministry was, "“The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15)  

The son shows us what true repentance looks like.  In the father’s response, we see what grace looks like.

Luke 15:22-24
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

Again, the story focuses on the father, but I wonder how the mother responded?  Was she right there with the father, welcoming her wayward son home?

Anyone who knows the way most marriage works realizes while the father was hugging his son and making grand statements about having a party, the mother was probably thinking, “Oh great! There he goes making all these great plans, but the house is a mess and now I’ve got to go grocery shopping to get food for all these people!”  (That's the way t usually works at my house.  My wife does most of the work behind the scenes.  I make the plans and she has to pick up the pieces.  She's a saint!)

The wife was probably thrilled to have her son home, but it’s also possible the mother like the older brother in the story.  

Luke 15:25-30
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 

30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

The older son was angry. He felt unappreciated.  He felt superior to his younger brother who had abandoned the family while the older brother had done his duty.  (How many mother's feel unappreciated sometimes?  That's why we need to have a Mother's Day, to remind them we really do appreciate them.)

Maybe the mother was feeling angry and unappreciated.  Or maybe it broke her heart to see the older, more responsible, son refusing to be be happy at the redemption of his brother. It can break a mother’s heart when her family is full of strife.

Luke 15:31-32
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

We must not forget; this story is an illustration. We don't know if it was based on a true story or not.  However, we know the father represents God.  The Father, God, reasons with the responsible son in the story and God reasons with us.  Do not be angry with the sinner who returns to God.  Do not feel superior.  Maybe you didn’t abandon your family and commit the hideous sins as others have, but you are not perfect either.  We all sin and fall short of God's glorious standard (Romans 3:23).  And God looks into the heart.  He sees the sin seed in each of us and knows that, given the right conditions, it can sprout and grow out of control so that we are just as guilty as the person whose sins are incredibly hideous.

Have you, as a mother, felt yourself superior to others who abandoned their family? Is not that feeling of superiority a sin in and of itself?  Are you like the older brother in the story, standing outside, fuming and refusing to come to the party to celebrate the redemption of a sinner who was lost, but now is found? How long will you wait?

Conclusion
Jesus doesn’t tell us about the mother in the story.  A really gifted great storyteller leaves a few things to the imagination so we can ponder them.  Maybe that’s why we are still retelling and listening to Jesus’ stories 2,000 years later.

Jesus also doesn’t tell us how the story ends.  Did the younger brother remain faithful to the father?  Or did he get bored back at home and run off again?  Some of you are the young, rebellious brother in the story.  Your actions decide how the story ends.

Did the older brother ever get over his anger, forgive his brother, and go in to the party?  Or did he stay outside forever, fuming about how he was right and better than his brother?  Jesus doesn’t say what happened, because some of you are the older brother in the story.  And you are the only one who can determine how your story ends.

As for the fathers and mothers out there whose hearts are breaking because your children, in one way or another, have wandered away from the Truth:
God—the Mother and Father of us all—knows your pain.  He is the Father in the story, whose heart breaks when any of His children goes astray.  Yet He is longing for His children to return and He is quick to forgive and embrace every wayward sinner who comes Home.  

Why don’t you bless God's heart and come Home today?

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Are There Any BIG, BAD, SINS That Keep You Out Of Heaven?

 Are there any particular sins that are so bad they will without a doubt keep you out of heaven?

This blog is part of a series where I try to answer your questions about the Christian faith. I’m Pastor Chris Mullis.  I’ve been a pastor for 2 decades--thinking about the mysteries of God, the Bible, and the Christian faith.

So in this series, I’ll do my best to answer your questions and share something that will help you grow and be fruitful.

Post your questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in an upcoming blog.

You can also click this link to my YouTube channel if you want to watch a video about this.

In this blog, I want to answer the question:  Are there any particular sins that are so bad they will definitely keep you out of heaven?  So let’s get into it.

I get asked questions like this a lot. And recently, I was asked:  “Do you think practicing homosexuals are going to Heaven?”  It’s a sincere question from a person I know to be very caring.  But the real question is much broader. Why limited the sin to gays and lesbians?

What about people who sin in other ways? What about: Murders? People who commit suicide? Blasphemers? Is there any sin that is so bad it will exclude you from Heaven forever? 

The truth is, all sins exclude you from the Kingdom of Heaven. Even seemingly small sins.  Have you ever lied?  Have you ever said to your wife or girlfriend, “No, honey!  Those pants do not make your butt look big.” when they actually do?  Have you ever taken a pen or paperclip that didn’t really belong to you? That’s stealing. And even tiny infractions like these are sins big enough compared to God’s gloriously perfect standard to disqualify you from the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Word of God tells us in Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  And James 2:10 says, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” And Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So what we find in the Bible is that absolutely no one is able to go to heaven unless God somehow graciously overlooks their sin through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, 9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Any sin can keep you out of Heaven. But God can cleanse you of any sin and make you holy.  We are made right with God when we repent of our sin and seek to live a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:15 says, “Since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”  

We shouldn’t keep living in sin after we repent and start  following Jesus. God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to live a new and holy life. We need to respond to the Spirit’s power and choose to live in ways that honor God. We need to repent of our sin and live right the best we can according to the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. 

But wait! Doesn’t the Bible say there’s an unforgivable sin?

There is no unforgivable sin except this: Rejecting Jesus Christ.  That is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. And even if you rejected Christ last year, but this year realize it was a mistake, you can put your faith in Jesus today and be saved.

And so, no mater what you’ve done, even if no one else can forgive, God can and He will if you trust Jesus and follow Him as Lord.

But wait a minute! What about people who persist in sinning even after Jesus saves them?  What about the gay person who contiues to practice homosexuality? What about the alcoholic that keeps drinking? What about the adulterer who keeps cheating? What about....

Ok.  Here’s my advice. It is very dangerous to continue to sin after you repent and follow Jesus as Lord doing stuff you know you shouldn’t. It abuses the mercy and grace of God. It damages the reputation of God and His people and can even keep others from following Jesus. Willful sin destroys our world, hurts people, damages your community, and sometimes abuses the people you care about most. Furthermore,  continuing to sin when you know better keeps you enslaved when God wants you to be free. 

As to whether and to what degree a person’s willful sin may keep them out of the Kingdom of Heaven: Only God can be the final judge. God knows and understands things in a sinner's heart we can’t imagine. So who am I to say what will be the final destination of a person’s soul? I don’t know and neither does anyone else. I do know that the power of some sins can be notoriously difficult to break. Alcoholics and addicts sometimes struggle their whole lives with very limited success staying sober, but that doesn’t disqualify them from heaven. God knows their struggles in ways I will never understand. And God is a righteous Judge Who always knows when to dispense justice and when to show mercy.

I do know this.  There’s no better place for a sinner to be than in a church where people come to encounter Jesus, the Savior who came to save sinners. So I’ll leave you with this  inspirational post I found on Facebook last week:

 You got hammered at the bar on Saturday but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be.

You’re a drug addict but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be. 

You’re divorced and the last church you attended condemned you for it…. You can sit me, you’re right where you need to be.

You’ve had an abortion and it’s slowly eating away at your heart but you came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be. 

You’ve been unfaithful to your spouse but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be.

 So you gay and your struggling and wonder if God still loves you… He does.  And so do I. Come to church and sit with me.

People don’t come to church for you to judge them because you feel you’re better than them. People come to church because in their deepest, darkest, most painful moments, they heard a man named Jesus could save their soul and they’d like to know him.

 The man who snorted cocaine off his kitchen table  isn’t a bigger sinner than you who told your boss a lie on Monday so you could leave work early.

 The woman that had an abortion 10 years ago isn’t a bigger sinner than you when you flipped a man off in traffic last week. 

The drunk who slept in bar isn’t a bigger sinner than you who occasionally has too much to drink at home in private.

The woman who got caught cheating on her husband isn’t a bigger sinner than you who had sex with your now husband before you were married.

The lesbian who’s been rejected by her family for her choices isn’t a bigger sinner than you who indulged in a bit of gossip at church yesterday.  

There isn’t a person in this world too bad, too broken, too mean, or too damaged for Jesus to save. Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

That’s what I believe.  How about you?

Post your thoughts in the comments. And ask any other questions you have about the Christian faith. 

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!