“Free Indeed” by Mike Powell

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FREE INDEED! Freedom, defined by Webster’s dictionary is “the state or quality of being free, especially exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or some arbitrary power.” Freedom is also known as liberty or independence. As we prepare to celebrate the holiday we have called Independence Day, it is interesting to consider the sacrifices made to secure that freedom. It is reported that close to 750,000 brave warriors have died in combat since this nation’s inception according to the U.S Department of Defense website. That includes all the wars including the Revolutionary war until present. Quite a few defended our free way of life over the years. They believed it was noble to protect our citizens from oppression, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. GOD, in His infinite wisdom, wanted us to be free from the bondage of sin in our lives so He too sacrificed His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to free us from sin’s power. GOD wants us to be a free people. The men who knitted this nation together in the early days of independence were guided by this same GOD. The founding fathers respected GOD and wanted His guidance for America. In 1797, John Adams, in his inaugural address as he became President said, “And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessings upon this nation.” President James Madison wrote in 1788, “There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion…The subject is…free and unshackled…Government has no jurisdiction over it.” Yet here we are over 200 years later and we find ourselves in a land that demands ‘political correctness” over spiritual obedience. There is the notion that people can go through life and never have their feelings hurt. The Ten Commandments have been booted from any government buildings federally funded. Cities are chastised for having signs referring to Christ welcoming them, and law enforcement vehicles get flack for displaying “In God We Trust.” Another president, Calvin Coolidge said this, “If American democracy is to remain the greatest hope of humanity, it must continue abundantly in the faith of the Bible.” In July of 1776, The Continental Congress authorized the Continental Army to provide chaplains for their troops. Then General George Washington issued a general order that said, “The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.” Freedom and Christianity go together very naturally. Patrick Henry, who lay dying in 1799 told his doctor, “Doctor, I wish you to observe how real and beneficial the religion of Christ is to a man about to die… I am, however, much consoled by reflecting that the religion of Christ has, from its first appearance in the world, been attacked in vain by all the wits, philosophers, and wise ones, aided by every power of man, and its triumphs have been complete.” The Word of God will always remain true no matter who scoffs at it. The Word of God brings true freedom to man; freedom from the power of sin to control him. Freedom to make him free indeed. So, what does the Bible say to the subject of freedom? Freedom is mentioned all throughout God’s Word. John’s Gospel speaks to freedom in chapter 8 verses 31-36; “So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, If you abide in My Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. 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? Jesus answered them, Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the Son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” Here is what 2nd Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” When Jesus came to earth in a human body, He brought freedom through salvation as God’s only Son; the Messiah that had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah over 700 years earlier. Talk about a visionary! See what Paul recorded in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 4 verses 4-7; “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God,” Now that’s a pretty strong family tree. Speaking of Isaiah, in chapter 61 of his book in the Bible, he makes some great declarations in verse1; “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound,” Being bound by sin’s power is nothing short of imprisonment and torment. In Galatians chapter 5, verse 1 Paul writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Freedom is a constantly recurring theme in the Word of the Lord. Choosing to follow God’s will is liberating. The Psalmist said it so well in verse 12 of chapter 33, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!” Are we a nation whose God is the Lord? Seriously? Is this still “one nation under God?” Our laws in large do not show proof of this in recent decades. What God has declared life and sacred is put to death to the tune of over 50 million citizens who were only trying to be born. There is no freedom for these citizens, only execution. Freedom comes from God. Consider Acts 13, verse 39, “And by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” I find myself about to break into what they call my happy dance here. In the Old Testament days before Christ, men had to keep the law to be in good standing. There were over two hundred of them. If you broke one, they considered that you had broken them all. Can any of you remember two hundred of anything? At my age I certainly cannot, much less keep the letter of each of those laws. God knew we would not be able to handle that so He gave us Grace in the form of His only son Jesus. Christ was the last sacrifice ever needed to atone for our sins; He was the only perfect sacrifice. By His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection, we have a way to leave sinful earth and enter Heaven where sin cannot enter. He took our place and our punishment once and for all. He thought we were to die for. He wants us to live with Him in Heaven for eternity. Wow, talk about freedom! Patriotic songs are a big part of our freedom in America, especially around holidays such as Independence Day or Veteran’s Day. Being raised in a conservative Baptist Church, I noticed as a child a peculiar tradition in the song service; it seemed we never sang the third verse of the hymns. I was never sure why not, maybe it was forbidden, maybe it made the song too long, I am not sure about why they were skipped. As I became older, I would read the third verses and thought to myself, we are missing some good stuff here. Listen to the words of the third verse of America the Beautiful; Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life America, America may God thy gold refine Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine. The Star Spangled Banner which Francis Scott Key penned as our National Anthem has great meaning to patriotic Americans. Many, however, do not realize there is a second verse to that song; O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven rescued land Praise the Powr that has made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto “In God is our trust” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. Time after time in our heritage and history, freedom and God have been connected. From the Founding Fathers to the patriotic anthems we sing so proudly. And please remember, we ALWAYS stand when the National Anthem is played or sung and we ALWAYS stand at attention with our right hand over our heart when Old Glory comes by wherever you are. These courtesies not only pay tribute to this great land and Her God fearing Founding Fathers and leaders, but to those who fought and sacrificed to defend and protect Her. So, let me ask this question; Are you free today? Yes, we live in a free nation not dominated by another, but are you free indeed? Have you found the freedom from sin that can control your life? If you are not free in that way, there is good news for you; you can be liberated today by the salvation that is only offered by faith in Christ. You don’t have to be in a Church, A Preacher does not even have to be present. It is not really complicated at all; it’s as easy as A,B,C; Admit, Believe, and Confess. First, Admit you are not perfect. None of us are; we are born imperfect. If we were perfect, there would be no need for doctors, lawyers, marriage counselors or policemen. Second, Believe; believe that God sent his only Son Jesus Christ who was born in a manger, died on a cross, and came back to life and left an empty tomb three days later and lives today in Heaven, and third, Confess; confess or own up to the things you have done that go against what GOD has told us to do. Ask God to forgive you, and don’t worry about shocking God with the things you have done; HE already knows! Admit, Believe, and Confess and in exchange for that, God has promised you eternal life with Him in Heaven. Then you will be free indeed. Respectfully submitted Rev. Mike Powell Associate Pastor First Baptist Church Redwater, Texas

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