Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Series: Faith in God

Last time we talked about how, to have real faith, you need a word from God to stand on.  And when you don’t have a word to stand on, it’s called presumption, because you are presuming upon God to do something that he never said he would do. This leads us to have unwarranted confidence, which can lead to wrong actions, which leads to a mess.

As we saw, one of the things we need to do to avoid all this is to know what God’s promises are – their context, the scope of what they cover, and the conditions that are attached. We need to know what they mean. We need to know God’s will so that we can have faith in this and receive from God.

So today, I want to give you 10 promises that you can stand on; that apply to you. And I hope as we go through this, God will speak to you about where you need more of him and his blessings and that you will latch on to this by faith.  

1. God will forgive your sins

 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” – Matthew 6:14

The condition certainly stands out right at the beginning. We have to give grace to receive grace. But if we do this, God tells us here, he will forgive our sins. As Psalm 103:12 says, God will remove our sins “as far as the east is from the west.” As 1 John 1:9 says, God will “forgive us our sins and . . . cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Others may not forgive us, we may struggle to forgive ourselves, but in faith we can stand on this promise that we are indeed forgiven by God.

2. God will give you the Holy Spirit

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” – Luke 11:13

In Luke 11 Jesus talks about asking with persistence in our prayers. And then he ends this teaching with this verse. So he is saying, ‘If we persistently ask for the Spirit, God will answer.’

It is the Spirit who gives us life. It is the Spirit who makes God’s presence known to us. It is the Spirit who gives us God’s guidance and comfort. It is the Spirit who empowers us to do God’s will and to minister in his name. So, this is a promise we all need. We need to be continually filled with the Spirit as followers of Jesus.

3. God will give you eternal life

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This is a familiar and popular promise and rightfully so. Because of God’s love for us and  what Jesus has done for us, if we believe in Jesus, we will not be judged, but we will have eternal life. That is to say, right now. No waiting. God’s life comes into us and this will continue on forever.

4. Jesus will set you free from bondage to sin

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” – John 8:36

Just before this, Jesus talks about how “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” But the promise is that Jesus is both able and willing to set us free; to break the chains of our bondage so that we can serve God and live a new life.

This doesn’t mean that it will always be easy, and that there won’t be hard choices and difficult times ahead. But Jesus will give us what we need to remain free.

If this is where you are, I encourage you to claim this promise by faith. Ask Jesus to come and set you free.

5. God will provide for your material needs

“But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” – Matthew 6:33

Notice the condition: seek the kingdom and his righteousness. Give this more thought and time than worrying about how you will gather up what you need for this life. And then, Jesus tells us, God will provide.

Now this is no promise of great wealth. In this scripture here (Matthew 6) the promise is for food and clothing. Like in the Lord’s prayer, we ask for daily bread. The promise is that God will give us what we need, not what we want. But yet, God’s provision is all we truly need.

6. God will providentially watch over you

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31

Jesus spoke this to the disciples while teaching them about persecution and the danger of death. Jesus promises that God watches over us as his disciples and knows what goes on in our lives, down to the details.

If we find ourselves in danger, and we are walking with God – we don’t need to fear. God knows what’s going on. Whether it goes badly for us, or we are rescued, we know that we are in God’s loving hands.

7. God will give you wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5

We need to ask, and we need to ask in faith as James goes on to say. But if we do this, God will give us guidance and good judgment in how to make decisions and how to live our lives. And who doesn’t need wisdom, really, every day of our lives? What a great promise!“It will be given.”

8. God will give you peace

Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

We don’t need to be stressed out. Rather, we can lift up our burdens to the Lord, give them to him, and ask for his help. And the promise is that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds to keep the stress away. Like a soldier keeping patrol.

Unless, of course we let our worries back in. We have to let go of them all, and give them to God knowing that he will take care of us.

9. Nothing God calls you to do will be impossible for you

“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” – Matthew 17:20

 Jesus had commissioned and empowered the disciples to cast out demons as a part of their work. But they had a case they couldn’t handle. Why? Because they thought it was way too hard!

And so Jesus teaches them, and us, that whatever God calls us to do we will be able to do, if we simply trust in God to act for us in each situation. Even if it seems impossible, like moving a mountain from one place to another.

10. God will give you a blessed future

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven . . .. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

The promise is that Jesus will return. And when he does, all faithful Christians will be resurrected to new life, with a new body.

We have an amazing future ahead! Things might not be going well for us now, but we have blessings waiting for us. And we “will always be with the Lord.” We can keep this in mind when we are going through hard times. In faith, think on these things and be encouraged.

  1. God will forgive your sins.
  2. God will give you the Holy Spirit
  3. God will give you eternal life
  4. Jesus will set you free from bondage to sin
  5. God will provide for your material needs
  6. God will providentially watch over you
  7. God will give you wisdom
  8. God will give you peace
  9. Nothing God calls you to do will be impossible for you
  10. God will give you a blessed future

So these are some of the many “precious and very great promises” that God gives to us, to use the words of 2 Peter 1:4. We will not be presuming upon God if we ask for these things.

But we do have to trust in God to receive all that these verses talk about; to receive the blessings of God. As I have said several times now, without faith, we should not “expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). But with faith, “all things are possible” (Mark 9:23). We can receive all that God has for us.

And let’s not be satisfied with what we have already received. We need to up our game! For instance, we need more of the Spirit, some of us need more deliverance, we all need more wisdom, peace in difficult times and power to do God’s will. Let’s raise our expectations and trust in God to act for us, standing on his promises.

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I want to encourage you with a message this morning about how “Nothing is too difficult for the Lord!” And if you find yourself burdened down or overcome by difficulties this morning, I will give you a chance to respond by coming forward for prayer at the end.

Let’s begin by looking at two verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Jeremiah 32:27 says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” The answer is obviously no. In context, God has given Jerusalem over to judgment and exile, but one day God will bring his people back to their land once again. And this is not too difficult for the Lord, nor is anything else that God purposes to do.

The second verse is Mark 10:27, where Jesus said, “All things are possible with God.” Even things that seem impossible to us, Jesus tells us, God can do. More specifically, God can save those who are in very difficult situations – if they step out in faith. 

Now in contrast to the Lord, we are very weak; mere humans. And when we find ourselves in hard times we struggle because we are weak. We are easily burdened, overcome, worn out and give up. And so my encouragement to you is this – in your weakness rely on the Lord, for whom nothing is too difficult; for whom all things are possible. He can save you; he is all powerful; he can give you the help that you need.

As we get into this let me say first of all that –

God’s power is made known through Jesus

This becomes evident in the story that is told in Mark 4:35-41

“On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they (the disciples) took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”

As we see here, Jesus has incredible power, over nature itself. He speaks and the storm is calmed. He speaks and the disciples are saved. But this story shows us that Jesus’ power is, in fact, God’s power to save usFor in the Old Testament it is God alone who has power over the waters, and rebukes the sea and stills the waters (Psalm 104:7, Psalm 65:7). And yet this is what Jesus is doing here. So, like father, like son. This story shows us that Jesus is God’s instrument through whom God works to save us. And so, like father, like son, nothing is too difficult for Jesus and all things are possible with him.

For instance,

1. Jesus has the power to set us free from bondage to evil

 Regarding the power of the devil, Jesus cast out demons when he walked this earth. This is a story from Luke 4:33-37.

“And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’ And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.”

Regarding the power of Sin in John 8:34-36 Jesus said, “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. . . . (but) if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

What is your situation as you gather here this last Sunday of September? Are you fighting with the powers of evil and Sin? Are you miserable and fed up? Are you struggling to move forward but can’t?

Well, Jesus still has the power to set people free! – right here and right now! For through his death and resurrection he has decisively defeated Satan himself and all the power of Sin.

And all this setting free is a preview of what’s to come; of what he will bring about at his second coming when, as the Book of Revelation tells us, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (20:10) and “God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes . . . neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (21:4). We will be free from all evil, pain and suffering.

Jesus set people free when he walked this earth and Jesus has the power to set us free both now and forever.

 2. Jesus has the power to bring us into right relationship with God

Jesus forgave people’ sins when he walked this earth. This is a story from Matthew 9:1-8.

“And getting into a boat Jesus crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority (or power) on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority (or power) to men.”

What is your situation here today as you have gathered to worship? Have you failed God? Have you failed others? Have you failed yourself? Have you done what is wrong, evil and shameful? So shameful that you hope no one ever finds out?

Well, although your sins keep you from God and his blessing in your life, Jesus still has the power to provide forgiveness! – right here and right now! For through his death and resurrection, forgiveness and new relationship with God is available to each one of us. We can know God and walk with God and hear God speak to us and lead us and experience the fullness of God’s love.

And all this new relationship is a preview of what;s to come; of what he will bring about at his second coming. For as the Book of Revelation tells us, in the New Jerusalem there is no need of a temple, “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (21:22). We will have unhindered access to God and God’s presence.

Jesus brought people into relationship with God when he walked this earth and Jesus can bring us into right relationship with God both now and forever.

3. Jesus has the power to make us whole

When Jesus walked this earth he healed many people. This is a story from Matthew 15:29-31.

“Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.”

What is your situation here today? Are you broken? Are you wounded?

Well, Jesus still has the power to make whole today! right here and right now! Whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual wholeness that you need. Through his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit we can all experience a measure of the new life he has come to give.

And all this new life is a preview of what’s to come; of what he will bring about at his second coming, when we will all be raised from the dead with new, glorified bodies, fully whole and well and at peace. Amen? As God says in the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (21:3). We live in a broken world, but God will make all things new.

Jesus had the power to make whole when he walked this earth and Jesus has the power to make us whole both now and forever.

The message today is that – Nothing is too difficult for Jesus! As long as we put our faith in him and let him do his work in our lives, all things are possible.

  • You can be set free from evil
  • You can be forgiven and know God
  • You can find wholeness and new life

Nothing is too difficult for the Lord.

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Series: How to overcome sin

I want to share some teaching with you this week on – “How to Overcome Sin” in our lives. Our focus is how to grow in our faithfulness to God and specifically how to get rid of our sinful behaviors and habits which keep us from experiencing all that God wants for us; which enslave us, make us miserable and destroy our life with God.

This is a crucial topic because you can be sure that there will be no renewal among God’s people until we take sin seriously. And I don’t mean looking at other people’s sins, I mean focusing on and dealing with our own failures and transgressions.

Perhaps it is:

  • Anger – where this has come to control you and it harms those around you.
  • Bitterness – where you allow resentments to poison your heart, so that your life is full of complaining, criticism of others and unforgiveness.
  • Sexual immorality – where your sexual desires have led you to act wrongly in thought and deed.
  • Dishonesty – where you come to depend on lying, deception or half-truths to get what you want or to get yourself out of trouble.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse – which you think is no big deal. You’re just having fun with friends. Or you think it will bring some relief from your problems, but it only enslaves and makes things so much worse.

And there are many other areas that could be named and we will look at some of these. Whatever your struggle, the message this week is the good news that: Jesus has provided for our freedom. Freedom from the slavery, misery and destruction of sin.

The point today is that before we can experience the freedom Jesus brings, we have to hear and respond to the call to stop sinning; to stop giving in; to stop excusing it in our lives. We have to recognize how serious sin really is. It’s not something that can be put off, ignored or dealt with another day. It must be dealt with even now as God speaks to us and challenges us! As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “now is the day of salvation.

But someone might ask –

“How can we stop sinning?”

“We’ll never be perfect!” And that is certainly true. We will fail, and we will continue to be involved in sins of ignorance – doing what is wrong without even knowing about it. So we don’t need to worry about the question of perfection. That’s not what this is about.

The call to overcome sin, so that we stop sinning has to do with sins that we know about, and yet choose to do anyway. This is what has to be dealt with. And, brothers and sisters, this will keep us more than busy! And then we can trust that in time God will show us other sins, that we are not aware of yet, so that we can deal with these as well.

The call to stop sinning isn’t about being ‘perfect.’ It’s about walking in the light you have and then getting more light as you go along.

Now, let’s hear the clear and consistent call of the Scriptures to –

Stop sinning!

  • Jesus tells us to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – Matthew 4:17. The word “repent” means that you have a change of heart and mind that leads you to do God’s will from now on.
  • Jesus told a man he healed, “Sin no more” – John 5:14.
  • Paul said – “Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more” – 1 Corinthians 15:34.

This is clear enough, right? It only needs to be said once to demand our agreement and obedience. But sometimes repetition can have its own persuasion. And I’m trying to make an impression on you this morning. So in that spirit, let’s continue on.

  • Hebrews says, “Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run the race that is set before us” – Hebrews 12:1
  • Peter says, “You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” – 1 Peter 4:3. Any amount of time is enough already! As he says in v. 2, we are now to live the rest of our lives not by “human desires, but by the will of God.”
  • Paul asks, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:2
  • Paul says, “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” – Romans 13:14

The call to stop sinning is consistent and clear.

The seriousness of this call is confirmed when we look at –

What happens if we don’t stop sinning

These Scriptures speak for themselves. “The person who sins shall die” – Ezekiel 18:20. “The wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23. Both tell us that sin leads to death.

Paul says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption” – that is, eternal death – Galatians 6:7-8. James says, “Sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters.” – James 1:15-16. Notice these two Scriptures have the phrase, “do not be deceived.” That’s because we always think there will be an exception for us; that we are special; we are different. But you’re not special in this case, and there will be no exception for you or for me. If you indulge your sin, it will destroy you.

Paul says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21. If you indulge your sin it will exclude you from the eternal kingdom.

And then finally, “If we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” – Hebrew 10:26-27.

These Scriptures are numerous and clear, and could be greatly expanded. And if we have any sense, they should cause us to fear allowing any sinful pattern to take root in our lives and to act with speed and determination to get rid of any that have already taken root.

But someone will ask –

“How can we stop sinning??”

“We’re simply forgiven sinners!” What we need to realize is that grace isn’t just about having our past sins forgiven. Grace also transforms our lives so that we can now do God’s will. We can’t do it in our own strength, in the power of the flesh. But God can enable us to do this.

As Peter says, God’s “power has given us everything needed for life and godliness” – 2 Peter 1:3. Nothing is lacking. As Paul says, “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you to will and to work for his good pleasure” – Philippians 2:13.  God can empower us to walk in such a way that we please him.

And this is what this series is about, learning how to do this from the example of Jesus. And when we do this –

We can be free!

Free from our sinful habits and behaviors. Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” We know what this is about. But he also said, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed” – John 8:34, 36. Do you know what this is about? Have you experienced this?

Paul said to his converts, “you . . . were once slaves of sin.” We have all experienced this. But he also said, “. . . having been set free from sin, (you) have become slaves of righteousness.” – Romans 6:17-18. Have you experienced this? Do you know what this is about?

Jesus can set you free! He provides you with God’s power and grace through his death on the cross. And he teaches you how to put this into practice through his life example.

This is the good news of the gospel. Are you struggling this morning? Is life hard for you? Are your despairing? There is hope because of Jesus!

Let me end today by encouraging each of you to be honest and identify an area of struggle in your life – name it. Let the Spirit work in your heart. Humble yourself. Be honest. Where are you failing? Remember not to compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with Jesus. He is the goal toward which we are all moving.

And then as we move forward in our meetings to come, I encourage you to put into practice what you learn, so that you can experience the freedom that Jesus brings.

William Higgins

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The Call to Stop Sinning

This message was updated – The seriousness of sin

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