Three Gospel Freedoms
Monday, May 14, 2012
He’s a legend, known as the “London whale”, living in Paris, commuting to London, causing world financial indexes to shake when he spoke. Now the London whale has pushed his bank to drown in a sea of red ink.
J.P. Morgan Chase and it’s CEO Jamie Diamon have pushed hard against more financial regulations after the mortgage crisis led into the great recession. It could go higher but J.P. Morgan Chase has now taken two billion dollars in trading losses in the past six weeks and in the second quarter it could go even higher, the CEO warned last week. The London whale is now more like Jonah and less like the big fish in the middle of a great storm. Already cries have resurfaced that this is exactly the reason why better regulation is needed to protect investor funds. Which reminds me that the right kind of treasure is treasure gained and deposited outside a bank, in fact in heaven. Where are you storing treasure, especially in the storms that come in your life? Big banks are impersonal. But most of us understand losing money personally. We understand when waves come up and the rain pours down and storms of all sorts affect our lives. And that’s when it comes back to the Gospel.
Welcome to HT, I’m CM sharing the GS that’s all about Jesus. In your storm of the moment, we’re going to study the Bible together. And I want us to see Three Gospel Freedoms in scripture. That’s what we’re calling this program – Three Gospel Freedoms. HT opens with a song from Fernando Ortega’s album Come Down O Love Divine.
OPENING SONG – Doxology – Come Down O Love Divine
his is why I appreciate the music of Fernando Ortega so much. His album Come Down O Love Divine is a musical expression of what my heart longs for at the beginning and end of each day ... a fresh personal encounter with the One whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Does that sound like something you could use in your life? For a gift to this listener-support ministry, I want to send you a copy of Come Down O Love Divine.
In Galatians, the Apostle Paul asks a question that might fit you like it fit that woman who had become quite depressed. In fact I think it fits all of us at one time or another. “What has happened to all our joy?” That’s the question that Paul asked in Galatians 4 verse 15. In fact, let me just read it to you. Galatians 4:15, “What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that if you could have done so, you would have torn your eyes out and given them to me.” Paul can be very passionate. And then the next chapter over, Galatians 5:22, there are these fruits of the Spirit that many of us seem to lack and want, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,” there it is, “peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” And then you move over a book, a little letter to Philippians and the Apostle Paul still has joy on the brain. He opens the letter saying, “All my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy.” And a few verses down, “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” Philippians 1:26, “So that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” That’s a different kind of flood language, isn’t it? And then over in Philippians 2:2, “Then make my joy complete, being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” And then in Philippians 2:29, “Welcome him,” speaking of a brother in the Lord, “with great joy and honor men like him.” And then before Philippians ends, in chapter 4 verse 1, “Therefore, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord dear friends.” It’s a little word, joy, but it’s a big word. A life without joy is drab and hopeless, isn’t it? Maybe when you were young life was full of dreams and desires but you know, for many people today it’s just not like that. They seem to have gotten depressed and downhearted early on. Maybe there weren’t romances for them to pursue. There weren’t wrongs to right. There was no purpose for living. People growing up in a world where there’s nothing to believe in and life’s been stripped of its potential for joy. They can’t even have career goals like previous generations because things are changing so fast that any career they chose will be obsolete in a few years. All that’s left seems to be a dreary kind of slavery, slavery to desires that don’t even deliver what the promise, slavery to the constant round of doing meaningless work, going to bed, getting up, doing it all over again, slavery to always having to be on the crest of the wave of change or be left behind. Material things are about the only joy the world seems to offer some of us anymore. No wonder there is an epidemic of depression. In Galatians, that we quoted a minute ago, Paul says that joy comes into our lives not through the world, but through the Word and through the Gospel and through the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord. We experience joy when we realize that we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of God. Life is good, like that woman I told you about a while ago, when we open our eyes and see the enormous freedom of being a son or daughter of God who is loved by his Heavenly Father, but that’s a joy many of us Christians have lost and some of us may have never even known. Let me share with you from Malachi 4:2, last book of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. “The Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings and you will go out like calves released from the stall.” What a picture, if you’ve ever been on a farm, of the joyous exaltation that comes from being set free. A little calf, the gate opens and it’s released into the pasture, poor, depressed calves locked up, bored to death and then somebody opens the door and releases them. They don’t’ just mosey out, they charge out into the big wide, beautiful world full of the exuberance of freedom. If the Gospel has risen in our hearts with its joy of righteousness and healing then we should be kicking up our heels with that same exuberance. If we’re not then it’s probably because we’ve lost the Gospel somewhere along the way. In Galatians, Paul talks about several aspects of Gospel freedom. First he talks about freedom from the world. In chapter 1 verse 4 he says that Christ gave his life to rescue us from this present evil age and then he ends up by saying that the cross has crucified the world to him and him to the world. Did you notice that our freedom comes from death? Surprisingly, Gospel freedom comes from death. Not our death, the death of Christ which was also our death. The hopeless slavery of pursuing the so-called blessings of the world is ended for us. Jesus turned down the glories of the world, exchanged for the glories that would be his after his sufferings. He died to the world when he chose the cross and rose to the joy of the everlasting kingdom. Paul says that we died and rose with him. We’re no longer part of this evil generation that struggles for satisfaction from meaningless things. We’ve opted instead for a glorious kingdom, an eternal inheritance which belongs to us along with Christ and we’ve been delivered from the impending judgment that’s coming on the world. That’s the first aspect of our freedom and it’s a real freedom too. We never need to get hold of it. All the things the world says are so valuable. We are free not to care about them. We don’t have to live pursuing either the world’s honors or its riches because we have the true treasure, the fairest and truest treasure, his name is Jesus.
The first Gospel freedom Paul mentions is freedom from the world and its desires. But there’s a second. There’s freedom from the struggle for righteousness. Now, that may not mean a lot to you but let me explain. That’s a struggle many of us don’t even know we’re in. But think of how much energy we spend in competition for the prize of being right or getting it right. We store up a record of all the good things we’ve done and bask in the glow. We find fault with other people and gossip because it makes us look better, we think. Don’t we all tend to be like that, to put a positive spin at least in our own mind, on our own doings, our own actions? Sometimes we make excuses to justify our actions. You get the idea, don’t you? We’re locked up by our terrible need to be seen as being right. Approval is a crown that too many of us want. We want the opinion of others to give us a positive verdict especially when we’re in conflict with others. In Galatians 5:15, that’s just a little while after he asks, “Where did all your joy go?” Paul says that this way of living leads us to bite and devour each other. It can also lead to depression because the effort to perfect ourselves and to keep every aspect of our lives under control can become very exhausting. And then there’s the guilt and condemnation that lurk under the surface, mudding up the waters of our conscience and bringing despair. The Gospel, yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings freedom from the struggle for righteousness and again it comes from the death of Jesus. The death of Christ was the death of all our high hopes of being right. When we look at Jesus on the cross, we see God’s verdict on whatever case we hope to make in our own defense. We hoped or longed for approval, but what we see instead is that we receive a curse. But Jesus takes that curse. We pass through judgment unscathed because the curse fell on him instead of us. There’s tremendous freedom in that because there’s nothing left to defend and there’s no condemnation left to dread. It is all over. We can kick up our heels like those baby calves released from the stall. The Son of Righteousness has risen with healing in his wings. The resurrection of Jesus means that God pronounced him righteous and we are, in Jesus, pronounced righteous now and forever more.
Three, there is the freedom of being loved as a child of God, a son, a daughter. Galatians 4:7 says, “you are no longer a slave but a son,” or daughter. Maybe all the things I’ve said about freedom haven’t really touched your heart because, in spite of it all, you still feel detached from God. If you had to analyze it, you’d say you feel more like a slave than a child in your relationship to your Heavenly Father. A slave is only in the house because of the labor he can provide. He’s bound to stay, not because he wants to, but because he has to. If he does his job, then the master usually pays no attention. If he doesn’t then he’s in big trouble. And there’s a certain respectful distance that a slave has to retain. He’s not invited to get too familiar with the master. But a son or a daughter, maybe like a first son or a first daughter, now that’s another story. That child belongs. The son, the daughter, they have the delight of the father. That son or daughter is not in the house merely because they can provide labor, they’re loved and cherished. And any time that son or daughter comes into his father’s presence, you can expect a warm smile of welcome. Your father loves to teach you all about the estate because it belongs to you. You are the heir. That son or daughter is not only completely secure and loved but honored and respected. The father’s love sets you free. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes like a slave. You don’t have to justify your place in the house. You’re the son, you’re the daughter, you’re the air. Just like Jesus, coheirs with him and loved by the Father just like him.
SONG – Child of the Father – Cheri Keaggy – a classic from her first album entitle Child of the Father.
Galatians 4:6 says that because you’re a son, “God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your heart to cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” God the Father sent the Spirit into your heart to teach you to call him Father. He’s given you the Spirit of his Son to open your eyes to see his love so that you can learn to relate to him like Jesus does. He wants you to trust his love, to understand that you’re no longer a slave. You’re a child of the King. Verse 7 goes on to say, “And since you are a son, God also has made you an heir.” We’re not only justified, we’re adopted. We’re made heirs. That’s the good news of the Gospel. No wonder it takes the power of the Holy Spirit for us to comprehend this ocean of love and wealth. Would you pray with me now that he will open our eyes to see?
My Heavenly Father in heaven, I live in the aftermath of a flood some days. And some of us listening right now actually felt a flood in the past few days, maybe our houses were destroyed, maybe we were evacuated, maybe we even lost someone we know and loved. Father, we want our joy to be complete. We don’t want to have lost our joy and some of us have never even tasted the joy that we can have today in the Lord. To be called a Father, to be called a son, a daughter, an heir of the Lord God Almighty because of our standing in Jesus Christ, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Lord, may we all be on our knees today, no matter what our circumstances, no matter how down, how depressed we might actually be, and may our joy be made complete this day, not for anything we do or say but because of the power of the Lord, the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. May the fruit of the Spirit be part of our lives today and forevermore? I pray this now in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son Jesus and the name of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Are you like me when you get to the end of your day? Usually, by 4:00 the calming presence of Christ that I enjoyed in my morning devotions feels far away. The stress and busyness has built to a frenetic pace, and the peace that passes understanding has given way to the tyranny of the urgent. By the time I get home I am desperate for peace and quiet ... I need a word from the Lord to sooth my heart.
This is why I appreciate the music of Fernando Ortega so much. His album Come Down O Love Divine is a musical expression of what my heart longs for each day ... a fresh personal encounter with the One whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Does that sound like something you could use in your life?
At Haven, we believe there is no greater need than to connect with Jesus on a daily basis. This is what we seek to do on the radio everyday and why, for a gift to the listener-support ministry of Haven Today, I want to send you a copy of Come Down O Love Divine.
Come Down, O Love Divine
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After 5 years Fernando Ortega teams up again with producer John Andrew Schreiner for his new album Come Down, O Love Divine.This lush album is complete with 14 songs and features a full choir ensemble to accompany Fernando's vocals and arrangements....
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Telling the Great Story that's all about Jesus ... in a written daily devotional, Anchor has ministered to thousands for more than 30 years. Sent each month by mail, this devotional guide features short Scripture selections with the writer's insights and experiences woven into a few short paragraphs each day....
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