Bring Good News to the poor.
Proclaim that captives will be released,
The blind will see, and the oppressed will be set free.
Those words may sound familiar. They come from Sunday’s Bible readings found in Luke 4 and I’m guessing the subject preached on from many pulpits.
I don’t often share my thoughts on Sunday’s sermon here at CMB, but this week’s message seemed like the perfect way to bring this month on freedom to a close. (Friday will be another personal update post.)
My childhood pastor preached loooong sermons. When asked about them he used to say he preached until he saw the people hanging their heads … then he knew they’d gotten it. He knew they were taking the message personally and were no longer thinking “you tell them, pastor.”
He preached the Law before he shared the Gospel.
My dad often says that we don’t hear the Law much anymore. Pastors don’t want to offend. They want to fill the seats so they tell people what they want to hear. And while that may be true in some places, our pastor has come into the new year with a boldness that is blessing us. One I want to tell you about…
He started the year talking about Truth – that there is light and there is darkness. There is a battle going on in the spiritual realm every day, and that battle leaves its mark on you and me. Each week in the series he has touched on life specifics where we as believers can be changed and maybe even influence change in our families and communities.
Back to Luke 4 –
Jesus was in His hometown of Nazareth. He’d been invited to read aloud from Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Isaiah 61:1–2
Then Jesus . . . rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then He began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Luke 4:20–21
Jesus came to give us freedom. Good news to the poor. Comfort to the brokenhearted. Freedom to captives and prisoners.
You and I have everything we need to live completely free.
If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36
We don’t really live “truly free.”
(This is where Sunday’s message comes in.)
When you and I fill our lives with anything other than God’s best for us found in a relationship with Jesus we’ve sacrificed some of our true freedom in Christ. And there are so many things trying to convince us they’re viable substitutes.
Our pastor started with a list of things like marijuana, alcohol, Oxycontin, steak, ice cream, and pickles. Not to discuss or debate the individual items as right or wrong, legal or illegal, but to start us thinking. He added entertainment. And what about social media?
Anything we consistently use to numb the pain and fill the emptiness.
What’s getting in the way of your freedom?
I can’t imagine anyone there not squirming a little. We all have our “thing.” Our substitute void filler. Things in the space that Jesus alone could be filling.
And friend we’re missing out. We’re missing the fullness of hope and joy, peace and satisfaction Jesus has for us right here right now.
I began The Faith Project with freedom. Freedom from sin, my past, self-righteous judgment, and fear. Freedom to sin boldly, worship in spirit and truth, plan my day with God’s help and to be who I’m created to be.
Today, as I think about the biggest thing I want to take from this first month of the year, it’s that in Jesus I have the freedom to LIVE.
Our pastor said, “Don’t undermine what God has already undone.”
Paul said it this way in Galatians 5:1, So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
Make sure that you stay free!
We’ve been delivered. We’ve been given freedom.
Still, in Galatians 5, Paul goes on to say we have been given the Spirit of Christ who wants to fill the void of our lives with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” v. 22–23
Everything else just gets in the way of, “Jesus being our all in all.”
So, I’m doing an assessment this week. I’m taking a close look at anything I might be allowing into my Jesus space. I’m looking at the time I spend on entertainment and social media. My choices in food and beverages. My shopping habits. And anything else that might be getting in the way of true freedom. Not from a right or wrong trying to earn God’s favor by trying to do it right, but from the realization that I could be missing out God’s best all because of bad habits.
I don’t want to miss the blessings of love, joy, peace or anything else God wants for me because I’ve settled for the world’s less.
Are you with me? Are you ready to LIVE? Really LIVE. FREE!
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