Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Living Free - Sermon notes from June 27, 2010

When I write a sermon, I make various notes. Not all of them end up in the sermon. And the sermon may well go another direction than the notes might be leading. These are the notes from this last week. Enjoy.

Galatians 5:13-14 “Living Free”

June 26/27, 2010 5th Sunday after Pentecost

:13 For you were called to freedom, brother. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in a word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Called to freedom” Salvation is a free gift that is given to us by the grace of God.

It is neither earned nor deserved. You are a sinful person so that cannot earn the love of God. You cannot do enough good things to be made right with God.

Nor can you say you deserve it. You don’t. You want to deserve God’s love, and complete salvation? There is one way – perfection, not sinning in thought, word or deed. Think correctly. Speak correctly. Do correctly. Not just for a short time but for 24/7, 365. Fall short of that and you cannot deserve the love of God, His grace or His mercy.

So it is a gift. A glorious gift. A wonderful gift beyond any that you have ever received or can ever begin to fathom. A gift of God – called mercy and grace which brings love, peace and joy – all the things we desire in life but cannot get from the world around us. All given to us free from God.

Paul is pointing this out against the Judaizers who are wanting to return to the Law. Be circumcised for only then can you be saved. Live under the Law and you will be worthy of God’s love. Wrong! Live by faith, faith that trusts only in God and not in self. Faith that takes hold of promises of God, faith that doesn’t rely on itself but upon God alone.

As we know this grace of God, it leads us to today’s text – “For you were called to freedom.” The Christian is free. Free to live. Free from the bonds of the law. Freed to go through life without the fear of punishment. Free to enjoy life.

Our Lord has given us freedom in life. What does that mean? It begins with a contrast – sinful nature vs. spiritual nature.

Sinful nature:
Desires for self, desires the moment, desires to be free from all constraint. “Don’t tell me what to do.” Don’t tell me what is right or wrong.” The world today thinks this way. Often it is even couched in a new way of thought. “God doesn’t ask for obedience only love.” “God didn’t ask us to obey Him, only love Him.”
Is that true? That is the freedom that the sinful nature desires. “If it feels good, do it.” “How can something that feels so right, be so wrong?”

Spiritual nature:
Desires the welfare of others, desires the big picture, long term life. “What is good for you?” “What is right and what is wrong?”
Christian life seen as following God not self. It is a struggle for it is contrary to the heart, the nature. “There are many things that feel right but God tells me it is wrong. Who do I listen to?” Self or God?

Psalm 47:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The challenge of this verse, the challenge that the freedom Paul talks about in Galatians, is the challenge of faith. You need to search yourself to distinguish between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the faith.

Desires of the flesh are sinful desires. My neighbor’s job, my neighbor’s wife, lustful desire for another person that is not my spouse, sinful desire to mess over the fellow worker, the abuse of God for my own purposes.

Desires of faith are what God desires. Ephesians 5:1-2 “Be imitators of God, then as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Guided by Christ – our hearts are lead.

Guided by Christ – we love one another. Paul tells the Galatians, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Let the love of Christ guide your life.

Imitate Christ – Be Bold Believers in Christ (VBS theme!). Love begins in the relationship you have with God. Grace given to you. Love shared.

Share that love. What is the desire of your heart? Perhaps that is the real challenge of this sermon, to try to figure out where my heart is – heart of flesh or heart of faith?

Goal: To assist the hearer to see how to live their lives of freedom in love and service to one another.

Malady: We continue in bondage even when we think we are free. We focus on our flesh, our self more than others.

Means: Sharing Christ, His love, we see how we are guided to live our lives as His children, loving each other due to the love He gives to us.

Freedom: Free to live apart from the demands of the flesh. That is truly a challenge we face daily. We are tempted, tested and we struggle with it.

How are we helped? By the Holy Spirit guiding us in faith. Setting our hearts on Christ not on self (not easy!). Through the Word and Sacraments. Always being on guard.

Freedom is never free. It takes a lot to have freedom. So it is in faith. It takes much to be free in Christ. It takes diligence, it takes patience. It takes Christ.

There we are able to love as Christ loved us. We can imitate Him.

Challenge is two-fold:
1) to be free in Christ.
2) to love each other.

As we continue to face this challenge it isn’t easy. As with anything, it isn’t given to you. The faith, the forgiveness and the salvation are given to you. What are you doing with them? You are called to freedom – what does it mean to you? What does it mean for you. Back to Psalm 37:4

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