The Lord is with Us!
Photography by Don Blais
Faith in Jesus is Freedom by Pastor Judy Rasmussen
July 18, 2021
FAITH IN JESUS brings FREEDOM, HOPE & JOY! The message that Pastor Russ brought us on the 4th of July titled: “Let Freedom Ring” reminded us of the historical nature of our nation’s independence and the freedom we celebrate in that. Pastor Russ also mentioned the fact that Jesus offered an invitation of faith that leads to a far greater freedom for each one of us for all eternity. Pastor Russ shared the words of Psalm 118:5 which says, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.” I rejoice in that I am one who has been set free by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All those who accept Jesus will be set free. I would like to expand on this concept this morning as Holy Spirit has prompted me to focus our attention on the freedoms that we can celebrate because of our faith in Jesus Christ. I am trusting that you all have been minding your P’s and Q’s since I stood before you last, and that you have been strengthened on your journey of faith as many of us have studied the Word of Our Lord and fellowshipped together in these past few months.
Let us pray that my words might be as Paul’s according to 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s Power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s Power.” Let it be so this morning, we pray, Lord Jesus, Amen. It is our faith in Jesus and in Our Heavenly Father God that give us the freedom and hope and joy that sustain us in this journey of life. Having Faith in God isn’t about being perfect in our own strength, but in trusting in the Power of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. And that we do by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. The Bible is full of examples of men and women of faith who have relied on the Lord Our God with all of their might and yet many of them stumbled and fell, only to rise again to continue onward as soldiers of the cross. The Old Testament only has two places where it specifically mentions the word faith, the one instance in Deuteronomy 32:20 where it was indicating the “unfaithfulness” of those who rejected God’s love. And the other is in the scripture Sharon read just moments ago from Habakkuk 2: 2-4 which says that the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faith.” This scripture was surely a warning of these end times that we are living in and when the deeds of the enemy and his minions bring only heartache and destruction in our world today. But we, we are the righteous ones who will live by faith in Jesus and proclaim victory and freedom in our relationship with Him. In all other instances in the Old Testament, it is by the examples demonstrated through the lives of the faithful patriarchs that the Lord has given us many lessons for holy and righteous living to build our faith as well. In the New Testament there are over 500 specific references to the word faith. What is the difference between the Old and the New in regard to the use of the word faith? It is Jesus, of course! Faith in Jesus is what the New Testament is all about! Jesus is the answer to the world’s problems of bondage to sin and it is He and He alone that can set all captives free. Simple faith in Jesus brings Freedom to all. So, what is Faith? There are many definitions in the world for faith: in dictionaries & commentaries and other resources: Some say Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; Faith is Belief that is not based on proof; genuine faith is relying on God’s direction and on who He is; Faith is not feelings. Fortunately for us, The Bible, which is our source of Absolute Truth, contains a clear definition of faith as Sharon read in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. Hebrews 11: 1-6 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the Universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made of what is visible.” By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.” This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent or agreement, which is “head knowledge” and trust. Intellectual assent is, believing something to be true. And Trust is actually relying on the fact that something is true- Knowing it in your mind and believing it in your heart. If I show you this chair, you recognize it as a chair and might agree that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. But the next step is Trusting that it will hold you and then actually sitting in the chair. Understanding these two aspects of faith is crucial. Many people believe certain facts about Jesus Christ. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by “faith”. The biblical definition of faith requires intellectual knowledge and assent to the facts AND belief and trust in the facts. For Example: Believing that Jesus is God incarnate who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and was resurrected is not enough. Even the demons believe in God and in those facts. Satan knows exactly Who God is! And he knows exactly who Jesus is! For the scripture says in James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that –and shudder.” We must personally believe in and fully rely on the death of Christ on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We must “sit in the chair” of salvation that Jesus Christ has provided. This is saving faith. Sometimes our faith is influenced by our life circumstances and even when we have faith in God, we don’t always demonstrate our faith in holy and righteous ways as we should. We all fall short of the glory of God and need reminding of how to behave as Christians. In the Book of Mark in the 3rd chapter, there is the story of the Sons of Thunder, the two brothers, James, and John. In their request of Jesus to be seated to the left and right of Him in glory, they showed their self-absorption and lack of a servant’s heart. Me, me, me! Sometimes, it’s all about me, me, me, when truly, truly, it should be all about others! Oh, how often we get caught in the trap of self-indulgence and even pity parties and have attitudes of woe is me! The Bible tells us that the other disciples became indignant with James and John because of their request, and I have to tell you, I cringe and shake my head at examples like this because I see Christians that behave this way in our world today. The lack of recognition of the freedoms that they are afforded as believers in Christ may simply be a lack of Spiritual maturity, but it can still become quite tiresome to engage with those who just don’t grasp the freedom they have from all of the world’s struggles. Or worse yet, to recognize these behaviors in ourselves at times, can become an eye opener as well, when it comes to being faithful to our callings in Christ. The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun and that no temptation has come upon us that hasn’t already happened to others, so we must never think that we are exempt from these temptations of selfishness or orneriness or self-pity that the men of faith in the Bible displayed. I confess, I have fallen prey to these schemes of the enemy myself and have had to repent and receive His mercy anew many times. We may get confused about how to exercise our faith, or we may let our fleshly desires, or our weaknesses override our holy intentions. A more recent example of this was when a young mother was preparing pancakes for her two sons, Kevin, age 5, and Ryan age 3, and the boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw this as the perfect opportunity for a moral lesson. And so, she said to them: ‘If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.’ Now Kevin, being the older and wiser of the two boys, immediately turned to his younger brother and said, ‘ Ryan, you be Jesus!’ I don’t know about you, but I confess that there are days, when I think to myself, I just don’t feel like “being Jesus” today. Can you just picture the stance we take in these situations or with this attitude- arms crossed, lips pouted? Sometimes, we get weary in well-doing, or sometimes, someone just gets on our last nerve, or we’ve just had it up to here with all that has come at us from the world and even, dare I say it, from other brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is hard to take any more of it. We find that our patience is worn paper thin. That is when our faith, faith that brings freedom from all of life’s woes, has to kick into gear and get us through it all. Sometimes in trying to set a good example in demonstrating our faith and good intentions it may backfire on us as in the case of the wife who invited some folks to dinner. At the table, surrounded by her dinner guests, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, ‘Would you like to say the blessing?’ ‘I wouldn’t know what to say,’ the girl replied. ‘Just say what you hear Mommy say,’ the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and with all sincerity of heart and the utmost reverence the little girl prayed, ‘Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” Out of the mouths of babes, as they say! Just like Brother Jerry said in Seekers last week, it often comes down to choices- We can choose to be angry and stubborn and spiteful, or we can choose to be forgiving, and charitable and selfless. Or even worse, we can let ourselves become despondent, and succumb to the lies of the enemy who would bring us into the pits of despair and depression, or loneliness and heartache over life circumstances that bring us down. Or we can choose to look up to Jesus, call on Him for comfort and solace and peace and choose to be renewed in our minds and strengthened in our hearts and claim renewal of our joy and hope in Him. We must have HOPE = Have Only Positive Expectations to experience freedom in Christ today. As Christians we have the freedom and the power to choose to be Jesus to and for others in this life. And we have the freedom to choose Jesus for ourselves as well. For He is with us always, ever dwelling within us, never to leave us nor forsake us. We simply must choose to be Jesus today and that is our freedom: to call out to Him, to accept Him, to love Him, to desire Him, and to Trust Him. He desires us to be in relationship with Him for no other reason than to love us and to be with us. That is the faith that brings us true freedom in this life! In Mark 1:14-15 it tells us that “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God. “The time has come, He said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!” Oh! Such Good News! To know without a doubt that if you believe in Jesus as Your Savior, that you can have eternal life with Him and all the freedom, peace, and joy in this life from this day forward. This is the same Good News that I am sharing with you today! FAITH in Jesus isn’t just for salvation. It applies to the rest of Our Christian lives as well. We believe what the Bible says, and we believe the promises of God, so we desire to obey His Word and to live accordingly. Perhaps you have fallen into the world’s trap of worry and concern over life’s trials and temptations and all the turmoil that is in the news of the day and the unrest in our society and in the nations around the world as well. Oh, my Friend! Have you forgotten the Joy of your salvation and the hope of eternity that is yours through your faith in Jesus? Do you need a refreshing in your soul and your spirit to draw you back to the path of Freedom He has laid for you? When we believe in Jesus, we choose to be transformed by Him and the Word of God each and every day. And we are truly free because of Christ! Romans 12:2 “Do not confirm to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” The short distance of 1 foot from your mind to your heart is all the further you have to go by faith to claim this free gift of salvation! Simply: Confess – Repent – Believe – Receive and then, Rejoice in your newfound freedom in Christ! You can claim it right where you are today! This may be the longest distance, or it can be the shortest step to Freedom in Christ and in this life. 1 John 1:9 – “If we CONFESS our sins, He will be faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Even if we have known Him. but we have faltered, or we’ve grown weary and tired, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light – Confess your weakness, and cry out to Him anew, and He will hear you. Acts 3: 19 – “REPENT, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from Our Lord, and that He may send Messiah, who has been appointed for you, even Jesus.” Do you need to be reminded of the words of the apostle? John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him, shall not perish but will have eternal life.” And again, the words that bring truth and light to us all? John 1:12 “Yet to all who did RECEIVE Him, to those who believed in His name, (the name of Jesus), He gave the right to become children of God.” Confess and Repent, Believe and Receive! From head to heart! One step! One foot! 12 inches from bondage to freedom in your spirit on this day, even now! Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through Faith; and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.” Galatians 3:26 says: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus promises that He will never turn anyone away who comes to Him in faith believing. The Word of God also tells us in II Corinthians 5:7: that “We live by Faith and not by sight.” His Words are Truth and Life and Hope! Freedom! Today is the day of Salvation for us all! Ladies and Gentlemen, as we continue to celebrate our freedom’s as a nation, let us celebrate our freedoms in Christ all the more! And as we close, we shall do as the Psalmist David did in Psalm 29: we shall ascribe to the Lord Glory and Strength! We shall ascribe to the Lord all the glory due His name and worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. Pray together with me as we cry to You Lord, in your temple, Glory! For You Oh Lord have given us strength and blessed us with Your peace and Your Freedom in this life and forevermore. All Our Praise is to You Heavenly Father for the great things You have done. To God be all Glory forever and ever, Amen!