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Jul 03, 2022

Living In Freedom

Living In Freedom

Passage: 1 Peter 4:1

Speaker: Marty Godfrey

Series: Joyful Exiles

Category: Sunday Sermons

Keywords: worship, faith, jesus, sunday, god, sermon, freedom, christian, bible, family, gospel, hope, life, holy spirit, 1 peter, believe, inspiration, jesus christ, celebration, the bible, bible study, first peter, inspirational, live music, 4th of july, independence day, livestream, burnt hickory baptist church, truth of life, burnt hickory worship, living in freedom, be inspired

We conclude our sermon series on being Joyful Exiles with a special celebration looking forward to Independence Day tomorrow. As we consider living in freedom, Pastor Marty shows us in 1 Peter that God wants to deliver us from bondage and have us live in His freedom. God wants us to see the lies of Satan and understand that hardships are normal and also temporary, that God is there to handle our anxiety, and that He will save and restore us. We not only should be living in the freedom that is found in Christ, but we should also be striving to save the lost. What lies are you believing from the enemy? What truths do you need to dwell on in your life right now and believe? In light of your freedom in Christ, how will you celebrate? As always, if you’ve got questions, please reach out anytime and take the next step – and we’d love to connect with you and pray with you.

Well, good morning, church. Happy 4th of July weekend. I am incredibly, incredibly excited today to spend a few minutes with one of my favorite people here in this church. This morning I have with me General Tommy Bonds. If you've been around Burnt Hickory for any length of time, you may have run into him and Miss Judy around this place. But this morning we're going to talk a little about freedom. We're going to talk a little about our country, a little about what the 4th of July really means through the lens of someone that has spent a large portion of their life serving this country. General Bonds, tell us a little bit about your experience with the Army over the years. What did it look like?

Well, I entered the Army in the brown shoe army in 1955, and I served 42 years in five different branches. And the Lord led me through each step of the way such that I ended up in a spot that required a Colonel going to Brigadier General. I was able to accomplish that because of God's guidance. I mean, he had a hand in every move that I made in the military, So I give all the credit to God.

What are some ways that God has blessed the United States? I know we sing the song God Bless America, but what are some ways that you can just honestly say, I have seen this as a blessing from God.

It's the opportunity to raise your children in the thoughts and precepts that the Bible gives you as a Christian, being able to live your life the white God wants you to live it, to be able to read your Bible every day, pray every day, follow the thoughts and intents that gives you in your heart.

Tommy, when you're thinking about Independence Day, having been in the places you've been and spent time in the countries you are, what are some of the things that the 4th of July just grabs your heart with as you have fought for this country?

It's the ability for us to worship as we feel, to be free, as we feel, and to live our lives the way God wants us to live.

Now, I remember you telling us a story about a I think it was a translator that you had that you were able to share the gospel with. Give us just a little glimpse into that story.

I was in Southwest Asia, and we had a translator there who had studied English. He happened to be my driver, and I was able to share the gospel with him through God's guidance and through him driving me around in that country. He accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.

Well, General, we are incredibly thankful for your service, but we're also incredibly thankful that you are here with us. You're part of this church and we know that you are part of a generation that is praying for the next generation of this country to meet Jesus, to serve him faithfully and to honor our country. Church, would you do me a favor and just tell the general how thankful you are that he has been with us today? And welcome to the stage one of our incredible pastors this morning, Pastor Marty Godfrey.

Amen. And we have General Bonds and his family here with us this morning. And it is so good to see you guys. Thank you for your service. And, you know, we rejoice for those of you who did serve so that we could have freedom here as well as around the world. I know in in our household, Becky's and my dads served in the Marine Corps. And so, we've always been very proud of that. My sister, in fact, serves on the blue-ribbon committee. Pam, some you know her. She's in here right now, I think, and she serves on the blue-ribbon committee. With the civilians, with the secretary of the Air Force. And so, we're proud of that. She just got back from a trip with them to Alaska and the Arctic to see what they're going on there.

Let me tell you about a soldier named Hiroo Onoda. All right. Hiroo was this Japanese intelligence officer. And in 1944, he was placed in the Philippines and given strict orders to disrupt anything that the enemy did and to never surrender and to never take his own life. And so, in 1945 when the Allies landed on the island, he retreated up in the mountains and decided to go into guerrilla warfare. So, he continued to live off of coconut milk, bananas and then cattle of the farmers that he would find. He would have occasional fights with the police, but he would never believe them when they told him that the war was over. So finally, they had to get his commanding officer to come and to meet with him and to explain that it was true the war was over, and he could come out of hiding. And so, when this happened, by this time, 29 years had passed. Living in the mountains, hiding out before he was actually released and taken into freedom. And, you know, the question that we're going to look at this morning as we look at freedom and it's a big thing this particular weekend, but we want to take that and we want to look at our own lives and want to say, well, why do some of us look at the world around us and see all the circumstances happening in our lives? And we often times retreat. We live in fear. We have some kind of bondage that holds us back from the very freedom that Jesus said that he came to give us. So today, what I want to challenge us with is this morning I feel that God is has placed on my heart to talk about freedom, not the freedom necessarily that we experience here in our country, but the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ that each of us should be choosing to live in.

And so, this morning, I pray that God's word lands in your heart. And if you have some area of bondage that at the end of the service, that you will be willing to give it up, that you'd be willing to let your commander and officer tell you it's time to give it up and to live in the freedom that he bought for each one of us. We're going to conclude our study here on first. Peter, Matt has done an incredible job. I love the way he goes through Scripture and does such a great job preparing and bringing the meat out of God's word to us. And, you know, the title of this message, this series has been Joyful Exiles Peter wrote this to the Christians who were scattered out in Asia Minor at a time of persecution of Christians, at a time when it just wasn't very fun to live in that culture. It's kind of like what happens and is happening with our culture. And he has a word to speak into our lives today.

Let's begin with a word of prayer and we'll get into first Peter chapter four, verse 12. Father, we come to you this morning. Thank you, Lord, for the reminder to be thankful, not just for our country and the freedoms that we enjoy, but farther help us to stop and to look at the ultimate freedom that you have provided for us. And Father, this morning we pray that our hearts would be tender before you, that this would be more than just a patriotic service, that it would be one that we take a look at our lives and say, What are the areas of bondage that I need to be delivered from to live in this freedom, this abundant life that Jesus provides to me? Father, be free to work this morning, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, if you would look in scriptures will begin first Peter chapter four verse 12 and we'll finish out through chapter five. Beginning in verse 12. Peter writes, Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. Have you ever felt like that? You look around at what's happening in the last five years, and we say, Man, this is weird. What all is going on, whether it is the pandemic, whether it is in the political scene, whether it is in the social scene, whether it is in your own life, in your relationships, in your emotional health. We look as if it's something strange were happening to you, but the word says, rejoice in as much as you partake participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you're insulted the cause of the name of Christ, you're blessed for the spirit of glory. And if God rests on you and if you suffer, it should not be as a murder or thief or any other kind of criminal or even as a as a meddler. In other words, if you're suffering, it shouldn't be as a result of sin that you're living in. However, if you suffer as a Christian, don't be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. So, we're going to look at four things that Satan wants us to believe that holds us in bondage, and then we'll look at the promises and claim the promises that God has already given us to free us from the bondage in our lives.

In this passage, we see that Satan wants us to be defeated, depressed by hardships and sufferings in today's culture. In the last five years, we've seen an onslaught of depression, anxiety, such that one out of every six adults are on some type of depression, anxiety, medicine. We've seen that double over the years. We've seen anxiety and depression in kids and students get to epidemic proportions. And it is really sad because the circumstances that we find ourselves in just tend to continue to grow. And our ability to deal with those become more and more difficult. I will say that during the pandemic, one of the thing things that we saw happen was that people started discovering hobbies or rediscover hobbies. So just an interesting thing. So, the top hobbies that people discovered or rediscovered, one is no surprise to us which was binge watching TV series. Right. Netflix had a great time during the pandemic. The second is that people got back to reading I don't know, did any of you all start reading during that time? The next one. Number three on the list is working out. Now, I found that people either got serious about their health or they gained the pandemic twenty. You know, it could go either way because when you're watching the Netflix series binging on that, you know, the bowl of ice cream looked really good at that point. The next one, folks got into arts and crafts. Did any of you all get into arts and crafts in a new way during the pandemic? The other is board games. I know they exploded, and actually we went into this store that was nothing but puzzles. People started rediscovering puzzles in their families and stuff. Do it yourself projects. I would ask, you know, it was great to be a holder of Home Depot's stock during the pandemic because everybody was doing something to their house or their backyard. It's absolutely crazy.

In fact, I picked up a new hobby over the pandemic. I started my version of birdwatching. I sit in the backyard, which I had just redone before the pandemic. So, it wasn't because of the pandemic. And I found this really cool app by Cornell. So, if you want to talk to me later, I can point out which one. But I'm sitting outside, and I've got my bird feeder. I'm hearing these birds. I'm like, you know, I'm from the country. I should know what birds these are without looking at them. I can hear them. And so, I started listening. In fact, this morning when I was outside, I discovered a new one that I haven't before. It was the Kentucky Warbler. You know we had Kentucky Warblers around here? Okay. I'm not that far off the scale with bird watching, OK? Believe me. I mean, it is within reason. I have not lost my sanity yet. But I think that was a good thing that came out as come out of the pandemic. But as we look further, Satan wants us to be defeated and depressed.

Second thing is, he wants us to be disconnected from the church. He wants us to be disconnected from the church. In First Peter 5:1-4, this is real interesting that in the middle of talking about the persecution of the Christians, he stops and he talks to the leaders of the churches and he says to the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed, be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them not because you must, but because you're willing, as God wants you to be not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. So, he talks about the importance during persecution of the gathered church and the importance of not just pastors, but also leaders in ministry. You know, those of you who are engaged with life groups, you know the things you've come alongside people during these hard times, and it's had a big, big impact.

Now, this morning, we'll have probably close to a thousand every week. We have over 900 join us online. And that's a great thing. That's a great thing. Unless that's taking just the place of being with God's people, that's when it becomes a bad thing, right? You know, that's the way Satan works. He takes a good thing and then takes it so far that becomes a bad thing, right? So, we have people online. Praise God. But some people have found it so convenient. Do you know that nationwide churches have lost 30% of their attending members? That's across the board. 30%. When I get together with executive pastors in this this association, I'm in of larger churches around America. We compared this before it even came out in the official statistics that usually get released is that there's this layer of people that just disappeared. And we have gone we've tried to find out what happened to them. They haven't gone to another church. It's just that they don't come anymore. All right. Some of you that maybe you and you've just recently gotten back in the game. But listen, that is the strategy of Satan. I got to make sure that we know that it's not just a matter of preference or that you need some additional rest or additional time in your schedule. Satan loves to isolate you and get you by yourself. That's when he does his greatest work. That's when we need God's family the most. We often quote Hebrews 10:24 & 25. That talks about that. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that you see the day of his return is drawing near. You know what that says? Not only does it speak to the importance of getting together, but it says as the day is drawing near, which means that things tend to get worse in the culture in the end times. And it is that time that we most need the encouragement of biblical community. If you only come to worship service, you're robbing yourself of biblical community. This is great community. But unlike the church that I grew up in, where we had a hundred on a good Sunday and we knew who all was there and wasn't there. Next week, if this is all you do and you miss next Sunday, I'm afraid we may not even notice that. And then what if something happens in your life unless you call and tell us we don't know how to come along and minister to you. That's why Sunday morning life groups are so important. If you have not, and it looks like about 20% of our worship attenders are not a part of a Sunday morning life group you need to get into biblical community through a Sunday morning life group. You need that. Not just the Bible study in context of your season of life, but you need people who are concerned about you who are checking on you when things go on in your life that they're actively helping you out. And you need to be that to other people in your life group.

So, Satan wants us to be disconnected from the church. He also wants us to be, number three: discontented, argumentative, and judgmental. Any of ya'll have social media? Have any of you notice that some of our right good brothers and sisters have not exactly had the witness that they should have in the presence of many hundreds of people? You see, Satan wants to hurt our witness to the lost people, to the lost world. He says in chapter five, verses five and six, all of you clothe yourselves with what? Humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. So, humble yourselves therefore, under God's mighty hand that he may lift you up in good time. I saw this great meme. I love to get an occasional really good meme and check this one out. I love this. It says on the internet you can be any anything you want. It's strange that so many people choose to be stupid. And that goes not only for lost people, but actually saved people. People. Let's not be stupid, OK? Clothe yourselves with humility. You know, we had the perfect opportunity with Roe v Wade being overturned. Are you going to be a poor winner or are you going to be gracious giving God complete glory and Thanksgiving? But knowing that there will be people we need to come alongside of and minister in the depths of God's love and grace. He wants us to have a testimony of humility in dealing with those who don't know Christ.

And finally, number four, he wants us to be deceived. That sounds like Satan into believing that people and politics are the enemies. And typically, you know one of my favorite sayings is, you know, that that it would, you know, whether it's work, or life would be OK if it weren't for the people. Right? I mean, it'd be fine if it weren't for the people. Well, the problem is it's about the people, OK? So, we think that if we get the people straight and the politics straight and then we scratch our heads wondering if that will ever happen, that everything will be OK. But in first Peter, five, eight and nine, this is so important because God wanted to remind the persecuted exiles, he said, be alert and of sober mind your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. He didn't say your enemy. These people who are persecuted shooting you, he said your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him standing firm in the faith because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Just a reminder, Satan is not in hell yet. I know we think, well, God's in heaven and Satan's in hell. And then somehow the world has taught us that they're having this battle on Earth. Listen, Satan is a created being began as an angel. And because of pride and because the way he revolted cast down with the third of the angels, they have not been cast into hell. There will be, if you go to Revelation 20:21, be a great day to see that happen. But right now, they are free to roam. And you see the works that they impose right now. In Ephesians 6:12, we quote this one quite often, that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It is not against the media, it's not against politics, it is not against the entertainment industry. That's not really the struggle the struggle is against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil, even the heavenly realms. They are the ones behind mind what we see here on Earth. The problem is in the spiritual realm, we don't see that.

So, we think that this physical realm really is a better picture of where our problems are. This is just where it's played out. The real enemy, and battle goes on in the spiritual realm. John 8:44, Jesus said about Satan, he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there's no truth in him. When he lies. I love this. I love this statement. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he's a liar. And the father of lies. Well, hey, there is good news. There's good news this morning, and that is that God wants to deliver us from the web of lies that help us to live in bondage. And He wants to free us in a way that nothing else can, in a way that if whoever your pick for president, Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the governor you will not be freed because of those things that happen on Earth. It is only through the riches of Jesus Christ. In Galatians 5:1, one of my favorite passages, it says that it is for freedom, that Christ has set us free. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. So, stand firm. Don't let yourselves be burdened again by yoke of slavery. Now, what that says is that your goal and somehow some of us when we got, we got saved for first time, we knew we were being saved from hell and we knew we were being saved to an eternity in heaven. Right. We saw Future Tense, but we thought until Jesus comes back or until I die, I've got to make it. And so, what happens is we look at it and we and we think that we just got to survive until Jesus comes back. And hopefully he will, quickly. No, no, Jesus wants us to thrive, not just survive. John ten says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But I have come that you might have what? Life and have it abundantly to the full and maximum. And it means here and now he wants us to experience salvation here and now. You see, Matt preached a few weeks ago on the three parts of salvation. There is the past, the present and the future. We have been saved from the penalty of sin.

What that means is, man, I know for certain that I am going to spend eternity in God's presence in Heaven one day. So, we have been saved from the penalty of sin. Present tense. We are being saved from the power of sin. And this is a part of salvation. And somehow, we miss this, that he gives us what we need for life today to deal with what we have to deal with. That's part of salvation. Salvation is not just fire insurance for when we die, it begins now. We have freedom from the penalty of sin, freedom from the power of sin. You choose. See, you're lost people do not have the Holy Spirit living in them. Therefore, when we were lost, we live according to our nature, which is sin. We sin. Now we have a new nature. All things have become new. We're told in scriptures. We are saints. We now choose to sin. It's a choice. That's why in Galatians 5:1, it says it is for freedom that Christ set you free. So, live in that freedom. Don't go back to that bondage of slavery. And then we had the promise and we read we sang about it just a moment ago of when he does return. And that is actually the very presence of sin will be no longer for eternity. So, God wants us to understand five things to deal with these hardships. Number one is it hardships are normal, and they are temporary. Remember that it's going to be OK first Peter 4:13-14 says but rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you're insulted because the name of Christ, you're blessed for the spirit of glory and of God rest in you. You got to remember; people do not reject you. They are rejecting the Christ within you.

It is the Christ in you that makes them uncomfortable. It is not you. So, He takes the responsibility. Because of sin entering the world, we will have hardships, but they are temporary. The second thing he wants us to understand is that humility and repentance should characterize our lives. Just as I mentioned, a moment ago, that we're told to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. That's what needs to characterize our lives, humility and repentance. We are also told in First Peter 4:17. Now listen to this one. OK, first Peter 4:17. The first part says, and what's so interesting is in First Peter, he's talking about all this persecution coming on and he says for it's time for judgment to begin where? In the world? He says it starts with God's household. Today, I would say the bulk of the sermons preached today will be on second chronicles 7:14. That's if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face turn from the wicked ways then I will hear from heaven will heal their land will forgive their sin and heal their land. What we have to understand from that is that he is not calling the lost world to repent. He is calling us to get right with Him in repentance. If God's people get right with him and live-in humility and repentance, and then live it out, live that freedom out, we are the ones then that will usher in the revival that we sang about a little while ago. When we call and ask God for revival, so many of us are thinking, Yes, Lord, please revive these sinners that are doing all these awful things. No, revival means he's got to do a work in us first. It means you got to draw a circle around yourself, get on your knees and pray right now that you get right before you ever expect the world to get right. He also says good news. He is there to handle our anxiety. Now, listen, depression and anxiety are not an easy thing. It is not an easy thing. The chemicals can get imbalanced, and it becomes physiological is very difficult to deal with. We're told though, in first Peter 5:7 to cast all your anxiety upon him. Now I know we know that with our head it's harder to actually live that out. And why do we cast all our anxiety on him?

Well, number four, he wants us to know that he cares for you, and he cares for me. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Do you believe that? Do you believe do you do you sense that God has an incredible love for you, that He cares for you? And guys, listen, sometimes we get a wrong theology. I had to work through this number of years ago. I had the wrong theology. You know, a lot of you praying for my son Matt, who's going through radiation in chemo right now. And but he came down with the disease when he was 18, his senior year in high school. And, man, it was just devastating as a parent. And many of you know, you've dealt with things with your kids. And about that same time, you know, I had deaths. I had our mother had a stroke. We just had a number of things happened and I'm just wrestling with God saying God like I love you. I mean, like I want to serve you. I have I've made a decision to quit a business career and at that time I felt like a vow of poverty and moving wherever you want me to move and do whatever you want me to do. And then why are these things happening Lord? Matthew loves you. He is sold out to you, and he wants to live for you. But guys listen, God's love for us. Don't expect everything in your life to go right. And if it doesn't, he's mad at you or he's deserted you. Look at Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego. They were in the fiery furnace, and they looked in. And how many people did they see there? Four. They saw four. The reincarnate Christ was right there.

So, he may not deliver you from hardship, but he will be right with you in the middle of it. Because He cares for you. He loves you, and there is nothing you can do that will make him love you more. And there's nothing you could do that would make him love you less. He's not mad at you. And if you're living in bondage, he wants to invite you back and to experience the freedom that is his. The fifth thing that God wants us to see is that He will save and restore you. First Peter 5:10-11 says the God of all. Grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you've suffered a little while, He will himself restore you. He will make you strong. He will make you firm. He'll make you steadfast to him be the power forever and ever. Amen. So, what's our response to this? Two things. Then we'll close. First, choose the freedom that is found in Christ. It is a choice. And He's asking you this morning to do that very thing to choose to walk in the freedom. First Peter 2:9 says that you're a chosen people. You are a royal priesthood, you're a holy nation, God's special possession. You are. That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The second thing, I don't know if that's my time or going off. OK, I'll put it on snooze. Just a minute. Number one, choose the freedom that is found in Christ. Secondly, let's rescue the lost. In other words, let's stand in the gap for others who are hurting. Let's stand in the gap in 1 Peter 5:18-19. He says if it's hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? So, then those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. Let me close with a story. So there was a man named Desmond Doss, Desmond Doss. And Desmond Doss grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. He had an abusive household, is in the 1920s, and he had an abusive father. And for that he had a hatred for weapons. And so he had a tender heart, though. In fact, when he was a child, he actually there was a person in an accident he didn't even know. And he walked six miles to be able to give blood to help the person out.

Well, when the war came along, he felt like God wanted him to come along and to serve God and his country. The only thing is when he enlisted, he said, Well, I don't want to carry a weapon, the Bible and faith or my weapons and so it wasn't very popular. They actually assigned him to a rifle unit, thinking that might help wash him out. In fact, his fellow soldiers didn't really think highly of him, befriend him because they knew that he couldn't have their back because he didn't have a weapon. So he became a medic in the military and there was there was a battle at Okinawa. Up on this ridge, and the Americans had captured it. And all of a sudden, man they just started being besieged with mortars, everything. And men's bodies were just being blown into two, literally. They called to retreat. But Desmond refused to retreat. Instead, he started caring for each one of those that were still alive that others would have left for dead. And he began carrying them back even while the enemy was still firing, carrying them back and lowering them off of the ridge. He continued to do this and miraculous slowly enough. He did that for 12 hours, and he carried 75 of his fellow soldiers by himself doing that. The enemy was trying to take him out, and he claimed that God had his hand of protection upon him. Two weeks later, now, two weeks later, he was in a foxhole caring for some fellow soldiers. A hand grenade rolled in. He tried to kick it out. It exploded. Shrapnel blew up his leg into his hip, and he waited for 3 hours for someone to come help. When they did, they brought the stretcher. He got on it. They started carrying him off. He saw somebody he thought was in worse shape than him. So he gave that up and he began caring for other guys. About that time, a sniper just when you know you're having a bad day. At that time, a sniper shattered his left arm with a shot and so as he laid there, there was no help that came out. So, he crawled 300 yards to get to safety. Later, when President Truman gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor and said that that was a greater honor than being president.

Now, there was something else. When he was crawling after he had been hit by a sniper, he carried a Bible with him, and he lost it. Well, because of the heroic acts he did. His unit went back, combed that area after the siege, and they presented him that Bible that he had been carrying with him. Desmond ended up being one of the most highly decorated soldiers in World War Two in fact, some of you may be aware of him. You forgot his name from the movie that came out called Hacksaw Ridge.

But here's the thing. I mean, that makes it is a great story of valor. And this is July 4th weekend, but it speaks to something even greater. And that is how committed are we to the mission that God has given us to go and to deliver others from bondage with the good news of Jesus Christ? So, this morning, our time of invitation. I want to ask you if you'd be willing, there's two decisions this morning. Number one, are you dealing with bondage in your life? You know, one thing I've found from being a vocational pastor is all of us have stuff. All of us have junk in our lives. It just blows me away. We all do. Yet we come and the very people that we should be the most open with, we're closed oftentimes because we have our Sunday face on our Sunday demeanor.

It's time to drop that. And to be honest, do you have something that has just got you in bondage right now and you're not experiencing freedom? Some of you, you've never placed your faith in Christ the first time. So, you've never gotten to experience what that is like. You need to make that decision. Secondly, is there someone this dear to you that you'll stand in the gap for them that they should be freed from bondage? You see this as a spiritual battle God has given us special weapons for the spiritual battle. Unfortunately, we try to use earthly weapons. They don't work. One of the main things we can do is get on our knees in prayer and watch God move in the spiritual realm, watch things change, watch people's lives be delivered. We're going to do something different this morning.

In closing, I want you just to close your eyes, bow your heads. I'm going to pray a special prayer. One that is right out of scripture. It's a prayer of freedom from bondage. And if you would allow me the honor while everyone's head is bowed, and eyes are closed. If there's something in your life that, has you in bondage right now and this is folks who are online as well, let me ask you just to stand right where you are. We're not going to create anything a big commotion. But if you're dealing with something right now that you just can't get rid of, that you can't experience that freedom, would you just stand all everyone's eyes are closed, and hands are bowed. And secondly, while everyone's eyes are still closed, if there is someone that you know who's dear to you, who is dealing with something, are you willing to stand in the gap for them? Would you also stand if you're willing to just stand in the gap for them? And as we pray, you're going to be praying and standing on their behalf this morning, If there is someone just immediately around you, if you could just stand, put your hand on their shoulder, let them know that we're standing with them as a community of believers, and let me go before the throne. And as I do when we do corporate prayer, usually one of us lifts a prayer up. But it should be the unity and desires of all our hearts that go before the very throne of God. So, let's pray right now.

Father, we come boldly to your throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. Grant these people that are standing and that we're standing on behalf of. Grant them release from bondage to strongholds of the enemy. And we plead the blood of Jesus to cancel all commands of the powers of darkness in their lives. You came to destroy the works of Satan. Your blood defeated the God of this age in Jesus’ name. Take back all the ground given to the enemy in these lives. Draw them out of bondage and deception. We know that we have the intercession of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus on our behalf. Father focus the intercession of the Spirit on these. Answer these prayers according to your will. Jesus, our intercessor, apply all of your mighty work against the enemy. Bring all the power of the Incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension against the assignments seeking to hold these in bondage. Most high God contend with those who contend with these loved ones of yours. Rebuke the enemy in all his operations. Dispatch mighty warrior angels to do battle on their behalf and send your light and your truth to lead them. God remove all spiritual blindness, deafness, any hardness of heart, and grant them eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that seeks you and you only. We plead your mercy and grace over all their personal sin failure and their family inequities. Break through and heal their wounded spirits. Bind a hedge of thorns around them that'll repeal all the works of darkness. And finally, Lord, we realize that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and we know we have spiritual weapons that set captives free by your Holy Spirit. Break every yoke of bondage in these lives. Grant them the conviction of sin with godly sorrow that leads to repentance and deliverance from captivity.

Set them completely free. And as it is written, we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. We overcome by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony. Thank you. Thank you for your mighty work by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for granting us the grace, the power, the persistence and love in intercession with faith for these our brothers and sisters, until you are glorified in their life. And we pray this prayer of freedom in the strong name of our King Jesus and all God's people said, amen. Amen.

Y'all have a good rest of the Fourth. Continue to live in the freedom that is ours. And Jesus Christ, if you would like to pray or talk to someone, I'll ask any of our deacons, our prayer ministry, just to hang behind here in this area. We would love to do that with you. OK, you're dismissed.

Follow Along with the Message

Living in Freedom

July 3, 2022

1 Peter 4:12–16
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Satan Wants Us to Be…

1. and depressed by the hardships and sufferings in today’s culture.

2. Disconnected from the .

1 Peter 5:1–3
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NLT)
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

3. Discontented, , and judgmental.

1 Peter 5:5–6
5 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

4. Deceived into believing that people and are the enemies.

1 Peter 5:8–9
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
John 8:44
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

PRINCIPLE: God wants to deliver us from this bondage, and help us live in his .

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

God Wants Us to Understand That:

1. are normal and temporary.

1 Peter 4:13–14
13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

2. Humility and should characterize our lives.

1 Peter 5:5–6
5 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.

3. He is there to handle our .

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him…

4. He for me.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

5. He will save and me.

1 Peter 5:10–11
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

What Should Our Response Be?

1. Choose the that is found in Christ.

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

2. Rescue the .

1 Peter 5:18–19
18 “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Ephesians 2:1–10
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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