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Monday, March 21, 2016
"Thank God, I'm Free!"
Message Summary: If you are born again, washed in the blood of Jesus, why not declare aloud, with great joy and thanksgiving, "Hallelujah, I'm saved by God's wonderful grace!" And, if you're so inclined, you may even want to shout it out!
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"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood" (Revelation 1:5).
Like a bird out of prison
That has taken its flight;
Like a blind man that God
Gave back his sight.
Like a poor wretched beggar
That’s found fortune and fame,
I’m so glad that I found out
He could bring me out
Thro’ His holy name.
Saturday afternoon I was working up in the loft of our small utility barn when I encountered a bird in despair. Apparently she (a female cardinal) had managed to fly in but was now desperately trying to fly through a closed window. She flailed about and repeatedly banged up against the glass in a futile attempt to escape.
The window has long been painted shut and won't open so I considered how to set her free. She could have flown back out through the lower level and out the doors but every bit of instinctual sense was to try to fly out that closed window.
So I took a small cardboard box and managed to corral her up to the window and then carefully closed the flaps, trapping her in the box. I took the box down the stairs and outside the front doors to freedom. When I sat the box down and opened the flap initially the bird just huddled in the corner, perhaps in a state of shock. I jostled the box and the bird flew off. She was indeed "Like a bird out of prison that has taken its flight."
Now I would like to think that cardinal flew away with deepest appreciation for my act of kindness and testified to the other birds of her experience and the joy of being set free by a human. I'm not counting on it though! But what about those of us who have been set free?
This week we especially remember the work of Christ in setting His people free. Yesterday in our church service, like many of you, we considered the events of Palm Sunday and the Triumphal Entry in honor of the One who came to set His people free. In the great hymn, "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus", which is usually associated with Christmas, Charles Wesley wrote concerning Christ, "born to set thy people free."
In a powerful and often memorized teaching in John 8 Jesus declares, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
On the original Palm Sunday the people were looking for a political liberator. But that was not the liberation Christ primarily came for and, later that week as the events unfolded, some of the people were greatly disappointed. In fact you surely have considered how the same people who cried out "Hosanna" just days earlier joined another crowd in crying out "Crucify Him".
Actually I see a similar phenomenon in the present political situation. People are crying out (regardless of party) for a leader whom they feel will make things right. But the political world is full of promises that can never be met. Certainly Jesus could have liberated the people from Roman occupation and bondage. But His purpose was far greater and accomplished freedom from a far greater bondage, and not just for a generation but for all eternity. In the final book of the Bible the Apostle John powerfully states, "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood" (Revelation 1:5).
John wrote this verse sixty years after the great Event when Christ died on the cross and shed His blood. John had been an eyewitness to that Sacrifice and now wrote as the last surviving member of the 12 disciples who had walked with the Lord.
Just like the cardinal who sought freedom by darting toward what appeared to be an open window to freedom, people dart in and out of the web of sin that Satan has weaved for them, only to get more entangled. But the Bible teaches that the only way out is not through our own effort but through the blood of Jesus.
Thank God I am free, free, free
From this world of sin.
I've been washed in the blood of Jesus,
I’ve been born again.
Hallelujah, I’m saved, saved, saved
By His wonderful grace.
I’m so glad that I found out
He could bring me out
And show me the way.
If you are born again, washed in the blood of Jesus, why not declare aloud, with great joy and thanksgiving, "Hallelujah, I'm saved by God's wonderful grace!" And, if you're so inclined, you may even want to shout it out!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have declared, through the words of Scripture, that there is no other name under heaven given unto men by which we must be saved. The apostles, full of the Holy Spirit, shared that message with the elders and chief priests, boldly asserting that it is by the name of Jesus Christ, that people are saved, healed, and delivered. Our singular focus must be on Jesus, whom You offered as the only way to have an eternal relationship with us. Thank You, God, that I am free thanks to Your marvelous grace, through the blood sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.
See Acts 4:8-12
We lovingly remember a dear friend, Tony Barber, who died last week of a massive heart attack. Tony came to the Lord about 18 years ago while we pastored in Taunton, MA. I talked with Marcia, his wife, last Friday and we so warmly remembered the night that Tony came to faith after 16 years of his family and the church people praying for his salvation. It was on a Good Friday at the conclusion of a powerful 45 minute Easter Musical, "Once and For All", that Tony came forward when the invitation was given and surrendered his heart and life to the Lord that evening. Tony became involved in the church, and soon thereafter, became a choir member himself. Blessed with a James Earl Jones type of voice, he was a wonderful narrator and soloist. We will miss seeing him when we return to New England, but rejoice that he is now singing with the angels in heaven! Reminder: Never give up praying for your loved ones to come to faith!
Yesterday Brooksyne led our choir in a Palm Sunday song from their Easter musical to be presented next Sunday. They sounded great (Stephen's unbiased opinion). The song they sang yesterday was "Wonderful, Merciful, Savior".
Ester drew inspiration by finding an old New England choir photo, which includes Tony Barber in a lavender shirt, from nearly 20 years ago. She laid it on top of the song the choir sung yesterday and posted it on her Facebook page.
Friday afternoon I visited a home show and greeted some of the sales teams in two companies we serve as chaplains. Audra (center), Mike (left) and Dan (right) of JK Mechanical. For many years Dan was the Oriole mascot for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and claimed fame when he injured himself falling off a dugout!
Michael and Don staffing the Smucker and Sons booth, a home repair company in Strasburg, where we serve as chaplains.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Thank God, I Am Free" Video Homecoming Singers
"I'm Free!" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"Wonderful, Merciful, Savior" Video The Trinity Church
"Wonderful Merciful Savior" Video David Wesley Acapella harmony using single voice and many overlays. This takes talent and patience creating a unique masterpiece!
Major Events of the Passion Week
An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four gospels cover the period beginning with Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the Gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.
Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.
Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47
Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
The Last Supper: Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room: Jn 13-17
Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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