In your freedom, serve the Lord.
In your freedom, serve the Lord.
It’s said that America is the land of the free, the home of the brave. What do you do with your freedom?
The original 13 colonies were built up by the British monarchy, and when the colonies were taxed in order to pay foreign wars, what was the response? The seeds of rebellion, revolution! The Boston Tea party. In Response, Britain sent more troops, instituted more rules and regulations upon the American people. Though most colonists had viewed themselves as equal citizens within the British Empire, they were now placed under a yoke of oppression, forced to house soldiers in their homes and to pay high taxes for a war they did not fight with the products of their labors shipped off to a foreign land. And so the Revolutionary War began. And after many grueling years of fighting, the United States earned its freedom from the British Monarchy and declared itself to be a free nation.
We can relate to the struggle for freedom. In large part, due to the history of our nation and of our people, and due to the Civil War that took place within that history, most of us( if not all of us) have not experienced slavery or the effects of it. And we’ve had a taste of freedom: we can earn the products of our own lands, make our own dwellings, choose whom to love and to marry, raise families in relative peace.
Yet in our freedom, have we forgotten who helped us get to that point, or by whose power the founding fathers depended upon?
It’s been the Lord who has strengthened and established. He created the land. He causes nations and peoples to rise and to fall. He’s the direct cause of the freedom and enjoyment of the land that the United States has relished in for the past few centuries. And what have we, the people, done with our freedom? Has our freedom drawn us closer to God, or pulled us away from him?
To be with God is to be free, and to be away from him is to be enslaved. Which direction is our nation headed? Which way are you headed?
The main idea for our sermon today is this: In your freedom, serve the Lord. In your Freedom, serve the Lord.
Just as God set Israel free from slavery in Egypt and called them forth into worship of him, he sets us as Christians free from the weight of sin and calls us forth into worship through obedience.
Today, we are looking at a nation that was hand-picked by God, who was brought out of slavery and into freedom. We’re continuing on in our Deuteronomy series titled “Changing Times and Our Unchanging God” and we’re looking at the institution of God’s law: He gave the Israelites the ten commands, the ten statutes, which are to be a bedrock for their society as they go in to possess the land, and specifically within that law we are looking at the first command to the people, which is “You shall have no other gods before me.” If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to Deuteronomy chapter 6. We’ll be looking at verses 10-15 this morning. But this command, you shall have no other gods before me, is the first law, is of the utmost importance.
For Israel, the LORD God is essential to the nation’s history and identity. He is the bedrock upon which their lives and culture are built. And God established them this way for a reason: that they may display the Lord’s glory to the nations of the world and that others might see that and be drawn to worship the one true God. He led them out of Egypt, out of slavery for a reason. And the people have a choice to make: either they will see their freedom as an opportunity to serve the Lord, or to run after the foreign gods that enslaved them to begin with.
Let’s read our passage, pray, and then begin our analysis of the text:
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
Let’s pray. (pray)
In Your Freedom
In Your Freedom
Take Care Lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the house of slavery.
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full,
This is part of the promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: that this land would be the inheritance for their descendants. This land is a goldmine: it lies on the trade route between major civilizations … you have Africa and Egypt to the southwest, the middle east to the south, Europe and Asia minor to the North and West, coastal trade routes next to the Mediterranean, Assyria, Babylon, other major Civilizations toward the East. Israel was perfectly situated to be a land of blessing, that has much to benefit from the foreigners passing through. And God set up Israel for success … he gave them a rich inheritance: cities that would be filled that the people would not have to work to build up, vineyards that they did not plant, cisterns they did not dig. Instead, the people who had enjoyed the rich blessings of this land before had sinned against the Lord and the cup of God’s wrath against them was full. So it was time that the blessing of the Lord would be passed on to those who would see the blessings as from the Lord, who is the God of this land. The Lord led the people out of Egypt, out of a land where they had to work for everything and even the things they earned were taken away from them and to a land where it’s just the opposite: they did not have to work for the land, but were allowed to inherit it. They were led into freedom, with no other nation or king ruling over them. This time they could enjoy a taste of the land and of their own produce. This time they were free to live as the Lord has called humans to live.
But this freedom was based around God and His work, not what the people themselves had accomplished. That is why he says you shall not go after other gods as the nations around you are doing.
then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
The people have been set free from the gods of Egypt. They should not submit again to a yoke of slavery. They are told they should not return to Egypt. Why turn in your freedom and joys for chains? It wouldn’t make sense. Rather than returning to slavery, they were to remember the Lord and serve him only.
And in their service, they were supposed to be a people who enjoyed freedom from the Lord and were to be set on display for all of the nations to see.
We as Christians get to experience the freedom of God. Through Christ, the burden, the weight of our sins and the guilt they carry before a holy and just God is lifted and washed away so that we can be free. Through Christ, we are given a righteousness we did not earn, spiritual blessings and a land that is to come that we did not work for, instead God prepared it for us. Would you forsake that blessing, that peace with God, by turning back to the chains of sin which held you down before you knew Christ?
We read in Galatians 5:1,
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Our challenge as Christians is that we don’t forsake the Lord our God, our first love. That we do not forget the freedom that comes through Christ and chase after our sins and own desires.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
God calls us forward into obedience. We are now the city set on a hill, that cannot be hidden. What happens when you chase after sin and you forsake your love of the Lord and obedience to his commands? Your witness is harmed.
Obedience is tied to our witness. Keeping the Lord first and foremost determines how much you are able to enjoy your freedom. If you reject him and disobey his commands, then you are placing those chains back upon yourself which he has labored to remove.
Because of Jesus, our salvation is no longer tied to our obedience, but the effectiveness of our witness is. We are still to learn and do righteousness as Christ did. Jesus bore the anger of the Lord that was kindled against you because of your disobedience. He has showed you the way to live rightly before the Lord in obedience. Now, let us walk in it.
We have been freed, so now in our freedom, let us serve the Lord and be effective in our witness.
Serve the Lord
Serve the Lord
Israel was to fear and serve the Lord. He called them out of Egypt and established them as a people for a reason, that through them he might bring blessing to many nations.
It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—
for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
Israel was to serve the Lord God. If they chased after other gods, then it would blemish the holy name of God and his reputation. Would it be right that other gods that don’t even breathe or give power or do anything miraculous would receive the praise and the glory and the honor that the LORD God is meant to receive? No, not at all. God’s wrath, his anger against humans when they serve other gods, is justly deserved. When Israel turned away from the Lord and worshipped the gods of other nations, they were rejecting the Lord and all that he had done for them. They were attributing the blessing of their land and their wealth and riches upon sticks and stones. That is not right. The praise, the glory, and the blessing belongs to the Lord.
There are times in our lives when we are faced with a decision to turn away from the blessing which God has led us to or to return to our yoke of slavery. My encouragement to you today is to remember the Lord and to follow after him in obedience. Rather than being a slave to sin, let us be a slave to righteousness. You either serve the Lord or you serve a different master. Paul writes to us of this in Romans:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The goal of following the Lord in obedience is our sanctification. But it’s also that we bear fruit for the Lord (Romans 7:4).
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
The Lord wants us to be humans who live in freedom, who are not living in the chains of captivity. He wants us to bear good fruit and to display his glory, his image which he placed in us at the beginning of the world.
The fruit that Israel offered up to the Lord through their obedience was that they would be a city set on a hill that displayed God and who he was to the entire world.
When we are faithful, when we remember who the Lord is and do not forsake him, and we walk in obedience after him … we become sanctified, we become holy, and that light is seen by those who need that help. In this manner, in walking after the Lord in obedience, we are seen to be fruitful.
At the end of the day, the Lord will inspect each tree according to its fruit that it produces. Those who still dwell in sin, who have not trusted themselves over to the Lord and the working of his Spirit to learn and obey all that Christ commanded, will not produce good fruit. They wouldn’t produce anything at all. And when you have a fruit tree that does not produce fruit, what is the use of having it around? Would it not be better to have that tree cut down and burned to make way for another tree that would show good produce?
We must abide in Christ and learn his ways, learn how to walk after him and how to live for the Lord that we may bear good fruit.
So I challenge you,
As you seek to live for the Lord, are you looking to Christ as your primary example? He was the one who was perfectly obedient to the Father. And if someone complements you on the results of your obedience, do you take the opportunity to give the glory to the Lord, or do you keep the glory for yourself? If you kept the glory for yourself, that would be the equivalent of forgetting the Lord, the one who led you to that place to begin with.
There’s a saying that pastors share with one another … follow me as I follow Christ. If you never point others to Christ and create a following of people who act like you, you are never going to help them bear good fruit before the Lord. The key to fruit, the key to success, lies in leading others to the source of life, Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus who remember during this time of communion.