Alternative Sermon for July 5, 1998


THE HUGE COST OF FREEDOM

Deuteronomy 8:10-18

I. ISRAEL'S STORY

It is now just about 3,400 years since a 120 year old leader stood before his people and delivered a series of farewell messages. They had survived forty years of wandering in the wilderness and were finally on the verge of entering a land that had been promised to their ancestors hundreds of years earlier.

I don't know if that leader looked like Charleton Heston or not, but Cecil B. DeMille did catch something of themajesty of Israel's old leader in his film "The Ten Commandments!" If you try, you can picture Moses coming to the end of his time as leader of the children of Israel... he would not travel with them to the promised land ... but his heart is full with the joy that lay ahead of them. AND... his heart was fearful for them.

He is standing on a mountain top. To the west, across the Jordan river lies a promised land. To the south and east the wilderness they had been through. The long road to freedom had finally come to its end and the cost had been tremendous.

There is one central thought on the mind of Moses as he begins to speak to them:

Deuteronomy 4:9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Do you know something? You guessed it – they forgot!

II. LESSONS FROM TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

a) Maintain an attitude of gratitude!

"…bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you."

b) Do not forget where you came from!

"…do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…",

c) God freed you, protected you and provided for you!

"He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna…"

d) Beware of taking the credit!

"Do not say to yourself, "My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth. But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth"

There is a strong lesson to be learned from Israel’s tragic journey. They escaped from slavery, gained a "land of milk and honey´ -- and then lost it because the words of Moses went in the ears of one generation and out the ears of the next!

Two absolutely critical phrases come throughout Moses’ last words to Israel like a drumbeat. "Do not forget the Lord!" "Remember the Lord your God!" The key lesson in the scripture is this: The greatest danger of prosperity is to forget the God who made your prosperity possible!

III. AMERICA'S STORY

We as Americans celebrate something very special this weekend. It is something we may not have been fully aware of.

We woke up this morning and came to church... no one prevented us. We will go to various celebrations... no one will restrict our travel. We will do all the things we do without even thinking about them, while all over the planet there are millions who would give life and limb to have the freedom we know.

That freedom also cost something! Do we take it for granted?

Some years ago, just before the famous Cuban missile crisis, a young man managed to flee Cuba and wound up at Miami International Apirport. He did not speak Englis, but he began yelling in Spanish. He was arrested by two police officers who did not speak Spanish and was taken to a mental health facility where he went through intake with non-Spanish speaking workers. All the while, he was agitated, speaking loudly and guestering wildly. He was sedated and kept in confinement. It was months before someone finally discovered that a terrible mistake had been made.

All he was trying to say that day at Miami International Airport was, "You’ve got problems down there! Someone please listen – do something – you’ve got problems down there!" But no one was listening.years later before people understood why he got oft the plane and started yelling... He was tying to say, "You've got problems down there!"

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to wake up one day and discover that your freedom was lost? Or that you would wake up one day finding you and your children living in intolerable conditions. What if the nearest school was fifty miles away and the nearest doctor 100 miles away and the nearest hospital 200 miles away?

What a wonderful freedom we enjoy!

IV. THE CHRISTIAN’S STORY

There is however, another freedom the most important freedom of all... the freedom that the Christian has in Jesus Christ. Because of the grace God has given to us in Christ, we have: freedom from Condemnation… Freedom from guilt… Freedom from wondering where we will be forever!

One of the most popular hymns of all time ... "What a friend we have in Jesus" .... reminds us of what a wonderful thing He has done for us... "All our sins and griefs to bear…"

AND YOU DO remember the cost of our freedom in Christ, do you not?

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Iamb without blemish or defect.

 

CONCLUSION

The antidote to forgetting who we are and where we came from is DAILY GRATITUDE AND THANKSGIVING!

The way to active remembering is COMPASSION FOR OTHERS AND PASSING IT ON!


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