I hope you’re planning to wear red, white, and blue this Sunday and join us for a special day of worship and fellowship at Austin Baptist Church. We will be celebrating the great freedom that God has given our nation to worship Him openly and without fear of persecution. This is a freedom we must never take for granted, as 1 out of 7 Christians around the world do not have that same liberty for themselves (Cf. 2021 World Watch List produced by Open Doors). We know our freedom is only available because God has used countless men and women in our nation to stand up for that freedom and fight for it at all costs. Because of that, this weekend we will honor our local heroes who have served our nation through our armed services. The apostle Paul tells the church to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). I hope you plan to join me this weekend in expressing your gratitude and showing honor to whom honor is due.
But this weekend we are also celebrating an even greater freedom that God has given those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Paul explains, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). By grace and through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the penalty of our sin has been removed. His death became our own, and we can now live freely as sons and daughters of God. We no longer must fear the penalty of our sin which is death, but we also do not have to be held captive by the power of our sin. Jesus Christ forgives us of our old life bound to sin, but He also enables us to live new lives free from its bondage. His enabling grace can set you free each day from addictions and strongholds, so you can walk in the light just as He is in the light.
In light of this truth, Paul instructs us: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Paul says our spiritual freedom should lead us action. Just as our physical freedom leads us to pledge allegiance to our great nation, our spiritual freedom should lead us to pledge an even higher allegiance to Jesus Christ. His great mercy and grace should lead us to show our honor to God and devote ourselves to His purposes for our lives. And I hope you understand, you will begin to experience freedom and joy when you begin to present yourself to Him day after day.
This celebration of freedom will carry over to Sunday evening for our second annual “Freedom Over Austin” event. I hope you plan to come back at 7pm that evening for a dynamic event with something for everyone. We will have live music, an all-American carnival, food trucks, inflatables, train rides, and of course, an amazing professional fireworks show soon as it gets dark. Bring a lawn chair with you and find a comfortable spot to watch the show that evening. I also encourage you to do two things before this Sunday. First, consider serving with us. Great events are only possible through great teams of committed volunteers. We still need more people to join the effort so please consider signing up to help HERE. Secondly, consider who you can invite to join you. We do this event for our church family to enjoy the fellowship, but we also do it so we can extend our fellowship out to the entire community. Prayerfully consider inviting a neighbor, colleague, or friend to come and be your guest that evening. Sometimes special events like this are the best opportunity to introduce someone new into the life of our church.
Thank you for your continued faithfulness in worshipping through giving. This event is only possible because of your stewardship and continued partnership in ministry. I encourage you even in these economically challenging times to continue to offer God the first fruits of what you receive. I’m certain that God will continue to bless each of us, as we strive to be a blessing to others for His glory (Cf. Malachi 3:10, Proverbs 3:9-10). Have a great rest of your week, and I look forward to celebrating freedom with you this Sunday at ABC.
Onward and upward,