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Freedom Sunday

Today we had a special guest speaker, Jesse Rudy, from International Justice Mission.  Jesse was a successful lawyer in northern Virginia and attending Gateway when he felt God's call on his life to join International Justice Mission.  He lived in Uganda for several years and then the Philippines.  Now he's back in the DC area still working with IJM.

He talked about God's heart for justice.

And he began with the story of David and Bathsheba.  David was a wildly successful king.  He had everything his heart desired and the explicit favor of the Lord.  And then he took Uriah's wife, and in an effort to cover his sin, murdered Uriah.

The prophet Nathan rebukes David in I Samuel 12, and that rebuke tells us about God's heart.

Justice is not fairness.

Again and again we're shown in the Bible that life is not fair.  Nathan even points out that David had been given gifts beyond what seems "fair."

Justice is not vengeance.

We're told in Scripture, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him." and "Do not repay evil for evil."

Ultimately, justice is about power -- how power is exercised when it's not distributed evenly.

Injustice occurs when someone who has power uses that power to take from the weak.

Notice:  Of all the things God could have rebuked David for -- adultery, murder, etc. -- he rebukes David for the way he used his power.

David used his power to take Uriah's love, dignity, and life.

What God was most angry about was David using his power to take from someone weaker.

God's heart for justice and hatred for injustice is consistent throughout Scripture. 

Matthew 23:3-4 --  What's important is justice, mercy. and faithfulness.

Then we talked about slavery.  There are 40 million slaves on the earth today, which is more than any other time in human history.  This is literally one human owning another.

We talked about a new form of slavery:  Cyber sex trafficking.  This is someone being able to tell the slave what they have to do.  90% of those trafficked are minors.

God, what's the plan?  You say you care!

Exodus 1:11-14 -- "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt."

In Exodus 3:7, God told Moses, "My plan is you!"

Scripture is full of God telling His people that they are the plan to fight injustice.

IJM.org/sendrescue

This video (a true story) was filmed last year.  Now 350 kids have been saved from cyber sex trafficking in the Philippines.

Justice is about power.

We are some of the most powerful people in the world.

Become a Freedom Partner:   www.ijm.org/fp

Injustice is not our weight to carry.

Fighting injustice is God's weight, but our work.

Jesse closed by reading Isaiah 58:6-12.  We should set the oppressed free.

Resilience - Free from the Weight of the Past

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On Sunday, September 24, 2017, Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series on Resilience, beginning by looking in Hebrews 12, where it talks about running with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Life is not a sprint; it's a marathon.  Our past hurts are like trying to run that race carrying a backpack filled with rocks.

Resilient people run free of the weight of the past.

They know that tough things happen, but they must be dealt with well and as quickly as possible. 

The life of Joseph illustrates this.  (Genesis 37:34-35)  Joseph's story becomes an adventure in resilience.  There's no evidence of self-pity or resentment or bitterness in Joseph (Genesis 45:1-3).  Yet his brothers are paralyzed by guilt (Genesis 45:4-9).

Resilient people understand the importance of a healthy memory track.

Any amount of time we spend with unnecessary junk in our backpacks translates into unnecessary and unhelpful fatigue or worry.  Imagine what Joseph's life would have been like if he'd been telling everyone his wrongs.

Resilient people are free to be used by God.

Words in our youth beat us down.  Things done to us  hurt us, but so do things we've done and vows we've made.

We don't intend to carry rocks around, but we store things up because we don't know how to deal with our rocks; or we want to use them; or we have buried them (knowingly or unknowingly).

Resilient people understand the importance of rehearsing what God has done.

Thanks and praise make a difference!  Deuteronomy 5:15

Healthy remembrance builds healthy life habits, healthy courage.  Deuteronomy 7:18

Unhealthy memory tracks build unhealthy habits.  Numbers 11:5

After all Joseph's troubles, he only sees the activity of God.  Genesis 50:15-21  Everything else is swallowed up by God's providence.

Resilient people deal effectively with the negative experiences in their lives.

Important principle:  We are all a mess!

Tools for dealing with negative experiences:

For hurts against us:  Get to forgiveness.

It's not easy, and it may be a long process.  It's ultimately for our own good, that we may live light and free.

For wrongs we've done:  Confess and repent. 

Psalm 51 -- David's not giving excuses.

Breaches in relationships can only be repaired by confession and repentance.  This is also a long, complicated process.

Where do we begin?  Have a good conversation with a trusted friend; do a memory exercise, examining your past.

Jesus gives wisdom - He inspires repentance and enables repentance.  We need mercy!

Resilient people run free of the weight of the past.

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And then we shared the mercy meal of Communion together.

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