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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.

Fantastic! Power and Healing

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Today Pastor Ed preached a second sermon in the series titled "Fantastic: incredible stories from Jesus' life and their significance for us."  This one covered the passage in Luke 8:40-56, where Jesus heals a woman sick for years and then raises a little girl from the dead.

First, Jesus is asked to come to a synagogue leader's home to heal his daughter, who is very sick.  Along the way, he's interrupted when a woman touches him -- and Jesus feels power going through him to heal her.

We have to admit, that is a weird thing for him to say!

For those who'd like to domesticate Jesus, this encounter is deeply disturbing.

This goes way past bizarre to fantastic.

God's power is real.  And it's huge.  We shouldn't be surprised when it has a physical effect.

Then the synagogue leader is told not to bother Jesus any longer, because his daughter is dead.  But Jesus goes to his house and brings the girl back to life.

There were three conditions surrounding these healings:  Desperation, faith (those two are cousins), and the presence of Jesus.

His presence is here today.

There are two reactions to this:

  1. You can't be serious.
  2. I believe it.  But what's wrong?  Why don't we see more of this?

To the first, we say:  Yes, we're serious.  We have seen Jesus' power.

Please, examine your doubts and your worldview.  When the rational approach favors faith, we turn to doubt.  Put your doubt under the same scrutiny as your faith.  Science doesn't prove a materialistic worldview, it assumes it.

To the second (Why don't we see more of this?), we look at Philippians 3:16 and 4:9.  We need to put into practice what we've already attained.

Why is our boldest prayer, "Help the surgeon's hand?"

***

I'm still processing my response to this message.  But even as I write that, I wonder if that's a way of distancing myself.

How about you?  What's your reaction?  What thoughts and feelings did the message stir up?  Does anyone have stories of feeling God's power?