God is… Master

Well, here we are.  A new year, a new vision, new mercies, new grace, a fresh, new start!

As we begin into God’s vision for New Hope this year, “Commit to Know God”, I felt that God wanted me to launch in a way that I hadn’t planned.  I wanted to focus on how God is our comfort, our peace, or provider, our salvation, our defender, our healer, our refuge, our strength.  You know, all of the things that God is which work together to say that ultimately, God is good!
However, God had a different plan in mind and as He says,
Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
So, to begin the year, we are going to step to the ledge of the cliff and begin the free fall into the depths of understanding and experiencing the fact that God is….  Our Master.
Now, if you need your mind transformed and renewed in the same way that I do this morning, this statement makes you cringe a bit.  When I think of a master, I think of someone beating and whipping slaves under harsh forced labor in the hot sun.  In complete honesty, Metallica’s lyrics to “Master of Puppets” immediately comes to my mind, “Master, master, obey your master.”   I think of someone manipulating and forcing someone to do things against their will.
However, this is far, far from the reality and truth of what it means to have God as our master!
Because our minds have not been completely renewed and transformed, it seems to be a paradox, an oxymoron, double-talk to hear that we can only experience freedom through submission.  However, even in our culture, it makes perfect sense.  I remain a free person by obeying the laws of the land.  When I choose not to, a degree of my freedom is taken away.  This could be in the form of finances via a fine, mobility via house arrest or a lost driver’s license, complete loss of freedom via imprisonment, or even loss of our life via the death penalty.  Our civil freedom is obtained by obedience and submission to the law.  Spiritual freedom is found, even if these civil freedoms are removed from us, in the grace and mercy of God obtained through salvation as we obey our Heavenly Father and submit to Him.
God, as our master, is a loving, Heavenly father who desires only good things for His children.  When we submit our ways to Him and follow His commands, we actually experience freedom!  We experience freedom from pain, brokenness, fear, anxiety,
In our culture, slavery is a taboo subject and the ability for a person to own another person is outlawed.  However, just because the master-slave relationship one person to another is against the law, doesn’t mean that we aren’t subject to slavery.  Bear with me and you’ll soon see what I mean.
Within the Bible, slavery is a subject that is spoke often of from cover to cover.  The Bible is not condoning of slavery, but it was a reality for those who were writing the scriptures.  Although we can’t fathom this fact, there were both masters and slaves who followed Christ in the New Testament.  For us, it is difficult to understand how a person can be completely set free by Jesus and yet still be a slave.  It is almost appalling for us to read that the Bible says that whatever your circumstances were when you accepted Christ, you should remain in them.  If you were a slave before your salvation, continue in slavery after your salvation.  Their reward from Christ would be rich!
Although we’re not going to focus on this reality this morning, know that Christian slaves were encouraged to obey and submit to their masters, both the good and bad ones, in light of the reality that they are serving Christ and not those men.  Christan masters were encouraged to provide for their slaves and to be right and fair to them because both their slaves, as well as themselves, have the same Heavenly Master.
The focus this morning is a truth that none of us really want to face, but one that we simply cannot escape.  We are all slaves.
2 Peter 2:19
“people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
In reality, we are slaves to many things.  Some forms of this slavery are obvious, others, not so much.  Whatever controls us, whatever takes our resources (time, money, energy, freedom, etc.) from us, those things become our masters.  When God is our master, He not only gives us life, but life abundant!  When God is not our master, even if it be only in one or two areas of our lives, the thief literally steals from us, kills us, and destroys us.  Jesus stated this fact in John 10:10.
Some are slaves to alcohol.  It promises to take the edge off, just one drink after work or during the game.  There’s nothing wrong with that, even Biblically speaking.  However, millions can testify of how that promise slowly turned into a master that stole away money, stole away respect from family, friends, and coworkers, stole away self control, stole away freedom.  According to the National Institutes of Health, 88,000 every year can no longer testify that it kills, because well, they died from alcohol related causes.  In fact, alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in our nation.  Millions can testify that it destroyed their life and the lives of those around them.
Some are slaves to cigarettes or chewing.  Alcohol may be the third leading preventable cause of death, but tobacco passed it by to become the number one leading cause of death according to the National Institutes of Health.  1 person every six minutes dies from a tobacco related illness or disease.  It makes similar promises to give you peace and comfort when things get stressful, but those same things that it temporarily offers, it permanently steals away.
But hey, that’s just those boys ’round here, drinking that ice cold beer, sending prayers to the man upstairs, backwoods legit that don’t take no (ummm, grit), chew tobacca chew tobacca, chew tobacca, spit.  Right?  We need to start seeing these things for what they are, slavery!
Some are slaves to sexual immorality.  God created sex, He knows just how awesome it is because He designed it to be that way!  God created it to be a place of freedom and escape within the safety zone of a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman in marriage.  Sexual immorality is any form of sex outside of the context and purposes that God created it for.  When it is experienced outside of this safety zone, it becomes like a fire outside of a fire ring or fire place.  What is intended to get things cooking and heat things up in a marriage ends up destroying relationships.  What is intended to literally create life destroys lives and often results in literal death via abortion.  Pornography has been medically proven to be just as addictive and hard to break free from as heroin.  Sexual immorality doesn’t hide itself as slavery, in fact, BDSM glorifies the master/slave relationship!  When it comes to all of the many, many forms of sexual immorality, we usually hear the root cry, “My body, my right!”  Of course, scripture is far from silent on this issue.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
These always make the top three no-no’s, however, there are many, many forms of slavery that we miss within the church.  Some of us are, unfortunately, of the same opinion of these Jewish disciples of Jesus:
John 8:31-34
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

And to further settle the matter to establish our slavery:
1 John 1:8-10
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Some of us are slaves to money.  It is socially acceptable and Biblical to work hard to provide for yourself, your family, and to be able to be generous in helping others.  However, working hard and investing wisely can make a deceitful transition from good, Biblical stewardship to slavery.  Jesus said:
Matthew 6:24 
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
For time’s sake, we’re not going to even attempt to go through all of the various areas of slavery in detail, but some of us are slaves to food (yup, Little Debbie can become our master), anger, gossip, power, control, self-image, material possessions, and the list goes on and on.
2 Peter 2:19
“people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
This morning, the Lord is encouraging us to commit to knowing Him as our master.  Everything else that we choose to be slaves to will steal, kill, and destroy us in some way.  When we submit to God in obedience as our master, He promises to give us an abundant life, a hope, and a future.  He promises, as our master, to protect us, to defend us, and to give us everything that we need.  As we walk in obedience to Him, He will keep us walking in freedom from the many, many forms of destructive slavery out there that so easily entangle and ensnare us.
The altars are open this morning and the Living Waters team is here.  Don’t walk away from here still enslaved by things that steal, kill, and destroy!  Come to the Lord and let Him break those chains that bind and allow Him to set you free and give you life!  Surrender yourself to Him and He will lift you up and set your feet on solid ground!