Monday, January 16, 2017
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John Parker had it made. After two attempts to escape being a slave to a Southern slave owner, he had finally gotten his freedom. He chose to live in Ripley, Ohio, right on the freedom side of the Ohio River. He got a house and he got a good job as a factory worker. In fact, ultimately, he owned a foundry and he invented many processes that were used widely in that industry. He was safe, secure and successful. But night after night, John Parker risked it all. Under cover of darkness, he rowed across the river to the Kentucky side-slave territory. If he was caught, he could lose his freedom. He could lose his life. But in spite of the risks, John Parker went looking for runaway slaves. And he found them and rowed them across the river to the freedom side. It's actually believed that John Parker was responsible for at least 900 slaves going free.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Setting People Free."
A liberated slave, taking great risks, because he can't leave other slaves where he once was. Now, that's a hero! That's the kind of hero Jesus is looking for right now among His followers. It's the kind of hero who, humanly speaking, is the only hope for some folks that you're close to ever having a chance at heaven.
The Bible graphically describes the bondages we're all in until we're set free by Jesus by His life-saving work on the cross. In John 8:34, He said "whoever commits sin is a slave to sin." It's true. We can't stop being selfish, we can't stop being hurtful, thinking dirty, talking trash, being negative, or prideful, or angry, or self-absorbed. We're addicted to our sin. The Bible also describes us as being "without hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12) It also says that all our lives we have been "held in slavery to the fear of death." (Hebrews 2:15) We're nervous about death because we know God's on the other side, and we might not be ready to meet Him.
And ultimately, our family and friends and coworkers who haven't been to Jesus to have their sins forgiven, will in God's own words, "...be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." (2 Thessalonians 1:9) Thank God, someone came to you with the liberating news of what Jesus did on the cross for you, and you were set free by the Son of God! Now the question is, can you be content to just be free and forgiven yourself and let the sin-slaves all around you stay where they are? Whose responsibility is it to take the risks to rescue them? You're the liberated slave that Jesus has placed in their world. He's counting on you. They're counting on you and they don't even know it.
Which brings us to our Lord's orders in our word for today from the Word of God in Jude, verse 23; eight words that describe why you are where you are, with the people you see all the time. "Snatch others from the fire and save them." You were rescued. Now you need to be a rescuer.
If you'll evaluate the fears that keep you from "crossing the river" to bring them out, you'll notice those fears all have one thing in common. They're all about "me." They might reject me. I might mess it up. But rescue is all about them. A rescuer is still afraid of what might happen to him if he goes in for the rescue, but he's driven by a greater fear. What will happen if he doesn't go in for the rescue? Someone will die without a chance to live.
Jesus rescued you to be a rescuer. You are the liberated slave that He set free whose mission is to liberate others who are where you were. Jesus gave everything to snatch you from the fire. If you leave others where you were, you'll have to explain to Jesus why you did. You are their chance!